Day 1

Depart / En Route

Fly independently to Entebbe, Uganda. (Meals Aloft)

Day 2

En Route / Entebbe, Uganda

Connect with your flight to Entebbe, Uganda and transfer to the gracious Protea Hotel. (Meals Aloft)

Day 3

Murchison Falls National Park

Today we set out on a full-day drive to the Murchison Falls National Park. We’ll descend the escarpment of the western corridor of the Great Rift Valley, enjoying fine views of Lake Albert. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest protected area at 14,825 square miles. A hidden gem tucked into the corner of the country, Murchison Falls is home to many species not easily found elsewhere in Uganda. In the late afternoon we arrive at our home for the next three nights of our Uganda gorilla trek itinerary, either Baker’s Lodge (October) or Nile Safari Lodge (December). (B,L,D)

Day 4

Murchison Falls National Park

This morning we explore the delta of Lake Albert by boat, searching for elephant, saddle-billed stork and African fish eagle, among other species. Most of all, watch for shoebill, which favor the reed-lined banks of these waters. One of the greatest rarities and a prize for any wildlife enthusiast, shoebills are huge birds with a massive bill, related to storks and herons. This afternoon we explore at the top of Murchison Falls. From here one can really appreciate the power with which the Nile crashes through the narrow gap in the escarpment. The roar of the water and spray are astonishing, as are the views. Enjoy a picnic lunch and walking atop the falls. (B,L,D)

Day 5

Murchison Falls National Park

Take a launch on the Victoria Nile to the base of spectacular Murchison Falls, where the full force of the Nile is channeled into a narrow gorge just 20 feet wide. Wildlife along the river is exceptional. As you cruise amongst palms, acacia woodland and mahogany, watch for elephant, giraffe and vast numbers of birds, including the shoebill and red-throated bee-eater, more plentiful here than anywhere else in East Africa. Goliath heron, African jacana, pied and malachite kingfishers, various weavers and African skimmers are also found here. These waters are home to huge pods of hippos and some of the largest crocodiles on the Nile. Lucky visitors may spot leopard and lion.  Continue exploring the park’s northern sector, where part of The African Queen was filmed. The northern section of the park is mostly grassland, interspersed with strands of palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. Under the leadership of highly trained naturalist guides, we look for elephant, lion, giraffe, sitatunga, Uganda kob, buffalo and a great deal more. (B,L,D)

Day 6

Kibale Forest National Park

Our Uganda tour travels to the Kibale Forest area, seeing beautiful, fertile land that supports a wealth of agriculture. We traverse the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains (the Mountains of the Moon), pass tea plantations and reach the Kibale Forest. Kibale boasts the highest concentration and variety of primates of any forest in East Africa. 60 species of mammals, including 13 primate species, call the 295-square mile park home. The park is interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp but the dominant vegetation is rainforest. Ndali Lodge, your home for the next two nights, is nestled on a high saddle between two crater lakes, with breathtaking views of Lake Rukwanzi and mountain slopes planted with bananas. Rooms are decorated with local crafts and have four-poster beds. There is no electricity but candles and oil lamps create a true safari atmosphere and the romantic feel of “old Africa.” (B,L,D)

Day 7

Kibale Forest National Park

Today we walk in the Kibale Forest with skilled local guides in search of primates, including the star attractions: chimpanzees. While there is no guarantee of seeing chimps, the chances are good. If we find chimpanzees, we hope to spend about an hour observing their social behavior. Kibale Forest is home to the largest concentration and variety of primates of any forest in East Africa, including L’Hoest’s and red colobus monkey. After our walk we have a special treat: enjoying a traditional lunch in a local home, visiting the village of Bigodi, seeing a school, meeting local elders and getting insight into how the people of the area live and work. (B,L,D)

Day 8

Kibale Forest / Queen Elizabeth National Park

In the morning we visit one of the area’s swamps, where there is excellent birding and where we look for monkeys, including black-and-white colobus, red colobus, mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey and others. Birds of the area include some of the large, noisy members of the turaco family. In the afternoon we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, passing the eastern slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains — the Mountains of the Moon. They are usually covered in cloud, but if luck is with us we may see the glaciated peaks. We arrive at Queen Elizabeth National Park and Mweya Lodge, which is situated on a peninsula overlooking Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel with the Ruwenzoris as backdrop. (B,L,D)

Day 9

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Today we enjoy game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Africa’s premier national parks, known for its prolific wildlife. We look for elephant, buffalo, kob, waterbuck, bushbuck and predators including lion and leopard. Bird watching is remarkable, with about 600 species recorded. We’ll go by launch along the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake George and Lake Edward, to view the large concentration of hippos. We’ll also visit a crater lake where salt is harvested for export to the Congo. (B,L,D)

Day 10

Queen Elizabeth National Park / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

In the morning we drive to the less-visited Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the few places where lions regularly climb trees. We’ll look for them, along with a great deal of other wildlife. In the afternoon we drive to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, traversing the beautiful mountain landscapes known as the “Switzerland of East Africa.” We spend two nights at either the Mahogany Springs Lodge (October) or Gorilla Forest Camp (December). (B,L,D)

Day 11

Gorilla Tracking / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

This morning, we hike in search of endangered mountain gorillas in the company of outstanding local guides and trackers. Slightly more than half the world’s mountain gorilla population resides in Bwindi – estimated at 320 individuals living in 15 families. The trekking during this portion of our Uganda gorilla safari can be taxing, and we may climb to altitudes of as much as 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy, particularly after one of the region’s frequent rain showers. During our Uganda gorilla trek you must walk through the forest, with their rangers and trackers, over, under and around vegetation and almost never on a trail. There is no set time for trekking but typical treks are four hours. However, treks can be anywhere from one hour to ten hours or more. Once located, trekkers spend a life-changing hour with these magnificent gentle giants…well worth the effort in finding them. Spending time with these majestic creatures may well be the single most rewarding natural history experience in the world. A World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also home to nine other species of primate, myriad bird species, including 23 species endemic to the Albertine Rift and at least 14 species recorded nowhere else in Uganda. Among them are African green broadbill, white-tailed flycatcher, brown-necked parrot, white-bellied robin chat, and Frazer’s eagle owl. Over 200 species of colorful butterfly are found in the park and, along with lots of wonderful birds, frequenting the lodge grounds. Eight of those butterfly species are endemic to the Albertine Rift. (B, Box L,D)

Day 12

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park / Entebbe / En Route

Fly from Bwindi to Entebbe. Dayrooms are available at the Protea Hotel, before you transfer to the airport for your independent flight home. (B,L)

Day 13

Arrive Home

Arrive back in the U.S. and connect to your independent flight home (Meals Aloft)