Bird Watching & Cultural Safari

14 Days | Bird Watching & Cultural Safari

This is a road trip to explore Uganda – ‘the pearl of africa’ !, appreciating nature, bird watching, wildlife primates and diverse cultures!

Highlights

  • Tracking chimpanzees and 12 other primates species
  • Unique host springs boiling up to 1000c and primates in Semliki
  • Centuries old lake Katwe salt tour in Queen Elizabeth.
  • Gorilla-trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable
  • Golden Monkey Tracking in Mgahinga
  • Indigenous batwa ‘Pygmy’ experience!
  • How traditional medicine meets modern medicine at local village.
  • long-horned-cow milking experience!

Need To Know

Please note that this tour ( at the time of booking) The last day ( return transfer ) of this tour you have the freedom to choose between options; either to fly back from Bwindi or drive back on a road trip.

You might want to drive by road ( 4-5 hours) and depart from Kigali airport ( Rwanda). The choice is all yours. Please inform tour consultant at the time of booking your preferred the option.

At the time of booking in the event that the listed hotel is fully booked or room unavailable, we will do our best to inform you and book a similar hotel of the same class available.

Detailed Itinerary

Bird Watching & Cultural Safari

This is a road trip to explore Uganda – ‘the pearl of africa’!, appreciating nature, bird watching, wildlife  primates and diverse cultures!

Our driver/guide will pick you from your Hotel or other residence in Kampala/Entebbe at 7.00am in a customized pop-top safari van.

on the way after 3 hours we stop at Nakitoma – Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary , home to 16 white rhinos. The rhinos roam freely on 7000 hectares of land however  closely monitored 24 hours a day to protect them from poaching. Tracking and viewing the rhinos usually involves a short drive followed by 1 hour walking and viewing with a ranger. Closed shoes, long trousers and insect repellent are strongly recommended. You’ll be guided on foot by an ranger to visit Uganda’s most endangered creature –  the Southern White Rhino. This is the only place in Uganda where they still survive and breed with the hopes of one day being reintroduced back into one of the savannah parks.

Take a brief break for lunch. Proceed arriving at the Top of the Falls, view of the mighty Murchison Falls, the point where River Nile is squeezed through such a tiny space (7m gap) plunging 42m deep making one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. What a stunning sight, foaming, crashing white water rushing through narrow channels of stone and plunging down into a curving stretch of river below, silvery in the mid-day light.. The payoff is a killer view back toward the falls, and down the Nile in another direction as your eye can see. A vivid rainbow arced right across the plunging spray of the falls. You will be thrilled by this magical place and so glad that you need another day.

Proceed drive and check in at the camp/lodge. Look out for resident warthogs, and other wildlife around the camp! Enjoy dinner and drinks and weather permitting on a camp fire.

Luxury: Pakuba safari lodge/Twiga Safari lodge ( B,L,D)
Budget : Fort Murchison tents / Redchili Rest Camp (B&B )

Depart for early (6.30 am) game drive. Enjoy a 3 hour game safari, keep an eye out for the elephants, leopards, lions, warthogs and giraffes as well as large herds of animals such as oribi, Hartebeets, Kobs and buffalo, but please note – some wild animals like leopards, lions can be elusive ! –   nothing is guaranteed though our guides will maximize chances of these cat sightings! You’ll then have time to stop for your lunch by the river Nile.

At 2 pm we depart for a 3 hour boat cruise along the Victoria Nile to the bottom of Murchison falls. Along the way, you’ll be passing large numbers of giant Nile crocodiles, schools of hippos, vast range of birdlife. Enjoy this breathtaking scenery. Upon return, your driver/guide will pick you and take you back to lodge for an overnight.

Luxury : Pakuba safari lodge/Paraa Safari lodge ( B,L,D)
Budget : Fort Murchison tents / Red chile Rest Camp (B&B )

Our driver will pick you up from your lodge/ camp transfer at 7am to Kibale Forest National Park. stop in Fort portal. Traveling on unpaved roads, you pass through traditional Ugandan Villages where you see native people in their farmlands. The lush  green rolling hills will end up into viewing Uganda’s expansive tea plantations offering you great photo opportunities. You eventually begin to view Rwenzori Mountains ranges, plenty of matooke (Plantain) bicycle riders on the roadside – on a scenic drive as you get Fort Portal town. Drive time 5 hours.. Proceed to Kibale forest . Kibale National Park is the world’s primate capital and is home to 13 species of monkeys and man’s closest cousins; the Chimpanzees and a very dense population of butterflies. Keep an eye out for guereza colobus monkeys and baboons by the roadside. Drive time 8 to 9 hours.

