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11 Days/10 Nights – Magical Primate & Wildlife Safari In Uganda

Overview

The 11 days safari starts with clients flying to Murchison falls from Entebbe International airport to visit the mighty and thunderous falls and after their 3 days stay, clients proceed to Kibale Forest National park in search for the friendly chimpanzees and after the 2 days stay in Kibale, clients drive to Queen Elizabeth National park –the famous home for the kings of the jungle for 2 nights. Clients depart Queen Elizabeth through the savanna plains to the dense forest canopy hosting the African giants for 3 days before returning to Entebbe for their international departure flight.

Summarized Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at the Entebbe International airport and connect with your scheduled flight to Murchison falls national park. Meet your safari guide and drive to your accommodation with an enroute game drive.

Day 2: Morning Game drive. Afternoon scheduled bottom of the falls Launch cruise.

Day 3: Morning chimp trekking in Budongo Forest. Afternoon Game drive and visit to the top of the falls.

Day 4: Drive to Kibale Forest. Drive time is 6-7 hours

Day 5: Morning chimp trekking. Afternoon Bigodi swamp walk.

Day 6: Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, drive time is 2 – 3 hour. Visit the Katwe salt mines and afternoon game drive.

Day 7: Early morning Experiential Lion tracking. Afternoon scheduled kazinga channel boat cruise.

Day 8: Drive to Bwindi Forest. Drive time is 5 -6 hours.

Day 9: Gorilla trekking

Day 10: Second Gorilla trekking

Day 11: Transfer to Kihihi Airstrip for your scheduled flight back to Entebbe. End of services.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Entebbe International airport and connect with your scheduled flight to Murchison falls national park. Meet your safari guide and drive to your accommodation with an en-route game drive.

The domestic flight to Murchison falls is normally an afternoon flight departing at 1200hrs. For clients that arrive earlier than that time, might need to hang around the airport or come out of the airport and have a short tour around Entebbe.
Clients depart Entebbe to either Pakuba or Bugungu airstrip and both are found inside the park so clients enjoy an enroute game drive as they head to their accommodations.

Murchison falls is one of the most popular parks in Uganda, it being the largest and the oldest park among the ten national parks attracts a large number of tourist due to its rich bio diversity. Murchison Falls National Park formerly renowned as Kabelega national park is found in the North end of the Albertine Rift Valley where it has existed since 1926 when it was first gazetted as wildlife reserve. It is a home to a variety of wildlife including 76 mammal species, over 451 bird species in the greenery of the savanna plains covering the entire park.

The park is famous for the thunderous waterfall formed due to the bisection of Victoria Nile. The rapid falls thrust down 45 meters of the prominent rift valley walls through the 7 meter gorge to join the calm waters of river Nile stretching for 80km before joining Lake Albert. The 80km stretch of the river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife sightings and views along its banks including elephants, giraffes and buffaloes while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
 
Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.
Luxury – Nile Safari Lodge
Nile safari lodge is found inside the park at the outskirts of River Nile. The lodge has 3 room types namely the deluxe Banda, exclusive Banda, and the family villa perfect for bigger groups or a couple and their children. All rooms have Bidet, Mini-Fridge, Bathtub, Monsoon Shower, Ceiling Fans, Outdoor Shower, Day Bed, Telephone, Deck, Wifi, En-suite toilet, Yoga Mats, and Safe, among others.

There is also a star bed for your relaxation as you face the waters and take in fresh air, especially for clients booked in the exclusive Banda but also all rooms have access to a private swimming pool that caters for both children and adults.
Enjoy the warmth and exceptional care from the staff plus a massage on the peaceful floating Dhow (boat) known as Lala Salama on the river
 
Mid-range – Pakuba Safari Lodge
Pakuba Safari Lodge is located inside Murchison Falls National Park and it is a mid-range accommodation but very beautiful and comfortable with the clear and perfect views of Savannah grasslands. You have many opportunities for sighting wildlife for instance birds and animals right from your room veranda or at the lodge. The staff are so hospitable and exceptional and surely so many clients enjoy a pleasant stay at Pakuba safari lodge. The Lodge is also just 30 minutes away from the boat jetty making it easier to access so many water activities like fishing, delta cruise, the bottom of the falls boat cruise, bird watching among others.
 
Budget – Bamboo village.
Bamboo village is 5 minutes away from the New Nile Bridge and Mubaku Gate of Murchison Falls. The facility has eight rooms constructed to offer a traditional homely feel to the guests from local materials such as the bamboo plant that is sighted in the compound. The rooms are well spaced and each room has a balcony and they are all ensuite, the rooms have running water 24 hours, king-sized beds with mosquito nets draping around.
Enjoy the reception from the staff that are super friendly and care to make you comfortable and receive high-quality services.

