Lake Nakuru National Park, Mau Mau Escarpment, Eldoret, Kampala, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Bunyoni, Jinja
Flexible and customizable for private departures.
From the flamingo-filled shores of Lake Nakuru, to the crocodile-infested banks of Lake Edward and right down the rapids of the River Nile, this package is the ultimate tour of East Africa’s spectacular fresh water lakes. While taking pauses to walk amongst a thriving rhino population and to marvel at Uganda’s spectacular mountain gorillas while listening to the calls of hundreds of bird species, few safaris will better combine serenity, tranquility and thoughtful wildlife interactions.
Lake Nakuru – Jump Right into Kenya on Adventures
Today you will arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where you will be welcomed by rising temperatures and a local representative. Wasting no time at all, we will transfer you out of the city and into the bush, arriving two hours later on the stunning and tranquil shores of Lake Nakuru National Park.
Reaching the park in the midafternoon, you will have time to take a safari as the sun sets over the landscape as the bush livens. This the Rift Valley region revolves around Lake Nakuru, which occupies nearly a third of the entire park. The shores of this alkaline lake are typically so covered by greater and lesser flamingos that the blue shoreline becomes unrecognizable amidst the sea of pink. Pelicans provide small reliefs of white in this cotton candy landscape, with up to 450 other species of birds flying overhead. The lake truly is a birder’s paradise. Trucks at Lake Nakuru drive near the shores, and visitors are able to leave the vehicle to approach the lake edge on foot. This allows you to immerse yourself in this spectacular avian display while the sky transforms with the sunset.
Eldoret – Drive Along the Mau Mau Escarpment
This morning you will rise early to set out on another game drive through Lake Nakuru. Today you may choose to venture further into the surrounding woodlands, home to numerous baboons, hyenas, warthogs and gazelles. Driving through the shaded forests eventually leads visitors up to hills and viewpoints over the entire park. Standing atop the famed Baboon Cliff offers guests panoramic views of Lake Nakuru, the surrounding plains and – if lucky – herds of buffalo grazing in the grasses below.
Descending back towards the shores of Lake Nakuru, you might circle towards the tip in search of the park’s population of black and white rhinoceros. Conservationists have successfully reintroduced these prehistoric looking creatures to the region in hopes of re-establishing this endangered species. Today the park is home to approximately 140 rhinos that is, surprisingly, over the recommended levels. With many of these rhinos living independently, rather than off the crutches of the sanctuaries, Nakuru rhinos are now being relocated across Kenya in hopes of successfully rebuilding other populations. In an era of unprecedented rhino poaching, this park is a glimmer of hope for African conservationists.
From Nakuru, you will head towards Uganda along the stunning Mau Mau escarpment on the western ridge of the Rift Valley. Rising over 10,000 feet on the equator, the escarpment is covered in forest and woodlands before it plunges down towards the Dogilani plains. You will spend the night near the city of Eldoret, before continuing on to Uganda tomorrow.
Kampala – Arrive to the Capital City of Uganda
Early this morning you will cross the border into Uganda. Leaving the Kenyan customs office, there is roughly a 1km walk through what seems to be a populated area belonging to neither country – hilariously complete with a bar and hotel, which accepts both currencies. As you officially enter Uganda, you will jump back into the truck to continue on driving to Kampala. Driving through Uganda, the landscapes turn a deep lush green, which is beautifully contrasted with the rich red Ugandan sand that will soon stain your feet. The drive and border crossing will consume the better part of the day, but will be well worth it as you drive along the shores of Lake Victoria. Tonight you will sleep in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – Back on Safari
This morning, you will undoubtedly be excited to reach Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park and embark on your second set of safaris. An early departure from Kampala will put you in Queen Elizabeth National Park around midday, just in time to fit in an afternoon cruise on the Kazinga Channel. This 40-meter long channel connects eastern Lake George with the western Lake Edward, and draws phenomenal wildlife to its shores. Rich birdlife, including fish eagles, pelican, and the spectacular Ugandan crested crane, maintain a consistent presence along the shores and in the trees. The river itself is constantly speckled with hippos and Nile crocodiles, in addition to any brave creatures that seek a drink of water, making this afternoon cruise one of the park’s highlights. The guided cruise ends as the sun sets, ensuring just enough time for you to seek out a scenic viewpoint for a sundowner cocktail before dinner.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – In Search of the Big Five
Today you will rise early as the bush livens with morning activity. Setting out across open savannah, woodland, papyrus swamps and crater lakes against the backdrop of the Ruwenzori Mountains, you will search for the mammals, birds, and insects that make this park home. With relatively low visitors in Queen Elizabeth, you will avoid the chaos of more popular parks, experiencing exclusivity and intimacy instead. As you drive through the woodlands, be sure to look into the branches of fig trees since the southern half of the park is one of the few locations where rare tree-climbing lions thrive! Otherwise, safaris in the park are characterized by time spent with huge herds of buffalo, elephant, Ugandan kob, topi, leopards, giant forest hogs, shoebill storks, and clever chimpanzees. With numerous rivers coursing through the park, it is nice to pause under a tree for breakfast while observing interactions between the species while they visit the river for a morning drink before retiring into the shade.
In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to participate in another game drive or perhaps set out on foot in search of chimpanzees. Treks walk through the stunning Kyambura Gorge – a favorite location among primates, earning it the name of the “Valley of the Apes”. Rich with red-tailed and vervet monkeys, baboons, and black-and-white colobus in addition to the chimpanzees, a hike through this playful region is a truly unique experience (and a great lead up to the gorillas!). The area is also rich with birdlife, including falcons, the blue-headed bee-eater, and the African Finfoot. As the sun sets, head towards Pelican Point for impressive views of Lake Edward while the sun dips behind it and illuminates the African sky.
Lake Bunyonyi – Travel to the Shores of Lake Bunyonyi
This morning you will leave Queen Elizabeth National Park, driving out as the sun rises for a final glimpse of the bustling morning landscape. Carrying on south, you will drive roughly six hours towards Lake Bunyonyi in the southernmost part of Uganda. Known as the place of many little birds, this picturesque lake is among the deepest in Africa and is perfect for swimming, canoeing, birding, and hiking. Surrounded by deep green hills, the lake itself is speckled with 29 tiny green islands in the center, which make for truly idyllic and restorative escape.
Lake Bunyonyi – The ‘Place of Many Little Birds’
Drifting out into Lake Bunyoni in a small dugout canoe makes for a perfectly serene day. Paddling between the islands and around the eucalyptus trees allows for spectacular birding opportunities, with frequent sightings of the crested crane among 200 other species of birds. There will be plenty of opportunities to observe local fishermen as you trace their paths through the water. Take moments to jump out of the canoe for a refreshing dip – this lake is one of the few East African lakes that is bilharzia, crocodile and hippo-free!
These canoe trips are best experienced with a local guide, who will be able to explain the rich and fascinating history of the lake’s islands. The guide will be able to point out an island referred to as Punishment Island, where unmarried pregnant girls were left to starve. He will also be able to show happier sights, including the island with local markets and friendly residents eager for a visit, or the island that a Scottish missionary aided greatly.
Lake Bunyoni – Gorilla Tracking Through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Finally, after much anticipation, you will wake very early today to trek the awe-inspiring mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. After driving to the gates of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will meet the group of eight individuals permitted to visit the gorillas, along with your guide and trackers. Over the next few hours, you will venture deep into the volcanic jungles, searching for signs of these gentle giants amongst the birds, butterflies, and creatures bustling about.
Uganda is home to roughly half of the world’s remaining 800 mountain gorillas. Conservationists have worked delicately with numerous groups of gorillas within these forests, slowly habituating them to the human presence. This process enables guests to spend a maximum of one hour with these truly impressive creatures that tower over us at seven feet in the air, weighing up to 500 pounds. The contrasting power of the male Silverback with his playful offspring is said by many to be one of the most surreal experiences imaginable. Sharing approximately 97% of human DNA, the facial expressions and behavior of a group of gorillas are shockingly relatable to the human experience.
After an hour with these gentle giants, it will be time to return to the park gates. Hiking back through the forest, listen to the trees as they sing with bird songs and smell richly of perfume. At the gates, you will meet your driver and return to your camp on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi for much deserved rest and relaxation.
Lake Bunyoni – Swim in Africa’s Second Deepest Lake
By today, you will have experienced two spectacular sets of safaris in addition to the absolute magic of trekking the mountain gorillas. It has been, to this point, an epic and packed journey. Returning to the shores of Lake Bunyonyi will be an excellent day to pause and reflect upon the experience so far, before ramping up to Uganda’s adventure capital in Jinja. Whether reflection comes through another dugout tour of the lake, or simply lounging on the shores with a book, today will be yours to plan.
Should you crave more activity, it is possible to partake in locally guided hikes through the hills that surround Bunyonyi. Often led by a member of Uganda’s Batwa people, the trails followed travel through the lush hills carrying you through to the villages of this pygmy population. Visitors will have the opportunity to speak with members of this ever-dwindling tribe, learning of their lifestyle, culture, and values. A lucky few may be privileged to witness a dance performed by the tribe, before returning to camp. You will spend your final night around a campfire, enjoying the fresh lake air under starry skies before retiring to bed.
Jinja – Travel to the Source of the Nile
After a full day of relaxation, today will involve a full day’s drive to the beautiful town of Jinja on the shores of Lake Victoria – the source of the River Nile. After traveling back through Kampala, you will pass through lush forests on a smooth new highway leading onwards to Jinja. As the air freshens and the forest dwindles, you will drive into this small town, notorious in Uganda for its successes with eco-tourism.
Jinja – An Adventure-Filled Day Rafting the River Nile
Today is a day of adrenaline and adventure as you rise early to launch yourself down the rapids of the River Nile. Equipped with a life jacket, helmet and a paddle, you will suit up to join a fleet of 14-foot inflatable rafts, all preparing to hurl themselves down class five rapids. As the day progresses, a familiar rhythm emerges as calm sections of the Nile are interrupted by spectacular white water. Pausing on the shore to regroup for a picnic lunch, the trip continues into the afternoon, ultimately ending at a rafting camp for a well-deserved Nile Special beer as the sun sets. All Nile rafting tours are led and organized by experienced and enthusiastic guides who will make today both a safe and unforgettable adventure. Do not forget to wear sunscreen and long sleeves today, since a day on the river often leaves the skin of a rafter scorched.
If rafting is not your style, it is possible to experience the power of the Nile in a somewhat calmer manner as you kayak the river’s slower moving sections either on a tour or with a teacher. That said – avid kayakers may also be interested in tackling the rapids independently in a kayak alongside the fleet of rafts.
Jinja – Additional Adventures or Shopping with Local Artisans
For those who do not wake up sore from the rafting, Jinja offers additional thrills by way of the bicycle. A pleasant day can be spent biking the red dirt tracks that wind through farms and fields alongside the Nile, before ending at Bujagali Falls. For those with a bit more energy, it is also possible to pedal up to Bugenbe viewpoint for spectacular panoramic views of Lake Victoria, Jinja, and the start of the Nile. This route then descends down to the mouth of the Nile before circling through the town of Jinja. Finally – for the serious thrill-seekers – a superb mountain biking trail runs through the shaded canopies of the Mabira Forests. These woods are packed with over 300 species of birds, in addition to hundreds of butterflies and monkeys.
If however you would rather a quiet day, downtown Jinja is the perfect location for wandering amongst the restaurants, cafes, and shops. With plenty of talented local artisans, today is a great day to load up on carvings, jewelry and Tingatinga styled paintings while supporting the local community. This city has also become a hotbed for responsible tourism, and most of the enterprises are connected to community development projects in some capacity. If interested, it is normally possible to organize a visit to a local school, orphanage, or clinic today.
Entebbe – Flying Home
This morning we will transfer you from Jinja to Entebbe by road in time for you to catch your outbound flight. Whether this outbound flight carries you home or onwards to another African adventure, Zicasso will assist with all preparations. Many of our clients choose to modify this particular package, adding on a trip to the teal waters and white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean before journeying home. No matter what your preferences, a Zicasso representative will work closely with you to ensure you receive your dream trip through east Africa.
- Walk and drive amongst the chimpanzees and the Big Five in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Marvel at the flamingo-lined shores of Kenya's Lake Nakuru while rhinoceros dot the horizon
- Set out in a dugout canoe exploring the 29 islands teeming with birdlife in Lake Bunyonyi
- Be inspired by Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas, the gentle giants of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Take the ultimate thrill by rafting down class five rapids on the River Nile
- Unwind as you sip on Uganda’s finest and freshest coffee in the socially-minded cafés in Jinja
$11,565 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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