Our 8 Days Uganda gorilla tour and Masai Mara safari brings you the best that Africa has to offer in terms of wildlife. You will have an opportunity to see 6 of Africa’s famous creatures – mountain gorillas, lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes. Uganda is home to half of the overall population of the endangered mountain gorillas. They can be found in two national parks – Bwindi and Mgahinga. Uganda is also the best place in the world to tack chimpanzees in the wild. The Democratic Republic of Congo may threaten Uganda’s position in the future.
One of the striking things about Uganda in comparison to Kenya is the amazing scenery and landscape. Uganda is relatively greener and with greater biodiversity and you will notice that while traveling to the national parks in Western Uganda. Whereas Kenya is not a primate’s destination, she is one of the three best place to go for a safari in Africa. In the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the country has one of the most famous wildlife conservation sites in the world. The Masai Mara is the seventh wonder of the World and is the fourth most visited national park in the world. It is the leading tourist attraction in Kenya – home to various mammals including buffaloes, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, jackals, leopards, lions, rhinos, warthogs, wild dogs, wildebeests and zebras. When one thinks of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the first thing that comes to mind is the great wildebeest migration. During this migration, the herbivores are trailed by predators like wild dogs, jackals, hyenas, lions, cheetahs and vultures from Tanzania Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara and back. This wildlife spectacle attracts over 100,000 tourists to Kenya and Tanzania during the months of July all the way to October.
It is important to note that this 8 days Uganda and Kenya safari includes chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park. Known as the primate’s capital of the world, Kibale forest is the best place to track wild chimpanzees in Africa. While tracking the chimps, tourists also get an opportunity to spot over 6 other smaller primates including Colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, baboons and Vervet monkeys. By the end of this 8 days safari, you would have had amazing encounters with Africa’s wildlife, people and toured the city of Kampala and Jinja town where the source of the great river Nile is located. If you prefer to visit the gorillas in Rwanda, then you will find out 7 Days Rwanda gorilla trekking and Masai Maraa package of interest. We also have an amazing 3 days Masai Maraa safari for those who want to see only the big five mammals of Africa. For those who are interested in Tanzania and the gorillas in Rwanda, feel free to check out our 6 Days Rwanda gorilla safari and Serengeti tour.
Day 1: Transfer to Kibale National Park – Visit the Bigodi Swamp and Crater Lakes
Our Guide/Driver will pick you up from your hotel to start the journey to Kibale National Park. You pass through beautiful Ugandan countryside and watch peasants in their gardens, markets along the roadside 8 days Bwindi gorilla safari and Masai Mara and changing landscape. Lunch will be in the beautiful town of Fort Portal. After lunch, the Guide will continue to the park and take you to your hotel for check-in. After resting for a while you will go and visit the Bigodi Swamp and Crater Lakes. The Bigodi Swamp is one of the top birding areas in Uganda. It is also a habitat for smaller primates and antelopes like the Sitatunga. The crater lakes are an amazing natural creation that resulted from the formation of the East African Rift Valley. You will be taken on a guided tour to discover these amazing places.
Dinner and overnight at Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse (Budget and Mid-range) and Papaya Lake lodge (Luxury).
Day 2: Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale – Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Wake up at 6:30 and take breakfast. You should ask your hotel to provide you with light snacks to take with you for the activity in case you get hungry. The Guide will pick you up and drive to the park offices for briefing. Kibale National Park has a population of over 1500 chimpanzees. It is the best place for tracking wild chimpanzees in the world. The chances of seeing chimpanzees in Kibale forest is almost 8 days Bwindi gorilla trekking and Masai Maraa100 percent. The Guides will take you through the briefing notes and advice you on how to act around the chimps. Chimps behave very differently from mountain gorillas. They are more active, stubborn and vocal. They live in larger groups and their loyalty to the dominant alpha male is not as firm as it is in the case of mountain gorillas. Chimps also love to stay on top of trees for longer periods and meat unlike mountain gorillas that are vegetarians. You will also observe that individual chimps have more distinct characters than it is with mountain gorillas. Chimps can also be more aggressive than mountain gorillas. You will have only one hour with the primates to learn about their behavior. Take this time to observe the group closely. You will notice the group dynamics, adults grooming, mothers feeding the young and much more. After the one hour, our Guide will pick you up and take you for lunch before starting the journey to Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
Dinner and Overnight at Broadbill camp (budget), Rushaga Gorilla Camp (Mid-range) or Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge (Luxury)
Day 3: Gorilla tracking in Bwindi – Visit the Batwa Pygmies
You will wake up early, take breakfast and wait for the Guide to take you to the park office for briefing. We recommend that you request the hotel chef to prepare for you packed snack just in case you get hungry while tracking the gorillas. The briefing is led by the park Guides who will share information about Mountain gorillas, their current status and conservation. They will let you know about the rules for gorilla tracking and what to take along with you during the trek. During the briefing, 8 people are assigned one gorilla group. You will be led by the Rangers to track the gorillas through thick forest, valleys and hills. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi takes between two to six hours on average. You will encounter other forest creatures including small primates, birds, butterflies and rare plants. You will know that the family is close when you begin hearing grunts from the dominant Silverback as he keeps group members in check. Take the one hour with the gorillas to observe their behavior. You will realize that Mountain gorillas behave just like we humans. After time with the gorillas and taking enough photos, you will be led back to the pack offices to get your certificate of completion. The Guide will take you back to the hotel for lunch and refreshments.