Day 2: Morning Game drive. Afternoon Scheduled Bottom of the Falls Launch Cruise.

A game drive around Murchison falls is one of the best ways to explore the park’s attractions which include the top game four including Lions, buffalo, hippo, Elephant and Leopard, Kob, Rothschild’s giraffe and Orbi, antelopes among others.

The park is divided into the Bugungu (South) and the Paraa section (North) but majority of the game is found along the Bulingi game track which stretches over 160 km offering a great chance of viewing plenty of wildlife including different bird species like Carmine Bee eater, Bar breasted Fire finch, Spur winged Geese, North Crombec and many more but also lots of game can be seen along the Victoria and Albert trails which are the best for viewing the water animals and birds like the hippo, crocodiles, alligators, monitor lizards among others.

A morning game drive creates a great chance to see animals while still in their habitats before dispersing away for the day’s hunt.
Return to the lodge for lunch and a relaxation before proceeding for your afternoon scheduled boat cruise to the bottom of the falls.

The three hours boat cruise to the bottom of the falls in Murchison falls can be done in the morning or afternoon from the jetty sailing downs to the Fajoa Gorge as a shared or exclusive activity.
The boat cruise stops at the point where the strong rapid falls from the top of the falls join the calm waters of the river offering you a full sight of the waters gushing from the gorge down the escarpment and clients could also get off the boat to hike to the top of the falls for a full encounter.

The boat trip also offers beautiful sightings of so many residents of the park along the shores of the river Nile like birds, the hippos, crocodiles, elephants as they feed, never can you miss out glimpsing at the buffaloes and antelopes.
Overnight and dinner at your accommodation.

Day 3: Morning chimp trekking in Budongo Forest. Afternoon Game drive and visit to the top of the falls.

Proceed for your morning chimp trek in Budongo forest after your breakfast. Budongo forest is one of Uganda’s conservation units located close to Murchison falls with the highest number of Mahogany and iron trees in East Africa. The forest is a home to over 900 habituated chimpanzees which makes it one of the best chimpanzee tracking locations in Uganda and it also a home to other species like 290 butterflies, 130 moths, and 465 tree species.

The day starts after your breakfast, you will drive to the starting point at Kaniyo Pabid for a briefing before proceeding for the excursion. The briefing lasts for about 15 minutes, listen to the rules and regulations from the ranger guides.
Proceed with your trek that normally lasts for over 3 hours or more basing on when you find the chimps. As you get closer to the chimps, you hear them hooting from a distance and this will need you to increase your speed so that we don’t miss out the chimps because they keep moving and going deeper into the forest.

So many people can’t hide their excitement upon the first sight of the chimps as they swing from one tree to the other, showing off different poses. It is normal to be scared when you first get close to the chimps but all this is long forgotten because the chimps are so welcoming.

Spend 1 hour with the chimps, taking photos while listening to the ranger giving you more information about the chimps like reproduction and mating periods, ways of living, feeding etc. After about an hour of remarkable experience with the chimps, exit the forest to the park for your certificate.

Return to the lodge for lunch and later head out for a game drive and a visit to the top of the falls.
The top of the falls is a popular destination, you can’t visit Murchison falls and not stop over at the great and mighty falls.  You might have glanced at the falls while on your boat cruise but this visit brings you on a very close encounter with the strong rapids.
Alternatively, the top of falls can be accessed by the boat from the bottom of the falls and clients hike up to the top. However, this is seasonal due to the high loads of water that sometimes cover up the hike trail from down the river. If the water is very high, clients will have to drive around to the Paraa side to access the top of the falls. You can choose to take this excursion on day 1 as you enter the park or on your last at Murchison falls as you depart the park.

After registration by the UWA ranger, you will lead down with your guide to the top of the falls the sound made by the falls as they thrust through the gorge is the first welcoming aspect later the sparkles off the falls will shower you wet cooling down your high body temperature from the hotness of Murchison Falls National park.

The falls are surrounded by the green canopy and big rocks, you have to be very cautious not to slide off the rocks. Possible natural sightings include: birds, caterpillars on the moist leaves, butterflies among others.
Dinner and overnight at your accommodation.

