21 Days Rwenzori, Primates & Wildlife Safari in Uganda

This 21 days mountaineering and wildlife safari is a fantastic way to explore the great wonders of the pearl of Africa. It combines encounters with the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi national park, Golden monkeys in Mgahinga gorilla national park, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park, nature walks in Semliki national park, wildlife excursion and luxurious boat trips in Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo national parks as well rewinding and relaxation at Lake Bunyonyi.

21 Days Rwenzori, Primates & Wildlife Safari in Uganda

21 Days Safari in Uganda: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Kampala to Lake Mburo National park. Take an evening boat trip.

Morning pick up after breakfast at the lodge in Kampala and off you travel to the south west of Uganda. Lake Mburo national park is located along Masaka – Mbarara highway, only 240km from Kampala making it the easiest accessible national park in Uganda. The journey is soon interrupted by a stop at the equator monument in Mpigi district where you have a chance to take pictures, have a cup of coffee, and a local experience that proves the world divided into two halves – northern and southern hemispheres.

Proceed for more 3 hours until you reach Lake Mburo national park for lunch and immediately start the afternoon boat cruise. The boat trip along Lake Mburo allows you to enjoy scenic views of the clear waters, dotted with hippos, crocs, birds and numerous mammals lined on its banks. The boat trip lasts for approximately 3-4 hours. After the cruise, drive back to the lodge to check in, relax and overnight stay.

Day 2: Morning game drive and after noon cultural excursion

Early morning, go on a 3-4 hour game safari within Uganda’s Savannah – rich national park. During this excursion, you have an opportunity to encounter some of Uganda’s finest Savannah mammal species, flora, and the resident kopje and other ancient Precambrian rocks. Animals here include impala antelopes, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, Topis, bush bucks, water bucks, elephants, lions, etc. After this game drive, return to the lodge for lunch and spend the entire afternoon relaxing.

In the evening, you will visit a local homestead to experience an authentic Ankole cultural lifestyle, and the day by day activities that are carried out by the locals. Or you can even participate in activities like milking, grazing, making of some simple crafts, attending “ekitaramo” – a traditional night discussion / camp fire where ancient tales are told by elders. Retreat from this experience and travel back to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3: Transfer to Lake Bunyonyi. Evening canoe experience

Following your breakfast, the driver will pick you to begin a journey to the magnificent lake Bunyonyi; Uganda’s deepest and Africa’s second deepest lake. Drive through Mbarara town, the biggest in south western Uganda, take a short city tour here and continue on the drive through Ntungamo with its rolling hills and plain lands.

You will arrive at Lake Bunyonyi just in time for lunch, relax on the shores of the lake as you prepare for an evening canoe experience. At sunset, a dugout canoe will be waiting for you; embark on this adventure and cool activity to explore the lake’s historical islands plus the numerous islanders that have lived in the interior of this lake for centuries. Retire for dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Day 4: Early boat cruise and transfer to Mgahinga national park

Breakfast at lakeside and proceed on a sunrise cruise with motor boat. A boat trip is the best and quickest way to explore this magical lake. It exposes visitors to up to 29 islands spread across, plus viewing the local fishermen casting their nets, neighboring communities, birds and terraced hills on the outskirts of Lake Bunyonyi.

Boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi lasts for about 3-4 hours, but it can also be extended depending on visitors’ intentions. Return to the lodge after the boat cruise, have lunch and drive further southwestwards to Kisoro district – the home of Mgahinga Gorilla National park. Overnight stay and dinner at your pre-booked lodge.

Day 5: Golden monkey trekking. Transfer to Bwindi national park

Today is a day of exploring Mgahinga’s unique residents; the golden monkeys. These are one of the critically endangered only restricted to the Virunga region that spans across three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo.

Briefing will be done at 7:30am and by 8:00am, trekkers head out into the forest to look for these elusive species that inhabit the bamboo zone of Mgahinga forest. After this excursion, return to the starting point and to the lodge, have lunch, check out and drive to the east of Bwindi national park (Ruhija sector) for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 6: Gorilla trekking and evening community walk

In the morning, gather at Ruhija park headquarters for briefing from the park rangers about the do’s and don’ts while trekking the mountain gorillas. It is during this briefing that you will be allocated a gorilla family to track. Proceed to the trail head and off into the forest you begin the search for these magical primates that inhabit the Bwindi forest and some parts of East – central Africa.

