A complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda – Guide for planning a wildlife safaris in 2024 – 2024

Uganda is listed among the top 10 places to travel by National Geography Society. Uganda is also one of the best places to visit for wildlife safaris in Africa. Although Uganda may not boast as large numbers as her neighbors like Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda hosts all the top wildlife species on the African continent. From the elusive cats in the vast savannahs to the magnificent primates in the tropical rainforests, Uganda has all kind of wildlife that will keep you excited during your tour. If you are planning to visit Uganda in 2024 or 2025, this  complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda will enlighten everything about Uganda Safaris to see wildlife. This Guide for planning a wildlife safaris in 2024 – 2024 will provides all the necessary details about Uganda Safaris.

What we will cover in this guide – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

  • Wildlife in Uganda
  • Primates in Uganda
  • Best wildlife viewing destinations
  • Game drives & Game viewing in Safaris Parks
  • Boat Safaris to see wildlife in Uganda
  • Best time for wildlife Safaris in Uganda
  • What to pack for a wildlife Safari in Uganda
  • Uganda Safari Prices – How Much is a safari in Uganda

 

  1. Wildlife in Uganda – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

Uganda is one of the most naturally endowed countries in Africa. Uganda boasts several wildlife species from the famous African Big Five animals to the elusive primates in Bwindi. There are about 345 species of mammals that have been recorded in Uganda, along with 1,070 species of bird (Nearly half of the total number found in Africa). Uganda is also home to 142 species of reptile, 86 species of amphibian, 501 species of fish and 1,242 species of butterfly. Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa. If you are looking for a destination to visit for a lifetime adventure, then Uganda should be on top of your list.

When we talk about wildlife in Uganda, it is unfair not to mention the endangered mountain gorillas – a major draw of tourists to Uganda. Uganda is one of the three countries that inhabit the endangered mountain gorillas. Nearly half of the remaining mountain gorilla population is found in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Top wildlife Species to see on Uganda wildlife safari tours – What wildlife will I see in Uganda?

Mountain Gorillas: Uganda is one of the few places in the world where you can encounter the endangered mountain gorillas. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are home to over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. One of the major highlights of Uganda safaris is gorilla trekking.

Chimpanzees: Uganda is also famous for its abundant chimpanzee population with over 5000 chimpanzees. Kibale National Park is the primary destination for chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda although there are other chimp trekking spots in the country. Kibale is renowned not only for its habituated chimpanzee communities, but also other pimate species like vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, Ret-tailed monkeys, L’Hoest Monkeys, plive Baboons, Blue monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabeys among others. This park is dubbed the primate capital of the world.

Big Five: Uganda is home to the Big Five animals, including lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos. The Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park are popular destinations for witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitats. Rhinos can only be seen in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary which is located in Nakasongola, on the same route to Murchison Falls National Park.

Rhinos: Although once extinct in Uganda, rhinos have been successfully reintroduced. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in the country where you can find white rhinos. The sanctuary aims to restore the rhino population and engage in conservation efforts.

Zebras: Uganda also has populations of zebras, primarily found in Lake Mburo National Park. These strikingly patterned animals provide an additional flavor to the country’s wildlife diversity.

Giraffes: While not native to Uganda, giraffes have been successfully reintroduced in Murchison Falls National Park. The park now boasts both Rothschild’s and Nubian giraffes, making it one of the few places in Uganda where you can witness these elegant creatures.

Hippos and Crocodiles: Uganda’s extensive network of rivers and lakes, including the Nile, is home to numerous hippos and crocodiles. Queen Elizabeth National Park, along with Murchison Falls National Park, offer excellent opportunities to see these impressive water-dwelling creatures.

Cats and predators: There are about 38 predator species found within the country’s protected wilderness. All these predator species prey on the abundant herbivore population in different National Parks and game reserves. While on a Uganda wildlife safari, apex predators such as lions, leopards, and cheetah, are challenging to spot however, a game drive with a local guide or ranger will guarantee there sighting during your Uganda wildlife tour.

 

There are also other small predator species like the serval, caracal, lynx, and civet, which are rarely seen on safaris. Among the predators in Uganda, there are five canids or dog-like species; wild dogs, wolves, foxes, and other extant species. Among the predators in Uganda, seven are feline species including; wild cat species such as the cheetah, leopard, lion, lynx, and the golden cat.

Uganda is also home to a wide range of other animals, including various antelope species, monkeys, baboons, warthogs, hyenas, and numerous bird species. The country’s wildlife is beautifully preserved and protected within its well-managed national parks, wildlife reserves and Sanctuaries, offering visitors incredible opportunities for wildlife safaris and eco-tourism experiences.

  1. Primates in Uganda

Primates are a group of mammals that include monkeys, apes, and lemurs. Uganda is home to several primate species, each with their own unique characteristics and habitats.

One of the most iconic primate species in Uganda is the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). These gorillas inhabit the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and are critically endangered. They are known for their distinctive black fur and the dominant male’s silverback, which serves as a display of power and maturity.

Another primate species found in Uganda is the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), which is closely related to humans. These intelligent primates reside in several locations across the country, including Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve, and Kyambura Gorge. Chimpanzees live in large social groups and are known for their advanced tool-making abilities and complex social behaviors.

Uganda is also home to a variety of monkeys. The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) is widespread and can be found in various habitats, including savannahs, woodlands, and urban areas. The black-and-white colobus monkey (Colobus guereza) is known for its striking black and white coat and its ability to leap through the trees. They are found in many national parks, including Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth, and Murchison Falls.

Other monkey species found in Uganda include the red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius), blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), grey-cheeked mangabey (Lophocebus albigena), and golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti). Each of these species has its own habitat preferences and unique characteristics.

Some of the best safari activities in Uganda include primate tracking. Observing these primates in their natural habitats is a life-changing adventure activity.  Primate tracking or trekking in Uganda requires permits. There are also strict guidelines to ensure the safety of both primates and visitors during the trekking safaris. Acacia Safaris limited is a leading tour operator in Uganda that will help you plan and organize you primate adventures in Uganda. Be golden monkey tracking, gorilla trekking or Chimpanzee trekking, we can help you to craft the best safari itinerary.

  1. Best wildlife viewing destinations in Uganda – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park:

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda, covering an area of 3,893 square kilometers (1,503 square miles). This National Park is located in northwestern part of Uganda, stretching in the districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi. Murchison Falls National Park is named after the spectacular Murchison Falls. The Murchison Falls are the strongest fall in the world. The Nile River squeezes through a narrow gorge of about 7 meters before plunging down at a distance of 45 meters – producing a powerful waterfall.

The park is renowned for its diverse wildlife. It is home to the four of the “big five” – elephants, lions, leopards, and buffalos. Other species found in Murchison Falls National Park include giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, waterbucks, warthogs, Uganda kob, and numerous bird species. The park is also known for its Nile River cruises, where visitors can spot abundant wildlife along the riverbanks. Wildlife safaris to Murchison Falls National Park are rewarding with great wildlife sightings be it on boat cruise or game drives.

Kidepo Valley National Park – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

Kidepo Valley National Park is located in northeastern Uganda, near the border with South Sudan and Kenya. This National Park is one of the most beautiful safaris parks in Africa and in 2013, it was listed as the most beautiful in Africa by CNN. Kidepo Valley National Park covers an area of about 1,442 square kilometers (557 square miles). The park is known for its remote and rugged beauty, often referred to as “the true African wilderness.”

Kidepo Valley National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife that includes over 86 mammal species and nearly 500 bird species. Common sightings in the park include elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, oryx, and various antelope species such as hartebeests and elands. The park’s unique landscape, which combines sweeping savannahs, rugged hills, and vast plains, enhances its appeal for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Wildlife safaris to Kidepo Valley National Park will guarantee top wildlife sighting during your Uganda Safari tour.

Queen Elizabeth National Park:

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, bordering the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri. This safari park also referred to as the ‘‘medley of wonders’’ covers an area of 1,978 square kilometers (764 square miles). The park is named after the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, who visited the area in 1954.

Queen Elizabeth National Park has a diverse ecosystem, including savannah grasslands, forests, swamps, and lakes. This Park is home to an array of wildlife, making it one of the most popular national parks in Uganda. Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park includes elephants, buffalos, leopards, lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, and various antelope species such as Uganda kob. The park is also famous for its boat cruises along the Kazinga Channel, where visitors can see numerous bird species and hippos in close proximity.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park:

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. This National Park covers an area of approximately 321 square kilometers (124 square miles). The park is known for its dense tropical rainforest, characterized by thick vegetation and steep hills, earning it the name “impenetrable.” Bwindi is a popular gorilla trekking destination.

Bwindi is home to about half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, making it a paradise for those interested in watching these primates in their natural habitats. While in Bwindi, you can participate in guided gorilla trekking through the thick forest to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Apart from gorillas, the park is also home to over 120 mammal species, including elephants, buffalos, and various monkey species.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, spanning an area of approximately 33.7 square kilometers (13 square miles) – the smallest national park in Uganda. Despite its size, the park teems with charming beauty and wildlife – especially the endangered mountain gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers gorilla trekking experiences, allowing visitors to observe the rare and magnificent mountain gorillas up close. In addition to gorillas, the park is known for its diverse birdlife, with over 180 bird species recorded. Mgahinga is also the only place where both gorillas and golden monkey can be seen, and hence referred to as the place where silver meets gold.

Kibale National Park:

Kibale National Park is spans an area of approximately 766 square kilometers (296 square miles). The park is renowned for its tropical rainforest that inhabit about 13 different primate species – thus often referred to as the “Primate Capital of the World.”

