Red Chilli 18 days – The Ultimate Uganda Tour!
$2,667–$5,310 Per person
This tour comprises all of our favourite national parks and activities and is the ultimate tour for those who have time to experience all of Uganda’s highlights. Taking in 6 out of the 10 national parks, as well as many other areas of staggering natural beauty, this trip follows a clockwise circuit of the whole country, starting and ending back in Kampala. Activities include game drives, river cruises, chimpanzee & gorilla trekking, white water rafting, cultural encounters and hiking, all set against the backdrop of arguably the most stunning scenery that Uganda has to offer. This 18 day tour can be extended by 2-3 days on request, to include pick up from the airport on arrival followed by a Kampala day tour before embarking on our Ultimate Uganda itinerary below. Following this safari we would then recommend a day of relaxation or shopping for souvenirs before we drop you back at the airport at Entebbe. Let us do all the planning and all you will have to concentrate on is enjoying 3 weeks of the very best of everything Uganda has to offer!
Basic Itinerary in a Nutshell
Day 1: Kampala to Lake Mburo National Park
Day 2: Lake Mburo National Park and onward to Lake Bunyonyi
Day 3: Lake Bunyonyi to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Day 4: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – gorilla tracking
Day 5: Bwindi to Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 8: Queen Elizabeth to Kibale National Park and Fort Portal area crater lakes
Day 9: Kibale National Park: chimpanzee habituation experience
Day 10: Kibale National Park to Murchison Falls National Park
Day 11: Murchison Falls National Park
Day 12: Murchison Falls National Park to Karenga, outside Kidepo Valley National Park
Day 13: Kidepo Valley National Park
Day 14: Kidepo Valley National Park to Sipi Falls
Day 15: Sipi Falls
Day 16: Sipi Falls to Jinja
Day 17: Jinja – White Water Rafting (or alternative activity of your choice), Hairy Lemon Island.
Day 18: The Hairy Lemon Island to Kampala
Day 1: From Kampala to Lake Mburo National Park
At 260 Km2, Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah parks, however its myriad of habitats supports a surprising diversity of plants and animals. Underlain by ancient pre-Cambrian metamorphic rocks, dating back more than 500 million years, it is the only national park in Uganda to contain an entire lake. Lake Mburo lies at the centre of the park, which together with 14 other lakes, forms part of a wetland system – in fact almost a fifth of the park’s area consists of wetlands. The park is home to over 300 different bird species as well as zebra, leopard, hippo, buffalo, hyena and numerous antelope species including impala, eland, oribi, reedbuck, topi and Defassa waterbuck. In addition a small population of Rothschild’s giraffe was introduced from Murchison Falls in 2015.
07:30 Meet at the Red Chilli Kampala reception for a briefing from your driver-guide before departing on your Ultimate Uganda safari.
08:00 Depart Red Chilli Hideaway in a customized 4×4 pop-top safari vehicle and head south-west out of the capital city towards Lake Mburo National Park.
10:30 Equator visit – a great opportunity to have your photo taken in both hemispheres! Short snack/coffee & toilet break.
14:00 Arrive at Rwakobo Rock, situated on the periphery of Lake Mburo National Park, where you will be staying in safari tents with shared bathrooms (upgrades to self-contained accommodation available on request). Enjoy lunch and maybe a swim in the lodge infinity pool whilst looking out over the park surrounds.
16:30 Head out into the park, where you will take a late afternoon boat trip on Lake Mburo to look for hippo and crocodile, as well as the abundant bird species of the lake and papyrus swamps.
18:00 Arrive back at the lodge at approx 18.00, where you will have dinner and stay the night.
