Uganda

Known as the “Pearl of Africa” Uganda is where the East Africa savanna meets the West African rainforest.  It shares the highest mountain range in Africa, the Ruwenzori Range at 10,000 ft. with the DRC; and the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, with Tanzania.  Uganda is a good place to see primates and many tourists come here to trek the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park.  Tracking is more difficult than it is in Rwanda, but permit fees are less.  

Birders are drawn to see the 1,000 species that can be found in Uganda. Kampala is the capital, but the international airport is in Entebbe a short distance away on the shores of Lake Victoria.  Light aircraft transfers are the best way to get around.

Uganda Kenya Democratic Republic of the Congo Murchison FallsNational Park Rwenzori Mountains National Park Semliki National Park Kibale ForestNational Park Queen ElizabethNational Park Bwindi National Park Pian UpeGame Reserve BokoraWildlife Reserve Lake Victoria Lake Edward Lake George Lake Kyoga Lake Albert Nile Nile River Kampala ● Fort Portal ● Entebbe ● Kabale Mgahinga National Park
Uganda Highlights

Uganda Itineraries

Gorilla and chimp trekking combined with a cruise on the hippo-filled Kazinga Channel are included in our sample Uganda itineraries.   Touring local communities, tea plantations and hospitals are also available.  Combining Uganda with a Rwanda, Kenya or Tanzania safari is highly recommended.

Uganda & Rwanda Safari

Itinerary

Day 1
You will be met on arrival at Kigali International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may choose to do some city touring and visit the local market. Spend tonight at one of the downtown Kigali hotels. 
1 Night in Kigali

Day 2
This morning you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. After lunch you will be transferred to Ruhengeri, the headquarters for gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (PNV). Check in at one of our preferred lodges. 
3 Nights near Parc National des Volcans 

Day 3
This morning you will rise early for your first gorilla tracking adventure. You will be transferred to the park headquarters where you will meet with the local guides and trackers for trekking formalities and a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking. The trekking can take from one to five hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery along with the anticipation of our quest seem to lessen the trekking effort. Once you locate your assigned gorilla group, you will have one hour to spend with them before making your way back down. This afternoon you may want to relax or get a massage!

Day 4
Today you can choose to visit the golden monkeys or visit another gorilla family.  Other activities can be arranged including a visit to Imbabazi, the place where Rosamond Carr started an orphanage on her flower plantation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Today it is a historical plantation, cultural landmark and non-profit organization with many projects.  You can have lunch or tea in the garden and enjoy dance performances. Or hikers may want to trek to Dian Fossey's grave.

Day 5
You will leave early this morning for Uganda.  After you cross the border, you will be taken to the Kisoro Airstrip to board your flight to Kasese.  You will be met on arrival and transferred to your lodge. 
3 Nights near Kyambura Gorge

Day 6
You will take an early morning game drive looking for lions and herds of Uganda kob. The Mweya peninsula is one of the best places to look for leopard.  Later you will be taken to visit some community projects such as a coffee co-op, bee-keeping program, and a reclaimed wetland tour.

Day 7
The Kyambura Gorge is an extraordinary natural environment and forms a stark contrast to the surrounding grasslands. Here you can track one of our closest animal relatives: the chimpanzee. The chimp population is quite mobile and viewing can be unpredictable but the walk is enchanting.

In the afternoon take a cruise on the Kazinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George. Kazinga is home to one of the greatest concentration of hippo in Africa and herds of elephant, buffalo and other animals come to drink at the waters edge. The channel is a magnet for water birds, with great flocks of pelicans and others on the shore. This is a great spot to see African fish eagle.

Day 8
Today you will be transferred to the Kasese Airstrip to catch your flight to Entebbe and connect to your onward flight.

Private Departures:
Contact us to custom-tailor this itinerary for you.

Reservations:
- Please plan in advance for any itinerary which includes gorilla tracking. Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately.

Fitness Required: 
Gorilla tracking is only suitable for travelers who are in good physical condition. You will not be trekking at a fast pace, however you must be able to keep going (with rest breaks) uphill for at least a few hours. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. 

Age Limits:
The minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years old.  

