NEW TRIP! 6-Day Chimps and Gorillas Express / Fly Back

This quick 6-day Uganda safari allows wildlife enthusiasts, who may have limited time, to experience the two greatest primate interactions in the world: close encounters with our closest living relatives in the natural world, the chimpanzee, and those gentlest of forest giants, the endangered mountain gorilla.

Travelers arrive in Entebbe, drive to Kibale and Bwindi, then fly back to Entebbe on the morning of Day 6, arriving in time to make a late afternoon or evening flight out. Accommodations in the online itinerary are mid-comfortable and clean mid-range lodges, however luxury travelers are welcome to contact us for a custom quote as upscale options are on offer too.

Starting at $2095 USD per person!

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe, transfer and overnight
Day 2: Drive to Kibale National Forest
Day 3: Chimp Habituation Trek in Kibale
Day 4: Drive to Bwindi National Park
Day 5: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Day 6: Fly back to Entebbe, depart

Itinerary In Detail

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe, transfer and overnight

Welcome to Uganda! Meet and greet at the Entebbe Airport by your guide. From here, transfer to your hotel, which is about 10 minutes away in Entebbe, which borders Kampala.

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. With a population of about 2 million, Kampala city is the largest urban settlement in Uganda. Kampala was developed around a fort constructed by Frederick Lugard in 1890 for the British East Africa Company. In 1962, Kampala replaced Entebbe as the national capital.

Meals included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: The Boma Lodge

Day 2: Drive to Kibale National Forest

After breakfast, embark on the 6-hour drive to Kibale Forest National Park with lunch en route. Kibale Forest National Park is renowned as the “Primate Paradise” with one of the largest variety and concentration of primates in Africa including our famous cousins the chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, L’Hoest’s, black-and- white Colobus and the olive baboons. There is also a wide array of unique birds, forest elephants (smaller and hairier than the more familiar savannah elephant) and much more.

Check in at the lodge and then enjoy a guided nature walk through the Bigodi wetland.

The Bigodi Swamp Walk is an eco-tourism initiative from the local community. The reserve is known for a rich diversity of birds and primates. The path and board walk maybe flooded and muddy after heavy rainfall and gumboots are recommended. The walk is about 4km in length taking 3-4 hours at birding pace with local community guides. All proceeds from your visit go back to into the community, a conservation project well worth supporting.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Primate Lodge Kibale – Forest Cottage

Day 3: Chimp Habituation Trek in Kibale

Today enjoy a sensational chimpanzee Habituation experience.

You will walk or drive to the trailhead for the start of an unforgettable adventure – hiking in the footsteps of the habituated family of chimpanzees. En-route, your guide will entertain you with stories and facts about the forest and her other inhabitants including other species of primates and birds and more.

Once we’ve encountered the chimpanzees, spend the day observing their daily life – feeding, playing, grooming, taking care of their young, howling and screeching, in their natural habitat.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Primate Lodge Kibale – Forest Cottage

Day 4: Drive to Bwindi National Park

After breakfast, you will depart Kibale Forest National Park and head further to Bwindi National Park, about a 5-6 hour drive away, and home of the endangered mountain Gorillas.

While driving through a fertile countryside, you’ll pass small villages and many traditional homesteads plus enjoy some wonderful panoramic views. You’ll in Bwindi by the afternoon.  Enjoy a walk in the nearby community or relax on the lodge’s balcony and take in the mountain views.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home of the rare but critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, lies on the edge of the albertine Rift Valley in south-western Uganda, with a wide altitude range between 1,160 to 2,600 meters.  The rainforest itself, dating back to the  ice ages, is one of Uganda’s oldest and ecologically most diverse with almost 400 species of plants, 350 species of birds including 23 Albertine Rift endemics as well as 120 mammals species including lots of smaller mammals along with gorillas, baboons, chimpanzees, elephants and several species of antelopes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Haven Lodge Buhoma

Day 5: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

Arise early today and prepare for an amazing adventure: an unforgettable encounter with the gentle giants of Bwindi. Following breakfast, transfer to the park offices where trekkers are divided into groups of 8 and allocated a specific gorilla family to visit as well as a tracking guide.

After a pre-trek briefing by your guide (which touches on the gorillas generally, your assigned gorilla family as well as appropriate safety precautions), you drive to the trailhead for the start of your thrilling adventure – participants should prepare to walk long distances in steep and sometimes muddy conditions with rain overhead, which can be tough and require a degree of fitness. Granted, the time taken can be variable, taking anywhere from 3 to 8-hours (or rarely, longer) however the thrill of coming face to face with a giant mountain gorilla silverback will more than compensate for the effort.

Once you’ve arrived at the gorilla family, you spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life; feeding, moving, playing, raising their young and sometimes wrestling by the juveniles – it is a totally unique and unforgettable experience!

Note: Please remember to bring your passport for registration, appropriate, waterproof hiking boots and a light rain coat. To protect from stinging nettles, we recommend long pants and long sleeved tops. A pair of old gardening gloves can help grabbing onto the vegetation while most hotels/lodges provide a walking stick that come in very handy especially when hiking downhill.  A small waterproof backpack is an excellent idea to carry a light snack, bottled water as well as protection for your camera. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Haven Lodge Buhoma

Day 6: Fly back to Entebbe, depart

This morning, transfer to Kihihi Airstrip (about 1 hour from the lodge) for your departure flight out of Impenetrable forest of Bwindi and back to Entebbe. If time allows, we’ll arrange a guided visit of the Mabamba swamp (home of the massive shoebill stork) and later help you connect with your international flight back home. 

Meals included: Breakfast

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NEW TRIP! 9-Day Active Rio and Iguazu Adventure BRAZIL

On our newest 9-Day Active Rio and Iguazu Adventure, hike, climb and cycle while discovering two of Brazil’s top destinations: Rio and Iguazu Falls!

Known as the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro is an amazing, and magical place! Surrounded by stunning mountains, white sandy beaches and tropical rain forest, Rio has one of the most spectacular sceneries and ecosystems of the world. Venture on bike through the city, rock climb Sugar Loaf mountain or trek to Christ the Redeemer and visit the multiple and diverse beaches in the city!

Continue on to Iguazu Falls, which provides an abundance of interesting and adventurous activities, such as taking the Macuco Safari Boat Tour, which runs through the canyons and leads you to bathe in the falls. There are also helicopter, hiking and rafting tours available for the more adventurous!

Starting at $1145 USD per person!

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Arrival in Rio de Janeiro
Day 2:
Sugar Loaf Hike (B)
Day 3:
Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana Tour (B)
Day 4:
Rio Jungle Bike Tour (B)
Day 5:
Day at leisure in Rio (B)
Day 6:
Fly to Iguazu Falls (B)
Day 7:
Argentinean Falls Tour (B)
Day 8:
Brazilian Falls Bike Tour (B)
Day 9:
Departure (B)

Itinerary In Detail

Day 1: Arrival in Rio de Janeiro

Private transfer from the airport to the hotel in Rio de Janeiro (approx 17km – 30 min).

Overnight at South American Copacabana Hotel in luxury room with breakfast.

Meals included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel South American Copacabana

Day 2: Sugar Loaf Hike (B)

The Sugar Loaf hiking tour (Private) is definitely an unforgettable experience! The steep 03:00 hours trail will take you to the summit of this fabulous landmark at 1200 ft (400 mts)! The hike goes up a rocky trail with some scrambling sections and a short 80ft (25 mts) vertical rock climb! At the summit we relax and enjoy the views before taking the traditional Cable Car down to Urca Hill. No rock climbing experience is required, but you should be fit for this steep hike.

* On rainy days the rocky surface of Sugar Loaf gets too slippery. For safety reasons we will offer another hike or tour that are possible to be done under these circumstances (Pedra Bonita Hike, Tijuca Forest Hike, Half Day Cultural Tours). Another option for rainy days is the Urca Hill Hike (easy), and take the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf (Additional not included: R$ 50,00 per person).

 Tour Info:

– Duration: 5-6 Hours
– Level: Moderate/Hard – 400mts high (Starting at sea level) – Rock Climbing Sections
– Pick-up: 13:00 (winter) or 14:00 (summertime) – To avoid the morning Sun!
– Recommendation: Bring light clothes, hiking shoes, small backpack, sunscreen, insect repellent, water and snacks.
 -On Weekends, Holiday and high season the tour can take longer than expected due to traffic and overcrowded tourist attractions.
-Included: French or English Speaking Guide, Assistant Climbing Guide for larger groups (3 or more), private car or van transportation, and climbing gear.

Overnight at South American Copacabana Hotel in luxury room with breakfast.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel South American Copacabana

Day 3: Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana Tour (B)

Visit three of Brazil’s most heavy hitting icons in one day on this Rio de Janeiro tour. 1. Christ the Redeemer. 2. Copacabana Beach 3. Corcovado. This could just be the ultimate, big city travel hack!

Highlights:
> Check out the view from Christ the Redeemer, one of the new Seven Wonders of the Modern World
> Taste unique flavors as you eat and drink your way through the famous Copacabana beach area
> Admire the panoramas of Copacabana from our favorite non-touristy spot
> Kick back with new friends at a funky spot in a great local neighborhood
> Get the lowdown on the city from a local and get all the latest up to date information you won’t find in most guidebooks

Included: one draft beer and two local snack!

Schedule details:
Duration: 4 hours

Pick up from hotels/hostels in the southern area of Rio: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo, and Laranjeiras. Otherwise pick-up will be from the Copacabana Palace Hotel. We will notify you in advance of the pick-up time for your location.

Overnight at South American Copacabana Hotel in luxury room with breakfast.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel South American Copacabana

Day 4: Rio Jungle Bike Tour (B)

Get ready for an unforgettable adventure into the Brazilian rainforest and beyond with an expert local guide. Beginning with incredible views of Rio de Janeiro from the top of the Corcovado mountain, you’re instantly be reminded why this is one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

After gazing in astonishment at the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue, we hop on our bikes for the most extraordinary bike ride of your life! Fingers crossed for wildlife encounters with monkeys, toucans, and other wild animals in this protected National Forest. Welcome to the Rio Jungle Bike Tour; you’d be crazy to miss it!

Highlights:
> Get a tantalising glimpse of the beautiful nature that lies in the Tijuca Forest in Rio De Janeiro
> Cycle alongside chirping birds, waterfalls, and stunning panoramas as monkeys perch on the trees above you
> Tick the legendary Christ the Redeemer statue off your bucket list as you admire one of the Seven Wonders of the World
> Take some truly astonishing shots of Rio from above that will make your friends and family green with envy!
> Learn about Brazil’s fascinating history as you cycle the oldest route in the forest, once used by the second Emperor, D. Pedro II

Schedule details:

-Duration: 5 hours
-Pick up from hotels/hostels in the southern area of Rio: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo, and Laranjeiras. Otherwise pick-up will be from the Copacabana Palace Hotel. We will notify you in advance of the pick-up time for your location
-Starting time: 8.00 AM

Overnight at South American Copacabana Hotel in luxury room with breakfast.

Meals included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel South American Copacabana

Day 5: Day at leisure in Rio (B)

Free day to enjoy the city. Check out out tips list:

Best Breakfast Spot: Parque Lage

What: For a memorable breakfast in Rio, it has to be Parque Lage. Away from Rio’s main attractions, this grand park offers a delicious breakfast surrounded by a mix of romantic-style gardens and the Mata Atlântica forest. After breakfast, head to the stately mansion in the centre of the park, home to Rio de Janeiro’s School of Visual Arts, which is open to the public.

Best Lunch Spot: The Aprazível Restaurant

What: The Aprazível Restaurant is located in the gorgeous Santa Teresa area. Enjoy typical Brazilian food on the terrace with stunning views over the city and bay area.

Best Dinner Spot: Churrascaria Fogo de Chão

What: The Churrascaria Fogo de Chão is a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, cooking the best barbecue the city has to offer. Seriously great kebabs.

Best Brunch Spot: Confeitaria Colombo

What: Enjoy a feast of traditional sweets, pastries and waffles for brunch at Confeitaria Colombo. The Confectionery Cafe is located at the Copacabana Fortress, with unique views of the Copacabana beach – it’s a must for any Rio newbie.

Best Bar: Rio Scenarium

What: The Rio Scenarium offers a taste of Carioca’s culture (local to Rio). With a mix of samba dancing, authentic food and lively locals, it makes for a very memorable evening. Be sure to check out their website, as they have a daily changing programme featuring live Brazilian music for every night of the week.

Best Street Food Vendor: Globo Biscuit or Açaí Bowl

What: Our travellers love to explore the colourful back alleys of Rio, bursting with vibrant vendors selling typical Brazilian cuisine. Try the renowned Globo Biscuit, a sweet snack that is sold on Rio’s beaches, or for a healthier option, the Açaí bowl, a thick smoothie of red fruits, topped with oatmeal and peanut butter.

Five Must Dos in Rio:

-Hike up the Morro da Urca Trail for beautiful views of the region, take a cable car on the way down!
-Visit the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) and enjoy the Kobra’s graffiti in MAR, next door.
-Take a Favela Tour (make sure it is a sustainable one and conducted by the residents of that Favela; be respectful).
-Rent a bike and ride along the edge of Zona Sul.
-For an early morning activity, try stand-up paddle boarding at Posto 6 in Copacabana.

Overnight at South American Copacabana Hotel in luxury room with breakfast.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel South American Copacabana

Day 6: Fly to Iguazu Falls (B)

Private transfer from the hotel to the airport in Rio de Janeiro (approx 17km – 30 min)

Fly to Foz do Iguassu (flights NOT included)

Driver guide in Foz do Iguaçu for transfer in from the IGU airport.

Overnight at hotel Pietro Angelo in luxury room with breakfast

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7: Argentinean Falls Tour (B)

Driver guide in Foz do Iguaçu for Argentinean Falls tour.

ARGENTINEAN FALLS:

The limits of the Brazilian park extends to Argentina. On the Argentine side of the park, we will embark upon the train that leads to two circuits – the Lower, of 1,700 meters and walkways running along the falls to the Moorhen level; and the Superior, with 650 meters and hanging bridges that reveal a complete picture of all the falls. Both routes end at the edge of the biggest and most exciting Falls: the Devil’s Throat. At 90 meters high, it is one of the picture perfect postcards of the region. The Argentine side is more rustic than the Brazilian, with exuberant and heart exhilarating hiking trails.

For this tour it is necessary to cross the border to Argentina. Please, contact the responsible authorities to verify the visa requirement for your nationality.

Overnight at hotel Pietro Angelo in luxury room with breakfast

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8: Brazilian Falls Bike Tour (B)

Driver guide in Foz do Iguaçu for Brazilian Falls tour.

Bike Tour Cataratas (Private):

The tour starts at the visitor center of the National Park and goes to the beginning of the trails of the Falls, the route is approximately 10km, the route is accompanied by an instructor and the guide of the group. When you arrive in front of where we find the first viewpoint, the bicycles are parked, and the pax make the trail on foot, because they have stairs, ascents and decidas, at the end of the trail the pax has the possibility to return to the visitor center with The bike again or if you are tired you can come back with the park bus. In the value of the bicycle rental includes safety equipment and water for the pax.

Overnight at hotel Pietro Angelo in luxury room with breakfast

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9: Departure

Driver guide in Foz do Iguaçu for transfer OUT to the IGU airport.

Meals included: Breakfast

More on Brazil:

Posted in Brazil, Family Travel, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 7 Travel Apps

Best Travel Apps

We have rounded up our favorite apps in our Best Travel Apps series.  These are the first apps I download for my trips.

  1. Maps.Me / Google Maps
  2. Lounge Buddy
  3. WhatsApp / Skype
  4. iTranslate / Google Translate
  5. Polar Steps
  6. Pack Point
  7. Mobile Passport (U.S.)

Let us know what your favorites are!


1) Maps.Me / Google Maps

  • Features:
    • Maps for any country, any place, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, at your fingertips
    • Totally offline detailed maps, including searches, bookmarks, auto-follow mode, GPS positioning
    • Zoom-in and zoom-out smoothly
    • Google Maps can also be configured to work offline
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 1

2) LoungeBuddy

  • Features:
    • Find airport lounges all over the world
      • Find lounges available for a fee (beginning at $25)
      • Find lounges associated with airline elite status, lounge membership, and credit card affiliation
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 3

3) WhatsApp / Skype

  • Features:
    • Fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free*, available on phones all over the world. *Data charges may apply.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 3

4) iTranslate / Google Translate

  • Features:
    • Read, write, and speak in 90 languages, anywhere in the world
    • Translate text or websites, start voice conversations or
      lookup words, meanings, and even verb conjugations in over 90 languages
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 1

5) Polar Steps

  • Features:
    • Travel log of your destinations, photos, and description
    • Share with friends and on social media
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

6) Pack Point

  •  Features:
    • Generates packing list based on length of travel, weather, and activities
    • Share packing lists with others
  • Cost: Free
    • PackPoint Premium
      • Connects to TripIt and Evernote
      • Customize with your own activities and packing list items
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 1

7) Mobile Passport

  • Features:
    • Expedited passport processing at 20 U.S. airports and one cruise port
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 1

Let us know what your favorites are!


See the rest of our Best Travel Apps series:

Top 7 Travel Apps

  1. Maps.Me / Google Maps
  2. Lounge Buddy
  3. WhatsApp / Skype
  4. iTranslate / Google Translate
  5. Polar Steps
  6. Pack Point
  7. Mobile Passport (U.S.)

Part I – Organizing Your Trip and Flight Information

  • Itineraries / Confirmation
    • Trip It
  • Packing
    • Packing Pro
    • Pack Point
  • Flight Tracking
    • Flight+
    • FlightAware
  • Airport Information
    • Gate Guru
    • Lounge Buddy
  • U.S. Immigration
    • Mobile Passport
  • Compensation for EU Flight
    • Air Help

Part II – Destination Information

  • Maps
    • National Geographic World Atlas
    • CityMapper
    • City Maps2Go
    • Stay.com
    • Maps.me
    • Star Walk
  • Conversion
    • XE Currency
    • The Converted
  • Tipping
    • Globe Tipping
  • Sleep
    • Sleep Cycle
    • Entrain

Part III – Communications

  • Learn a Language
    • World Nomads Travel Language Guides
    • Duo Lingo
    • Memrise
  • Translation
    • Google Translate
    • iTranslate
    • SayHi Translate
  • Communications
    • Viber
    • WhatsApp
    • Messenger

Part IV – Documenting your Travels

  • Photography
    • PhotoGrid
    • Canva
    • ProCamera
    • Snapseed
  • Track your Wanderings
    • LiveTrekker
    • Instagram
    • SnapChat
  • Trip Journals
    • TripJournal

Let us know what your favorites are!

Posted in Travel Technology | Tagged , | 4 Comments

NEW TRIP! 8-Day Luxury Uganda

On our 8-day Luxury Uganda safari, discerning travelers experience a quiet natural history gem (Lake Mburo National Park) plus fantastic eye-to-eye chimp and gorilla encounters all while staying in several of Uganda’s most impressive luxury lodges. In serene Lake Mburo, travelers have some unique optional excursions available including horseback riding, mountain biking and night-game drives. We eliminate a significant amount of driving by conveniently flying back from Bwindi to Entebbe on Day 8. While this trip features luxury accommodations, mid-range travelers are encouraged to contact us for a custom quote if interested. All of our Uganda tours are private, featuring professional English-speaking naturalist guides and well-maintained Toyota Land Cruisers with removable tops for wildlife viewing.

Starting at $3395 USD per person!

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe, transfer and overnight
Day 2: Drive to Lake Mburo National Park
Day 3: Free day at Lake Mburo / Optional activities
Day 4: Drive to Kibale Forest National Park
Day 5: Chimp Habituation Trek in Kibale
Day 6: Drive to Bwindi National Park
Day 7: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Day 8: Fly back to Entebbe, depart

Itinerary In Detail

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe, transfer and overnight

Welcome to Uganda! Meet and greet at the Entebbe Airport by your guide. From here, transfer to your hotel, which is about 10 minutes away in Entebbe, which borders Kampala.

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. With a population of about 2 million, Kampala city is the largest urban settlement in Uganda. Kampala was developed around a fort constructed by Frederick Lugard in 1890 for the British East Africa Company. In 1962, Kampala replaced Entebbe as the national capital.

Meals included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: Protea Hotel Entebbe

Day 2: Drive to Lake Mburo National Park

After breakfast, begin the 5-hour transfer to Lake Mburo National Park, with lunch en route.We’ll make a stop at the equator line where your guide will perform a simple water experiment to demonstrate the reversal in gravitational pull and have a look at the traditional drums and crafts being made. Afterwards proceed to Lake Mburo National Park, an extension of the Tanzanian plains with impressive herds of zebra, impala, eland and other ungulates. Bird viewing opportunities are excellent – for birders, this is one of the best places to find African fin foot and papyrus bush shrike. Check in at your lodge and enjoy an afternoon game drive or simply relax amidst the fantastic views from your hilltop luxury lodge.

Mihingo Lodge is a luxurious, family owned lodge in a magical setting adjacent to Lake Mburo National Park. Perched high on a rocky kopje, whose pre-Cambrian granite boulders were formed over 500 million years ago, it has spectacular views over a vast savannah landscape.  Designed to blend in with its fragile surroundings, this eco-friendly property offers comfort, relaxation and the experience of being at one with nature.

An infinity pool overlooks the valley below where buffalo, eland, impala, warthogs, bush buck and zebra can be seen at the waterhole.  On the rocks you may have the rare chance of seeing the resident family of Klipspringers.  We cannot guarantee that you will see a leopard, but on a night game drive you do have a good chance. As Rungwe Kingdon (the son of the well-known wildlife author, Jonathan Kingdon, and one of Mihingo’s guests) once told us “I have seen more leopards in Lake Mburo National Park than any other park in East Africa.’

As an added bonus, Mihingo is the only lodge in Uganda to offer daytime and overnight horse safaris into the national park.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Mihingo Lodge

Day 3: Free day at Lake Mburo / Optional activities

Day at leisure with optional activities:

  • Mountain bike safari: great rides (with or without guide) are available in the valley or in the swamp areas with lots of zebras, topis and waterbucks. Price rom US $30 per person.
  • Horseback safari: explore the surroundings on the back of a horse, a peaceful and relaxing way to get close to the wildlife. Price from US $60 per person.
  • Night game drive in search of leopards, hyenas and other nocturnal animals. Price from US $30per person. Travelers have about a 60% chance of seeing leopard during the the dry season, which runs July to September and again in January-February. 
  • Join a staff person for a 15-minute walk and visit the waterhole wildlife hides to view hippos and more up-close.
  • Cultural walk to learn more about the Bahima culture
  • Sundowners “on the rocks” — watching the sun go down and listening to hyenas calling in the valley below is a lovely way to end a a relaxing day In the bush.
  • Enjoying a massage: a perfect way to unwind after a safari or a long flight! Price from US $20 per person.
  • Bush breakfast: start the day with a delicious, private breakfast before going on guided bush walk. Price from US $60 per person.  

