A Uganda safari inspires impressions of legendary, old-world Africa. Gorillas travel calmly through cloudy rainforest. Inquisitive chimpanzees meet your look. Elephants walk across ochre-shaded trails.
Individuals are magnificent and there is generally a feeling of going off in an unexpected direction, whether investigating volcanic mountains or floating around a lake in a native kayak.
For a simply major game insight, Uganda safaris are not the most ideal safaris in Africa however be certain that you will tick all your agenda for all the Big5.
There could be no more excellent objective on the planet for meeting wild primates right at home like Uganda, including gorillas and chimpanzees. Also, Uganda is far beyond a safari objective. Uganda is an experience into dynamic quality and life, where consistently brings a shock
WHY VISIT UGANDA?
Uganda is home to elephants, lions, hippos, bison, giraffe, and a lot of other four-legged goliaths. In any case, the wealth of these creatures can't match that of a Kenya safari or Tanzania safari.
An exemplary major game safari will be great, particularly assuming it's your first opportunity to Africa. You will see wild creatures meandering amazing scenes and feel the cadence of the wild.
Be that as it may, Uganda is so unique on the grounds that a major event safari is just a little piece of the experience.
Mountain gorillas are the renowned feature. 66% of the total populace live in Uganda and gorilla journeying is less expensive here than in Rwanda.
Chimpanzee journeying is frequently neglected. Uganda is the best spot in Africa to draw near with our nearest natural life cousins.
Then there are enchanted lakes, hung in fog and wrapped by moving green slopes; thundering waterways, populated by hippos and spotted with remote camps; parched fields home to abandon adjusted creatures; thus various monkeys and macaques keeping track is difficult.
The best Uganda safaris join these objections and encounters. They drench you in a colorful nation and can reflect numerous predispositions about Africa: immaculate, invigorating, a little unpleasant around the edges and loaded up with warm and inviting individuals.
Uganda is certainly not a simple country to visit. It is difficult to rush and there will be snapshots of dissatisfaction. You will not go looking for your wild side here. On an Uganda safari, your wild side will track down you.
One of a kind encounters in Uganda
Surging down the River Nile on a portion of the world's definitive wilderness boating.
Partaking in a drawn out four-hour experience with mountain gorillas, through the new gorilla adjustment experience.
Voyaging totally outside of what might be expected with a rough major game safari on the dry Kidepo Valley fields.
Appreciating chimpanzees strolling on two legs in distant Semuliki National Park.
Horse riding and strolling with zebra on a safari in Lake Mburo.
Meandering roads of legacy and change by investing energy in old capital Entebbe, and new capital Kampala.
Lazing away a couple of days on a tropical island in Lake Victoria.
Encountering one of only a handful of exceptional leftover mountain gorilla troops.
Rowing across Lake Bunyonyi in a tight and difficult to explore nearby kayak.
Investigating the way of behaving of tree-sticking chimpanzees in Kibale Forest.
Normal encounters across Uganda
Setting up camp in the midst of hippos, particularly at Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth public parks.
A mandrill or vervet monkey attempting to take your sunglasses.
Pondering are we almost there yet as the back road continues forever and on.
Getting totally lost while traveling, either in a public park or between towns.
Heading to sleep longing for chimpanzees and gorillas.
Feeling like an old-world pioneer and pushing your own usual range of familiarity.
Fundamental Information for First-Time Visitors
Uganda expects guests to be a little travel astute. The Wi-Fi will be slow or non-existent. You will get lost and confounded. Something will turn out badly and some place along the street your arrangements will disentangle.
Sharp exchange abilities are fundamental, alongside a capacity to reevaluate time. Anybody in a hurry will immediately become baffled. Anybody looking for a dolt resistant excursion will battle.
Absolutely no part of this is planned to off-put. Uganda safaris are a superb decision as a first-time visit to Africa, even a first-time trip out of Europe. Just accompany a receptive outlook, about culture and customs, yet a portion of the fundamental ideas you underestimate, like time.
