What is Uganda famous for as a safari destination in Africa?
Are you planning to visit Uganda and you are still wondering what Uganda is famous for as a safari destination in Africa? Uganda is one of the tiniest but beautiful countries in the middle of the universe. Named the Pearl of Africa by the former UK prime minister Winston Churchill, Uganda is one of the coolest Safari destinations to consider when planning a safari holiday to Africa. In this article, we give over 10 things that make Uganda a famous safari destination in Africa amidst Safari giants such as Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.
Key reasons that make Uganda a famous safari destination.
We don’t sell Uganda because we want to; we sell Uganda because we want to show you a country so unique to the rest. A country that is gifted by nature and one needs at least 15-20 days to sample the best Uganda offers as a holiday destination in Africa. You too can be part of those ready to uncover the wonders of this small but amazing safari country in the middle of a giant African continent. So, what makes Uganda a unique and famous safari destination? Please see below.
- Mountain gorilla trekking
- Chimpanzee trekking
- Visiting the Equator
- Golden monkey trekking
- Cultural and community experiences
- Bird watching haven (shoebill stork)
- Game drives and Boat cruises
- Snowcapped mountains of the moon
- Source of the Nile
- Largest flesh water lake in Africa
- Second deepest lake in Africa
- The great East African rift valley and associated lakes
- Tree climbing Lions
- Most powerful water falls on planet earth
- Good and hospitable people
- Favorable climate
- Good and flesh food
Mountain gorilla trekking
As a safari destination, Uganda is famous for being home to rare mountain gorillas. According to the current mountain gorilla census, Uganda has a record highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world, and thanks to the combined efforts of stakeholders involved in the conservation of the once-endangered great apes in the Virunga ranges of Africa.
Have you ever dreamt of watching and visiting mountain gorillas in their natural habitat? If you don’t choose Rwanda, Uganda is the next best country to enjoy a trek in the natural forest jungles in such for the shy and giant great apes as they feed, play, and make their nests. Our Uganda gorilla safari holidays will take you to Bwindi impenetrable National Park that has the highest number of mountain gorillas compared to other national parks in Africa.
It’s only in Uganda and Bwindi where you have a record 20 gorilla families habituated and ready to be visited by tourists. These habituated mountain gorilla families are located in four regions of Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the East, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the north. Gorilla trekking being one of the most sought-after safari activities and Uganda being one of the three countries in the whole world to be home to such giant apes, it then qualifies this country to have all bragging rights as one of the unique safari destinations one should include on his/her list.
Mgahinga National Park is yet another popular spot for gorilla trekking in Uganda. By adding Mgahinga to the list of places where mountain gorillas are found, it makes Uganda the only country in the whole world that has more national parks where mountain gorillas live naturally. The rest of the countries such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Rwanda have only one park each. To visit Mgahinga for gorilla trekking, please see the sample itinerary here.
Before visiting Uganda, it is very important to get acquitted with
- How to book a gorilla permit
- How to plan a gorilla tour
- What to expect on a gorilla safari?
- Gorilla trekking age limit
- Gorilla trekking rules and regulations
- What to pack for a gorilla trek?
- Gorilla safari cancellation policy
- Gorilla habituation experience
- Which continent has mountain gorillas?
- About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- About Mgahinga National Park
Gorilla habituation experience is a Unique activity exclusive to Bwindi.
Uganda is the only country in the world where one can spend up to four hours with mountain gorillas. Are you obsessed with watching mountain gorillas doing their thing for a long time? Are you looking for a country where you can achieve this? Look no further than Uganda since it is in the UNESCO Heritage of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and in the southern part of this tropical rain forest that you can enjoy and spend four hours with mountain gorillas in the wild.
They require a gorilla habituation permit costing $1500 for one to do this excursion. Encounter Africa safaris and fixers help reserve and secure this on your behalf. It includes a walk in the forest in search of gorillas under habituation, services of rangers and experts in training wild mountain gorillas to get used to the presence of human beings, practical experience about gorilla habituation, park entry fees, security while in the forest as well as a certificate of recognition after this experience.
Only four people are allowed to visit a given gorilla family under habituation, and gorilla permits tend to sell out quickly. Book your gorilla habituation permit here to secure your spot. The experience starts at 6:00 am with a briefing followed by a trek to the forest to look for the gorillas. Led by a team of rangers and experts, you will not only see and observe these majestic apes but get involved in activities such as naming, making calls, collecting samples and specimens, and of course listening to informative talks to experts while with these wild gorillas being trained. The chances of seeing mountain gorillas are 90% but the behavior of gorillas being trained to get used to human presence may not be predicted. Please adhere to all instructions by your ranger for you to get the ultimate experience. Check out our Sample gorilla habituation packages here.
Gorilla trekking undisputed facts about Uganda
- Only country in the whole world with two gorilla National Park
- Only country in the whole world with gorilla habituation experience
- Country with the highest number of mountain gorillas
- Country with the highest number of habituated gorilla families
- Only country with four different spots/regions for gorilla trekking
Chimpanzee trekking and habituation experience
Uganda is uniquely known for amazing chimpanzee trekking experiences. There is no country in East Africa that compares to Uganda when it comes to chimpanzee trekking. While in Uganda, you can choose to visit any of the four spots where habituated communities of chimpanzees are found. Top locations for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda are Kibale Forest National Park is popularly known as the primate capital of Africa” where chimps live with other 11 primate species, Budongo forest in Kaniyo pabidi (Murchison Falls National Park Conservation Area), Karinzu eco-tourism site as well as Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
To encounter a community of chimps on your trek in any of the four mentioned spots, you will need a chimpanzee permit. Please book it here. Your chimpanzee permit entitles you to one hour with chimpanzees, services of an English-speaking armed ranger guide who will walk with you in the forest, entry fees, and security while in the forest. Each of the mentioned locations for chimpanzee trekking has two sessions that you can join. You can choose to visit chimps in the morning or in the afternoon. For more information on whether to trek in the morning or afternoon, click here.
Kibale National Park located in western Uganda and a 5–6-hour drive from Capital City Kampala is the top and most sought-after chimpanzee trekking place in Uganda and entire east Africa. Chimpanzee permits must be booked in advance to avoid losing out. We recommend 3-5 months in advance if you are to be guaranteed a spot to see our closest cousins on any trek in Kibale National Park. The age limit for chimpanzee trekking anywhere in Uganda is 12 years and above. Before you plan to travel with your children for chimpanzee trekking, make sure to check on their age as this is strictly enforced by Uganda Wildlife Authority the custodians of all wildlife in and out of all National Park. Click here to see our Gorilla and chimpanzee trekking combos. While Kibale chimp trekking remains the most expensive but rewarding, you can as well consider Budong forest, Kalinzu, or Kyambura gorge. So, the day you decide to combine gorilla trekking and chimpanzee is the day you will realize how unique Uganda is for a safari in Africa.
Chimpanzee habituation experience
While chimpanzee trekking provides you with one hour, chimpanzee habituation experience offers half-day experience and more time with chimpanzees in both Kibale National Park and Budongo forest.
Straddle the Equator not once or twice
The other standout factor that makes Uganda a unique safari destination is the Equator. Have you ever dreamt of being in the middle of the universe? Do you know what it feels like to step in the north and southern hemisphere and pose for a photo? If you are looking for this amazing experience, then you have to choose Uganda as your next safari holiday destination.
Uganda offers three opportunities and spots to see the equator crossing on your safari. At Kayabwe equator crossing, you will be able to see the equator monument and participate in experiments that will prove to you that indeed this is the point that separates the north from the southern hemisphere. This experiment is done by an expert and at Zero degrees, something happens. Kayabwe is about 80kms from Kampala on your way to Lake Mburo, Bwindi, Mgahinga or Queen Elizabeth National Park along Kampala-Masaka road. All our road trips must stop here for coffee, craft shopping, and photography. Other Equator spots are in Kikorongo on your way to Kasese from Queen Elizabeth National Park and in Lake Victoria. Taking a boat or canoe ride to the equator spot is one of the most rewarding experiences as you see the sun dawning.
Golden monkeys in the Virunga ranges of Mgahinga
Still, asking about what makes Uganda a unique safari destination in Africa? Uganda is gifted by many primate species of which golden monkeys are among them. Mgahinga National Park located in the Virunga ranges of Africa provides the only spot for golden monkey trekking in Uganda. A community of golden monkeys are habituated for this cause where one can choose to visit either in the morning or afternoon. There is no maximum number of people required and the age limit is 12 years and above. The unique fact about golden monkey trekking is that permits can be booked on the ground in cash.
Golden monkey trekking is a one-hour activity but the trek itself can be about 1-2 hours to and from a community of monkeys. Golden monkey habituation experience is available for those looking to spend more time with these monkeys. There is a permit price difference between normal trekking and habituation. The price of permits keeps changing so need to contact Encounter Africa safaris and Fixers in Advance.
Visiting the source of River Nile
Did you know that Uganda is the source of the longest river on planet earth? If so, don’t you think Uganda has a bragging right as a unique and marvelous safari destination in Africa. The first English man to discover the source of the Nile was Johne Speke and the spot where he saw it has since been marked with a monument and developed for tourism. At this spot in Jinja, the might River Nile starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea passing through several African countries. Make it a point to visit the source of River Nile and witness by yourself how river water separates itself from Lake Victoria water to start its trek northwards to Egypt. This looks strange but true. A visit to the source of the Nile can be done as a Day trip or a combination with other activities to the Eastern Part of Uganda. While on your way to the source of the Nile, you can visit Mabira forest for Zip lining experience, Sezibwa falls (Buganda Heritage site), and do white water rafting in Jinja. Very few countries in Africa will provide such an amazing water experience and visiting Uganda, will simply provide that much-needed unique experience.
Beautiful and favorable climate all year round.
Uganda lies astride the equator and enjoys a tropical climate that ranges from 20 to 27 Degrees Centigrade. There are not so many highs and lows in most areas of Uganda. There are no winters and summers as it is in Europe, Asia, and America. This makes Uganda one of the best places to enjoy holidays throughout the entire year. There are mainly two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. Wet seasons are March, April, May, November, and October, while dry seasons start in June, July, August, and then December January, and February. Whether you choose to go sunbathing or safari in the wild, Uganda is the best place for this. And because of this favorable climate, lots of foods and fruits are able to grow giving you an opportunity to enjoy fresh foods on your safari to Uganda. Its unique climate means that the Pearl of Africa can be visited throughout the whole year. Check out some of Uganda Safari Packages here.
Largest Flesh water Lake
Are you still wondering why Uganda is a famous safari destination in Africa? Besides being the country with the source of the Nile (The longest River on planet Earth), Uganda has a part of the largest freshwater lake in Africa and second in the whole world. Lake Victoria which is shared by three East Africa is the largest freshwater lake on the continent and is a popular safari and holiday destination in the country. While in Uganda, you can visit some of the Islands for a short holiday (Popular Islands include Ssese Islands, Buvuma, and Ngamba). You can go for a boat cruise to explore some of these islands, the equator, or orphaned chimpanzees at Ngamba Island. Sunset and Sundowners are also possible on this lake. Sportfishing is yet another activity that you can enjoy on Lake Victoria with Nile perch and Talapia the main catch. One or two nights in Entebbe may serve to provide you time for day tours on Lake Victoria.
Murchison Falls (Most powerful falls on Planet earth).
Another tourist attraction that makes Uganda a famous safari destination in Africa is Murchison Falls. Murchison Falls is by far the most powerful fall on Planet earth. A boat cruise to the bottom of these falls or a walk to the top of Murchison Falls is one of the best activities you can do while in Uganda. Morning, Mid-morning, and afternoon boat cruises from the pier at Paraa to the bottom of the falls are arranged by UWA and other private boat service providers giving you an opportunity to see these great falls when you visit Murchison Falls National Park. See Safaris with Murchison Falls here.
Flesh foods and fruits.
Uganda is one of the food baskets of Africa. This is because of the favorable climatic conditions prevailing in this country. The rains and sunshine here favor Agriculture all year round. Fresh fruit markets are a common phenomenon along highways where tomatoes, mangoes, oranges, pineapples mention but a few. Uganda also provides an opportunity to taste bananas and, of course, the popular Rolex.
Rwenzori mountains (Snowcapped mountains of the moon.)
Another reason why Uganda stands out as a unique safari destination is the Snow-capped mountains of the moon. Ruwenzori mountain is not only the largest mountain range in East Africa but has snow on its highest peak. One can’t imagine a place with snow in a tropical country like Uganda. Rwenzori is on the equator crossing and this is believed to be the hottest. A mountain hike to the peak of Rwenzori Mountain takes about 8 days and it is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences for adventure travelers. Yet un-discovered, Rwenzori Mountain hiking is the next big thing for the future. Other hiking spots include Mgahinga, Muhavura and Sabinyo which form the Virunga ranges at the border of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The tree climbing lions of Ishasha
There is nothing amazing like finding lions in trees. This and more can be enjoyed on your game drive in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. To enjoy this, one has to include Queen Elizabeth National Park and include at least 2-3 nights in the southern part of this great National Park. Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is about 2 hours drive from Mweya and a 2-3 hours’ drive from Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There is nothing magical other than finding lions in trees. Please note that there is no guarantee that when you visit Ishasha, you will automatically find them up in the trees. This will depend on your luck.
Un spoilt spots for game drives and boat cruises
Uganda is blessed with so many national parks where one can spot the big five in an unclouded environment. It is rare to find so many safari vehicles surrounding a pride of lions. If you are looking for a safari destination with few people on any given game drive, Uganda is the country to be. Some of the top national parks for game drives and boat cruises include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park. On any game drive here, you will have an opportunity to spot wild cats and other animals such as buffaloes, elephants and so much more. The Kazinga channel boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a must include activity while the boat cruise to the bottom of falls and delta in Murchison falls National Park is amazing. While in Uganda, we encourage you to add any of the four top wildlife National Park on your Uganda safari.
Good and hospitable people.
If you are looking for a tourist destination or country where you will feel welcomed on your visit, look no far other than Uganda. Ugandans are nice and hospitable people and when on the streets of Kampala or anywhere in Uganda, you will always be greeted with a smile while others will have at you. When you meet kids, don’t be surprised when they say “how are you Muzungu”. When you visit a home, a village, the smiles, the love, willingness to help you, and all great stuff are what makes Ugandans and Uganda tick as a unique safari destination in Africa.
East African Rift valley and its associated features
Uganda just like most countries was affected by tectonic movements which led to the fracture of the earth’s surface. The result was the formation of the great East African rift valley with its associated features such as lakes and ridges. When you visit western Uganda, you will be stunned by great scenic views of the rift valley as well as fault lakes and crater lakes in the Bunyaruguru region and Fort Portal. Kyambura gorge which is home to a small community of chimps is also a result of this.
Bird watching haven
Uganda boasts of over 1000 bird species in a small area. Most of these bird species are endemic. The kind of vegetation in the country acts as home to special birds that require about 60 days or more to explore. Some of the top birding spots include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale forest National Park, Mabira, Maramagambo and Budongo for forest birds while Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Lake Mburo National Park are popular for aquatic and savannah bird species. Mabamba and Makanaga swamp in the central region are popular for the shoebill stock.
Diverse cultures and community experiences
Uganda has over 50 ethnic groups that manifest into different cultures. Each ethnic group has a different way of living, making Uganda a hub for cultural diversity. Make sure you instruct your safari designer to include a cultural activity in your itinerary. To learn more about the different cultures of Uganda, you may need to include a community or village walk, do a homestay instead of staying in Lodges, participate in activities such as Batwa experience, or milking cows. You may also try our cultural trails, such as the Buganda kingdom cultural trail as well as visiting museums in Uganda.