The Gorilla Safari

Gorillas by The Segals (2)

The giant silverback appears from out of the shade, his thick clump of pearly hair shining in the sunlight. You look down, submissive, the way that you have been taught by the guides. Satisfied, the alpha settles in for a nap, while his family siesta around him, slowly stroking and grooming one another, playing, rolling on beds of flattened leaves, or dozing in the shadows. One of the females casually meets your awestruck gaze with her liquid amber stare. There’s a feeling of recognition. Life will never be the same. You’ve just had your first gorilla encounter.

It’s only a lucky few who ever experience this once-in-a-lifetime brush with jungle royalty, the rare mountain gorillas who make the Impenetrable Bwindi Forest in Uganda their home. Permits are limited, and even once issued an encounter is hard-won, often requiring several hours of heavy hiking up steep and slippery slopes and through dense, humid vegetation. Once the troop is located, groups are only given a precious hour to spend with the gorilla family, a strictly-monitored window that ensures minimal disruption to the primates. But what an hour it is… Worth every moment of pain and exhaustion, and certainly worth travelling such a long way to find.

Mantis is offering three different packages to visit the Bwindi gorillas, staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, a luxurious eco-lodge high on the Nteko Ridge, in the southern part of the park. Over a five-day itinerary you can double up on the experience with two days of gorilla tracking, or combine a single day of tracking with a traditional safari at Apoka Lodge in the seven-day itinerary. Alternately, you can squeeze your visit into just four days.

Whichever package you choose, your day with the gorillas starts early – a hearty breakfast to set you up for the physical demands of the hike. You’ll be assigned a specific gorilla family, and trackers use GPS to locate them, making the sighting almost (but not quite) guaranteed. For some, it’s a short walk. For others, a full-day odyssey, but either way you’ll return exhilarated.

To make the most of your experience, prepare well, raising your fitness level as much as possible beforehand. Try to step out from behind the camera – while it’s tempting to snap as many pictures as possible in order to do justice to such an amazing experience, the brief hour is best remembered when enjoyed in the moment, breathing in the tranquillity of the forest and the magnetism of the creatures themselves. It passes in the blink of an eye, never to be forgotten.

The four, five and seven-day adventures are available throughout the year, although the rainy season is from March to May and again from October to mid-December. Each includes meals as stipulated, charter flights and viewing permits.

Day 1

Arrive at Entebbe Airport. Pick up by the driver guide and transfer to your hotel in Entebbe.

Overnight at Boma Guest House (FB)

Day 2

Pick up from hotel at 06h00 for a scheduled flight at Entebbe Airport departing 07h45 to Kisoro Airstrip, arriving 08h55.

Meet our representative at Kisoro airstrip who will drive you for 2hrs to the Clouds Lodge. Enjoy a community walk.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 3

Go for Gorilla tracking. Then return to the Lodge.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 4

After breakfast, transfer by road 2hrs from Clouds Lodge to Kisoro Airstrip to catch scheduled flight from Kisoro/Entebbe (09h10/11h25). Pick up by our representative and transfer to the Boma hotel for a days’ room. Transfer to the Airport for your outbound International flight.

RATES

JAN/FEB/JUN/JUL/AUG/SEP/DEC

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 2798
  • Per person single: US$ 3214 

MAR/OCT

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 2421
  • Per person single: US$ 2732

APR/MAY/NOV (discounted Gorilla Permits)

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 2159
  • Per person single: US$ 2469

Included

  • All meals as specified in the itinerary (hotels in Kampala or Entebbe are generally B&B)
  • Drinks as stipulated in itinerary
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Charter or scheduled flights, and airport taxes as applicable and specified in the itinerary. NB: Baggage restriction of 15kgs per person (no more) is applicable on all flights in small, soft-sided bags.
  • Park, conservation and community bed night fees
  • All applicable taxes, administration and banking fees
  • Gorilla and / or Chimpanzee permits per person as specified in the itinerary.
  • Gorilla & Chimpanzee tracking is subject to availability of permits, which are limited to 8 per gorilla group per day and 6 per chimpanzee track per ½ day.
  • Any Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits required need to be paid for upfront when booking. As soon as funds clear in our account, we will go ahead and purchase.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits cannot be held with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in advance of payment – they are only secured once physically paid for.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits are always 100% non-transferable and non-refundable.
  • Please note that if clients are staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, we shall endeavour to buy Nkuringo Gorilla group permits – the Nkuringo group is very close to the Lodge. If at the time of booking, the Nkuringo permits are not available, we shall secure permits from the Rushaga Group (Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye or Bweza Families) which are a 45 – 60 minute drive from Clouds. There is an additional cost of approximately $188 (per vehicle) which transfers guests to the tracking start point, waits and returns them to the Lodge.
  • There is a minimum age limit for gorilla tracking which is strictly 15 years.

Not Included:

  • International flights and applicable airport departure taxes
  • All passport and visa fees (Visa: US$ 50 per person for entry into Uganda – easily obtainable at the Airport)
  • Meals not specified (including lunch and other meal stops between properties on overland sectors)
  • Drinks where not stipulated in itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature: fax, telephone, etc.
  • Laundry in Entebbe/Kampala
  • Gratuities for guide/driver/hotel staff
  • Any extras and additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel/medical insurance
  • Amref Flying Doctors emergency evacuation – can be arranged @$24 per person per 31 days
  • Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance.
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control.
  • All statutory increases beyond our control.

Day 1

Arrive at Entebbe Airport. Pick up by the driver guide and transfer to your hotel in Entebbe.

Overnight at Boma Guest House (FB)

Day 2

Pick up from hotel at 06h00 for a scheduled flight at Entebbe Airport departing 07h45 to Kisoro Airstrip, arriving 08h55.

Meet our representative at Kisoro airstrip who will drive you for 2hrs to the Clouds Lodge. Enjoy a community walk.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 3

Go for Gorilla tracking. Then return to the Lodge.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 4

Second gorilla tracking.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 5

After breakfast, transfer by road 2hrs from Clouds Lodge to Kisoro Airstrip to catch scheduled flight from Kisoro/Entebbe (09h10/11h25).

Pick up by our representative and transfer to the Boma hotel for a days’ room. Transfer to the Airport for your outbound International flight.

RATES

JAN/FEB/JUN/JUL/AUG/SEP/DEC

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 4017
  • Per person single: US$ 4583

MAR/OCT

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 3466
  • Per person single: US$ 3874

APR/MAY/NOV (discounted Gorilla Permits)

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 2941
  • Per person single: US$ 3349

Included

  • All meals as specified in the itinerary (hotels in Kampala or Entebbe are generally B&B)
  • Drinks as stipulated in itinerary
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Charter or scheduled flights, and airport taxes as applicable and specified in the itinerary. NB: Baggage restriction of 15kgs per person (no more) is applicable on all flights in small, soft-sided bags.
  • Park, conservation and community bed night fees
  • All applicable taxes, administration and banking fees
  • Gorilla and / or Chimpanzee permits per person as specified in the itinerary.
  • Gorilla & Chimpanzee tracking is subject to availability of permits, which are limited to 8 per gorilla group per day and 6 per chimpanzee track per ½ day.
  • Any Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits required need to be paid for upfront when booking. As soon as funds clear in our account, we will go ahead and purchase.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits cannot be held with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in advance of payment – they are only secured once physically paid for.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits are always 100% non-transferable and non-refundable.
  • Please note that if clients are staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, we shall endeavour to buy Nkuringo Gorilla group permits – the Nkuringo group is very close to the Lodge. If at the time of booking, the Nkuringo permits are not available, we shall secure permits from the Rushaga Group (Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye or Bweza Families) which are a 45 – 60 minute drive from Clouds. There is an additional cost of approximately $188 (per vehicle) which transfers guests to the tracking start point, waits and returns them to the Lodge.
  • There is a minimum age limit for gorilla tracking which is strictly 15 years.

Not Included:

  • International flights and applicable airport departure taxes
  • All passport and visa fees (Visa: US$ 50 per person for entry into Uganda – easily obtainable at the Airport)
  • Meals not specified (including lunch and other meal stops between properties on overland sectors)
  • Drinks where not stipulated in itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature: fax, telephone, etc.
  • Laundry in Entebbe/Kampala
  • Gratuities for guide/driver/hotel staff
  • Any extras and additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel/medical insurance
  • Amref Flying Doctors emergency evacuation – can be arranged @$24 per person per 31 days
  • Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance.
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control.
  • All statutory increases beyond our control.

