An Ultimate Guide for a Ugandan Safari; Uganda is a beautiful country that has beautiful places to visit on a safari. The Pearl of offers activities such as gorilla trekking, wildlife game viewing, bird watching, chimpanzee tracking, cultural experiences, fantastic flora, and hiking experiences, among others.
Uganda is located in the interior of East Africa and stands on an area of 241,038 square kilometres. It was formed with outstanding features such as rolling landscapes including the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains. Additionally, the country hosts the world’s longest River Nile and Africa’s largest fresh water body, Lake Victoria. Also, its vegetation accommodates a wide variety of wildlife. More to that, you will the world’s most hospitable people as you explore the country.
The country lies in the arrays of the equatorial realms, ably displaying the perfect weather. The Pearl of Africa experiences a warm and cool climate throughout the year, with two variations of wet and sunny.
Is Uganda safe for safaris?
The safety of any person travelling to Uganda is more vital than anything else. One doesn’t need to worry when planning to visit Uganda. The country is safe for everyone. About two decades ago, the country suffered from rebel activities like the LRA war led by Kony, especially in Northern Uganda and the Western areas around the Congo forest. However, the narration has changed. It’s now truly safe to travel in Uganda.
The best time to go for a safari in Uganda
The best time to visit Uganda is the dry season, experienced from December to February and June to August. This period is characterised by a lot of sunshine; sometimes Northern Uganda becomes hot up to 33 degrees Celsius. The dry weather has always been the perfect time to experience what nature offers on Uganda safaris.
The wet season is a low travelling season that most travelers find risky. It may be characterised by heavy rain, lightning, thunder, and storms. However, due to climatic changes, storms sometimes become very strong, destroying properties. Also, due to continual deforestation, floods affect people in the highlands, especially in mountainous areas around Mt. Elgon and Mt. Rwenzori.
The rainy season is experienced from March to May and September to November. During these months, tourists are few in most of the tourist destinations. That said, wet months are a better option when opting to travel during the less crowded period.
Adventures to opt for on Ugandan safaris
This activity is one of the best adventures that one can opt for on an African safari. It is actually next to the Great Wildebeest migration of Masai Mara and Serengeti. Uganda is the capital of mountain gorillas in the wild, having two gorilla destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi tropical rainforests accommodate almost 50% of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world.
Gorillas available for trekking in Uganda are fully habituated, enabling that fantastic close-up encounter. Habituation is a process intended to train gorillas to get used to human presence. Mountain gorillas are more aggressive giant apes and plan to attack in case of any threat. The habituation process aims at quenching off the aggressiveness of friendly apes.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. A permit to trek at Bwindi or Mgahinga costs $700. The licenses are only issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority, a body responsible for managing and conserving national parks and game reserves.
Wildlife game viewing
Wildlife game viewing is the most rewarding adventure activity on a safari to Uganda. This is the primary activity which should always take advantage of your safari holiday to the Pearl of Africa. Wildlife game viewing involves watching various wildlife, mainly in Savanna Park. With a total of 10 National Parks, (5) are savannah parks which are; Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.
With wildlife game viewing, a game drive is a significant activity, and in some parks like Queen Elizabeth, Murchison, and L. Mburo, a boat cruise is a fantastic other adventure. Expectations on a wildlife game viewing safari include; Big Five games (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos), herds of antelope (Kobs, elands, Impala, Bushbuck, waterbuck, Oribi, Duiker etc.), Rothschild giraffes, zebras, warthogs, hippos, warthogs, fox, among others. The wildlife game viewing also displays various bird species, several primates and the overrated nature of flora.
All routes of driving on a safari to Uganda, Wildlife game viewing safaris are possible. Even with the limited time on your safari, at least the two days safari trip itinerary makes you meet wildlife safari experience thrilling offers. Other activities on a wildlife game viewing adventure include primate tracking, bird watching, and nature walks.
Cultural tour experience
The diversity in culture is one blessing of Uganda, with over 50 ethnic groups in Uganda with varying practices. These ethnic groups have been a vital supplement on any safari to Uganda. Travelling across Uganda, differences in patterns indeed will surprise you. And a decision to know more about the culture in Uganda draws you close to communities and sets cultural spots for this encounter.
Cultural tour experiences involve visiting places of cultural significance, listening to stories and narrations, and enjoying various cultural practices. Cultural communities like Batwa cultural trail experiences, Karamoja cultural tour experiences, Buganda cultural trial, and Toro Kingdom cultural trial. These are well established to add to your safari to your respective regions.
The unique encounters with other apes, chimpanzees are considered the most intelligent apes among all primates. They are the closest human relatives sharing almost 98% of human DNA. With about 107,000 chimpanzees remaining on the African continent, Uganda is estimated to host about 5000.
Uganda is the best place to find/track chimpanzees in Africa in their natural habitats. Chimpanzee tracking in the wild is among the most attractive adventures done on a safari holiday in Uganda. Chimpanzees available for tracking in Uganda are fully habituated for a close-up encounter.
