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Leopard, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Uganda & Rwanda Wild BIG-5 Bonanza and Primates Safari - 11 Days

Overview
Itinerary
Accommodation
Inclusions
Overview

Uganda & Rwanda Wild BIG-5 Bonanza and Primates Safari - 11 Days

This 11 day safari traces the western Rift Valley in the heart of Africa, starting with game viewing on the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park - elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, and leopard.

Track the chimps in Kibale National Park. In Ishasha go on the hunt for the tree-climbing lions lounging on old fig trees. See the rich wildlife and array of birds on the Kazinga Channel.

Seeing some of the last remaining 880 mountain gorillas in the world is a fantastic experience and this safari takes you to three gorilla parks – Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. It offers an opportunity to track gorillas five times, twice in Bwindi, once in Mgahinga/Nkuringo, and twice in Parc National des Volcans.

You can also climb a volcano or go for a nature walk or visit the endangered golden monkey. Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda has five habituated gorilla families and tracking most groups in the afro-montane forest usually takes only a few hours. You can also climb a volcano, visit the remains of Dian Fossey’s grave or visit the endangered golden monkey.

  • Day 1: Murchison Falls National Park & Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
  • Day 2: Murchison Falls National Park Game Drive
  • Day 3: Kibale National Park
  • Day 4: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
  • Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 8: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 9: Transfer to Rwanda
  • Day 10: Gorilla Trekking in Parc National des Volcans
  • Day 11: Tour of Kigali
Itinerary

Day 1: Murchison Falls National Park & Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Our guide meets you from your hotel in Kampala or Entebbe at 07:00AM (or airport but arriving before 10am). You will get a brief about the holiday experience ahead of you before starting the drive through the famous Luwero triangle.

Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is the only place to trek wild Rhinos in Uganda, the other Rhinos are found at Uganda wildlife education centre (former Zoo) in Entebbe. On arrival at the sanctuary, you will be given a briefing from your ranger guide on how to behave while on this Rhino trek. It is very critical that you heed to the ranger’s instructions while on the trek because Rhinos can be aggressive if they sense a need to defend themselves. Depending on the location of the Rhinos, you may need to drive closer to their location before you start the trek to reduce on the distance. Your ranger guide will share different information on the behavior of Rhinos and how you ought to behave while as you trek.

Once you locate the Rhinos, you can stay a maximum of one hour in their presence. Sometimes different families are within distance of each other, in which case you will get an opportunity to visit more than one group. You also have a chance of other animal sightings on this nature walk, they include Waterbucks, Bushbucks, Kobs, Leopard (rarely), duikers etc.

We will continue through the park stopping at the top of the falls which is a fantastic sight. Here the Nile, the longest river in the world, is forced through a narrow gap in the rock (only 7 meters wide), before ferociously plunging down 43 meters. From here we will continue onto our accommodation place along the Nile River

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest in Uganda at 3,840 square kilometres. Here is the awe inspiring Murchison Falls where the River Nile hurls itself in convulsions through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 metres 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.

Apart from game viewing, the launch trip to the bottom of the falls is another memorable adventure giving you the experience of the mighty Biblical Nile. On the launch you may see schools of crocodiles and hippos basking on the river banks as well as a variety of birds.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

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

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

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

Day 2: Murchison Falls National Park Game Drive

After break fast head to the delta in search for bird life and enjoy the game drive to look for lions, giraffes, herds of elephants, buffaloes and many more. 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.

The bird life is stunning with brightly colored kingfishers and bee-eaters darting along the riverbanks. If lucky, you may see the rare and prehistoric looking shoebill, which is a cross between the dodo and a dinosaur. The boat takes you to the base of the falls which only adds to their impressiveness.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

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

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

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

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 3: Kibale National Park

Leave Murchison Falls National Park for Kibale Forest National Park via the Lake Albert escarpment, having a good view of the lake.

