19 days: Cultural Insights

This holiday combines the wildlife that draws so many visitors to Uganda, especially the mountain gorillas, with insights into the fascinating culture. Travel through the western region, at a leisurely pace, meeting people, visiting their villages and learning about their way of life and daily activities. Participate in cooking, basket making, milking cows and much more. Anyone who has visited Uganda will tell you what really makes it special is the warm, friendly people.

 
HighlightsItineraryOptions & extensionsGuide priceAccommodation & TransportTravel advice
  • Go behind the scenes with Uganda’s unique local communities
  • Spend time with the enchanting mountain gorillas
  • Game drive and boat cruise in the national park
  • Enjoy a memorable home stay hosted by the local community
  • Learn about making bark cloth and its cultural significance
  • Visit a farm to see how coffee is grown and processed
  • Spend a day in the bush with the Ankole cattle keepers
Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport
Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be met by your guide who will take you to your accommodation, a short drive away. Your guide will remain with you throughout your visit.
Day 2: Visit the botanical gardens
After a lazy start, visit town to change money. After lunch, take a relaxing guided walk at the botanical gardens on the shores of Lake Victoria. Look out for Vervet and Black & White Colobus monkeys and many bird species and enjoy the beautiful lake views.
Day 3: Transfer to Fort Portal. Visit a local cultural site
Drive to Fort Portal (approx 5 hours). Visit the stalactites and stalagmites which are of historical importance to the people of the Tooro Kingdom.  You will see waterfalls and crater lakes and visit the nearby Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru caves a cultural site.
Day 4: Visit basket makers and bee keepers
Visit the ladies’ basket weaving group and participate in raffia dying and basket weaving. Then visit the honey company to learn about processing and beeswax products. Drive south, for approx 2 hours,  alongside the Mountains of the Moon, to Queen Elizabeth national park.
Day 5: Game drive and boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel
Get up early for a dawn game drive to spot a host of wildlife including some of the Big 5. After lunch, take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, linking Lakes George and Edward, for great views of the animals and birds that inhabit the riverbanks.
Day 6: Chimpanzee tracking and on to Rukungiri
Head to Kalinzu Forest to track chimpanzees in the dense tropical rainforest. Spend an hour with your chimp family, watching their activities, in their natural habitat. Have lunch overlooking the Rift Valley, then drive past beautiful tea plantations and on to Rukungiri.
Day 7: Begin your home stay to experience village life
Spend the next three nights with your host family becoming immersed in the culture of the area. Join the family in daily activities like cooking, gardening, rearing domestic animals, going to the market and fetching water. Also visit the school and some local sights.
Day 8: As above
Day 9: As above
Day 10: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable forest
Drive (approx 3-4 hours) through more stunning countryside to Bwindi Impenetrable national park, home of the mountain gorillas. Have lunch and relax at your lodge and then take a community walk, perhaps visiting the tourism-funded hospital or craft stalls of the local people.
Day 11: Gorilla tracking
Following an early briefing, trek through the forest with your guides in search of mountain gorillas. This may take 2 – 6 hours. Once you have found them, spend an hour with them- a real privilege. Afterwards, you relax at your lodge, wander down to the river or enjoy some birding.
  Day 12:  Travel to Igongo and enjoy a cultural experience 
Drive north (approx. 5 hours) to the Igongo Cultural Centre to learn the history of the Ankole Kingdom and particularly the Bahima cattle -keepers. Visit the museum, palace, tombs and try your hand at beer brewing, pottery or millet grinding.
Day 13: Hike to the eclipse monument of Biharwe
Take a short drive to your starting point then hike up to the eclipse monument of 1520 AD and learn about its cultural significance. In the afternoon, spend more time enjoying the activities of the centre.
Day 14: Savannah nature walk. Boat Cruise on Lake Mburo
Enjoy a day in Lake Mburo national park starting with a guided nature walk among animals including impalas, eland, giraffe, zebra, then venture further by road. After lunch by the lake, take a relaxed boat cruise: great for birding but look out for hippos and crocodiles too.
Day 15: Day with the Bahima cattle-keepers
Today, visit the Enyimibwa centre a community initiative to conserve Bahima culture and heritage. Visit the calves, walk in the bush talking to the cattle-keepers as the cows graze and learn about the wooden milk pots and how milk is processing into ghee. 
Day 16: Travel to Kalisizo. Experience bark cloth making
Transfer to Kalisizo (approx. 3 hours) and have lunch at your hotel. Then spend time with the local community who produce bark cloth. Participate as the bark is stripped from the tree and processed and learn about its cultural and ceremonial uses.
Day: Visit colonial bunkers and Rwanda Genocide memorial
Today is a day for history and sightseeing as you tour the area. Hear how the British in Uganda fought the Germans in Tanzania at the colonial bunkers and visit the Rwandan genocide memorial gardens. Enjoy views across the meandering River Kagera to Tanzania beyond.
Day 18: Visit an organic farm and womens’ craft group
Tour a local coffee farm to learn how coffee is grown, processed and prepared. Participate in harvesting the coffee cherries and make a cup for yourself. Later, spend time with the talkative womens’ group. Make crafts as you hear about the terrible arrival of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. 
Day 19: Travel to Entebbe via Equator
Drive (approx 3-4 hours) to Entebbe stopping at the Equator as you pass. Take a photo with one foot in each hemisphere! In the afternoon, explore the craft markets or relax at the beach before your guide drops you at the airport in time for your flight home.

Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed.

Responsible tourism: where possible, we use locally owned accommodation with good environmental credentials.

Any of the activities below can be swapped for activities in this itinerary or you can extend this itinerary to add any of them. This may involve additional costs. We will be pleased to advise you about options and extensions.

  1. Local organic farm tour
  2. Extension to Lake Bunyonyi or Kisoro (2-4 days) for: beautiful lakes, golden monkey tracking, Batwa tribal experience, Great Lakes museum or great hiking
  3. Additional day in a national park

Please see our activities & experiences page for more information.

Guide price: USD 4,470 per person, based on 2 people travelling.

Price includes:

  • 1 gorilla & 1 chimp tracking permit each
  • Full-board, mid-range, non air-conditioned accommodation
  • All entrance and other fees for the activities included in the itinerary
  • Mineral water in transit
  • All government taxes

Price does not include:

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses: alcohol, laundry services and souvenirs
  • Tips (normally 5–10% and around $100 for your guide).

Why do we use guide prices?
The price for every safari depends on the number of people travelling, their ages, the time of year, whether or not international flights are included, the type of transport and accommodation used and the activities undertaken.

We calculate according to the specific dates of your booking because after we publish our itineraries some things may change. For example, hotels may increase their prices, the government may introduce new taxes or some discounts may become available. Unfortunately, we also have to pass on surcharges imposed on us by, for example, airlines when fuel prices or airport taxes are unexpectedly increased.

We would be happy to prepare a quotation, based on your requirements. We normally include most costs in the price so all you need to bring with you is ‘pocket money’ for items like drinks, tips and personal shopping e.g. souvenirs.

Insurance

AMREF flying doctors provide a medevac service in case of illness or injury during your safari. This costs $25pp for 31 days. We recommend this service and can include it in your package price.

Booking

Once you have selected one of our safari packages you need to send us a booking form. When we receive this we will check availability and inform you if any changes are necessary and issue an invoice for a 50% deposit plus the full cost of any tracking permits (in case of cancellation permit fees are non-refundable). Only once this payment is received can we guarantee availability and issue a booking confirmation. Full payment is required 70 days before travel.

Payments and cancellation

We charge in US dollars. Payment is by bank transfer into our Standard Chartered USD bank account in Uganda. You can also pay by credit card although there is a 5% administration charge. For those booking from within Uganda, cash payments are possible at our office.

When we book your safari, we have to pay non-refundable deposits on your behalf, for example to hotels. Therefore, we charge cancellation fees as follows:

30% of reservation costs if you cancel more than 50 days before your arrival date

100% of reservation costs if you cancel less than 50 days before your arrival date

We strongly recommend that you include cancellation cover in your travel insurance.

Disclaimer: We enter into an agreement with you in good faith but we sometimes encounter unexpected changes in local conditions which can affect your itinerary or price. These changes are beyond our control and we are not liable for them. While we endeavour to protect you against the effects of these changes, we reserve the right to amend the agreed itinerary and price in response to them. Such changes include but are not limited to weather conditions, road conditions, supplier price increases, fuel increases, government tax increases, supplier service changes e.g. cancellation of ferry services for river crossings or national park operations (track maintenance, animal translocations). We assure you that, we will always give you as much notice as possible of changes, suggest alternative plans and keep additional charges to a minimum.

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Accommodation

To help us select the right accommodation for your safari (and in the absence of a complete national hotel classification system e.g. 1*–5*) we use four levels: high-end, mid-range, budget and backpackers. These terms can mean different things to different people but are helpful to an extent.

Air-conditioned rooms are not available in all hotels. Where AC is available, there is usually an extra charge.

Some locations have a limited choice of accommodation and so, to stay there, you must accept what is available. Where possible we prefer to work with responsible accommodation providers. This means hotels and lodges which are locally owned, employ local staff, support their community and protect the local environment.

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Transport

As standard, we use a spacious 7-seat, 4×4 safari Land Cruiser, with pop-up roof, fridge and phone/camera charging facilities. This is the perfect safari vehicle.

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Alternatively, we offer a slightly cheaper 7-seater, 4×4 safari van with a pop-up roof.

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For large group tours we use small buses called Coasters. These usually seat around 28 people, including 5 jump (fold-down) seats in the aisle. They do not have a boot/trunk so luggage is carried on the back seats which reduces the seating capacity. The overhead luggage shelves are small and can only accommodate small bags. Therefore, we recommend you do not over pack.

All vehicles include a driver/guide and fuel for your itinerary. Additional activities, not included in your itinerary, may incur an additional fuel charge. Our vehicles are comprehensively insured, in good mechanical condition and have seat belts fitted.

Please let us know if you have any special travel requirements. For example, if your group has disabled members we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Fly-in safaris

Fancy a fly-in safari, hopping from one location to another by small plane? Or save time by travelling to one of the farther destinations on your itinerary by air instead of road? Domestic flights are available to a variety of locations in Uganda so you can visit all or some of the places in your itinerary by plane, enjoying stunning aerial views of the countryside and wildlife below.

Scheduled and charter flights are available. Scheduled flights have some limitations in terms of routings and days of operation and in some cases minimum numbers are required. We will be pleased to advise you if you wish to fly.

Note: The luggage limit on small aircraft is 15kg per person, including both hand and hold luggage.  This must be in soft bags not hard suitcases.

See our Responsible Tourism pages for information about our approach to tourism and advice on how to travel responsibly.

For general advice please see our travel advice webpage.

Specific advice for this safari

This tour includes some sensitive and possibly upsetting visits such as the Rwandan genocide memorial gardens and the history and impact of HIV/AIDS from the womens’ craft group. These activities can be removed from the tour should you wish.

Permits are required to track gorillas. The minimum ages is 15 years.  Gorilla permits are limited to eight people per gorilla family. Permits are also required to track chimps and the minimum age is 12 years.

Please read the information about primate tracking on our primates web page and remember to look at our suggested packing list.