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5 Best Safari Experiences to Do in Uganda

Written by Dmytro Makarov

Uganda is undoubtedly one of the best safari destinations in East Africa. This relatively small country offers unique safari experiences to adventure travelers. From popular gorilla safaris into Bwindi and Mgahinga to classic game drives in less crowded national parks; the country offers something different from popular destinations such as Kenya and Tanzania. 

To many travelers, Uganda is still the least explored country in East Africa yet the vastness of its landscapes, primates, savannahs and forests make it an adventure force to reckon with. Here are the five best safari experiences to consider for your Uganda safari:

  1. Go Gorilla Trekking

Among the top five safari experiences, Uganda has to offer; gorilla trekking tops the list. The thrill of watching the huge silverback being protective while foraging, infant gorillas playing and the juveniles grooming each other and interacting with their natural surrounding is a second to none experience. 

Uganda hosts two national parks that protect the mountain gorillas; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. 

Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to almost half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas. Located in southwestern Uganda, the park receives tourists all year round who travel to this remote side of Uganda to experience gorilla safaris in the misty tropical rain forest. Within this 128 square miles forest, over 480 mountain gorillas are protected jealously. About 18 families have been habituated for tourist visits and gorilla watching is conducted in a sustainable manner.

Bwindi still edges Mgahinga gorilla national park because of its numerous habituated gorilla families that can visited by tourists. However, unlike the old narrative, it is now very possible to spot gorillas in Mgahinga on any given day. 

  1. Classic Game Viewing in Less Explored Parks

Uganda safaris offer unique encounters with the tree climbing lions, African elephants, cape buffaloes, Leopards and rhinos. This makes Uganda one of the few African destinations where you can encounter the big five game. 

Undertaking a safari in search for the big game is one of the best experiences to do in Uganda. For travelers looking for big game safaris in Uganda, there are several national parks where you can enjoy game drives. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley national park and Lake Mburo National Park are Uganda’s prime destinations for some of the best game drives experiences in Africa.

  1. Go Chimpanzee Tracking

Trekking the endangered chimpanzees after gorilla trekking is a perfect idea for primate lovers who can’t just have enough of the Great Apes. The most interesting thing is that all the countries that offer mountain gorilla treks also provide opportunities of trekking one of mankind’s closest (very close) relatives-chimpanzees that share 98.7% DNA with us.

Uganda boasts of more than five locations where tourists can track the endangered chimpanzees. However, the best of these is Kibale Forest National Park where over 1500 of the country’s 5000 chimpanzees are protected. Unlike gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking can be done both in the morning and in the afternoon. 

In reference to Kibale forest national park, Budongo Forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu Forest and other locations, Uganda stands out as one of the best chimpanzee tracking destinations on the African continent.  

  1. Mountain Climbing Adventures

For a long time; Kilimanjaro Mountain has dominated the African hiking universe. But once you have conquered Kilimanjaro Mountain in Tanzania and Mount Kenya in Kenya; all that is left is to consider another tough and challenging terrain of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.

Besides the snow at the Equator, Uganda offers a worthwhile hiking experience in the Rwenzori National Park in western Uganda. Hikes within the Rwenzori ranges range from short day hikes to the Central Circuit Trail that takes a week to capture the highest peak of Magherita.

For those who wish to consider less challenging terrains, the three Virunga Volcanoes of Gahinga, Muhabura and Sabinyo present amazing opportunities to hikers who travel to the southwestern part of Uganda. When you decide to travel East, Mount Moroto and Mount Elgon are some of the most recommended hiking and mountaineering destinations in Uganda. 

These experiences are made unique by the culture that tends to differ in each hiking location. For instance; the Elgon side is known for circumcision which is one of the things to consider once you visit Uganda in an even year.

  1. Bird Watching through Varied Scapes

Bird Watching is another safari experience that makes Uganda stand out in the world. The country hosts over 1060 bird species that live in varied habitats. When you decide to go birding in Uganda, expect to traverse varied landscapes that include forests, grasslands, wetlands etc. The most amazing thing for those who visit Uganda is that you don’t even have to travel far to find a wonderful birding experience because almost all national parks are unmatched birding destinations of their own.

Are you still wondering about the top places to include in your itinerary? The Rwenzori Mountains endemics are some of the best yet the least considered. The 33100-hectered Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers about 350 bird species that include about 23 species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. Therefore, you can easily combine your gorilla safari with bird watching as well as other adventures.

Overall, though the above five are the top experiences not to miss, lots of more await you in the Pearl of Africa. Among the honorable mentions for the best of Uganda safari include the boat safaris at Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Nile River in Murchison falls National Park, a visit to the source of the Nile, nature based tours and more. It is also important to note that Uganda still offers some of the best cultural experiences for those interested in community tourism. 

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Dmytro Makarov

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