Day 2 – From Lake Mburo National Park to Lake Bunyonyi
The idyllic and picturesque Lake Bunyonyi (meaning “place of many little birds”) was formed around 10,000 years ago when lava damned a river. The lake lies in South Western Uganda, close to the border with Rwanda. Situated at around 1962m above sea level, it measures 25km long by 7km wide, while the depth is estimated to reach 900m, making it the second deepest lake in Africa. Your time at Lake Bunyonyi is free time – you may simply relax and enjoy the beautiful and tranquil surrounds, or you may use the opportunity to visit the lake in more detail. There are 29 islands to explore, several of which are of fascinating historical interest. Your guide can help you to book an island tour, which will likely visit Akampene, or Punishment Island, used up until the 1940s to dispose of unmarried pregnant women. The also oft visited Bwama Island was once used as an anti-colonial rebel base but later housed a missionary leprosy hospital, before finally becoming a boarding school. There are dug-out canoes for hire at the resort.
07:00 After breakfast at Rwakobo Rock, you will depart for a 3 hour game drive in Lake Mburo National Park.
11.00 Depart for Lake Bunyonyi, taking lunch en route in either Mbarara or Kabale. Total driving time will be between 3 and 5 hours.
16.00 Check into Bunyonyi Overland Resort, situated right on the lake shore – accommodation provided is in furnished double tents. Relax by the lake or maybe try your hand at paddling a dug-out canoe! Dinner at the lodge or another restaurant of your choice – the local crayfish dishes are highly recommended!
Day 3 – From Lake Bunyonyi to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in South-Western Uganda, on the edge of the Rift Valley and alongside the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Classed as a UNESCO world heritage site due to its ecological importance, it is one of Uganda’s oldest rainforests, dating back over 25,000 years. The park provides a rich and diverse habitat for almost 350 bird species and 120 different species of mammal – most famously an estimated 340 critically endangered mountain gorillas: roughly half of the world’s population.
The region also provides shelter for several other primate species, such as baboon, black and white colobus and chimpanzee, as well as elephant and antelope.
08.00 After breakfast at the resort, you have a free morning at Lake Bunyonyi to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, take a village walk or explore more of the lake and its islands.
14.00 Follinwg lunch at the resort (or at one of the many other beauty spots on the lake), you will drive on to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Driving time approx 2 hours.
16.00 Check into Buhoma Community Rest Camp, just inside the park gates, where you will be sleeping in basic twin rooms with shared bathrooms (please enquire for more luxurious accommodation). Dinner at the camp.
Day 4 – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
06:30 Rise early for breakfast before your 7am gorilla tracking briefing and departure. Exact tracking duration depends on which group you are tracking and where they happen to be situated at the time of your visit. Whilst you will be treated to a full magical hour with these magnificent creatures, the entire experience may take anything from 2 to 8 hours. Lunch will be a packed lunch from the Community Camp, enjoyed in the forest. After your gorilla trekking, you will return to Buhoma Community Rest Camp for dinner and another night.
Optional Extra: If your gorilla trekking experience is short enough, it may be possible to add on a waterfall hike – this may take anything from 2 to 5 hours depending on how much you stop along the way. Take a plunge into the bottom of the icy waterfall if you are brave enough! (Additional Cost: $30 per person).
Day 5 – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to Queen Elizabeth National Park – Ishasha Sector
Queen Elizabeth National Park is deservedly Uganda’s most popular tourist destination, offering breathtaking scenery and an abundance of wildlife. The park borders Lakes Edward and George, which are connected by the Kazinga Channel, and is set against the back drop of the fabled Mountains of the Moon: the Rwenzori Mountains. The park is continuous with Parc National des Virunga in Congo, and as such forms one of the largest protected areas in Eastern Africa. The park is home to more than 600 bird and 95 mammal species, including lion, elephant, hippo, leopard, buffalo, hyena, warthog and various antelope.
08.00 Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Buhoma Community Camp, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
10.00 Depart for the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park – one of the very few places in the world where entire prides of lion habitually climb trees. Total driving time will be around 2.5 hours.
12.30 Check into “At The River” Eco-Camp in Ishasha for one night. You will be staying in simple wooden bandas on the banks of the pretty Ntungwe River (options to upgrade to self-contained accommodation available).
14:30 After lunch at the lodge you will depart for a full afternoon game drive, with the aim of spotting the infamous tree climbing lions lounging in the branches of the sprawling Ishasha fig trees.
