UGANDA

13-Day Pearl of Africa Safari

Known as the "Pearl of Africa," Uganda has abundant opportunities to see a wide variety of endemic and endangered wildlife. Visit Uganda's best parks, see giraffe in Murchison Falls National Park, chimpanzees in Kibale Forest, enjoy a full day of gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and see a wide variety of beautiful and rare birdlife everywhere you go.

Major Destinations:

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Activities:

Boat Launch/Cruises, Cultural Visits, Game Drives, Gorilla Tracking, Primate Walk

DAY 01: ARRIVE ENTEBBE

Arrive Entebbe, meet and greet and transfer to Lake Victoria Hotel. If time permits, visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens.

DAY 02: MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

This morning we start our journey in Uganda and drive to Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest national park and protects a chunk of untamed African savannah bisected by the mighty river Nile. The highest diversity of wildlife is found on the open plains north of the Nile, where elephant, buffalo, giraffe and a huge variety of antelope are regularly encountered. The Nile itself boasts one of Africa's densest hippo and crocodile populations, and a dazzling variety of waterbirds, including the world's most accessible wild population of the rare shoebill.

DAY 03: MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Today we get to explore the wonders of this magnificent park, by safari vehicle and private boat. Murchison Falls National Park is said to be the best game park in Uganda. During a typical game drive you can expect to see a large number of antelope species, including the bush buck, the water buck, Thomson's gazelle and the dik-dik, to name but a few. Larger herbivores, such as giraffe and elephant are present in the park in great numbers and often the lumbering giraffe will cross the roads right in front of you. Primates, such as the baboon and the patas monkey, stare at you as you pass by, and if you are a bird lover then Murchison Falls National Park will not disappoint.

DAY 04: KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Drive to Kibale Forest area, the drive is a full day of approximately eight hours. After leaving the Rift Valley, pass through beautiful agricultural countryside where every type of fruit and vegetable imaginable is grown. Upon reaching Kyanjojo, in the lower foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon), we drive through beautiful tea plantations and into Kibale tropical rain forest.

DAY 05: KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Kibale Forest is home to 13 primate species and a guided forest trek can be taken in search of one of the most popular primate species in the world – the chimpanzee. While trekking in the depths of the lush green forest, you will be surrounded by birdsong and can expect to see at least 5 or 6 other types of primates, most probably the grey-cheeked managebey and the red-tailed monkey, and, of course, the chimpanzee. The walking is fairly easy due to the well-maintained trails and reasonably flat terrain. We have lunch with Tinka at his homestead and enjoy a traditional Ugandan meal. This afternoon we have a swamp walk in Bigodi. The swamp walk takes place in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, a major eco-tourism attraction in the Kibale Forest area.

DAY 06: QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The drive passes through Fort Portal and then south along the eastern length of the Rwenzori Mountains, with the hope of viewing the glaciated peaks. Queen Elizabeth National Park resides in a fertile, equatorial area and has beautiful scenery. It is Uganda's most popular and accessible savannah reserve, and it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world, including a total of 95 recorded mammal species and more then 610 species of birds. In the afternoon, we will explore the park and its wonders on a game drive.

DAY 07: QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park including a private boat trip of about two hours on the Kazinga Channel to view some of the largest concentration of hippo in the world (reported to be about 30,000) and other game with excellent birding. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of best birding parks in Africa, with 560 + recorded species and a record of 296 bird species seen in one 24 hour period. We will also get the opportunity to visit the local salt mining village near Katwe.

DAY 08: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to at least 90 mammal species, including 11 primates and is ranked as one of the best in Uganda for forest birding, with 23 highly localised Albertine Rift endemics. Bwindi is renowned for its mountain gorilla population, slightly more then half the world's mountain gorilla population is resident in Bwindi: an estimated 280 – 320 individuals living in 15 groups. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is an extremely special privilege and an encounter unparalleled in most likely the whole of Africa.

DAY 09 & 10: GORILLA TRACKING

After breakfast take a short drive to Park Headquarters and meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking. We then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trek can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world.

DAY 11: LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

Drive to Mbarara, passing through the "Switzerland of East Africa" area. Lake Mburo National Park is a small park and it is one of the only places to easily see impala and Burchelle's zebra in Uganda. Herds of impala (found nowhere else in Uganda), buffalo, and zebra, plus waterbuck and eland are amongst the variety of wildlife to be seen. Birders will enjoy the Park's 310 recorded water and dry land species. In this valley we can operate night drives and walks. Dinner and overnight at your lodge.

DAY 12: ENTEBBE

This morning we will explore the beautiful and tranquil Lake Mburo National Park. You will have the opportunity to observe the wildlife on foot on a bush walk and also in your safari vehicle on a game drive. In the afternoon we drive back to Entebbe, this takes approximately 5 hours – road and weather dependent. If time permits it is possible to stop in Kampala for shopping and lunch and a visit to the Mpigi Royal Drum Makers.

DAY 13:

RETURN TO U.S.

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