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 for today are at your own cost.
Day 2: Kibale Forest via Fort Portal
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 modest cottages, set privately in a quiet nook in the forest. 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.
Day 3: Chimpanzee Tracking & Swamp Walk
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!
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.
Day 4: To Queen Elizabeth NP
Scenic 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 animals and birds, 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.
Staying at Bush Lodge is, as its name suggests, a traditional bush camping experience, with some modern comforts. The safari tents have grass-thatched roofs and are scattered around the lush campsite. The interior is simple with raised beds and solar lighting and the shared bathroom and shower block is only a few steps way. At night you will be escorted around the grounds as the four-legged inhabitants of the park like to roam the lodge area too. The sounds of hippos and hyenas provide the perfect background music to your candlelit dinner under the stars.
If you wish to upgrade your stay at Bush Lodge, choose the self-contained safari tent or cottage for $40 per person per night.
||Bush Lodge - Lazy Camping
Day 5: Game drive and 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.
||Bush Lodge - lazy camping
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 program 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: Lake Bunyonyi
Bunyonyi means 'place of many little birds'. This beautiful lake, surrounded by steep terraced hillsides, contains 29 islands, many of which are inhabited. It is a magical place to wake up in, especially with the early morning mist lingering on the lake. At this time you will see school children paddling dugout canoes to school and farmers transporting their goods to the market place. Here you can fill your time swimming, hiking, bird watching, and taking boat rides to any of the islands on the lake. Lake Bunyoni is bilharzia, croc and hippo free so you can relax and enjoy its cool waters. There are also several cultural hikes that will teach you about the local people and their traditions and customs. Lake Bunyonyi is the perfect place for a bit of relaxation. The only chatter you will hear in this setting, is that coming from the numerous birds.
Optional upgrade : Mutanda Lake Resort
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 lodge’s veranda in time for sundowners.
This upgrade is optional on day 6 and 7 at an additional cost of USD 60 per person per night sharing a twin/double room. Please note that when you choose this accommodation upgrade, you will be staying at Lake Mutanda rather than Lake Bunyonyi.
Day 7: Gorilla Trekking in 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 live in the park.
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.
||1 - 1,5 h each way
||Crater Bay Cottages
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8: Back to Kampala/Entebbe
You will set off early today to make the long drive back to Entebbe Airport or Kampala. Along the way we will stop at the equator for some souvenir shopping. It is possible to connect with an international flight tonight, but the earliest departure must be at 10pm. It will be a bit tight however, so we do recommend having an additional night in Entebbe. In case you wish us to include one (or more) nights in Entebbe and/or Kampala, please let us know.
||9 hours to Kampala / 10 hours to Entebbe
Optional departure routes:
There is more than one way to get home! Discuss your preferred option and the additional costs involved with your personal Travel Consultant.
Kigali International Airport in Rwanda is only 3h hours from Lake Bunyonyi and 4 hours away from Lake Mutanda. This option give you a much shorter drive time on this day, allowing some extra time at the lodge in the morning or time to explore Kigali. Ask your Travel Consultant for more information about this option and how to apply for your East African Visa (allowing multiple entries to both Uganda and Rwanda). Accommodation and activities in Kigali can be added at an additional cost.
Domestic flights from Kisoro to Entebbe operate on a daily basis and take about 2-3 hours, depending on the routing and number of stops. Contact your Travel Consultant for details and prices.
- Drive to Entebbe via Lake Mburo
If you add a day to the program you can stop over in the beautiful Lake Mburo National Park, which is located about half-way between Bwindi Forest and Entebbe. With activities like bush walks, mountain biking and night game drives this is the perfect extension for those who don’t want their safari to end.
Click here, for the rates of this tour.
Did we hit all the items on your travel bucket list for Uganda?
If not, don’t worry. We specialize in tailor-made tours and can customize this program to create your dream trip. Get in touch with your personal Travel Consultant to create your personalized program.
Don't want the fun to end?
Why not combine this tour with a beach holiday in Zanzibar or spend a few days in the tropical paradise that is the Kenyan coast? We take care of everything from flights to transfers and accommodation so that you can relax and enjoy your holiday. Explore our other destinations or speak with your personal Travel Consultant for some expert advice on suitable combinations.