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Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrive uganda

Paul Tamwenya, Journeys senior naturalist guide in UgandaPaul Tamwenya, Journeys senior naturalist guide in Uganda

Upon arrival at the international airport in the capital of Kampala, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your nearby hotel on Buziga Hill, one of the highest hills in Kampala, close to Lake Victoria. The pleasant breeze and spectacular views of the lake and the city make this an ideal stop for your first night in the country.

Meals
None
Lodging
Cassia Lodge or similar

Day 2: kampala cultural tour

Kasubi TombsKasubi Tombs

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll head out on a cultural tour of Kampala. Start at the Naggalabi Coronation Site, ritual landmark of the Kingdom of Buganda. Also visit the Kasubi Tombs, burial ground for Buganda's kings and other members of the royal family. Several traditional kingdoms exist today within the geographic and political state of Uganda, Buganda being the largest. Learn how the national government and the kingdoms negotiate shared rule, and about the period of dormancy for these kingdoms from 1967 to 1993.

Next, visit the Uganda Museum to see the cultural and natural history collections. Then, continue to the Namugongo Shrines, where Ugandan Christians were slaughtered by order of King Mwanga in 1886 for refusing to renounce Christianity. The unique Catholic Church standing on the site today, known for its beautiful and unique interior and exterior, is built close to the spot where St. Charles Lwanga and St. Kizito were killed.

Time permitting, you may also visit Makerere University, the oldest University in East Africa; Namirembe Cathedral, the oldest church built by European missionaries to Uganda; the Bahai temple, the largest and only temple of its kind in Africa; and a craft village where you can purchase African art including carvings and masks. If you run out of time today to see everything you'd like, you'll be back in the city later in the trip.

Drive to Jinja (2 hours) for your overnight stay at a lovely boutique hotel on the Nile.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Gately on the Nile Boutique Hotel or similar

Day 3: nangaiza village & birds of a feather

Make friends over a game of omwesoMake friends over a game of omweso

Today you'll visit Nangaiza village, birthplace of Journeys Senior guide, Paul Tamwenya. Meet locals in their traditional rural homes. See women cooking traditional dishes and men conducting the business of the town. Try your hand at traditional musical instruments, play omweso (the Ugandan version of mancala), and hear folk stories. Also visit the beneficiaries of Birds of a Feather, the non-profit organization started by Paul to support orphans, vulnerable children, and those with HIV/AIDS. Through education, the children and their guardians learn about nutrition and safe drinking water programs, poverty relief, agriculture, and more. Afterwards, transfer to Mbale for dinner and overnight.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Mt. Elgon Hotel or similar

Day 4: return to kampala

Kampala cityscape (photo by Simisa)Kampala cityscape (photo by Simisa)

Drive back to Kampala (about 4 hours), stopping to visit the source of the Nile on the shore of Lake Victoria, where you'll get a firsthand look at how the longest river in the world begins its journey through Africa. Back in Kampala, you will have the rest of the afternoon free to relax, or visit some of the city sites you didn't have time to see on Day 2.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Cassia Lodge or similar

Day 5: overland to murchison falls national park

Spot warthogs on safariSpot warthogs on safari

After breakfast, drive north through the Luwero Triangle to Murchison Falls conservation area with a stopover for lunch in Masindi, a seat of sugar manufacturing in Uganda. Arrive mid-afternoon at Murchison Falls National Park, the largest protected area in Uganda and bisected by the Victoria Nile. This park is home to all of Africa's "big five" game species (elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions, and leopards) as well as giraffes, chimpanzees, and a variety of antelopes. As one of the best birding sites in all of Africa according to the African Bird Club, it is home to many bird species including the rare Shoebill. Other common species of birds found here are storks, nightjars, kingfishers, bee-eaters, hornbills, cranes, geese, and ducks. Take a ferry along the Nile to arrive at your accommodation in time for dinner. Your lodge is located within the park, overlooking the river. This evening there is a possibility of a night game drive with your guide.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Paraa Safari Lodge or similar

Day 6: murchison falls land and boat safari

Seek out the Shoebill Stork (photo by Tom Tarrant)Seek out the Shoebill Stork (photo by Tom Tarrant)

You'll have the morning free to relax and enjoy the natural scenery that surrounds the lodge, or take an optional early morning game drive to spot wildlife. Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by a boat safari for great views of the bottom of the falls, stopping just ten meters away from the infamous "Devil’s Cauldron." While on the water, marvel at the hippos, crocodiles, possibly elephants, waterbucks, and the Ugandan Kob. You'll also see a variety of birds including commorants, storks, ducks, and herons. Return to the lodge in time for dinner. If you like, accompany Paul on an optional night game drive.

