10 Days Albertine Rift Endemics: Gorillas, Volcanoes and Craters

  • Mountain Gorilla- Albertine Rift Endemics
  • Craters of the Albertine Rift Uganda
  • A Mutwa man - An ancient tribe of the Albertine Rift

Bwindi- Albertine Rift EndemicsAfrica is an ever changing land with a turbulent past and an unpredictable future. One of the most impactful influences on the land is the Great Rift Valley which tears up Africa with the continuous twisting and buckling of the earth’s crust. Stretching from as far North as Lebanon in the Middle East to Mozambique in Southern Africa, this geographical scar that is tearing apart the African continent has influenced the geography of the region.

The Albertine Rift is a geographical region located in EasternAfrica, spanning across Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. It is named after Uganda’s Lake Albert and is part of the larger East African Rift System.

The Albertine Rift is unique because of its high range diversity of habitants and high levels of biodiversity, which include endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. Some of the notable features of this region are its lush tropical forests, towering volcanoes, stunning savannas, crater lakes and freshwater lakes such as Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Edward, the Nile river, and Lake Kivu. These are habitats to flora and fauna endemic to the Albertine Rift.

Additionally, the Albertine Rift valley is a site of active tectonic activity and volcanic activity, which has contributed to the formation of the rift valley and highlands, as well as the creation of numerous hot springs and geysers. The Albertine rift mountains are home to rare species of flora and fauna and a huge tourist attraction.  These geological features, along with the region’s rich cultural heritage and history, make the Albertine Rift a unique and valuable part of Africa’s natural heritage.

The Albertine Rift is an area of great geological and biological significance. This region is located at the intersection of several tectonic plates and is characterized by active faulting, which is responsible for the formation of several large lakes, as well as the rugged terrain of the rift valley. The highlands of the Albertine Rift are also rich in minerals such as oil, gas, and minerals like cobalt, tin, and gold, which are of economic importance to the region. As of 2023, Western Uganda, the region of the Rift Valley has approximately 6.5 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Biodiversity is another hallmark of the Albertine Rift. The region is a hotbed of endemism, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. This is due to its unique mix of habitats, including tropical forests, savannas, and high-altitude ecosystems, as well as its location at the crossroads of several biogeographic regions. For example, the Albertine Rift is home to several species of primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and golden monkeys, as well as over 400 species of birds, many of which are endemic to the region. This is a major draw for tourists to come witness this beautiful unique and endangered animals. Conservation efforts have been established and upheld to preserve these gems for the future generations.

However, the high levels of biodiversity in the Albertine Rift are under threat due to human activities such as deforestation, overfishing, and habitat destruction. In response to these threats, several conservation initiatives have been launched to protect the unique ecosystems and species of the region.

The Albertine rift is one of the most bio diverse regions on the continent, endowed with a variety of ecosystems raging from the snow-capped Mt Rwenzori, afromontane, mid-altitude and lowland forests, savannahs, woodlands and several streams and rivers that drain into numerous lakes.

With more than half of Africa’s bird species have been recorded, the region is a birder’s paradise. The region is also habitat to 40% of Africa’s mammals and 20% of its amphibians and plants. It contains more vertebrate species than anywhere else on the continent. The rainforests also conserves more threatened and endemic species than any other region in Africa, and as a result is an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and a Biodiversity Hotspot. The Albertine Rift is the most prolific wildlife haven on earth.

This package takes you to the beautiful Albertine region and introduces you to the beauty and diversity and the Albertine rift endemic species. You will trek the last remaining endangered mountain gorillas in the montane tropical forest of Bwindi, enjoy the biodiversity of the region, and relax by the picturesque lakes and volcano backdrops all the while interacting with the beautiful local people who call this heaven home.

 Day 1: Begin Albertine Rift Endemics Tour Uganda.

You will arrive at the airport where you will be met by one of our staff. You will then be transferred to Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa. The hotel is a vision of rich Mediterranean architecture, pastel warm color palettes and expansive lush green fairways overlooking the sparkly waters of Africa’s largest lake. With surroundings rich in natural beauty, your experience can be as active or as unhurried as you wish.

Check into the hotel and relax. You will have lunch at one of the hotels restaurants. Influenced by a vibrant culinary tradition and heritage of Uganda, the hotel presents a refined Mediterranean style and international delicious cuisine with flawless service in six distinctive restaurants and bars. From Tuscan-inspired vivaciousness of the Citadel restaurant to the casual sophistication of the Marina restaurant at Indigo with stunning views of Lake Victoria and the flawless golf course, you will enjoy a mouthwatering experience while exploring delightful menu options offered to you.

Dinner and overnight at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa

Day 2: Drive to Albertine Rift Valley. Stop in Fort Portal

After an early breakfast, you will embark on the journey to the West of Uganda to Fort Portal town.

Fort Portal is a city in western Uganda that is known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural scenery, and abundant wildlife. The city is often referred to as the “Tourism City” due to its many attractions that appeal to tourists and visitors. Some of the reasons why Fort Portal is known as the Tourism City include:

Fort Portal is surrounded by rolling hills, pristine forests, and picturesque landscapes that offer stunning views and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The city has a rich cultural heritage that includes traditional drumming, dance, and music, as well as historic sites such as the Toro Palace and the Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves. Fort Portal is located near several national parks and wildlife reserves, including Kibale National Park and Semuliki National Park, which are home to a diverse array of wildlife, including primates, elephants, birds, and more. The city offers a variety of outdoor and adventure activities, including hiking, camping, birdwatching, and more, that appeal to tourists and visitors looking for an exciting and active experience.

Crater safari Lodge- Albertine RiftProceed to Crater Safari Lodge or Guereza Lodge

Crater Safari Lodge is a luxury eco-lodge. It is a hidden gem located on the banks of a serene crater lake surrounded by pristine forests and rolling hills. The lodge offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature in comfort and style, with its well-appointed rooms, delicious cuisine, and a range of activities and amenities to choose from.

At Cater Safari, guests can relax in one of the lodge’s spacious and comfortable rooms, each of which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The lodge also features a restaurant serving a range of local and international dishes, a bar, and a lounge area, as well as a swimming pool and other recreational facilities. Whether you are looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life or an adventure-filled getaway, Cater Safari Lodge is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to experience the beauty and diversity of Kibale National Park. Check in and enjoy the environment, birdlife, weather and the lovely views of Ruwenzori mountains in the distance.

Guereza Lodge is a luxurious eco-lodge located in the heart of Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda. This forest is renowned as the “Primate Capital of the World,” and visitors to the lodge will have the opportunity to experience this incredible natural wonder up close. The lodge offers guests spacious and comfortable rooms, each of which is equipped with modern amenities to ensure a relaxing stay. The surrounding area is known for its stunning natural beauty, and from the lodge, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the forest and the surrounding countryside.

Check into your lodge and spend the rest of the day at leisure enjoying the sights and sounds around the lodge. Birding in prolific here.

Day 3: Chimpanzee Tracking, Birding or Bigodi Swamp Activity

Early in the morning, we will go on a chimp tracking activity.

Coming face to face with chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park is a truly unforgettable experience. These primates are our closest living relatives and observing them in their natural habitat is a unique opportunity to learn about their behavior, social dynamics, and the challenges they face. As you embark on the tracking experience, you will be guided through the lush forest, following the sounds and signs of the chimpanzees. The sounds of the forest and the occasional calls of the primates are sure to raise your excitement levels as you approach your destination.

Chimpanzee -Albertine RiftWhen you finally come face to face with the chimpanzees, you will be struck by their intelligence and their human-like behavior. You may see them grooming each other, playing, or even hunting for food. You will also be able to observe the intricate social relationships and power dynamics within the group, which are a testament to their complex and intelligent nature.

One of the most amazing things about coming face to face with chimpanzees is their close physical resemblance to humans. You will be able to observe their expressions, movements, and gestures, which are eerily similar to our own. This makes the experience all the more memorable and provides a powerful reminder of the close genetic connection between humans and chimpanzees.

Coming face to face with chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for these fascinating primates and the role they play in the natural world. The high density of the primates, knowledgeable guides and rangers, accessibility and infrastructure in the protected area makes Kibale arguably the best place for primate watching in Africa!

Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and memorable experience, tracking chimpanzees in Kibale is a must-do activity that should not be missed.

You can also enjoy the amazing birdlife in the forest. Uganda birding is prolific and one of the highly sought bird Kibale forest is the Green-Breasted Pitta.

