18 DAYS SAFARIS’ EXPLORATION IN UGANDA (1 FREE GORILLA PERMIT)

19 DAYS UGANDA HOLIDAY SAFARIS (1 FREE GORILLA PERMIT)

Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe, Uganda

You will be received by your driver/guide at the airport. Depending on your arrival time, if you arrive at night time, we check into Imperial Resort Beach Hotel for a relaxation moment after the long flight.

Entebbe Accommodation Options:

Upper Luxury and Luxury: Protea Hotel Entebbe or Hotel No. 5 Entebbe

Medium: 2 Friends Guesthouse Entebbe or Karibu Guesthouse Entebbe

Low Budget: Airport Guesthouse Entebbe

No meals are included today.

Day 2: Driving and Tour the Sezibwa Falls, Mabira Forest & Jinja Source of River Nile

After breakfast, an early morning drive on Jinja road with our first visit being at the historical Ssezibwa Waterfall for 1 hour.

The falls are about seven meters high and the sweet hissing sound created by the falling water forms beautiful scenery. This is complemented by the natural vegetation cover and the undulating and steep rocks over which the waters fall. The site has several bird species that present a wonderful opportunity for bird watching. The site presents several tourist activities such as bird watching, camping, rock climbing, nature walks, hiking, canoeing.

We continue to the Mabira Forest for 2 hours where we have a forest walk. The Mabira Forest is a rainforest area covering about 300 square kilometers (120 sq mi) in Uganda, located in Buikwe District, between Lugazi and Jinja. Mabira forest is home to over 300 bird species and many Ugandan primates.

We continue to Jinja, to view the source of the River Nile.

Jinja Accommodation Options:

Upper Luxury: Lemala Wildwaters Lodge

Luxury: The Haven Lodge (luxury cottage)

Medium: The Haven Lodge (luxury cottage)

Low Budget: The Haven Lodge (lazy camping permanent tent)

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Optional activities while Jinja

Aside from the above program,  you can choose to do any of the following  optional activities:

White water rafting  (full day USD 145 / half day USD 125)

A horseback safari  (USD 50 for 2 hours / USD 70 for 3 hours)

Quad-biking  (USD 70 for 2 hours / USD 90 for 3 hours)

A day of whitewater kayaking on the river (USD 120)

A sundowner cruise on the Nile (USD 35)

A visit to Jinja market

Day 3: Driving to Sipi Falls

After breakfast, you drive through the eastern part of Uganda takes you to beautiful Sipi Falls, on a plateau 1800m above sea level.

The Sipi River flows over the foothills of Mount Elgon, forming a spectacular series of waterfalls (some nearly 100m high), surrounded by village walking trails and lush green coffee-producing hills. You will stay in a wonderful lodge. From your lodge, you have beautiful views over one of the waterfalls.

All Accommodation is at Sipi River Lodge (full board basis)

Day 4: A tour of  Sipi Falls, Mt. Elgon

Prepare yourself for a beautiful day in paradise. After breakfast, choose to go on a 3-hour or – for the real adventurers – a 7-hour hike through the region. A local guide accompanies you on your hike to explain flora, fauna, and culture.

Whichever option you choose, you can be certain that you pass many picturesque waterfalls, plantations, and caves. Local villagers will be sure to greet you with ‘Jambo!’ and beaming smiles.

All accommodation is at Sipi River Lodge (full board basis)

Day 5: Karamojong tribe Experience in Moroto

After an early breakfast, you will continue your journey to Moroto town where you have an exclusive cultural interactive experience with the Karimajong tribesmen. Karamoja is an area in North-Eastern Uganda where the Karamajong people live. They are related to the Maasai in Kenya and live and dress similarly. The main difference is that not any other tourist is going here. Only a few years ago, tourism in Karamoja would not have been possible due to armed inter-tribal conflict but nowadays it’s safe.

The Karamajong live in a Kraal, better known as Manyatta or Boma in Swahili. A Kraal is basically a village made out of huts surrounded by fences made of wood and thorns to keep the cattle in and to protect them against rivaling tribes and wild animals. Some of the Kraals are permanent and others are temporary as the Karamojong follow the fresh grass to feed their cattle. The Karamajong are related to the Maasai in Kenya and live a similar lifestyle. The main difference is that the Karamajong is completely unknown and you are therefore sure to experience a very authentic and unique visit. In the afternoon you will visit one of the impressive Kraal or Manyatta of this community.

