From the reddish-brown dust of the savannah plains, riveting cultures and traditions of the local communities to the rugged terrains or cliffs of the Virunga Mountains, there are a wide range of safari experiences to do in Uganda.
It is indeed a pleasure to explore Uganda the pearl of Africa. The experiences, the journey and the explorations can in a limited way be summed up in the following activities that Uganda has to offer.
1. Gorilla Trekking
It is no news that gorilla trekking safaris are very popular in Africa. What was once a dark continent identified with malnourished children is now one of the fastest growing safari destinations in the whole world set apart by the fact that it is the only continent where you can find the mountain gorillas.
Besides the other mountain gorilla destinations in the whole world that is Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo which are also part of the African continent, Uganda hosts two national parks that protect the mountain gorillas; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
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 wilderness experience. It is for this reason that gorilla trekking remains on top of Uganda’s bucket list.
2. Searching for the Big game
Undertaking a safari to search for the big game is one of the best safari experiences to do in Uganda. For travelers looking to big game safaris in Uganda, there are several national parks where you can enjoy game drives. These are Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Park.
Lake Mburo national park is set apart by its wilderness tracks that are still unmatched by any of the other national parks in Uganda, Murchison falls national park boasts of large herds of Buffaloes, Elephants among other big game. Also important to note, Murchison falls has the best roads if compared to all other national parks in Uganda thus recommended for the best game drives.
Queen Elizabeth national park and Kidepo valley national park offer a unique wilderness experience far distinct from all the other national parks in Uganda. Unfortunately the road conditions in these two parks are still in a poor but promising state.
3. Trekking the endangered chimpanzees
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 relatives, the chimpanzees. These share 98.7% DNA with humans. This is one of the reasons why you can’t afford to miss the chimpanzee tracking experience is the primate capital of the world.
For Uganda, over five places offer this once in a lifetime opportunity but the best is Kibale National Park where over 1500 of the country’s 5000 chimps are found. However in case Kibale forest national park is way above your budget, Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge, and Kalinzu forest can also be considerable options.
4. Bird Watching through Varied Scapes
Watching different beautiful bird species is another safari experience to do after gorilla trekking in Uganda. The most amazing thing is that you don’t even have to travel far to find a wonderful birding experience because even those gorilla trekking destinations are unmatched birding destinations of their own.
The Rwenzori Mountains endemics can be complimented by the 33100-hectered Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda which offers about 350 bird species that include about 23 species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley.
For a glimpse of the best birding experience in Uganda, it is recommended to consider a 3 days birding experience in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park as an add-on to your Uganda safari experience.
5. Mountain/Volcano climbing adventure
Hike through the raw and rugged slopes as well as Valleys of Virunga Volcanoes or Rwenzori Mountains after gorilla trekking. This is ideal for adventure-seekers. There, travelers watch how vegetation keeps changing with varying altitudes as different animals, birds and tree species are uncovered. The Virunga massif is comprised of eight amazing Volcanoes that extend from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda to Uganda.
The main highlight of mountaineering in Uganda is the snow peaked Rwenzori that can be climbed within 8 days. However in case this seems like another trip all together, you can settle for short 2 to 3 days hikes in Virunga or Rwenzori mountains national park.
The Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda is another option for those looking to 4-6 Days of hiking while in Uganda. Less known to tourists, the Mount Elgon National Park is easier to access and many other experiences await you! Other hiking locations to consider include Moroto mountains, Napak, and more.
6. Visiting a village / local community
From the art to the local architecture, traditional music to rich history, the different local communities around gorilla trekking destinations offer an awe-inspiring insight into how remarkably human history has evolved through the years. Marvel at the thrilling building techniques of the Batwa (people of the forest) with their small grass-thatched huts, be amazed by their fire-making techniques, bamboo cup making and local dishes. Wander through the Gorilla Guardian Village close to Volcanoes National Park founded in 2005 to rehabilitate former poachers. Here, different Rwanda traditional dances, local cuisines, visit to traditional healer and so much more are offered to the culture enthusiasts.
In Uganda the Batwa experience remains the most recommended cultural experience to compliment spell bounding gorilla trekking experience. It is the Batwa experience that is next to what Rwanda has to offer.
7. White Water Rafting
The rafting experience varies from thrilling to adventurous. Uganda’s adventure capital Jinja, offers this off the usual path experience that is not only memorable but also a community transforming activity.
In case you are the kind that enjoys adrenaline activities, white water rafting in Jinja is highly recommended. Murchison falls has also joined the league of white water rafting in the recent past though still unpopular.
With the above seven options, you can easily tailor the best of Uganda safari itinerary covering white water rafting, gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking, savannah game drives, birding experiences, mountaineering and cultural excursions.