• An elder at rock art in Pian Upe Uganda

The Unexplored East

Immerse yourself in culture, history and savannah wilderness of the unexplored eastern Uganda. Raft or kayak the thundering white water rapids of the river Nile and explore coffee fields flanked by the stunning Sipi waterfalls on Mount Elgon. Meet the people and learn about the history of the Karamoja region by visiting thier rock art, spend time at a traditional manyatta to learn about traditional village life and join the nomadic herdsman with a nights camping at a kraal to hear stories by the campfire under the starlit African sky. Experience the wilderness of the untouched Kidepo Valley National Park and explore of Murchison Falls National Park with savannah game drives to seek out the ‘Big 5’ wildlife species. Finally take a walk on the wild side to view Uganda’s only population of rhino.

Itinerary

Day One

Speke's Source of The Nile

Transfer from Entebbe to Jinja. Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Venture onto the world’s most famed river, away from the engines and the crowds. Abraham, from Kayak The Nile will lead you and your group to the river’s source, guiding you and imparting his wisdom relating to the history of the discovery of the river. As you cruise on the river you will be able to spot a variety of bird species that live along the river banks including the fish eagles, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, great blue turacos and green backed herons. On reaching the source of the Nile which is marked by a small island, you will be able to hear the rustle of giant monitor lizards living on the rocks, before you float back downstream to disembark from your kayak. You will be carrying some special supplies on board so that you can relax with a drink in your hand throughout. That is of course once you’ve stopped paddling!

Estimated excursion time: 2 hours

 

Day Two

White Water Rafting or White Water Kayaking

Today you have a choice between white water kayaking or rafting. 

Experience the rush of tackling some of the mighty Nile’s white water rapids with a day on the river in a tandem kayak with a professional river guide. Begin your day with a detailed safety briefing, before launching onto the water for a last bit of practical instruction as you float down the river. You will sit in the fore end of the kayak and be accompanied by an experienced instructor from Kayak the Nile who will be guiding you on when to paddle and where to paddle, as you move through the waters. You will be tackling some of the biggest rapids along the river and some of the best moving water in the world. If you happen to flip over your guide will flip you back. Between each of the sets of rapids you will float down a calm stretch of the river giving you time to catch your breath and enjoy the more tranquil sections of the river. At the end of the rafting day you will pull over at a riverside restaurant for a delicious BBQ buffet, with cold beers and/or soda waiting for you!

Estimated excursion time: 6 hours

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Begin your day with a detailed rafting safety briefing, before launching onto the water for a last bit of practical instruction as you float down the river. Then your adventure kicks off with a bang, as you manoeuvre through the rocks and negotiate the 12ft drop in the river. As the river meanders through stunning scenery, you’ll guide the rafts through some of the biggest and safest white water rafting in the world. Eight major rapids are rafted plus several lower graded runs; all selected to maximize your safety and fun. You will stop before all  rapids for an explanation of the planned route through. So if at anytime you feel you would prefer to join the safety boat or where possible, walk around then rejoin the raft, this is absolutely fine. Calm stretches of water separate the rapids – perfect for getting your breath back, taking a swim and enjoying the views. At the end of the rafting day you will pull over at a riverside restaurant for a delicious BBQ buffet lunch, with cold beers and sodas.

Estimated excursion time: 5 hours

Day Three

Transfer & Sipi Falls Hike & Sunset Walk

Transfer from Jinja to Sipi Falls. Estimated journey time: 5 hours

Head out on a three-hour hike to explore the set of three waterfalls that make up Sipi Falls. These waterfalls are regarded as some of the most beautiful in Uganda as they tumble down the cliffs in the foothills of Mount Elgon, passing through lush green valleys. The meandering route offers stunning views across to Lake Kyoga, Mount Elgon and the savannah plains of Karamoja. You will be accompanied by a local guide who will be able to explain the formation of the falls to you. They will also be able to identify the local birds, trees and plants along the way and describe the local traditions and way of life of the people living around Mount Elgon.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

Your guide from the Uganda Community Tourism Association will come and meet you at your accommodation in time for sunset. Uganda is equatorial meaning that the time that the sun sets is always at around 7pm, making it a perfect pre-dinner stroll. This excursion is just a short walk of between 45 mins and 1 hour and along mostly flat terrain. The panorama from Sipi Falls continues out over the savannah of Karamoja and on a clear day you can see for about 80km over the plains. If you are lucky, the sun will be big and red! Before it sets entirely we’ll get you back to your accommodation where your evening meal will be served.