Uganda Highlights Safari

Itinerary

Day 1 
You will be met on arrival at Entebbe International Airport and assisted to your domestic flight to Kasese.  Flying time is approximately two hours.  Your guide will be waiting for you.  Your transfer to the lodge will take about two hours by road.  Once you’ve gotten settled in you can enjoy the pool or take a guided hike to the banana and vanilla plantations in the area.  The lodge has views of the ancient volcanic landscape, the Bunyaruguru Crater Lake and the Rwenzori Mountains beyond. 
2 Nights at Ndali Lodge

Day 2
This morning you will track the noisy chimps and other primates crashing around through the high canopy of the Kibale Forest with colorful birds squawking nearby.  After a picnic lunch, explore the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a haven for birds, butterflies and a number of primates.  You will learn about the community development projects being financed by tourism.

Day 3
Depart for Queen Elizabeth National Park stopping for a walk in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains to take in the views of this magnificent mountain range.  Keep on the lookout for lion and herds of Uganda kob on the Kasenyi plains. The Mweya peninsula is one of the best places to look for leopard, which live in the dense, scrubby thickets. 
2 Nights at Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Day 4 
Set off on an excursion to the nearby Kyambura Gorge to track the fast moving and elusive chimpanzees, one of man's closest relations.  This is real Tarzan territory with thick treetop canopies and vines dangling down to the soft forest floor. The chimpanzees crash about and chatter high up in the branches.  They are quite mobile and viewing is unpredictable but the walk is enchanting. In the afternoon take a cruise on the Kazinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George. Kazinga is home to one of the greatest concentration of hippo in Africa and herds of elephant, buffalo and other animals come to drink at the edge. The channel is a magnet for water birds, with great flocks of pelicans and others birds on the shore, and a great spot to see African fish eagle.

Day 5
Your safari continues to the primeval Bwindi forest with a day-long transfer (approximately a six hour drive).  Route options -- going via Ishasha, home of the tree climbing lion, or the alternative route through cultivated expanses – are dependent on road conditions.  Depending on when you arrive, there may be time to explore the lodge grounds or visit the local village. Bwindi Lodge offers a truly unique jungle experience. Separated by nothing more than an idyllic stream, the gorillas themselves are frequent visitors. 
2 Nights at Bwindi Lodge

Day 6
Today is the day for you to come face to face with the endangered mountain gorillas!  You will set out early to meet with the local guides and trackers for trekking formalities and a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking.  Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery along with the anticipation of your quest seems to lessen the trekking effort. Once you locate your assigned gorilla group, you will have one hour to spend with them before making your way back. Tracking in the Bwindi forest requires stamina and can often take most of the day. 

Optional activities are available for those not wanting to go gorilla tracking or interested in staying longer in this area. Guided walks in the rainforest offer excellent photographic opportunities to capture endemic bird species, rare plant life and clouds of butterflies. Visits to the local villages, the Bwindi Community Hospital and tours of the local tea processing operation at the lodge are always popular with visitors.  Discover the traditions of the Batwa Pygmies, the indigenous people of Bwindi forest.  They no longer live in the forest, but still practice many of their traditional hunter-gatherer skills.

Day 7 
Depart for the two-hour transfer by road to the Kihihi airstrip to catch the domestic flight back to Entebbe. Connect with your international flight. 

Private Departures:
Contact us to custom-tailor this itinerary for you.

Reservations:
- Please plan in advance for any itinerary which includes gorilla tracking. Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately.

Fitness Required – Gorilla tracking is only suitable for travelers who are in good physical condition. You will not be trekking at a fast pace, however you must be able to keep going (with rest breaks) uphill for at least a few hours. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. 

Age Limits:
The minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years old.

Arrivals:
International arrivals to Entebbe must arrive by 9 a.m. in order to connect with the domestic air transfer to Kasese on the same day.

Accomodations

Lodges in Uganda are set in scenic wildlife locations providing a comfortable base to trek gorillas and chimpanzees, and experience local community life.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

There are nine habituated families of mountain gorillas in Bwindi.  Advance planning is advised for obtaining gorilla tracking permits and accommodations.

Photo: Bwindi Lodge

Bwindi Lodge

Eight bandas overlook the primeval Bwindi impenetrable Forest. Each has a private terrace for spotting chimpanzees and monkeys as they swing from tree to tree. The main lounge and fireside bar offers a great place for guests to relax and share adventure stories. The lodge is located near the trailhead for gorilla tracking and they can sometimes be found near the river running through the lodge property. Additional activities include forest walks and cultural visits.  

