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Uganda Safari

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Uganda Safari

From mist-shrouded forests, home to mountain gorillas, to passes where the full force of the Nile gushes through a 20-foot gap in the rock, Uganda beckons travelers searching for a hidden jewel in the vast continent of Africa. Taking a road less-traveled into the misty rainforests of this unique country, International Expeditions’ Uganda expedition allows you to savor four national parks — Murchison Falls, Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth, and Kibale — each one a destination in its own right. There’s no better way to absorb Uganda’s sweeping savannahs, captivating cultures and glorious wildlife than International Expeditions’ comprehensive Uganda safari.

Explore Africa’s “Pearl”

Winston Churchill dubbed Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” for good reason. It’s a diverse country, green and tropical, with savannahs, forests, lakes, branches of the Nile and snow-covered peaks. Our comprehensive trek exposes you to wildlife and plants characteristic of both East and West Africa, meaning that you can see more on IE’s Uganda expedition than you could just about anywhere else.

Four Parks; A Thousand “Highlights”

Our Uganda travel package has extraordinary scope, taking in one highlight after another in four national parks. Unquestionably, IE guests rave about tracking gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest — seeing gorillas in the wild has to rank among the greatest thrills in natural history. Plus, on our Uganda expedition you look for chimpanzees in Kibale Forest; see world-famous Murchison Falls, the Mountains of the Moon and the wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Daily Itinerary

13-Day Uganda Itinerary

  • Day
    1-2

    Depart Home City / Entebbe

    Depart your home city on independent flights to Entebbe. Upon arrival, you are met and escorted to your accommodations at the gracious Protea Hotel. (Meals Aloft)

  • Day
    3

    Murchison Falls National Park

    Today we set out on a full-day drive to 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, Baker’s Lodge. (B,L,D)

    Murchison Falls
  • 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)

    uganda photos hippo
  • Day
    6

    Kibale Forest National Park

    We traverse the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains (the Mountains of the Moon), pass tea plantations and reach 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)

    Chimpanzee ©Tad Bradley
  • 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)

    Lion in a tree.
  • 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 Mahogany Springs Lodge. (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. 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,L,D)

    Uganda gorilla viewing.
  • Day
    12

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park / Entebbe / En Route

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

  • Day
    13

    Arrive Home

    Arrive back in North America and connect to your independent flights home (Meals Aloft)

Things to Know

What is included in IE's Uganda safari package?

Included in the price of your trip are the following.

  • Accommodations, excursions, meals and transportation as listed in the itinerary
  • Services of a private IE driver/guide in addition to local guides for primate treks
  • Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport no matter what day or time
  • One soft drink or local beer per person per included lunch and dinner
  • Bottled water on excursions, group transfers, at included lunches and dinners and in rooms daily
  • All gratuities to group service staff except your IE driver/guide
  • Scheduled air from Bwindi to Entebbe

What is the level of activity on IE's Uganda tour?

A trip to Uganda requires good health and mobility. While we have time scheduled for rest and recuperation, your itinerary has a moderate pace, involving activities and transportation from place to place to ensure that you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy this adventure and please contact our office with any questions.

Game drives are typically early in the morning and late in the afternoon, though mid-day drives may be offered. Game drives do not require walking but roads in the parks can be bumpy and driving can be slow.  During your adventure you will have the opportunity to explore on foot, which will require guests to walk up to three hours unassisted over uneven terrain.  You will have multiple opportunities to explore by boat on your adventure.  These excursions are leisurely and require you only to be able to get in and out of the boats with assistance. Boats used for the excursions meet strict safety standards and life vests are provided.

Mountain gorillas are wild and as such it is impossible to estimate how long the trek will take, or which exact route through Bwindi will be taken. A gorilla trek can range anywhere from 15 minutes (very rare) to 8+ hours (also very rare) with the average being 4-5 hours in total. The Impenetrable Forest is located in a mountainous region (3,500-7,800 ft) and treks commonly include ascending and descending hills. The terrain can be rough, steep, muddy and slippery. You may have to step over or through streams and under or over vegetation. Trekkers must be in good health, possess full mobility, and be properly equipped and prepared for the possibility of a full day trek in the conditions described here. You will be required to go at a steady pace and ask the guide to rest when you need it. However, you will be expected in general to keep up with the group. Children under the age of 15 years are not permitted to visit gorillas under any circumstances.

Chimp treks are typically shorter and easier than gorilla treks but can be somewhat difficult if the chimps are deep in the forest on any given day. However, this is not typically the case.  It is impossible to estimate exactly how long the chimp trek will take. A chimp trek can range anywhere from 15 minutes (very rare) to 4+ hours (also very rare) with the average being 2-3 hours in total. Treks don’t commonly include ascending and descending steep hills though the terrain can be a bit hilly, steep, muddy and slippery. You may have to step over or through streams and under or over vegetation. Trekkers must be in good health, possess full mobility, and be properly equipped and prepared for the possibility of a full day trek in the conditions described here. You will be required to go at a steady pace and ask the guide to rest when you need it. However, you will be expected in general to keep up with the group. Porters are not available for chimp treks. Children under the age of 12 years old are NOT permitted to visit chimpanzees under any circumstances.