We also recommend a Balloon Ride over Murchison Falls (additional $400 per person). This 45-60 minute balloon ride can be done in the early morning to see the sunrise or in the evening for sunset views. (Availability is dependent upon weather conditions.) This unique experience allows for the best wildlife viewing and photography. The flight goes about 1,000 feet above ground for optimal views of the park and Murchison Falls and also hovers at tree level to view animals at close range. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Paraa Safari Lodge or similar

Day 7: return to kampala via murchison falls

Murchison FallsMurchison Falls

Return to Kampala via the Falls for which the national park was named, enjoying the fantastic scenery along the way. Murchison Falls, also known to locals as Kabalega Falls, is located between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the White Nile  River. At the top of the falls the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks only 23 feet wide and falls 141 feet into Lake Albert.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Cassia Lodge or similar

Day 8: western uganda

Try your hand at baking traditional breadTry your hand at baking traditional bread

After a good night’s rest and breakfast, you'll head out on a cultural expedition to the southwestern part of Uganda. Make a stop at the Katereke prison, the site of a tragic event that took place in the Buganda Kingdom in the 19th century. King Kabaka Kimera, the third king of the Buganda Kingdom, feared a coup by one of his many brothers and sisters, so he ordered his siblings slaughtered. Today it is one of the most significant cultural sites in the Buganda Kingdom.  

Next, visit Mpambire village, a traditional African village whose life is centered around drum-making and farming. Their unique drum-making style involves a high degree of dexterity and the use of raw materials. In fact, their drums were once made for the royal family of the Buganda Kingdom.  

Continue on to the Igongo Cultural Center in Mbarara where you will have a brief introduction to the culture of the southwestern region, and particularly the ankole people. At the Erijukiro Museum on the grounds of the Cultural Center there are displays including local clothing, housing, and currency. You'll also have the chance to taste traditional Ankole foods. Dinner and overnight will be at Nshenyi cultural village, located on a farm near Kitwe Town. The terrain here is ideal for raising cattle and banana plantations. For the best cultural experience, you will stay in a traditional but comfortable modern hut (banda) styled similarly to Ankole homes.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Nshenyi Cultural Village hut

Day 9: nshenyi village experience

Ugandan longhorn cattle are essential to local economiesUgandan longhorn cattle are essential to local economies

Rise and shine! Spend the day at the Nshenyi cultural village to experience the Banyankole culture firsthand. You'll participate in the local chores including milking longhorned cattle, making ghee, preparing for ritual celebrations, and cooking meals. There is no better way to learn about local culture than to live the life of the locals, and the authentic (if not sponteneous) experience here is fun for all.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Nshenyi Cultural Village hut

Day 10: pygmy cultures & amazing views

Visit the hills around BwindiVisit the hills around Bwindi

After breakfast, you'll continue driving southwest to Bwindi, home to the majority of Uganda's mountain gorilla population. This afternoon, led by your naturalist guide, spend time learning about the communities that surround the gorillas and their way of life. Visit tea and coffee plantations and learn how the crops are processed. Then visit the Pygmies, an ethnic group whose average height is below 4'11". It is thought that pygmies may have evolved into their short stature to better thrive in the rainforest. These hunter-gatherers maintain their own culture according to unique beliefs, traditions, and languages that you will learn about today. Most pygmies are nomadic and obtain their food by foraging, hunting, fishing, and trading. Music is a very important part of their lives and includes various instruments such as the flute and musical bow, intricate vocal polyphony, and dance. 

Your lodge is located in a peaceful area on the edge of the park where you can relax while enjoying the breathtaking views. The Haven Lodge is rated as one of the best accommodations in this region. The bandas & bungalows are all made of natural materials in an undeniably African style. The luxury bandas are traditional thatched huts with a full bathroom and a terrace with view of the Nile.  From the lodge, you'll be able to see fish, eagles, otters, monitor lizards, and monkeys, as well as numerous species of birds. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
The Haven Lodge

Day 11: gorilla tracking or other activities of choice

Bwindi gorilla trekking is hugely rewardingBwindi gorilla trekking is hugely rewarding

There are a variety of activities to choose from today, depending on your physical abilities and interests. Costs vary depending on activity.

Gorilla Tracking - Set off early today, with a packed lunch, to the park headquarters where there will be a briefing prior to the Gorilla tracking. The gorillas are gentle animals and it is an unforgettable experience to observe and photograph them up close. To reach the gorilla family, it may require hiking anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours. Game scouts are likely to have pre-located them and radioed back their location to your guide, but the animals tend to wander and don’t stick to the trails. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards. You are likely to enjoy a close-up view of adults feeding, grooming, and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. Gorilla tracking involves part or all of one day in the Impenetrable Forest. In rare instances finding, reaching, observing and returning from a group takes an entire day of hard trekking. You need to be physically fit if you wish to maximize your chances. Very rarely, in spite of all efforts, the gorillas prove to be elusive. Depending on the time you finish, you may have an optional visit to the communities around the gorillas’ habitat. Note: The gorilla permit should be purchased as soon as the trip has been booked to ensure availability. The cost of this permit is currently $600 per person.

Bird Watching - spend the day watching local birds and wildlife around the camp and on the park's islands. You can also hire a boat for a bird cruise on the river. Monkeys, otters, and monitor lizards are common sightings.

Explore local villages - Witness the villagers' traditional and simple lifestyle by watching fishermen trapping fish and farmers working the local fields.

Enjoy a day of horeseback riding.

Or just spend the day enjoying the fantastic surroundings or relaxing by the pool with a good book.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
The Haven Lodge

Day 12: bwindi n.p. and drive to rwanda

Black and White Colobus MonkeyBlack and White Colobus Monkey

After breakfast, drive from the lower forest biome to the seldom-visited higher forest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Enjoy the scenic views as you cross into Rwanda, with a chance of seeing a variety of monkeys including the L’heost’s, Blue and Red Tailed, and the Black and White Colobus Monkey. 

Stay at the lovely Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, located in the foothills of Mt. Satiny, a volcanic mountain that is part of the Virunga Mountain Range and located very close to Volcanoes National Park. The cottages here are made of stone and thatch and come with a fire place, ensuite bath facilities, and a private veranda.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Day 13: mt. visoke at volcanoes national park

Baby Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National ParkBaby Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

Mt. Visoke (also called Bisoke) is an active volcano that straddles the border of Rwanda and the Congo, with the summit in Rwanda. This 12,175 foot mountain is located within Rwandan Volcanoes National Park and contains the largest crater lake in the range. Visoke is habitat for the mountain gorilla and the location of Karisoke Research Center founded by Dian Fossey. Dian Fossey was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who studied and helped protect the mountain gorillas from about 1967 until her death in 1985. She wroth the book, Gorillas in the Mist, which was turned into a film in 1988.

The area is also protected from logging, farming, and mining. There are excellent hiking opportunities on this peak, and an additional mountain gorilla trek can be included today with an additional gorilla trekking permit (extra cost - $750). You'll also visit Dian Fossey's resting place.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Day 14: iby'iwacu village

Rwandan DancersRwandan Dancers

In the morning, explore the cultural village of Iby'iwacu, a demonstration village started up by one of the park wardens to showcase how the Rwandan kings once lived. The overseeing organization has also helped many former poachers appreciate conservation of the nearby gorillas. This is a great opportunity to meet the local people and learn about their culture and traditions. You'll see a replica of the king's house, visit traditional clinics and local schools, and learn traditional dances. If you like, learn how to prepare the cuisine and have dinner with the locals. See the unique process of making banana beer, and even try it! 

Return to your hotel at Volcanoes National Park, or stay the night at the village in a traditional grass-thatched mud house designed in the king’s style of ancient architecture. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, or traditional mud house

Day 15: kigali genocide memorial & onward

Remember the victims of the Rwandan genocideRemember the victims of the Rwandan genocide

After a leisurely morning, drive to Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, where you will visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which commemorates the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The remains of over 250,000 people are buried here. There is a visitor center for those wishing to understand the events that led up to the genocide. Afterwards, take a city tour of Kigali, which was named by Dr. Richard Kandt, the first colonial resident governor of Rwanda in 1907. Though Kigali is the main administrative and economic center of Rwanda, with its fresh air, it is the cleanest and safest city in the region.

This evening, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
None

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$6,600
- $8,750
Group size 6+: $6,600 Group size 4-5: $7,200 Group size 2-3: $8,750 Gorilla permit at Bwindi currently $600 extra
Single Supplement:
$850
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Privately on Request
Dec 15-29, 2017 • Staff-led departure
Sep 3-17, 2018

Need to Know

See Journeys’ FAQ about Mountain Gorillas for detailed information on the animals and the logistics for visiting them.

Duration:
15 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Optional gorilla tracking, which can be quite strenuous
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

From the Bird's Word Blog

2016 Successes for Birds of a Feather

Through its nonprofit, Earth Preservation Fund, Journeys International supports organizations that focus on community-based environmental, educational and cultural preservation …

Watch traditional dance
Watch traditional dance
Paul Tamwenya, Journeys guide in Uganda
Paul Tamwenya, Journeys guide in Uganda
Try your hand at local style cooking
Try your hand at local style cooking
Pygmies
Pygmies
Enjoy a walk -- or a game drive -- in search of wildlife
Enjoy a walk -- or a game drive -- in search of wildlife
Encounter rare Mountain Gorillas, a highlight of the trip
Encounter rare Mountain Gorillas, a highlight of the trip
Visiting the gorillas is a transformative experience
Visiting the gorillas is a transformative experience
Lilac Breasted Roller
Lilac Breasted Roller
You are sure to see giraffes along the way
You are sure to see giraffes along the way
Stunning views await you
Stunning views await you

Cultural and Animal Encounters in Uganda & Rwanda

Village visits and wildlife tracking in Kampala, Murchison Falls, Bwindi, and Volcanoes National Park

overview

Uganda's fascinating wonders go far beyond the famous mountain gorillas who dwell here. While travelers often come for the wildlife, they leave extolling the fabulous cultural experiences that are easily accessible.

On this trip, the culture is a main focus. Delve deep into the myriad cultures of Uganda and Rwanda with your local guide and make friends along your route. Meet the Ankole people, Bagandas, and the pygmies of Kisoro. Learn about the semi-sovereign kingdoms remaining in Uganda. And see wildlife, too! Expect to spot large numbers of elephants, lions, cape buffalo, kob, crocodiles, hippos, other mammals, and many of the 612 species of birds that make the park home. Choose 1 or 2 days of gorilla tracking for a primate encounter that has been called life-changing -- or choose another village visit or a float among islands in a wooden canoe. Spend the final days of the trip across the border in Rwanda, for one more park, one more chance to see gorillas, one more immsersive cultural experience, and a chance to learn about Rwanda's troubling past. Accommodations are in guest houses and tourist hotels; you will not be camping or backpacking. 

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

Uganda's fascinating wonders go far beyond the famous mountain gorillas who dwell here. While travelers often come for the wildlife, they leave extolling the fabulous cultural experiences that are easily accessible.

On this trip, the culture is a main focus. Delve deep into the myriad cultures of Uganda and Rwanda with your local guide and make friends along your route. Meet the Ankole people, Bagandas, and the pygmies of Kisoro. Learn about the semi-sovereign kingdoms remaining in Uganda. And see wildlife, too! Expect to spot large numbers of elephants, lions, cape buffalo, kob, crocodiles, hippos, other mammals, and many of the 612 species of birds that make the park home. Choose 1 or 2 days of gorilla tracking for a primate encounter that has been called life-changing -- or choose another village visit or a float among islands in a wooden canoe. Spend the final days of the trip across the border in Rwanda, for one more park, one more chance to see gorillas, one more immsersive cultural experience, and a chance to learn about Rwanda's troubling past. Accommodations are in guest houses and tourist hotels; you will not be camping or backpacking. 

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: arrive uganda
    Paul Tamwenya, Journeys senior naturalist guide in UgandaPaul Tamwenya, Journeys senior naturalist guide in Uganda

    Upon arrival at the international airport in the capital of Kampala, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your nearby hotel on Buziga Hill, one of the highest hills in Kampala, close to Lake Victoria. The pleasant breeze and spectacular views of the lake and the city make this an ideal stop for your first night in the country.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Cassia Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: kampala cultural tour
    Kasubi TombsKasubi Tombs

    After breakfast at the hotel, you'll head out on a cultural tour of Kampala. Start at the Naggalabi Coronation Site, ritual landmark of the Kingdom of Buganda. Also visit the Kasubi Tombs, burial ground for Buganda's kings and other members of the royal family. Several traditional kingdoms exist today within the geographic and political state of Uganda, Buganda being the largest. Learn how the national government and the kingdoms negotiate shared rule, and about the period of dormancy for these kingdoms from 1967 to 1993.

    Next, visit the Uganda Museum to see the cultural and natural history collections. Then, continue to the Namugongo Shrines, where Ugandan Christians were slaughtered by order of King Mwanga in 1886 for refusing to renounce Christianity. The unique Catholic Church standing on the site today, known for its beautiful and unique interior and exterior, is built close to the spot where St. Charles Lwanga and St. Kizito were killed.

    Time permitting, you may also visit Makerere University, the oldest University in East Africa; Namirembe Cathedral, the oldest church built by European missionaries to Uganda; the Bahai temple, the largest and only temple of its kind in Africa; and a craft village where you can purchase African art including carvings and masks. If you run out of time today to see everything you'd like, you'll be back in the city later in the trip.

    Drive to Jinja (2 hours) for your overnight stay at a lovely boutique hotel on the Nile.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Gately on the Nile Boutique Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: nangaiza village & birds of a feather
    Make friends over a game of omwesoMake friends over a game of omweso

    Today you'll visit Nangaiza village, birthplace of Journeys Senior guide, Paul Tamwenya. Meet locals in their traditional rural homes. See women cooking traditional dishes and men conducting the business of the town. Try your hand at traditional musical instruments, play omweso (the Ugandan version of mancala), and hear folk stories. Also visit the beneficiaries of Birds of a Feather, the non-profit organization started by Paul to support orphans, vulnerable children, and those with HIV/AIDS. Through education, the children and their guardians learn about nutrition and safe drinking water programs, poverty relief, agriculture, and more. Afterwards, transfer to Mbale for dinner and overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mt. Elgon Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: return to kampala
    Kampala cityscape (photo by Simisa)Kampala cityscape (photo by Simisa)

    Drive back to Kampala (about 4 hours), stopping to visit the source of the Nile on the shore of Lake Victoria, where you'll get a firsthand look at how the longest river in the world begins its journey through Africa. Back in Kampala, you will have the rest of the afternoon free to relax, or visit some of the city sites you didn't have time to see on Day 2.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Cassia Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: overland to murchison falls national park
    Spot warthogs on safariSpot warthogs on safari

    After breakfast, drive north through the Luwero Triangle to Murchison Falls conservation area with a stopover for lunch in Masindi, a seat of sugar manufacturing in Uganda. Arrive mid-afternoon at Murchison Falls National Park, the largest protected area in Uganda and bisected by the Victoria Nile. This park is home to all of Africa's "big five" game species (elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions, and leopards) as well as giraffes, chimpanzees, and a variety of antelopes. As one of the best birding sites in all of Africa according to the African Bird Club, it is home to many bird species including the rare Shoebill. Other common species of birds found here are storks, nightjars, kingfishers, bee-eaters, hornbills, cranes, geese, and ducks. Take a ferry along the Nile to arrive at your accommodation in time for dinner. Your lodge is located within the park, overlooking the river. This evening there is a possibility of a night game drive with your guide.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: murchison falls land and boat safari
    Seek out the Shoebill Stork (photo by Tom Tarrant)Seek out the Shoebill Stork (photo by Tom Tarrant)

    You'll have the morning free to relax and enjoy the natural scenery that surrounds the lodge, or take an optional early morning game drive to spot wildlife. Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by a boat safari for great views of the bottom of the falls, stopping just ten meters away from the infamous "Devil’s Cauldron." While on the water, marvel at the hippos, crocodiles, possibly elephants, waterbucks, and the Ugandan Kob. You'll also see a variety of birds including commorants, storks, ducks, and herons. Return to the lodge in time for dinner. If you like, accompany Paul on an optional night game drive.

    We also recommend a Balloon Ride over Murchison Falls (additional $400 per person). This 45-60 minute balloon ride can be done in the early morning to see the sunrise or in the evening for sunset views. (Availability is dependent upon weather conditions.) This unique experience allows for the best wildlife viewing and photography. The flight goes about 1,000 feet above ground for optimal views of the park and Murchison Falls and also hovers at tree level to view animals at close range. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: return to kampala via murchison falls
    Murchison FallsMurchison Falls

    Return to Kampala via the Falls for which the national park was named, enjoying the fantastic scenery along the way. Murchison Falls, also known to locals as Kabalega Falls, is located between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the White Nile  River. At the top of the falls the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks only 23 feet wide and falls 141 feet into Lake Albert.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Cassia Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: western uganda
    Try your hand at baking traditional breadTry your hand at baking traditional bread

    After a good night’s rest and breakfast, you'll head out on a cultural expedition to the southwestern part of Uganda. Make a stop at the Katereke prison, the site of a tragic event that took place in the Buganda Kingdom in the 19th century. King Kabaka Kimera, the third king of the Buganda Kingdom, feared a coup by one of his many brothers and sisters, so he ordered his siblings slaughtered. Today it is one of the most significant cultural sites in the Buganda Kingdom.  

    Next, visit Mpambire village, a traditional African village whose life is centered around drum-making and farming. Their unique drum-making style involves a high degree of dexterity and the use of raw materials. In fact, their drums were once made for the royal family of the Buganda Kingdom.  

    Continue on to the Igongo Cultural Center in Mbarara where you will have a brief introduction to the culture of the southwestern region, and particularly the ankole people. At the Erijukiro Museum on the grounds of the Cultural Center there are displays including local clothing, housing, and currency. You'll also have the chance to taste traditional Ankole foods. Dinner and overnight will be at Nshenyi cultural village, located on a farm near Kitwe Town. The terrain here is ideal for raising cattle and banana plantations. For the best cultural experience, you will stay in a traditional but comfortable modern hut (banda) styled similarly to Ankole homes.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Nshenyi Cultural Village hut
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: nshenyi village experience
    Ugandan longhorn cattle are essential to local economiesUgandan longhorn cattle are essential to local economies

    Rise and shine! Spend the day at the Nshenyi cultural village to experience the Banyankole culture firsthand. You'll participate in the local chores including milking longhorned cattle, making ghee, preparing for ritual celebrations, and cooking meals. There is no better way to learn about local culture than to live the life of the locals, and the authentic (if not sponteneous) experience here is fun for all.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Nshenyi Cultural Village hut
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  • Day 10: pygmy cultures & amazing views
    Visit the hills around BwindiVisit the hills around Bwindi

    After breakfast, you'll continue driving southwest to Bwindi, home to the majority of Uganda's mountain gorilla population. This afternoon, led by your naturalist guide, spend time learning about the communities that surround the gorillas and their way of life. Visit tea and coffee plantations and learn how the crops are processed. Then visit the Pygmies, an ethnic group whose average height is below 4'11". It is thought that pygmies may have evolved into their short stature to better thrive in the rainforest. These hunter-gatherers maintain their own culture according to unique beliefs, traditions, and languages that you will learn about today. Most pygmies are nomadic and obtain their food by foraging, hunting, fishing, and trading. Music is a very important part of their lives and includes various instruments such as the flute and musical bow, intricate vocal polyphony, and dance. 

    Your lodge is located in a peaceful area on the edge of the park where you can relax while enjoying the breathtaking views. The Haven Lodge is rated as one of the best accommodations in this region. The bandas & bungalows are all made of natural materials in an undeniably African style. The luxury bandas are traditional thatched huts with a full bathroom and a terrace with view of the Nile.  From the lodge, you'll be able to see fish, eagles, otters, monitor lizards, and monkeys, as well as numerous species of birds. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    The Haven Lodge
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  • Day 11: gorilla tracking or other activities of choice
    Bwindi gorilla trekking is hugely rewardingBwindi gorilla trekking is hugely rewarding

    There are a variety of activities to choose from today, depending on your physical abilities and interests. Costs vary depending on activity.

    Gorilla Tracking - Set off early today, with a packed lunch, to the park headquarters where there will be a briefing prior to the Gorilla tracking. The gorillas are gentle animals and it is an unforgettable experience to observe and photograph them up close. To reach the gorilla family, it may require hiking anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours. Game scouts are likely to have pre-located them and radioed back their location to your guide, but the animals tend to wander and don’t stick to the trails. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards. You are likely to enjoy a close-up view of adults feeding, grooming, and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. Gorilla tracking involves part or all of one day in the Impenetrable Forest. In rare instances finding, reaching, observing and returning from a group takes an entire day of hard trekking. You need to be physically fit if you wish to maximize your chances. Very rarely, in spite of all efforts, the gorillas prove to be elusive. Depending on the time you finish, you may have an optional visit to the communities around the gorillas’ habitat. Note: The gorilla permit should be purchased as soon as the trip has been booked to ensure availability. The cost of this permit is currently $600 per person.

    Bird Watching - spend the day watching local birds and wildlife around the camp and on the park's islands. You can also hire a boat for a bird cruise on the river. Monkeys, otters, and monitor lizards are common sightings.

    Explore local villages - Witness the villagers' traditional and simple lifestyle by watching fishermen trapping fish and farmers working the local fields.

    Enjoy a day of horeseback riding.

    Or just spend the day enjoying the fantastic surroundings or relaxing by the pool with a good book.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    The Haven Lodge
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  • Day 12: bwindi n.p. and drive to rwanda
    Black and White Colobus MonkeyBlack and White Colobus Monkey

    After breakfast, drive from the lower forest biome to the seldom-visited higher forest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Enjoy the scenic views as you cross into Rwanda, with a chance of seeing a variety of monkeys including the L’heost’s, Blue and Red Tailed, and the Black and White Colobus Monkey. 

    Stay at the lovely Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, located in the foothills of Mt. Satiny, a volcanic mountain that is part of the Virunga Mountain Range and located very close to Volcanoes National Park. The cottages here are made of stone and thatch and come with a fire place, ensuite bath facilities, and a private veranda.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
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  • Day 13: mt. visoke at volcanoes national park
    Baby Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National ParkBaby Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

    Mt. Visoke (also called Bisoke) is an active volcano that straddles the border of Rwanda and the Congo, with the summit in Rwanda. This 12,175 foot mountain is located within Rwandan Volcanoes National Park and contains the largest crater lake in the range. Visoke is habitat for the mountain gorilla and the location of Karisoke Research Center founded by Dian Fossey. Dian Fossey was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who studied and helped protect the mountain gorillas from about 1967 until her death in 1985. She wroth the book, Gorillas in the Mist, which was turned into a film in 1988.

    The area is also protected from logging, farming, and mining. There are excellent hiking opportunities on this peak, and an additional mountain gorilla trek can be included today with an additional gorilla trekking permit (extra cost - $750). You'll also visit Dian Fossey's resting place.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
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  • Day 14: iby'iwacu village
    Rwandan DancersRwandan Dancers

    In the morning, explore the cultural village of Iby'iwacu, a demonstration village started up by one of the park wardens to showcase how the Rwandan kings once lived. The overseeing organization has also helped many former poachers appreciate conservation of the nearby gorillas. This is a great opportunity to meet the local people and learn about their culture and traditions. You'll see a replica of the king's house, visit traditional clinics and local schools, and learn traditional dances. If you like, learn how to prepare the cuisine and have dinner with the locals. See the unique process of making banana beer, and even try it! 

    Return to your hotel at Volcanoes National Park, or stay the night at the village in a traditional grass-thatched mud house designed in the king’s style of ancient architecture. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, or traditional mud house
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  • Day 15: kigali genocide memorial & onward
    Remember the victims of the Rwandan genocideRemember the victims of the Rwandan genocide

    After a leisurely morning, drive to Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, where you will visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which commemorates the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The remains of over 250,000 people are buried here. There is a visitor center for those wishing to understand the events that led up to the genocide. Afterwards, take a city tour of Kigali, which was named by Dr. Richard Kandt, the first colonial resident governor of Rwanda in 1907. Though Kigali is the main administrative and economic center of Rwanda, with its fresh air, it is the cleanest and safest city in the region.

    This evening, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$6,600
- $8,750
Group size 6+: $6,600 Group size 4-5: $7,200 Group size 2-3: $8,750 Gorilla permit at Bwindi currently $600 extra
Single Supplement:
$850
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Privately on Request
Dec 15-29, 2017 • Staff-led departure
Sep 3-17, 2018

Need to Know

See Journeys’ FAQ about Mountain Gorillas for detailed information on the animals and the logistics for visiting them.

Duration:
15 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Optional gorilla tracking, which can be quite strenuous
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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