Stop over at Kolping Hotel in Hoima for lunch and after drive across the interesting river Nkusi (flowing from the southern end of Lake Albert, through the villages of Kagadi, joining Victoria Nile). Both rivers join Lake Kyoga and flow through the Murchison Falls continue to Lake Albert and north to the Mediterranean Sea.

Traveling on both asphalt and unpaved roads, you pass through traditional Ugandan villages where you see people at work tending their traditional crops of millet, sorghum, beans and maize. The lush rolling hills of this region provide good photo opportunities.

As you approach Fort Portal in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, you enter Uganda's famous tea plantation region. A carpet of green spreads before you, as far as the eye can see, and seems an unusual contrast to the countryside through which you have just passed.

You arrive at Fort Portal, then, continue toward Kibale Forest, one of the great African rainforest research reserves. Years of study by scientists (who have cut a grid through the forest) have habituated many of its animals to human observers. This forest is famed for the variety of primates found here and it is a terrific area for birds. This rural Ugandan town (Fort Portal) is locally famous for its weaving and basketry, and we can spend some time briefly to examine some of this local art.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge | Crater Safari Lodge  | Ndali Lodge

Moderate: Isunga Lodge | Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Kibale Forest Camp (tents) | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Assemble at Kanyankyu River camp at 08:00 hours to go for the most popular activity in this park which is chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate species. More primates like black and white columbus 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.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge| Crater Safari Lodge | Ndali Lodge

Moderate: Isunga Lodge| Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Tents at Kibale Forest Camp or Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Morning is free at ease. During the afternoon we travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for a number of wildlife like the hippos, buffaloes, elephants, kobs and a number of bird species.

Queen Elizabeth National Park holds other wildlife including the predators, lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Other mammals include giant forest hog, a variety of antelope, elephant and hippo. The park’s bird species number more than 600, quite likely higher than any other destination in Africa.

You shall visit the crater lakes like Lake Katwe famous for salt and continue for lunch at the lodge.

Up-market/Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Safari Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Lakeside Safari Resort | Twin Lakes Safari Lodge| Bush Lodge

Budget price: Tents at  Bush Lodge or Simba Safari Camp | Pumba Cottages

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park

We set out early in the morning for a game drive in the northern part of the park on the Kasenyi Track in search of lions, elephants, solitary buffaloes. This is the best time for opportunities of viewing the cats in action owing to the vast population of Uganda kobs. We have an excellent chance to view just about every animal here at very close range.

Return to the lodge for your breakfast, before heading out for a launch trip along the Kazinga Channel. This gives you the opportunity to view wildlife up close: hippo’s huff and spray at a mere feet away from the boat, buffalo linger in the shallows. 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.

Up-market/Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Safari Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Lakeside Safari Resort | Twin Lakes Safari Lodge| Bush Lodge

Budget price: Tents at  Bush Lodge or Simba Safari Camp | Pumba Cottages

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After an early morning game drive, we continue to the Buhoma sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

Bwindi’s chief claim to fame is its resident, habituated population of mountain gorillas. These spectacular primates now number only around 650, most of which live either at Bwindi or across the border in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans. (Bwindi holds some 280 – 320 gorillas, in 15 groups.)

This ancient rainforest has 120 mammal species, perhaps more than any other national park in the country except Queen Elizabeth. Primates include L’Hoest’s, red-tailed, blue and colobus monkeys and the olive baboon. Antelope include bushbuck and 5 species of forest-dependent duiker.

Birders come to Bwindi to seek the 23 Albertine Rift endemics which thrive here. Of those, 14 are found nowhere else in Uganda. Some 200 species of butterfly have been recorded in the park and the colourful clouds of butterflies that congregate at bushpig wallows is a marvelous spectacle.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge | Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Buhoma Community Campground

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Today enjoy gorilla tracking in Bwindi. After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip - gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day.

We trek the gorillas 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 the gorillas are sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

While most of today's forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi's vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This includes 310 species of butterfly, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10 primates.

