18 Days Rwanda – Uganda safari

Overview:

The 18 Days Rwanda Safari involves double gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes and Uganda’s Bwindi, encountering Africa’s largest pool of colobus monkeys in Nyungwe forest National Park and the famous Canopy walk, recreational water encounters on Lake Kivu Rwanda and Lake Bunyonyi Uganda, paying tribute to the world gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey, rich wild game viewing including tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth alongside elephants, buffaloes, Antelopes, leopard among others. The full day chimpanzee habituation in the primate capital of the world Kibale Forest National Park, scenic encounters of the Fort Portal Crater lake area, Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves, the Sempaya hot springs and the legendary mountains of the moon – the Rwenzoris combine to derive lasting safari memories. The choice of either the orphanage tour or source of River Nile encounter with half day rafting adds spice to your travel experience.

Safari Highlight:

Day 1: Do Kigali city tour

Day 2: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Day 3: Do colobus monkey tracking & canopy walk

Day 4: Transfer to Lake Kivu (Gisenyi area)

Day 5: Encounter Lake Kivu recreational experience & transfer to Volcanoes National Park.

Day 6: Do golden monkey tracking & visit the iby wachu cultural village

Day 7: Do gorilla trekking

Day 8: Hike Dian Fossey & cross to Uganda

Day 9: Do Batwa Cultural experience in Mgahinga & transfer to Lake Bunyonyi

Day 10: Encounter Lake Bunyonyi & transfer to Bwindi impenetrable National Park

Day 11: Do gorilla trekking

Day 12: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park via Ishasha (tree climbing lions) & do crater drive.

Day 13: Do game drive & boat cruise & transfer to Kasese.

Day 14: Do Mount Rwenzori hiking & transfer to Kibale National Park.

Day 15: Do full day Chimpanzee habituation.

Day 16: Visit Sempaya hot springs & Pygmy of Ntandi & do Fort Portal Crater Lake hike & Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves tour.

Day 17: Transfer to Kampala & visit Nakayima tree en route in Mubende.

Day 18: Encounter the Christ Our Vision Child Care Orphanage & Karagi village tour or the source of the world’s longest River Nile – Jinja with half day white water rafting.

Description:

Day 1: Do Kigali city tour

Kigali – the capital of Rwanda is a lush city free of traffic and pollutant noise. It is a cozy environment that one may not expect in African cities. In its calmness, it has got rich heritage which is highly shaped by the effects of the 1994 genocide.  After breakfast, you will embark on the tour of this city visiting sites like the Gisozi genocide memorial, presidential Palace museum which was the home of the then president Juvenal Habyarimana who lost his dear life in a plane clash and the remains of FALCON 50 lay in the compound to justify this tragedy. The tour also exposes you to the Natural History Museum, craft centers in Kigali, Kigali down town, Hotel Des Milles Collines – the scene for the movie Hotel Rwanda among other Kigali city landscapes.

Accommodation: Kigali Serena Hotel (Upmarket/luxury), Hotel Chez Lando (Midrange/standard) or Murugo Rwanda Hostel (Budget/basic).

Day 2: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park

After breakfast, embark on the transfer to Nyungwe forest National Park 268km about 6 hours’ drive excluding stops en route. The journey passes through the farmed landscapes of southern Rwanda with stops in Butare to visit the ethnographic museum, Nyanza palace and Murambi genocide memorial site. You will have lunch en route in Butare before proceeding on your journey to Nyungwe Forest in the afternoon.

Accommodation: Nyungwe Forest Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Nyungwe Hill Top View Hotel (Midrange/Basic) or Gisakura Guest House (Budget/Basic).

