Uganda - The Best of the West
An exploration of south-western Uganda!

This lodge safari is designed for all those who are interested in seeing the key places of southern-western Uganda. It includes Wildlife, Birds, Gorillas and Wild Chimpanzees trekking in Uganda. It can also be combined and extended with additional trips, which makes it attractive for those who would like to see as much as possible of Uganda's beauty. 

The Tour Package includes: Airport transfers, lodge accommodation, all meals, plenty of mineral water, the services of a Driver-Guide, all park and entry fees, all activities as per programme: chimp trekking at Kibale**, game drives at Mweya, boat trip on the Kazinga channel, visit of Kasenyi fishing village and salt works,  nature walk in Kyambura in search of the chimps**, game drives in Ishasha, gorilla trekking in Bwindi**, boat trip on Lake Mburo, guided nature walk in the Park. It excludes: Airline ticket, beverages, tips, visas and personal expenses.

** (Subject to the permits)

Options at extra Cost: day excursions (Ngamba Island, Mabamba Wetlands (Shoebill), rafting the Nile, excursion to the sources and rapids of the Nile (Jinja) and Kampala city trip. Extra overnights are not included in the price.

Money for your personal expenses (average of $150 p.p.), outfit with adapted colours for wildlife observation, good walking shoes, raingear, a few long-sleeve shirts, slippers, sweater for cool evenings, sun protection: hat, sunglasses, sun cream, video/photo camera, a 200 mm or longer telelens is very usefull, memory cards, binoculars if you have and a torch.


Duration : 10 Days
Travelstyles : Tailor-made, Road Safaris, Lodge Safaris
Activities :  Bird Watching, Chimpanzee Trekking, Cultural Activities, Gorilla Trekking, Guided Nature Walks & Hikes., Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Gorilla Parks of Uganda, Kibale Forest National Park (KFNP), Kyambura - (QENP), Lake Mburo NP, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)


Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrival at Entebbe - Transfer to your Hotel in Entebbe.

Arrival at Entebbe International Airport.

Meet and greet at the Airport by your Magic Safaris guide. You will be transferred to your hotel in Entebbe. (D)

Entebbe is a city in Uganda with a population of approximately 90,500. It is located on the shore of Lake Victoria 40 Km from the capital city of Kampala. The name Entebbe derives from the Luganda phrase Entebbe za Mugala (‘Headquarters of Mugala’, head of lungfish clan) and thus literally means Headquarters- somewhat prescient, given that it would later serve as the British administrative capital of Uganda.

Entebbe’s potential was hinted at as early as 1879 by the French missionaries Father Lourdel and Brother Amans, who noted that ‘the port…is large and well sheltered…’ It became a British colonial administrative and commercial centre in 1893 when Sir Gerald Portal, a colonial Commissioner, used it as a base. It’s potential was first realized in 1896, with the arrival of a European steamship on L. Victoria-shipped from Scotland. The steamship was put in use when the railway from Mombasa reached Port Florence (Kisumu) in 1901, allowing the travelers to and from the coast to reach Entebbe directly by the combination of train and ferry. Within two years, Entebbe had replaced Kampala as the colonial administrative capital. By 1903, certainly, Entebbe had greater population of European residents than Kampala. By 1904, Entebbe boasted a hotel, the Equatorial, evidently the precursor of the present-day Lake Victoria Windsor…Entebbe served as administrative capital of Uganda upto 1962 when Kampala replaced it as the national capital. 

Accommodation : Lake Vic Laico (****), The Boma (***)

Day 2 : Transfer to Kibale NP via Fort Portal

After breakfast we drive to Fort Portal via Mubende. This is a long trip to Western Uganda with a break for a picnic after Mubende. A stop is also foreseen at  Fort Portal. After some shopping we will drive another hour to reach the Kibale area (B-L-D). 

Fort Portal is a small and attractive city. The fort was built between 1891 and 1893 and named after Sir Gerald Portal, the British Consul General of Zanzibar who arrived in Uganda in 1892 to formalise the protectorate of Uganda. He died of malaria a few months after the fort was completed.

Activities :  Bird Watching, Chimpanzee Trekking
Parks & places :  Kibale Forest National Park (KFNP)

Day 3 : Chimp Trekking & Transfer to Mweya (Queen Elizabeth NP)

After breakfast you leave for Kibale Forest renowned for the greatest variety and the highest concentration of primates in East-Africa. The visitors centre of Kanyanchu is 45 minutes away from your lodge. At the visitors centre the rangers are ready to escort different groups of maximum 6 persons. They will brief you about your guided nature walk in the tropical forest in search of the wild chimpanzees. This is one of the great moments of your safari!