18:30 Arrive back at the lodge at around 18:30, depending on game-viewing success. Enjoy dinner and the evening at the camp.
Day 6 – Queen Elizabeth National Park
06:30 After an early breakfast at “At The River”, you will depart for a morning game drive in Ishasha – all eyes upwards for a second opportunity to find the tree-climbing lions! Look out carefully for hyena too, as they are spotted regularly on early morning drives in this area.
14:00 After lunch at the lodge you will head up to Bush Lodge, around 2 hours drive away. Check into Bush Lodge, bordering the Kazinga Channel, in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you will be staying for two nights. Accommodation consists of safari tents with twin/double beds, including bedding and shared bathroom facilities. Upgrades to ensuite bandas are available on request. Enjoy dinner and drinks around the camp fire.
Day 7 – Queen Elizabeth National Park
6:30 Early morning breakfast at Bush Lodge.
7:00 Depart for Kasenyi Sector of Queen Elizabeth for an early morning game drive. The Kasenyi savannah offers a classic safari experience, with a good opportunity to spot lions, which are drawn to the area by the huge herds of Uganda Kob. There is also the chance to view elephant, warthog, waterbuck and possibly even the elusive leopard!
12.00 Stop at the Queen’s Pavillion Visitor Information Centre for a packed lunch (provided by Bush Lodge) whilst enjoying the panoramic view of the park and surrounding area.
13:00 Take the 27km long Crater Explosion drive, evidence of the Albertine Rift’s volcanic past. This track affords stunning views of the enormous craters, the Rift Valley Escarpment and the Kazinga Channel, set against the stunning backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains.
15:00 Finish the Crater drive at the Kazinga Channel, where you will join the 2 hour launch cruise. From the boat you may see buffalo, elephants, monitor lizards and vast numbers of different bird species as well as numerous hippos and crocodiles in the water.
18.00 Arrive back at Bush Lodge for a second night.
Day 8 Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park boasts one of the highest concentrations and diversities of primates in the continent. Within East Africa the park supports the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest. However, although most of the park consists of moist ever-green forest, its 766 square kilometres are actually home to a vast array of landscapes.
The park hosts a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 different species of primate. It is home to a large number of endangered but well studied, habituated chimpanzees, as well as the endangered red colobus monkey and the rare L’Hoests monkey. Bird life is prolific, with over 325 recorded species of birds.
9.00 After breakfast at Bush Lodge you will head to Katwe for a tour of the salt lake, where traditional salt mining has been practiced since the 16th century. When in season you may also view the spectacular flocks of flamingoes at the nearby by bird sanctuary lake (Typically viewed from October-March).
10.00 Depart for Kibale National Park and the crater lakes region – total driving time around 2 hours.
12:00 Check into Kibale Forest Camp, where you will be staying in non-self contained tents for two nights (upgrades available). Lunch will be taken at the camp.
14.00 After lunch you will take a drive and a stroll around some of the numerous stunning crater lakes surrounding Fort Portal before returning to the camp for dinner.
Day 9 –Kibale National Park
06:00 You will rise for an early morning breakfast, before meeting your ranger at 6.30am for your full day chimpanzee habituation experience. (Packed lunch will be provided by Kibale Forest Camp). A full day working with a chimpanzee community that is currently being habituated provides an amazing opportunity to observe the chimps from leaving their overnight nests first thing in the morning to building new ones again at around 7pm. Feeding, hunting, resting and playing behaviour may all be observed. A full day but a very rewarding one!
19.30 Return to Kibale Forest Camp for dinner and a second night’s stay.
Day 10 –From Kibale National Park to Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s oldest and largest conservation area, covering an area of 3,840 Km² and home to over 451 bird species, including the highly sought after and rare shoebill stork and a total of 76 different mammal species, including the highest concentration of Rothschild’s giraffe in the world. Other game sightings regularly include lion, elephant, hippo, leopard, buffalo, hyena, warthog and various antelope. Arguably the highlight of this trip is the mighty River Nile, which bisects the park and is forced through an 8m² wide cleft in the rock at Murchison Falls, plunging into the Devil’s Cauldron below.