Getting to Uganda
Entebbe has Uganda's just critical global air terminal and is the nation's vehicle intersection.
The commonplace overland course is Kenya to Uganda to Rwanda, or the other way around. There are immediate transports to Jinja and Kampala from different objections in focal and western Kenya. Crossing the boundary into Rwanda generally requires private vehicles
Getting here and there
Try not to underrate the size of Uganda and the condition of the streets. Going here takes a great deal of time. The primary objections are thrown around the nation's edges. Maps neglect to convey the convoluted territory and geology.
Directed little gathering visits cook for an assortment of financial plans. These proposition private vehicle, as a rule in little minivans.
Most free explorers utilize an organization of transports, minibusses, and shared taxis. Schedules are scant and most possibly leave when they are full. Frequently you really want a private taxi to finish an excursion as open vehicle doesn't go straightforwardly to the public parks.
Most of extravagance explorers utilize homegrown flights, particularly the course from Entebbe to the gorillas of Bwindi. These are advantageous for time-squeezed guests yet will appear to be costly to most.
Culture and customs
Uganda is certifiably not a simple country to comprehend. It is home to right around 56 unique clans, that were falsely pushed together when the Europeans isolated Africa.
Social differentiations are articulated. Sadly these have additionally been horrendous. The injuries of nationwide conflict and Idi Amin's authoritarian rule are for the most part mended, yet the scars are obvious to see.
It is truly worth looking into the country's set of experiences before you travel, just to give setting to what you might see.
All things considered, don't anticipate a downbeat vibe. Uganda is energetic and spilling over with energy. The experience is considerably more energetic when you place some confidence in local people.
Many individuals will welcome and become a close acquaintance with you. Extraordinary social encounters can come regularly, as long as you confide in expressing yes to where local people need to take you.
In the West we consider time a direct idea, set apart continuously of a clock. You can work out what amount of time everything requires and plan a day likewise. This isn't the way time works on Uganda safaris. It truly is ideal to wake with the sun and see what occurs.
English remaining parts the authority language however it isn't generally spoken. There are nearly however many dialects as clans so you can hope to meet individuals with some correspondence hindrances.
Most guests are astounded at the expense of a Uganda safari. Financially, this is perhaps the most unfortunate country in East and Southern Africa. Fundamental framework is frequently deficient. You will track down neediness and gigantic joblessness.
Notwithstanding, Uganda is a costly country to visit, either on a visit or as an autonomous explorer. Public park charges rapidly add up and the gorillas are an eye-watering hit to a strict financial plan.
A restricted vacationer foundation and absence of mass the travel industry decreases your choices, as well as expanding your expenses. It is challenging to bring anything into the core of Africa, meaning specific Western solaces will cost definitely more than at home.
Uganda can be modest in the event that you live like local people. That implies going on open vehicle, eating at neighborhood diners, and remaining at extremely basic side of the road guesthouses. Numerous guests observe this past their usual range of familiarity over a delayed period.
Uganda safaris will be costly as there are significant expenses to investigating the wild in a country with restricted framework. All things considered, financial plan $280 each day as a base for budget safari, preferably a figure around $350. Then, at that point, factor in gorilla and chimpanzee journeying on top of this.
Recall that travel industry is necessary to nearby economy and the cash you spend can stream down quite far.
When to Visit Uganda for Safari - step by step Guide
June to August – dry season and peak season for travel
Peak season for travel; book gorilla and chimpanzee permits a month in advance.
Mostly dry, with beautiful green landscapes as the rains have just finished.
A pleasant climate, with warm and humid-free days, then cool evenings.
Moderate to good game viewing throughout the country.
September to October – warm, dry and humid; good game viewing
Landscapes shrivel and are no longer as lush and beautiful, but these dry conditions are good for viewing big game.
The country warms and it can be sweaty when you’re not in the mountains.
A quiet two months for tourism.
November to December – rains and heat
November’s rains are usually more intense than in Kenya and Tanzania.
No Christmas rush of visitors as the climate keeps many people away.
January to March – premium game viewing, warm and dry
The long dry season months and still without crowds.
The best time of year for a big-game Uganda safari.
Mostly arid landscapes, without the extravagant green the country is known for.
The long rains usually start in March but this date is increasingly unpredictable.
April and May – a wet and wild adventure
The major rainy season, with torrential downpours is an everyday occurrence.
Some roads are washed away and areas can become inaccessible with roads filled with potholes and bumps.
Off season, with very few other tourists anywhere in Uganda.
Off season prices and no need to plan trekking permits long in advance.
Guide to Uganda’s Safari Destinations
Planning an itinerary
On a Uganda safari there is beauty in surprise. Rush around and you will not see much more than the road and a few famous primates. Slow down your itinerary and all sorts of magic takes place.
Like a rare colobus monkey troop elegantly passing through the camp. Or a lion hidden in a tree, surveying a buffalo herd. Maybe an impromptu invitation to a village, as mist circulates through the surrounding rainforest.
A trusted method is to choose the destinations you want to visit, but be prepared to drop one or two from the itinerary. It’s better to visit less places and explore them properly, than have six or seven parks into a two weeks long itinerary.
Kampala and Entebbe
If you fly to Uganda you will land at Entebbe International Airport. Entebbe itself is a half deserted colonial town along the shores of Lake Victoria. It is a calm and somewhat charming insight into a former time.
Kampala is only 30 minutes away by road, but absolutely different in terms of atmosphere and experience. This is Uganda’s bustling capital city, where every street is chocked full of intrigue, crowds, street traders, minibus taxis, potholes, dust, color, smiles, shouts, extravagant market stalls, and so much to ignite the imagination about Africa.
In short, Entebbe is calm, Kampala is brilliant, but in your face and overwhelming. You will need to pass through as this is where most itineraries must start and end. Plan to minimize your time but understand that a layover will be very interesting.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (The ultimate gorilla experience)
Home to two thirds of the world’s mountain gorillas, Bwindi provides an experience beyond what the imagination can conjure.
This is where you come for gorilla trekking. Permits need to be arranged in advance and there are four different trekking locations. Each of these has its pros and cons.
Essentially, you trek into the wild and can spend one hour with a habituated mountain gorilla troop. Although the permits are expensive and off-putting (USD 700), though not anywhere near what is charged by the neighbors 'Rwanda', virtually everyone believes it is worth it.
When planning a Uganda safari allow for three nights in Bwindi. You will need one night before the trek and the day of the trek. Such a mysterious and dramatic landscape is always worth another day, purely for admiring where you are.
To get even closer with the world’s largest primates consider the new gorilla habituation experience, a chance to spend four hours with researchers habituating a troop. You do not come as close, but there is an enhanced air of authenticity.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Where Gold meets Silver)
Mgahinga is the alternative to Bwindi for seeing gorillas. Or at least it was, 15-20 years ago.
Unfortunately, Mgahinga’s habituated gorilla troops move across an unmarked rainforest border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sightings are uncertain and why pay for a 60% chance, when in Bwindi the encounters are practically guaranteed? Food for thought
Queen Elizabeth National Park (A Medley of wonders)
Half a day’s drive north of Bwindi, backdropped by the same Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the moon), lies Uganda’s flagship big-game destination.
The lions climb trees and are relatively easy to find. Numerous elephant and buffalo march across the plains. Over 600 bird species flutter around, offering some of the best birding in East Africa.
Wild chimpanzees and endangered macaques lead the primate encounters. Then there are hippo pods encountered on short boat safaris.
Throw in a quintessential assortment of zebra, wildebeest, and different antelope, and this arresting park is worthy of at least two full days.
Note that the highlight is wildlife variety, rather than a dazzling abundance. So if you have just been in Serengeti National Park, or on a Kenya safari, you could be underwhelmed.
