The Ultimate One Week and Two Week Travel Itinerary for Uganda

Johnny

Uganda, a country whose beauty denies description, should be at the top of everyone’s bucket lists. From its impossibly green landscape, to its magnificent lakes, to the vast wilderness tracts covered in great herds of animals, there is something for everyone here. And of course, let’s not forget the mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is an experience you’ll never forget.

Uganda is easy to travel around and two weeks is more than enough to explore the highlights of the area. At the bare minimum, Uganda deserves a week to see all of its highlights and this itinerary will break it down as such!

In addition, I will also add a section after the itinerary on how to combine the trip with Kenya. It is a common trip to visit Kenya and enter Uganda by land.

 

Where I went in Uganda


I came to Uganda primarily to Gorilla Trek in May. Gorilla’s can be seen year round as they are concentrated within the one park, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. In addition, there are other fantastic sights within the country as well including Murchison Falls, and the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Uganda has two wet seasons: From mid-September to November, and March to May. The dry seasons run from June to August, and December to Feb (although this season is less dry). I visited in May during the wet season as the park was running a promotion at the time of discounted gorilla permit fees for $350. They are normally $600. The same discount is no longer offered (to my knowledge at least).

silverback gorilla uganda bwindi trekking

Large silverback walking away from me in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

In total, this itinerary is perfect for anyone with 7-14 days. These are the highlights of the trip

  • Kampala
  • Murchisan Falls
  • Lake Bunyonyi
  • Gorilla Trekking in the Bwindi
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park
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If these places ring a bell and sound like the places you want to visit, this is the perfect itinerary for you! I did my trip in that specific order but it is easy to mix and match depending on what you want to see.

 

What you need to know about Gorilla Trekking in Uganda


It’s likely the main reason you’re visiting Uganda is because of the gorillas. It certainly was mine. There is a lot to know about trekking the gorillas, including booking tours, purchasing a permit, what to pack, and what to expect from your day. I’ve written a detailed guide on everything you need to know about gorilla trekking.

 

How To Travel Around Uganda


Like the rest of East Africa, booking some sort of tour is necessary to travel to the points of interest in Uganda. Booking tours in Uganda is even more necessary than its neighbors Kenya and Tanzania.

 

Booking a tour in Uganda

Booking some sort of tour is absolutely necessary to visit the gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest. Prices for these tours are usually quoted without the gorilla permit which costs $600 USD. These “tours” are normally 3-4 days and just involves a driver that drives you the 6+ hours to your accommodation near the Bwindi, and then to the entrance of the Bwindi when it’s your turn to visit the gorillas.

sunset queen elizabeth national park uganda

Sunset in the Queen Elizabeth National Park

It’s not easy to do this excursion on your own. You could take a bus from Kampala to Kabala, and then take a taxi to your accommodation near the Bwindi. You’ll still need to find a transfer to the entrance of the Bwindi and back on your own.

Similarly, you could somehow find public transportation to a place like Murchison Falls, or Queen Elizabeth National Park. However, once you get there, you’ll still need to pay for game drives and people to take you around.

In addition, you can’t get the gorilla permits on your own. There’s no website where you can just purchase a permit with a credit card. To get just the gorilla permit, you’ll need to go through a tour operator and they will upcharge you the permit fee (normally $100-$200 extra), as they need to make phone calls and physically pick up the permit.

I am not sure you would save much money visiting the gorillas or Murchisan Falls or Queen Elizabeth NP on your own as opposed to booking a tour.

 

Rent a car with a driver

Ankole cows uganda

Herd of Ankole Cows indigenous to Uganda, and Sudan. An amazing sight to behold

This is another population option for those traveling Uganda. Similar to Madagascar, It’s possible to rent a driver with a car and plan your own customized itinerary. This includes picking where you want to stay, and as well as obtaining your own gorilla permit. There are numerous tour agencies that offer this option and will contract out the driver and take care of your gorilla permit as well. You can expect to pay $100-$150 a day depending on the vehicle. This is perfect if you have two or more people as it will likely be much cheaper than joining an organized tour.

