16 Days Uganda Safari: wildlife, chimps & gorillas tracking safari overview

This safari features Uganda’s top national parks with mind-blowing experiences and great sceneries. 

Game Drive in Murchison Falls National Park

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Brief itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival at the airport and Pickup
  • Day 2: White water rafting on the Nile
  • Day 3: Boat cruise on the Nile and transfer to Sipi Falls
  • Day 4: Sipi Falls Hike and cultural experience
  • Day 5: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park
  • Day 6: Game drive and boat cruise
  • Day 7: Transfer to Fort Portal 
  • Day 8: Semuliki hot springs visit and Nyakasura hike
  • Day 9: Chimpanzee tracking, Bigodi swamp walk, and cultural visit
  • Day 10: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park – Katwe salt mine
  • Day 11: Game drive and boat cruise on Kazinga channel
  • Day 12: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park via Ishasha
  • Day 13: Gorilla tracking and batwa experience
  • Day 14: Transfer to Lake Bunyonyi – boat ride
  • Day 15: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park – boat cruise

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at the airport and pick-up. On arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by the company representative. Depending on your level of fatigue, you can choose to either transfer to the hotel or go for a behind the scenes experience at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre where you will have a close encounter with animals like feeding the chimps, feeding the giraffes, watching one of the oldest non-evolving birds and that’s the shoebill and later drive to the hotel in Kampala for relaxation, dinner and overnight. 

Day 2: Kampala/Entebbe>Jinja. After your breakfast, you will embark on a drive to Jinja for a full-day rafting experience. You will carry packed lunch and on arrival, you will take a drive to the briefing point in time for your full-day white water rafting adventure. You will be briefed about the activity before getting a familiarization experience to prepare your mind. You will then start this mind-blowing experience which will take you rowing through the turbulent Nile rapids. This adrenaline-raising activity also gives you time to relax, spot birds and watch local fishermen fishing along the river banks. You will later drive to the hotel for dinner and overnight. 

Rafting on the Nile

Rafting on the Nile

Day 3: Jinja>sipi falls. After breakfast, you will take a motorboat ride to the source of the longest river in the world ‘River Nile’. Along the Nile cruise, you will come to close encounters with more bird species like Green-backed Heron, African Darter, Giant and Malachite Kingfisher, Little Egrets and the famous Nile monitor lizards. The cruise also gives a spectacular view of the Nile. After the cruise, you will drive to Mbale for lunch before proceeding to Sipi for check-in, dinner, and overnight.

Day 4: Sipi falls. After breakfast, you will head out for the sipi falls hike. The sipi falls is a series of three waterfalls and this is one of the top things to do on a tour to Uganda. Visiting all three falls takes approximately 3 hours depending on the fitness and speed of the individuals. You will start with the first and second waterfalls, take a break then continue to the main waterfall. The hike involves climbing steep terrains while passing through local farms with the guides explaining the historical and geographical background of the area. After lunch, you will go for a coffee tour. Coffee is one of the largely grown cash crops in the bugisu and sabiny area. During the tour, you will visit a coffee plantation and observe how coffee is harvested, processed and roasted. This experience ends with you sipping on a cup of coffee. You will later return to the lodge for dinner and overnight. 

Day 5: Sipi falls>Murchison Falls National Park. Today, you will take a relatively long drive traversing through beautiful eastern plains with different cultural setups along the way like the grass thatched houses. Depending on the journey, you can choose to have lunch in Gulu or Pakwach. We will then continue into the park, check in at the lodge for evening relaxation, dinner and overnight. 

Day 6: Murchison Falls National Park. Arise very early in the morning, have breakfast and head out for a game drive in the savannah in search of elusive species like the leopard, lions, side-stripped jackals and blue duiker. Other wildlife to look out for including Nubian giraffes, Lake Chad buffalos, lions, spotted hyenas, Savannah elephants, Uganda kobs, Lelwel’s hartebeest, Common warthogs, Oribis, Bohor’s Reedbuck, and many birds like Black-headed Lapwing, Blue-headed Coucal, Giant kingfisher, Swamp flycatcher, Red-throated bee-eater, Black-billed barbet. You will also continue to the hippo pool before driving back to the lodge for lunch. After lunch, you will head out for a thrilling boat cruise on the Nile. The launch cruise will grant you an opportunity to an eccentric view of the Nile, amidst the encounter of the huge Nile crocodiles, hippos and several other wildlife and waders like African skimmers on the lake shores. You will later return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Game Drive on Murchison Falls National Park

Game Drive on Murchison Falls National Park

Day 7: Murchison Falls National Park>Fortportal. After your breakfast, you will check out and transfer to Fort portal town. The drive brings you to more things to experience along the way like visiting the Bugungu fishing village and driving through the escarpment before getting to visit the Mparo tombs exploring the diverse history of the great Bunyoro kingdom. You will have lunch in Hoima before proceeding to Fort Portal for the evening, dinner and overnight.

Day 8: Semuliki hot springs/Nyakasura hike>Kibale Forest National Park After an early breakfast, you will drive to the hot springs seated in one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the Congo basin (Semuliki National Park). On arrival at the park, you will take a guided nature walk to the female and male hot springs, passing through the forest and encountering primates like the red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, and black and white colobus monkeys. After lunch, you will go hiking the Nyakasura hills. The hike is strenuous but rewarding as the top of the hills give spectacular views of the beautiful crater lakes below, an overview of Fort portal town and the King’s palace, Rwenzori mountain ranges and the surrounding communities. Upon returning from the hike, you will transfer to Kibale Forest National Park for an overnight. 

