11 days best of Uganda safari – wildlife, chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, birds

This safari trip has been carefully designed to give you much of what Uganda offers in terms of her remarkable natural beauty. It offers you a chance of seeing a variety of wildlife including all the famous “big five”, many primates such as the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, and lots of birds. You’ll marvel at the contrasts in landscape, habitat, temperatures, wildlife and people as you travel from one region of the country to another.

Trip specifications

  • Group size: minimum 1 (one) traveler
  • Age limit: must be at least 15 years to do Chimpanzee tracking and Mountain Gorilla trekking, no exceptions!
  • To reserve your Chimpanzee and Gorilla permit (s) we need your full names as they appear in your passport, your nationality and passport number
  • Since only 8 people can track a gorilla group in one day, permits get sold out way in advance we therefore advise you book and confirm your tour well in advance
  • Lodges selected for level of comfort, high standard of hospitality, views, eco-friendliness and nearness to the activity places
  • Professional driver/safari guide and 4by4 tour vehicle
  • Tour on full-board accommodation basis

Safari highlights

  • Tracking rhinos at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
  • Morning game drive in Murchison Falls N.P.
  • Afternoon boat cruise on River Nile
  • Hike to the top of the Murchison Falls
  • Relaxation at Lake Albert
  • Nature walk in Bigodi Wetland
  • Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest
  • Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Boat safari on Kazinga Channe in Queen Elizabeth N. P.
  • Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

When you arrive at the Entebbe International Airport, our driver guide and a representative from the office will be there to warmly receive you and welcome you to Uganda the pearl of Africa. After a brief interaction you shall be transferred to your hotel in Entebbe or Kampala to relax off the jetlag and spend the night.

Journey time (Entebbe – Kampala): 40 mins

Meal plan: Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation (Entebbe)

Luxury: Protea Hotel Entebbe

Mid-range: Lake Heights Hotel

Budget: Karibu Guest House

Accommodation (Kampala)

Luxury: Kampala Serena Hotel

Mid-range: Imperial Royal Hotel

Budget:  Acacia Lodge

Day 2:  Kampala – Ziwa Rhinos – Murchison Falls

The driver shall pick you from the hotel at 7.00am to start the trip. You will head northwards, driving along the Kampala – Gulu highway and get to Nakasongola where you break off to visit the Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is the only place you find wild Rhinos in Uganda. It was established essentially to re-introduce these critically endangered animals back into Uganda after becoming extinct in the early 1980’s due to rampant poaching and civil wars. Several other wildlife inhabits the sanctuary such as Oribi, Uganda Kob, Crocodiles, Hippos, Leopard, and Bushbuck among others. And for the birdwatchers, over 351 bird species have been recorded at the sanctuary. Transfer to the visitors’ reception center to meet the rangers and set out for the trek to find the Rhinos and also get to observe plenty of wildlife. After 1 – 2 hours, return to meet the driver guide and proceed with the journey northwards until you get to Masindi town where you stopover for lunch. Thereafter proceed to Murchison Falls National Park arriving in the evening. Transfer to your lodge to spend the rest of the day.

Journey time: 6 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation:

Luxury: Paraa Safari Lodge

Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge (cottages)

Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (tents)

Day 3 – Game drive – Boat trip – Murchison falls hike

Wake up to an early snack and a hot cup of tea or coffee at 6.00am and by 6.30am set off for a morning game drive in the park. You explore the northern half after the Nile where the biggest volume and variety of animals is found. wildlife murchison falls ugandaGiraffes, Elephants, Buffaloes, Warthogs, Jackson’s Hartebeests, Kobs, Oribi, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Bushbuck, and Patas Monkeys are rarely missed. The early morning increases the chances of finding the elusive cats which are usually still hunting at that time and these include Lions, Hyenas, Jackals, and Leopards among others. Expect to observe plenty of birds including Carmine Bee-eaters, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Lapwings, and many others. After 4 hours in the bush, return to the lodge, have breakfast and rest till lunch. After lunch you shall set out for another safari which is a Boat Cruise on the Nile.boat safari uganda The cruise starts from Paraa and goes upstream for 2 hours reaching the base of the incredible Murchison Falls. During the Boat trip you get to see plenty of wildlife along the Nile. Hippos and Crocodiles are constant sightings, while big game such as Elephants, Buffaloes, and antelopes occasionally come to drink water, cool off or eat fresh grass by the river banks. For the birdwatcher this trip offers plenty of water species which include Herons, Kingfishers, the Fish Eagle, Bee-eaters, Back crake and so much more. When the boat reaches the bottom of the falls you shall disembark and hike a neat trail along these spectacular waterfalls to top as you enjoy the magnificent views and feel the cool splashes of the falls land on your skin. The Nile squeezes through a small cleft about 7 meters wide between the rocks exploding into the world’s strongest waterfalls and plunge into the whirlpool about 40 meters below. When you get to the top the drive shall be waiting and you shall transfer back to the lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 – Murchison Falls – Lake Albert, Hoima