It’s recommendable to pre-book these optional activities to avoid disappointment. Please contact us for more details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Mihingo Lodge

Day 4: Drive to Kibale Forest National Park

After breakfast, embark on the 4-5 hour to Kibale Forest National Park. Kibale Forest National Park is renowned as the “Primate Paradise” with one of the largest variety and concentration of primates in Africa including our famous cousins the chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, L’Hoest’s, black-and- white Colobus and the olive baboons. There is also a wide array of unique birds, forest elephants (smaller and hairier than the more familiar savannah elephant) and much more.

Check in at the lodge and later enjoy a guided nature walk through the Bigodi wetland. The Bigodi Swamp Walk is an eco-tourism initiative from the local community. The reserve is known for a rich diversity of birds and primates. The path and board walk maybe flooded and muddy after heavy rainfall and gumboots are recommended. The walk is about 4km in length taking 3-4 hours at birding pace with local community guides. All proceeds from your visit go back to into the community, a conservation project well worth supporting.

Overnight in the luxury cottages at Primate Lodge Kibale. Primate Lodge enjoys a wonderfully advantageous location, tucked deep in the forest and right next door to the starting point for the Chimpanzee tracking excursion as well as the incredible Chimpanzee Habituation, really, two of the most unique wildlife experiences on the planet. All of the lodge’s nine spacious and en-suite Luxury Cottages, each secluded deep in the forest for maximum privacy and a natural ‘living in nature’ feel, come complete with 2x Double size Bed or 1x King Size Bed, a sitting area with two comfortable arm chairs, a reading table and an adjoining large veranda with excellent views to the forest. Lodge amenities include a spacious dining terrace, a well-stocked bar, complimentary room service, a secluded lounge area with a small library, an evening camp fire, laundry service (at a small fee) as well as free WiFi in the public areas. Primate Lodge Kibale welcomes travelers to experience the amazing wonders of the Kibale jungle, with the greatest variety and concentration of primate species found anywhere in Africa, as well as excellent food by their chef ‘Bos’ and the warmest service and hospitality from the friendly staff – guests are assured a highly memorable lodging experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Primate Lodge Kibale – Luxury Cottage

Day 5: Chimp Habituation Trek in Kibale

Today enjoy a sensational chimpanzee Habituation experience.

You will walk or drive to the trailhead for the start of an unforgettable adventure – hiking in the footsteps of the habituated family of chimpanzees. En-route, your guide will entertain you with stories and facts about the forest and her other inhabitants including other species of primates and birds and more.

Once we’ve encountered the chimpanzees, spend the day observing their daily life – feeding, playing, grooming, taking care of their young, howling and screeching, in their natural habitat.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Primate Lodge Kibale – Luxury Cottage

Day 6: Drive to Bwindi National Park

After breakfast, you will depart Kibale Forest National Park and head further to Bwindi National Park, about a 5-6 hour drive away, and home of the endangered mountain Gorillas.

While driving through a fertile countryside, you’ll pass small villages and many traditional homesteads plus enjoy some wonderful panoramic views. You’ll in Bwindi by the afternoon.  Enjoy a walk in the nearby community or relax on the lodge’s balcony and take in the mountain views.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home of the rare but critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, lies on the edge of the albertine Rift Valley in south-western Uganda, with a wide altitude range between 1,160 to 2,600 meters.  The rainforest itself, dating back to the  ice ages, is one of Uganda’s oldest and ecologically most diverse with almost 400 species of plants, 350 species of birds including 23 Albertine Rift endemics as well as 120 mammals species including lots of smaller mammals along with gorillas, baboons, chimpanzees, elephants and several species of antelopes.

Your overnights will be enjoyed at Volcanoes Lodge in Bwindi. Overlooking the lush jungle mountains in which the mountain gorillas get their well-earned name, the intimate Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge is the finest luxury lodge in Bwindi. With dramatic views of the forest canopy across a serene stream, it is one of Africa’s most unique properties. The lodge is perfectly located for a Uganda jungle gorilla tracking experience. Volcanoes Lodge features a roomy, atmospheric main lounge and dining area, that bring the feel of the forest into the stylish interiors. The main living area has a central fireplace which acts as a focal point for guests to relax and discuss their gorilla tracking experience. The outdoor terrace provides dramatic views of the impenetrable forest and is a great place to spot the monkeys and birds hidden in the foliage. The eight individual bandas, each having their own view of the forest, have warm luxurious interiors and inviting four poster beds and locally-inspired furniture​.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge

Day 7: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

Arise early today and prepare for an amazing adventure: an unforgettable encounter with the gentle giants of Bwindi. Following breakfast, transfer to the park offices where trekkers are divided into groups of 8 and allocated a specific gorilla family to visit as well as a tracking guide.

After a pre-trek briefing by your guide (which touches on the gorillas generally, your assigned gorilla family as well as appropriate safety precautions), you drive to the trailhead for the start of your thrilling adventure – participants should prepare to walk long distances in steep and sometimes muddy conditions with rain overhead, which can be tough and require a degree of fitness. Granted, the time taken can be variable, taking anywhere from 3 to 8-hours (or rarely, longer) however the thrill of coming face to face with a giant mountain gorilla silverback will more than compensate for the effort.

Once you’ve arrived at the gorilla family, you spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life; feeding, moving, playing, raising their young and sometimes wrestling by the juveniles – it is a totally unique and unforgettable experience!

Note: Please remember to bring your passport for registration, appropriate, waterproof hiking boots and a light rain coat. To protect from stinging nettles, we recommend long pants and long sleeved tops. A pair of old gardening gloves can help grabbing onto the vegetation while most hotels/lodges provide a walking stick that come in very handy especially when hiking downhill.  A small waterproof backpack is an excellent idea to carry a light snack, bottled water as well as protection for your camera. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge

Day 8: Fly back to Entebbe, depart

This morning, transfer to Kihihi Airstrip (about 1 hour from the lodge) for your departure flight out of Impenetrable forest of Bwindi and back to Entebbe. If time allows, we’ll arrange a guided visit of the Mabamba swamp (home of the massive shoebill stork) and later help you connect with your international flight back home. 

Meals included: Breakfast

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Tourist Safety In Brazil: Rio, Sao Paulo, and Further Afield

A common question we get from our travelers heading off to Brazil is: Will I be safe in Brazil?

We went to our in-house Brazil expert, Gretchen, to get her take this. Read on to see what she has to say:

Iguazu Falls

Brazil is a secret adventure paradise in South America and everyone should plan at least one trip (if not more) to Brazil in their lives! For European tourists (especially French and German tourists), Brazil is one of the primary destinations to visit in South America. For Americans though, Brazil tends to have some negative connotations. As an American, I will admit that before I had ever been to Brazil, my first impression, like many other Americans I have spoken with, was from the film, “City of God”. This is an excellent film but it should absolutely NOT be taken in as a representation of Brazil as a country- it would be as if Americans found out that the rest of the world watched the film “Gangs of New York” and had it in their minds that that was what daily life was like in all American cities; it seems laughable and is far from the truth. Not unlike “Gangs of New York”, which is a historical fiction revealing a select history of ONE US city (New York, which does NOT represent the rest of US cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, etc), at one point in time, in the past, “City of God” portrays one facet of Rio de Janeiro’s history in the 70s and is not a representation of the city today nor does it reflect the rest of Brazil.

Pantanal Brazil Jaguar
Jaguars in Brazil’s Pantanal

Brazil, is roughly the same size as the continental US and, much like the US, has infinite regional cultures and traditions, destinations, and activities to offer visitors. From the Amazon, to epic sand dunes, coffee lands, deep canyons, chic boutique hotels, remote mountains, secluded beaches, jaw-dropping biodiversity, quaint country guest ranches, bustling metropolises, mind-blowing cuisine and some of the arguably most hospitable and welcoming people, Brazil has it all!

