Journey Through Uganda and Rwanda: Wildlife, Culture, and History
Destinations: Uganda and Rwanda
Duration: 8 days
Discover the untamed beauty, vibrant cultures, and profound history of Rwanda and Uganda as you embark on a transformative journey through captivating landscapes, encounter majestic wildlife, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of local traditions. This trip is an opportunity to connect with nature, ignite your senses, and embrace the indomitable spirit of these remarkable East African nations.
Embarking on a trip to Uganda and Rwanda offers a diverse range of experiences that combine natural beauty, cultural immersion, and historical insights. Begin your journey in Uganda by arriving in Entebbe and exploring the rich biodiversity of Mabamba Swamp, including the elusive Shoebill bird. Next, visit Bwindi Forest and adventure on a trek to find mountain gorillas. After enjoying this once in a lifetime experience, proceed to Lake Bunyonyi, immersing yourself in its serene beauty and engaging with the nearby Batwa community. Discover their traditional way of life and artistic heritage.
Continue to Rwanda and start your exploration in Kigali, where you can visit the poignant Genocide Memorial, paying tribute to Rwanda’s history and commitment to reconciliation. From there, venture to Akagera National Park, where the Giraffe Area allows you to witness the grace of Rothschild’s giraffes. Conclude your trip in Nyungwe National Park, exploring its lush rainforests and encountering primates like chimpanzees and golden monkeys. On the way, visit the King’s Palace in Huye to learn about Rwanda’s traditional monarchy.
This comprehensive trip offers an immersive and unforgettable experience, blending cultural exploration, wildlife encounters, and historical insights.
We take pride in offering you a unique and unforgettable experience. Our tours are designed to be tailored to your preferences, ensuring that you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether you are interested in luxury tour, family trip, or adventure safaris, AOS has the perfect vacation package for you.
“Through the mist-covered forests and rugged terrain, a remarkable encounter awaits. In the presence of majestic gorillas, we are reminded of our kinship with the wild, and humbled by their wisdom and grace. Gorilla trekking is not merely an adventure; it is a profound journey of connection, fostering a deeper appreciation for the intricate harmony of nature and the urgency to protect these gentle giants and their fragile realm.” – Olia Kinoti
- Discover the rich biodiversity of Mabamba Swamp in Entebbe, Uganda, and set your sights on the elusive Shoebill bird, a symbol of the wetland’s incredible natural treasures.
- Embark on an awe-inspiring adventure of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest, Uganda, where you will have the extraordinary opportunity to encounter endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
- Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, engaging with the Batwa community and experiencing their traditional way of life and vibrant artistic expressions.
- Witness the poignant history of Rwanda at the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, honouring the strength and resilience of a nation committed to reconciliation.
- Embark on a captivating safari in Akagera National Park’s Giraffe Area, where you can marvel at the grace of endangered Rothschild’s giraffes in their natural habitat.
- Uncover Rwanda’s historical legacy at the King’s Palace in Huye, gaining insights into the traditional monarchy and its influence on the country’s cultural heritage.
- Explore the lush rainforests of Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda, encountering chimpanzees, golden monkeys, and a diverse array of wildlife amidst breathtaking landscapes.
- Throughout the trip, be inspired by the resilience of the people, the breathtaking landscapes, and the extraordinary wildlife encounters, forging unforgettable memories that will stay with you long after the journey ends.
Day 1 – Your Adventure Begins!
Arrive and transfer to your guest house in Entebbe, Uganda.
On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for dinner and overnight. Depending on time of arrival, you can have an optional visit to Mabamba Swamp famous for the rare Shoebill stork.
Mabamba Swamp, located in Entebbe, Uganda, is a natural treasure brimming with incredible biodiversity. Nestled along the shores of Lake Victoria, this wetland paradise is a haven for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike. With its sprawling papyrus beds, tranquil waterways, and dense vegetation, Mabamba Swamp provides a thriving habitat for a rich array of flora and fauna. One of its most renowned attractions is the elusive Shoebill, a magnificent bird with a distinct, shoe-shaped bill. This rare and endangered species draws enthusiasts from around the globe, hoping to catch a glimpse of its majestic presence. Exploring Mabamba Swamp offers a serene and immersive experience, where visitors can embark on captivating boat tours, traverse winding trails, and immerse themselves in the captivating beauty of this unique ecosystem.
