From the Great Apes to the smallest of birds: an expedition to Uganda with Wild Wonderful World

Chris was one of Wild Wonderful World’s first ever safari travellers and he hasn’t looked back since! Chris, his wife Anna, and WWW Founder & CEO Michelle have travelled Africa far and wide. These are his memories of one of their recent trips, on a birding and Great Ape safari to the dense Central African rainforests of Uganda.

What was your general impression of the trip?

It was amazing, I was looking for more adventure and an off-the-beaten track experience & that is what I got! The road transfers were an amazing way to see the country and provided extra opportunities for birding. Our specialist birding guide often stopped along the way. As birding is very habitat-specific, this was a great plus.  

a walkway through the swaying grasses in the Semliki Valley, Uganda
Walking through the swaying grasses in the Semliki Valley, Uganda © Wild Wonderful World

What was your favourite part?

The exceptional location of Ndali Lodge, on top of the crater, made for a stunning view of the lake. The birdlife in the gardens was stunning, and the wine cellar a great added bonus for a wine-lover like me! We got to meet the owner and his wife, which made the whole experience feel very personal. The lodge is definitely a step above the others in these respects.

Secondly, our first-ever sighting of the extremely rare Green-Breasted Pitta at Kibale Forest was super special, as were the Shoebill and its young on the nest at the Mbamba Swamps.  

The elusive Green-breasted pitta, photographed by Michelle Pengilly © Wild Wonderful World
The elusive Green-breasted pitta, photographed by Michelle Pengilly © Wild Wonderful World

Thirdly, the tracking and the actual sightings of both Chimpanzees and Gorillas, of course! We did a habituation trek with Gorillas, which are a bit different from the standard treks. We walked for two hours and got to spend four hours with the Gorilla family. As these treks are designed to habituate new Gorilla families to the presence of people, it allowed us to spend much more time with them. The road was steep and muddy, so having our porter to help us keep our feet was worth his weight in gold!  

A Chimpanzee in Kibale National Forest, Uganda © Wild Wonderful World
A Chimpanzee in Kibale National Forest, Uganda © Wild Wonderful World

The Chimpanzee treks were much different, with a lot more people and also seeing more family groups of Chimps. With Gorilla treks, you get to spend a lot more time, as you are only seeing one family per trek. We then also chose to go on a second Chimpanzee trek, which was also a habituation trek. This was with a much smaller group of people, only myself, Michelle and two local guides. This also allowed for some excellent birding opportunities.

Why do you travel with Wild Wonderful World?

Ever since our first trip with Michelle, we have developed a great personal relationship. Michelle understands and knows exactly what myself (and my wife when she joins us) are looking for during our travels, both in terms of transfers and accommodation. Everything is always sorted before we arrive to a new destination!  

Chris and Michelle from Wild Wonderful World at the Semliki hot springs
Michelle from Wild Wonderful World and Chris at the Semliki hot springs, Uganda

Secondly, Michelle’s knowledge of Africa is astounding, having lived and travelled extensively across the continent. The fact that she has spent so much time travelling and getting to know African destinations, is a definite game-changer and, for us, eliminates hours and hours of time spent on researching destinations, accommodation, transfers, etc.  

Thirdly, you can see and feel that Wild Wonderful World’s passion lies with nature and its diverse wildlife. This is a sentiment that aligns with mine as a traveller.  

And finally, the bespoke character of Wild Wonderful World’s safaris and trips is a huge selling point for me. Michelle always finds a solution and makes sure that we get exactly what we are looking for in a holiday. I would phrase it like this: “You get what you pay for, rather than paying for what you get”. The difference may be subtle, but it can make or break a trip in my experience!

Well, what can we say, other than a blushing thank you to Chris and Anna for joining us on many past adventures, and hopefully many more to come!  

Have we sparked your interest in a Ugandan adventure?

We've got two more spots available for our April 2025 Uganda Gorilla expedition with private guide Nick Kleer! Contact us if you are interested.

Contact us to turn your dream safari into reality.  

Interview by Evelyn Poole  

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