Ultimate Uganda Hike
Affectionately known as the ‘Switzerland of Africa’, the Kigezi Highlands in the south west of Uganda is characterised by is idyllic highland lakes, tranquil rolling hills, conical volcano peaks and ancient rainforests home to isolated populations of mountains gorillas amongst the clouds. Explore this iconic region by immersing yourself in the Kigezi highlands with the ultimate hiking and canoeing trip. By traditional dugout canoe explore the waters of lakes Bunyonyi, Bunyonyi, Kayumbu and Chahaf, meet the communities living around the lakes shores and be guided through Echuya Rainforest by your knowledgeable Batwa guide. With knowledgeable guides, well maintained trails and stunning vistas to enjoy, a truly memorable experience awaits you.
Itinerary - Ultimate Uganda Hike [TACP-002]
Transfer from Entebbe to Lake Bunyonyi. Estimated journey time: 10 hrs
Depart from Entebbe town on the shores of Lake Victoria to drive west passing through vast swamps filled with swaying papyrus throngs and fishermen selling their freshly caught fish on the roadside. Continue your journey by passing the edge of Lake Mburo National Park, watching out for zebras as you drive and of course the herds Ankole cattle with their impressive horns! You will then journey into the hills of the Kigezi highlands, with stunning views over the hillsides carpeted in a patchwork of terraced farmlands, dotted by small farm houses and villages until you reach Lake Bunyonyi which translates as ‘place of many little birds’.
Day TwoA Day of Trekking, Canoeing & Culture
Awake on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi for a hearty breakfast to energise you for your day of trekking and canoeing. Then set off on your adventure by paddling across the water to the Kyabahinga Peninsula and receive a warm greeting from the students of the Edirisa Nursery School, who will also give you a dancing and singing presentation. You will then hike up the hillside to the trading centre where you will be invited to try a cup of local brew called obushera. Continue up the fairly intense incline of the hills for about 30 minutes, from where you will be rewarded with a stunning vista of the lake! Here you can enjoy some stories from your guide about the local culture and nature of the area and meet a traditional healer who will share with you his knowledge of traditional medicine. You will then continue your hike through the hills to a view point commanding stunning views over most of the 29 islands dotted throughout Lake Bunyonyi. Here you can take a break while your guides regale you with stories of the Bakiga and their traditional beliefs, as well as colourful legends and historical facts of the islands in the lake.
Continue your hike on along the ridge where you will meet Mrs. Anna, who will be providing you with a tasty local lunch. She is also a local craft maker who will teach you the tricks of her trade! You can also take a try yourself with technique to make a banana leaf elephant or a photo frame. On departing from Mrs. Anna, you will hike down the hillside back to the water's edge to paddle across the lake to Habukomi Island, the island of pelicans. Stop off for the night at Tom’s Homestay on the water’s edge where you can relax and enjoy traditional dancing by the campfire.
Day ThreeBatwa & the Echuya Forest
Rise early and enjoy your breakfast before setting off across the waters of Lake Bunyonyi to reach the lakes western shores. On reaching the mainland you will then hike up the terraced farmed hillside towards the rainforest, protected by the Echuya Forest Reserve, arriving at around midday. On reaching the rainforest you will meet your experienced and knowledgeable Batwa guide Mr. Yohana, who will lead you through a trail of Echuya Forest. As you trek Mr. Yohana will share a fountain of knowledge of the rainforest with you which his ancestors once called home, explaining more about the different herbs found here, golden digging sites as well as identifying the birds and animals here.
The hike through the rainforest will take you about two hours to complete after which you will make your way to a viewpoint over Lakes Kayumbu and Chahafi where you can stop off for lunch. The further of the two lakes, lake Chahafi was once a colonial military outpost, from where in 1914 the British enlisted 100 people to carry a giant canoe all the way to Lake Bunyonyi from where you just hiked, to attack the rebel leader Katuregye. In the midafternoon you will then hike down the hillside to reach the shores of Lake Kayumbu, where we will set up your lakeside camp for the night.
