© Rachel Landman

Best of the West Safari

8 Day Uganda Tour - Mid-range Option

Experience the very best of western Uganda. From tracking chimpanzees, game drives to discover tree-climbing lions, meeting our endangered relative the rare mountain gorillas, and island hopping in the breathtaking scenes of Lake Bunyonyi. No trip to Uganda can possibly be complete without visiting these destinations!

From $2,790 PP

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Highlights

- Spend a full day with a chimpanzee family in Kibale NP.
- Savannah game drives in Queen Elizabeth NP.
- Track the rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
- Water safaris in Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo NP.

* Price includes your gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permits!

Brief Itinerary

N.B. The abbreviation NP is used for 'National Park' in this itinerary.
Day 1 - Head west to explore Magombe swamp.
Day 2 - Track chimpanzees in Kibale Forest NP.
Day 3 - Explore the savannah with a game drive and water safari.
Day 4 - Seek out the tree-climbing lions on Ishasha Plains.
Day 5 - Track the rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
Day 6 - Unwind at the 'place of many little birds', an idyllic highland lake.
Day 7 - Discover the rolling hills and spot zebras in Lake Mburo NP.
Day 8 - Hike through the savannah on a walking safari.
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Day 1 - Heading west

Depart early in the morning from Kampala (or Entebbe) and drive west to Kibale NP in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountain range. You’ll reach Fort Portal town in time for lunch before driving south through rolling hills dotted with crater lakes to reach the edge of Kibale NP. Pass through the rainforest to reach the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary where you’ll meet a guide who will take you on your walk through Magombe Swamp, a RAMSAR site and part of the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. As you ramble around the swamp your guide will be able to identify the local flora and fauna as well as the eight species of monkey including red colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest, vervet, black and white colobus, blue monkeys and baboons. Your driver will then take you on to your accommodation on the edge of the rainforest where you can relax and prepare for your chimpanzee tracking tomorrow.

Vervet monkey and baby, Kibale NP.
Image © William Boase
Chimpanzee swing from the trees, Kibale NP. Image © Steffen Schwörer

Day 2 - Chimpanzee tracking

Meet with your Uganda Wildlife Authority tracking team early for a briefing on the chimpanzees in the forest. Kibale NP is famous for having the highest concentration of primates in East Africa. A Uganda Wildlife Authority habituation team will give you an orientation on tracking the chimpanzees in the forest. Your aim is to track down the chimps through dense rainforest after they descend from the trees. Once you have found them, you’ll have the day to observe their natural behavior in the wild as they feed, socialise, nurse their young, relax, patrol and display their prowess, before watching them weave their nests and retire for the night into the forest canopy. By dusk you’ll leave the rainforest and head back to your lodge to relax for the evening. Depending on where the chimps are, you should take around four to five hours to complete the tracking. Once you’ve found the group, amongst the dense rainforest, spend an intimate hour with them, watching them play, eat, socialise and display their prowess. Then leave the forest for your own lunch back at camp. This afternoon leave the rainforest and follow the Rwenzori Mountain range south over the equator to Queen Elizabeth NP to spend the afternoon exploring the explosion crater-lake fields. The pools that you’ll see dotted across the northern region of the park are a reminder of the violent formation of the rift valley, as massive chunks of rock were hurled out of the volcanoes creating these craters. Along the way there’s also a good chance to see a variety of wildlife such as elephants and game herds before reaching your lodge on the banks of the Kazinga Channel. You’ll be sleeping in the heart of the park; so don’t be surprised if you spot wildlife passing through the camp! Don’t worry you’re perfectly safe!

Day 2 - Savannah plains & water safari

You’ll be up early for your game drive to take advantage of the cooler hours when the wildlife is far more active before the heat of the day sets in. You’ll be accompanied by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, who are experts in tracking the lions and are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the savannah. You’ll head to the Kasenyi Plains, known for their prides of lions. This is one of the prime places to find lions as well as a host of other wildlife such elephants, game herds, warthogs, vultures and if you’re one of the lucky ones, leopards! You’ll then head back to the lodge for a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon you’ll drive down to the Mweya peninsula looking out for elephants and game herds crossing the road. You’ll then take a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel to the edge of Lake Edward. On the boat trip you will get the chance to search the riverside for elephants, buffalo, some of the many large hippo pods, crocodiles and many species of bird. If it’s clear, you may see the Blue Mountains of Congo on the horizon. It’s then just a short drive back to the lodge where you can relax for evening.

