Come face-to-face with the enchanting gorillas of Southern Uganda
This award-winning project gives volunteers the chance to get up close and personal with captivating and endangered mountain gorillas in the lush greenery of their natural, Ugandan habitat. The work undertaken during this mountain gorilla conservation tour is essential in bridging the gap between indigenous communities and the gorillas who share their vulnerable rainforest homes.
Volunteers will not only be able to actively contribute to the on-going protection of these incredible creatures, but will be able to experience them roaming freely in their natural habitat. Such gorilla tours will take place in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - a sanctuary that is home to half of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas. Here, volunteers will collaborate with the local communities on reforestation efforts and will work towards educating these communities on the importance of the gorilla.
As well as two permit-inclusive gorilla treks, this project also includes a four-day excursion to Uganda's renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here volunteers will have the opportunity to track wild chimpanzees, join an unforgettable boat trip on the Kazinga Channel and accompany game-drives searching for elephants, lions and other species.
Not only is this an incredible opportunity to experience the majesty of Ugandan wildlife species in all their natural splendour, but it is also a chance to make a real difference to the conservation of one of the continent's most treasured great apes.
Volunteers on this project will engage in a wide variety of activities as part of the project, involving themselves with the local community and supporting areas of mountain gorilla conservation in and around the national parks. They also take part in two breath-taking treks to see the beautiful endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline. However, all two week projects will include two gorilla tours, one chimpanzee trek and work with the local communities.
The success of this tour, founded in 2011, was recognised and celebrated by leading travel experts, and was voted as one of the most innovative eco-travel initiatives in the Guardian's Green Travel List 2011. This is the most responsible and sustainable manner in which to view endangered mountain gorillas in the wild, as the programmes that this project supports have truly remarkable positive impacts on local communities.
One of the most remarkable of these is the Kisoro Demonstration School for blind and deaf children, which this project supports financially. This school provides a safe learning environment for blind and deaf children in the area, who may not otherwise have access to an effective education.
Volunteers in Uganda are essential in all the work and success of this project, as their enthusiasm and passion helps to empower the local people with knowledge and strategies. Both the initiatives the project supports and the interaction of the volunteers helps greatly to bridge the gap between local communities and the endangered mountain gorillas that inhabit the same land.
"The project works towards both the conservation of Mountain Gorillas as well as contributing to schools within the local communities. In the past, the project has been voted as one of the most innovative eco-travel and sustainable initiatives in leading newspaper The Guardian's 'Green Travel List'."Read More
On arrival, volunteers will be transferred to a beautiful guesthouse in Kigali, close to the airport with ensuite bathrooms. The rooms are twin-share.
The accommodation provided at the project base is more basic, but still includes rooms with mosquito-nets, an ensuite bathroom and based on twin-sharing. This guesthouse boasts a stunning view of the volcanoes on a clear day.
In Queen Elizabeth National Park volunteers stay in a hostel right in the middle of the park’s wildlife in shared rooms with shared shower and toilet facilities. This accommodation offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities that you will have whilst in the National Park. Elephants and hippos are known to make frequent visits.
3 meals are provided a day, volunteers have a full menu to choose from daily. Beverages (including alcoholic) are also available at the guesthouse but are not included in the cost.
This project does not involve much in the way of physical labour, but is heavily based around trekking on the gorilla tours - usually in fairly humid conditions. Therefore, all volunteers should have high enough levels of fitness to be able to partake in regular treks. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Volunteers will need to arrive at Kigali International Airport on the start date of their project preferably between 8am and 5pm, where they will be met by a project representative and transferred to the guesthouse.
On the final day of the project volunteers are transferred back to Kigali where they can depart Kigali International Airport on flights with a departure time of 9pm or later.
Both a Rwandan and Ugandan Visa are required for this trip, and both can be bought in country depending on your Nationality, so it is best to explore this first. As you will be in Rwanda at the beginning and end of your trip, it is worth having a multiple entry Rwandan Visa, your Ugandan Visa can be single entry. In order to avoid time spent at the border or perhaps issues on arrival, it is also very easy to purchase your visa in advance, which can be obtained from Ugandan high commissions or embassies prior to departure. More details can be found in the pre-departure information given after booking.
The currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling. 1 UGX is approximately 0.0002 GPB, 0.0003 EUR and 0.0004 USD. For up-to-date exchange rates please check xe.com. You can only purchase shillings in Uganda so volunteers should bring out their cash in US dollars which are accepted in all hotels and the popular tourism areas in both Rwanda and Uganda, and are easy to change into shillings upon arrival.
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