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Optional activities to do during Bwindi gorilla trek and Uganda safari

Clients at coffee making experience in Kisoro, Uganda

If you plan to book a gorilla trekking adventure and an Uganda safari with Bamboo Ecotours, you can supplement gorilla trekking with one or two of the following optional activities. Some of the complementary and optional activities to do during the Bwindi gorilla trek below are inside Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, the communities adjacent to Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park manage most optional activities.

Bamboo Ecotours popular gorilla trek is the 3 Day Gorilla Trekking Safari that follows this schedule:

Day 1: Transfer from Kigali/Rwanda to Bwindi National Park in Uganda

Day 2: Gorilla trekking at Bwindi National Park in Uganda

Day 3: Optional activities in the morning. Transfer back to Kigali/Rwanda

We recommend starting the 3-day gorilla trekking safari in Kigali, Rwanda, because Kigali is closer to Bwindi National Park than Kampala or Entebbe in Uganda. It takes about 4-5hrs to drive from Kigali to Bwindi National Park. Kampala or Entebbe is about an 8-9hrs drive to Bwindi National Park.

Recommended Local Experiences at Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

​On pick up at Kigali, you can visit the Genocide Museum in Kigali in the morning and transfer to Bwindi National Park afterward. The Kigali Genocide Museum is free, but donations are welcome. Our tours typically depart Kigali between 7:00 am and 12:00 pm Rwanda time (Uganda time is one hour ahead of Rwanda time). Leaving Kigali by noon gives enough time to arrive at Bwindi national park before dark. The drive from Kigali to Bwindi national park takes approximately 4-5hrs.

If you are not interested in Kigali activities on Day 1, you can depart Kigali by 9:00 am and do optional activities on the Uganda side. We can arrange a stopover in Kisoro town and do ‘the coffee-making experience” tour (see more info about the trip below). Or do community walks around Bwindi national park in the evening. On day three is when you have room to choose from various options, including;

1. Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

You will depart the lodge in the morning and drive to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located north of Bwindi National Park at a distance of 49kms. The drive time between Bwindi and Mgahinga is 2.5hrs. You will trek the golden monkeys in the morning and transfer to Kigali afterward. The golden monkey trek starts at 8:00 am at Ntebeko, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Headquarters.

Duration: 5hrs

Cost: USD90 per person for the permit. Paid directly to Uganda Wildlife Authority

​2. Do the Batwa cultural tour inside Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

This tour takes you to Mgahinga gorilla national park to explore how the Batwa indigenous communities lived in the gorilla forests before eviction in the early 1990s. Trained Batwa cultural guides lead the cultural experience. The Batwa guides will showcase the traditional practices such as hunting and fruit gathering, fire making, and construction of grass thatched huts. The tour ends with an exploration of Garama cave, a site where the ancient Batwa king resided. You find the Batwa singing songs of grief and sorrow for the forest lands’ loss at the cave entrance.

The Batwa are currently residing at Mgahinga gorilla national park’s outskirts and the periphery of Bwindi National Park. The Batwa, who no longer access the forests for economic survival, struggles to meet daily necessities. The income collected from the Batwa cultural visit supports Batwa families to get basic household necessities. The Uganda Wildlife Authority manages the revenue distribution of the Batwa tour. The Batwa cultural tour starts at 9:00 am at Ntebeko gate, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Headquarters.​

Duration: 5hrs

Cost: USD80 per person for the permit. Paid directly to Uganda Wildlife Authority

3. Visit the Batwa community in the village

Instead of the national park-based activity in #2 above, take the morning time to visit the Batwa village and learn how they live, farm, etc. The Batwa community visit can start at any time of the day.

Duration: 3hrs; Inquire with Bamboo Ecotours for the activity price. 

4. Canoeing at Lake Mutanda near Kisoro Town

You take the early morning to enjoy a canoe ride at Lake Mutanda. Spot otters, birds, and enjoy the scenic views of the Virunga mountains.

Duration: 2hrs; Inquire with Bamboo Ecotours for the activity price. 

5. Coffee Making Experience

Take the morning to visit a local coffee farm. Learn how coffee is planted, harvested, roasted, and consumed. The coffee farm is five minutes drive from Kisoro’s main centre along Bunagana road. The coffee farm is owned by a local farmer called Peter. This is our best selling local activity.

Duration: 2hrs; Inquire with Bamboo Ecotours for the activity price. 

Note that the revenue collected from local activities goes directly to the local communities. By undertaking a community tour, you are now supporting the welfare of communities living adjacent to the gorilla parks.

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