Lencois Maranhenses

For visitors with limited travel time, I recommend choosing one or two of Brazil’s highlights and to explore them deeply. Get to know one of Brazil’s larger cities and then couple that with a more remote area for a true Brazilian experience: an incredible juxtaposition of classy, hip and diverse urbanism and remote, virgin, natural beauty. For travelers with more time, go all out! Choose three to five of Brazil’s regions and see all that the country has to offer. For this option, I recommend visiting maybe two famous regions and then consulting with us to choose a couple other regions that are a bit off the beaten path for a truly authentic experience.

Trancoso, Bahia

While Brazil is an excellent escape for romantic getaways for couples (anyone see “Twilight”?) , it is also an amazing family destination. Brazilian culture is very family-oriented and therefore tourism in the country is extremely considerate of travelers of all ages. Almost all hotels offer various set ups for family rooms and offer great children discounts. Adventure tours are also geared towards including the entire family and extra safety precautions are always in place for the youngest of adventurers. In the past years, my own family has traveled around Brazil three times: the first trip was to Sao Paulo, the Green Coast, Paraty and Rio, the second was exploring Sao Paulo city and state in depth and the third was to Bahia and the beaches there. All were incredible!

Family Beach Vacation, Bahia

As a woman, I have felt safe and traveling on my own in Brazil. Before meeting my husband (from Sao Paulo), I traveled by boat in the Amazon, explored Salvador, trekked in Chapada Diamantina, and visited Rio and Sao Paulo on my own- people everywhere were incredibly helpful and warm, even when I didn’t speak Portuguese.

Chapada Diamantina
Secret Waterfalls and Swimming Pools in Chapada Diamantina

Two years ago, my husband and I relocated from Seattle to Sao Paulo, his home town. Moving is always a great mix of scary and exciting but Brazil now truly feels like my second home and has given me numerous opportunities for which I am beyond grateful. Actually living in Brazil, has allowed me to fully experience its two most famous cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on a more profound level. With this in mind, I would like now to discuss my opinions on safety in these two places as this seems to be one of the most common concerns for people traveling to Brazil:

Sao Paulo
Famous street art by Cobra in Ibirapuera Park

First, regarding Sao Paulo: Sao Paulo, I feel, is very safe (there were more crime issues in the 90s). It is my home and I feel very safe walking around main areas on my own such as Iberapuera Park (during the day), Paulista Avenue, Morumbi, Vila Madalena, Pinheiros, Perdizes, in the subways etc. Of course, Sao Paulo is a big city so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and have common sense (don’t flash cash on the street or wear jewelry that could make you a target- just like in ANY OTHER big city). But other than that, Uber and the subways are very safe and the city in general feels comfortable to walk around and explore on your own. The only touristic area that I would warn people to be careful in is the historic center. This is slowly changing, however, we recommend our travelers to visit this area during one of our city tours so your guide can make sure all is ok. The primary “issue” in this area is pickpockets so I recommend for those visiting the historic center to keep your phones/money/wallet, in your front pants pocket or leave those things in our tour van with your driver.

Regarding Rio: This is a bit more difficult. Rio, fortunately and unfortunately, for Brazil, is the face of the country (think back to “City of God” and how that has effected the international view of Brazil, as if “Gangs of New York” were said to represent all US cities) and while it is an absolutely gorgeous, amazing, city with so much to offer it does have  a crime problem. This issue with crime in Rio is, in turn, how most people outside of Brazil end up viewing the whole country (travelers will quickly see that this is not true- most of Brazil is very safe). You can experience Rio on your own, but it is advisable to have a guide/driver for at least your first day in Rio so you can talk with them to discuss how to avoid being a target and also get around the city in a safe way (driving on the right roads to avoid unsafe areas). I have been to Rio now 6 times and I never had any problems until my last time there (I was mugged on the street in broad daylight in a good neighborhood). The reason, I believe, this happened was because my friend and I had a purse on us and it made us a target; we could have avoided this. That said, things like this can happen in any big cities- remaining aware of your surroundings is always important. The best thing to do in Rio is do what the locals do: only carry cash on you that you will need that day and nothing else. Most people wear their swimsuits under a sun dress or light weight clothes and go to the beach and cafes during the day; they carry a beach bag with them to put their towels, sunscreen, etc and don’t have much else on them. The beach is safe during the day (read: when there are a lot of people around) but not early in the morning or at night (when the beaches are more or less deserted). Early in the morning and at night, I recommend that travelers stay on the pedestrian area next to the beaches where there are cafes and lots of pedestrian traffic (riding bikes, jogging, etc). Our guides go over all of this with our travelers when they are there.

Gretchen in the Amazon

I hope this has helped shed light on safety in Brazil. I have lived in Thailand, Argentina, Spain, the US, Switzerland and most recently Brazil. Brazil is hands down a country that I cannot emphasize enough how incredible it is. I recommend to all travelers considering a trip to South America to make Brazil a mandatory stop.

For more insights on Brazil from Gretchen, check out these blog posts:

Brazil Family Adventure Ideas

Rock Climbing, Hiking, Relaxation, & Cultural Experiences in Brazil’s Coffee Lands

Bahian Magic at UXUA: Trancoso, Brazil

Family Adventure to Brazil’s Green Coast- A Major Hit!

Notes From The Field: Secrets and Spices of the Amazon

Treasures of the Amazon: Belem, Brazil

Treasures of the Amazon: The Women of Cotijuba Island

PART II: Treasures of the Amazon: Belem, Brazil

10 Fun Brazil Coffee Facts & 3 Must-Visit Coffee Shops in Sao Paulo

Brazil E-Visa Made Easy

Your Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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Why Zanzibar is a Must-Do After Kilimanjaro or Safari

Zanzibar Island is a great addition to your Kilimanjaro trek or Tanzania safari! It has beautiful white sandy beaches, fascinating culture, wildlife, and marine life. You can fly there from the Kilimanjaro Airport, Arusha, the Serengeti, or Dar es Salaam.

It is best to spend at least 4 days on Zanzibar, but you can easily spend a week and not see everything. Most people will spend a few nights at a beach hotel, and then the last night or two in Stone Town. The most popular activities include

  1. Relaxing at the Beach
  2. Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
  3. Spice Tour
  4. Stone Town Tour
  5. Jozani Forest
  6. Swimming with Dolphins

See Also:


1) Beaches

Just about the entire island is ringed by beautiful beaches. The tides are very significant here, so in some places, you can walk way out at low tide, and then the beach may disappear altogether at high tide. Some areas have rocks or sea urchins, so beach shoes are recommended.


2) Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

One of the most popular places for snorkeling and scuba diving is Mnemba Island on the northeast side of the island. There are also diving areas on the southeast side and out of Stone Town on the west side. There are scuba diving shops all around the island, and your hotel can help book snorkeling and scuba diving.


3) Spice Tour

Zanzibar is known as the “spice island”. The Spice Tour will take you to a local spice farm where they show you the local spices and tropical fruits that they grow on the island. If you are staying on the northern end of the island, you can do this tour en route to your hotel. It is not very convenient from the southern end of the island, but this can be done from Stone Town.


4) Stone Town

This is the main center on the island. It has narrow, windy streets with a strong Arab influence. It is best to get a guided Stone Town walking tour as it is very easy to get turned around. Every evening, there is a night market, which is definitely worth a visit. Stone Town is a great place to do your last-minute shopping before you head home.


5) Jozani Forest

On the Jozani Forest Tour, you can see the Red Colobus Monkey, which is endemic on Zanzibar. You will also hike through the rainforest, and visit mangroves. It is located in the southern area of the island. If you are staying at the hotel on the southern end, you can do this tour en route to your hotel. You can combine this tour with swimming with dolphins for a full day of activities.