But if a Uganda safari is your first safari, Queen Elizabeth National Park is an excellent first choice. Lions and chimpanzees in the same park is unheard of anywhere else.
Kibale Forest National Park (Primate capital of the world)
Kibale is contiguous with Queen Elizabeth National Park. The classic Uganda safari is to combine this trilogy of destinations: Kibale to Queen Elizabeth to Bwindi, or vice versa.
Put simply, Kibale Forest is the best destination in Africa for chimpanzee trekking. Like the gorillas, you can spend one hour with a habituated troop, deep in their natural habitat.
Also like Bwindi, allow three nights here: one before the trek, a full day for the chimps, then another day to explore some of the park’s other trails.
12 different primate species live in the forest and some of these are incredibly rare, including the Ugandan red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey.
The lack of vehicles makes this a surreal and special place. In contrast to Bwindi, there are many other walking trails you can enjoy, meaning more experiences than simply gorillas or chimpanzees.
Kibale is a wonderful destination for walking safaris. If you have the time and are a keen trekker, make Kibale number one on your Uganda safari list.
Semuliki National Park (A true birders' haven)
Along the Congo border, in a region of dramatic natural splendor, lies this 220sqKm large reserve but mostly undiscovered forest park.
Semuliki provides the less touristic alternative to chimpanzee and primate trekking in Kibale Forest.
The Semuliki forest boasts a remarkably rich biodiversity. this is partly because it is extremely old, being one of a few patches of forest refugia that predates the arid millennia of the last Ice Age, 12-18,000years ago. Secondly, it represents the eastern limit of the jungles of the Congo and species from the Congo-Guinea and East African biomes are both found here.
The monkeys and chimps are a little harder to see; the trails are rougher and need greater stamina; and the choice of accommodation leaves a lot to be desired.
However, those who brave Semuliki can have the park virtually to themselves. This is where the wild side will find you, along with plenty of bugs and mosquitoes.
You can comfortably spend two to four days walking the rainforest trails. A day of chimpanzee trekking requires a special permit.
While the chimpanzee experience is similar to Kibale, Semuliki’s chimps are most likely to be encountered on forest clearings. This is where you may witness chimpanzees walking upright, an evocative and inspiring insight into how humans evolved from these creatures.
Lake Mburo National Park (Whispers of the Wild)
A compact jewel of a park, Lake Mburo, is ideally placed for an overnight break between Kampala and the protected areas of Western Uganda. A mosaic of habitats includes rock outcrops, savanna, acacia, woodland, bush, forest, swamp and lakes that support a wealth of wildlife including species that are rare or absent from other parks in Uganda. Devoid of lions and elephants, it’s a pleasant little park ideal for walking and horseback safaris.
Hippos live in the lake, impala and eland gallop around, and you can come very close to zebra and Cape buffalo. Visitors need not limit themselves to a game drive as they are less inspiring, the park can also be explored using mountain bikes, by boat, on foot and on horseback.
Though Lake Mburo's 370sqkm area is small compared to many East African parks it contains an impressive diversity of wildlife with 69 mammal species and 352 bird species. A number of the park's herbivores are rarely, if at all, found elsewhere in Uganda.
It's the only park that contains impalas and the only one in Western Uganda with Zebra and eland.
It’s a good and cheap destination for self-sufficient campers wanting walking safaris and slow exploration. Or a nice place to break the journey back to the capital.
Lake Bunyonyi(Home of 1000lakes)
Mist rises redolently across Lake Bunyonyi, revealing a landscape of volcanic green hills and tiny Ugandan villages. Small camps dot the lakeshore and locals go fishing from their elongated canoes.
This is a gorgeous destination, a place to rest and relax after a Uganda safari, a setting that really takes the breath away.
Most visitors come to Lake Bunyonyi after their safari. It is located south of Bwindi, on route to Rwanda. Activities include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and generally just hanging around doing nothing at all.
Murchison Falls National Park (The world's greatest waterfall)
Murchison has always received mixed reviews. There is good and diverse wildlife, including most of Africa’s famous four-legged giants. The actual falls are stunning and birders are always impressed.
