On this project you will engage in a wide variety of activities within the local communities, supporting areas of mountain gorilla conservation in and around the national parks. You will also take part in two breath-taking treks to see the beautiful endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Take part in 2 gorilla treks to see two separate families of the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Treks can last anything from 45 minutes to several hours, once the gorillas are reached you will get to spend a whole hour watching the family group feed and socialise with each other. Each family differs in size and personality, and you will get to see how the two families differ.
You will have the chance to take part in a once in a lifetime chimpanzee trek in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It's into the forest we go to search for the chimpanzees up in the trees, and there is nothing quite like hearing a chimp call for the first time! The chimps may be slightly easier to find than the gorillas, but you'll still need to keep your eyes peeled to spot them!
Pedal Power Cinema
Assist in a pedal-powered film session to educate remote schools and communities about the importance of the gorilla’s conservation. The pedal-powered cinema will be showing a combination of short and long gorilla conservation films which truly captivate the children and prompt them to ask more and more questions about the gorillas that are right on their door step but who they have never seen before.
National Park Visits
Take a trip to Mgahinga National Park with some of the local schoolchildren to educate them about the fauna and flora. You will be joined by 6 children from the only special needs school in the district. Children get to see the park first hand and find out more about the animals and plants. It is also a chance to spoil them with a hearty packed lunch.
Assist in tree-planting and reforestation work with the local community. This is primarily for education purposes so the children learn more about the issues surrounding deforestation, and some of the seedling planted can also provide the community with materials they can use for handicrafts.
Spend the day visiting a few of Gorilla Organisations’ community projects. These grassroots projects consist of various things such as reformed poachers learning agriculture, organic agriculture, bee keeping for farmers with small plots of land and a visit to a local Batwa community that have been taught agricultural skills so they can provide for themselves. All these projects have been developed to help the communities that were displaced when the national parks were established.
Spend an afternoon aboard a boat on the Kazinga channel to spot large pods of hippos, incredible birdlife and occasional elephants and lions coming to drink. You will spend 2 hours out on the water, with your camera in hand, taking some of the most incredible wildlife pictures. This is a definite must for bird enthusiasts.
Join game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park in search of various species of African wildlife. The Park offers some incredible opportunities for elephant views, lion viewing, and even the occasional leopard and hyena have been spotted on this tour.
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.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrival at Kigali International Airport, Rwanda. Our project leader will meet you at the airport and take you to the guesthouse which is approximately 5 minutes from the airport. Then you will get the chance to settle in and meet your fellow volunteers.
Day 2 - Arrive in Kisoro:
Today will begin with a transfer to Kisoro which is a 3 hour drive away. On the way you will have to stop at the Rwandan/ Ugandan Border. You will also stop for lunch on the way and then you will have some time to relax on arrival.
Day 3 - First Gorilla Trek:
Today you will join your first of two gorilla treks into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest led by local park guides who will impart their local knowledge and wisdom about endangered mountain gorillas, their habitat and their conservation. This will be where some of the best memories are created on your trip, so pay close attention to the guides.
Day 4-5 - Community Development Projects:
These days will be spent taking part in sustainable projects that will give the local community a better life. These projects can range from teaching kinder garden and primary school children to helping with small building projects. These activities depend on what is needed from the community at the time and are subject to change.
Day 6 - Second Gorilla Trek:
Today you will join your second gorilla treks into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for another chance to see the endangered gorillas in their natural habitat. This will be a different gorilla family offering you the chance to appreciate the difference in behaviours between the groups.
Day 7 - Queen Elizabeth National Park:
Today you and your group will transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This will give you the perfect chance to take in the surroundings of one of the most beautiful countries on earth as you pass through the varying landscapes of Uganda.
Day 8 - Kazinga channel :
Spend the morning aboard a boat on the Kazinga channel where you will see more hippos than you can imagine plus you may even catch a glimpse of a lion or elephant coming to the water to drink.
Day 9 - Chimpanzee Trek :
To add another primate to your list you will spend the morning searching for chimps on a chimpanzee trek. This is an animal you will definitely hear them before you see! There is nothing quite like it.
Day 10 - Transfer to Kisoro:
Today you and your group will transfer back to Kisoro, and once you arrive back at the accommodation you will be free to rest and relax, or perhaps even learn more about the gorillas if you wish!
Day 11 - Gorilla Organisation:
Join the Gorilla Organisation for a full day with their pedal powered cinema.You will spend a day with the team who are taking the pioneering pedal powered cinema system to remote schools and communities showing conservation, education and gorilla based films.
Day 12 - Mgahinga National Park:
Today you will trek through Mgahinga National Park with the children of the local school which works primarily with children with special needs such as deaf and blindness. Each child will get a direct education in the forest they are being taught to protect. On this day, you will visit the park with them and possibly learn a thing or two along with the children whilst witnessing their passion and drive to protect the world they live in.
Day 13 - Gorilla Organisation:
Today will be spent at one of Gorilla Organisations many community project sites. This could involve anything from teaching reformed poachers about how to provide for their families through agriculture, bee keeping with local farmers, or visiting the local Batwa community.
Day 14 - Final Day:
Transfer back to Kigali, once again with a border crossing. You will be taken to the airport for your flight out that night if it is a very late flight. We can assist in booking additional accommodation if you are staying longer.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking with a further deposit of £650 required 6 months prior to your start date. This is required so that your gorilla trekking permits can be secured. Your final balance payment will then be due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
It is still possible to join this project any time up to the start date, however, we will just need to double check that we can book your gorilla trekking permits, therefore, if you would like to go any time in the next 6 months, please do send us an email or fill out the enquiry form below.
Updates & Outcomes
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. 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. We are thrilled to be able to support these children on a year by year basis, and seeing their progress each time volunteers visit is a real thrill and a privilege. One of the children who we have supported through their schooling is Gedion, and you can read more about these courageous young mans progress in the blogs below.
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.
This is your chance to read all about the Gorilla families who live in the forest at the site of The Great Gorilla Project! There are currently four different Gorilla troops in the forest, but to see them all you'll have to make sure you keep your eyes peeled!
The 19th of May is Endangered Species Day, and the need to help our planet's at-risk animals is greater than ever. Find out how you can make a difference by reading today's blog.
Check out what Angela had to say about her time on the Great Gorilla Project!
Is this trip for you?
On arrival, you 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 you will 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 and you 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 your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
When is the best time to volunteer?
Whilst you are able to volunteer throughout the year there are certain elements that are unavailable in July and August, namely any work at the Kisoro Demonstration School or with its pupils. Therefore, we are unable to offer this project in these months.
Popular months to gorilla trek in Uganda are May to September and December to February due to the drier weather, although it is warm all year round with temperatures between 25 and 28°C (77-82°F).
You will need to arrive into Kigali International Airport on the start date of your project preferably between 8am and 5pm, where they will be met by a project representative and transferred to Hotel Chez Lando in Kigali for your first nights accommodation.
On the final day of the project you are transferred back to Kigali where you can depart Kigali International Airport on flights with a departure time of 9pm or later otherwise you may have to book another night at Hotel Chez Lando.
If you would like help
booking your flights, please visit our
flights page and fill out
the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with
a suitable quote.
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. We recommend, however, obtaining an East Africa Visa as this allows fo travel between Uganda and Rwanda and means you only have to apply for 1 visa. This can be applied for online at https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=28 and costs USD100.
Currency and Exchange Rates
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.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Two gorilla-tracking permits and one chimpanzee-tracking permit
- A monetary contribution to the two charities involved in the project.
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Use of internet and telephone
- All beverages
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary