The Jewel of Africa: Our Perfect 10 days in Uganda
We’ve done it again! This week majestic Uganda has been added to our portfolio of destinations! So, we thought we’d share our recommended ’10 days in Uganda’ classic itinerary to celebrate!
As a small but growing tour provider, we love nothing more than adding a new country to our list. A great deal of thought and work goes on behind the scenes before we consider doing so. We pride ourselves on being specialists in each destination we offer. So, we’d only launch a new country when we know we can offer incredible trips backed up by the personal experiences and knowledge of our team.
Uganda – frequently heralded as ‘the jewel of Africa’ – is a stunning and fascinating country to visit. A kingdom of many awe-inspiring landscapes, from lush rainforests and never-ending African plains to roaring waterfalls and mountainous backdrops, its beauty is undeniable.
Above all though, it is without a doubt one of the best places on earth to see primates in the wild. With opportunities to track endangered mountain gorillas and walk with wild chimpanzees as well as multiple safari options, Uganda is a wildlife-enthusiasts dream destination.
This Ugandan itinerary put together by Emma, our Uganda specialist here at HA, aims to hit all the highlights whilst making sure you really get a feel for the country. Every trip we design is 100% bespoke to you and what you want to get from a holiday, so this really is just one option. If you like what you see but fancy tweaking it a little to really suit your needs, give Emma a call to plan your perfect Uganda adventure. Let’s go!
A Perfect 10 days in Uganda
Day One – Uganda awaits
Your adventure starts with an overnight flight from the UK to Nairobi. Flights take between 10 and 12 hours. So you’ve got plenty of time to put your feet up, indulge in a host of in-flight movies and feast on multiple bags of peanuts today!
Day Two – Explore Entebbe, the gateway to Uganda
This morning you’ll hop on a connecting flight to Entebbe – (don’t worry, this one’s only a little over an hour!). Although smaller than neighbouring capital Kampala, Entebbe is home to the country’s main airport. For that reason, it has become the central hub for visitors arriving in and leaving Uganda.
On arrival, you’ll be met by a friendly local guide and will have the chance to explore some of the highlights of the area. It’s undeniable that you’re going to be beside yourself with excitement for the wildlife adventures to come, but there are some sights worth visiting in Entebbe first to whet your appetite.
Entebbe is a city perching on the Northern shores of Africa’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria. You could head across the lake this afternoon to the Mabamba Swamps, hop in a canoe and challenge yourself to spot the rare and elusive African Shoebill. Or give yourself the perfect introduction to the country with a ‘behind the scenes’ tour at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. This 72-acre complex was established in 1994 to protect and rehabilitate local wildlife and will allow you your first glimpse at a chimpanzee.
Day Three – Arrive in Bwindi
Another quick flight this morning as you hop on a connection to Bwindi. As there’s so much to see, flying between the main sights leaves you much more time for those all-important animal encounters. We want to really make sure you get the most out of these 10 days in Uganda.
Without doubt the opportunity to spend time with majestic gorillas will be the focus of your time in Bwindi; but before the excitement of that tomorrow, it’s worth taking some time to explore the surrounding areas…
If you’re a keen birdwatcher, grab your binoculars and enjoy a guided bird walk through the lush tropical rainforests. There are an incredible 350 species of bird said to live amidst the green, so your bird-spotting eyes will most definitely be kept busy!
With so much of your visit to Uganda focused, quite rightly, on the incredible wildlife, you might choose to take a day to get under the skin of the local communities. Join a guide and explore the suspended forest walkways as you get more of a feel for the beautiful area and the Batwa people who live in the surrounding villages. Learning about their culture and way of life will give you a valuable insight into what it’s like to live on the edge of the Impenetrable Forest.
Make sure you get plenty of kip tonight as two incredible (but strenuous!) days with the gorillas await!
Day Four – Explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The day has arrived! Uganda is one of the best places in the world to come face to face with our fuzzy primate relatives. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the Serengeti of Uganda, with around 400 incredible mountain gorillas calling the forest home.
Mountain gorillas are the most endangered of all the apes in the world. With less than 1,000 left on this earth, having the opportunity to see them in the wild really is a true honour and an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
For the good of the gorillas, the local authorities in Uganda have put strict limits on how many visitors can trek with the animals at any one time. This helps ensure the gorilla’s home still feels like home to them as well as giving you a more personal experience. When we chat with you about ideal travel dates, we’ll recommend the best area of Bwindi to stay to ensure you can get permits for your party.
Imagine trudging through the hidden paths of the forest, the close air and noises from deep in the bush submerging you fully in this new environment. Out of nowhere, your guide stops, you’ve come across a family of gorillas. This is sure to be one of the most humbling moments of your life, being in the presence of these awe-inspiring animals as they go about their daily life, happy with you there, sharing their morning with you.
The hike isn’t easy, but you are more than rewarded for your efforts. Plus, you’ll have expert guides and porters to help with your gear alongside you every step of the way, keeping you safe and ensuring you have the best experience possible in this remarkable part of the world.
Day Five – Discover the Bwindi Waterfalls or get even closer to the gorillas with a full day habituation experience
If you fancy a bit more exploring today, why not take a trip to one of the nearby lakes or waterfalls? Gorillas are definitely top of the bill in Bwindi, but they’re not all it has to offer.
Consider going on an adventurous forest walk along the Munyaga River Trail (accessed from the North Gate) or the Rushaga Trail (more convenient if you’re staying in the South!). Whichever trail you choose, prepare to be enchanted by the sounds of the forest as the rising heat of the day burns off the early morning mist and you make your way through the green. If you’re lucky you might see a family of colobus monkeys swinging through the vines above your head or perhaps spot rare African green broadbill flitting between the leaves.
However, if you are craving a little more time with the gorillas (and no one would blame you!), for even more of a majestic and personal experience we really recommend the gorilla habituation experience.
This is a very special full-day excursion and is completely private. Join a team of rangers and researchers as they trek deeper into the forest and track down lesser-visited gorilla families. You get to spend an incredible four hours with the animals on this trip, learning about their habits and lifestyles as well as how the researchers work to introduce new groups of gorillas to human visitors.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can spend this amount of time with a species that is so endangered. And today you have the opportunity to add this showstopping experience to your memory bank. This is a spellbinding and humbling excursion not to be missed.
Day Six – Drive to the beautiful Queen Elizabeth National Park and spot the famous tree-climbing lions
A bit of a drive today, but it will be worth it when you finish your day at a beautiful lodge in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After two hours on the road, break up the drive with a morning stop off at the Ishasha Community Project. You’ll get a taste of the real, rural and authentic Uganda here. Spend some time getting to know the local people of Ishasha, hear about how they go about their daily lives and live in harmony alongside Uganda’s wildlife. More importantly, you can take the time to learn about the innovative ways they’re working to pull themselves out of poverty. This really will be such a worth-while and inspiring visit.
Hop back in the car as you make your way into the beautiful Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most visited national park. Spanning just shy of 2,000 square kilometres, this natural wonderland boasts a multitude of spectacular but contrasting landscapes and is teeming with wildlife. From lions to elephants, you won’t be short of spotting opportunities here!
Soon after entering the park, make a stop off in the remote Ishasha sector for a chance to spot the famous tree-climbing lions. If you’re lucky enough to come across a male, take note of their very impressive and distinctive black manes. After adding these amazing mammals to your ‘spotted list’, drive on to your lodge and settle down for the evening.
Day Seven – A full day of animal spotting
An early start today for what is sure to be yet another highlight of your time in Uganda. Whether you’re a seasoned safari-goer or a first-timer, a safari in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth National Park is sure to impress.
After a delicious bite of breakfast, jump in a 4×4 and head out with your friendly safari guide ready to explore this vast park. These guides are true experts in their field, having spent years on end studying the animals and their habitats. Whether it be about an animal you encounter, a track on the road or a peculiar plant – you’re sure to learn a fun fact or several on the way!
The national park is home to around 95 mammal species and countless birds. Some of the amazing animals you could hope to encounter on your game drive include; buffalo, hippo, crocodile, elephant, leopard, lion and chimpanzee. You could go on a safari drive every day for a month and come across something different and wonderful every time. You’re absolutely in for a treat.
After a filling lunch, mix things up a little with a leisurely boat safari on the Kazinga Channel. This truly is an idyllic way to spend a balmy afternoon; floating down the peaceful waterways, passing hippo and crocodile cooling themselves off the banks of the national park.
What a day! Travel back to your lodge as the sun falls below the horizon for a hearty dinner around the campfire. Chat about your day until the sky fills with stars and your bed is calling.
Day Eight – Trekking with the chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge
After a much-needed sleep, wake early for your next primate encounter. This time with primates who share an incredible 90% of their DNA with us, the chimpanzee! Dust off your hiking shoes and walk into the incredible Kyambura Gorge for a morning of chimpanzee trekking.
You’ll be accompanied by some very experienced guides who know how to read the chimps’ tracks and predict their movements – giving you the best possible chance of seeing them!
Tracking these chimps means you go where they go. Queen Victoria National Park is famous for its volcanic features so you could find yourself negotiating steep gorges or traipsing through dense jungle. You’ll need a fair level of fitness to keep up with the chimps here!
After lunch, take a drive (and a well earned rest!) to Kibale Forest National Park in Western Uganda. Keep your cameras handy on the journey because you’ll cross the equator on this trip. It’s not every day you do that!
The lush, evergreen rainforest of Kibale is surrounded by dramatic volcanic crater lakes and set beneath the spectacular Rwenzori Mountains. The forest is home to 70 forest mammals including elephants, buffalo and antelope, 13 species of primate and an incredible 375 species of bird, making Kibale Forest one of the top bird-watching destinations in Uganda. Take a few hours this afternoon to walk around the Bigodi Swamps, looking up through the ceiling of palm trees as you go, seeing how many different bird species you can spot.
Day Nine – Get your final fix of the primates
You couldn’t see your last full day in Uganda pass by without spending a little more time with the chimpanzees.
Kibale Forest National Park is by far the best place to see chimpanzees, with around 1,500 living in the area and 80-90% of treks achieving successful sightings of the furry primates. So you should absolutely be able to end your Ugandan wildlife adventure on a high here.
This final adventure involves a 2-5 hour trek through the thriving forest, the length depending entirely on where the chimpanzees are and how deep into the jungle you need to venture to see them. Once found, the rangers allow visitors to observe the chimps for one hour before leaving to let them go about their business.
Being so closely related to us, observing these incredible creatures is nothing short of mesmerising. The way they move, eat and interact all bear such close resemblance to us, you may well feel like you’ve got more in common with these primates than you were expecting!
Day Ten – Hometime
On the last of your 10 days in Uganda, sadly the time has come to start your long journey back to the UK. Choose between a lengthy drive or a fast flight back to Entebbe airport before boarding your flight back home.
Whenever Emma returns from some time in this amazing kingdom, she spends her journey home ogling over her gorilla photos and pinching herself over what she’s just experienced. We reckon you might just be doing the same!
We hope this suggested 10 days in Uganda has given you a good idea of the remarkable experiences this country has to offer. If you’d like to find out more give us a call on 01242 253 073, we’d love to start designing a trip perfect for you.