Uganda trips | 3-week itinerary for backpacking Uganda

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

In this blog, you can read everything about different itineraries for Uganda. We have mapped out the ultimate 3-week backpacking itinerary along with all the top sights and highlights of Uganda. We also made a list with almost all destinations and hotspots of Uganda so that you can determine your own itinerary! Ready for your road trip?

Uganda is a wonderful country for a holiday. The landscape is very diverse and varies from rainforests, savannas, mountains and impressive lakes. Uganda’s nickname is “the pearl of Africa“. The roads are perfect for a road trip along all the hotspots. Besides, safaris in Uganda are a lot cheaper than in the neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Kenya. In Uganda, you also have the opportunity to spot the endangered mountain gorillas and white rhinos!

Uganda is also the only place in the world where lions climb trees and where you can raft safely on the Nile. Besides, the many different animal species and variety of landscapes, Uganda is one of the most bird-rich countries in the world! In addition, Uganda is a safe country to backpack through. The locals are very friendly and make your Uganda trip complete!

Murchison Falls Uganda


How expensive is backpacking in Uganda? Read here our budget blog for Uganda!


Uganda Itinerary and trips | Highlights and things to see

Many Dutch people are attracted to Uganda. This country is perfect for a self-drive: discovering the various nature parks and other hotspots by yourself on a road trip. Uganda has many destinations that are worth visiting during a road trip. Depending on which highlights you choose, you can easily plan an itinerary from 2 to 4 weeks. But first, where are the highlights of Uganda located?

Caddle in Uganda Cows of Uganda

Uganda map: Top sights and hotspots for a perfect road trip

On the Uganda map below, you find almost all the highlights and hotspots. This gives you a good idea of where all the top attractions are located. To give you an idea of how big Uganda is: Driving from Kampala to Kidepo Valley National park takes about 11 hours (570 km). The distance from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi is 475 km and takes about 8 hours. No matter which itinerary you choose for your road trip, you have to deal with the sometimes long distances and therefore travel time.

Map of Uganda National Parks and top attractions itinerary


Uganda Trips | What are the highlights and attractions of Uganda?

How do you know which destinations are interesting for your itinerary through Uganda? To help you, we have listed all the hotspots with a short description. Each destination contains hotel tips. These are nice and good accommodations where we slept ourselves or recommended by fellow friends and backpackers. Looking for the best things to do in Uganda? Below, the best places to visit for an itinerary and trip through Uganda!

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park | Gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking Uganda Silverback Gorilla

There are two national parks where you can go on a gorilla safari. These are Bwindi National Park and Mhahinga Gorilla National Park. Most gorilla families live in Bwindi National Park. Here we also did a gorilla trekking. This was definitely a highlight of our 4-month backpacking trip through East Africa. Read our gorilla experience here! Mountain gorillas belong to a critically endangered species. About 900 mountain gorillas live in the wild. Half of these live in Uganda. Other destinations where you can spot mountain gorillas are Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Hotel tips: Lodge Karungi (budget option), Rushaga Gorilla Lodge


Is a gorilla trekking worth it? Read in this blog, our experience of a gorilla safari in Uganda!


Jinja | Top activity: Rafting on the Nile

Jinja Nile Rafting Uganda

Located a 3-hour drive from Kampala, Jinja is a paradise for adrenaline junkies. Here, the Nile starts from Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. Jinja is known in the world for rafting. Nowhere in the world are the rapids so powerful, and yet you can safely navigate the Nile! The Nile itself is very warm. Rain or not, rafting remains a very cool activity to do! In addition to rafting, you can also kayak, mountain biking, quad biking, horseback riding, bungee jumping and a boat trip with dinner on the Nile.

Hotel tip: B&B Casa Mia Baliidha

Kibale Forest | Chimpanzee Trekking

Chimpansee trekking Kibale Forest Uganda

Kibale Forest is a beautiful rainforest in Uganda where you can spot 13 different primates. The main attraction of this park is a chimpanzee trekking. More than a thousand chimpanzees live here. Do you want to know what awaits you in a chimpanzee trekking? Read here our experience of a chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda. Besides a chimpanzee tracking, in Kibale Forest, you can visit Bigodi Swamp and especially beautiful hiking.

Hotel tip: Isunga Lodge (Amazing, book directly!

