Uganda is divided into five kingdoms and 111 districts. Populated with approximately 36 million people, there are almost 40 languages spoken throughout while the most popular is Luganda.
Gorilla trekking is the main reason travelers seek out a tour to Uganda. However it is definitely an experience of a lifetime and ultimately worth the trip. While Bwindi National Park is the most popular destination for gorilla trekking, other national parks where you can also see the mountain gorillas include Mgahinga National Park and Virunga National Park, both in Uganda.
In addition a trip to the Entebbe and Ngamba Chimp Island is also a popular highlight on your tour to Uganda. Ngamba Chimp Island is the chimpanzee island sanctuary created to care for orphaned chimpanzees in a safe, protected natural environment of rain forest. This eco-friendly island has compost ablutions, rainwater collection, waste management and solar powered electricity for hot water.
Another worthwhile stop in Uganda is Lake Victoria. It is one of the most popular Great African Lakes and the world’s second largest fresh water lake. While it is the source of the Nile River, the scenery is tropical forests and snow-covered mountain ranges. It is home to over 100 mammal species and 606 bird species.
Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is on the hills of the northern edge of Lake Victoria. It is a booming capital which once suffered damage from civil conflict. Nowadays new buildings echo a rehabilitation of Kampala which has many shops and markets.
The town of Jinja in the south of Uganda is filled with old Asian-style buildings. It is also the second busiest to Kampala. Jinja offers a host of adventure with white water rafting down the Nile or if you prefer something more placid then go fishing off a houseboat on Lake Victoria. Horse trails, Quad-biking and bungee jumping are other activities offered in Jinja to get your blood pumping.
Entebbe and Ngamba Chimp Island
In the 19th century, Entebbe was the colonial center of Uganda. It also served as the capital city until 1962. This charming, sleepy town has beautiful botanical gardens and colonial buildings.
From here hop on a traditional canoe or motor boat to Chimp Island for some eccentric wildlife. This island sanctuary for chimpanzees offers a unique opportunity to view these animals from a raised platform.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
One of the last remaining natural habitats of the mountain gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Uganda’s most recently created national parks. Almost half of the gorillas left in the world live here.
Sipi Falls is a showstopper, and arguably the most beautiful waterfall in all of Uganda. These days it’s much more accessible than it used to be via one of the best roads in the country. Take a walk on a network of well-maintained local trails, with beautiful scenery from every direction.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park lies in the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, and is centered around Lake Edward and Lake George. During a trip along the Kazinga Channel, you’ll have a chance of spotting hippo, buffalo, elephant and a vast array of birdlife.
Murchison Falls is the biggest national park in all of Uganda. The River Nile runs through it ensuring it serves as a home for numerous wildlife species.
Enroute to tracking gorillas at Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks, you’ll overnight at either Kabale or Lake Bunyonyi. The small rural town of Kabale offers up an amazing fresh food market. The market’s narrow passages are lined with wooden stalls, piled high with colourful fruit, vegetables, beans, grains and nuts. This major trading center is heavily populated and extensively cultivated.
A few million years ago Lake Bunyonyi was a volcano. Today it’s the deepest crater lake in Uganda and one of the few lakes in the country that is Bilharzia-free. It’s around 1980m above sea level and rich with birdlife. Over 200 species of birds can be spotted here, thanks to the alluring surrounding forests, farms and gardens.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Not many African countries offer the chance to see wildlife in both forests and open savannahs. In Uganda you are able to track gorillas and chimpanzees while also taking the opportunity to see other primate species. These include grey cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, red colobus and vervet monkeys calling the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Park and Kibale Forest National Park home. While you can also take advantage and experience a quintessential east African safari on the grassland savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you can spot lions, leopard, buffalo, elephant and a whole host of other animals on game drives.
Activities on Uganda Tours
What is so special about Chimpanzee tracking?
While not as well known as mountain gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking is just as thrilling. Chimp tracking is much more challenging than gorilla tracking because the chimps move along the treetop canopy faster than you can run through the forest! Needless to say, this is an immensely exciting experience and when you catch up to the chimps it’s rather magical to observe them.
Kibale Forest National Park is the best place in Uganda to go chimp tracking with over 1000 of the apes living in this region. Either spend a few hours tracking a habituated group or take the whole day to do a chimp habituation experience. The unique chance to visit a chimp group undergoing habituation from when they wake up in the morning to when they make their overnight nests is truly magical.
Don’t miss the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park
There are only two places in the world where lions climb trees namely Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. In the Ishasha region of the park, you can see lions draped over the massive branches of giant fig trees surveying the landscape below them. Most certainly these sightings are incredibly special, even for experienced safari goers.
Adrenaline adventures in Jinja
On the northern shore of Lake Victoria and near the source of the White Nile, the town of Jinja is East Africa’s undisputed adventure capital. Offering every adrenaline-spiking outdoor activity you can imagine.
