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A once in a lifetime chance to experience the ultimate wildlife encounter: to get up close and personal with the endangered mountain gorilla in their natural habitat, Bwindi national park. Plus opportunities to track chimps and take game drives, this is a perfect trip for wildlife lovers.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights comfortable lodge
7 nights premium lodge
Trip maximum 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, bordered by one of the African Great Lakes; Lake Victoria.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5pm for the welcome meeting and after there will be the opportunity to have dinner at our lodge overlooking Lake Victoria. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kampala at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Entebbe International Airport (EBB), which is 45 minutes from our accommodation. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you might choose to relax by the outdoor pool or on the terrace overlooking Lake Victoria. Our lodge is on the outskirts of Kampala city, so if you'd like to explore the city in more depth the lodge can give advice and assist with arranging a taxi.
Cassia Lodge (or similar)
After breakfast we will depart Kampala and head west to Fort Portal. On your way look out for black and white colobus monkeys as many of these primates are hiding in trees along the road. Fort Portal rests in the shadow of the fabled Mountains of the Moon and is famous for the many tea plantations. From this lovely town we will continue to Kibale National Park for a stay within the tropical forest.
Turaco Tree Tops Lodge (or similar)
Today the forest opens its doors for sensational chimp tracking. Kibale Forest is reputable for having the greatest variety and highest concentration of primates in East Africa. Before we head off, we stop at Café Kibale, a community café that aims to train people from the local community in hospitality, barista training, food handling and service. Since its launch in June 2022 10 students have joined and the café is buzzing! We stop here for a coffee or snack to help support this wonderful community initiative.
Then enjoy a guided nature walk in the tropical rainforest in search of the wild chimpanzee, redtailed monkey, black and white colobus monkey and many others. After lunch we transfer to Bigodi for a complete different walk. Here you will have the choice to join a guided Swamp Walk through the Wetland Sanctuary, which is famous for the many birds and primates that live in this area. Alternatively, you may decide to go for a Village Walk. Accompanied by a guide who can tell you everything about the traditional customs and lifestyle of the inhabitants, you will follow the village path and visit a primary school, Catholic church, traditional homesteads, learn about the crops and listen to the story telling of a Mzee (elderly man). Both activities are an initiative of the inhabitants of Bigodi Village and the revenues are shared by the local community (you can choose which activity to join locally. This is included in the package). Please note we might have to split the group for the chimp trek (morning and afternoon trek).Enjoy a guided nature walk in the tropical rainforest in search of the wild chimpanzee, redtailed monkey, black and white colobus monkey and many others. After lunch we transfer to Bigodi for a complete different walk. Here you will have the choice to join a guided Swamp Walk through the Wetland Sanctuary, which is famous for the many birds and primates that live in this area. Alternatively, you may decide to go for a Village Walk. Accompanied by a guide who can tell you everything about the traditional customs and lifestyle of the inhabitants, you will follow the village path and visit a primary school, Catholic church, traditional homesteads, learn about the crops and listen to the story telling of a Mzee (elderly man). Both activities are an initiative of the inhabitants of Bigodi Village and the revenues are shared by the local community (you can choose which activity to join locally. This is included in the package). Please note we might have to split the group for the chimp trek (morning and afternoon trek).
Today you can enjoy the majestic Rwenzori Mountains in their full glory on a guided walk in the foothills of the 'Mountains of the Moon'. As well as enjoying the scenic views, we will get a glimpse into local village life and meet some of the locals and visit a waterfall. After this walk we transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we spend the next two nights.
Enganzi Game Lodge (or similar)
The day begins early when we start with a morning game drive and head to the mating ground of the Ugandan kobs. We search for lion, elephant, buffalo and other animals in their natural habitat before returning for lunch.
In the afternoon we take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, a natural channel between Lake Edward and Lake George. Thanks to the abundant birdlife as well as the herds of elephants, buffaloes and hundreds of hippos that are cooling off at the shores, this cruise will be one of the highlights of your tour.
After breakfast we head towards the south, passing the southern sector of the National Park (if road conditions allow). This part is called Ishasha and is famous for the tree climbing lions. After a short game drive in this area we continue to Bwindi. While driving through a verdant countryside, you will pass traditional homesteads and enjoy panoramic views. In the afternoon we will arrive in Bwindi National Park, the home of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mahogany Springs Lodge (or similar)
Today you'll experience what some people define a life changing event: a meeting with the gentle giants of Bwindi! Expect to walk a long distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. But it will definitely be worthwhile as you observe them closely while they eat, play and rest, a unique and unforgettable experience! Unfortunately, Mountain gorillas (as opposed to Lowland gorillas) are one of the world's most endangered species so the entrance and gorilla tracking fees revenue generated from tourism in protected parks such as Bwindi, offer them their only chance of survival. Distinct from their cousins who live in the open spaces and lowland forests of West Africa, Mountain gorillas are found at an altitude of between 1520m and 3650m. Gentle giants and vegetarians, they are normally peaceful unless provoked. Our groups have been rewarded with the thrill of very close encounters.
Today you have the option of joining a guided nature/village walk to explore the surroundings of Bwindi. Due to availability issues, we often will have to split the group in 2 for the gorilla trek. Those who didn't take part on the gorilla trek on day 7 will be going on trek today.
After breakfast we leave the forest of Bwindi behind and head to Lake Mburo National Park, the smallest game park in Uganda. Although small, Mburo is home to 68 different species of mammal including leopard, hyena and buffalo. This area is one of the only places in Uganda where you will find zebra. The scenic drive to Mburo will take around 6 hours, through small villages, coffee and banana plantations and rolling hills. We will stop for lunch and to stretch our legs at Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara. Upon arrival at Mburo we check into our accommodation, which has spectacular panoramic views over the plains. It's the ideal spot in which to enjoy our last two nights of the tour. After the sun has set we head out for a very special game drive in search of leopard. Although rare, Lake Mburo National Park is the best place in Uganda to see the leopard, especially during night game drives. Wildlife sightings can't be guaranteed, on average 7 out of every 10 groups are lucky enough see them.
Rwakobo Rock Safari Lodge (or similar)
Lake Mburo is the only national park in Uganda where you can experience a safari on foot due to the absence of lion and elephant. After breakfast we walk out on to the plains with our guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. We spend around two hours exploring the African wilderness and should see giraffe, zebra, impala and numerous bird species as well as learning about the local flora such as acacia and papyrus. After lunch you have the opportunity to take a boat trip on Lake Mburo in search of more birds including kingfisher, fishing eagle and white-winged warbler. As well as birds we hope to see hippo, crocodile and buffalo.
Departing Lake Mburo at 7.30am this morning we'll drive for around six hours along the way, back to Entebbe. We'll arrive into Entebbe around 1.30pm and depending on your flight time your leader will take you directly to the airport or to a chosen guesthouse where we have arranged communal day rooms for those on late flights. The dayrooms are available until 9pm and will be shared between 3 people, if you'd like your own dayroom you can enquire about this and pay directly to the guesthouse.
The earliest your flight can depart Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is 4pm.
Although conditions are tropical, hot and humid in the centre and west, the rest of Uganda has a pleasant and comfortable climate. The dry season is generally from December to early March and June to the end of August/early September. Temperature can vary from around 28°C during the day to 12°C in the evening. High mountain areas become much cooler at night. Most of Uganda experiences a double rainy season. Rainfall is moderate, only exceeding 1250mm a year in the higher areas. But it may rain at any time of the year, particularly in equatorial rainforest such as Bwindi. Lake Victoria influences the local weather patterns considerably and ensures the surrounding region is wetter than elsewhere.
3 Pin Flat
Christian, Roman Catholic, Islam
Bwindi: Bwindi guided community walk - Approx. $30 USD per person Basket weaving community visit - Approx. $30 USD per person Guided nature walk to the waterfalls in Bwindi - Approx. $70 USD per person Lake Mburo: Boat Safari - Approx. $36 USD per person Entebbe: Day room at Boma Guesthouse - $112 ( Max 3 pax per room) Day room at Karibu Guesthouse - $130 ( Max 3 pax per room) Airport transfer with Boma Guesthouse shuttle - $10 Per person Airport Transfer with Karibu shuttle - Complimentary transfer Dinner at Karibu and Boma - $30 per person for a 3 to 4 course meal Payment by card is preferred
Temperatures are warm and humidity is high all year round. But as much of our route in Uganda is driving across high country or at a reasonable altitude, warm clothing is needed particularly at night and in the early morning. Do not bring green fatigues or camouflage jackets/trousers that might be considered of military origin. Lightweight, hard wearing gloves are useful for protecting hands during the gorilla and chimp search. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers are recommended for protecting arms and legs.
Sturdy walking boots for the tracking and sandals or trainers/light shoes for travelling.
One main piece of baggage (a soft bag or holdall for ease of loading onto vehicles) plus a daypack.
Take a torch (ideally a head torch), insect repellent and a personal water bottle. Binoculars will be useful for game viewing as is a camera with telephoto lens for close-up wildlife shots. Accommodation has mosquito screening where necessary so nets are not required. Walking poles are strongly recommended. A hat and long socks so you can tuck your trousers in for the gorilla trek are also recommended.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
UK nationalities need a visa to enter Uganda and are required to have a visa before the trip. Visas will not be issued on arrival. Visa can be applied for at the Ugandan High Commission in London or online. You can find full details of how to apply on the website of the Ugandan High Commission in London. You should give yourself sufficient time to apply for a visa and make sure when applying that the start date and validity covers the period you wish to travel. You can also apply for an East African Tourist Visa. This is valid for 90 days and allows multiple entry into Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. You can apply for this visa on the \ e-visa\ website. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. Please note you are required to have 6 months remaining validity on your passport and a yellow fever certificate to enter Uganda. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. As of 14 November 2022, all travellers are required to complete a mandatory Digital Health Declaration form and generate a QR code within 24 hours of travel to or from Uganda. This is applicable for all points of entry/departure, where you may be required to show proof that you have completed the form to health officials, airlines or border staff.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
We recommend protection against malaria, measles, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A, polio and yellow fever. You must travel with your Yellow Fever vaccination card. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.