Uganda Safaris- Where To Go, What To See While on your safari, Activities And Best Time To Visit Uganda
When Winston Churchill wrote in his book “My African Journey” that Uganda is the ‘pearl of Africa,’ he was so sure about that as it still remains one of the top safari destinations around the world. Uganda which is found in the Eastern part of the African continent, has very unique features, species both plant and animal that can’t be found any where around the globe. Among them is the largest fresh waterbody on the continent – Lake Victoria, the longest river on the continent- River Nile that stretches up to the Mediterranean Sea through Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt and of course the diverse wild life species making it the top destination for many travelers around the globe.
Not only does wildlife and other physical features make Uganda unique, but also the citizens/people within her boundaries are hospitable and make your stay in the country worth it. Therefore, if you are planning for a safari to Africa, Uganda definitely has to be among.
What to see in Uganda
Choosing a safari to Uganda is absolutely rewarding to almost each and every traveler who pays a visit to her. While in Uganda there’s a lot you can see and they include: the endangered mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, different species of birds, buffaloes, hippos, Elands, zebras Leopards, lions, giraffes, elephants, Rhinos which can only be found at Ziiwa Rhino sanctuary, hyenas, crocodiles and many other wildlife species.
Other features you can look forward to is the hiking to the top of the most powerful waterfall in the world ie Murchison falls, a hike to mount Rwenzori offers a memorable experience especially when you get to reach the Margherita peak, boat cruise along major water bodies also give you an opportunity to come close to some of the water animals. Hot springs found in Kitagata, Semiliki and other areas also make your safari interesting.
On your safari you will also be able to interact with different communities of people where you will get to learn how they live and interact with each other, cultural background and more. In some instances, you may get a chance to be entertained by local dance groups. Communities in Uganda include the Batwa people, Baganda, Banyankole, Bakiga, Itesot, Karimajong, Bagisu among others.
Activities to participate in while in Uganda
Uganda is considered to be among the best places on earth you can visit as long as you are still alive. This is because the country harbors rare and endangered species attributed to the many habitats the country has ranging from lakes, rivers, wetlands, forests, Savannah, and more. Here is what you can do while in Uganda
Gorilla Trekking safaris
Get close to man’s closest relative- mountain gorillas in their natural habitat while on your safari. Uganda hosts half of the world’s population of these endangered species that can be found snacking on tree leaves, wild fruits and other plant species in the dense tropical rainforests.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two areas that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park with the help of highly skilled rangers and trackers. To be part of this activity, there’s a specific amount of money a tourist is required to pay in order to get Gorilla trekking permit and this always supports conservation campaigns, pay guides and rangers and also fund anti-poaching campaigns.
Trekking permits are provided by the Uganda wildlife authority and cost $700 each for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX250,000 for east African citizens. The above amount does allow you to observe, take pictures of the gorillas for an hour. However, if you want to spend more time with these great species on what is referred to as gorilla habituation, there’s a provision and you will have to pay $1,500 for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents and UGX750,000 for East African citizens.
Birding safaris in Uganda
Over 1066 species of birds have been documented in Uganda and this is attributed to different habitats that can be found in the country. This is the easiest activity to carry out while in Uganda simply because birds can be seen in each and every location from cities, rural communities to gazetted areas.
The perfect areas for birding in Uganda include; Bwindi Impenetrable national park, bigodi bird sanctuary, Rwenzori mountains, Queen Elizabeth national park, Mabamba bay wetland swamp, budongo forest, Murchison falls national park and many other areas.
Wildlife safari in Uganda
Uganda is richly blessed with a vast number of wildlife species and these can be best seen during game drives, boat cruises and walks through the park. some of the wild animals you can expect to see include; elephants, buffaloes, the tree climbing lions found in the Ishasha province of Queen Elizabeth national park, leopards, duikers, zebras, hyenas and many more. National parks where you can see these wild animals include; Kidepo valley national park, Murchison falls national park, Lake Mburo national park, Semiliki national park among others.
Chimpanzee tracking safaris
This is yet another exciting activity to do while on your safari to Uganda. Chimpanzee tracking is done in kibale national park, Kyambura gorge, primate walk, Toro Semiliki wildlife reserve and Ngogo.
Cultural tour safaris in Uganda
Uganda is among countries that do have so many tribes living within its boundaries. 56 different tribes do reside in the country and these tribes do have different cultures and norms. This attracts tourists from around the globe to come and find out the cultural background of these people, how they interact and live their lives.