The rangers are very knowledgeable and will answer all your questions about the forest and the chimps. Jan Goodall Institute has been assisting Uganda Wildlife Authority with the training of the rangers. A picnic lunch is foreseen at Kanyanchu before heading to Mweya QENP via Fort Portal.

On your way to Mweya after leaving Fort Portal, you will have a good scenery of the Rwenzori Mountains. It's during the wet season that you will have the best chances to have a clear view of the Rwezories Mountains. On our way to Mweya you will pass Kasese town and stop at the equator for a traditional picture. 

You will enter Queen Elizabeth NP at the Kabatoro gate and have a short game drive on our way to Mweya which lies on a peninsula. (B-L-D) 

The Rwenzori Mountains lie along the western border of Uganda and rise to a height of 5100 metres. They form a magnificent landscape of non-volcanic mountains, 120 kilometres long and 48 kilometres wide. The so-called Mountains of the Moon were formed from a single block during the creation of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley (Albertine Rift). 

Activities :  Chimpanzee Trekking
Parks & places :  Kibale Forest National Park (KFNP)

Day 4 : Game Drives & boat trip Kazinga Channel (Queen Elizabeth NP)

The best time for game-viewing is early in the morning! You will take the channel track which runs parallel with the Kazinga Channel and we drive slowly towards the Katunguru gate. The channel track is particularly rewarding with warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck and elephants. There are some chances in the morning hours to see the spotted hyena and leopard. We will cross the Mbarara-Kassese-Fort Portal road and drive to Kasenyi an area near to Lake George which is an interesting game viewing area. The wetlands surrounding the lake are of international importance protected by the Ramsar Convention.

You visit the Uganda Kob Mating Ground which is a defined area specifically used by Uganda Kobs for challenging, enticing and mating. Adult rams defend a circle territory (30 meters diameter) and depending on the season the mating ground can have 20 and more of this small territories each defended by a male. Ewes enter the territories for mating and move freely between rams. 

Watch the spectacular fights as kobs defend their territories, look for lions as well because the high concentration of kobs attracts their predators. After the game drive we also visit the fishing village and the salt works at Kasenyi village near to Lake George. Both sites are part of Queen Elizabeth NP and local communities can develop some of their activities. It will be an opportunity for your guide to explain the conservation policies and the relationship with the local communities. (Fishing is an important activity among the local residents.)   

We continue our game drive and we take the Kasenyi track when returning to Mweya lodge for lunch. In the afternoon you will take the launch trip on the Kazinga Channel which many consider as a highlight of the safari. The launch trip takes 2 hours.

The Kazinga Channel is a natural channel of 36 km long between Lake George and Lake Edward. The launch trip is the most popular activity at Mweya. From the safe boat you can see elephants, hippo, nile crocodile and many water birds. The water birds are plentiful along the channel: African skimmers, African fish eagles, cormorants, saddle-billed storks, pelicans, etc. The Kazinga Channel divides Queen Elizabeth in a northern (Mweya) and a southern part (Maramagambo, Kyambura, Ishasha). Landscapes will be different. The northern part is an euphorbia savannah while the southern sector is a typical acacia savannah.

After the launch trip you will enjoy from your lodge the splendid views of the channel. Alternatively your driver guide will take you for a late afternoon game drive! (B-L-D)

Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)

Day 5 : Kyambura Nature walk & Transfer to Ishasha (Queen Elizabeth NP)

Early wake up because we need to drive to Kyambura WR, a one hour drive from Mweya. You will take the Channel track trying the last chance to see leopard. Kyambura lies in the southern sector of the park and we take the main road to Mbarara and cross the Kazinga Channel at Katunguru.

The Kyambura River, about 16 km long, flows into Kazinga Channel. On arrival, the rangers will lead us and we drive to the nearest point, where they (rangers) usually know the chimpanzees are approximately located. The rangers will give you a briefing before descending into the depths of the gorge. The nature walk takes a few hours and lunch will be served at Kyambura fig tree campsite before heading to Ishasha.

Ishasha is about 3 hours away from Kyambura and you will have a short game drive on your way to the camp. The first night at Ishasha is always the most impressive one for visitors. At night you might have a concert of black-and-white colobus monkeys, baboons, hyena, hippos and the roaring lions! (B-L-D)

Activities :  Bird Watching, Chimpanzee Trekking, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Kyambura - (QENP), Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)

Day 6 : Game drives in search of the tree climbing lions (Queen Elizabeth NP)

You will explore Ishasha, the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth considered by some experts as one of the most alluring game viewing area of East Africa. It's an off-the-beaten-track destination that you will surely enjoy.

