How to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

How to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

Planning a 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda is possible without the help of a tour operator. Both countries are very big and distances between destinations are long. After careful research of lodges, activities and available days, this is the perfect 10 day itinerary that I created.

During the planning stage the most important thing was to narrow down the points to visit and create a route based on available days, considering driving distances and the necessary budget.

perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

Quick facts to consider before you start planning:

  • Entry country and visas. We flew to Rwanda to cross to Uganda and then back to Rwanda. For that we obtained the East African visa to have multiple entries. It takes a full page of your passport.
  • Your points of interest. Ours were the gorillas and the lakes for relaxation. If you want to check the chimpanzees out you will have to include the north of Uganda too.
  • Keep in mind that even backpackers are expensive and in some areas, there is no such thing as hostel accommodation – the average price per night per room was approx.150 USD between the two of us.
  • Both countries are very safe. We asked our lodges or drivers about the safety of the areas on arrival but could walk anywhere safely.
  • It is possible to rent a car, but the roads are very rough and bumpy, and some don’t appear on GPS. It’s better to have an old-fashioned map.
  • What’re the must visits in Uganda: gorillas, lake mutanda.
  • What’re the must visits in Rwanda: Kigali, gorillas, lake Kivu.
  • The weather year round is pleasant with temperatures averaging 20-27ºC. The rainy season falls in October-November and April-May. The countries are close to the equator, so it is usually quite humid.
  • They are both in malaria risk areas, so a treatment for malaria should be considered.

perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

How to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

Day 1. Kigali to Bwindi by road

If your focuses are the gorillas and the lakes in Uganda, it’s better to land in Kigali (Rwanda) as it’s closest to the Bwindi forest. We landed at 6am and had a private transfer waiting for us. The drive takes about 5hours and it is tar road until the end, where it becomes bumpy and gravel road. You need a 4×4 vehicle.

We stayed at Bwindi Backpackers. On arrival our room category had been upgraded and the food was very good. The lodge had beautiful views over the Bwindi National Park.

Day 2: Waterfall hike in Bwindi

There are different activities offered from the lodge that you can do, but they all require you to pay. I was quite surprised to see even hikes had to be done with a guide (as I like to hike on my own a lot). They also require (at least in the Bwindi surrounding area) to hike with an armed guard in case you encounter forest elephants or other wildlife. The prices ranged from 15 USD pp to 60 USD pp.

We chose to do a 3h-4h waterfall hike. The first advice I’ve got for you: you do need the stick. It is not a hard hike at all, but the area of Bwindi is slippery and lush – the stick saved my ass from hitting the floor a couple times. The hike was stunning, went through fields of fruits and local communities, dense jungle and fenced animals. The waterfall is deep in the jungle and then I understood why you need a local guide. There was no sign or much of a path, and we would have not found it without a guide. The waterfall was about 4 or 5 metres high and unfortunately you cannot swim in it. It was so cool to see this – and a very nice activity for our day.

Bwindi waterfall hike Bwindi waterfall hike

We felt very safe from day one in the country. The kids in small villages would call us Mzungus which is the word for “white person” that the African countries of the great lakes use to refer us. I thought the word was adorable. We saw 5 chameleons during the hike, there is one activity called chameleon track but our guide and armed guide pointed about 5 of them on our way to the waterfall and back. We would have not seen them!

chameleon tracking in the Bwindi jungle

Day 3: one of the best days of my life – gorilla trekking

As I mentioned on my 7 things no one tells you about gorilla tracking in Uganda, the gorilla permit has to be picked up from Kampala. Make sure your lodge picks them up in case you are DIY on the trip and not part of a tour group.

Gorilla trekking is the most incredible wildlife experience that I’ve had so far. It leaves you speechless. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. The permit is expensive (600USD per person in 2018, Uganda) but contributes to making the forest and surrounding areas habitable for the gorillas.

the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

READ NEXT: 7 things no one tells you about gorilla tracking in Uganda

Overnight at Mutanda Lake Resort. The lodge is right on the shores of Lake Mutanda and has beautiful views. You can read the full review of the stay here.

