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UG1 Land of a Thousand Hills TOUR

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'Land of a Thousand Hills'

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Dian Fossey's Parc National des Volcans; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; Kazinga Channel cruise; Excellent birding; Volcanoes and jungles

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 05 Sep 2015Thu 17 Sep 2015 $7790
Sun 03 Jan 2016Fri 15 Jan 2016 $7790
Sat 03 Sep 2016Thu 15 Sep 2016 $7790

Optional Single Supplement: $1227 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $614, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview


The outstanding natural beauty and diversity of landscape in Uganda has long served as focal point of inspiration for travellers. Towering mountains give way to fertile meadows and broad savannah, while the dry uplands contrast with the swamplands of the lakeshores. We keep a lookout for Red Colobus monkeys and visit Uganda's most popular game reserve, Queen Elizabeth II National Park, where have the opportunity to take a boat ride amid Africa's largest hippo population. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, our last destination on the Uganda leg of our tour, is a designated World Heritage Park and is home to just over half the world's mountain gorilla population. Heading into Rwanda, we make route for Dian Fossey's stunning Parc National des Volcans, where we embark on a trek to encounter the mighty mountain gorilla and follow one of five gorilla families. This comfortable, fully-escorted and guided safari tour through Uganda and Rwanda features lands of rolling hills, tranquil lakes, the snow-capped 'Mountains of the Moon', rainforests and jungles, gorillas and chimps, and glorious butterflies outnumbered only by the plentiful birds.

Regions visited: East Africa
Countries visited: Uganda and Rwanda


Testimonials


"I would say that the "main event(s)" were more than we had ever dreamed of! The gorillas were wonderful, and the rain forests were beautiful. I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves seeing wild life, both flora and fauna, up close and personal.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda
Today we arrive at Entebbe International Airport (the airport serving the capital) and transfer to our lodge nearby.

Overnight in Entebbe.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Entebbe - Murchison Falls National Park
This morning we travel by road northwards and stop at the Ziwani Rhino Sanctuary, track the rhinos, and have lunch. We then proceed to Murchison Falls.

The falls mark the spot where the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert, is suddenly channeled into a gorge only six meters wide and cascades 43 meters below. The earth literally trembles at Murchison Falls -- one of the world's most powerful natural flows of water. Named them after Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Royal Geographical Society, the falls also lend their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park.

Overnight in Murchison Falls.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 3 Murchison Falls Park
We begin the day with an early morning game drive on the Buligi, Albert or Queens tracks north of the river Nile. Here we have the chance to observe those animals closely associated with the African savannah like lion -- leopard, giraffe, antelope, elephant, and warthog.

After lunch we have a cruise on the Nile River. The cruise takes to the bottom of the thundering falls where you will see huge crocodiles, hippo, buffalo, elephant and a variety of water birds like herons, cormorants, ducks, bee-eaters, kingfishers, skimmers, fish eagle and the rare shoebill.

We return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Overnight at Murchison Falls.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 4 Murchison Falls - Kibale Forest National Park
Early this morning, as we exiti the park, we will stop at the top of Murchison Falls for a view before we continue by road to Kibale Forest National Park, famous for its families of habituated chimpanzees. The park it is home to an astonishing number of 12 species of primates, the highest density in the world!

Overnight at Kibale.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Kibale - Queen Elizabeth II National Park
This morning we trek to see chimpanzees. Then we'll have a walk through the Bigodi Swamps. The Kibale Association manages the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary for Rural and Environmental Organisation, formed in 1992 with the aim of achieving social and economic development for local communities. While on our guided walk around the swamps, we can distinguish many from the approximately 137 bird species found here, including the Snowy Headed Robin Cat, Black and White Casqued Hornbill, Emerald Cuckoo and a variety of weavers, warblers, greenbuls and sunbirds. There is also an abundance of butterflies, and rich in vegetation, such as wild palms, polita figs and the dominant papyrus.

We depart Kibale by road for the Mweya Peninsula in Queen Elizabeth II National Park, dominated on its northern border by the snowcapped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains -- the famous 'Mountains of the Moon.' The varied ecosystems of this park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for Humanity, support a wide variety of species including elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.

Overnight at Queen Elizabeth II National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 6 Queen Elizabeth II National Park
This morning we embark on a game drive in open savannah covered by acacia trees on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. We will search for the typical tree climbing Lions (among other things), a population which is found only in this part of the country. It is impressive to see the animals while they are resting on top of the fig trees.

This afternoon we cruise up the Kazinga Channel, a narrow band of water connecting lakes Edward and George. This is one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Uganda, offering an opportunity to cruise amid members of Africa's largest hippo population. In addition to these giant semi-aquatic mammals, the launch affords unique opportunities to view other mammals and birds as they come to the water's edge to drink and bathe. Birding is excellent, and we expect to see species ranging in size from the tiny, brilliant Malachite Kingfisher to the giant Goliath Heron.

