from $5,294
Book Now

12 Day Explore Uganda’s Hidden Gems (Group)

Created with Sketch. Lake Mburo, Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest, Murchison Falls
Excellent
Created with Sketch.

Duration

12 Days, 11 Nights

Created with Sketch.

Tour Type

Specific Tour

Created with Sketch.

Group Size

6 people

Created with Sketch.

Languages

___

Overview

Take the African safari holiday excitement to another level and spend 12 Days in a country little known to African safari crowds. The 12 Day Explore Uganda’s Hidden Gems trip is a scheduled safari package that is set to leave on designated dates.

The Explore Uganda’s Hidden Gems trip will start and end in Entebbe (your entry point into the country), then take you through the emerald green blanket that covers western Uganda, through the African savanna plains of Lake Mburo NP, Queen Elizabeth NP, Murchison Falls NP and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, eyeballing the ‘Big 5’ animals up close, together with outstanding personal service. It just does not get any better than this. With African safari game drives, boat safaris and nature hikes, its the closest you can get to an authentic Africa holiday, raw and in the lap of luxury.

The Explore Uganda’s Hidden Gems trip also takes you into the Abertine mountain jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable NP to meet the gentle giants in their natural cradle. Seeing the mountain gorillas will be the highlight of this trip. Are you coming?

Set departure dates

DateYear
19th March to 30th March2020
8th April – 19th April2020
7th May – 18th May2020
19th June – 30th June2020
3rd July – 14th July2020
24th July – 4th August2020
20th August – 31st August2020
4th September – 15th September2020
18th September – 29th September2020
16th October – 27th October2020
6th November – 17th November2020
23rd December – 4th January2020/2021
View More

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover the southern, central and north-western regions of the Pearl of Africa
  • Unforgettable encounter with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and with the chimpanzees in Kibale National Park
  • Beautiful hike “across” Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, accompanied by professional guide and armed rangers
  • Game drives and boat cruises in the main national parks of the country: Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls
  • Encounter with white rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
  • Meet, explore and learn from the local communities
  • Support sustainable tourism initiatives

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 — Arrive at Entebbe — Serena Lake Victoria Hotel
Day 1 — Arrive at Entebbe — Serena Lake Victoria Hotel

Arrival in Entebbe as per your international flights and transfer to Papyrus Guest House.

Optional Extra: in the afternoon (departure from the hotel must be max at 14.30/15.00 hours) departure by car and local canoe to Mabamba Swamp, one of the best places for spotting the rare shoebill storks. Of course, some fortune is needed but rarely does one leave the swamp without seeing one! Many other water birds have chosen this area as their home so birding is always very interesting. Enjoy a relaxing sundowner on Lake Victoria and then return to the Guest House.

• Accommodation: Papyrus Guest House (Garden Room)
• Meal Plan: Bed & Breakfast basis; Lunch & Dinner on own’s account

Day 2: Travel to Lake Mburu National Park
Day 2: Travel to Lake Mburu National Park

Start your Explore Uganda's Hidden Gems Safari with an early breakfast, travel to Western Uganda across the beautiful emerald landscapes, rolling hills and cultivated terraces. Stop-over en-route at Mpambire, to check out the craftsmen and watch the making of the African drums. You'll also stop over at the equator and arrive in Lake Mburo National Park in time for lunch.

After lunch at the lodge, take a savanna game drive in the park and 1-hour boat ride on Lake Mburu to admire the beautiful landscapes and in search of close encounters with the local fauna: bushbucks, bush duikers, crocodiles, hippos, plenty of water birds, etc.
The drive takes about 5-7 hours.

• Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock Lodge (Cottage) on the edge of the national park
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 3: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Day 3: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

At the break of dawn in Lake Mburo NP, have your breakfast, check out your room and get into your Explore Uganda's Hidden Gems safari truck for an early African savanna game drive in the park on your way out of the park.

Get onto the south western highway via Mbarara city and head towards Kabale's undisputed emerald beauty. Winding roads like Switzerland, hundreds of acres of tea plantations, forests, hills, valleys and fresh water lakes, a blanket of green towards the majestic chain of Virunga Volcanoes that some travellers have considered the most beautiful part of Africa.

You'll pass via the towns of Mbarara, Kabale and Kisoro before reaching Nkuringo, on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. With lunch enroute, you'll arrive with enough evening time to spare before sundown.

The drive takes about 5-7 hours.

In the afternoon, opt in for a stroll down to the Buniga Forest Trail Walk, an informative project run by USAID and the local Batwa community.