Day 4: Chilling by lake Mutanda

Once again, most of the activities here either needed a car or a guide. We walked for a good 40 minutes on the main road and went to have a beer at Chameleon Lodge, to change the angle of the spectacular views. Upon returning, we swam in the lake, canoed around the island closest to the lodge’s peninsula and went for a sundowner cruise.

Chilling around Lake Mutanda Chilling around Lake Mutanda Chilling around Lake Mutanda

If you have your own car you will be able to drive around and do more, as we found ourselves relying on either walking (distances weren’t close) or hiring a guide/activity. It is a very tranquil environment and a good book will be your best companion before dinner.

Day 5: Lake Bunyonyi

We were transferred from Lake Mutanda to our lodge in Lake Bunyonyi (about 2h30) and spent the day enjoying the views, playing chess on our deck and guess what – we also got a room upgrade (perks of travelling during shoulder season!). The staff at the lodge were just a tiny bit too pushy asking every couple minutes, but the lodge was very nice.
Improvement for the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda: If you can find availability for the gorilla permit on day 2, skip the Bwindi area night (waterfall in our case) – you can sleep in Lake Mutanda and do the trek from there, too. Instead enjoy one more day in a lodge in Bunyonyi with views and another one in a hotels on one of the 28 islands in the lake!

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Day 6: Long transfer to Gisenyi, Rwanda

Gisenyi is the coastal town with a nice vibe on the shores of Lake Kivu, the volcanic lake that separates DRC and Rwanda. We stayed at a lodge about 10 minutes away from town, in a very tranquil and idyllic setting, with palm trees, private beach and lodge orchard. The friendliness and warm ambience of the lodge staff was over the top – I would recommend it to anyone (full review in progress).

The private beach sunset is amazing and you can order a bottle of wine and your dinner to be served at the beach, picnic mode. The food was extremely good, the pictures don’t do it justice.

Paradise Kivu, in Gisenyi, Rwanda

Day 7: Activities around Gisenyi

One of the main activities in the area are the hot springs. We took a boat from our lodge to their sister property, Paradise Malahide, and from there kayaked to the hot springs and back. The experience was the weirdest and most uncomfortable experience of my life. On arrival you pay the permit to enter the hot springs. The hot springs are two pools of hot water surrounded by sandbags, where you sit.

Literally two seconds after we sat, two people started giving us a massage. There wasn’t a question at all. We were told this would happen and although it is a bit abrupt it is good. Then we were sort of pushed down to have our entire bodies inside the water (boiling) while we were given the massage. I did not enjoy that at all. If you go, make sure they know you only want a leg and foot massage.

On the way back we stopped at the private island of the lodge owner, right in front of Paradise Malahide. It is a little nice island that can be rented for a romantic lunch or dinner.

Itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda Itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda Itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda

Later on that day, we took the moto taxis (boda-boda) to go to town and walked around for a bit. It is not a touristy town at all, and people seemed surprised to see us walk without really knowing where we were going, but it was completely safe.

We got back with a couple boda boda’s, ordered food and enjoyed another spectacular sunset on the little private beach.

READ MORE: Staying at Paradise Kivu at the shores of Lake Kivu

Day 7: Gisenyi to Kigali with public bus

We took a boda boda to the town’s bus station and took our bus to Kigali. We did not have tickets, bought them there at the station right before we boarded. They bus timetables are very reliable and I would use bus transport in Rwanda again any day. From the bus stop to our hotel in Kigali we took a tuk tuk. We stayed at Urban Blue Hotel Kigali and the views from the rooftop restaurant and bar are one of the best in the city.Visiting Kigali, Rwanda

We went to “Heaven”, another restaurant well known for its views and food, and found the views almost non-existent and the food overpriced for the quantity, but it was tasty. It is very much a tourist spot. We walked around the city without any concern for our safety.

Day 8: Kigali day tour – with boda boda

With one day in the capital there’s enough time to check the main attractions. We started visiting the famous hotel Mille des Colines where the film Hotel Rwanda was filmed. It was a little disappointing, as it is only a hotel and there is no theme around the movie. Then we went to the genocide memorial and learnt about the tragic and very recent story of the country’s genocide, and how much effort they have gone through to prosper after that. We took another boda boda to “Now Now Rolex” and tried the typical street food (rolled pastry with fried eggs, tomatoes and chips inside). End your day with a visit to Kimironko market, full of souvenirs, food, and everything else in between.

