Itching for the perfect African road trip? Look no further than the Republic of Uganda in East Africa. It has everything from nature, bucket list gorilla trekking, camping, and more – everything that a world adventurer dreams of. So here’s our tried and tested Uganda road trip itinerary for you.
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Perfect Uganda Road Trip and Travel Guide
Uganda is an amazing destination for adventurers who love nature and animals. It is less touristy than Kenya or Tanzania and consequently also cheaper. During a holiday in Uganda, you can enjoy beautiful parks, safaris, waterfalls, and the most astonishing walks.
This itinerary takes you along all the sights in western Uganda and illustrates why Uganda is called the Pearl of Africa. But first, let’s get some of the practical information out of the way.
Practical information to travel through Uganda Holidays
Here are some of the practical tips to get you started for your Uganda African vacation,
For your holiday in Uganda, you need a visa, which you can apply for online in advance for 100 euros. It will then be sent by email. It is a single-entry visa and is valid for 3 months.
WIFI/internet in Uganda
The internet in Uganda is not always reliable. In many places, the electricity goes out regularly and when you rely on the WIFI of the hotel, you are lost in many cases. Therefore, buy a local SIM card with which you can always access the internet.
Travel advice Uganda – Is it safe to travel through Uganda?
In recent years it has been relatively quiet and reliable to travel to Uganda. Always follow the latest Uganda travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before starting your adventure.
We didn’t feel unsafe at any time and the people are extremely friendly and helpful! Of course, always be on your guard and take care of your belongings. Do not wear expensive jewelry in public and always put your valuables away.
Remember that you will need mandatory vaccinations for your holiday in Uganda, malaria pills are also recommended!
Is traveling in Uganda expensive?
A trip through Uganda is pricey, especially if you want to visit several national parks and plan to do a gorilla hike. Uganda is not very touristy yet, which means that you only have a few hotels. Those hotels are often on the more expensive side. Eating and drinking in Uganda is very cheap. For example, you usually only pay 2.5 euros for a Gin Tonic!
Getting to Uganda
Contrary to what you might expect, Uganda’s international airport is not in its capital Kampala, but in Entebbe, just an hour by car outside the capital.
From Brussels, you fly with Brussels Airlines directly to Entebbe and you are about 8.5 hours underway. After such a long flight, it is advisable to acclimatize first and foremost.
Since the flights usually arrive after midnight, it is best to choose a hotel close to the airport, such as Via Via. This way you can come to your senses before starting your tour in Uganda.
Read more Uganda travel tips here.
Day 1 of Uganda Road Trip – Acclimatize in Entebbe
Once you arrive in Uganda, relax for the night and acclimatize in Entebbe. You can also use this day of your Uganda itinerary to prepare for your trip – pick up car rental, and camping gear if you are self-driving.
Uganda safari tour is also a good option, where you don’t have to do all the driving but get an expert guide to lead you.
Book a hotel close to the airport, like ViaVia, to immediately relax after your long journey.
Day 2 – 3 of Uganda Road Trip – Kibale National Forest Park – Primate Capital of the World
The first stop during your holiday in Uganda is Kibale National Park. This park is located about 230 kilometers from Entebbe.
To make the most out of your adventures in Kibale National Park, book a stay at Isunga Lodge. Here you can sleep in exclusive lodges with a breathtaking view over the rainforest while being in the middle of the crater lake area. It is the perfect base for exploring this beautiful region.
Discover nature, enjoy the outdoors, meet the community or just relax in this beautiful location.
In the beautiful rainforest of Kibale, you can end up face to face with wild chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates, including the red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus, red colobus, olive baboon, and gray-cheeked mangabey. Kibale is an incredible place for bird lovers as well, with about 375 different recorded bird species.
Chances are high that you will encounter trees filled with nests of the black-headed weaver birds in this area. The males of this bird species are busy all day building the perfect nest. The females then come to inspect their hard work and to see if the nest meets their requirements.
If not, they will break off the nest and the male can start over again. The birds chatter from sunrise to sunset. A beautiful scene to behold!
Just a 25-minute drive from the lodge, you’ll have access to the starting point of a chimpanzee tracking in Kanyanchu. The track is accessible from the age of 12 and costs 200 dollars. It is an absolute must!
A cheaper option to spot the chimpanzees is in the gorge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. You only pay 50 dollars (excluding park fees) but unlike Kibale National Park you are not 100% guaranteed that you will spot the chimpanzees.
Permits for the visits of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority from the age of 12.
Contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org. Booking in advance during the high season (mid-December-February and June-September) is highly recommended.
Uganda tour – Explore more of the area around Kibale National Park
This area is great for getting out on foot. You will find a variety of walks here along the crater lakes. You can choose between different forest walks and bird walks. You can also visit several communities, with local markets, as well as several tea plantations and vanilla farms.
Wander past these many small farms and banana plantations and get an up-close look at local village life.
For those who prefer two wheels, you can also explore the beautiful scenery around the lodge and crater lakes via a guided mountain bike tour. Cycle along quiet paths through the many villages and past its farms. See the crater lakes and enjoy stunning views of the forest and the Rwenzori Mountains.
Motorcycle tours (on the local boda boda) can also be a fun way to explore the region with an expert guide. Or rent an inflatable kayak and explore the surroundings on one of the nearby crater lakes.
Another popular activity is the Bigodi swamp nature walk. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is situated 6 km from Kanyanchu, outside the national park.
The 3-hour guided hike of 4.5 km around the marsh area can be done in the morning or afternoon. During the walk, you can often see different species of monkeys and there are more than 200 bird species to admire.
Day 4 – 6 Uganda safari – Queen Elizabeth National Park
During your holiday in Uganda, you will undoubtedly want to go on a beautiful safari and Queen Elizabeth Park is the perfect place for that.
After a five-hour drive from Kibale National Park, you will find the stunning park. It is home to giraffes, elephants, hippos, pelicans, buffalo, crocodiles, and antelopes. With a bit of luck, you can even spot thousands of flamingos here!
The park borders the Kazinga canal. Here the water flows endlessly into two gigantic lakes, Lake George and Lake Edward.
The massive Rwenzori mountains, aptly described as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, provide a spectacular view.
The savannah park of Queen Elizabeth is the most famous park in Uganda and with 2,000 square kilometers also one of the largest.
For an unforgettable experience, book a room at Mweya Safari Lodge. Here the hippos come to graze at night in front of the door of your terrace and during the day you get the company of warthogs. The hotel has a swimming pool with a beautiful view over the Kazinga canal.
It is located in the park, giving you the freedom to go on a game drive whenever you want. Normally the gates of the park close at 7pm but when you stay at Mweya Safari Lodge you don’t have to take this into account and you can even go on a night game drive to spot hyenas and cheetahs!
Other activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Enjoy a boat ride on the Kazinga Canal
During a two-hour boat trip, you will spot hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and various bird species. An absolute must to have fun with the whole family!
Chimpanzee hiking in Kyambura Gorge
Just 35 kilometers from the lodge you can go on a chimpanzee trek in Kyambura Gorge on the east side of the park.
The lodge is home to a variety of wildlife, including the only primates in The Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The area is an important water source for many animals and is surrounded by savannah. You will also find red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons, and vervet monkeys here. The gorge is also known for its variety of bird species, including several falcons, the blue-headed bee-eater, and the African Finfoot.
The hike is an easy pleasant walk accompanied by guides and an absolute must. The cost is 50 dollars per person, excluding park fees.
Discover the distorted crater lakes
There are mainly three large crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park; Katwe Crater Lake where salt is excavated, the Bunyaruguru crater fields along the Kichwamba slope, and the Ndali-Kasenda crater fields closer to Kibale National Park.
Enjoy the beautiful views during a walk, a bike ride, or a boat trip.
Spot tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The famous tree-climbing lions of the Ishasha sector can be found in large fig trees in the secluded southern end of the park and are without a doubt one of the biggest attractions of Queen Elizabeth Park. There are about sixty tree lions in the park.
The lions have adapted to the environment and crawl into the trees to protect themselves from insects, buffalos, and other wildlife.
Day 7- 8 of Uganda Roadtrip – Visiting Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
The next stop during your holiday in Uganda is Bwindi National Park, after a three-hour drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park. Bwindi Park, located in southwestern Uganda, covers 32,000 ha and is known for its exceptional biodiversity.
Here you can experience the world-famous Gorilla hike! The Park is the habitat of more than half of the remaining mountain gorilla population in the world.
