Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!
Photo: © Dixon Newman | Twin Lakes Sundowner

Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!

Words from the author: "Hi, my name is Elly Tumwesiga. Since 2015 I am working as travel content writer for several Destination Management companies in Uganda. My passion to travel, our rich wildlife, nature, and Ugandan Arts and culture did inspire me to start the virtual Uganda Safari Travel Guide in 2022"...

The breathtaking diversity of wildlife, a visit to the Mountain Gorillas or a swim in the river Nile will take you back to nature. Be prepared to make new friends on the way!

Unveiling some top travel ideas preparing your trip to Uganda...

Go beyond the wildlife safari 

Go beyond the safari in national parks to explore Uganda’s culture. Taking a look at the culture diversity of over 52 indigenous social groups, a fascinating discovery of their traditions including dance, music, art, language, and cuisine awaits you. Kampala capital city alone has over 20 historic and cultural sites including the UNESCO world heritage Kasubi Royal Tombs. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the local food and drinks. Take a walk in a local town, village to get a flavour of rural life. Visit an agritourism farm in the fields of Ankole long horn cows near Mburo park or in Nshenyi and support an industry that’s beginning to flourish. The village of Mpambire offers unveils the art of making African drums. Visit a traditional healer for his stunning metaphysics in Bigodi village near Kibale forest national park. 

Trek in search of mountain gorillas

Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the incredible wildlife experiences. The population in the wild is about 1,063 gorillas restricted to two places on earth which include Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda and the Virunga massif shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. Uganda’s Bwindi national park is famous for harbouring 459 which is almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The Virunga side of Uganda is called Mgahinga gorilla national park. Differences in habitat and ecology suggest that Bwindi gorillas and distinct from those in the Virungas. Uganda offers two unique ways to see silverback gorillas including gorilla trekking and gorilla research experience. Trekking permits cost is $700 and $1,500 respectively. Gorillas are endangered species and their future survival is fragile. Hopes to uphold conservation of wildlife lies in improving the livelihoods for adjacent local communities. There are affordable locally- owned businesses including accommodation, food, and coffee for you to support conservation initiatives like Conservation Through Public Health whilst keeping down the cost of gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. 

Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!
Photo: © Dixon Newman | Silverback Gorilla

More primate encounters 

Whereas Uganda is famous for the gorillas, there are also chimpanzees and golden monkeys. Kibale forest national park alone is famous for harbouring over 12 primate species including chimpanzees, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys. The park offers chimpanzee tracking and habituation experiences, and a night forest walk. Don’t miss to visit community run Bigodi swamp for nature walk and an herbalist for his stunning metaphysics. Affordable chimp viewing opportunities are also available in Budongo forest in Murchison falls and in Maramagambo, Kalinzu, and Kyambura gorge forests in Queen Elizabeth national park. Unlike the forests, Toro Semliki wildlife reserve has opened trails to search for chimps in the savannah grasslands. Mgahinga national park combines golden monkey tracking, gorillas, and hiking in the Virunga volcanoes. 

Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!
Photo: © Dixon Newman | Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Big game safari destinations

To top it all off the gorillas and primates, ensure to do safaris and game drives to see African wildlife up-close in the savannah protected areas. These are best visited during the dry season in June to July and December to February. Lake Mburo, just 4-hour drive south west of Kampala capital city offers a walking safari to spot plains zebras, impalas, and giraffes in the entire western region. Queen Elizabeth national park is located in the rift valley at the foot of Mount Rwenzori and comprises of lake George and Lake Edward connected by Kazinga channel, wetlands, tropical forests, and savannah.  The park has best rift valley views and is home to 98 mammal species and over 600 bird species including tree climbing lions in Ishasha, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Nile crocodiles, and shoebill stork. The best way to see lions is through the lion’s research program in Kasenyi plains.