Due to the remoteness of Uganda’s national parks, the lack of scheduled air service, the unreliability of what air service does exist, and to give our guests the chance to enjoy the countryside and vistas, we drive from place to place with the exception of your return from Bwindi to Entebbe.  The most comfortable vehicles available and routes with the least amount of inconvenience have been selected for your travel.

What is the weather like in Uganda?

Uganda's equatorial climate provides plentiful sunshine, moderated by the relatively high altitude of most areas of the country. Mean annual temperatures range from about 60°F in the southwestern highlands to 77°F in the northwest; but in the northeast, temperatures exceed 86°F about 254 days per year. Except in the northeastern corner of the country, rainfall is well distributed. The southern region has two rainy seasons, usually beginning in early April and again in October. Little rain falls in June and December. In the north, occasional rains occur between April and October, while the period from November to March is often very dry. Mean annual rainfall near Lake Victoria often exceeds 80 inches, and the mountainous regions of the southeast and southwest receive more than 60 inches of rainfall yearly. The lowest mean annual rainfall in the northeast is 20 inches.

Is IE's Uganda a "birding" trip?

This is not a birding-only trip. Our expedition is designed to provide opportunities to view as many types of wildlife as possible, from amphibians and reptiles to mammals and insects.  However, birds are ubiquitous and prolific, as well as beautiful and interesting, in the places you will be visiting.  As such, birds are a highlight and you can expect to enjoy seeing as many species as possible while still enjoying the other wildlife the region has to offer.

Are you able to customize a trip to Uganda to feature destinations and activities of my choice?

Yes! If our Uganda itinerary does not suit your desires please contact our Custom Department where a specialist can craft the kind of experience that will make your adventure the trip of a lifetime.

Do you offer optional extensions to IE's Uganda?

We do not currently offer any optional extension for our Uganda safari but can customize any pre- or post-trip experience you would like.  Contact our office for details.

Accommodations

uganda accommodatiions protea hotel

Protea Hotel

The 73-room Protea Hotel Entebbe is ideally located on the glistening shores of Lake Victoria and a convenient 1km from Entebbe International Airport.  The Tides Restaurant, Terrace and Bar, serves full breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nile perch is a signature dish. Standard rooms include marble bathroom, hair dryer, in-room safe, coffee and tea maker, AC, TV with cable, free Wi-Fi and a mini-bar. 

uganda accommodatiions bakers lodge

Baker's Lodge

Baker’s Lodge in Murchison Falls National park is the newest accommodation within the upmarket Uganda Exclusive Camps and Lodges group, opened in late 2014. Situated on the south bank of the mighty Nile River this intimate, safari-styled lodge is set within a large private area with beautifully trimmed grass, large shady trees and wetland areas hosting abundant birdlife along the water’s edge. The views of the river are vast and magnificent with islands hosting nesting egret birds, elephants bathing and pods of hippos regularly viewed. The lodge provides a thatched central lounge, bar and raised dining area, allowing guests to savor the morning sunrise for breakfast, sunset in the evening and 180 degree river views. Each of the individual cottages is raised on supporting pillars and has its own deck overlooking the river. Care has been taken to ensure each of the cottages has privacy. The cottage have netted windows with opening options, customized solid wooden furniture, hanging mosquito nets and especially selected locally crafted items for the accessories. The en suite bathrooms are open plan with solar hot water showers. Wi-Fi is available. 

uganda accommodations ndali lodge room

Ndali Lodge

The lodge sits on the narrow rim of an extinct volcano which, since its demise, has filled with water to become the breathtaking Lake Nyinambuga. There is a main thatched lodge with spacious sitting room, reception area and dining room flanked by 8 cottages. The cottages, built of local stone and thatch, face west to offer a panoramic view of the spectacular 'Mountains of the Moon'. The interiors are imaginatively and comfortably furnished, the decor emphasizing local materials. Each cottage has en-suite facilities with bath, shower, WC and hand basin and a private verandah, perfect for watching the sun setting behind the snow-capped peaks of Rwenzori Mountains. The lodge has no electricity or generators to distract from the beautiful and natural bush atmosphere.

uganda accommodations mweya lodge exterior

Mweya Lodge

Located on a peninsula within the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya lodge is fitted with en suite rooms fully provided with mosquito netted curtains, high pressure hot showers, powerful ceiling fans and gorgeous verandahs overlooking the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward. The lodge also boasts a wide range of facilities including a swimming pool and pool-side bar, safari bar and restaurant, souvenir shops and satellite TV. This is quite the Mecca for birders, as there are over 600 different species which relish in the flora and fauna of the Park.