Lake Bunyonyi | Camping and enjoying nature

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is arguably Uganda’s most idyllic destination. Loosely translated, Lake Bunyonyi means “place of the little birds” and is surrounded by volcanic mountains. The best activity you can do here is to enjoy all the beauty around you. You can also experience here how difficult it is to sail in a traditional tree trunk canoe, a hollowed-out tree trunk, to one of the islands of this lake. Man, this is difficult! Also a nice fact: this lake is almost 900m deep!

Hotel tips: Amasiko Homestay (budget option), Hawk’s Eye Lodge


Free travel guide Lake Bunyonyi: the most beautiful lake of Uganda!


Murchison Falls NP | Game drives and wild camping in the park!

Murchison Falls

We have never seen so many giraffes and elephants as in the green Murchison Falls National Park. The Nile River splits Uganda’s largest natural park in two and has impressive waterfalls. You can also camp wild in this park. This is a really cool experience! You put up your tent and make a fire. Throughout the night you can hear hyenas and other wildlife. Quite scary, that’s why we also hired a ranger who kept us safe. A jeep safari should not be missed when visiting Murchison Falls. Click here for more information about a game drive in Murchison Falls. From €188 for 6 people.

Hotel tips: Murchison Backpackers Hostel & Campsite (budget option), Mama Washindi lodge, Chobe Safai Lodge

Sipi Falls | Hiken, cycling, rappelling and admiring waterfalls

Sipi Falls Uganda

The Sipi Falls consists of 3 waterfalls and are located on the border of Mount Elgon National Park at an altitude of 1600 meters. The soil around the Sipi valley is very fertile. You will also find many coffee plantations, chameleons, smaller waterfalls and the native plant called ‘Sep’. This medicinal plant helps against measles and other diseases. This green, wild landscape is perfect for beautiful hikes, mountain biking and rappelling along with one of the large waterfalls.

Hotel tip: Pension Home of Friends

Kidepo Valley National Park | A whole safari park for you alone

Kidepo National Park Uganda

Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the least visited parks in Uganda. This has to do with the location of the park, situated in the far north of Uganda. The park is remote from other Uganda highlights. If you want to visit the park by jeep, you need a solid 4WD for the dirt roads in the park. The Kidepo Valley National Park is characterized by the rolling savannas with mountains in the background. Here you can do a game drive, visit the Karamajong tribe or enjoy the hot springs.

Hotel tip: Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Queen Elisabeth National Park | Tree lions, jeep safari’s en boot trips!

Elizabeth National Park Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is arguably Uganda’s most famous park. In this stretched park you will find herds of elephants, baboons, the Ugandan Kob, buffalo and giraffes. In the south of the QENP, in the Ishasha sector, you can encounter tree-climbing lions in old fig trees. A boat trip on the Kazinga Canal, which connects the great lakes of Lake Edward and Lake George, is also recommended. Here you will encounter many hippos, crocodiles and many birds such as the kingfisher and osprey. You can easily book a game drive online. Click here for more information about booking a safari. From €150 for 4 people.

Hotel tips: Kasenyi Lake Retreat & Campsite (budget option), Buffalo Safari Lodge, Marafiki Safari Lodge

Fort portal | Mountain landscapes and coffee and tea plantations

Fort Portal Oeganda

Fort Portal is itself a small cute village where you have a few nice bookstores and a supermarket. Besides tea and coffee estates, Fort Portal also cultivates pineapples. Fort Portal is surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains. Nearby you can visit caves or take one of the scenic routes to explore the mountainous landscape. Fort Portal is a half-hour drive from Kibale National Park.

Hotel tip: Dutches Hotel and restaurant

Rhino Sanctuary | Walking safari between the white rhinos in Uganda

Rhino Sanctuary Uganda

Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where you can see the white rhino. About 34 rhinos live here that you can visit with a ranger. These rhinos are 24/7 protected against poachers. When there are more than 40 rhinos, the idea is to slowly reintroduce these beautiful beasts into the natural parks of Uganda.

Hotel Tip: Camping Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Kampala | History, cultural dance and a cooking class by locals

Kampala Ndere Cultural show

The capital Kampala is the largest city in Uganda with almost 1.6 million inhabitants. Kampala has been the capital of the country since 1962 and was originally built on 7 hills. It is a safe city to visit compared to other cities in Africa. Cool things to do include visiting the National Museum, where you learn a lot about the history of the country, and attending a traditional dance from Ndere Troupe. Kampala is also very suitable for a city walk with a guide. This city walk is already available from €9 per person. Click here for more information. Do you want to try something new? Then go for a cooking class and get to know the local cuisine. Click here for more information.

