Uganda Safari: the expedition of a lifetime
A Uganda safari will land you in one of the most beautifully diverse countries in Africa, showcasing a picturesque landscape, a vast variety of rare wildlife, and booming culture filled with hospitable local people. One of the major attractions during a Uganda safari is a gorilla trek which is one of natures most authentic and raw experiences. We have compiled a guide to assist you in planning for a Ugandan safari, including details on the gorilla trek, accommodation options and activities.
Uganda safari activities
Uganda, being the rich and bountiful country that it is, has a range of activities for you to do during a Uganda safari and they include both adventurous activities as well as relaxing activities. We’ve compiled a list of exciting activities for you to choose from that will add a unique element to your Ugandan safari:
• Whitewater rafting: this thrilling activity will land you paddling along the Nile River battling it out with grade 5 whitewater rapids one minute, and calmly drifting along with a glass of wine the next.
• Sports fishing: Sports fishing is a catch and release activity that individuals of any level of expertise can participate in. Along the Nile River you can find many different species of fish including the yellow fish, Nile perch, tilapia and also catfish.
• Visiting the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary: Here you will find the Rhino Fund Uganda which is a self-sustained conservation project and the activities they offer include on-foot rhino tracking, nature walks, birding walks and shoebill canoe rides.
• Visit Murchison Falls: these scenic waterfalls are spectacular and you get to them by taking a boat from Paraa and then a 40 minute hike to the top of the falls to see the incredible view.
• Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary: many people choose to do this as well as the gorilla trek and the sanctuary is home to 49 orphaned chimpanzee’s who have all been rescued throughout Uganda. The sanctuary offers both day trips and over-night trips which offer you the opportunity to interact with and observe these beautiful primates.
• Uganda Wildlife Conservation Centre: This conservation centre is located 15 minutes from Entebbe Airport and cares for many rescued animals who have been threatened by poachers and habitat encroachment. They also focus on the releasing of these animals back into the wild.
Other activities that you can do during a Uganda safari include bungee jumping, zip-lining, golfing, boat cruise, birding, horse-back riding, hot air balloon rides, quad-biking, cycling and more.
Uganda safari: gorilla trek
During a Uganda safari, one of the most popular activities that tourists choose to do is a gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A gorilla trek is truly one of life’s most exciting experiences and it offers you the opportunity to reconnect with nature by interacting with one of the world’s most magnificent animals, the mountain gorilla. We at Journey’s Intent have compiled the perfect itinerary for a gorilla trek that ensures your experience is a memorable one, however all itineraries are customizable so give us a call and we can arrange the perfect Uganda safari for you.
Day 1: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
On the first day of your journey you will arrive at Entebbe International Airport off of an Air Kenya flight at 11:30 am. You will be met at the airport by one of our friendly guides who will transfer you to check in for your 12:00 flight to Bwindi. You should land at Kihini airstrip at 14:45 where you will be transferred, usually a 1-hour and 30-minute drive, to the Gorilla Forest Camp.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most popular destinations for a Uganda safari and this is for a good reason. The park is ideally situated in south-west of Uganda and encompasses many regions including Kabale, Rukungiri and Kisoro. The unique territory of the park means that there is a large variety of differing vegetation and different ecosystems, including a hilly countryside and a bountiful lowland forest which acts as a water catchment area, supplying vital nutrients and water to the surrounding agricultural land.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a rich and diverse area that offers an enormous array of plant species, including dense herbaceous plants, such as Mimulopsis solmsii and bracken fern, which allows the area to act as a significant feeding ground for the various animals of the park. Some of the animals that you could potentially see during a Uganda safari in the park include elephants, buffalo, duikers, golden cats and copious rodents and bats. The most notable animal in the park is of course, the mountain gorillas.
Day 2: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
On day two of your gorilla trek experience you will wake for an early breakfast and your guide will escort you to the Uganda Wildlife Authority Park headquarters where you will meet the gorilla guides, park rangers, and fellow gorilla trekkers. You will be given a safety briefing at the headquarters and then you will hike to your designated gorilla group. Depending on the current location of your assigned gorilla family, the hike may be a short 1-hour hike or may stretch to over 6-hours long.
The mountain gorillas are extremely rare and are on the endangered species list, with a global population of only 1063 gorillas. Although mountain gorillas are incredibly rare, thanks to your educated guides and rangers you still stand a 95% chance of seeing these gorillas during your gorilla trek. During your gorilla trek you will be able to get within metres of the gorilla family and will be able to watch them interact, eat, play and go about their daily lives.