Day 4: Drive to Kibale Forest. Drive time is 6– 7 hours

Kibale forest national park is located in the western side of Uganda covering a total surface area of 766 square kilometers and the entire landscape is green, full of lush vegetation of trees, shrubs, ferns, grass among others and this has created a natural home for variety of wildlife like 13 primate species including chimpanzees, vervet, red-tailed, L’Hoest’s, blue monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabey, red colobus, black and white colobus, olive baboon, and over 335 bird species like the ducky crimson wing, black capped Apalis, blue headed sunbird, red faced woodland warbler and purple breasted sunbird among others and over 60 other kinds of mammals besides the primates like the bush pigs, elephants, duikers among others.

The park is the most accessible of all the Ugandan parks with only a 5 hours’ drive from Kampala and a must visit for a perfect trip of exploration and satisfaction.
 
Accommodation Options In and Around Kibale Forest National Park
Luxury – Primate Safari Lodge
Primate Lodge is found at the edge of Kibale Forest within 10 minutes’ walk from the UWA offices.
The lodge has 10 cottages with six doubles / four twins inclusive of 1 honeymoon cottage and all the rooms have similar amenities except a bathtub and a fireplace that is only found in the honeymoon cottages. All rooms have ensuite facilities and safes.
Enjoy the spa services inclusive of a massage after your trek and all kinds of drinks and delicious meals from the bar and restaurant.

There is no Wi-Fi in the cottages but you can freely access it from the main area lounge.
 
Mid-range – Turaco Lodge
Enjoy a unique experience in the forest canopy at Turaco Treetops with great views of the snow capped Rwenzori Mountains. Turaco Treetops named after the popular Great Blue Turaco bird is just at the edge of the green lush of vegetation that is the famous home to man’s shy cousins: the chimpanzees and plenty of other bird and monkey species like the black and white colobus. Enjoy a cozy stay in the semi luxury rooms with very comfortable beds with running water all day for a shower and the hospitality from the staff makes your stay amazing.
 
Budget – Kibale Forest Camp
Kibale forest camp has 12 self-contained cottages and four lazy camp rooms and the lodge can be traced after a 15 minutes’ drive from the Park’s gate and the headquarters. The lodge is surrounded by greenery with high chances of sighting the black and white Columbus from your room veranda or at the lounge.

Day 5: Morning Chimp Trekking. Afternoon Bigodi Swamp Walk.

The day starts after your breakfast before proceeding to the starting point for the Chimpanzee tracking. The drive to the park headquarters is for about 1 hour for lodges like Ndali lodge, Papaya lodge and only a 2 minutes’ walk for clients overnighting at primate lodge and abut 15mins drive from Turaco Safari Lodge.
 
Attend the briefing which lasts for about 15 minutes, listen to the rules and regulations from the ranger guides. Proceed with your trek that normally lasts for over 3 hours or more basing on when you find the chimps.
As you get closer to the chimps, you hear them hooting from a distance and this will need you to increase your speed so that we don’t miss out the chimps because they keep moving and going deeper into the forest.

 So many people can’t hide their excitement upon the first sight of the chimps as they swing from one tree to the other, showing off different poses. It is normal to be scared when you first get close to the chimps but all this is long forgotten because the chimps are so welcoming.

Spend 1 hour with the chimps as you take photos of the chimps as the ranger will give you more  information about the chimps like different families in Kibale forest, mating periods, ways of living, feeding etc.
After about an hour of remarkable experience with the chimps, exit the forest to the park for your certificate.
Return to the lodge for lunch and later head out for the Bigodi swamp walk.

Bigodi swamp walk is a project that was introduced by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) to conserve the wetland and also improve on the financial well being of the local population around the swamp.
The walk provides one of the best birding spot for a keen birder on the safari as well as a good sighting for some of the primates in Kibale forest like black and white colobus, red tailed Colobus etc
Overnight and diner at your accommodation.

Day 6: Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Drive time is 2 – 3 hours. Visit the Katwe salt mines and afternoon game drive.

The drive from Kibale Forest National park to Queen Elizabeth takes over 2 – 3 hours. Queen Elizabeth National park formerly renowned as Kazinga channel national park is stationed in the western arm of the rift valley and it is the second largest national park in Uganda spreading over 1978 square kilometers of land.

The park has been in existence since 1952 when it was gazetted as Kazinga channel national park, a name which was changed two years later to Queen Elizabeth national park so as to honor Queen Elizabeth ii of England’s visit to Uganda.

The park is famous for its rich eco system ranging from the wide savannah landscape with humid trees and acacia woodlands plus shrubs, crater lakes, Kazinga channel joining Lake Edward and Lake George, Maramagambo forest, wetlands that have made a perfect natural environment for over 95 mammals including the popular big five like the lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and 10 primate species and over 600 species of birds including the rare flamingos making Queen Elizabeth national park along the best birding sites in Uganda, opportunities of sighting reptiles.

