Uganda: Where to go and what to do
Uganda: Where to go and what to do
Neighbour to Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda receives far fewer visitors than its more popular fellows. This gives it a wonderful feeling of seclusion, and fewer crowds mean more authentic and private experiences. That’s something we value highly at Rainbow.
In the 1960s, Uganda was widely considered to be the foremost destination for travellers seeking safaris. Although its prominence has waned, this history of popularity means that today it is easy to navigate thanks to a well-planned network of roads. Additionally, it is full of comfortable lodges and expert guides eager to welcome you.
We’ve put together some suggestions for the top regions you should visit when you journey to Uganda, and our recommendations for what to do when you’re there.
Read on to find our specialists’ picks.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is tucked away on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. It is an old and complex forest, home to incredibly biodiverse species. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its ecological importance.
Perhaps most famously, it is home to around half of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, roughly 400 individuals in total.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most popular activities in Bwindi, and tourism to the park to see the gorillas is used to fund conservation efforts in the region. A glimpse of one of these rare and magnificent creatures will be remembered for life.
A trip to Bwindi isn’t just good for the chance to see gorillas, though. Bwindi is also home to African forest elephants, bush pigs, duikers, and hundreds of other species of animals. While there are chimpanzees in Bwindi, they—unlike those in Kibale—are wild and unhabituated, and chances of seeing them are extremely rare. If these apes are top of your list, we recommend heading elsewhere.
The clouds of brightly-coloured butterflies you may come across are also a sight worthy of inclusion in this list.
Lion Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The limits of this park surround an astonishing number of different ecosystems, including acacia grassland, papyrus swamp, tropical forest, and (seasonally) flamingo-lined volcanic crater lakes. The scenery is varied but uniformly breath-taking, and a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park is not to be missed.
Visitors may be treated to the sight of elephants, the shy sitatunga, streaming herds of Ugandan kob, hyenas, and many more.
This park is considered the best place in Uganda to see leopards, and hundreds of species of birds may be glimpsed in the beautiful blue sky.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is also a fantastic place to see lions, and we strongly recommend undertaking a game drive to seek them out.
The most famous of the lions are the black-maned tree climbers found near Ishasha, but the park as a whole has a big lion population. If you’re a big cat lover, Queen Elizabeth is the place to go.
Seek out Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest
Kibale is home to the greatest concentration of primate species in East Africa.
With its moist tropical forests and woodlands, Kibale is a beautiful national park that is known for its high chances of spotting one of its famous species. Red colobus, Blue monkeys and Grey-cheeked mangabeys are just some of the primates that might lurk around you in the trees.
What Kibale is most famous for, though, is its chimpanzees. When you head out on one of the morning or afternoon tracking excursions on offer, you have more than a 90% chance of seeing one of the troupes of wild chimpanzees that inhabit the park.
If you’re really keen on chimps, you can also book a full day’s excursion with researchers from the Chimpanzee Habituation Programme, true experts in their subject who can teach you huge amounts about these fascinating cousins of human beings.
See rare shoebills in Semliki Valley
You can take a light aircraft flight into the beautiful Semliki Wildlife Reserve, a flat bowl bracketed by the Rift Valley on the eastern side, the dramatic Rwenzori foothills to the south, and Lake Albert and the Congo to the north and west.
Semliki is another area with many different habitats to be found within its boundaries, from papyrus swamps, marshes, and tropical forests to lakes and savannahs.
We recommend taking a boat out onto Lake Albert with a guide. You’ll see villages, aquatic life, birds, and perhaps a hippo or two.
The real treat on Lake Albert, though, is its population of rare shoebills. It’s worth a boat trip just for the chance to see these strange and beautiful birds.
Uganda’s most isolated park is its best-kept secret. Hidden away in the far north east corner, Kidepo Valley National Park plays host to several species you won’t see anywhere else in the country such as greater and lesser Kudu, eland, ostriches and cheetahs.
The bird population of Kidepo goes one better. There are 56 species of bird of prey to be found, and experts estimate that 14 of these—such as the Pygmy Falcon and Egyptian Vulture—are not be found anywhere else in the world.
Our advice is to head to Kidepo during the dry season, when the water disappears and leaves only the wetlands and remnant pools in the Naurus Valley. Animals have to come a long way to drink, and a game drive in the vicinity of one of these rare watering locations is a prime opportunity to see all sorts of exciting creatures.