© Marcus Westberg, Gorilla Highlands

Highland Lakes & the Impenetrable Forest

7 Day Uganda Tour - Hiking & Canoeing

Hike hills and paddle dugout canoes to experience the forest valleys, terraced hillsides and sparkling waters of the stunning lakes Bunyonyi and Mutanda. Then explore Uganda’s ancient rainforest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. This is how you discover the true nature, people and beauty of the southwestern highlands of Uganda!

From $950 PP

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Highlights

- Canoeing on Lakes Bunyonyi and Mutanda.
- Trekking through Bwindi Forest National Park.
- Panoramic Virunga volcano views.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Drive to the highlands to the 'place of many little birds'.
Day 2 – Explore the many islands of Lake Bunyonyi by dug out canoe.
Day 3 – Hike through the ancient Echuya Forest with an expert guide.
Day 4 – Canoe on Lake Chahafi and hike to the shores of Lake Mutanda.
Day 5 – Canoeing on Lake Mutanda with views of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Day 6 – Trek through the ancient rainforest of Bwindi National Park.
Day 7 – Leave Uganda's highlands and return to Kampala.
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Day 1 - The 'place of many little birds'

You’ll be collected early in the morning from Kampala (or Entebbe) so you can make the seven hour drive down to Lake Bunyonyi. It’s a long drive but you’ll be stopping off along the way in some great spots to break up the journey. Cross over the equator into the southern hemisphere before passing the edge of Lake Mburo NP. Around midday you’ll reach the Igongo Cultural Centre where you can relax and enjoy your lunch in their gardens. After lunch continue south and start driving into the highlands of southwest Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi or ‘lake of many little birds’ by late afternoon. Your accommodation is on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi where you’ll have a couple of hours to relax, swim, hire canoes to paddle around the lake (*for an additional cost) before you head up the hillside to enjoy a dinner overlooking the many inlets, terraced hillsides and islands dotted around the lake and watch the sunset.

Zebra at Lake Mburo National Park. Image © William Boase
Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi. Image © Georg Schaumberger, Gorilla Highlands

Day 2 - Island hopping

You’ll be met by your guides for your walking and canoeing tour at your camp and depart at 10am so you have plenty of time for a lazy breakfast with views across the lake. Accompanied by your guide, you will leave your camp and head down to the Kyabahinga Peninsula where you will meet a traditional healer who will share his secrets of tropical highland flora found around the lake and forests. Next visit the African Explorer Cultural Village to learn about the history and beliefs of the Bakiga people who live around the area of Lake Bunyonyi. You’ll then stop of for a postcard view of Lake Bunyonyi with almost all of its 29 islands before a tasty local lunch (beans, sweet and Irish potatoes, ground nuts and dodo - local spinach) courtesy of Mrs. Anna, a craft maker who will also show you the tricks of her trade. In the mid afternoon you’ll descend to the lakeshore and grab some paddles to take a dugout canoe ride to Habukomi Island (about 1 hours paddle) where you’ll be staying for the night at Tom’s Homestay and camping at the family compound on this remote island. You’ll have the remaining daylight hours to explore the island and be introduced to so traditional Enanga music before a local dinner enriched by crayfish freshly caught from the lake.

Day 3 - Echuya forest

Your breakfast will be served at Tom’s Homestay before you depart by dugout canoes to western shores of Lake Bunyonyi. It’s then a hike to the hilltop overlooking the Echuya Forest Reserve, arriving by midday. You’ll then be entering the forest with your guide, the Batwa leader Kanusu. It will take two hours to complete the Echuya nature trail including crossing the swamp (gum boots provided so don’t forget your socks!). Your guide will be able to identify the local flora, fauna and teach you about the local history and cultural of the area. Upon completing the nature walk you’ll be rewarded with specular views of the Virunga Volcanoes. After lunch you’ll be hiking downhill to reach the lake shore of Lake Kayumbu, arriving by 3pm. On your arrival at Lake Kayumbu you’ll be setting up camp on the lake shore in a church compound, with time to relax, explore and swim before the lay leaders family serves you a local dinner of beans, cabbage, matooke, dodo, sweet and Irish potatoes, and ground nut sauce.