In the afternoon, the Driver/Guide will take you to visit the Batwa pygmies. The Batwa pygmies lived in the forests of Bwindi for thousands of years before they were evicted for better management of the park and its creatures. The Batwa had lived as forest gatherers and hunters with no knowledge about how to survive in a competitive world. They could avoid hostility from other tribal groups by simply retreating to the forest. After their eviction, they had to learn how to deal with a challenging world. Some see their eviction from the forest without adequate preparation or compensation as one of the negative effects of wildlife conservation. Moreover, the Batwa have failed to adapt to a competitive world. Their sudden eviction did not give them time to learn farming or business. The Batwa also have to deal with marginalization from the tribes they had avoided for thousands of years.
Dinner and Overnight at Broadbill Forest camp (budget), Rushaga Gorilla Camp (Mid-range) or Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge (Luxury)
Day 4: Transfer back to Kampala – Igongo Cultural Centre – Equator crossing – City Tour in the Evening
Wake up at your leisure and wait for the Guide, Driver to start the journey back to Kampala. You will be using a different route while traveling back to Kampala. This route goes to Kabale and Kisoro. The scenery is amazing and has been described as the Switzerland of Africa for the beautiful forests, highlands and valleys. Lunch will be in Mbarara (Igongo Cultural Centre) or at Equator crossing in Kayabwe (Masaka District). The stop at the equator is a must and will offer you an opportunity to take photos at a point where the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres meet.
On reaching Kampala, the Guide/Driver will take you to your hotel for relaxation, shower and refreshment. He will then take you for an evening tour of Kampala city to buy some souvenir and see a few of the landmarks.
Dinner and Overnight at Excellent Hotel Kampala (Budget), Cassia Lodge Buziga (Mid-range), Lake Victoria Serena Hotel (Luxury) and Sheraton Hotel Kampala (Luxury).
Day 5: Whitewater rafting in Jinja – Visiting the Source of the Nile – Transfer to Nairobi
Wake up early and take breakfast before beginning the journey to Jinja. Jinja is known for having some of the best adrenaline raising activities in Africa. It is also a perfect place for relaxation after a long tour of Uganda. While in Jinja, you will be taken to town tour and visit to the source of the Nile. After visiting the source of the Nile, you will head for whitewater rafting in Jinja. After completing all your activities in Jinja, the Driver will take start the journey back to Entebbe so that you are in time to catch your flight to Nairobi
Dinner and Overnight will be at Meridian Hotel Kenya or Sopa Lodges.
Day 6: Transfer from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve – Afternoon Game drive
Wake up early and start the journey from Nairobi to the western part of Kenya. You will arrive at the Masai Mara Game Reserve in time to check-in to your hotel, have lunch and prepare for the afternoon or evening game drive. The Masai Mara Game Reserve is Kenya’s most visited wildlife reserve. It is home to all of the big five mammals of Africa as well as dik dik, hartebeest, wildebeest, Masai giraffe, and the Thompson’s gazelle among many other species. The game drive ends at sunset after which you will go back to the lodge for rest.
Dinner and overnight at Mara Serena lodge (Luxury), Mara Sopa lodge (Mid-range) and Lenchada Tourist tented Camp (Budget).