The Green-breasted Pitta (Pitta reichenowi) is a species of bird that is native to central and eastern Africa. It is a colorful and striking bird, with a brilliant green back, a vibrant blue breast, and a distinctive black hood that frames its face. It is a species of pitta, a group of birds that are known for their bright and beautiful plumage, and is considered one of the most beautiful birds in its region.

One of the reasons that the Green-breasted Pitta is so sought after is its rarity and elusive nature. This bird is difficult to spot in the wild, and is often heard before it is seen, making it a challenging bird to observe for birders and ornithologists. Its remote and dense habitat, along with its shy and secretive behavior, make it a prized target for birders and photographers, who will often travel long distances to see it in its natural environment.


The Bigodi Swamp is a wetland located just on the boundary of the forest reserves. It is a diverse and important ecosystem that is home to a wide range of plant and animal species recorded, including many endemic and endangered species. The swamp is situated within the Magombe Swamp Wildlife Reserve and is considered an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, with over 200 bird species having been recorded there.

The Bigodi Swamp is a popular destination for eco-tourism and offers a range of activities for visitors. One of the main activities is bird watching, as the swamp is a great place to see many of the region’s bird species, including the Grey-throated Flycatcher, Honeyguide, African Green Broadbill, and African Harrier-Hawk. Visitors can also take guided nature walks through the swamp, during which they can learn about the diverse plant and animal species that call the swamp home, as well as the cultural significance of the area to the local people.

Additionally, the Bigodi Swamp is also an important source of livelihood for the local community, who rely on the swamp for fishing, agriculture, and other forms of subsistence. Community-based tourism initiatives aim to conserve the swamp and its biodiversity while also providing benefits to local people through employment and income generation. Visitors can support these initiatives by participating in community-led activities, such as cultural walks, Banana brewing, traditional cooking demonstrations, and craft workshops.

Overall, the Bigodi Swamp is a unique and beautiful destination that offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of Uganda and the rich cultural heritage of the local people. Whether you’re interested in bird watching, nature walks, or cultural activities, the Bigodi Swamp is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the beauty and diversity of eastern Africa.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 4: Hot Springs and Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Species, Semuliki Park

Today after breakfast we will drive to Semuliki National Park. Semuliki is a protected area and was established in 1993 and covers an area of 220 square kilometers. The park is situated in the Semuliki Valley and is known for its diverse and unique habitats, which include lowland tropical forests, hot springs, and grasslands.

Forest Bathing in Semuliki National ParkThe history of Semuliki National Park dates back to the colonial era, when the area was first protected as a forest reserve in 1932. During this time, the park was managed by the British colonial government and was primarily used as a source of timber and other forest products. In the post-independence era, the park was managed by the Ugandan government and was eventually upgraded to a national park in 1993.

One of the unique features of Semuliki National Park is its location in the Semuliki Valley, which is considered one of the oldest geological formations in Africa. The valley is a highly biodiverse area and is home to a range of endemic plant species, mammals, and birds. It is also an important habitat for primates, with several species of monkeys and apes found within the park.

Over the years, Semuliki National Park has become a popular destination for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts, who come to experience its unique habitats and wildlife. Despite its popularity, the park remains relatively underdeveloped, with limited infrastructure and facilities for visitors. Nevertheless, the park’s remote and unspoiled nature is part of its appeal and attracts those looking for a true wilderness experience.

In recent years, conservation efforts have been underway to protect the park’s wildlife and habitats, including the restoration of deforested areas and the control of illegal activities such as poaching and deforestation. With continued efforts to protect its unique ecosystems, Semuliki National Park is poised to become one of the most important protected areas in Uganda and a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

You will spend the whole day in the park then return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a protected area located in the Western Region of Uganda. It was established in 1952 and covers an area of 1,978 square kilometers, making it one of the largest national parks in the country. The park is known for its diverse landscapes and habitats, which include a range of different ecosystems, including savannas, forests, rivers, and craters.

Lions- Albertine RiftOne of the most notable landscapes within Queen Elizabeth National Park is the Kazinga Channel, which is a 40-kilometer long waterway that connects Lake Edward and Lake George. The channel is a major attraction for visitors and is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including large herds of elephants, buffalos, and hippos, as well as several species of waterbirds and primates.

The park is also home to a range of different vegetation types, including forests, savannas, and wetlands. The Ishasha sector of the park is known for its extensive savanna grasslands, which are home to large herds of elephants and other grazing mammals, such as lions, leopards, and antelopes. The Maramagambo Forest, on the other hand, is a dense and diverse forest ecosystem that is home to a wide range of primates, including chimps and monkeys, as well as several species of bats, birds, and reptiles.

The park is also known for its unique geological features, including a range of craters that are scattered throughout the landscape. The most famous of these craters is the Kyambura Gorge, which is a steep-sided valley that was formed by a collapsed volcanic cone. The gorge is a major attraction for visitors and is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including several species of primates, birds, and reptiles.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a remarkable protected area that offers visitors a chance to experience a range of different landscapes and habitats, including savannas, forests, rivers, and craters. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, birding, or geology, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the beauty and diversity of eastern Africa.

Check in at Mweya Safari Lodge/ Malaika Lodge

In the evening you will go on a game drive to view the animals that are active during the night begin to stir. You may have a chance of viewing species belonging to the carnivore group. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Game Drive and Launch Boat Cruise

Morning game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kasenyi Plains are an excellent opportunity to witness wildlife in their natural habitat. The plains are home to a diverse range of animals, including elephants, lions, buffalos, antelopes, and more. The best time for game drives is early morning, when the animals are active and out in the open. Experienced guides can help visitors spot and identify wildlife and provide information about the animals’ behavior and ecology. The Kasenyi Plains in Queen Elizabeth National Park offer an exciting opportunity for visitors to witness the fascinating spectacle of the kob mating grounds. Early morning game drives provide the best chance to observe the mating rituals of these antelopes, as well as the predators that hunt them, such as lions and hyenas.

You will have lunch at a nearby lodge.

In the afternoon we will go on a launch boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel. Embark on an epic adventure through the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Kazinga Channel boat cruise! Feel the wind in your hair as you journey along the tranquil waters, surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Ugandan wilderness. As you glide through the channel, keep your eyes peeled for an incredible array of wildlife, from majestic elephants and buffalo grazing on the riverbanks to the hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun. And don’t forget about the magnificent birdlife, from fish eagles to kingfishers and herons. With every moment, you’ll be left in awe of the breathtaking sights and sounds that surround you. The Kazinga Channel boat cruise is a must-do adventure for any wildlife enthusiast, an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 7: Morning Game Drive Transfer to Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge

We will have an early breakfast and then embark on a game drive to view the wildlife we may have missed the previous day. We will then proceed to Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge in the South of the Country.

We Nestled on the banks of the tranquil and serene Lake Mulehe lies a haven of tranquility and luxury – the Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge. As you approach this exquisite lodge, you are enveloped in a romantic and adventurous atmosphere that takes your breath away.

The lodge is an oasis of serenity, where the calls of wild weaver birds and the rustle of leaves are the only sounds that break the silence. Here, you can disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Every room is a private sanctuary, where you can enjoy stunning views of the sparkling waters and rugged hills.

The lodge is a paradise for adventure seekers, where every activity is an opportunity to discover new horizons. Embark on a nature walk and explore the wilderness that surrounds the lodge, where you can catch glimpses of exotic wildlife and colorful bird species. Or, take a canoe and set off on a journey of discovery, navigating the tranquil waters of the lake.

At the Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge, romance is in the air. You can share an intimate candlelit dinner with your loved one, surrounded by the stunning beauty of nature. Every moment at the lodge is an opportunity to celebrate your love, from the cozy fireplace in your room to the panoramic views from your private balcony.

As the sun sets and the stars come out, you can unwind with a glass of wine in the lodge’s cozy bar, listening to the gentle sound of the waves on the shore. Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge is the perfect place to escape the world and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Check in and enjoy the atmosphere and environment of the lodge. You can go swimming or take lovely sundowners with champagne and snacks.

Dinner and overnight at Lake Mulehe Lodge.

Day 8: Gorilla Trekking, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in southwestern Uganda, on the edge of the Albertine Rift. The park is renowned for its rich biodiversity, unique landscape, and cultural significance. It is home to an estimated 400 mountain gorillas, representing about half of the world’s population, as well as other primate species, such as chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and baboons.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s history dates back to 1932 when the British colonial government designated it as a forest reserve. In 1991, it was established as a national park, primarily to protect the endangered mountain gorillas from poaching and habitat destruction. Since then, the park has become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to trek into the dense jungle and observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

Ecologically, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is of great importance as it forms part of the Albertine Rift, one of the most biologically diverse regions on the African continent. The park’s rugged terrain and varied altitude provide a range of habitats that support a high level of endemism, with several species of plants and animals found only in the region. The park is also home to more than 200 species of trees, including several endangered and rare species.

