Uganda Travel Guide
Known as ‘the Pearl of Africa', Uganda is a land of outstanding beauty, biodiversity and rich in cultural history, offers a varied range of safari activities. Track mountain gorillas through the misty forests of Bwindi and the Virungas, spotting lions and game on the vast savannah plains of the Great East African Rift Valley. Take a boat to the dramatic Murchison Falls or tracking chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge. Uganda's star attraction is certainly the endangered mountain gorilla, the bulkiest of living primates, and among the most sociable. Watching these wonderful, pensive and magnificent animals is as humbling as it is breathtaking, especially as there are fewer than 700 individuals living, divided between Bwindi National Park and the Virunga Mountains.
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Kibale Forest National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Mgahinga National Park
- Murchison Falls National Park
- Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the ancient rainforest that flourished throughout the Ice Age and is one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa. With over 90 mammal species including 11 primates, this park is one of the best in Uganda. The park is well known for its mountain gorilla with an approximate population of 320. If you are looking for a real African experience, trek and share in the lives of these spectacular and endangered species. The park is also home to a stunning diversity of flora and fauna including rare and endangered species.
Queen Elizabeth National Park resides in a fertile, equatorial area and has striking scenery. It is Uganda's most popular and accessible savannah reserve. It is primarily associated with grassy savannah plains, but this remarkable park also includes within its boundaries, leafy rainforests, dense papyrus swamps and natural volcanic crater lakes. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world, including a total of 95 recorded mammal species and more than 610 species of birds.
Kibale Forest National Park is the most accessible of Ugandan's rain forests. Covering an area of 766 sq. meters, of which the dominant vegetation is lush and shady rainforest but is interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp. This delightful and exotic environment is home to at least 60 mammal species, surprisingly 13 of which are primates. It also has a rich diversity of birds, with 335 species identified including the endemic Prirogrine's ground thrush. The exploration under the shady, green canopy will brim with discoveries to delight botanists and butterfly lovers alike. The most alluring and rewarding activity in Kibale Forest is tracking for habituated chimps. The opportunity to gain a privileged and unforgettable insight into the daily lives of man's closet relatives is one which will be cherished and remembered for a number of years.
Lake Mburo National Park is an underestimated gem of a park, dominated by the impressive Lake Mburo, from which it receives its name, with forest-fringed shores hemmed in by rolling green hills. Although the park is small, only 370 sq. meters, in comparison to other parks in Uganda, it has a total of five lakes within its boundaries. These lakes, along with another nine, form part of an important wetland system for the area. There is a great diversity of plants and animals resident within the park such as Impala, slender mongoose and secretive bush rat which are not found in any other Uganda park. Burchell's Zebra is also widely distributed throughout the park and this unique animal is found in only 3 protected areas in Uganda, the other 2 being much harder to access. There have been 315 bird species recorded at Lake Mburo National Park and it is the best place in the country to see the gigantic Eland antelope, as well as Topi, Impala and several acacia-associated birds.
Tucked into the corner of Uganda's border with Sudan and Kenya and isolated from the Ugandan mainstream by the harsh plains to the north of Mount Elgon, Kidepo Valley National Park is truly eye-catching, boasting a real sense of wilderness that enchants visitors. Kidepo is Uganda's second biggest National Park (1,442 sq. km) and one of the Africa's largest wilderness areas, a tract of rugged savannah dominated by Mount Morungole and broken by the Narus Valley in the south west and the Kidepo Valley in the north east.Perennial running water in the Narus River makes Kidepo an oasis in the semi desert. This is wild, remote country with big skies, vast rocky mountains and golden green plains dotted with giraffe, zebra, lion, elephant, buffalo, ostrich, antelope and numerous other mammal and bird species. While the game viewing is excellent, it is the sense of supreme isolation that distinguishes this rare slice of wild Africa.
The Uganda portion of the Virunga Volcanoes, which form a border with Rwanda and the Congo, are hosted by the protection of Mgahinga National Park. Nine freestanding active and extinct volcanoes are an imposing sight to behold and offer refuge to the peaceful, giant mountain gorillas. The park also hosts habituated groups of rare golden monkey.
Uganda's largest protected area, Murchison Falls National Park is most famous for it's scenic beauty, plunging waterfalls and high concentration of game. The seemingly never ending Nile River divides the park in half, attracting large numbers of game including: elephant, Rothschild giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard, buffalo, Nile crocodile, patas monkeys, and over 450 species of birds.
Known as the "Mountains of the Moon" for its mist and snow-capped peaks, the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda are perfect for world class hiking adventures in large evergreen & bamboo forests. The higher moorland zone is known for its surreal cover of giant heathers, lobelias and groundsels. The Rwenzori mountains range has six peaks of permanent snow and glaciers that make for dramatic scenery and amazing photographic opportunities. Mt. Margherita, Africa's third highest peak, reaching a height of 5,109M is an excellent destination for keen hikers and climbers, although the higher slopes are demanding and require some mountaineering skills. The best time of the year for hiking is during the dry seasons from mid December to end of March and from June to mid August.
Best Time to Visit Uganda
There is no “right” time—warmer months mean picnics and parks, but also crowds. During colder months skies are grey, but there are fewer tourists. There are events year-round, from outdoor summer concerts to holiday extravaganzas in the winter.
January is the coolest month with an average temperature of 41°F (5°C). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 68°F (20°C).
The ever-expanding metro and RER train systems transport Ugandaians just about anywhere they want to go. It’s cheap and efficient; a single ticket costs $2 and day passes start at $14. Taxis and buses are also easily accessible, but locals will walk or grab a Vélib bicycle if they don’t have far to go.
Know Before Visiting
Uganda is a diverse, evolving city, so leave many of the Hollywood stereotypes at home. Try to speak French a bit and dress a little nicer than usual, but in the end, relax. Even Ugandaians wear sneakers—albeit fashionable ones.
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