Visiting Kigali, Rwanda Visiting Kigali, Rwanda

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How to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda and Rwanda


How to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary in Uganda & Rwanda


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6 wildlife photography tips for amateurs – from an amateur wildlife photographer

6 wildlife photography tips for amateurs – from an amateur wildlife photographer

Going on safari is one of those bucket list items for most of us. Personally, my safari experiences are some of my most cherished ones. Driving through the bush and watching animals as they go about their business and being able to just sit there and enjoy the view.

I like to enjoy the moment while I’m there, that is always my number one priority. But lately I’ve found a new hobby: photographing wildlife. As an amateur photographer, trying to capture moving animals and learning how to use my camera so that in low light conditions, with moving subjects, my pictures still came out sharp; proved difficult.

This is my list of wildlife shooting tips – written by a totally amateur wildlife photographer. I’ve learned these through experience and talking to rangers and guides – they sure know how to use a good camera well.

Looking for unique accommodations in Africa? Check out Sweet Dreams for inspiration and reviews!

6 wildlife photography tips

6 wildlife photography tips for amateurs

1.Use your shutter speed priority mode

When taking pictures of moving animals in low light conditions (during dawn and dusk) you will need to increase the shutter speed to get sharp pictures. The shutter speed priority mode (usually shown as Tv mode) will allow you to give the shutter enough speed to capture a still moving object.

The idea behind it is that the shutter speed needs to be quicker than the movement. The quicker the movement (let’s say an animal running) the higher (let’s say 1/2000 for example) you will need your shutter speed to be.

One good trick to check if your picture is sharp enough is to zoom in on the whiskers of the animals – if they are blurry, your picture still needs a higher shutter speed. In order to increase your shutter speed you will have to use a higher ISO when light is not abundant.

2. Be at eye-level with the animals

Trying to position yourself at the same level as your animal will create more meaningful pictures that evoke deeper feelings. By staring at the animal at eye level the sense of knowledge is transmitted into the photography – making it feel like you belong. When you take pictures from an open 4×4 vehicle or a minivan, your pictures will look like this:

Leopard picture taken from a 4x4 vehicle

You want to try to make them look like this:

Be at the animal's level

As it gives the image more realism and the person viewing the image will feel more aligned with what you are showing and connect with the photo more.

It is hard to get eye-level with some small animals like predators, but doing your best to gain some centimeters will improve your pictures.

3. Listen to your guide

In a perfect world, we would have many days and weeks to spend in the bush, learning the animal behaviour ourselves. But in case you (like me and many others) are only going on safari as a holiday – listen to your guide, they have been in the bush for far longer than you and can tell you beforehand when something is about to happen. Guides know everything about animal behaviour.

Guide and ranger in the Kruger National Park

That means that if a lion is moving his ears a certain way he is about to yawn. If you pay attention to the information your guide and tracker give you, you can be ready to shoot when ephemeral moments like yawns happen.

WANT TO GO?: Staying at nThambo Tree houses in Kruger National Park, South Africa

4. Pay attention to composition and framing

We all have seen the annoying grid on our cameras or phones. Although it might not be great when we are not used to it, because we can only see the grid’s lines, it is best to keep it on to always see how our shot is going to look. There are a number of rules for a good composition. Each of them has something to offer, but the most generally accepted is the rule of thirds.

This rule states that everything you want the eye to pay attention to should be in the intersection of the four lines.

Rule of thirds: wildlife photography tips

Being at the right place for the right picture makes a big difference. Framing your animal in the right area of your picture changes the story dramatically. A shot can change a lot if taken one step to the left or crouched slightly down. Explore the different angles and frame your subject with the elements around it (trees, other animals, flowers, etc)

5. Check where the light is coming from

I have heard all my life that you must shoot with the sun behind you, so it lights up your subject. But this would also mean you miss tones and shapes as the object is perfectly lit, giving it a “real estate advertisement” look. If you have the chance to position yourself so that the light comes from one side of the sighting, do it.

where's the light coming from: wildlife photography tips

Another good option is to move halfway between the subject, the sun and your position. Imagine the sun is at 12 on a clock. Your subject is at 6. Shoot from 1:30 and 10:30 to accomplish a bit of both worlds, light from the front and shadows. It allows for flattering light in the background and landscape and focuses your subject.

Another difficult option is to use the first light or last rays of sun, to cover your subject. It creates a dreamy look of the animal and the background. The sun must be covered by the animal/s you are photographing.

6. Respect your subject

It is very important than while you take your photos that no harm or distress comes to the animal. Be careful when trying to accomplosh great shots – never put your life or the animal’s life at risk for a great/better shot.

wildlife photography tips

Another good option is to move halfway between the subject, the sun and your position. Imagine the sun is at 12 on a clock. Your subject is at 6. Shoot from 1:30 and 10:30 to accomplish a bit of both worlds, light from the front and shadows. It allows for flattering light in the background and landscape and focuses your subject.

Another difficult option is to use the first light or last rays of sun, to cover your subject. It creates a dreamy look of the animal and the background. The sun must be covered by the animal/s you are photographing.

Have you taken notes of these wildlife photography tips for amateurs? What other easy tips helped you take great pictures of animals?

6 wildlife photography tips for amateurs
6 wildlife photography tips for amateurs
Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

I recently finished my 10 day trip exploring Uganda and Rwanda. I spent the time doing the famous gorillas tracking excursion, eating delicious freshly caught fish and marvelling at the greenery around me. I could have spent a bit less but didn’t want to compromise my experience, so while I tried to stay at the entry-level option, I wasn’t too picky with the price tag. This is why I kept track of all my expenses so I could do a Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown for you guys.

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

How much does a 10 day trip in Uganda and Rwanda cost?

This is the first question most people ask themselves when getting inspired for their next trip. Let me tell you, despite what you may think, Uganda and Rwanda are not cheap countries to visit. Most people assume that Africa is cheap and they are very wrong – most touristic African countries use the USD as their main currency. Depending on your planned activities (such as gorilla tracking, safari, etc) you will need more or less money. It really comes down to your itinerary and the number of days you’re planning to stay.

How much did I spend on a 10 day trip in Uganda and Rwanda?

Total spent: 2157,04 USD*
Average spent per day based on above: 215,74 USD
*Based on two people travelling

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown for 10 days

Pre trip expenses

  1. Flights 405,17 USD: I bought return flights from Cape Town with a connection in Johannesburg to fly to Kigali. It made more sense with my itinerary and the price was a tiny bit cheaper than flying to Kampala (and less hours by road to the gorillas!)
  2. Travel insurance 69 USD: World Nomads explorers plan
  3. Vaccinations 52 USD: for the yellow fever vaccination. I also purchased Malarone (preventive malaria pills) for 18 days (1 day before, during and 1 week after)
  4. Visa 100USD: I needed a multiple entry visa to Rwanda and single to Uganda I bought the East Africa Tourist visa (that allows multiple entry to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenia). Keep in mind it takes a whole page of your passport!
  5. Gorilla permits 600 USD

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

During the trip expenses

UGANDA Expenses

  1. Accommodation:

    We picked lodges by location and their standard of service. I wanted to make sure that some more dollars thrown into the basket would grant me the best of experiences and a comfortable one. For the first time in my life (also there aren’t that many options) I was less picky with accommodation and allowed myself some more budget to spend.
    Bwindi backpackers 73,67 USD, per room per night
    Lake mutanda 200.00 USD, per room per night
    Lake bunyonyi 190.00 USD, per room per night

  2. Food and beverages:

    I found drinks to be extremely cheap, even in hotels/lodges. When you start ordering food, prices were in the line of what I’m used to in Europe.
    1 big beer 1.35 USD
    1 bottle of “fanta” in the village shop 0.27 USD
    1 normal beer 2USD
    Cigarettes 3USD
    Lunch meal 10 USD

  3. Activities:

    Since these are only offered to travellers, the prices are higher than other things in the country. I also found that most offered activities involved a minimum of two locals (as guides/armed guards…) and I think this contributes to the social environment of local communities. I found it quite hard to do things on my own using the lodge as a base. Some walks could be done alone but besides these there are no marked hiking trails, so you do need a guide and so on.
    1 waterfall hike (3-4h) 20 USD per person
    Renting a canoe for own use 8USD per person
    Sundowner boat 20USD per person

  4. Transport:

    together with accommodation, transport is the area where I spent the most. I did not want to use public transport to cross borders so I paid for private transfers. Also, in my head and in google maps, distances between places seemed quite close but gravel (or should I say dirt) roads take longer. I would not have cut out any of my stops during my 10 day trip around Uganda & Rwanda for the long commutes, but it is something to keep in mind when planning.
    1 private transfer from lodge to gorillas (45min)+ wait all day then to next lodge (1h30) 80USD 1 transfer from Kigali to Bwindi 200 USD
    1 transfer from Lake Mutanda to Lake Bunyonyi 40.54 USD
    1 transfer from Lake Bunyonyi to Gisenyi (in Rwanda) 150 USD

  5. Other expenses

    Porter to carry bags while hiking 25 USD –  I didn’t use that, but it’s encouraged to help the community. I had a small backpack with me and I’m fitenough so there was no need for that.
    1 piece of clothing for laundry 0.27 USD
    Fridge magnet souvenir 4 USD

Budget breakdown Uganda and Rwanda

RWANDA Expenses

  1. Accommodation:

    this was a shorter stay than Uganda, so we picked the resort for the views and good experiences near Lake Kivu over price. In the capital Kigali I just wanted good views of the city and picked the hotel based on that and good reviews.
    Paradise Kivu running an offer of dinner bed & breakfast for 150 USD the room as opening year
    Urban by City blue Kigali 33.75USD

  2. Food and Beverages:

    food in Rwanda was as delicious as Uganda, but also a little bit more expensive. You could see there were tourists restaurants in the main cities and locals as well as the receptionists at the hotels are still wary to recommend a proper street or local restaurant to tourists. If you go to Kigali, do not miss “Living in Kigali” because it is the best blog in town and helped me so much during my short stay in the city!
    1 meal at a restaurant between 7.43 -9.72 USD
    Beers at a  local bar 1.40 USD
    Beers at hotel restaurant 1.40-3.43 USD
    2 mains and 2 beers at a restaurant in gisenyi 13.72USD
    1 overpriced restaurant platter 16 USD
    One rolex at a restaurant 4 USD
    Water 1.14USD
    Beer 1.14 USD
    Rolex East African food

  3. Transport:

    Boda-boda is the word that moto taxis receive in most of East Africa. They are the best and funniest experience you could have in the country to move from one side and to the other. I also boarded for the only time in this trip, a public bus between Gisenyi and Kigali and was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of timetables and comforts on the bus. The trip was stress free (Except all the times the bus stopped in the middle of what looked like nowhere to pick up and drop off travellers and locals).
    1 Moto 10-15min 1.14 – 1.71 USD
    1 Bus ticket from Gisenyi to Kigali 3.77 USD
    Moto taxi from one side of the city to the other 1.71 USD

  4. Activities

    Renting 2 kayaks with guide 1 hour 52 USD
    1 Permit for the hot springs 1.14USD
    1 full body Massage in the hot springs 10min 5.72USD

  5. Other expenses

    Fridge Magnet Souvenir 3.43 USD
    Postcard 2.29 USD

Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown

Budget breakdown conclusion

This was my complete Uganda and Rwanda budget breakdown. I spent 10 magnificent days discovering both countries and I was in completebliss for such amazing experiences. As a matter of fact, this trip was the single most expensive trip I’ve ever done, and I would repeat it again if the world wasn’t endless.

The biggest expense of this trip was accommodation followed by transportation. There is also a slight difference between Uganda and Rwanda. Uganda is a little bit more budget friendly for daily life as a tourist than Rwanda. If I had used more public transport I could have saved more money, but I was pressed for time and really wanted to use my leave days experiencing and not commuting. Also keep in mind most areas that I visited, even though they are areas tourists visit, there isn’t enough traffic to have public buses everywhere (Eg: arriving at the lodges next to the Bwindi forest).


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Budget breakdown Uganda and Rwanda


Uganda & Rwanda full budget breakdown