In addition to its ecological significance, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also of cultural importance. It is home to several indigenous communities, including the Batwa people, who were the park’s original inhabitants. These communities have a deep understanding of the park’s resources and continue to rely on them for their survival.

See more about Endangered Moutain gorillas here

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an essential conservation area in Uganda, and its ecological and cultural importance cannot be overstated. Protecting this unique landscape and its biodiversity is critical not only for the conservation of endangered species, but also for the preservation of the region’s cultural heritage.

Mountain Gorilla Albertine Rift EndemicsWe will have the opportunity to track the endangered Mountain Gorilla. They are found on the mountain slopes of the African jungles, their natural habitat. These beautiful apes share 98% DNA with humans and are the largest, most powerful apes in the animal kingdom. An average adult male weighs over 180 kilograms and measures about 5ft5 height. They live is family groups, sometimes up to 30 members lead by the dominant male Silverback, a grown male that develops grey hair on his back as he grows older. Females and young boisterous juveniles and children make up the rest of the group.

You will trek in the forest with the qualified rangers help to seek out one of the habituated gorilla families. Spending an hour with these gentle giants, witnessing their daily life in the jungle, adults continuously eating and juveniles playing among the trees, realizing how similar to humans these gentle giants are is a really special encounter. One that will leave you with fond memories of Africa.

You will have a picnic lunch in the jungle. Return to the lodge for rest and relaxation. In the evening, you will enjoy a sunset cruise on the beautiful Lake Mutanda as you reminisce and share stories about your encounter with the mountain gorillas. Soak in the beautiful sunset with myriad hues of orange and yellows of the African sun setting in the West, behind the giant mountains as you sip on cold drinks and snacks. Return to the lodge thereafter.

Dinner and overnight at Lake Mulehe Resort

Day 9: Craters, Volcanoes or Highly Sought Endemics Birding Tour


Today you will indulge in exciting activities in around the crater lakes in this area. Today you will visit the nearby Lake Mutanda and interact with the local community on a boat and walking tour. You will take the boat to Kyangushu Island and visit the children of the nursery school. Learn and interact with these bright young pupils, find out how they perceive the gorillas and tourism in their area and later enjoy an energetic performance.

You will then meet a local fisherman who will teach you the art of the catch with local rudimentary tools used around these rich lakes. You will have a sumptuous local lunch in the village then later visit a traditional craft maker and meet a resourceful traditional healer with all sort of treatments for different ailments.


Today you can choose to explore the Virunga Mountains. Mount Muhavura is loosely translated as The Guide and is the tallest of the Virunga Mountains, towering over the land. The mountain provides some of the best views in Uganda, and on a clear day one can see all the other Virunga volcanoes including the ones in Rwanda and Congo, Lake Edward, Bwindi forest and the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains! The 8-hour hike is tough and steep but quite rewarding throughout! You will have a picnic lunch along the hike.


Another challenging Mountain to hike in Mount Sabinyo, loosely translated as “Old Man’s Teeth” because of its jagged appearance. Hiking Sabinyo requires quite the endurance as it includes a series of climbing and descending to reach all three peaks. The trail up the first peak takes you up a ridge along the Eastern side of the mountain. If one wishes to continue, the scound peak offers breath taking drops into the gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. On top of the final peak you will be up at 3669 metrea and in 3 countries at the same time. Uganda, Rwanda and Congo! This last one is quite a challenge with several ldders and will sometimes require you to scramble up and down. But its also quite rewarding. You will likely encounter another gem of the Virunga, the Endangered Golden Monkey, Rwenzori Turaco. Duiker and sunbirds and even some mountain gorillas if you are lucky!

After a full day of exhilarating activities, return back to the lodge in the evening for rest and relaxation.

Dinner and overnight at Lake Mulehe Resort.

Day 10: End of Safari, Return to Kampala

Today, you will enjoy a lazy morning with a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast, we will check out and head back to Kampala.

End of Safari

The Virungas Albertine Rift