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  • Chimpanzee Tracking

    Although there are around 300,000 chimpanzees left in the equatorial forests of Africa, observing them in their natural habitat is a rare treat. One of the best places to go is chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda as it’s home to five habituated groups that are within easy walking distance. There’s a morning (8 am) and afternoon (2 pm) departure, and while there are plenty of hills along the trails, the walking isn’t difficult if you’re in shape. Children aged 12 and under aren’t permitted. While you have a good chance of being issued a chimp permit (US$150) at the park, it occasionally gets booked out during the holiday season, so reservations before arrival are a good idea. Regular trackers get just one hour with the playful primates, but those on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience can spend the whole day with them. Note that chimpanzees have been in the process of being habituated in the Sebitoli sector, 12km east of Fort Portal, for some years now, but permits for this group were still not being issued to travelers. What is interesting about chimpanzee tracking? Chimpanzees may get much less hype in the travel media than endangered mountain gorillas, but tracking our closest relative through the African jungle is in fact one of the world’s most thrilling wildlife encounters (and it costs a fraction of visiting our larger cousins, US$150). Chimpanzees live in communities of up to 150 members, which are divided into smaller subgroups and led by an alpha male. They’ll typically spend much of their day high up in the treetops, grooming, sleeping, and feeding on fruit, leaves, and bark. However, it’s when they descend from the canopy that you’ll have your best chance of getting close to them. Today we know that chimpanzees are humans’ closest genetic relatives – sharing around 98% of our DNA – but it was the celebrated primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall who first observed their astonishing human-like behavior. In the 1960s Dr. Goodall moved in with a community of chimps in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, where she was able to prove that chimpanzees kill and eat small mammals, and can make and use tools, ideas that were completely unknown at the time. By spending time with the chimps she eventually taught them to accept her – a process known as habituation which is not only fantastic for scientists but also opens up the opportunity for ordinary visitors to get almost within touching distance of these incredible creatures. The cost of chimpanzee tracking The cost of the chimpanzee tracking permit is US$150 per person, a fraction of the US$700 and US$1500 price tags for gorilla permits at Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park respectively. If an hour isn’t enough for you, then the park also offers a habituation experience, where you’ll spend a full day (US$220) following one of two communities currently undergoing the two-year habituation process. You’ll need to be prepared for a fair bit of brisk walking – chimps can move fast – but it will be worth it for the rewards of a more intimate encounter. The Chimpanzee tracking experience No matter how prepared you are, nothing beats that first, up-close, chimpanzee encounter. That intense buzz of being no more than a few feet away from these completely wild creatures. The thrill of seeing how intelligent they are, with their poses, expressions, and interactions that could be almost human. The way they look right at you with their bright eyes and even pose for your camera, you may wonder if they’re enjoying the interaction even more than you are. Most visitors opt for the half-day, which should provide you with plenty of time to find the group and enjoy a thrilling hour in their company. The adventure starts with a briefing, during which you’ll learn a little about the animals you’re about to see, as well as being given some dos and don’ts. Top of the list: avoid getting too close. Not only for your own safety but also for theirs as our colds, viruses, and diseases can easily spread to them due to shared DNA. It’s also not wise to imitate their calls. While it might seem fun to mimic them if you’re not careful you might accidentally end up recreating a battle cry and bring 120 angry chimpanzees down upon you. Once you’ve been briefed, you’re separated into groups of up to seven, each accompanied by a guide, who is armed in case of emergencies. And then it’s time to head into the forest. Pushing through the tangled undergrowth, ducking under low branches, and watching your step for twisted roots, you’ll hike in the direction of where the animals were last seen, all the time listening for their cries in the trees above. With a bit of luck, you’ll soon hear them: that harsh, high-pitched screeching that rises to a crescendo and then fades away again as the family members call to one another. It’s an eerie, thrilling sound, and one that you know means you’re about to meet the stars of the show. As you follow the direction of the cacophony, you should soon find one of the family’s sub-groups. They may be high up in the treetops, feasting on figs, grooming, or playing. But if you’re lucky, some will have come down to the ground, and that’s when the real magic happens.

