Areas of Interest: Lake Nabugabo, Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kazinga channel, Mweya Lodge, Kibale forest, Semliki National Park, Batwa pygmy village, Murchison falls
Activity: Game Drive, Game viewing, Camping, Scenery, Bird Watching, Historic Site Exploration, Photography, Gorilla trekking, Forest Walks, Culture, Boat Trip.
Once described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, Uganda is a lush and rich country split by numerous waterways. The Great River Nile is the biggest of these and was once the main attraction of explorers who toiled into the heart of Africa. Uganda has its share of diversity with savannah grasslands, dense forests and quiet lakes overlooked by high mountains. Mountains of the Moon (Ruwenzoris), chimpanzees and other species of primates can be glimpsed in the pristine Kibale forest. In addition, Elephant, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard are to be found in the various parks across Uganda and a breath taking sight is the mighty Nile pouring through a 6 meter gap of rock at Murchison Falls.
HipposDay 1 – Lake Nabugabo.
We pick you up from your hotel and depart for lake Nabugabo. This is a small, attractive lake cut off from its main sister – Lake Victoria by a narrow spit of forested land. It is a short drive from Kampala, so you will have plenty of time to get acquainted with the camp equipment and get to know the crew better. It is sometimes possible to hire a dug out canoe for a trip on the lake. A distinct advantage that Lake Nabugabo has over Lake Victoria is that the water is cleaner and apparently free of bilharzia.
Day 2 – Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga.
Leaving early via the pleasant transit town of Mbarara to arrive late afternoon at Bwindi Forest Reserve. Depending on the availability of bookings, we will use Mgahinga or Bwindi to track the Mountain gorillas. These areas are close to each other and situated in the Southwest part of the country. We spend the night at the park headquarters, Buhoma, on the northern edge of the Bwindi National park. This is where the gorilla visits start from and all the accommodation is located. Note that this area is rainforest and it rains a lot, so be prepared.
Baby GorillaCovering just 34 sq km, Mgahinga is part of the larger 420 sq km Virunga Conservation Area, and is contiguous with the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda and the Parc National des Virungas in Congo. Three spectacular volcanoes loom over the park headquarters at Ntebeko camp: Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.
Bwindi, also known as the Impenetrable Forest is one of Uganda’s most recently created National Parks. The park covers 331 sq km and encompasses one of the last remaining habitats of the mountain gorilla. It is here where half – an estimated 320 individuals of the surviving mountain gorillas in the world live. The park contains about 20 forest elephants, at least 10 species of primate (including chimpanzees, Colobus monkeys and baboons), duikers, bushbuck and the rare forest hog. It is here where more than 300 species of bird can be found, an obvious thrill for the keen bird-watcher. It is one of the richest areas in Africa for flora and fauna.
Day 3 – Bwindi or Mgahinga.
Departure from park headquarters with guides at 8.00 hours to track the rare mountain gorillas. The time spent with the gorillas is limited to an hour only, and as it is pretty dark in the forest, fast film is recommended for photographs. Please note that children under 15 years of age are not permitted to visit the gorillas, nor is anyone with a cold or other illness as this could endanger the health of the gorillas. d for photographs. upsu
At the time of research, there were three groups of Mountain gorilla in Bwindi – the Mubare group had nine individuals, while the Habinyaja group had split into two groups – group A with 21 gorillas and group B with 9 gorillas. There are a total of 16 permits available per day to visit these families so we will spend an extra day incase bookings are not available. The terrain in Bwindi is mountainous and heavily forested and on a lucky day it may take one hour to reach them, but four hours or more on an unlucky day. Nonetheless, you need to be in good shape.
There is just one group of gorillas in Mgahinga, with 11 individuals including 2 silverbacks. It can take longer to find the gorillas here as they have a tendency to duck into Rwanda or Congo (Zaire), but the terrain is easier to handle than at Bwindi. It is easier to get a confirmed booking here than at Mgahinga, though only 6 people head out from the park headquarters at Ntebeko camp at 8am each day.
Birds Day 4 – Bwindi or Mgahinga.
Gorilla tracking or walking in the vicinity. The Buhoma headquarters in Bwindi is in a beautiful setting and you can either do a short walk just outside the park, or take a half-day walk into the park for an extra fee, accompanied by a ranger.
There are three alternative routes; the waterfall trail is a strenuous walk that takes you to a 33 m waterfall on the Munyaga River and takes about three hours return, the Muzabijiro Loop trail gives excellent views south to the Virunga volcanoes and the western Rift Valley in Congo (Zaire), weather permitting (also takes three hours) and the community walks where you get a glimpse info the local lifestyle and see sections of relic forest.
Day 5 – Queen Elizabeth.
We will drive north along the Zaire border to Ishasha River and Queen Elizabeth National Park. This park is one of the most popular in Uganda, covering almost 2000 sq km and protects the entire Ugandan shore of Lake Edward. Mammals which are regularly seen by visitors include vervet monkey, baboon, Uganda kob, warthog, side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, bushbuck, topi, Defassa waterbuck, elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, lion and leopard. This area is also famous for its tree-climbing lion.
Day 6 & 7 – Queen Elizabeth.
We take a short drive north to the Kazinga Channel and Mweya Lodge. Mweya is a lovely place, which on a clear day offers spectacular views across the channel to the glacial peaks of the Ruwenzori Mountains. We will spend two nights here and take the boat trip on the channel to view the splendid bird life and abundant hippo. The boat trip also offers close encounters with elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, Uganda kob and crocodiles.
ChimpDay 8 & 9 – Kibale Forest.
Driving further north to the foothills of the Ruwenzori, we will make camp in the lush, tropical Kibale Forest Reserve. From this camp, we will spend time in the forest looking for chimpanzees (an estimated 600) and other primates. Set at an altitude of 1200m, this 560 sq km national park includes the highest density of primates. It is also home to several Colobus monkeys such as the rare red and the Angolan; larger mammals such as the bushbucks, sitatungas, duikers, civets, buffaloes and Ugands’a highest concentration of forest elephants.
We will then drive into Semliki valley, a beautiful corridor linking the heights of East Africa to the lush jungles of central Africa. Semliki National Park with its hot springs and the Batwa pygmy village are the main attractions in the Semliki valley. The national park is excellent for bird watching (about 400 species of which 10% occur nowhere else in Uganda) and has several primate and small mammal species.
Day 10 – Murchison Falls.
From Kibale Forest, departure will be early, to be able to drive the long distance to the 3,840 km sq Murchison Falls National Park. On the way, we will drive past some painted rocks that are in tribute to the Christian Martyrs. This park is the best all-rounder in Uganda, with animals in plentiful supply and the raging Murchinson Falls easily accessible. The most common large mammals include elephants, buffaloes, vervet monkey, olive baboon, Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbuck, Uganda kob, Defassa waterbuck, Rothschild’s giraffe, hippopotamus, warthog and lion. Over 460 bird species have also been recorded here.
Day 11 & 12 – Murchison Falls.
From our camp near the Nile, we explore this park by vehicle and will also take the boat up-river to Murchison Falls. To get there we take a superb boat ride up the Victoria Nile River to their base. En route there are crocodiles and hippos, thousands of birds (including the rare shoebill stork) and usually elephants. The best viewing of the 43m falls is up close. It is spectacular to see the 50m wide Nile squeeze through a 6m wide cleft in the rocks, and virtually shoot out the other side. It is possibly the most powerful natural surge of water found anywhere else in the world
Day 13 – Kampala.
Return to Kampala by afternoon and drop off at your hotel.