Day 1: Entebbe or Kampala - Mabamba Swamp & Shoebill Stork Search
After arriving at night, you can rest till the late morning or early afternoon. The 12 day Uganda safari begins; we pick you up at your Entebbe or Kampala hotel any time before 13.00hr and drive to Mabamba swamp to search for the most sought after bird in Africa, the ancient looking Shoebill Stork along with many other birds in the Swamp. It takes about 1 hour to drive from Entebbe to the boat / Canoe, mainly on dirt roads - about 50km (1½ hour) west of Kampala. Mabamba Swamp is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the western main body of Lake Victoria in Mpigi District. You will then access the swamp in local fishing boat / Canoe with a local guide.
Pack a nice lunch, take some bottled water take along a good pair of Binoculars, hat, sun protection, insect repellent, light rain jacket. long-sleeved shirt, and long trousers – all in your backpack.
Mabamba Swamp is a large tract of marshlands with various channels through it and it provides the perfect habitat for countless of water - birds away from the Shoebill Stork such as Swamp flycatcher, African purple swamp hen, African water rail, Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler and the Blue Swallow Common moorhen, lesser jacana, African jacana, African pygym Goose, White-faced whistling duck, Squacco heron, Blue reasted Bee-eater, Winding cisticola, Goliath Heron and many others
Back in the day, the Shoebill Storks were being killed in Uganda by superstitious fisherman who saw their sighting as a bad omen, meaning no success during fishing once found.
We end our day with a drive and check into your Kampala preferred lodging.
Day 2: Murchison Park Drive, stop off at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
We pick you up from the accommodation of your choice in Kampala after breakfast. The African Adventure Safari begins with an early morning 4 hour drive to the Uganda Rhino home - Ziwa. It is best to depart not later than 6 am since this is going to be a busy day and you do not want to waste much of you morning hour sitting behind Kampala rush hour traffic especially on a business day. We provide bottled water along the journey. There a restoration of the Rhinos who were hunted into extinction during the war years in the past of Uganda. Rhinos are hunted for their horns. The horns are made into handles for daggers and swords in places such as Yemen and ground into medicine in China. A pound of Rhino Horn can cost over 50,000 USD. Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is protected by 24 hour security and a solar powered electrical fence.
Here Rhinos are bred and prepared for reintroduction. The sanctuary ranger will meet you upon arrival and give you an introduction to the Sanctuary and some information about our Rhinos. Depending on where the rhinos are, you will drive to the closest point and approach the rhinos on while walking. You will then have a chance to watch the rhinos in their habitat at a very close and very safe, point. This is another wonderful 1-2 hour African experience. There is decent basic but nice and clean lodging with a restaurant serving tasty food and drinks for those wanting to spend a night on their way up or from Murchison Falls NP.
Then continue to Murchison Falls National Park. On some maps and even guide books, it is still referred to as Kabarega Falls, a name change given to us by Idi Amin, it reverted back to Murchison Falls soon after he was gone in 1979. Arrive at your choice of lodging: There is the most preferred Up-Market Paraa Safari lodge for thier strategic location and tasty food. Mid-range Fort Murchison Lodge outside of the park and very basic Budget Red Chilli Camp. Settle into your room and take a break from the journey with a nice lunch. At Paraa Lodge and Nile Safari Lodge there is a pool for to enjoy. After lunch we are off for the first game drive where you will see lions, elephants, giraffes, antelopes of all types, warthogs, buffaloes. Explore more of Murchison Falls here. There is nothing to be hurried, the vehicle stops at your beckon and you are escorted by an expert guide who is fully familiar with were to find elusive lions, elephants, giraffe, explain the trees and birds.
Day 3: Safaris drive & Nile River Boat Safari
Early morning breakfast and off for the morning game drive where you will see more and new animals and birds as you travel along Lake Albert and through the savannah. You will be simply glad that you came here and hate to return to the lodging facility for rest and lunch.
