Uganda is a country in East Africa, it’s one of the interesting travel destinations on the African continent. The country caters to all types of tourists ranging from the budget to top-end luxury travelers also from just culture tourists to wildlife and bird lovers. The country is home to a variety of attractions from the big bustling city to the amazing lush landscape and of course not forgetting the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
The country has something for everyone but it can require a lifetime for someone to explore well this vast country. But am sure with a 1-week trip, you can get the test of the most interesting highlights of the country, for example, gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Wildlife watching and Boat cruise on River Nile in Murchison Falls National Park and Chimpanzee and other primates watching in Kibale Forest National Park.
For foreign tourists, since you will be knowing less about the country it’s better to do much research about the country and even plan everything in advance to avoid disappointments. Among the things you need to plan in advance include;
The country has a tropical type of climate with two types of season, the rainy/wet season and dry season. Always the first dry season start from June to August and the second from December to February and the first wet season always runs from March to May and the second from September to November.
It’s fine to travel at any time of the year with the right packing and fully equipped 4×4 safari vehicle, but for a more easy and enjoyable trip, we recommend traveling in the dry season, because at this time of the year you can use any type of the car even if 2wheel drive and even the grass is short which give a clear view of the animals and even the gorilla trekking experience is not difficult during the dry season.
If you going for a self-drive trip, make sure you hire a 4×4 safari vehicle, and its advisable to book it in advance because most car rental companies require a lot of things to present before they reserve your car so it’s better you book it in advance to get time to collect everything they need.
Since on this one-week safari you will have to also gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking on your itinerary, it’s also recommended that you book the gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permits in advance since these permits are limited per day. And it’s a bit easier if you book through a registered tour company in the country. Like for example, the car rental company from where you going to get the safari vehicle can help you acquire these permits at no extra fee.
The destinations below can make your 1 week trip to Uganda more enjoyable and we recommend that you focus on these;
2. Murchison Falls National Park
3. Kibale Forest National Park
4. Bwindi Forest
The highlight of this trip is the gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest and it’s important that everything is planned in advance like the gorilla permits and chimpanzee tracking permits and another thing it’s advisable to not pack too much because huge luggage will become a burden at some extent.
Make sure that you pack enough water and snacks and more importantly don’t forget the rain jacket and the camera and also if you have a heavy bag don’t forget to hire a porter at the national park headquarters when going for gorilla trekking. And if you on a self-drive safari still its recommended that you hire a ranger guide in national parks when going for a game drive in the park.
What to expect
On the first day if you arrive by plane you will be met at the airport or you will be at the hotel either in Entebbe or in Kampala. This day will start with breakfast at the hotel and then transfer to Kampala city center. Kampala is a city where you can spend some good time explore how the Ugandans do their day to day work, enjoy a Boda Boda ride around Kampala. Bodaboda is motorcycles they are mostly used as a means of transport. They are common around the country, they are quite cheap and perfect alternative means of transport as they allow avoid traffic jams in the city. In the city still, you can try local foods, visit local cultural sites like Kabaka’s palace in Mengo, Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, among other interesting attractions in Kampala city.
On the second day after exploring the city, Murchison Falls National Park will be your next destination. Murchison falls is another gem you should not miss most especially the wildlife lovers. The trip to Murchison falls will start with a long drive to the northwestern part of the country and it can take like a 5-hour drive. So you will reach in the park during the time for lunch and check-in at the safari lodge enjoy late lunch before you go the evening game drive in the park. This game drive starts with a drive to the north-most part of the River Nile where you will get a chance to spot different animals in the park-like the lions, giraffes, hyenas, leopards, and elephants and that is not all, for bird lovers the park also has something for you because the park is home to a variety of different birds species which can be spotted on a game drive and boat cruise to the bottom of the falls.
The next morning, still in Murchison Falls, you will have breakfast at the lodge and then enjoy an early morning boat cruise that will take you up to the bottom of the falls. On this cruise, you will enjoy watching different animals at the bank of the river and different water-loving birds. Then after the boat cruise which will take about 2hours, you will return at the lodge relax for some time have lunch, and then go to explore the top of the falls. Then after you will leave this amazing park and drive westwards to Kibale Forest National Park the home to about 13 different species of primates. A drive from Murchison Falls National Park to Kibale Forest will take something like 6 hours meaning you will reach the park in the evening at a time for supper, so you will just check-in at your lodge for dinner and overnight and wait for the next day.
Now it’s another magical morning which will start with a very early morning breakfast at the lodge and then prepare with your chimpanzee permit and enough bottled drinking water and then proceed to the national park headquarters of Kibale Forest National Park where you have to be at exactly 08:00 local time or earlier. There you will have a short briefing from the ranger guide about the rules and regulations of chimpanzee tracking in the jungle later you will be grouped in a group of 8 people and drive to the starting point of chimpanzee tracking when you accompanied by the armed guard and the ranger guide.
The park is home to over 1400 chimpanzee individuals gathered in several chimp families and each family can have something like 100 chimpanzee individuals. On chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest you enjoy watching other primates in the park since its home to over 13 different species of primates, 325 different species of birds including; olive long-tailed cuckoo, western tinker bird among others.
These will be so much tiresome due to much traveling and hiking in the jungle as you search for the chimpanzees, so after the chimpanzee tracking, you just return to the lodge and relax the whole evening as you wait for the next morning 7hours drive from Kibale Forest National Park to Bwindi Forest National Park the home to rare and endangered mountain gorillas in the country.
On this day we will wake up and have a heavy breakfast at the lodge and start to pack our luggage to leave this beautiful park. At around 10 am we will hit the road and drive towards the southwestern part of the country to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You will arrive at the park a bit late at 4 pm and check-in at the lodge for late lunch and relax at the lodge as you wait for dinner and overnight.
Now, this day is the juiciest day of our safari in Uganda, it’s when we have to go for mountain gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Gorilla trekking just like the chimpanzee tracking always starts early in the morning by gathering at the national park headquarters with your gorilla trekking permits, rain jacket, enough drinking water and even enough snacks then after you will be briefed about the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking before you transfer to the starting point where you will leave your safari vehicles and enter the jungle accompanied by the armed guard and the ranger guide who will be there to answer any question you will have. The time you will take while searching for these animals is unpredictable but always range from 2-8hours depending on where the gorillas spend the night and the gorilla family you were assigned to. After finding the mountain gorillas, you will be given a full hour to stay in the presence of these animals as you learn more about their life get more details about them from the ranger guide, take photos and record videos to show back home, later you will have to hike back to where you left the cars and then drive back to the national headquarters where you will be rewarded with the gorilla trekking certificate from the Uganda Wildlife Authority for supporting the conservation of the Mountain gorillas and the Uganda wildlife.
Later you will drive back to the lodge we recommend at least spend the evening at Lake Bunyonyi which is found something like a 2-3 hour drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park headquarters. There are several amazing accommodations around Lake Bunyonyi but we recommend Lake Bunyonyi Safari Resort because it’s just on the lake and from it, you can participate in some simple evening activities at the lake, like canoeing, sport fishing, and others.
Now, this will be the last day of our trip and such amazing safari need a memorable ending. So this morning we will take a morning walk around the lake spotting some water-loving birds, visit the local people before you hit the road to return to Kampala with an en-route stop at the equator for lunch and even to participate in a simple experiment at the equator. Later you will continue with your journey to Kampala where the trip will end.