Safaris and Wildlife
Uganda Travel Guide
Track endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park..
Uganda at a Glance
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Tracking Mountain Gorillas – Track the habituated gorilla families in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Park has been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering maximum protection to its endangered mountain gorilla population and their habitat. Gorilla tracking is also offered in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Chimpanzee tracking – There are nearly 5,000 chimps in Uganda almost all living in the wild and found in the National Parks of Kibale N.P., Queen Elizabeth N.P. and Murchison Falls N.P.
Birding – It's a small country but Uganda's birding checklist identifies more than 1,000 species.
Adventure and amazing biodiversity - Uganda's numerous National Parks and Reserves provide Africa's highest mountain range, adventure and stunning biodiversity.
Quick Start Guide to Uganda Travel
This landlocked little country (known as the "Pearl of Africa") lies astride of the Equator in East Africa with Sudan to its north, Kenya to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the west and Tanzania and Rwanda to its south. As a safari destination it offers a uniquely diverse experience. Savanna plains host traditional 4x4 safaris and the lush rainforests offer mountain gorilla and chimp tracking, sometimes all in one day.
Although English is widely spoken, there are 30 different indigenous languages in Uganda, making it one of the most culturally rich countries in East Africa.
Travel Safety and Advisories for Uganda
Please always check the latest Travel Safety advisories before and during your travels to countries in Africa. For Uganda:
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advisory
Attractions and Adventures in Uganda
For a country smaller than Texas (approximately the size of the United Kingdom), Uganda offers an amazing array of adventures that could fill a month of vacation time.
Undoubtedly the main attraction to Uganda, Gorilla Tracking is not for the faint hearted. This is a strenuous and at times muddy activity, spent in the forests and hills of Uganda searching for one of the habituated families of this largest of the primates.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the most endangered species in the world. It is estimated that only 720 Gorillas are left in the wild and that half of these are in Uganda.
Only 8 people are allowed to track a family group per day. A total limit of 24 people (4 groups) are permitted to track in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park daily and only one group of 8 is allowed in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park daily. Visitors that are ill (even with a common cold) will not be permitted to participate.
Read more: Uganda's Gorilla Tracking
Uganda is estimated to have 5,000 chimpanzies in the wild. Visitors are able to watch the chimpanzees in their natural habitat and observe how they feed, play and care for their young.
There are 4 main locations for chimpanzee tracking:
1. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary off Lake Victoria
2. Kibale National Park
3. Queen Elizabeth National Park
4. Murchison Falls National Park
Read more: Uganda's Chimpanzee Tracking
Uganda's National Parks and Reserves
Uganda's National Parks and Reserves provide the visitor with a wide variety of attractions, natural wonders, adventure activities and stunning biodiversity.
Adventure activities include tracking the endangered Mountain Gorillas or chimpanzees in their natural habitats, rainforest hikes, white water rafting and climbing the Mountains of the Moon. Attractions include the dramatic plunge of the Victoria Nile over Murchison Falls and the huge diversity of wildlife, including Pigmy Hippos, tree climbing lions, forest monkeys, superb birding, hot springs and the most amazing scenery.
Read more: Highlights of Uganda's National Parks, Reserves
Adventure Activites and Attractions
Mountain climbing, hiking, forest walks, fishing, cultural attractions, white water rafting, bungy jumping, horseback riding, canoeing, boat trips ... all provide interest and excitement to round off your vacation in Uganda.
Read more: Uganda's Adventure Activities and Attractions
Read our Sidebar Links to:
10 More Exciting Things to Do in Uganda
Photos/maps above (from top to bottom):
Uganda map: CIA - The World Factbook
Grey Crested / Crowned Crane
Chimpanzee in the wild
Children in a rural African village in Uganda
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How to get to Uganda
The main airport in Uganda is Entebbe International Airport. Smaller airports are found in Arua, Moyo and Kololo (Kampala).
Airlines that fly into Uganda are Air Uganda, British Airways, KLM, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Emirates, Kenya Airways, SN Brussels, Air Tanzania and Egypt Air.
Buses regularly run between Kampala and the following cities:
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Juba, South Sudan
Highlights of Uganda's National Parks and Reserves
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Area 331 sq km (127 sq mile), located in the southwestern region of the country, south of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site and home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Gorilla tracking and guided forest walks. Birding in Bwindi is considered one of the best in the country.
- Katonga Wildlife Reserve: Area 207 sq km (79 sq mile), protecting wetlands along the Katonga River. It is located 200km (124 miles) west of Kampala and is a great all year round destination for hikers.
- Kibale National Park: Area 776 sq km (299 sq mile), located in the western regions of the country near Fort Portal. A great Park to visit any time of the year. It is the most accessible of Uganda’s large rainforests. 13 primate species, including red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys.
- Kidepo Valley National Park: Area 1,442 sq km (556 sq miles), on the Sudanese and Kenyan border in the northeast regions of Uganda. Birding, game viewing and hiking. Editorial Reminder: Check travel advisories for safety advise before travelling to this region.
- Lake Mburo National Park: Area 260 sq km (100 sq miles), located in the southern region of Uganda just west of Lake Victoria. Birding, game viewing, guided walks.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: Area 33 sq km (13 sq mile), in the far southern regions of Uganda, south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Located on the northern slopes of three extinct Virunga Volcanoes, Mgahinga shares its borders with Rwanda and Congo. Renowned for amazing scenery, camping, fauna, flora and mountain gorillas and providing accommodation from rugged camping in the Park to full service hotels just outside in the town of Kisoro.
