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The Great Projects

Gorilla & Chimpanzee Trekking

Kisoro, Uganda

Enjoy the thrill of a gorilla trekking tour on this conservation project, set in a sanctuary that is home to half of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas.

About the Project

This award-winning gorilla volunteer project gives you 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 gorilla conservation tour is essential in bridging the gap between indigenous communities and the gorillas who share their vulnerable rainforest homes.

As a volunteer, you will not only be able to actively contribute to the on-going protection of these incredible creatures, but will also be able to experience them roaming freely in their natural habitat. Your gorilla trekking 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 you will collaborate with the local communities on reforestation efforts and will work towards educating these communities on the importance of gorilla conservation.

As well as two permit-inclusive gorilla treks, this volunteer project also includes a four-day excursion to Uganda's renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you and your fellow volunteers will have the opportunity to track wild chimpanzees on a chimpanzee trek, 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.

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. 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. 

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.

Prior to Arrival

You will need to arrive into Kigali International Airport on the start date of your project.

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. 

Typical day

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins: 
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. Settle in and meet your fellow volunteers.

Day 2 - Arrive in Kisoro: 
Transfer to Kisoro (a 3 hour drive). On the way you will have to stop at the Rwandan/ Ugandan Border. You will stop for lunch on the way and 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Details on Arrival

Start Dates 2017


May 1st, May 15th, November 6th, November 20th (subject to availability)

Please contact us to check whether there's still space on your preferred start date!


 

Free-time activities

You will be taken to see the national parks, boat rides and game drives.

Game Drives

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.

Boat Trip

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.

Water Sports
Climbing
Safari/Zoo
Hiking

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
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.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Any questions? Just ask. We at The Great Projects are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by The Great Projects.
Services by The Great Projects

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

Airport Pickup at Kigali International Airport

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.

Accommodation

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.

Guesthouse Bedroom (Single) Youth Hostel
Food & Beverages

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.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali. We assist you to find cheap flights to Uganda.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Uganda provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Uganda you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Uganda.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$3,740.00
2 weeks (max. stay)
$3,740.00
Average fees
$1,870.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Kisoro/Uganda between 2 weeks and 2 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Uganda.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Africa Eastern Africa Uganda Kisoro, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
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