07:30 After an early breakfast at Kibale Forest Camp you will depart for Murchison Falls National Park. Today will be a full day of driving. Lunch may be a packed lunch from the camp or alternatively taken at a restaurant in Hoima, en route.
17:00 Arrive at Red Chilli Hideaway in Murchison Falls National Park. You will be staying in twin safari tents with shared bathrooms for the next two nights (upgrades to self-contained accommodation possible, subject to availability). Look out for resident warthogs and hippo in the camp!
Day 11 –Murchison Falls National Park
6.45 Depart for the ferry crossing to the North Bank, taking along a packed breakfast from Red Chilli. Enjoy a 4-hour game drive around the Buligi game tracks, which stretch between the Victoria and Albert Niles, and down to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Most of the park’s game and birdlife can be viewed from here, but please note – nothing is guaranteed!
11.00 Take the ferry back to the South Bank and enjoy lunch and a well-deserved break at Red Chilli Rest Camp.
14.30 Depart for a 3 hour boat cruise along the Victoria Nile to the base of the Falls, Along the way, you will be able to view a wide variety of birds and wildlife, including numerous hippos and crocodiles – as well as breathtaking scenery. Cold drinks are for sale on board.
16.30 Disembark at the bottom of the Falls and hike up to the top for the best views of the main falls and its sister falls, Uhuru. Your driver-guide will meet you at the top and take you back to Red Chilli for dinner and another night in the camp.
Day 12 –From Murchison Falls National Park to Karenga
9.00 Having taken breakfast at Red Chilli you will depart for the ferry crossing to the North Bank of the Nile. Once you have crossed the river, you will take a leisurely drive through the Wangkwar section of the park – a final chance to spot some more game in Murchison!
12.00 Exiting the park by midday, you will now make your way towards Kidepo Valley National park stopping at a local restaurant in Kitgum for lunch (or alternatively taking along a packed lunch from Red Chilli if you prefer).
17:00 Arrive at Buffalo Base Camp in Karenga, just 8km from the Kidepo Valley National Park gate. You will be staying in basic twin rooms with shared bathroom facilities (there is an option to upgrade to the more mid-range Nga-Moru lodge if you prefer – please enquire). If time permits on arrival there may be the opportunity to take a village walk before taking dinner at the camp.
Day 13 –Kidepo National Park
Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, nestled in the rugged, semi arid valleys between the Sudanese and Kenyan borders in the north-eastern Karamoja region of Uganda. Transected by the Narus and Kidepo Rivers, the park hosts a profusion of big game, with over 80 species of mammal, including lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, zebra and various antelope species. A staggering 28 species of mammal found in Kidepo cannot be found in any other national park in Uganda: cheetah, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal and kudu to name but a few. With a total of more than 475 different bird species, Kidepo is also considered outstanding for birds of prey and 58 different species have been recorded here.
Your trip to Kidepo will take in the contrasts of the grassland plains of the Narus Valley, where most of the park’s wildlife congregates due to the permanent water supply, and the hot and arid area of the extreme north, beside the South Sudanese border. You will cross over the Kidepo River and because it is dry for the majority of the year, you should be able to take a stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sands, surrounded on either side by Borassus palms. 11km north of here you will reach the Kanangarok hot springs – a fabulous place to look out for ostrich and to admire the mountains beyond the frontier.
06:30 After an early breakfast, you will head out for a full day game drive in Kidepo National Park, taking in the areas surrounding the Narus Valley and the hot springs. Lunch will be a picnic packed lunch in the park.
19.00 Arrive back at your accommodation for dinner and the night.
Day 14 –From Kidepo National Park to Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls is actually a series of three pretty waterfalls in Eastern Uganda, situated near the Kenyan border, on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park – the largest volcanic base in the world. Hikes around the falls offer beautiful views of the slopes of the mountain and also of the Karamoja plains and over to Lake Kyoga. The Sipi area is also famous for its locally grown Bugisu Arabica coffee which only grows at an altitude of between 1600 and 1900m. In contrast to Kidepo, the Sipi area enjoys a cool and peaceful climate.
