Trip Overview

This Gorilla Trek and African wildlife safari to see and photograph the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda is one of the best African wildlife safari adventures you will ever experience! Our Gorrilla Trek showcases the tropical forests of the Western Great Rift Valley in East Africa, the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda and the dramatic volcanic peaks and lush green forests of Rwanda. From the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in western Uganda, and from the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda, we track some of the last remaining mountain gorillas that still live in their natural habitat.

Few wildlife safari experiences in East Africa can compare with the thrill, and the privilege, of seeing and photographing the rare and endangered families of mountain gorillas in the lush, misty forests of both Uganda and Rwanda. Approaching these enormous yet gentle creatures on foot, and observing their family dynamics from only a few feet away as they feed and socialize with one another, is a powerful one-of-a-kind wildlife adventure that redefines “unforgettable”.

This unique African safari in Uganda and Rwanda also features chimpanzee viewing in Kibale Forest, Uganda, and the chance to explore one of Uganda’s remarkable wildlife sanctuaries, Queen Elizabeth National Park. This African game park is a superb “big game” park which lies in the shadow of the Ruwenzori Mountains, named “Mountains of the Moon” by 2nd century Egyptian explorer, Ptolemy. View the vast herds of African elephants, buffalo, hippos, antelope, baboons, chimpanzees, and a dazzling variety of exotic East African birds. Take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward in Uganda to view some of the largest concentrations of hippo in the world.

It was in Rwanda that Dian Fossey did her groundbreaking work on the highly endangered mountain gorillas and wrote her book Gorillas in the Mist, which ultimately led to the conservation of these gentle giants. As you trek through Volcanoes National Park and Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains in search of one of the surviving mountain gorilla groups, you rediscover how precious life is and how important it is that these critically endangered but magnificent creatures remain protected in their natural habitat.

Stunning East Africa accommodations and fantastic African wildlife guides round out the safari trip of a lifetime, limited to only 15 participants. Come be part of this very special AdventureWomen African safari, and find out why AdventureWomen travelers are passionately (and hopelessly) obsessed with Africa and its many treasures.

Here is a short video of our 2012 AdventureWomen Gorilla Trek and Wildlife Safari in Uganda and Rwanda.

If you want to see more, check out this amazing video by participant, and accomplished photographer, Dee Hanley.

Main Attractions

  • Visit the homes of the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in both Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest) and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) with treks into the forests for once-in-a-lifetime viewings.
  • View the chimpanzees in Kigali, Uganda.
  • Enjoy spectacular scenery from every angle of our journey in 4X4 vehicles through the magnificent countryside of East Africa.
  • View and photograph African wildlife on safari in Uganda's famous Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Stay in luxury safari camps, lodges, and hotels in East Africa with private en suite facilities and modern amenities, including pampering by first-rate staff and fabulous meals.
  • Learn about Rwanda's genocide and fascinating history at the Genocide Museum in Kigali, and see first-hand its remarkable and inspiring recovery.

What You'll See and Do!

4 X 4, Birding, Cultural Exploration, Gorilla Tracking, Natural History, Photography, River Cruising, Sightseeing, Walking, Wildlife Safari

What You'll See and Do

  • Birding
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Gorilla Tracking
  • Natural History
  • Photography
  • River Cruising
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Safari

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Trip Itinerary

This spine-tingling adventure is both amazing and remarkable, as you come face to face with some of the last remaining and endangered mountain gorillas in the world. From the tropical forests of Africa's Western Rift Valley, the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park, dramatic volcanic peaks and lush green forests, Uganda and Rwanda provide the backdrop for one of the best wildlife encounters you will ever experience! Stunning accommodations, plus Albert Mitcho, our most favorite African guide, accompany us on this trip of a lifetime.

Day 1

Monday, May 12, 2014: Depart the U.S.A. for Entebbe, Uganda
Depart the U.S.A. for your overnight flight to Entebbe, Uganda via Addis Ababa.

[Meals Aloft]

Day 2

Tuesday, May 13: Addis Ababa to Entebbe, Uganda
Arrive in Addis Ababa this morning, where we connect with our flight to Entebbe. Upon arrival in Entebbe, we are welcomed by our guide, Albert Mitcho, and our driver/guides, who will escort us to the hotel. Tonight’s Welcome Dinner will give everyone a chance to relax after our long flights, and enjoy our first meal together.

The newly built 73-room Protea Hotel Entebbe is ideally located on the glistening shores of Lake Victoria and very close to Entebbe International Airport. Its sleek and modern rooms have air-conditioning, balconies, flat-screen satellite television, refrigerators, safes, executive work stations and seating areas. The Tides Restaurant serves full breakfast, lunch and dinner, with specialties including fresh Tilapia and Nile Perch. The Terrace, with its own special ambiance and superb lake views, is the perfect place to kick off a decadent evening or to simply relax and enjoy the sunset with an aperitif before dinner.