Kibale National Park is home to about 1,450 chimpanzees with several habituated chimpanzee communities that can be trekked during safaris. Besides chimpanzees, Kibale is also home to other primate species such as red colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, and olive baboons.

For bird lovers,  Kibale National Park boasts a diverse range of bird species, with over 375 different species making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Nature walks, forest hikes, and cultural visits to nearby communities are also other popular safari activities done in Kibale.

  1. Game drives & Game viewing in Safaris Parks

Game drives or Game viewing safaris are the best way to unfold the untamed wilderness of Uganda’s National Parks. To better experience Uganda’s wildlife, you need to book a game drive safari. Uganda is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, and a variety of antelopes.

 

During a game drives of game viewing safaris, you will explore and drive through Uganda’s national parks or wildlife reserves in specially-designed vehicles on paved trails. Game drives in Uganda are commonly conducted on open-top 4x4s, allowing for uninterrupted views of the wildlife and nature around.

Game drive safaris to see wildlife can be done either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when wildlife is most active. The game drives are conducted by experienced driver guides, that will provide valuable information about the animals, their behavior, and the surrounding ecosystems. There are several spots to conduct game drives in Uganda such as Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park.

  1. Boat Safaris to see wildlife in Uganda

Boat Safaris to see wildlife in Uganda offer a unique and immersive way to observe wildlife in their natural habitat. One of the most popular destinations for boat safaris in Uganda is the Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison Falls National Park is divided by the Nile River, which provides a stunning backdrop for wildlife viewing, with the opportunity to see animals such as hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and various bird species along the riverbanks.

The other popular destination for boat safaris to see wildlife is the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park. During the boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will spot several wildlife species including buffalo, waterbuck, and numerous bird species. The calm waters of the channel offer a tranquil experience as well as fantastic photographic opportunities for phographers.

 

  1. Best time for wildlife Safaris in Uganda – complete guide for Wildlife Safaris in Uganda

The best time for wildlife safaris in Uganda is generally during the two dry seasons, from December to February and from June to October. During this time, wildlife viewing is much easier and guaranteed since most animals congregate near the water holes. The dry weather allows for better accessibility to remote areas within national parks, enhancing the overall safari experience.

 

Conversely, the wet seasons, between March to May and from late October to November, present a different but equally captivating experience. While the lush landscapes and vibrant flora during the wet season can make for stunning scenery, the dense foliage might make wildlife sightings more challenging. However, this time of year provides unique opportunities to witness animal behaviors such as mating rituals and birthing, as well as the chance to see migratory bird species that visit Uganda during these periods.

 

  1. What to pack for a wildlife Safari in Uganda

When preparing for a wildlife safari in Uganda, it’s essential to pack thoughtfully to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.Some of the must carry when planning a Uganda Wildlife safari include;

Clothing: Lightweight, neutral-colored clothing are highly recommended to blend in with the natural environment and for comfort in warm weather. Long-sleeved shirts and pants provide protection from insects and the sun. A lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho is useful for unexpected rain showers. When packing your clothing for Uganda Safari, ensure to include all these.

Footwear: Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are essential, especially for activities such as nature walks and gorilla tracking. Closed-toe shoes also offer protection from potential hazards on the ground.

Headgear: A wide-brimmed hat or cap for sun protection, as well as a bandana or scarf to shield your neck, are recommended.

Protective Gear: Sunscreen with a high SPF, insect repellent containing DEET, and sunglasses are crucial for safeguarding against the sun’s rays and insect bites.

Gadgets: If you plan on capturing wildlife and nature scenes, don’t forget to pack a quality camera or smartphone, along with extra memory cards and batteries. Binoculars are also valuable for observing distant wildlife.

Travel Documents: Carry your passport, visa, and any necessary permits.

 

  1. How much does a safari in Uganda cost? – What are the prices for safari in Uganda?

Travelers often inquire about the cost of safaris in Uganda, expecting a fixed price. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to give a general cost because different service providers in Uganda charge differently for their tours and services. Several factors at play determine the cost of a particular tour, such as the type of accommodation, duration of the tour, mode of transportation, and the number of people in the group. As a result, the final cost of a trip is usually different for each traveler.

It’s also important to note that most tour operators in the country don’t include air tickets, visas, travel insurance costs, and personal expenses when sharing their itinerary.

To get a better understanding of the cost of a safari in Uganda, consult, Acacia Safaris Limited and get detailed information about the different costs involved. We also offer valuable advice on how to plan your trip and ensure that you have an unforgettable experience while staying within your budget

What are the prices for safari in Uganda? If you are looking for a low-budget camping private safari, you can expect to pay around $300 per person per day. Alternatively, if you choose a group camping tour, the cost can be reduced to $250 per person per day. For those on a tight budget, budget accommodation in Uganda starts at around $275 per person per night and $225 per person per night when sharing. However, if you are looking for a more luxurious experience, you can expect to pay from $600 per person per day and there is no limit to what you can spend. Regardless of your budget, Uganda has something for everyone when it comes to safari experiences.

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