The Batwa tribe was forced to leave their home in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in 1991 when it was declared a UNESCO Heritage site for gorillas only. They had been living in the forest as nomadic hunter-gatherers for millennia, in perfect balance with the flora and fauna around. Moving out and suddenly living in communities with a completely different way of life has proven to be a huge challenge. They now survive as best as they can and earn a living explaining their previous life in the forest and their rich heritage.

Continuation of the walk through the community to visit the traditional herbalist and the black smith.

Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge (Private Cottage)
Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 4: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Day 4: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

After breakfast, at around 7:45 am, with packed lunch and drinking water, the Explore Uganda's Hidden Gems party will transfer to the National Park Head Quarters for the briefing on the gorilla trekking dos and the don’ts. You're then walked to the jungle trailhead for the start of the actual gorilla tracking.

The beauty of this rain forest is spectacular. The area offers a dramatic, steeply forested landscape and is incredibly dense, but crisscrossed by numerous animal trails allowing access to tourists. The time taken and the terrain vary as per the movements of these great primates. The thrill of spending time observing these gentle and endangered giants is an awesome, exciting experience to be long savored. Many find it to be a rare and moving opportunity. The tracking can take place at Nkuringo or at Rushaga (1 hr drive from Nkuringo), as per the gorilla permits obtained.

Upon return, relax at the lodge and, for those who like, at 5.00 pm either stroll through the community center or drive up to the “Top of the World” - the name given to the football field, high up in Nkuringo which offers amazing views over the peaks and forests around Nkuringo. A great way to stretch your legs after the gorilla tracking and to enjoy a sun-downer.

• Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge (Private Cottage)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 5: Hike and Canoe Across Lake Mutanda

This morning after an early breakfast, drive to Rubuguri Junction (10k – 1 hour) to start a nice hike across beautiful landscapes and local communities - a great opportunity to experience authentic village life (9km – 2/3 hours). Upon arrival at Lake Mutanda you then “settle” in a dugout canoe for 1.5-2 hours of gentle relaxed cruising across the lake, enjoying the beautiful panorama. Meet with your vehicle and drive back to Nkuringo.

Of course, you could also drive from the lodge directly to the lake (20k - 90 minutes), enjoy the canoe ride around the lake and drive all the way back to the lodge again. Guests decide!

• Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge (Private Cottage)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 6: Hike across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park

After a very early breakfast, drive along the Nteko Ridge till the junction of the Ivy River Trail with the forest (7 km) and then start the unforgettable hike across the forest (13km - 4-5 hours).

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a vast unique natural reserve - monkeys, duikers, bush pigs and some of Bwindi's world-renowned bird species plus many butterflies can be sighted. If you are very lucky you may even encounter gorillas! Once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighbouring Rwanda, the park is nowadays an ecological island within a sea of villages and farmland, its conservation importance is immense. The emphasis of this activity is for your walking guide to share his knowledge of the forest with you, it is not simply an A to B hike. The trail is also an important footpath for local people, particularly on market days, travelling from Nkuringo and Nteko to Buhoma, on the northern boundary of the park. There is no road through Bwindi so vehicles driving between the two locations have an incredible 170 km bone jarring journey taking 6 to 8 hours.

Upon arrival at the park headquarters in Buhoma, meet with the vehicle and departure to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The southern area of Ishasha is notably recognized for its resident ‘tree climbing’ lions that are an exceptional attraction and one of the highlights of all safaris taken within the park. The lions can be spotted hanging on branches of huge fig trees whereas the Uganda Kob (which is the major food to these lions) graze on the plains below. The drive takes about 4 hours (180 km).

• Accommodation: Kasenyi Safari Camp (Safari Tent)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Full day dedicated to game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park and to the boat trip on the Kazinga Channel - the 36 km waterway which connects Lake George and Lake Edward which allows special viewing of game and birds on the river banks, as the boat passes through pods of hippos. Crocodiles have only recently been seen in the Channel, they disappeared for 8,000 years after they were eliminated from Lake Edward by toxic ash from local volcanoes.

QENP is one of Uganda’s oldest parks being formed officially in 1952. The park was initially known as ‘Kazinga National Park’ before it was renamed in 1954 to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. QENP hosts 95 species of mammals, more than any other park in Uganda, and 619 bird species, the second highest of any park in Africa – the sixth highest of any park worldwide.

• Accommodation: Kasenyi Safari Camp (Safari Tent)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 8: Queen Elizabeth and Kibale National Park

Game drive through the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park and continuation to our lodge in Kibale National Park via the town of Fort Portal.

