Choose Your Unique African Safari: On Foot, Boat & Wheels

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Choose among amazing experiences across the Gorilla Highlands region and in four towns of Rwanda and Uganda! These all-inclusive trips are a small-scale alternative to a typical African safari, for a traveller who wishes to treat the cultures and environment with respect and learn something new on the way.

multi-day hikes

Gorilla Highlands Trails

Let excellent  local guides change your perception of what an African safari can be like
Guided on the Gorilla Highlands Trails; photo by Marcus Westberg

Would you like to trek deep into remote areas, to camp and dine with rural families? Or do you prefer luxurious lodges? The Gorilla Highlands Trails, a transboundary system of guided trips, offers both. Whatever option you choose, you will spend as much time as possible with local people in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo*, basking in their warm hospitality and easy-going nature. Giving them a source of income and pride is a crucial aspect of these treks.

* The Thriving Countryside trek can bring you to Goma, and — by tapping into the Congo Nile Trail — to Bukavu as well. We are happy to help with any arrangements in the DRC. It’s pretty amazing.

2-Day Hikes

Mama Bena’s Bonus /Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda/

Our Canoe Trekking on Lake Bunyonyi options include Mama Bena’s Bonus (2 days, USD 220). This 2-day trek entails getting to know all major islands of Bunyonyi, climbing Karembe Hill, staying with the famous Mama Bena and meeting Batwa “Pygmies”. If you add a night at Tom’s Homestay and a craftmaker session it turns into the 3-day Mother of All Treks package. Click here for more.

Valley of No Living /SW Uganda/

The Valley of No Living trek (2 days, USD 220) takes you between Lake Bunyonyi and Rushaga (Bwindi) through the remotest, least spoiled areas. More…

3-Day Hikes

The two 3-day hikes below can be joined into a one-week Ultimate Hike.

Don’t miss the Dutch Ultimate Hike pictorial from May 2021!

Volcano Quest /SW Uganda/

Volcano Quest (3 days, USD 310) means hiking from Lake Bunyonyi to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and let a Batwa “Pygmy” leader guide you through the wilderness of Echuya Forest. You will spend both nights on the way at lake campsites far away from any tourism, hosted by local families. More…

Parks Reunited /SW Uganda/

Relaxation at Mutanda Island Lodge; photo by Miha Logar

Parks Reunited (3 days, USD 310) reconnects Bwindi and Mgahinga, two parts of an ancient forest. you camp on a gorgeous tiny island on Lake Mutanda, experience a famous caldera, visit a coffee producer and get served great restaurant meals. More…

4-Day Hikes

Three Upland Lakes /SW Uganda/

Three Upland Lakes (4 days, USD 390) is a trek that shares the first two days with Volcano Quest but then turns north towards Lake Mutanda and Bwindi‘s Rushaga gate. More…

Thriving Countryside /NW Rwanda/

Thriving Countryside (4 days, USD 430) bridges the gap between the Gorilla Highlands Trails in Uganda and the Congo Nile Trail. It gives you a taste of Rwanda’s rural development while you trek along the Virunga volcanoes, marvel at awesome views and enjoy Lake Burera. More …

Congo Nile Trail

Unlike the Gorilla Highlands Trails, Rwanda’s government-supported Congo Nile Trail is clearly marked with signposts and suitable for independent exploration — on foot or by mountain bike. On the other hand, we also have specialised guides that can enrich your experience, we can get you a support vehicle and anything else you might desire. Black dots on our map represent proposed overnight stays. More …

lake trips

Canoe Trekking on Lake Bunyonyi /Uganda/

Mama Bena; photo by Marcus Westberg

Lake Bunyonyi is the origin of the Gorilla Highlands Trails, a regional system of guided trips. In 2005 a combination of dugout canoeing and hiking called canoe trekking was started by a Bunyonyi-based social enterprise Edirisa, as a means to get to villages and areas that nobody else visits. Accommodation is tented but in most cases upgrades are possible.

Touch of Bunyonyi (2-Hour Canoeing)

Touch of Bunyonyi (2 hours, USD 20) shows you Edirisa on Lake Bunyonyi, the birthplace of the Gorilla Highlands initiative,  and the green paradise of Bushara Island. Click here for more

Culture on the Crest (Half-Day Canoe Trek)

Culture on the Crest (5-6 hours, USD 50) leads you to the peaks of the Kyabahinga peninsula for superb views, a nursery, a traditional healer and a craftmaker. More …

Islands of Miracles (1-Day Canoe Trek)

Islands of Miracles (1 day, USD 90) adds visits to three special islands — Punishment Island, former leper colony and a surprising island zoo — to Culture on the Crest. More …

Mama Bena’s Bonus (2-Day Canoe Trek)

Mama Bena’s Bonus (2 days, USD 220) includes getting to know all major islands, climbing Karembe Hill, staying with the famous Mama Bena and meeting Batwa “Pygmies”. More …

Mother of All Treks (3-Day Canoe Trek)

Mother of All Treks (3 days, USD 280) adds Tom’s Homestay and a morning with a craftmaker to the program of Mama Bena’s Bonus. More …

Trips on Lake Burera /Rwanda/

In 2018 we began tourism development at Rwanda’s Lake Burera, based on the same ideas that were implemented at Bunyonyi.

Fisherman’s Fortune (Half-Day Trip)

Fisherman’s Fortune (5-6 hours, USD 70) is a motorboat ride to three of Lake Burera’s six islands, each with a strikingly different community (a meal with fishermen included), followed by a cultural walk into a mining village on its northern shore. More

special experiences

Batwa “Pygmies” in Echuya Forest /Uganda/

Batwa Today

Batwa Today (3 hours, USD 50) combines a nature walk in Echuya Forest and a visit to the Batwa of Rwamahano. You will experience their forest knowhow and their present life, and meet the Bakiga, the majority ethnic group. Your donation to the Batwa is included in the activity fee; nobody will harass you for anything else. More …

Coffee Culture in Kisoro /Uganda/

3-Hour Coffee Walking Tour

The Coffee Tour (2-3 hours, USD 20) in Kisoro covers coffee history, science and practice of coffee growing, processing and handling, plus tasting of different roasting styles. During your visit to a local family of coffee growers you are led by an expert in the field. More…

Most Authentic Overnight at Lake Bunyonyi /Uganda/

Tom’s Homestay

Tom’s Homestay (USD 55) is a community overnight visit hosted by the family of Tom Karemire on Lake Bunyonyi’s Habukomi Island. It has to be booked in advance, as it includes much more than sleeping on a remote island: it is a full-blown cultural tour into the traditional life of the Bakiga people, the main ethnic group of Kabale District. More…

Spiritual Tours

Find-Yourself Experience (10 Days of Rwanda and Uganda)

Find-Yourself Experience (10 days, USD 4,850) is a chance to be guided through yourself — and through a deeply touching region whose unique energy will boost your personal growth. There will be African wildlife and colourful cultures yet the biggest thing you will bring home is the toolset of practical spirituality enriching your everyday life. More …

urban walks

Kigali by Foot /Rwanda/

Half-Day Kigali Walking Tour

The Kigali Walking Tour (5-6 hours, USD 40) offers all the fascinating levels of Rwanda’s capital city, from the cleanest streets and Africa’s most modern buildings to the simple yet pleasant everyday spaces of a common Kigalian. More …

Kampala by Foot /Uganda/

3-Hour Kampala Walking Tour

The Kampala Walking Tour (3 hours, USD 20) takes you to Kampala’s monuments, the craft shops, the most prominent markets, the Old Taxi Park, the oldest Hindu temple in Uganda, and the most famous mosque. More …

Musanze by Foot /Rwanda/

Half-Day Musanze Walking Tour

The Musanze Walking Tour (5-6 hours, USD 3) provides an insider’s introduction to Musanze, a booming African town. You will get it all: from a fascinating rural shopping mall to friendly cassava beaters and awesome gorilla defenders. More …

Kabale by Foot /Uganda/

3-Hour Kabale Walking Tour

The Kabale Walking Tour (3 hours, USD 20) uncovers the past and the present of Kabale Town. Its top attraction: the cultural museum with creative solutions of ancient ingenuity. More …


Some opinions and reports, by clients and writers.

