Home to a source of the longest river on Earth, equatorial rainforest and, of course, primates
Many people refer to Uganda as the ‘real’ Africa and it is easy to see why. Stunning scenery, friendly people, primates and fantastic wildlife plus amazing activities combine to make Uganda holidays an exciting prospect for adventure travellers. The country is also a gateway to Rwanda – home of the majestic yet endangered mountain gorillas.
One of the main attractions of Uganda is its incredible wildlife. The country is home to numerous national parks, including the renowned Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, where visitors can embark on an awe-inspiring gorilla trekking adventure. Here, you can come face to face with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, observing their behaviour in close proximity. Kibale National Park is a great place to go in search of chimpanzees while Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to elusive tree-climbing lions.
In southern Uganda, Lake Mburo is a fascinating destination and is the only place where you can see impala, giraffes and zebras. The national park is also home to over 300 species of birds, including the blue-headed coucal, papyrus yellow warblers and papyrus gonolek, which can be spotted the wetlands that connect the lakes.
The Nile is the longest river in Africa and plays host to some of Uganda’s most incredible wildlife. On a game drive of the area, you can spot lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes and buffalos. A highlight of Uganda holidays is a cruise along its biodiverse waters to see hippos and crocodiles and watch elephants and waterbucks come to the water’s edge for a drink.
Track Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Established in 1991 to help save the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi is home to a large population of gorillas (estimated at 320), as well as nine other species of primates, endemic bird species, and over 200 butterfly species. On a trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, guides will cut a route through the undergrowth. There’s a minimum of three hours’ walking on rough terrain, with the possibility of climbing up to 2600m, in order to find the gorillas; steep ascents and descents over muddy slopes are the norm. But spending a magical hour with mountain gorillas in Bwindi is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Observe Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest Did you know that humans and Chimpanzees share 98.8% of the same DNA? Located at the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon (a.k.a. Ruwenzori Mountains), Kibale Forest National Park has the highest concentration and diversity of primates in all of East Africa. Hike with experienced local guides to track these threatened Chimpanzees, which number around 1450, and observe them for a while. You’ll also see plenty of birds (325 species) and other flora and fauna. You may even spot the rare L’Hoest Monkey or the endangered Red Colobus Monkey, among the other primates that make this forest their home.
Take a Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park Measuring 764 square miles, Queen Elizabeth is Uganda’s most visited National Park. And for good reason: Whether you love birding or mammals, you’ll find plenty to observe during a game drive at the equator-spanning park. It’s known for prolific wildlife, including Leopards in the Mweya Peninsula, Chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge, and Tree-climbing Lions in the Ishasha area. There are over 95 mammal species in all, over 600 bird species, Nile Crocodiles (which can be seen during a cruise through the Kazinga Channel), and a variety of different ecosystems.
See the Splendour of Murchison Falls Located in the country’s northwestern region and measuring around 1,5000 square miles, Murchison Falls is the largest national park in Uganda. The park offers an impressive array of animals, including Lions, Elephants, Chimpanzees, and one of the largest populations of Hippos and Crocodiles in all of Africa. And of course there’s also the waterfall for which the park is named, where the Nile River forces its way through a small gorge and then drops down over 140 feet, creating an extraordinarily picturesque view.
FAQs on Uganda Holidays
What are the best places to visit in Uganda?
Among the best places to visit in Uganda are undoubtedly its national parks. From the renowned Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to the majestic mountain gorillas, to the diverse Queen Elizabeth National Park, famous for its tree-climbing lions, Uganda has a wealth of natural wonders and wildlife to discover. Additionally, journey to the source of the Nile in Jinja, explore the spectacular Murchison Falls National Park and enjoy an awe-inspiring game drive along the Rwenzori Mountains to soak up views of the glaciated peaks.
When is the best time to visit Uganda?
Uganda enjoys a tropical climate, meaning it’s a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is during the dry seasons, which typically fall between June to September and December to February. These months offer clear skies, less rainfall and better chances of spotting wildlife. It’s important to note that gorilla trekking is possible throughout the year, but the rainy seasons (April to May and October to November) can make the trekking trails more challenging. However, rain can also occur during the dry season so it’s always best to be prepared whenever you travel.
How can I see the mountain gorillas in Uganda?
To see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in Uganda, you must obtain a permit, which allows you to trek through the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to go in search of these majestic primates. These permits are limited and often need to be booked well in advance. On our gorilla tours in Uganda, we veer off the trails of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and trek through the undergrowth and up some steep ascents. The ground can often be muddy and slippery, and it can take anything from one to six hours to track down a family of gorillas, so you will need to have a reasonable level of fitness.
What wildlife can I expect to see in Uganda?
Uganda is a natural paradise for wildlife lovers and is home to a wide range of species. Besides the iconic mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can encounter chimpanzees and other primates in Kibale Forest National Park or Budongo Forest Reserve. If you want to witness the iconic Big Five, which includes elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, and buffalos, head to Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Species such as the rare shoebill stork and the papyrus yellow warbler are just two of the 190,000 birds that are native to Mabamba Swamp, which can be found to the west of Entebbe, along the northern shores of Lake Victoria.
What should I pack for my Uganda tour?
When preparing for a Uganda tour, it is essential to pack appropriate clothing and gear but most importantly, take comfortable and sturdy walking shoes. You’ll need to prepare for rain because even if you’re travelling during the dry season, there’s always a chance of a downpour. Lightweight and breathable layers of clothing, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are all essentials, and don’t forget to pack your camera! It is also advisable to bring a waterproof jacket and extra layers for the cooler evenings and early mornings, as temperatures can vary, especially in the mountainous regions.
Do I need vaccinations for Uganda?
You will need to be vaccinated against yellow fever when travelling to Uganda and you’ll also need to bring a vaccination certificate with you. Although not essential, we do recommend vaccinations for typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and B, rabies, tuberculosis, cholera and tetanus. To reduce the risk of malaria from mosquito bites, you will need Malaria prophylaxis and in addition to this, please take the usual precautions to protect yourself from bites. Always speak to your medical professional before you travel.
How long should you spend in Uganda?
The duration of your stay in Uganda will depend on various factors such as your interests and itinerary. Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda offers a wealth of experiences, ranging from wildlife safaris in national parks to exploring the source of the Nile River. To immerse yourself fully in the beauty and wildlife of this diverse country, it is recommended to spend between 10 and 15 days here. This allows ample time to explore popular destinations like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for gorilla trekking, Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives and Murchison Falls National Park for scenic boat cruises.