Day 2- Bwindi Forest – Drive to the Home of Gorillas
Your Gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda starts with pick-up from your guest house in Entebbe not later than at 7:30am. Drive to Mbarara, travelling via Masaka. We pause at the equator to take photographs of the crossing, stretch our legs and enjoy some snacks. Then we continue to Igongo Cultural village where we break our journey for lunch, and then head to Bwindi Forest. The dense rainforest of Bwindi, famous for its gorilla population, is one of the most fertile and rich in the world, being home to a variety of primates, animals, insects and exotic birds. After a long day, take your well-deserved rest at your hotel/lodge.
Nestled in the heart of Uganda, Igongo Cultural Village stands as a vibrant tribute to the rich heritage and traditions of the Ankole people. Located near Mbarara, this cultural gem offers a captivating glimpse into the history and lifestyle of the region. Upon entering the village, visitors are greeted by traditional huts, adorned with intricate patterns and artwork, showcasing the architectural brilliance of the Ankole people. The village also houses a fascinating museum that houses a vast collection of artifacts, traditional clothing, and historical displays, providing a comprehensive overview of the Ankole culture. Exploring Igongo Cultural Village allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions, taste the delectable Ankole cuisine, witness captivating cultural performances, and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural tapestry of Uganda.
Day 3 – Mountain Gorilla Trekking and Batwa Community Visit
Mountain gorillas are true gentle giants found in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Your ranger will guide you to the enormous and rare mountain gorillas deep in the jungles of Bwindi. The trekking experience takes anything from one hour (rarely) to about eight hours to accomplish, and you only have one hour with gorillas to capture your finest moment.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest, Uganda, is an awe-inspiring adventure that offers a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with these magnificent creatures. Nestled amidst the lush greenery of southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Forest is home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. Embarking on a gorilla trekking expedition takes visitors through dense vegetation, across rugged terrain, and into the heart of the gorilla’s natural habitat. Guided by experienced trackers and armed with a sense of wonder, visitors embark on a thrilling journey to observe these gentle giants up close. The trek can be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable as you come face to face with a gorilla family, witnessing their intricate social interactions, observing their sheer strength, and being captivated by their expressive eyes. This extraordinary experience not only creates lifelong memories but also serves as a powerful reminder of the need to conserve and protect these critically endangered species and their fragile ecosystems.
After the gorilla trekking experience, as you reminisce, we depart for Lake Bunyonyi, the 2nd deepest lake in Africa.
Enjoy stunning scenery – interlocking hills terraced by the locals as they practice farming, named the “Switzerland of Africa” by Churchill, the great British diplomat. Nestled amidst the lush green hills of southwestern Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is a hidden gem known for its breathtaking beauty and serene tranquility. This picturesque lake, often referred to as the “Place of Many Little Birds,” captivates visitors with its crystal-clear waters and the myriad of small islands that dot its surface. The scenery is simply mesmerizing, offering a perfect backdrop for relaxation, canoeing, or simply soaking in the serenity of nature. Adjacent to Lake Bunyonyi lies the Batwa community, an indigenous group with a rich cultural heritage.
Take an afternoon boat ride in the lake for a cultural visit to a neighbouring village to see the famous Batwa community. Visiting the Batwa community provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in their traditional way of life, learn about their ancient customs, and gain a deeper understanding of their harmonious relationship with nature. Interacting with the Batwa people, listening to their stories, and participating in their cultural activities creates a meaningful and transformative experience that fosters cultural exchange and appreciation. Lake Bunyonyi and the Batwa community together offer a captivating journey that combines natural beauty with cultural exploration, leaving visitors with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for the diversity of Uganda’s heritage.
After, return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 – Your Rwanda Expedition Starts Today
After breakfast depart at 07:00 hrs for Kigali, Rwanda.
