Uganda MapUganda was described as ‘The Pearl of Africa’ by Winston Churchill and it is easy to see why! The country is nestled between the arms of the Great Rift Valley, ecologically, where East African savannah meets West African Jungle.

The variety of habitats and environments in Uganda is remarkable; not only are there wild, open savannahs and rich, refreshing rainforests, but also shimmering freshwater crater lakes and the snow-capped peaks of the Ruwenzori Mountains, (or Mountains of the Moon as Ptolemy called them) – a challenge for the more adventurous among us!

Where else but in this enchanting country can you venture into open savannah and observe lions relaxing under an acacia tree in the morning, then in the afternoon enjoy the sight of hippos and crocs enjoying the cool waters as you cruise down the Nile? The adventure doesn’t stop there, for the very next day a journey into the lush rainforests to track chimpanzees and a guided swamp walk to see the extremely rare and endemic Shoebill stork. The highlight of the safari may be seeing one of man’s closest relatives, the mountain gorilla. Staring deep into the eyes of these endangered apes is not easily forgotten.

    Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp


    Kampala, the capital of Uganda, named for “the hill of antelopes”, is spread over seven hills. It offers modern architecture, tree-lined avenues, cathedrals, mosques and palaces of the Old Kingdom of Buganda. It is a green and attractive city, with views of the countryside and nearby Lake Victoria. Its streets show the traditional charm, flavor and culture of Uganda. The Kasubi Tombs, the traditional royal tombs of the Kabakas of Buganda, are close by.


    Murchison Falls

    Murchison Falls

    At Murchison Falls, Uganda’s largest national park, the Nile River plunges over a 40-meter drop. Before reaching these falls, the Nile cascades over the Karuma Falls, which creates wonderful white water.

    Along the banks of the Nile, elephant, hartebeest, giraffe, buffalo, antelope, crocodile and hippo all gather by the water. The park contains a diversity of habitats, including forest, swamplands and savanna, which all have great game concentrations. Lion, leopard, civet and hyena are also found in the park.


    UGANDA-210The Rwenzori Mountains are on Uganda’s western border. They rise to over 5,100 meters. The center of the range boasts glaciers and snow-capped peaks that offer an extremely challenging climb. These are the famous “Mountains of the Moon”, the legendary source of the Nile. The mist-shrouded mountains and rain forests are mysterious and fascinating. The park and foothills are home to elephant, rock hyrax, mongoose, vervet monkey, the Rwenzori Colobus monkey, chimpanzees, and antelopes like the duiker and sitatunga. However, wildlife, even on extended safaris, is rarely seen.


    Queen Elizabeth National Park

    Queen Elizabeth National Park

    The Queen Elizabeth National Park is an amazing treasure of Uganda. It contains a remarkable variety of ecosystems, from tropical rain forests, to plains, savanna and swamps. It was designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO. The famous Kigezi tree-climbing lion resides here, along with antelope, buffalo, elephant, hippo, baboons, chimpanzees and the Uganda Kob. Queen Elizabeth also has over 500 species of birdlife. The crater lakes are covered in the pink brilliance of flamingos. Other birds include bee-eaters, kingfishers, raptors, falcons, eagles and the Shoebill stork.


    Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

    Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

    The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest consists of true African jungle. The fascinating name seems appropriate because of the forest’s dark and tangled undergrowth. Huge trees are draped with vines and orchids while tropical plants color the floor. This mysterious and amazing forest is a sanctuary to nearly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Gorilla tracking is strictly controlled so the gorilla families are not disturbed. The dense vegetation is also home to Colobus monkeys and chimpanzees, as well as a diverse bird population. Kabale is a small town en route to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is ideal for an overnight or a lunch stop.


    Kibale Butterfly

    Kibale Butterfly

    Kibale Forest contains 12 species of primates and families of habituated chimpanzees. On a guided forest walk, you may find families of chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys chattering and swinging through the ancient forest trees. The sightings of birds in the forest are no less impressive – there are at least 325 species, many of which are found nowhere else. In addition, there are over 144 species of butterflies.

    Kibale, with ancient trees up to 55 meters in height, is a wonderful place to experience the extraordinary diversity of life in a tropical rainforest. You will certainly be more than impressed by the grandeur of the forest and the abundance of exotic life forms in this thriving and ancient environment. Kibale is one of Uganda’s enchanting forested parks. The park contains pristine lowland tropical rain forest, montane forest, and mixed tropical deciduous forest. In addition to forest, you will also notice areas of grassland and of swamp.

    The forest is rich in wildlife. It is most noted for its primate population. Some of these are red-tailed monkey, diademed monkey, blue monkey, white cheeked mangabey, olive baboon,  chimpanzee and black, white and red colobus. Other mammals include bushbuck, Harvey’s red duiker, blue duiker, Uganda kob, genet, bush pig, and African civet. More difficult to spot are buffalo, waterbuck, hippo, warthog, and giant forest hog. A system of trails has been developed within the park, and tour guides are available to guide visitors.


    Another refuge for Uganda’s mountain gorillas is in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The forested slopes of the Virunga Mountains provide a haven to the gentle animals. Access is limited here as well. The park also contains elephant, leopard, jackal, aardvark, honey badger, porcupine and Colobus monkey.

    Custom Safaris in Uganda

    Gorilla permits are scarce especially during peak season and currently cost $600 per person per visit. Advance planning is essential to obtain the proper number of permits and plan your trip especially if you have restricted dates.

    The ultimate price of tours is based on the number of people participating. The rate declines significantly as cost of organization, vehicle and naturalist driver is shared by more people.

    Any dates are available for private departures. The rainy season is considered to be March through May and October and November. However, visiting Uganda during those seasons is still very enjoyable – we will make slight adjustments to suit the season and potentially muddy roads.

    Here is a link to a PDF itinerary of our Best of Uganda Custom Safari if you have more time available to explore this beautiful and friendly country known as the “Pearl of Africa”. It is a comprehensive 16-day safari & tour of Uganda covering all the major attractions: Kampala, Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and Lake Mburo.

    Below is a simple 8-day safari focused on gorilla tracking for those who have less time available.

    UGANDA 8 DAY SAFARI Entebbe, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth

    Day 01. Arrive Entebbe, meet and greet and transfer to Lake Victoria Hotel. If time permits visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens. The Lake Victoria Hotel is a completely renovated colonial hotel with beautiful gardens and a swimming pool. It is a four star hotel with 99 rooms. Overnight at Lake Victoria Hotel on an accommodation and breakfast basis.

    Day 02. Drive to Kibale Forest area, the drive is a full day of approximately eight hours. After leaving the Lake Victoria Basin pass through beautiful agricultural countryside where every type of fruit and vegetable imaginable is grown. Upon reaching Kyanjojo, in the lower foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains {Mountains of the Moon}, we drive through beautiful tea plantations and into Kibale tropical rain forest. Beautiful Ndali Lodge is situated on a high saddle between two crater lakes. The breathtaking views and cooler climate at Ndali are just some of its best features. The lodge was built by the late Captain Mark Price, a British tea farmer, and is managed as a working farm by his family today. The rooms are decorated in local crafts and materials, and feature high ceilings and four-poster beds with mosquito netting. The en suite baths have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.  There is no electricity at this lodge, but ample candle and oil lamps are provided in the evening, creating a romantic feel of “old Africa”. Overnight at Ndali Lodge. BLD

    Day 03. Today we take forest and swamp walks to see the rain forest and view birds and primates, including chimpanzees. Walking is not difficult, paths have been made in the forest and all walks are with excellent local guides. Overnight at Ndali Lodge. BLD

    Day 04. Drive to Bwindi via Queen Elizabeth National Park. The drive passes through Fort Portal and then south along the eastern length of the Rwenzori Mountains {Mountains of the Moon} with the hope of seeing the glaciated peaks. The drive is a full day gently descending into The Great African Rift Valley to Queen Elizabeth National Park and continuing to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, passing through the scenic area known as The Switzerland of East Africa. The drive today is about 7 1/2 hours. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp. BLD

    Day 05. Gorilla tracking day. After breakfast take a short drive to Park Headquarters and meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. We then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet.  The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. Picnic lunches are provided and it is important to take plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of fast speed film is recommended. It can rain at a few minutes notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential including zip lock bags for cameras and film. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp. BLD
    N.B. We cannot guarantee seeing Gorillas although you have a very good chance of it!

    Day 06. Second gorilla tracking day. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp. BLD

    Day 07. Drive to Mbarara passing through the Switzerland of East Africa area and eventually into Ankole Cattle country around Mbarara. These cattle are incredible with horns larger than one can imagine. The driving today is about 6 – 7 hours. If time permits we can walk through the interesting local market, where everything from a bolt of cloth to meat to fruits and vegetables are on display for sale. Overnight at the Lake View Hotel on outskirts of Mbarara. BLD

    Day 08. Drive to Entebbe, which takes about 5 hours. If time permits it’s possible to stop in Kampala for shopping and lunch and the Mpigi Royal Drum Makers. Drop off at airport to connect with departure flight or we can arrange another overnight.


    Uganda Safari Destinations

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