About Rwanda & Uganda Travel
Kigali: Kigali is a gateway to Rwanda. In the heart of the country, this rapidly growing city is the national capital, but also the country’s most important business center and main port of entry. Now a century old, it began in 1907 as a small colonial outpost with little connection to the outside world. Kigali has come of age and made major strides. It is a city that has not just survived, but has prevailed and has grown into a modern metropolis. Kigali is blessed with a moderate high altitude climate that belies its tropical location. The city spreads across four ridges and valleys. The ridges have an average elevation of 1,599 meters/5,246 feet, while the valleys are around 1,301 meters/4,270 feet.
Lake Kivu: Kivu is the largest of Rwanda’s many freshwater lakes. Steep terraced hills lead down to the picturesque lakeshore, and three resort towns, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu. The Rift Valley Mountains and the volcanic Virungas can be seen to the north. The lake’s inlets, peninsulas and waterfalls provide a relaxing stop.
Parc National Des Volcans: The park protects the montane ecosystems of evergreen and bamboo forest, grassland and swamp. Some 178 bird species are here, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic. Five of eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains are here. It is home to another group of gorillas. Hiking into this tangle of wilderness is a remarkable experience. The voices of the rainforest come in the form of bird calls and monkey chatter. An encounter with gorillas in the wild makes it easy to understand the passion of Dian Fossey, who worked to protect these magnificent creatures for 18 years.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the southwest of Uganda is roughly 518 square kilometers/200 square miles of extremely dense rainforest. It has more than 120 species of mammals, including chimpanzee, black and white colobus, bushpig, duiker, leopard, jackal and elephant, plus 350 species of birds. But the stars here are the 340 Bwindi gorillas, half the world’s population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park, and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. It covers 331 square kilometers/128 square miles of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns.
Entebbe: Entebbe sits on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. The old colonial gardens and parks give Entebbe a relaxed atmosphere. The United Nations uses Entebbe as a depot and staging area for their vehicles and heavy equipment that are part of peace keeping and other missions in the central African region The National Botanical Gardens of Uganda were laid out here in 1898, and are divided into different zones, including a rainforest zone. A trivia note: This rainforest formed the backdrop to scenes from the Tarzan films featuring Johnny Weissmuller in the 1940s.
Kibale National Forest: Uganda’s Kibale National Park has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey. The park is also home to over 325 species of birds, 13 species of primates and over 250 tree species. The predominant ecosystem in Kibale is evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a forest reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations (pines and eucalyptus). Since the national park was gazetted many of these introduced trees have been removed and logging has ended.
Lake Mburo National Park: Five lakes within the park host hippos, crocodiles and a variety of waterbirds, while swamps on the fringe support sitatunga antelope and red, black and yellow papyrus gonalek. The park is just 260 square kilometers/100 square miles, making it one of Uganda’s smaller national parks, but it is noted for its rich biodiversity and a variety of animals such as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck as well as over 300 bird species.
Ngamba Island: Ngamba Island forms part of Uganda’s Kome Archipelago, a group of islands separated from the northern shore of Lake Victoria. The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was begun in 1998 when 19 orphaned chimpanzees were rescued from poachers. Ngamba was chosen because it was uninhabited rainforest that closely resembled their native habitat. It is accessible either by a speedboat or traditional canoe. It is supported by Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Born Free Foundation and Jane Goodall Institute. Guests may accompany juvenile chimpanzees on a walk through their forest habitat in the early morning. Please note that visiting here does require certain health checks for the protection of the chimpanzees.
Queen Elizabeth National Park: This Ugandan park sits between Rwenzori Mountains to the east and Lake Edward to the west. Conservation efforts have restored much of the game that was being lost to poaching. Kyambura Gorge, chimps can be heard in treetops, but they are elusive and always unpredictable. The famous treeclimbing lions are in the Ishasha region of the park. Kasinga Channel contains the world’s largest concentration of hippos.
Suggested Rwanda & Uganda Tour Itineraries
Day 1: Kigali, Rwanda
Rwanda’s capital began in 1907 as a small colonial outpost with little connection to the outside world. Situated near the geographic center of the nation, it is the economic and cultural hub.
Day 2: Kigali/Parc National Des Volcans, Rwanda
The park is home of the rare mountain gorilla and rich mosaic of montane ecosystems - evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.
Day 3: Parc National Des Volcans/Gorilla Tracking*
An encounter with a family of mountain gorillas in their natural environment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Day 4: Parc National/Kigali/Depart
Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda
Entebbe sits on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.
Day 2: Entebbe/Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo is home to the gigantic eland as well as zebra, topi and impala.
Day 3: Lake Mburo National Park/Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site harbors just over half of the remaining mountain gorillas on earth.
Days 4/5: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park/Gorilla Tracking*
In addition to gorillas, the forest is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa with 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds and 220 species of butterflies.
Day 6: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park/Entebbe/Depart
Custom Travel Options
Lake Kivu (3 days)
This magical setting has inlets, peninsulas and waterfalls, and provides a pleasant resting place.
Kibale Forest National Park (3 days)
Kibale has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa, including endangered chimpanzee.
Ngamba Island (3 days)
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established to care for and protect rescued chimpanzees in a natural setting.
Queen Elizabeth National Park (3 days)
This park is a gem high on the biodiversity scale, with almost 100 types of mammals and some 606 species of birds.
Note: *Gorilla tracking permits are limited, making advance planning essential. A permit does not guarantee gorilla sightings. One or two gorilla permits are included per itinerary, but more can be purchased subject to availability.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Approx. $750 - $2,000 per day.