Uganda, a place of spectacular scenery where mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and big game roam free. Explore the best the Pearl of Africa has to offer.
Prices: On request
Duration: 8 nights
Availability: Year round
Destinations: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park
i) Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest & Kyambura Gorge
ii) Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
iii) Potential for both mountain gorilla and chimpanzee habituation experiences
iv) Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
v) Boating safaris on the Kazinga Channel
An itinerary designed to showcase the best of Uganda. Spend time interacting with our closest cousins, the common chimpanzee, at Kibale Forest National Park. Trek into the country’s dense jungles at the aptly named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search of the rare mountain gorilla, before heading to the open plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park to view game by safari vehicle and motorboat.
Best time to visit?
So what is the best time of year to take this trip to maximise your overall experience? Without knowing you yet this is a difficult question to answer. With so many variables to consider we need to know what is important to you before we advise on the preferable time for you.
There are many variables to consider when attempting to recommend the best time to visit. Specific considerations include the whereabouts of migratory animals, the effect the density of the vegetation and height of the grass has on wildlife viewing, special wildlife moments such as the birth of baby animals, and the effect weather patterns has on wildlife behaviour. Other factors to consider are the variation in prices at different times of the year, visitor traffic, whether you prefer a lush or relatively arid environment and of course the annual climate, namely temperature and rainfall values.
For this reason we present detailed information for each individual destination in the locations section to help you understand what may work best for you. We will of course have an in-depth discussion with you prior to making a booking so you are completely happy with the time of year you decide to travel.
- Mountain gorilla trekking permit
- Chimpanzee trekking at Kibale Forest National Park & Kyambura Gorge
- Vehicle safari in QENP as per itinerary
- Kazinga Channel boat cruise
- Bwindi forest walks
- Great rift valley hikes
- Rwenzori Mountains National Park hike
- Batwa pygmies cultural experience
- Spa treatment and massages
- Domestic flight Entebbe to Fort Portal
- Domestic flight Bwindi to Entebbe
- Airport transfers in Uganda
- 8 nights accommodation as stated
- All meals as stated
- Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Chimpanzee trekking permits in Kibale and Kyambura Gorge
- Mountain gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi
- All included activities as above
- Unlimited bottled water on safari
- All relevant taxes and surcharges
- Day 1 Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure Begins
Board your overnight international flight from your chosen airport to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda.
- Day 2 Lake Kyaninga Lodge, Kibale Forest National Park (D)
Today you will arrive in Entebbe and be met by a representative who will welcome you to Uganda and arrange your onward travel to Fort Portal. The internal flight to Fort Portal in the west of the country will last approximately 1 hour.
On arrival at Fort Portal you will be met by one of the team from Kyaninga Lake Lodge and transferred to your accommodation. The lodge is well equipped with facilities and activities to keep you entertained. Simply relax with a drink and bite to eat overlooking the lake or enjoy a hard earned massage at the spa after your long journey to get here.
- Day 3 Lake Kyaninga Lodge, Kibale Forest National Park (B, L, D)
Today marks the start of your wildlife watching experience. Head off early to the gate at Kibale Forest National Park. The drive takes approximately 45 minutes. After a brief with your guide you will head off into the forest in a small group in search of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee. You will undoubtedly hear them before you see them as they screech and crash through the jungle. In order to not disturb the chimpanzees the wildlife viewing time is limited to one hour. The clock starts from the moment you first lay eyes on them. This is a magical experience usually filled with drama and excitement due to the playful nature of the chimps. There is the option to upgrade from a simple trekking experience to a habituation experience where you accompany rangers and scientists in the process of habituating wild chimpanzees. This experience lasts 4 hours and is extremely intimate and educative.
- Day 4 Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park (B, L, D)
You will wake to enjoy a scenic breakfast overlooking Lake Kyaninga for one last time before heading south to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The drive takes approximately 5 hours through small human settlements and the national park. There is opportunity for your first game drive and to see more familiar African game such as elephants, hyena and buffalo, as well as the park’s famous tree-climbing lions.
Enjoy a packed lunch in the park whilst continuing your game drive into the afternoon. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the flagship park in Uganda and is recognised as one of the most biologically diverse wildlife sanctuaries in the whole of Africa. With a large mammal count of 95 and an astonishing 611 bird species it truly is a remarkable place. Predators such as the aforementioned lions, leopard, spotted hyena and serval are present, whilst Ugandan kob, topi, hartebeest and bushbuck do their best to avoid becoming prey.
- Day 5 Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park (B,L,D)
Enjoy an early breakfast before heading out into the bush for a morning game drive. Wildlife is most active in the early hours so this is your greatest opportunity to witness predator action. Return to the lodge for lunch and a rest before heading out again in the afternoon for a magical boat safari on the Kazinga channel, the body of water that connects Lake Edward and Lake George. Viewing wildlife from the boat offers a fantastic opportunity to observe water-dwelling animals such as the world’s densest populations of hippopotamus and Nile crocodile. Nile monitor lizards are also often observed slinking into the water. Elephant and buffalo are often seen at the water’s edge, as are other herbivores such as bushbuck, waterbuck and warthog. 60 species of birds can be observed around the channel including pied kingfisher, pink-backed pelican, black bee-eaters and of course the beautiful African fish eagle.
- Day 6 Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park (B,L,D)
This morning you will drive to Kyambura Gorge to embark on the second chimpanzee interaction of your trip. The Gorge dissects the northern sector of the park and is home to several chimpanzee families of which one is habituated to the presence of tourists. Trek through the tropical forest in search of the chimps before spending an hour in their presence. As with Kibale the duration of the trek very much depends on the location of these charismatic primates.
The rest of the day is at your leisure. Continue your wildlife adventure on the plains of QENP in search of plains game or head back to the lodge for a swim in the pool or enjoy a rejuvenating massage.
- Day 7 Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (B, L, D)
Today you will leave Queen Elizabeth National Park and head south to the incomparable Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On arrival at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge you will be welcomed into this luxury lodge by the warm staff and no doubt immediately feel at ease with nature. Relax with a drink and a book on the new terrace and take in the sounds of the forest. Keep an eye out for the monkeys in the canopy or if you are lucky gorillas are occasional visitors to this lodge.
- Days 8 Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (B, L, D)
Today is the day you embark on arguably the world’s greatest wildlife interaction experience. After a hearty breakfast you will be transferred to the gorilla trailhead in time for the briefing by your experienced gorilla guide and park ranger. After discovering which family you will be visiting you will begin the steep trek deep into the forest. As with the chimpanzee experience the duration is dependent on the whereabouts of the gorillas. Occasionally they may be close to the trailhead but sometimes they may be located 3-4 hours of difficult trekking deep into the jungle.
- Day 9 The End Of Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure (B)
Today marks the end of your journey through the Pearl of Africa and although all good things must come to an end you will be leaving with such special memories. Fly from Bwindi to Entebbe in time for your international flight home to your chosen airport.
Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Overview: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge is a luxury lodge overlooking the primeval Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Engulfed by the enormity of the forest it immerses guests into the world of the endangered mountain gorilla. The gorillas frequently come to relax in the verdant bush around the lodge.
Accommodation: Eight luxury bandas each having their own view of the forest. Each one has been totally restyled with warm luxurious interiors and inviting four poster beds. 6 of the bandas are double configuration and 2 are twin rooms. A new deluxe banda was also opened in June 2019. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets and a shower with hot and cold running water.
Facilities & Amenities: The lodge was fully renovated in 2018 and now features a redesigned guest lounge and dining area and bar that brings the feel of the forest into the stylish interiors. The main living area has a central fireplace which acts as a focal point for guests to relax and discuss their gorilla trekking experience. A newly designed outdoor terrace gives dramatic views of the impenetrable forest and is a great place to spot the birds and monkeys hidden in the foliage. The lodge also includes the Humula Forest Spa equipped with sauna and massage room.
Power & communication: Each banda is fully equipped with 240 volts electricity for lighting and charging facilities. WiFi is available but in the main lodge building only. Mobile phone network coverage is available but temperamental.
Activities: Gorilla trekking, forest walks and tea plantation visits.
Children: All ages are welcome at the lodge but please note those under the age of 15 years are not permitted to undertake gorilla trekking.
Kyambura Gorge Lodge
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Overview: Kyambura Gorge Lodge is located on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park and enjoys sweeping views of the rolling savanna, the distant mountains of the moon, and the sunken Kyambura Gorge. The property has been converted from an old coffee store and was fully refurbished in 2018.
Accommodation: 8 luxury bandas all individually named after the Kyambura Gorge chimpanzees. Each banda has an en-suite bathroom equipped with luxury shower rooms, flushing toilet and double vanity sinks. Hot and cold water are available at all times.
Facilities & Amenities: Public facilities include a swimming pool overlooking the savanna and a new spa. Guests can relax in the knowledge that there is a personal butler service for all guests.
Power & Communication: The lodge runs on mains electricity for lighting and charging electrical equipment. WiFi is available but only in the main lodge. Mobile phone network coverage is available but can be unreliable.
Activities: Chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge or Kalinza Forest, game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park and a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel.
Children: The lodge welcomes children of all ages but it must be noted there is a minimum age of 15 years for the chimpanzee trekking experience.
Lake Kyaninga Lodge
Kibale National Park
Overview: Lake Kyaninga Lodge is a small and intimate property perched on the rim of an ancient volcanic crater lake with the Mountains of the Moon providing a spectacular backdrop in the distance. The lodge offers the ultimate luxury experience in one of Uganda’s most beautiful locations. The lodge is eco-friendly and quite an engineering achievement as it is entirely built from hand carved eucalyptus logs.
Accommodation: Nine spacious and well-appointed cottages strung out along the rim of Lake Kyaninga. Each cottage comes with a choice of double or twin bed configuration. En-suite bathrooms equipped with flush toilets, glass walled showers and claw-footed freestanding baths are a feature of each cottage.
Facilities & Amenities: Tennis, croquet, badminton and swimming pool. The lodge is also equipped with a spa, providing massage and typical spa treatments.
Power & communication: The lodge runs on modern solar power ensuring reliable lighting and electrical charging points.
Activities: The main activity is undoubtedly a visit to Kibale National Park to interact with the chimpanzees as part of a tracking or habituation experience. Located only 45 minutes from the national park the lodge is a perfect place to base yourself for this amazing experience. Outdoor activities on foot are somewhat of a speciality at Kyaninga Lodge. Take a walk by the lake or visit a local village for a cultural experience or travel further afield for walking and hiking in the Great Rift Valley or Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Children: Youngsters of all ages are welcome at the lodge.
- Special Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Location: South-west Uganda
- Land mass: 321 km²
- Mammal species: 120
- Bird species: 348
- Big 5 reserve: No
- Mountain gorilla trekking experiences
- Mountain gorilla habituation experiences
- Forest walks and hikes
- Bird watching
- Batwa pygmies cultural experiences
- Indescribable interactions with mountain gorillas
- Beautiful wilderness
- Exceptional lodge options
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in south-west Uganda. At only 321 km² it is a relatively small wildlife sanctuary by African standards. Despite its small size it packs quite a punch in terms of biodiversity and of course its main attraction, the rare and endangered mountain gorillas.
It is renowned as being one of the best places on the planet in which to interact with wild mountain gorillas. The Mubare gorilla group at Buhoma was the first to be habituated for tourism in Bwindi way back in 1993. There are now fifteen habituated groups tracked from four trailheads. Three of the groups are found at Buhoma in northwest Bwindi, four at Ruhiji in the east, and eight at the park’s southern trailheads at Nkuringo and Rushaga.
Although this is overwhelmingly the primary reason for tourists to visit Bwindi it must be recognised these forests are amongst the most biodiverse areas in Africa. The forest consists of more than 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. These in turn support an astonishing 120 species of mammals, 202 species of butterflies and 348 species of birds. Mammal species include the mountain gorilla, common chimpanzee, forest elephant, L’Hoests monkey and black and white colobus monkey, amongst others.
Activities other than mountain gorilla activities include birding, forest nature walks and cultural interactions with Batwa and Bakiga tribes.
Its location in the south-west naturally ensures it is often used within a safari circuit along with Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park. Bwindi can be accessed by both air and road. Travellers can fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kampala’s Kajjansi Airfield to Kisoro (for Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija) and to Savanna and Ishasha Airstrips (for Buhoma). Buhoma is about 460 kilometres from Kampala which on Uganda’s roads is an arduous journey. Visitors often approach from the north after completing safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). The southern sector of QENP, Ishasha, is 62 km from Bwindi.
Best Time To Visit
Bwindi has a wet but mild climate and is accessible all year round. Temperatures are pretty consistent throughout the year with daytime highs of 23 degrees Celsius dropping to lows of 11 degrees Celsius overnight. The altitude in the park varies from 1300 metres to 2462 metres above sea level and sees approximately a 6.5 degrees Celsius decrease in temperature for every 1000 metre of altitude gained.
With the absence of a true dry season rain can occur at any time. However, the least rainfall occurs in the months of June to August and between December and February. The wettest months are October and November and March to May. However, don’t be put off going at these times of year as you may experience rain at any time of year.
The high season months of June to September see the heaviest tourist traffic and gorilla permits can be difficult to obtain at this time of year. However, overcrowding is never an issue due to strict permit regulations limiting the number of tourists visiting each gorilla family.
The low season months of March to May and November can be an excellent time to travel for those considering a tighter budget. Gorilla permits are reduced from $600 to $450 during these months which represents excellent value.
Overall, Bwindi offers an excellent experience at any time of year.
- Special Status: N/A
- Location: Western Uganda
- Land mass: 766 km²
- Mammal species: 70
- Primate Species: 13
- Bird species: 375
- Big 5 reserve: No
- Chimpanzee trekking
- Chimpanzee habituation experience
- Forest walks by day and night
- Interactions with wild chimpanzees
- Exceptional birding
- 13 species of primates
Kibale National Park is located in Western Uganda. Although believed to have once been a part of a huge tract of forest it still remains a sizeable chunk of protected habitat. With a land mass of 766 km² square kilometres it is slightly larger than the English county of Middlesex and twice as large as the U.S city of Detroit. In fact, it is continuous with Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south providing a 180 kilometres unhindered wildlife corridor.
Its location in Western Uganda ensures it is often visited as part of a circuit including neighbours Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Constantly improving infrastructure ensures it is accessible both by road and by air.
The overwhelming reason tourists flock to Kibale is to interact with wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It is simply one of the best places on the planet for chimpanzee encounters, arguably bettered only by Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania. Most visitors elect for the standard trekking experience but a longer and more educational habituation experience is available for those preferring smaller groups and more time with our closest cousins.
Of course Kibale isn’t only about chimpanzees. With a recorded 325 species of birds it is somewhat of a birdwatchers paradise with specials such as the green-breasted pitta and African pitta, dusky crimsonwing, black bee-eater and blue-breasted kingfisher on offer.
Walks, without a chimpanzee focus, are an excellent way to experience the biodiversity of the forest. With an astonishing 13 primate species including the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, black and white colobus monkey, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto. Other mammals recorded within the park include the elephant, leopard, serval, African golden cat, bushbucks, blue duikers and sitatungas.
Best Time To Visit
Kibale National Park is accessible for game viewing all year round. However, like with most African wildlife reserves it is recognised as being preferable to travel in the dry season.
Unlike Bwindi there are definite seasons in Kibale. The two dry seasons run from June to August and December to February. In contrast there are also two distinctive wetter seasons in the months of March to May and September to November. However, it must be noted given its altitude and forest environment the dry season is not like one would expect on the dry savanna, rain is possible at any time.
Due to its equatorial location, temperatures are pretty consistent throughout the year. Expect daily highs of around 27 degrees Celsius and lows of 15 degrees Celsius. The driest months are December-February and June and July with the wettest months being April and September to November.
The majority of visitors head to Kibale for the chimpanzee interaction experiences. Although the weather does not affect this activity as such it is a more pleasurable experience in the drier months. Wet weather causes difficulties on the trails and being wet is naturally less pleasant. Two positives of the wet season is the beauty of the forest and the exceptional birding as many migratory species flock here during the wetter months.