[Meals Aloft and Dinner]

Overnight at the Protea Hotel

In the 19th century, Uganda shined as the “Pearl of Africa.” All the great safaris once ventured into Uganda’s jeweled depths, where the first drops of the quixotic Nile flow. Today Uganda offers some of the most unique travel experiences in the world, without the crowds. From rich savannahs to virgin mountain forests, from teeming rivers to steaming jungles, Uganda’s biological diversity and natural splendor are beyond compare. But it is the densely packed (often called impenetrable) forests where Uganda’s most famous residents reside, the awe-inspiring mountain gorilla.

Day 3

Wednesday, May 14: Drive to Kibale Forest Region
Our adventure begins today with an exciting full-day drive that takes us to Kibale Forest. Leaving the Rift Valley and passing through beautiful agricultural countryside, we see every type of fruit and vegetable imaginable that is grown along the way. Upon reaching Kyanjojo, in the lower foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains (the famous ‘Mountains of the Moon’), we drive through green, lush tea plantations and into the Kibale tropical rain forest. Once this tropical rainforest provided a home for large herds of migrating forest elephants and, even now, the park contains the largest population of this subspecies in Uganda. Though rarely seen, the signs of their presence are abundant.

Kibale’s greatest claim to fame however, is its variety of primates and its families of habituated chimpanzees, home to an astonishing 12 species of primates, providing one of the highest primate densities in the world.

Our home for the next two nights is Ndali Lodge, a luxury inn situated on a 1000 acre private estate, in a spectacular setting overlooking the crater lake Nyinambuga on one side, and the Rwenzori Mountains on the other side. On a clear morning, the snow on the distant peaks is clearly visible. There is a terrace restaurant and bar with beautiful views, and a homey, comfortable sitting room with overstuffed furniture. Each adobe-style cottage is lovingly decorated and features private baths and great views. There is no electricity at this lodge, but ample candle and oil lamps are provided in the evening, creating a romantic ambiance of “Old Africa”. We relax at Ndali Lodge tonight after our long drive.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Overnight at Ndali Lodge

Day 4

Thursday, May 15: In Search of the Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park
It is thought that there are over 700 chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest.
Here, on our guided forest walk, we may find families of chimps and red Colobus monkeys chattering and swinging through the ancient forest trees. We locate the chimps by listening with our guide for their pant-hooting calls, and then observe them as they feed in the trees, lounge, or hunt. Though they feed primarily on figs and other fruit, they are effective hunters.

Intelligent and lively, the sociable chimpanzee shows an ability to learn as well as act instinctively. The chimpanzee is the animal that resembles man most closely, and shares familiar human characteristics such as problem solving abilities, a high degree of parental care, and a variety of facial expressions. They even make tools, using sticks as weapons to dig out the contents of insect nests. Also, sick chimps have been seen eating plants that have medicinal properties. Many primatologists attribute culture to chimpanzees, noting learned variations in such skills and habits among different groups. Their behavior could provide a clue to that of our early ancestors. Although incapable of speech beyond their own simple vocalizations, captive chimpanzees have been taught to communicate in a language using visual rather than verbal symbols. Chimpanzees suffer from many human diseases, including malaria. Because of their close evolutionary relationship to man, they are often used for medical and behavioral experimentation.

Kibale, with ancient trees up to 180 feet in height, is a wonderful place to experience the extraordinary diversity of life in a tropical rainforest. The bird life in the forest is no less impressive. There are at least 323 species of birds, many of which are found no where else. There are also over 144 species of butterflies. You may see a Crowned Crane’s (Uganda’s national bird) nesting and feeding site, or you may climb up a tree-house viewing platform to see the exotic looking Dura River screw palms. You are certainly more than impressed by the grandeur of the forest and the abundance of exotic life forms in this thriving and ancient environment. Occasionally, at clearings, buffalo and antelope can be viewed.

We also take a guided walk through a wetland wildlife reserve on the edge of the park. This reserve has a mixture of forest and swamp, and wooden trails have been constructed to permit visitors to walk right into the depths of the marshland.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Overnight at Ndali Lodge

Day 5 - 6

Friday – Saturday, May 16 – 17: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today’s drive takes us to Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Uganda’s outstanding treasures that is designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO auspices. The drive takes approximately 3½ hours, and passes through Fort Portal and then south along the eastern length of the Rwenzori Mountains. We gently descend into the Great African Rift Valley and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park covers almost 324 square miles between Lake George and Lake Edward. Lying on the Western Great Rift, it includes a remarkable variety of ecosystems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah, and swamps. There are also several soda lakes filling ancient volcanic calderas, where flamingos seasonally reside.

We enjoy two full days of wildlife viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park to see waterbuck, bushbuck, mobs of mud-baked buffalo, and giant forest hogs. Elephant, hippopotamus, baboons, chimps, and the famous Kizezi tree-climbing lions may also be seen. This park is home to the Uganda Kob, antelopes famous for their fierce displays of male territoriality on the mating grounds. Rivals engage in horn-rattling contests of strength, while cattle egrets wheel and cry overhead as if they have a stake in the outcome.

