More to Do and See on Your Holiday in Uganda
Mention the word Safari and most people will envisage the open plains of the Queen Elizabeth or Murchison falls national parks that we often see on televisions. However, Uganda offers much more on safari holidays than just the grassy savannahs, semi-arid desert areas, lush swampy areas and thick forests. All of these are home to the amazing animals that we associate with on Uganda holidays. The animals have adapted to live in certain conditions which mean that some areas have animals unique to that region, such as the impala Antelope which can only be found in certain parts of Lake Mburo national park. This is a quick guide to the best safari adventure and places to see some of the most popular animals in Uganda.
The Big 5 Comprising of Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard can be found in the national parks in Uganda. Some of the smaller parks do not have the larger herbivores such as Elephant; some do not have the large predators. Almost all parks will have the other popular animals such Antelopes, Baboons and warthogs.
Big Cats favor open spaces where they can use their speed to wear down their prey. For this reason places such as Kidepo valley national park, Queen Elizabeth National park, and Murchison falls national park are the best areas to view them. Leopard use an ambush technique and need trees, making them harder to spot. Lions are common all over the west & north eastern Uganda and can be found in most parks. For something a little different, visit the tree climbing lions of Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Uganda is a Birders paradise. Choose from the many nature reserves, national parks, lakes, wetlands and rivers – habitats are very varied and specialist guides are available. We recommend Mabamba swamp near Lake Victoria, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison falls national park and Nabugabo Wetlands. The country is endowed with over 1000 bird species.
The Gorilla tracking nowhere other than Uganda and Rwanda gives you the opportunity to view the spectacle of the mountain gorillas. Its only in East Africa where one can see the endangered mountan gorillas in their natural habitat. Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking Permits are like gold dust and must be purchased by anyone wishing to see the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Parks) and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park).
Gorilla tracking activity is conducted all year round though the best times to see the gorillas are during the drier months of June to August in Uganda. To view these magnificent apes requires at least a couple of nights which can be combined with a stay in any of the savannah parks. If you would like to see Chimpanzees, they can be found in Kibale National Park Uganda, Queen Elizabeth national park in Kyambura gorge and Budongo forest reserve in Murchison Falls National Park. We travel regularly to various national parks in Uganda and we are always happy to recommend parks based on your interests.
Planning a Uganda safari
First of all you need to identify the number of days you want to spend on the trip and list down what you would like to see on your Uganda holiday. The number of activities will determine the length of the tour, that is, if you list of interests is wide, then you need a good number of days. In summery, the popular tourist activities in Uganda include mountain gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee habituation experience, chimps tracking, birding, boat cruise, community walks, mountain hiking, rafting, kayaking, horse riding, Bungee Jumping and game drives among others. All activities are conducted in different destinations / National parks.
Once you identify your interests, you can contact a local ground tour operator because they have first hand information. Communication is usually by email exchange. Feel free to send inquires to many travel agencies and choose one who seem to satisfy your interests. You can also get advise from different travelers that visited Uganda before on travel websites like Trip Advisor and lonely planet. Here you can get advise on attractions, travel agencies, lodges / hotels and many more.
A Uganda safari can be escorted / guided or self drive. An escorted Uganda safari is booked through tour operators / travel agencies who make all arrangements like hotel bookings, car / driver arrangements, airport transfers, park entry payments and some times international flights. A self drive tour on the other hand involves hiring a car from Kampala and drive your self with your family. Car hire agencies in Kampala offer free travel advise, hotel/lodge bookings, gorilla permits reservations and camping gear among others.
If your interests include tracking gorillas, you must secure your permits before making any other bookings because, the number of permits available everyday is limited, and their demand is high through out the year. You can get availabity of gorilla permits for any dates through your travel agency, or through Uganda Wildlife Authority by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you secure your gorilla permits,chimpanzee permits and flights, then you should go ahead and book accommodations either by your self or through your travel agency. Accommodation in Uganda is categorized into 3; Budget lodges, Mid range and luxury accommodations.
Budget accommodations offered with limited facilities. Some of the facilities have private bathrooms and toilets, but this is not guaranteed as most budget accommodations have shared facilities.
Mid Range / deluxe accommodation
Offers mediocre accommodations, comfortable and clean, with private bathrooms, toilets and fantastic views.
High End / Luxury Accommodation
Offered in luxurious lodges/hotels/camps, with private balconies, swimming pool, beautiful views and private facilities such as bathrooms and Toilets.