Uganda is a unique Africa safari destination compared to its eastern counterparts. What you should expect on safari in Uganda is a more varied landscape from the savannah plains to the rugged western region filled with various game, primates, and unique bird species. General game viewing is excellent year-round, thanks to significant concentrations of wildlife, temperate climate, and wide-open landscapes. Expect game viewing in generally closed 4x4s with three rows of seating and a pop-top roof hatch. Accommodation is mainly in authentic traditional lodges and tented camps. And Uganda is best for a safari combination of primates viewing, guided bush walks, cultural tours, game drives, and boat safaris.
Most safari trips in Uganda begin in Entebbe, a peninsula on the northern banks of Lake Victoria with the only international airport in the country. They then head west to a wide belt containing most of the safari parks.
As you head west, the most outstanding feature is the beautifully terraced rugged landscape enveloped in emerald shades of green. Uganda sits in a basin between the eastern savannah plains and the western rainforest jungle ecosystem, forming magnificent terrain for an impressive variety of safari experiences.
A safari in Uganda typically consists of a classic wildlife viewing game drive, a traditional boat safari, and gorilla trekking or chimpanzee tracking through the pristine rainforest jungles to find our cousin primates. Birding is outstanding, with more than 1050 bird species flocking to exotic habitats. The most sought-after bird for a true birder is the grotesques prehistoric shoebill that hunts in the swampy areas of Entebbe and Murchison Falls National Park.
Although wildlife densities in Uganda’s big game safari parks don’t match eastern destinations, game viewing on Uganda safari trips is greatly rewarding. Tourist numbers in Uganda’s game parks are a mere fraction of those visiting the more developed destinations, making a safari in Uganda a more private experience. Lion, elephant, or leopard sightings are a moment to treasure, and you’ll seldom share such moments with swarms of vehicles.
Primate encounters in Uganda’s rainforest are still the best and most accessible in the world. With more than 1500 chimpanzees swinging in the forest canopies, expect the most exceptional chimpanzee trekking excursions out of the Kanyanchu trailhead in Kibale National Park. Chimp sanctuaries like Maramagambo, Budongo, Semiliki, and Kyambura provide a meager chimp trekking experience but are worth trying out.
The highlight of a Uganda safari journey is spending precious moments with the magnificent mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, 230 mi (480 km) from Entebbe. Bwindi and Mgahinga in the far southwestern border provide excellent gorilla trekking adventures with various safari lodges spread out in the four trailheads on the park’s boundaries. Travelers can also fly-in from Entebbe, or Masai Mara in Kenya, to a small airstrip and drive 3 hours to the gorilla park.
Recommended Tailored Gorilla Safari Adventures in Uganda
Uganda safari is best suited for solo, couples, and intrepid travelers. It is for travelers looking for the apex of primate safari experience in a natural setting. Expect to walk with human-habituated gorillas and chimpanzees in ancient enchanting rainforest jungle located in southwestern Uganda: arguably the best primate viewing adventures in the world. The country harbors over 13 primate species and more than half of the last mountain gorillas within its borders.
Trekking human-habituated gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park are the top Uganda vacation adventures, promising dramatic primate encounters & charming experiences.
Uganda safari is for travelers excited about getting down and dirty through the tall, tangled scrubs and ancient trees that carpet western Uganda’s rainforest with a machete, heavy boots, thick trousers, a ridiculous hat to keep the thorns out of your head, patience, and a sense of humor. Such dramatic encounters are exceptional, but even on a slow day, tracking chimpanzees is thrilling.
If the chicky chimps don’t excite you, the mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks will sure get your better nature side. With more than 500 mountain gorillas, five trailheads, and 20 habituated gorilla groups, gorilla trekking in Uganda is an exotic adventure that is hard to match on any Africa safari holiday.
The fact that gorillas as a species are on the brink of extinction and treks are a highly restricted activity, encountering wild gorillas is considered a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. To watch a family of mountain gorillas relaxing in their lush forest home is an awe-inspiring privilege and a memory you would take away and remember forever.
Birding in Uganda puts any birdwatching enthusiast in the center of an excessive number of bird species, making Uganda a fabulous destination for keen bird-watchers. Bird-watchers should expect to find a remarkable avian diversity of over 1050 bird species in the most accessible habitats to access than any other safari destination in Africa.
Like seeing the mountain gorilla, the highlight of birding in Uganda is viewing the appealingly grotesque Shoebill waterbird that looks like it’s crawled straight out of Darwin’s evolution box, with its out-of-proportion features and a massive dirty-yellow bill that resembles an old battered shoe.
Uganda outshines all other safari destinations in primates and birding safari. In addition, it remains a superb destination for traditional private safari by vehicle or by boat, thanks to its lush habitats and variety of species. Travelers searching for something undiscovered, less crowded, fresh, and vibrant should expect an enchanting Africa vacation experience on Uganda safari.
Uganda safari experts recommend four to six days to get an incredible experience with Uganda’s unique attractions. However, the length of the safari will vary considering different factors.
Gorilla trekking trips usually start in Entebbe, where you fly in, and spend a night on this lush Lake Victoria peninsula before flying to the southwestern mountain gorilla park the following day. Travelers with more time on their itinerary should expect to stay in Entebbe for an extra day to explore introductory Uganda safari attractions like Nganba Island, Botanical Gardens and do a little shopping for their long journey into the countryside.
Expect to drive southwest from Entebbe International Airport (outside the capital Kampala) for almost 10 hours to reach the two mountain gorilla destinations located at the border with Rwanda and DRC. If your budget is favorable and you want to avoid the 10-hour drive, there are two small airports outside Bwindi in the north and southern section. Expect to take a one-hour scheduled flight from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip and drive for about two hours to reach the mountain gorillas.
Our safari experts recommend trekking the mountain gorillas twice. The first time may turn out overwhelming for first-timers who may miss the blissful moments. However, expect the second time to balance the excitement out and be more wonderfully pleasing when you bag the cameras, expectation and relax around the imposing mountain giants.
Don’t expect to reach the primates within a set duration. The jungle is unpredictable and the primates freely during their daily foraging expeditions. Therefore, with expert trackers, expect to trek for an unpredictable duration to find the habituated primates, which usually takes about 30 minutes to 4 hours. With your facemasks and standing at a safe distance of about 32 feet, expect to spend about an hour watching their antics, social behaviors, foraging, and communication skill with the guidance of an expert.
After the gorilla trekking experience, an all-inclusive Uganda safari will fly visitors back into Entebbe or Queen Elizabeth National Park. Expect most safari packages to head onto the western Uganda safari circuit, joining Mgahinga in the bottom southwest to Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth NP, Kibale National Park, and Murchison Falls in the top southwest.
In Queen Elizabeth National Park, expect the big game adventures on game drives and boat safari on Kazinga Channel. From Queen, expect the adventure to connect to Kibale National Park for the chimps trekking excursion before heading up north to the scenic Murchison Falls National Park for another game drive and boat safari.
Further northeast, at the very tip of the country, travelers can explore the undiscovered open spaces of lesser-known but most rewarding Kidepo National and Pian Upe Game Reserve. Here, travelers should expect a Maraa-like experience with more privacy, varied wildlife but lower animal densities. Kidepo is great for watching the lion, cheetah, Rothschild’s giraffes, and hunting dogs.
Expect an all-inclusive Uganda safari that covers all the country’s major attractions to take about 14 days or more. A lesser duration will not deliver the great experience you should expect from an Africa Safari holiday.
Recommended Tailor-made Uganda Safari Vacation That Cover The Western Circuit
Uganda safari is good year-round, but the rainy seasons (March to May and September to November) can make getting around the destination challenging. Expect the rain to disrupt your primate trekking experience because of the slippery, uneven terrain and sudden downpours.
In general, expect the two dry seasons of December to January and June to August to give you a better experience on a safari vacation in Uganda. The dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda because the forest floors are less damp, trails are passable, and we don’t expect that you and your photography equipment will get drenched in the torrential downpours. However, it would be best if you didn’t rule out rain because you’re hiking in a rainforest.
The dry season is also the best time to expect excellent game drive adventure experiences in Uganda’s wildlife savannah reserves; when the skies are clear, less rain, more sunshine, and vegetation is less. The water holes are practically an animal magnet, attracting big & small games around main water sources. Expect to have easier wildlife spotting around main water sources in the national park during the dry seasons. During this time, boat safaris on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth NP and Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls NP will be more rewarding.
Uganda’s high or peak travel season is usually the two dry seasons of June to September and December to January. Unlike Kenya and Tanzania, the savannah parks in Uganda during this time don’t feel as crowded. So, on game drives, expect almost privately to enjoy vast savannah plains to yourself.
Most travelers will consider visiting Uganda during the peak season. In relation, gorilla trekking permits become scarce during this time. You shouldn’t expect to book a gorilla permit easily during the peak seasons in Uganda. We advise trekkers to book the gorilla permit with Nkuringo Safaris months in advance: at least 4-12 months earlier to avoid disappointments.
Expect a more comfortable planning experience and the most rewarding vacation safari adventure in Uganda when you travel with Nkuringo Safaris. We take care of everything, so you don’t have to get down and dirty, from selecting the most rewarding adventures to booking you in the best vacation rentals, taking care of transportation, meals, and everything in between. Our local experts glow in connecting with strangers and are passionate about delivering great experiences for the love of the everyday adventure.
Our consultants are ready to help you start planning your all-inclusive Uganda Safari. There’s one essential thing to note: we customize all our trips to suit your taste and style of travel. Use this form or send us an email at email@example.com to request a free trip quote. For someone close to home, contact our agent, Joel, in the UK at +44 1932 260618, firstname.lastname@example.org.