Day 1: Entebbe / Kampala, Uganda
Arrive in Entebbe, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. This city on Lake Victoria was a former British colonial administrative center. Entebbe's most famous sight is the National Botanical Gardens that were initially laid out in 1898. Uganda’s nearby capital, Kampala, established during the 13th-century Buganda kingdom, is one of the oldest cities in Africa. Built among lush hills and wetlands that were once royal impala-hunting grounds, Kampala today is a modern city of 1.7 million.
Days 2–4: Murchison Falls National Park
Drive today to Murchison Falls National Park, located at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, a turbulent stretch of whitewater that plunges 140 feet over a sheer wall to create the namesake falls. The calm stretch of river below offers superb wildlife viewing, with elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo and Nile crocodile frequently in view. Launch trips to the base of the falls and through the Lake Albert delta offer fine birdwatching, with a chance to see shoebills.
Days 5–6: Kibale Forest National Park
Continue by road to Kibale Forest National Park. The most accessible of Uganda’s major rain forests, Kibale harbors the greatest variety and concentration of primates in East Africa and is home to 13 different species, including chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys. The elusive forest elephant moves through the park seasonally. Kibale’s tremendous biodiversity also attracts a long checklist of rain forest birds. Activities include forest walks and wildlife viewing along the string of beautiful crater lakes that lie between Fort Portal and Kibale Forest.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Rise early this morning to depart by road for Queen Elizabeth National Park, skirting the western Rift Valley. Stretching from the crater-pocked foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains along Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River, the park's mosaic of habitats includes savanna, wetlands and lowland forest. On the Kazinga Channel, take a boat ride among the world’s largest concentration of hippos, as well as crocodiles, baboons and myriad birds—the park boasts more than 600 different avian species. It is also home to lion, buffalo, elephant and antelope. After lunch, continue to the southern sector of the park, reaching Ishasha Wilderness Camp to spend the night.
Day 8: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
On a morning game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you may be fortunate to spot the park’s famous tree-climbing lions. Continuing into the western mountains, visit a local school (time permitting) before reaching Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and your gorilla-trekking base in the rain forest. The park, whose name aptly references the dense forests it encompasses, is home to roughly half the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Though best known for its outstanding gorilla tracking, it also provides refuge to chimpanzees, monkeys, elephants and various small antelope. Bwindi is also a key Uganda birding destination, with 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including threatened species such as African green broadbill and Shelley's crimson wing.
Days 9 & 10: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Within the World Heritage Site that is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, discover one of nature travel’s peak experiences: a visit with wild gorillas in their natural habitat. About 1,063 wild mountain gorillas remain in the world, and Bwindi is home to about 459—a population that is growing, but still threatened by the increasing human population in the surrounding communities. Your safari includes two chances to spend time among the gorillas, often at very close range. Early in the morning, depart on a trek through the dense rain forest on a quest to locate one of the habituated family groups. Our local guides are expert trackers, reading signs of the gorillas’ recent presence in the undergrowth. Finally you hear and see them, and watch enrapt as they sit in the trees chewing leaves, babies clinging to mothers’ backs, juveniles swinging from branches, and a big male silverback surveying it all. It’s hard to tell who is more intrigued with the other, the gorillas or us! If time permits, visit Conservation Coffee, a local co-op of farmers who grow, process and roast beans to sell at a premium that benefits gorilla conservation. You may have a chance to walk through the coffee fields, pick some beans, and see firsthand how this sustainable community enterprise unfolds.
Day 11: Entebbe / Depart
Fly back to Entebbe today, where your Uganda safari adventure ends with your departing flight.