Tourist infrastructure does not exist in Kotido. Please be patient and do not expect the services from hotels and restaurants that you would expect in other parts of Uganda. You will spend the night at Lia Springs Hotel in Moroto with stunning views overlooking the hills.

All Moroto Accommodation is at Kara-Tunga, Karamoja Safari Camp

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 6: Driving To Kidepo Valley National Park

After breakfast leave Moroto to Kidepo Valley arrive in time for the afternoon or evening activities depending on the conditions of the roads This afternoon you can either take a game drive around the lodge area or a refreshing dip-in stunning swimming pool. Carved out of a granite kopje the pool affords fantastic views down the Narus valley and over a waterhole frequented by many animals including Bullbull- our friendly elephant and unofficial head gardener, Overnight.

If you can plan today on a Tuesday you’ll have the chance to experience an authentic Karamajong cattle market on Wednesday (that is today in this tour). Some herders walk for 5 hours to be able to buy or sell their goats, cows, or chicken here. It’s a colorful and stunning sight and one of the few remaining authentic experiences. Don’t miss this!

Kidepo Accommodation (all meals included)

Upper Luxury: Apoka Safari Lodge

Luxury: Adere Safari Lodge

Midrange: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (ensuite)

Low Budget: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (sheltered tents with bedding and mosquito nets)

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 7: Safari Kidepo Valley National Park

After an early breakfast, go for a morning game drive to Kanangorok hot spring. A variety of animals can be seen roaming around including Ostrich. In the afternoon have a cultural experience that will bring into contact with Karamojong peoples at Karenna and Kapedo. Meet the local elders and have an opportunity to interact with them. They will show you the kraals, the grinding stones, and many more interesting items.

Kidepo Valley National Park  Accommodation Options:

Upper Luxury: Apoka Safari Lodge

Luxury: Adere Safari Lodge

Midrange: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (ensuite)

Low Budget: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (sheltered tents with bedding and mosquito nets)

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 8: Depart Kidepo Valley, Driving to Murchison Falls National Park

This morning we shall be departing to another of Uganda’s most popular safari parks, Murchison Falls National Park. If you are able to depart from the lodge before 7 am, we could probably attempt a game drive on our way out of the park.

The journey today is not less than 7 hours of driving via some of the most beautiful sceneries in Africa.  This route also gives you an opportunity to enjoy the scenery of Labwor hills and in particular the massive and bare Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock about 55 km from Kotido.

After entering the 3,840 square kilometers of Murchison Falls National Park, we shall be traversing tropical forests with primates like the black and white colobus, baboons, and chimpanzees. We also traverse some savannah plains and you shall be sighting lots of grazing wildlife along the way.

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest in Uganda mostly renowned for the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls where the River Nile hurls itself in convulsions through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 meters in one breathtaking leap.

The park has a variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamplands to broad savannah and provides visitors the opportunity of seeing large concentrations of wildlife including lion, leopard, civet, hyena, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, a host of smaller game, small primates and many bird species, including the rare shoebill stork. The park is especially famous for crocodiles and hippos.

Our Top Recommendations Murchison Falls National Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Top Luxury: Nile Safari Lodge

Luxury: Baker’s Lodge | Paraa Safari Lodge

Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge | Murchison River Lodge | Pakuba Lodge

Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (tents) | Murchison River Lodge (tents) | Red Chilli Rest Camp

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 9: Game drives, Boat trip, and more wildlife safaris in Murchison Falls National Park

Your driver shall be waiting for you at the lodge front desk at 6:3o AM for an adventurous and exciting half-day of game drives in the northern side of Murchison Falls National Park. If you are on the southern side of the River Nile, you will be crossing with the ferry for your game drive activities. The game drives could go on until about 11 AM or so. There is just so much to cover and the tracks are so rich with wildlife and fascinating birdlife.

We will drive back to the lodge for lunch before taking an afternoon boat cruise to the foot of Murchison Falls. This boat trip along the Nile is often cited as being the highlight of a trip to Murchison since it allows you to get up close and personal with the animals. Along this stretch of the river, there are reported to be around 4,000 hippos in addition to some enormous Nile crocodiles.

Murchison Falls National Park Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market: Baker’s Lodge | Paraa Safari Lodge

Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge | Murchison River Lodge | Pakuba Lodge

Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (tents) | Murchison River Lodge (tents) | Red Chilli Rest Camp

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 10: Drive from Murchison Falls NP to Kibale National Park

At about 8 AM, your Uganda safari guide shall be meeting you again for your departure from Murchison Falls National Park for Kibale Forest National Park. The journey today is about 5 hours of driving and goes along the Lake Albert escarpment, having a good view of the lake among other interesting rift valley scenery.

