A Comprehensive 5 Days Rwanda And Uganda Safari Trip Report

Our Senior Safari Guide: Samuel Mukalazi
Trip Report Piled by: Samuel Mukalazi
Photos by: Andre, Brehanna – Clients and Samuel – Guide
Tour Operator: Kabira Safaris & Tours Africa

Andre, Brehanna Client

Andre, Brehanna Client

Introduction About the 5 Days Rwanda And Uganda Safari Trip Report

In the heart of Africa, in the region of East Africa exists Uganda, the pearl of Africa. A beautiful landlocked country with magnificent vegetation, great landscapes, and an abundance of gifts that are awe-inspiring such as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is home to almost half the world’s population of mountain gorillas, the source of the Nile, the strongest waterfall in the world- Murchison Falls, and numerous national parks with a variety of wildlife and primates as well as game reserves such as Semuliki game reserve. This country is also endorsed with numerous traditions from the different tribes that inhabit it. It is mainly made of savanna grassland and woodland though some parts of it have mountains and rainforest.

Beginning from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital start, the magnificent scenic 4-hour drive through the land of a thousand hills enjoying the clean streets which gradually turned into a beautiful vegetation cover and landscape. We crossed over from Rwanda to Uganda at the border at Katuna. From here we proceeded to the thick, misty, impenetrable forests of Bwindi, a UNESCO world heritage site best known for being a home to half the world’s population of the endangered species, the mountain gorillas specifically to the Ruhija sector. That very evening we had a dive into one of the alien cultures through a Batwa community visit. The next morning at 8:00 am we went gorilla trekking before we proceeded for game drives and a boat cruise.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up from Kigali then transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Andre, Brehanna and Samuel

Andre

By the time it clocked 7:00 am Rwandan time, I was already at Kigali International Airport waiting for the arrival of our clients who were traveling from the USA. They came out of the immigration offices at exactly 8:00 am and I gave them a warm welcome before assisting them with their luggage. When we were all set, we boarded a 4×4 safari vehicle and embarked on our journey to Uganda as I gave them a brief history of the countries, that is Rwanda and Uganda. The drive was awe-inspiring as we advanced from the clean and organized streets of Kigali to the beautiful view of the hills in Rwanda and the vegetation.

This will come to a half at the Katuna border of Uganda and Rwanda. At exactly midday, we crossed the border and proceeded with our journey to Bwindi from Uganda. The drive to Bwindi brought much amazement due to the breathtaking landscape, the incredible views as well as the happy and friendly Ugandans who waxed at us as we bypassed.

We arrived at Bakiga Lodge at 2:30 pm Uganda time and checked into our rooms then lunch was served. Later in the evening, we went for a community walk and visited the Batwa and the orphanage school. This visit was so entertaining since we got to interact with the Batwa people and learn about their cultural practices and history.

Day 2: Gorilla trekking

Andre, Brehanna - After Gorilla Trekking

Andre, Brehanna – After Gorilla Trekking

The next morning, we woke up very early in the morning to prepare for the gorilla trekking which was the main highlight of this safari. We were served a delicious and nourishing breakfast at exactly 7:00 am.

After breakfast at 7:20 am, with a packed lunch we left the lodge in our 4×4 safari vehicle and drove to the park headquarters for a briefing about the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking. Upon arrival at the briefing center, we were entertained by a group of women from the community who performed for us a local dance which we found very entertaining.

After the performance, the briefing began during which we learned about the required code of conduct for this activity for both our safety and that of the endangered mountain gorillas to protect them from extinction. After briefing, we were organized into groups and each group was assigned a gorilla family.

Our group of 5 was assigned to the Muhiza gorilla family and after being given hiking sticks, we entered the forest in search of the gorilla family being led by porters and ranger guides. After hiking for about 1 hour, we came across our gorilla family and as we approached the mountain gorillas, the ranger guide asked that we all put on our masks.

We spent 1 hour with the gorillas taking photographs and videos of these beautiful creatures that possess 98% human DNA. This was a memorable experience that felt like seeing a version of ourselves in a different form or before evolution.

Brenah was lucky enough because she was able to have physical contact with the mountain gorillas since one of the female gorillas touched her and she termed this moment as a lifetime experience. After a full hour with the gorillas, we came out of the forest and returned to the starting point where we were given gorilla trekking certificates for completing this activity successfully.

We drove back to the lodge (Bakiga Lodge) and had a hot lunch accompanied by a cold glass of juice. In the evening, we went out to a local bar within the village for a few drinks where we also played a game known as pool with the locals. This was a really fun way of winding up such an amazing day. After, we returned to the lodge where we had dinner and rested for the night.

Day 3: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Boat cruise

Andres and Brehenna on Boat cruise on Queen Elizabeth National Park

Andres and Brehenna on Boat cruise on Queen Elizabeth National Park

After a good night’s sleep, both my clients, Brehenna and Andres were well-rested and looking forward to our next tourist destination. We packed our luggage after a delicious morning breakfast and embarked on our journey to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

But on our way to Queen Elizabeth National Park, just 22 kilometers away from our lodge where we had rested the previous night, we came across a forest elephant that was very busy browsing through the tree leaves and I immediately turned off the engine so that we could properly enjoy this exhilarating scene. Both Andre and Brehenna took some great shots so that they could take pieces of this beautiful sight with them upon return to their country.

They were amazed and excited since it was their first time seeing a forest elephant. We spent about 20 minutes in this place then after progressing with our journey via Kabale from where we connected to Ntungamo as we took short breaks en route to immerse ourselves in the breathtaking landscapes and views. While on this journey, we also came across a couple of grey-crowned cranes, a bird referred to as Uganda’s symbol of independence and one of the country’s most charismatic birds.

We arrived at Queen Elizabeth National Park at 1:30 pm and checked into our lodge at Bush Lodge Camp where we had a hot tasty lunch. After lunch, we drove to the park headquarters so that we could have our afternoon boat cruise as it had been planned in the itinerary. We enjoyed an exclusive boat cruise during which we saw lots of elephants, buffaloes, a school of hippos, water birds, crocodiles, and some antelopes. This boat cruise lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes after which we returned to the lodge for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 4: Morning game drive and Chimpanzee trekking

A Morning Game drive in Queen Elizabeth

A Morning Game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Very early in the morning, we were served our breakfast which we finished up within 10 minutes so that we could start our game drive before the sun was out so as to see nocturnal animals like lions. After breakfast, we drove to Kasenyi gate so that we could start the game-viewing adventure.

Interestingly enough, the first the wildlife we spotted was a warthog and as we proceeded, we saw lots of Uganda Kobs in the mating grounds. We also came across a herd of buffaloes, African elephants, waterbucks and so many birds as well. We also visited the Salt Lake where we got to see the lesser flamingos.

All in all, we had a successful game drive with amazing views such as the sunrise. After the game drive, we returned to the lodge for lunch and some refreshments in preparation for the afternoon chimpanzee trek in the Kyambura Gorge. After lunch, at exactly 1:30 pm we left the lodge and drove to the Kyambura Gorge to enjoy a chimpanzee trekking experience.

Upon arrival in the Kyambura Gorge, we were briefed by an armed ranger guide, Jackson, who told us that the chimpanzees had been seen in the morning at the Kyambura Gorge headquarters which gave us an idea of where the trek would begin. After hearing this information, under the leadership of the ranger guide, we entered the forest and started to search for the chimpanzees. This search lasted 3 hours and unfortunately, we never got to see any of the chimpanzees, which was quite the opposite of our expectations though we were told this happens sometimes in this place.

We got to understand that the reason for this is because the Kyambura Gorge has around 32 chimpanzees hence at times it’s difficult to find them and we were among the few who were not lucky enough to see them, which was quite disappointing. Our ranger guide, Jackson, told us that these chimpanzees might have crossed to the side of the community, that’s why we didn’t find them.

We came to terms with this, left the Kyambura Gorge, and drove back to the lodge so that Brehenna could catch up with an online meeting that she had to attend that evening, which I believe went very well. Later in the evening we sat around a campfire and enjoyed our last night at the lodge relaxing while we told stories and enjoyed a few drinks

Day 5: Departure

We woke up very early in the morning and packed our luggage ready to leave Bush lodge camp. We checked out of the rooms and with a packed breakfast began our journey to Kigali International Airport. We had to start this journey early since Brehenna and Andres had booked a return flight back home at exactly 1:30 pm and by exactly 9:30 am, we were already at the border of Uganda and Rwanda.

We got cleared at the immigration of both these countries and by exactly 10:00 am Rwandan time, we had crossed over to the Rwanda side. During our drive in Rwanda, I had to reduce the speed to 60km per hour even though we had a flight to catch since it’s the recommended speed limit on the Rwandan roads.

We enjoyed some great music on this ride as we said our goodbyes since we had really become good friends. Both Brehenna and Andres promised to return and Brehenna said she would recommend us to her parents so that they can travel with us since she enjoyed everything during this trip including the services I offered.

By the time we reached Kigali International Airport, it was exactly 1:00 pm and we were 30 minutes early for the flight. I said goodbye to these great clients who had become friends and shared warm hugs after which they proceeded to catch their flight home.

This marked the end of the 5 Days Uganda Primate And Wildlife Safari that started and ended in Kigali.

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