Africa Of The Great Lakes – 12 days
The Africa of the Great Lakes is an almost unknown region. A mythical region that is eternally green. A crossroads for all nomadic peoples: Bantu, Nilotic, Asian and European, it is also the source of two of Africa’s great rivers: the Nile and the Congo. From the breathtaking waterfalls where the Nile meets Lake Victoria, a veritable inland sea scattered with hundreds of lush green islands, to Lake Albert sustained by the eternal snows of the Rwenzori Mountains. Lake Edward, entirely located in a large protected area, is an eco-system unique in its diversity of African fauna. Lake Kivu, which lies on the border with the Congo, is a rare African gem, created by volcanoes and surrounded by mountains and hills.
Uganda is situated right on the Equator. With its 20 million inhabitants it is a large country of savannah grasslands dotted with lakes and papyrus marshes, through which perpetually majestic Nile meanders slowly, plunging over cliffs to form waterfalls and rapids, which are among the most spectacular in the world.
Rwanda, on the other hand, is a small land-locked country, trying to move away from violent images and genocide of its recent past, to once again live in peace and once again allow us to visit its beautiful hillsides, ringing with the sound of children’s laughter. Lake Kivu has a rare beauty all of its own. It’s hundreds of small islands, its incredibly sculpted banks and its clear waters form a unique picture, which captivates travellers on their voyage of discovery. The Virunga Mountains, giant volcanoes with luxuriant green slopes, are home to the rare Mountain Gorilla, which we visit in their jungle environment. This is one of only two such sanctuaries remaining in the wild.
- You’ll go to Uganda And Rwanda
- This tour starts in the source of the Nile (Uganda) & ends at the Gorillas of the Virunga (Rwanda) – Getting there & away
- You’ll visit Source Of The Nile, National Museum, Murchison National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest, Hills And Volcanoes & Mountain Gorillas
- Activities: gorilla tracking, bird watching, Boat cruises, game drive, drives and walks
- Getting around: comfortable vehicles
- 11 nights spent in good hotels, nicely located tented camps. Cold lunches, warm and varied diners
- Fly to/from Entebbe International Airport (EBB)
Arrive At Entebbe
The approach to Entebbe airport over the string of tiny islets scattered through the iridescent waters of Lake Victoria is breathtakingly spectacular.
Source Of The Nile – Nile Rapids
As soon as we leave the hotel we are immediately plunged into the luxuriant, eternally green vegetation of equatorial Africa. The road follows the banks of Lake Victoria until we reach Kampala, and then splits heading east into the mountainside tea plantations and sugar cane fields. Further on, a lake flaunts its enormity and a majestic river embarks upon its long journey to the sea: the source of the Nile, the goal of all such journeys of discovery. It is a deeply moving moment. North of Bujagali, the enormous volume of water passes through a jagged gorge, forming spectacular rapids and waterfalls.
Kampala – National Museum -Masindi
We return to Kampala, “Hill of the Impalas” in Luganda. Kampala is the capital city of Uganda with over 1 million inhabitants, and has an architectural style that reflects the diverse ethnic origins of its population. Mosques with their minarets pointing to the sky and Sikh temples flaunting their decadent sculptures, while the Roman Catholic cathedral displays an airy façade and the Anglican church brings back memories of Victorian propriety. We visit the national museum, here we familiarise ourselves with the traditions and costumes of the great Ugandan tribes. The fields of banana trees and yams slowly give way to other crops such as maize and cassava which do not need so much water. Having now left the tarmac road, we pass the vast cattle farms where long-horned cattle drink from scarce water holes.
Murchison National Park
The meanders of the great river Nile and its impressive waterfalls, the grasses of the plains and tree-covered hills, the indigenous rainforest and the borassus palm trees, the lake shores and the marshlands of the delta, make this park one of wild natural beauty. It is a place whose fauna makes it increasingly more important to conservationists. At Kanyo Pabidi, as we enter the Budongo forest we get our first glimpse of the chimpanzees. The Kabalega Waterfalls are undeniably one of the most remarkable sights in the park. They were named after a Munyoro chief who put up fierce resistance to the European explorers and the Sudanese slave traders looking for the source of the White Nile. Here, the river makes a path across a narrow gorge and unleashes hundreds of gallons of water over the edge of a 50m high precipice. Further on, the Nile will quietly rejoin the vast waters of Lake Albert. What a striking contrast. We, however, take to the water in a boat to get a closer look at the waterfalls and to enjoy a unique opportunity to observe the thousands of vibrantly coloured birds, herds of buffalo at the water’s edge and crocodiles sunbathing on the riverbanks. The Ugandan cob is the most commonly seen antelope; the hartebeest and oribi are also common. Among the thousands of birds, we must mention the Abyssinian hornbill and the rare shoebill stork. We also cross the Nile by boat to the lakeside area, watering hole for elephant and Rothschild giraffe.
