Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe and transfer to accommodation
Today is an arrival day in the Uganda capital for the start of our African photo safari.
You will be met at the airport by an ORYX representative, who will escort you to your lovely guesthouse via a short drive (5 – 10 minutes, depending on traffic) away.
Penny will meet you at the hotel for dinner where she will discuss the exciting upcoming tour with you.
Day 2: Excursion for Shoebill, flight to Kihihi and transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After breakfast we will head out for our primary photographic target, the legendary Shoebill. We will set off through small rural villages and homesteads to Mabamba, which is a large wetland connected to Lake Victoria. This extensive papyrus swamp is home to a few pairs of Shoebill, Uganda’s most famous avian resident and most birders prime attraction to the nation.
We will commission motorised canoes from the nearby fishing village and search the maze of channels in an attempt to find and photograph this iconic bird.
In the afternoon we will board our flight to Kihihi where we will be transferred to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for our next leg of the journey; 3 days of trekking Mountain Gorillas.
Days 3 to 5: Gorilla Trek I to III
These mornings are auspicious ones, as we embark on our gorilla trek in search of the legendary Mountain Gorilla!
On these mornings, we will head a short distance to the debriefing area (3 minutes’ drive), before departing to the starting point for our hike (this could be a walk from the park HQ, or it could be a drive over 1 hour long).
We have 3 chances at securing the gorilla images we might not have gotten on our first trek. The majority of people say they enjoyed the following treks even more than the first, as you know now what to expect and are just generally a lot more relaxed.
Approximately 420 gorillas live at Bwindi and these are divided into 12 or so groups. Here you will take 3 unforgettable gorilla-tracking excursions, visiting and photographing one of three groups of remarkably peaceable and tolerant habituated Mountain Gorillas. These are the largest of all primates with “silverbacks” (mature males) sometimes weighing up to 200 kg!
Depending on where our allocated Gorilla family are located, our treks will vary in length and ease from one trek to the next. Upon reaching the Gorillas, we will spend an hour with these gentle giants which is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting and emotional wildlife experiences on Earth.
Although the Gorilla families are habituated, they are still wild and sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, there is a 99% success rate of meeting a Gorilla group when trekking in Uganda
Day 6: Drive to Ishasha area, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today we make our way to the remote southern section of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we will spend the next three nights.
This variation in landscape provides ample opportunities to capture the diversity that makes this ecosystem so desirable to its wildlife.
Photographic targets include Leopard, Spotted Hyena, African Buffalo (this form sometimes known as Lake Chad Buffalo), Uganda Bushbuck, Hippo, impressive Defassa Waterbuck, Olive Baboon and comical Warthog. Uganda Kob form some impressive leks, fleet-footed Topi scan the grasslands for competitors, and African Elephant stroll through the plentiful savannas, browsing the nutritious Acacia’s that dot the area.
One of the star attractions of the Ishasha area is its “tree climbing Lions”, and while these animals are still very much typical Lions, they spend a large portion of the day resting in trees, a behavioural trait seen more commonly in the Leopard.
Days 7 & 8: Ishasha area
The Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is the place to search for the tree climbing lions often to be seen in the vicinity of the camp which is situated just off the Northern circuit game viewing track. The lions also favour the large fig trees on the Southern circuit game viewing track and this offers alternative game viewing routes.
On early morning and late afternoon game drives, we may explore the area’s game routes in search of the different species. The area is still pristine and untouched with only a handful of game vehicles found around the area at any time.
Being the only camp within this section of the park, it offers flexibility of timings for drives allowing us to maximise our game sightings in this area.
Day 9: Road Transfer from Ishasha to Kibale National Park
After a final morning game drive at Ishasha and breakfast we will drive to Kibale National Park for our next great ape photographic excursion.
Tea plantations become dominant as we near the Kibale area, and if it is clear, we may even catch sight of the legendary Rwenzori Mountains – the “Mountains of the Moon”, which are located on the border between Uganda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. The mighty snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori’s are typically shrouded in cloud, and although ascribed by ancient geographers as being the source of the Nile (now known to be in Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda), they do contribute an enormous volume of rainwater that does indeed eventually feed into the White Nile.
Our lovely accommodations for the next three nights are in the centre of the forest in Kibale National Park, and tonight we will fall asleep to the night sounds of this rainforest.
Days 10 to 11: Chimpanzee Trek 1 & 2
We have two full-days in the wondrous forest of Kibale searching for our closest living relative – the Chimpanzee!
In the morning we will embark on a dedicated Chimpanzee trek in search of these great apes. They are often noisy and, when we manage to come across a troop, their thrilling whoops, shrieks and grunts are likely to betray their presence long before we see and photograph them!
We will spend full days with the Chimpanzees so that we can document the lives of this fascinating primate, returning to the lodge in the evening for dinners and well-deserved sleep!
Day 12: Road transfer to Entebbe. End
Today sadly marks the end of our Women only Uganda's Great Apes and Wildlife Photo Tour! After a scrumptious breakfast at the lodge and farewell to the wonderful lodge and staff, we will transfer to Entebbe International Airport. Here we will say our farewells, but not goodbyes, as you either board your connecting flight back home or transfer to a hotel for the evening.