Photo: Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is Uganda’s highest lodge sitting at 6,500 feet, in the clouds. Views look across to the Virunga Volcanoes and behind you is the primordial, mysterious, impenetrable Bwindi forests. The guest cottages are built of local volcanic stone and feature fireplace, overstuffed armchairs, hand-woven carpets and the works of Uganda artists. Butlers take care of everything you need. The main lodge has soaring ceilings and windows with comfy seating and a first-class gift shop. The lodge is located near the Nkuringo trailhead where you begin your gorilla tracking.  Community visits are highly recommended.

Photo: Gorilla Forest Camp

Gorilla Forest Camp

Gorilla Forest Camp is tucked away in a region of jagged valleys, waterfalls, volcanoes, lakes, and mountain ranges. Frequently visited by gorilla families, Gorilla Forest Camp has eight spacious tents and is the only concessionaire luxury camp within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Each tent has two queen beds and a huge bathtub that looks straight into the jungle canopy which is ideal for soaking tired muscles after a day spent observing and meeting gorillas. Cultural interaction with the with the local Batwa Pygmies or visiting the Bwindi Community Hospital are other activities on offer. 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

This is a great location to base for chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge, birding in the forest, boat cruises along the Kazinga Channel, and game drives in the park.

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Kyambura Gorge Lodge sits on a former coffee plantation and the main building was formerly a coffee processing plant now restored to a gathering place with Wi-Fi for guests.  There are incredible views overlooking the park and the mythical Mountains of the Moon in the distance.    There are eight bandas with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies.  There are plenty of activities in this area and the lodge has strong ties to the community so you can get a feel of the “real Africa” during your stay.

Mgahinga National Park

There is one habituated family of mountain gorillas in Mgahinga and they tend to move frequently over the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC.   The tracking in Mgahinga tends to be easier than in Bwindi because the forest is not as thick.

Photo: Mount Gahinga Lodge

Mount Gahinga Lodge

This charming lodge in the Virunga Volcanoes foothills has a rustic charm to it. There are nine stone bandas set throughout the gardens each with en-suite bathroom, fireplace and private veranda. The main guest area has a central fire and a spacious sunroom.  The lodge partners with the Batwa, one of Africa’s oldest tribes, to offer interactive tours in the community.  The hiking in this area is wonderful and golden monkey trekking is also popular. 

Kibale Forest National Park

This lush and tropical area is surrounded by tea plantations and is a nice stop for enjoying the scenic beauty and wildlife.

Photo: Ndali Lodge

Ndali Lodge

Ndali Lodge is an owner-operated lodge which has been in the family since the 1920s.  The current lodge was built in 1996 amidst indigenous trees which are home to a diverse array of birds, monkeys and other wildlife. Perched high up on the rim of an extinct volcano which has now filled with water creating a lake, you can hike around the crater rim and visit the waterfall.  Local guides will show you the nearby banana and vanilla plantations.  The décor of the eight spacious stone cottages is rustic chic and from the verandas you can watch the sun setting behind the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori mountains.  Dinner is by candlelight as a nod to a slower time long past.

Travel Information

When to go to Uganda

Uganda lies on the Equator and much of the country is a plateau at an elevation of 3,500-4,500 ft. above sea level so the temperatures are cooler than you may think.  Gorilla trekking is easier in the dry months of January and February and June through September.  The rainy season is April and May and October and November. 

Passport & Visa

A passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry, and a tourist visa is required to enter Uganda.  Visas must be obtained online at least two weeks prior to travel.  You will receive an email approval letter which must be printed and presented along with your passport on arrival in Uganda.  The cost is $50 for a single entry or $100 for a multiple entry visa.  If you are traveling beyond Uganda (and Uganda is your first point of entry), you can get an East Africa Visa (EAC) which is valid for travel in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.  Cost is $100 and the multiple entry visa is valid for 90 days. 

For further information:  Online Visa ApplicationThe Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Washington D.C. & U.S. State Department

 

Medical Information for Uganda

Before traveling to Africa, please consult with your physician. An International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is required to enter Uganda.  The certificate must be obtained no less than ten days prior to your arrival.  Children under the age of five are required to show proof of polio vaccination to enter Uganda.  You will also need a malaria prophylaxis.

For further information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Uganda