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18 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimps & Culture

18 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimps & Culture

18 Days

This 18 Days Uganda Safari showcases six of Uganda’s most spectacular national parks, with an unforgettable itinerary of wildlife safaris, gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking, community tours, beautiful scenery viewing, and relaxation.

You’ll enjoy thrilling game drives and boat cruises to see lions, buffalos, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, various species of antelopes, hippos, crocodiles, and lots of birds on the protected savannahs of Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, and Lake Mburo National Parks.

You will also track wild rhinos on foot in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, search for tree-climbing lions in Ishasha, trek wild chimpanzees in Kibale Forest, and take part in cultural experiences that help support conservation and the local community.

The top highlight of this 18 Days Uganda Safari will be mountain gorilla trekking in the ancient forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – the rare wildlife experience of a lifetime! On this tour, you’ll also relax at beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, which offers a variety of activities like boat cruise, canoe ride, zip ling, swimming, bird-watching, and community walks.

Main Safari Activities

  • Safari game drives in the four Uganda savannah parks
  • Safari boat cruises along the Nile River & Kazinga Channel
  • Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
  • Chimpanzee tracking on foot in Kibale Forest
  • Rhino tracking on foot in Ziwa Sanctuary
  • Searching for the rare tree-climbing lions
  • Visiting the top of the powerful Murchison Falls
  • Interactive village community walks
  • Relaxation on the scenic and serene Lake Bunyonyi
  • Optional canoe ride on Lake Bunyonyi
  • Game walk in Lake Mburo National Park
  • Uganda Equator crossing experience

Safari Highlights

Day 1: Arrive at Entebbe International Airport & Transfer to Your Hotel.

Day 2: Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary & Transfer to Gulu.

Day 3: Travel to Kidepo Valley National Park, Afternoon Game Drive.

Day 4: Whole Day Game Drives in Kidepo Valley National Park

Day 5: Morning game drive in Kidepo & afternoon cultural tour of the Karamajongo Traditional Village (Manyatta).

Day 6: Drive to Murchison Falls National Park, Optional Night Game Drive.

Day 7: Morning Game Drives in the Northern Savannah Plains & Afternoon Boat Cruise to the Bottom of Murchison Falls.

Day 8: Morning Nile Delta Boat Cruise with a Bush Breakfast & Evening Game Drive.

Day 9: Visit the top of the falls & transfer to Kibale Forest National Park

Day 10: Morning Chimpanzee Trekking & Afternoon Bigodi Community Walk.

Day 11: Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park, afternoon game drive

Day 12: Morning game drive in Kasenyi Sector & afternoon boat cruise on Kazinga Channel.

Day 13: Crater Lake Drive with a Visit to Katwe Salt Lake Community. Transfer to Ishasha Sector, the home of tree-climbing lions.

Day 14: Game Drive in Ishasha Sector & transfer to Bwindi National Park

Day 15: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi & travel to Lake Bunyonyi for relaxation.

Day 16: Whole day Relaxation at Lake Bunyonyi; Optional Activities: Boat Cruise, Canoeing, Hiking, or Community village walk.

Day 17: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park. Have a Lunch stop at Igongo Cultural Centre, and an evening game drive on arrival.

Day 18: Morning game walks in Lake Mburo National Park & Drive back to Entebbe via the Uganda Equator.

Detailed Safari Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe

Your fantastic 18 Days Uganda Safari starts as soon as you land at the Entebbe International Airport. You’ll be met by our tour guide who will help load the bags into our comfortable vehicle before you transfer to your hotel located nearby.

It was from the airport you just landed at that Queen Elizabeth II departed Africa to return to England in 1952, when she learned of her father’s death and that she had become Queen of the United Kingdom. Entebbe airport was also the scene of a famous hostage-rescue mission (Operation Thunderbolt) carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces on 4 July 1976.

Entebbe is a small peaceful city, stunningly located on the shores of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, about 40km southwest of the capital Kampala.

If your flight arrives early, you might visit one or more of the nearby attractions like Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Mabamba Swamp or Uganda Reptiles Village.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Protea Hotel Entebbe/Hotel No.5/Serena Lake Victoria Resort

Mid-range: Boma Hotel Entebbe/2 Friends Beach Hotel Entebbe

Budget: Airport Guest House

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 2: Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary & Transfer to Gulu.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Rhinos-min

After an early breakfast on day 2 of your 18 Days Uganda Safari, embark on a drive of about 8 hours (422km) north to Gulu, the largest town in northern Uganda.