- Special Status: Biosphere Reserve for Humanity
- Location: Western Uganda
- Land mass: 1978 km²
- Mammal species: 95
- Bird species: 611
- Big 5 reserve: No
- Game drives
- Boat cruises
- Chimpanzee trekking
- Hot air balloon safari
- Cultural village visits
- Witness the famous tree-climbing lions of Ishasha
- Cruise down the Kazinga Channel amongst hippopotamus and Nile crocodile
- Kyambura Gorge chimpanzee trekking
- Witness extraordinary mammal and bird diversity
Queen Elizabeth National Park is arguably the flagship savanna reserve in Uganda. With a land mass of 1978 km² it is a relative minion when compared to Africa’s heavyweights. Despite this it is still larger than the entire Peak District National Park in the United Kingdom.
In reality it is just one piece of a conservation jigsaw forming a continuous land mass with the Kigezi Game Reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve, and Kibale National Park in Uganda, as well as the Virunga National Park over the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a rather unique place due to its varied topography. The park is dominated by Lake George in the north-east and Lake Edward in the south-west, both lakes being connected by the Kazinga Channel. These areas provide excellent opportunities for viewing aquatic birds and large Nile crocodile and hippopotamus. The Kyambura Gorge dissects the savanna in the north-east of the park and sets the scene for chimpanzee trekking.
The wildlife in the park, as is typically the case throughout Uganda, was significantly reduced during the ill-fated reign of Idi Amin. Although wildlife numbers have increased significantly since, visitors should not expect animal densities like those experienced in the Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara Game Reserve or Kruger National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park should however be recognised as a park with extraordinary biodiversity as it is arguably unrivalled for the variety of species it protects. With an impressive large mammal count of 95 individual species, including 20 predators, and an almost unrivalled avian diversity of more than 611 bird species.
Visitors will marvel at the famous tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector. Primate viewing including chimpanzee trekking is a highlight of the Kyambura Gorge and close encounters with hippopotamus and Nile crocodiles are a feature at the Kazinga Channel. As well as lions and crocodiles predators are well represented with leopard, serval and spotted hyena, as well as smaller carnivores such as several species of mongoose, common genet and African civet. Common herbivore sightings include African cape buffalo, Ugandan kob, topi, bushbuck and waterbuck. Unusually, giraffe are absent on the plains as are wildebeest, cheetah and African wild dogs.
Activities within the park are centred around vehicle safari, walking and chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge, and boat cruises on the Kazinga Channel. Very much like its biodiversity it offers a varied range of wildlife viewing perspectives. Unfortunately, due to national park regulations night drives, off-road driving and serious walking safaris are forbidden.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is an excellent choice for those more experienced safari-goers who are happy to sacrifice sheer wildlife abundance for more specialist sightings. Its proximity to Kibale National Park to the north and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to the south ensures it combines well with these gorilla and chimpanzee trekking destinations.
Best Time To Visit
The climate of Queen Elizabeth National Park can be divided into 2 wet seasons and 2 dry seasons. Each season, and indeed the months within each season, offers you a different experience. There is no time of year that offers you the best of everything so we provide you with a balanced account throughout the year so you are able to make an informed decision on the best time to visit based on your preferences.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is accessible all year round for game viewing activities. The longer dry season runs from December to February with the shorter season being from June to July with August being somewhat of a shoulder month. The wet seasons are inclusive of the months of March to May and September to November. Due to its location close to the equator temperatures are almost constant throughout the year with very little variation from month to month. Expect highs of 28-30 degrees Celsius throughout the year.
Wildlife viewing, as is generally the case, is more prolific in the dry seasons. The drier landscape exposes wildlife due to thinning of vegetation and animals predictably congregate around permanent water sources. Unfortunately, the best time to view wildlife coincides with the highest prices of the season. The lowest prices vary between properties but generally the best deals can be had in the months of October, November, April and May. The premium months with regards prices are December, January, February, July and August, with the rest of the months roughly being somewhere in the middle.
Tourist numbers are lower in the wet season but thankfully QENP is blessed with relatively low tourist traffic throughout the year so crowding around sightings is very rare. The bush is at its most lush during and soon after the rains. This time is usually the best time of year for those wanting to see a large abundance of migratory birds. The vegetation dies off during the drier months giving the park a golden-yellow, parched appearance.