Uganda Mahogany Springs Lodge

Mahogany Springs Lodge

Set back on the pristine waters of the Munyanga River and facing the Impenetrable Forest, the natural setting of Mahogany Springs is beyond imagination. The exotic gardens and stone pathways leading to the river invite you to explore every corner of this magical place, uncovering the various surprises along the way; such as the Home grown vegetable garden. There are a number of features within the main building, most popular of which is the panoramic terrace that provides a balance between the sounds of the river and the views of the forest. Relax in the living room at the double-sided fireplace. There is also a shop within the main building that has crafts, clothes and a large selection of souvenirs from around Uganda. The restaurant is set within the main building and guests can choose to dine inside with the coziness and warmth of the glowing fire or outside on the terrace with the sounds and delights of nature. Suites are spacious with double doors and beautiful windows. Each Suite has its own terrace with panoramic views. There are power points in the rooms as well as a dressing table/desk. All suites have large en-suite bathrooms with an open terracotta shower. For added comfort and peace of mind all the suites have an advanced mosquito net system that wraps around the entire area of the beds.

Field Leaders

uganda guides stephen baboineki

Stephen Baboineki

Expedition Leader

As a boy growing up on a farm in Masindi, Stephen's childhood chores included tending the farm animals, and his interest in wildlife initiated from an early age from observing the wildlife straying onto the farmland. He undertook a course in Wildlife Management at the Lake Katwe Wildlife Management Institute, before working as an interpretative guide at Queen Elizabeth National Park. Stephen gained further experience as a zookeeper at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe, and his work as a researcher/surveyor for the Wildlife Conservation Society, before becoming a Uganda naturalist guide in 2002. Stephen is a member of the Uganda Driver/Guide Association, and the Uganda Birdwatching Society. As an avid birder, Stephen has attended several certificated Birding courses, and has a personal identification level of 850 species.

uganda guides denis erabu

Denis Erabu

Expedition Leader

Denis grew up in a rural village, where his father is a local chief, and after completing secondary school, became and escort driver for an NGO delivering relief supplies to Southern Sudan. After four years, he decided to pursue a childhood interest in wildlife, and became a driver/guide. Through a combination of on-the-job and formal training courses with the Queen Elizabeth Bird Observatory and Bird Life International, Denis has gained extensive knowledge as a general interest Tour Guide with a specialty in birding. He has worked as a driver/guide for the past 12 years and is a member of the Uganda Driver/Guide Association and the Uganda Birdwatching Society. In his spare time, Denis loves to read and watch wildlife documentaries. 

Uganda guide Benjamin Musisi

Benjamin Musisi

Expedition Leader

Born in Mukono district as a member of the Buganda tribe, Benjamin moved to Kampala for his secondary education and he joined his first tour company as a junior driver/guide in 1983. Ben has gained considerable knowledge and experience while guiding in the Ugandan National Parks, Rwanda and Congo. Benjamin’s extensive knowledge of wildlife with a special emphasis in birding, his enthusiastic approach, and great sense of humor, make him one of our most popular Uganda naturalist guides. He is a member of the Uganda Driver/Guides Association and the Uganda Birdwatching Society.

A Note About Field Staff

This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour.  A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them.  If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.

Wildlife

Red Colobus Monkeys

Rare red colobus moneys do not have thumbs like other monkeys, explaining how they got their name which comes from the Greek word for "mutilated." These primates tend to stick to the trees and travel in groups of five to 10, so if you're lucky enough to spot one, watch for more. These primates jump from branch to branch playing and shouting with one another.

Southwest African Lion

The Southwest African Lion is one of the largest lion subspecies. Their bodies and fur tend to be of a singular color, lacking the rosettes and stripes common among tigers, leopards and jaguars. While not under the immediate threat of extinction, their population has been dwindling as habitat loss threatens the land they once roamed, and hunting is destroying their natural prey.

Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is Africa’s largest reptile and it is certainly up near the top in being one of the most dangerous animals on the continent. A large Nile crocodile may reach close to 20 feet in length and as they grow beyond 12 feet in length, their girth and massive body proportions greatly increase with the additional growth.

Hippopotamus

Did you know that hippos have a "T" shaped pupil, which allows them to see above and below water at the same time? But that is not the only fascinating fact about the hippo's specialized eyes. Hippos can see under the water with excellent precision, and a clear layer of membrane protects their eyes from underwater debris. 

Call 800.234.9620
Duration
13 Days, 12 Nights
Trip Type
Land

Trip Highlights

  • IE's Custom Travel Planners can create individually tailored tours that match your style of travel, budget & timeline.
  • Trek for mountain gorillas & chimpanzees, as well as many other primates.
  • Comprehensive itinerary crafted to explore four national parks.
  • Form deep connections to Uganda's people while chatting with guides who grew up in local tribes & when visiting a small village.
  • Enjoy three boat excursions on the Nile, Kazinga Channel & Lake Albert Delta.
  • Spot birds from East & West Africa, including the rare shoebill.
  • Visit remote & wonderful Murchison Falls National Park