Uganda Grand Tour - A Western Rift Exploration

Rothchild Giraffes Murchison

The “ Uganda Grand Tour” route allows you to visit Uganda’s Albertine Rift  and visit its most important protected area including Murchsion Falls NP, Semliki Valley, Kibale NP, Queen Elizabeth NP (northern and southern sector) and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP.

While on this tour, you will experience the country’s extensive bird and wildlife, the River Nile, meet the chimpanzees (man’s closest cousins), trek the gorillas and see the country in new ways through hikes, walks, and forest trails.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is running a festive season price discount. From 1st December 2020 to 31st March 2021, the following discounts have been offered:

a) 50% discount on park entrance fee for Lake Mburo NP, Queen Elizabeth NP, Kidepo
Valley NP, Murchison Falls NP, Semuliki NP, Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Katonga
Wildlife Reserve, Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve and Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.
b) 50% discount on birding fees.
c) Reduction on gorilla and chimpanzee tracking fees for all visitors:

-    Gorilla permits reduced from USD 700 to USD 400
-    Chimpanzee permits reduced from USD 200 to USD 150

This reduction on gorilla and chimpanzee permits will only apply to new purchases between 1st December 2020 and 31st March 2021 and not on reschedules.



Discover Kampala and Entebbe
Discover Murchison Falls
Discover Semliki
Discover Kibale
Discover Queen Elizabeth
Discover Bwindi

Game Viewing
The endangered Rothschild's Giraffe
Uganda Birding
Where to see the Shoebill stork?
Habituation of Primates: what does it mean?
The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
The Tree Climbing Lions
The Bwindi Gorillas Experience


BUDGET (**): Papyrus Guesthouse, Fort Murchison, Kibale Forest Camp, Bush Lodge, Enjojo Lodge, Travellers Rest Hotel, Eagles Nest.

MIDRANGE (***): Karibu Guesthouse, Murchison River Lodge, Isunga Lodge, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge, Rwakobo Rock.

HIGH-END (****): The Boma, Bakers’ Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mihingo Lodge.

More information on Uganda Recommended Accommodations

ROAD MAP (Estimates): 
Entebbe -Ziwa: 250 km – 04h30
Ziwa – Paraa: 130 km – 02h00
Crossing the Nile by Ferry: 20 min.
Paraa – Fort Portal: 330 Km – 07h00
Fort Portal – Semliki WR: 50 km – 01h30
Semliki – Kibale: 86 km – 02h30
Kibale – Mweya: 170 km  – 03h30
Mweya – Ishasha: 105 km – 03h00
Ishasha – Buhoma: 78 km – 2h30
Buhoma – Kisoro: 170 km – 4h00/05h00
Average from the Lodges to Kisoro: 1h30
Border Formalities Cyanika: 30 min.
Kisoro – Kigali: 170 km – 3h30

Some of these transfers can be arranged by air. For more information

  • Itinerary
    Uganda Grand Tour

    Day 01: Arrival at Entebbe
    Day 02: Transfer to Murchsion (En-route visit of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary)
    Day 03: Murchison Falls - Game drives & Boat trip to the falls
    Day 04: Murchison Falls - Delta boat trip with bush breakfast - Game drive & Visit the top of the falls
    Day 05: Murchison Falls - Fishing Excursion (Option)
    Day 06: Transfer to Semliki WR - A long day ...
    Day 07: Semliki Wildlive Reserve - Boat cruise on Lake Albert – Game drive & Sundowner
    Day 08: Hot springs - Transfer to Kibale Forest NP – Bigodi wetlands walk
    Day 09: The Best Experience with Wild Chimpanzees
    Day 10: Transfer to Mweya - Game drives & boat trip on the Kazinga Channel
    Day 11: Transfer to Ishasha - Southern Sector Queen Elizabeth
    Day 12: Ishasha - Bush breakfast – Game drive - Sundowner
    Day 13: Transfer to Kisoro Region - Hiking the Buhoma - Nkuringo Trail
    Day 14: Gorilla Trekking
    Day 15: Transfer to Kigali for departure

  • Day 01
    Arrival in Entebbe and Transfer to your Hotel

    Meet and greet at the Airport by your Magic Safaris guide. You will be transferred to your hotel in Entebbe or Kampala. Dinner & overnight at your accommodation.