Off the Beaten Path

A few places to visit if you have more time is Chumbe Island and the Rock Restaurant.

Chumbe Island is a marine reserve off the coast just west of Stone Town. They are famous for the rare coconut crabs, and it offers absolutely amazing snorkeling and scuba diving. You will want to spend at least 2 nights here.

The Rock Restaurant is on the southeast side of the island. At low tide, you walk there, and at high tide, you take a boat. A great spot for sunset and dinner!


Where To Stay

There are so many amazing hotels to choose from! In Stone Town, there hotels with rooftop swimming pools or restaurants, spas, or historic tea houses.

At the beach, there are hotels in a larger village with lots of restaurants, bars, and shops. Or beach hotels that are very quiet and “away from it all”. Some areas cater to scuba divers and others to kite surfers.

We can book mid-range accommodations to luxury to uber-luxury. We will find the right fit for your interests and budget.

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Safari, Tanzania, Zanzibar | Leave a comment

Add A Zipline to Your Tanzania Safari!

Tanzania’s first and only zipline adventure park is in Mto wa Mbu village, on the Northern safari circuit. This family friendly activity provides a few hours of fresh air, nature, walking, scenic views, and and an exciting ride on the zip cable!

It takes about 3 hours and the cost is US$ 55+VAT per person.

The zipline course has 4 exciting zips, an adventure bridge, and 6 unique eco-platforms. The tour starts at the Tanzip office in Mto wa Mbu where you will provided with a tour briefing, as well as your harness, lanyards, carabiners and zip trolley. An open air ride will take you through Maasai land to the adventure park! A scenic walk leads you to the starting point. After a safety orientation, you hit the zips!  Your tour will be completed when you are delivered back to the office where you can view photos of your tour, and relax with a beverage in the local cafe.

Add to any Tanzania Safari >>

How should I prepare for the Tanzip zipline experience?

  • You must wear closed toed shoes, and long hair must be tied securely or worn under a bandana. Short shorts and skirts are not permitted (knee length shorts are allowed).
  • Hats are not allowed
  • Gum, candy, smoking, and alcohol are not permitted during the tour.
  • Remove items from your pockets. They are likely to fall out due to the way you sit in the harness. Items can be left securely at the Tanzip office.

What happens in bad weather?

  • The Zipline continues to operate in light rains, however extreme rain, high winds, and lightening in the area would result in the lines closing until the weather clears. Guests may be asked to wait or will be offered a “rain check” to come back another day.

Are there age/ weight/ health restrictions?

  • Participants must be at least 7 years old
  • Participants must weigh at least 23 kg/ 50 lbs
  • Maximum weight is 130 kg/ 285 lbs
  • Participants must be able to walk a short distance on uneven terrain and climb a ladder
  • It is not recommend to participate while pregnant due the fitting of the harness across the abdomen
  • If you have health concerns, consult your physician (for example heart disease, vertigo, fear of heights, seizures)

Do I tip my guides?

  • It is customary to tip guides in Tanzania. Our guides work extra hard to make your tour fun, safe, and memorable; they also act as your personal photographer.  As usual tipping depends on your satisfaction with your guide!

Can I bring my camera?

  • Cameras are welcome; however, you are solely responsible for its transport and condition. We cannot be responsible for any valuables dropped or damaged from the tour. If you have a mechanism to secure your camera to yourself while zipping, such as a lanyard or zipped pocket then yes. Your guide will also be taking high quality photos of your group, which will be available for purchase at the completion of your tour.

Is it safe?

  • The Tanzip Zipline Adventure course is built and operated according to ACCT (Association for Challenge Course Technology) standards and is compliant with the TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) code of conduct established in Ontario, Canada.
  • Ziplines and equipment are inspected daily.
  • Adventure sports activities have inherent risk. All participants are provided with a safety orientation prior to going on the course, and safety remains the top priority throughout the activity.
  • All participants must sign a waiver acknowledging risk and that they participate at their own risk
Posted in Safari, Tanzania | Leave a comment

The Best Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Few wildlife experiences are more evocative than meeting chimps face-to-face

Chimp Treks in Kibale Forest

If there is one single primate experience that can equal a visit to the mountain gorillas, it may very well be a visit to the chimpanzees of Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda. Chimpanzees, along with the bonobos of Congo, are humanity’s closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing an astounding 99% mutual DNA with humans. Just 4 million years ago, chimps, humans and bonobos were indistinguishable, DNA wise.  This molecular bond between us and chimps is laid ever more baldly apparent when we have the exquisite opportunity to visit them. Sitting with chimps, in the wild, hearing their eerie hoots and howls of joy or concern, and seeing them engage with one another in their veritable jungle “living room,” takes us back to a primordial time of our beginning, to the origins of human essence in a way that can be utterly spell-binding.

  • Chimpanzee Trekking Options in Kibale Forest
  • Chimpanzee Habituation Trek
  • Chimpanzee Trek (Standard)
  • Chimpanzee Trek Advice
  • Where to Stay

Chimpanzee Trekking can be included in our longer Uganda trips >>


Chimpanzee Trekking Options in Kibale Forest

Travelers in Kibale have two primary options for visiting the chimpanzees. One is the full day habituation trek and the other is a shorter trek that is highlighted by one full hour visiting with a completely habituated chimpanzee family. Our trips promote the full day habituation option, but travelers should know that they are welcome to do the shorter standard trek instead.


Chimpanzee Habituation Trek

In our itineraries, we promote the full-day habituation trek. Rather than just 1 hour with a habituated family, travelers spend more quality time in the jungle generally and with chimpanzees specifically. Unlike the standard trek, there are usually significantly fewer people doing the habituation trek – often there’s only 2-3 groups, each with a maximum of 6 travelers.

The habituation trek allows travelers to visit unique families of chimps, further afield, and during the full day, travelers often see a greater variety of behaviors while tracking the families, including, on occasion, exciting hunting behaviors. The typical chimp family will hunt monkeys (usually the more aggressive red colobus) about 2-3 times a week. Your rangers will help interpret the strategies employed in the hunt as those can vary based on the situation. Habituation treks typically end by late afternoon.

NOTES: Travelers bring a boxed lunch with them and water in their daypack. The habituation permits currently cost about US$200/person. Prepare for an early start:  chimp habituation treks usually start around 6:30am.


Chimpanzee Trek (Standard)

These are shorter 3-4 hour treks that start around 8am on a daily basis. During busy periods, there may be noon and afternoon groups too. Like the habituation trek, parties are split up into smaller groups of around 6 travelers, usually, right after a general, brief trek orientation by the lead ranger.  

After the briefing and assigned a group, the groups head out from the visitor center led by 1 ranger, through established trails, punctuated by periods of bush-whacking through the jungle. Once the advance ranger team has located the chimp family – currently at 120 members – the various groups are guided in by their own lead ranger and the groups meld into one “super group” following the chimp family as it moves through the forest floor and canopy.  

Travelers linger with the chimps for one full hour, observing them gathering fruit, relaxing, mingling, etc. both on the forest floor and in the trees. Much of the time while we are watching them, they are watching us!  After the hour is up, we hike back with the ranger in our smaller groups back to the ranger station. The standard trek permits currently cost about US$120/person.


Chimpanzee Trek Advice

Especially while bush-whacking, you will almost certainly encounter stinging nettles. plus prickly trees and vines. Be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves, long socks, a cap, and have some gardening gloves with you. Because we often encounter biting ants somewhere along a chimp trek too, it’s vital to tuck the end of the pant legs into your socks. Be sure to bring binoculars with you (8×42 is good). Travelers should be in good physical condition and comfortable with off-trail hiking. Be prepared for muddy and wet conditions – waterproof mid-weight hiking boots are ideal. Wear a light daypack and bring insect repellent. This same packing list, in general, is good for the gorilla treks too.


