Mabamba, Kidepo Valley NP, Mt Elgon & Murchison Falls NP, Uganda
Shoebills and Savanna
£3,495 pp sharing
At a Glance
Dates: January 2nd - January 11th, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £3,495 pp sharing (with a £250 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Uganda has so much more to offer than gorilla trekking; the remote northern parks offer scintillating sightings and breathtaking views envied across the continent.
In many ways, Uganda is Africa in miniature. In the south, dense jungle and beautiful mountains are home to the famous Mountain Gorillas, as well as Chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys and even tree-climbing Lions. Quite rightly, this area draws tourists in their thousands and we highly recommend visiting these areas on our "Ultimate Uganda" tour.
There is, however, a rarely seen side to Uganda. Wild and remote, Uganda's northern reaches are a well-kept secret amongst safari connoisseurs, providing exceptional wilderness appeal and wonderful wildlife. This itinerary takes in two national parks; Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley.
Murchison Falls is truly the gateway to Uganda's remotest areas. A beautiful park, its centrepiece is the impressive Kabalega Falls tumbling through an eight-metre wide gorge, a sight not to be missed. The park itself is home to healthy populations of Leopard, Lion, Bush Elephant and Savanna Buffalo. For those seeking something a little different, the park is home to several localised species and subspecies, including the Patas Monkey, Uganda Kob, Rothschild's Giraffe and Bunyoro Rabbit. We also have the chance to track habituated families of Chimpanzee in the nearby Budongo Forest. Murchison Falls is absolutely one of the jewels in Uganda's crown.
Kidepo Valley is surely the wildest national park in all of Uganda. Situated on the border with the vast unexplored frontier of South Sudan, the park is home to Cheetah (our key target here), Maneless Zebra, Lesser Kudu and much more. Leopard and Lion are both present and night drives in the park are often very rewarding. After dark, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Caracal and two species of Porcupine are all encountered frequently. This is certainly amongst the most exciting destinations in East Africa!
This itinerary will also take in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, the only location in Uganda where White Rhino can be found. This small reserve offers a number of worthwhile activities including Rhino tracking and canoe trips in search of the elusive Shoebill. Whilst our visit will not coincide with "prime time" for Shoebill viewing, we will certainly do our best to locate this prehistoric bird.
All in all, northern Uganda has a huge amount to offer first-time safari-goers and safari experts alike. We can't wait to welcome you to this very special country!
On arrival into Entebbe, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your accommodation. Should you arrive early enough, we can arrange a tour of Entebbe for an additional fee. We recommend relaxing in your hotel in anticipation of a busy and rewarding week ahead - dinner will be provided at your hotel.
Mabamba & Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
This morning, at first light, we head to the Mabamba Swamp. This quiet corner of the northern reaches of Lake Victoria is the single best place anywhere in Africa to see the continent's most highly-prized bird - the shoebill. This bizarre and beautiful animal is particularly shy, but we will spend several hours combing the swamp this morning and are likely to glimpse this prehistoric creature today.
From here, we will make the four-hour journey by road to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, arriving at approximately midday. Once settled in our accommodation, we will head out to track the sanctuary's resident White Rhinos on foot - the local guides know these Rhino very well, and have a very high success rate when it comes to locating them. These Rhino form the only herd left in Uganda and are particularly photogenic - if we're lucky, a calf may recently have been born, adding an extra level of cuteness! After rhino tracking, we will overnight at Amuka Lodge or similar where we will enjoy a night walk in search of nocturnal primates including several species of galago.
Today we continue north from Ziwa, arriving at the ancient forest of Budongo. Budongo is one of the very best places anywhere in Africa to view wild chimpanzees, and we will set out into the forest on foot this morning to intercept one of the families as they descend to the forest floor from their nocturnal roosts. Spending time with these amazing animals as they play, hunt and rest is a truly humbling and memorable experience. After an hour, we will have to tear ourselves away from this amazing experience and head to our lodge. The remainder of the day is at leisure, with a night walk after dinner offering another chance of spotting potto and galago.
This morning we will head north once more, this time making the short journey to Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison Falls is a truly beautiful area, and this afternoon we will head to its centrepiece; the Kabelega Falls. Here, the Victoria Nile thunders through a tiny gorge, creating a seething cauldron frequented by huge Nile Crocodile and Nile Perch. From here we will enjoy an evening and night drive. There is much we could encounter tonight, but our lodge is in a particularly good area for Leopard. Lion are also possible, as well as the near-endemic Bunyoro Rabbit. We will overnight at Pakuba Safari Lodge or similar.
Today will be spent exploring the national park as much as we can. Our morning will be spent on the water, cruising to the Lake Albert Delta to view hippo, bush elephant and even shoebill. An evening and night game drive will once again offer a great chance of spotting big cats and big game. During our stay here, we should expect to encounter a wide array of wildlife including Rothschild's Giraffe, Patas Monkey, Uganda Kob, Giant Forest Hog, Lion, Leopard and much more. We will overnight at Pakuba Safari Lodge, or similar.
It is an early start today as we make the eight-hour drive to Kidepo Valley. This remote park is a truly special area and, if we make good time, we will be able to set out on a night drive after settling into our accommodation.
This area is much drier than Murchison Falls, and the wildlife of the area therefore is different. Our night drive may provide views of highly sought-after wildlife including Caracal, Aardvark, Aardwolf and African Wild Cat. We will overnight at Kidepo Savannah Lodge or similar.
We have a full day to explore the park. Morning, evening and night drives are available, primarily focussed on the game-rich Narus Valley. This area represents the best chance of locating both Cheetah and Leopard in the park, as well as vast herds of Buffalo. Lesser Kudu and Maneless Zebra are also found here, often targets for the park's booming Lion population. On at least one drive we will head north to the border with South Sudan, the safest one can currently get to this incredible wilderness. We will overnight at Kidepo Savannah Lodge or similar.
Today we embark on a full-day drive south to the remote and beautiful Mt Elgon.
Morning and afternoon walks allow us to explore the densely forested slopes of Mt Elgon. A rich diversity of primate species can be spotted here, but this area is best known for its forest elephant, which are known to head deep inside caves to 'mine' for salt.
Today guests transfer back to Entebbe to connect with their homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in January 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tours will run from January 2nd to January 11th.
The cost of this trip is £3,495 per person excl. international flights, with a £250 single supplement. This includes all meals (except in Entebbe), accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Soft and alcoholic drinks are not included. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,400 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Entebbe at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Entebbe after 18.30 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Uganda. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Uganda will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Uganda entry e-visa for UK citizens is $50 - these must be obtained online prior to your arrival. To acquire a tourist visa for Uganda you will require a scanned copy of your passport, one passport photo and proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.
Please also note that e-visas are available for East Africa, permitting entry into Kenya and Rwanda, as well as Uganda. These cost £75, and you will require a copy of your itinerary (as well as the items listed above for a standard e-visa) to acquire this visa.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Uganda in January is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 11 degrees Celsius - be sure to wrap up warm on night drives!
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
In recent months, there have been a series of bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. These are associated with terrorist activity in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo's ADF, which is loosely a part of Islamic State. The vast majority of visits to Uganda are trouble-free, and tourist destinations, including the ones visited on this tour, are so far unaffected.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.