This safari has two major highlights: Rwenzori mountain hiking and Gorilla trekking. Mt. Rwenzori is the third highest mountain in Africa. The 8-days hike will take you through the fascinating vegetative zones of the mountain to the Margherita peak. You will be able to encounter many birds species as well as other animals on the mountain. Upon descending from the mountain you will experience Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda and after finalizing the formalities, you shall be welcomed by your guide, who will drive you to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may choose to do a number of optional activities with in Entebbe airport.
Today you proceed to Kasese early in the morning. Kasese is located in western Uganda at the foot of Mt. Rwenzori and near Queen Elizabeth National park. Along the way you will enjoy spectacular landscape views as well as a photo stop at the equator.
The central circuit starts at the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services offices at Nyakalengija. You will arrive in the morning to allow ample time to rent equipment and meet your guides and porters. The trail begins by passing through farmland to the park boundary beyond which it follows the Mubuku River, crossing its Mahoma tributary before starting a long, steep climb up onto a massive ridge to reach Nyabitaba hut. The hike takes around 6 -7 hours. During this part of the trip you may hear chimpanzee and see black and white colobus, blue monkey and the brilliantly coloured Rwenzori turaco.
From Nyabitaba follow the trail that drops down through the forest to the Kurt Shafer Bridge, just below the confluence of the Mubuku and Bujuku rivers. Passing through the bamboo forest, traverse through a long and exhausting stretch of slippery moss-covered rock. From the Nyamileju rock shelter, Mount Stanley and Mount Speke can be seen before passing into the zone of the giant heather, lobelia and groundsel. Finally reach John Matte Hut after passing through the tiring bog, for dinner and overnight at the hut.
From John Matte Hut the trail drops down to cross the Bujuku River and enters Lower Bigo Bog, the home of giant lobelias. Jumping from tussock to tussock, the bog is finally crossed but rarely without the feet sampling some of the freezing ooze below. The upper Bigo bog gives way to Bujuku Lake, with views of Mt Baker to the South and Mt Stanley to the West. Bujuku Hut, well located in the shadow of Mount Baker and Mount Speke, is set in a narrow valley below Stuhlmann Pass. Dinner and overnight at Bujuku hut.
Leaving Bujuku, the trail takes you through more bog, while climbing the steep slopes west of the lake and through the magical Groundsel Gully as it ascends to Scott-Elliot Pass at 4372m. At the head of the gully a metal ladder takes you over a steep section after which the trail is divided into two. The trail on your right leads up to Elena Hut and Mount Stanley on a steep trail over large boulders, while the trail on your left leads to Scott-Elliot Pass and down to Kitandara Lakes the trail on he left leads those who are not climbing Margherita Peak to Kitandara Hut. Those climbing the peak will have their Dinner and overnight at the coolly and Icy Elena Hut.
For those aiming at reaching Margherita peak (5109m), continue to the base of the Stanley Glacier. To reach the summit of Margherita, the climb takes about 5-7 hours depending on the weather conditions and the pace of climbing this mountain. This tough walk takes you over three glaciers, slippery rock, ice and very exposed areas which are open on many sides. Note that this climb is for only physically fit and technical climbers. Climbing on to the glaciers, cross the Stanley Plateau and proceed with the ascent. Acclimatized to fog, altitude sickness and coolly weather, scramble up to the summit of Margherita the highest peak of the Rwenzori. Prepare for you return through the Scott-Elliot pass, where there are spectacular views back to Bujuku Lake and Mount Speke, up to Mount Stanley and down to the Kitandara Lakes. After the trail that passes you through an alpine zone of sparse vegetation and rough boulders, descend past the Kitandara Lakes for dinner and overnight at the Kitandara.
From Kitandara, take on the trail that ascends steeply up the headwall, spreading out from the base of Mount Baker and continuing along the south side of the mountain to Fresh field Pass. At this point you can view into the Congo to the west and Mount Stanley to the north. From the pass, take on the long trail passing the rock shelter at Bujongolo, the base camp for the historic expedition by the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906. Over night at Guy yeoman.
The descent to Nyabitaba takes around 6 -7 hours but with an early start it is possible to make it all the way down to Nyakalengija. Below Guy Yeoman, the route descends the cliffs of Kichuchu. Beyond Kichuchu the muddy path crosses the Mubuku River twice before climbing upwards to Nyabitaba to complete the circuit. Hiking back and complete your trek by the evening.
The descent from Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija takes 3 – 4 hours. Start hiking back and complete your trek by the evening. A warm, beer and celebration await you at local restaurant, before proceeding to your Hotel. You will relax at the accommodation and prepare for the next day’s drive.
Today you will drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. This fascinating mountain forest hosts chimpanzees and spectacular birds. There are 23 of the 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species including Blue-throated Broadbill, bar-tailed Trogon and other beautiful forest species. You shall go to bed earlier this evening, since you should be fit for gorilla trekking the next day.
This morning you will get up very early and go for gorilla trekking. Trekking the Mountain Gorilla is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences on earth. The trek will take between 2 and 6 hours, but is well worth the effort. You will be led by an experienced ranger who will tell you interesting facts about flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the Gorillas. As an alternative to gorilla trekking, there are several walks that can take you. The Mubwindi Swamp Trail takes about 3 hours and goes through parts of the park where there are elephants. Another 6-hour hike leads up to the peak in Rwamunyoni to 2.607m.
After an early breakfast in Bwindi, you will start your journey back to Kampala. Cross the equator and have time to take photos at the equator. Buy a few souvenirs and have a quick picnic lunch. Later you depart for the Airport and take your flight back home.