Elephants on the banks of the Kazinga Channel. Image © Steve Cresswell
Tree-climbing lions on the Ishasha Plains. Image © Rachel Landman

Day 4 - Tree-climbing lions

Take a slower start to the day and drive through Maramagambo Forest to Ishasha Plains in the south of Queen Elizabeth NP. These plains are particularly known for their iconic population of tree-climbing lions. Track through the bush to seek out these impressive cats in the branches of huge fig trees as they laze away in the shade, sheltered from the heat of the day. After lunch overlooking the hippo pool you will be leaving the savannah plains behind you. Take a winding drive through forest and tea plantations to the edge of the rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable NP. You’ll then reach your camp before dusk so you can enjoy views across the rainforest and take a leisurely evening to prepare yourself for your gorilla tracking the next day.

Day 5 - Gorilla tracking

Experience Uganda’s greatest natural wonder, an intimate meeting with one of Bwindi Impenetrable NP’s gorilla families. Start early with an orientation from a Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers on tracking the gorillas, before they guide you through the rainforest. They’ll identify the local plants, birds and wildlife as well the general ecosystem of Bwindi Impenetrable NP for you. The trek length varies, depending on where the gorillas spent the night, ranging thirty minutes to six hours. Once you find these incredible creatures you will spend one hour with them. We think you’ll agree it’s one of the most magical experiences you can have with nature to see this unique family feed, socialise, nurse their young, patrol and display their prowess. After which make the return trek to your camp to spend a sedate evening unwinding to the sounds of the African rainforest.

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Image © Rachel Landman
Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi.
Image © William Boase

Day 6 - The 'place of many little birds'

After gorilla tracking and game driving through the savannah, you’ll want time to unwind and relax. A short drive away from Bwindi Impenetrable NP is an idyllic highland lake, Lake Bunyonyi the ‘place of many little birds’. On arrival at the lake you’ll drive to an excellent viewpoint where you can fully appreciate the hills, inlets and islands dotted across the lake. Then head down to the lakeshore to you accommodation overlooking the waters edge. Lake Bunyonyi is safe for swimming as there are no crocodiles, hippos or Bilharzia present. From your accommodation there are canoes available so you can explore at your own pace, as well a motorboat available to you to venture deeper into the lake (for an additional costs*). Of course you can also just sit back and relax and read a good book.

Day 7 - Spot the Zebras

Most of the long drive back to Kampala will be completed today but you won’t be home just yet! Today you will be drive to Lake Mburo NP. Before you leave the gorilla highlands stop off in Kabale town where you can explore the markets and find a wide variety of local arts and crafts, particularly the woven baskets for which the local Bakiga tribe are renowned. Then continue north descending from the highlands to reach Lake Mburo NP by mid afternoon. Head down to the shores of Lake Mburo and at 5pm take a boat cruise onto the lake with a knowledgeable guide who will show you the hippo pods, crocodiles and wide variety of birdlife as the sunsets. On your return to dry land you’ll return to you camp for your final night on safari.

Zebras in Lake Mburo NP.
Image © Rachel Landman
Impala grazing in Lake Mburo NP.
Image © Rachel Landman

Day 8 - A walk on the wild side

This morning you’ll meet a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger who will take you on a walking safari through the plains of Lake Mburo NP. You’ll have the option of walking along the banks of Lake Mburo or out onto the savannah plains of the park. Walking safaris are an excellent way to view the park and get up close and personal with the animals giving you a different perspective then game driving in your vehicle. In the early afternoon you’ll drive out of the park boundaries, north back over the equator to Kampala (or Entebbe), arriving by late afternoon or early evening.

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Additional Gorilla Tracking

If you don’t think that one encounter with the mountain gorillas is enough then we can arrange a second gorilla tracking experience. On enquiry we’ll discuss with you which gorilla family will be best suited for you to track and how best to fit this into your tour itinerary.

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

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Spend a full day with the chimpanzees! Just before dawn breaks, you’ll be off into the forest with the habituation team to find the nests that were built the night before. At dawn, the chimpanzee community that you’re visiting will start to rise for the day. Your activity will form part of a two-year habituation process of getting chimpanzees used to a human presence. Habituation is beneficial to both the chimpanzees and humans as it supports a conservation effort to reduce human-wildlife conflict. By the end of the day you will be able to identify individual chimps within the group and have lots of amazing photos to take home!

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

Horseback Safari

Trek through the plains of Lake Mburo National Park on your very own horseback safari. An experienced guide will accompany you across the savannah to ride amongst wild game herds of zebra, buffalo, impala and Uganda kob. There are treks available for all levels of experience and ranging from a half hour rides to the 3 days including 2 nights camping in the African bush!

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

Hot Air Ballon Safari

Fly silently over and across the African bush and savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park with an early morning hot air balloon safari. You’ll be able to watch the sun rise across this stunning landscape with the chance to view elephants and game herds in the early morning light. After an hours flight you’ll land back onto the savannah in time for your bush breakfast.

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

Night Game Drive

Drive out into the night along a network of tracks to experience the secret lives of our wildlife. Few people get to experience such animal behavior in the wilds of Uganda’s national parks. You’ll be travelling through a variety of landscape features including acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides and rock outcrops with a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger who will be scanning the savannah forest with his/her torches to search for a variety of game herds, hyenas and if your lucky you’ll come across a leopard!

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

Predator Tracking

Join the predator tracking team from the Uganda Carnivore Program (UCP) in Queen Elizabeth National Park to add something intimate to your savannah game drive. With your highly knowledgeable guides you’ll be able to get off the typical beaten track and search among the bushes and trees to get close up to lions, leopards and hyenas in truly natural savannah setting. Get your cameras ready! By partaking in this activity you are amongst many good things, contributing to establishing a comprehensive large predator database for the national park, which is used for conservation purposes.

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
$2,790pp$2,920pp$2,900pp$3,160pp$3,240pp

Foreign Uganda Residents Discount: -$180 Per Person

East African Citizens Discount: -$750 Per Person

VW Kombi: +$270 Per Group

Land Cruiser Pop Top: +$480 Per Group

This Tour Includes

N.B. We use the following abbreviations in our list of what is included in this tour.
NP = National Park
SC = Self Contained (private toilet and shower)
NSC = Non Self Contained (communal toilets and showers)
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 (please view TripAdvisor links in itinerary for impartial ratings)
- 1 night at Kibale Forest Camp (single / double or twin furnished safari tent, SC)
- 2 nights at the Bush Lodge (single / double or twin banda, SC)
- 2 nights at Mahogany Springs (single / double or twin room, SC)
- 1 night at Birdnest Bunyonyi Resort (single / double or twin room, SC)
- 1 night at Rwakobo Rock (single / double or twin cottage, SC)
All Meals (as specified in the ‘Meal Plan’ above)
Bottled Drinking Water (1.5 liters per person, per day in your vehicle)
All Activities
- Magombe swamp walk (Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary)
- Chimpanzee tracking (Kibale NP)
- Game Drives x3 (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Gorilla tracking (Bwindi Impenetrable NP)
- Boat cruise on Lake Mburo (Lake Mburo NP)
- Walking safari (Lake Mburo NP)
Wildlife & Tracking Permits
- Chimpanzee tracking permit (UWA)
- Gorilla tracking permit (UWA)
Park & Vehicle Fees
- Kibale NP x 1 day (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Queen Elizabeth NP x 2 days (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Bwindi Impenetrable NP x 1 day (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Lake Mburo NP x 1 day (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
Specialist Guides and Rangers
- Chimpanzee tracking guide (UWA)
- Magombe Swamp guide (Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary)
- Kazinga Channel boat cruise guide (Marasa)
- Game Drive guides (UWA)
- Gorilla tracking guide (UWA)
- Lake Mburo boat cruise guide (UWA)
- Walking safari guide (UWA)
A $10 per person donation to the Uganda Conversation Foundation (see CSR Program)
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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