The Grand Circuit

The Grand Circuit

Got time on your side? Then go on this epic roadtrip and you'll understand why Uganda is nicknamed 'Africa condensed'. Southwestern Uganda is known for its rolling hills, lakes, lush landscape and, of course, chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. Plenty of wildlife spotting and game drives can be done in Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and remote Kidepo National Park - the grand dame of all game parks. On your way to Kidepo in the far north, you cross Karamoja, home to the proud and traditional Karamajong tribe. Top off your road trip with a true adrenaline rush rafting the river Nile before relaxing at one of the lovely riverside lodges in Jinja.

Scroll down below to see the detailed day-to-day route. The price includes car rental, accommodation (budget or mid-range) and gorilla and chimp permits.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 24

Destination: Entebbe
Drive: 10 km | 0.5 hour

Welcome to Uganda! As soon as you enter the airport you will be embraced with a pleasant temperature and the charming smile of a Ugandan immigration officer. Take this day to relax from your trip. Entebbe is a small town, with a pleasant lakeside, some good restaurants and large swimming pool at Laiko Hotel.

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Via Via Guesthouse

Our favourite restaurants:
Dine at the Boma Hotel, Carpe Diem Guesthouse, or Gorreti’s.

Day 2 of 24

Start: Entebbe
Destination:
Lake Mburo National Park
Drive: 225 km | 6+ hours

Your road trip adventure starts today, with the smooth and scenic ride to Lake Mburo National Park. Covered with extensive acacia woodlands, this park is one of the best places in the country to enjoy a walking safari and see the giant eland antelope, zebras and leopards. 

Accommodation options:
Budget: Eagle's Nest
Mid-range: Rwakobo Rock

Day 3 of 24

Enjoy: Lake Mburo National Park

Enjoy a day in the park. With only a few predators such as lions, Lake Mburo is the best place to go on a guided safari by foot, bike or horse. Moreover, this is one of the few national parks in Africa allowing night game drives, which give you the chance to see some of the rare nocturnal animals like the mongoose, hyena, leopard and serval cat.

Day 4 of 24

Start: Lake Mburo National Park
Destination:
Lake Mutanda
Drive: 225 km | 6+ hours

Drive to the Kigezi Highlands, perhaps the most fertile and scenic region of Uganda. A landscape of expansive blue lakes, steep terraced slopes and dormant volcanoes. Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mutanda are great places to stay. Read more about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Mutanda Lake Resort

Day 5 of 24

Enjoy: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Rise and shine. You'll probably be getting up in the dark for the experience of a lifetime! Today you will be trekking the rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi’s mist-covered, forested hills protect an estimated 320 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the global population. This includes 11 habituated groups which can be tracked. You will start from Rushaga or Nkuringo.

Read more about gorilla trekking here

Day 6 of 24

Enjoy: Lake Mutanda

Relax from your gorilla trekking and spend another day at the splendid Lake Mutanda. Plenty of activities can be arranged from the lodge, including stand up surf paddling, hiking, birding or sundowner boat trips.

Check the Mutanda Lake Resort website for more information. 

Day 7 of 24

Start: Lake Mutanda
Destination:
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Drive: 220 km | 7+ hours

Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. From open savanna to green rainforest, and dense papyrus swamps to the vastness of Lake Edward, it is little wonder that Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts one of the highest biodiversity rates of any game park in Africa. 
Read more about Queen Elizabeth National Park here

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Bush Lodge.
Deluxe: Mweya Safari Lodge

Day 8 of 24

Enjoy: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Enjoy a day in the park. Boat trips on the Kazinga Channel offer great game viewing, as do game drives around Mweya and the Northern Circuit. The Kyambura Gorge harbors habituated chimps, the Maramamgambo Forest is home to many forest monkeys and flamingos abound in the dozens of crater lakes. 

Day 9 of 24

Start: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Destination:
Kibale National Park
Drive: 125 km |  2½ + hours

Drive to Kibale Forest near the pleasant town of Fort Portal. Kibale is a 800 km2 tropical rainforest, home to 13 primate species and an impressive range of birds.  

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Kibale Forest Camp

Day 10 of 24

Enjoy: Kibale National Park

Kibale Forest is a nature lover’s paradise with its sublime bird watching and chimpanzee trekking. Along with chimps, many other primate species abound in Kibale. Chimpanzee trekking is a half-day activity starting either early in the morning or just after lunch. A field of beautiful crater lakes lies between Fort Portal and the Forest, which are perfect for a swim or exploration on foot or by bicycle. 

Day 11 of 24

Start: Kibale National Park
Destination:
Hoima
Drive: 200 km | 4+ hours

Beautiful and slightly bumpy back roads passing through friendly villages will bring you to Hoima town, the staging point between Fort Portal and Masindi.

Accommodation options:
Budget/Mid-range: Kon Tiki Hotel and Hoima Cultural Lodge

Day 12 of 24

Start: Hoima
Destination:
Murchison Falls National Park
Drive: 120 km | 5+ hours

Today you will cross the Murchison Falls National Park entering the reserve from the south, whilst staying overnight just outside the northern section of the park. Along the way, you can visit Budongo rainforest and visit the top of the waterfalls, which are spectacular. The wildlife is concentrated at the northern section of the park, after you crossed the Nile with the ferry. 

Read more about Murchison Falls National in our Uganda Travel Blog here. 

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Fort Murchison 

Day 13 of 24

Enjoy: Murchison Falls National Park

As animals are most active early morning and late afternoon, these are the best hours for your game drive. Other recommended activities include taking a boat trip to the base of the falls, or for the bird lovers, taking a smaller boat downriver from Paraa lodge towards the Nile river delta where it flows into Lake Albert.

 

Day 14 of 24

Start: Murchison Falls National Park
Destination:
Kidepo Valley National Park
Drive: 350 km | 7+ hours

Full day of driving ahead. Northern Uganda is the least developed region of Uganda. It is a beautiful area though, and completely different from the lush south west. Gulu is nice for a morning coffee break - we recommend Café Larem for coffee and a piece of banana cake. By the way, if people shout Muno, they are talking to you (Mzungu). Kopango? (How are you?), Kopêh! (Good!). From Kitgum (last fuel stop) to Katurum gate via Orom is around 140 km and takes around 3½ hours. Drive slowly and carefully, as roads can be in bad condition (sometimes even washed away) after heavy rains.

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Day 15 of 24

Enjoy: Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas. It is an endless area of vast savanna plains and mountain ranges.  Out on the savanna, you are likely to see impressive herds of ostriches, hartebeest, buffaloes and giraffes and possibly predators such as lions, cheetah and leopards. While the game viewing is excellent, it is the thrilling sense of supreme isolation that many people enjoy most.

Read more about Kidepo National Park in our Uganda Travel Blog here

Day 16 of 24

Enjoy: Kidepo Valley National Park

As Kidepo Valley is one of the highlights of the trip, it's advisable to spend another day. Head out on a beautiful drive to reach the (unimpressive) hot springs, relax on your veranda and enjoy the view, or go for a hiking trail with an UWA guide - exciting!!

Day 17 of 24

Start: Kidepo Valley National Park
Destination:
Moroto
Drive: 260 km | 5+ hours

With a morning game drive you exit the park via the Mataba gate to Kaabong and Kotido. The scenery changes drastically to plain arid landscapes with large boulders (kopjes). From Kotido to Moroto is a 2 hour drive. When you reach Moroto, the guides from Kara-Tunga can take you into the manyattas (traditional villages of the Karamojong tribe). Immerse yourself in the nomadic pastoral culture of the Karamojong by experiencing daily life in a manyatta. You could even spend a night in the kraal.  

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Kara-Tunga Guesthouse

Day 18 of 24

Enjoy: Moroto

Time to stretch your legs and climb Mount Moroto. During your hike, you pass through some small villages and the guides can tell you everything about the local lifestyle and culture. You can explore this mountain in either one or two days - the latter comes with an authentic bush camp in the wilderness.

Day 19 of 24

Start: Moroto
Destination:
Sipi Falls
Drive: 175 km | 4+ hours.

We are going further southeast today. You will drive to Sipi Falls at the foothills of Mount Elgon, home to a series of three spectacular waterfalls, some of the best Arabica coffee in the world, and beautiful sunsets! Sipi Falls is a place to enjoy for some great hiking, but also a place to just relax and unwind in a cool and peaceful environment. 

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Sipi River Lodge

Day 20 of 24

Enjoy: Sipi Falls

Plenty of activities can be organised from the lodge. It's popular to explore the three waterfalls with a local guide. Other activities include a coffee tour, mountain biking, rock climbing, abseiling, trout fishing and day hikes in Mount Elgon National Park. Or, also an old-time favourite, hang-out in the beautiful garden of the lodge, read a book and relax. 