Estimated excursion time: 1 hour

Day Four

Coffee Processing Tour & Abseiling the 100m Sipi Falls

Meet a local community guide who will take you on a guided walk through the farmland surrounding Sipi Falls. Sipi Arabica coffee has received worldwide recognition for quality and is widely produced in the region, creating an important source of income to local farmers. Your coffee processing tour will pass along the hillsides and ridges, which command views up to Mount Elgon and across the savannah plains below. Along the way you'll pick, prepare and roast your own coffee beans; hopefully resulting in a tasty cup of coffee! As well as being an insightful visit to allow you to learn about the source of coffee production, it’s an excellent way to meet the local community to learn about their lives. The proceeds from this walk are donated to the local farmers to supplement their income, allowing them to further develop their production of Sipi Arabica in a more secure environment.

Estimated excursion time: 3 - 4 hours

You’ll walk from your camp along to the top of the ridge above Sipi Falls to where you’ll begin your 100m/300ft abseil. Once you reach the ridge, your guide Rob will carry out a safety briefing and either he or a colleague will demonstrate the descent. Take a deep breath and look out across the savannah and marvel in what you’re about to achieve. You will abseil 10m to the right of the waterfalls which will start with a 30m rock face which you can walk down backward in your harness whilst taking to your guides above. At 70m you’ll kick off from the rock and start to spin slightly. The total ascent takes about 10 minutes. Look down and you’ll see lush green foliage and a circular rainbow that you’re about to pass through. Its at this point that you’ll be able to relax as your certified guides lower you to two colleagues at ground level where you’ll land in paradise.

Estimated excursion time: 1 - 2 hours

Day Five

Lunch with Rock-art at Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Transfer from Sipi Falls to Pian Upe. Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

We can guarantee that your company on this picnic lunch will be unforgettable. Today you’ll enjoy lunch in Uganda’s savannah reserve in the company of an Elder from one of Karamoja’s southern tribes. Not only will you get to hear stories of his tribe (translated by your Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger) and get some insight into life in this little explored park of Uganda, you will also get to see his ancestral rock art.

Explore one of Uganda’s least visited savannah’s in the region of Karamoja with your Uganda Wildlife Authority set to the backdrop of two mountains; Kadam and Napak. We recommend that you visit this park when its grasses are lower, tracks more accessible and its wildlife easier to view. This reserve is home to some unique species when compared to parks in the east of the country. After a short briefing from your guide, we expect that you’ll primarily be on the lookout for one or two of the estimated 40 cheetahs in this park! You’ll also be on the look out for Roan antelope, oribi, impala, Jackson’s hartebeest, klipspringer, hyaena, ostriches and leopards.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

Day Six

A Wildlife Drive at Pian Upe

This is a repeat of yesterday's drive to increase chances of finding the cheetahs. Explore one of Uganda’s least visited savannah’s in the region of Karamoja with your Uganda Wildlife Authority set to the backdrop of two mountains; Kadam and Napak. We recommend that you visit this park when its grasses are lower, tracks more accessible and its wildlife easier to view. This reserve is home to some unique species when compared to parks in the east of the country. After a short briefing from your guide, we expect that you’ll primarily be on the lookout for one or two of the estimated 40 cheetahs in this park! You’ll also be on the look out for Roan antelope, oribi, impala, Jackson’s hartebeest, klipspringer, hyaena, ostriches and leopards.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs

Transfer from Pian Upe to Moroto. Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Day Seven

Mountain Biking, A Manyatta Experience & A Night with Nomadic Warriors

Take to the colonial roads on a mountain bike in and around the small town of Moroto with Mt. Moroto looming above you. You’ll meet your guides at the tourist centre who will brief you on the bikes and talk to you about the routes that are possible to take today. You can stick to the town, it’s outskirts or out to the surrounding plains. Your guides will be from and well acquainted with the area and along the way you’ll get to know them and their stories. 

Estimated excursion time: 2 hours

Experience a lifestyle that has been passed on for many generations by visiting a traditional manyatta homestead. This is a participatory excursion and not a sightseeing tour. The community that you will visit will be getting on with their daily life, as their ancestors did, and they invite you to participate. This unforgettable experience will have you preparing food, joining any celebrations and probably jumping about a bit! By visiting the manyatta, you are supporting its community to preserve a unique and vibrant culture.

Estimated excursion time: 2 - 3 hours

This evening you will get a taste of the typical Karamojong pastoral life by spending time with herders and sleeping in a local kraal, a traditional enclosure used by herders. In the late afternoon you will join a group of herders from the Karamojong tribe and bring the cattle into the Kraal for the night. You can then learn to identify the local greens, experience local traditions and stories, sample a local dinner and even get your own Karamojong name around the campfire and enjoy the breathtakingly starry skies.

Estimated excursion time: 12 hours

 

Day Eight

Archaeology and History of Karamoja

You'll spend the morning at Kara-Tunga Camp recovering from the night before! You'll have been up late talking and up before dawn to rise with the cattle and herdsmen!

Uganda’s rock art is primarily in the east of the country. You will be taking a tour with a Karamojong guide to visit these ancient earth red paintings. As recently as 2010, ancient paintings were discovered on the Kobebe hills in Moroto District, Nakapeliet rock, Loteleit rock, Mogoth rock, and Nakadanya rock. Images depict warriors shooting bows and arrows and grazing cattle. The art characterises the Cushitic tribes that are said to have come to Karamoja around 3,000 years ago. On your way back you can visit a local museum to learn more about the history of the area. *Please note the rock art is only accessible between October and April.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

Day Nine

The Largest Village in East Africa

Transfer from Moroto to Nakapelimoru. Estimated journey time: 4 hrs

Nakapelimoru in known to be the largest traditional village in East Africa. You will meet a representative from Kara-Tunga just outside of the town of Kotido who will drive with you to Nakapelimoru to meet the Jié clan of Karamoja. Along the drive your guides will share their knowledge and you may ask all of your questions. When you reach this traditional village, you’ll hike for 20 minutes or so until you reach the top of a rocky outcrop from where you can see the sheer expanse of the village. Later you can engage with the community. If you are lucky enough to be here on a Wednesday then we can take you to the cattle auction which also offers a chance to meet this vibrant pastoral community from whom you can purchase authentic souvenirs. Popular souvenirs include beaded necklaces, hats and blankets

Estimated excursion time: 2 hours (plus additional 1 hour if going to market)

Transfer from Nakapelimoru to Kidepo Valley National Park. Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Day Ten

Game Driving in Kidepo Valley National Park

Rise early to begin your game drive to the northern limits of Kidepo Valley National Park. Your full-day drive takes you north, following the Narus Valley through rolling savannah in the soft morning light. This is an excellent time of day to spot a variety of game herds including Burchell’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, African buffalo and Grant’s gazelle as you drive. You’ll then pass drive over the seasonally dry Kidepo riverbed and continue through a Borassus palm tree forest, keep an eye out here for baboon troops, which you can spot with the clatter of palm throngs filling the air. After winding through the small forest you will reach the savannah scrub in the northern reaches of the park, where the Narus Valley and Kidepo Valley meet at the Kanangorok hot springs.  This area is particularly known for the flocks of ostrich found in the region, one of two places in Uganda that you can view these fantastic birds which you will seek out with your experienced ranger. This area is also also the best place to look for cheetah, which are rarely found in Uganda. After lunch it will be time to leave make the return journey through the park to reach your lodge in the mid afternoon.

Estimated excursion time: 6 hours

 

Day Eleven

A Walking Safari & Transfer

During the cooler hours of the day you will drive onto the savannah the heart of the Narus Valley where you will be joined by a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger who will escort you on your walking safari. This is a great way to immerse yourself in wildlife to truly experience this unique savannah in an intimate way by getting up close and personal with nature. It’s also a refreshing change of perspective from driving in a vehicle. You will walk at your own pace, with the length of the walking safari tailored to your preferences. Your ranger will help you track animals on foot on the savannah plains, answering all your questions about the park including its biodiversity and history. As you trek through the park you will mostly be on the look out for game herd species including the Burchell’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, Grant’s gazelle and Rothschild’s giraffe. Don’t worry, you’re perfectly safe with your Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger from the other wildlife in the park!

Estimated excursion time: 2 - 3 hrs

Transfer from Kidepo Valley NP to Murchison Falls NP. Estimated journey time: 8 hrs

Day Twelve

A Game Drive, A Water Safari & A Waterfall Hike

Explore the Buligi game tracks which crisscross the savannah between the branches of the Victoria and Albert Nile in the northern sector of the park. These game circuits offer the highest density of wildlife viewing of anywhere in the park. The landscape in the park is stunning offering views over the savannah, as wind your way through Acacia scrub and grasslands dotted with palm trees. You’ll be joined by a knowledgeable Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, to give your highest chance of tracking down the savannah predators. They will help you track down specific wildlife such as Rothschild giraffes, lions, elephants, herds of buffalo, Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, Uganda kob, warthog, waterbuck and if you're lucky, you'll spot the elusive leopard. Towards the end of your game drive you’ll be able to stop off at the hippo pool on the Victoria Nile delta where you’ll see the hippos wallowing in the shallows and calling to each other across the water. 