Echuya Forest. Image © Marcus Westberg, Gorilla Highlands
Mount Muhavura view from Lake Chahafi. Image © Georg Schaumberger, Gorilla Highlands

Day 4 - Lake Chahafi

This morning you’ll have a later start to the day and take a short walk along the lake before taking a boat ride on Lake Chahafi to Lake Chahafi Resort for a hearty breakfast. You’ll then set off on a three-hour hike to reach Kisoro town. You’ll have time for a lazy lunch at the Coffee Pot and then get the chance to meet the local museum owner, Gakondo before hiking onto the shores of Lake Mutanda, your final highlands lake. You will then take a boat out across the water to your island camp with views of the Virunga Volcanoes dominating the skyline on a clear day. You will spend the remainder of the day on the island with time to relax before your hike into the Impenetrable Forest tomorrow.

Day 5 - Lake Mutanda

This morning after breakfast you’ll make the walk from Kisoro town to Lake Mutanda while enjoying the breath taking views across the countryside. Once you reach Lake Mutanda by about 9:30 you’ll take to the water again. You’ll take dugout canoes up Lake Mutanda arriving around lunchtime for an exquisite lunch at Mutanda Lake Resort. After lunch it’s just a short canoe ride across to the other side of the bay before you start your hike to Bwindi Impenetrable NP. The path will wind through villages with views stretching out in front of you over Lake Mutanda, the Virunga volcanoes and the Western Rift Valley. You’ll reach your accommodation at the Nkuringo Gorilla Camp on the edge of Bwindi Forest with views over this vast rainforest where you can watch the sun set over the Virunga volcanoes.

Canoeing on Lake Mutanda. Image © Georg Schaumberger, Gorilla Highlands
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Image © Georg Schaumberger, Gorilla Highlands

Day 6 - Trekking in the rainforest

This morning you’ll be hiking through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site and home to most of Uganda’s rara mountain gorillas. You’ll head down a steep slope to the Kashasha River accompanied by a qualified and knowledgeable Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger who will be able to answer your questions on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the wildlife and plants of the area. You’ll follow a narrow winding path over bridges and natural obstacles before you stop off for your packed lunch at a gorgeous river junction. After lunch you’ll walk down to a wider, flat road that follows the northern edge of the forest. This will lead you down to Buhoma village. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to relax and explore the village before you settle into to your accommodation for the night with views over the rainforest.

Day 7 - Heading Home

Set off early from Bwindi Impenetrable NP to make the eight to nine hour drive back to Kampala (or Entebbe). So settle back and enjoy the ride as you descend from the highlands of Uganda back down to the plains and plantations by Lake Victoria. You’ll stop off along the way at Mbarara for lunch, at roadside markets you might like to explore and the equator. You’ll then arrive back in Kampala (or Entebbe) by early evening.

The highlands of south-western Uganda. Image © Rachel Landman
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Gorilla Tracking

Head into the highland rainforests of Uganda to track the famous rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO world heritage site. Bwindi is a wildly diverse ancient rainforest and protects around half of the world's population of mountain gorillas right here in Uganda. Trust us, you’ll never forget your experience of meeting our distant relatives!

If you would like to add this activity to your tour, please contact us for more information.

Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Uganda’s most popular savannah park, Queen Elizabeth National Park is bursting with highlights. From explosion-crater lakes, tree-climbing lions, elephants, game herds, boat safaris and chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge’s sunken rainforest. Adding this park to your itinerary gives you a real feel of Uganda’s savannah and rainforest in one destination.

If you would like to add this destination to your tour, please contact us for more information.

Virunga Volcano Trek

Take a hiking trip to explore one of Uganda’s three extinct Virunga volcanoes on the Uganda/Rwanda/DRC border. You’ll be accompanied by an experienced and qualified guide to summit either Mt. Gahinga ‘Small Pile of Stones’, Mt. Sabyinyo ‘Old Man’s Teeth’ or Mt. Muhavura 'the guide' to reach what feels like the top of the world.

If you would like to add this activity to your tour, please contact us for more information.

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4×4 Supercustom

This tour is based on using a Supercustom. On safari in Uganda, you need vehicles that you can rely on, vehicles with as much comfort as we can provide to make your journey a happy one! The 4x4 Toyota Supercustom is a practical option for group safaris as they offer space, comfort and are reliable vehicles. Each vehicle can comfortably seat eight clients as well as a driver and an extra seat for when we hire additional guides and rangers. They perform well off-road and have pop-top roofs for that intimate experience with nature in the parks. As a conscientious business, we chose this vehicle, as it is kind to the environment; running on diesel with low consumption. This is therefore our standard touring vehicle.

Please note this tour is based on your being collected and dropped off in either Kampala or Entebbe. For other locations please contact us for a quote.

Upgrade Option – Classic VW campervan

The classic Volkswagen Campervan is our signature vehicle. It’s how the company started with its intrepid founders who wanted to test something a little unconventional. It worked! These Campervans were manufactured in Germany and bought to Uganda in the 1970’s. We currently own three Campervans that run trips over a large amount of the country. Clients need to bare in mind that these vehicles were not designed for off-roading. All of our drivers are certified VW mechanics and fix the odd hiccup. We won’t let you miss an activity but we do advise you to appreciate that there may be a few short stops along the way. We added the Toyota’s as some of our clients require speed and air conditioning but if you’re up for an adventure, you might want to consider something a little quirky. Each vehicle seats six around a table and has an MP4 jack (3mm amp) and a subwoofer to blast those 70’s tunes!

For price quote please see "Prices Tab". Please note prices are based per car hired and on pick up and drop in Kampala or Entebbe. For other locations please contact us.

Upgrade Option – Landcruiser with pop top

Some clients simply prefer a Landcruiser on their safari! They are after all the conventional way to travel on safari. Like the Super Custom, they offer comfort and reliability. They offer more intimacy for small groups of two to four clients and are optimal for single travellers. With their pop-up roof hatches, they give you up-close and personal interactions with nature.

For price quote please see "Prices Tab". Please note prices are based per car hired and on pick up and drop in Kampala or Entebbe. For other locations please contact us.

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Based on 6 PeopleBased on 5 PeopleBased on 4 PeopleBased on 3 PeopleBased on 2 People
$950pp$1,000pp$1,110pp$1,360pp$1,740pp

Foreign Uganda Residents Discount: -$10 Per Person

East African Citizens Discount: -$30 Per Person

Super Custom: Included

VW Kombi: +$230 Per Group

Land Cruiser Pop Top: +$420 Per Group

This Tour Includes

We use the following abbreviations our ‘Includes & Excludes’ section.
NP – National Park
NSC – Non Self Contained (communal toilets and showers)
SC – Self Contained (private toilet and shower)
UWA – Uganda Wildlife Authority

Full time use of a Private Vehicle (as per your itinerary)
A Full-Time Private Driver/Guide
Fuel for your entire journey (with an allowance for any necessary detours)
Accommodation
- 1 night at Bunyonyi Overland Resort (single or double / twin safari tent, NSC)
- 1 night at camping on Habukomi Island (single or double / twin tent, NSC)
- 1 night at camping on Lake Kayumbu shores (single or double / twin tent, NSC)
- 1 night at Mutanda Island Lodge (single or double / twin tent, NSC)
- 1 night at Nkuringo Gorilla Camp (single or double / twin safari tent, SC)
- 1 night at Buhoma Community Camp (single or double / twin safari tent, SC)
All Meals (please view ‘Meal Plan’ above)
Bottled Drinking Water (1.5 liters per person, per day in your vehicle)
All Activities
- Canoe & Hiking package (Gorilla Highlands 5 days)
Wildlife & Tracking Permits
- N/A
Park & Vehicle Fees
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park x 1 day (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
Specialist Guides and Rangers
- Traditional Healer (Gorilla Highlands)
- Canoe Guides (Gorilla Highlands)
- Hiking Guides (Gorilla Highlands)
- Craft Maker (Mrs. Anna)
- Echuya Forest Reserve Guide (Batwa Leader, Kanusu)
- Museum Guide (Gorilla Highlands, Gakondo)
- Bwindi Forest guide and ranger (UWA)
Collection from and drop-off at your desired location (in Kampala or Entebbe)
Lodging & food for your guide/driver (same lodge premises as you, where possible)
A dedicated Tours Manager based in Kampala in daily contact with your Driver/Guide and on call, 24/7 in case of an emergency.

This Tour Excludes

Items marked ‘(*for an additional cost)’
Alcohol (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Laundry (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Souvenirs & items of a personal nature
Personal Insurance
International or Domestic Flights
Visas (refer to your embassy)
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