In the afternoon trek to the ‘Top of the World’ to enjoy fantastic views of the Rwenzori Mountains, crater lakes, tea plantations and local villages.

The drive takes about 3 hours (180 km).

• Accommodation: Primate Lodge (Luxury Cottage)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 9: Chimpanzee tracking and Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Morning chimpanzee trek. The density and diversity of primates in Kibale National Park is the highest in the whole of Africa. The most well-known of its 13 species are the chimpanzees, our closest relative. Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee population of this threatened primate is Uganda’s biggest. Additionally, Kibale is home to the uncommon I’Hoest’s monkey as well as East Africa’s biggest population of the endangered red colobus monkey. The black & white colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto are among the other primates.

Afternoon excursion to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a great example of a community-based approach to natural resources management which can be of good economic benefit to the local residents living within the area and to the tourism industry. This sanctuary is a paradise for bird watchers - skilled birders can spot up to 50 new species on a bird list. At today 138 species of birds have been recognized within the sanctuary, among which the Great Blue Turaco. Bigodi is also regularly visited by a diverse number of primate species from the nearby national park.

• Accommodation: Primate Lodge (Luxury Cottage)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 10: Northbound to Murchison Falls National Park

After an early breakfast, departure to Murchison Falls National Park. Located at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into the vast palm-dotted savannah, the park is bisected by the Victoria Nile. The “mythical” river plunges here 45m from the rift valley wall thus creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, centrepiece of the park and final “event” in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last energies from the river and transforms it into a broad placid stream flowing quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda's most remarkable wildlife spectacles.

Day 11: Murchison Falls National Park

Full day dedicated to the discovery of this unique national park.

Early morning game drive en route to the Victoria Nile Delta for a boat trip in this spectacular area teeming with birds and wildlife - several endemic species like the Rothschild's giraffe, the Shoebill stork and the red-throated bee-eater. Water level permitting, short walk accompanied by the ranger guide.

In the afternoon, scheduled boat trip to the Murchison Waterfalls (with the possibility to disembark and walk to the top of the falls – walk included) - amazing for the panorama and the possible encounters with the local fauna: elephants, giraffes, buffalos, crocs, antilopes … Game drive on the way back to the lodge.

• Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge (ensuite Thatched Cottage)
• Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 12: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and travel to Entebbe

After an early breakfast, departure to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking – located in Nakasongola it is the only place in Uganda where southern white rhinos can be tracked. In 1983 both black rhinos and northern white rhinos were declared extinct throughout Uganda so the purpose of the NGO Rhino Fund Uganda is to return rhinos back into the country, through a program of breeding and release. The first 6 rhinos were translocated in 2005-06 (4 from Kenya and 2 from the USA) and it was 5 years before the first healthy calf was born, making him (“Obama” is the name) the first rhino born in Uganda in almost 30 years!
After lunch continuation to Entebbe where arrival is expected around 17.00. Transfer to the airport in time for the evening flight out. End of services.

The drive takes about 6 hours (390 km).

• Meal Plan: Breakfast and Lunch; Dinner on own’s account.

Depending on your departure flight possibility to book a day-use or an overnight at Papyrus Guest House. Kindly note that to be on the safe side we recommend to book only night flights or to overnight in Entebbe.

Included/Excluded

  • Papyrus Guest House (Garden Room) for 1 night on Bed & Breakfast basis
  • Rwakobo Rock Lodge (Private Cottage) for 1 night on full board
  • Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge (Private Cottage) for 3 nights on full board
  • Kasenyi Safari Camp for 2 nights on full board
  • Primate Lodge Kibale (Luxury Cottage) for 2 nights on full board
  • Murchison River Lodge (ensuite Thatched Cottage) for 2 nights on full board
  • Lunch at Lake Mutanda Resort on day 5
  • Drinking water in the vehicle (1 litre per person per day) and while at Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
  • All the excursions and activities indicated in the itinerary (canoe ride, walks etc) under the supervision of an experienced English-speaking walking guide
  • Private 4x4 vehicle with experienced English-speaking driver-guide, from the morning of day 2 to the evening of day 12 (7 seater, if including the front seat near the driver)
  • Wi-Fi (in main areas of all Lodges and the Guest House)
  • AMREF Evacuation Insurance cover
  • Government taxes
  • 1 Gorilla tracking permit per person, 1 morning chimp tracking permit per person, Batwa Fees, Park/Forest Fees (995 USD)
  • Excursion to Lake Victoria and Mabamba Swamps on Day 1
  • All drinks, including the drinks for the sundowner on Day 1 and 4
  • Day-use room or extra night at Papyrus G.H. on day 12
  • Uganda Entry Visa fee
  • International air flights
  • Any optional activity not indicated in above program
  • Laundry Services
  • Gratuities and Tips

Tour's Location

Created with Sketch. Lake Mburo, Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest, Murchison Falls

FAQs

High Season/Low Season
Lodges Low Season: March, April, May, October, November

Lodges High Season: January, February, June, July, August, September, December
Tour terms and conditions
A 30% deposit of the total tour price will be required to secure a booking, the balance being due 45 days before the tour departure date.

Bookings not secured by the appropriate deposit will be released.

Cancellation between 90 and 45 days of tour departure will incur a 30% of tour price penalty charge. Confirmed bookings cancelled within 45 days of the tour departure date or no show will incur 100% of tour price penalty charge.

Availability of accommodation and activities is not guaranteed; reservations will be made after receiving confirmation of the final itinerary and the payment of the requested deposit. Should any of the quoted accommodations not be available, we reserve the right to substitute it with an alternative suitable option, which might affect the final quoted price.

All clients who participate in this tour must be adequately covered by medical insurance as well as travel insurance to protect them in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Rates specified for this tour are subject to change without notice, however every effort will be made to maintain them. In the event of any change of Government taxes or operating conditions that affect the rates we reserve the right to pass on these charges.
Gorilla Permits & Chimps permits policy
UGANDA GORILLA & CHIMP PERMIT CANCELLATION POLICY
(different and separate from the tour cancellation policy)

Gorilla and Chimpanzee Permits will be guaranteed ONLY upon receipt of the deposit (US$750 for both permits in 2019) since we need to immediately pay Uganda Wildlife Authority Offices in order to secure the permits.

Cancellations received on full payment:

• More than 90 days before the tracking date, 25% cancellation fee
• 89 to 46 days before the tracking date, 50% cancellation fee
• 45 to 9 days before the tracking date, 75% cancellation fee
• 8 to 0 days before the tracking date, 100% cancellation fee
Age limit policy
Important: the minimum age required for gorilla tracking is 15 years whereas for the chimps the minimum age required is 12 years; in case of flu or of any other airborne disease the visitor will be not allowed to meet with the gorillas or the chimps.

Reviews

5/5
Excellent
Based on 4 reviews
Excellent
4
Very Good
0
Average
0
Poor
0
Terrible
0
Gorilla Tours & African Safaris in Uganda

AshleyL

10/04/2020

The trip was absolutely wonderful.

The trip was absolutely wonderful. Thanks to our travel planner and guide, we were able to fit so much adventure into 12 days. Communication was always prompt and our planner quickly answered all of our questions leading up to and during the trip. The transfer from our Kenya guide to our Uganda guide was seamless. We realized an issue with logistics on the last few days a few days into our flight and our planner helped us solve it quickly. The only thing I would suggest they do differently: Our communication leading up to the Uganda portion of the trip was with the operations manager. We didn't meet our guide (or know that it wasn't the operations manager) until the morning we left for Kibale. It would have been nice to have some communication with our guide beforehand, as there were a couple things on the itinerary (prepared by the manger) that our guide seemed not to know anything about (namely a game drive in Queen Elizabeth park).
View More
Gorilla Tours & African Safaris in Uganda

GertrudeK

10/04/2020

The entire trip was so stress-free

I can’t thank this travel team, our trip planners, enough for the amazing job they did! The entire trip was so stress-free. One trip planner organized the entire itinerary and always made sure it was customized to include exactly what we wanted. Another continuously checked in to ensure we all had the appropriate travel documents and paperwork. They both were so responsive to our questions, especially days before we left for our trip. Everything was perfect and the trip completely surpassed our expectations.
View More
Gorilla Tours & African Safaris in Uganda

Jane

10/04/2020

Absolutely fantastic!

The trip went so smoothly due to the great planning and arrangements. We had a small hiccup on the trip due to miscommunication between the lodge and the transfer people, but our safari specialist saw my email to her immediately (it was 10pm at her location), and had all parties comply ASAP and we received profuse apologies from the travel vendors and immediate action was taken to resolve the problem. Very great service!
Gorilla Tours & African Safaris in Uganda

Mathew

10/04/2020

Knowledgeable adn responsive

Knowledgeable, responsive, receptive to input/feedback. They put together a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us with comfortable accomodations, mind-blowing wildlife viewing and smooth transfers between locations. Show Less
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 in total

Write a review

Created with Sketch.
from $5,294

You might also like

Get Updates & More

Thoughtful thoughts to your inbox