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The Ultimate Cocoa Experience Destination

Cocoa is Uganda's fourth-biggest commodity export after coffee, tea and fish. Cocoa production in Uganda has seen a steady increase over the last few years. Cocoa is a perennial crop that responds well in rainy tropical areas. In Uganda, cocoa is mainly grown in Bundibugyo, Mukono, Kayunga, Jinja, Iganga, Mayuge, Buikwe and Masindi districts. 

The raw beans contained within the sticky matrix of the cacao pod don’t taste much like chocolate. Therefore, even raw cacao products aren’t made with beans straight from the pod.

Rather, once cacao beans are harvested, they go through several processing steps. In brief, the basic process is:

  1. Fermentation: The beans (with some sticky pulp still clinging on) are put into bins and covered for a few days so microbes that feed on the pulp can ferment the beans. This starts to develop the distinctive chocolate flavour and aroma.

  2. Drying: The fermented beans are dried for several days. Once dry, they may be sorted and sold to chocolate makers.

  3. Roasting: The dried beans are roasted unless a raw product is desired. Roasting more fully develops the chocolate flavour and gives them some sweetness.

  4. Crushing: The beans are crushed and separated from their outer hulls, resulting in broken cacao pieces called nibs.

  5. Grinding: Nibs are ground, producing a non-alcoholic liquor. Now it’s ready to be made into chocolate products.

To make cocoa powder, the liquor — which is roughly half fat in the form of cocoa butter — is pressed to remove most of the fat

To make chocolate, the liquor is often mixed with other ingredients, including vanilla, sugar, more cocoa butter and milk

The percentage of cacao, cocoa or dark chocolate in a candy bar tells you how much combined cocoa powder and cocoa butter are present. The specific proportion of each is generally a trade secret of the manufacturer

Cocao Safari Experience

The best way to learn about cocoa in Uganda is to experience it, and the best way to do that is to sign up for an amazing 10 Day Cocoa Safari Experience. Have a look at the exciting itinerary below and get in touch to find out more

Arrival into Entebbe International Airport overnight. After going through the current COVID-19 checks and immigration you will be met by a Let's Go Travel representative who will escort you to your vehicle and transfer you to you hotel for the evening.

Overnight at Boma Hotel in Entebbe on a bed & breakfast basis.

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After a good nights sleep and relatively early breakfast, your cocoa safari experience will begin with a transfer to Fort Portal City, also known as the Tourism Capital of Uganda and the seat of power of the Tooro Kingdom. The drive will take you through the suburbs of Kampala and out west towards the famous tee plantations of Western Uganda. On arrival in to Fort Portal in the afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit to the Tooro Kingdom Palace before proceeding to you hotel for a relaxing evening.

Overnight at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal on a full board basis

 Today will see you have your first Cocoa Experience with a  planting activity at  Masongora Fam which is situated on outskirts of Fort Portal.

When cultivating cacao, plants are first grown from seedlings or cuttings in nurseries and then transplanted into the main field. Cocoa is often intercropped to provide shade and wind protection for the young trees. At the farm you will visit the seedling nursery as well as the main plantation and get the chance to plant your own cocoa trees. After a fun and knowledgable visit you will return to your hotel for a well earned rest.

Overnight at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal on a full board basis

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After learning about planting cocoa today you will learn about cocoa harvesting in an area that is well known for cocoa plantations called Bundibugyo.

Pods containing cocoa beans grow from the trunk and branches of the cocoa tree. Harvesting involves removing ripe pods from the trees and opening them to extract the wet beans. The pods are harvested manually by making a clean cut through the stalk with a sharp blade.

The pods on a tree do not ripen together; harvesting needs to be done periodically through the year. Harvesting occurs between three and four times weekly during the harvest season.

Overnight at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal on a full board basis

Having explored the planting and harvesting aspects of cocoa you will spend the next two days exploring the incredible wildlife fo western Uganda. Beginning with an early morning transfer to Kibale Forest National Park for morning or mid-morning chimp trek. Chimpanzee Trekking is main activity carried out in the forest, however Kibale is known for being home to 12 other primate species and a whole host of bird species which you will no doubt encounter. This will be followed by lunch at Primates Lodge before transferring to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

 

Overnight at Parkview Safari Lodge on a full board basis

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Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most visited parks in Uganda and for good reason. It is home to a diverse amount of birds, animals and landscapes all of which you will experience. The day begins with an early morning game drive where you will be on the look out for Lion, Leopard and Uganda Kob. 

After lunch you will head out on the Kazinga Channel ( a natural waterway that connects Lake Edward to Lake George ) the channel is famous for Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo and Crocodile. We will have you back at your lodge in time for a lovely dinner.

Overnight at Parkview Safari Lodge on a full board basis

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With the Kazinga Channel and the Game drives ticked off your list, It will be time to leave Queen Elizabeth National Park and continue your journey towards Bwindi and the Gorillas, where the adventure of a lifetime awaits you! This section of the safari will see you enter the traditional area of Kigezi Kingdom which is the southernmost Kingdom on Uganda. To get to Bwindi you will first pass through the southern section of Queen Elizabeth National Park known as the Ishasha Sector which is famous for tree climbing lions. There will be enough time for a game drive in the Ishasha sector  No one really knows why lions in this area climb trees but there are many theories surrounding this behaviour. After the game drive you will continue into Bwindi Forest.

Overnight at Mahogany Springs on a full board basis

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Your Gorilla Trekking experience is finally here, hope your camera is charged and you are ready for what lies ahead. An early start will see you transfer to the Park Headquarters for a briefing with the Uganda Wildlife Authority guides.

Locating the Gorillas can take a few hours or the whole day depending on how far they have moved from the place they spent the previous night. For conservation purposes, the amount of time allowed with the Gorillas is 1 hour. As you trek through the forest you will appreciate why the forest is called impenetrable. There is also a multitude of other animals that you might encounter including antelopes and rare monkeys not to mention the beauty of the forest itself. Once you have completed the trek you will return to the lodge, for a well-earned rest and time to reflect on a truly magical experience.

Overnight at Mahogany Springs on a full board basis

Your incredible cocoa safari experience is coming to an end. Today will see you transfer back to Kampala, where you will take a COVID-19 test and await your results whilst relaxing in your hotel.

Overnight at Kampala Serena  hotel on a breakfast and lunch basis

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On your last day in Uganda you will get to visit a mini cocoa factory in Kampala where you will get to see some of the processing techniques used to add value to the raw cocoa beans. There will then be time for lunch after which you will have a choice of activities like, a city tour, visit to Entebbe Botanical Gardens or a visit to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre all of which will culminate with dinner in Entebbe followed by a transfer to the airport.

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Inclusions

Accommodation in Entebbe and Kampala on BB

Accommodation upcountry on FB 

Transport in a Safari Landcruiser with an English Speaking guide 

COCOA experiences listed on the program 

Chimp Permit 

Gorilla Permit 

Park Fees

Game drives 

Boat cruise on Kazinga Channel 

Drinking water in the vehicle

Guide fees in  Bundibugyo.

Exclusions

Visa

Travel insurance 

Drinks and beverages 

Travel insurance 

COVID Tests