Uganda Coffee and Gorillas Tour
Track gorillas, visit coffee farms, go to ARC Nakivale refugee camp, and see "the Big Five."
This customized safari adventure is packed with biological and cultural diversity, but it all starts off with coffee. You’ll begin by visiting the coffee rich area of Sipi Falls, where you’ll follow java from farm to cup. Next up, you’ll tour camp Nakivale and witness the work the American Refugee Committee (ARC). Then it’s on to visit some of the country’s best national parks, where you’ll see elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, and giraffes during the more traditional safari portion of the itinerary. Later, you’ll track gorillas and chimpanzees. The impressive list of animals is due to Uganda’s location between east and central Africa at the headwaters of the River Nile, in the Great Lakes region. The area features a wide range of habitats—from dense forest in misty mountains to wide-open savanna.
During the trip, you’ll stay at comfortable lodges chosen by local WI guide Charles Morgan Kisitu. WI only works with local guides and drivers with 10 or more years of experience. Many of them help film crews and rank amongst the elite safari guides of East Africa.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
Day 1: Arrival- Transfer to Your Hotel
Upon your arrival, a Wilderness Inquiry guide will meet you at the Entebbe International Airport (EBB) and travel with you to The Boma Bed and Breakfast.
Day 2: Jinja – Source of the Nile – Sipi Falls
You will be picked from your hotel at 7:30 am for the start of a Sipi Falls adventure safari in Kapchorwa. You'll stop in Jinja for a quick tour at the source of the Nile, the longest river in the world. After a lunch break, you'll proceed to Sipi Falls, where you'll arrive in the evening. There is an optional tour featuring a hike near the water falls. The tour will take about 3 hours—the time depends on your physical ability as the trails are steep. You'll return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Coffee Tour (Eastern Uganda)
After breakfast, you will go for a coffee tour. This experience will give you the chance to learn the process behind making coffee. You'll talk to the farmers, see the plantations, and then roast your own coffee to take home with you. The tour starts with a walk around the coffee plantations, where you'll learn a little about the life of a coffee plant. You can also help pick and wash the coffee. After the walk and some lunch at the lodge our staff will show you how to de-shell the coffee beans before roasting them in the traditional way over a wood fire. Once you've finished roasting the beans, you'll grind them and brew a fresh cup to enjoy with a slice of cake as you relax for the afternoon. You'll enjoy dinner and overnight at Sipi Falls Lodge.
Day 4: Mbale – Kampala
You'll depart Mbale and head back to Kampala with a stop at Bulansuku farm estates in Mukono. At the farm you can join activities that include coffee planting, coffee picking, pulping, drying, and more. After that, you can visit farming communities, go biking, take a donkey ride, head out on a coffee bush and forest walk, go bird watching, or play farm games. Around 4 p.m. you'll have a coffee break before an evening drive back to Kampala and the Cassia Lodge.
Day 5: Kampala – Lake Mburo National Park
You'll begin with a four- to five-hour scenic drive to Lake Mburo. You'll stop at the equator and marvel at the amazing illustrations by a local guide. You'll arrive at Lake Mburo in the evening and enjoy a game drive before proceeding to your lodge. Expect to see hippos, zebras, giraffes, impalas, and several different species of birds. You'll have dinner at Mihingo lodge, where ARC volunteers will join to discuss the program in Nakivale Refugee Settlement.
Day 6: ARC and Nakivale Refugee Settlement
There will be a full day of programming provided by American Refugee Committee. You'll overnight at Mihingo lodge.
Day 7: Nature Walk Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
In the morning, you'll go to Lake Mburo, the only park in Uganda where you can take a safari on foot. Expect to see impalas, zebras, elands, and more. Return to the lodge, pack your luggage, and prepare for a scenic drive through the volcanic formations of the Western Rift Valley towards Queen Elizabeth National Park. The descent reveals a stunning panorama of Lakes George and Edward amidst game-filled plains. In the evening, you'll enjoy a game-drive before dinner and an overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 8: Game and Boat Cruise
You'll depart for an early morning game drive and then return to the lodge for breakfast. Queen Elizabeth National Park’s diverse eco-system of grassy plains, tropical forest, rivers, swamps, lakes and volcanic craters is home to lions, leopards, giant forest hogs, Cape buffalos, elephants, De fassa waterbucks, Uganda Kobs, Topi, and bush buck. The park is also an ornithologists’ delight, with more than 600 species of birds. An afternoon boat cruise will offer an excellent chance for photography and game viewing. The birdlife is colorful and abundant. You'll have dinner at Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 9: Queen Elizabeth – Bwindi
After breakfast, you'll take a morning game drive in search of tree climbing lions. You'll break for lunch and later proceed to Bwindi, where you'll arrive in the evening. You will check into the Chameleon Hill Lodge and rest for the night.