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Road Trip Uganda has great fares and an easy booking system for this. Also, you can rent a car without a driver if you want to brave it on your own. The roads in Uganda are pretty decent and I would consider driving myself the next time I visit!

ankole cows uganda

One big and awesome surprise Uganda has in store are their cows. The ankole cows, a breed native to Uganda and South Sudan, have the biggest horns in the world, reaching up to 1m per horn!

 

Overland Tours for Uganda

nomad africa uganda overland tour

The group with Nomad Africa

I did the entire trip on an overland tour with Nomad Africa. An overland trip will be slightly more expensive than doing it yourself but I’d highly recommend them if you are one or two people and you don’t want the hassle of planning the trip. In addition, you get to meet some amazing people that will keep you entertained the entire trip. This itinerary focuses on those that are not planning to do an overland tour! For more info about overland tours, read my detailed Overland Tour Guide.

 

Detailed Posts

 

Is Uganda Safe to Travel?


This is a common question I always get about traveling through Africa. It’s not unfounded as you’re constantly being bombarded by the media in Western countries about crime statistics, poverty, political unrest and the like.

I’ve traveled extensively all around Africa and it’s like any other developing part of the world I’ve been to. There are some sketchy pockets but the vast majority of the country is completely fine assuming there’s no civil war happening. This is like every country I’ve ever been to, first world or third world. Like South Africa’s safety or Egypt’s safety, the big cities see more crime, and potential for crime picks up at night time. Avoid flashing the cash, reciprocate the friendly attitudes of the locals, try the local food and drinks, and you’ll be fine.

uganda lunch overland tour nomad

We stopped to make lunch on the road and we were the town attraction as people just came over to hang out with us.

With that said, I found Uganda to be incredibly safe and welcoming. The people here are very warm and friendly. Kampala is actually one of the more interesting African capitals I’ve been to and I wish I had more time to explore the city from a local’s perspective.

Read Also On Johnny Africa:  Uganda Overland Trip: Intro and Kampala

 

Visas for Uganda


Visas for Uganda can be purchased at entry for all Western passports. There is no work needed beforehand. The cost of the visa is $50 USD. If you’re planning to visit Kenya or Rwanda as part of your itinerary, it might make sense to purchase the East Africa Visa for $100 USD. This visa gives you access to all three countries and you only need to buy it once.

As always, make sure to have crisp post 2006 USD notes. Any sign of wear and tear can result in them rejecting your money!

 

Full Uganda Itinerary


The Itinerary starts in Kampala, Uganda’s bustling capital. Most people will get here by way of Entebbe Airport, located about 40 km outside of Kampala. Many people elect to stay in Entebbe before embarking on trips to Jinja, Murchison, or the Gorilla Trek but I wanted to explore Kampala.

Driving through the Equator!

From Nairobi, head to Murchison Falls for a 3 day 2 night excursion at the epic waterfalls there before returning to Kampala again. Then the journey starts to the Lake Bunyonyi, which is the base camp for the Gorilla trekking. From here, drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a two day safari, as well as hiking with the chimpanzees.

Return to Kampala afterwards.

 

Day 1-2: Explore Kampala


After landing in Entebbe Airport, the first thing I noticed was how green the country is. Africa is known for its lush vegetation and Uganda is perhaps the epitome of it. The traffic to get to Kampala goes through one main road with one lane. At most hours of the day, it’s a disaster. It took me over 1 hour to get to my guesthouse in the city.

Kampala is actually a very interesting city. It has seen drastic changes in the past few decades and is really a city that is on the rise. Take a day tour on a Boda Boda with Walter’s Tours. Boda Boda’s are little motorcycles and the preferred way for Ugandan’s to get around. They are everywhere and are a much cheaper alternative to taxis. Because of the terrible traffic, Boda boda’s are also a great way to avoid being stuck in traffic.

The ridiculous traffic on the Kampala-Entebbe Airport road. Where a Boda Boda comes in nicely.

The tour takes you to the main highlights of Kampala including the King’s Palace where you can see the prisons Idi Amin tortured his prisoners, the Gadaffi Mosque, and numerous fantastic vantage points. Tell them you want to sample the local Ugandan food as well and they will take you to their favorite street vendors selling delicious chapati’s and the famous Rolex (it’s a roll with eggs, get it?).

 

kampala street food uganda

Some local meat grilling for lunch.

 

Where to stay in Kampala?

As I was only here for two nights, I wasn’t too bothered by where I stayed. Red Chili Hideaway is the de facto accommodation option for those on any type of budget. I got a small room for myself with a shared bathroom for $30 a night. Dorm style accommodations can be had for $10 a night.

The grounds are actually quite nice as they have a large pool and numerous dining options on hand. I liked the Red Chili Hideaway as they have another location in Murchison Falls and offer good deals on tours. For Murchison Falls, the price is around $300 per person for the 3 day 2 night tour. It’s perfect for solo travelers as there will always be other travelers staying at the Red Chili.

 

Day 3-5: Murchison Falls


This is the largest national park in Uganda and has a large concentration of wildlife animals. Start the day with an early morning game drive on the northern bank of the Nile River with a bigger concentration of game where you will be able to view those animals that are unique to the African Savannah like the giraffe, lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant hyena, the Uganda kob etc. The bird life is also impressive, with the African fish Eagle being one of the prized sightings and with luck the rare shoebill stork. There is also a variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamp lands to broad Savannah.

Murchison Falls uganda

Boat tour at Murchison Falls

From Kampala, we left very early the first day before arriving at the top of Murchison Waterfalls in the afternoon. The second day was awesome. The morning was an epic game drive through the national park where we saw loads of elephants, hippos, and birds. The afternoon was followed by a boat cruise around the Nile river where we saw loads of hippos, crocodiles, and birds. Of course, the scenery was also captivating.

The third day was another game drive in the morning, before returning home to Kampala in the evening.

wildlife murchison falls

Wildlife at Murchison Falls

There are loads of tour operators offering this tour to Murchison Falls with varying itineraries. Some offer more game drives, some offer a visit to the rhino sanctuary, but all follow generally the same route. The fair price to pay for this 3 day/2 night excursion is $300-$400 per person.

Murchison Falls uganda

Murchison Falls

 

Where to stay in Murchison Falls: I really liked the Red Chili Hideaway in Murchison Falls. Accommodation is fantastic for all budgets.

 

Day 6-9: Lake Bunyoyi and Gorilla Trekking


Next part of the itinerary is to visit the famous mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest! While I did my tour with Nomad Africa in an overland tour, there are countless other tour operators that offer the exact same itinerary at similar prices. I personally liked the overland tours because of the people you meet. But it does involve camping (which you can pay to upgrade to more comfortable accommodations) and the overland truck is not the most comfortable.

Lake Bunyonyi (‘place of many little birds’) is undoubtedly the loveliest lake in Uganda. Its contorted shore encircles 29 islands, surrounded by steep terraced hillsides reminiscent of parts of Nepal. A magical place, especially with a morning mist rising off the placid waters, it has supplanted the Ssese Islands as the place for travellers to chill out on their way through Uganda, and has a selection of gorgeously remote and bucolic places to stay on distant islands, where you’ve only the birds for company. Best of all – unlike many lakes in East Africa – Bunyoni is bilharzia, croc and hippo free, and so its crystal-clear waters are all yours to swim in. Bliss.

lake bunyonyi uganda gorilla trekking

The beautiful scenery from our campsite in Lake Bunyonyi

Those visiting the Bwindi can elect to stay in Lake Bunyonyi, or closer to the Bwindi National Park in numerous different camps and lodges. I found Lake Bunyonyi to be very picturesque and relaxing. There are also other activities here you can enjoy like hiking and boat tours.gorilla-trekking-rwanda

gorilla-trekking-uganda

Getting ready to attack me. Ok not really, this is just him yawning but looking very ferocious

gorilla uganda hike bwindi

Baby gorilla in front of us

Gorillas fighting uganda bwindi

Two teenage gorillas surprised us by giving us a show of them play fighting each other

One full day here is of course dedicated to seeing the gorillas. I left early in the morning from Lake Bunyonyi as it’s a 2 hour drive. Sunrise was over the misty mountains of the area which was a nice touch. Once I reached the park, the rangers give you a short briefing and you’re off to track the gorillas starting at 9. Depending on the day and where your specific family of gorillas are, it can take any time between 1 to 8 hours to find the gorillas.gorilla trek uganda selfie

Once you find them (and you’ll always find them), you get 1 hour to interact, take photos, and generally gawk at what you’re witnessing. This hour will feel like 10 minutes but gorillas need their space as they are wild animals after all.

 

Where to stay in Lake Bunyonyi

  • Luxury: Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort, Lake Bunyonyi Eco Lodge
  • Budget: Bunyonyi Overland Resort

 

Where to stay in the Bwindi National Park

  • Luxury (Buhoma/North): Buhoma Lodge/Mahogany Springs
  • Luxury (South): Chameleon Hill lodge
  • Mid range (Buhoma/North): Silverback Lodge/Engagi Lodge
  • Mid range (South): Chameleon Hill Lodge/Gorilla Safari Lodge
  • Budget (Buhoma/North): Buhoma Community Bandas/Bwindi View Bandas
  • Budget (South): Gorilla Mist camp

 

Day 9-12: Queen Elizabeth National Park


After an early breakfast, it’s time to go to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, a park known to boast the highest bio-diversity ratings of any game park in the worlds with habitats to include; lakes, forest, savannah grassland as well as wetlands. It’s also known for its famous tree climbing lions, large elephant herds and an abundance of hippos in Lake Albert.

Kids just flock to me for some reason…

Our accommodations here were next to a local village and Lake Albert. You could see so many hippos from land which means that at night, you could see them on the land. Hippos routinely travel up to 30km from the confines of the water to graze for food at night. There were so many hippos inside our lodge campsite area which was an incredible experience (also the first hippo you see at night is terrifying).

Elephant in the distance.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda

tree climbing lions queen elizabeth national park uganda

The tree climbing lions of the Queen Elizabeth national park

lions queen elizabeth national park

Kibale Chimpanzee Hike

Kibale National Park is known for its families of chimps. Like the gorillas, it’s also possible to hike to see the chimps. It’s much cheaper, and also much quicker of a hike to see these guys. I found this hike to be just as amazing as the gorilla trek I went on days earlier. While chimps mostly hang out in the trees, there were many of them running around on the ground and it was incredible to see them in their natural environment!

KYAMBURA GORGE chimp hike

Chimpanzee relaxing underneath the trees.

Chimp running off after giving us all a scare.

Group shot right before we see the chimps

kibale national park chimp trek uganda

Group shot near Kibale National Park

 

 

Where to stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park

  • Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge
  • Mid range: Park view Lodge/Kasenyi safari lodge
  • Budget: Enganzi lodge

 

Kenya to Uganda overland


This is separate from this itinerary. Coming to Uganda via Kenya is very popular. You can combine the best of both countries with a visit to the Masai Mara and then westward to Uganda. Numerous airlines make this flight including Kenyan Airways, RwandAir, and Jambojet. By land, EasyCoach and MASH bus service make the drive on a daily basis.

The cost for transfer is normally around 2,000 to 2,500 Kenyan Shillings one way and takes roughly 12 hours. EasyCoach also stops in Jinja where you can join a tour for white water rafting before continuing on to Kampala.

 

Uganda Two Week Itinerary Day by Day breakdown


Here is a day by day breakdown of my two week Kenya and Tanzania itinerary.

Day 1 – Arrive in Kampala: Explore Kampala
Day 2 – Kampala: Full day Boda Boda Tour
Day 3 – Kampala to Murchisan Falls: Beginning of Murchisan Falls tour, visit the waterfalls in the afternoon
Day 4 – Murchison Falls: Full day Murchison Falls game drive and boat tour
Day 5 – Murchison falls to Kampala: Transfer to Arusha by bus
Day 6 – Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi: Early morning transfer to the Serengeti, afternoon game drive
Day 7 – Gorilla Trekking in the Bwindi: Full day game drive
Day 8 – Lake Bunyonyi : Full day exploring Lake Bunyonyi
Day 9 – Lake Bunyonyi to Queen Elizabeth National Park: Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, this will take the entire day
Day 10 – Queen Elizabeth National Park: Full day game drive
Day 11 – Queen Elizabeth National Park: Chimp hike in Kibale National Park
Day 12 – Return to Kampala: Early morning transfer back to Entebbe or Kampala
Day 13Jinja: If time permits, a full day white water rafting tour to Jinja. I think white water rafting on the Zambezi is better but this is still a great option!
Day 14: Fly home

 

Uganda One Week Itinerary Day by Day breakdown


This itinerary is for those that have around 1 weeks time (7-8 days). This will have gorilla trekking because this is likely the reason you’re coming here. To supplement the gorillas, I would recommend choosing between Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls. There will not be enough time to do both.

Day 1 – Arrive in Kampala: Explore Kampala
Day 2 – Kampala: Full day Boda Boda Tour
Day 3 – Kampala to Murchisan Falls: Beginning of Murchisan Falls tour, visit the waterfalls in the afternoon
Day 4 – Murchison Falls: Full day Murchison Falls game drive and boat tour
Day 5 – Murchison falls to Kampala: Transfer to Arusha by bus
Day 6 – Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi: Early morning transfer to the Serengeti, afternoon game drive
Day 7 – Gorilla Trekking in the Bwindi: Full day game drive
Day 8 – Lake Bunyonyi : Full day exploring Lake Bunyonyi

 

Uganda Self Drive Two Week Itinerary Day by Day breakdown


This itinerary is for those that are renting a car with a driver, or planning to drive themselves. In this case, you don’t need to go on prebooked tours, and can book your own accommodations. The tour agency that you rent the car and driver with, can help you find accommodations and arrange the gorilla permits for you. Highly recommend this option if you are more than 2 people as it will be much cheaper and you will save plenty of time.

 

Day 1 – Arrive in Kampala: Explore Kampala
Day 2 – Kampala: Full day Boda Boda Tour
Day 3 – (CAR RENTAL STARTS HERE) Kampala to Murchisan Falls: Drive to Murchison Falls and visit the waterfalls
Day 4 – Murchison Falls: Full day Murchison Falls game drive and boat tour
Day 5 – Murchison falls to Kibale National Park: This is a long day of driving from Murchison falls to Kibale National Park. This will likely take 8 hours or more.
Day 6 – Kibale National Park: Morning chimp hike in Kibale, relax in the afternoon
Day 7 – Kibale to Queen Elizabeth NP: Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park in the morning and afternoon game drive
Day 8 – Queen Elizabeth National Park: Full day game drive and boat cruise
Day 9 – Queen Elizabeth National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: Drive to the Bwindi National Park to prepare for the gorilla hike
Day 10 – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: Full day gorilla trek, drive to Lake Bunyonyi once finished
Day 11 – Lake Bunyonyi: Relax and full day exploring Lake Bunyonyi
Day 12 – Return to Kampala: Early morning transfer to the north of Zanzibar, Beach time
Day 13Jinja: If time permits, a full day white water rafting tour to Jinja. I think white water rafting on the Zambezi is better but this is still a great option!
Day 14: Fly home

Uganda, a country whose beauty denies description, should be at the top of everyone's bucket lists. Here is my perfect one and two week itinerary for traveling this country including stops in Kampala, Murchison Falls, Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi Impenetrable forest to trek with the gorillas, and Queen Elizabeth national Park. #uganda #travelitinerary #bwindi #gorillasinthemist #gorillas

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