Uganda Primate Safari with Ben Garrod: Trip Report

Patricia Harling

19 Oct 2018

NWS client Patricia saw chimps and gorillas – and plenty more besides – on this exciting trip

We lived overseas for many years, including Kenya (five years) and have experienced many game drives/safaris. On retirement we decided to continue with our “adventures” and two years ago with Natural World Safaris (NWS) we enjoyed a memorable tiger/temple holiday in India, allowing us to see 12 different Bengal tigers (including a kill) in 15 game drives – great photos.

On learning about an NWS opportunity to trek gorillas and chimpanzees in Uganda over a 2-week period we decided to become part of a small group of persons led by Dr. Ben Garrod – an evolutionary biologist, expert primatologist and TV presenter – and noted that he had spent several years in Uganda developing a chimpanzee conservation field site for the Jane Goodall Institute.

As a summary:

  • We saw gorilla families in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (the latter required a demanding trek of approx. eight hours – other groups only needed three hours – c’est la vie). We received our certificates for tracking the gorillas in both Mgahinga and Bwindi – nice idea – and these will be on display at home to bring back many happy memories.
  • Chimpanzee families in Kyambura Gorge (referred to as “Valley of the Apes”), Kibale Forest and Budongo Forest.
  • Jeep safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park – many animals (including lions, leopard, hyenas and the largest herd of elephants we have ever seen) and birds.
  • Boat safari in Kazinga Channel – again many animals and birds.

Every location followed a format of an introduction, then we were accompanied by experienced and friendly guides, porters and rangers – who in particular controlled our proximity to gorillas, chimpanzees and rhinos.

Accommodation was varied – but “bucket showers” were well received after a long day trekking in the rainforests, and the electrical supply problems were considered to be part of the adventure and bonding process with fellow travellers. No complaints though with the hospitality and food/refreshments.

We decided on extending our duration in Entebbe by one day at the beginning and end of our trip to Uganda. This enabled us to see the shoebill in Mabamba Swamp and also to visit the Botanical Gardens – both well worth a visit.

We set out to experience gorillas and chimpanzees and ended up thoroughly enjoying the overall adventure and experience that was Uganda, and a once-in-a-lifetime specialist-designed and specialist-led trip involving memories and anecdotes provided by Ben Garrod. The primate activities and involvement definitely exceeded all our expectations.

Our congratulations to NWS and in particular Dr Ben Garrod.

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