After lunch it is off to one of the major highlights of Murchison Falls National Park, motorized boat ride on the Nile to view the crocodiles, the many hippos along the bank and in the river, the birds, monkeys, buffaloes, elephants and so much more and of course the bottom of the falls. This is a three hour trip and it is best to wear a hat and lots of lotion. Use some insect repellent to avoid being bitten by Tsetse flies.
Dinner at lodging and rest for the night.
Day 4: Drive to Fort Portal – Kibale Chimpanzee Forest Park
Breakfast early and we move on to Kibale Forest, driving to some beautiful countryside which is a bonus along the way. Lunch along the journey and of course we provide drinking Water while in the vehicle as we travel. This will probably be your longest drive (about 7 hours) on your African adventure, best if we leave not later than 8 am in the morning.
We reach Fort Portal area where you can stay either at budget, moderate or up-scale lodging facilities as you have selected. We check in and have dinner and rest for the night after a long day of travel. Recommended for the experience (Chimps' Nest Tree House in the jungle)
Day 5: Kibale Forest Chimp Tracking & afternoon Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary Walk
Drive to Kanyankyu River camp at 0800hours just after your early morning breakfast for a pre – tracking briefing – go for the most popular activity in this park – Chimpanzee Tracking. Chimps are man’s closet cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate’s species. More primates like Black and white Columbus monkeys, L’Hoest Monkeys, Grey cheecked Mangabey, Red tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos and many bird species like the yellow spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, Little green bul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee eater and mammals like Elephants can be seen in this walk. The chimpanzees you will encounter are habituated meaning that they are used to human beings but not all chimpanzees in the park are habituated. The process takes up to two years.
Return for lunch at your lodge.
You may consider spending more time with the Chimps and not just the 3-hour chimp trek of which just one is spent with them. You can do the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) and spend 4 hours watching and following the chimpanzees through the forest.
Common Question; What is the difference between regular Chimpanzee Trekking and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience?
Habituation here is simply a process of getting the chimpanzee oriented to human presence while in thier natural habitat. When you go for Chimpanzee Trekking, you are one hour with a fully habituated Chimpanzee Group after finding them. That means they are used to human beings. When you go on a 4-hour Habituation Experience, you are observing a Chimpanzee Group that is in the process of being habituated, – a process that takes up to two years long and you are a participant in the process. You go down in to the rainforest with a guide in a small group - max of 4 plus ranger. Once you find the chimps, you watch and follow them through the rainforest for a few hours. Expect the experience to differ each day as these are wild animals who are not trained to perform as if they are in a circus. On some days the trek may however be hard as you are often moving fast through dense forest so as to not lose the chimps. Learn more about Chimp Habituation Experience Vs. regular chimp trek.
Please Note – As of July 1, 2020, the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience increased in price from $200 to $250. Regular Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest increased from $150 to $200. Advance planning is necessary as this is not something you are going to decide on ground.
Afternoon Walk at Bigodi Swamp Wetlands which is next to Kibale Forest and you just might see chimpanzees again and of course lots of birds are found there including the Shoebill Stork, the great Blue turaco, Blue monkeys, Baboons, otters, Mongoose, Bush bucks, Bush pigs and many more. Kibale Forest is also home to Forest Elephants who are hairier and smaller than their savannah cousins. They also have smaller tusks which allows them to roam the forests. You can also find Forest Buffaloes which are redder in color than the ones on the savannah. Kibale Forest is a part of a migration corridor that extends through Queen Elizabeth Park into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Look at the toes of a forest Elephants if you have time. they have one more toe than do its savannah cousins.
Bigodi Swamp Wetlands is a community project that has been put together quite well and entrance and guide fees benefit the local community.
Day 6: Move to Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Park and Game Drive
Breakfast and off for lunch at Queen Elizabeth Park where we check into the lodge you choose. There is the luxury Mweya Lodge, Budget/moderate price - Bush Lodge Tented Camp and many more. The Bush lodge location is overlooking the famous Kazinga Channel. The natural channel connecting Lake Edward and Lake George.
