At a Glance
Dates: June 29th - July 12th, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £5,395 pp sharing (with a £300 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Probably one of the most awe-inspiring itineraries in Africa, the beauty and variety of Uganda is hard to march.
Uganda really has it all. The north of the country is wild and untamed, filled with game yet rarely-visited - see our 'Undiscovered Uganda' itinerary for more on the delights of this remote region. The south of the country, whilst more heavily touristed, is by no means less impressive. The thick, imposing jungle of Bwindi is most famed for its numerous families of Mountain Gorilla, and we will have the chance to spend time with one of these families during our stay. Bwindi also has populations of rarely seen wildlife, including Forest Elephant, Black-Fronted Duiker and even, if we are exceptionally lucky, African Golden Cat. Stunningly beautiful, and home to some of the greatest wildlife experiences on the continent, a visit to Bwindi alone is the trip of a lifetime.
Our itinerary doesn't stop there though. Heading north, Queen Elizabeth National Park is our next stop. We will spend time both in the southern Ishasha sector, well-known for its very visible population of tree-climbing Lions, and the area around Mweya and the Kazinga Channel, where we may encounter Leopard, Bush Elephant, Savanna Buffalo and much more. We even know of a reliable spot for Aardvark near Mweya!
The tour is completed with stops in Lake Mburo, Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Kibale National Park. Kibale is perhaps the greatest destination in Africa for trekking Chimpanzees, with sightings always reliable and often up-close and personal. Semliki is often overlooked by all but particularly determined birders, but is a beautiful reserve with a number of specialties, including the rarely-encountered Pousargues's Mongoose.
All in all, Uganda has perhaps the richest tapestry of wildlife and scenery on the continent, and shouldn't be missed.
On arrival into Entebbe, you will be met by a Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your hotel. Lunch will be provided at your hotel, before you have the afternoon at leisure. Dinner and a briefing will follow.
This morning we leave our hotel early and head directly to the Mabamba Swamp. Found on the northern shores of the vast Lake Victoria, this dense swamp is the best place in Africa to see one of its most iconic sights - the shoebill stork. This prehistoric-looking creature is considered one of the most sought-after birds on Earth, owing largely to its unusual looks and undeniable charisma. We take to the swamp by boat, spending much of the day scouring the area for a glimpse of this rare bird. Keep an eye out too for an array of birdlife, and even spotted-necked otters.
After a day on the water, guests will return to their Entebbe accommodation for dinner and some rest.
This morning we transfer by road to Lake Mburo National Park. After settling in to our accommodation, an evening game drive is a great way to explore this small but rewarding park. Offering a rich variety of plains game, there is plenty to see here, and we will dedicate a special effort to locating the leopards that are known to haunt the park. After dinner, we will head out for a night drive, which will also give us a chance of spotting leopard, as well as several nocturnal species, including several species of galago.
After breakfast and a morning game drive in Lake Mburo, we will transfer directly to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. As the name suggests, Bwindi is densely forested, as well as mountainous, and it is this terrain that has protected its famous population of Eastern Gorillas so well for so long. This afternoon, we will settle into our accommodation and soak in the incredible scenery. If time permits, we will set out on a short hike to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We may be lucky and get a glimpse of some of the wildlife in Bwindi, including Black-Fronted Duiker, as well as incredibly diverse birdlife. Once we have returned to our accommodation and had dinner, we will set out for a brief drive on the access roads around Bwindi - after dark, there is no telling what we might flush out on these quiet roads, and past visitors have encountered rarities including African Golden Cat.
Today is the day that so many visitors describe as one of the best days of their lives! After an early breakfast, we will drive to the Ruhija Sector of Bwindi, where we will meet our guides for our morning's Mountain Gorilla trekking. This activity is, understandably, in very high demand, so we will be part of a larger group (maximum eight people, plus guides) who set out in search of a particular Gorilla family. Depending on which family we have been allocated, the trek may last anything from a few minutes to several hours - be prepared for some steep climbs and treacherous underfoot conditions. It is all worth it, though, as you will have an hour to spend with the Gorillas as they play, feed and sleep just a few metres away from you - a truly stunning experience.
Elated and exhausted, we will then transfer back to our accommodation for some well-earned rest. For those with the energy, another night drive will be available in search of golden cat.
This morning we drive to a new area of Bwindi, Buhoma. We will walk from here this afternoon in an effort to track down several elusive species, including black-fronted duiker and yellow-baked duiker. A night drive will also give us a chance of picking up several rare species before we return to our lodge.
After a morning searching for primates around Buhoma, we will make the drive north to the fabulous Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Whereas Bwindi is covered in dense vegetation, QENP is far more open and, as such, is home to a number of iconic savanna species. After dinner, we will head out into the national park on a night drive in search of Ishasha's most famed residents - tree-climbing Lions. Usually more comfortable with all four paws firmly on terra firma, Lions do occasionally venture into trees in search of a cooling breeze across the continent, but the Ishasha population does so with particular gusto. It is not unusual to encounter entire prides high up in the branches of Fig Trees, making for incredible photo opportunities. Perhaps most entertainingly, they aren't all that graceful when descending to the ground, and the cubs in particular have a habit of tumbling down (completely unharmed, of course!). Other residents of Ishasha include Giant Forest Hog, Bush Elephant, Savanna Buffalo, Leopard, as well as large herds of Kob and Topi..
After a final morning drive in Ishasha, where we will again focus on tree-climbing lions, we will transfer through the park to Mweya. Adjacent to the Kazinga Channel, our accommodation overlooks an area with one of the greatest populations of Hippo and Savanna Buffalo in all of Africa. An evening game drive will allow us to explore the grasslands near the lodge, one of the very finest areas for Leopard and Aardvark in Uganda.
We have a full day in Mweya today, divided between a morning game drive and an afternoon boat safari. The boat safari on the Kazinga Channel is a wonderful experience, with grazing Buffalo and slumbering Hippo present in great numbers. If we're lucky we may intercept a herd of Elephant as they descend to the water to drink, a sighting that always provides great entertainment. We will then overnight once more at our lodge, after a further night drive.
This morning we continue our drive north to the excellent Kibale National Park. Kibale is well-known as a primate-watching hotspot, and on our afternoon walk to the Bigodi Wetlands, we stand a chance of ticking off five or more species of our primate cousins. After dinner tonight, a night walk offers a superb chance of spotting East African potto.
Our day starts with a bang, as we start early to begin a morning's Chimpanzee tracking in the national park. These Chimpanzee families are habituated and are perhaps the most obliging examples of their species in Africa. We will intercept them as they descend to the forest floor from their roosts high in the canopy, shadowing them as they feed and play. Eventually, they will melt away into the forest and we, in turn, will back for our hotel for some rest. Again, an evening walk is on offer for those seeking out nocturnal rarities.
We will now head to the little-visited Semliki National Park, often overlooked due to its paucity of big game. This disguises some excellent wildlife-viewing, though, and those in the know have encountered rarities including the highly-localised Semliki Red Colobus, Dent's Mona Monkey and Pousargues' Mongoose. Night drives can also sometimes reveal the presence of Lion, Leopard and Spotted Hyena. We will overnight at a basic, but very well-located, campsite.
Today we have a full day to seek out any species that may have eluded us to this point.
After a final morning walk in Semuliki, guests are transferred to the local airstrip for their flight back to Entebbe.
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 June and July 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, and when Gorilla trekking is at its easiest. The tour will run from June 29th to July 12th.
The cost of this trip is £5,395 per person excl. flights, with a £300 single supplement. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinking water is included, but not other drinks. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £2,200 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 16.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Entebbe, 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 the 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 in advance of travel. 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 July is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 17 degrees Celsius.
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.