En route, make a stop at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary; home to Uganda’s only rhinos. Here you get the chance to track wild white rhinos on foot. Your experienced guide will keep you safe while you approach these magnificent beasts up-close.

Don’t forget to take photos or to breathe – you will get to appreciate what a two-ton animal really looks like while your adrenaline is pumping.

After seeing the rhinos, you’ll have lunch at nearby Kabalega Dinners before continuing on to your hotel in Gulu for relaxation, dinner, and overnight.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Gulu Churchill Courts Hotel

Mid-range: Gulu Churchill Courts Hotel

Budget: Gulu Churchill Courts Hotel

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3: Travel To Kidepo National Park

Kidepo Lodges

After breakfast today, depart Gulu for Kidepo (about 3 hours/155km drive). You arrive at your lodge in time for lunch. After lunch, have some time to relax and then you’re off on your first game drive of the 18 Days Uganda Safari!

You will learn more about this wonderful park as you drive along looking for the amazing mammals, birds, scenery, and more. Kidepo ranks among the finest wilderness landscapes in Africa and has consistently been featured in top travel publications such as CNN Travel as one of the best safari parks on the content. The park covers an area of 1442km2. Its vast savannah plains are home to over 77 mammals and 500 bird species.

Many animals here cannot be found anywhere else in Uganda; these Cheetahs, Ostriches, Bat-eared foxes, Black-backed jackals, Caracals, and Kudus. Other animals include Zebras, Giraffes, Elephants, Buffalos, Hyenas, Lions, and Leopards.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Apoka Safari Lodge

Midrange: Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Budget: Kidepo Savannah Lodge/Apoka Rest Camp

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Optional Activity: Night Game Drive

Day 4: Game Drives In Kidepo

After an early breakfast on day 4 of your 18 Days Uganda Safari, you’ll have your packed lunch and embark on an unforgettable game drives through the rugged and isolated wilderness of Kidepo. You’ll explore the Narus Valley which contains the only permanent water sources and most of the park’s wildlife.

You also tour the Kidepo Valley which is dry compared to Narus and have fewer animals. It is however a beautiful wilderness and has special features such as the dry river sandy beds, hot springs, and mountains. You will return to your lodge in the late afternoon for relaxation, dinner and overnight.

Day 5: Game Drive & Karamajongo Village Visit

Kidepo National Park

On day five of your 18 Days Uganda Safari, you have another game drive in Kidepo. You will explore more game viewing tracks to see more animals and birds and return to your lodge for lunch and some relaxation. In the afternoon, you’ll visit a traditional Karamajongo homestead, known as “Manyatta” for cultural experience.

The Karamajongo people, who are closely related to the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania, continue to practice their traditional way of life, unaffected by modernization.

You’ll learn about their traditions, see their distinctive housing, ornaments, and crafts, and be treated to a traditional dance.

Day 6: Transfer To Murchison Falls

After breakfast today, you depart for Murchison Falls (approximately 400km/7-8 hour drive). You’ll travel through northern Uganda’s spectacular countryside and you’ll have lunch in Kitgum Town.

You will arrive in Murchison Fall NP in the late afternoon for dinner and overnight. Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest safari park and a great place for wildlife safaris because it has so many animals and birds. The park is crossed by the mighty Nile River on which the world’s strongest waterfall is located.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Nile Safari lodge/Paraa Safari Lodge/Bakers Lodge

Mid-range: Pakuba Safari Lodge/Murchison River Lodge

Budget: Hornbill Safari Lodge/Heritage Safari Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7: Game Drive & Boat Cruise

Day 7 of your 18 Days Uganda Safari starts with an early breakfast. Then do a 4 hour game drive in the savannah in the northern part of the park and see a range of animals such as Elephants, Buffalos, Lions, Leopards, hyenas, giraffes, Kob, Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Warthog, Baboon, Patas Monkey, etc.

After a game drive, return to your lodge for lunch and relaxation. In afternoon, enjoy a relaxing 3 hour boat cruise on the Nile.

The boat tour will take you to the base of the falls and from where you’ll witness the most powerful waterfall in the world. En route, you’ll marvel at huge Crocodiles and hippos, and see Buffalos, Elephants, and Giraffes quenching their thirsts on the world’s longest river.

You will also spot many bird species like Goliath heron, Egyptian goose, and Fish eagles. After taking shots of photogenic falls, you will head back to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Nile Safari lodge/Paraa Safari Lodge/Bakers Lodge

Mid-range: Pakuba Safari Lodge/Murchison River Lodge

Budget: Hornbill Safari Lodge/Heritage Safari Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8: Nile Delta Boat Cruise & Evening Game Drive.

