This is our unique Signature Tour
A 12 day once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the real Heart of Africa, including ……
- National Parks and Reserves
- wild animals, birds and butterflies
- people, homes and traditional culture
- mighty rivers, spectacular waterfalls and lakes
- rolling hills, towering rocks and mountains
Some of your holiday will be along main roads, including part of the Great North Road which goes from Cape Town to Cairo; but at other times, you will be driving along murram roads and even along tracks through the bush to reach traditional homesteads or to look for animals.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive at Entebbe, landing by the shores of Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world.
Depending on your arrival time, relax in your hotel gardens or you could visit the Entebbe Botanical Gardens or Wildlife Education Centre (optional).
Day 2: Entebbe to Jinja and the River Nile
Your adventures start today! Drive through Kampala (the capital of Uganda) and out on the road east, stopping for an hour at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine. The murder in 1885 of forty five of the Kabaka’s (King of Buganda) young page boys, as young as 14, who refused to renounce their Christian faith is remembered every year around the world by both Catholics and Anglicans. The new museum houses several life-size displays.
Continue the journey eastwards through sugar and tea plantations and Mabira Forest, where we can stop to buy roast meat on sticks and ‘gonja’ (roast green bananas) by the roadside for lunch.
Visit the Source of the Nile on the outskirts of Jinja. Don’t expect a little spring – the Nile, the longest river in the world, is already a huge river as it spills out of Lake Victoria to start its journey north to the Mediterranean! See the monument to Gandhi where some of his ashes were scattered in the Nile.
Relax at your hotel near the Nile.
Day 3: By the River Nile
If the lovely gardens, birds, pool and wonderful views are not enough for you, a range of optional (extra cost) activities are available if you want some adventure – choose from white water rafting (grade 5), quad biking, horse riding, jet boating, kayaking, fishing, bungee jumping – or a relaxing sunset boat trip. Second night in the same hotel.
Day 4: From the Nile to Mount Elgon
What a variety of beautiful countryside you will pass through as you drive east from the Nile, past more sugar plantations, banana gardens, rolling hills, through Iganga and across swamps and rice fields. As you approach Mbale, you will see views of Mt Elgon (Africa’s eighth highest mountain) and its foothills, your destination for today. Drive up the steep hills on a twisting road to Sipi, with spectacular views of the distant plains, hills, cliffs and waterfalls. Stay two nights at Lacam Lodge or similar.
Day 5: In the foothills of Mt Elgon around Sipi
A guided walk to one or more of the three waterfalls (depending on how energetic you feel) is included. Some of the routes are steep (and muddy if it has just rained), and it can get hot in the middle of the day, but you will be rewarded by amazing views and splashing in the river or standing in the spray behind one of the waterfalls.
After lunch and a rest, you will be taken to a local home to be shown how they grow, harvest and process Arabica coffee, considered the best kind of coffee. After helping them roast and grind the coffee by hand, you will be able to drink your own coffee and buy some to take home.
If you prefer to opt out of these included activities, you can instead pay extra to abseil 100m down a sheer cliff beside the lowest of the waterfalls.
Day 6: Sipi to Soroti: from mountains to plains
We drive down from the foothills of Elgon and onto the plains of Teso which you saw yesterday. Drive along part of the Great North Road. Although Teso is not spectacular, it has a beauty of its own, with lakes and grassy swamps, undulating plains with amazing rocky outcrops where huge boulders appear to balance precariously, and grass-thatched homesteads surrounded by cultivation. The people are amongst the friendliest in Uganda and are keen to share their way of life and culture with visitors.
Your first experience of their hospitality will be joining a family for lunch where you will be given traditional African food. After lunch, listen to one of the elders of the community tell some of their traditional stories or a music group playing traditional instruments. A guide will then take you up KAPIR HILL or NYERO ROCKS to see ancient rock paintings on huge overhanging boulders. The origins are unknown but they are believed to be about 3000 years old. Enjoy distant views over cultivation and homesteads, lakes, swamps and plains, with isolated mountains in the far distance. Drive on to Soroti where you will stay for two nights in a hotel such as Hursey Resort – unless you opt for a Homestay with a family.
Day 7: Experiencing life and culture in Teso
You will be given a choice of ACTIVITIES from this list. During the wet season, you could join a team of three men and their oxen ploughing, the only place in Uganda where people use ploughs. Although they start ploughing before dawn, you will join them after an early breakfast. During the dry season, you can join a family cultivating, harvesting or processing their crops.
Later, you will have a fascinating visit to a colourful, vibrant local village market or one of the town markets where you will see a great variety of things for sale from food and vegetables to clothes and animals. You can buy a snack to eat for lunch.
In the afternoon, learn and participate in the growing and processing of groundnuts (peanuts), including how to make groundnut paste (peanut butter) which you will be able to taste and even buy some to take home. (Which processes you experience will depend a bit on the time of year.)
Back in your hotel before dinner, your cultural experience of Teso will end by watching a dance group perform the dramatic Ajosi stick dance and a music group play traditional instruments (adungus, akogos, drums etc). They rarely perform now, so you will be able to witness and encourage a tradition which is in danger of dying out, one of the benefits of tourism.
Day 8: Soroti to Murchison Falls National Park
It takes four hours to reach the Park and a further two hours driving through the largest game Park in Uganda to reach Paraa or Pakwach on the Nile where you will stay two nights. Will the first animals you see be graceful giraffes or comical warthogs, baboons hoping for a banana or elephants feeding by the roadside? Whatever you may see later during your stay, such as lions and antelope, hippos and crocodiles, there is nothing to compare with the excitement of your first sightings of wild African animals.
Day 9: In Murchison Falls National Park
Start with an early morning game drive, the best time for spotting lions. You will also see elephants, giraffe, Uganda kob, hartebeest, oribi, buffalo, waterbuck and more. You can walk safely along the shores of Lake Albert close to hippos which have returned to the water for the day and spot many birds. As you drive through the thorn trees, you will see many more birds such as Crowned Cranes, various Bee-eaters, Kingfishers – and so much more.
After lunch, relax on the three hour boat trip up the Nile to view the spectacular Murchison Falls where the mighty river is forced through a 6m gap as it plunges 40m into a raging pool below. The currents are so strong that the boat can’t get closer than a small rocky island about 200m away. You will see many huge crocodiles as well as hippos, elephants and birds along the banks. A second night in Paraa or Pakwach.
Day 10: Murchison Falls to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Enjoy your last early morning drive through the Park. Cross the Nile on the ferry and drive through forest to the top of the majestic Murchison Falls and watch the awesome sight of the Nile roaring through the narrow gap below, often with a rainbow visible in the spray.
Continue driving through the forest and out of Murchison Falls National Park to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary near Masindi where you will stay the night.
Day 11: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to Entebbe
Spend the morning in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, either tracking Rhinos with a Ranger Guide or on a boat trip.
Rhinos became extinct in Uganda in the 1980s due to poaching and civil war. Starting with six imported White Rhinos in 2005, Ziwa is running a very successful breeding programme with a view to being able to release rhinos back into Murchison Falls National Park. They roam wild within the sanctuary, but are closely monitored and safeguarded. There are now about twenty two rhinos.
In the afternoon, you will be driven back to Entebbe through Kampala. There will be an opportunity to visit one of the craft markets for last minute souvenir shopping.
Day 12: Fly home
As you leave the Heart of Africa, you will take with you a rich variety of life-changing memories, much better than any souvenirs you may have bought. The problem will be to pick out a highlight and find enough people to share all your memories with!
PRICE OF “HEART OF AFRICA” TOUR
From $1,845 per person (based on 2 people sharing)
Solo traveller: From $3,140
7% discount per person if four or more are travelling together
These prices (based on budget accommodation) INCLUDE:
- ground transport in a comfortable four wheel drive (4WD) safari vehicle
- the service of an experienced English-speaking Driver/Guide
- entrance and guide fees to all places included in the itinerary, including National Parks
- activities as detailed in the itinerary (except for those that are listed as optional)
- full board accommodation, based on sharing a twin or double room (either breakfast or lunch may be a packed meal, depending on the programme)
- unlimited drinking water
- government taxes
These prices DO NOT INCLUDE:
- international flights
- tourist visa (available at the airport)
- extra snacks and beverages (other than the bottled drinking water provided in the safari vehicle)
- optional tips and gratuities (eg: for your Driver/Guide, Park Rangers, hotel staff)
- Gorilla tracking or Chimp tracking permits
- optional activities mentioned in the itinerary
- items of a personal nature (toiletries, camera batteries, souvenirs)
- travel insurance
- international payment transaction costs
- medical vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis, treatment etc
We can adapt the itinerary and book luxury accommodation (at extra cost) to fit in with your wishes.
There are many possible extensions you can add on, such as:
- Mabira and Budongo Forests
- Northern loop to Pian Upe Reserve and Kidepo National Park
- Western loop to Rwenzoris, Semuliki and Kibaale Forest
- Or even all round Uganda!
You can also opt to spend longer in Teso to experience and learn more about the way of life, agriculture, schools, culture and much more. Other ACTIVITIES IN TESO could include canoe trips, birds (including the rare and prehistoric-looking Shoebill in the swamps), rock scrambling, hiking, walking tours to learn more about crops, cultivation and food processing.