Going on Safari in Uganda: What to expect

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Uganda is one of the best safari destinations in East Africa. For that matter, you might be wondering what makes Uganda such a unique and special safari destination to the degree of being dubbed the pearl of Africa. Gorilla trekking is obviously the leading safari icon of Uganda but that is not all that a Uganda safari has to offer. Actually, you can still enjoy the best of the country without gorilla trekking. 

On 21 January 2021, Uganda Tourism Board launched the Explore Uganda campaign in an effort to shift from a mere wildlife oriented holiday experience to a full package ranging from culture, street food, night life among many other beautiful things Uganda has to offer. However, before we get into that detail, here are the top places to visit during your classic African safari through the Pearl of Africa.

Places To Execute the Classic Safari Experience in Uganda

A classic African safari is a kind of African journey that majors on spending time mostly in savannah and wilderness desert like planes watching wild animals. The most popular countries for this kind of experience in Africa include Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. Happily enough, Uganda is also joining this list;

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The UNESCO world heritage site of Bwindi has the highest concentration of mountain gorillas. Home to almost half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas, Bwindi is the most popular destination for gorilla safaris. Tourists from all over the world flock to this remote national park in South Western Uganda to walk with the rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

 Its isolation from the Virunga conservation area makes it a unique destination for gorilla trekking. Its forest cover is relatively distinct from that of the Virunga Parks;  Mgahinga, the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and the Virunga National Park of DR Congo. 

Bwindi impenetrable National Park is the only place in Uganda where you can find chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. However, this does not mean that you can track chimpanzees in the impenetrable forest. In order to have a successful chimpanzee tracking experience, there is need for chimpanzee habituation yet until now, there has never been any chimpanzee habituation in Bwindi Forest. 

However besides the mountain gorillas, you can spot a few monkeys on a lucky day since for them, they do not require habituation. These include but not limited to; black and white colobus monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, Baboons, De Brazza Monkeys, among several other primates.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo valley national park has been ranked by CNN travel in the recent past as one of the top five savannah national parks in Africa. Unfortunately, regardless of its high rating, it is still one of the least visited national parks in Uganda. This is partly because of its isolated location in the far north of Uganda.

Regardless of the huddle related to Kidepo valley national park, it is highly recommended for its large wildlife herds and unique wildlife. These include but not limited to; African elephants, Cape Buffaloes, Lions, Leopards, Kobs, Impalas, Ostriches, Cheetah among several other wildlife species. 

With the above listed national parks, you can clearly experience one of the best classic safari experiences in Uganda. But as earlier said, Uganda has more to offer beyond the classic safari experience. Here are some of the places to visit in Uganda for the best primate experience in Uganda.

Murchison Falls National Park

There is still an unsolved debate on whether Kidepo safari experience edges Murchison falls national park. But with that debate on the shelf, Murchison Falls national park is the biggest national park in Uganda. It is strategically located near Ziwa Rhino sanctuary making it the best place to complete your big five safari experience in Uganda.

This amazing national park was named after the world’s strongest waterfall; the Murchison falls. Gifted with over 300 bird species, at least 13 primate species, and; large herds of indigenous wild animals; Murchison falls is exceptionally one of the best places to Safari in East Africa. Many people have placed this less famous national park in the league of Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara however much it only has four of the five big five species. 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Of all Uganda’s savannah national parks, Queen Elizabeth national park is the most visited. A journey to this world biosphere reserve might leave you wondering!

Located in Western Uganda, the park has an impressive landscape that is composed of savanna plains, forests, wetlands and lakes! From the comfort of your vehicle, you will see animals live in their natural environment.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is also the only national park in Uganda where people co-exist with wildlife at ease. When you see buffaloes walking in the compounds of people, you might be tempted to think they are domesticated animals until you realize that these people have just learnt how to co-exist with these animals. It is as if they signed a peace treaty with wildlife. 

However, that a side. Queen Elizabeth national park is the only place where you can find the tree-climbing lions in Uganda.

When is the Best Time to Go?

Uganda has mainly two relatively dry seasons; December to February and June to August. Though most people will recommend you to travel in these two seasons; it is actually wise to consider the activities in your itinerary and match them to the most favorable season. For instance, to better experience Uganda as a green destination; it’s recommended to travel in the seasons of March to May and September to November. 

December to February and June to August are also peak seasons in Uganda. Anyone that travels in these months has a lower bargaining power than a person who travels in the other two seasons. Here is the total sum of the matter; for those going on a gorilla trek, it is better to travel in the seasons of March to May and September to November because there are higher chances to secure gorilla trekking permits in those months than in the months of December to February and June to August.

For all the other adventure activities, they can be done anytime of the year.

How Long Should I Stay?

Uganda is one of those destinations where you can do a fast safari.  Within 28 days, you can cover almost all the popular destinations in Uganda. However, this is simply to tick your list of places you have visited in Uganda without the fullness of the experience thereof. If you wish to experience the best of Uganda, you might have to consider visiting repeatedly so that you may spend enough time in each destination.

It is therefore recommended that you spend between 14 days to 21 days on each of your visit. The 14 days will help you have some good time for relaxation to avoid the safari fatigue that most tourists never foresee. In other words, you will have 9 to 10 days of activities and 4 to 5 days of relaxing during your holiday. 

The Article was written in cooperation with Africa Tours Adventure, one of the leading Tour Operators in Uganda