Kibale National Park in western Uganda is Africa’s prime chimpanzee tracking destination. The Park has several communities of habituated chimpanzees that are available for tracking. Kibale National Park has been branded as the world’s primate capital. Besides chimpanzees, there’re 13 other primates species which are seen.
And the other places/forests to track chimpanzees in Uganda include Kyambura Gorge, east of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Budongo forests. A permit to hunt chimpanzees costs $100.
Top tourist destinations in Uganda
Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda’s largest and most visited National Park. Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northern region, commonly famous for its mighty Murchison Falls along the Victoria Nile. Most safari routes connect to Murchison Falls, giving the park the most tourists in Uganda. One of the few parks in Uganda that permits a chance to watch a complete list of the Big Five Games when connected with Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Adventure activities at Murchison Falls National Park include;
- Wildlife game drive
- Wildlife boat cruise
- Bird watching
- Top of the falls watching
- Nature walks
- Community visits
- Wild camping
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda’s most famous national park is the second largest and most visited. Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda at the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. It’s seated along the Western Great Albertine Rift, stretching to the DRC’s Virunga Conservation Area. The park is also famous for the Kazinga Channel, which connects Edward and Gorge’s two lakes. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s most interesting savannah parks. This park has the most extended list of safari activities done among the rest of the parks in Uganda.
Adventure activities at Queen Elizabeth National Park;
- Wildlife game drive along the Kasenyi section
- Boat cruise done along Kazinga channel
- Tracking tree-climbing lions in Ishasha
- Lion tracking experiential
- Mongoose tracking
- Hippo census
- Bird watching, the park hosts the highest number of bird species in the country.
- Community visit
- Exploring Lake Katwe and salt mining
- Chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura Gorge
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The most exciting tourist destination where nature repeats itself. At Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, people track their biological origin dating 400 million years ago. Bwindi Impenetrable is located in southwestern Uganda within the rift valley escapements. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is famous for hosting almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The park offers the highest chances of watching the gentle giants in their natural environment. Gorillas here are fully habituated; a trekking permit costs $700.
Adventure activities at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park;
- Gorilla trekking
- Bird watching
- Batwa cultural experience
- Mountain biking
- Nature walks
Jinja City is the East African capital of adrenaline adventures. It is located in Eastern and the largest town in the east of Uganda. Jinja is the source of the highest voltage of hydropower used in the country and was once the industrial capital of Uganda. Today, Jinja city is popularly known for hosting the source of the World’s longest River Nile. Various landform features along the river’s flow have turned Jinja into a tourist city. These landform features include waterfalls and cliffs, facilitating activities like white water rafting on the rapids.
Adventure activities are done in Jinja City;
- White water rafting
- Bungee jumping
- Water sliding
- Visiting waterfalls like Itanda Falls
- Boat rides
- Horse riding
- Quad biking
- Hill climbing
- Events and happenings like the annual Nyege Nyege tourism festival.
Kidepo Valley National Park
Uganda’s remotest National Park, as CNN rated it. Kidepo Valley is in northeastern Uganda, sharing borders with South Sudan and Kenya. It’s the most challenging park to access by road as the drive needs an entire day. Kidepo Valley National Park is located in a region which has persisted in its traditions and defiled the civilisation trends. The Park is most known to be the remotest and the best savannah park to offer the most expansive landscape view. The park is accessed via Ziwa and Murchison Falls National Park en route, qualifying it for the possibilities of the Big Five games.
Adventure activities at Kidepo Valley National Park;
- Wildlife Game drives
- Karamoja cultural experiences
- Nature walks
- Mountain climbing
Kampala (capital city)
The most vibrant city in Uganda, and double it by being the capital. Kampala is located in the central region of Uganda, approximately 45km from Entebbe international airport. Kampala capital is famous for several tourist experiences, including clubbing, food tastes like Rolex, cultural backgrounds, religious centres, education and administrative capital. Several tourist activities and places can be visited for multiple experiences.
Kibale Forest National Park
The world’s capital of primate species. Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, approximately 26km from Fort Portal City. The park’s credibility is installed in hosting the highest number of chimpanzees in the East African region. Chimpanzees here are fully habituated, and trackers have an opportunity for a close-up encounter with the chimpanzees. Also, it’s only at Kibale that trackers can do chimpanzee habituation and spend almost a full day with the primates.
Adventure activities are done at Kibale National Park;
- Chimpanzee tracking
- Primate tracking
- Bird watching
- Forest nature walks
- Bigodi community visit
Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Uganda’s highest mountain is raised at 5109m above sea level. Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located in western Uganda, stretching to the borders of Uganda and DR Congo. The snowcapped mountain has presented the most challenging hiking experience in Uganda. Though the 3rd highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya possess the most challenging climbing experience. Hiking to Margarita Peak, the highest point, takes 14 days.