Southwestern Uganda is home to two jewels of biodiversity and conservation: Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks. On this week-long adventure, you'll immerse yourself in the wonders of both—observing lions, giraffes, and elephants on Rift Valley savannahs, then trekking through mist-laden jungles to see endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

Highlights

  • Explore the wildlife & biodiversity of southwestern Uganda
  • Embark on land & water safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Spot lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos & crocodiles
  • Trek through the mist-covered hills of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
  • Observe endangered mountain gorillas in the wild 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Uganda!  Kampala
Day 2 Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 3 Land & Water Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 4 Transfer to Bwindi National Park Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Day 5 Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi National Park Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Day 6 Transfer Back to Queen Elizabeth Park Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 7 Transfer to Entebbe, Departure Entebbe

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Uganda!

A red-throated bee-eater
A red-throated bee-eater, one of Uganda's many brilliant bird species

Welcome to Uganda! Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you'll be welcomed by your guide and transferred to your evening's accommodation. The rest of the day is free for you to rest up and prepare for tomorrow's adventures.

If you feel like stretching your legs, you can head out in the afternoon to the capital city of Kampala. Visit the Uganda Museum and the Lubiri Palace, or simply stroll around the busy streets.

Day 2: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

The African savannah
Vast savannah in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Get an early start today with a transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Set on the floor of the vast Rift Valley, the park is is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. Its diverse ecosystems include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes, and fertile wetlands, making it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species, and over 600 species of birds. The landscape of northern Queen Elizabeth comprises dozens of ancient craters carved into gentle rolling hills, against a backdrop of the majestic Rwenzori Mountains

Day 3: Land & Water Safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park

Buffalo and hippos at watering hole in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Buffalo and hippos at a watering hole in Queen Elizabeth National Park

This morning, you'll enjoy an exciting game drive in Queen Elizabeth. A popular route is the Kasenyi Sector, known for its numerous lions that prey on the large population of Uganda kob (antelope). If you are very lucky, you may spot a giant forest hog—Africa’s largest pig—or an elusive leopard!

In the afternoon, hop on a boat for a water safari on the Kazinga Channel, which connects Edward and George Lakes. The Uganda Wildlife Authority guides leading the trip will identify many of the channel’s 100 bird species. You’re likely to see African skimmers, great white pelicans, spoonbills, and a number of bee-eaters. Hippos wallow at the edge of the water, huge Nile crocodiles bask in the sun, and elephants often come down for a refreshing drink.

Day 4: Transfer to Bwindi National Park

Gorilla in the Bwindi forest
See rare and protected gorillas up close in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Get ready for the start of your gorilla adventure! In the morning, you'll depart for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site is considered one of the richest biological and botanical regions in the entire world. Its rainforest is over 25,000 years old and contains almost 400 species of plants. It is also the best place on the planet to see wild mountain gorillas. 

There are only about 800 wild mountain gorillas left worldwide, and Bwindi is home to about half of that number. A visit to the national park—especially one focused on meeting these great apes—helps conservation efforts by incentivizing ecological preservation as a part of the local economy. Besides gorillas, the region provides shelter for another 120 species of mammals, including several primates such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes.

Day 5: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi National Park

Young gorillas playing
Young gorillas playing in Bwindi

Rise bright and early this morning for a gorilla tracking adventure. Before beginning the trek, park rangers will brief the group to ensure your safety and that of the great apes. The trek usually takes three to six hours, so make sure to bring along a good pair of walking boots or shoes.

The rangers will guide you through the village gardens and into the jungle-like forest as you search for gorillas. As part of anti-poaching efforts, the apes are under 24-hour monitoring, so you’re almost guaranteed to see them! 

Once you have located a gorilla family, you will be asked to leave all your belongings on the side and approach the gentle giants with only your camera. It is advised that you keep a distance of 23 feet (7 m) from the apes to reduce the risk of transmitting human diseases to them. This also helps the guides interpret the animals' behavior and easily retreat if danger is perceived.

You will be able to see the families in their natural environment: feeding, playing, interacting with each other, or just sleeping. The gorillas are usually quite curious to see humans as well! You'll be allowed exactly one hour with the apes before returning to base.

Day 6: Transfer Back to Queen Elizabeth Park

Lions nappying in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Transfer back to Queen Elizabeth National Park this morning, passing through the endless Ishasha Plains, whose fig trees hide lions lying in wait for the herds of unsuspecting antelope. After a scenic drive filled with stunning landscapes and plentiful wildlife, you'll reach your accommodations for the evening.

Day 7: Transfer to Entebbe, Departure

Goodbye, Uganda!

After breakfast, you'll begin the journey back to Entebbe International Airport. Along the way, stop for a delicious picnic lunch and have a fun photo opportunity at the Equator before reaching the airport and catching your departing flight. Safe travels!

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