On day 8 of your 18 Days Uganda Safari, you have another full day to enjoy all that Murchison Falls NP has to offer. You enjoy a thrilling boat trip to the Nile Delta, the place where the River Nile flows into Lake Albert. The banks of the delta are home to many bird species, including the rare shoebill stork.

You’ll also have a great opportunity to see the beautiful landscapes and of course animals. One of the highlights of the 5-hour boat tour is a stop along the banks of the Nile for a bush breakfast. In the evening, you can opt to enjoy another wildlife game drive, or to just relax at the lodge and enjoy your last afternoon.

Day 9: Top Of The Falls Visit & Transfer To Kibale

After a relaxed breakfast today, visit the top of majestic falls. Several scenic viewpoints here are a photographers’ delight. After observing the falls, you’ll take a scenic drive of about 6 hours (366km) south to Kibale Forest National Park, home to the greatest density and diversity of primates in Africa.

You will arrive in beautiful town of Fort Portal in time for lunch. Fort Portal lies in the shadow of the legendary “Mountains of the Moon” and is known for its many tea plantations. After lunch, you continue on a drive of about 1 hour to your overnight lodge inside or near Kibale Forest.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Crater Safari Lodge/Primate Lodge Kibale/Kyaninga Lodge

Mid-range: Kibale Forest Camp/Chimpanzee Forest Guest House

Budget: Chimpanzee Forest Guest House/Kibale Forest Camp

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 10: Chimp Trekking & Bigodi Village Walk.

After an early breakfast today, you’ll meet the park guides at 7am for a briefing and start the chimpanzee trekking adventure at 8.00. The trek takes 2 to 5 hours and you’ll see several other primates like Baboons, Mangabeys, Vervet, L’Hoest’s, Red Colobus, and Black-and-white Colobus, Red-tailed, and Blue monkeys.

On encountering the chimps, you have on hour to enjoy these precious creatures. Kibale Forest National Park offers a 95 percent chance of seeing some of its 1,500 chimpanzees.

Chimps are more closely related to us than any other living creature. After you time with them, return to the lodge for lunch and leisure. In the afternoon, go for walk in Bigodi Village to get a real feel for rural life in Uganda.

Day 11: Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

After a leisurely breakfast on day 11 of the 18 Days Uganda Safari, your tour driver guide will take you on a scenic drive of about 2-3 hours (157km) south to Uganda’s most popular safari destination, Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Set on the floor of the Rift Valley, with the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains behind, the landscape of northern Queen Elizabeth comprises dozens of ancient craters carved into rolling hills.

The Kazinga Channel lies in the park’s central regions, its banks fertile with large mammals such as hippo, elephant, and buffalo, and over 610 bird species, more than any other park in East Africa. On arrival, enjoy lunch, relax and then head out on a game drive in search of the varied wildlife within the park, returning to your lodge at sunset.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge/Katara Safari Lodge/Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Mid-range: Enganzi Game Lodge/Bush Lodge/Marafiki Safari Lodge

Budget: Bush Lodge/Pumba Safari Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 12: Game Drive & Boat Cruise

Have a good breakfast and embark on sunrise game drive in the beautiful Kasenyi savannah plains – known for its lions and Uganda Kobs. If you’re lucky, you could even spot the elusive leopard or a Giant forest hog, the largest wild member of the pig family, Suidae. Then, head back to the lodge for lunch and relaxation.

In afternoon, go for a 2 hour boat trip on Kazinga Channel, home to some of largest populations of hippos in Africa. Crocodiles bask in the sun on the shores and elephants often come to the water for a drink.

You’ll see fantastic waterbirds like pelican, fish eagles, storks and spoonbills. This is one of the best photographic opportunities of this 18 Days Uganda Safari – so don’t forget your camera!

