Uganda, What to Expect on a Wildlife Safari

Uganda is a unique Africa safari destination compared to its eastern counterparts. On your Uganda safari holiday, you should expect a more varied landscape from the savannah plains to the rugged western region filled with various game, primates, and unique bird species.

If you are planning a wildlife tour in Uganda, here are some insights on what to expect.

Uganda is a unique wildlife safari destination compared to its East African counterparts. When you go on a safari in Uganda, expect a diverse landscape encompassing everything from sweeping savannah plains to rugged western regions teeming with wildlife, primates, and remarkable bird species. The country boasts excellent wildlife viewing safaris throughout the year, thanks to abundant animal concentrations, a temperate climate, and expansive protected animal sanctuaries. Safari drives typically occur in closed 4×4 vehicles with three rows of seating and a pop-top roof hatch, while accommodation options mainly consist of authentic traditional lodges and tented camps. Uganda tours are renowned for their combination of primate viewing, guided bush walks, cultural tours, game drives, and boat safaris, offering a well-rounded safari experience.

Most wildlife tours in Uganda begin in Entebbe, a peninsula on Lake Victoria’s northern shores, housing the country’s main international airport. From there, the expedition ventures westward, traversing a long safari belt along the western border, passing through most of the national parks.

As you venture west, you’ll encounter a stunning display of terraced, rugged landscapes blanketed in vibrant hues of emerald green. Uganda lies within a basin between the savannah plains in the east and the rainforest jungle ecosystem in the west, creating a magnificent terrain that sets the stage for a range of safari experiences.

16-Day Safari Vacation To Uganda's Top National Parks: Wildlife Viewing & Primates Tracking

A Typical Safari in Uganda

A typical wildlife safari in Uganda includes:

  • Classic wildlife game drives.
  • Immersive water safaris.
  • Thrilling gorilla trekking or chimpanzee tracking adventures through pristine rainforest jungles to observe some of the world’s rarest primates.

The country offers exceptional birding opportunities, with over 1,050 bird species flocking to accessible birding habitats. A must-see for bird enthusiasts is the prehistoric-looking shoebill, which can be spotted in the swampy areas of Entebbe and Murchison Falls National Park.

Savannah Wildlife Adventures

While Uganda’s big game national parks may not boast the same wildlife densities as their eastern counterparts, game-viewing safaris are still immensely rewarding. The number of tourists visiting these reserves is significantly lower compared to more developed destinations, allowing for a more private and intimate safari experience. Encountering lions, elephants, or leopards becomes a cherished moment, with fewer vehicles crowding the scene.

Gorilla tours in Uganda - how to plan gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Rainforest Adventures

Uganda’s rainforests offer unparalleled primate encounters, making them some of the best and most accessible in the world. With over 1,500 chimpanzees swinging through the forest canopies, expect extraordinary chimpanzee trekking adventures, particularly from the Kanyanchu trailhead in Kibale National Park. Other chimpanzee habitats like Maramagambo, Budongo, Semiliki, and Kyambura may offer a slightly different experience but are still worth exploring.

The pinnacle of any Uganda wildlife safari is the cherished opportunity to spend time with the majestic mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, located approximately 230 miles (480 km) from Entebbe. Bwindi and Mgahinga, situated along the southwestern border, provide exceptional gorilla trekking adventures, with various safari lodges scattered around the four visitor centers on the park’s periphery.

Travelers also have the option to fly in from Entebbe or Masai Mara in Kenya to a small airstrip and then embark on a three-hour drive to reach the gorilla park.

Who is the Uganda safari for? - adventurers

Who is the Uganda safari for?

The Uganda safari is suitable for a wide range of travelers who are seeking a unique and immersive wildlife experience. Here are some of the types of travelers who would find the Uganda safari appealing:

Wildlife Enthusiasts

If you have a deep appreciation for wildlife and want to witness diverse species in their natural habitats, the Uganda wildlife tour is perfect for you. From iconic animals like lions and elephants to rare primates like mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, Uganda offers an incredible array of wildlife encounters.

Nature Lovers

If you are captivated by the beauty of untouched landscapes and want to explore diverse ecosystems, Uganda’s natural wonders will leave you in awe. From the vast savannah plains to dense rainforests and serene lakes, Uganda’s diverse habitats provide a breathtaking backdrop for your safari adventure.

Adventure Seekers

If you crave excitement and want to engage in thrilling activities, Uganda offers a range of adventurous experiences. Trekking through the dense forests to encounter gorillas and chimpanzees, going on game drives in search of elusive wildlife, and embarking on boat safaris along scenic waterways are just a few of the thrilling adventures that await you.

Birdwatchers

If you are a birding enthusiast, Uganda is a paradise for birdwatching. With over 1,000 bird species, including the iconic Shoebill, Uganda offers abundant opportunities to spot and photograph a wide variety of avian species in diverse habitats.

