• Islands of Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Best Of The West

The ultimate trip to the south-west combining primate tracking, savannah game drives and scenic landscapes. Trek through the rainforest of Kibale National Park to seek out a chimpanzee family and hike in the fabled ‘Mountains of the Moon’, one of the sources of the river Nile. Explore the savannah of both Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks to spot tree-climbing lions, elephant herds, zebras and giraffes with game drives and a walking safari. Of course you will also meet a rare mountain gorilla family in the rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and marvel at the stunning vista of Lake Bunyonyi with its terraced farmed hillsides, inlets and many islands dotting the lake.


Itinerary - Best Of The West [TACP4-001]

Day One

A Rainforest Ramble

Explore the tranquility of Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, in Magombe Swamp, situated on the edge of Kibale National Park. Here you’ll meet a local guide who will take you on your walk around Magombe Swamp, a protected RAMSAR site. The path meanders along the edge of the swamp and along a raised boardwalk through dense clusters of papyrus, taking a couple of hours to complete. This community run project offers the chance to spot up to 138 bird species including the Great Blue Turaco, a variety of butterflies and perhaps what the swamp is best known for; its population of monkeys. As you ramble around the swamp your guide will be able to identify the local flora and fauna as well as the seven species of monkey found here including red colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest, vervet, black and white colobus, blue monkeys and baboons.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Turaco Treetops, luxury forest cottages

Day Two

Chimps & Explosion Craters

Meet with your Uganda Wildlife Authority tracking team for a briefing on tracking the chimpanzees in the rainforest. Kibale National Park is one of East Africa’s premier destinations to chimp track with a 95% successful tracking rate. This ancient rainforest is also home to one of the highest concentrations and diversities of primates found anywhere on the continent. The tracking team will be escorting you throughout your time in the rainforest and will be able to identify and give more information on the species found here including the 325 species of birdlife, 250 tree species and over 80 species of mammals as you trek. Groups of chimps live in communities containing between 10 and 100 members and once you’ve found your group, amongst the dense rainforest you will spend one hour with them. You will be able to observe their natural behaviour in the rainforest as they play, eat, socialise and display their prowess before making the return hike along the rainforest paths to meet your driver / guide.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs (including 1 hr viewing)

Transfer from Kibale National Park to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Estimated journey time: 2 hrs

Drive onto the savannah to explore the explosion crater-lake fields, one of the most stunning vistas in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The pools that you’ll see dotted across the northern region of the park are a reminder of the violent formation of the rift valley, as massive chunks of rock were hurled out of volcanoes creating these craters. The  tracks leading through this sector of the park meander along the crater lake rims, giving fantastic views into some of the glassy freshwater pools below. As you drive through the lakes you’ll be able to spot a variety of wildlife amongst the acacia trees such as elephants, Uganda kob, waterbuck until you finally stop off at the Baboon Cliffs to spot the baboon troops who have made their home here.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Marafiki Safari Lodge, thatched cottage

Day Three

The Mountains Of The Moon

Transfer from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kilembe.
Estimated journey time: 1hr

Begin your hike into the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ by walking 2km from Kilembe to the ranger’s border post to enter the national park. This takes about one hour to complete at which point you will give you a briefing on the park by the rangers. On entering the park the first 2km of your hike climbs steadily through montane forest, followed by a steeper climb up the ridge. The forests are untouched, with a wide variety of trees, plants, many species of birds and chameleons found here. Over the next few kilometres the trees become taller and straighter, here it is common to see and hear many types of primate calling across the mountainside, and you may even hear troupes of chimpanzees echoing around the valleys. Particularly around your lunch spot at 2,570m it is possible to see troupes of 15 to 20 black and white Colobus monkeys as well as blue monkeys dashing through the trees. A few hundred meters beyond the lunch spot the bamboo zone commences and you climb up another half kilometre to a small cave which was previously used by poachers. Here you can take a short rest before returning to the rangers post and completing the hike back to Kilembe.
Estimated excursion time: 6 hrs

Transfer from Kilembe to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Estimated journey time: 1hr

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Marafiki Safari Lodge, thatched cottage

Day Four

Savannah Drive & Water Safari

Explore the savannah of Kasenyi Plains on a  wildlife drive, set to the stunning backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’ running along the skyline. These plains are home to a number of leks or breeding grounds for Uganda kobs, where they carry out their battles for mating rights. The vast herds of Uganda kobs grazing here keep the grass short, allowing easy viewing of species such as elephants, buffalo, warthogs, bushbuck and waterbuck amongst the euphorbia tree dotted-landscape. You may even spot a solitary hippo wallowing in one of the small pools! This is also one of the preferred hunting grounds for the prides of lions, attracted by the large game herds. With kills sometimes a focal point for days this is an ideal area to spot these impressive big cats! There is a large network of trails through this area of the park allowing you to explore in seclusion at your one pace and enjoy the stunning scenery of the park's expansive savannah plains.

Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs

Embark on a water safari to explore the Kazinga Channel, which flows from Lake Edward to Lake George through the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The channel is set in picturesque scenery, with acacia and euphorbia tree covered slopes, cliff heads protruding above you and grassy clearing allowing for excellent wildlife viewing. As you meander your way along the channel you’ll seek out buffalos, warthogs and waterbucks on the riverbanks. If you’re lucky you’ll even meet elephants bathing as they cool off from the heat of the day! The channel is also a prime location to view crocodiles basking on the riverbanks and hippo pods, calling to each other across the water. After a couple of hours you’ll reach a fishing village positioned on the end of the channel. Here you can view a diverse array of birds which often congregate here, sunning themselves on the riverbanks, before you make the return journey to the docks on the Mweya Peninsula.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Marafiki Safari Lodge, thatched cottage

Day Five

Tree-climbing Lions

Transfer from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Ishasha Plains.
Estimated journey time: 2hrs 30 mins

Ishasha Plains which covers the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, is known for its iconic population of tree-climbing lions. Lions are only recorded to exhibit this behaviour in a few locations across Africa, believed to be a learned behaviour specific to a few prides. It’s been speculated that this behaviour is to avoid the hottest part of the day to catch the cool breezes in the trees and to dodge the biting insects found in the grasses below. On entering the savannah you will track through the African bush on a wildlife drive to seek out these impressive cats. You’ll be looking for them in the branches of huge fig trees, as they laze away in the shade, sheltered from the heat of the day. If you still have time after tracking the lions you can explore the various tracks for other wildlife species found on the savannah here including elephants, topi, Uganda kob, buffalo and hyaenas.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs

Transfer from Ishasha Plains to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Buhoma)
Estimated journey time: 3hrs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Haven Lodge, room

Day Six

Gorillas In The Mist

Experience Uganda’s greatest natural wonder, an intimate meeting with one of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s gorilla families! Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an incredibly important conservation site as it protects around 460 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the population left in the wild. Dating back over 25,000 years, Bwindi is one of Uganda’s most biologically diverse and most ancient rainforests, with an amazing 400 species of plants present and 350 species of birds, including 23 Rift Valley endemic species recorded. 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. This morning you will rise early and your driver / guide will escort you to the trailhead into the rainforest. Here you will receive an orientation on tracking the gorillas from the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers who will then guide you through the dense forest. The trek length varies, depending on where the gorillas spent the night, ranging from thirty minutes to seven hours. Once you find these incredible creatures you will spend one hour with them. We think you’ll agree - to experience this unique family feed, socialise, nurse their young, patrol and display their prowess - is the most magical experience you can see in nature. After tracking you will make your way back to the edge of the rainforest where you’ll meet your driver guide.
Estimated excursion time: 2 - 8 hrs (including 1 hr viewing).

Transfer from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to Lake Bunyonyi.
Estimated journey time: 4 hrs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Birdnest Resort @ Bunyonyi, lake view room

Day Seven

Instagrammable Lake Views

Spend some time relaxing at Birdsnest Resort Bunyonyi on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi. If you’re feeling energetic there are traditional dugout canoes available for you to paddle along the lakeshore or a motorboat available to you to venture deeper into the lake (for an additional cost*). Of course you can also swim in the lodge's eco pool, relax with a good book on the sun loungers, enjoy a refreshing cocktail from the bar or birdwatch with species such as the Pied Kingfisher to be spied hovering and diving into the water. However you choose to spend your time, you will truly unwind at one of the most idyllic lakes in the Kigezi Highlands.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Birdnest Resort @ Bunyonyi, lake view room

Day Eight

Lake Mburo Savannah Forest & Nocturnal Game Drive

Transfer from Lake Bunyonyi to Lake Mburo National Park.
Estimated transfer time: 6 hrs

As darkness falls across the savannah, set out to explore the network of tracks criss-crossing the landscape to observe the secret lives of the wildlife. You’ll be accompanied by an expert Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger, who will be scanning the savannah forest with their spotlights to search for a variety of species including the genet cat, bush pigs and hippos grazing amongst the acacia trees. This nocturnal game drive also provides an excellent opportunity to seek out some of the park's top predators including spotted hyena and one of the highest chances of seeking out the solitary leopards of anywhere in Uganda! After several hours scouring the park and hopefully some top wildlife sightings, you’ll be returned to your lodge for the remainder of the evening.
Estimated excursion time: 2hrs 30 mins

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock, thatched cottage

Day Nine

A Walk On The Wild Side

During the cooler hours of the day you will be driven into the heart of the park to meet a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger. Your knowledgeable guide will be escorting you throughout walking safari in Lake Mburo National Park and be able to give you detailed information on the wildlife inhabiting the park. You’ll have the option of walking along the banks of Lake Mburo itself or out onto the savannah plains of the park. Walking safaris are an excellent way to view the park and get up-close-and-personal with the animals which includes warthogs, zebra and impala. If you’re lucky you will also be able to find the small group of giraffe which were introduced to the park in 2015. Tracking on foot and watching these graceful animals grazing on the acacia trees will give you a different perspective than game driving in your vehicle and is a truly special experience.
Estimated excursion time: 2 - 3 hrs

Transfer from Lake Mburo National Park to Mabamba Wetlands.
Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Nkima Forest Lodge, cottage

Day Ten

Shoebill Tracking

Meet your guide at the jetty, a local expert in finding the Shoebill and very knowledgeable about the plethora of bird species found in Mabamba Wetlands. Aside from the Shoebill the wetlands are home to some highly sought after species including the Papyrus Gonolek, Lesser Jacana and Blue Swallow (a migratory species present between May & September). You will take to the water in a local motorised canoe with your guide sometimes punting the boat along the narrow channels cut through the swamp. As you glide through the water you will be struck by the lush green vegetation, dotted with bright purple water lilies and feathered papyrus flowers swaying over your head. You will spend several hours exploring the swamp with your main goal to seek out the infamous Shoebill, a prehistoric looking bird. Reaching 140 cm tall they spend their time wading through the swamp fishing in a very slow manner, making them almost look like statues. Shoebills are typically a solitary species but if you’re lucky you will find a breeding pair nesting together. While in the swamp you will be able to spot a variety of other bird species such as the Saddle-billed Stork in the colours of the Ugandan flag, White-backed Duck, African Pygmy-goose and Purple Swamphen.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Transfer from Mabamba Wetlands to Entebbe.
Estimated journey time: 2 hrs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Not Included