Murchison falls national park, located at the northern end of the western arm of the East African rift valley is centred on the Nile River, which supports Nile crocodiles, hippos, over 415 birds like shoebill stork, elephants, and buffaloes, large number of Nubian giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, topi, Uganda kobs, lions, and leopards. The park is famous for the Murchison falls, a boat cruise along the Victoria Nile, and night game drives. On the way to Murchison falls, you can visit Ziwa rhino sanctuary to track rhinos on foot with a guide. You could probably see the Big 5 mammals in Uganda. For a unique safari, go to Kidepo valley national park and Pian Upe wildlife reserve located in the semi-arid Karamoja in the north east corner at Uganda’s border with South Sudan and Turkana in Kenya. The safari experience there offers unique wildlife such as cheetahs, wild dogs, rugged volcanic landscape, and cultural activities.

Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!
Photo: © Dixon Newman | Leopard in Murchison falls N.P.

Ready for a River Nile Adventure?

The source of River Nile is found in Jinja district, eastern Uganda. Jinja city is known as Adventure Capital of East Africa and the best destination for an outdoor and water sports enthusiast. Jinja offers a wide range of activities including bungee jumping, zip lining, white water rafting, boat cruise, kayaking, water tubing, fishing, all terrain quad biking, and horseback rides. You can have fun overlooking the river from the Source Cafe, a charity organization that benefits the local community. Explore the history of Jinja including Indian architecture and cuisine, the Uganda Railway Museum to learn about the British East African Railway that reached the shores of Lake Victoria in 1928 all the way from Mombasa, Kenya. Those intending to learn about the life of a traditional king in modern Uganda should visit the Kyabazinga Royal Palace. For a relaxing day trip, take a boat ride to the tropical Samuka Island. 

Get ready for an unspoiled eco-adventure – Uganda awaits you!
Photo: © Dixon Newman | Bungee Jumping in Jinja
Check out the Uganda Safari Travel Guide for more information and travel tips... 

Travel ideas preparing your trip to Uganda

1. Ugandan currency 

Uganda shillings (ISO code UGX) are the official currency with coins in denominations of 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shillings. Banknotes have denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 Uganda shillings. Travellers should exchange foreign currency such as US dollars, Euros, British Pounds into local currency upon arrival at Entebbe airport or in Kampala capital city. That’s when you intend to purchase things in local markets. 

Gorilla and chimpanzee permits are available for booking through a tour operator or the Uganda Wildlife Authority – the official agency responsible for managing activities within protected areas. 

2. Tour guides

They’re the “soul of any tour operator/DMC.” A tour guide determines if a trip is successful or not. It’s also a question of quality and paid price. As such not the cheapest tour offers are the best when it comes to quality of a trip and as such quality of the tour guide. Uganda provides Top Guides in East Africa. Ensure to ask your operator for a good tour guide will always be mentioned in review sites. For the individualist traveller, you can still get a guide even if you don’t buy a guided safari package. Doing your trip independently can halve travel costs and still give you all the food and drinks. 

3. Game drives

Seek out waterholes on day game drives during the dry season. Night game drives are available in Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Lake Mburo national parks.  

4. Park entry fees

National park entry fees are only accepted in electronic payments form and are payable every 24 hours spent in the savannah protected areas. Entry fees for primate parks like Bwindi, Mgahinga, and Kibale forest are included in the price of trekking permits. Besides, you will pay extra cost to enter into community owned places outside the parks like Bigodi and Kihingami wetlands.

5. When to visit

The best time to visit Uganda is during the dry season. June to September and December to February are great months for game drives. Gorilla trekking is actually difficult in the dry season given that gorillas tend to move longer in search of fresh foliage. Treks tend to be easier at the end of the rainy season end of May to June and in October. 

6. Accommodation

Uganda offers a wide range of accommodation depending on the category you need. Make sure to ask the tour operator and specify the type of facilities you need at a lodge or hotel. Accommodation is far more expensive in the national parks than in the towns.

7. Food and drinks

There are a range of places to get food and drinks in Uganda, from stalls selling traditional ‘Rolex’ (a thin omelette wrapped in a chapatti) or Nyama choma (roasted meat) to expat run restaurants, fast-food cafes. Meals are available in the places of stay. Ensure to pack food on game drive safaris. There aren’t many other places to eat you need to plan for stopovers if you need hot and fresh meals.

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