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Saturday, September 29, 2012
11 days in Uganda, Climbing the Rwenzoris - otherwise known as the Mountains of the Moon - includes mountaineering & Park fees, accommodation, expert guide, porters, cook, supplies, and safari vehicle and Driver
Day 1: Arrive at Entebbe International Airport. Transfer (45 min) by road to Kampala. Overnight at Kampala Serena Hotel.
Day 2: Transfer (5 ½ hrs) by road to Kasese, over Uganda's beautiful green countryside, and into the Albertine Rift Valley. Lunch at Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. After lunch game drive to spot leopard, lion, elephant, hyena. Transfer (1 hr) to Kasese. Overnight at Hotel Margarita, Kasese.
Day 3: After an early breakfast proceed for a 5 hour hike, which starts from Nyakalengija, walking past typical wattle and mud, Buhonjo home to the national park boundary. The trail then follows the Mubuku River crossing its Mahoma tributary before starting a steep climb up onto a massive ridge to reach Nyabitaba hut. During the hike if lucky you may hear Chimpanzee and see black and white colobus monkey and the brightly colored Rwenzori Turaco. Over night at Nyabitaba Hut.
Day 4: A demanding 7-hour hike to John Matt Hut. The central circuit starts a few hundred meters beyond Nyabitaba where the trail divides the right fork leads to the peaks up the Bujuku valley while the path on the left is used for subsequent descent. The trail leads to the Kurt Shafter Bridge which crosses the Mubuku valley just below the river’s confluence with the Bujuku valley. Beyond the river, a muddy, slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest. The final hour’s walk too John Matte hut passes through a challenging bog full of extraordinary plants. Over night at John Matt Hut.
Day 5: The route fords the Bujuku River as you cross the lower Bigo bog; a steep climb follows to reach the upper Bigo bog where a board walk has been constructed to assist walkers. In clear weather, there are superb views of Mt. Stanley at the head of this cavernous, glacier- carved valley. Above the bog, after a long steady climb over glacial moraine, criss-crossing the river, the trail reaches the lake Bujuku. The last stage of the hike is perhaps the muddiest stage of the expedition. Overnight at Bujuku Hut.
Day 6: From Bujuku hut, the trail crosses more mud before climbing steeply through a forest of giant groundsels, climbing a short ladder to ascend the Groundsel gully. This climb needs an ice axe, mountain boots, crampons and ropes. Overnight at Elena Hut.
Day 7: Arise in the morning and head to the Margarita Peak, which at 5,109 m (16,761 ft) is the third highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya. You will afterwards return to Elena Hut for a cup of hot tea as you relax, then head to the Hut beside lower Lake Kitandara, a beautiful site surrounded by towering peaks. Overnight at Kitandara Hut.
Day 8: Fresh field is a long traverse through tracts of fabulously colorful moss (and more mud) below which the descent to Nyakalengija begins. The trek to Guy Yeoman Hut takes around 5 hours. The hut enjoys a lovely location close to Mubuku River with terrific views of the looming Mt. Baker to the north. Overnight at Guy Yeoman Hut.
Day 9: With an early rise you will be able to descent all the way back to Nyakalengija where you will be met again by your driver guide. You will then transfer to Queen Elizabeth national park. Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 10: Transfer (5 hrs) by road back to Kampala. Overnight at Kampala Serena Hotel.
Day 11: Transfer (45 min) by road to Entebbe Airport,, and head for home, with the timeless memories of your safari of a lifetime.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Two weeks in Uganda - Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking in the Albertine Rift, visiting six national parks, including 4 nights in the remote and magical Kidepo Valley - staying in luxury accommodation and traveling by safari vehicle and light aircraft
Day 2: Transfer (4 ½ hrs) by road to Kibale Forest National Park, the most accessible of Uganda's major rain forests and home to a remarkable thirteen primate species, including habituated chimpanzees, our closest relative in the wild. Overnight at the Primate Lodge
Day 3: Morning chimpanzee trekking. Kibale’s 1,450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. Other primates include l’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. Transfer (½ hr) by road to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary and see how local communities are working together to maintain this stunning wildlife reserve. Night walk to look for nocturnal primates. Overnight at the Primate Lodge
Day 4: Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Queen Elizabeth National Park, surrounded by stunning views of the Rwenzoris (Mountains of the Moon), the Albertine Rift escarpments (eastern in Uganda, western in Congo), as well as Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel. Afternoon game drive to spot lion, leopard and other predators, as well as elephant, warthog, kob and hartebeest. Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge
Day 5: Late morning boat trip along the shores of the Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake George to Lake Edward, to spot buffalo, hippo and rare bird species. Transfer (2 hrs) by road to Ishasha, famous for its tree-climbing lions, for an afternoon game drive to spot lion, elephant, hippos and a vast array of antelope, some only found in this remote corner of the Albertine Rift. Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Bwindi Forest. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp
Day 6: Early morning gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, on the steep, rain-soaked slopes of the Bufumbira Mountains. Come face to face with those who Dian Fossey regarded as, “the greatest of the Great Apes” in their lush mountain forest habitat. Bwindi comprises 331 square kilometers of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest, and is accessible only on foot. The park provides habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. Afternoon walk to the Pygmy community for a rich cultural exchange with Africa’s original inhabitants. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp
Day 7: Birding and primate forest walk. Bwindi’s birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics present. The national park also has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent,. the 3 hour walk will follow magnificent trails through waterfalls and forest - one of the most spectacular nature walks in Uganda. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp
Day 8: Transfer (4 hrs) by light aircraft to Kidepo Valley National Park. This park harbors in a remote corner of East Africa has a greater diversity of animal species than any other Ugandan park. Of the 80 species of mammals listed, 28 are not known to occur anywhere else. Five species of primate are found in the park of which the Kavirondo bush baby is endemic. Carnivore species unique to Kidepo and Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog. Other carnivores present include lion, leopard and several small cats. Less common ungulates include the greater and lesser kudu, Chandlers Mountain reedbuck, klipspringer, dikdik and bright gazelle. Among other large ungulates are elephant, burchell's zebra, bush pig, warthog, rothschild giraffe, cape buffalo, eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, jackson's hartbeest and oribi. Sundowners overlooking the valley. Overnight at Nga'Moru Wilderness Camp
Day 9: Kidepo is rugged savannah, across a vast caldera (collapsed volcano) dominated by Mt Morungole, Mt Zola and Mt Ram, and transected by River Kidepo and River Narus. Morning and evening game drives through the southern sector of the park, to view lion, leopard, baboon, zebra, elephant, side-striped jackal, giraffe, an array of antelope, plus many more wild surprises. Overnight at Nga'Moru Wilderness Camp
Day 10: Sit back and enjoy the setting for a morning, with the possibility of a short visit to Idi Amin’s half-finished and abandoned hotel in a rocky outcrop nearby, and/or visit to nearby Iron Age caves. Afternoon cultural performance by the Karamajong. Overnight at Nga'Moru Wilderness Camp
Day 11: Morning trip (4 hrs) to meet the Ik people, an ethnic group numbering about 10,000 people, living on Mt Murongole. The Ik were marginalized after being displaced from their land by the government in order to create the national park, and were famously the subject of Colin Trunbull’s controversial book, The Mountain People, published in 1972. Overnight at Nga'Moru Wilderness Camp
Day 12: Transfer (6 ½ hr) by road to Murchison Falls National Park, to view one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in East Africa, in particular on the banks of the River Nile, teaming with hippopotamus and crocodile. Afternoon cruise up the Nile to the “Devils Couldron” at the foot of the falls. View elephant, waterbuck, crocodile, hippo and a vast array of endemic bird species. Overnight at Paraa Game Lodge
Day 13: Morning game drive through Murchison Falls National Park, on the northern bank of the Nile, to spot elephant, lion, buffalo, giraffe, hartebeest, waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, hyena, and on occasion shoebill and leopard. Transfer (2 hrs) by light aircraft to Entebbe. Relax by the lake, wander around town or visit the Botanical Gardens. Final “Out of Africa” dinner under the light of lanterns at the romantic Jahaza Grill, located in the middle of a forest overlooking the tranquil lakeshore and surrounded by primates and birds. Overnight at Lake Victoria Serena Resort
Sunday, September 23, 2012
This vast region, spanning three countries sparsely populated with Bantu tribes and nomadic groups of Pygmies, will not disappoint the adventurer and wildlife lover. You will be travelling in chartered aircraft, 4x4 vehicles, motorised pirogues, small pirogues powered by Pygmy and Bantu tribesmen, and on foot into the remotest parts of the jungle. And yet amazingly the accommodation will be comfortable with private bathroom facilities and cold drinks throughout the safari. You will enter a pristine region full of wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, bongo, and many of the smaller primates, small mammals, forest birds, and a wealth of flora.