Still, the wildlife is not plentiful and the experience is similar, just not as good, as Queen Elizabeth National Park. It can be underwhelming.
Including Murchison Falls in a Uganda safari eats up a lot of time. It will be a full day of travel to get here from Kampala or Kibale.
Kidepo Valley National Park (The African wilderness)
There is wild. And then there is Kidepo Valley, an arid savannah found in the country's distant north-eastern corner, close to Kenya and South Sudan in the farthest extremity of the remote, sparsely populated Karamoja region. One of East Africa's most magnificent wildernesses, the Kidepo landscape is one of tremendous drama with grasslands roamed by big game favourites extending towards the rugged mountains in all points of the compass. It is also an area of rich cultutral interest for the plains around the park are dotted with the manyattas (homesteads) of Karamoja's fiercely traditional pastoralists.
This is forgotten Africa, a place in the heart of a continent that has even evaded poachers. In most African safari destinations the wildlife has grown accustomed to vehicles and visitors. An impressive variety of wildlife species survive in Kidepo's harsh, semi-arid environment, with 86 mammal species, and 475 bird species- a number second in Uganda only to Queen Elizabeth National Park's 604 species.
Wild dogs move in packs, cheetah and leopard lurk around the savannah, and all sorts of antelope kick up dust.
It is an incredible destination for people returning to Africa seeking a truly wild Uganda safari experience. For the connoisseurs it is a highlight of the continent.
However, Kidepo Valley is really out in the sticks, two long days of driving from Kampala and just as far from any other Uganda safari destination. Safari flights are worth the money because the road journey can feel torturous.
Once in Kidepo Valley National Park allow at least three full days, ideally even longer. In such a wild place you must search for the treasures. Plus, there can be no clear schedules in such a lost and uninhabited place.
Jinja is a pleasant and somewhat dusty town draped around the River Nile and Lake Victoria waterfront. It is a good place to ease into the Ugandan experience when coming from Kenya, or even after landing in Entebbe (Entebbe to Jinja is only two hours by road).
In Jinja you can enjoy some of the world's best white water-rafting games, a full day of tackling grade IV and grade V rapids on the River Nile.
Having a sundowner on East Africa's largest lake is something worth a try
Islands dot Africa’s largest lake. Some have been commandeered by exclusive resorts, others remain cheap to visit and carefree.
Think beaches, lazy days, water activities, and probably a few too many beers in the sun. Like Lake Bunyonyi these islands are good places to relax at the end of a Uganda safari, and to also break the journey back to Kampala.
Bugala and Rusinga islands have upmarket accommodation while the more remote Ssese islands have stayed a hidden gem for more than a decade now.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (The mystical challenge)
Back in the AD150, the geographer Ptolemy wrote of a snow-capped mountain range in the heart of Africa, which he claimed represented the source of the Nile and which he named Montes Lunae - the Mountains of the Moon. Seventeen centuries later, explorer Henry Stanley located such a mountain in Western Uganda and established that, though lake Victoria is the primary source of the Nile, the great river is also supplied with equatorial meltwaters. Stanley mapped the range as 'Rwenzori', a local name that he recorded as meaning "Rain maker" or "cloud king". In the years since Stanley's visit in 1888, the Rwenzori has become established as one of Africa's great mountaineering adventures, offering the chance to ascend snow peaks and walk on equatorial glaciers that represent the highest and most astounding and intriguing source of the Nile.
The high Rwenzori consists of six distinct mountains, Stanley, Speke, Baker, Emin, Gessi, and Savioa. Mt. Stanley's 5109m Margherita peak, which was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1994.
The park is home to 18mammal species, 217 bird species, 9 species of reptiles and 6 species of amphibians.
Good luck and get ready for a raw connection with your wild side as you traverse through the beautiful lands. Uganda is a country like no other and there is a good reason why Winston Churchill called it “truly the Pearl of Africa.”