The complex logistics of planning a gorilla-tracking safari means all but the hardiest of independent travelers would be advised to rely on the services of a reputable tour operator with local expertise. The following list includes a selection of established, high-end operators with local offices in either Uganda or Rwanda, or both. All offer tailor-made tours; some also provide scheduled group departures as a more affordable alternative.
Classic Africa Safaris. This Uganda-based safari operator (with strong representation in the United States) has some of the best vehicles and guides in the country. Offering customized tours of Uganda and Rwanda, they also boast carbon neutral status. Plot 26, Eric Magala Rd., Entebbe, Central Region. 0414/320–121. classicuganda.com.
Journeys Discovering Africa. One of the few upmarket East Africa operators with fully owned operations in both Rwanda and Uganda, Journeys Discovering Africa receive glowing feedback for their customized private tours and affordable group safaris. 51 Elmwood Ave., Harrow, HA3 8AJ. 0800/088–5470 U.K. toll-free; 888/428–2772 U.S. toll-free. www.journeysdiscoveringafrica.com.
Thousand Hills Expeditions. Named for the milles collines (thousand hills) of Rwanda, this established safari operator offers personalized travel of both Rwanda and Uganda, for private and small group safaris. 1000 Rue de L'Akanyaru, Kiyovu, Kigali, Kigali. 0280/311–000 or 0788/351–000. www.thousandhillsexpeditions.com.
Volcanoes Safaris. This established safari operator, with sales offices in the United Kingdom and the United States, offers luxury gorilla and chimp tracking safaris of Uganda and Rwanda. Their itineraries focus largely on their own lodges, but they are well-regarded upmarket properties in stunning locations. 27 Lumumba Ave., Kampala, Central Region. 0414/346–464 or 0772/741–718. www.volcanoessafaris.com.
Wild Frontiers. This experienced safari outfitter offers personalized and set departure safaris of Uganda from its base in Entebbe, Uganda. The company operates its own network of upmarket lodges, can set up private mobile camps, and runs an equally tight ship with their Murchison Falls National Park and Lake Victoria based boat operations, providing well-guided launch cruises and sport fishing in both locations. They also offer day trips to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe. Nsamizi Rd., Entebbe, Central Region. 0414/321–479 or 0772/502–155. wildfrontiers.co.ug.