Head out for the Katwe salts visit that is concluded with a game drive in the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lake Katwe located in the Mweya side of the park is popularly known for being a salt lake from which salt miners for ages have earned a living from mining the salt here. The visit to Lake Katwe gives the tourists a chance to learn about the salt mining and salt production from the experts in the local community, who take you through the entire process from the mining to the evaporation to the purification to the transportation to the markets among others.

Following the demarcated trails, embark on a game drive to search for the wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National park including 95 mammals including the popular big five like the lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and 10 primate species and over 600 species of birds including the rare flamingos making Queen Elizabeth national park along the best birding sites in Uganda, opportunities of sighting reptiles.
 
Accommodation options in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Luxury – Kyambura Gorge Lodge
Kyambura Gorge is located at the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park surrounded by the magnificent savannah grasslands with a backdrop view of Mountain Rwenzori and the recessed Kyambura Gorge.
The facility has its rooms divided into deluxe and standard bandas and all rooms offer breathtaking views of the natural life from all corners of your room.

At the site, there is a swimming pool and a spa for your refreshment and relaxation. All guests that stay at the lodge can participate in the Kyambura Gorge eco-tourism project on a complimentary basis.
 
Mid-range – Buffalo Safari Lodge
Buffalo Safari Lodge is situated on the Northern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park near Katunguru Bridge, a few minutes’ drive from the renowned Kazinga channel boat cruise along the Mbarara highway road.
The lodge has 17 rooms divided into standard and deluxe cottages accommodating a maximum of 20 guests. Buffalo safari lodge offers very scenic views of wildlife like buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, and many more and these are common residents of the lodge.

The lodge is ensuite with a very welcoming and hospitable staff who provide first-class services. Enjoy drinks from the fully stocked bar and restaurant with free internet access.
 
Budget – Bush Lodge
The bush lodge is bordered by the Kazinga channel offering the perfect sights of the animals as they roam around the park. The lodge has 12 bandas and 2 tents all en-suite, the lodges are designed to offer exclusivity as the rooms are distanced from one another facing the Kamera River. The rooms have running water all day, mosquito nets and king-sized beds.
For clients that are a bit more budget-restricted, the lodge has 10 non-self-contained tents that are joined to form sort of a block with shared showers and flushing toilets.

Day 7: Early morning Lion tracking. Afternoon scheduled Kazinga channel boat cruise.

In the Kasenyi plains located north of Queen Elizabeth National park, the Uganda wildlife Authority, has organized a cat family sustainable and conservation unit so that the cat lovers get enough information, fun, experience, and exploration at a closer range.

Queen Elizabeth National park is a home to about 250 large cats including the leopards and lions among others with the tree climbing lions found in the southern sector of the park.

The activity is run each day with a limit of over 50 tourists, and it is carried out in three phases: the morning, afternoon and at night. Lion tracking experience starts with meeting the researcher at the park headquarters for briefing about the dos and don’ts during the experience before proceeding to the savanna plains.

With the researcher in the vehicle, you head out to look for the predators, the researcher needs to track the movements of the animals which might lead him to drive off the demarcated trails some times and also use a radio collar.

Once the predators are sighted, the vehicle engine will be turned off so as not to scare away the animals, the researcher will provide you with full details about the cats’ lives and expect to learn a lot from this activity as it is a more of a research based activity. The data collected is used to better understand the lives and ways of the predators.

Tourists are able to monitor how the predators’ feed, behave, defend themselves, hunt for their prey and also watch how the juveniles play among others.

The boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth National park is done on Kazinga channel located in the Northern side of the park in the Mweya Peninsular either in the morning or afternoon. The channel stretching 40km length connects Lake Edward to Lake George.
 The 3 hours boat cruise on the Kazinga channel offers sights of wildlife resting along the shore of the channel like African buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles, and monitor lizards, numerous bird species like the flamingos, African skimmer, kingfishers, and fish eagles among others.

Day 8: Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Drive time is 5 -6 hours.

Bwindi National park is located in the south western region of Uganda stretching on 327 square kilometers of land which makes it one of the forests on a large expanse in East Africa with an ecosystem so rich in a variety of mammals, birds, trees, vegetation shrubs among others.

In the early 90s, Bwindi Forest was awarded a world Heritage site status after being converted to a national park from a forest reserve due to its broad diversity in nature with different animal life like Gorillas, monkeys, elephants, baboons among others, and the dense population of tree species, shrubs, vines, flowers on the forest terrain plus a group of 300 bird species not excluding the diverging insect species like butterflies that are over 200 species.