Hotel tips: Acacia Villa (budget option), Villa Kololo , Le Petit Village Boutique Hotel


Free travel guide Jinja: Rafting on the Nile


Itineraries East Africa: Backpacking through Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya

In this blog, you will find the ultimate 3-week itinerary for backpacking through Uganda. The best tip we can give you is to combine a road trip through Uganda with a visit to Rwanda. If you have more time for your holiday, you can even combine your itinerary with Kenya or Tanzania. We also created a backpack-itinerary through East Africa for inspiration.

Things to do in Uganda Safari Charlotte Plans a Trip

Itinerary Uganda: The ultimate road trip for 3 weeks backpacking in Uganda

You start your road trip from Kampala. Here you can choose where to go first: Lake Bunyonyi or Jina. Both options are possible. From Kampala, you travel to Lake Bunyonyi, an idyllic lake with beautiful viewpoints. Next, prepare for a gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest Impenetrable National Park. After this special experience, you will do a game drive through Queen Elisabeth National Park and you may encounter lions, leopards and cheetahs. If you would like to see chimpanzees as well, you can easily include Kibale National Park in your itinerary. This is the place for a chimpanzee trekking. Fort Portal is beautiful due to her mountains and beautiful hiking trails.

The last nature park is Murchison Falls. Here you can do wild camping and go on a jeep safari. Your journey continues to the only place in Uganda where you can see the white rhino, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. From here you continue to the beautiful Sipi Falls after which you travel on to the adventure town, called Jinja. This is the place for rafting on the Nile. You use your last days to discover Kampala before you fly back home. This travel itinerary looks as follows:

Kampala – Lake Bunyoni – Bwindi Forest – Queen Elisabeth National Park – Fort Portal – Murchison Falls National Park – Rhino Sanctuary – Sipi Falls – Jinja – Kampala

Itinerary Uganda self drive road trip

Combi-trip: 3-week itinerary backpacking Uganda & Rwanda

Combine a trip through Uganda with neighbouring Rwanda. You can start your road trip from Kampala or Kigali. The advantage of combining countries is that you can do a gorilla trekking in Uganda, where the activity is a lot cheaper. Besides, have more diversity in safari parks in this way. It is highly recommended to camp a night in Murchison National Park. Of course with a ranger who keeps the wild animals away. This backpacking itinerary may look like this:

Kampala – Lake Bunyonyi – Kigali – Nyungwe Forrest National Park – Lac Kivu (Gisenyi or Kibuye) – Volcanoes National Park of Bwindi impenetrable forest – Queen Elisabeth National Park – Fort Portal – Murchison Falls – Rhino Sanctuary – Jinja – Kampala

Do you want to combine an itinerary through Uganda and Rwanda, but want to travel at a slower pace? Then consider skipping Jina and/or Murchison Falls National Park. You can skip Jinja if you are not into adrenaline activities such as rafting. You can skip Murchison Falls if you feel you have already visited enough safari parks.

Itinerary Uganda and Rwanda road trip

Road trip East Africa: A 4-week itinerary through Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda

Do you want to make the most out of your holiday in East Africa? Consider visiting several countries during your road trip. Backpacking through Uganda is also easy to combine with a visit to Kenya and Rwanda. The East Africa visa makes this possible. With this visa you can easily visit all three countries with just one visa. You save a lot of money on visa costs. A possible itinerary for 4 weeks of backpacking through East Africa is as follows:

Nairobi – Lamu – Masai Mara – Lake Naivasha or Lake Nakuru – Kisumo – Jinja – Kampala – Lake Bunyonyi – Kigali -Nyungwe Forrest National Park – Gisenyi or Kibuye – Volcanoes National Park or Bwindi National Park – Queen Elisabeth National Park – Fort Portal – Murchison Falls National Park – Rhino Sanctuary – Kampala

Itinerary East Africa Best road trip of Kenya Uganda and Rwanda


Uganda Trips | What is the best time for visiting Uganda?

Campground and campsites best places to stay Uganda

The best time for a road trip through Uganda is from December to February and from June to September. These are the two dry seasons of Uganda. The dry period from December to February is an ideal time for safaris and game drives because the relatively dry soil makes the wildlife easy to see. Backpacking is also possible during the rainy season in Uganda. However, expect more rain. Visiting Uganda during the rainy season will also be a lot quieter and cheaper compared to travelling in the high season.

Queen Elisabeth National Park Uganda


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