Where to stay in Bwindi National Park? Agandi Uganda Eco-lodges
High in the mountains of Bwindi National Park lies Agandi Uganda Eco-lodges. This is without a doubt one of the most idyllic places to stay during your Uganda tour. It is a lot cooler here and an occasional tropical rain shower is, due to the altitude, inevitable.
You can enjoy a beautiful view over the jungle and the many volcanoes. Fruits and vegetables are grown at the lodge and the food is simply delicious. The road to the lodge is bumpy, or with the word of our driver: you will enjoy an ‘African massage’ along the way.
You pass through small villages and witness the real African life where men, women, and children are all busy with their daily tasks. Gathering wood, fetching water, grazing goats, cow milking.
The lodge is close to the Ruhija entrance to Bwindi park, which is one of the easiest starting points for the gorilla hike.
Here’s what you need to know about the gorillas in Uganda
Before you make a hike to the gorillas in Uganda, it is useful to know a thing or two about the gorillas. This way you appreciate these special animals even more. Below you will find the most important information about the mountain gorillas in a row.
Mountain gorillas are almost literally people. Their DNA matches 98% with that of humans! The mountain gorillas are only common in the Virunga Mountains of Central and West Africa, namely in Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Unfortunately, the gorillas are threatened with extinction due to deforestation and poaching.
Today there are about a thousand mountain gorillas and although the population has improved in recent years, the gorillas are still very well protected today…and rightly so!
The primates reproduce quite slowly. Females give birth to, on average, between two and six babies during their lifetime, with a gestation period of nine months.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
A gorilla trekking is without a doubt one of the highlights during a visit to Uganda. It is an opportunity that you absolutely should not miss, even though the adventure is certainly not cheap. You can start this adventure at the age of 15.
The hike to see the Gorilla mountains in Uganda
Before you start the hike, you will receive an extensive briefing, to which you should pay attention. After that, you will be split into groups of a maximum of eight people.
The division depends on everyone’s condition, so slightly older people will be put together and it will be ensured that they can visit the nearest gorilla family.
After the briefing, you will drive together with rangers to the starting point, where the adventure starts.
You do not know in advance how long the hike and search for the mountain gorillas will take. Some only have to hike for half an hour, others for six hours…We were very lucky!
Not only were we the only two in our group but we also found the gorillas after only an hour of walking in the rainforest.
It is possible to have your backpack carried by a porter. This person will also help you on the sometimes very steep parts during your uphill climb in the rainforest. A porter costs 15 dollars and with this, you support the locals at the same time.
Face to face with Uganda’s mountain gorillas
Once you have found the family of mountain gorillas, you can admire these amazing animals for an hour. Since they often sit on the ground, you’ll have plenty of time to take beautiful snaps and watch them in all their glory.
We saw a family that consisted of a silverback, two babies, and six females. It is mandatory to wear a mouth mask during your visit, as the mountain gorillas are extremely susceptible to diseases.
Unfortunately, the hour seemed to last only five minutes. So take full notice of the precious time you will spend with the greatest primates on earth!
Mountain gorilla hike Uganda: Practical tips & Gorilla Trekking Permits
A gorilla hike requires some preparation. Here you will find all practical and useful information for spotting gorillas in Uganda!
How much does gorilla trekking cost in Uganda?
A permit in Uganda costs $ 700 per person, about 620 euros. This is quite a sum, but know that most of it go to protecting the gorillas. Some of the money also goes to the locals. This allows roads, schools, and hospitals to be built.
How to buy a permit for a gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Since places are limited, it is necessary to apply for your permit well in advance. This can be done both on-site and online.
Permits for the visits of gorillas in Bwindi National Park can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority from the age of 15. Contact them via email@example.com. Booking in advance in the high season (mid-December-February and June-September) is highly recommended.
When is the best time to trek for gorillas in Uganda?
A gorilla hike in Uganda is best to be planned during the high season (mid-December-February and June-September). These are the driest months which facilitates the hike to the gorillas.
You can of course also start the tour in the other months. The chance of rain is then greater. Certainly, take this into account because there can be severe thunderstorms in the jungle during these periods.
How safe is a gorilla trekking in Uganda?
The gorillas are visited daily and are used to seeing people. So you shouldn’t be afraid at all.
As long as you follow the rules that were told during the briefing, you have nothing to fear. However, never look the gorillas in the eye and don’t forget to growl every now and then to let them know that you are comfortable and will not do anything to harm them.
You also have rangers with you during your adventure who will protect you at all times.
What do you take with you during your gorilla hike and what do you put on?
- Good sturdy and waterproof walking shoes are an absolute must. The hike is steep and slippery, shoes with grip are a necessity!
- Wear a long-sleeved T-shirt and long pants. Put the legs of your pants in your socks so that ants cannot reach your skin.
- Take enough water and snacks with you as you do not know in advance how long the hike will take.
- In addition, it is best to bring sunglasses, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a raincoat and of course a camera!
Day 9 – 10 of Uganda itinerary – Lake Mutanda – An oasis of peace
The next stop during your tour in Uganda is Lake Mutanda, a three-hour drive from Bwindi National Park. Book a lodge at Mutanda Lake Resort to fully enjoy this beautiful place. The lodge is located on a peninsula on Lake Mutanda in the shadow of the Virunga Mountains.
This resort offers comfortable accommodation combined with the most beautiful views of Aarde. It is a perfect base for gorilla trackers, hikers, and bird lovers, as well as for those looking for a quiet place in nature.
Activities on Lake Mutanda
- Explore the many islands of the lake in a traditional canoe just like the local fishermen.
- Visit the Golden Monkeys in their natural habitat
- Spot otters and hundreds of bird species around the lake
- Visit the locals
- Embark on a challenging volcano hike
- Explore the lake at your own pace on a paddleboard
Day 11 of Uganda road trip itinerary – Lake Bunyonyi – the second deepest lake in Africa
If you drive further south during your Uganda tour, you’ll end up in the green hills of the perched Lake Bunyonyi, a two-hour drive from Lake Mutanda.
We stayed at Arcadia lodges Lake Bunyonyi, in Kabale, and enjoyed stunning views over the many different islands on the lake. Here you start the day with a brisk swimming session, a beautiful canoe trip, or an active quad bike ride.
Lake Bunyonyi is 900 meters deep at certain points, which makes it the second deepest lake on the African continent after Lake Tanganyika.
Day 12 – 13 Lake Mburo National Park – Visit Uganda’s smallest national park
Continue your holiday in Uganda towards Lake Mburo NationalPark, about a five-hour drive from Lake Bunyonyi.
Lake Mburo National Park is Uganda’s smallest savannah park and is home to 350 bird species, zebras, giraffes, impalas, moose, buffalo, Orbis, Defassa waterbuck, leopards, hippos, hyenas, topi, and reedbucks. The park is at its best during the rainy season when the park turns beautifully green.
Although it is one of the smallest parks in the country, you can see a lot of activists here. Enjoy a game drive during the day or night. Or discover the park on a horseback or by foot or bike!
Stay at Mihingo lodge during your visit!
Without a doubt, this was the most beautiful place we stayed during our tour in Uganda. The staff, like the entire population in Uganda, is cheerful and extremely helpful. The food is exquisite and the lodges are beautiful!
An absolute must!
Day 14 of Uganda Itinerary – Jinja – at the source of the Nile
A visit to the adventurous Jinja could not be left out during your tour in Uganda. Here you can go rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, horse riding.
The famous River Nile flows through this city and that makes the environment even more magical. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets to the fullest.
Or visit Mbira Forest, a half an hour’s drive out of Jinja. Mbira Forest is home to the hornbill, the black and white Colobus monkey, and the velvet monkey. In the forest, you can also fully indulge yourself on the mountain bike.
Day 15 of Uganda Itinerary
On day 15, you can come back to Kampala/ Entebbe to bid adieu to Uganda after this epic trip!
Other places to add to your drive Uganda & related travel tips
Here are 2 more spots that you can check out during your trip. Feel free to swap them for below
- Kidepo Valley National Park: Kidepo Valley National Park is located in northeast Uganda. It is home to Mount Morungole, Kidepo, and Narus rivers. You can get there by car from Kampala in 30 minutes, one way.
- Murchison Falls: You can have an extra (full) day at the Murchison Falls National Park. The park is located on the shore of Lake Albert and is known for its wildlife and shoebill storks. You will love the sight of the Falls, where the Victoria Nile River surges through into a big drop.
I hope you found this travel guide on Uganda useful. Traveling through Uganda was a wonderful experience.
It is a trip that you will remember for years to come and is absolutely worth it!