This 21 Days East African safari presents to you chances of getting super close to verdant wildlife and admire the beauty of East Africa’s landscape and amazing cultures. Offering gritty primate adventures along with genuine encounters with the native communities.
If you’re interested in combining superb wildlife getaways with once-in-a-lifetime cultural encounters, then this all-encompassing African adventure will suit you more than a pith hat suits a park ranger. Take unforgettable tours to the world’s most famed primates within East Africa’s impenetrable forests, before getting real up-close experiences with the celebrated Big-Five mammals in Murchison falls, Serengeti and Maasai Mara National Parks as well as the Ngorongoro Crater.
21 Days Safari in East Africa Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival & Transfer to Murchison Falls NP
Welcome to Uganda! Early arrival at Entebbe airport, pick up and immediately begin the journey to Murchison falls National Park. Enroute you can take an optional rhino trekking excursion in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, located just 3 hours’ drive from Kampala. After Rhino trekking, have lunch either at Amuka Safari lodge or Kabalega Diners and later continue on the drive to the famous Murchison falls National Park. Enter through the southern gate – Kanyumbanyobo via Masindi town or through the northern gate via Karuma falls. Either way, arrive at the lodge in the evening, to relax, have dinner and overnight stay.
Day 2: Game Drive & Boat Cruise
Leave the lodge early morning by 6:45am to begin a game drive in the North sector of the park, taking along a packed breakfast from the lodge. This game drive takes approximately 3-4 hours passing through the scenic Buligi game tracks that stretch along the Victoria and Albert Niles, and continues down to the Lake Albert Delta.
During such an early game drive, you can be rewarded with views of the park’s famed game and bird life, including elusive big cats, nocturnal species, The Big 4 mammals, etc. After the game safari, assemble at the Paraa jetty after eating your packed lunch ready to take on a 3 hour boat trip along Victoria Nile.
This launch trip departs from Paraa at 14.30pm and goes along the calm waters of the Nile until the bottom of the ranging falls where you can get off and begin a hike to top of the Murchison falls. On this boat trip, be ready for a mixture of various bird life and reptile species, including hippos, crocodiles, as well as jaw-dropping scenery.
Day 3: Transfer to Kibale Forest National Park
Leave Murchison falls national park after breakfast, and head southwards to the iconic Kibale national park. Traverse the curved landscapes of the western region, with unmatched views of the Albertine escarpments. Cross undulating plantations of sugar and tea until you reach Kibale forest national park – Africa’s primate capital. Retire at your lodge for resting, dinner and overnight stay.
Day 4: Chimpanzee Trek & Bigodi Wetland Tour
Today is sure to be thrilling! After breakfast, join your guide and drive to Kibale forest park headquarters, a 30 minutes’ drive bringing you to chimpanzee pre-trek briefing point. Enter into the forest to begin a search for endangered chimps, following well-defined paths marked with their droppings, or hearing them pant-hoot up in the trees. Trackers and rangers will help you locate a chimpanzee troop as fast as possible. Their sightings cannot be guaranteed, but chances of spotting them are as high as 95%. Once you finally find them, spend approximately an hour observing and following their movements as they jump from one tree to the other.
Have lunch, in the afternoon transfer to the Bigodi wetland sanctuary. Bigodi wetland is part of the bigger Magombe swamps and a popular home to elusive bird species and numerous primates. Spot famous birds in this swamp including the Great Blue Turaco and Papyrus Gonolek among other 137 species. There is also a wide array of butterflies, flowers and insects. Later return for dinner and overnight stay at your lodge.
Day 5: Visit Semuliki NP, Hot-springs Tour
Have breakfast in Kibale and begin a transfer to Semuliki located 35kms west of Fort-portal town. Along the way, visit the Nyakasura hills, famous for the numerous crater lakes, Amabere Ganyinamwiru caves and the waterfalls. Continue to Semuliki national park and visit the famed Sempaya hot springs, learn about their history, traditional beliefs by the locals, and the scientific explanation behind these magical hot springs. Return in the evening to Fort Portal town for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 6: Fort Portal Tour, Overnight in Queen Elizabeth NP
Have a short excursion in Fort portal town, arguably Uganda’s cleanest town and a tourism city. Have chances to visit the local Mpanga market, the king’s palace, etc. After that, continue to Queen Elizabeth National Park, driving for over 140km past verdant tea plantations, and Rwenzori jagged mountains in the background. Take amazing pictures at the equator and proceed on the drive to your lodge for overnight stay.
Day 7: Game Drive & Boat Cruise
You will be served breakfast in the morning and then you set off for a quick game drive along the Kasenyi sector to sight At Queen Elizabeth park’s permanent residents, including elephants, buffaloes, water bucks, Uganda Kobs, warthogs, as well as some of the 620 bird species.
