Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

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Wildlife In Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda!

The sanctuary contains a guesthouse, campground, restaurant, research and conservation center, and 7,000 hectares of untouched rhino habitat.

This non-profit Uganda rhino sanctuary is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Its primary purpose is to build a sustainable population of rhinos in Uganda and relocate them back to their original habitat-protected areas.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located Nakasongola District, about 123km/4-5 hours’ drive northwest of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. It is situated near Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park- the best game park for wildlife safaris in Uganda.

Not just rhinos, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary boast over 300 species of birds and several other species of Uganda animals. And there’re a number of amazing things to do at Ziwa, including tracking wild rhinos on foot.

A Brief History of Ziwa & Rhinos in Uganda

Historically, both black and white rhinos are indigenous to Uganda.

But, due to the post-independence conflicts and poaching, these incredible creatures were declared extinct in the country in 1983.

However, in 2005, following decades of peace and stability, Rhino Fund Uganda started the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

The sanctuary started as a risky project with the release of 6 adult southern white rhinos. Four were trans-located from Solio Ranch in Kenya and two from the Disney Animal Kingdom in USA.

The first successful birth occurred in June 2009 when baby Obama was born.

The baby rhino was named Obama because his father is Kenyan and his mother is American. Since then, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has gone from strength to strength, and the current population stands at 32 rhinos.

It has now become one of the most inspiring conservation success stories in East Africa, offering amazing rhino tracking on foot.

Ziwa Rhino Tracking

Tracking rhinos in Ziwa Sanctuary is one of the most thrilling Uganda safari activities. It offers you a great chance to get close to the wonderful white rhinos than you ever could in a 4x4x safari vehicle.

Rhinos are among Africa’s Big Five land animals. They’re also the second-largest land mammals on earth today (behind only elephants), weighing up 3.5 tonnes.

Distinguished by their thick skin and long nose horns, rhinos are remarkably tough and quick African animals.

Their amazing horns and bulky pre-historic appearance make them instantly recognizable – but their unpredictable nature, strength, and speed are legendary.

Even the bravest of rangers will be super alert around these massive mammals.

But on your Ziwa Rhino tracking in Uganda safari tours it is entirely possible to safely get close to these pre-historic-looking heavyweights on foot. Plus, when you see the White Southern Rhinos at Ziwa, you’re supporting an important conservation program for this highly threatened mammal species.

How Is Rhino Tracking Done In Ziwa?

You can choose to do rhino tracking in Ziwa at any time of the day.

However, Rhinos are most active in the early morning and late afternoon or early evening. You need to time your trek with that (watching them sleep is not exciting at all). So, rhino tracking is best done between 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.

Rhino Tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary starts with a short safety briefing.

Then you embark on the actual tracking adventure.

The rhinos are free to move around on 7000 hectares of land. Therefore it is often required to drive to the areas where the rhinos are, before trekking into the bush. During your trek, follow your guide while keeping your voice low.

Fortunately, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary terrain is flat. You just have to be careful with the occasional acacia thorn.

Rhino trekking can take from 1½ to 2½ hours. This depends on the location of the rhinos. As you trek, you also see other Uganda wildlife. The sanctuary is to about 40 mammal species and over 300 species of birds.

When you find the rhinos, your guide whispers a few more safety instructions to you, such as:

  • Stay at least 6-7 meters away.
  • Don’t use flash
  • Keep your voices low.

Follow the instructions at all times. It’s a spine-tingling experience. All your senses will be on the alert and every sight, sound and scent will be magnified.

You’re free to walk around the area and take photos as long as you stay near the guide. Trust me, you’ll be relieved, if I haven’t said it yet, rhinos are huge (adult white rhinos can weigh more than 3 tonnes).

Given their bulk, white rhinos are surprisingly quiet. Yet at close quarters you can hear them breathe and grunt, coupled with the rhythmic sound of their grazing. If the rhinos get too close, your guide will instruct you to move back.

You spend up to an hour with the rhinos before they become stressed. You then return to your car and travel back to the visitor’s center

Is It Safe To Track Rhinos On Foot?

Rhinos are members of African ‘Big 5’ land animals. Other members include Lions, leopards, African elephants, and African buffalo. The term Big 5 was coined in the late 1800s during Africa’s colonial period, referring to what trophy hunters considered the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.

So you might be wondering – is it really safe to get to the 3000kg fully grown wild rhino on foot! The answer is yes.

It is extremely unlikely that anything bad will happen to you on your rhino tracking adventure in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

You need to follow your ranger guide’s instructions. Please remember that these are wild rhinos, even if they are living in a fenced area.

The premise of tracking wild rhinos on foot in Ziwa rhino tracking on foot is dependent on the fact that these massive mammals have very poor eyesight.

So the aim is to keep you out of their vision the entire time.

They could still be able to hear you – but because most of these rhinos have no memories of being threatened by humans, that won’t alarm them.

This is why it is important to stay at least 6-7 meters away from them and to follow your ranger guide’s instructions when they advise you to move away from the rhinos. Moreover, you must not make any sudden movements, speak above a whisper, or use your camera’s flash

White rhinos are less aggressive than their cousins, black rhinos. They only charge if they’re surprised and they usually give up quickly.