07:00 After an early breakfast at Karenga you will start your journey towards Sipi Falls. This will be a long day of driving but will take in some simply stunning scenery as you drive through Karamoja and the Pian Upe Game Reserve. Lunch may be a packed lunch from Buffalo Base Camp, or you may stop at Moroto for a break at a local eatery.
17:00 Arrive at The Crow’s Nest, a basic camp that offers beautiful views over to the main set of falls from the balcony. Accommodation provided is dormitory style but upgrades to private accommodation or alternatively to the more luxurious Sipi River Lodge may be available on request. Dinner will be taken at your accommodation.
Day 15 – Sipi Falls
08:30 After breakfast you will depart for a full day hike, taking in all three waterfalls in the Sipi Valley. This trek can be arduous and steep in places, so a reasonable level of fitness is required, although there will be plenty of opportunities to rest whilst you take in the panoramic views. A partial hike/drive to all 3 waterfalls may be substituted if preferred. A packed lunch will be taken along the way.
17:00 You will return to your accommodation late in the afternoon for dinner and another night’s stay.
Day 16 – From Sipi Falls to Jinja
Jinja enjoys a reputation as the adventure capital of Uganda, with a variety of different adrenaline filled activities to choose from. Arguably of the most thrilling experiences you can enjoy is Grade 5 rafting on the River Nile, considered one of the wildest one-day white water trips in the world! If this isn’t your cup of tea however, there are plenty of other options to choose from, including Nile horseback riding, kayaking, bungee jumping, quad biking and fishing.
09:00 After breakfast at the Crow’s Nest you will depart for a Sipi Coffee Tour. You will visit a plantation and learn about the farming, processing and roasting techniques they employ locally. You will be able to de-shell the beans yourself before roasting and grinding them in the traditional way…and finally enjoying a fresh home-brewed cup!
1.00 Lunch will be taken at Sipi River Lodge, from where you can enjoy the peaceful gardens and the views across to second of the three falls, the 80m high Kapsurur Falls. After lunch you will depart for Jinja, around 3 hours drive away
17:00 You will arrive at Nile River Explorers camp late afternoon. Time to chill as you enjoy the stunning views over the River Nile and its many rapids! If you prefer you may be able to join a Nile Sunset Cruise at an additional cost of US$45 per person, including drinks and snacks. Accommodation consists of dormitory rooms but upgrades to private and self-contained facilities are available (please enquire for more details). Dinner will be taken at the camp.
Day 17 – Jinja activities
Today is a day to enjoy one of the numerous adventurous activities on offer in Jinja. This itinerary makes an example of a day’s white water rafting but you may substitute this instead for a horseback riding, kayaking, bungee jumping, fishing or quad biking adventure. It is also possible for the different members of your group to experience different activities, if you so wish. Please enquire for further details on the different options available.
08:00 After breakfast you will receive a briefing from your rafting guide and get fitted out with life jackets and helmets. You will then make your way to the starting point 15km away, where you will complete some safety exercises, by which point you will be ready to take on the mighty River Nile! The trip boasts 8 major rapids and several lower graded runs but by varying the route the rafts take, the adrenaline scale can be tailor made to your taste – wild or mild! Snacks will be enjoyed along the way and in between the rapids!
16:00 After your rafting you will enjoy a delicious bbq and cold drinks before being dropped at your accommodation for the night – The Hairy Lemon Island and Eco Lodge. Accommodation consists of dormitories or safari tents or you may upgrade to a private cabin if you prefer.
Day 18 – Jinja to Kampala
09:00 Breakfast and a free morning at The Hairy Lemon to enjoy the peaceful river setting – a last chance to relax and unwind before hitting the city again! Swimming, kayaking, water volley ball or just plain chilling….
14.30 After lunch at the Hairy Lemon, you will depart for Kampala – around two hours drive away.
17:00 Depending on traffic and exact time of departure, you should be back at the Red Chilli, Kampala between 16:00 and 18.00.
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