Day 13: Crater Lake Drive & Ishasha Sector Tour

After relaxed breakfast today, head out for crater drive. Follow a scenic track around the rims of extinct explosion craters filled, with lakes, forest, and grassland. Explore the Katwe Salt Lake where a local community has been extracting salt for over 600 years. Learn about the traditional salt mining process before heading to the Ishasha Plains, famous for its tree-climbing lions.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Mid-range: Enjonjo Lodge

Budget: Enjonjo Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Optional Activities:

  • Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge
  • Coffee tour around Kyambura

Day 14: Ishasha Game Drive & Transfer to Bwindi

After an early breakfast on day ten of your 16 days Uganda safari, you’ll undertake a 4-hour (218km) morning game drive in the Ishasha Sector for an opportunity to see the rare tree-climbing lions and other wildlife as you enjoy the beautiful wilderness sceneries of Africa which is amazing

After the game drive, embark on a 4-hour drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a World Heritage Site. Bwindi is the best place on Earth to see wild mountain gorillas. Only 1063 wild mountain gorillas remain on the planet and Bwindi is home to over half of them. It’s also home to about 120 other mammal species.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Haven Lodge Buhoma/Gorilla Forest Camp/Buhoma Lodge

Mid-range: Gorilla Mist Camp/Ichumbi Lodge/Agandi Uganda Lodge

Budget: Trekkers Tavern Cottages

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 15: Gorilla Trek & Lake Bunyonyi Relaxation.

After an early breakfast, pick your packed lunch and transfer to the park office where you’re briefed and assigned the gorilla family. At 8 am, set off on foot to trek the lush, tropical mountains to see Uganda’s rare mountain gorillas. The gorilla trek takes 2 to 6 hours and can be relatively difficult.

Since these highly endangered creatures do not breed in captivity, encountering a silverback gorilla and his family in the wild is one of the world’s most moving and thrilling wildlife experiences.

You spend one hour observing them, a truly privileged experience. You then have a picnic lunch and go relax on the nearby beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, driving through fascinating Highlands of Kigezi where locals apply terracing methods to cultivate their slopes deriving impressive scenery.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Birdnest @Bunyonyi Resort

Midrange: Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 16: Whole Day at Leisure.

Lovely Lake Bunyonyi, often known as “Place of Many Little Birds,” is encircled by the steep, terraced Kigezi Hills. There are 29 islands in the lake, many of which are populated.

It is a magical area to wake up in, especially with the lake still covered in early morning mist. At this time you can see school children paddling the traditional dugout canoes to school and farmers transporting their goods to the marketplace.

Here you can fill your time swimming, hiking, zip lining, bird watching, and taking boat rides to any of the islands on the lake. You can also have a cultural walking tour in the area and learn about the legends, traditions, and customs of the people who make a home on the shores of the lake.

You can visit a craft group, a traditional healer, take in stunning views from one of the high points on the lake or try your hand at paddling one of the traditional dugout canoes. Bunyonyi is the ideal place for relaxation. The only chatter you’ll hear in this location is that coming from the many birds.

Day 17: Transfer to Lake Mburo

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast on day thirteen of your 18 Days Uganda Safari and embark on a drive northeast to Lake Mburo NP (approximately 199km/3-4 hours).

You pass small villages, coffee farms, and banana plantations. You’ll make a stop at Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara town for lunch. After lunch, you proceed to the park and look out for the herds of Ankole cattle on the way to the entrance.

You’ll check in your lodge, have some time to relax and then embark on an evening game drive, returning to the lodge at sunset. Mburo is the only places in Uganda where you can see Impalas and many Zebras.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Mihingo Safari Lodge

Mid-range: Rwakobo Rock

Budget: Eagles Nest Mburo

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 18: Game Walks & Back To Entebbe

After an early breakfast today, join a local park ranger guide who knows the area better. Search for the Zebras, Giraffes, Elands, Impalas, Top, Waterbucks, Bushbucks, various species of birds, and more on foot (there are no elephants or lions to worry about here, so you’re safe without a vehicle!).

After a game walk, set off on 3-4 hour (240km) drive back to Entebbe. En route, stop at Uganda Equator monument at Kayabwe, where you can stand in the middle of the Earth and pose for a photo! It’s also an impressive site for purchasing souvenirs to take back home.

From here proceed to Entebbe and you arrive in afternoon. Depending on your flight time your tour guide will take you directly to the airport or to a chosen hotel where you have arranged a day room if you have a late flight. Safe Travels!

Meal Plan: Breakfast

End Of The 18 Days Uganda Safari

Safari Includes

  • Gorilla trekking permit
  • Chimpanzee tracking permit
  • Full board accommodation on the safari
  • Transportation in a 4X4 safari vehicle
  • Service of the English speaking driver/tour guide. Any other foreign language speaking guide can be arranged on request.
  • Bottled drinking water in the safari vehicle
  • Park entrance fees
  • All activities Mentioned in the itinerary

Safari Excludes

  • International flights
  • Visa fee
  • Laundry services
  • Tips
  • Items of personal nature
  • All meals & drinks not specified

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18 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimps & Culture