Multi-Day Hikes Testimonials

“I loved that we could experience the culture ourselves … the amazing welcome we received everywhere we stayed … felt like genuine engagement with community … all the effort that goes on behind the scenes … the bonds we made between the group and guides, and the high-fives from all the kids … couldn’t ask for better guides… amazing – so professional and friendly… the guides were extremely knowledgable, approachable and encouraging,” anonymous East African Playgrounds (UK) team members about Three Upland Lakes

“Me and my wife trekked in Uganda for 4 days with Gorilla Highlands, the experience was simply amazing and the organization was excellent: the team is really trustworthy, just go for it – highly recommended!” Stefano (Italy) about Three Upland Lakes

“Our tour in the Gorilla Highlands was the highlight of our 3-week stay in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Arranging it online was smooth and confidence-inspiring. I organized our whole trip myself, spending many hours on my laptop researching options and tour operators. The Gorilla Highlands team passed my test so I committed online; then they came through with a fantastic adventure for our family of four. They took us across the border from Rwanda to Uganda, to an overnight tent stay on Lake Kayambu, a trek through fields and villages and over ridges to Lake Bunyonyi, an overnight at Tom’s Homestay, a lake and island tour by canoe, and transport to Kigali, Rwanda. Every person involved in each part was welcoming, interesting, knowledgeable, and fun to be with. The hike from Lake Kayumbu to Lake Bunyonyi was spectacular. Gorgeous scenery, lovely people, and the best guide we had in Africa. And I’ll never forget our night on Tom’s Island – sitting by the bonfire listening to a spritely and entertaining old-timer play a traditional stringed instrument and sing. It was magical. My only regret is that we didn’t allocate more time to our stay in Uganda,” Kirk (USA)

“We did not such a good experience with cultural tours in Tanzania so we did not want much of that in the program but afterwards we admitted that it was OK or even interesting. But maybe still a lot of hikers think like us,” Phillipe (Belgium) about Volcano Quest

“In July 2015 the Gorilla Highlands team created ’The Ultimate Hike’ specially for me and my friends. I totally recommend travelling with them; using their guidance and expertise I had an experience of a lifetime”, Petter (Norway)

“Thank you very much for organising the walk between Kabale and Kisoro. It was incredible and definitely exceeded our expectations. Not for the unfit people bit we absolutely loved it,” Claire and Phil (Australia)

Don’t miss testimonials and tour reports in our blog archives …

Lake Trips Press & Testimonials

”It is excellent to see such a diversity of activities, people, places. One day is short but we have the feeling to have understood a few things about the community,” anonymous about Islands of Miracles

“DELICIOUS! Best food we’ve had in Uganda,” Eli of Carpe Diem (USA) about the culinary side of the Mother of All Treks

“I work with the Gorilla Highlands team several times a year, bringing American students to Uganda on study abroad experiences. We always go through them for our time in Kabale and on Lake Bunyonyi.  Not only is it an incredible way to experience the environment and the local culture, we also have had fantastic guides who are engaged, knowledgeable, and experienced.  The entire staff have been incredibly accommodating and helpful over the years.  The online payment system is a bonus and makes it even easier to work with them – we were really pleased at how easy it was to make the booking,” Avy (USA)

“I love the bright blue Ugandan sky theme of Edirisa, the creativity behind the Gorilla Highlands project. I love the attention to detail everywhere,” How many islands before breakfast? (Diary of a Muzungu blog)

“Incredible add-ons to the typical gorilla safaris,” Africa’s Most Hidden Gem (Outside Online)

Tours Testimonials

“We wanted a 6-day tour in the Gorilla Highlands region with a gorilla trekking included. All communication via e-mail and arrangements were done via the world wide web between Belgium and Uganda. It worked very well. November 2013 we arrived via Kigali (Rwanda). We hiked in the national park, stayed in fantastic lodges, visited a hospital, a coffee farmer, Kisoro and experienced the world of the Virunga region at Lake Mutanda. The welcome and the stay together with the Batwa people was one of the climaxes. How nice they are! Everything was well organized and we had a very competent driver. We met a lot of nice, interesting, helpful and verry happy people. What a country Uganda is! What a nature! We lost our heart there… Once we will go back,” Manu (Belgium)

“I had a wonderful trip organized by Gorilla Highlands. It is nothing like a typical tour operator. They know exactly what I wanted to see and some and everything was taken care of. They will make sure that I will get a real experience. I highly recommend them!” Jiro (Japan)

“In the years I’ve been visiting Uganda, from my personal experience Gorilla Highlands is unquestionably one of the front runners in knowledge, passion, and innovation regarding everything in this stunning southwest corner of the country”, Trent (guidebook writer)

