- View wild mountain gorillas at Bwindi National Park
- Spot hippos and elephants at Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Fly high over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon
- Embark on game drives around the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater
- See Big Five Safari animals, including lions, rhinos, and leopards
|Day 1||Arrive in Entebbe||Entebbe|
|Day 2||Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park|
|Day 3||Bwindi Gorilla Trekking||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park|
|Day 4||Optional Gorilla Trekking||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park|
|Day 5||Ishasha Village & Queen Elizabeth National Park||Queen Elizabeth National Park|
|Day 6||Queen Elizabeth Game Drive||Queen Elizabeth National Park|
|Day 7||Transfer to Serengeti National Park||Serengeti National Park|
|Day 8||Serengeti Balloon Safari||Serengeti National Park|
|Day 9||Serengeti Game Drives||Serengeti National Park|
|Days 10-11||Seronera Region Game Drives||Serengeti National Park|
|Days 12-13||Ngorongoro Crater Game Drives||Ngorongoro|
|Day 14||Tarangire National Park Game Drive, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive at Entebbe
Welcome to Uganda! Upon arrival at the international airport in Entebbe, a personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. After settling in, feel free to head out and stretch your legs after your long flight.
Located on a peninsula on the north end of Lake Victoria, Entebbe is known for its friendliness and laid-back atmosphere. If you arrive early enough, you can take a stroll along the lakeshore, head to Victoria Mall to shop, and sample the local cuisine. Try the tilapia, which is regarded as the tastiest fish in Uganda.
Day 2: Fly to Kihihi, Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In the morning, a driver will pick you up at your Entebbe hotel and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch a flight to Kihihi, a town in southwestern Uganda. Upon arrival, a representative will drive you south to a lodge within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a pristine biological and botanical ecosystem covering 128 sq miles (331 sq km) and is located at the southwestern edge of the western Rift Valley.
Bwindi is home to many exotic animals, but it's most famous for being a sanctuary for hundreds of endangered mountain gorillas. Under the Uganda Wildlife Authority management, certain gorilla groups are available for viewing on nature hikes. Over the next couple of days, you'll witness these majestic animals in their natural environment. Though tonight, enjoy the evening with a nice dinner at your comfortable lodge. Be sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour, as you'll be up early the following day to embark on a hike to see some gorilla residents.
Day 3: Bwindi Gorilla Trekking
Get ready for the experience of a lifetime! Nothing compares with coming face to face with wild mountain gorillas—an increasingly rare opportunity. The chance to witness their behavior up close and in their natural environment is something you won't soon forget.
In the morning, your group will leave the lodge accompanied by experienced guides and trackers who will lead you into the mountain rainforest. The guides know the park intimately and are familiar with the areas where the gorillas commonly reside. That said, these are wild animals, and as such, sightings are not guaranteed. Therefore treks can range from as few as 30 minutes to six hours or more of strenuous hiking at high altitudes. Not to worry, though, as viewing success rates are about 98%.
Following the trek, return to the lodge and, if time allows, take an optional forest or community walk with a guide. Also, while gorilla trekking is a great activity for families, the often strenuous nature of the hikes means the minimum age for this experience is 15 years.
Day 4: Optional Gorilla Trekking
If the gorillas were too shy the first day, not to worry: you can embark on a second gorilla trek and try your luck at another sighting. Even if you did get to spot mountain gorillas on your first excursion, you can always head out again. After all, the law of diminishing returns does not apply where it concerns the rare and awesome sight of witnessing gorilla families in the wild. Be sure to take plenty of photos.
Those who aren't interested in a second trek can stay back in the lodge and enjoy its amenities while relaxing amid the surrounding nature.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Ishasha Village & Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today, you'll head north a few hours to Uganda's premier savanna park and safari destination: Queen Elizabeth National Park. This 764-sq-mile (1,978-sq-km) protected area comprises dozens of ancient craters dotting the landscapes of the Rift Valley amid the backdrop of the majestic Rwenzori Mountains. Its diverse ecosystems include sprawling savannas, shady forests, sparkling lakes, and fertile wetlands, making it the ideal habitat for classic African big game.
En route to the park, you'll stop at Ishasha Village for a cultural/culinary experience. The outing is part of a community project near the village run by a local craftswoman and organic farmer named Agartha. She welcomes visitors into her homestead to share the cooking methods of the local Bakiga tribe in a culinary class. During the 30-45-minute meal preparation, Agartha weaves in stories of life as a Bakiga wife. Then, everyone sits down to sample the food they have prepared together.
After this educational (and delicious) cultural exchange, you will continue to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda's most visited reserve. As for lodging, you'll overnight at a comfortable campsite located within the park.
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth Game Drive
Start the day with a delicious bush breakfast. You'll be dining al fresco in a secluded spot in the wilderness. Here a personal chef will serve you a meal that promises to be as memorable as the setting. Afterward, head out in a 4x4 safari vehicle for a morning game drive. Mornings are the best time for wildlife viewing in the park, as the animals are at their most active. There are many to see here, too, including over 600 species of birds—more than any other national park in Uganda!
As for mammals, the Kazinga Channel lies in central Queen Elizabeth, and its banks attract large animals such as hippos, elephants, and buffaloes. Another popular area is the Kasenyi Sector, known for its many lions that prey on the large antelope population. If you're fortunate, you may spot a giant forest hog—Africa's largest pig—or an elusive leopard. In the late afternoon, enjoy the sunset beside the Ntungwe River. Or head to a scenic viewpoint along the ridge overlooking the Ishasha Sector of the park. It's a prime spot that offers sweeping vistas of this beautiful corner of Queen Elizabeth.