The journey is breathtaking with a lot to see as you drive, which will include the border crossing to Rwanda via Katuna/Gatuna. You will drive through beautiful landscapes of Uganda and Rwanda, where you will have a thrilling taste of the “a thousand hills”. You’ll witness spectacular views of the terraces and lakes. Your drive to Kigali city will include lunch en route in a nice restaurant of your choice. Once you arrive in Kigali, enjoy the hotel amenities, rest, and relax as you prepare to explore this beautiful country in the next few days.
Day 5 – Akagera National Park and Lake Ihema
After early breakfast at around 07:30hrs we will start our journey to Akagera National Park, home of Big 5 game drives in Rwanda. Akagera National Park, located in the eastern part of Rwanda, is a captivating destination that showcases the country’s commitment to conservation and biodiversity. Named after the meandering Akagera River that flows through its vast plains, this national park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It boasts diverse ecosystems, including savannah plains, wetlands, lakes, and rolling hills. The park is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, and numerous bird species. Embarking on a safari in Akagera National Park offers thrilling opportunities to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. After arrival at the lodge, check in, enjoy your lunch, relax a bit.
In the afternoon embark on the sunset boat cruise where you are rewarded with viewing several hippos and bird species on Lake Ihema, witnessing the serene beauty of the surroundings and encountering hippos and crocodiles along the shores. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a commitment to conservation, Akagera National Park provides a remarkable experience that immerses visitors in the beauty and wildness of Rwanda’s natural heritage.
Retire and drive back to the lodge, spending evening at leisure.
Day 6 – Giraffe Area of Akagera National Park and Genocide Memorial in Kigali
Akagera is also known as one of the most scenic savannahs in East Africa. After your breakfast, pick up your packed lunch boxes and head for a visit to the Giraffe Area.
The Giraffe Area in Akagera National Park is a unique and enchanting corner of the park that offers a glimpse into the lives of these graceful and towering creatures. Situated in the northeastern part of the park, this area is dedicated to the conservation and protection of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. As visitors enter the Giraffe Area, they are greeted by the sight of these majestic creatures gracefully moving through the savannah grasslands and browsing on the treetops. The park provides a safe haven for these giraffes to thrive and offers an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to observe them up close. Witnessing the elegance and tranquility of these gentle giants as they roam freely in their natural habitat is a truly memorable experience that highlights the importance of conservation efforts in safeguarding these magnificent species. The Giraffe Area in Akagera National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts seeking a deeper connection with these iconic animals.
Continue with a drive straight back to Kigali. Upon arrival, visit the Genocide Memorial centre, then drive to your hotel.
The Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, stands as a solemn and powerful testament to the tragic events that unfolded in the country in 1994. Located in the capital city, this memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the Rwandan Genocide and honors the memory of the approximately one million people who lost their lives during that dark period. The memorial offers a deeply moving and educational experience, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the genocide’s history, its impact on Rwandan society, and the importance of promoting unity and reconciliation. Through thought-provoking exhibits, personal stories, and a serene atmosphere, the Genocide Memorial provides a space for reflection, remembrance, and healing. It serves as a vital symbol of Rwanda’s commitment to never forget the past and to build a more peaceful and inclusive future.
Day 7 – Experiencing Real Rwandan Life and King’s Palace of Huye
In the morning after your breakfast, head to Muhanga to join locals at their hillside. Witness locals working, feasting, creating and laughing by participating in a day life of artisans, including Imigongo (Cow Dung experiences). Other optional activities today are: traditional cooking, candle dipping and hive making.
Imigongo, a traditional Rwandan art form, holds a significant place in the country’s cultural heritage. This unique artistic technique involves the creation of intricate geometric patterns and designs using cow dung and natural pigments. Imigongo art is typically found adorning walls, pottery, and wooden items. The earthy tones and symmetrical patterns reflect Rwanda’s connection to nature and its rich history. Imigongo art is not only visually captivating but also carries cultural and symbolic meaning, often representing themes such as fertility, prosperity, and traditional values. The art form has evolved over generations, and today, it continues to be cherished and preserved, serving as a testament to Rwanda’s artistic prowess and cultural identity. Visitors to Rwanda have the opportunity to witness the beauty of imigongo art firsthand, appreciating the craftsmanship and the stories it weaves about the country’s vibrant heritage.
Afterward, head to Huye via Nyanza with a visit to royal King Palace. The King’s Palace in Huye, Rwanda, is a fascinating historical site that offers a glimpse into the traditional monarchy of the country. Also known as the Nyanza Palace, it was the royal residence of the Rwandan kings, specifically King Mutara III Rudahigwa. This beautifully restored palace stands as a testament to Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the royal traditions and customs of the past. The palace complex consists of various buildings, including the king’s residence, royal courts, and traditional huts. Inside, visitors can view artifacts, royal regalia, and learn about the monarchy’s significance in Rwandan history. The tranquil surroundings and stunning views add to the allure of this cultural gem. The King’s Palace in Huye is a must-visit destination for those seeking to delve into Rwanda’s royal legacy and gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s cultural heritage.
Enjoy lunch along the way and arrive at your lodge at Nyungwe National Park for a well-deserved rest and an early start next morning.
Day 8 – Nyungwe National Park, Chimpanzee Trekking, and return to Kigali
Your last day in Rwanda will be action packed! On this day you will enjoy an early breakfast at your lodge before embarking on a thrilling hike in search of chimpanzee communities. The Rwandan chimpanzee population is thought to consist of approximately 400-500 individuals, confined to the Nyungwe National Park, including a small community in the Cyamudongo Forest. Prepare to hear these excitable primates before you see them, as their pant-hoots travel through the deep forest. During your hike you may also spot migratory birdlife including the Ross’ turaco, grey-cheeked hornbill, red-breasted sparrow hawk and regal sunbird, later proceed with tea plantation experiences around the park.
Nyungwe National Park, located in southwestern Rwanda, is a pristine and biodiverse haven that captivates visitors with its lush forests, stunning landscapes, and rich wildlife. This remarkable park, spanning over 1,000 square kilometers, is one of Africa’s oldest rainforests and a treasure trove of natural wonders. Nyungwe is renowned for its remarkable biodiversity, housing over 1,000 plant species, including rare orchids and ancient mahogany trees. It is also home to 13 primate species, including chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and the endangered golden monkeys. Exploring Nyungwe National Park offers a unique opportunity for unforgettable encounters with these fascinating primates, as well as breathtaking hikes along its well-maintained trails, leading to panoramic viewpoints, cascading waterfalls, and captivating vistas. The park’s tranquil atmosphere and remarkable biodiversity make it a paradise for nature lovers and a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly immersive and awe-inspiring experience in Rwanda.
After these experiences, transfer to the lodge, check out and drive back to Kigali. Have your lunch along the way and use a few minutes to do the last-minute souvenir shopping in the city, then drive to Kigali international Airport for your outbound flight back home (evening flight).
Bid farewell to Rwanda as you transfer to the airport for your departure. Take with you cherished memories of the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality experienced during your adventure in Africa.
- Immersive safari experience with the attentive and knowledgeable services of an experienced English-speaking safari guide.
- Comfortable accommodations and healthy meals, including unforgettable experiences of shopping at a local market and making a meal with a Gambian family.
- Vehicles stocked with refreshing soft drinks and bottled water to keep you hydrated during your safari adventure.
- Complimentary Wi-Fi at hotels and lodges.
- All ground transportation, providing you with comfortable and convenient transfers between destinations and ensuring a seamless and stress-free journey.
- Seamless airport transfers, as well as all game park, national park, and entrance fees, allowing you to simply relax and revel in the unforgettable experiences that await you on your journey.
- Extensive safety protocols perfected by over 25 years of on-the-ground expertise.
- Close encounter with gorillas and chimpanzees while trekking.
- An unforgettable visit to the world renown King’s Palace and Genocide Memorial in Rwanda.
- Scenic boat rides in Uganda and Rwanda.