“Hey, we, a group of 13 people from Belgium, had a fantastic time in the wonderful world of Gorilla Highlands last August [2017] … We contacted the organisation a couple of months before our trip and explained what we had in mind. What a surprise, everything we asked was possible. They also gave us some practical tips what made our holiday even more interesting. The only thing we had to do was book our flights, all the rest was done by the organisation, even the reservation of the gorilla permits. When we talked about this to our friends, nobody could believe that this was possible for the price they ask. When we arrived at the airport, the bus was waiting for us with a guide. One of us had a problem with lost luggage and even that was arranged by the organisation. During the whole trip, at least 2 guides accompanied us. They spoiled us with extended lunches, gave us all the explanation you can ask for and made the impossible possible (every evening we had our beer). You’re not just visiting Africa, they make you part of it. During the organisation of the trip we were in permanent contact with one of the people of Gorilla Highlands. He gave us some hints about, for exemple, lodging that we didn’t always follow and which we regretted. So if they give you suggestions, please follow them, you’ll be thankfull at the end. The trip ended as it began, the bus with the guides dropped us at the airport. So, if you think of visiting the region, I can assure you that this is a reliable organisation and they do all what is in their power to give you an unforgettable vacation,” Erwin (Belgium)

“I was looking for a holiday for me and my two teens that would combine some adventure, holidaying, safari, seeing gorillas, all in two weeks. A tall order I thought. … The Gorilla Highlands Team replied quickly and proposed a few scenarios. Over an exchange of several emails the best one soon crystalised. They provided me also with a lot of useful infomation, such as what kind of visa to get, how much money to bring along etc. It was very easy to communicate with them and everything  worked out just as planned. It was an excellent experience all around,” Tina (Slovenia)

“I highly recommend the GH team. Everything worked like clockwork, from the moment we met the tour driver in Kampala. We set off in good time and had a comfortable journey to our first destination: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest,” Charlotte (UK)

“I think that might just be my favorite trip I’ve been on, which is saying something. I’ve been to Africa four times, but I think it was the mix of activities and spending so much time with locals. From our reception in Rwanda to our exit of Uganda, everything went very smooth,” Shawn (UK)

“Along with two other friends, Gorilla Highlands took us on a great trip – everything was well organised and permits for the gorilla trekking were gathered quickly, despite us being quite last minute. Also, their accommodation Edirisa on Lake Bunyonyi was lovely and peaceful. Whilst simple, it had the added benefit of working as a social enterprise which I was impressed by. Lots of great shorter trips to take from the lake too. I would not hesitate to recommend Gorilla Highlands to future visitors,” Emma (UK)

Batwa Today Testimonials

“Verrry good! But please mention the fact that all the money is not for the guide but most of it is for the Batwa community,” Patrick (Belgium/Uganda)

“The sharing/exchanging of information, them telling about their lives and us telling about our lives”, Kristin (unknown) on what was special about the experience

“The respectful way the meeting is set up as we are all equal humans. The enthusiasm of the welcome dance. One can feel they are not just performing but they really enjoy what they are doing,” anonymous

“Loved getting to see the modern Batwa lifestyle rather than a staged ‘traditional’ performance,” Alex (UK)

General Press & Testimonials

“As an inclusive tourism professional, I was very impressed with the Gorilla Highlands. This regional initiative is all about connecting the tourism industry with communities for rural development. A very unique and innovative model, not only in Uganda and Rwanda, but worldwide as well. They are definitively the region experts and quite reliable. You will not be disappointed and will want to come back again,” Juan (Spain)

“The Gorilla Highlands are completely off the beaten track,” Geheimtip: De beste plek in Oeganda om gorilla’s te spotten (Columbus Travel)

“They seemed to be doing ‘tourism the right way’ so I thought they would be the best people to make my trip a success. I was not disappointed. The tours that I did with them, including the gorillas at Mgahinga, an organic coffee tour, an overnight stay at Lake Mutanda and a Batwa experience were all really well structured innovative tours with slick logistics (well as slick as logistics get in Central Africa). In addition to this they organised for me to spend 4 weeks visiting different Batwa villages providing me with expert guides and introductions to all of the right people. I even spent a week at Lake Bunyonyi to collate and format all of my data while also immersing myself in the local community and the refreshing lake – best swimming pool ever!!!! I can’t praise them highly enough especially as any profits generated go to paying livable salaries to their staff and local partners as well as funding a plethora of good projects that really make a difference to the quality of life for local people,” Adam (UK)

“We are here to tell stories, good ones and bad ones, that show cultural richness and complexities of our region,” reflection on the BBC coverage of the story we found