We wake up early, of course, since this is the best time for observing nature.  You start from the southern circuit in search of the elephants and we will drive over the plains of Ishasha in the open savannah. The southern circuit has usually large herds of buffalo, Uganda kob and topi. Near to the swamps of the southern circuit you might see even leopard. We continue and drive to the northern circuit which is the area near the main road known for its tree climbing lions. We look particularly at the many fig trees where lions like to stay. But we also visit the Uganda kob mating ground which is their preferred hunting area. 

After an initial scouting expedition, we return to the camp for a lunch, we relax, observe the hippos and we take time for a shower or siesta in the shadow of the woods.

In the afternoon you will have another game drive and during the dry season we will drive you to the Edward's flats to see elephants, large herds of buffalo and different waterbids. Occasionally we might find in this area the shoebill stork and by surprise some  hunting lions.

We return late in the afternoon to enjoy the last moments of the day on the Ntungwe river. After diner we sit around the campfire and enjoy the nature sounds of the woods. (B-L-D) 

Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)

Day 7 : Transfer to Buhoma (Bwindi Impentrable NP)

This is your last game drive in Queen Elizabeth. If you have missed the lions the previous days it will be the last opportunity to try again. You will start again with the northern circuit and finish your game drive with the southern part. 

When returning from the morning game drive you will enjoy you last moment in the wilderness. After lunch we depart to Bwindi a journey that can take a max. of 2 hours. We shall have a stop over at Kihihi for refueling and some shopping at the local stores. The Muzungu (the white visitors) are an attraction for the children of the village!

Bwindi is not far away and you will arrive at Buhoma in the afternoon. Time to have a cool drink, enjoy the sight and sounds of the rainforest. Overnight at your lodge. (B-L-D)

Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)

Day 8 : Gorilla trekking - Bwindi Impenetrable NP

Bwindi Impenetrable NP is a natural world heritage site. Hikers will love it, with the gorilla excursion as a high point of your safari!

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.

Once you are back from trekking before 5 pm, you can be entertained by  orphans of the Buhoma village, with their traditional Bakiga dances. For participants who want to contribute to the orphans, we advise them to bring some used clothes or school pencils/pens. (B-L-D) 

The Bwindi orphans group was created in 1998 with the main objective of taking care of the orphans dwelling on the streets of Buhoma. The high aim of the organization is to provide education, teaching agriculture and handcraft skills, teaching basic hygiene and the importance of sanitation. Today there are more than 160 children from all ages.

Accommodation : Buhoma Lodge (***), Bwindi Lodge (****), Engagi Lodge (**), GF Camp (****)
Activities :  Bird Watching, Gorilla Trekking
Parks & places :  Gorilla Parks of Uganda

Day 9 : Transfer to Lake Mburo NP via Kabale & Mbarara

After breakfast, we depart for Lake Mburo via Kabale, meandering driving along the Kigezi mountains. Kigezi mountains is another unique scenery for you to view during your trip. We stop at Kabale for lunch before continuing to Lake Mburo via Marara. The arrival is foreseen in the afternoon just on time to have the boat excursion on the lake. For bird lovers this will be the best place to see the African finfoot in Uganda! (B-L-D)

Lake Mburo is part of a much larger ecosystem that includes Akagera NP (Rwanda),Tanzania's Ibanda and Rumanyika Game Reserve and rangeland areas north to the Katonga River (Uganda). This eco-system is different from the Albtine rift and explains why you will find here some animals that you have not seen in other parks like Impala, zebra and African Eland. This makes the Park very interesting to be visited.

Activities :  Cultural Activities
Parks & places :  Lake Mburo NP

Day 10 : Transfer to Entebbe for departure

After an early morning breakfast you will have a guided nature walk. A ranger guide takes you on foot to the bush. Lake Mburo is the only place in this part of Uganda where you can see zebra and Impala and it’s also the best place to see the African Eland, Africa’s largest antelope! You will arrive at Kampala in the late afternoon. (B-L-D)

Today the Akagera-Lake Mburo ecosystem is fragmented and its wildlife populations are confined to small, disturbed enclaves. Akagera NP and Lake Mburo NP, which are surrounded by cattle ranches, have been both reduced. Uganda’s Katonga WR is also isolated by surrounding villages, and its wildlife populations have been virtually extirpated.

Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Lake Mburo NP