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Safaris in Uganda

The Pearl of Africa

Uganda is also known as the pearl of Africa, it flourishes with a diverse ecosystem comprising of unique wildlife species, plants, and breathtaking landscape. It is a landlocked country however, it is geographically well located as it is crossed by the equator and this has yielded to the great weather and climate that this country has to offer.

Uganda has 56 tribes who make up a population of more than 48 million people, its people are very welcoming and friendly and this has attracted many travelers to visit and have great cultural encounters with the locals. Uganda has numerous national parks and game reserves which are home to unique wild species like the Mountain gorillas, Chimpanzees, the big 5 (leopards, rhinos, lions, buffaloes, and elephants) which can be seen on a Ugandan safari.

Most travelers have questions about safaris in Uganda however,  whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or just looking for some peace, quiet and relaxation, a Uganda safari has great offers for everyone.  Embark on a lifetime trip to explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world with great delicacies, friendly people, beautiful nature, wide range of wildlife species and birds.

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Attractions in Uganda

Wildlife Species

Wildlife Species are top attractions that Uganda has to offer ranging from the unique and uncommon species to the common species. The most visited wild species are Mountain gorillas which can be trekked in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga National park, chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Golden monkeys and other species like Lions, Buffalos, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards, Zebras, Hippos, Giraffes, Impalas, sitatungas, Oribis, Dik dik, Elands, waterbucks, crocodiles, hippos and many others.

Birds

Birds of different species call Uganda home including both migratory and locals, the country harbors more than 2,200 bird species making it among the top destinations for birding in Africa. Bird watching in Uganda is best done during the rainy season and can be done in several national parks and reserves.

The list of birds to look out for include Grey crowned crane, little grebe, Eared grebe, four banded sandgrouse, great crested grebe, four banded sandgrouse, purple crested turaco, Senegal Coucal, Dideric cuckoo, Eastern plantain eater, denham’s bustard , black bellied bustard, and the rare shoebill stork among others.

Uganda Equator Line

Uganda Equator Line runs across Uganda which dives the earth into Southern hemisphere and Northern hemisphere, the equator is marked zero degrees latitude. At Kayabwe the equator landmark has the north and south poles showing where the equator crosses as well as the division of the earth’s hemispheres. The equator landmarks can also be seen in Mpigi as well as Kasese district near Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The equator experiences the equinox twice a year in March and September, when the sun is overhead the equator. This explains why the day and night time periods are the same length and the nature of climate experienced around the area.

Rivers and Lakes

Rivers and Lakes which are main water bodies in Uganda, however there are others like swamps and springs. Some rivers drain into lakes and these offer best activities like bird watching, boat cruising, rafting, sport fishing, swimming, canoeing and surfing among others. Uganda is the Source of River Nile and home to Murchison falls which are the world’s most powerful falls.

Mountains and hills

Mountains and hills offer the best hiking trails, Uganda has a range of mountains and the most common one is Mt. Rwenzori which is located in the southwestern part of the country. It is well known for having glaciers, lakes and its high peaks. There are other mountains like Mount Elgon, Mount Muhavura, Sabyinyo among others.

Amazing activities to do on a safari in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is the most thrilling activity to do on a safari in Uganda as it gives you an opportunity to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.  In Uganda, you can only have this unique experience in two national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park located in the southwestern part of the country.

There are a total of 22 habituated mountain gorilla families that travelers can visit, each family has 8 permits available daily which are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Gorilla trekking involves moving deep into the forests to look for the gorillas therefore requires some level of fitness as these primates live in the mountains and only people above 15 years are allowed to trek.

Chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzees share 98.7% of DNA with humans making them the closest cousins of man, Uganda has about 5,500 Chimps living in dense forests yielding the highest success rate of chimpanzee trekking than anywhere else in the world, one needs a permit to engage in this activity which can acquired from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

There are different places where travelers can go for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda like Kibale National Park which is the primate capital of the world, Budongo forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Chimpanzee trekking is usually done in two sessions one in the morning and another in the after with guidance of a trained guided or ranger.

Game drives and animal viewing

Uganda has a wide range of wildlife species that can be seen during game drives, although Uganda is lesser known when it comes to game drives compared to Kenya and Tanzania, It has all the big 5 which exist in different national parks.