Examples of tribes found in Uganda include; the Banyankole of western Uganda who are known for grazing long horned cattle, the Karimajong, Baganda, Basoga, Batwa Itesot, Batoro and others.
Hiking safaris in Uganda
Hiking in Uganda offers a memorable experience to travel who choose to be part of it. There several hiking trails in the country which include: the Rwenzori trail, lake Mburo trails, hiking to the top of Murchison falls, Sipi falls, mount Elgon, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi Impenetrable national park and more. Passing through these trails you will be able to discover wildlife species like the mountain gorillas that can be seen in Bwindi, the beautiful landscape that you will be able see especially on top of hills like you will be able to view lake George found within Queen Elizabeth national park while on the slopes of Rwenzori mountains.
There a number of other activities you can be part of while on a safari to Uganda and they include; boat cruise, fishing, white water rafting, game viewing, quad biking, bungee jumping and many others.
Places to visit while on a safari to Uganda
A total of 10 national parks where set aside to protect different wildlife creatures. These places are fully protected by the Uganda wildlife authority from anyone that would like to harm or carry out any form of poaching from there. They include:
Queen Elizabeth national park
Located in western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth national park is popularly known to be home to the tree climbing lions of Uganda. These endangered species are found in the Ishasha province and can be seen during day hanging and relaxing on tree branches. The park also harbors chimpanzees which are found in the valleys of Kyambura gorge. Other areas within the park where you will be able to spot wildlife species are: the Mweya peninsular, the Kasenyi plains and Kazinga channel where you be able to spot hippos as they enjoy the waters, birds and more.
A game drive or boat cruise within this park is absolutely rewarding as you will get to see many species out in the wild.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Your safari to Uganda will be incomplete if you don’t pay a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable national park. situated in the south western part of Uganda, Bwindi is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas and it’s the perfect spot in Africa for gorilla trekking. There four trail heads where you will able to find these gorillas and each trail head has a different family that stays there. The trail heads include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls national park was the first national park to be established and it’s also the largest game reserve in Uganda covering an area of 3,800 square kilometers. Its best known to be home to the world’s most powerful waterfall-Murchison falls that emits large volumes of water of about 300 cubic meters per second at a very powerful pressure. The falls are created as a result of river Nile forcing its way through a 7-meter-wide gorge plunging 43 into the aptly named ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, creating the famous rainbow appears in so many photographs.
The park also hosts a number of wildlife animals and they include lions, leopards, hippos several bird species, giraffes, buffaloes, Uganda kobs, Bushbucks, Elephants, Hartebeests, Oribs, waterbucks, warthogs, hyenas and many others.
Lake Mburo national park
Situated along the Mbarara -Masaka highway, Lake Mburo national park is the closest national park to Kampala and the smallest game reserve in Uganda. A game drive in this park is rewarding as you will be come close and get to see many of the wildlife species like Burchell zebras which are only found here and Kidepo valley national park, elands, elephants, several bird species, impala, topi, eland, bush buck, buffalo, warthog, leopard, hyena and jackal.
Kidepo valley national park
If you’re looking for a less crowded park while on your safari in Uganda, Kidepo valley national park found in the northern eastern part of Uganda is definitely the right choice. Kidepo has a lot to offer to visitors as it has some of the rare wildlife species that can’t be seen in anywhere in Uganda. A game drive in this park is rewarding as you will be able to spot some species roaming around the park like spotted hyenas, lions, elephant, Rothschild’s giraffe, zebra, African buffalo, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, over 500 bird species and many more other wild life species.
Frequent asked questions about Uganda safaris
Our team of experts did a survey and came up with frequent asked questions by visitors planning a safari to Uganda and here are the few questions;
Best time to go for a safari in Uganda
Tourism in Uganda is considered to be an all-year-round success. However, given the fact that Uganda is located close to the equator, there best months of the year when its favorable and conducive to go for safari in this particular country. This time is between the months of June to September and December to February simply because the country is always receiving lesser rainfall and trails within different parks are less slippery.
Between the months of early March to May and October to early December, Uganda does receive lots of rainfall which can be a hinderance in tourism especially when the routes/trails are more slippery.
How much does a safari to Uganda cost
A safari to Uganda is interesting and fun-filled but it does come at a cost that’s quite affordable compared to other travel destinations. This price varies depending on how many people on the safari, accommodation or lodge preferred (luxury, midrange or budget) and preferred days for the trip. And all this will determine the nature and whether the trip will be expensive or cheap.
What to pack for the Uganda safari?
Whether you are coming to Uganda for a game drive, gorilla trekking, boat cruise, cultural tours and all other activities, there things you have to consider and one of them is what to pack for the safari.
Documents of identification
A valid passport is the first thing to consider before any other thing prior to a Uganda safari. This can be got from the foreign embassy within your country. Make sure you have a valid visa to that authorizes your travel to Uganda.
Another document that you shouldn’t miss is the yellow fever vaccine and a covid-19 test that’s supposed to be negative.
This is another essential item while on your trip to Uganda. A medical kit will help treat any unprepared for sickness like headaches, burns, cuts, pains and many others.
Uganda’s accommodation services have improved for years and when you book a room or two in any of these lodges, you will be provided with toiletries but how about when you want to go for camping? This is why you will need these items just in case when you get to a place where they aren’t provided. These toiletries include; toothpaste, wet wipes to clean off the dust, tooth brush, tampons for women.
Another item not to miss out while on your safari to Uganda is a backpack/bag to carry your belongings especially while heading into the jungle for gorilla trekking or in open savannah for game drives. A back pack will help carry items that you will use like a bottle with water, a few clothing, a camera, lunch, a rain poncho, a journal in a Ziploc bag to prevent it from getting wet and a few toiletries like sanitizer, a flashlight and wipes.
Safari friendly clothing
Uganda lies along the equator which implies that the country does receive significant amount of rainfall especially during the months of March, April, May, October, November and early December. During the months of January, February, June, July, August, September and December, the country is always experiencing drier conditions when its hot.
However, the weather patterns in Uganda are unpredictable and on somedays you might get rainfall when you least don’t expect it. Its safe for any traveler coming into the country to pack both warm clothings for the rainy season and cold environments and light clothing for hot weather conditions.
You’re also advised to pack dull colored clothing and bright colored which helps in scaring away animals. Blue and black outfits usually attract testifies and mosquitoes. Swimming costumes can also be included if you do plan to swim especially while you’re at your hotel of residence.
For travelers going for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks, you’re advised to carry long sleeved shirts, long trousers, hiking shoes, gardening gloves to protect you from thorn or any other stinging insects in the dense rainforests.
For game drives, women can opt to wear sport bras while men can also choose to wear shorts, light t-shirts and waterproof shoes.
While preparing for a safari to Uganda, be mindful of the culture and religious norms that have to be respected. Visiting places like the Kasubi royal tombs, Mosques like the old Kampala Mosque, Churches and other areas that hold a strong cultural and religious backgrounds you are required especially women to put on long clothing beyond your knees.
A money belt basically helps on carrying all your documents and hard cash that you may use to purchase snacks, give out as tips to guides or any other group of people you’d meet on a safari.
A hat or sunglasses
These two are important to carry while coming for a safari to Uganda. A hat and sunglasses will protect you from the scotching sunshine that’s always too much during the dry season of the year.
A safari gadget or equipment
To have a memorable safari, its always of an advantage that you do record it on the lens of the camera. Capturing Uganda’s beauty right onto your device will always bring back the memories afresh once you return home after the safari. These gadgets include camera and its charger, your iPhone, binoculars to help you see wildlife species especially birds that are far from where you are. Headlamp, flashlights that you can use during night game drives.
Other things to pack on your safari to Uganda include: items for charity like clothing, scholastic materials for school going children, sanitary towels for women or even hard cash. Please note none of the above is compulsory but it could be of a good gesture if you did any of the above as it puts a smile on someone’s face.
Why book with us your next Uganda safari
At Vizuri, we make sure our clients get the very best experience on their safari to Uganda and any other country we operate in. Our team of experts in the field and at our offices do design itineraries that are affordable and with no middlemen pricing. We make sure we come up with different trips that match your budget but still have a memorable safari regardless of weather you choose a luxury, midrange and budget.
Our guides will help you out on the first day you step into the country to the last day you will leave the country, guiding you on the dos and don’ts.
When you book your next safari with us, you will be rest assured that we have you covered. Your trip will be financially protected, and we keep up to date with all the latest government travel advice. You have the flexibility to change your plans ahead of your trip, if needed. Your specialist will always be on hand, aided by our invaluable local partners, while you’re away.
Our specialists in the local communities and in different national parks know the very best to give you. They’ll help you see the main attractions in an alternative light and introduce you to places other travelers might miss. Practically, they understand how things run and work closely with our local partners so they can always guide you based on the most accurate advice.
Book your next safari with us, we will make sure you get value for your money.