11 days Uganda Culture and Big 5 Adventure
With over 50 tribes, Uganda is a vibrant cultural destination that is worth a top spot on your bucket-list. This 11 day trip around the four corners of the country is tailored to treat you to the traditional ways of life the 12 main tribes. They belong to the three major ethnic groups, Bantu, Nilotics and Nilo-hamites. Away from culture, you will indulge in the splendor of Uganda’s biggest national Park, Murchison, a Big 5 destination where nature walks, boat cruises and game drives excel. At Ziwa rhino sanctuary, you will experience an exhilarating bushwalk. Also inclusive is a visit to the highest waterfall in the country, Sipi falls. The tour ends on a high note at the Equator and Source of the World’s longest river, River Nile.
Day 1: Arrival in Uganda
Welcome to Uganda, a Pearl of Africa that is truly gifted by nature. Our driver guide will pick you up from Entebbe International airport or at any location of your choice. You will be taken to your hotel where you will spend much of the afternoon relaxing ahead of your adventure around Uganda.
Day 2: Transfer to Masindi
After a healthy breakfast you embark on your journey to Masindi through Ziwa, a vast sanctuary where you will experience Rhino trekking. It is a beautiful, lush savannah to see lots of rhinos while supporting a very good cause of saving them from extinction. It’s a perfect wildlife destination to bring children as the animals are not troublesome. They(children) will get to learn and appreciate the importance of wildlife conservation to our eco system. You will be blown away by this two hours bushwalk experience. It's completely worth the four hours’ drive from Kampala. All the 27 rhinos here look happy and healthy. The territory of each family is planned carefully to match their needs.
The next stopover of the day is at Family spirit. It is a Non-profit making orphanage that is sponsored by friends and well-wishers from different countries with the aim of providing basic needs like food, medical care, shelter, education and love to Vulnerable and destitute orphans. Alternatively, you can visit the area prison where inmates will teach you how to hand-make crafts and local cuisine. The tour will be crowned with a visit to the fruit market, where you will be treated to a sampling experience of a variety of organically grown fruits.
Day 3: Traditional Dance Group & Murchison F.N.P
After breakfast, you will drive to a small village called Nabyeya. Here, you will interact with the local people and feel the pulse of endearing traditional cultures of both Bantu and Luo ethnic groups of Uganda. One of the biggest highlights of the tour is being treated to energetic dances that date back to previous centuries. They are fired up by handmade local instruments that produce electrifying rythms.
Lunch will be at Nabyeya Forestry College, an institution working with locals to address climate change through afforestation.
As you drive towards Murchison Falls National Park, you will be treated to heart-stopping views of Albertine Rift Valley. At this 20, 0000+ year old escarpment, a pristine lake system meets a vast palm-dotted savanna.
First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, Murchison is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds. Here you will have a chance to stop for en route lunch and then proceed to the park as you spot some animals like baboons, black and white colobus monkey, Jackson heartbeast in antelope family and many others.
Day 4: Morning Game Drive, Afternoon visit the Waterfalls
Have early breakfast, and prepare to cross the ferry for a morning game drive with your guide. The northern section of this park is responsible for perhaps more images of African animals, just like Masai Mara and Serengeti. And with good reason: it is chock-full of mammals, birds, and endowed with open savannah that makes game viewing easy. Expect to see lots of savannah elephants, Rothschild giraffes, cape buffaloes, lions, leopards, a variety of animals from the antelope family and many tropical birds. They are all there but one warning. They all don’t show up with the punctuality that some wildlife documentaries might suggest. The trick around this is to in the right place at the right time, hence the reason as to why the game drive will start as early as 6am East African Time.
You will drive back to the lodge for lunch after which you will head out for a boat cruise to the waterfall from which the park is named. Starting from the park headquarters at Paraa to the base of the waterfall, this two hours’ excursion is pretty spectacular in its own right. Get ready to take pictures of giant crocodiles lurking threateningly from the sandbars. You will come across countless hippos grunting away in the shallows, and more often than not you’ll see a couple of buffaloes, elephants and their babies come down to cool off at the river.
You can crown this tour with a 45 minutes hike from the base of the waterfall to its top to see the mighty river Nile as it explodes through a tiny gap in the rock. It drops 45 meters down a narrow gorge, landing with a thundering bang. It’s one of Africa’s three most powerful waterfalls, and absolutely one of the most impressive.
Day 5: Morning Game Drive & Transfer to Lira
Have your packed breakfast and prepare to cross the Victoria Nile for short morning safari drive to spot what we missed yesterday. Brace yourself for an upclose encounter with the Big 5, especially elephants and buffalos. The savannah is beautifully maintained by a mix of both heavy browsers and small prey like antelopes and kobs. On the other hand, the ranger guides are friendly, talkative, and informative. Birders can expect oddball shoebill, a large and eagerly sought slate-grey papyrus dweller especially in the swampy areas along river Nile.