During our time in the park we also embark in a water safari on the Kazinga Channel, an excellent way to view game in the park. This game-rich stretch is filled with pods of hippos, elephant, Cape buffalo, and leopard. Photographic opportunities abound as we pass through one of Africa’s most concentrated hippo populations. Bird life is extremely prolific and colorful. It is the breeding ground for such stunning birds as bee-eaters, malachite, pied kingfishers, white pelicans, cormorants, herons, hammerkop, ibis, ducks, and huge flocks of migrating birds. Queen Elizabeth National Park is said to be the best birding park in all of Africa with a total of 560+ recorded bird species and a record 296 species seen in one 24 hour period.

Our accommodations are at the newly renovated, and wonderfully situated, Mweya Safari Lodge. The lodge is located on a scenic hill overlooking Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel, which connects both lakes. Vast rolling hills stretch away in grassy waves behind Mweya Lodge and are accented by wooded valleys and a chain of extinct volcanoes with the spectacular Rwenzori Mountains in the background.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Two overnights at Mweya Lodge

Day 7 - 8

Sunday – Monday, May 18-19: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: In Search of Mountain Gorillas
Today we depart Queen Elizabeth National Park and drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, passing through the scenic area known as the “Switzerland of East Africa.” Approximate driving time is 4½ hours through stunning, mountainous scenery.

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest is a true African jungle, so called because of the dense undergrowth, vines, and other vegetation which make it almost “impenetrable”. It is both mysterious and awesome. The lowland rainforest and montane forest vegetation constantly struggle to reach heights that allow it to receive more light. Huge trees are festooned with creepers and parasitic plants such as mistletoe and orchids. Giant thickets of bamboo thrive in the humid atmosphere and, where sunlight breaks though, the elegant heliconia or lobster claw spreads its colorful petals. At least 120 species of mammals make their home here in one of the richest ecosystems in Africa. Besides the 10 species of primates, elephant, bush pig, giant forest hog, many species of bats and rodents, at least 346 species of birds including rare forest birds, 14 species of snakes, 27 species of frogs and toads, 6 chameleons, 14 lizards, skinks and geckos, and at least 202 species of butterflies are resident in the Forest. There are also several endangered species of birds with limited ranges.

Certainly the main highlight of this park is the mountain gorillas. Ugandan authorities are fiercely protective of this natural treasure and permit only a maximum of 18 passengers per day (currently) to visit the gorillas. After breakfast on our second day in Bwindi, we proceed to the nearby park headquarters and meet with our excellent local guides and porters, who carry our personal items and assist us during the trek.

“Stay low. Follow all hand signals and do not speak. If stared at, lower your eyes. Staring is a threat gesture. If charged, do not—repeat—do not run. Simply sit low and stay put. Ready? Let’s go.” – Guide at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on a search for mountain gorillas.

The gorillas in Bwindi live on the slopes of ancient volcanoes in high elevation forests. Dense bamboo thickets give way to a combination of large meadows and a dense herbaceous vegetation zone highlighted by moss-laden hagenia and hypericum trees. Our trek takes us through a fairyland forest, an experience that itself is thrilling. As we trek, there is evidence that the gorillas have been present (gorilla spore). The treks can last from four to seven hours (or more) depending on where and when we find the gorillas. Once found, there is an hour limit to the time spent with these majestic creatures. Tracking gorillas through misty, seemingly impenetrable forests can be an exhausting process as the paths are often slippery, entangled, and wet. However, this effort is quickly forgotten the minute we encounter these beautiful creatures. They instantly capture our full attention with their acrobatic antics and cacophony of grunts, screeches, and chest beating.

Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located, all fatigue is forgotten. The experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. There are three habituated families within the forest and we are viewing the Mubare and Habinyanja families. Approaching these enormous yet gentle creatures on foot, and observing from only a few feet away as they feed and socialize, is a powerful one-of-a-kind wildlife experience that redefines unforgettable. There is no debating the fact that spending time with these gentle giants of the African forest is an awe-inspiring experience!

Please Note: Although approximately 98% of the gorilla treks are successful, there is no guarantee that we WILL see the gorillas.

Our accommodations for the next two nights are at Buhoma Lodge, located only five minutes’ walk from Bwindi Park Headquarters. The lodge consists of eight traditionally built wooden cottages with individual verandahs with excellent views towards the pristine tropical rain forests of the area. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets. A solar system provides lighting in the cottages and common areas, and power points in central facilities for video and camera charging. The emphasis is on providing an intimate, homey atmosphere while at the same time ensuring that facilities and services expected by guests are available.