Day 7: Full day of Balloon Safari in the Mara, game drives and exploring the Masai Mara national game reserve
Wake up at 6:30 and take breakfast as you prepare for a long day of activities. The driver will pick you up from your lodge to take you deep into the reserve. The Masai Mara is a relatively well organized reserve with good road networks which allow for close viewing of animals and taking good photos. You will start with morning game drive and then float over the beautiful savanna on a hot air balloon. You will spot all of the big five mammals – lions, leopards (If you are lucky), Rhinos, elephants and buffaloes. You should also see foxes, Jackals, Zebras, impala, cheetahs and hyenas among many other great creatures. During the middle of the day, you will have picnic lunch at the hippo pool while observing crocodiles and hippos.
Dinner and overnight at Mara Serena lodge (Luxury), Mara Sopa lodge (Mid-range) and Lenchada Tourist tented Camp (Budget).
Day 8: Visit the Masai Villages – Transfer back to Nairobi
Wake up at your leisure and take breakfast as you prepare to leave the hotel. The driver will take you to visit the Masai warriors and nomadic herdsmen. The Masai are one of Africa’s most famous tribes. They live within and outside the reserve taking care of their domestic animals for survival. While with the Masai, you can learn about their cultural heritage from the elders. You may be taken to the crawls to see the animals and learn why they are so important to the tribe. After spending time with the Masai, you will start the journey back to Nairobi where you are will be dropped at the airport or at your hotel.
Safari inclusions and exclusions
The safari cost includes:
- Gorilla trekking permits
- Chimpanzee Permits
- Park entrance fees
- Cultural visits to the Batwa and Masai people
- Game drives and a hot balloon safari in Kenya
- Accommodation with meals
- Transport in an open roof car for wildlife viewing
- An experienced and English speaking Driver/Guide
- Water and lunch while traveling or on safari
- Domestic flight from Uganda to Kigali
- Airport transfers
The tour excludes
- Visas and International flights before and after the tour.
- Expenses that are considered personal in nature such as beverages, laundry, souvenirs, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and telephones.
- Tips to the Driver, Guides, wardens, Rangers and hotel staff.
- Travel and Medical insurance
Hotels and lodges
Lenchada Tourist Camp: This budget camp is located on the hills of Oloolaimutia at the boundary of the Masai Mara Reserve. The camp has three categories of accommodation facilities which can accommodate up to 60 residents. Each tent is self-contained with a shower, hand wash basin, flush toilet, a mosquito net and solar power. The Camp organizes walking safaris, bush dinners and bush breakfasts to clients on request. Lenchada Tourist Camp is excellent for visitors who are planning to travel to the Mara on budget for guided nature walks, hot air balloon safaris, game drives, visiting the Masai villages or climbing the Loira Hills
Mara Serena Safari Lodge: This is a luxury lodge built by the Serena group of hotel in one of the prominent hills in the Maraa region. It is the only lodge in the Mara triangle and offers breathtaking views of the savanna and the Mara River where the main actions take place. With services that few can match, the lodge is built in traditional Masai style (Manyattas) but with modern finish and luxury. Each manyatta has been furnished with luxury furniture and classy interior decorations. All the manyattas offer great views of the Mara plains and river from the comfort of the balcony. It’s not only the balconies that offer spectacular views of the Mara, the same views can be seen while at the bar, restaurant and swimming pool.
Mara Serena Safari Lodge also has a very spacious presidential suite for luxury travelers, presidents, VIPs and CEO’s. Residents can request for massage or spa after visiting the hotel gym. The hotel is an excellent choice for those luxury travelers who are interested in visiting Masai villages, bush dinners, game drives and breakfast by hippo pool.
Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse: This Mid-range lodge is built at the edge of Kibale National Park. What strikes you as you first approach the lodge are the beautiful gardens, tea plantations and natural forest. The lodge management attempts to extend the ambience, serenity and natural beauty of Kibale Chimpanzee tracking and Masai Mara forest to the facility. The main building at Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse is a former resident of a British District Commissioner during colonial rule in Uganda. His family rebuilt the house and opened new cottages to turn it into one of the best lodges in the area. Most of the colonial architecture, literature and photos can be seen or read while at the lodge. The cottages (bandas) all overlook the national park, crater lakes and beautiful tea plantations in the area. All the rooms are self-contained with warm showers and modern bathrooms. There is constant electricity power as a well as a standby generator. Other important things to mention about the hotel is that they have good security, free Wi-Fi and a well-stocked bar.