Day 1: Welcome to Uganda – the Pearl of Africa!
When you arrive at Entebbe International Airport, an Igeno Safaris guide/driver will pick you up and take you to Laico Lake Victoria Hotel – a mere seven-minute drive from the airport – where you’ll spend the night ahead of your trip to eastern Uganda tomorrow morning. Time allowing you’ll go on a tour of Entebbe and browse local markets, shop locally, or check out some of this chick colonial town’s favourite eateries and pubs as you mingle with the locals – Africa’s friendliest people.
Journey time: 7 minutes
Day 2: Visit the source of the Nile, the world’s longest river
Today you will be driven to Mbale town, which is located on Uganda’s border with Kenya, making sure to stopover at Jinja, the country’s second-biggest city. In the days of yore, Jinja used to be Uganda’s industrial capital, but today it’s a dazzling snare for intrepid tourists seeking adrenaline-filled adventure activities.
In Jinja, you will explore the source of River Nile and the Gandhi Monument before continuing to the Bujagali Falls on River Nile – just a few kilometres from the spot where the river begins its journey before meandering through the sands of the Sahara en route to the Mediterranean Sea.
If you have the heart for adrenaline, you could try out whitewater rafting, which is one of the key attractions in Jinja, together with bungee jumping. You will have lunch at a restaurant in Bujagali and then proceed to Mbale for dinner and overnight.
Travel time: 6 hours
Hotel options: Lacam Lodge
Day 3: Sipi Falls
Today begins with a beautiful morning trek to the bottom of the Sipi Falls, from where you will ascend to many caves.
Along the trail, you will go past many homesteads, banana plantations, and fields of maize.
After the morning hike, you’ll return to the lodge for relaxation and lunch before heading out again for a trek through this area’s lush coffee plantations. You will interact with the farmers and learn how coffee is processed locally and also get an opportunity to enjoy freshly-brewed coffee while you relax and marvel at the beautiful sunset.
You’ll later return to the lodge for dinner and slumber.
Hotel options: Lacam Lodge
Day 4: Track rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
After breakfast in the morning, you will continue your trip northwestern Uganda through Jinja and Kampala before arriving at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which was established to reintroduce black rhinos to Uganda following their extinction in 1982. Numbering slightly over 20 individuals, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where you can track these endangered species in the wild.
You will have lunch, dinner and overnight at a lodge near this vital sanctuary.
Day 5: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park
Your Day 5 in Uganda will begin early, continuing your journey to Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest and oldest protected area.
Upon arrival in the park, you will head straight to the peak of the falls to see the majestic flow of River Nile, the longest river on earth.
You will see how the waters of the Nile squeeze through a small gorge of only seven metres wide and drop down to over 42 metres below with a thunderous roar. Simply amazing!
You will have your packed lunch at a designated point inside the park and then head for an afternoon game drive to see various animals that reside in Murchison Falls National Park.
This afternoon's sightings will include elephants, hyenas, lions, bohor reedbucks, Cape buffaloes, bushbucks, Rothschild's giraffes, oribi, hartebeests, waterbucks, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll also spot the elusive leopard.
Tonight you will stay at Nile Safari Lodge or Paraa Safari Lodge, both of which are located inside the park.
Travel time: 2 hours
Hotel options: Nile Safari Lodge/Paraa Safari Lodge
Day 6: Game drive & boat cruise on the Nile
Today you will wake up as early as 6:00 am and head out for a game drive in the park.
Early morning is usually the best time for game viewing because animals are most active in the morning, and today you will be specifically on the lookout for some of the sightings you missed yesterday.
After the game drive, you will be driven to the lodge for breakfast and relaxation by the swimming pool. After lunch and relaxation, you will go for a boat ride on the Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls – only 10 metres from the “Devil’s Cauldron.”
On the cruise, you will see numerous hippos, giant crocodiles and, in the distance, Uganda kobs, elephants and waterbucks.
Also, there is such a variety of birds in the place that will blow your mind away! There are birds such as the uncommon shoebill stork, goliath herons, cormorants, Egyptian geese, Hombills, pelicans, kingfishers and bee-eaters.
The boat will leave you close to the falls from where you will hike to the top and enjoy breathtaking views of the waters of the great Nile squeezing their way through a narrow 7-metre gorge before dropping to over 43 metres below. You will find your guide waiting there.
Again, your abode for tonight will be either the Nile Safari Lodge or Paraa Safari Lodge.
Day 7: Transfer to Fort Portal
Since it is a long drive from Murchison Falls National Park to Fort Portal, you will set off early to the southwest through the Western Rift Valley’s Albertine Escarpment.
You will drive through Hoima, Bunyoro kingdom’s capital, where you will make a stopover at a restaurant in town for lunch.
You will continue through the green western Uganda countryside, traditional homesteads, as well as tea plantations before finally arriving in Fort Portal, Tooro kingdom’s capital.
Fort Portal is a charming town in the shadow of the legendary Mountains of the Moon, also known as the Rwenzori Mountains, Africa’s highest mountain peak!
You will be a guest at Primate Lodge/Ndali Lodge/Mountains of the moon, where you’ll dine and also spend the night.
Travel time: 8 hours
Hotel options: Primate Lodge or Ndali Lodge
Day 8: Visit Semliki Hot Springs
Today you will visit the breathtaking Semliki National Park, where you will have a morning game drive for an introduction to the park’s most famous residents.
The park is a large tract of lowland tropical forest, and it plays host to 441 bird and 53 mammal species, respectively. Common sightings here include forest and larger savannah elephants, crocodiles, waterbucks, buffalos, and Uganda kobs, among others.
But there are many chances that you’ll also spot the rare pygmy hippos and the elusive bushbabies and leopards.
After the game drive, you’ll return to the lodge for lunch and then head to the female and the male hot springs before wrapping up your day with a visit to the Kasenda Crater Lakes for some truly magnificent views! Later in the evening, you’ll return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast in the morning, you will be driven to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s tourism holy grail which is famous for playing host to the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha.
Up to 95 species of mammals, including 5,000 hippos, 3,000 elephants, more than 10,000 cape buffaloes have also been recorded in the park – in addition to 619 bird species. In fact, this is the most significant number of bird species you can find in a single protected area in the whole of eastern Africa!
Upon arrival in the park, you’ll have lunch, a bit of relaxation, and then head out for a two-hour boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake George and Lake Edward, an area that will reward you with sightings of various animals. The boat cruise will offer you great photo opportunities, game viewing, and birdwatching.
After the boat ride, you will visit the beautiful Crater Lakes Region and later return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Hotel options: Kyambura Game Lodge/Mweya Safari Lodge/Katara Lodge
Day 10: Kyambura Gorge chimp trekking
In the morning after you have had a cup of coffee/tea, you will head out for a game drive to Kasenyi and Queens Mile to see small animals, lions, kobs, elephants, waterbucks, cape buffalos, spotted hyenas, warthogs and mongooses – in addition to various birds.
After the game drive, you’ll return to the lodge for lunch before proceeding to the Kyambura Gorge for a rejuvenating forest walk and chimpanzee trekking expedition, where you will come face-to-face with human’s closest relatives.
The Kyambura Gorge is 16-kilometre long and 100-metre deep on the Rift Valley. In fact, you will need a walking stick for the trekking.
Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Day 11: Tree-climbing lions of Ishasha
After breakfast, you will head out for a game drive in the Ishasha plains whose fig trees are a hideout for lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting prey, especially the Uganda Kobs.
During the game drive, you’ll see some lions perched high on tree branches. Buffalo, topi and the Uganda kob are some of the other animals you’re likely to see during this game drive.
Today’s lunch will be served at Ishasha Wilderness Camp, on your way out of the park. After lunch, you will be driven to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, further southwest, where you will probably have the most captivating experience of this trip: mountain gorilla trekking.
Hotel options: Gorilla Resort Lodge / Silverback Lodge / Buhoma Lodge / Gorilla Safari Lodge
Day 12: Encounter with the rare mountains gorillas
In the morning after a quick, light breakfast, you will head out to the park headquarters for a briefing by the ranger guide. After equipping you with the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking, the ranger will divide you and other trekkers into 14 groups, for there are 14 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi.
Gorilla trekking is a physically demanding activity because of the long hours it can take; depending on how far the gorillas will have moved, the trek could take anywhere between one and eight hours.
However, from the onset, you will see various primates, coloured butterflies, birds and a variety of plant species.
Even though trekking can be strenuous, it will be worth it when you finally meet the gorillas! It’s gratifying and memorable to come into contact with these peaceful, gigantic primates.
According to park rules, you will be allowed to watch the gorillas at a five-metre distance as the old ones feed and the juveniles play – and for not more than one hour.
After the poignant gorilla trekking expedition, you will return to the hotel for lunch and relaxation and spend the rest of the evening on a leisurely ramble.
Day 13: Visit magical Lake Bunyonyi
Today you will travel to Lake Bunyonyi, which is tucked away in the rolling hills of Kabale and Kisoro districts, just about an hour’s drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Upon arrival, you will take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy some of the most breathtaking views southwestern Uganda has to offer – views of the lake itself, the numerous islands – 29 in total – and a variety of bird species. Estimated to be 44m to 900m deep, Lake Bunyonyi is also one of the continent’s deepest lakes, and it’s surrounded by hills that are 7,218 to 8,130ft high. Amazing views!
Travel time: 1 hour
Hotel: Heritage Lodge
Day 14: Lake Mburo National Park and back to Entebbe
Today you will head eastwards to Lake Mburo National Park for your final game drive of this trip. A mere three hours from Lake Bunyonyi, you will arrive in Lake Mburo National Park just in time for a mid-morning game drive, which will introduce you to the park’s best: beautiful impalas, zebras, cape buffalos, elands, oribis and topis.
The game drives aside, you will also enjoy a boat trip on Lake Mburo. The park is a perfect destination for birdwatchers, who will enjoy sightings of more than 250 species of birds found here, including
Caruthers’s cist colas, Papyrus gonoleks and Brown-faced lapwings.
When you are done with the game drive, you will have lunch at a lodge in the park and thereafter embark on a four-hour journey to Kampala, making sure to stop over at the Equator, the monument marking the centre of earth, where you can have your photo taken with one of your legs in the southern hemisphere and the other in the northern hemisphere.
Dine and slumber at your lodge in Kampala.
Day 15: Departure
Today is your final day with Igeno Safaris. Depending on your flight schedule, you may tour Kampala, visiting cultural sites, craft shops, and shopping malls. You will later be driven to Entebbe International Airport for your departure flight, marking the end of your 15-day trip to Uganda – the Pearl of Africa!