Day 7: Transfer to Serengeti National Park
Wake up early and return to Entebbe, where you'll fly from Uganda to the Kogatende Airstrip in northern Tanzania. From here, transfer to a wilderness camp in Serengeti National Park.
This legendary wildlife reserve is the archetypal safari destination. In the Maasai language, the name Serengeti means "endless plains," and this protected area's 5,700 sq miles (14,763 sq km) deliver on that promise. The park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve that supports the world's largest concentration of plains game.
The Serengeti has also received national praise due to conservation efforts for its black rhino population—meaning the likelihood of actually spotting this animal is relatively high. These actions have allowed this critically endangered species to stabilize, providing hope for future preservation.
Day 8: Serengeti Balloon Safari
Today, you'll experience the Serengeti from a unique perspective: high in the air in the basked of a hot-air balloon. It's an exhilarating tour that most people never get to experience. The route flies predominantly over the Seronera River, the only permanent water source in central Serengeti. Thus it's perfect for wildlife spotting. The area around the river is particularly scenic, teeming with open plains, acacia woodlands, and hippo pools. The views are guaranteed to be magnificent.
Balloon safaris start early in the morning and last for about an hour, after which you can enjoy a sumptuous champagne breakfast. Then spend the remainder of the day however you like.
Day 9: Serengeti Game Drives
Over the next few days, you'll travel far across the Serengeti on game drives and other excursions. The opportunities for wildlife spotting here will be ample. There are many impressive species, including Big Five game animals like elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo. Besides being a great place to see these animals in their natural habitat, the Serengeti also hosts the annual Great Migration. This "greatest wildlife show on earth" sees more than a million wildebeest, plus hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, undertaking the long trek to new grazing grounds.
Other animals frequently seen in the park are baboons, caracals, civets, bat-eared foxes, genets, giraffes, hippos, honey badgers, hyraxes, mongooses, ostriches, and vervet monkeys. There are also some 20 types of antelopes, including hartebeests, impalas, kudus, reedbucks, roans, topis, and waterbucks. The diverse birdlife includes over 500 species like cranes, eagles, herons, owls, storks, vultures, and the bizarre, long-legged secretary bird.
Each night you'll sleep in a fully-staffed, eco-friendly tent camp within the park.
Days 10-11: Seronera Region Game Drives
Continue your safari adventure at the gorgeous settlement of Seronera. This network of river valleys in the central Serengeti ensures a year-round water supply that supports a rich wildlife population with plenty of resident game like big cats, elephants, and buffaloes. There are many hippo pools here as well.
Another bonus is that Seronera sits on the path of the Great Migration. Come at the right time (around July to November), and you'll experience one of the most astonishing natural occurrences in the world. But no matter when you visit, you'll spend your days here on safaris and game drives, enjoying the natural beauty and snapping photos of the abundant wildlife.
Days 12-13: Ngorongoro Crater Game Drives
In the morning, transfer south from the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where you'll spend the next couple of days. Get ready for another magical Africa experience. This UNESCO World Heritage Site measures 1,968 feet (600 m) in depth, covers 100 sq miles (260 sq km), and is the largest volcanic caldera in the world.
The fertile plains on the crater floor are a haven for thousands of animals, almost half of which are wildebeests and zebras. However, other common sights include buffaloes, elephants, hippos, hyenas, jackals, lions, ostriches, servals, warthogs, elands, and vast herds of gazelles. The best part is that this is the only place you can see all the Big Five animals—lions, cheetahs, elephants, leopards, and black rhinos—on a single game drive.
Thanks to anti-poaching patrols, the crater is one of the few places in East Africa where endangered black rhinos aren't threatened. Also, leopards and cheetahs occasionally lounge in the forest trees surrounding the crater. Besides these mammals, countless flamingos form a pink blanket over the alkaline lakes in the valley, and more than 100 species of birds not found in the Serengeti inhabit this conservation area.
You'll spend the next couple of days on game drives as you travel across Ngorongoro's crater floor in a 4x4. Photo opportunities are abundant here, and it's not unusual to see at least four of the Big Five in a short time. There will also be time to enjoy a picnic lunch alongside a lake on the crater floor while soaking up the magnificent scenery.
Day 14: Tarangire National Park Game Drive, Depart
Your final full day in Africa packs in as much adventure as the previous days. You'll head south to Tarangire National Park in the morning, which gets its name from the river that threads its way through the reserve.
This 1,000-sq-mile (2,600-sq-km) protected area may only be the sixth largest national park in the country, but there's no shortage of incredible wildlife here. It's one of Tanzania's finest birding destinations, as there are almost 500 avian species in the park. Plus, during the migratory season of July to October, there are incredible numbers of plains game like wildebeests, antelope, and zebras.
Wildlife-spotting conditions in Tarangire are most spectacular during the dry season between June and September. During this time, thousands of animals—buffaloes, giraffes, elands, wildebeests, kudus, hartebeests, and the rarely seen oryx—migrate from the dry Maasai steppe to the Tarangire River looking for water. Lions, leopards, and other predators often follow these herds. Also noteworthy is that Tarangire has the largest population of bush elephants of any park—up to 3,000 roam this protected area during peak months.
After enjoying a game drive in Tarangire, you'll transfer to the airport in Arusha to catch your flight home. See you next time!
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