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Explore Uganda’s Wilderness, See Gorillas, Chimps & Wildlife(12 days)

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Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, on this 12-day private safari journey. The adventure explores Uganda’s western safari circuit, driving from Entebbe to Bwindi through picturesque landscapes, remote hamlets dotting the hilly green countryside, and fertile volcanic slopes neatly planted with dense rows of cowpea and string beans as far as the eye can see. In Bwindi, you’ll spend three nights at the enchanting eco-retreat Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge: your base to explore Bwindi forest and the mountain gorillas.

Trekking and spending peaceful yet electric (and well-chaperoned) time with mountain gorillas is a rare, heart-filling experience on this exploration trip. An exotic forest walk will complement that experience with Batwa cultural natives, where they’ll introduce you to local remote cultures.

More primate encounters with our closest cousin, chimpanzees, in the world-renowned Kibale National Park will be another highlight of this trip. You’ll walk with a human-habituated chimpanzee troop and spend another enchanting hour with the forest dwellers. Explosive game viewing drives and boat safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the far-flung Murchison Falls National Park will introduce you to Africa safari’s big game players like lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffalos, leopards, and crocodiles.

The Explore Uganda trip is a private package centered around six people traveling together. You’ll be staying in mid-range safari lodges and camps. This trip is good-to-go as is! Meals, transportation in a four-by-four, and all permits and entry fees are included in ther price.

  • Drive from Entebbe through Uganda’s picturesque countryside to the southwestern region where primates freely roam.
  • Explore the ancient Kibale Forest jungle looking for a habituated chimpanzee troop and spend one unforgettable hour witnessing their antiques, social dynamics, and physics.
  • Take a golden game drive on the savannah plains and ride the Kazinga Channel to watch incredible wildlife game up close.
  • Spend two nights at the idyllic Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, nestled in trees and beautiful gardens on a ridge with incredible mountain and forest views.
  • With the visitor center a five-minute walk away, trek into the impenetrable jungle with local guides and porters to meet a family of mountain gorillas and spend one precious hour observing their basic cultures.
  • Meet the native Batwa forest people, learn about their dying cultures, listen to their tales, and dance to their tunes.

Included/Exclude

  • Local English-speaking guides/driver
  • Accommodation & Meals as indicated in itinerary
  • Land transport in 4x4 safari truck with fuel
  • Activities & excursions as shown in itinerary
  • AMREF evacuation cover, and government taxes
  1. Tourist Visa (apply online at visas.immigration.go.ug)
  2. Trekking permits & park fees (worth USD 1265 pp)
  3. Shoebill tracking on Lake Victoria - 120 USD pp
  4. Shoebill tracking on Lake Victoria - 120 USD pp
  5. Extra meals, snacks, gratuities, souvenirs, service tips
  6. Travel Insurance

Tour Amenities

Accepts Credit Cards
Reservations
Smoking Allowed

Tour Plan

Our driver will pick you up from Entebbe International Airport (15 minutes) and check you in at your hotel within Entebbe. You'll meet with your trip specialist for a briefing just before dinner. Otherwise, there are optional activities around Entebbe for those who arrive early and want to stay active. For example, bird-watchers can visit the world-renowned botanical gardens or Mabamba swamps to meet the prehistoric shoebill. You can take a quiet walk to the local markets or shop at the modern malls. You'll stay at: Boutique Hotel Number 5 (Luxury) or Papyrus Guesthouse (Comfortable)
Enjoy an early breakfast, then journey to Western Uganda across the beautiful landscape of central Uganda with vast cultivated plains, banana plantations, and cattle farms. Briefly stopover en route at Mpambire and watch the making of traditional and local artefacts. The equator stop will be another excellent stop for a few Instagram moments. You’ll arrive in time for lunch at Rwakobo Rock Lodge. Rwakobo Rock Lodge is a wilderness retreat secluded on a rocky outcrop at the edge of Lake Mburo National Park’s northern border. The lodge provides private getaways in the locally-styled cottages dotted around a massive granite outcrop, with stunning views over the wilderness plains. After a hearty lunch at the lodge, take a game drive and meet resident favourites like buffalo, impala, zebra, eland, warthogs, and bushbuck. You can also take a one-hour boat safari to find crocodiles, hippos, and plenty of water birds or a horseback safari (not covered in the price.) Staying at: Rwakobo Rock (mid-range) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Enjoy an early morning game drive in the park, then continue to Western Uganda across its rolling hills, tea plantations, tropical rainforest, and towards the Virunga Volcanoes majestic chain. Drive via Mbarara, Kabale, and Kisoro towns before heading onto the 32-km countryside dirt road to Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Keep your eyes out on the rugged Tuscany-like landscapes: the views are to-die-for! On the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, on a magnificent ridge, sits Nkuringo Lodge’s ten luxurious cottages. The private cottages have a distinctive elegance and surprising luxury amid forest trees, flowers, and shrubs. Locally styled furnishings grace the spacious rooms, and light fills the space from your private viewing deck over the forest swath and beyond the entire Virunga Volcanoes chain. After settling in, take a stroll around the community, encounter local cultures, and visit the Batwa indigenous community who once occupied Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, now a UNESCO world heritage site and gorilla home. Staying at: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (packed), and Dinner.
After an early breakfast, a guide will drive you to the trailhead for briefing before hitting the jungles to find the mountain gorilla family. Trekking through the jungle could take 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on where the trackers last saw the mountain gorillas the previous evening. Make sure you are physically able to withstand the trek through uneven terrain, damp forest floors, and thick forest cover. The beauty of this rainforest is spectacular. The area offers a dramatic, steeply forested landscape and is incredibly dense but crisscrossed by numerous animal trails allowing tourists access. The thrill of spending time observing these gentle and endangered giants is an incredible, exciting experience to be long-savored. Many find it to be a rare and moving opportunity. As per your gorilla permit, the tracking can occur at Nkuringo or Rushaga (a 1 hr drive from Nkuringo). When you meet the gorillas, your guide and rangers will allow you only 60 minutes before they escort you back. You can spend more time with the mountain gorillas only when you purchase the Gorilla Habituation Experience Permit that costs USD 1,500 per person. The experience allows a permit holder at least four hours with a semi-habituated gorilla family. After your experience with the mountain giants, and if you still have the guts to explore the region, you can take an evening guided walk to meet the local community, the Batwa. You can also visit a single-family home, listen to their age-old tales and delve into their hidden cultures, song, and music. Back at Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, as the night cools down, you have a roaring campfire and local songs to look forward to, as well as a deep massage, perfect for soothing any aching muscles after a day of hiking. Staying at: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (packed), and Dinner.
This day has some optional activities that can vary for travellers.
  • Stay back at the lodge and relax, read a book, join a cooking class or take a walk around the property and talk to some locals.
  • Go back into the mysterious jungle to meet with the gorillas for a second time. Maybe for a more extended stay, we like to call the habituation experience. But remember, you must have pre-booked the trekking permit.
  • Drive down to Lake Mutanda for a traditional dug-out canoeing experience with some of the most enchanting views on the volcano lake.
  • Forest walk either on a Batwa Forest Trail or on a Circular Trail through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, this time not for gorillas but everything else ethereal about the jungle.
  • Go on a sundowner picnic on top of the world with 360-degree spellbinding views of the hilly landscapes. It's a walking distance from the lodge.
Staying at: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (packed), and Dinner.
Our travellers’ favourite and pioneer activity is hiking on the ancient walking trails through the mystic Bwindi jungle, from the Nkuringo south side to the Buhoma visitor centre in the north. At the gates of the forest, the surprised traveller will be forced to forget their city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish, and wrap themselves in the majestic beauties of the ancient jungle. For 4-5 hours, you’ll be guided by a local expert who’ll furnish you with ancient tales, and incredible forest knowledge and bring you close to being one with the forest trails. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet some wild forest inhabitants like chimps, forest elephants, duikers, forest buffalo, and more. At the other end of the walking trail, your driver will be ready to whisk you off through Ishasha savannahplains, where he’ll lazily drive for you to catch sight of the incredible tree-climbing lions. You’ll be at Kataara Lodge in time for dinner. Staying at: Katara Lodge (Mid-range) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
This part of the Explore Uganda itinerary will give you a chance to get close to Africa safari’s big game players on an early morning or evening game drive and a boat safari on Kazinga Channel, famous for hosting the largest population of hippos. Games drives on Kasenyi tracks will encounter animals like enormous herds of elephants and buffalo. You’ll also spot out many interesting antelope species such as Uganda kob, topi, and bushbuck. The giant forest hog is unusually easy to spot. Search around the Kasenyi tracks for the elusive leopard. On the Kazinga Channel boat safari trip that will set off at 14:00, you’re able to catch sight of elephants, buffalo, waterbuck, Uganda kob, and large hippo pods daily. Keep an eye open for the enormous water monitor lizard, which is common in the riverine scrub, as well as crocodiles. You’ll also see the giant forest hog, leopard, and lion. The odds of seeing predators and other nocturnal creatures coming to drink are highest in the late afternoon. You'll stay at: Katara Lodge (Mid-range) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Packed), Dinner
If you’re up for another explore Uganda game-viewing adventure, you’ll take a morning game drive in the Kasenyi northern tracks to catch sight of what you could have missed before we head to the primate capital in Kibale. Driving with Rwenzori ranges backdrop, you’ll drive for 2-3 hours into Kibale Forest and check-in at Primate Lodge. In the afternoon, trek to the ‘Top of the World’ to enjoy fantastic views of the Rwenzori Mountains, crater lakes, tea plantations, and local villages. Turaco Treetops Lodge’s rustic style affords beautiful views of the dense ethereal rainforest and is quietly secluded, offering an authentic experience. The main open lounge area features comfortable armchairs and sofas, making it a lovely spot to unwind after a day in the forest while listening to the red-tailed monkeys in the surrounding trees. Fires are lit on cool evenings, creating a cozy atmosphere, while colorful traditional dance performances give you a real insight into the local culture. However, the lodge’s highlight is the jungle hikes to track and spot chimpanzees in their natural setting. You'll stay at: Turaco Treetops (Mid-range) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Packed), Dinner
Wake early and be at the visitors’ center by 8:00 to embark on another primate viewing adventure in Kibale Forest. Kibale is commonly known for the diversity and density of primates in Africa. Its stands out as the best place to watch chimpanzees up-close in their natural setting, with over 1500 chimpanzees under the park’s rainforest canopy and a dozen other primate species. On your morning trek to find the chimps, it’s prevalent for other primates to cross your paths, like the rare L’Hoest’s monkey and red colobus monkey. Other primates you may encounter include the black & white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, and grey-cheeked mangabey. However, your primary goal will be to find a troop of human-habituated chimpanzees. Guided by an expert tracker, you’ll head into the jungle in small groups, looking out for tale-tale signs of the chimp’s direction and listening for loud calls. The experience usually lasts 2 to 6 hours, depending on the location of the habituated chimpanzee troop. Visitors are allowed from 1 hr to almost the whole day with the chimpanzees, and the quality and intimacy of each sighting can vary highly. Afternoon excursion to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary This sanctuary is a paradise for bird watchers; skilled birders can spot up to 50 species on an afternoon nature walk. On a good day, you may see more than seven primate species in Bigodi treetops. It’s one of the best places to find the other primate species because of the abundance of fruit trees. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is an excellent example of a community-based approach to natural resources management that has greatly benefited the residents living within the area. You'll stay at: Turaco Treetops (Mid-range) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Packed), Dinner
After an early breakfast, you’ll drive 400 km north to Murchison Falls National Park for about 7 – 8 hours. MFN sits in the remote northwestern Ugandan region bisected by the Victoria Nile River. The “mythical” river plunges here 45m from the rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and final “event” in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last energies from the river and transforms it into a broad, placid stream flowing quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. You’ll check in at Murchison River Camp in time for dinner. Located in one of Uganda’s remotest regions, the concept and design of Murchison River Lodge encourage gentle engagement with nature without compromising safari comfort. The rooms are spread out within 30 acres of natural bush with views from the main bar and restaurant across the Nile River and over the expansive Murchison Falls National Park’s savannah plains. From the vantage point of the lodge bar and restaurant, guests can relish the spectacular panoramic views of the park and the early journey of the famous River Nile as it flows downstream between papyrus islands and hippo pods. Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Murchison River Lodge’s vantage point provides access to a wide range of guided safari activities. You’ll be out on an early morning game drive en route to the Victoria Nile Delta for a boat trip in this spectacular area teeming with birds and wildlife – several endemic species like the Rothschild’s giraffe, the Shoebill stork, and the red-throated bee-eater. Water level permitting, short walk accompanied by the ranger guide. If lucky, you may catch sight of four of the BIG FIVE: rhinos are absent. Common sightings will include buffalo, and elephants are particularly common. There’s a healthy population of lions; your guide will be challenged to track on the morning drive. Many antelope species decorate the park’s plains, including Uganda kob, oribi, Jackson’s hartebeest, Defassa waterbuck, grey duiker, and bushbuck. Rothschild’s giraffe, leopard, and troops of the rare Pata’s monkey will also be spotted on the grassy plains. In the afternoon, scheduled boat trip to the Murchison Waterfalls, with the possibility of hiking to the top of the falls and catching that fantastic panoramic view of the falls. Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After an early breakfast, your party will drive to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, just outside Murchison Falls Conservation Area, to track Uganda’s only rhinos in the wild. More than 19 southern white rhinos are roaming the sanctuary’s savannah and wetland, many of which were born in the wild in Uganda. A guide will lead you on foot to get an up-close encounter. While tracking rhinos on foot sounds a bit foolhardy, the fact that they’re in the company of armed anti-poaching rangers 24 hours means they’re well and indeed used to human presence. The sanctuary is also home to 350 bird species, with highlights including giant kingfishers, Ross’s turacos, and the mystical shoebill. Other animals living inside the 6ft-tall electric fence include leopards, hippos, crocodiles, bushbucks, and oribis. The time to spot the shoebill will be early-morning on shoebill canoe trips to an adjoining swamp, where you have an excellent chance of spotting them. You’ll head directly to Entebbe to prepare for your flight back home. Last night in Entebbe is not included in the itinerary, though. Accommodation (Optional): Papyrus Guest House Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (packed)

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