This is a great day as the drive takes you through the community and forests with chances of seeing vervet monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys jumping up in the trees as you advance into the Kyenjonjo on a rocky road.

Kibale Accommodation choices

Upper Luxury: Kyaninga Lodge | Ndali Lodge

Luxury: Primate Lodge Kibale | | Crater Safari Lodge

Midrange: Isunga Lodge| ensuite tents at Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Tents at Kibale Forest Camp (with bedding and mosquito nets, shared bathroom) | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 Day 11: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale is conducted in two shifts, one at 8 AM and the other at 11 AM. Depending on your prebooked preference, your Uganda safari guide shall help you to be available at the Kibale Park offices in good time for the briefing and the chimpanzee tracking itself.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate species. More primates like black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos, and many bird species like the yellow-spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee-eater, and mammals like elephants can be seen in this walk.

Kibale National park, which averages about 3,300 feet in elevation, is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large communities of chimps, each numbering more than 100 individuals. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against incursions by male outsiders; the females usually wander in small family groups.

Typically, we locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling. We get to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, lounge, and socialize with each other, or even, occasionally hunt.

In the afternoon we visit a nearby forest swamp that is excellent for viewing primates and other forest animals. At the eastern edge of Kibale Forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is maintained by the local community. You will expect birds like the great blue turaco, blue monkeys, baboons, otters, mongoose, bushbucks, bush pigs, and among others.

Kibale National Park Accommodation choices

Upper Luxury: Kyaninga Lodge | Ndali Lodge

Luxury: Primate Lodge Kibale | | Crater Safari Lodge

Midrange: Isunga Lodge| ensuite tents at Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Tents at Kibale Forest Camp (with bedding and mosquito nets, shared bathroom) | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 12: Tour Fort Portal, Crater Lakes, Amabeere ga Nyinamwiru Caves & Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Leave the national park after breakfast and drive to Fort Portal.

You will visit the Amabere caves in the Nyakasura area. This is the traditional home of the Bachwezi who were believed to be demi-gods. This area still has historical regalia of the Bachwezi that helps one in understanding the life they lived while still on earth (they later disappeared). You will then take a nature walk to the crater lakes whose history is associated with the mysterious Bachwezi.

We incorporate some crater lake hikes into this program. You will be simply amazed by the beauty of these ancient and not ancient crater lakes found in the Fort Portal area.

After you have witnessed all these amazing landscapes, you will be transferred to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Accommodation Options in Queen Elizabeth National Park (Full Board)

Upper Luxury: Elephant Plains Lodge | Kyambura Gorge Lodge | Kasenyi Safari Camp

Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Safari Lodge| Enganzi Lodge | Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge

Budget: Bush Lodge (tents)|  Simba Safari Camp (tents) | Pumba Cottages

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 13: Game drives and Kazinga Boat Cruise on Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, we depart to Queen Elizabeth National Park which is dominated on its northern border by the snow-capped 16,000-foot Rwenzori Mountains – the famed “Mountains of the Moon”. This 767-square-mile conservation area is bordered on the northeast by Lake George and on the southwest by Lake Edward; its western border adjoins the Congo Parc du Virunga.

As we drive through the park, expect to spot teeming herds of impala-like Uganda kob, as well as topi, elephant, Cape buffalo. There are also several soda lakes filling ancient volcanic calderas where flamingos reside seasonally.

The highlight for most visitors to Queen Elizabeth National Park is the 2-3 hours boat trip on Kazinga Channel. The boat trip is best done in the hot hours of the day when most wildlife come out of their hideouts to quench their thirsts with the fresh channel waters. All along the 40km channel tourists are able to view the wildlife in their numbers at closer counters. From large schools of hippopotami huffing just a few feet from your boat to herds of cape buffalo lingering in the shallows, to lions watching out for the careless prey watering along the channel shores. The shores of the channel are also home to an array of birds including pink-backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, saddle-billed stork, and many others.

Accommodation Options in Queen Elizabeth National Park (Full Board)

Upper Luxury: Elephant Plains Lodge | Kyambura Gorge Lodge | Kasenyi Safari Camp

Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Safari Lodge| Enganzi Lodge | Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge

Budget: Bush Lodge (tents)|  Simba Safari Camp (tents) | Pumba Cottages

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 14: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Maramagambo Forest Bush Walk

After having extensive coverage of the tracks in the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, we make way to its other side for slightly different experiences. Your first call is the Maramagambo Forest,  a vast tropical rain natural forest offering some remarkably rewarding nature walks and fabulous crater lakes’ views on its peripherals.

We shall be entering the forest with a local guide. Maramagambo forest is especially rich with primates like wild unhabituated chimpanzees, olive baboons,  L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, and the Black and White Colobus Monkeys.  If you have lucky today, you might spot the forest’s shy residents, the pottos, and bushbabies (most easily seen at night though).

The 584 km sq. km forest is also home to 414 species of trees and 378 species of birds. It is a primarily Parinari and Cynometra-Celtis medium altitude moist forest. In total, there are 12 wildlife species found nowhere else in Uganda (9 butterflies, 1 small mammal, and 2 trees) and 10 species endemic to the Albertine Rift (4 trees, 3 birds, and 4 butterflies).

The walk culminates in a visit to volcanic caves – “the Bat Caves”, which are home to thousands of bats. The cave has a viewing room from where you can observe the 100s of bats.

Also on this walk is the picturesque blue Lake Kimeranjojo which got its name after swallowing an elephant.

Later in the afternoon, we shall be continuing with our drive to the Ishasha Sector. We shall be proceeding along the deep and wide dry craters that are occupied by savanna grasses and acacia. The drive takes you through the unique western rift valley escarpment and the (southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park) Ishasha sector.

Accommodation Options in Ishasha Sector, Southern Queen Elizabeth National Park (Full Board)

Upper Luxury: Ishasha Wilderness Campsite

Luxury: Ishasha Jungle Lodge

Mid-range: Enjojo Lodge

Budget: Enjojo Lodge (lazy camping sheltered ents)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 15: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Before departing to Bwindi, we shall spend our morning at the game drive tracks of the Ishasha Sector of any visible wildlife. Be on the lookout for the famous tree-climbing lions, but also the large herds of elephants, and other big mammals.

After the game drives, we embark on our drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda’s home to the rare mountain gorillas plus 10 other primates species including the blue and red-tailed monkeys. The forest itself is lush and green and there are streams running through it. Depending on the location of the gorilla group you shall be tracking in Bwindi, the drive can be between 3-6 hours on mostly unsurfaced dirt roads.

Bwindi Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Upper Luxury: Gorilla Forest Camp | Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge | Bwindi Lodge

Luxury: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Springs Lodge | Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge or Gorilla Safari Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge |Gorilla Mist Camp | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Gorilla Conservation Camp | Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp

Day 16: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip – gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day.

We trek through the rainforest and bamboo-covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. When sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 meters from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It’s difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk a long distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, the time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

Accommodation options for 2nd night in Bwindi after the gorilla trek

Upper Luxury: Gorilla Forest Camp | Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge | Bwindi Lodge

Luxury: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Springs Lodge | Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge or Gorilla Safari Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge |Gorilla Mist Camp | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Gorilla Conservation Camp | Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp

Day 17: Drive from Bwindi to Lake Bunyonyi

After having breakfast, we shall take a scenic drive to Kabale taking you through the beautiful terrain of the rolling hills with a terraced landscape where you can relax and enjoy some reflection time. With its freshwater, bilharzia-free, and beautiful landscapes, Lake Bunyonyi is a small paradise for travelers.

Lake Bunyonyi Accommodation:

Upper luxury and Luxury: The Bird Nest

Medium: The Birds’ Nest or Arcadia Cottages Lake Bunyonyi

Low Budget: Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort

Day 18: Drive to Lake Mburo National Park

The 370 square kilometer Lake Mburo is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi, and reedbuck.  Lake Mburo National Park is mostly acacia woodland and for sure you shall be able to see much acacia-related bird species hard to see anywhere in Uganda

Upon arrival in the park, you will go for the game drive before retreating to your accommodation for overnight and dinner.

Lake Mburo Accommodation for this Uganda safari

Upper Luxury and Luxury: Mihingo Lodge | Mantana Tented Camp

Medium: Rakobo Rock Lodge | Arcadia Cottages

Low Budget: Mburo Eagles Nest | Leopards Camp

Day 19: Game Drive in Lake Mburo – Entebbe

After breakfast, you will go for the last game drive within the park to search for the early risers and also look out for animals missed out in the previous game drive.

Later transfer back to Entebbe with a brief stopover at the Equator for photographs; Reach Entebbe in the afternoon and proceed to check-in for your flight departure back home

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