The cool evenings (as the lodge is at almost 5,000 feet above sea level) are compensated for with a fireplace in the common area, providing a cozy environment for guests to meet with each other and discuss the events of the day. A bar service provides local beer, waragi (Ugandan gin), soda, and wine for purchase.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Two Overnights at the Buhoma Lodge

Day 9 - 10

Tuesday – Wednesday, May 20 – 21: Drive to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, for More Gorilla Trekking
Known as the “land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda is a tiny landlocked country in the heart of East Africa. Here, at the center of the Albertine Rift, where deep volcanic forces are pressing the continental plates apart, you discover a world of exquisite beauty and unsurpassed biodiversity, a verdant world of emerald hills and lush tropical rainforest.

We are up early this morning for our drive to Kinigi and the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda, part of the Virunga Conservation Area covering more than 48 square miles. This is home to five Virunga volcanoes: Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Visoke, Muhabura, and Karisimbi, the highest volcano – all of which are extinct. The Virunga ecosystem is composed of four major vegetation zones: bamboo (base altitude), hagenia and hypericum forest (8,500-10,800 feet), sub-alpine (10,800-13,000 feet), and afro-alpine (above 13,000 feet).

Again, as in Uganda, the main highlight of this park is the mountain gorillas, which spend most of their time in the hagenia woodlands and bamboo forests. During the rainy season when new bamboo shoots are growing, the gorillas spend more time foraging in the bamboo forests at base altitude. This park was the base for Dian Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist) up until her untimely death in 1985, and she focused her work at the Karisoke Research Center for 18 years which ultimately led to the conservation of these gentle giants. There are four habituated gorilla families that can be visited here, most of them on the slopes of the Visoke volcano. The Susa group has 35 individuals, the Amahoro group has 11 individuals, the Sabyinyo group has been divided into two groups (“A” has 13 individuals and “B,” a break way group, has four individuals), and group 13 has seven individuals.

Ugandan authorities are fiercely protective of this natural treasure and permit only a maximum of 18 guests per day (currently) to visit the gorillas. We have the remarkable opportunity for another trek, to view mountain gorillas in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. On Wednesday, after breakfast, we drive to the nearby park headquarters and meet with our excellent local guides and porters, who again carry all of our personal items and assist us during our trek.

Our accommodations for the next two nights are at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. Lovely and comfortable cottages have en suite bathrooms, hot and cold water, and are attended to by friendly and helpful staff. With a central bar, lounge, and dining room area, all rooms have magnificent views of the Virunga Mountains and the Ruhengeri Valley.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Two overnights at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Day 11

Thursday, May 22: Kigali, Rwanda
This morning we leave our gorilla friends and drive to Kigali via the city of Musanze (Ruhengeri), a small friendly town of 70,000 people, and formerly a Belgian colony. Ruhengeri is situated in a shallow valley with easily climbed hills, panoramic views of the city, and volcanoes.

Enjoy the crisp mountain air and mingle with the culturally diverse residents during a visit to Ruhengeri’s outdoor market. The hustle and bustle combined with welcoming stall vendors are enjoyed by everyone. Heaping bins of fresh tomatoes, beans, and maize vie for attention alongside beautiful fabrics. A trip to the Artisan Village showcases hand-crafted items, including colorful baskets and beautiful hand-thrown pottery.

After the market and many purchases (?) of African crafts, we continue to Kigali and our home for this evening, the Manor Hotel Kigali, a 4-star hotel located in the upmarket neighborhood of Nyarutarama, Kigali. Each of the 23 air-conditioned guestrooms includes en-suite facilities, in-room mini bar, flat screen TV, electronic safe, and high speed wireless internet. You might want to take a dip in the pool and relax by the pool bar. The hotel restaurant serves French and international cuisine.

[Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner]

Overnight at the Manor Hotel Kigali

Day 12

Friday, May 23: Kigali/ Enroute to the U.S.A.
This morning we plan to visit the Genocide Memorial Center. As an outsider, it is almost impossible to understand the true scope of what really happened here in 1994. A visit to the center helps bring some of the tragedy to light as we learn from individual stories of losing family and friends, while at the same time learning about the efforts of Rwandans to heal and carry on as one people. As difficult as it may be, this visit is offered to help learn about what happened in Rwanda so this tragedy may never happen again.

Return to the airport for our flight to Addis Ababa.

[Breakfast and Lunch]

Day 13

Saturday, May 24: Addis Ababa – to Washington, DC
Arrive in Washington, DC early this morning and connect with your flights home, taking with you all the wonderful memories of our Uganda and Rwanda Wildlife Safari and Gorilla Trek.

[Meals Aloft]

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Traveling to Uganda & Rwanda


Important Information About Flights & Airfare to Africa

Round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Entebbe, Uganda, with departure from Kigali, Rwanda, is NOT included in the cost of the trip package. An airline form will be enclosed in your registration packet, and there are instructions about who to call at Classic Escapes to make your international airline reservations for this trip.

Here are the current flight schedules and prices for Africa flights from the U.S to Entebbe, Uganda and flights and rates from Kigali, Rwanda to the U.S.:

May 12, 2014: Ethiopean Airlines #501 departs Washington DC/Dulles (IAD) at 11:00 a.m. and arrives Addis Ababa at 7:30 a.m. (May 13)

May 13: Ethiopean Airlines #811 departs Addis Ababa at 10:40 a.m. and arrives Entebbe, Uganda at 1:05 p.m.

May 23: Ethiopean Airlines #811 Kigali, Rwanda at 3:30 p.m. and arrives Addis Ababa at 8:25 p.m.

May 23: Ethiopean Airlines #500 departs Addis Ababa at 10:15 a.m. and arrives Washington DC (IAD) at 8:30 a.m. (May 24).

Price Per Person (Economy Class):  $2,100 includes departure taxes/fuel surcharges.

(Please note that all flight numbers and current air schedules are subject to change with no advance notice! If flights are changed and additional nights incurred, you will be advised of additional costs.)

When you register for this trip, an Airline Reservation Form is enclosed in your registration packet. You need to complete the form and send/fax/email it to our air agent who will be booking your air.

 

Passport & Visas for Traveling to Uganda & Rwanda in Africa

Citizens of the United States must possess a valid U.S. passport for travel to Uganda and Rwanda, East Africa. For Uganda, your passport must be valid for 1 year beyond your intended stay in Africa, and for Rwanda your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your intended stay.

U.S. citizens are required to get a visa for travel to Uganda, but Rwanda does NOT require a visa for U.S. citizens. Make sure you have 4-6 completely empty Visa pages facing each other in your passport.

If you do not have a passport, apply now! Please do not wait until the last minute. You should always carry 2 extra passport photographs with you, in case of emergency (if your passport/visa is lost or stolen).

Please see the information about Uganda and Rwanda visas at the end of this itinerary. Follow the directions carefully to send for your Uganda visa.

 

Addendum for Uganda & Rwanda Visas 

1. Uganda Visa for U.S. Citizens

American nationals holding USA passports need an entry visa for Uganda. Naturalized American citizens of Uganda descent need an entry visa for Uganda. Nationals of the countries listed below are exempted from visa requirements for travel to Uganda. They do, however, need to have a current passport issued by their respective countries.

Members of COMESA: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, MalawiMauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Others exempted are: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Sierra Leone, Singapore Solomon Islands St Vincent & the Grenadines, Tonga, Vanuatu, Italy (Only diplomatic passport holders) and Cyprus.

 Visa Requirements:

  1. One dully filled Application form by each applicant, which can be accessed at this link: http://www.ugandaembassy.com/Forms/application-visa.pdf
  2. Every section of the application form must be completed. Incomplete forms will not be processed.
  3. 2 passport size photographs
  4. Must submit original Passport valid 6 months from your date of departure from Uganda.
  5. Correct visa fee ($50 for a single entry).
  6. Applicants may be requested to submit additional supporting documentation.
  7. An international Inoculation Certificate against yellow fever.
  8. A prepaid self-addressed USPS Express Overnight return envelope only must be included with applications sent by mail.

Note: You are advised to ensure that your passport has a validity of 6 months from the date of your intended travel. Processing time for a visa is 5 working days.

 Visa fees and other details:

a) US$ 50 for single entry: Valid for three months from the date of arrival. (Apply for your visa in March, 2014).

b) Visa fees must be paid by money order payable to UGANDA EMBASSY, on submission of visa application. Personal Checks are not accepted. Please note that the visa fee is non-refundable.

c) Make sure your passport has at least 2 blank visa pages when you send it in for your Uganda visa.

Note: Failure to complete the application form fully may result in the issuance of a visa being delayed or refused. The visa enables the holder to proceed to a port of entry where he/she must comply with the laws and regulations governing the admission of persons to the Republic of Uganda.  

2. Rwanda Visa for U.S. Citizens

Rwanda does NOT require a tourist visa for citizens of United States for a stay up to 90 days.

What else do I need to know while planning a trip to Rwanda?

• First, check the current validity of your passport.

Your passport should be valid for 6 months after your departure date from Rwanda (this is different from Uganda, which now requires 1 year).

• Second, make sure your passport has blank Visa pages.

3. Empty Visa Pages in your Passport

Most destinations, including Rwanda and Uganda, require that you have adequate un-used pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure. We recommend that you have at least four – six free pages in the Visas section of your passport before any international travel, and specifically on this trip.U.S. citizens can get extra passport pages added to their passports as fast as within 24 hours.

 

Health Requirements, Physical Condition & Health Insurance

Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccine is mandatory for entering Uganda. There are no other mandatory immunizations required for U.S. residents visiting Uganda and Rwanda. However, please consult with your personal physician, local health department, travel clinic, or immunization center about any vaccinations you may need to update (tetanus, typhoid, polio, Hepatitis A & B), or others that may be personally recommended for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history. Anti-malaria medication is recommended.

Your Physical Condition: Although this safari is rated as moderate in general, the gorilla trekking portion of the trip is rated as High Energy. Finding a gorilla group can take as little as half an hour or as long as 12 hours. If it rains, hiking conditions may become muddy and slick. We are hiking through dense jungle in steep terrain, where the downs are as unforgiving as the ups. You must be mentally, in addition to physically, prepared for a day of strenuous exercise, and be in excellent condition, without any heart problems. It is possible that we may join our trackers in jungle bushwhacking—cutting our own paths through the steep, jungle hillsides.

Health Insurance: You must have your own health insurance, and have no physical problems or conditions that would be adversely affected by riding in 4×4 vehicles on rough, bumpy roads or trekking “high energy” trails through the jungle in search of gorillas!

 

Our Professional Naturalist African Guide: Albert Mitcho Karisa

Albert Mitcho Karisa is one of the best and most experienced tour guides currently leading tours in East Africa. He has been a guide on AdventureWomen’s two safaris in Kenya (2010 and 2011), and two Uganda/Rwanda Gorilla Treks in 2012. We are very excited that he is joining us again on the 2014 Uganda and Rwanda Safari.

Always ready to pass on his knowledge in combination with a vibrant sense of humor, travelers comment that “Albert makes learning about the animals, environment, and culture an especially fun experience.” A native of Rwanda, he has led trips to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo, Morocco, and France. His birding abilities are unequaled and his expertise with photography can help you get that perfect picture. His unbounded energy stems from his long-distance running, and his interests include herbal medicine and the cultures of Africa.

Water

We recommend that you drink only bottled water while on safari. Bottled water is always available in our vehicles and at nightly accommodations.

 

Electricity

We strongly suggest you leave all electrical appliances (hair dryers, etc.) at home except those that operate with batteries (your cameras).

 

Water & Food

If the tap water in our lodges/camps/hotels is not safe to drink, there is a thermos or a carafe of drinking water in your room. Or, we are supplied with bottled, boiled, or filtered water. Bottled water is available to us during the daytime on safari. It is important to take the advice of our guides whenever you are unsure about the safety of water. During safari, all food is very well prepared and safe to eat.

 

Currency, Credit Cards & Gratuities

Credit cards (Visa, MC, and sometimes AM EX) are accepted only in larger towns and some hotels but not in the markets and small towns. You should bring $600-$800 minimum U.S. cash (this should include your tip money), in small bills ($1s, $5s, $10s, and $20s). Make sure the money you bring is in NEW bills, not worn or torn bills.

It is very difficult or impossible to pay by credit card outside Kampala and Kigali. Uganda’s currency is the Ugandan Shilling. The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc.

You usually get the best money exchange rate at the airport upon arrival, and at a bank. Changing money in the hotels does not yield as good a rate.

Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are very limited in Uganda and Rwanda (outside Kampala, Entebbe, and Kigali). So it is best to bring enough money with you for the duration of your trip (in US Dollars, Euros, or Pound Sterling) and exchange it for local currency at banks or Forex bureaus in large towns.

The US dollar is traditionally the preferred currency, but the Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Please check the latest exchange rates before you go to Uganda or Rwanda.

For Tips/Gratuities, you can leave U.S. dollars or Uganda shillings (in Uganda) and U.S. dollars or Rwandan Francs (in Rwanda).

Returning U.S. residents are allowed to bring back $800 worth of merchandise, duty free. Expensive camera equipment and jewelry purchased in the U.S. (we recommend NEVER bringing or wearing expensive jewelry) should be registered with U.S. customs prior to your departure; or you may retain your sales receipts as documentation for re-entering the U.S.

 

Liability Form

Part of what AdventureWomen hopes to foster is the taking of more self-responsibility for our own lives, health, and safety. Please read the Liability Form carefully, sign it, and return it with your final payment by February 7, 2014.

 

Cancellations & Refunds

Notification of cancellations must be received in writing and the following per person cancellation/refund fees are applicable on this specific AdventureWomen trip, due to non-refundable gorilla and chimp permit fees:

Full payment is due 95 days prior to departure date, and your full $1,500 deposit is non-refundable. This deposit includes the full non-refundable fees for 2 gorilla permits ($500 + $750 = $1,250), $150 for the chimpanzee permit, plus administrative and cancellation fees. These permits have already been purchased by AdventureWomen and they are non-refundable.

You are highly encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance to cover emergency situations and trip cancellation. Information is sent to you in your registration packet.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

What's Included

What's Included in the Price of your African Safari

  • 2 gorilla permits and one chimpanzee viewing permit: one permit to view mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda; one permit to view mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda; and one permit to see chimpanzees in Kibale, Uganda.
  • Our incredible African tour guide, Albert Mitcho Karisa, a professional naturalist-Africa specialist, guiding the group throughout the trip.
  • Transportation throughout your Uganda and Rwanda safari in open-top 4x4 vehicles driven by knowledgeable, English-speaking driver-guides. A window seat is guaranteed for all your safari game drives.
  • Superior accommodations throughout, in luxury safari camps, African lodges, and hotels with private en-suite facilities and modern amenities, based on two people sharing a twin room.
  • Full board, table d'hote breakfast, lunch, and dinner while on safari, as per itinerary.
  • Complimentary bottled water in vehicles.
  • All applicable hotel and lodge taxes, plus gratuities for baggage handling.
  • Entrance fees to all reserves and game parks.
  • Complimentary luggage tags and passport wallet.
  • Please note: The rates for 2 gorilla permits ($500 for Uganda and $750 for Rwanda = $1,250) and 1 chimpanzee permit ($150), are included in the cost of this trip. The costs are based on 2013 prices and are subject to change without notice if the fees increase prior to the trip in May 2014.

Not Included in your Adventure Tour to Africa

  • International airfare to Entebbe, Uganda, and from Kigali, Rwanda (quoted separately), plus U.S. and foreign airport taxes.
  • Passport fees, plus visa fees and service charges for obtaining a visa for Uganda.
  • Excess baggage fees charged by airlines.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry and alcoholic beverages.
  • Any meals not included in the itinerary.
  • Optional insurance coverage for Baggage, Accident, and Trip Cancellation/Interruption. See Travel Insured International.
  • Gratuities to naturalist, driver-guides and other staff:
    • Professional Naturalist: $10/client/day.
    • Safari Driver-Guides: $8/client/day (one guide per vehicle).
    • Lodge Staff: $5/client/day (communal tips shared among the staff).
    • Assorted other tips: bartender (depending on use!); guides for nature walks and other activities, a few dollars.
    • (These gratuities total a minimum of approximately $250 per client)

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Accommodations

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

What to Bring

What to Pack on your African Safari

Travel light to Africa! Whatever you pack for your safari, you will most likely find it to be too much! When packing, keep in mind that you are only allowed 50 pounds on international flights. This is your suitcase weight limit. If possible, use soft luggage, which is easier to pack and transport in 4 X 4 safari vehicles. 

In addition to a soft-sided suitcase/duffel with wheels, you should bring a small carry-on bag with everything you cannot live without (all camera equipment, toiletries, prescription medication, anti-diarrhea medication, all money, important travel documents, passport, etc.). Please visit the TSA website on the Web for airline regulations regarding carry-on luggage.

Select your safari clothing based on comfort. Safari clothes should be washable, cotton or the new fabrics (not synthetics like rayon), and loose fitting. Coolmax, Supplex, and Polypropylene are excellent and can be found in the TravelSmith catalog we send to you. Clothing should be light colored (tan, khaki, or neutral colors) on safari; it keeps you comfortable and is unobtrusive and non-threatening to wildlife.

  • A well broken-in, comfortable, and waterproof pair of lightweight hiking boots for gorilla trekking.
  • Walking shoes and/or pair of sport sandals.
  • 2-3 long-sleeved shirts. Make sure that one of these shirts can close up completely, and button to the neck (for gorilla trekking).
  • 2-3 short-sleeved shirts and/or T-shirts.
  • 2 pairs of shorts or 2-3 pairs long pants that zip off for shorts.
  • Underwear, socks, sleepwear.
  • Toiletries, including Wash & Dries.
  • Prescription drugs (with the labels on).
  • A lightweight fleece or light jacket for cool evenings.
  • A lightweight day pack for carrying camera, film, hat, sunscreen, etc. (you can also use your day pack as your carry-on bag).
  • Moneybelt or waistpack for money/passport.
  • Washcloth (not supplied in most lodges/camps).
  • 2 - 3 cotton bandanas (for uses too numerous to mention. Anyway, it's an AdventureWomen tradition!).
  • Bathing suit and pair of rubber "thongs" for the showers.
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen.
  • Lightweight, wide-brimmed hat (a must).
  • A lightweight camera vest, which is very convenient while traveling and for putting camera equipment, binoculars, sunglasses, etc in during the daytime.
  • A spare pair of glasses (if you wear glasses).
  • A pair of cotton or lightweight gloves for gorilla trekking (some of the plants in the forest are prickly, and you might have to grab onto vines and trees, so it is a good idea to wear lightweight gloves).
  • Waterproof poncho for gorilla trekking.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Ziploc bags of various sizes.
  • Earplugs. We recommend Mack's Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs, which you can buy at most drug stores. Good to 22 decibles!
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Small flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Small, lightweight binoculars (a MUST) for game viewing and birds. You will be very disappointed if you do not have a good pair of binoculars. Nikon or Minolta make fine, lightweight viewing binoculars. Try a general game viewing 7 X 28, or 8 X 20 binocular.
  • Field guides to the mammals and birds of East Africa and/or Uganda/Rwanda.
    • The Collins Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa [Hardcover] by John George Williams.

I have had this book since 1986, and it is great for identifying wildlife and birds while on safari. You can buy used copies in very good condition for as little as $5.00. No need to buy a new copy for over $70.00!