After your monumental gorilla encounter you will return to the lodge and if there is still time, you will be taken out on the local philanthropy bike project. This project is called Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise and employs six local women who all live in and around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These women were all trained in business skills as well as bike mechanics.
Used bicycles were collected and donated and then shipped to Uganda, where the shipping container was then transformed into the bike shop. The bike shop offers these women income opportunities as well as skills development and a portion of the money made is donated to various charities such as local orphanages. The bike project is a perfect way to give back to the local community while enjoying your Uganda safari.
Day 3: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
On day three of your Ugandan gorilla safari you will again go to visit the gorilla families for another hour. We understand that most days are busy and that travelling is very tiring, so the remainder of the third day is free for your leisure. You can choose to explore local Uganda and the various sights, or you could relax in the comfort of the Gorilla Forest Camp, enjoying the various luxuries.
Day 4: End of Itinerary
On day four your gorilla safari will come to an end and you will be transferred back to Entebbe International Airport so that you can make your way home. If the travel bug is still biting, then you can most definitely extend your trip and spend a few more days in Uganda experiencing the wildlife, hospitality, culture and various beautiful historical sights.
Uganda safari accommodation
There are many various aspects that all need to be planned in order to ensure a great Uganda safari but one that you shouldn’t have to worry about is accommodation. Accommodation is always a concern and choosing accommodation is usually dependent on your personal preferences as well as your expectations, which you should be realistic about. We have compiled a list of our favorite accommodation options for a Uganda safari:
1. Gorilla Forest Camp:
The Gorilla Forest Camp is located inside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is regularly visited by some of the gorilla families thanks to the prime location. There are ten luxury tents for visitors and there is also a mini spa offering a range of treatments, helping you relax after a long day of gorilla trekking. This charming camp boasts a restaurant, a breakfast buffet, laundry service, airport transport and above all impeccable hospitality.
2. Hotel No.5:
This exquisite new hotel is perfectly situated in Entebbe and offers guests a peaceful and intimate setting. The luxurious rooms open onto the lush garden and the pristine swimming pool, instantly relaxing guests. Each of the ten luxury rooms available are fully equipped with an en-suite bathroom, air-conditioning, DSTV, mosquito nets, Wi-Fi and tea and coffee facilities. The restaurant at Hotel No.5. is renown for their incredible dining experiences, preparing exquisite meals paired with an international wine list.
3. Kyambura Gorge Lodge:
Kyambura Gorge Lodge is ideally situated in the southern area of Queen Elizabeth National Park and boasts scenic views of the mountains and the rolling savanna, including the sunken Kyambura Gorge. This lodge is the perfect location for primate tracking such as chimpanzees and is also close Kazinga Channel which means that you are sure to see a range of wildlife drinking at the waterhole. The lodge also launched the Kyambura Gorge Eco-tourism project in 2019 which aids in local community development and conservation. Kyambura boasts a swimming pool, spa, bar and access to various activities such as hiking, birding, fishing, leisure time, star gazing, wildlife tours and cultural tours.
4. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge:
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is located in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is the perfect spot for you if you are looking for a remote, scenic and intimate lodge that boasts all of the amenities. Guests will stay in their own private cottages which are built out of local volcanic stone and each cottage has an intimate living room with a cozy fireplace and beautiful tasteful décor. This lodge is well known for the contemporary and eclectic design, with high ceilings and giant wooden beams with large windows below allowing the room to fill with sunshine each morning. The views are incredible and overlook the volcanoes, mountains and plains below you. This is all topped off with a personal butler who is happily at your beck and call and will be able to handle all of your requests.
5. Lemala Wildwaters Lodge:
The Lemala Wildwaters Lodge is perfectly located on its own private island inside of a rainforest near the Nile. The view is impeccably breathtaking, and the forest is covered in thick beautiful vegetation. There are ten rooms is this lodge which all have their own private views of the Nile river and the various animals that use it as their watering hole. The décor is tastefully modern with a cultural twist, each room has its own private free-standing bath to relax in after a long day and each wash basin is hand-carved from locally sourced pink granite. In terms of facilities, the Lemala Wildwater Lodge boasts a pristine swimming pool, a conference venue and a beautiful restaurant that is well known for producing decadent local and international meals.