Luxury: Kibale Guest Cottages – Rooms (B,L,D)
Budget:  Kibale Forest Camp – Tents (BB)

Today you will do Chimpanzee ‘tracking’. This activity can takes between 4 to 5 hours. Today you will wake up early, transfer to park offices at kanyanchu,  for orientation about your chimpanzee tracking etiquette. An experienced ranger will take you chimp tracking; Remember to carry water, rain gear, and walking/hiking boots plus backpack.

Approximately 5,000 chimpanzees live in the wild in Uganda. In Kibale you will find one of the largest populations of chimpanzees in Africa – about 1450 individuals. Kibale National park is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, each with over 120 individuals.

You will also have chances of seeing other monkey species that live here; the guereza colobus, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, blue monkeys, and olive baboons as well as the red colobus monkey considered Endangered and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey that are considered Vulnerable  and…plentiful of forest bird life

Once you locate the chimpanzees you will have a full hour of eye-to-eye contact with them. Since they are wild animals, we can never guarantee you to see them close enough.

It will be perfect opportunity to listen to the chimps as the grumble and feed. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists.  Chimpanzees live in communities. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against other male intruders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Rangers locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, following their eating trails. A chance to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees,  and socialize with each other. on a lucky day people have witnessed chimpanzees hunting.

In the afternoon after lunch, you will go for the guided swamp walk. The walk (2-3 hours) will take you through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery, where the locals are likely to greet you with enthusiastic waves. It is usual to spot three to four different primate species during this walk, although the highlight is catching a glimpse of the great blue turaco!

Optional activity  : Chimpanzee habituation tracking experience 

Here you can follow chimpanzee for all day in the forest.  At an additional fee of only $70 US Dollar per person, you can do the chimpanzee habituation tracking. This will take all day and you will be 100% sure to have a very close encounter with our cousins. Book this in time because only 6 persons per day are allowed to go.

Luxury: Kibale Guest Cottages – Rooms (B,L,D)
Budget:  Kibale Forest Camp – Tents (BB)

Head out to this lush  green rolling hills, walk to appreciate nature. Explore this scenic walking route, a chance to see three crater lakes in one spot. This region ( 1814Km2) has 52 crater lakes, ranked with the highest biodiversity in Africa. Afternoon relaxation at the lodge.

Luxury: Primate lodge (B,L,D )
Budget: Dutchess Guest House, (B,D)

After breakfast, we transfer to Queen Elizabeth National park on time for 2pm boat/lunch trip ( 2 hrs) on the Kazinga Channel, watching for a unique combination of brilliant colored birdlife and wildlife as they come to drink and take a shower.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is typical savannah grassland. Key highlights include Game drives looking out for lions, elephants, buffaloes, Hyenas. A boat cruise along Kazinga channel – which connects lakes Edward and George in the rift valley, is an awesome chance to view plentiful of colorful bird life (native, endemic & migratory), elephants, buffaloes and schools of hippos cooling off at the shores.

Kazinga fishing village,  experience how people live with wildlife; Crocodiles, buffalos, elephants, hippos.

This safari is also designed to search for tree climbing lions of Ishasha; southern sector of Queen Elizabeth.

Luxury: Mazike Lodge – Rooms (B,LD)
Budget: Bush Lodge – tents or Irunga forest safari camp (B&B)

You will have a number of optional activities to choose from

Optional activity 1: Lion predator tracking:

For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African animals, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of lions in the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behavior. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology – and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem. This will as well gives you a 95% chance to see the lions!

The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors. Experiential tours lasts between one and three hours. They usually take place in the early morning or evening. All activities must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre in Mweya at least 24 hours in advance.

This Cost: $85 us dollar per person.

Optional activity 2: Salt lake tour

we have the option of  driving to lake Katwe salt  crater lake. This unusual crater lake – too salty to support any wildlife – though since the 16th Century it has ensured the survival of village community, who spend their days under the sun, harvesting salt from its milky waters. This tour gives you a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining, as well as providing an alternative income for people. on the tour you will see  local community at work, cross the mud walkways with lots of traditional grass huts, used as shelter.

This Costs: $25 US Dollar per person.

Optional activity 3:  Second Chimpanzee tracking at Kalinzu forest.

Kalinzu forest is an eastern extension of the Maramagambo Forest found  near Queen Elizabeth National Park in the southwestern area of Uganda. Kalinzu Forest Reserve is home  to less than 300 Chimpanzees in an area of 137 km2 and other primates. The forest is traversed by a number of scenic trails along the ridges and valleys of the Rift Valley Escarpment.

This Costs: $50 US Dollar per person.

6.45 depart your lodge  for Kalinzu forest reserve arriving between at 8am. Here you will go for a forest walk in search for   chimpanzees. Along the walk there are high chances seing other primates like baboons, black and white Colobus and red-tailed monkey. On a lucky day you can see  the rare pygmy antelope. The walk can take as low as 2 hours to as high as 6 hours.

You will carry along with you picnic/packed lunch. After chimp trekking drive back to lodge. This Costs: $50 US Dollar per person.

Today we move on a leisurely drive to Ishasha south sector  of Queen Elizabeth – This is home to tree climbing lions. There are chances of seeing lions in the trees . Please note that there is no guarantee but our guide will maximize all regular hot spots to increase chances of sighting. After drive back to lodge.

Luxury: Enjojo lodge -cottages
Budget: Enjojo lodge – huts/tents

Today Morning we go for another mid morning game drive in ishasha. Today after lunch, we transfer  to Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park. This park is about 330sq kms forest, with spectacular scenery, impressive forest views. Altitude ranges between 1200m to about 2600m. The whole geographical scenery is basically hilly and mountainous.

There are 16 gorilla families which have been habituated for gorilla viewing, all of which can be accessed from specific locations/sectors of the forest. Eight people are permitted to view a single family per day. To trek gorillas you need a gorilla permit/license. Gorilla licenses are booked by location not by the name of a gorilla family. There are 4 starting gates namely; in North at BUHOMA, in the East at RUHIJA and in the South at RUSHAGA & south west at NKURINGO. Please note the choice of lodging will be determined by location of Gorilla family available at time of booking!

 

Budget:  Trekkers Tervan/ Gift of Nature/Ride4woman ( B&B)
Luxury: Bakiga Lodge /  Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge (B, L,D))

After early breakfast, your guide will take you to park gate. The trekking adventure will begin with a orientation by the park ranger guide on rules and how to handle yourself once you enter

The trekking journey!.  Pre – tracking orientation starts at 8.00am.Trekking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, wet, arduous but not impossible – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 10 hours. The activity depends on location of gorillas the previous day. Visitors therefore are supposed to move along with packed/picnic lunch and water, and should be equipped with strong water-proof clothing and must be averagely healthy. It can rain at any minute’s notice; hence water proof clothing is essential including ZIP bags for cameras. Porters are available at an additional small fee.  After gorilla tracking we transfer to little town of Kisoro for overnight.

After trekking, our driver/guide will  transfer you ( 2 hours) to Lake Bunyonyi for a relaxed evening.

 

Luxury : Birds Nest@Bunyonyi Resort (B,L,D)
Budget: Supreme Adventure Park. (B & D)

Optional activities at lake Bunyonyi

  • Boat ride to punishment island and traditional healer’s village, costs $40 per person
  • Time permitting  take a boat ride (one hour) visit  the traditional healers village by the lake. The healer not only treats the sick, but uses his knowledge to conserve and educate about the various medicinal plants if time and weather isn’t favoring, please note that you have the option of visiting traditional healer the next morning, before departure,
  • Hiking to  view islands of lake Bunyonyi ($10) per person
  • Self canoeing, ($5) depends one skill
  • Guided Canoeing, ($18) takes 1 hour
  • High ropes course and zip lining, ($30) per person, takes 1.5 to 2hrs
  • Guided Bird watching, learn about common bird species of the lake. ($20 per person)

Lake Bunyonyi is a known to be a place of so many little small birds

 

Luxury: Birdsnest
Budget: Supreme Adventure Park Island

We transfer to lake mburo national park. we game drive. Popular sightings include Zebras, Impalas, Topis, baboons.

 

Luxury: Rwakobo Rook / Mihingo lodge (B,L,D
Budget: Eagles Nest – tents ( B,D)

Optional activities:

  1. Morning game walk: There are a variety of walks both inside and outside the park, reaching nearby hilltops. Walks are typically around 2 to 3 hours long and accompanied by a guide. Popular sightings on game walk in the park include Zebras, Impalas, Topis, baboons.

This costs : $30 per person:  starts at 7am and ends at 9am

  1. Cultural experience: A visit a traditional Bahima homestead to learn about their cultural traditions and their way of life. Activities include learning about the Ankole long- horned cows with an opportunity to try your hand at milking ( depending on time of day), understand the traditional ghee making process.
  2. Biking: A  bike ride across grazing land, where wildlife and livestock mingle together, to the homesteads and back to the lodge.
  1. Night Game drive:  You will have chances to see some of the more elusive species of the park such as leopards, hyena, porcupines, bush babies.

This costs : $60 per person:  starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm

 

Luxury: Rwakobo Rook / Mihingo lodge (B,L,D
Budget: Eagles Nest – tents ( B,D)

Transfer to Entebbe/Kampala. Have a stop at the Equator . experience being in south and North hemisphere at once.

Meals: Breakfast,

End of Tour

To go on a gorilla trek, you need a gorilla permit/license which we can arrange for you.  We can only purchase your Gorilla permit after you have made a down-payment to us. Gorilla permits are competitive on a daily basis, advance booking is always preferred.

Please note the gorilla tracking in this itinerary can be done in Bwindi and or Mgahinga national parks. Gorilla tracking is dependent on the permits availability at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all parks are on a very high demand and we advise that you book them as early as possible.

  • Gorilla trekking can be strenuous activity and Minimum gorilla tracking age is 15 years.
  • What to bring: Hiking shoes/walking shoes, long socks to tuck-in long pants , rain wear, warm clothing, evenings can be cold/chilly, gloves preferably gardening type are very helpful and  insect repellant.
  • Anyone with signs of communicable diseases will NOT be allowed to track.
  • While possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of trekking and
  • Maximum time allowed with the gorillas will NOT exceed ONE hour, you are kindly requested to practice different modes of using your camera in different light situations. Gorillas can sometimes be moving, Forest vegetation can at times obstruct visibility, and hence taking photos of these creatures can be very challenging!

Transport:
Our standard offering is a 4WD with pop-up roof for easy safari viewing.  All passengers will have a dedicated window seat. Your driver/guide will be at your disposal for questions.

Extension:
If you want to extend your tour to one of our other destinations or if you’d like to add a few side trips to the itinerary, kindly let us know.

Difficulty:
Gorilla trekking takes place at altitudes 1160 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) above sea level. This means that moderate/average physical fitness is required. The slowest member will determine the groups’ speed. The pace will be moderate, with plenty stops to rest, ask questions, re-hydrate and enjoy the forest and views.

Booking and payment details:
Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need  to contact us for booking form  which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc.

Trip Price Includes:

  • Pick up from your hotel in Entebbe/Kampala
  • 1 chimpanzee tracking permit,  Bigodi wetland walk
  • Boat cruises in Murchison falls and on Kazinga channel
  • Activities mentioned on itinerary
  • Accommodations with meals mentioned on itinerary
  • Water, 1 litre per person per day on the van
  • 4×4 custom built safari open-roof vehicle with gas  with knowledgeable and English-speaking driver/guide
  • English speaking driver/guide
  • Entrance fees to parks.

Trip Price excludes:

  • International flights
  • Hotel on arrival date in Kampala and departure date in Entebbe
  • Visa for Uganda: East Africa tourist visa costs $100. Valid in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya for 90 days.. It can be obtained at Entebbe/kigali airport. Single entry visa costs US$50 and it is required for all countries that require visas for Ugandans
  • Gorilla permit (we arrange it for you)
  • Gorilla trek permit/pass
  • All optional activities mentioned on itinerary
  • Travel Insurance
  • Meals not mentioned on itinerary and beverages.
  • Tips and personal expenses such as laundry and communication
  • All drinks and personal entertainment

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