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Day by Day

13-day Uganda & Tanzania – Comfort

Primates & the big 5

Comfort
Highlights

Offering the best highlights from both Uganda and Tanzania, this combination tour will take you on tracking adventures to see both the chimpanzees and gorillas in the Pearl of Africa, before flying to Tanzania to explore the best national parks on the northern circuit. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Chimpanzees & Gorillas
  • Serengeti & Ngorongoro 
  • Spot the big 5! 
Customer score:
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Day 1: Welcome to Uganda!

Arriving to a new and foreign place can be overwhelming. All your senses are operating in overdrive as you take in the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells of your new surroundings. This is certainly the case for a first visit to Uganda. Your driver from the guesthouse will be at the airport to welcome you and expertly navigate you through the lively traffic, while you can lean back and watch your new world go by. If this is your first time traveling to Africa, you will never forget your first acquaintance with her.

The drive to your accommodation is no longer than 20 minutes. Along the way you will catch a glimpse of the shimmering waters of Lake Victoria on your right, see several matatus and boda bodas (local 4-wheel and 2-wheel taxis) weave daringly through traffic, smartly dressed residents in colorful fabrics negotiating the pot-holed streets, food stalls serving delicious Rolex and wooden carts heavily laden with our favorite staple food, the Matoke.   

If time allows, you are free to explore the town today. There are many activities in Entebbe that are easily organized through the reception of your guesthouse, for example a visit to the Botanical gardens or the Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). Please note, all activities and extra transportation today are at your own cost.

Journey Time 20 minutes
Accommodation Papyrus Guesthouse
Meal Plan No meals inclusive

Day 2: Kibale Forest

Your journey to Kibale Forest is incredibly scenic, taking you through tea plantations, lively village markets and over rolling hills of lush green countryside that is so characteristic of western Uganda.

Kibale Forest National Park itself is an extensive tract of dense tropical rainforest located just south of the town Fort Portal. The various ecosystems in this space are reputed to harbor the highest density of primates in all of Africa. The rare red colobus monkey as well as the black-and-white colobus are just some of the primates you may encounter on your forest walks here. The highlight of a trip to Kibale Forest is of course to spend some time observing the wonderfully entertaining chimpanzees.

 

Your lodge for the next two nights offers a unique jungle experience near the boundaries of the park. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature in one of the property’s beautifully decorated cottages, each set in a private nook in the forest. The rooms are spacious and have large terraces from where you can watch the activities of the forest inhabitants. The main lodge building offers stunning views of the forest canopy below and on a clear day you can see all the way to the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.

Journey Time 5 hours
Accommodation Turaco Treetops
Meal Plan Breakfast and dinner
 
 

Day 3: Chimpanzee Trekking

No other animal reminds us so much of ourselves as the chimpanzee. Besides many common features and mannerisms, chimpanzees also share 98% of our human DNA, making them our closest living relatives. It is not so surprising then that we find the habits and biology of these primates so fascinating to study.

While chimpanzees can be found in 21 countries throughout Africa, they are most easily sighted in Uganda due to the high concentration of the species here. On a Chimpanzee Tracking experience in Kibale Forest you will have the opportunity to follow an experienced guide into the forest to observe these fascinating creatures at a close range. Watching them interact with each other and go about their daily routine of grooming, playing and foraging is an incredible experience.

While your chances of encountering chimpanzees are high during your tracking excursion, it is never 100% guaranteed. These are, after all, wild animals with wills and minds of their own!

After socializing with the chimps you will be invited to engage in the human custom of a hot lunch. Served by local residents you will learn about the traditional cuisine of the region and its preparation. This meal will offer a nice insight into the local culture, as well as giving a real taste of Uganda!

 

In the afternoon you can choose whether you would like to spend more time with the local communities and learn more about their day-to-day lives on a Community Walk or go deeper into the forest on a Swamp Walk in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is home to 8 primate species, over 200 bird species, butterflies and various reptiles. For bird lovers the highlight of the afternoon is spotting the beautiful great blue turaco.

Both the Community Walk and Swamp Walk are operated by KAFRED, a registered community-based organization. The income from the walk is used for community development projects such as schools and hospitals.

Please let your Matoke Tours Travel Consultant know which walk you prefer at the time of booking.

