The Primate Express

The Primate Express

Southwestern Uganda is known for its rolling hills, lush landscape, the chimpanzees and the rare mountain gorillas. Combined with the game drive experience in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will be surprised by the variety of nature and wildlife you encounter within easy distance. This is our most popular route for those that have limited time and still want to see the best the country has to offer. 

Scroll down below to see the day-to-day route with route description and lots of insider travel tips. The price includes car rental, accomodation in three price categories, and gorilla and chimp permits. The selected lodges are hand picked by us and the places we like to stay when we are roadtripping ourselves; small-scale, good price-quality ratio and owner-managed when possible.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 12

Destination: Entebbe
Drive: 10 km | 0.5 hour

Arrival at Entebbe Airport, a lovely, gentle town, situated at Lake Victoria. It is worth to spend an extra day in Entebbe. Things to do in this little tropical place: swimming at Lake Victoria Hotel, rent a little Laser sailboat at the Entebbe Sailing Club, visit the Botanical gardens, go to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or Mabamba Swamp.

Accommodation options:

Budget / Mid-Range: Via Via Guesthouse
Deluxe: The Boma Hotel

Restaurants: the Boma Hotel, or eat fresh fish and great pizza at Gorreti’s, with your feet in the white sands viewing Lake Victoria. Carpe Diem guesthouse has delicious shakes.

Day 2 of 12

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

Your roadtrip adventure starts today. Its a 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 / Deluxe: Rwakobo Rock

Day 3 of 12

Enjoy: Lake Mburo NP

Enjoy a day in the park. With no dangerous 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 12

Start: Lake Mburo NP
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 / Deluxe: Mutanda Lake Resort

 

Day 5 of 12

Enjoy: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP.

Rise and shine. You probably get up in the dark for an experience of a life time. 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 12

Enjoy: Lake Mutanda

Plenty of activities can be arranged from Mutanda Lake Resort. You can do a culture walk, visiting a primary school, farm and local medicine man. Enjoy a ride in a dugout canoe as the local fisherman do, master one of the Virunga Volcanoes, go bird spotting ( this is a suburb birding watching area), or Standup Paddling and finish off the day with a sunset boat ride on the serene lake.

Check the Mutanda Lake Resort website for more information. 

 

Day 7 of 12

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

Today you'll drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. From open savanna to green rainforest, from dense papyrus swamps to the vastness of Lake Edward, it is little wonder that Queen Elizabeth boasts one of the highest biodiversity rates of any game park.

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

Day 8 of 12

Enjoy: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Enjoy another 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 12

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.
Deluxe: Papaya Lodge

Day 10 of 12

Enjoy: Kibale National Park

Kibale Forest is a nature lover’s paradise with its sublime bird watching and chimpanzee trekking. Also 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.

Day 11 of 12

Start: Kibale National Park
Destination:
Kampala
Drive: 300 km | 5½ + hours

An smooth paved road passing through lush matoke plantations brings you to Kampala,  where you will find a thriving dining and nightlife scene with a pleasant vibe. We're happy to recommend some good places. 
Hand-over your car in Kampala.

Accommodation option:
Budget: Bush Pig 
Mid-range / Deluxe: the Yellow Haven Guesthouse 

Day 12 of 12

Enjoy: Kampala

Depending on your return flight you have time to visit some highlights of Kampala:

  • Explore Kampala on the back of a boda boda (motorbike taxi) and learn about Kampala’s history and scenic places. We recommend 2 Friends Boda Tours.
  • Visit Ghadaffi Mosque located on Old Kampala Hill.
  • Visit the Baháí Temple.
  • Enjoy traditional dances at Ndere Centre, Ntinda.
    Shows are on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Highly recommended!
  • Visit the largest second-hand clothing market Uganda: Owino Market.

What to expect on this 4x4 self-drive adventure in Uganda?

Travel time and road conditions

12 days / 11 car rental days are recommended for this route, spending two nights at one location. On a travel day, you drive on average 4 - 5 hours with a maximum of 7+ hours. Keep in mind that with photo and picnic stops, this can still make a full travel day. Time is not on your side? Shorten the roadtrip with a day at Bwindi and/or Queen Elizabeth NP.

Road conditions are good. It is asphalt with an occasional pothole and speed bumps. The most adventurous part is to get from Kisoro to Lake Mutanda (volcanic and dirt road) and from Hamurwa to Ishaha (off road). Offline navigation is easy if you download Maps.me on your smart phone before you go. More tips at the on the road section. 

Go to Travel time and road conditions

Best time to visit Uganda?

Uganda is nice to visit year-round. It is always summer. Go in January or February if you like sunshine the most. These are the warmest months. 

April - May and November is low season. Some lodges will offer low season rates. Be prepared for more rainfall in this part of Uganda. Showers are usually short and heavy, after which the sky opens up for bright sunshine.  

June to August and December to February is the dry season. In Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Park, vegetation has become less and animals gather around water sources, making wildlife easier to spot. Rain forests are wet year-round. 

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

Go to Best time to visit Uganda?

Prices

Low season | 1st March - 31st May

Price is per person, in US Dollars. 

Price includes 11 nights accommodation mostly on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, 10 day car rental rental, airport pick up, gorilla permits and chimpanzee permits.

Like to do The Primate Express with a driver - guide? Add $ 400.

  RAV4 Landcruiser
  2 pax 4 pax 2 pax 4 pax
Budget 1,830 1,710 2,030 1,790
Mid range 2,260 2,140 2,460 2,220
Deluxe 3,010 2,890 3,210  2,970

Car hire only?

Follow the route as a guideline and arrange your own accommodation.

Rest of the year 

Price is per person, in US Dollars. 

Price includes 11 nights accommodation mostly on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, 10 day car rental rental, airport pick up, gorilla permits and chimpanzee permits.

Like to do The Primate Express with a driver - guide? Add $ 400.

  RAV 4 Landcruiser
  2 pax 4 pax 2 pax 4 pax
Budget 1,980 1,840 2,180 1,910
Mid range 2,410 2,270 2,610 2,340
Deluxe 3,160 3,020 3,360 3,090

Create & Book

You can book the Primate Express as a fully accommodated road trip in budget, comfort or deluxe accomodation. Or secure your car, and use this suggested route for inspiration only.

Book your road trip

Included in your accomodated roadtrip

Included

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

Optional

  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide