Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda
Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda are some of the major activities that travelers can engage in when they travel to the country to explore the Pearl of Africa. Uganda has earned to be called one of the best tourist destinations in Africa thus it is referred as to the “PEARL OF AFRICA” because of her amazing beauty with extraordinary experiences, no wonder CNN, Lonely Planet and BBC recognizes Uganda as a World tourist destination. Visiting Uganda must be on any travellers’ bucket-list to Africa because of a variety of unique attractions, visiting Uganda is more like travelling to Africa for once and you are done knowing Africa at large. Both first time and enthusiastic travellers are able to enjoy stay because Uganda has so much more to offer from Adventure experiences, cultural tours, primates tours, Wildlife tours, water experiences, hiking tours and birding tours, all these and much more will blow your mind by time you take your leave because Uganda will forever be part of your life. There are over 30 things to do in Uganda. This list contains activities that cover interests for cultural tours, family-friendly vacations, classic wildlife adventures, and extremely active activities, so whatever your interests are, there is always something for you to do in Uganda. Below are some of the things you can do when you visit Uganda.
1. Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Mountain Gorillas are the biggest tourist attraction in Uganda because it generates a lot more of the country’s exports earnings compared to any other attractions. Mountain Gorillas experiences happen to take place in only 2 of Uganda national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park. These creatures are the only remaining species of the guerrilla in the whole world and they can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the Virunga Mountains. One can say that they would like to visit the Gorillas in Congo or Rwanda; however, both those destinations do not beat the worth of gorilla trekking in Uganda. It is recorded that Uganda has half and more of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, it is more adventurous to trek gorillas in Uganda, there are 99% chances of visitors to spend time with the Gorillas, the gorilla trekking permits are relatively cheaper and the visitors have an opportunity to do gorilla habituation experience. Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park are the only national parks where you will find these creatures. The parks are located in the southwestern park of Uganda close the Uganda-Rwanda borders. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an exceptional experience, seeing these gentle giants in their inhabitant as they go about their daily routine; this is nothing close to any description!
2. Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is the second biggest tourist attraction in Uganda with more than 5,000 chimpanzees in Uganda and therefore chimpanzee trekking is one of the Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda. Chimpanzee tracking is best and mainly done in Kibale forest national park, a moist ever green forest containing diverse array of landscape. Kibale forest is one of the remaining rainforests containing both lowland and mountain forests in Africa with 13 primates species including Chimpanzees and about 70 mammals and about 375 different bird species. Chimpanzee tracking is a popular activity that allows visitors to have personal encounters with human’s closest animal cousins. In Kibale National Park alone, there is an estimate of about 1,500 chimpanzees while other forests complete the remaining population, these include, Budongo forest, Kalizu forest, Kyambura forest, Ngamba Island, Bugoma forest reserve, and Semiliki national park. An encounter with chimpanzees allows one to reflect on how their behaviour – thoughtful, vocal and social behaviour is related to human ways of life. Learning about their ways of life from the experienced guides is something many more people should be able to experience.
3. Wildlife Safari in Uganda
Uganda is blessed with 10 national parks and 4 wildlife game drives. Out of the 10 national parks 4 of them are mainly focused on wildlife safari experience. These include; Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo national park and Lake Mburo national park. With more than 330 mammals in Uganda’s national parks, one can spot the big four, the all-time favourites like Lions and so many others that most people wouldn’t identify from other countries. Whether it is the massive savannah Elephants or the tree-climbing lions, the diversity and abundance of wildlife in Uganda are enormous. With these national parks, you will be able to find the Big 4 game that is Lions, Leopards, Elephants and Buffaloes. Each of these 4 national park has a unique feature that makes it outstand the others. Murchison falls national park which is the largest park is best known for the big 4 game and the most powerful falls in the whole – Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth national park which is the second biggest park is best known for the Tree climbing lions found in the Ishasha sector and Lion tracking experience. The Kidepo valley national park which is the third largest is best known for having the largest/plenty of animals and the only place to see the Cheetahs and the Ostriches. Then Lake Mburo national park which is the smallest is best known as the place for finding the Impalas and the only park that offers horseback riding safaris and mountain biking in the wild. Out of the 4 wildlife game reserves, the Pian Upe wildlife reserve, and Toro Semuliki wildlife reserve offer game viewing opportunities for visitors. Game viewing is ready available for visitors so you can choose where to go and what to see there.
4. Rhino tracking is yet another wildlife attraction in do in Uganda. Due to the elimination of rhinos in the national parks especially Murchison falls national park caused by poaching and political instabilities some years ago, Rhinos were nowhere to be found in Uganda however today a Non-government Organisation under the rhino fund took the responsibility of re-introducing rhinos in Uganda. So today you can still explore the Big five game with the existence of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located on your way to Murchison falls national park in Nakasongola district. At the Sanctuary, Rhinos can be tracked on foot and the guides do share all the information about how they are planning to re-enter them into the national parks of Uganda and all the other information you need to know about Rhinos. Rhino tracking is one of the best Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda.
5. Bird watching in Uganda
Uganda is one of the best birding destinations in Africa boasting a massive bird list of more of than 1,073 recorded different bird species making up 50% of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world species. This huge bird list is contained within a small territory hence having one of the highest concentrations of birds in Africa. The incredible diversity of habitats like no other in Africa is the reason Uganda harbours such a huge diversity of birds and collects so many migrant birds during the year. Uganda lies in a unique position where she shares Africa’s major ecological zones and each has associated bird species, including many that are range restricted. Uganda has up to 34 Important Bird Areas (IBA) many of which have been developed for birdwatching and birding tours. Also, the birding community in Uganda continues to identify other new bird-rich spots across the country and establishing birding trails. Despite the fact that Uganda has about 34 birding destination, some of the top birding spots in Uganda including; Mabamba swamp, Semuliki national park, Entebbe botanical gardens, Mabira forest, Lake Bunyonyi and all the other forests and national parks and reserves including the Bugoma and Katongo reserves. Some of the birds to see include; the Capuchin, white-tailed/Piping hornbill, blue headed, crested flycatcher, Orange Weaver, and Red-billed Malimbe, the Papyrus Gonolek, Caruther’s Cisticola, Black-wattled hornbill, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Nkulengu Rail, Long-tailed Hawk to mention a few including seasonal birds. However, most visitors travel to Uganda to see the Shoe Bill stock bird which is actually the most sought bird in Africa. Seeing the shoebill bird as it hunts in the swamps for mudfish and other fishes is an incredible sight, is a lifetime experience. The shoebill can be spotted in many places of Uganda, most common of which are Mabamba, Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Lake Mburo National Park.
6. Golden monkeys tracking in Uganda
The Golden monkeys are very unique primates to see while on a Uganda safari tour making Golden Monkey Trekking a top Activity in the Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda. The Golden monkeys can only be found in Mgahinga national park which is the smallest national park covering an area of about 33.9 square kilometres on the Virunga mountains. The unique appearance of the golden monkeys due to their outstanding golden-orange/brown colour makes them such a sight, their playful nature and fast speeds make the experience both enjoyable and hard to capture in a picture – but all the more worth it. Like gorillas, golden monkeys are also regarded as critically endangered and only found in the same mountains of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo.
7. Mountain climbing/hiking
Mountain climbing in Uganda is one of the Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda and it offers adventurous beautiful scenery hiking through the trails established mountains. Hiking takes place in protected areas however, there are opportunities of hiking to other hills and mountains. Hiking for multiple days happens in Mount Rwenzori and Mount Elgon. These mountains have been gazetted as park of the 10 national parks making up the Mount Rwenzori national park and Mount Elgon national park. Mount Rwenzori is the highest mountain in Uganda and the second snow-capped mountain in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. What makes climbing mount Rwenzori more adventurous is the intensity of the endeavour. While both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro are higher to Mount Rwenzori, Rwenzori happens to be harder to climb compared to the two because Mount Rwenzori is a mountain range where by you ascend up to the top of the range then climb downwards then several times a day and the next day until you reach the top of Margarita peak (Mount Stanley). Hiking Mount Rwenzori takes a minimum of 8 days to reach the peak at 5,901 meters high above sea level and the hike depends on your physical ability and strength. This is definitely not something for everyone, and caution should be taken before climbing mount Rwenzori.
- Mount Elgon national park hiking experience. Mount Elgon on the other hand is an extinct volcano located on the border of Uganda and Kenya. It is believed that Mount Elgon last erupted 24 million years ago and because of its rare features it was gazetted as a national park. Hiking Mount Elgon rewards visitors with sights of the Caldera on top of the mountain and camping at the top is accepted. The Caldera on Mount Elgon is said to be one of the biggest in the world and its diameter is many times that of the original vent. A caldera is formed as a result of volcanic eruption leaving space at the top after no magma thus Mount Elgon is a non-volcanic mountain. Camping in the caldera is one of the most thrilling experiences. It takes about 5 day to climb to the top. Hiking Mount Elgon also joins to Kenya, so one can climb Mount Elgon and connect to hike on the side of Kenya as well. Other destinations in Uganda that offer short hiking experiences include;
- Hike to Sipi falls. Sipi falls is located at about 270 km from Kampala, in Kapchorwa district. Sipi River is on the foothill of Mount Elgon and goes down over a distance of 7km, to form 3 waterfalls flowing up close to 100 meters over a cliff. For people who enjoy nature and hiking, Sipi is a perfect little getaway. Hiking Sipi falls is hugely enjoyed by both International visitors and local Ugandans and East Africans.
- Hiking Mount Muhabura, Sabinyo and Gabinga are located on the Virunga Mountains in Mgahinga gorilla national park in the western part of Uganda bordering Rwanda and Congo. Mount Muhabura lies at 4,127 meters high providing panoramic views of Rwanda and Uganda with thrilling photographic experiences. The hike covers about 12 kilometres on around trip that is 8 hours in a day. Mount Sabinyo lies at 3,660 meters high providing a view point of the 3 countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, the hike covers 14 kilometers round trip for about 8 hours a day. Mount Gahinga lies at 3,474 meters providing views of a pure Bamboo forest and a crater lake on top of the mountain. The hike takes about 6 hours a day to hike on a round trip
8. Cultural tours in Uganda
Uganda is one of the best African countries with the best cultural and traditional experiences or practices and therefore cultural tours are a major activity in the Top 8 Safari Activities in Uganda. Uganda is divided into 4 regions including the Northern, Eastern, and Western and Central regions categorised into about 56 tribes making her a destination of diverse cultural heritage and beliefs. These are seen through the way Ugandans organize their ceremonies, rituals, how they carry out traditional practices and their different ways of singing and dancing with unique traditional equipment. Some of the interesting and unique things to do in Uganda include;
- Visit the Batwa/pygmies cultural tour – The Batwa/pygmies are the indigenous people of Uganda who are referred to as the people of the forest who original lived in the forests before Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park were gazetted into National Parks in 1991 and for the purposes of wildlife and environmental conservation, they were forced out of the world heritage parks recognized by the UNESCO to resettle in places outside the gazetted areas. A true cultural experience of the Batwa involves learning about their ways of life before they were displaced from the forest and how they were able to sustainably staying in the forests for hundreds of years without harming the biodiversity. The Batwa officially left the forests in 1994 when Bwindi was declared a National Park, but still, stayed in the outskirts of the forests. The Mgahinga Batwa trail and the several Batwa communities provide great experiences of the Batwa people and their cultural heritage, this experience is blended with a mountain gorilla trekking safari in either Bwindi forest or Mgahinga national park.
- Visit the Karamoja cultural experiences – The Karamoja region comprises of several ethnic groups that are classified into Karamoja clusters. These ethnic groups include the Dodoth people in the north, Jie people in the central and the Karamojong people in the central south. However the Karamojong people are further also divided tribes and clans such as the Matheniko, Bokora, Pian, Tepeth also known as the So, Pokoth, the IK to mention a few. The Karamojong people of Uganda are similar to the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania, Turkana in Kenya and Nyangotom people who live on the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. The most unique tribe is the IK people who reside up on Mount Morungole in Kaabong district who were displaced to settle on Mount Morungole, today travellers hike that mountain to visit this same group of people. The Dodoth settled in Kaabong district, the Jie people who are known to be cattle warriors, settled in the current Kotido district. The rest of the Karamojong people settled in the remaining districts of Abim, Moroto, Napak, Amudat and Nakapiripirit. Cultural tours in Karamoja region are the best cultural experiences for travellers’ varying from Karamoja village tours and a night with the Karamojong nomads warriors, and community visits. These experiences are also practical where visitors get to interact with the community while they share their rich heritage. Travellers will also participate in various domestic activities while learning the economic activities like Basket weaving, Hut weaving, Bead making, Clay sculpting, and Bee keeping and do the daily life activities; like preparing their local food to celebrations with traditional folklore, what unforgettable journey, this can be!
- Visit Kampala cultural sites – Kampala city is situated in the central part of Uganda where we find the Kingdom Buganda. Buganda kingdom is the richest historical kingdom in Uganda unless the other existing kingdoms in Uganda, given that it also contributed to the end of colonisation of Uganda and coming of the explorers and missionaries to Uganda. Below are some of the places and things to do while in Buganda and in Kampala city.
- Visit the Gadhafi National Mosque – The Old Kampala mosque also known as the Gadhafi national mosque was a project initiated by Uganda’s former president Idi Amin Dada in the 1970s. However, when president Amin was overthrown, the project delayed for about 25 years. Later in 2006, with the funding from Libya’s former president Col. Gadhafi, the project was kicked off afresh and came to a completion. For this generous gesture, the mosque was Named Gadaffi National Mosque until he was killed and the new Libyan administration was excited about keeping the name. Besides, the mosque’s outstanding architectural beauty, it provides the perfect 360 degree views of all of Kampala capital city. This 360 view can be achieved by climbing up the minaret inside the mosque. After reaching the top, the view is worth the 300 plus stair you had to climb.
- Visit the Uganda museum – The Uganda Museum is the oldest museum in the Uganda. It first exhibited in 1905 in its former location on Kampala hill, before moving to its current location in 1954 along the Kira road. The museum is great for a very informative and in-depth look at Uganda’s pre-colonial history. With various collections from all over Africa, the Uganda museum provides a wide variety of options for the history enthusiast who is keen to know more about Africa’s past. Other museums to look out for is the Ssemaggulu royal museum, the Kasubi royal tombs
- Visit Bahai temple – The Bahai Temple in Kampala is the only temple of the Bahai faith in the whole of Africa. Bahai is an all-inclusive faith that can be called a blended fusion of all the other major faiths. The Bahai Temple in Uganda was opened in February of 1962 and sits on top of Kikaya Hill. Learning about the Bahai faith is a very interesting activity that we highly recommend for people with an interest in societal norms and religions.
In conclusion, there are more things to do in Uganda, whether you are choosing an already created safari program, or a custom one made to suit your interests, we welcome your request and promise to go the extra mile in offering the most exceptional safari experience in Uganda.