Where to visit in Uganda
Where to visit in Uganda
Our Guide on Where to Visit in Uganda
Compared to other safari destinations with over 50 or so national parks, Uganda is home to a modest 10 beautiful and protected national parks. Other than Kidepo National Park in the very north of the country (bordering South Sudan), all of the other nine national parks are located in the western part of Uganda. Although each national park is home to vibrant green forested landscapes, they all offer something different, with either a unique species to see, or an experience to do.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south-west of Uganda is arguably the most famous national parks and included in almost every Uganda itinerary. This park is home to the famous mountain gorillas and, with 11 gorilla groups habituated, it is possible to spend an hour with these gentle giants in the forest. Mgahinga National Park also has one habituated gorilla group.
Other safari destinations include Kibale Forest in western Uganda which is home to the habituated chimpanzees – another phenomenal primate experience. Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls also offer safari opportunities, with game drives and boat safaris available in both. The Murchison Falls themselves are stunning, and one of the highlights of the park. It is possible to hike to the top, offering jaw-dropping views along your hike.
Although Entebbe is more of a functional city (to fly in and out of), the cities in Uganda are actually worth spending a couple of days in. they are full of tradition, culture and color. Kampala in particular has a vibrant night scene. Another great place to visit is Jinja – the source of the River Nile. Because Uganda is a landlocked country, Jinja is a great place to end your trip with, enjoying the sounds of the gushing river and the adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer.
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Best places to go in Uganda
Uganda is known for its primates and trekking with them in a once in a lifetime experience but there is so much more to see and do. Here are some of our favorite places to visit.
Bwindi National Park
Bwindi is one of Uganda’s most visited park, and rightly so. Located in the southern-western part of the country, on the edge of the African Rift Valley, Bwindi is known for its exceptional biodiversity and its home to approximately 400 mountain gorillas. Bwindi was gazetted as a national park in 1991, and a world UNESCO heritage site in 1994. Thousands of tourists visit Bwindi each year to see the habituated mountain gorillas. These gorillas live in families and share very similar social behavior patterns to humans. The one main difference is their weight – a large silverback can weigh up to 150 kilograms. Bwindi is almost always included in a Uganda itinerary and because of its location in the very south, it often works well to end with this destination, finishing with the most thrilling experience. All of the safari camps and lodges are located close to Bwindi Park Headquarters which is where you will start your safety briefing the morning of the gorilla trek.
Located in western Uganda, Kibale is a park famous for its chimpanzee trekking. Kibale Forest has the highest number and diversity of primates in East Africa – including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, grey cheeked mangabeys and many more. The dense, moist forest is the perfect home for primates and can be accessed at all times of the year. Along with chimpanzee trekking and habituation experiences, there is lots to do in this area, including cultural tours, crater lake tours and then heading on for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The chimpanzee trek itself is an experience like no other. Trekking through the forest allows you to see Uganda in all its beauty – the sun shines through the gaps in the trees, and the colors of the flora and fauna light up. In the morning of your chimpanzee trek, you will have a safety brief in the park headquarters. From there, you will be allocated a ranger to guide you through the forest and once you’ve found the chimpanzees, you are allowed one hour with them.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Situated in the west of the country is a one of Uganda’s treasures – Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park was named after the Queen of England during her visit to Uganda in 1954. With such diversity in landscape, the park offers a varied safari experience. In the southern part of the park in the Ishasha sector are the tree-climbing lions. These have become famous to see during a Uganda itinerary. The Kazinga Channel is also a prominent feature of the park. Home to a large number of hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, and an diversity of fish and bird species, a boat safari here is a must-do. A safari from the water gives you a new perspective on the park. Not only do you see the larger species like the elephants and buffalo, but you also take time to observe the smaller creatures like the native lizards and exotic birdlife. It is a beautiful park and often one that is included in a Uganda itinerary because of its accessibility from Kibale Forest to Bwindi National Park.
Murchison Falls is one of the oldest national parks in Uganda (gazetted in 1927) and is famously known for having an extremely powerful waterfall. Visiting the falls to see the impressive volume of water blasting through the gorge is high on the list. Game drives are closely followed, where you can see buffalo, lion, elephant, hartebeests and more. Accommodation in Murchison Falls is typically located around the Victoria Nile which offers secluded views and undisturbed “armchair safaris”. Murchison Falls is a great option for those who have an extended period of time in Uganda and can compliment a Uganda itinerary nicely. One of the best things to do in Murchison Falls is to do the hike up the falls. The hike itself is quite demanding so if you have any health issues, we would recommend driving up to the top with the safari guide. For those able and fit, the hike is a fantastic way to get close to the water, enjoying breath-taking views in all directions.
Kidepo National Park
Kidepo is located in the very north-eastern tip of Uganda, bordering South Sudan. Because of its location, the landscape is very different compared to other areas of the country, offering dry and vast savannahs next to mountainous bodies. Because of its isolated location, few tourists visit Kidepo National Park and as a result, it has become a hidden gem off the beaten track. The safari experience here is exceptional, with over 75 species of mammal and 420 species of bird. As well as game drives, activities in Kidepo include cultural visits to see the Karamojong people. This is an indigenous community with strong traditions that are interesting to see. There is one safari camp in Kidepo we would recommend named Apoka Safari Lodge. This camp is a sister property to Clouds (in Bwindi National Park), and offers exceptional views across the Kidepo savannah. A safari experience here involves early morning game drives, a relaxing lunch back in camp, and then another afternoon game drive before enjoying memorable sundowner drinks in the bush.
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda offering bustling and energetic streets and local people. It is situated in the southern part of Uganda, homing the western shores of Lake Victoria. There are a number of things to do in Kampala and nearby areas, such as visiting architectural sites such as mosques and churches, the Kasubi Royal Tombs and the Uganda Museum. Whether a trip starts here in Kampala, or the nearby city of Entebbe, it is a great introduction to Uganda.
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