Delta Of The Nil – Lake Albert
At the park exit, accessible only by a small narrow strip of land in the middle of the papyrus reeds on the huge delta, is the village home of the Waseko fishermen. Here the people live in tune with the rhythm of their spoils in the waterways with their changing currents at the mercy of the floodwaters and the wind. Water is omnipresent. On the market place there is an incredible display of merchandise for sale, often to Congolese smugglers. Freshly caught fish is smoked on large open metal racks. Moving into the eastern part of the Rift Valley we come to Lake Albert and its coastal fringes where flocks of small zebu are tended by the proud Alur herdsmen, while their women tend the fields of cassava and cotton or rebuild the thatch on their spacious huts. At Butiaba, previously an extremely active lakeside port, a narrow tongue of land flanked by borassus palm trees pushes into the lake to the warm water. What an idyllic spot! Further on the road negotiates the cliffs of the escarpment and crosses the fertile agricultural area growing sweet potatoes and tobacco.
Today we make the acquaintance of deepest Uganda, whose countryside and villages are accessed on a sinewy laterite slope. From Hoima to Fort Portal, the landscape is mainly high plateaux and valleys, at the bottom of some, rivers have evaporated into wet marshlands. Several villages of economic importance cling to the slopes and act as trading places for villagers who often have to carry their harvest on their backs. It is an area supporting mainly agriculture and cattle grazing. Further south, the tea plantations display their resplendent green carpet as far as the eye can see. Once we branch off at Kyanjojo, the landscape becomes more tortuous as we reach the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, whose snow-capped peaks we can see in the distance. At Kasese we cross the equator and enter the large open plains of the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
This magnificent park in the middle of the Rift Valley encompasses Lake Edward and Lake George, which are joined by the natural waterway of the Kazinga Canal, which we explore by boat. Extinct volcanoes, crater lakes, marshes and savannah grassland support the different eco-systems within the park. More than 500 different species of birds have been counted, a great number of them in the shallows or following buffalo and elephant. On the hills invaded by euphorbia, large herds of Ugandan cob, topi and forest hog are commonly seen. The huge fig trees of the Kiambura Gorge provide a safe refuge for families of chimpanzee; other primates, such as the colobus monkey and red tailed monkey are to be found in the Maramagambo forest.
Hills And Volcanoes
Here the grass covered hills are pastures for the remarkable flocks belonging to the Banyaankole tribe, the enclosed valleys are filled with a mixture of banana, tofu and coffee plantations. Once past Kabale the busy commercial centre, the countryside offers us an unbelievable palette of green, from the blue-green of the eucalyptus trees which divide this tapestry into a multitude of tiny pieces, and the deep green of the cypress trees that line the slopes, to the light green of the paddy fields at the bottom of the sheltered valleys. As we come round the bend in the dirt road we are afforded the most magnificent view of the whole volcano chain of the Virunga Mountains. At Kisoro, the lava road splits and we head towards the Rwandan border.
As the first light of dawn breaks through the curtain of mist clinging to the summits of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabinyio, Gahinga and Muhabura, we make our way into the Parc National des Volcans. Tracking the gorillas through the unique vegetation can take several hours of challenging walking in wet and muddy conditions. Seeing a gorilla makes the trek worth the hardship. In the late afternoon drive to Rubavu, a small town located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu.
Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the lakeshore or a refreshing early morning swim. After a wholesome breakfast, leave the gleaming waters of Lake Kivu and journey back to Kigali, through the beautiful countryside of the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’. Transfer to the airport. (BL)
Best Price (USD)
(age 17+) Youth
(age 5-16) Children
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- Ground transportation with a 4WD and Fuel
- Gorilla Permits Park entrance fees
- Accommodation on Full Board All Meals with no drinks
- Services of an English speaking Driver/Guide
- A bottle of Mineral Water per day Visit
- All Activities in the package Guide book in your safari vehicle
- Personal drinks
- Air ticket and related costs
- Insurance covers
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
- Money for your personal expenses: usd or euro
- Good walking shoes, rain gear, gloves (nettle stings), some long-sleeve shirts, sweaters for the cool evenings
- Sun protection gear and cream
- Mosquito repellent
- Video and photo cameras 200/300 mm telephoto lenses are very useful Reserve batteries or battery charger (mains and/or 12 V car adaptors)
- A torch
- Small rucksack
- International vaccination card
There is no security problem
RWANDA After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has stabilised Democratic elections have been hold, and Rwanda is one of the most stable and safe African countries
UGANDA Except some parts in the far North, Uganda is a very safe country The regime is stable, the people are friendly