Day 21 of 24

Start: Sipi Falls
Destination:
Jinja
Drive: 220 km | 4+ hours

The Source of the Nile is on the menu for today. Referred to as the “Adventure Capital of East Africa”, the area has much to offer by way of activities, including class-5 rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, horse riding, Nile river sunset cruise, fishing and more. Jinja town is also nice to wander around for an afternoon.

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: The Haven

Day 22 of 24

Enjoy: Jinja

A perfect day to relax… or to go on a mountaine bike with Bike Ventures Uganda, where all proceeds go to charity, or to go for an action-packed day of world-class, grade-5 rafting with Nalubale. The thrill of a lifetime! Roadtrippers get a special discount! 

 

 

Day 23 of 24

Start: Jinja
Destination:
Entebbe
Drive: 130 km | 4+ hours

All good things must come an end. Return to Entebbe and drop off the car at the airport, or at your accommodation. As you’re passing through Kampala, allow plenty of travel time for some (un)expected, world-famously slow traffic, or 'jam'. If you have spent the night at the Haven, you can take the newly rebuilt northern route via Kayunga – Gayaza.

Accommodation options:
Budget / Mid-range: Via Via Guesthouse

Day 24 of 24

Enjoy: Entebbe

Depending on your departure time, you have some time to relax at your lodge - well deserved after such an epic trip! If you have the energy to head out, go and visit Entebbe's tranquil Botanical gardens; it's a beautiful place with lots of bird watching opportunities. Its also a great place for a picnic.

The Grand Circuit: What to expect on this self-drive safari in Uganda

Travel time and road conditions

24 days / 21 car rental days are recommended to follow this route. A Landcruiser is required because of road conditions in Karamoja and Kidepo National Park. Time or budget not on your side? Leave out Kidepo and go with a RAV4. 

On average, you will spend two nights at each location. This circuit contains the most driving hours of all our suggested routes, so you'd better enjoy being on the move. On an average travel day, you will drive around 5 hours, without factoring in time for lunch, photo stops etc. 

The most adventurous part of your journey will be driving from Kisoro to Lake Mutanda (volcanic and dirt road) and from Masindi to Murchison Falls. We cannot stress enough to drive slowly (25km/h) and carefully on this road! Single vehicle roll-overs are NOT covered by the insurance. Roads inside the National Parks are generally good dirt tracks, but Kidepo can be difficult after the rains. More travel tips can be found in our on the road section. 

View or Print this route in PDF

Go to Travel time and road conditions

When is the best time to visit Uganda?

Uganda is nice to visit year-round; it's always 'summer'! Visit in January or February if you love the heat, as these are the warmest months.

Go in January or February if you like sunshine, but be prepared for soaring heat in Murchison and Kidepo National Park.  

Go in March - May and November to enjoy having it all to yourself. Be prepared for more rainfall in the Southwest, Sipi and Jinja. 

June - August and December - February is the dry season. In Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks, vegetation is scarce and animals gather around water sources, making wildlife easier to spot. Rainforests are wet year-round. 

High season is from June to September and around Christmas. Although the parks don’t feel crowded at all, you must still reserve your car, gorilla permits and accommodation well in advance.

  

 

Go to When is the best time to visit Uganda?

Prices

Low season | 1st March - 31st May

Price is per person, in Euros. 

Price includes 23 nights accommodation mostly on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, 22 day car rental, airport pick up, gorilla permits and chimpanzee permits.

Want to do the The Grand Circuit with a driver-guide? Add €770 to your total trip amount.

  Landcruiser
  2 pax 4 pax
Budget 2,970 2,511
Mid range 3,636 3,186

Car hire only?

Rent a Toyota Landcruiser from €79/day, and follow the route as a guideline.
Check our rates.

Rest of the year

Price is per person, in Euros. 

Price includes 23 nights accommodation mostly on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, 22 day car rental, airport pick up, gorilla permits and chimpanzee permits.

Want to do the The Grand Circuit with a driver-guide? Add €770 to your total trip amount.

  Landcruiser
  2 pax 4 pax
Budget 3,285 2,781
Mid range 3,951 3,456

 

Create & Book

You can book the Grand Circuit as is, with budget or comfortable accommodation, or adjust it to your liking.

Make this road trip yours

Included in your accommodated roadtrip

Included

  • Gorilla permit ($ 600 pp)
  • Chimp permit ($ 150 pp)
  • Airport transfers
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide

Optional

  • Driver-Guide
  • Electrical fridge