Overnight at Queen Elizabeth II National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 7 Queen Elizabeth II National Park - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
We have a morning road trip through the Ishasha Plains and the East African Rift Valley to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with picnic lunches (+/-6 hours). We pass through high, forested hills and through deep-farmed valleys. The drive is reminiscent to what one would experience driving through central Europe -- indeed this region of Uganda is often referred to as "Little Switzerland."

Overnight at Bwindi.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 8 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi, a World Heritage Park, is home to just over half of the world's last surviving mountain gorilla population of 600 individuals. Today's trek* can take from one to six hours, sometimes more, at elevations in excess of 2270 m (7,500 ft) and over rough terrain. Although the hike can be physically demanding, the anticipation of the exciting experience ahead is invigorating, and the beauty of the forest and its inhabitants is fascinating. For more info, go to www.uwa.or.ug. Your gorilla permits are included in the tour price.

The area around Bwindi is an excellent place for watching primates and birds and you may catch a glimpse of the noisy but evasive Chimpanzees or the beatiful Hornbills and Turacos. The forest is home to 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, and 163 species of trees, making it one of the richest ecosystems in Africa.

*NOTE: Group participants MUST have a medical questionnaire signed by a physician indicating their fitness to undertake such an activity. This form will be included with your confirmation package and MUST be returned to us before your final documents are issued.

Overnight at Bwindi.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 9 Bwindi, Uganda - Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda
Today we travel by road +/- 6 hours via Kisoro to Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda, a journey that takes us through the beautiful terraced hillsides that characterize much of Rwanda's landscape.

"In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat," wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, "are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest - the Virungas". Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range--home of the rare mountain gorilla -- and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.

Overnight near Parc National des Volcans.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 10 Parc National des Volcans
Early this morning we drive to the park headquarters where we are briefed by the guides of the Parc des Volcans before we start our gorilla trek. This 13,000-hectare national park protects the Rwanda sector of the Virunga Mountains, a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddle the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bamboo forest is interspersed with alpine moorland, grassland and marsh.

Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. If you are lucky you will get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch. Some gorilla families however are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day... especially when wet and muddy.

The Mountain Gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans are part of a worldwide population of just 740 individuals. The gorillas we are allowed to track belong to one of five habituated family groups. For up to five years each, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually brought them to tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild.

The gorillas are by no means tame, and are completely wild animals. However, experienced guides will accompany us on our tracking, many of who have been involved in the habituation process themselves. The guides will use their knowledge of the gorillas' habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. Because of this, the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as 1 hour to as much as 8 hours before one returns to base. Once the gorillas are located, our group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them.

Please remember that the mountain gorillas are a wild animal and are not enclosed in any form and free to move as they please. For this reason actual sightings of the gorilla groups cannot be guaranteed. For more information on gorilla tracking in Rwanda, go to www.ortpn.gov.rw.

Overnight near Parc National des Volcans.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 11 Parc National des Volcans
Today is a day of options. You may choose to trek another gorilla family,* OR take a trek up to the grave of Dian Fossey and the remains of the Old Karisoke Research Station (additional cost; rate included in your pre-trip notes). It is strongly advised that these options are pre-booked and confirmed at time of purchase of the main tour to ensure availability.

For those who loved the book and/or the movie ''Gorillas In The Mist'' the Dian Fossey trek could be a good option. Over the course of the morning you follow in her footsteps as you trek to Dian Fossey's grave and the many graves belonging to the poached gorillas, including that of Digit. For a more leisurely experience, trekking to the Golden Monkeys is highly recommended. In June 2003 the National Parks department first allowed permits to trek theses rare primates. A short walk to the edge of the forest to see the endangered Golden Monkeys is a rare treat. Watching these unique primates play and perform in the forest is mesmerizing.

* An additional gorilla permit for a second day trekking is an optional expense of approx $750 US per person, payable in advance only and non-refundable if you change your mind after the first day's trek.

Overnight near Parc National des Volcans.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 12 Parc National des Volcans - Kigali
Today we drive back to Kigali. Prior to departure, you may do an optional hike to view a colony of golden monkeys (additional cost; rate included in your pre-trip notes).

In Kigali we will have a brief look at Kigali and the Genocide Museum, opened in 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. While the genocide occurred as a result of a complex series of factors, it can only be seen as an absolute tragedy to Rwanda and its people. Time spent at the Genocide Museum is moving and important in understanding the sheer courage and resilience of this beautiful, tiny nation.

Overnight in Kigali.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Departure
Departure from Kigali.

SAFARI NJEMA!!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Paraa Safari Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Murchison Falls
Country: Uganda

Established in 1954, Paraa Safari Lodge is in Murchison Falls National Park. The lodge is located in the north west
... Uganda over looking one of nature's best kept secrets, the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert – here it is suddenly channeled into a gorge only six meters wide, and cascades 43 meters below. The earth literally trembles at Murchison Falls - one of the world's most powerful flows of natural water.

Paraa Safari Lodge offers a unique blend of comfort, relaxation and adventure. Each of the rooms is a haven of style and serenity, complete with balcony and private bathroom.

The safari décor of the lodge still reflects the bygone era of early explorers, enshrined with a modern touch. The luxurious pool overlooks the winding River Nile below, which was the setting for the classic Hollywood movie "The African Queen" (starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart). Enjoy a variety of excursions and activities; from exhilarating Safari drives to boat trips along the River Nile, ending at the foot of Murchison Falls. For the more adventurous, one can trek up to the top of the falls and marvel at the views through the mist. A variety of ecosystems and an impressive 451 species of birds awaits you here...

Read More.

Mweya Safari Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Queen Elizabeth II National Park
Country: Uganda

Mweya Safari Lodge offers visitors an unforgettable experience. Located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National
... Mweya Safari Lodge is surrounded by the magical Rwenzori Mountains aptly described as the 'Mountains of the Moon'.

To the east, lie the guardians of the birthplace of mankind, the Great Rift Valley hills, separated from the Mountains of the Moon by the meandering Kazinga Channel. Here the water flows endlessly into two giant lakes – Lake George and Lake Edward.

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Mahogany Springs Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Bwindi
Country: Uganda

Mahogany Springs offers privacy and serenity blended with optimal comfort in a spectacular setting. With some of the most luxurious
... in East Africa the feeling that you will experience when staying here is beyond compare.

At Mahogany Springs it is the little touches that make the big difference, from the tiny details in the design of the lodge through to the unrivalled service levels provided by the highly trained management team.

Mahogany Springs is the perfect base from which to begin you Gorilla Tracking or Bird watching adventures. The Gorillas have been to know to the visit the lodge and coming face to face with one of these peaceful creatures is an indescribable experience.

With more bird species per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world Bwindi is often described as bird watchers paradise and the fact that Mahogany Springs is set back on an open piece of land by the river ensures we have many rare species visiting us every day.

Come and stay at Mahogany Springs and it will live in your memory forever with a charming elegance that will leave you wanting more…

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Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Parc National des Volcans
Country: Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is located approximately fifteen minutes from the park offices, at the base of Sabyinyo Volcano.

... the rooms are individual spacious cottages with a fire place, sitting area and en-suite bathroom. The lodge consists of thirty cottages nineteen with king size beds, five cottages have twin beds and varnished flat stone floors.

As the lodge is at altitude the evenings can get quite cold the staff will make sure that your cottage is lovely and warm by lighting your own fireplace.

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Lemigo Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Kigali
Country: Rwanda

With everything right where you need it. Be it luxury or comfort, we have it all in one package.Lemigo brings
... refreshingly unique experience to Rwanda. Conveniently located in Kimihurura-Rugando. It is just 10 minutes drive from Kigali International Airport. Relaxation reigns here amid a serene landscape. Set in a serene environment, the hotel is sandwiched between International Organizations of repute.
Rating: 4-star

Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants), some lunches. All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary (including 2 gorilla permits). Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

NOTE: Due to prepaid park fees and gorilla permits which are non-refundable once issued, this tour requires a higher than usual deposit amount at time of booking. Your $2000 per person deposit is 100% non-refundable non-transferrable once paid.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, international air taxes (if applicable), visa fees. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, visas, and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

As most of the region is fairly flat with mountains only in the extreme east, the extreme west, and close to the Rwandan border, the bulk of the area enjoys the same tropical climate, with temperatures averaging about 25 C (79 F) during the day and 15 C (60 F) at night. The hottest months are from December to February when the daytime range is 26-28 C (81 to 84 F). The rainy seasons in the south are from April to May and late October through November, the wettest month being April. Humidity is generally low outside of the wet seasons.

Transport and Travel Conditions

We travel by touring mini-bus, with seating for approx six. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads. Secondary roads are of variable quality and often slow and bumpy especially around the gorilla parks.

Accommodation

Uganda and Rwanda have only re-emerged as tourist destinations in the last few years and their lodges and camps are not as luxurious as in some African countries. Generally accommodation is three to four star hotels and lodges. The Gorilla's Nest in Rwanda is somewhat more basic.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, drivers, local guides.

Group Size

10-16 (plus Tour Leader)