Chimpanzee Treks: Where to Stay

For mid-range travelers, Primate Lodge-Forest Cabins are the easy choice. For upmarket travelers, you have several other outstanding options. One luxury option is within easy walking distance to the start of the treks; the other 2 are situated about 1-hour drive from the start.

  1. Primate Lodge
  2. Kyaninga Lodge
  3. Ndali Lodge
Primate Lodge – Luxury Cottages interior

1) Primate Lodge – Luxury Cottages – outstanding location for treks

Primate Lodge Kibale’s principal edge is the location, tucked in the Kibate Forest and within about a 5-minute walk to the starting point for Chimpanzee tracking excursion as well as the incredible Chimpanzee Habituation.  Besides the mid-range Forest Cottages, there are spacious and en-suite Luxury Cottages, each secluded deep in the forest for maximum privacy and a natural ‘living in nature’ feel, come complete with 2x Double size Bed or 1x King Size Bed, a sitting area with two comfortable arm chairs, a reading table and an adjoining large veranda with excellent views to the forest. Other lodge amenities include a spacious dining terrace, a well-stocked bar, complimentary room service, a secluded lounge area with a small library, an evening camp fire, laundry service as well as free WiFi in the public areas.

Kyaninga Chalet – a view from one of the chalet’s exterior decks – superlative views and privacy

2) Kyaninga Lodge – Modern Euro-chic lodge, great for active, fit travelers

Set apart and raised on platforms, each of the lodge’s nine spacious cottages come an indoor seating area that leads out to a private deck where you can enjoy morning tea or coffee with views over the lake and the Rwenzori Mountains. The en-suite bathrooms boast marble countertop basins set atop crafted Elgon olive pedestals, claw footed freestanding baths, and glass-walled showers. With modern solar power, you will always have hot water and electrical charging points. The terrace leads down to the swimming pool looking over the lake. Lined with pavers cut from the local volcanic rock and featuring two wooden decks, the swimming pool provides the perfect space for you to relax and unwind. Here you can soak up the peace and tranquility of Lake Kyaninga and the mountains beyond. The more adventurous can walk down to Lake Kyaninga itself. With its blue water and ‘land that time forgot’ rainforest, it offers a unique opportunity to experience a wilderness rarely encountered in real life. The lake is one of the few in Uganda that are safe to swim in. With amazing wildlife on your doorstep, take a guided walk around the beautiful Kyaninga Crater Lake and Forest. See how many species of primate you can spot. The finest 3-course cuisine awaits you here. The menu is based on classical European cuisine and tweaked to make use of local ingredients, many of which are hand-picked from Kyaninga Lodge’s own kitchen garden or the neighboring markets. After dinner, head through to the Lounge where you can relax by the fire with a drink from the fully stocked bar. During the day, head out to the terrace and relax on loungers while enjoying the view of Lake Kyaninga. In this equatorial paradise, you will feel a thousand miles away from the bustle of daily life.

Ndali Lodge offers spacious grounds and 360 degrees of beautiful vistas to boot

3) Ndali Lodge – A serene luxury colonial oasis with exquisite surroundings

Ndali Lodge is an ideal choice for luxury travelers seeking a tranquil natural setting and a spacious, historical, and highly atmospheric colonial style property.  The lodge is a perfect place for a 2-3 night retreat, to relax by the vista-rich pool, enjoy their sauna and massages, do yoga on our yoga pagoda, or simply recharge and watch the animated flora and fauna, a good selection of which can be seen from the verandas of both the lodge and the cottages. Besides chimp treks, Ndali provides local guides for walks around the 1000-acre farm and the Ndali Vanilla processing plant. or to the nearby Muhoma Falls. Walks will take you around crater lake rims, past alcohol brewing in oil drums, through banana plantations, vanilla plantations, coffee terraces, plots of cassava, groundnuts, sorghum and millet. Below the lodge, on the lake below, is a sturdy jetty, set in the most tranquil and secluded spot and frequented by 5 different species of Kingfisher. From here guests can swim in the lake, soak up the sun or simply get away from it all. The lodge has an inflatable two-man kayak that can be used for spotting birds and other wildlife while out for an easy paddle.


At a Glance:

Where: Kibale Forest National Park, about 370 km from Entebbe and about 385 km from Bwindi National Park

Driving Distance: About 5-6 hours from Entebbe, and about 5-6 hours from Bwindi National Park

Time Needed: About 2 nights (1 full day)

2 Options:

  1. 1-hour visit with a chimp family that is habituated to humans
  2. Full day with a non-habituated family

Accommodation Choices: Mid-range or luxury

Posted in Uganda / Rwanda | Leave a comment

Colors of the Andes: Dyeing Wool the Peruvian Way

While some ingredients for natural dyes may seem strange, their colors saturate Andean textiles and have a long history among Peruvian artisans.

Peru is a country full of vibrant colors that reflect the unique culture, creativity and energy of its people. In the Andes Mountains, the people bring the colors of their country and culture to life through handmade textiles and the natural dyes that are used to color wool and alpaca fiber. The dyes and processes of coloring these materials are based on Andean recipes and instructions that have been passed down from generation to generation.

In order to achieve the stunning natural colors that you see in Andean textiles, the Andean people apply their great knowledge of the different plants that can be used for dyes. The spun yarn is then boiled with the coloring agent and other fixatives, such as mineral salts that help the material to hold the color or intensify the saturation. The following are some of the natural ingredients that are used for dyeing wool in the Andes.

Red

The most common element used for the production of red dye in the Andes is cochineal – a scale insect that is related to the aphid and is commonly found in the Sacred Valley. The insect must first be dried then ground into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Depending on the fixatives that are used during the dyeing process, cochineal can be used to produce a wide range of shades, including bright red, pink and purple.
Colors of the Andes: Dyeing Wool the Peruvian Way

Orange

Weavers can evoke the color orange by adding citric acid to cochineal-dyed yarn. However, there are other ways to create the same effect. The bark of yanali – a slow-growing tree found in high altitudes – is commonly collected and chopped into small pieces to be boiled with the yarn. Yanali doesn’t create a true orange, but rather a mustard yellow or yellowish-orange color.

Green

There are many different plants and minerals that can be used to produce the color green; however ch’illca is the most common. Ch’illca is a leafy green plant that has white flowers. To make green dye, large bunches of fresh leaves should be added to the dye pot and mixed with collpa, a mineral from the jungle. Together, these two elements should be boiled for an hour before adding the yarn.

Blue

To achieve the color blue, weavers in the Andes use tara, a bean-like pod. Tara is boiled with the yarn and collpa is added as a fixative to help the color cling to the fibers. The shade that is produced can vary from blue to grey depending on how much material is being dyed and how long it is boiled.

Yellow

To make yellow, there are a number of plants and flowers that can be used, though q’olle flowers are the most common. The flowers are harvested from a small tree that grows in the Andes and are boiled with the yarn. The length of time that the yarn is boiled and remains in the dye solution will determine the shade of yellow that is achieved.
Colors of the Andes: Dyeing Wool the Peruvian Way

Neutral Colors and Black

Sheep and Andean camelids, such as alpacas, yield a wide variety of neutral wool that can be used for textiles. Those colors include white, grey, tan, black, brown and beige of all different tones. Oftentimes undyed yard is already the most perfect natural color and does not need to be treated with dyes, though there are some coloring agents that can turn white yarn different shades of brown or black. However, most often natural colored yarn is made from undyed fiber. All that is needed to yield a clean color is the use of the jabonera plant as a natural detergent to remove any dirt or impurities.

After dyeing, the yarns are rinsed until they stop bleeding color and then they are hung to dry before they can be used to make beautiful weavings. These days, because of the popularity and convenience of synthetic dyes, it is not as common to find naturally dyed products in the market places and touristic shops in Peru. Thankfully the recent demand for natural, handmade products is helping to preserve the traditional dyeing and weaving processes of the indigenous communities of the Andes.

We know that the culture and long traditions of Peru are what make this country so great. For that reason, we will always encourage our guests to purchase items that celebrate the culture and traditional values of the people of Peru. While typically more expensive, we know that the handmade and naturally dyed fabrics of Peru make for the most wonderful and authentic souvenirs and directly support local craftsmen. While you are traveling in this country, we’d be happy to recommend some of our favorite shops for purchasing high-quality Peruvian textiles!

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6 Top Boutique Hotels in Northern Spain

So, you have finished the Camino de Santiago Trek and are looking for a little more laid-back adventure in the glorious provinces of northern Spain. Where do you go? Where do you stay? We’ve got you covered! Add a week on to your El Camino de Santiago Trek (Portuguese Way or French Way) and from Santiago de Compostela, head west to explore our top four, must-see northern Spanish destinations:

  1. Parque Nacional de los Picos Europa (European Peaks National Park)
  2. La Rioja
  3. Bilbao
  4. San Sebastian

#1 PARQUE NACIONAL DE LOS PICOS EUROPA

The Picos de Europa National Park is located in the Cantabrian Mountains, between the provinces of Asturias, Leon and Cantabria.

Different geological folds and glaciations have shaped a tortuous landscape sculpted by ice and the effect of water on the limestone, forming a magnificent karst mountain system. The three main massifs of this natural wonder are bound by deep valleys and gorges, which arose due to the erosive passage of the sharp tongues of glacial ice and the force of the rivers’ waters which, even today, continue to dissolve the limestone, shaping the rock at its whim.

The central massif is home to the highest peaks in the Cantabrian Mountains in the form of the sheer-sided Urrieles, dominated by the most emblematic reference in the Picos de Europa: the immense beauty of Naranjo de Bulnes or Urriellu Peak. Its 2,519 meters of difficult terrain have not prevented human settlements from emerging, the most famous being the village of Bulnes. Until 2001, it was accessible only via a steep, narrow mountain path. Since then, access to the village is easier thanks to the funicular railway that cuts across the mountain from the town of Poncebos.

To the east of the Urrieles lies the eastern massif, the Andara, the smallest with a gentler profile, whose highest peak is Morra Lechugales at 2,400 meters. The westernmost of the three massifs is that of the Picos de Cornión, near the Royal Site of Covadonga, a place of pilgrimage visited by thousands of people each year. There Lakes Enol and Ercina reflect the high mountains where the legendary history of Asturias was forged.

Between the Urrieles and the Cornión and separating the central and western massifs from south to north, runs the River Cares, whose crystalline waters rage throughout its course. Outstanding among the beautiful peaks of the western massif rises La Peña Santa de Castilla at 2,596 metres. On the way to this peak, Ordiales Scenic Balcony can be found with a drop of almost 1,000 meters down to the valley below, instilling awe in all who visit it.

WHERE TO STAY

Parador de Fuente De: In the midst of the imposing verticality and idyllic scenery of the mountains of Picos de Europa National Park stands the Parador de Fuente Dé, located near this small town’s famous cableway. The Parador is a gateway to magical forests, mountain slopes and scenic overlooks that make up a natural paradise of incomparable beauty. This modern mountain hotel is located in the district of Liébana, at the base of the cableway that climbs up to Áliva viewpoint. The interior is warm and cozy, and traditional Cantabrian dishes such as cocido lebaniego (chickpea stew) and sirloin steak with Tresviso cheese are a magnificent way to recharge after returning from an excursion in the area.

#2 LA RIOJA

La Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain with a renowned local wine industry. Below the stunning Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards occupy the Ebro valley and surround the old town of Haro. There, the summer festival features the messy Batalla de Vino (wine battle). Local wineries (bodegas) range from small, traditional cellars to major commercial producers. Come taste some of the best wines in Spain while tasting an array of local cheeses and taking in the majestic mountains!

WHERE TO STAY

Palacio Tondon: The Ebro river becomes tortuous as it runs through Briñas, a little gem located in La Rioja which dates back to the Roman period. Narrow streets dotted with stately homes, including this 16th century palace with views of the Tondón vineyards, from which it takes its name. Palacio Tondón is a unique architectural complex surrounded by vineyards and mountains where tradition and history are combined with innovation and sustainability. It’s a place where the word “charm” really comes to life and where time appears to grind to a halt. Just a few minutes away from the Barrio de la Estación and its 7 century-old wineries, it’s the perfect spot to delve into the passionate world of wine. Palacio Tondón en Briñas. Discover everything.

Marques de Riscal: This stunning 2Ist century chateau was designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry and is a true masterpiece. Located in “The City of Wine,” this 5-star hotel is truly an adventure of a lifetime. Prepare to savor a one-of-a-kind experience of all the senses at Hotel Marques de Riscal. New delights await. Enjoy local cuisine and fine wines at 1860 Tradición or Marqués de Riscal Restaurant, both overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Francis Paniego, or soak up the benefits of the grape at the Vinothérapie SPA Caudalie Marqués de Riscal. Welcome to the only hotel created by Frank Gehry where each of the unique 43 guestrooms and suites promises to enchant with exceptional designer touches and enviable views of the countryside, medieval town of Elciego or the striking architecture.

#3 BILBAO

Bilbao, an industrial port city in northern Spain, is surrounded by green mountains. It’s the de facto capital of Basque Country, with a bustling downtown. It’s famed for the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which sparked revitalization when it opened in 1997. The museum houses prominent modern and contemporary works, but it’s the curvy, titanium-clad building that receives the most attention.

WHERE TO STAY

Gran Hotel Domine: The Gran Hotel Domine is the only 5-star hotel in front of the Guggenheim. Having been completely newly renovated in 2018, luxury can now be found in its spacious ambience, its extraordinary service, the passion for art and design, as well as an elegant and cosmopolitan style.

#4 SAN SEBASTIAN

San Sebastian is a resort town on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s mountainous Basque Country. It’s known for Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, beaches framed by a picturesque bayfront promenade, and world-renowned restaurants helmed by innovative chefs. In its cobblestoned old town (Parte Vieja), upscale shops neighbor vibrant pintxo bars pairing local wines with bite-size regional specialties.

WHERE TO STAY:

Hotel Maria Cristina: Since opening in 1912, the restored Hotel Maria Cristina has been closely linked to the history and cultural life of San Sebastian. Experience gracious hospitality on a grand scale in the hotel’s rooms and suites. Decorated in a sophisticated palette of greys and white, the rooms are a quiet haven of luxury, style, technology and a dazzling range of services which, combined, make for an unforgettable stay. Discover Dry Bar, a sophisticated space where you can enjoy afternoon tea, classic and signature cocktails, and a wide variety of traditional Spanish tapas or main courses.

Lasala Plaza Hotel: The sea in San Sebastián is not only blue. It changes from deep turquoise to lead grey. The bay can change in a flash from almost tropical calm to the wildest of Atlantic squalls. And it’s there, facing a port dating back hundreds of years, that you’ll find the Lasala Plaza Hotel. A space where luxury doesn’t stop in the rooms. A luxury that embraces a love of local art and culture, sharing it with their guests. Lasala Plaza aspires to be a hotel that embraces and highlights the best of Donostia-San Sebastian: its culture, its love of gastronomy and the sea, the art of knowing how to live and, above all, its people. A San Sebastian they want to share with their guests, so that they too can experience the city like a real local.

Want to plan your trip to Northern Spain and trek the Camino de Santiago? Contact us!

Your friendly Spain expert,

Gretchen

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