Lunch at the lodge, rest and late afternoon game drive across the candelabra euphoria tree studded savannah. Lift up your vehicle pop-up roof so you can stand and take better pictures, if you use a bean bag you can steady the camera for better pictures. Nothing to be hurried, if you see something the driver will stop at your beckon. Queen Elizabeth National Park is bordered by the snow-capped 16,000ft Rwenzori Mountains in the north – the “Mountains of the moon” The 767-square-mile conservation area is bordered on the North East by Lake George and on the South West by Lake Edward; its western border connects to the Zaire Parc Du Virunga. Expect to see teeming herds of impala-like Uganda Kob, as well as topi, elephant and lion, giant forest hog, Cape buffalo. There are also several soda lakes filling ancient volcanic calderas where flamingos reside seasonally. Return to the lodge for dinner and night rest.
Day 7: Morning Safari drive and afternoon Kazinga Channel Launch Cruise
There is nothing like a breakfast while on Safari and there is nothing like the smell of it as you awaken. It is off to a morning game drive catching some of the nocturnal animals as they call it a night. As you drive along there is nothing like a herd of Elephants moving across the track ahead of you. A pair of lions in the distant savanna grass. Buffaloes grazing in the early morning hour. Birds flying overhead, maybe a rock python here or there. The game track rides last about 2½ to 3 hours but you won't even realize the time has gone by.;
Back to your accommodations at Queen Elizabeth, enjoy some unscheduled time and then it is lunch time after which you are off on a boat ride along the Kazinga Channel where there are hippos, hippos and more hippos. Hopefully you find an open mouthed hippo for a great shot. It has highest concentration of hippos in Africa. At one time there were too many hippos and their grazing denuded the surrounding grasslands. Before independence they would be culled by the wildlife authorities. The locals ate the meat and after Idi Amin came to power, poachers and soldiers, and again at the fall of Idi Amin, many hippos were shot by locals, rebels and soldiers.
Hundreds of birds of all kinds, some crocodiles, elephants and buffaloes. It is simply a fabulous boat ride that usually is one of the highlights of a safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Enjoy dinner and another night under the African star filled sky as you sit outside quietly taking it all in.
Day 8: Head Further South to Bwindi Gorilla Park - Driving through the the Tree Climbing Lion Ishasha Sector of QENP
Late breakfast then we drive southword through stunning savannah grasslands as we head towards the breathtaking adventures of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Either (roads permitting) we will pass the southern sector of the park – Ishasha, a remote and beautiful but unvisited extension of Queen Elizabeth National Park that is host to a large variety and volume of wildlife. It is a fabulous to spot the lions draped from the trees and nowhere in Africa do you stand a better chance of seeing this than in the large low limbed fig trees of Ishasha. Here we do a 2½ hour game drive accompanied by a UWA expert, lunch at the Savannah Resort Hotel, then drive to Bwindi Gorilla park in the afternoon. The above plan is really very situational as it entirely relies on the weather season of the time you are visiting. – There is much difficult accessing this part of the park during rain seasons and it’s advisable not to take chances. – It doesn’t matter what kind of 4x4 vehicle you are using. – Therefore this game drive is really optional and not included at the time of costing this safari.
The alternative route is through cultivated expanses and we are not doing any game drive on the way up to Bwindi Park. The location of lodging can depend on where your permits are for in the park. Bwindi, Mgahinga alongside Rwanda’s Volcanoes Parks and Congo’s Virunga Volcanoes are habitats to the only endangered mountain gorillas left in the whole world. Check into the Lodging of your choice at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. In the afternoon we take a forest walk. Lots of opportunities to see mammals and birds as we are guided by a Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger. We return to the lodging facility for a break, dinner and sleep for the night.
