Gorillas & Hiking Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains

Gorillas & Hiking Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains

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12 Days
From

$4899

$4654

Gorillas & Hiking Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains

12 Days Starting and ending in Entebbe, Uganda

Visiting: Uganda

Tour operator:

YellowWood Adventures

Tour code:

UGA-HR

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 12

Physical rating:

High, 7: Challenging

Age range:

12-80

Special diets catered:

Please advise requests

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active, Small Group

Interests:

Cultural, Wildlife Tours

Activities:

4WD, Hiking

From:
$4899
$4654 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$245
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Tour Overview

Bordering Uganda and the Congo, rise the mysterious Rwenzori Mountains, which Roman astronomer and cartographer Ptolemy famously named the 'Mountains of the Moon', and for centuries were mistakenly considered to be the source of the River Nile, which actually originates in Sudan & Ethiopia, further north.



This incredible wildlife adventure takes you hiking in this wondrous outpost of the world; including Mountain Gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park, game drives and immersive experiences with local communities.



The Rwenzori National Park, covering nearly 100,000ha in Western Uganda, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to Africa's third highest peak, Mount Margherita at 5109m. 70% of the park is over 2500m in height and is renowned as one of Africa's most beautiful alpine areas, with glaciers, waterfalls and lakes. Rich in biodiversity thanks to the nearly constant temperatures, humidity and high insolation, the mountains are home to many endangered and endemic plant species, such as giant heathers, groundsels and lobelias.



Managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwenzori National Park is considered a model for the integration of cultural values into the Protected Area Management framework, as an innovative approach to resource management - the first of its kind in Africa. The name Rwenzori stems from ‘nzururu’, which means 'place of snow' in the Bakonzo language. 217 bird species have been recorded and the montane forests are home to threatened animals such as the African forest elephant, eastern chimpanzee and L'Hoest's monkey.



Gorilla Permits:

Gorilla permits cost $700 per person (not included) and are issued by the UWA on a first come, first served basis. For this reason, you need to book this holiday as far in advance as possible to ensure we can secure you a permit. In addition to your £300 or $350 deposit, we will ask you for a £600 or $700 downpayment on your adventure to purchase your permit once the departure is confirmed. This is refundable (on cancellation by you) only if our partner agency is able to re-sell the permit on to another operator (which they make every effort to do).

Highlights

  • Batwa Cultural Trail in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

  • Mt Sabinyo Trek (3669m)

  • Afternoon & Early morning Game drive in Lake Mburo National Park

  • Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

  • Mix of Refuge, Gorilla Conservation Camp Guesthouse & wonderful Safari Lodge accommodation

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1: Arrival Into Entebbe
Accommodation Name: Guest house

You will be met at Entebbe International Airport by a a local YellowWood representative. You will be transferred to your hotel, Papyrus Guesthouse, and given any help you need to check in and settle. Your guesthouse is just a 10-15mins drive from the airport. To leave you flexibility to rest after your journey and acclimatise to Uganda, as well as to allow clients flying in from different countries to all arrive and settle, we leave this afternoon and evening free for you to do as you wish. We can advise you on where to eat, and if you would like some ideas of where to explore.

Day 2: Kasese And On To Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Accommodation Name: Guest house
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We have an early start this morning in order to transfer to the airport for a scheduled flight (Duration 1hr 35m - price included, max luggage 15kgs in a soft bag) departing at 07.00. Prepare to be struck by the beauty of the often mist-shrouded peaks of the Rwenzori mountains as you come in to land.On arrival you will be met by your local guide and transferred to Kilembe (Rwenzori Mountains National Park) and the Trekkers hostel / 'base camp' for your 3 days of trekking. Once checked in, you will have the rest of the day to spend at your leisure, before starting your hike tomorrow.