Day 10: Gorilla Trekking
After an early breakfast and briefing by the ranger guide, you will penetrate the Bwindi Forest for your gorilla adventure. The beauty of this rain forest is spectacular. The steep forested landscape is incredibly dense and crisscrossed by numerous animal trails which allow access to tourists. The time taken on the tour will vary with the terrain and the movements of the mountain gorillas. The thrill of spending time observing these gentle and endangered giants is an awesome, exciting experience to be long savored. Many find it to be a rare and moving opportunity. You'll have dinner and overnight at Chameleon Hill Lodge.
Day 11: Departure
You'll have an early breakfast and then go to Kisoro airstrip for your domestic flight to Entebbe International Airport. Depending on your departure time, you may get a day room to relax in Entebbe before being transferred at Entebbe International Airport for your evening flight back home.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE: Uganda varies in terrain from tall mountains to vast plateaus. The country borders massive Lake Victoria. Experience a variety of diverse ecosystems and wildlife on this safari adventure.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: East Africa is a welcoming escape for travelers of all experience levels. Travel between destinations is provided in four-wheel drive vehicles. There is moderate jungle hiking during the gorilla tracking, some of it over uneven terrain. For the safari sections, we'll open the roofs of vehicles for excellent wildlife viewing and photography. No previous experience is necessary.
WEATHER: The climate is fantastic, with year-round average temperatures of 75-85º F. Expect a tropical environment, as there are two dry seasons in Uganda, December through February and June through August. Our itineraries are timed to coincide with the dry season for best wildlife viewing.
YOUR GROUP: The group size typically ranges from 5 to 14 participants, plus one Wilderness Inquiry staff and several local guides. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including people with disabilities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Throughout the trip, stay in wonderful safari lodges, small hotels, and guest houses. Most rooms are double occupancy with two beds. Participants will be paired by gender or requests to room together.
SINGLE TRAVELERS: If you are traveling alone, you will feel at home with a welcoming group. If you would like to have your own room throughout the trip, you may purchase a single supplement for an additional fee. Please email or call us if you would like this option.
MEALS: Kick back and relax while all meals are made for you. Indulge in local cuisine, including beef, chicken, fish, and lots of fruit. Bottled water is readily available. Count on hearty breakfasts, picnic trail lunches, and lively dinners. While we’ll enjoy happy hours together, purchase of alcoholic beverages is not included in the trip fees. Vegetarian options are readily available.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Winston Churchill famously described Uganda as the "Pearl of Africa" in 1907, and that description still holds to this day. Located between east and central Africa, Uganda is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, ecosystems, culture, and history. Its biological diversity is unmatched for a country of its size. Uganda is home to the world's largest population of gorillas and other primates. It is also home to East Africa's famous Big Five game: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Over 50 percent of Africa's bird and butterfly species are found in Uganda.
The country lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from Lake Victoria into Lake Kyoga and then into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into South Sudan. Over 40 percent of its land mass is covered by lakes, rivers, and wetlands. The most visited national parks in Uganda lie in the western part of the country where the savanna of East Africa meets the jungle of Central Africa.
Uganda's history and topography have resulted in an astonishing array of cultures. Cultural tourism sites celebrate the diversity of some 40 ethnic groups, including members of traditional kingdoms dating back to the 14th century. In a country the size of Oregon, there are 36.8 million residents.
The country takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala. Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the British. As such, English is widely spoken as the lingua franca. Swahili is the other official national language, and there are dozens of local languages spoken.
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962. The period after was marked by intermittent conflicts, including protracted civil and guerilla wars. The country has enjoyed relative political and economic stability since 1986 and is considered a safe place to travel.
The once-flourishing tourism sector has been rebuilt in the decades since 1986. The standard of accommodations has largely improved nationwide. Historical hostels have been refurbished and many new ones built. Luxury lodges and tented camps serve the major protected areas. Paved highways run from Kampala to the western part of the country, where reliably maintained dirt roads go between the national parks.
The altitude bestows a pleasant tropical climate with daytime temperatures from 75-85º F. There are two dry seasons, December through February and June through August. Our itineraries are timed to coincide with the dry season for best wildlife viewing.
Lonely Planet featured Uganda as the "Best in Travel for 2012." It has been featured recently in the best travel destinations in Fodor's Travel Guide, The New York Times travel section, National Geographic's Top 10, and CNN Travel.
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Standard Meetings Places and Times
Start: Uganda - Entebbe International Airport at 8:00 PM (local time)
End: Uganda - Entebbe International Airport at 5:00 PM (local time)
This trip begins at Entebbe International Airport at any time on the first date of the trip itinerary. Our guides will be given your flight information and meet you at the airport baggage claim. You will be transported to the The Boma bed and breakfast. The trip ends in the early evening, when the guides will drive you back to the Entebbe International Airport in time for a night flight. If you need help making travel arrangements, call Travel One at (800) 247-1311. They can help you make the best flight connections at the best prices. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip.