Thinking of heading on safari in Uganda – the “Pearl of Africa”? Now’s a good time to go as Uganda has yet to take off as a tourist destination in as large a way as many of it’s neighbours. This means prices for safaris in Uganda can prove good value, with less crowds around when you get to the wildlife. It also has something of “the road less travelled” feel about it.
Uganda is small by African standards at “just” 236,000km sq. at around the same size as Great Britain. The country is lush and a verdant green, with one third of the border made up of three of Africa’s Great Lakes, and the Victoria Nile running through the center. The East African tropical heat is tempered by an average altitude of 1,000 meters, with the east and west borders featuring significant mountains.
The wildlife in Uganda doesn’t compare favourably in terms of density with it’s East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania, but it’s extremely diverse with over 500 mammal species alone. There are pockets with strong diversity – such as Murchison Falls National Park, which is relatively small with exceptional wildlife viewing – but the big safari draw in Uganda is the primate life. Uganda is probably the prime destination in the world for trekking opportunities to see habituated chimpanzee and gorilla families in the wild – a truly memorable experience, and one of the best walking safaris to be found anywhere.
Poaching and deforestation continue to be a problem in Uganda – as in much of the rest of Africa – and a recent oil discovery in Lake Albert has led to encroachment into a small area of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Despite this the general standard of national parks in Uganda is excellent, with good facilities, public transport access and range of lodgings, though infrastructure is not particularly developed. Tourist numbers in Uganda are much smaller than neighboring Kenya or Tanzania, meaning national parks are generally less crowded and offer a more enjoyable and intimate visiting experience.
Uganda Safari Highlights
- Trekking through the dense jungles of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to come within 5 meters of a silverback mountain gorilla and his family.
- Head up country to the Murchison Falls National Park to spot the big five animals with relative ease, as well as the world’s most powerful waterfall pass through the Victoria Nile.
- Take time out of your safari in Uganda to relax lakeside and soak up the ambiance on one of Uganda’s great lakes- Lake Victoria, Lake Edward or Lake Albert.
Best Time To Go On Safari In Uganda
As it’s a relatively small country with consistent altitude the majority of the country enjoys the same topical climate. In the higher areas to the east and west of the country it can get surprisingly cold at night times. January and February are the hottest months when wildlife viewing is at it’s best if you’re planning a game drive.
As with the rest of East Africa there’s a “long rains” season and a “short rains” season, March to May and October to November respectively. During the short rains it generally rains only for short periods at a time, meaning your wildlife viewing will not be too disrupted. Travel to most destinations during rainy season is possible, though you should leave yourself more time to get there.
Gorilla trekking is possible year-round, and you’re virtually guaranteed to see gorillas. However, do bear in mind that the trekking terrain is tough going, with dense forest and steep hills, so ensure you dress appropriately. See more hints and tips on gorilla safaris.
National Parks In Uganda
As well as the big five, Uganda is home to more than half the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Read our overview of national parks in Uganda, or click on a Ugandan national park in the below list to read more about that specific park:
- Bwindi Impenatrable Forest National Park
- Kibale Forest National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
- Mahinga Gorilla National Park
- Mount Elgon National Park
- Murchison Falls National Park
- Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Safari Lodges In Uganda
Budget safari accommodation in Uganda is centered around a few small towns and villages on the fringes of national parks. If you’re willing to splurge then Uganda does offer some truly luxurious safari in and around the parks. Mid-range safari accommodation is a little harder to find.
Uganda Safari Tours
Whilst already fairly popular, Uganda is still an up and coming safari destination for main-stream tourists. At the moment visitors tend to be either high end package tourists there to see the gorillas or overland backpackers. As such the types of safari your companies in Uganda reflects this. Read our reviews of safari tour companies in Uganda.
Uganda Safari Resources
Have you been on safari in Uganda? We’d love to hear your recommendations or suggestions! Please get involved in the comments below.