The beautiful forest is home to half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas habituated in both the north and the southern sectors of the park namely Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
 
Accommodations around Bwindi National Park
Luxury – Buhoma Lodge
 Buhoma Lodge has one of the best location for a Bwindi National Park visit, with it being one of the only two lodges situated inside the park, which makes it offer undisrupted views of the misty dense forest, and so many times the Gorillas are sighted on their occasional visit to the Lodge.

The lodge is a composition of 10 luxurious cottages constructed to portray the feel of a traditional Ugandan home and each cottage is well spaced from the other to offer an exclusive comfort and escape. The cottages are made out of wooden and sustainable materials that make them cozy and tranquil; each room has a large bed (6 by 6), with soothing beddings, bed lamp, and telephone to contact the reception. All rooms are ensuite with hot and cold water plus an eco-friendly flushing toilet, each room has in a robe and a dressing mirror plus a Hair dryer provided on request, also to mention a private verandah on each room where you can have a cup of tea or coffee after trekking.

All staff at Buhoma are always commendable for their warm welcome and attentiveness towards the clients, the food is on point with different menus every day from the professional chef, you can also enjoy your meal and drink from the dining area which has a direct view of the impenetrable forest,  enjoy a campfire in the evening as you chat away with a drink that can be accessed from the bar section and the elevated lounge is also a perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate at any time of the day with so many informative books available to read and understand more about the gorillas and the culture of Uganda.
 
Mid-range – Engagi Lodg
Engagi Lodge is located in Bwindi National park offering magnificent views of the forest canopy near the main road and just a few minutes from the park headquarters and the Munyaga River.
The eight rooms of the lodge were constructed to reflect the African beauty and setting, it is made out of raw materials like rocks and eucalyptus trees with each room ensuite and also having a private balcony for perfect views and refreshment of maybe tea or coffee.

The lodge has a 247 running water system for a shower and flushing the toilet, it uses hydroelectricity as a source of energy with solar energy as a backup.

Besides the rooms, the lodge has a main area with a sitting and dining room plus the bar section where you can always sit for refreshments and meals.
 
Budget – Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Just at the entrance of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you will find Buhoma community rest camp that was founded by the members of the surrounding parish, and all earnings are used to support community projects such as Buhoma community high and primary school among others.

The rest camp is just 4 minutes from the park headquarters making it well situated for clients interested in trekking Gorillas in the Buhoma Sector.

The rest camp has six well-furnished safari tents and 3 self-contained tents plus 3 non-self-contained tents, 6 dormitory-styled-like accommodations all constructed in the local African fashion. A camping site is also accessible for those who enjoy the closeness of nature.

Day 9: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Uganda.

Finally the long awaited day has come for you to face the gentle giants. The day begins with an early morning breakfast before you set off to UWA headquarters which is the starting and briefing point for the trek, don’t forget to carry your packed lunch as we are not sure of the time you will be coming out of the forest.

After your registration and briefing by the ranger guides, you will be assigned a family to trek and a guide to accompany you to the dense forest. Following the different trails, search for the gorillas and them being wild animals, they keep moving from place to another in the forest to look for food and construct nests therefore it is hard to predict their exact location in the greenery which makes the trekked distance a little longer and a bit of straining with the hikes up and down lasting for about 8 hours.

The pain and the strain is long forgotten once you have traced the gorillas, as they vigorously welcome you with the gigantic humming sound, as the babies try to hide in their parents and swing from one tree to the other and the mothers nurse the babies, the males are visible in the trees building nests for rest and an overnight and the sightings, the experience have a left never to forget memories, what a redeemable experience that is!

After your one hour of enjoyment with the gorillas, return to the park headquarters for your certificate, return to the lodge for an overnight and dinner.
 
Tips for trekking gorillas in Uganda
–       Wear fully covering clothes like long trousers and a full sleeved shirt
–       Wearing hiking boots and gaiters are important.
–       Carry along your cooler box with enough water like 3 liters of water or more and packed lunch.
–        Hand gloves to protect you from pricking of the thorns.
–       Hire a porter to carry your bag and act as your support when the terrain gets tough.
–       No flash light is allowed when taking photos of the gorillas.
Dinner and overnight at your accommodation.

Day 10: Second Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Uganda.

Dinner and overnight at your accommodation.

Day 11: Transfer to Kihihi Airstrip for your scheduled flight back to Entebbe. End of services.

Meet your guide and drive to Kihihi Airstrip for your domestic flight to Entebbe Airport. Drive time is approximately 2 hours.