  • Rwanda Gorilla Groups

    Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Volcanoes National Park is the only park in Rwanda where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted each day. It comprises 10 habituated groups where the usual treks are done and they include; Susa group (The Susa A group) This is a group that Dian Fossey carried out her research prior to her mysterious death in 1985. It consisted of over 41 individuals of mountain gorillas at a time which made it the largest group with members however, due to fights and splitting, it reduced to 28 individuals with 3 silverbacks. Remarkably, poppy also originated from this troop. He was born in 1976 making him the oldest in the park. This gorilla family is also famous as one of those most challenging troops to track and is ideal for adventure enthusiasts. It was named after River Susa that runs through it. The Susa group is also famous for its twin gorillas of Byishimo and Impano. Amahoro family If you are looking for peaceful families to track in Volcanoes National Park then the Amahoro family is the best choice. It consists of 18 members including 2 silverbacks. The group mainly thrives around the Karisimbi Mountain slopes and hiking through it requires some physical fitness but it rewards visitors with amazing adventures. Amahoro group is led by Ubumwe silverback. Karisimbi family This is a splinter group from the Susa A group which established itself around 2008. It is known as the Susa B family and comprises 16 individuals including 3 silverbacks. It mainly lies around the Karisimbi Volcano (4507 meters) and you have to be physically well if you are to track this troop while on safari in Volcanoes National Park. Sabyinyo family This group is headed by the massive and strongest Guhonda silverback. In 2014, it had only 8 members compared to today where there are 13 in number including 2silverbacks and 3 adult females and others are mainly juveniles. This troop is located at the base of Sabyinyo Volcano and Mount Gahinga. It can be visited easily. Umubano group This group denotes togetherness. It is a splinter group from the Amahoro family. It detached itself at the time of Ubumwe the dominant silverback. Currently, it features 13 individuals including 2 silverbacks and it is led by Charles. Kwitonda Gorilla family This is known to have migrated from DR Congo and its members at times live further thus requiring some physical wellness among trekkers. It also means the humble one and it is led by the main silverback, consisting of 23 including the 4 silverbacks and they usually roam around Muhabura Volcano foothills. Agashya group This is best known as a special group as its name suggests and visitors on gorilla trekking at this park can have special moments with its members. Formerly, it had 13 individuals at a time of habituation which gave it the name ‘Group 13.’ However, currently, it is made of 27 individuals including 1 silverback that succeeded Nyakarima. The word Agasha also denotes news and this group thrives mainly at the base of Sabyinyo and Gahinga volcano. Tracking this troop demands medium effort. Bwenge group This denotes wisdom and it is a group with 11 individuals. It can be trekked from around the Karisoke Mountain slopes. It opened for tourism in 2007 and was led by Bwenge. This family lost about six individuals and this impacted a lot on its development as a group although these days, there has been some stability. Hirwa Gorilla family Hirwa group came into existence in 2006 and its name denotes lucky one. It split from Agashya and the Sabyinyo troop. It consists of 16 individuals and recently welcomed twin gorillas. For some of you who would like to trek through this group, you can combine it with adventures at the base of the Gahinga Volcanoes and Sabyinyo. Ugenda group This means mobile given its behavior of moving from one place to another. The troop consists of 11 individuals and it is roaming around Bisoke Mountain. Tracking this family may not require a lot of energy as is the case with the Susa groups. Lastly, each group features distinct traits and history which reward you with unique experiences. To have the most enjoyable and memorable adventure, track at least one or two groups and compare the experiences.

  • Best Time for Gorilla Trekking

    Gorilla trekking is undoubtedly a lifetime experience. Before embarking on this adventure, there is a need for you to be familiar with when you can pay a visit to Africa to achieve your dreams. Imagine landing at a destination and you find conditions aren’t favorable on your side! If you are planning for your next vacation with a local tour operator/agency make sure, you get all details about the weather pattern or climate of the area prior to setting off to your destination of choice despite the fact that gorilla trekking is an all-year-round adventure. Always mark the seasonality of the area as you plan for a safari as each season comes with its own challenges and benefits. Gorilla trekking is conducted in only Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park northwestern Rwanda, and Virunga National Park eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Given the nature of these creatures’ habitat, there is a need for you to be prepared all the time. Mountain gorillas live mainly in tropical rainforests and a visit to these areas means that you must take note of both dry and wet seasons if you are to have the most enjoyable gorilla safari in Africa. The dry season usually takes place from June to September and from December to February hence 2 incredible dry seasons. This season is characterized by low rainfall and the habitats are kept dry in most cases allowing you to have smooth hikes. However, given the nature of the habitat, you have to expect it to rain at any time of day and this requires you to come along with a rain jacket or poncho. Other items for you to pack include waterproof hiking boots, sweaters, sunscreen, hat, gardening gloves, day pack, snacks, bottled water, and many more. Usually, this is regarded as peak season and most trekkers come to track these fascinating primates in the wild and the cost of accommodation tends to be high. Given the high demand for both gorilla permits and accommodation options, it is advisable that you book for your permit as early as possible at least 4 to 5 months earlier. The wet season always starts from March to May and this is the longest rainy season and from October to November. This season is equally advantageous a fact that most gorillas are attracted to plenty of food and they keep around the nearby areas at the park thus making it easier for trekkers to catch a glimpse at them unlike the dry season that food is scarce and they are forced to move to further distances to look for what to eat. The disadvantage with it is that the ground tends to remain slippery, muddy and this makes it a big challenge for one to hike through the steep slopes and thick forest to look out for these fascinating creatures in the wild. In Uganda’s case, the temperatures range from 21.5 degrees Celsius day time and around 12 degrees Celsius at night. It receives rainfall amounts between 1000 and 2000 mm each year. Lastly, there is a need for you to consider both seasons and you will have the most enjoyable gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda.

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  • POPULAR TRIPS | Uganda's Premier Travel Agency | Iconic Travel Services

