Wednesday, 20 December 2017
Gorilla safari in Uganda on self drive.
Undoubtedly known as the pearl of Africa, Uganda is one of a kind safari destination for amazing wildlife encounters. Being one of the few countries still harboring the endangered mountain gorillas and also the home for the greatest chimpanzee encounters, its undoubtedly the best country to track these primates and combine it with wildlife safaris.
However tracking these primates requires you to book in advance. Gorilla tracking permits go for $600 in the high season and the low seasons with effect from 1st/ Jan/ 2018. This applies as well for the chimpanzee encounters in the kibale and this goes for $150.
Tracking the gorillas of the Bwindi or Mgahinga, is a once in a lifetime ultimate wildlife encounter. The permits can be arranged for you by tour agencies, or your car rental in Uganda agency. If you are planning on going for a self drive in Uganda, the car rental agencies like Auto rental Uganda will absolutely help you in securing the gorilla permits, scanned copies sent to you and all that remains is encountering the great apes. Reservation is required because of the high demand for the permits given that one family is visited by 8 people to max at a time. So a need for booking in advance is advisable so you never miss out on the day tracking.
The gorilla tracking in Bwindi and Mgahinga starts in the mornings and usually the briefing is done by the park rangers at 8am at the park headquarters. Whether you are doing a self drive on on a car rental in Uganda with no guide, always endeavor to find a lodge/hotel that is closer to the starting point. After the briefing, you will head out to the jungles to find these great apes. The time spent in the jungles looking for the gorillas depends on their movements from their previous day sighting. Usually the first team of rangers will head out in the jungles at about 6am and start looking for the gorillas. They head and start from where they saw the gorillas the previous day. They look out for the signs of them, new nests, paths, and dung for the gorillas until they find them. They then communicate with the ranger guide on walkie tokie who is to lead you in the jungles at 8am. If they have moved a long distance then you will trek the same distance. Always advisable to go with packed lunch and enough water for the whole day. Sometimes the trekking takes a long whole day so better well prepared. When you eventually find the gorillas, you actually advised to stay 7m away from them but this is broken by the gorillas as they sometimes come closer to you and even could touch you, kick you or lick/smell you. The gorillas sharing 98%of DNA with humans are lively, friendly the act just like human.
The one hour spent with them is another to keep for the rest of your life. Always advisable to take the camera flash off, the disorganization of the gorillas and could charge at you. They could also starting moving away and miss the time with them. After the one hour with the gorillas you return to your starting point and certificates awarded to you for doing the trek. Usually some tourists never make it, or they are later carried on stretchers out of the jungle. A mere writing will never tell the whole experience even in the heart.
Still enjoying Uganda self drive safari, a lead upwards to the queen Elizabeth national park is another experience on its own. Through the ishasha plains are the tree climbing lions in the southern sector. There is nothing so interesting and incredible as seeing a pride of lions hitching and resting on top of the fig trees. It is another experience, a feeling for the heart to decide. Incredible wildlife to encounter and the leopard easily seen here. Being the southern part/sector of the queen Elizabeth national park, there is another northern sector of the park called the kasenyi with incredibly lots of wildlife. This also an area to see more cats. It is an 80kms stretch road up to the northern sector and this takes you about 2-3hrs drive in case you are on a self drive in Uganda.
This park contains two lakes (L.George and L.Edward) separated by the kazinga channel with another flood of wild life to see. The Uganda wildlife authority and Marasa/mweya safari lodge run boat cruises in the morning and afternoons. Its a relaxing cruise and you get to see a lot of more wildlife like the water buffalos, crocodiles, hippos, water birds, bucks, lions, leopards, fish eagles, hummer cops and much much more. Whatever nature will offer, is appreciated. Its never the same again after this experience. There are great lodges like the Bush lodge for budget and Mweya safari lodge for upmarket that will spice up the safari experience make it real. Hippos, elephants, buffalos roam the compound in the night feeding and you could absolutely hear the lions roar in the night. There is more than just Gorillas and wildlife for Uganda. Its more than just that.