We will spend time watching elephants and other animals from the comfort of a mirador (a large covered viewing platform) at the famous Dzanga Bai. We will trek to see gorillas on foot with the local Baáka tribe of pygmy trackers. We will also have an opportunity to spend time with the Baáka, follow them on a net hunt, learn about medicinal and food plants of the forest, hut building and food preparation.
10-DAY SAFARI ITINERARY
Day 1 : The tour begins in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your charter flight to Dzangha-Sangha Reserve, for the first of six nights at Sangha Lodge.
Day 2 : Gorilla tracking. Today you head down to Bai Hokou where you’ll spend time tracking a group of Western Lowland Gorillas. Dzangha Sangha and its neighbor in Congo Nouabale-Ndoki National Park are the only places in the world where you can find habituated Lowland Gorillas.
Day 3 : Visit to Dzangha Bai, a large mineral rich clearing in the middle of the rainforest where forest elephants gather in large numbers to indulge in drinking the mineral rich waters that bubble up in places in this Bai. The interaction between so many different groups of forest elephants ensure that no one can ever get bored at this place, while the possibility of some of the other normally shy forest creature like bongo, giant forest hog, red river hog, Sitatunga and forest buffalo visiting the Bai keep us alert.
Day 4 : Today you head out with a group of Ba'aka net hunters as they go about their daily hunter-gatherer lifestyle. It is fascinating and a joy in itself to see how well adapted and comfortable the Ba'aka are in the forest while you may find it overwhelming and almost intimidating. You will be shown several of their medicinal plants while the hunt goes along in the background, and the excited cheers will alert us if they do catch something.
Day 5 : River activities and trekking. Heading upriver by boat you will hike to a series of waterfalls in the area. These will take us through the best examples of prime rainforest that you would ever see. Apart from the amazingly beautiful waterfalls, you will see some of the most spectacular trees imaginable. Climbing to the top of the falls will provide vistas over the canopy of the forest while the possibility of seeing the extremely rare and endangered grey-necked rock fowl will excite any birders.
In the evening you may do a night walk near the lodge with the hope of finding some of the more elusive nocturnal animals such as potto, Thomas's galago, tree pangolin, African palm civet, Frazer's eagle owl, vermiculated fishing owl and many more.
Day 6 : Back into the park today with picnic lunches and you will do a walk around a series of clearings in the forest. The chance of finding buffalos, elephants and several monkey species on this trek are good. You will also visit a group of habituated monkeys called Agile Mangabey and spend some time photographing their interesting antics.
Day 7-9: Today we journey deep into the forest to join a Baáka forest camp for three days. This is arranged through Louis Sarno, who has lived with the Baáka for nearly 30 years. He joins you and helps them interpret all the rituals and culture in the forest. Return to Sangha Lodge
Day 10 : Transfer by chartered aircraft back to Bangui.
Price: US$813.00 per person per night
based on two people sharing a double room. Includes two gorilla treks, one Saline walk and mangabey trek, to full day visits to Dzanga bai, one morning's net hunting with the Ba'aka, one waterfall hike, one night walk, three days at the Ba’aka forest camp, all accommodation, all meals, and all ground transportation
"We had come down to the Rift Valley by a sandy red road across a high plateau, then up and down through orchard-bushed hills, around a slope of forest to the top of the rift wall where we could look down and see the plain, the heavy forest below the wall, and the long, dried-up edged shine of Lake Manyara rose-colored at one end with a half million tiny dots that were flamingoes. From there the road dropped steeply along the face of the wall, down into the forest, on to the flatness of the valley, through cultivated patches of green corn, bananas, and trees I did not know the names of, walled thick with forest, past a Hindu's trading store and many huts, over two bridges where clear, fast-flowing streams ran, through more forest, thinning now to open glades, and into a dusty turn-off that led into a deeply rutted, dust-filed track through bushes to the shade of M'utu-Umbu camp."
- Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa
Journey in style to the very best of Papa’s favourite East African spots: Murchison Falls, Lake Albert, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Kilimanjaro and Malindi. Meet Great Apes in the rainforests, spot the Big Five on the savannahs, and fish a Grand Slam on the coast. Witness firsthand what inspired some of his greatest works.
† 3-Week Itinerary ¢
Day 2: Morning game drive on the northern bank of the Nile to spot elephant, lion, buffalo, giraffe, hartebeest, waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, hyena, and on occasion shoebill and leopard. Afternoon boat cruise up the Nile to the “Devils Couldron” at the foot of the falls. View crocodile, hippo and a vast array of endemic bird species. Overnight at Para Game Lodge
Day 3: Transfer (1 hr) by road to the top of the falls, where the mighty River Nile explodes through a narrow gorge. This is where in 1954 the Hemingways’ plane clipped a telegraph wire and plunged onto the Nile. They were forced to camp out near the wreckage. Hemingway told the press, "We held our breath about two hours while an elephant twelve paces away was silhouetted in the moonlight, listening to my wife's snores." In Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure he described how they “rationed their beer and whisky, but were soon rescued by a boat that was well stocked with ale. The couple then climbed into a second airplane - only to have it crash on the airstrip.” Transfer (2 hrs) by road (thankfully) to Masindi and Uganda’s oldest hotel, where the Hemingways recovered from their ordeal. Overnight at the Masindi Hotel
Day 4: Transfer (6 ½ hrs) by road to the shores of beautiful Lake Albert, with a brief stop at the once-thriving port of Butiaba where goods and produce from northern Congo and southern Sudan found their way to European markets, but which was destroyed by a flood in 1964. Then on to Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve, one of Uganda’s first protected areas. This remote habitat has been the focus of research to further understand the evolution of man, particular bipedalism. Night game drive. Overnight at the Semliki Safari Lodge
Day 5: Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Kibale Forest National Park, the most accessible of Uganda's major rain forests and home to a remarkable thirteen primate species, including habituated chimpanzees, our closest relative in the wild. Transfer (½ hr) by road to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary and see how local communities are working together to maintain this stunning wildlife reserve. Overnight at the Primate Lodge
Day 6: Morning chimpanzee trekking. Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. Other primates include l’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. Night walk to look for nocturnal primates. Overnight at the Primate Lodge
Day 7: Transfer (4 ½ hrs) by road to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi comprises 331 square kilometers of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest, and is accessible only on foot. The park provides habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp
Day 8: Early morning gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest, on the steep, rain-soaked slopes of the Bufumbira Mountains. Come face to face with those who Dian Fossey regarded as, “the greatest of the Great Apes” in their lush mountain forest habitat. Afternoon walk to the Pygmy community for a rich cultural exchange with Africa’s original inhabitants. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp
Day 9: Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Ishasha, at the southern end of Queen Elizabeth National Park., famous for its tree-climbing lions, elephant, hippos and a vast array of antelope, some only found in this remote corner of the Albertine Rift. Morning game drive, then transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Mweya Peninsula. Evening drive and cold sundowners on the peninsula, surrounded by stunning views of the Rwenzoris (Mountains of the Moon), the Albertine Rift escarpments (eastern in Uganda, western in Congo), as well as Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel. Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge
Day 10: Late morning boat trip along the shores of the Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake George to Lake Edward, to spot buffalo, hippo and rare bird species. Afternoon game drive to spot lion, leopard and other predators, as well as elephant, warthog, kob and hartebeest. Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge
Day 11: Transfer (6½ hrs) by road to Entebbe, on the edge of Lake Victoria. Relax by the lake, wander around town or visit the Botanical Gardens. Dinner under the light of lanterns at the romantic Jahaza Grill, located in the middle of a forest overlooking the tranquil lakeshore and surrounded by primates and birds. Overnight at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
Day 12: Transfer (1 hr) by commercial flight to Mwanza, Tanzania, at the southern end of Lake Victoria, and then (3½ hrs) by road to Serengeti National Park, the best known wildlife sanctuary in the world. Serengeti contains the greatest and most varied collection of wildlife on earth, including buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, cheetah, African hunting dog, baboon, caracal, civet, bat-eared fox, genet, giraffe, hippo, honey badger, hyrax, mongoose, ostrich, serval, both Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, vervet monkeys, eland, hartebeest, impala, kudu, reedbuck. Roan, topi, waterbuck, dik dik, duiker and oribi. Overnight at Kirawira Camp
Day 13: Morning game drive through Tanzania’s oldest game park and world-famous for its role in the annual Great Migration, when over a million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. Evening game drive with sundowners. Overnight at Kirawira Camp
Day 14: Game drive and transfer (3 hrs), across the Serengeti and Sale plaines through a veritable graveyard of volcanoes. Lunch at Oldupai Gorge, where hominids have walked for 3.6 million years. Discover your distant human origins in the deepest levels of the gorge, and on the “living floor” where hominids camped and ate, eighteen thousand centuries ago. Transfer (1 hr) to Ngorongoro Crater stopping at Nainokanoka village along the way, to meet the ultimate conquerors of this primordial human domain: the Masai. Overnight at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Day 15: Descend into Ngorongoro Crater, one of the great natural features of the planet, and one of the jewels in the crown of African wildlife destinations. Almost every major species of African plains wildlife can be found in this 164 square-kilometer caldera. Our game drive will explore the short-grass plains of the crater floor to spot lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, and many, many more. Overnight at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Day 16: Transfer (2 hrs) by road to Lake Manyara National Park, stretching for 50 kilometres along the base of the 600-meter high Rift Valley escarpment. Hemingway hunted rhino and buffalo here during his 1933 safari. Afternoon game drive through the park to spot baboon, elephant, giraffe, hippo and tree-climbing lions, and explore the edges of the soda lake, teaming with flamingo and pelican. Overnight at Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge
Day 17: Transfer (2 hrs) to Tarangire National Park, famous for its great number of elephants, baobab trees and tree climbing African pythons. “The finest country I had seen,” was how Hemingway described it, while hunting the elusive Greater kudu here. Afternoon game drive to spot the abundant prides of lion. Overnight at Tarangire Safari Lodge
Day 18: Game drive through the arid Tarangire, with the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem. Hundreds of elephant herds frequent the area looking for underground streams in dried-up river beds, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. Overnight at Tarangire Safari Lodge
Day 19: Transfer (1½ hrs) by road to Arusha, then (2 hrs) by light aircraft to Malindi, Kenya, flying directly over Mt Kilimanjaro, which famously inspired one of Hemingway’s best stories. This breathtaking summit is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 foot (4600 m) from its base on the Masai Steppe. From here, we descend to the Kenyan Coast, to a strip of idyllic tropical beaches and coral reefs situated between the small, ancient town of Malindi and the sleepy village of Watamu. Here an abundance of sea life attracts oversized predators who hunt the blue water and steep banks just off shore. Few locations in the world offer such spectacular diving and big game fishing in the same place. Dinner and gaming at the stylish Casino Malindi (a chance to win back your safari!). Overnight at Hemingway’s Resort
Day 20: Top off your Hemingway adventure in East Africa aboard Albatross - a 33 foot Black Fin Express with twin 280 horse power dieseled engines - fishing the bountiful Malindi Watamu bank, with experienced skipper JJ Nicholas. The Kenyan coast offers some of the finest big game fishing in the world, and is world-renowned for the sailfish and broadbill fishing. Black marlin, blue marlin and striped marlin occur here, along with numerous other species - offering a great variety of deep sea fishing. Kenya also offers one of the best chances to catch a ‘fantasy slam’ (5 different billfish species in one day). Ernest Hemingway fished here at the start of his 1933 safari, and some say that experience was the inspiration for his Nobel prize-winning novel The Old Man and the Sea. So, after a day of hunting the big blue for the “wonderful and strange,” where better to cook up your catch and enjoy your final meal in Africa than at Malindi’s romantic moorish bistro, the Old Man and the Sea - regarded as one of the finest seafood restaurants in Kenya. Overnight at Hemingway’s Resort
Day 21: Transfer (2 hrs) by road to Mombasa. Depart Mombasa Airport, Kenya and head for home, with the timeless memories of your safari of a lifetime.