This adventure lasts between 2 – 6 hours, though highly dependent on the movement of a specific gorilla group. Upon meeting them, you are allowed to spend up to 1 hour with them, as you watch them feed, foliage, jump from tree to tree, and the giant silverback offers optimum protection to the entire members of the group.

Descend from the jungles to the trail head, meet up with your guide and drive to the lodge for lunch, and brief relaxation. In the evening, head out to encounter with the resident Batwa pygmies which are known to be the ancient inhabitants of this forest together with the mountain gorillas. Enjoy their traditional performances, songs, history, tales and more. Overnight stay at the lodge.

Day 7: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Via Ishasha Sector

Begin your journey to Queen Elizabeth national park in the morning after breakfast. Enroute this trip, you will undertake a short game safari within Ishasha sector to explore numerous animals that inhabit this region, but most importantly the tree climbing lions.

Ishasha boats a reasonable number of tree climbing lions which are some of the highlights of Queen Elizabeth National park. After this encounter, drive on to your booked lodge for overnight stay and dinner.

Day 8: Morning game drive and boat cruise

Today’s game drive begins early morning, before dusk to be able to see elusive park residents such as leopards, lions, dotted hyena and more. The safari drive traverses through the sweeping Kasenyi plains, Katwe salty lake and other surrounding crater lakes plus the Queen’s pavilion.

This game experience lasts for about 3-4 hours and numerous families of fauna can be seen, including elephants, buffaloes, water bucks, Topis, Warthogs, and Kobs along with predators like lions, leopards and jackals. Abundant species of birds can also be encountered during this activity. Retire back to the lodge for relaxation and lunch. After lunch, you continue to Mweya jetty to catch up with a boat trip that begins at 2:00pm.

A two hour boat trip along the Kazinga channel is a highlight of the park, and anyone who undertakes it is lucky to see abundant fauna and faunal species at a much closer range. The shores of Kazinga channel teem with numerous wild game including buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, hippos, crocodiles and abundant bird species. Return from this boat trip at around 4pm, join your guide at the jetty and proceed to the lodge.

Day 9: Transfer to the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains via Rwenzori Bronze casting center.

Have breakfast at your lodge, and at leisure transfer towards the Rwenzori ranges, past the equator in Kikorongo where you can take memorable photos. Another stop will be made in Kasese town for a short town tour, and a visit to the Rwenzori bronze casting center – the only one of its kind in the entire East Africa.

Day 10: Start of the trek: Nyakalengija (1600m) to Nyabitaba Hut (2650m)

This morning, the trek begins from Rwenzori Mountains national park headquarters at Nyakalengija. Attend a pre-hike briefing from the mountain guides and hire some hiking equipment from here as well.

There after start the trek, passing through communities and plantations of the resident Bakonzho people. At this point, you follow River Mobuku and cross through Mahoma River. This trail goes through open fern slopes and Podorcarpus Forest, until Nyabitaba Hut ((2,652 meters), which is the point of accommodation for this day.

This trek takes approximately 5 to 6 hours and presents unequalled views of different peaks, including portal peaks (4,627 meters) and Mount Kyniangoma. Wildlife species to be encountered here may include monkeys, Rwenzori Turaco and he chimpanzees. Overnight stay at Nyabitaba hut.

Day 11: Hike from Nyabitaba Hut (2650 meters) to John Matte Hut (3380 meters)

Trek for about 4-5 hours on this day, beginning with a descent along a ridge to Mubuku River and then ascend through a bamboo forest until Johan Matte hut at 3,380 meters above sea level. Spend the entire afternoon trekking north wards along the Bujuku River amidst a large tract of heather forest. Overnight stay: John Matte Hut – 3380 meters.

Day 12: John Matte Hut (3380m) – Bujuku Hut (3972m)

Climb to Bujuku Hut (3977m), from John Matte Hut at 3380m above sea level. During this trek, climbers encounter the first of notorious bogs for which the Uganda approach to the peaks is famous. Climb through Bigo Bog, along the Lake Bujuku. You will be shown the ‘everlasting flower’ known to stay on plants for 40 years. Overnight stay at Bujuku Hut (3972m).