Journey Time 15 minutes each way
Accommodation Turaco Treetops
Meal Plan Breakfast and dinner

Day 4: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most visited game reserve and arguably the most scenic. The national park protects the vast savannah plains, bushland, wetlands and forests that lie at the base of the Rwenzori mountain range. Kazinga Channel, which flows through the park and connects Lake George in the east to Lake Edward in the west, attracts a rich array of birds and animals, including the infamous Nile crocodile and one of the world’s largest concentration of hippos. On your first game drive you will explore the park along a 200 kilometre network of well-maintained game viewing tracks.

Journey Time 3½ hours
Accommodation Marafiki Safari Lodge
Meal Plan Breakfast and dinner
 
 

Day 5: Park Game Drive & Boat Safari

Safari breakfasts are traditionally served before the day breaks so that you can start your morning game drive as the sun comes up. Sunrise is the best time for wildlife spotting as animals tend to be the most active during the “golden hours”, when the first rays of sunshine come to rest on the savannah. Elephants, buffalo and several species of antelope are some of the characters you may come across today, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a lion or leopard. 

 

Later in the day when the sun is high in the sky and the animals make their way to the river for a drink, we will head to Kazinga Channel for an exciting boat safari. You will spot more hippos today than you can possibly imagine. Herds of elephants and buffalo will also wander down to the shoreline to bathe in the cooling waters. A boat safari is a fantastic way to get close to wildlife and for many visitors the boat safari is the highlight of their visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park.  

   
Accommodation Marafiki Safari lodge
Meal Plan Breakfast and dinner
 

Join a research team and track the majestic lions of QENP

For visitors who yearn to get a closer look at African wildlife, while contributing to an important conservation initiative at the same time, a Lion Tracking research trip can be a rewarding adventure. This unique experience allows visitors to join a research team who track and monitor some of lions in the park though locator devices. The data collected will further the conservation program, while you get a unique and intimate insight into the lives and habits of these fascinating predators.   

The additional cost for this optional activity is USD 100 per person

 

 

Do you want to explore the Valley of the Apes?

If you find safaris to be a bit too sedentary for your taste, then a hike in the Kyambura Gorge is what you need to get your heart rate up. This stunning geological feature is known as “the Valley of Apes” and is another world unto itself. The view from the top is incredibly impressive with a deep sunken gorge covered in lush tropical vegetation. As its nick-name reveals, the gorge is home to several primate species including chimpanzees, the red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys. You will also see your fair share of colorful bird species. While the chances of spotting chimpanzees are not as high here as in Kibale Forest or Budongo Forest, this landscape is among the most impressive in Uganda and absolutely worth visiting.

The additional cost for this optional activity is USD 50 per person

 

Day 6: To Lake Mutanda

Your journey today will continue south-west toward Kisoro, a bustling town to the south of Bwindi Forest, near the borders to Rwanda and Congo. This is one of our favorite drives in Uganda. The serpentine roads wind through lush rainforests, skirting hill tops (keep your eyes open for the volcanos!) and dipping into lively villages in the valley before arriving to the serene waters of Lake Mutanda.

Offering some of the best views in Uganda, Mutanda Lake Resort is perched on a peninsula overlooking a series of small islands scattered across the water and the volcanoes from the Virunga Range rising out of the mist in the distance.

 

Gorilla Tracking is the main highlight of a visit to the southern parts of Bwindi Forest, but you are also in the perfect place for volcano hikes, birding, nature and culture walks and canoe and paddle board excursions. The sunset scenes are unforgettable so make sure to find your way to the veranda in time for sundowners.

Journey Time 8 hours
Accommodation Mutanda Lake Resort
Meal Plan

Breakfast and dinner

 

Optional upgrade: Luxury Cottage

The spacious Luxury Cottages at Mutanda Lake Resort boast the best views of the lake and the volcanoes. From the comfort of your private veranda you can enjoy the seclusion and tranquility of this beautiful spot on the lake.

Optional on day 6 and 7 at an additional cost of USD 40 per person per night.

 
 

Day 7: Gorilla Tracking

Encountering the rare and endangered Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an experience of a lifetime.

Half of the world’s population of gorillas live under the mist-covered canopies of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest. In the company of an experienced park ranger you will be tracking the whereabouts of one of the nine habituated family groups who reside here. 

Your tracking experience will be an exciting, yet challenging, journey along forested (often muddy and slippery) slopes, tangled vines, thick vegetation and bamboo forests before you reach the territory of these gentle giants. En-route, your ranger will point out telltale signs of previous gorilla activity like dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. Depending on the location of the gorillas on any given day the walk can take anything from 2 to 7 hours. Once the family of gorillas has been located, settle in to your surroundings and enjoy the hour you have to quietly observe these fascinating primates whose habits and mannerisms remind us so much of our own.

 

Encountering the mountain gorillas in the wild is a truly humbling and emotional experience, one that you are sure to remember for the rest of your life.

Journey Time 1 - 1,5 h each way
Accommodation Mutanda Lake Resort
Meal Plan

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8: Travel to Kigali & flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (Tanzania)

Enjoy your last sunrise in this beautiful corner of Uganda and take a rejuvenating swim in the lake before a hearty Mutanda breakfast. The morning is yours to enjoy as you wish. 

A representative from Mutanda Lake Resort will drive you back across the border to Rwanda and drop you off at Kigali International Airport 3 hours before your evening flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. 

Departure: 7.20 PM
Arrival: 11.50 PM

Journey Time:

4-5 hrs drive to Kigali
Flight to JRO
45 min transfer to Arusha

Accommodation: African View Lodge
Meal Plan: Breakfast 
 

Tours departing between January and May or in November and December, will visit Lake Manyara N.P. on Day 9.

Day 9A: Lake Manyara National Park (Jan-May & Nov-Dec)

One of the very many wonderful things about Tanzania is its friendly people. And today you will experience their warmth and hospitality on a cultural visit to Mto Wa Mbu. Mto wa Mbu is a town wedged between Lake Manyara National Park and the impressive Rift Valley escarpment. Besides being the gateway to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti this lively town is home to a farming community of around 18,000 people, representing nearly 120 different Tanzanian tribes.

On a village walk you will discover the very social side of rural life in Tanzania; from the small farms to schools, markets and churches. You will observe the Makonde tribe’s intricate wood carving and tribal painting techniques and learn how the Chagga tribe brew their “Mbege”, a traditional banana and millet beer.

Your walk will end in a shaded spot under a cluster of banana trees where the very talented Miss Bibi will cook you a delicious Swahili meal. You are very welcome to walk around to the open-air kitchen area and see how the local dishes are prepared.

Want to swap the village walk for a Mountain Bike tour?

On this guided two-wheel journey you will pass through banana plantations, rice fields and busy market streets. One of the highlights of the tour is reaching the sparkling shores of Lake Manyara.

 

In the afternoon you will have time to explore Lake Manyara National Park. The park is smaller than most of Tanzania’s parks in the northern circuit, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in content. The park is host to 11 ecosystems, ranging from savannah to marshland and the only evergreen rainforest in Tanzania. In the forest you can find large troops of baboons, elephants and if you’re lucky, the famous tree-climbing lions! In the shallow alkaline lake you will see hundreds of flamingos in the dry seasons, as well as pelicans and other water birds. The park is a favorite spot among bird lovers who come to observe over 300 species of migratory birds passing through this place each year. The grassy shores are perfect grazing grounds for buffalo, zebra, herds of wildebeest and giraffes.

Journey time 2 hours
Accommodation Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, Local Lunch & Dinner
 
 

Want to go on a bush walk?

The park is a completely different place when you are removed from the constraints of a safari vehicle. Your senses are aware of every sound and movement in the bush and you see things at ground level that you would otherwise miss. With an experienced guide you will also learn a lot about the inhabitants of the park from the incredible social structures of the termite mounds to identifying the droppings of a giraffe. You can choose to do this walk instead of a game drive this afternoon, or save it for the early morning of Day 3, before heading to the Serengeti.

This activity is optional at an additional cost of USD 55 per person.

 

Tours departing between June and October will visit Tarangire N.P. on Day 9.

Day 9B: Tarangire National Park (June-October)

Tarangire National Park is an incredibly scenic park, well-known for its gigantic baobab trees and its large herds of elephants. Due to the large concentration of wildlife (second only to the Serengeti) the park has earned its nick-name “little Serengeti”.

During the dry season you may find leopard, zebra, impala, warthog, eland, buffalo, waterbuck and lion coming down to the banks of Tarangire River for a cooling drink. Bird enthusiasts will also be kept busy here with over 500 different bird species to look out for.

Your guide will stop at a nice picnic spot where you can enjoy your packed lunch in the still nature around you.

Journey time 3 hours
Accommodation Sangaiwe Tented Lodge
Meal Plan Breakfast, Packed Lunch & Dinner
 
 

Day 10: Serengeti National Park

A trip to Tanzania is not complete without visiting one of the most iconic safari destinations in the world; the Serengeti National Park.

Serengeti means "endless plains" in the language of the Maasai, a description that the park more than lives up to. Spanning over 14.000 sq km, this park hosts the most extensive population of wild animals on earth. It is here that wildebeest and zebra migrate in herds millions strong, following the ancient rhythms of Africa’s seasonal changes. This is one of the most impressive natural events in the world.

No matter which part of the park you visit or whether you want to experience the migration or not, very few people forget their very first encounter with the Serengeti.

Journey time 2-3 hours to park gates
Mid-range accommodation Serengeti Tortilis Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, Packed Lunch & Dinner
      

Day 11: Full day game drive in Serengeti NP

Today is all about the Serengeti. You can decide to go on a full-day safari with a picnic lunch in the park or head out just before daybreak to experience a safari at sunrise. Few predators hunt during the heat of the day, so the early morning is the best time to observe the thrill of the chase. It is also a magical time in the Serengeti, with soft light dappling the landscape, birds awakening and the sense of adventure beginning to unfurl. With a sunrise safari you will return back to your accommodation for brunch and head out on safari again in the early afternoon.

On your safari today you will be exploring the heart of the Serengeti, Seronera Valley. The area is known for its high concentration of big cats like lions, leopards and cheetahs, but you will also see a whole range of wild animals roaming these grassy plains; from the skittish zebra to the naughty mongoose.

Back at camp you can recount your safari tales around the camp fire to the songs of nature around you.

Mid-range accommodation Serengeti Tortilis Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
      

 

 

 

Want to dine under the stars on a private Bush Dinner?

You’ve never seen a starry sky as spectacular as on the African plains. To fully appreciate the celestial landscape why not opt for a bush dinner instead of dining at the camp? In this intimate setting you and your travel companions will be dining in a secluded place, away from the main camp, while being serenaded by the inhabitants of the park all around you. Your attentive staff will make sure you are not disturbed by any unexpected visitors. Prices vary from lodge to lodge. Please ask your Travel Consultant for more details.

 

Want to go on a Hot Air Balloon Safari?

Serengeti National Park may be the most beautiful spot in the world for a balloon flight. There are no power lines, fences and few roads. Just enchanting scenery all around you. A hot air balloon safari launches in the early morning, just in time for sunrise. For about one hour you will be floating peacefully above the ground, hopefully seeing some animals not too far below. The capacity for this activity is limited making this a very special and exclusive experience. You will end your flight in style with a champagne bush breakfast in the middle of the park! Please note that this activity is weather dependent and may need to be rescheduled due to poor weather.

The additional cost for this optional activity is USD 500 per person.

 

 

 
 

Day 12: Game drives in Serengeti NP and the Ngorongoro Crater

An en-route game drive will take you out from the flat grassy plains of the Serengeti to the rugged forested hills of the Ngorongoro Highlands, passing picturesque Masai villages along the way. Your destination today is the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the top highlights of a trip to northern Tanzania.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a unique biosphere which has remained virtually unchanged since the dawn of time. The crater is the most densely populated wildlife area in the world, with an estimated 25,000 animals roaming the grassy crater floor.

Deep within the crater, enclosed by towering walls, you have a good chance of spotting ‘The Big 5’: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Depending on the time of year, you may also see flocks of pink flamingos around the shores of the shallow Lake Magadi, while the surrounding swamp area is inhabited by large pods of hippos.

 

Journey time 4 hours
Mid-range accommodation Country Lodge Karatu
Meal Plan Breakfast, Packed Lunch & Dinner
 

Add an extra day to explore the Ngorongoro Highlands on foot!

The best way to experience the Ngorongoro highlands is no doubt on foot. Its diverse landscapes of elevated volcanoes and craters, lush forests and vast grassy plains offers spectacular views for those walking through the area. Besides beautiful scenery, hikers will get a glimpse into the life of the Maasai people who inhabit these highlands and learn how they coexist with the nature and wildlife around them. There are several hikes available in the region, from easy jaunts to challenging treks up to the surrounding peaks. Let your Travel Consultant know your fitness level and duration preference when you book this activity.

Day 13: To Kilimanjaro International Airport

Enjoy your last African sunrise in this spectacular country before you return home. Depending on the time of your departure flight you may have time for some activities in Arusha as you pass through on your way to the airport. Speak to your Travel Consultant for some suitable options. All activities today are at your own expense.

Your guide will arrange your transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport well before your departure time.

Journey time 4 hours
Accommodation Not included
Meal plan Breakfast

 

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13-day Uganda & Tanzania – Comfort
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