The unique wild species to look out for include the climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rhinos in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Buffalos, giraffes, and hippos which can be seen in Murchison Falls National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.

Birding

Uganda has over 1073 recorded bird species, accounting for 50 percent of Africa’s bird species and 11 percent of the world’s species thus making Uganda a birding paradise. There are different bird species both migrants and residents which can be seen in open savannah grasslands, deep forests, woodlands, rocky ridges and around water bodies. Queen Elizabeth national park and Rwenzori National Park are Uganda’s best destinations for birding, other places to see birds include Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mabamba Swamp, Maramagambo Forest, Kibale National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park among others.

The birds to look out for include Papyrus Gonolek, Blue Swallow, Pallid Harrier, White-Winged Warbler, Black-Billed Turaco, Black Bee-Eater, Nahan’s Francolin,  Handsome Francolin, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, Congo Serpent Eagle, Dusky Crimsonwing, Doherty’s Bushshrike -Breasted Pitta, African Pitta, African Finfoot, Afep Pigeon, Bar-Tailed Trogon, Great Blue Turaco, Rwenzori Turaco, Short-Tailed Warbler,  Red-Faced Barbet, African Dwarf Kingfishers and Jameson’s Antpecker among others.

Cultural Encounters.

Uganda has 56 ethnic tribes, each with unique culture, heritage and traditions. Travelers may visit local communities and meet loving Ugandans as they share their tales and stories about their way of living. Each tribe provides a uniqueness ranging from the languages they speak, way of dressing that is traditional clothes and staples foods are always different for each tribe. Uganda has unique tribes like the Batwa also known as pygmies who live in Bwindi Impenetrable forest who have a unique way of living, the Bakonjo who live on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains among others, travelers can as well visit Ndere centre, National theatre, and other places around Kampala city to experience the uniqueness of the Ugandan people.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Golden monkey trekking is done in Mgahinga National Park where travelers get to have an encounter with these unique and uncommon primates. The golden monkeys are only found on the slopes of Virunga volcanoes which are shared by Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Golden Monkey trekking requires some level of fitness because these primates live in deep bamboo forests located in mountainous areas. Travelers are required to have a permit which is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and trekking usually starts early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters.

Boat cruising

Boat cruising is a relaxing and adventurous activity that travelers can engage in during their visit to Uganda. There are many water bodies where boat cruises are done ranging from Lakes and rivers. During boat cruises, travelers spend time in a water vessel like a boat or ship, or yacht and the places that offer boat cruises in Uganda include Murchison Falls National Park, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Source of River Nile in Jinja, Lake Victoria, Ssese Island, and Lake Bunyonyi among others.

Sport fishing

Uganda has over 350 fish species since it has a good climate that is great for fish breeding, sport fishing is not a very common activity however some of the world’s famous anglers have participated in fishing in Uganda like Jeremy Wade, the Late John Wilson, and Zeb Hogan.

Sport fishing can be done at Lake Mburo, Lake Victoria, River Nile, Ssese Islands and other lakes, rivers and swamps. The most common fish species for sport fishing are Nile perch, Tilapia, Catfish, and Lungfish due to their size. Other fish species are caught for commercial purposes including mudfish, sprat, tiger fish, singida tilapia, and silver cyprinid among others.

Hiking and mountain Climbing

Hiking in Uganda provides breathtaking scenery as you follow established pathways on various slopes. Mountain climbing in Uganda is not well known compared to its neighboring countries Kenya and Tanzania but it offers one of the best-protected areas to have a hike.

Travelers interested in hiking for long days can hike the Rwenzori Mountains which has the third highest peak in Africa and has the best landscape and ecosystem compared to the first two however, there are other areas that offer hiking trails like Virunga Mountains, Mount Elgon, Sipi Falls and Mount Moroto among others.

Places to visit during a safari in Uganda.

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to mountain gorillas and is a place to find the ultimate gorilla trekking experience. It is located in Uganda’s southwestern region in one of Africa’s oldest forests with about 700 mountain gorillas which is approximately half of the population in the world, among which several habituated groups that visitors can track. Bwindi Impenetrable offers amazing activities like gorilla habituation experience, bird watching, cultural encounters, hiking, and many more which travelers can engage in when they visit.

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is the primate capital of the world offering the best chimpanzee tracking experience with the largest population of chimpanzees with an estimate of 1500 chimps. It is located in the western part of Uganda and is home to other primate species like uncommon L’Hoest’s monkeys, Red Colobus monkeys, the black and white colobus, blue monkeys, Patto (bush babies), Olive baboons, and grey-cheeked margabeys among others. Kibale National park is a great destination for bird watching, nature walks, chimpanzee habituation, and hiking among others.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is home to the world’s most powerful waterfall, it is Uganda’s largest conservation area and forms the largest protected area with River Nile crossing through this park. The park is home to biggest population of the endangered Rothschild giraffes in east Africa and has other wildlife species that can be viewed on game drives like Lions, elephants, Impalas, warthogs, buffaloes among others. Murchison Falls National Park is also well known for chimpanzee trekking which is done in Budongo forest and offers other activities like birding, hiking, nature walks, boat cruising among others.    

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is also known as a medley of wonders, it is Uganda’s most popular and most visited park located in the western part of the country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It sits on the rift valley floor surrounded by lakes, escarpments, and the snow–capped Rwenzori Mountains.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is well known for tree climbing lions but also offers other amazing activities like birding, boat cruising on the Kazinga channel, hot air ballooning, and chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura gorge among others.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is the most isolated national park in Uganda offering a true African wilderness, it is located in the northeastern corner within the semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with South Sudan and only 5km from the Eastern border of Kenya.

This park is the least visited due to its location but has been ranked among the top three parks to Visit in Africa by CNN due to its collection of unspoiled savannah, flora, and fauna.

Kidepo National Park has a wide range of animal species, birds and plants giving an amazing representation of how Africa used to be before human intervention. Travelers can engage in cultural encounters where they get to visit the karamajong tribe who live near the areas surrounding the park.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is also known for whispers of the wild, it is Uganda’s smallest park but the best strategically located near the capital Kampala. This compact jewel of a park is home to a wide range of wildlife species, birds, and water bodies.

The park contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation and probably contains the highest concentration of leopards in Uganda. Animals that can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park include Buffalos, waterbucks, topi, zebras, Hyenas, genets, bush pigs, and many more. It is the only park in Uganda where you can explore the park on foot or bicycle or on horseback.

Mgahinga gorilla national park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest national park of the 3 national parks in the Virunga conservation area the other two parks are Virunga National Park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

It was established mainly to protect the mountain gorillas and the endangered Golden monkeys. It is the only place where you can be in three countries at the same time that is after hiking to the summit of Mount Sabinyo. The park is home to other wild species like jackals, woodland elephants, buffalos, leopards, and giant forest hogs among others.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is also known as a place of many little birds, it has 29 islands and is regarded as the most beautiful lake in Uganda. It is located close to the Rwanda border and provides the best romantic getaways as travelers can enjoy great activities like canoeing, boat cruising, bird watching, nature walks and community visits among others. The Lake is close to Bwindi Impenetrable national park which gives travelers an opportunity to trek the endangered mountain gorillas.

Ssese Islands

The Ssese Islands are made up of 84 islands along Lake Victoria’s northwestern shore. It is one of the fascinating places to visit as there are clear blue waters, and peaceful white sand beaches that travelers and locals like to enjoy as they relax from the Kampala chaotic life.

Bugala is the most visited since it is the largest island and most developed. Apart from the beaches travelers can enjoy other activities like quad biking, sport fishing, agricultural tours, chimpanzee viewing on Ngamba island, and bird watching among others.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is established to safeguard the endangered rhinos, it is situated near Murchison Falls National Park along the Kampala – Gulu highway. This sanctuary protects the rhinos from poachers and human intervention allowing them to reproduce in a safe environment. The sanctuary started with only 6 Rhinos which have increased to 22 as a result of committed research, rangers, and donors. Visitors can track the endangered white Rhinos on foot when they visit and there are animals to see like wildlife species, primates and birds among others.

Kampala City

Kampala is Uganda’s capital and largest city in Uganda. It is a dynamic and engaging place with several attractions and activities that can surely keep you busy all day long.

Kampala is home to over 4 million people and it has beautiful historical sites including museums, religious centers, parks, shopping malls, restaurants, nightlife, and even a theatre. Kampala is a great place to visit and a fun place to live due to its low cost of living, high quality of life, and affordable housing.