Day 13: Bujuku Hut (3900m) to Elena Hut (4541m)

Leave Bujuku hut and climb through moss draped groundsel vegetation until you reach Scott Elliot Pass at 4,372 meters above sea level between Mount Stanley and Mount Baker. At 4,540 meters, divert to Elena Hut where you will spend the night before climbing further to Mount Stanley.

Day 14: Elena Hut 4,541 meters – Margherita peak 5,109 meters

Wake up this day in anticipation of conquering the top of Uganda’s highest mountain. Start the day from Elena Hut and traverse through Elena glacier straight to Stanley plateau. At this stage, crampons are highly recommended. Spend the next 3 hours hiking along the Margherita glacier towards the North western direction, until you reach the summit at 5,109 meters above sea level.

From the peak, return to Elena hut and descend further to upper Kitandara Lake where Kitandara hut is located at 4,023 meters. 3 hours more, the decent will be complete and from Kitandara hut you can proceed to climb Mount Baker and Mount Luigi di Savoia and the peak Vittorio Sella. Overnight stay. Kitandara hut (4,023 meters).

Day 15: Kitandara Hut to Guy Yeoman Hut (3, 261 meters)

Ascend to Fresh field Pass (4, 282 meters) from Kitandara hut through an extended flat of high alpine mossy glades before descending the circuit through marshlands and rocks. The views of Mountains, Stanley, Baker and Savoy glaciers dominate the scenery at this range. A muddy trail leads to Bujongolo, Akendahi and Kabamba rock shelters, traverse the Kabamba valley down to Guy Yeoman hut at 3,261 meters above sea level. This trek can take up to 6 hours.Overnight stay at Guy Yeoman hut – 3,261 meters.

Day 16: Guy Yeoman Hut – Nyabitaba hut

Taking about 2-3 hours, this trek drops steeply along the Mubuku River, past Kichuchu rock shelter, joining the original route near the confluence of Bujuku River. Overnight at Nyabitaba hut.

Day 17: Nyamitaba- Nyakalengija base camp

Your final descent from Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija camp takes approximately 2 hours. It is a steep descent off the ridge and through a warm alpine forest. This region is home tropical forest birds and numerous primates such as monkeys, baboons and more. Arrive at the base camp, and immediately transfer to Fort Portal for an overnight stay.

Day 18: Fort portal tour and transfer to Semuliki National park. Visit the Sempaya hot springs and evening nature walks.

After a morning breakfast, take a simple tour through Uganda’s tourism capital and epitome of beauty. The beauty of Fort portal ranges from a clean town, Toro kingdom palace, the people, and culinary, local market and Amabere Ganyinamwiru caves in the outskirts of the town.

Proceed to the less visited Semuliki national park which is one of the few undisturbed destinations that has a lot to offer to her visitors. Upon arrival, visit the Sempaya hot springs to see the magic and science behind formation of these world treasures.

Day 19: Nature walks and travel to Kibale Forest National Park

After breakfast, take morning nature walks through Semliki national park to explore its wildlife, flora and bird species. Resident mammals in Semliki include Buffaloes, forest elephants, some antelopes and a myriad of bird species including the shoebill stork within Lake Albert. After the nature walk, drive to Kibale forest national park for overnight stay.

Day 20: Chimpanzee trekking and Bigodi wetland walk in the afternoon

In the morning, take an early breakfast and embark on an exhilarating experience to re-discover man’s closest relatives, the chimpanzees which dwell within Kibale forest. The experience is simply unforgettable as you watch these interesting primates jump from one tree to the other, foliage, mothers grooming, babies playing.

During the trek, also other primates can be encountered, including baboons, colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, patas monkeys, etc. Mammals may also be seen, including forest elephants, forest hogs, bush pigs and more. Return to the lodge for lunch, relax and in the afternoon, visit the Bigodi community to learn more about how tourism has been a back bone of community development in this community. Buy a souvenir from a local crafts shop, made by the Bigodi women’s group.

Day 21: Transfer back to Kampala

Check out from your lodge in the morning as you embark on a 6 hour journey back to Kampala. Drive through Mubende – Mityana road or through Kasese-Mbarara-Masaka highway with a stop at the equator for amazing pictures. Be dropped off at Entebbe airport for departure flight or at hotel for overnight stay.