Day 3: Trekking Day 1 Hike To Sine Camp
Accommodation Name: Mountain refuge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The trek starts at Trekkers Hostel Kyanjuki 12 kilometers from Kasese town past Kilembe Copper mines. You will meet your guides in the morning and run through the trek briefing. You start by walking 2.2km to the UWA rangers post at 1,727m.Your goal today is the Sine Camp (2596m), just below the bamboo line, reached by a walk along the valley floor through the Afro Montane Forest zone, rich with bird life and with the potential to see blue monkeys scampering through the canopy. You climb steadily during the first 6kms, and after a river crossing start the slightly steeper ascent to Sine Camp. The trek covers 9.5km, taking aprrox. 7-8 hours. The camp consists of wooden huts set between the trees, with a welcoming campfire, on a narrow ridge with long views. Enocks Falls are just 200m from the camp and offer a fantastic opportunity to breathe in the scenery and take photos of the bright green lichen growing on the many vines hanging from the trees.

Day 4: Trekking Day 2 To Samalira Camp
Accommodation Name: Mountain refuge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

From Sine Camp we start by climbing up through the bamboo forests which are quite steep, but very beautiful. As you climb through the upper part of the bamboo zone, there are small patches of mixed forest with trees that bear fruit that attract many different species of birds. You will hear the calls of the Rwenzori Turaco bird which has bright crimson wings, a magnificent sight as they fly between the trees. During the dry season, the female Malachite Sunbird comes down the mountain to feed on nectar producing flowers before heading back to the high altitudes to mate and rear their young.At about 3000 meters you reach the heather zone, where the giant heather trees reach 15 meters in height and are truly magnificent. At 3147 meters you find Kalalama Camp which is an alternative to sleeping at Sine Camp, and has stunning views of the valleys and across the foothills you can see Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park.From here we climb up a beautiful mossy ridge, before turning off to pass through more heather forests and then descend to a flat valley with many Lobelia plants and their beautiful flower stems. There is then a short climb to Kyalavula and a decent down a magnificent moss covered ridge to Samalira Camp (3170m) which has the most fantastic views.The trek today covers 4.1km, taking about 3 to 4 hours.

Day 5: Trekking Day 3 Return To Basecamp And On To Kazinga Wilderness Safari Camp
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

It is sadly time to re-join the 'real world'; we take a trail down the Nyamwamba Valley - a stunning descent from 3170m - 1450m, with incredible views for much of the way; the deep valleys, high cliffs and dramatic waterfalls are possibly the best in the Rwenzori mountains. The hike takes approx. 5-7 hours and covers 10kms. The trail you follow was discovered only 6 years ago, and is by no means a well trodden path. In 1937, the explorer and geologist McConnell tried to find a way up this valley and failed, but thanks to the work of local guides in evolving and maintaining the paths, we are now able to experience this valley. We start off following the river path as it flows down towards the valley, moving away when it becomes steeper, with waterfalls, to follow a narrow ridge for a while. We later re-join the waterway to pass back down through the bamboo forest and Afro Montane Forest zone, teaming with birds and primates - a suitably magnificent ending to a 'once in a lifetime' trek.Just below Omusita Rest Area you may either continue straight down or branch to the left to slope down to a trail along the Nyamwamba River where the trees and forest are truly beautiful and continue onto the park entrance and back to the basecamp.On our return we will transfer just under an hour to Kazinga Wilderness Safari Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park, for a shower and delicious dinner.

Day 6: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We continue our travels south, down for another 225kms this morning (approx 3-4hr drive), arriving in Bwindi National Park, home to the Mountain Gorillas (gorilla beringei beringei), by lunch. Bwindi lies on the edge of the albertine Rift Valley, with mountains ranging in height from 1,160 - 2600m high. The forest itself dates back to the ice ages and is one of Ugandas oldest and most ecologically diverse. It is home to 23 endemic species of bird as well as a host of mammals that include the Gorillas of course, Baboons, Chimpanzees, Elephant and Antelope. After a pause to settle into the Gorilla Conservation Camp, run by the Conservation through Public Health NGO, we set off to visit a local coffee plantation, before returning to the lodge for dinner, and to stay overnight.

Day 7: Gorilla Tracking
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The excitement of seeing Mountain Silverback Gorillas up close in the wild will probably mean a light sleep, so it is no problem to arise early today for breakfast and to transfer to the park offices where we split into groups of 8, each with a Uganda Wildlife Authority tracking guide. Each group is allocated a gorilla family and the unforgettable experience begins to meet these gentle giants of Bwindi. Before your hike into the jungle starts, you will be given a briefing with information about your gorilla family as well as any health & safety considerations. You will enjoy a transfer to the trailhead but from there you will be hiking to track the gorillas who build new nests every day so are always to be found in a new place. Expect long distances, uneven ground, potentially muddy conditions with rain overhead, and steep gradients at times. Depending on where your gorilla family are found, you might be walking for between 2 and 8 hours. On sighting the gorillas you spend an hour with them as they go about their daily life; a totally unique and breathtaking experience. After the hour, your group will be guided back to the trailhead where a driver will be waiting to transfer you back to the Gorilla Conservation Camp for a well deserved shower and meal.

Day 8: Bwindi Impenetrable - Batwa Cultural Experience
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Echuya Batwa, commonly known as pygmies, are an endangered group of people around Echuya Forest Reserve in Kisoro and Kabale District of South Western Uganda. Originally forest dwellers, they have been almost entirely dispossessed of their land by the combined pressures of Government Gorilla conservation efforts and cultivators claiming land. Their home, before eviction, was the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest of Uganda where they were hunter gatherers and had spiritual and religious ties with the forests. Specific sites are revered and considered central to their existence. This morning we have a fascinating tour by a Batwa guide to demonstrate their hunting techniques, gathering honey, pointing out medicinal plants and demonstrating how to make bamboo cups. Women of the community perform an emotive and traditional song and we gain an insight into the richness of this fading culture. Our accommodation this evening is 300kms (5hr drive) away, but we have much to reflect on from the last few days, and plenty to see en route. Lake Mulehe Lodge is a peaceful oasis with individual Twin and Double cottages that have en-suite facilities and views of the lake.

Day 9: Mountain And Volcano Climbing In Mount Mgahinga National Park
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We enjoy a delicious breakfast, fueling up for our full day of hiking. All three volcanos in this park can be summited, but you have a choice of two hikes:Mount Sabinyo HikeMount Sabinyo, at 3669m, takes about 8-10 hours to cover the 14km round trip. It is an exciting route that takes us up and over 3 peaks with an ascent of 1300m. From the summit, you will be on the border between 3 countries: Rwanda, Uganda & the Democratic Republic of Congo! The trail to our first peak is a ridge walk with fantastic views, along the Eastern side of the mountain. Continuing to the second peak offers us breath taking drops into the gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Our third and final peak is a steep hike with some technical aspects: ladders and some scrambling. Expect to see a diverse range of wildlife during the trek: duikers, Rwenzori turaco and sunbirds, as well as the endemic and endangered golden monkey (Cercopithecus minis kandti). Between 2 and 4000 individuals exist, living in troops of about 100, led by an Alpha male and feeding on bamboo shoots, seasonal fruits, flowers, leaves and small invertebrates. Mount Muhavura HikeMount Muhavura is the highest peak at 4127m and this 12km round trip takes around 8 hours. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded on a clear day with views of the Virunga Volcanoes, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountains.Towering above the land at an elevation of 1700m, this typical coned shaped volcano provides some of the best views in Uganda. The hike is steep, but very rewarding throughout. At the top you will find the most amazing view over the Congo and Rwanda.We return to Lake Mulehe Lodge for a welcome shower and dinner after a wonderful trek.

Day 10: Bwindi National Park - Lake Mburo National Park
Accommodation Name: Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

With some big distances to cover between Bwindi and Entebbe, today we reluctantly leave the sanctity of the lakeshore and start the journey Eastwards (250km approx. 5 hour drive). We are by no means winding down from your experience yet though - we drive this morning, until lunch, before entering Lake Mburo National Park for a wonderful game drive this afternoon. Although one of Uganda's smaller National Parks, it has a wonderful selection of African birds and mammals to spot: impala, warthog, zebra, buffalo and is particularly known for its hippos and African fish eagles. Tonight you stay in an eco friendly hotel
estaurant nestled on a scenic outcrop at the edge of the park: a secluded retreat in the Ankole ranch lands where we stay in comfortable and spacious 'cottages' dotted around the hill. During dinner the game spotting continues as herbivores often congregate at the water hole beneath the dining area.

Day 11: Lake Mburo National Park - Entebbe
Accommodation Name: Guest house
Meals Included: Breakfast

We start our last full day in Uganda in the best way possible- with an early game drive to see the savannah awakening and the sun rising. Later, we transfer to Entebbe with a stop at the equator for photos and a little souvenir shopping (Approx 270km/5 hour drive). We will arrive in Entebbe during the afternoon, and check in at our familiar guesthouse located within easy reach of the airport for tomorrow's departing flight.

Day 12: Departure
Meals Included: Breakfast

Depending on your flight departure time, after breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Time to start planning the next adventure!

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as detailed

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

    Yes

  • Fully Guided

    Supporting you on your holiday will be a local, English speaking Ugandan guide and a YellowWood Adventures Guide. They will be joined by a trekking guide for the trek in the Rwenzori Mountains (Day 2 - 5) and for the hike up Mt Sabinyo (Day 9). You will also be joined by a tracking expert from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for the Gorilla tracking (Day 7). This ensures you are in excellent hands in the mountains, and that you have access to local knowledge as well as being closely supported by YellowWood.

  • Meals

    Meals as detailed

What's Not Included

  • Additional Services

  • Insurance

  • International Travel

Accommodation

We fully believe in, and practice Responsible Tourism, using local hotels, owned and run by locals. We put time and effort into building our relationship with them to ensure you have a a great trip.

We choose hotels based on cleanliness, comfort, safety, proximity to our route (to avoid unnecessary extra road travel), and a warm client welcome, as well as reliability in their service to us. Some hotels will be basic, in modern buildings or in town centres. Wherever we can, we will choose smaller more characterful, individual hotels, but in areas where tourism is still developing, this may not be available. An aspect of our adventures is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles and to experience new things which are exciting and memorable, and reflects the countries we are visiting.

This is adventure travel and on occasion the advertised services at a hotel (eg wifi, or hot showers, or continuous power) may not be functional on our arrival. This tends to occur in the smaller, more remote hotels. Very rarely a hotel lets us down and we are required to find alternative suitable accommodation that might not be our first choice. This trip involves a range of guesthouses, eco safari lodges and thatched roof riverside tents

The list below gives information on our first choice of accommodation for this adventure; where hotels and hostels are fully booked or unavailable, we will use an alternative of a similar standard, and equally well situated. We will provide you with an accurate list of accommodation, with contact information to leave with relatives, prior to departure on your adventure.

Entebbe (Day 1 & 11): Paypyrus Guesthouse

Kilembe (Day 2): Trekkers Hostel

Rwenzori Mountains (Day 3 & 4 & 5): Mountain Refuges - dormitory style, basic.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (Day 6 & 7): CTHPGorilla Conservation Camp

Lake Mulehe (Day 8 & 9): Lake Mulehe Lodge

Lake Mburo National Park (Day 10): Rwaboko Rock Lodge

Facilities: With the exception of some of the higher class hotels in Entebbe, hotels generally do not have heating or air conditioning. As nights can be chilly, please bring appropriate sleepwear if needed (see packing list for further information). In areas where malaria is a problem, hotel rooms come with mosquito nets.

Check out our Q&As

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in Itinerary.

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    As detailed in Itinerary.

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    This trip involves trekking over passes, summiting peaks and traversing plateaux and mountain valleys. You will encounter rough terrain, steep gradients and some scree and boulders at varying times. You will not always be walking on a defined path. The hike up Mt Sabinyo has some technical sections where you will use ladders and some scrambling techniques.To get the most of out of this adventure, you need to be a regular walker and in good physical condition. The terrain requires that you are used to walking up and down steep gradients, and hiking for extended periods of time and on consecutive days. You will be walking at altitudes of up to 3669m. Any hiking is undertaken at the natural pace of the group, with regular stops. Walking boots that have already been worn in are essential on this adventure. You will be carrying just a day pack with camera, spare layers and a bottle of water.

    Training: As with all active holidays, the fitter you are, the more you can relax and enjoy the stunning route, and the better you can cope with challenges such as the outside elements.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    No, Flights are not included in the cost of your holiday, and whilst we are happy to help advise you, responsibility for booking the correct flights rests with you. We recommend that you use a comparison tool such as www.momondo.co.uk or www.skyscanner.net when searching for flights.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, Supporting you on your holiday will be a local, English speaking Ugandan guide and a YellowWood Adventures Guide. They will be joined by a trekking guide for the trek in the Rwenzori Mountains (Day 2 - 5) and for the hike up Mt Sabinyo (Day 9). You will also be joined by a tracking expert from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for the Gorilla tracking (Day 7). This ensures you are in excellent hands in the mountains, and that you have access to local knowledge as well as being closely supported by YellowWood.

  • Are vaccinations required for this tour?

    It is not compulsory but taking a prescription anti-malarial drug (atovaquone/proguanil aka Malarone, doxycycline and mefloquine are recommended; chloroquine is NOT an effective anti-malarial in Ethiopia)

  • What is the maximum group size?

    The max group size is 12 people.

  • Is there a supplement for solo travellers?

    Yes, Unless you have booked a single room (where they are available) and paid the single room supplement for those nights, you will be sharing a twin room with another client (of the same gender).

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Yes, Your YellowWood adventure starts at the airport in Entebbe on the start day of the trip so you will be met at Entebbe International Airport and transferred to your hotel,

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Since 2015

  • Risk Assessment

    YellowWood operates a Safety Management System which encompasses a planned, researched, implemented and reviewed approach to your Health & Safety. A risk assessment is a careful examination of what could cause harm (hazards) and the assessment of likelihood of hazards occuring, as well as the severity of the outcome of a hazard.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for our latest Covid-19 policies

  • Experienced Leaders

    On all of our adventures you will benefit from the daily presence of an experienced, English speaking local guide. You will also have additional guides at various points during the trip (see itineraries for details).

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    As a visitor to a foreign country, we inevitably leave our mark. At YellowWood Adventures, we are determined that this ‘mark’ will be a positive one. Tourism is not always beneficial and we are conscious of treading lightly in the lands we explore.

Reviews of this Operator

Ruth  

FANTASTIC TRIP TO EITHIOPIA!!

2020

From guiding us through the crowded alleys of Lalibela at Genna to clambering up the dizzy heights of Abuna Yemata this was a trip that surpassed all expectations! Yellowwood hits the right balance of organised small group travel with adventurous, 'off the beaten track' experiences all the while making you feel as if you've travelling with a small group of your friends. Ethiopia is truly a beautiful country with wonderful friendly and generous people throughout. I highly recommend this trip and am already planning for my next Yellowwood adventure!

Ethiopia Adventure, 2020
Sophie  

Absolute trip of a lifetime

2019

This trip was one of the best I've ever done. Getting into the Tian Shan mountains was really quite magical; experiencing the scenery and feeling isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the personalised feel of the trek, was unrivalled. The quality of the food was also a highlight, and I was catered for as a vegetarian (in a very non-vegetarian place!). Kyrgyzstan is a relatively undiscovered gem, and it was lovely to do a road-less-travelled style trip. Thanks to Sam and YellowWood for taking us on a genuine adventure with a fantastic itinerary. I look forward to joining some more non-traditional trips when possible!"

Kyrgyzstan Adventure, 2019
Ken  

People and Landscapes of Oman Adventure

2022

Every day was a highlight for me, no specific favourite. Oman deserves all the superlatives it gets -magnificent scenery, safe, friendly environment, welcoming and engaging people. YellowWood delivers a winner on this trip! Kudos to all.

Oman Adventure, 2022

Dates & Availability

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Saturday - Wednesday

Jul 27, 2024 - Aug 07, 2024
$4899 $4654 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$245 (USD)

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Sunday - Thursday

Dec 22, 2024 - Jan 02, 2025
$4899 $4654 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$245 (USD)

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Saturday - Wednesday

Jul 26, 2025 - Aug 06, 2025
$4899 $4654 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$245 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Saturday - Wednesday

Dec 20, 2025 - Dec 31, 2025
$4899 $4654 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$245 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    YellowWood Adventures requires a minimum deposit of 400 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 56 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of yellowwood adventures charges.

    Up to 57 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 56 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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