    Popular Trips You'll see the mighty gorilla, primates like baboons and chimpanzees, elephants and antelopes, 350 species of birds, and 120 other mammals. 5 Days, 4 Nights in Rwanda Trip Overview Your 5 Days in Rwanda will give you an amazing experience in Rwanda with memorable moments traversing across different amazing safari destinations. You will be able to have a Kigali city tour, you will also be able to visit the Diane Fossey now new Ellen De Generes campus, as well as a boat trip on Lake Kivu. You will also be able to visit Nyungwe National Park for chimpanzee trekking, Colobus monkey trekking and Canopy walk, as well as visit the royal Kings Palace museum en route to Kigali. This will be an amazing trip to explore Rwanda. ​ Day 1 Today upon arrival in Rwanda, you will be picked up from your point of convenience or hotel for a city tour around Rwanda, and you will be able to visit Kigali genocide memorial grounds and other famous and beautiful landmarks around the vibrant and verdant Kigali city, later you will have your lunch and then be dropped back at Kigali Marriott Hotel. ​ Destination: Kigali -Rwanda Activities: Arrival & Kigali city tour Meals: Lunch Accommodation: None Day 2, Visit Diane Fossey & Transfer to Lake Kivu Today early in the morning you will be picked up from the hotel at Marriott to transfer to Musanze near the Volcanoes National Park to visit the Diane Fossey which is now the new Ellen DeGeneres Campus to have an insight into the history of Diane Fossey and her gorilla conservation works, here you will get to know all the information about Gorilla conservation, very good for the elderly and young children who cannot trek, you may give 4 hours while you are the museum. later you will have lunch before being transferred to Lake Kivu. Arrive in Gisenyi Lake Kivu and Have an evening boat trip which will create fun and excitement. You will be driven to your hotel for dinner and overnight. ​ Destination: Kigali – Musanze – Lake Kivu Activities: Visit Diane Fossey (Ellen DeGeneres Campus) & Transfer to Lake Kivu Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Accommodation: Mid-range & Luxury lodging options available Day 3, Transfer to Nyungwe & Colobus Monkey Trekking Today early morning after having breakfast, you will be transferred to Nyungwe National Park, drive through the beautiful country side of Rwanda along Lake Kivu enjoying magnificent sceneries and upon arrival, you will have your lunch before heading to the park for your Colobus monkey trekking. After having lunch head to the park headquarters for a short briefing before trekking, after briefing you will walk into the tropical forests to search for these lovely Colobus monkeys, on finding them spend a full hour with them observing them and later you will return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. ​ Destination: Lake Kivu - Nyungwe Activities: Transfer to Nyungwe & Colobus Monkey Trekking Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Accommodation: Mid-range & Luxury lodging options available Day 4, Canopy Walk & Transfer back to Kigali The following morning after a very early breakfast you will be briefed for your morning chimpanzee trekking. Return to the hotel in time for lunch. After lunch, you will drive to the park for a canopy walk experience through a metallic bridge connected between tree canopies that will give you a great overview of the entire Nyungwe forest, encounters with beautiful birds, butterflies, and sometimes the small monkey primates which will be an exhilarating adventure experience. ​ Dinner and overnight at your preferred hotel. ​ ​ Day 5 Later you will now embark on your journey back to Kigali. You will have your enroute lunch in Nyanza before visiting the Royal King’s Palace museum where you will have an insight into the culture and traditions of Rwandans plus the history of the past King’s leadership in Rwanda. Later proceed to Kigali arriving in time for your departure flight out of Kigali. Destination: Nyungwe - Kigali Activities: Canopy Walk & Transfer back to Kigali Meals: Breakfast & Lunch Accommodation: None Talk with an Agent 8 Days, 7 Nights in Uganda You will get to experience: ​ Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary Rhinos Murchison Falls National Park Big game Buffaloes Elephants Lions Leopards Giraffes Bushbacks Waterbucks Warthogs Crocodiles Hippos Primates Olive baboons Blue and red tailed monkeys Black and white colobus Patas monkey Chimpanzees in kaniyo and bundongo forest Birds Shoebill stork Goliath heron ( largest heron in the world) Elegant grey crowned cranes( Uganda national bird) Blue headed coucal Swamp fly catcher Squacco heron African jacana Sand pipers Denhams’s bustard Abyssinian ground hornbill Black billed barbet Black headed gonolek Eastern grey plantain eater Piapiac Silverbird Weaver birds Giant anf malachite kingfishers Red throated bee eater White browed sparrow weaver Speckle fronted weaver African quail finch Kibale National Park Primates 1450 chimpanzees Threatened Red colobus monkey I’hoest’s monkey Black and white colobus Red tailed Blue monkeys Grey cheeked mangabey Olive baboon Bush baby Potto Other wildlife Elephants Buffalos Leopards Warthogs Bush pigs Golden cats Duikers Butterflies Birds African pitta Afep pigeon White naped pigeon Crowned eagle Red chested owlet Black bee eater Western nictor Yellow- rumped tinkerbird Little Greenbul Briown-chested alethe Blue breasted kinfisher African grey parrot Scaly breasted illadopsis Brown illadopsis Black capped apalis Blue headed sunbird Collard apalis Dusky crimsonwing Purple breasted sunbird Red faced woodland warbler Yellow spotted nicator Little Green bul Black eared ground thrush Abyssinian ground thrus Talk with an Agent 4 Days, 3 Nights in Uganda You will get to experience: ​ Bwindi Impenetrable National Park ​ Queen Elizabeth National Park Big game Buffaloes Elephants Lions Leopards Bushbacks Waterbucks Warthogs Crocodiles Hippos Primates Olive baboons Blue and red tailed monkeys Black and white colobus Chimpanzees in kyambura gorge Birds Goliath heron ( largest heron in the world) Elegant grey crowned cranes( Uganda national bird) Blue headed coucal Swamp fly catcher Squacco heron African jacana Sand pipers Denhams’s bustard Abyssinian ground hornbill Black billed barbet Black headed gonolek Eastern grey plantain eater Piapiac Silverbird Weaver birds Giant anf malachite kingfishers Red throated bee eater White browed sparrow weaver Speckle fronted weaver African quail finch​ Kibale National Park Primates 1450 chimpanzees Threatened Red colobus monkey I’hoest’s monkey Black and white colobus Red tailed Blue monkeys Grey cheeked mangabey Olive baboon Bush baby Potto Other wildlife Elephants Buffalos Leopards Warthogs Bush pigs Golden cats Duikers Butterflies Birds African pitta Afep pigeon White naped pigeon Crowned eagle Red chested owlet Black bee eater Western nictor Yellow- rumped tinkerbird Little Greenbul Briown-chested alethe Blue breasted kinfisher African grey parrot Scaly breasted illadopsis Brown illadopsis Black capped apalis Blue headed sunbird Collard apalis Dusky crimsonwing Purple breasted sunbird Red faced woodland warbler Yellow spotted nicator Little Green bul Black eared ground thrush Abyssinian ground thrush Talk with an Agent 3 Days, 2 Nights in Uganda You will get to experience: ​ Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Talk with an Agent

  • Mahogany Springs Lodge | Iconic Travels

    Mahogany Springs Out of gallery

  • Ellie Plains | Iconic Travels

    Ellie Plains Out of gallery

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