© Marcus Westberg, Gorilla Highlands

Three Highland Lakes

5 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. Then explore one of Uganda’s ancient rainforest, Echuya Forest. This is how you discover the true nature, people and beauty of the southwestern highlands of Uganda!

From $590 PP

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- Canoeing on Lakes Bunyonyi and Mutanda.
- Trekking through Echuya Forest.
- 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 - Leave Uganda's highlands and drive back 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
Lake Bunyonyi. Image © Marcus Westberg, Gorilla Highlands

Day 2 - Island hopping

You’ll be met by your guides for your walking and canoeing tour at the lodge and be departing at 10 am so you have plenty of time to enjoy your breakfast and the views across the lake. Accompanied by your guide you will leave your camp and head down to the Kyabahinga Peninsula at Lake Bunyonyi where you’ll meet a traditional healer who will share his secrets of tropical highland flora found around the lake and forests. This afternoon you’ll visit to the African Explorer Cultural Village with stories about the history and beliefs of the Bakiga people who live around the area of Lake Bunyonyi. In the early afternoon you’ll be stopping off for a tasty local meal (beans, sweet and Irish potatoes, ground nuts and dodo - local spinach) at Mrs. Anna’s, 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. You’ll be staying at Tom’s Homestay and camping at the family compound on this remote island. Use the remaining daylight hours to explore the island and be introduced to so traditional Enanga music before a local dinner of 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
Hiking through the hills to Kisoro town. 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. On reaching the lake take a canoe out onto the water to paddle around the lake shores with the fantastic backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes dominating the skyline along the Uganda / Rwanda border to the south. As the sun sets return back to your camp to relax for your final evening in Uganda’s south western highlands.

Day 5 - Heading Home

Today you’ll be making the long drive back to Kampala (or Entebbe) from Uganda’s southwestern highlands. You’ll leave the shores of Lake Mutanda and drive back passing through Echuya Forest and north to Mbarara town for lunch en route before you then continue past Lake Mburo NP. Here there’s a good chance of spotting zebras by the roadside as we pass, between Mbarara and Masaka so keep your eyes open! It’s then north over the equator and on to Kampala (or Entebbe) where you’ll be arriving either in the late afternoon or early evening.

Virunga volcano view. Image © Georg Schaumberger, Gorilla Highlands
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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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Super Custom: Included

VW Kombi: +$170 Per Group

Land Cruiser Pop Top: +$300 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)
- 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 Lake Mutanda Camp (single or double / twin banda, NSC)
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 3 days)
Wildlife & Tracking Permits
- N/A
Park & Vehicle Fees
- N/A
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)
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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