What to expect on a Uganda Rwanda safari
Very exciting, very adventurous and always interesting. You can get around by driving (Steppes always use 4×4 vehicles) or you can take internal flights for convenience. Either way, there is something new to see at every turn. Roads vary enormously from good tarred roads (around cities) to rough dirt tracks in and around national parks, villages and more remote areas – if you suffer from travel sickness or a bad back, we suggest you fly.
If driving, be prepared for some long travel times; 4-6 hours in some cases. However, the scenery is stunning and you will travel through lush green tea plantations, beautiful valleys and past lots of lakes. Your driver/guide will be happy to stop for rest breaks and photo opportunities. If you wish to fly, there are very safe internal flights, using small 12 seater planes or private aviation companies or helicopters.
Surprisingly easy. There is a very good network of tarmac roads to all of the major parks. The road from Kigali to the Virunga Mountains is particularly good although this is used by a lot of traffic and is also built around many of the winding hills leading up to the park, so whilst it can be slow moving, the views are spectacular.
The roads elsewhere are also very good and given that Rwanda itself is a very small country, most destinations can be reached in a day. There is a good selection of flight options around the country, from scheduled flights, to private helicopter transfers to some of the lodges and parks. Choices are dependent on budget and time.
The one good thing about travelling around Rwanda is that once you leave the larger towns and cities, you will pass through the most beautiful countryside and traditional villages – plenty of photo stops and welcoming villages. Again, we only ever use good quality 4×4 vehicles for road transfers or regulated internal flights with registered airlines or private aviation companies for those who wish to fly.
What else is there to do apart from gorilla trekking in Uganda?
There are a variety of activities you can do in Uganda besides gorilla trekking that you can easily fill 2 weeks. Many parks are home to lots of traditional big game and savannah wildlife where you can enjoy game drives and guided walks.
These include Queen Elizabeth National Park (famous for tree climbing lions), Murchison Falls (excellent not just for the falls, but one of the best places in the country to see the shoebill stork and lots of other big game), Semliki (excellent for big game, boat safaris and black & white colobus monkeys) and Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kidepo is one of the wildest parks in Africa, best reached by a short domestic flight and in addition to the dramatic setting and wealth of wildlife, it is the only park in Uganda where you can find aardwolves, caracals and cheetahs.
Uganda is also one of the most accessible places in Africa to see chimpanzees which you can do in three regions (Kyambura Gorge – OK, Kibale Forest – good, Budongo Forest – very good). A similar experience to gorilla viewing in terms of early starts and forest trekking. A qquater of Uganda is covered by water, there are some great boat safaris to do, in particular the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, some of Africa’s best fishing (big tiger fish and Nile perch) in Murchison, shoebill safaris on the lakes around Semliki, and Jinja offers some dramatic white water rafting. There is some excellent hiking to be done in the Rwenzori Mountains or some easy day hikes on the foothills.
The birding in Uganda is also considered some of the best in the world, with over 1,060 species in a country smaller than Great Britain due to the huge variety of habitat. Uganda really is one of Africa’s most photogenic countries.
What else is there to do apart from gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
A lot! Those with more time should head off and explore what is a beautiful country. In the east, you have Akagera National Park, a stunning combination of lakes and savannah grasslands, where you find big game and superb birding, as you would expect from a park that borders Tanzania. Game drives and walks along with boat safaris and some fishing can be done here.
Head south, past vibrant green tea plantations and you can enjoy some chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest. This park has a huge diversity of wildlife, so in addition to the chimpanzees, you can see up to 13 other primate species (25% of Africa’s total), including L’Hoest’s monkey, golden and silver monkeys, mangabeys, incredible birdlife and strangely, lots of chameleons.
Here, there are a handful of good hotels where you can sit and relax on sandy beaches on the shores of the lake itself to unwind for a few days. The drive to Gisenyi and Lake Kivu is spectacular, winding its way past volcanoes, tea plantations and rice paddies.
Finally, you should try and spend a few days in Kigali and whilst a visit to the moving Genocide Memorial is worth considering, there is a vibrancy and energy in many of the cities markets and a thriving arts and music scene, with regular