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At the edge of the Albertine rift in South Western Uganda lies the vast and misty Bwindi impenetrable forest which stretches over a formation of steep mountains. This ancient pristine forest is home to families of formidable mountain gorillas that we will encounter within this 9-day adventure. Our expedition will bring us into the homes of energetic chimps in Kibale forest and draw us to the most scenic park in Uganda.
After a sumptuous breakfast in Kampala, we drive west, taking in the scenic views as we head to Fort Portal, a beautiful town nestled in the shadow of the “Mountains of the Moon.” Enjoy a short respite in this charming town before moving on to the idyllic formations of the crater lakes. From Fort Portal, we set a course for the thriving forest of Kibale National Park, where we turn in for the night at our booked safari lodge.
The evergreen Kibale Forest holds the widest variety and highest concentration of primates in East Africa. On a guided nature walk, we encounter wild chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and more. We return to our lodge for lunch and later set out to Bigodi Swamp, an ideal place for bird lovers. After a satisfying day of exploration, we return to our lodge in time for dinner.
We check out of our lodge and head out for a brief tour at Lake Nkuruba, where we will see magnificent views of the vibrant crater lakes, cradled in vegetation and gentle hills. After lunch, we head toward the popular Queen Elizabeth National Park just in time for an evening game drive. We hope to see warthogs, buffalo, waterbucks and elephants before checking in for a night of comfort at Bush Lodge.
The crisp morning opens with a game drive to seek various animals; This is a great opportunity for wildlife sightings as animals are more active in the wee hours. We return from our adventure in the beautiful savannah to some much-needed relaxation and lunch before we head out on an afternoon boat cruise along Kazinga Channel. Hippos, crocodiles, and other mammals, reptiles, and birds congregate at the shores in the afternoon heat. We will drive to the crater lakes and take in the scenic views before returning to the lodge in time for dinner.
Today we depart from Queen Elizabeth, but not before attempting to set eyes on the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. We cross stunning landscapes to reach Bwindi National Park, where we will seek another rare creature, the mountain gorilla.
After breakfast, we set out for a briefing at the park offices where they allocate gorilla tracking groups and given tips to prepare for a close encounter with the gentle giants. Guided by an experienced tracker, we brave a challenging trek through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; it may take minutes or hours of pushing through vegetation before we set our eyes on a colossal dominant silverback male and his group.
Upon return from the deep forest, you will receive your gorilla tracking certificate, and later, after refreshing at the lodge, set out for a community walk, a charming experience with the local people and a closer look into their culture.
After a fun-filled adventure of seven days, we check out of the lodge and begin our journey to a preferred drop off point in Kampala/Entebbe. Our first stop will be in Mbarara for lunch and last stop at the Uganda Equator for pictures and shopping for various souvenirs or gifts for friends and family.
You are required to purchase a tourist visa before you enter Uganda. Tourist visas can be bought in advance via the embassy or consulate in your country or simply purchased upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Photos are not required and a single entry tourist visa costs US$ 100 per person for up to 90 days stay in Uganda.
If you are planning to combine Uganda with a visit to Rwanda or Kenya it is recommendable to request for the East African Tourist Visa instead of a single entry visa. This special visa costs US$100 per person and allows 90-days multiple entries to Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. Regretfully, Tanzania is not (yet) a member of the East African community and therefore not part of this special visa arrangement.
A number of different vaccinations are recommended and/or required before entering Uganda. A certificate proving you have had the Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory for entry into Uganda. Immunizations against DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Polio) and Hepatitis A are recommended as well.
Besides bringing mosquito repellent, we also advise you to take malaria ‘prophylactics’ (prevention medication).
The following cancellation charges apply to the basic program rate:
60 days or more prior to arrival 10% charge
59 – 32 days prior to arrival 25% charge
31 – 8 days prior to arrival 50% charge
7 – 3 days prior to arrival 75% charge
48 hours or less prior to arrival 100% charge
Empathy Tours reserves the right to deduct all expenses incurred from money paid.
Gorilla & Chimpanzee permits and air tickets are 100% non-refundable.
No refunds will be made for any unused services, late arrival or no-show of any of the members of the tour.
Solo travelers are very welcome! However, to minimize your costs we would suggest joining a group. Although we can try and arrange this for you, we cannot guarantee we can find a group whose interests, budget and preferred route correspond to yours, especially during the low season.
If you would like to stay in a single room please notify us well in advance and we will try to meet your request. Please bear in mind that single rooms are not common and it is more likely that you will be offered single occupancy of a double room. A single room supplement will apply.
Once you have confirmed the final itinerary with us, you will be asked to pay a deposit of 30%. Gorilla permits must be paid for in full at the time of booking. Note that the availability of accommodation and permits is not guaranteed until officially confirmed by Empathy Tours. Accommodation, permit and activity reservations will be made as soon as payment has been received on our account.
For your convenience, the balance payment of 70% should be settled before the start of your safari. We accept payment by bank transfer in either dollar to our bank account in Uganda. Please note that all bank charges are at the expense of the client.
Accommodation falls into three categories: budget, mid-range or luxury.
Budget accommodation may be simple and basic rooms, bandas or tents, with double/twin beds and mosquito nets when necessary. Private bathrooms are not always available and you may have to share bathroom facilities.
3-star, 4-star and 5-star accommodation offer comfortable rooms or luxury furnished safari tents with a private bathroom. Flush toilets and hot and cold running water are available. Mosquito nets will be provided where necessary.
All Uganda lodges are carefully selected and frequently visited by Empathy Tours staff, to monitor quality and service levels. The majority of safari lodges and hotels are small-scale, offering a unique location and ambiance, and usually have a maximum of eight rooms.
We offer tailor-made safaris for any number of participants. There is no minimum number for a group tour, although the bigger the group, the more attractive the price will be.
Officially, Uganda’s dry seasons are from December/January through to mid-March and from June through mid-September. These dry months are the most popular with tourists, with July and August and Christmas and New Year being the peak seasons.
The most rain falls in October-November and April-May. However, this doesn’t mean that it rains all day, nor does it mean it will rain every day. Usually, there’s a tropical shower at night or a shorter shower during the day, but in Uganda, you can trust that after rain comes sunshine!
The weather is no reason to avoid traveling in the wet season – you might even consider it because of the easy availability of gorilla permits.
As in the rest of the world, the East African climate is changing, making it more difficult for us to predict the weather during your safari. However, in Uganda, the temperature is very stable and pleasant, with sunshine almost 365 days a year. During the day, the temperature averages between 23 and 27°C, although in some places it can be quite cool at night.
One remarkable aspect of Uganda safaris is: whether you travel in the dry, dusty months or in the wet season, you will never find the crowded tourism like in Kenya or Tanzania. If you spot a lion or leopard, it is very likely that you will be the only one to see it – even in peak season!