If you are looking for Africa’s ‘hidden gem’ look no further than Uganda. Its range of wildlife experiences exceeds many other destinations, be it gorilla trekking or searching for tree-climbing lions, yet it receives just a fraction of the number of visitors to Kenya or Tanzania for example.
The landlocked country also boasts breathtaking scenery, from the great lakes that feed the River Nile, to rainforest-clad volcanoes and vast savannah, a contributing factor to its rich diversity of wildlife and birdlife.
At FREEDOM, we have been designing tailor made holidays for over 20 years, and our Africa Specialists would love to help you plan your Uganda adventure. Whether it is a safari featured on our website or a multi centre holiday to Uganda and one of its neighbours, just get in touch.
Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas
There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the wild, almost half of which live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the others in the Virunga Mountains, a cordillera of extinct volcanoes straddling the borders between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Most mountain gorillas live in groups, each led by a dominant silverback who takes unwavering responsibility for their welfare; deciding where to feed, protecting the group from leopards or other gorillas and caring for offspring should a mother gorilla die or leave the group.
To witness this social behaviour within the animal kingdom, as well as the sheer size and strength of these intelligent primates, gorilla trekking in Uganda is a truly life affirming experience.
A gorilla trek in the forests of Bwindi can take up to six hours, depending on the gorilla family you are hoping to see and if they have moved since the last sighting. The hike is typically of moderate difficulty, undulating in places and sometimes through thick vegetation. If you are looking for an escape from the nine to five, a Uganda gorilla trek is about as far away as you can get!
The landscapes of Bwindi, as well as those of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on the slopes of Virunga Mountains, are out-of-this-world. You’ll wake in the morning to look out over pristine rainforest, the tallest trees often gently covered by mist. During the trek, you will also see some of East Africa’s other amazing plant life and birdlife.
Gorilla numbers are slowly on the rise thanks to conservation efforts, funded in part in Uganda by the $700 charge for a gorilla permit, which includes park entry and an unforgettable hour with these quite incredible primates. Permits are restricted to just eight people per day per group of gorillas, so booking in advance is highly recommended. At FREEDOM, we include the cost of the permit in our holidays to Uganda and Rwanda.
Chimpanzees & Other Primates
Gorillas aside, Uganda is one of the best destinations in Africa to see other primate species. Chimpanzee sightings are almost guaranteed on a safari to either Kibale National Park or Budongo Forest, home to well habituated resident packs.
Olive baboon, black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey and blue monkey can also be found in both reserves and Ugandan red colobus and mangabey monkeys in Kibale.
In similar fashion to gorilla trekking, hiking through rainforest to a soundtrack of exotic birdlife, in anticipation of coming within staring distance of chimpanzees if a wonderful experience in itself.
In southwest Uganda, between Lakes Edward and George, is Queen Elizabeth National Park, a superb destination for those seeking a ‘classic’ African safari. Roaming the savannah are herds of elephant and buffalo, as well as numerous types of antelope including bushbuck and Ugandan kob.
A highlight of any game drive in the 1,978 square kilometre reserve however, is to spot tree-climbing lions. This unusual behaviour is thought unique to prides in just two locations on the African continent, the other being around Lake Manyara and Tarangire conservation areas in Southern Tanzania. Though are more elusive, Leopards can also be found in the park, totalling four of the ‘Big Five’.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is en route from Kibale to Bwindi, providing the opportunity to see an amazing range of wildlife and scenery within just a few days, something a trip to Uganda can offer that not many holidays elsewhere can.
Uganda’s rich mix of ecosystems, including rainforest, savannah, great lakes and semi-arid desert, supports a phenomenal diversity of birdlife, over 1,000 species in fact. Pel’s fishing owl, palm-nut vulture, African skimmer and pink backed pelicans can be found in Queen Elizabeth National Park, several species of kingfisher and flycatcher in Budongo Forest and shoebill, saddle-billed stork and different types of warbler at Lake Mburo.
Murchison Falls is a tumbling cascade on the Victoria Nile, 40 km upstream from where the river drains into Lake Albert. Around 300,000 litres of water flow over the edge of the 43 metre high waterfall every second, placing it in the 25 most powerful in the world. This force is created by the particularly narrow gorge at the head of the falls, just 7 metres wide in one section.
Whilst a boat trip to the foot of Murchison Falls is the main attraction of the 3,893 km squared National Park that takes its name, it is also a great place to see large herds of giraffe, as well as buffalo, elephant and lion. Crocodile and hippo live in the Victoria Nile itself.
The park is around a 5 to 7 hour drive from Kampala, depending at which safari lodge you are staying and if a 4×4 vehicle is required.
How Long to Spend in Uganda?
Most people visit Uganda for between three or four days, for a gorilla encounter only, or two or three weeks for a chance to explore more of the country.
Those who do only stay a few days typically combine their trip with time in another destination, for example enjoying our four day Bwindi by Air fly-in safari before heading to Tanzania or Kenya to see the Masai Mara or Serengeti or relax by the Indian Ocean.
Uganda is a favourite of our Africa Experts who implore you to stay longer! Our 11 day Highlights of Uganda safari visits five National Parks for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking and savannah game drives. You can also add five nights on the Kenyan coast for a Uganda safari and beach holiday.
Whatever you would like to do, as tailor made experts, we can make it happen!
Flights to Uganda
There are flights to Uganda from the UK, touching down in one of its East African neighbours or the Middle East en route.
Kenya Airways and British Airways fly from London Heathrow to Kampala’s Entebbe International Airport, next to Lake Victoria, via Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways offer flights from Manchester to Uganda, stopping in Addis Ababa or Doha.
With Emirates, travellers can fly to Kampala from a number of UK airports and enjoy a stopover in Dubai on the way there or way back. Likewise, with KLM there are flights to Uganda from Norwich, Aberdeen and other regional airports, connecting in Amsterdam.
Your Travel Consultant will find the best flights for you and can arrange transfers and transit hotels if required.
Whether you have seen a Uganda safari on our website that you can picture yourself on, or would like to speak with someone who has been gorilla tracking themselves to learn about the experience, please get in touch.
As tailor made specialists, we can design an itinerary based on the things you would like to do and the places in Uganda, or further afield, that you would like to visit. We can then take care of all arrangements, allowing you to book your Uganda holiday as a fully ATOL protected package.
Just give us a call to start your East African adventure!
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