Day 9: Kibale Forest National Park. After your early breakfast, you will drive to the chimpanzee briefing point where you will be briefed about the chimpanzee trekking activity. You will be assigned a game ranger and armed men for your safety and security. Shortly, you will walk through the forest as the ranger keeps in touch with the monitoring team on the ground. Upon finding the chimpanzees, you will be given one hour to watch them playing, feeding and going about their day. Later, you will drive back to the lodge for lunch and then prepare for the bigodi swamp walk and community experience. Among the activities to excite you here include local liquor making, weaving of baskets, cultural dances and also paying a visit to the cultural doctor. You will later drive back to the lodge for dinner and an overnight. 

Day 10: Kibale>Queen Elizabeth National Park. After breakfast, you will check out of the lodge and transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park via Rwimi driving through scenic views of different crater lakes like Lake Nyinambuga, Kasenda and Kifurukwa seen along the way. As you approach Kasese town, you will be able to have spectacular views of the Rwenzori ranges. Arrival in Kasese town will be in the afternoon in time for lunch. After lunch, you will drive to Lake Katwe salt mine to see the salt mining process. Thereafter, you can also take a crater drive to the baboon cliff and have a sundowner then later drive through the queen’s pavilion as you head to the lodge for check-in, dinner and overnight. 

Day 11: Queen Elizabeth National Park. You will have breakfast and head out for a game drive in the Kasenyi plains exposing you to species like African elephants, African Cape buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, leopards, lions and the park boasts a record of over 600 bird species. After, you will drive back to the lodge for hot lunch and take a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel. The Kazinga channel is a 42km stretch, connecting Lake George and Lake Edward with rewarding big herds of buffaloes, schools of hippos, Nile crocodiles and different bird species like the rare African skimmers and Lesser Flamingos. After the cruise, you can opt for a sundowner at one of the crater lakes or transfer back to the lodge for relaxation, dinner and overnight.

Day 12: Queen>Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. After breakfast, you will drive through more silent vegetation south to the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. You will have a short game drive in search of wildlife species like the tree-climbing lions, defassa waterbucks, Uganda kobs, spotted hyenas, topis, red river hog, giant forest hog among others. You will then have lunch in Kihihi before proceeding with your journey to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, arriving later in the evening for dinner and overnight.

Day 13: Bwindi gorilla trekking. After breakfast, you will have your packed lunch ready and then drive to the park headquarters for a briefing before the gorilla trekking activity. You will then be assigned a group to track a particular gorilla family. You will be led into the jungle by an armed ranger who will keep in touch with the monitoring team on the ground in order to easily locate the mountain gorillas. The activity takes between 3-7 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas. Once you locate the gorilla family, you will be given one hour to watch them in their natural habitat playing, feeding, resting and going about their daily life. Later you will visit the batwa pygmy’s community. The Batwa were the first people who lived in the forest. The trail begins with a nature walk, hike through the forest as you learn from the first keepers of the forest. The experience shows you how they lived in grass-thatched houses, caves and hunted small animals for food.  Other activities include the traditional dance, singing and storytelling, hunting demonstration, honey gathering and picking herbal medicine from the roots and leaves. After this experience, you will return to the lodge for dinner and overnight. 

Day 14: Bwindi>Lake Bunyonyi. You will  have breakfast, check out of the lodge then start your journey to Uganda’s deepest lake and second deepest in Africa after Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Along the way, you can make several stopovers for more community experiences like corn roasting. You will later arrive at the hotel for hot lunch.  After lunch, you will take a boat cruise exploring the different islands on the lake bunyonyi i.e. zebra island, leprosy island, upside down island and punishment island. Each island has a different interesting story about its formation. During the cruise, you will also be able to spot different bird species including Grey-crowned, Levillant Cuckoo, Baglafetch, weavers, African Harrier Hawk and African Fish eagle.

Day 15: Lake Bunyonyi>Lake Mburo National Park. Today after breakfast, you will check out and transfer to Lake Mburo National Park-Uganda’s smallest savannah park whose acacia woodland supports substantial herds of Burchell’s zebras and various antelopes. You will have a stopover at Igongo cultural center and museum in Biharwe for lunch. After lunch, you will proceed to the park for an afternoon boat cruise. While on the boat cruise, you will see animal species including hippos, crocodiles and bird species such as the African Fish eagle, Pied King Fisher and African Finfoot in addition to the beautiful scenery and simple pleasure attached to being out on the water. Later drive to the lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 16: Lake Mburo National Park>Kampala. You will have breakfast and head out for a walking safari. The park is the only one where walking safaris are allowed in the company of an armed ranger. The walk gives you an opportunity to experience the nature of the park and get a close encounter with the animals. You are likely to catch sight of various antelopes, zebras and buffaloes. Return to the lodge for lunch, check-out and embark on your journey back to Kampala. You will have an en-route stopover at the equator for a photo session and you may also purchase some hand-made craft souvenirs before you proceed with your journey, arriving in Kampala in the afternoon.  Optional drop off at your hotel or airport for your flight. 

Accommodation is booked in accordance with your preferences and depending on your budget and availability. 

Package includes

  • Gorilla permit
  • Chimpanzee permit
  • Pick-up and drop-off in Kampala
  • Transport in a 4×4 safari vehicle
  • Services of an English speaking driver-guide
  • All park entrance fees
  • Bottled water (2 bottles per day)
  • Meals included till dinner

Package excludes

  • Activities not listed in the itinerary
  • Laundry services
  • Tips
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees