The Wilds of Africa
It’s a long travel day to get to Entebbe, but once you arrive, hit the ground running! The group gathers just outside the capital city and then transfers to the banks of the Nile. Settle into a comfortable small lodge and try to get some sleep before the next day’s adventures. Participate in orientations to this new and remarkable environment while getting to know your new group members. The next day you all embark on a team-building, high-adrenaline adventure navigating the rapids of one of the world’s longest rivers. Jump out during calm waters for a swim and enjoy a well deserved lunch on the riverbank while keeping an eye out for some of Uganda’s famous wildlife, like cormorants, egrets and even monkeys.
Introduction to Wildlife Conservation
Transfer back to Entebbe and then a beautiful boat ride across Lake Victoria takes you to Ngamba Island, a sanctuary established for rescued chimpanzees. Join the rescue center’s dedicated team as they work to ensure the health and welfare of our closest living relatives. You contribute to the success of the community by fulfilling the needs of each day which may include activities such as food preparation, enrichment exercises, collecting behavioral data and maintenance of facilities. Gain an appreciation and understanding of chimpanzees through your unique experiences on the island and through academic discussions on ecology, feeding behaviors and social behaviors.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Pile into an off-roading vehicle and make your way over bumpy roads and into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. The almost impenetrable jungle is a haven for a huge variety of primates and other animals. The most famous residents are the approximately 300 – 400 mountain gorillas, nearly half of the total population of this critically endangered species living in the wild. The only way to see the gorillas is a difficult, muddy, off-trail, jungle hike in mountains that may be over 8,000 feet in elevation. It’s not easy, but the difficulty of the terrain and extremely limited number of permits contributes to the protection of these gorilla families. If you are lucky, the few hours you may spend near the gorillas is an experience unlike any other and you are sure to gain a greater appreciation for the world’s largest primate. The focus of your time in Bwindi is to develop a deeper understanding of the conservation policies that have led to an increase in mountain gorilla populations. On nature walks and visits to nearby towns you speak to guides and members of nearby communities to understand the impact of the regulations on the people and wildlife of the region. Learn about primates’ role in the forest, the complex threats they face and even more complex conservation strategies that are being used to protect their unique mountain habitat.
Leave Bwindi National Park and travel over more bumpy roads toward Kibale National Park. Enroute you traverse the savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park in search of the area’s famed lions, elephants and other African wildlife. Arrive in Kibale ready to begin the research project phase of program. Become acquainted with this new forest. Less dense than Bwindi, but still teeming with wildlife, this is the home of 13 species of Ugandan primates. While still living and cooperating as a group, with the final exam behind you there is more time for independent projects. Engage in life at the research station, learn from resident researchers and partner with them to develop your own focus for an independent or small group research project. Living at the edge of the forest, there are ample opportunities for informal observations, nature walks and organic learning opportunities. Join experienced guides for a chimpanzee habituation trek, a practice that allows wild chimps to become accustomed to human presence and therefore contributes to a growing interest in ecotourism. Engage with local communities and develop a deeper appreciation for the research being done here. Develop your research project and prepare to present your project to your peers.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The final stop is beautiful, Queen Elizabeth National Park. It may be famous for its elusive tree-climbing lions, but there is so much more to see. Drive from Kibale toward the crater lakes and relax on in this beautiful new place. Take in the surroundings and go on boat safari in search of everything from elephants to buffalo, hippos and maybe even a leopard. You and your group members present the projects you’ve developed over the past several weeks and celebrate all you have accomplished during a farewell celebration. The drive back to Entebbe is full of shared stories, reflective moments and soaking in your last few hours as a group.