If that happens, you should climb a tree or hide behind a bush. Be extremely cautious if you come across a baby rhino or a pregnant mother. Never put yourself in the way of a mother rhino and her calf.

Another thing to note is that your safety depends on the actions of those in your tracking group. You’ll all be in danger if you’re all crouching behind a bush and one person suddenly raises his head for a quick selfie.

As a result, it’s critical to ask your fellow trekkers to follow the guide’s advice.

And as noted above, before you go on the journey, your guide will give you a thorough safety briefing. And as long as you pay attention to them, you shouldn’t have any troubles on your Ziwa Rhino tracking tour in Uganda.

Ziwa Rhino Tracking Fees

Rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, like other Uganda safari activities, is reasonably priced. The table below shows the Ziwa Rhino Tracking costs inclusive of the sanctuary entrance fees per visitor category:

Ziwa Rhino Tracking Fees

Best Time for Ziwa Rhino Tracking

The best time to go rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is during the dry seasons of:

  • December to February
  • June to October

This is also the best time to visit other Uganda safari destinations for general wildlife game viewing. Rain has a lower likelihood of ruining your planned safari activities or things to do during the dry season.

More important than the time of year, though, is the time of day. Rhinos are most active in the mornings and late in the afternoons.

So you want to plan your journey around that (seeing them sleep isn’t nearly as fun). When you arrive, you may talk to the rangers about whether it’s worth it to undertake the hike in the middle of the day.

More Activities to Do At Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

  1. Shoebill Trek & Canoe Ride

The incredible shoebill is one of the most sought after birds in Uganda. Within the swamps of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, these prehistoric-looking birds are nesting.

An early morning (6 am) shoebill trek and canoe ride through the swamp not only gives you the opportunity to find the shoebill, but also to see the beautiful Ugandan sunrise. Other water birds are plentiful.

This activity costs:

  • USD 25 for Foreign Non Resident Visitors
  • USD 20 for Foreign Resident Visitors
  • USD 20,000 for East African Citizens
  1. Birding Walk

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary contains more than 300 species of birds! The sanctuary has 4 bird watching trails. The trails cover woodlands, swamp and savannah.

The bird guides are excellent. You will probably get to see some of the other game on the sanctuary while doing your bird walk.

This activity costs:

  • USD 20 for Foreign Non Resident Visitors
  • USD 20 for Foreign Resident Visitors
  • USD 20,000 for East African Citizens
  1. Nature Walk

Additionally, you can do a nature walk in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary is also home to at least 40 animals species, including monkeys, Uganda kobs, bushbucks, waterbucks, and Nile Crocodiles

This activity costs:

USD 20 for Foreign Non Resident Visitors

USD 20 for Foreign Resident Visitors

USD 20,000 for East African Citizens

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Accommodation

Campsite:

  • USD $20 per day / per Adult
  • USD $10 per day / per Child

Guest House One

Room Obama Ensuite Room with Veranda

  • Single occupancy (USD $80 B&B per Night)
  • Double occupancy (USD $120 B&B per Night)

Room Malaika

  • Single occupancy (USD $50 B&B per Night)
  • Twin occupancy (USD $80 B&B per Night)

Room Sonic Ensuite Room

  • Single occupancy (USD $50 B&B per Night)
  • Double occupancy (USD $80 B&B per Night

Room Nguzo Ensuite Room

  • Single occupancy (USD $50 B&B per Night)
  • Double occupancy (USD $80 B&B per Night)

Guest House Two Ensuite Rooms

Room No. 1 Bella, Room No. 2 Kori, and Room No. 3 Umoja

  • Single occupancy USD $40 B&B per Night
  • Double occupancy USD $70 B&B per Night

Ensuite Dorm Room USD $ 25 B&B per Night / per guest

Children Accommodation Rates:

Children up to 5 years, accommodated free if sharing room with full paying adults (maximum 2 kids).

Children between 5-12 years of age are accommodated at 50% of the relevant adult rate when sharing accommodation with full paying

Children of above 12 years pay the relevant full adult rates.

Getting To Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

It’s possible to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on a day trip from Kampala or Entebbe. You’d just need to get a very early start.

You travel northwest, through quite rural villages and bustling towns. You’ll branch off at Nakitooma in Nakasongora District after about a 115km (4-5 hours) drive. Then divert from the main road for another 7 kilometers drive to Ziwa.

Alternatively, you can consider visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on Uganda safaris to Murchison Fall National Park or Kidepo National Park. These two parks offer more classic savannah game viewing and gorgeous sceneries in Uganda.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Packing List

  • Neutral coloured safari clothes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Long pants
  • Drinking water
  • Insect repellent

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary FAQs

Where Is Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Found?

The Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is located in Nakasongola district, 176 Kilometers from Kampala. The drive from Kampala to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary lasts for 3 hours.

How Many Rhinos Are In Ziwa Sanctuary?

As of December 2022, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to thirty two (32) southern white rhinos, which you will enjoy while on your Rhino tracking adventure on foot.

Who Owns Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

The sanctuary is collaborative effort between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch, who own the land on which the sanctuary sits and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the government agency responsible for protecting Uganda’s wildlife resources.

How Much Is Rhino Tracking At Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

Tracking the Rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary costs $ 50 for Foreign Non-resident visitors, $ 40 for Foreign Resident and UGX 30,000 for East African Citizens.

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