Day 3: Do colobus monkey tracking & canopy walk

<nyungwe-forest-tour

After breakfast, set off for colobus monkey tracking in Nyungwe forest where you have chances of encountering the largest grouping of colobus monkeys in Africa. The colobus monkeys appear in their white and black coat and their appearance makes them unique and worth of trekking. The colobus monkey tracking on Rwanda safari is beyond colobus monkeys as it involves trekking through the jungle full of birds and other wildlife species, the raising landscape of this mountain forest add spice to this colobus monkey tracking experience. It takes 2 – 5 hours and involves one full hour encounter with Colobus monkeys. After this, you will return to the lodge for relaxation. In the afternoon, you will embark on the rewarding Nyungwe canopy walk that takes you through the views of the Nyungwe forest canopy that is filled with birds and primate species like monkeys. The 90m long and 40m high Nyungwe canopy is an exciting adventure to undertake on Rwanda safari.

Accommodation: You will have dinner and overnight at your previous lodge.

Day 4: Transfer to Lake Kivu (Gisenyi area)

After breakfast, embark on the transfer to Lake Kivu – Gisenyi area 294km about 6 – 7 hours’ drive from Nyungwe. The journey drive exposes you to the scenic hill sides of western Rwanda and the views of Lake Kivu. You will have lunch en route and arrive in Gisenyi in the evening for relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation: Lake Kivu Serena Hotel (Upmarket/Luxury), Hotel Gorillas Lake Kivu (Midrange/Standard) or Paladise Malahide (Budget/Basic).

Day 5: Encounter Lake Kivu recreational experience & transfer to Volcanoes National Park.

Wake up for a relaxed breakfast on the shores of Lake Kivu – the largest water body in Rwanda. The calm waters of Lake Kivu that are free from crocodiles, hippos, Bilharzia and gas outbursts provide a basis for a range of recreational activities. Activities include; swimming, water sports like Kayaking, wind surfing, catamaran and Jet ski, boat cruise, cycling, hiking among others. You have all the chances of participating in any of these activities. The whole day encounter on this Lake will reward you with ultimate refreshment. In the evening, transfer to Volcanoes National Park 110km about 2 hours’ drive for overnight.

Accommodation: Mount Gorilla View Hotel (Upmarket/luxury), La Palme Hotel (Midrange/standard) or Muhabura Hotel (Budget/basic).

Day 6: Do golden monkey tracking & visit the iby wachu cultural village

Wake up very early to catch up with golden Monkey tracking at 08:00am. The activity exposes you to the rare and endangered golden monkeys that only dwell in the Virunga volcanoes in Africa. The activity takes about 4 hours and starts at 08:00 from the park headquarters – Kinigi. The trek involves passing the lush vegetation of Volcanoes up to the Bamboo zone where the golden monkeys prefer to dwell. Upon, reaching them, you will marvel at their golden skins and their distinctiveness from other monkey sub species. You will return from this activity to the lodge for lunch after which you will embark on the cultural tour to the Iby’iwachu cultural village to encounter the traditional setting of the Kinyarwanda culture. You will undertake a community walk guided by a community member to different sites including the replica of the King’s palace where the story about the Kings of Rwanda is told and you have the opportunity of being crowned as a king for minutes, encounter about eight traditional Kinyarwanda dances by all community groups including; men, women, children and youths, visit the traditional healer who uses traditional medicine to cure diseases, encounter Batwa pottery making experience, art and craft making by local women and encountering the banana brewery making process. Retire in the evening for dinner and overnight.

Accommodation: Mount Gorilla View Hotel (Upmarket/luxury), La Palme Hotel (Midrange/standard) or Muhabura Hotel (Budget/basic).

Day 7: Do gorilla trekking

Wake up very early for breakfast such that by 8:00am, you are already at the park headquarters –Kinigi for briefing and eventual gorilla trekking experience. During this session, you are allocated to a gorilla family to track and if with a special case, rangers can be consulted for special arrangement. You will head off to the volcanic lush vegetation in search of gorillas. The trek is quite thrilling as you go through amazing landscapes amidst bird sights and other wildlife crossing including monkeys, wild pigs and if lucky wild elephants. The trek takes 2 – 8 hours as gorillas are unpredictable thus packed lunch is required. The jungle sounds will accompany you up to that long waited moment of direct contact with gorillas. You will see them as they forage, play, socialize and sometimes charge. The state of wonder that will engulf your heart could leave your camera film with no space for other encounters. The full one hour is enough to optimize this experience after which you will retreat to the starting point to drive to your lodge for relaxation. In the evening, you can take a walk in the Musaze caves to encounter these tunnel-like features with shape of a cathedral that used to provide refugee for Rwandan royals in times of war in pre- colonial Rwanda and storage for supplies. Retire for dinner and overnight.

Accommodation: Mount Gorilla View Hotel (Upmarket/luxury), La Palme Hotel (Midrange/standard) or Muhabura Hotel (Budget/basic).

Day 8: Hike Dian Fossey & cross to Uganda

dian-fossey-tomb

After breakfast, hike the Dian Fossey site to pay tribute to one of the gorilla conservationists the world is proud to have had. This American Primatologist championed for the conservation of these critically endangered mountain gorillas. The Karisoke center is located at a raised land scape thus involves a relative hike but less strenuous. The grave of the Silverback digit is also seen at this center. The activity takes 3 – 4 hours. You will return for relaxation and lunch at the lodge after which you will embark on the drive to Uganda 68km about 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The journey will take you through the magical views of Virunga volcanoes that bring together countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Accommodation: Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (Upmarket/luxury), Mucha Lodge (Midrange/standard) or Amajambere iwacu Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 9: Do Batwa Cultural experience in Mgahinga & transfer to Lake Bunyonyi

After breakfast, set off for the Batwa heritage trail a half day activity that takes you through the forests of Mgahinga in the company of the indigenous Batwa guides as they interpret every forest landscape and what it meant in their traditional life. The hike stretches up to the Garama cave the ancient dwelling of the Batwa – one can call it their capital in the forest of Mgahinga volcanoes. The cave is a natural shelter that always provided a refugee for the Batwa in times of danger. You will listen to the sorrowful songs being sung by the Batwa women taking you through the course of their tradition; it is a rich taste of the fading typical African culture.  Return from this activity and embark on the transfer to Lake Bunyonyi 80km surface drive for overnight.

Accommodation: Bird nest @Lake Bunyonyi resort (Upmarket/luxury), Arcadia Cottages (Midrange/standard) or Byoona Amagara (Budget/Basic).

Day 10: Encounter Lake Bunyonyi & transfer to Bwindi impenetrable National Park

Nick named the lake of a thousand islands, Lake Bunyonyi has a range of islands stretching up to 29 in number and can all be explored on 5 - 6 hours boat ride while on this safari in Uganda. The Lake Bunyonyi encounter is designed to maximize your relaxation and is entirely recreational. The tranquil waters of the lake and the surrounding views of Kigezi highlands dubbed the Switzerland of Africa combine to make this day a total complete experience. After the boat ride and a tour to the island community and a local school, you will embark on the transfer to the gorilla trekking haven of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Rushaga) 73km on a rough scenic road. You will arrive in the evening for relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation: Chameleon Hill Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Gorilla Valley Lodge (Midrange/Standard) or Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 11: Do gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi exposes you to a different experience from that of Volcanoes National Park. The terrain of Bwindi is rugged with a thick jungle which is different from the former.  The gorilla behaviors and group composition can never be the same and this makes second gorilla trekking in Bwindi. You will wake up early for a heavy breakfast before gathering at the Park headquarters Rushaga for briefing at 08:00 about the conduct of gorilla trekking. You will head to the forest after briefing in search of these apes and though the trek is a bit challenging, it is one of those activities that you will never forget to have done in Uganda. The 2 – 8 hours activity involves hiking up the hills, descending down the valleys, walking through swamps and maneuvering the way through thickets which have formed the background of this Impenetrable forest before coming in direct contact with gorillas. The one full hour is at your disposal to maximize your experience with gorillas as you them forage, play, socialize and also gaze at you in a sign of welcoming and saying good bye. The experience is rewarding and worthy undertaking. Your picnic lunch will take you through the activity after which you will descend to the lodge for relaxation. In the evening, you can attend the local performances to see the amazing cultural performances of the Bakiga or the Batwa people that surround the park.

Accommodation: Chameleon Hill Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Gorilla Valley Lodge (Midrange/Standard) or Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 12: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park via Ishasha (tree climbing lions) & do crater drive.

After breakfast transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park – the highest visited Game Park in Uganda 309km. The drive involves traversing the rolling hill of Kigezi and eastern forested landscapes of Bwindi as you make your way to the north before approaching the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park – Ishasha where you will undertake simple game drive in search of tree climbing lions that tend to rest on the fig tree branches. The tree climbing lions thrive in only in this part of Uganda and in Lake Manyara National Park but Ishasha offers ideal encounters because of its short trees. You might be lucky to spot some and then continue to your respective lodge for relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation: Mweya Safari Lodge (Upmarket/luxury), Enganzi lodge (Midrange/standard) or Pumba Safari Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 13: Do game drive & boat cruise & transfer to Kasese

Wake up very for a cup of coffee before setting of for the game drive activity in the savannah game park of Queen Elizabeth. The early departure at 06:00 gives you an opportunity to see night hunters like hyenas getting back to their hiding places and early risers setting off to look for what to eat. The drive through the Kasenyi and channel tracks gives a probable opportunity to see a range of game including; Lions, buffalo, elephants, elusive leopard (if too lucky), defassa water bucks, Uganda kobs, Oribis, side stripped jackal among other wildlife. Return to the lodge after this 3 -4 hour game drive and relax till lunch time. After lunch, you will gather at Mweya for a recreational afternoon launch cruise leaving at 03:00pm taking 2 hours exploring the magical offerings of Kazinga Channel including the sights of water birds and wild game drinking on the channel side, the Nile crocodile and the Hippos. The 45m channel that stretches from Lake George to Lake Edward has tranquil waters that always give pleasure and psychological satisfaction to any traveller on Uganda safaris. Retire from the boat at 5 pm & transfer to Kasese area about 2 hours’ drive arriving late in the evening for relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation: Ihamba Safari Lodge (Upmarket/Midrange) or Ruboni Community Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 14:  Do Rwenzori hiking & transfer to Kibale National Park.

mountain-rwenzori-hike

Transfer early after breakfast to Mount Rwenzori (Nyakalengija) for the whole day Rwenzori hiking encounter. The hiking encounter exposes you to raised landscapes of Mount Rwenzori offering impressive scenic views of the ridges and glaciers and the rift valley flats below. It is a perfect one day active adventure exploring the legendary mountains of the moon as described the famous Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150AD towering to 5,109m above sea level making it the tallest mountain range in Africa and the third highest in Africa. Return from the activity at 5:30 pm and transfer to Kibale National Park for relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation: Primate Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Chimpanzee Guesthouse (Midrange/Standard) or Kibale Forest Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 15: Do full day Chimpanzee habituation.

After taking a heavy early breakfast, you will gather at Kanyanchu Tourism Centre at 06:00am to set off for the full day Chimpanzee habituation experience. Unlike Chimpanzee trekking which involves one hour encounter with chimps, the chimpanzee habituation takes full day as you will have chances of seeing chimps as they get out of their nests, setting out to feed, watch their social moments, playful tactics, and their amazing sounds until they form new nests in the evening for overnight. It is a comprehensive Chimpanzee encounter that you can have while on safari in Uganda.

Accommodation: Primate Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Chimpanzee Guesthouse (Midrange/Standard) or Kibale Forest Camp (Budget/Basic).

Day 16: Visit Sempaya hot springs, pygmies of Ntandi & Amabere g’ Nyinamwiru caves tour & Fort Portal Crater Lake hike.

