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Getaway from it all and head off the beaten track to the north of Uganda. After rhino trekking and the magnificence of the Nile at Murchison Falls NP, keep going north to the wonderful Kidepo Valley NP. This remote, beautiful wilderness rated by CNN travel as the most picturesque national park in Africa. Home to the lion, leopard, hyena, elephant, eland, zebra, ostrich, giraffe and colossal herds of buffalo and set among the rugged scenery of Karamoja. No one knows Kidepo better than us.
Morning departure from Entebbe, you travel through the villages of rural southern Uganda to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in time for lunch. You will have a while to explore the visitor center, cool off in the lodge pool and settle into your accommodation before we go Rhino Trekking in the late afternoon after the sun has lost its intensity. This is a great opportunity to see these magnificent beasts on foot in a controlled natural environment where the Rhinos are free to roam within the huge sanctuary but guarded 24/7. The fee you pay goes 100% to Rhino Fund Uganda, to support their work to establish a viable Rhino population here so they can reintroduce the under threat Rhino into Uganda’s national parks. They provide the dinner at your lodge and we will spend the night in this splendid reserve, which is also home to bushbuck, the hartebeest, a fantastic array of bird-life and even the occasional leopard and cerval.
After breakfast at Ziwa, we head into Murchison Falls. You will first travel through the ancient Budongo Forest before reaching the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and the expansive views across the savannah and woodland of Murchison Falls NP. You will take your packed lunch at the ‘top of the falls’, where the mighty Nile shakes the ground beneath your feet as it rushes, tumbles and froths its way through a seven-meter gap in the escarpment. After exploring the area for a while you will explore the wooded honeymoon game drive track on your way to your lodge for the evening.
An early wake-up and a quick cup of coffee and some fruit before we cross the Nile to the delta area for your morning game drive. There may be lions, elephant, giraffe, and possibly leopard and hyena. You’ll return to your lodge for lunch and in the afternoon board the Wild Frontiers river launch and begin your cruise to the foot of the falls. It takes around an hour and a half to reach the falls and on the way, we’ll scour the riverbanks, together with your first-rate highly experienced guide, for wildlife. You will see hippos and crocodiles naturally and a wide variety of spectacular water birds and on the banks, there’s a chance of seeing buffalo, warthog, elephant and various antelope. Once at the footfalls we moor briefly to a large rock to wonder at the power of the mighty river before slowly drifting back down into the late afternoon sun, contemplating the explorers and adventurers who saw what we are seeing now.
One last chance to see some wildlife as we head out of the north-eastern corner of the park en route to the bustling ‘capital of the north’, Gulu for lunch. After lunch, we take the road north to Kitgum and conditions dictate our progress but we expect to take around 2 hours through the rural north before a quick break in Kitgum. From Kitgum, we head north-east to Kidepo. This is a stunning drive as we head into increasingly mountainous terrain before finally bursting through the mountain pass with the beautiful Kidepo Valley National Park laid out before us. We arrive at your lodge in the early evening and will then stretch your legs and climb the Amapuis Rock viewpoint for a sundowner.
Wake up in the middle of the action and watch the sunrise over the Morongole mountains with a coffee and some fresh fruit. Then we begin our day of game viewing with a visit into the Narus valley in search of the lion, elephant, giraffe, eland, zebra, and leopard and to marvel at the sight of the huge herd of buffalo grazing in the wetland. After lunch at the lodge, you will head towards the seasonal Kidepo River in search of cheetah and ostrich. You can take a cooling drink among the Barassas palms at the Kidepo River, from which the area takes their name before returning to your lodge in the mid-evening.
Up in time for sunrise again and breakfast before the long journey ahead. Depending on the weather, our route will either take us through the eastern section of Kidepo and south through the stunning Karamoja landscape via Moroto or back via Kitgum and Soroti. Our target is to visit the vast reserve of Pian Upe on the southern Karamoja plains and to have one final opportunity to see the ostrich, cheetah, and hyena. However, road conditions are frequently very poor here, so we do not guarantee that we can reach here.
You will have the opportunity for a short game drive in this seldom visited, but very pleasant reserve before continuing your journey to Entebbe, arriving in the evening.
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!