After lunch, we drive to Lira a journey that will take approximately 4 hours. Here we shall visit local food markets, crafts shops and family friends. Experience the Uganda culture with people from the war conflict survivors guided by a Friend known as Florence Angom. She will give you a presentation about Upendo organization and how people benefit from it through craft making!
Day 6: Cultural Experience
During this tour, you will mix and mingle with war conflict survivors from northern Uganda. A visit to the graveyard where their loved ones were buried following the Barlonyo massacre that happened in 2002—will give you a better understanding of political struggles in Uganda. It is found in a quiet location on a flat land, some few kilometers from Lira Town. Despite a tragic history, it’s a place for peaceful contemplation.
Enjoy the traditional dance group with local lunch and also make a basket or mat for yourself. Throughout your experience, you will get the sense that tourism here really does benefit the full community. There are programs in place to ensure that financial proceeds from tourists go to local widows.
Drive back to the hotel after the tour for relaxation.
Day 7: Transfer to Sipi Falls Mount Elgon
Today’s safari is destined to Uganda’s highest waterfall, Sipi falls. It is one of the main outlets of the crater lakes atop Uganda’s second highest mountain, Elgon, (4,300m). Elgon sits along the border of Uganda and Kenya. Sipi is made up of three cascades of waterfalls, the longest of which is over 100meters high. Sipi is not too far from Mbale town but it feels like another world away thanks to its serene atmosphere and cooler temperature.
As you drive up the mountain ranges, you will get clear views of the plateaus, the escarpment and other features of the Rift Valley. You will spend the night in Lacam lodge as you listen to the electrifying roars of the waterfall. In the afternoon we can relax and have time to enjoy a drink and the view of the sunset.
Day 8: Hiking to the Water Fall, Drive to Mbale
After your relaxed morning, we shall gather together to start our hike to take in different perspectives of the waterfall. You will watch it channeled explosively over a rift escarpment to form a plume of foaming white water. It is so loud you can barely hear yourself think. The guide who will take you for this tour is a native of the area and so willing to share its history and culture with travellers. The coffee tour is a great addition too – you can’t miss out on it.
You are free to choose a short or longer route to the water fall depending on your level of fitness. Both options are en route fruit plantations and traditional village settings. One water fall is perfect for an outdoor shower due to its sense of privacy. At its foot lies a pool of crystal clear water where you can enjoy a cold swim.
It takes an average of three hours to hike the longer route, ending with a tour of an ancient cave that used to shelter early man in the prehistoric times. Drive to Mbale after lunch for an overnight and have dinner with Stephen’s relatives.
Day 9: Drive to Jinja, Visit Craft Shops & Take a Boat to the Source of the Nile
After a relaxed breakfast, drive to Jinja a journey that takes about 5 hours. You will have lunch in this commercial town which blossoms with Asian architectural designs and lots of craft shops.
After checking into your hotel, you will take a boat cruise on the source of the Nile. Its until you have pursued this experience that you will come to the realization that this is most spectacular thing to happen to the world’s longest river, River Nile. You will watch nature pump thousands of litters of water off the ground en route from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean see.
You will have dinner in one of the best restaurants called 2 FRIENDS which is in the walking distance from guest house. Here, you can relax at the pool!
Day 10: Drive Kampala & take a City Tour
After breakfast, we drive from Jinja to Kampala. We shall have a city tour to visit the local food and hand crafts markets. The biggest highlight of the day is visiting Kasubi tombs, a burial tomb for kings from the Buganda kingdom. A visit to Uganda’s national mosque will treat you to 3600 views of Kampala city. Known as Gadhafi Mosque, it has a sitting capacity of 25,000, making it one of the three biggest in Sub-saharan Africa. You will have lunch at 2K restaurant, one of Kampala’s favourite eat outs that specializes in local cuisines of tribes from the Bantu ethnic group.
Day 11: Drive to the Equator for the Water Experience
A visit to Uganda is incomplete without a tour of the Equator considering that Uganda is one of the only 11 countries in the world along the Equator. This tour presents an opportunity to witness an illustration that explains why currents in the Northern hemisphere spin in the clockwise direction, while those in the south spin anti-clockwise. Beyond this scientific illustration, the Equator village blossoms with lots of craft shops where you can purchase handmade souvenirs with an authentic touch. Here, you can purchase a T-shirt with words ‘I crossed the Uganda Equator’.
Journey back to Kampala or Entebbe International Airport ahead of your departure.