Photography, Video and Camera Equipment

Since photography is such a large part of this trip, we suggest you bring the following:

  • Digital camera, more memory cards and batteries than you think you will possibly need, battery charger, and adapter. You can charge your digital batteries in hotels and lodges, and often in our safari vehicles. Bring a wall outlet plug adapter #6 (a 2-prong round pin adapter plug that works in Southern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean). Most digital cameras have a built in converter so you only need to bring an adapter. Adapters can also be bought while in-country.

European Adapater #6

  • If you want to get great pictures of African animals and birds, a long lens is a must. I have an 80-400 mm Nikon lens and can get just about anything that I want to take photos of on this trip. There is really no need to have anything larger than a 400 mm lens. You will, of course, need a normal or wide angle lens (somewhere between 24 – 70 mm), to take pictures of people, villages, and general photography during the trip. Many lenses on newer cameras are "all in one" (i.e. 28 – 400-500 mm). Get advice from a good, reputable camera shop!
  • Bring plenty of Ziploc plastic bags to put your camera equipment in while gorilla trekking. You also need a camera bag, pouch, or something in which to carry your camera and equipment, or you can use your daypack or camera vest.

Personal First Aid Kit

(bring in small amounts and in small containers)

  • Cloth, not plastic Bandaids; about 10 individually-wrapped alcohol pads; and a small tube of Neosporin or other antibiotic cream.
  • Benadryl cream for itchy bites.
  • Aspirin/ibuprofen, etc.
  • Cold-symptom relief tablets, antihistamine, cough drops.
  • Adequate quantity of sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating or higher, and lip balm with SPF.
  • Tweezers.
  • Systemic antibiotic (prescription).
  • Prescription medicines in their original bottles.
  • Acidophilus enzyme (available in capsules in health-food stores). This often helps your digestive system get in shape for "new" flora.
  • Immodium, Lomotil, or similar anti-diarrhea medicine.
  • Pepto-Bismol tablets and/or liquid (in leak-proof bottle).
  • Laxative tablets.
  • Visine or similar eye drops.

Last-Minute Reminders for your Safari Planning

  • Make photocopies of your airline tickets and the first two pages of your passport, plus any visas (if they are stamped inside your passport) and put them in different locations (suitcase, carry-on bag, etc.).
  • Bring 2-3 additional passport size photos to use in emergencies.
  • Your valuables should be insured for the duration of the trip, but better yet, leave them at home.
  • Remove extra credit cards, driver's license, and personal items from wallet or purse.
  • Make sure passport, tickets, and visas are valid and in the correct name.
  • Check with airline to reconfirm reservations and departure time (most airlines want to hear directly from the client for confirmations).

Some Extra Items to Add to your "What to Pack" Safari List

We are updating and adding the following items for all international trips. With more than 30 years of experience flying around the world, we think these items help make your long airline flights much more comfortable and even more bearable:

  • Neck pillow - Inflatable neck pillow for blissful support and deep sleep. For packing, it folds into itself. Self-sealing valve means nothing to close. Soft microfleece cover removes for washing. Eagle Creek® Large Inflatable Travel Neck Pillow.
  • Sleep mask /Comfort eye shade - Ultra lightweight and comfortable, the Comfort Eye Shade screens out light and distractions for a cozier flight. Ultra-soft micro fleece for comfort. Adjustable elastic strap for a perfect fit. Made of Molded Polyester Micro Fleece. Eagle Creek® Comfort Eye Shade.
  • Travel compression socks - Reduce ankle and leg swelling and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. These doctor-designed socks stimulate circulation through gradual compression that stops swelling and guards against (DVT). Made of coolmax®-lycra®-nylon. The TravelSox® cushion Walk Socks have extra-padded soles and are made of moisture wicking SoftPrim®. TravelSox® Cushion Walk Sock™.
  • Noise canceling headphones - Block out unwanted sounds of children crying and airplane engine drone, and/or enjoy great audio sound. Reduce distortion and increase perceived loudness so you can enjoy sound at a lower volume. Get the around the ear design, which is very comfortable.
    • Bose Quiet Comfort 2 - List Price: $199.99. Oval shaped around-the-ear design, an iPod fits nicely in the center of the case between the headphones. You can get the next generation of Bose Quiet Comfort 3, but the cost is $349.00.
    • Audio Technica ATH-ANC7- List Price: $219.95 Excellent sound quality and above average noise cancellation. Comfortable leather cushioning around the ear and can be worn for long periods of time with no discomfort. Excellent headphones with a reasonable price tag. Comparable in quality to the Bose Quiet Comfort 3.

Bring-A-Book-Foundation

Our African safari includes a visit to a local school. We encourage you to bring 4-5 colorful grade-school level children's books (lightweight and paperback), as well as some school supplies such as pens, paper, crayons, etc., which we can present to the children during our visit. Many of these children have never owned a book in their life, and the connection that can be made with them is invaluable. Children in the schools are eager to meet with visitors, practice their English, learn about our culture, and proudly share their own. Visitors are often welcomed with a local song or dance.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686