Day 9: Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Early morning breakfast and proceed to the briefing point. Enjoy the highlight of your trip- Gorilla trekking, which may last from 2 to 8 hours depending on the group you are visiting. We trek through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide and other trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. The gorillas move to a new location daily and never stay in the same place, twice. When sighted, visitors will be guided to within 5 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for not more than one hour while gazing into their big round eyes. A party of not more than 8 will be allowed to visit a gorilla family each day. Children under 15 are not permitted. Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.
After your tracking (trekking) experience return to your accommodation for a well deserved rest. If there is time you might do an afternoon walkabout in a pigmy village and give you some cultural insights into the local Batwa culture. Further Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Information.
Day 10: Bwindi – Lake Bunyonyi:
You can go for an optional guided nature walk in Bwindi after breakfast then head to Lake Bunyonyi. But this should depend on whether you should use the village trial or one of the five trails. After lunch break, we depart for Lake Bunyonyi. Lake Bunyonyi is another major tourist stopover that is undeniably amazing. The area, known as "little Switzerland", is a good place to relax. A lot of Overland Campers think so too! Scenic Lake and hills. Swimmable water if careful to avoid reedy bits.
Undoubtedly Lake Bunyonyi is a different experience. It is not a Wildlife destination although you may see Otters and will see Birds. It's an R&R (Rest and Recreation) stopover. Many of our guests/customers and travel agents think its a good to break up the long drives.
It is the 2nd deepest lake in Africa, it contains lots of the tasty crayfish, so get set for a culinary delight. Bunyonyi is a local word that means “many small birds” in direct translation. Its a must stop for committed birders and besides that its serpentine shape and the 29 Islands other highlights one must look out for. Check in at your preferred Lake Bunyonyi lodging. There are many things to do here; you can do a canoe ride, check out islands like Bwama Island good for birders or you could take a nature walk along shore on one of the islands helping you to appreciate a variety of small birds or simply relax. Well deserved after a day of gorilla tracking the day before,....dinner at your lodging.
Day 11: Lake Bunyonyi – Lake Mburo & afternoon Boat Ride
Breakfast, and head to Lake Mburo Park that is nearby and another beautiful Park. Check out the lovely Kigezi highlands, the scenery is simply soothing to the eye in the evergreen state of Africa. You can stay at one of the classy up-market tented camps that are eco-friendly and simply one of the nicest places you have ever stayed at or the budget. – Go here for Lake Mburo Park lodging choices. Arrive for lunch at your choice of lodging at Lake Mburo.
After lunch go for the afternoon Boat Safari on Lake Mburo where you will see several other lakes such as Kazuma, Lake Bwa. Gaze at the huge hippos, crocodiles and buffaloes as they drink water. There are attractive birds to check out like Abyssinian ground hornbill, the crested crane (Uganda’s national emblem), saddle bill storks among others. You can do an optional guided nature walk. Return to the lodge for dinner and a quiet overnight in the midst of the African savannah.
Day 12 morning Game Drive & Return to Kampala
Breakfast and a morning Game Drive through the savannah or an ultimate treat. Check out Uganda’s wildlife besides the mountain gorillas in Bwindi such as zebra, warthog, buffalo, klipspringer, eland, oribi and waterbuck. Lake Mburo national Park, a haven for "impalas" small antelopes and herbivorous are most concentrated in Lake Mburo of all the Ugandan national Parks. There is more to impalas, Kampala; Uganda’s capital derives its name from here, it’s beautiful animal. A horseback safari, ATV quad safari tour is also possible. The choice is yours.
Checkout afterwards and a journey back to Kampala, on the way we stop at Masaka for lunch, back toward Kampala stopping at Nabusanke Trading Center where you can stand on the equator, take pictures and also buy some souvenirs and crafts then on to Mpambire where you can observe the Buganda Royal Drum Makers and even buy a few, back on our homeward journey where we arrive in Kampala in the late afternoon. 12 Days of Uganda's best wildlife and Game Parks, Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking end.
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