After early breakfast, check out of Murchison and travel southwestward along the Albertine rift escarpment and get to Hoima. Check in at the lodge overlooking Lake Albert and spend the day relaxing in the comfort of the lodge whilst enjoying the ambience, the beautiful sunset over the lake and distant views of the Blue Mountains in the Congo. The stay in Hoima is essentially intended to break the otherwise long journey from Murchison Falls to Kibale National Park which is about 8-10 hours of drive. However you are still very much on the adventure trail as the lodge is situated within Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve, and so you may spot some wildlife around such as baboons, warthogs and monkeys. In the late afternoon if you so wish you may do a boat ride on the Lake Albert. For the avid birdwatcher, the famous Shoebill has been recorded on this lake however the best time to find it and many water birds is in the early morning. Nature walks, horseback riding, quad bikes, game drives and visit to the local communities are other optional activities available while at the lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Journey time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Lake Albert Safari Lodge

Day 5 – Lake Albert – Kibale Forest – Bigodi Wetland

After breakfast, check out and travel further southwards to Kibale National Park. You will get to Fort Portal town in time for lunch, after which you proceed to Kibale Forest National Park arriving in the afternoon. Check in at your accommodation and relax. Later you will go for a nature walk in Bigodi Wetland where a number of primates and other wildlife can be sighted. Situated on the eastern edge of Kibale Forest, Bigodi Wetland records 8 primates and over 200 species of birds. Red-tailed, Vervet, and L’Hoest Monkeys, Red Colobus, Mangabeys, Black-and-white Colobus, and Baboons are some of the primates you could see there. Chimpanzees occasionally cross into the wetland but there is little chance you could find them. There are also the small mammals such as civet cats, mongoose, bush pigs, and sitatungas, but many of these are nocturnal and thus very elusive during the day. After observing plenty of wildlife you return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Journey time: 6 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Luxury: Kyaninga Lodge

Mid-range: Primates Lodge

Budget: Kibale Forest Camp

Day 6: Chimpanzee tracking – Queen Elizabeth National Park

Have early breakfast and get to the briefing center by 7.00am. Meet the rangers for the pre-trek briefing and thereafter head into Kibale Forest to find the Chimpanzees and observe plenty of wildlife. An ever green rainforest, Kibale supports the highest volume and variety of primates in the world. There are 13 primate species of which include the largest population of Chimps in Uganda. Others primates include Red-tailed, Vervet and L’Hoest Monkeys, Red Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Black-and-white Colobus, and Baboons among others. There are many ground animas as well some of which of include Forest Elephants, Leopards, Bush Pigs, and up to three species of duiker. The forest is great for birds with over 335 species recorded including forest specials such as Green-breasted and African Pitta, African Grey Parrots, and several species of hornbills among others.chimpanzee tracking uganda

You shall find a large community of habituated Chimps and follow them through the forest for an hour. Since its feeding time they are constantly swinging from tree to tree picking fruits or hunting other small monkeys, the Colobus being a favorite delicacy. To locate other members of the community dispersed across the forest, the Chimps do pant-hoots, deafening screams, and thunderous drumming of the buttress roots and barks of trees. You can’t help getting Goosebumps! This is probably one of the most adrenaline giving wildlife adventures. After spending time with the delightful Chimps, return to the lodge, have lunch, check out and leave for Queen Elizabeth National park, arriving in the late afternoon. Spend the day relaxing at the lodge whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery of the park.

Journey time: 4 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation:

Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge

Mid-range: Kingfisher Lodge

Budget: Bush Lodge

Day 7: Game drive, Boat safari on River Nile, Hike the Murchison Falls

Have an early snack and a hot cup of coffee, set off for a game drive at 6.30am to see plenty of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Queen Elizabeth National Park is mainly popular for the scenic landscape of rich grasslands dotted with many beautiful crater lakes. The park has an animal checklist of 66 and a bird list of 568, the highest of Uganda’s national parks. game-drive-queen-elizabeth-national-parlYou shall explore the verdant Kasenyi plains which are a breeding ground for the antelopes and thus favorite hunting grounds for cats. Expect to see big game such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions, and several species of Antelope. Hyenas, Leopards and many nocturnal species are possible sightings but chances are minimal. After about three hours, return for breakfast and relax at the lodge until lunch time. After lunch, next activity is the boat ride on the Kazinga Channel. The Kazinga is a natural stream of water that connects lakes Edward and George, 32km between each other. Riding along this stream, you shall be exposed to plenty of wildlife at very close encounter. Hippos, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, and Buffaloes are a common sight. Elephants and other animals occasionally come to drink, cool off and eat fresh grass along the Channel. For the bird lover, the Channel is literally a bird magnet with hundreds of species flocking here especially during the migration season towards the end and start of the year. Kingfishers, Fish eagles, herons, skimmers, pelicans, flamingos, terns, ducks and so many other species congregate along the channel. The boat ride is roughly 2 hours long, return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Queen Elizabeth – Ishasha – Bwindi

After breakfast, check out leave for Bwindi National Park, driving through the southern area of Queen Elizabeth N.P. called Ishasha. tree climbing lions ugandaThis area is famous for the Tree-climbing Lions, and big game such as Topi, Elephants and Buffaloes. Spend about two hours in Ishasha for the chance to see the lions, thereafter proceed on the journey to Bwindi, stopping over in Kihihi for lunch. Arrive in Bwindi in the later afternoon, check in at the lodge and spend evening enjoying the wonderful views of the forest and the breathtaking landscape.

Journey time: 4 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Luxury: Buhoma Lodge

Mid-range: Silverback Lodge

Budget: Buhoma Community Rest Camp

Day 9: Bwindi, Gorillas tracking – Bunyonyi

mountain gorillas bwindi ugandaHave an early breakfast and transfer to the briefing station by 7.30am. Essentials to carry for the Gorilla trek include lunch boxes provided by the lodge, enough drinking water which we provide in the car, and a rain jacket. You shall be assigned a Gorilla group from the 12 that are available in Bwindi Forest. Meet the ranger for your group for pre-trek briefing after which you transfer to the start of the trek into the forest to find the Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi forest supports over 400 Mountains Gorillas which is close to half of the remaining population. The other Gorillas are found not far from Bwindi, that is, in the Virunga mountain ranges which are shared between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The time you shall take to find the gorillas varies from a few minutes to several hours depending on where they traveled to in the forest. You shall spend an hour with these great apes, after which you shall return to find your driver and leave for Lake Bunyonyi in Kabale. Spend the day relaxing at the lodge, enjoying the wonderful scenery.

Journey time: 3 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation:

Luxury & Midrange: Bird’s Nest Lodge

Budget: Bunyonyi Overland Resort

Day 10: Bunyonyi – Kampala

Wake up for an early canoe ride on Lake Bunyonyi, Africa’s second deepest lake. Ride through the chilly atmosphere and enjoy nice views of the terraced mountains which are by now engulfed by clouds of fog. It is mystic scenery all around, like the scenes in the movie “Lord of the Rings”. Lake Bunyonyi, and this region in general is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Africa” and it is not difficult to see why. lake-bunyonyi-ugandaVisit some of the islands and learn about their cultural connections to the neighboring communities. Bunyonyi loosely translates “many birds”, referring to the abundant birds found in this area. Return to the lodge for breakfast, check out and leave for Kampala. You shall make a stopover in Mbarara town for lunch. After Mbarara you travel through Lake Mburo National Park, the driver shall reduce speed, be keen to spot some zebras and impalas grazing along with the cattle not far from the highway. You shall also make another stopover at the Uganda Equator for some picture moments and purchase souvenirs at the crafts shop. Proceed and get to Kampala in the evening.

Journey time: 7 hours

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Kampala – Entebbe – Departure

After breakfast, check out and transfer to Entebbe International Airport for your flight back home. If your flight schedule allows, you can do a tour of Kampala City to visit some of the cultural, religious and economic landmarks. In the evening you then transfer to the airport for your evening flight.

Tour includes

  • 1 Gorilla permit per person
  • 1 Chimpanzee permit per person
  • Transport in 4WD safari van with pop-up roof
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Accommodation and meals as mentioned in the tour description
  • Bottled water
  • All activities included on the itinerary
  • Taxes and park fees

Tour excludes

  • Visa fees
  • Air fairs
  • Luxury drinks
  • Tips and porterage
  • Travel insurance
  • Laundry and other personal expenditure

What to bring

  • Rain jacket
  • Long trousers & long-sleeved shirt for trekking through the forest
  • Hiking shoes
  • Gaiters
  • Gloves
  • Insect repellant
  • Light clothing & heavy clothing warm and chilly temperatures respectively
  • Cap/hut and sunglasses/shades
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