Uganda is such a beautiful country with spectacular places to visit on a safari. While on an adventure to this East African country expect to enjoy exciting safari activities such as gorilla trekking, day and night wildlife game viewing (where you may get a chance to spot the Big Five animals), bird watching, chimpanzee tracking, cultural encounters, hiking among others. Indeed, the immense vegetation variation in the country accommodates various wildlife species.
Key facts about the Pearl of Africa
Also known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is one of the countries in the world that is crossed by the Equator. Additionally, it is located in the interior of East Africa and stands on an area of 241,551 square kilometers. Uganda hosts amazing features of rolling landscapes with a variety of mountains, some of which include the once tallest volcanic mountain (Mount Elgon) which is now famous for having the largest caldera in the world and the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains in the West.
It is quite fascinating that we find the source of the world’s longest river – River Nile and Africa’s largest fresh waterbody – Lake Victoria in Uganda. Also, Uganda is known to have the world’s most welcoming hospitable people making it an even more excellent safari destination.
The climate of Uganda is generally Equatorial, with two rainy seasons (March to May and September to November) and two dry seasons (December to February and June to August). Furthermore, the country’s proximity to the Equator means that temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) depending on the region.
In the Northern and North Eastern regions of Uganda, the climate is semi-arid with less rainfall than other parts of the country. In contrast, the Central, Western and South Western regions receive higher amounts of rainfall and have a more humid climate.
The country’s climate is influenced by a variety of factors such as its location on the Equator, its topography and its proximity to large water bodies such as Lake Victoria. Climate change is also having an impact on Uganda’ s weather patterns, with some areas experiencing more frequent and intense floods and droughts.
Is Uganda safe for safaris?
Uganda is generally considered safe for safaris, but like any travel destination, it is important to exercise caution and take necessary precautions. This amazing country hosts a number of national parks and wildlife reserves which include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and several others where visitors can go on safaris to see gorillas, lions, elephants and other wildlife.
However, it is important to be aware of the risks that come with travelling in Uganda, including the possibility of theft and petty crimes in cities and towns, as well as the risk of wildlife encounters in national parks. Visitors should take certain precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night, keeping valuables out of sight and following the guidance of trained guides and park rangers while on safari.
Additionally, visitors should consult with a travel doctor prior to their trip to ensure that they have the appropriate vaccinations and medications to protect against diseases, such as malaria which is prevalent in Uganda. To sum it all up, Uganda can be a safe and truly rewarding safari destination.
The best time to go for a safari in Uganda
The best time to visit Uganda is the dry season. This season is experienced in the months of December to February and June to August. The period is characterized with severe sunshine and sometimes Northern Uganda becomes hot up to 33OC. That said, dry weather has always been the perfect time to experience what nature offers on Ugandan safaris.
On the other hand, the wet season is a low traveling season which most travelers have found risky to travel. It is characterized with limited lightning, thunder and limited storms. However, due to climatic changes, sometimes the storms become very strong and end up destroying people’s property. Floods due to continual deforestation keep on disturbing people staying in highlands especially in mountainous areas around Mt. Elgon and Mt. Rwenzori.
The rainy weather is experienced in the months of March to May, and September to November. During these months, tourists are few in most of the tourist destinations. So, when opting to travel during the less crowded period, the wet months are more suitable.
Adventures to do on a Uganda safari
Gorilla trekking adventure
Gorilla trekking is a major highlight of all the adventures in East Africa. In fact, it is next to the great Wildebeest migration of Masai Mara and Serengeti. Uganda is the capital of mountain gorillas in the wild with two gorilla forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga. Bwindi tropical rainforests accommodate almost 50% of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world.
The Mountain gorillas that are available for trekking in Uganda are fully habituated which enables tourists to have a close up encounter. Habituation is a process intended to train gorillas to get used to human presence. Mountain gorillas are larger apes, very aggressive and they intend to attack in case of any threat. The habituation process aims at quenching off the aggressiveness (so as to turn them into 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 permits are only issued with Uganda Wildlife Authority, a body responsible for the management and conservation of national parks and game reserves in Uganda.
Wildlife game viewing
Wildlife game viewing is one of the highly rewarding adventure activities on a safari to Uganda. It involves watching a variety of wildlife mainly in Savanna Parks. With a total of 10 National Parks, 5 of them 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.
When it comes to wildlife game viewing, a game drive is the major activity done, and some parks like Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo national parks offer a boat cruise. During this experience, expect to see; the 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 among others. The wildlife game viewing also displays a wide variety of bird species, several primates and overrated nature of flora.
Game viewing safaris are possible on all driving routes in Uganda. Even with the limited time on your safari, at least the two days safari trip itinerary will allow you to enjoy a wonderful wildlife safari experience. Other activities done on a wildlife game viewing adventure include; primates tracking, bird watching, nature walks among others.
Cultural tour experience
The diversity in culture is one blessing that Uganda holds. The country hosts over 50 ethnic groups with varying cultural practices and customs. These ethnic groups have been a vital supplement on any safari to Uganda. Traveling across Uganda, the unique differences in practices will indeed surprise you. More to that, a decision to know more about culture in Uganda draws you close to communities and sets cultural spots for this encounter.
Cultural tour experiences involves visiting places of cultural significance, listening to stories and narrations, as well as learning about various cultural practices. Cultural communities that may be of interest include the Batwa, Karamojong, Baganda and the Batooro. These are well established to supplement on your safari to the respective regions of Uganda.
Chimpanzees are considered the most intelligent apes among all the 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 chimpanzees.
The best place to find/track chimpanzees in Africa in their natural habitats is Uganda. Chimpanzee tracking in the wild is among the most attracting adventures done on a safari holiday in Uganda. Chimpanzees available for tracking in Uganda are fully habituated for a close up encounter.
Kibale Forest National Park in Western Uganda is a prime chimpanzee tracking destination in Africa. The Park has several communities of habituated chimpanzees that are available for tracking. Interestingly, the park has been branded as the world’s primate capital. Besides chimpanzees there are about 13 other primate species which can be seen during a safari.
Other places/forests to track chimpanzees in Uganda include Kyambura gorge (Queen Elizabeth National Park), Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Budongo forest and Kalinzu Forest (Murchison Falls National Park). It is important to note that a permit to track chimpanzees costs $100.
Top tourist destinations in Uganda – An Ultimate Guide on a Ugandan Safari
Murchison Falls National Park
This is 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 of the safari routes connect to Murchison falls making the park a recipient of the highest number of tourists in Uganda. This is the park in Uganda that offers a chance of seeing all the Big Five animals ( it is located near Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where the endangered Southern white rhinos are found).
Adventure activities done in Murchison Falls National Park include;
- Wildlife game drive
- Wildlife boat cruise
- Bird watching
- Top of the falls experience
- Nature walks
- Community visits
- Wild camping
Queen Elizabeth National Park
This is Uganda’s most popular national park, the second largest and second most visited. Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in Western Uganda at the foothills of 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 the two lakes; Edward and George. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most interesting savannah parks in Uganda. This park has the longest list of safari activities done among the rest of the parks in Uganda.
Adventure activities done at Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Wildlife game drive along Kasenyi section
- Boat cruise done along Kazinga channel
- Tracking tree climbing lions in Ishasha
- Experiential lion/leopard tracking
- Mongoose tracking
- Hippo census
- Bird watching
- Community visits
- Exploring lake Katwe and salt mining
- Chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura gorge
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
At Bwindi Impenetrable National Park people tend to track their biological origin dating 400 million years ago. Bwindi Impenetrable is located in South Western Uganda within the rift valley escapements. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is famous for hosting almost half of the world’s remaining 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 done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Gorilla trekking
- Bird watching
- Batwa cultural experience
- Mountain biking
- Nature walks
This is the East African capital of adrenaline adventures. Jinja city is located in Eastern Uganda and is the largest city there. Jinja is the source of the highest voltage of hydro power used in the country and was once an industrial capital of Uganda. Today, Jinja city is popularly known for hosting the source of the World’s longest river – River Nile. Along the flow of the river, there are various landform features which have turned Jinja into a tourism city. Among these landform features include waterfalls and cliff which have facilitated activities like white water rafting on the rapids.
Adventurous activities done in Jinja city
- White water rafting
- Bungee jumping
- Water sliding
- Visiting waterfalls like Itanda falls
- Boat rides
- Horse riding
- Quad biking
Kidepo Valley National Park
This is Uganda’s most remote National Park. Kidepo Valley is located in Northeastern Uganda sharing borders with South Sudan and Kenya. It’s the most difficult park to access by road as the drive needs a full day. Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the region which has persisted to its traditions and defiled the civilization trends. The Park is famous for being the most remote and the best savannah park to offer a vast breathtaking land scape view. You can access the park via Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Murchison Falls National Park en-route qualifying it for the possibilities of seeing all the Big Five animals.
Adventure activities done at Kidepo Valley National Park
- Wildlife Game drives
- Karamojong cultural experiences
- Nature walks
- Mountain climbing
Kampala capital city
Kampala is the most vibrant city in Uganda and double as the country’s capital. It is located in the Central region of Uganda approximately 45km from Entebbe International airport. Kampala capital is famous for several tourist experiences. Some of them include; clubbing, various food tastes like the famous Rolex, cultural experiences, religious centers, education and administrative destinations. Generally, there are a number of tourist activities and places that one can visit for various experiences.
Kibale Forest National Park
This park is 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 them. It is only at Kibale where trackers have a chance to do chimpanzee habituation and spend time with the primates for almost a full day.
Adventure activities done at Kibale Forest National Park
- Chimpanzee tracking
- Primate tracking
- Bird watching
- Forest nature walks
- Bigodi community visit
Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Did you know that Mount Rwenzori is Uganda’s highest mountain with an elevation of 5109m above sea level? Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located in Western Uganda stretching to borders of Uganda and DR Congo. The snowcapped mountain has stood to posses the most challenging hiking experience in Uganda. Although, it is the 3rd highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, Mountain Rwenzori possesses the most challenging climbing experience. Hiking to the Margarita peak, the highest point takes a maximum of 14 days to and fro.