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

Embark on a water safari on the river Nile and cruise upstream to the base of Murchison Falls waterfall. Also known as Kabalega Falls, this is one of the most popular activities in the park and offers fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. As you cruise up the river you will be able to view giant Nile crocodiles basking in the sun, hippo pods calling to each other across the water and a multitude of bird species living and nesting on the riverbanks. A variety of game species such as buffalo, waterbuck, elephants and Uganda kob can also be viewed on the riverbanks as they come down to the drink and cool off in the heat of the day. After three hours you will reach the base of the thundering falls where the White Nile surges through a 7 metre wide gap in the rock face, cutting through Fajao Gorge and falling 43 meters to continue its journey through the park.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

On reaching the base of Murchison Falls you’ll disembark from the boat and be guided up the trail to the top of the falls, a 45min hike. From the path you’ll get fantastic views from several vantage points over the Murchison Falls and twin seasonal waterfall, Uhuru Falls. On reaching the top you can marvel at the splash and rainbows of the Nile crashing through a seven-metre gap in the rock face, with cooling sheets of spray being given off by the falls. You will meet your driver / guide at the top of the falls who will then drive you back downstream.

Estimated excursion time: 1 hour

Day Thirteen

Game Drive & Chimpanzee Tracking

Explore the plains of the northern sector of the park with a focus on the lesser known tracks near to Pakuba. With your Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger and guide you can take a detour from the typical game tracks to visit the old Pakuba Lodge, Idi Amin’s now derelict state lodge and private residence. These ruins are set in a prime location, offering beautiful views down to the river Nile and Blue Mountains in the distance. The building has long been reclaimed by the wild, now being heavily overgrown by vegetation and is a favourite haunt of the hyaena!

Estimated excursion time: 3 hours

Transfer from Murchison Falls to Budongo Forest. Estimated journey time: 2hrs

Today you will be tracking the chimps in Kaniyo-Pabidi part of the larger Budongo Forest reserve, located in the southern sector of Murchison Falls National Park. This is one of the largest natural rainforests still surviving in Uganda, which covers 825 square km in total. This is thanks to its protection as a royal hunting forest by the King of Bunyoro, until it was gazetted as a reserve in 1932 from when the National Forest Authority continues its protection. The forest is still home to a vast range of species such as the 280 butterflies varieties, 9 species of mammals and 465 species of plants, including the Mahogany trees which can grow up to 80 meters in height! Of course the forest is also home to nine species of primate, so watch out for the grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and olive baboons, on your trek through the rainforest. You will begin your tracking by meeting your ranger / guide for a briefing on tracking the chimpanzees in the rainforest at the forest trailhead. You will then enter the forest along the network maintained network of paths. This rainforest is home to more than 600 chimps, of which a family of 80 individuals has been habituated to allow tourism visits, with an 80% successful tracking rate. Depending on where the chimps are, you should take around three to complete the tracking, allowing a 1 hour walk into and then out of the forest. Once you've found the group amongst the dense rainforest, spend an intimate hour with them, watching them play, eat, socialise and display their prowess. After spending your time observing the chimpanzee family you will make your way back out of the rainforest to meet your driver / guide. 

Estimated excursion time: 2 - 3 hours

Transfer from Budongo to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Estimated transfer time: 2 hours

Day Fourteen

Rhino Tracking & Transfer

Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to seek out the rhinos living in the safety of this semi wild reserve. You’ll trek over the grassland and through the African bush on foot with a ranger to visit Uganda’s most endangered creature, the Southern White Rhino. Your ranger is very experienced and knowledgeable about the rhinos and will be able to identify each individual and tell you about their characteristics, as well as give you more information on the effort recover Uganda’s rhino population. This is the only place in Uganda where the rhino survives and breed with the hopes of one day being introduced to Murchison Falls National Park. All the proceeds from your visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary go towards funding the rhino’s future.

Estimated excursion time: 1 hour

Transfer from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to Kampala or Entebbe. Estimated journey time: 5 hrs