In this bestselling itinerary, we present the highlights of what most clients visit while on a Self Drive in Uganda. The itinerary covers Entebbe upon arrival, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary enroute to Murchison Falls National Park for game drives and boat trips, Kibale Forest National Park for Chimpanzee trekking, Queen Elizabeth National Park for game viewing.
Also boat trip through to the southern part of the park in search for the tree climbing lions, stretching south west to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for Gorilla tracking, heading to Lake Bunyonyi for scenic viewing and relaxation, then wind up at Lake Mburo National Park for the clear sights of the Zebras, Impala, Elands and Giraffes.
Below is a day by day itinerary including what is expected to be viewed at the different destinations;
Day 1: Arrival and overnight in Entebbe
Entebbe has a number of choices for accommodation depending on your budget. The most sought after places for clients on self-drive include; The Boma, Karbu Guest House, Pineapple Guest House, Guinea Fowl Guest House, Via Via Guest House, Lake Victoria View Guest House.
There are different attractions to visit in Entebbe depending on your time of arrival, you can click on this link for activities on a Self Drive in Entebbe.
Day 2: Depart for Murchison Falls National Park
It is advisable to start off this journey at 6am going through Kampala before busy traffic time, this journey takes about 5 to 6 hours’ drive enroute, and some clients prefer to stop over at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for Rhino tracking.
This is the only place in Uganda where Rhinos are found in a semi-wild environment. Murchison Falls National Park is dissected by the River Nile having the southern and northern parts.
The southern part of the park is where Budongo forest is found and it is at this location where chimpanzee tracking is made possible. Staying at Budongo Eco Lodge for an opportunity to track the chimpanzees in this park and a night close to the sounds of the forest.
Day 3: Chimpanzee Tracking And Game Drive in the Northern Part of the Park
Week up early to the sounds of the birds, go for the morning chimp trek. After lunch, head north for an afternoon game drive enrounte, stop at the top of the falls and glance at one of the wonders of the park with the mighty River Nile making its way through a narrow gorge making a thunderous sound while it continues its journey northwards.
Continue to enjoy an afternoon game drive where you would get a chance to view animals including; The Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Jackson’s Hartebeest.
Be sure to ask for the current situation of the ferry crossing as sometimes the ferry that crosses people and vehicles from the southern part to the northern part of the park undergoes routine maintenance.
You would as well require to hire a ranger guide for the game drive. The cost of a ranger guide is $20 per game drive. Most sought after accommodations include; Twiga Safari Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Red Chilli Rest Camp all these in the southern part of the park.
Day 4: Morning Game Drive and Afternoon Bottom on the Falls Boat Trip
After an early breakfast, head to the ferry crossing point to catch the ferry to the northern part for the game drive. It is advisable to go with a packed lunch for a better time on the game drive without having to rush back.
After the game drive, head back in time for the 2pm bottom of the falls boat trip. This boat trip takes about 3 hours and you are likely to view hippos, crocodiles, lots of water birds, buffaloes are sighted on the river banks, elephants sometimes in the river, giraffes, monito lizards, and the mighty falls from the bottom of the river. Head back to your hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 5: Depart for Kibale Forest National Park
You might consider taking a packed lunch as you drive southwards. This journey takes between 6 to 8 hours. Some people prefer to have a hot lunch at Gardens Restaurant in Fort Portal town which is the closest to Kibale Forest.
Kibale Forest is the only place in Uganda where you are guaranteed viewing the chimpanzees in their wild setting. The choice of accommodation in this area includes; Rwenzori View Guest house, Fort Motel, Kibale Forest Camp, Rweteera Safari Park, Chimpanzee Forest Guest House, Primate Lodge
Day 5: Chimpanzee tracking and Bigodi swamp walk
After a hearty breakfast, head for chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest. Be sure to put on long sleeved clothing as well as sturdy pair of walking boots, in case you have a light rain gear, carry it with you.
After lunch, head to Bigodi for a swamp walk, you are expected to see a number of birds, other primates to include; vervets, blue cheeked mangabeys, L’hoest monkey. Enjoy the green of this part of the country which also has a lot of tea plantations.
Day 6: Depart for Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast, head for Queen Elizabeth National Park. The journey takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive. Queen Elizabeth boosts one of the highest biodiversity ratings than any park in the world. It has the open savannah that occupies most of the park, the forest at Maramagambo and Kyambura, the water especially the Kazinga channel.
You will get here in time for the afternoon game drive in the northern part of the park. Choice of accommodation includes; Bush Lodge, Buffalo Safari Lodge, Enganzi Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, the Mweya Hostel.
Day 7: Morning game drive and afternoon boat trip on the Kazinga Channel
After breakfast head out for a game drive where you might view, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, Uganda kob, warthogs, and in the afternoon on the Kazinga channel, crocodiles, hippos, elephants some times in the channel or grazing on the banks, buffaloes, and a number of water birds. After the boat trip drive back to your hotel.
Day 8: Game drive in the Southern part of the park
After breakfast, carry a packed lunch and head out for a game drive in the southern part of the park which is famed for the tree climbing lions. You are also expected to see; topi, kobs, elephants, leopard are a rare sight. Choice of accommodation include; @ The River Ishasha, Savanah Resort Hotel closer to Kihihi airstrip.
Day 9: Head to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi is about 3 hours’ drive from Ishasha although it can be as much as 5 or 7 hours depending on what sector you have been able to get the permits. The Buhoma sector is the closest sector to Ishasha, then the Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo in that order.
Buhoma is the first sector which was opened for tourism and has the best amenities. This is where you find the Bwindi Community Hospitals which is one of the best in the country and was built primarily to extend services to first the Batwa, and communities around Bwindi. Choice of accommodation depends on your preferred sector for instance; Buhoma Community Rest Camp and Bwindi View Bandas in Buhoma, Gorilla Mist, Trekkers Terven in Ruhija, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, and other guest houses in Kisoro town for Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Day 10: Gorilla tracking
After a hearty breakfast, head to the park headquarters for a briefing at 8am to start your gorilla trek. Be sure to put on long sleeved clothing as well as sturdy pair of walking boots, in case you have a light rain gear, carry it with you.
Note that Bwindi is one of the places with a higher altitude ranging between 1500 to 2100 meters above sea level. In case you have issues with altitude, seek medical advice from your doctor. In the afternoon depending on how you feel, go for a village walk and have an insight on the way of leaving for the local people
Day 11: Relaxation day
This is one of the places that you could enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest although there are very many optional activities to do on this day. You can choose from; a forest walk, community walk, Batwa Cultural Experience or just unwind after the previous 10 days of activity by activity.
Day 12: Transfer to Lake Bunyonyi
The drive from Bwindi to Lake Bunyonyi is between 2 to 4 hours depending on the sector of the forest you are coming from with Ruhija the closest followed by Rushaga then Nkuringo and Buhoma. This place is often dubbed the Switzerland of Africa based on its scenery and beauty. The most common activity here is the boat trip on one of Africa’s deepest lakes, you can as well do zip lining here.
You are expected to view water birds, and most importantly relax as you overlook the beauty of the lake. Choice of accommodation here includes; Arcadia Cottages, Bunyonyi Overland Camp, Bunyonyi Safari Resort, Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort.
Day 13: Depart for Lake Mburo National Park
After breakfast, head towards the Entebbe direction to Lake Mburo National Park which is about 4 to 5 hours’ drive. This is the smallest savannah park in the country and the closet to Kampala and Entebbe. After checking into your hotel, head out for a game drive, and afternoon boat trip on Lake Mburo.
While on Game drive, sights may include, Eland, Giraffe, Zebra, Kob, rarely Leopard, and lots of Ankole long horned cattle. The boat trip sighting here might not be compared to the one at Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth but for water lovers, a boat trip is always worthwhile. Choice of accommodation includes; Rwakobo Rock, Eagles Nest, Mpogo Lodge.
Day 14: Drive back to Entebbe
After a leisurely breakfast, drive back to Entebbe enroute, stop at the Equator for photography and if interested a demonstration with water in the southern and northern hemisphere. This journey takes about 4 to 5 hours’ drive.
Depending on your flight time, you can either fly out today or spend a night in Entebbe and fly out the following day. Refer to the things to do on a Self Drive in Entebbe mentioned on day 1.
This itinerary offers a guide although if on a self drive in Uganda, you can choose to cut short your stay at a particular location or extend accordingly your stay in that place based on your satisfaction.