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Classic Uganda and Rwanda Safari Itinerary

Starting at $5,397 per person

* Depart: December 27, 2015

This tour offers the best of Uganda and Rwanda; two countries located along the western arm of the Rift Valley, characterized by different landscapes, but unified by the presence of the green colors and green hills. This tour is a full immersion in true nature, forests and biodiversity. You will encounter cultures and traditions of the central African region, follow the Nile River at Murchison Falls in Uganda, descend along the Albertine Rift escarpment down to the "Thousand Hills" and lakes of Rwanda. Highlights include the chance to track mountain gorillas in the wild, a visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to track rhinoceros, chimpanzee tracking, see Murchison Falls on the Nile River, game drives, a chance to see game both on water and on land, forest walks and hikes, meeting local people, and enjoying local culture. You will also have an opportunity to give back by visiting an orphanage and a school in Rwanda.

Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda!

Accommodations: Lake Heights Hotel

Meals: Dinner

Upon arrival, you will be met by your safari guide at the airport and transferred to your hotel where you can relax. You will be briefed on the safari and given more details about the schedule for the following morning.

Day 2: Entebbe-Murchison Falls

Accommodations: Paraa Safari Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, leave Entebbe and drive through Kampala, heading Northwest. Along the way, the tour will stop at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, where there will be a bush walk with experienced guides who are game rangers in this sanctuary. Hopefully we will spot some rhinoceros. Lunch will be at Ziwa, and then the journey continues to Murchison Falls National Park, the largest conservation area in Uganda. It spans 3,840 KMs and is named after the falls on the Victoria Nile. Stop at the site of the "top of the falls" to enjoy the marvelous views of the falls from above.

Day 3: Game Drive & Boat Trip on the Nile River

Accommodations: Paraa Safari Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast, take a game drive in the northern sector of the park towards the delta area to view elephants, buffalo, waterbuck, giraffes, Uganda Kobs, and there is also a chance to see a pride of lions and leopards. Birds are numerous. In the afternoon, enjoy one of Uganda's greatest experiences: A boat cruise on the Nile River, up the river towards the Murchison Falls, with an option to hike to the top (a climb that takes several hours, with a guide, moderate difficulty). Crocodiles, hippos, elephants, and buffalo call the riverbanks home.

Day 4: Murchison Falls to Fort Portal

Accommodations: Mountains of the Moon Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, drive from Murchison Falls heading Southwest via the Albertine Escarpment of the great Western Rift Valley, through Hoima and reach Fort Portal, the capital of the Tooro Kingdom, situated in the shadow of the fabled "Mountains of the Moon," the Rwenzori Mountains. Have lunch at the lovely hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Tooro Botanical Gardens and learn about the medicinal plants in the Albertine Rift Area. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Day 5: Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest

Accommodations: Mountains of the Moon Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Wake up early and go on a chimpanzee habituation experience where we trek deep into the forest to meet a group of wild chimpanzees. Spend the day following the troop on their daily routine with our resident experts who have a deep understanding and keen knowledge of all aspects of this remarkable forest. Follow the chimps for most of the day, quite literally a day in the life of a wild chimpanzee troop! When school is in session after tracking, we will visit a local area school to distribute the supplies that were brought along and to learn about the school and see how much of a difference we are making first-hand by interacting with the children.

Day 6: Fort Portal - Queen Elizabeth Park

Accommodations: Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park, crossing the equator where we will have the opportunity to take photos before continuing to this magnificent national park where you can enjoy the full African safari experience with buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion – to name just a few of the species we may encounter. In the late afternoon, enjoy a game drive before returning to the lodge to enjoy a relaxing drink as the sun sets on a wonderful day.

Day 7: Chimpanzee Tracking & Kazinga Channel

Accommodations: Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Join local guides at Kyambura Gorge, a forested canyon within the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Track another group of wild chimpanzees and learn the subtle differences in behavior that this isolated population displays. This experience should highlight the existence of varying cultures amongst different chimpanzee societies. Later, return to the lodge for a relaxing lunch where we can discuss the morning’s activities. In the afternoon, enjoy a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. This is a passage of water that connects Lake George and Lake Edward. On the boat trip, expect to see a plethora of bird and mammal species in all their glory so make sure you have your camera handy!

Day 8: Mweya to Ishasha Wilderness Area

Accommodations: Savannah Resort

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, travel to the remote wilderness of Ishasha, an area famous for abundant wildlife and most notably, a unique population of the tree climbing lions. This is Africa at it's best; a perfect blend of magnificent scenery and abundant wildlife. You may see elephants, buffalo, Topi, Uganda Kob, many kinds of birds, and tree climbing lions (among other animals). 

Day 9: Ishasha to Volcanoes National Park

Accommodations: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, travel from Ishasha across the border into neighboring Rwanda. This is a leisurely drive taking most of the day. We climb out of the Rift Valley at first, and then travel through the Kigezi Highlands of Southwestern Uganda. The scenery gets increasingly more breathtaking as we switch back up and down the hills. Forty kilometers before the end of our journey, we see our objective: The mist-swathed Virunga Mountains. This is the Virunga Conservation Area, shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Our destination today is Musanze (formerly known as Ruhengeri) at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, the home of Rwanda's mountain gorillas. Along the way, if there is time, we will stop at the Traveller's Rest Hotel, which is where Dian Fossey frequently would stay when she was not doing research at Karisoke. Then we will cross the border to Rwanda. Upon arrival at our lodge, retire to your cottage for a warm shower and meet later for a lovely buffet dinner. After dinner, rest for the night.

Day 10: Gorilla tracking or other options

Accommodations: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

There are a couple of options on this day; gorilla tracking is included. If you choose one of the other activities, subtract $250 from the price.

 

1. Hike the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes to track a group of mountain gorillas, part of the population made famous through the work of primatologists such as George Schaller and Dian Fossey. These volcanoes are part of the Virunga conservation area which is shared between Uganda, the DRC and Rwanda. This mysterious and beautiful national park is also home to the rare and charismatic golden monkey, not to mention a variety of bird species like the Rwenzori Turaco which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. After a short briefing with your guide, there will be a drive to the forested park where you will begin the hike. Time taken to locate and track the gorillas group varies from a few minutes to 8+ hours. Please note that this can be a very difficult hike, especially if it has rained. You may hike from an elevation of about 6,000 ft above sea level to 10,000+ ft above sea level, depending on where the group you are tracking happens to be located on that day. After locating the gorillas, spend some time with them, then return to the lodge. You will be given a packed lunch to bring for the hike, though you are also welcome to eat lunch at the lodge if your hike finishes by lunch time. This is another excellent opportunity to use your hiking poles, or to rent one. You will also have the option to hire a porter to help you with your belongings. 

 

2. Track golden monkeys. After breakfast, experienced guides will take you on a search for the elusive Golden Monkey! Just like gorilla tracking, be prepared that it could be a full day out in the field. We cannot guarantee a sighting as these are wild animals. Hiking difficulty: Moderate to very difficult. Be sure to bring or borrow hiking poles for this activity.

 

3. If hiking is not your thing, use this day to relax at the lodge, catch up on reading, and writing in your journal and / or writing postcards.

Day 11: Hike to Karisoke and other options

Accommodations: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

There are a couple of options for the day. Either option is included in the tour price.

 

1. Hike to the Karisoke Research Station where Dian Fossey initiated her studies into the lives of mountain gorillas. The original buildings have long since been abandoned, but you can still see where they used to be; this is definitely a good hike for those who are great admirers of Fossey's work. Her grave is also located here. Note that the Karisoke Research Center still exists today, but the offices are now located in Musanze. Note that this hike is difficult. You can hire a porter and borrow hiking sticks, or bring your own hiking poles for this experience. You will hike from an elevation of about 6,000 ft above sea level to 10,200 feet above sea level. The total hiking time, depending on fitness level, can take anywhere from 4 - 8 hours total.

 

2. Spend the morning visiting Lake Ruhondo and Lake Bulera, known as the twin lakes. This area offer peaceful, quaint views where you will be surrounded by nature at it's finest. Enjoy a peaceful boat ride and learn more about this lovely area.

 

After your morning activity (either hiking to Karisoke or visiting the lakes), we will take a break for lunch, and then we will also visit the headquarters of the Gorilla Doctors in Musanze. These veterinarians work in collaboration with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to monitor the gorillas that live here. They intervene when necessary (freeing gorillas from snares, vaccinating gorillas when medically necessary, etc.), saving the lives and protecting the hundreds of gorillas that live here. Meet them and be inspired by their work!

 

In the evening, we will visit a local cultural group to learn about their lifestyle, to learn some of their history, and to see some amazing song and dance performances; it's a lovely way to cap off the day.

Day 12: Visit Lake Kivu and Imbabazi

Accommodations: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The morning will start with a visit to beautiful Lake Kivu, one of only three lakes that contain a high concentration of methane under the surface. The government of Rwanda is taking steps to reduce the methane under the lake, turning it into electricity and also making the lake much safer for all who live nearby. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride on this beautiful lake, nestled in the mountains.

 

Later in the day, visit and take a tour of Imbabazi, the former orphanage (and current pre-school and museum) that was started by American Rozamund Carr, who lived in East Africa for the majority of her life. Horrified by the 1994 genocide, Mrs. Carr started the orphanage on her own property, and orphans were housed on site until 2013. Mrs. Carr passed away in 2006 and is buried on site. The land is now run by a trust. Mrs. Carr owned 54 hectares of land (roughly 100 acres), and much of the land is still used as a flower and vegetable garden, raising most of the food served to the children who study here. Over the course of its history as an orphanage, hundreds of children were helped even during the toughest of times. The beautiful Virunga Mountains are clearly visible from this property. Some of the scenes from the movie "Gorillas in the Mist" were filmed here on location. Rozamund Carr and Dian Fossey were both friends and Dian sometimes visited her at the property. Enjoy lunch on premise, followed by a cultural dance to finish your experience.

Day 13: Kigali

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast at the lodge, drive to Kigali and continue a short distance to the airport for your onward flight. Time permitting, enjoy a city tour including a stop at the Hotel des Mille Collines (where the true story of Hotel Rwanda took place), visit the genocide memorial and museum to learn more about Rwanda's greatest tragedy, and take some time to enjoy some local coffee and lunch at a cafe in this surprisingly modern city. 

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Tour price includes:

  • Pick up from the airport in Entebbe

  • Accommodations as listed above 

  • Meals as listed above

  • Gorilla tracking permit

  • Vehicle transportation (includes gas and mileage)

  • Transfer to the Kigali airport or your hotel in Kigali at the end of the tour

  • All park entrance fees 

  • Bottled water on all drives

  • Guides/Drivers who will accompany you throughout the tour

 

Not included in the tour price:

  • International airfare to/from Uganda and Rwanda

  • Personal expenses

  • Souvenirs

  • Tips for service

 

Be sure to bring:

Sturdy hiking rain boots, hiking poles, mosquito repellent, sunblock, rain jacket, and a sense of adventure!

 

Call (678) 243-0080 or fill out the form below to customize your tour!