  • Day 02
    Transfer to Murchsion - En-route visit of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

    After an early breakfast, you will set off for Murchison Falls NP with your driver-guide. On the way, you will stop for a rhino trek at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – the only place to see rhinos in the wild in Uganda!

    In 1983, both black and white rhinos were declared extinct in Uganda. The Rhino Fund Uganda, a non-governmental organization set up in 1997 to repopulate Uganda with wild rhinos through a breeding and release program.

    During your visit, well trained rangers will guide you on foot where the rhinos are. They will explain all you need to know about the rhinos. Due to the vastness of the sanctuary, your driver/guide may have to drive you to the starting point of your walk. You will get really close to the rhinos giving you amazing photo opportunities.

    While on the walk, you may encounter other wildlife species such as kobs oribis and bushbucks and plenty of bird species. Currently, there are over 30 rhinos in the sanctuary.

    See the Ziwa Rhino Video

    White Rhino - Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

    After a hot lunch at Kabalega Diner, you will continue your journey to the park via Masindi town. The Kabalega Diner is a small restaurant on the Kamapla - Gulu Highway.

    Dinner & overnight at your accommodation.

    Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually gray. They are different not in color but in lip shape. The black rhino has a pointed upper lip, while its white relative has a squared lip. The difference in lip shape is related to the animals' diets. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches. White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.

  • Day 03
    Murchison Falls - Game drives & Boat trip to the falls

    After an early morning breakfast, you have a full morning of spectacular game viewing. In Murchison Falls NP, most of the game is found on the northern bank of the river. If your accommodation is at the south bank, you will rise up to cross the river so that you may start your game drive. The crossing is done by ferry linking the south to the north.

    With its typical Borassus savannah, the Nile river, the falls and its spectaculars game viewing it’s probably one of the most beautiful national parks of Uganda. The park is home to different wildlife including several mammals such as Rothchild’s giraffes (an endangered species), hyenas, lions, antelopes, buffaloes, elephants and so much more as well as plenty of bird species. These are widely spread over the park and will make a game drive worthwhile.

    Murchison Falls is together with lake Nakuru NP in Kenya it’s the best place to see the endangered Rothchild Giraffe. Uganda Wildlife Authority partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Project and together they have managed to translocate an important number of giraffes to other protected area in Uganda.

    The afternoon will be spent on an extensive exploration by boat on the Nile river, upstream towards the Falls. This is where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river. You can admire on the slopes of the Nile river, the big number of hippos, elephants and the Nile crocodiles. The launch trip is a unique adventure, full of activity and constant surprises!

    Bird watchers will appreciate the rich bird life while on the boat.

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation

    The spectacular Murchison Falls, were 'discovered' by Sir Samuel White Baker in 1864. Baker spent some time to explore the Albert Nyanza (lake), during which he demonstrated that the Nile flowed through the Albert Nyanza (lake). The Falls were named after the President of the Royal Geographical Society. The Society has been a key associate and supporter of many famous explorers and expeditions, including those of Darwin, Livingstone, Scott, John Hannington Speke, Henry Morton Stanley.

    Northern Carmine Bee-eater
    Red-troated bee-eather - River Nile (Murchison Falls (Uganda)
    White-troated Bee-eater
    Hippo - River Nile (Murchison Falls (Uganda)
    Nile crocodile - River Nile (Murchison Falls (Uganda)
  • Day 04
    Murchison Falls - Delta boat trip with bush breakfast - Game drive & Visit the top of the falls

    Your driver/guide will drop you off at the jetty for a cruise on the delta. There are both private and scheduled boat trips available for your River Nile discovery. Some of the accommodations here are able to organize a bush breakfast. Ask us more information!

    The Victoria Nile Delta is a peaceful stretch where the River Nile flows into Lake Albert and it is here that the park’s prime wildlife is explored by boat. You will have an opportunity to view large numbers of hippos and Nile crocodiles as well as various bird species some of which are endemic to this region. There are also spectacular views of canoes of fishermen catching tilapia on Lake Albert and people from the nearby community drawing water from the Nile River.

    After the delta boat cruise, you will explore a second time the circuits. Depending on the wildlife seen, we may extend our exploration to the Pakuba area near the lodge ruins and drive towards the Tangi Gate. 

    You will have a hot lunch at your lodge and in the afternoon, you will visit and explore the area around the top of the falls. You can descend the paths down to the river and enjoy the falls from another viewpoint. An afternoon with plenty of spectacular sights!

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation

    The river Nile flows into Lake Albert and leaves the lake to the north end as the Albert Nile, flows afterwards through northern Uganda, and at the Sudan border becomes the Bahr al-Jabal or White Nile.

    View on the Nile River - Murchison Falls (Uganda)
    Top of Murchison Falls (Uganda)
  • Day 05
    Murchison Falls - Fishing Excursion (Option)

    There are plenty opportunity at Murchison for the avid angler. You will catch different species such as Nile Perch, Cat fish, Tiger fish, Tilapia.

    Sport Fishing at Murchison Falls National Park is generally conducted in the area at the base of the falls (Paraa).  The fishing is either from the rocks on the bank of the river or slightly lower down stream in the pools from a boat. Another location ot to forget is Chobe.

     Fishing at Murchison requires expert assistance, to ensure both client safety in this adventurous destination, and the best opportunity for successful fishing. Your Sport-fishing trip is organized in co-operation with a specialised operator.

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation

    Sport Fishing - Murchsion Falls (Uganda)
    Private Boat Trip - Murchsion Falls (Uganda)
  • Day 06
    Transfer to Semliki WR - A long day ...

    You will depart after breakfast for Semliki Wildlife Reserve and travel via Fort Portal.

    Arrival at Fort Portal is foreseen in the afternoon for a hot lunch. After lunch, we then continue to Semliki. Enjoy the winding roads and scenic views on your way.

    Meals & Overnight at your accommodation.

    Semliki Valley (Semliki NP & Semliki WR): The Semliki Valley lies north-west of Fort Portal and lies on the Albertine rift valley bordering the DRC with Eastern Congo Lowlands, Guineao-Congo Forest Biome and Lake Victoria Basin biome species (boat excursion in the southern part of Lake Albert in search of the shoebill and other water birds. In the valley you have 2 protected areas: Semliki NP (220 km²) shares its eco-system with the vast Ituri Forest of Congo. Semliki WR contains 548 km² of woodland and savannah.

    Malachite Kingfisher - Semliki
    Woodland King Fisher - Semliki
    Grey-headed Kingfisher - Semliki
  • Day 07
    Semliki Wildlive Reserve - Boat cruise on Lake Albert – Game drive & Sundowner

    You will start this day with a boat ride on Lake Albert. Lake Albert is one of the best places to spot for the rare shoebill and other bird species. Your ride will be in a motorboat with an experienced guide. The shoebill is often found in swampy areas where it is easier for it to feed. The guide will also make sure to point the other bird species that can be seen here.

    You will then return for a hot lunch and a game drive in the afternoon.

    Semliki Wildlife Reserve is very vibrant with wildlife; it is home to over 400 bird species some of which are only found in Albertine Western Rift and a plenty of mammals such as lions, buffaloes, waterbucks etc. The game drive will give you an experience of this part while you get to see its wildlife and birds.

    Wind down the day as you watch the sun go down with a glass of wine at a strategic spot chosen by your guide.

    If you are interested, a night game drive maybe arranged for you to see the nocturnal animas such as mangoose, bush babies, bats, serval cats, etc. This is another way of experience the reserve.

    Meals & Overnight at your accommodation.

    Lake Albert is the northernmost of the chain of lakes in The Great Rift Valley; it is about 160 km long and 30 km  wide, with a maximum depth of 51 m and a surface elevation of 619 m above sea level. It is a typical Rift Valley lake lying at an altitude of 615 m between two parallel escarpments (Congo and Uganda).The main inflow is at the south end via the Semliki River which comes from Lake Edward through the western edge of the great Ituri rain forest in Congo, augmented by streams from the northern slopes of the Rwenzoris.

    Sadle - Bill Stork
  • Day 08
    Hot springs - Transfer to Kibale Forest NP – Bigodi wetlands walk

    Today, we leave the wildlife reserve and we make a diversion to visit the hot springs in the National Park before going to Kibale Forest NP.

    After breakfast, we have a visit to the hot springs in Semliki NP. These amazing springs have high temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius. The force, strength and hotness of this springs show the strength of the geographical forces underground. The trek to see these hot springs can lead you to see other forest wonders like the mangabey monkeys, the red-tailed monkey, the black and while colobus monkey and l’ Hoest among other things like the vegetation diversity.

    After this adventure with the hot springs, we drive to Bigodi via Fort Portal where you have a picnic lunch before going for the wetland walk. After your lunch, a brief visit of Fort Portal city can be organized.

    The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is home to 8 primate species, over 200 bird species, butterflies and various reptiles. For bird lovers the highlight of the afternoon is spotting the beautiful great blue turaco.

    The wetland walk is operated by a registered community-based organization. The income from the walk is used for community development projects such as schools and hospitals.

    Meals & Overnight at your accommodation.

    Semliki NP
    Hot springs Semliki National Park
  • Day 09
    The Best Experience with Wild Chimpanzees

    After breakfast, you leave for Kibale Forest renowned for the greatest variety and the highest concentration of primates in East-Africa. At the visitors centre the rangers are ready to escort different groups for this adventure. They will brief you about your guided nature walk in the tropical forest in search of the wild chimpanzees. This is one of the great moments of your safari!

    Today you will partake in the Chimpanzee habituation process.  This is an activity that will give you a unique opportunity to follow a group of chimpanzees that are not yet fully habituated on their daily activities. Accompanied with your ranger, the day starts very early in the morning where you follow the chimps from where the spent the night before (the rangers will take you there) and then you will follow the chimps throughout the day as they searc for food, hear them as they call out other group members, feed,  groom, rest and play. Excellent photo moments here. Your ranger will give you all the information about the close cousins of ours, answer all your questions and show you the other treasures of this forest. 

     See the Magic Safaris Video  

    Through this activity, you have joined Uganda Wildlife Authority in its efforts to habituate chimpanzees without changing their natural environment.

    This is one of the highlights of your safari and the best experience with the chimps in the wild!

    After this amazing experience chimps, you will continue on the exploration. This afternoon, we drive to Semliki National Park. Enjoy the winding roads and scenic views on your way.

    Dinner & overnight at your accommodation in Kibale.

    Kibale Forest NP offers the greatest variety and concentration of primates in East Africa including about 500 chimpanzees! It offers the best primate viewing (particularly chimpanzee viewing) and has a bird list of 335 bird species and 140 species of butterflies.

    Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (Kibale Uganda)
    Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (Kibale Uganda)
  • Day 10
    Transfer to Mweya - Game drives & boat trip on the Kazinga Channel

    After breakfast transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. You will enter the park and take the channel track which runs parallel with the Kazinga channel. The channel track is particularly rewarding with warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck and elephants.

    After lunch, you will take the launch trip on the Kazinga channel which many consider as a highlight of the safari. After the launch trip you have the option of relaxing at your accommodation or if you would like, your driver guide will take you for a late afternoon game drive!

    Dinner & overnight at your accommodation

    The Kazinga Channel is a natural channel of 36 km long between Lake George and Lake Edward. The launch trip is the most popular activity at Mweya. From the safe boat you can see lots of wildlife and many water birds.  The Kazinga Channel divides Queen Elizabeth in a northern (Mweya) and a southern part (Ishasha). Landscapes will be different. The northern part is a euphorbia savannah while the southern sector is a typical accacia savannah.

    Overnight at your accommodation

    Sadle Bill Stork - Channel - Queen Elizabeth - Uganda
    African Fish Eagle Kazinga Channel - Queen Elizabeth - Uganda
    Goliath Heron - Kazinga Channel - Queen Elizabeth - Uganda
    Hippo - Kazinga Channel - Queen Elizabeth - Uganda
    Elephants - Kazinga Channel - Queen Elizabeth - Uganda
  • Day 11
    Transfer to Ishasha - Southern Sector Queen Elizabeth

    After an early morning game drive, you will return for breakfast and after breakfast, you will be transferred to the southern part of this park – Ishasha

    You will have a game drive in the afternoon in search of these elusive tree-climbing lions.

    Dinner & overnight at your accommodation

    Ishasha – The Southern sector lies in the spectacular highland of Kigezi. Ishasha is famous for its tree-climbing lions. The concentration of game, with large herds of Uganda kob, topi and buffalo, is found in the savannah highlands of Kigezi and at the Lake Edward flats. elephants are also found, though not in large numbers. Bird watchers will appreciate the rich birdlife is along the Ishasha River.

    Martial eagle - Queen Elizabeth National Park
    African Goshawk
    Brown snake Eagle
    Uganda Kob - Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Topi Antilope - Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Day 12
    Ishasha - Bush breakfast – Game drive - Sundowner

    A bush breakfast is the best way to start this day!

    Very early in the morning, you get up for a rewarding game drive of about 2 hours. You will explore Ishasha, the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth considered by some experts as one of the most aluring game viewing area of East Africa. It's an off-the-beaten-track destination that you will surely enjoy. This is the best time for observing nature. Your driver/guide will then take you to a secluded spot of a scenic breakfast in the bush.

    You will then continue your scouting expedition; you return for a hot lunch then relax. On a particularly hot day, you may use this time for a shower or siesta.

    In the afternoon you will have another game drive and during the dry season we will drive you to the Edward's flats to see elephants, large herds of buffalo and different water birds. Wind down the day with a glass of wine and snacks as you enjoy the sunset and share stories of your day’s sightings.

    You return late in the evening to enjoy the last moments of the day on the Ntungwe river around a camp fire.

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation.

    Crested Crane - Queen Elizabeth National Park
    White-browed Coucal - Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Lilac-breasted Roller - Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Ishasha Landscape -   Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Day 13
    Transfer to Kisoro Region - Hiking the Buhoma - Nkuringo Trail

    After an early breakfast, you will drive to Buhoma where you have an optional hike through the forest to Nkuringo. This walk starts at Buhoma and is optional for those who are fit and would like to explore the forest on foot. Your driver/guide will drop you at the starting point and he will continue by road.

    Together with your forest guide and ranger, all you need on this walk is drinking water, a packed lunch and a rain jacket (this is a tropical rain forest, you need to be prepared for rain at any time). The rest of your luggage will be left in the car. It is safe with your driver and it will find you on the other side.

    The Ivi River Trail is a 14km walk with the most fascinating experiences and is conducted through an old road in the Jungle.

    The trail usually takes six and a half to seven and a half hours. You will ascend and descend gently through the interesting areas of the jungles with numerous viewpoints from the marram road to Nkuringo while overlooking mist covered valleys. This trail is commonly used by the local community members when travelling to or from Nkuringo especially during market days to the Nteko Village, Situated on the Southern Boundary of the Park. Some of the interesting animals you are likely to encounter include duikers, bush pigs, some famous bird species, monkeys and beautifully coloured butterflies.

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation.

  • Day 14
    Gorilla Trekking

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a natural world heritage site. Hikers will love it, with the gorilla excursion as a high point of your safari!

    Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

    Meals & overnight at your accommodation.

    The Bwindi Gorilla Experience: we have seen several times that visitors had some problems during their trekking. Rain can get you by surprise and during the dry season gorilla tend to climb higher for their preferred bamboo shoots. It has to be said that the park rangers and the porters are extremely helpful and will do everything they can to make sure that visitors can see the gorillas. We therefore strongly advise not to hesitate to take a porter. Porters can not only be very efficient but in return you help local communities to benefit from tourism! There is also a very efficient rescue team available in the parks for visitor getting in trouble!   

    Mountain Gorilla (Bwindi Forest Uganda)

  • Day 15
    Transfer to Kigali for departure

    After breakfast, you will check out of your accommodation and together with your driver/guide will drive to Kigali and if time allows, you will have a city tour before he takes you to the airport for your flight.

    This is the end of what we hope has been an amazing & memorable journey in the Pearl of Africa! 

    OPTION: If your departure flight is from Entebbe, we can organize an air transfer to Entebbe. Let us know how we can help you.


Your lifetime experience

This safari idea can be tailor-made to create a unique holiday for you. With our intimate knowledge of both Rwanda and Uganda, we look forward to designing and organizing a personalised and memorable holiday.

Contact us for a free quote

The Tour Package includes: Airport transfers, lodge accommodation, all meals, plenty of mineral water, the services of a Driver-Guide, all park and entry fees, all activities as per programme: visit of the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, game drives at Murchison Falls NP, boat trip on the Nile up to the Falls, visit of the top of the Falls, chimpanzee Habituation in Kibale**, game drives at Mweya, boat trip on the Kazinga channel,  game drives in Ishasha, gorilla trekking in Bwindi**.

It excludes: International and domestic flight ticket, beverages, tips, visas and personal expenses.

What to bring with you ? Money for your personal expenses, outfit with adapted colours for wildlife observation, good walking shoes, raingear, a few long-sleeve shirts, slippers, sweater for cool evenings, sun protection: hat, sunglasses, sun cream, video/photo camera, a 200 mm or longer telepholens is very usefull, reserve batteries, films and a torch.

Uganda Visa & Travel Requirments: Find out more.

A trip is the only thing that can be bought and makes you richer ...
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