Cultural Explorers

If you want to immerse yourself in local cultures and traditions, Uganda’s rich cultural heritage will fascinate you. Interacting with local communities, visiting traditional villages, and experiencing cultural performances will provide a deeper understanding of Uganda’s vibrant heritage.

Photographers

If you are passionate about photography, Uganda’s stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant cultures will provide endless opportunities to capture breathtaking images. Whether it’s a close-up of a gorilla, a dramatic sunset over the savannah, or a vibrant cultural ceremony, Uganda offers incredible subjects for photographers.

Responsible Travelers

If you prioritize responsible and sustainable travel, Uganda is an excellent choice. The country is committed to wildlife conservation and community development, providing opportunities for travelers to support local initiatives and positively impact the environment and local communities.

The Uganda safari caters to a wide range of travelers who love wildlife, nature, adventure, culture, and responsible travel. It offers a unique and enriching experience that will create lasting memories and a deep connection with Uganda’s remarkable natural and cultural heritage.

How long does a safari trip in Uganda usually last?

The duration of a safari in Uganda is highly flexible and can be tailored to suit the visitor’s preferences and budget. There is a variety of safari packages available, ranging from brief three-day safaris to more extensive 14-day safaris encompassing multiple parks and activities. Many visitors opt for a 7 to 10-day safari, which strikes a balance between exploration time and the opportunity to partake in activities like gorilla trekking, game drives, and birdwatching.

For those with limited time, a shorter safari may be ideal, while a longer safari allows for a deeper immersion into the country’s wildlife and cultural experiences.

It’s essential to consider that the safari’s duration impacts the overall cost, with longer safaris generally being more expensive due to additional activities and accommodation expenses. To find the most suitable option that aligns with their preferences and budget, visitors should research and compare various safari packages.

Describing A Typical Uganda Safari Itinerary - adventurers

Describing A Typical Uganda Safari Itinerary

A typical Uganda safari itinerary begins in Entebbe, where visitors arrive by plane. After spending a night at the beautiful Lake Victoria peninsula, travelers fly to the southwestern mountain gorilla park the next day. Visitors can also explore introductory Uganda attractions like Nganba Island and Shoebill tracking before embarking on their journey into the countryside.

To reach the two gorilla destinations at the border with Rwanda and DRC, expect to drive southwest from Entebbe International Airport for almost 10 hours. However, two small airports are located outside Bwindi in the northern and southern sections. Travelers can take a one-hour scheduled flight from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip and drive for about two hours to reach the mountain gorillas.

After visiting the gorillas

Our safari experts recommend trekking the mountain gorillas twice to maximize your experience. After the gorilla trekking adventure, the safari itinerary can fly visitors back into Entebbe or extend the trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Most safari packages include the western Uganda safari circuit, visiting Mgahinga in the bottom southwest, Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth NP, Kibale National Park, and Murchison Falls in the top southwest.

Expect game viewing drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park and a boat safari on Kazinga Channel. From Queen, you can visit Kibale National Park for the chimps trekking excursion before heading north to Murchison Falls National Park for another safari drive and boat trip on the Nile.

Travelers can explore the undiscovered open spaces of lesser-known but rewarding Kidepo Valley National and Pian Upe Game Reserve. Here, visitors can experience a Mara-like adventure with more privacy and varied wildlife but lower animal densities. Kidepo is excellent for watching lions, cheetahs, Rothschild’s giraffes, and hunting dogs.

Expect to spend about 14 days or more on a richly rewarding Uganda wildlife safari covering all the country’s major attractions.

Recommended Tailor-made Uganda Safari Vacation That Covers the Western Circuit

When is the best time for a wildlife safari in Uganda?

The Uganda safari can be enjoyed year-round, but it’s important to consider the impact of rainy seasons (March to May and September to November) on travel conditions. During these periods, navigating the destination can be challenging due to the slippery and uneven terrain caused by the rain. Additionally, sudden downpours can disrupt primate trekking experiences.

The two dry seasons of December to January and June to August are generally recommended for an optimal safari vacation in Uganda. During these periods, forest floors are less damp, trails are more passable, and the chances of getting drenched in torrential downpours are reduced. However, it’s important to remember that rain can still occur in a rainforest environment, even during the dry season.

The dry season is also ideal for safari drives in Uganda’s wildlife savannah reserves, with clearer skies, less rain, more sunshine, and less vegetation making wildlife spotting easier. Gorilla trekking permits can become scarce during the peak season, so booking them well in advance is advisable.

How to plan.

Embark on a comfortable and rewarding safari adventure in Uganda by choosing Nkuringo Safaris for your travel planning needs. Our team of local experts will handle everything from selecting the best adventures to booking vacation rentals, arranging transportation, meals, and more. Experience a worry-free journey with Nkuringo Safaris.

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