After the game drive, have lunch and prepare for an afternoon boat cruise along the Kazinga channel. This channel joins Lake George and Lake Edward and the boat cruise exposes one to various bird species (both endemic and migratory), large mammals, cats and reptiles. After the boat cruise, you will retire back to the lodge for relaxation and overnight stay.
Day 8: Transfer to Ishasha, Afternoon Game Drive
Leave your lodge this morning after a hearty breakfast and transfer to Ishasha sector – the home of tree climbing lions. Located on the southern part of Queen Elizabeth N/park along the way to Bwindi, the Ishasha sector of is popularly known for the tree climbing lions, astounding scenery as well as several other mammal species.
Unlike other lions within the park, the lions in Ishasha sector are so unique and usually fond of lying flat along the fig trees enjoying warm temperatures and waiting for their unsuspecting preys. While viewing the tree climbing lions in Ishasha is not 100% guaranteed, but an afternoon/evening game drive presents endless chances of sighting these beautiful animals. Retire from this game drive later in the evening, and transfer to your lodge and enjoy the beautiful sunset from the balcony of your room.
Day 9: Drive to Lake Bunyonyi, Sunset Boat Cruise
Have a relaxed breakfast and exit the park along with a game drive which can enable you spot other park residents, such as elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, and amazing bird life. Begin your transfer heading to Lake Bunyonyi. Lake Bunyonyi is located in Kabale, only 8km drive from the Kabale town and best known for its spectacular scenery, great history and her numerous 29 islands scattered all over the lake. Arrive at your resort overlooking the lake, have lunch and in the evening undertake a leisurely boat cruise to explore some of the 29 islands and learn about their amazing history.
Day 10: Sunrise Cruise & Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
After breakfast, embark on the trip’s last activity. The canoe trek experience. Ride on a dugout canoe to experience the sights and sounds of Lake Bunyonyi. View the islands more closely, and learn about their mysterious history, the local communities, fishermen, and so much more.
Return to the lodge, have a cup of coffee, refresh and bade farewell to the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi and transfer to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Arrive in the Ruhija sector of the park, have a well-deserved lunch and spend the entire evening chilling at the lodge and enjoying the sights and sounds of Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Day 11: Gorilla Trekking & Transfer to Volcanoes NP
After breakfast at your lodge in Ruhija sector, head to the park ranger station and attend the briefing by head guide, then drive to the starting point and begin your amazing Gorilla trek adventure. Porters can be hired at the briefing point to help carry your backpack and trekking gear. The trek again passes through misty covered jungles which are sometimes impenetrable and wet but offering stunning views in every turn.
Upon sighting the gorillas, you will stay with them for a magical one hour and watch them as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting and caring for their young ones. Trek back to the starting point, meet with your guide who will drive you back to the lodge for lunch and relaxation. Immediately after lunch, transfer to Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park – home of the endangered mountain gorillas as well as golden monkeys. Cross via the Katuna or Cyanika boarder and transfer to the lodge in Musanze town in the outskirts of Volcanoes national park.
Day 12: Golden Monkey Trekking & Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village Visit
Undertake golden monkey excursion after breakfast, to discover one of the most beautiful and endangered primates in the world. After trekking, descend from the jungles and meet up with your driver who will drive you back to the lodge for relaxation and later in the evening, visit the neighboring Ib’yiwachu village for epic community experiences.
The inhabitants of Ib’yiwachu village are renowned former poachers and the original neighbors of mountain gorillas. These used to co-exist with mountain gorillas harmoniously until early 1990’s when the forest was gazetted as a national park and eventually a UNESCO world heritage site that forced these people to be relocated to the forest outskirts. During this tour, you’ll learn more about authentic Rwandese history, art and craft work, culture, traditions, dances, language and general lifestyle.
Day 13: Dian Fossey Hike & Transfer to Lake Kivu
Have breakfast, and immediately embark on a morning hike to explore the Dian Fossey graves. This is a site where the gorilla heroine who advocated for conservation of mountain gorillas in the 19th Century. She was killed by poachers in 1985 and her body buried right here. Hike to pay your last respects to this historic lady. Have lunch and in the afternoon, transfer south wards to Lake Kivu. Overnight stay in Gisenyi.
Day 14: Boat Cruise & Transfer to Kigali
After breakfast, embark on a 3 hour speed boat cruise along Lake Kivu – this is Rwanda’s largest lake and one of the most scenic lakes in Africa with fresh waters. Among other things are scenic islands in the interior of the lake. During this boat cruise, visit some of the inland islands including the world’s biggest inland island and numerous fishermen casting their nests and neighboring communities.
After this morning tour, undertake a journey to Kigali. Drive for 4 hours until you make a first stop in Butare (2nd largest city in Rwanda after Kigali) for cultural experience. Visit the King’s Palace which avails a detailed insight into the Rwandan traditional setting and their monarchy. It is presents a breathtaking historical display, reinstated to its 19th century state and made up of entirely traditional materials.
An Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda is located right nearby in 40 minutes and presents an impressive display of ancient and historic antiquities from throughout Rwandan history. While here you’ll be entertained by an organized traditional Rwandan dance troupe. After this excursion, have lunch and proceed to Kigali city in the evening. Check in at your pre-booked lodge for an overnight stay.
Day 15: Kigali City Tour & Flight to Arusha in Tanzania
This morning, take a short Kigali city tour. During the tour, visit Kigali’s most famous sites including Kigali genocide museum in Gisozi, presidential palace museum, Kigali craft markets or shopping malls for your shopping. Depending on your flight time, check in at the airport and catch a regional flight to Arusha or Kilimanjaro airports in Tanzania. Overnight stay in Arusha town.
Day 16: Transfer to Ngorongoro Conservation Area & later to Serengeti National Park
This morning calls for vigor and anticipation. Exit Arusha town and hit the road after delicious breakfast and heading to Tanzania’s famed wildlife viewing destination. Enter the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area through western direction, driving past the Great Rift Valley. Drive past the park’s jaw-dropping scenery to the crater rim and down to the Serengeti plains.
This magnificent landscape shelters an unimaginable population of grazers, blazers, big cats, predators, amazing birdlife and lush vegetation. The Serengeti national reserve presents Africa’s most flat plains and quite bigger than Kenya’s Maasai Mara in terms of total surface area. Continue on the drive to your pre-booked lodge for evening relaxation, unforgettable back-to-nature experience and overnight stay.
Day 17: Full Day Game Drive
Have breakfast and spend the entire morning viewing spectacular wildlife in the Palins of the Serengeti, in the afternoon after a well-deserved lunch ascend the outer wall of Ngorongoro Crater for more game viewing opportunities. Warm jackets, hiking shoes and other equipment required as this is a camping night on the Ngorongoro crater rim. The magnificent Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and undoubtedly Africa’s largest intact caldera with up to 326 square kilometers of total surface area.
Day 18: Morning Game Drive & Transfer to Masai Mara National Reserve
Wake up to spectacular sunrise game safaris in Ngorongoro crater conservation area. Undertake a journey to Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve located about 350km north of Ngorongoro after Serengeti national reserve. During this morning game drive, be sure to view some of Ngorongoro’s over 26 black rhinoceros, 7,000 wildebeests, 3,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, and 4,000 zebras and up to 3,000 eland antelopes.
Ngorongoro also has the highest population of lions, totaling to sixty two. The lush forests on the crater rim are also home to approximately 30 elephants, numerous leopards, mountain reedbuck and over 4,000 buffalos, cheetahs, jackals, elusive wild dogs, spotted hyenas and other felines. Continue to exit this conservation area and head to Masai Mara reserve arriving in the evening for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 19: Full Day Game Viewing Drive in Masai Mara
Dedicate this day to a full day game drive in the Masai Mara National Reserve. You’ll explore this diverse conservation area and sight a profusion of wildlife. An optional sunrise hot air balloon ride can also be undertaken over the Masai Mara offering unforgettable views of the park, lush vegetation, undulating landscape and resident wildlife.
A balloon safari at dawn, sometimes at tree height presents unmatched photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the serenity of Mara’s flat plains and views of the early morning sunrise and massive movements of animal herds. Upon landing, you’ll be treated to a mouthwatering bush breakfast, drive back to your lodge and continue on a safari later on in the evening.
Day 20: Game Drive in other sectors of Masai Mara
Today is typically a spectacular day of game viewing in Masai Mara! Because it’s a full, fun-filled day in one of Africa’s wildlife – populated conservation areas. The Masai Mara is a notable destination known to be the most thrilling wildlife eco-system in the Natural world. Masai Mara national reserve is home to the highest and varied concentration of wild animals than any other park in the east African region.
The scenic appeal of Mara’s rolling Savannah plains, its appealing climate and diversity of wild game species has made it a one stop center for authentic game viewing experiences. This is a day of game viewing extravaganza! Traverse the reserve like never before on a full day game safari and have unlimited encounters with Africa’s big five mammals and more of the lesser game, like antelopes, zebras, giraffes, big cats and amazing bird life.
Day 21: Transfer to Nairobi & Visit Giraffe Center
Have a relaxed breakfast in Masai Mara and check out to begin your journey to Nairobi – Kenya’s capital, driving for about 6 hours. Upon arrival, have a late lunch and immediately transfer to the Giraffe Center. This sanctuary that was primarily set up to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffes is located 20km away from Nairobi, in Lang’ata County. Take a behind-experience-tour in the giraffe center to learn about the history of each giraffe kept here and the future of the center. You will then take your late night outbound flight or get dropped at an accommodation of your choice for an overnight.