The country is immensely beautiful, with many scenic highlights and landmarks such as Murchison Falls on the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park, the volcanic Virunga Mountains in Mgahinga Park, true rainforest jungle in Bwindi, and a series of Rift Valley lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Wildlife viewing in the savannah game parks of Uganda is not as overwhelming as in some of other top Africa safari countries of Kenya and Tanzania, but there is a good variety of animals to be viewed. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks offer excellent boat safaris to supplement the wildlife game drives.
Most visitors to the country for mountain gorilla trekking and many will also track wild chimpanzees. A minimum level of fitness is required to hike on sometimes slippery mountain slopes through thick forest vegetation.
Uganda receives quite high rainfall throughout the year, and although most rainfall occurs in the afternoon, you may as well get wet on occasion. Uganda is a top safari destination for slightly adventurous travellers enjoying wildlife game viewing as well as a bit of hiking.
Who Should Go For A Safari In Uganda?
Uganda is your dream destination if you’re looking for the absolute pinnacle of primate safaris. Chimps roam in numbers in lush rainforests.
More than half of the Earth’s last mountain gorillas are carefully protected in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi National Park. There is certainly no exaggeration in gorilla trekking as life-changing adventure.
The destination is just as much sought after by bird lovers, as Uganda boasts over a 1090 species (50% of Africa’s total bird species) among its varied habitats.
And, like the gorilla, there is the highlight of seeing the incredible shoebill stork.
Uganda outshines all other Africa safari destinations in terms of primate safaris and bird watching, but it also remains a great destination for classic game drives and safari boat cruises, thanks to its beautiful savannah parks and a variety of animals like buffalos, elephants, lions, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, etc.
If you’re in search of something fresh and vibrant, Uganda is the perfect choice for you.
How many days should I spend in Uganda?
The length of a typical safari in Uganda will vary.
Most tourists visit Uganda for between three or four days, for a gorilla encounter only, or one week or three weeks for a chance to explore more of the country.
Those seeking to go gorilla trekking will fly into Entebbe and often overnight on the shores of Lake Victoria before flying out or driving to the south western parks the following morning. Some experts recommend trekking the gorillas twice, as the first time is often a little overwhelming and guests do not take it all in. After the gorilla trekking adventure, visitors usually fly or drive back to Entebbe/Kampala to continue their safari elsewhere.
They typically combine their trip with time in other Africa safari countries, for example enjoying our three-day Bwindi gorilla trek before heading to Tanzania or Kenya to see the Serengeti or Masai Mara Safari or relax by the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar.
Whatever you would like to do in Uganda, as tailor made Uganda safari experts, we can make it happen!
When Should I Go For A Safari In Uganda?
Uganda is a fantastic year-round safari destination, although the rainy seasons months of March to May and September to November can make logistics a bit tricky.
Rain also increases the difficulty of trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks, rendering the mountain slopes muddy.
Uganda has a key advantage terms of temperature – although its location is equatorial, the high altitude eases the heat, meaning that the weather remains moderate all year round.
The prime season for Uganda safaris falls in line with other destinations in East Africa, which means during the winter months in the southern hemisphere, from June to October.
What to take with
Your Uganda safari packing list should include neutral coloured clothes, comfortable hiking shoes, trousers, and long-sleeved shirts to avoid being bitten by insects, and a hat, a safari jacket and sunscreen for sun protection.
And do not forget a camera, binoculars and some safari books to get you in safari mode. There is some risk of malaria in Uganda, so consult with your doctor about medication.
What to Expect on Safari in Uganda? More Insights
You’re possibly aware of this already but going on safari is not like any other holiday you may have taken – it’s really not. So, here is more of what to expect on a safari in Uganda:
1. Early Starts
Most days on safari adventures in Uganda including wildlife game drive, gorilla trekking, and chimpanzee tracking starts before sunrise.
While watching the sunrise in Africa is reason enough to rise before the sun, you are also up early because the first 2 hours of daylight are the best times to see wildlife – in the cool of early morning, most animals are out and about and active (even some of the nocturnal species such as spotted hyena).
Even so, there should be no need for an alarm clock – on most safaris, a lodge staff will wake you, a quiet African voice coming from the darkness. Sometimes you will be served tea and coffee in your room, and there may be light breakfast snacks available in the communal areas while everyone assembles.
You are advised to sleep soon after dinner is a good so as to wake up early.
2. The heat of the day
On most days on Uganda safaris, you will be back in lodge by mid to late morning in case of game drives. A more substantial breakfast/brunch usually follows, although sometimes this meal is served a little later as lunch.
This meal is often followed by free time – have a siesta, laze by the pool if there is one, or simply find a vantage point from which to contemplate the beauty of wild Africa. If your safari experience includes the option of a visit to a local community village or some other non-wildlife excursion, then it will most likely occur around this time.
And if you’re in savannah parks, like Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Lake Mburo, the afternoon is better spend enjoying a relaxing boat cruise as you watch animals quenching their thirsty at the banks.
3. Late afternoon & evening
As the heat of the day passes, you can also enjoy another wildlife drive, a nature walk, village walk, or also boat trip). These usually last for a few hours, and before you return to the lodge.
Most safari drives will pause at a scenic site for what’s known as the ‘Sundowner’. Nursing the drink of your choice while watching the sunset overlooking a waterhole or acacia-framed golden grasslands of the savannah – bliss!
If you’re visiting a Uganda national park, you will need to leave the park (if you’re staying outside) or be back in lodge (if you’re staying inside) before the sun sets.
Whenever you arrive back in lodge/camp, you will freshen up and change for dinner.
In some lodges and camps, before and after dinner, there is usually an open fire burning where you can take your evening drink to stare into the fire or talk with other guests.
Also in some lodges, there may be some form of cultural entertainment. When it comes time to return to your room, the lights go out and you fall asleep to a chorus of the night noises of Africa.
2. Taking Your ‘Comfort Break’ in the Bush
When out on game drives, chimpanzee trekking, or gorilla trekking adventures. That’s right – no flushing toilet, no toilet seat and no toilet paper! You will be ‘going to the loo’ behind the nearest bush.
What to expect on safari in Uganda? Well, ladies, it is a good idea to carry tissues and a hand sanitizer too. Do NOT leave your toilet tissues lying in the bush. On a gorilla trekking adventure, your tracking guide will have to dig you a hole with his panga/machete. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep, and fill it in when you are finished.
Safari guides are predominantly male, and seemingly under the impression that everyone gets to do this at home! If you haven’t had to ‘go’ outdoors before – start getting your mind around it now!
Keep in mind that it is worth ensuring that you go to the bathroom last thing before getting on the vehicle for your drive – and don’t consume too much tea or coffee beforehand either – there’s nothing worse than having to ‘hang on’!
Although darting behind a bush in the middle of Africa to drop your pants does not sound especially dignified, you’ll get used to it (and will have little choice in the matter…nature calls us all).
Your guide will plan to stop for regular ‘comfort’ breaks but if you need to ‘go’ at any other time you only need let your guide know and he/she will find a suitable location where you’ll be afforded have some privacy (most likely bushes) and will be safe (no lions hiding behind them!).
3. Mobile Phone Coverage
Many Uganda safari lodges and camps nowadays, even some remote ones, have Wi-Fi (via satellite in some cases), so you can often get online and get down your emails in case you’re have communication deficit.
Ready To Book Your Safari To Uganda?
Now that you have a good idea what to expect on safari in Uganda, why not contact us to plan your dream Africa safari? We organize customized Uganda safaris packed with your choice of expectations and experience at a budget you can afford. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org