Rafting down the turbulent rapids of the White Nile is guaranteed to be an adventure. Other fun activities include stand up paddle boarding on calmer stretches of the Nile or horse back riding along the banks of the river. Alternatively up your game and go bungee jumping or paragliding.
Getting sprayed by Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. Here you can find East Africa’s most impressive waterfall. The powerful Nile River tumbles down a six metre wide gorge resulting in a dazzling display of water. Boat cruises take visitors close to Murchison Falls, where you can see the full force of the Nile explosively thundering down the gorge.
Hiking the Rwenzori Mountains
Rwenzori Mountains are Africa’s highest mountain range with snow-capped 4500 meter tall. Stretching over 120 kilometres along Uganda’s border with the DRC and offering some of the continent’s most spectacular mountain hiking routes.
Whether taking on a day hike or braving a multi-day trek this unspoiled wilderness of tropical rainforest will leave you in awe. Ascending to the top of Mount Stanley is tough but rewarding once you realise you have conquered the third highest mountain in Africa. With bamboo forests and glacier lakes, it’s moss-covered valleys and cloud forests are truly a sight to behold.
Exploring the crater lakes
In western Uganda, the Ndali-Kasenda crater area is a spectacular landscape featuring dozens of ancient volcanic crater lakes. Some of which are more than 400 meters deep while fringed with forests and home to diverse birdlife. The best way to explore the area is by hiking, which will take you down to the beautiful lakes. Enroute you will encounter friendly villages and pass scenic tea and vanilla plantations.
Sighting of rare shoebill stork
Birdwatchers place the shoebill stork in the top five birds to spot in all of Africa. This rare and endangered prehistoric-looking bird feeds on fish, frogs, water snakes and baby crocodiles. Although found in several African countries, one of the best places to view this bird is at Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park. A cruise down the Nile River towards Lake Albert might just reward you with a sighting of this solitary creature.
Visiting the Karamojong
In Uganda’s tucked away north eastern corner, the Karamoja region is home to the Karamojong. Learn more about this tribe of semi-nomadic warrior pastoralists and their fascinating rich cultural heritage on an overnight visit to the village of Karamojong manyatta. Help herd the cattle or forage for wild food and camp under the stars.
Wildlife highlights on Uganda Tours
While not wildly popular for safaris, Uganda does offer a unique wildlife experience that Kenya and Tanzania don’t. Gorilla tracking in Uganda offers the chance to see gorillas in the dense, misty forests of Bwindi National Park.
Around 1000 wild mountain gorillas remain in the world while Uganda conserves half of this population. Tracking these creatures can be challenging, hiking through the hilly park for hours in search of gorillas. However once you reach them, the thrill of spending time with these great apes will leave you more breathless than the trek itself.
Watching a group of gorillas going about their daily lives in the wild is one of the greatest wildlife experiences you can have and is a bucket list dream that often tops the list. While you’re tracking gorillas, you may also be lucky enough to spot Bwindi’s other residents such as rare forest elephants, forest duikers and black-and-white colobus and l’Hoest monkeys.
Kibale Forest National Park is the most popular place in the country to go Chimpanzee tracking. Kibale is also the best place in Uganda to see other primates including olive baboons, red and black-and-white colobus as well as vervet, red-tailed, l’Hoest and blue monkeys.
Be sure not to overlook Queen Elizabeth National Park as it offers lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo sightings. Although the tree-climbing lions in the Isasha region are the main highlight of the park.
Murchison Falls National Park is home to huge herds of elephant buffalo and giraffe. However the highlight of this park is certainly the rare and endangered shoebill stork. This unusual looking prehistoric creature is an exciting highlight for birdwatchers in Africa.
Weather in Uganda
Even though this is an equatorial country, expect cooler temperatures and wet weather with no real Winter or Summer season. Southern Uganda is very wet with rain throughout the year. While on the shores of Lake Victoria in the north (Entebbe) you will find the rain falls from mainly March to June and from November to December. When you travel further north conditions are somewhat drier.
The north-east side of Uganda has the driest climate and sometimes droughts occur. On the south-west side near the border of the DR Congo, heavy rains are common all year round.
The average temperature is about 26 degrees Celsius with the hottest months being in January and February (reaching 33°C). In the south there are two wet seasons and these fall mid September to November and March to May. It is best to avoid gorilla trekking during these months because the ground will be very slippery and difficult to navigate.
You will find that gorilla permits are cheaper during their low season however if you don’t want a challenging trek and are happy to pay a bit extra rather travel in the dry seasons of January to February and June to September.
Traveling to Uganda by air
Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s main airport. From here it is relatively easy to get around the country. We will arrange your airport transfer on your Uganda Tour. Entebbe is located about 40km from Kampala and will take you approximately one and a half hours by road.
Facts on Uganda
Full name: Republic of Uganda
Capital city: Kampala
Area: 237,000 sq km; 91,506 sq miles
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3 ()
Languages: English (official); Swahili (other); Ganda (other)
Religion: Roman Catholic (33%); Protestant (33%); indigenous beliefs (18%); Muslim (16%)