After an early breakfast, set off for Semuliki National Park 78km about 2 – 3 hours’ drive passing through Fort Portal town. The sights of mystical mountains of the moon – the Ruwenzori will welcome you at a distance before approaching Bundibugyo district and eventually Semuliki National Park. The Sempaya nature walk will see you traverse one of the pre-historic forests in East Africa that survived the last ice age and with great concentration of Guinea-Congo biome species. The walk which lasts between 2 – 4 hours takes you down to the female (Nyansimbi) and Male (Bitente) hot springs with the largest spring spouting up to 2m high. Here, you have to be careful as the emerging water has a temperature of more than 100 degrees Celsius and the pools that surround are also hot. You are free to boil some plantains and eggs which gets ready within a couple of minutes. The walk also exposes to chances of encountering the red-tailed monkey, grey cheeked mangabey and black and white colobus monkey. Upon return from this encounter, you will visit the Bambuti Pygmies at Ntandi about 5km from Sempaya along the Bundibugyo road. The Bambuti Pygmies have got close coloration to the Batwa forest people of south western Uganda and Rwanda not forgetting the Basua pygmies of Congo basin. The Bambuti of Ntandi are not forest dwellers but are short in height than an average person. Have picnic lunch in Semuliki National Park and transfer back to Fort portal area to visit the Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves and do Fort Portal Crater Lake hike. Visit the Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves – the breast like features that date back in the pre historic era with great attachment to the Chwezi heritage. The breasts (Amabere) are believed by the locals to belong to Nnyinamwiru the daughter of Bukuku who was a self-imposed King of the Bachwezi. The maiden daughter cut her breasts in protest of being refused to breast feed her only son Ndahura who later became a prominent King of the Chwezi Empire. The encounter also involves the hiking the Fort Portal Crater field. The famous Kyeganywa hill rises in a conical shape and its summit presents great sight-seeing moments of the range crater hollows and crater lakes including Saaka, Bikere among others not forgetting the distant views of Mount Rwenzori on a clear day. Retire for dinner and overnight in Fort Portal town.

Accommodation: Kyaninga Lodge (Upmarket/Luxury), Mountains of the Moon Hotel (Midrange/Standard) or Rwenzori View Guesthouse (Budget/Basic).

Day 17: Transfer to   Kampala & visit Nakayima tree en route in Mubende.

After breakfast, embark on the drive to Kampala 300km about 6 – 7 hours’ drive. You will pass through the forested views surrounding Kibale forest plus the swamps and marshes that characterize this wet region of Uganda. The journey breaks at Mubende town where you will branch off a little to visit the Nakayima tree, an ancient tree with a rich Chwezi background. The locals attach a lot of cultural and religious significance to this site and thus it is used as a shrine. Lunch in Mubende town and continue on the journey to Kampala to arrive in the afternoon.

Day 18: Encounter the Christ Our Vision Child Care Orphanage & Karagi village tour or the source of the world’s longest River Nile – Jinja with half day white water rafting.

Extending the helping hand to the needy is one of the inherent attributes that we share as Prime Safaris. The orphans that lost their parents to HIV/AIDS scourge along with others thrive at Christ Our Vision Child Care Orphanage where they are supported to have good education and other necessities. The need to maintain the orphanage gave birth to Prime Uganda Safaris & Tours as a source of funding for the orphanage. Thus, paying a visit to this orphanage is one of the ethical safari activities that you can ever have in your journey times. You will play with kids and enjoy their performances. The traditional Kiganda buffet lunch will be served at the site. In the afternoon, you will take a walk in the Karagi village where the orphanage is located to learn about the way of life of the local people and their traditions before transferring back to Kampala city. The orphanage is about 40 minutes – 1 hour drive from Kampala city.

Alternatively, encounter the source of the world’s longest River Nile at Jinja. You will wake up early for breakfast at your place of stay after which you will be transferred by your guide to Jinja 80km about 1-2 hours’ drive from Kampala. You will enjoy the soothing fresh air from Mabira forest en route which is one of the major rain forests in Uganda. Upon reaching Jinja – the adventure town of Uganda, you will enroll yourself for the half day white water rafting experience that will see you contain the strength of waters of the Nile as they splash through the rapids. You will visit the Reptile farm in Jinja to have encounter of various reptile species. The relaxing boat cruise to the source of the Nile will take you to the point where John Speke, the first European to see the source of the world’s longest river stood. You will see the Nile starting its 90 days journey to the Mediterranean Sea. Retreat to Kampala.

End of safari: