Day 1: Welcome to Uganda!
Arriving to a new and foreign place can be over-whelming. All your senses are working on overdrive as they take in the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells of your new surroundings. This is certainly the case for a visit to Uganda! Your Matoke Tours guide will be at the airport to welcome you and expertly navigate you through the lively traffic to your guesthouse, while you can lean back and watch your new world go by.
For those already living in Uganda the tour will start from the guesthouse in Entebbe, so make your way over there at your leisure in the afternoon.
Lake Victoria View Guesthouse sits on a hill with views of its name-sake, Lake Victoria. The lodge is owned and managed by five Ugandan women.
You will be staying in simple traditional style African bomas (round-shaped cottages). This accommodation is basic, but supports one of few female-led lodges in Uganda.
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). All activities today are at your own cost.
||Lake Victoria View Guesthouse
||No meals included today
Day 2: Boat Cruise on Lake Victoria & Kibale Forest
Get to know your fellow travelers today on a mimosa breakfast boat cruise to see the sun rise over Lake Victoria. The 3rd largest lake in the world is well-known internationally as the famous source of the Nile. Locally she called Nnalubaale and her vast resources support the economies of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Your safari van will be waiting for your return at the jetty in Entebbe to take you to Kibale Forest National Park. The journey 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.
The 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 and you will get an opportunity to meet some of them tomorrow.
Your lodge for the next two nights offers a unique jungle experience near the border 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 area 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.
||Breakfast & Dinner
Day 3: Kibale Forest NP & Queen Elizabeth NP
You have the freedom to choose your morning activity today. A visit to our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, is high on most people’s list. On a Chimpanzee Tracking experience in Kibale Forest you will have the opportunity to follow an experienced guide into the forest to locate and observe these fascinating primates 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!
Chimpanzee Tracking Permit: USD 150 per person
There are other primates to observe in Kibale Forest besides the chimpanzees. On a guided walk through Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary you may encounter the rare red colobus monkey and the black and white colobus as well as several bird and butterfly species. Should you prefer to spend some time with the local communities, opt for the community walk instead and get an insight into the daily lives of the people who live here.
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.
Swamp Walk or Community Walk in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary: USD 25 per person
The activities in Kibale Forest this morning are optional and at an additional cost. We want you to have the freedom to choose the activity that interests you the most. Should you crave a lazy morning at the lodge, that is ok too!
Please let your Matoke Tours Travel Consultant know which activity you prefer at the time of booking.
In the afternoon we will gather up the troops and drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth NP 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 connects Lake Edward and Lake George on either side of the park, attracts a rich array of animals and birds, including the infamous Nile crocodile and one of the world’s largest concentrations of hippos. On your game drive you will explore the park along a 200 kilometre network of well-maintained game viewing tracks.
A female ranger will accompany you on your safari. Besides being able to tell you all about the park and its inhabitants you will have the opportunity to get a unique insight into the life of a female park ranger, what her work entails and the challenges she faces in her role.
Day 4: Lion Tracking & Boat Safari on Kazinga Channel
Today you will be supporting an important conservation program close to our heart. The Uganda Carnivore Program is dedicated to monitoring, researching, and protecting the predators in the parks of Uganda and encouraging co-existence between wildlife and humans through community-based wildlife conservation initiatives.
On this unique lion tracking activity, you will join a team of researchers from the program as they head into the bush to monitor some of the lions in the park, using GPS tracking 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.
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 for a drink and a bath 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.
||Ihamba Safari Lodge
||Breakfast & Dinner
Day 5: Bwindi Forest & Meet Ride 4 A Woman
You will leave the savannah today and head south to higher elevations in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In the afternoon you will meet the communities who live in the outskirts of Bwindi Forest and get an opportunity to support the locally founded and managed women’s empowerment initiative, Ride 4 A Woman. The organisation was founded to support local women struggling with issues associated with HIV, domestic violence and poverty. At the Ride 4 A Woman community center women learn new skills like sewing and basket weaving and through the organisation’s microfinance scheme they are given the opportunity to help themselves make a better living form themselves and their families.
Join the women as they go about their daily lives today and learn from them how to weave baskets, sew with traditional fabrics and cook local dishes. Through several optional activities you will get a unique Ugandan cultural experience while supporting this important initiative.
Your accommodation for the night is basic but managed by the community. Sustainable tourism is important for us at Matoke Tours and where we can we like to support inclusive community-based tourism initiatives. The revenue that the camp makes from your stay will be used to support local community projects like schools, water and agriculture programs. Should you want to upgrade to more comfortable lodgings, we offer an upgrade to nearby Engagi Lodge for USD 85 per person per night on a shared twin/double room basis.
Bwindi Community Rest Camp
||Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6: Ride 4 A Woman & Drive To Lake Mutanda
In the morning you will get another opportunity to meet more of the women from Ride 4 A Woman and learn how they have benefited from the organisation’s microfinance scheme. Getting access to financing can be very difficult in Uganda, but with a small loan from Ride 4 A Women 101 women have been able to start up small businesses and livelihoods like shops, market stalls, purchase livestock and sewing machines etc. On a guided morning walk through the community you will meet some of these female business owners and learn more about their experience.
Around mid-day you will continue your jouney south-west toward one of Uganda’s best kept secrets, the beautiful Lake Mutanda.
Offering some of the best views in the country, 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 these parts, 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.
Day 7: Free Day Exploring Bwindi Forest
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 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.
Gorilla Tracking Permit: USD 600 per person
We appreciate that gorilla tracking is a bit of a financial investment, as well as a physically challenging activity. Should you prefer to do something else today there are many enjoyable activities on offer at the lodge, like stand-up paddle boarding, traditional canoeing, village walks etc. We highly recommend taking a guided nature & culture walk to explore the myths, legends and natural beauty of the Rubuguri hills as well as learn about the livelihoods of the communities who live there.
On this walk you will be guided by Agatha, who is extremely knowledgeable about the traditional ways of life and cultures in the region. She is currently the only female guide working with the Bwindi Specialist Guides, an initiative set up to promote local economic development through inclusive community-based tourism.
Nature & Culture Walk: USD 35 per person (plus transportation costs depending on group size)
||Up to 1h30 to tracking start point
||Mutanda Lake Resort
||Breakfast, Packed Lunch & Dinner
Day 8: Drive to Kigali - Lamu Extension
Enjoy your last sunrise in this beautiful corner of Uganda and take a rejuvenating swim in the lake before tucking in to a hearty Mutanda breakfast.
Your guide will drive you across the border to Rwanda and drop you off at Kigali International Airport 3 hours before your departure time. Please make sure your flight departure is after 4 pm at the very earliest. For flights departing before 4 pm you will need an extra night in Kigali, which we can help arrange for you at an additional cost.
||No accommodation included today
Do you want to extend your trip in Africa?
We can arrange any number of activities for you in Uganda, Rwanda or further afield. Have a look at our destinations and tours and get in touch with one or our Travel Consultants for more information about suitable options.
Should you want to add on a beach and yoga retreat to your trip, the Traveling Sisterhood Safaris has a special extension package arranged for you. This tour includes flights, accommodation for 4 nights and registration to the international yoga festival in Lamu, Kenya. Learn more about this option below.
Lamu Yoga Festival & Beach Extensions
With miles of empty beaches, warm tropical climate, interesting history, delicious Swahili cuisine, car free roads and rich culture, the Muslim island of Lamu sticks out among the many beach retreats along the Kenyan coast.
The Lamu Yoga Festival is an annual 5-day event arranged in the incredibly charming town of Shela. The festival attracts 25 teachers, guiding students of all levels in 150 yoga classes, meditations and workshops over the course of the event. You can read more about the festival and class program here. Our Lamu Yoga Extension package includes an intercontinental flight from Kigali, accommodation for 4 nights and registration to the international yoga festival. Please note that the Lamu Yoga Extension is subject to availability.
Should you want to ditch the yoga retreat and Corpse Pose your way through the remaining days of your holiday that is perfectly fine too, you deserve it. Let your Travel Consultant know you want the “Beach Package” instead. There are plenty of excursions to keep you busy here from visits to Lamu Old Town, the oldest Swahili settlement in East Africa (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), to kitesurfing and sunset dhow sails.
Contact us for quotes on the Lamu Yoga & Beach extensions: firstname.lastname@example.org