Day FourHiking Along the Uganda - Rwanda border
Enjoy your breakfast on the shores of Lake Kayumbu before you pack up your camp and walk along the lakeshores to the opposite side of the lake. You will be hiking along the Uganda - Rwanda border to reach the Cyanika crossing point in the shadow of Mount Muhavura, which towers over the border. You will then continue your hike west, to many of the caldera’s dotting the landscape where you can stop off to enjoy your picnic lunch. You will then hike along the edge of the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park passing the stunning manicured farmlands and views towards Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo of the Virunga Volcano chain until you reach you lodge for the night, which nestled on the lower slopes of the volcano.
Day FiveThe Virunga Massif & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The pace of the day is in your hands, whether you’d wish to take a break from hiking and relax at your lodge and enjoy the stunning scenery around you. Or if you prefer you can enter Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to hike to one of the three conical volcano peaks of Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga or Mount Sabyinyo with an experienced guide, meet a rare mountain gorilla family dense bamboo forests or seek out the endemic golden monkeys only found in the Virunga massif (*all for an additional cost). However, you choose to spend your day here you will marvel at the stunning scenery of volcanoes, African montane vegetations and terraced farmlands.
Day SixBeside an Idyllic Lake & Volcano Panoramas
This morning you will depart from the volcano slopes and hike down to Kisoro town passing through rural countryside and climb the impressive Sagitwe caldera. You will then walk on, passing the first of the church missionaries at Mabungo Hill and on to reach Kisoro town for lunch at the cosy Coffee Pot cafe. This afternoon you will walk north out of the town for about two hours to reach another idyllic Kigezi Highland lake, Lake Mutanda. You will stop off en route to meet a local coffee farmer who will share with you his expert knowledge of coffee production. You’ll of course also get to brew a cup and sample for yourself! You will then continue your hike to reach the shores of Lake Mutanda, where you will again take to the water and cruise across to reach Gahiza Island Retreat. This tranquil island set in the heart of the lake will be your stop off location for the night. Here you can relax and enjoy the sunset as it lights up the volcano panorama set out for your journey across the lake.
Day SevenUphill to the Impenetrable Forest
Set off from your island campsite by motorboat to make your way across the waters of Lake Mutanda to reach its northern shoreline. Here you will begin a short but intense climb up the hill to reach Chameleon Hill Lodge with breathtaking views of the scenery laid out below you. You will take a break from your hike here and enjoy a tasty lunch before you continue your hike up the slopes towards Bwindi Impenetrable rainforest. You will follow the village trails through farmland and forests with stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and ridges of the Western Rift Valley which are visible on a clear day. You will then reach your accommodation for the night close to the edge of the rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Uganda’s largest population of mountains gorillas!
Day EightRamble Through the Rainforest
This morning you’ll be hiking through the rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, between Nkuringo and Buhoma villages. Bwindi forest dates back over 25,000 years and is one of Uganda’s most biologically diverse and most ancient rainforests. The rangers accompanying you will be able to identify the local plants, birds and wildlife as well as the general ecosystem of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as you trek. There are an amazing 400 species of plants present and 350 species of birds, including 23 Rift Valley endemic species. The hike takes five – six hours as you follow narrow winding forest paths, over bridges and natural obstacles, until you stop off for your packed lunch at a gorgeous river junction. After lunch you can opt to continue straight onto Buhoma or you can detour further in the rainforest to view the impressive triple waterfalls, which adds about 90 minutes onto your hike. In the midafternoon you will reach the northern edge of the rainforest where you’ll make your way to your lodge overlooking the rainforest for the night.
Transfer from Kisoro to Entebbe. Estimated journey time: 11 hrs
Depart from Kisoro town in the shadow of the Virunga volcanoes and follow a winding road through the mountains, Echuya rainforest and enjoy the stunning views of the Kigezi highlands. Continue your journey east back onto the rolling plains leading to Lake Victoria, where you’ll pass Lake Mburo National Park (watch out for zebras by the road!) and many roadside markets selling a variety of tropical fruits. Finally drive through the extensive papyrus filled swamps to reach Entebbe town on the shores of Lake Victoria.
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