7-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1:

Arrive at Entebbe Airport. Pickup by the driver guide and transfer to your hotel in Entebbe.

Overnight at Boma Guest House (BB)

Day 2:

Pick up from hotel at 06h00 for a scheduled flight at Entebbe Airport departing 07h45 to Kisoro Airstrip, arriving 08h55.

Meet our representative at Kisoro Airstrip who will drive you for 2hrs to the Clouds Lodge. Enjoy a community walk.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 3:

Go for Gorilla tracking. Then return to the Lodge.

Overnight Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 4:

After breakfast, transfer by road 2hrs from Clouds Lodge to Kisoro Airstrip to catch scheduled flight from Kisoro/Entebbe (09h10/11h25).

Stay at the airport for a connection to a scheduled flight to Kidepo airstrip (12h30/14h00). Pickup by our guide who will transfer you to Apoka Lodge.

Overnight Apoka Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 5:

Game drives and community walk.

Overnight Apoka Lodge (FB + Non premium brand drinks)

Day 6:

Enjoy another game drive. After lunch, transfer to the airstrip in time for the scheduled flight at (15h00/16h30) to Entebbe. Pick up by our representative and transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at Boma Guest House (BB)

Day 7:

Transfer to the Airport for your outbound International flight.

RATES

JAN/FEB/JUN/JUL/AUG/SEP/DEC

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 4708
  • Per person single: US$ 5420

MAR/OCT

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 3894
  • Per person single: US$ 4404

APR/MAY/NOV (discounted Gorilla Permits)

  • Based on 2 people:
  • Per person sharing: US$ 3632
  • Per person single: US$ 4141

Included

  • All meals as specified in the itinerary (hotels in Kampala or Entebbe are generally B&B)
  • Drinks as stipulated in itinerary
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Water in the vehicle for overland sectors
  • Charter or scheduled flights, and airport taxes as applicable and specified in the itinerary. NB: Baggage restriction of 15kgs per person (no more) is applicable on all flights in small, soft-sided bags.
  • All ground transportation and transfers as indicated, which are inclusive of fuel
  • Activities as indicated in the itinerary
  • Game drives in a shared 4 wheel drive vehicle at Lodges where indicated
  • Ranger guide fees
  • Park, conservation and community bed night fees
  • All applicable taxes, administration and banking fees
  • Gorilla and / or Chimpanzee permits per person as specified in the itinerary.
  • Gorilla & Chimpanzee tracking is subject to availability of permits, which are limited to 8 per gorilla group per day and 6 per chimpanzee track per ½ day.
  • Any Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits required need to be paid for upfront when booking. As soon as funds clear in our account, we will go ahead and purchase.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits cannot be held with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in advance of payment – they are only secured once physically paid for.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits are always 100% non-transferable and non-refundable.
  • Please note that if clients are staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, we shall endeavour to buy Nkuringo Gorilla group permits – the Nkuringo group is very close to the Lodge. If at the time of booking, the Nkuringo permits are not available, we shall secure permits from the Rushaga Group (Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye or Bweza Families) which are a 45 – 60 minute drive from Clouds. There is an additional cost of approximately $188 (per vehicle) which transfers guests to the tracking start point, waits and returns them to the Lodge.
  • There is a minimum age limit for gorilla tracking which is strictly 15 years.

Not Included:

  • International flights and applicable airport departure taxes
  • All passport and visa fees (Visa: US$ 50 per person for entry into Uganda – easily obtainable at the Airport)
  • Meals not specified (including lunch and other meal stops between properties on overland sectors)
  • Drinks where not stipulated in itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature: fax, telephone, etc.
  • Laundry in Entebbe/Kampala
  • Gratuities for guide/driver/hotel staff
  • Any extras and additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel/medical insurance
  • Amref Flying Doctors emergency evacuation – can be arranged @$24 per person per 31 days
  • Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance.
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control.
  • All statutory increases beyond our control.