The latter includes chimpanzee, L'Hoest's, red-tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboon, and Bwindi's most famous resident, the mountain gorilla.

Bwindi is a prime destination for birdwatchers. Its 350 species include seven which are IUCN red data listed and 90% of all Albertine rift species which are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge | Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Buhoma Community Campground

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 9: Transfer to Rwanda

Take breakfast and depart for Rwanda. You will cross the border via Kisoro then clear at the boarder - Rwanda is 1 hour behind Uganda.

Located in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans is home to the steep slopes of this wonderful mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which cuddles evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Upscale level: Five Volcanoes Lodge | Mountain Gorilla View Lodge 

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge 

Low Budget: Muhabura Lodge | Kinigi Guest House

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 10: Gorilla Trekking in Parc National des Volcans

You can choose to go gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (subject to permit availability at the time of booking).

Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. If you are lucky you can get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch! Some gorilla families however are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Upscale level: Five Volcanoes Lodge | Mountain Gorilla View Lodge 

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge 

Low Budget: Muhabura Lodge | Kinigi Guest House

Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 11: Tour of Kigali, end of tour

Depart from the park in the afternoon to Kigali.

You have a Kigali city tour today and visit the Genocide Memorial Museum before you transfer to the airport for your onward international flight. The city tour includes the old town (Nyamirambo) and Muslim quarter, the new handicraft village and other shops, the Batwa pottery and dance centre and the Gisozi Genocide Memorial.

The memorial is very moving – the tour takes a couple of hours - and will be of interest to anyone who has spent some time in this enchanting country.

After, you will be transferred to Kigali Airport for your flight back home.

 

 

Accommodation

Upscale accommodation:

Night 1&2: Baker's Lodge or Paraa Safari Lodge

Night 3 & 4:  Kyaninga Lodge or Crater Safari Lodge or Ndali Lodge

Night 5& 6: Mweya Safari Lodge or Katara Lodge

Nights 7& 8: Buhoma Lodge or Mahogany Springs Lodge or Chameleon Hill Lodge 
(Upgrade to Gorilla Forest Camp or Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge)

Night 9&10: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge or Five Volcanoes Lodge (Upgrades possible to Virunga Lodge or Sabinyo Silverback Lodge or Bisate Lodge)

Midrange (Moderate) accommodation:

Night 1&2: Murchison River Lodge or Fort Murchison Lodge

Night 3 & 4:  Isunga Lodge or Kibale Forest Camp

Night 5& 6: Ihamba Lakeside Safari Resort or Bush Lodge or Twin Lakes Safari Lodge

Nights 7& 8: Engagi Lodge or Bwindi Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge or Gorilla Mist Camp 

Night 9&10: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Lower Budget accommodation:

Night 1&2: Tents Murchison River Lodge or Fort Murchison Lodge or Red Chilli Rest Camp

Night 3 & 4:  Tents at Kibale Forest Camp or Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Night 5& 6: Tents at Bush Lodge or Simba Safari camp or Pumba Cottages 

Nights 7& 8: Buhoma Community Restcamp or Rushaga Gorilla Camp  

Night 9&10: Kinigi Tourist Guesthouse or Muhabura Hotel

Inclusions

Included

  • All tour activities as indicated above
  • 1 gorilla permit per person in Uganda and 1 in Rwanda (you could opt for only one)
  • All chimps permits
  • All boat trip fees
  • Game drives
  • Accommodation in hotels (with breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
  • Sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary
  • Park fees
  • Entry fees
  • Private Ground transportation using a safari land cruiser with a lift-up roof
  • Bottled drinking mineral water

Excluded

  • Tips for drivers and other staff
  • Bank charges involved
  • Flight tickets and departure taxes
  • Travel documentation (visas)
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Optional excursion
  • Beverages other than mineral water in the vehicle

Book Confident

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