- Mount Elgon National Park: Area 1,145 sq km (442 sq miles), located near Mbale on the eastern border with Kenya. Hiking, mountain climbing and incredible scenery.
- Murchison Falls National Park: Uganda's largest park covering an area of 3,893 sq km (1,503 sq miles), located 90km (56 miles) from Masindi, on the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley.
The Victoria Nile rushes down 80km (49 miles) of exhilarating white water and then plummets 40m (131 feet) over the Murchison Valley wall into the rift valley below. Murchison Falls, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion, antelope, several species of birds, chimpanzees (in Rabongo Forest), Nile crocodiles, waterfowl and pods of hippos.
The Victoria Nile plunges over a section of Murchison Falls
- Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP): Area 1,978 sq km (763 sq miles), located in the southwest Uganda near Kasese. Biodiversity includes savannah to rainforest and lakes to swamps. Over 100 mammal species, tree climbing lions, habituated chimpanzees, forest monkeys, crater lake flamingos, over 600 bird species and the Mweya Peninsula tourist village.
An African Superb Starling, Uganda and East Africa
- Rwenzori Mountain National Park: Area 998 sq km (385 sq miles), located on the Congo border near the town of Kasese. The Rwenzori mountain range is the tallest in Africa at 5,109 m 16,761 feet in altitude, permanently covered in snow and glaciers. Mountain Hiking, birding and wildlife (including blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, elephant and giant forest hogs).
- Semuliki National Park: Area 220 sq km (84 sq mile), located approximately 50km (31 miles) from Fort Portal in western Uganda. Forest jungle walk, birding, hotsprings, primates, camping, hiking. Wildlife includes forest buffalo, elephant, statungas, pigmy hippos and crocodiles, primates and many birds.
- Semliki Wildlife Reserve: Area 500 sq km (193 sq mile), located in western Uganda adjacent to Lake Albert and the northern base of the Rwenzori Mountain Range.
Birding, wildlife (over 400 bird species, forest elephant, chimpanzees, monkeys, buffalo and leopard).
Read All... Uganda's National Parks and Reserves
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Uganda's Adventure Activities and Attractions
In addition to Gorilla Tracking and Chimpanzee Tracking, Uganda's menu of recreational/adventure activities and attractions includes:
There are two notable mountains in Uganda that cater to mountaineering enthusiasts: Rwenzori and Mount Elgon. Both are located in National Parks. See Mount Elgon National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Climbs vary from 3 to 7 days depending on how much time visitors want to spend exploring. Mount Elgon is a more relaxed climb compared to the more demanding climbs of East Africa’s mountains. It is the 4th highest mountain in East Africa.
Reservations for climbs on Rwenzori Mountain are made with the Uganda Wildlife Authority at their headquarters in Kampala.
Hiking is a very popular activity in Uganda and many trails are well maintained and accessible in the National Parks and Reserves. See Mgahinga Gorilla, Kidepo and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks.
As with hiking, forest walks are a very popular activity for folks who are not necessarily hikers or mountain climbers but who still want a walk to get closer to nature. Almost all of the parks and reserves in Uganda offer forest walks, night walks, primate walks and Springs or Falls walks. Check in with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, they can help match a particular interest such as a primate or night walk to the appropriate park or reserve.
One third of Uganda is covered in water which provides ample opportunity for the avid fisherman to find the perfect spot to spend his fishing hours. Some fish species caught are Nile Perch, Tilapia, Tiger fish, Ngara (Genus alestes), catfish and barbel.
As with the Gorilla permits, fishing permits are limited and it is advisable to book early. The fishing in Uganda is on a catch and release basis only to conserve the fish populations.
Murchison Falls National Park
Also referred to as a launch trip, this is a very different way to go game viewing. Trips take around 2.5 hours and guides will point out various plants and animals on the cruise.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Lake Mburo National Park
Semliki Wildlife Reserve
A number of cultural attractions are offered to enrich visitor experiences of Uganda. These include traditional village visits and dance performances in Kidepo Valley National Park, or take a look at Ugandan history and music at the Uganda Museum in Kampala.
- The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala is the burial place of four Kabakas or Kings of Buganda. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Uganda Museum in Kampala shares the rich history of Uganda
- The Bahai Temple, a beautiful temple built around 40 years ago and located on Kikaya Hill just outside Kampala on the Gayaza Road.
- The thatched Wamala Tombs are located about 30 minutes by road from Kampala and is the resting place of Ssekabaka II, the 29th king of Buganda
- Namugongo martyr’s shrine lies just east of Kampala and is the place where over 20 Catholic and Anglican martyrs were burnt alive by order of Kabaka (traditional King) Mwanga in June 1886.
A Small Rural Village in Uganda (above)
Lake Crossing - Bunyonyi lake in Uganda
Other adventures in Uganda
- Bungee jumping
- Quad biking
- Rock climbing and abseiling at Sipi Falls at the foot of Mount Elgon
- White water rafting on the Nile River
- Horseback riding along the Nile River
- Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi
- A visit to any of the 84 Sesse Islands on Lake Victoria
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