Uganda is well known for its gorilla encounters however there is much more to the country to explore. You can experience hiking to see the chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, go searching for the tree climbing lion’s in Queen Elizabeth National Park, go boating to see Murchinson Falls or for those more adventurous you can go white water rafting on the Nile River. We can tailor make an itinerary to suit you or here are some suggested Ugandan Itineraries.
In 2012, Uganda was rated the world’s most preferred tourism destination by The Lonely Planet guide and continues to amaze visitors with its natural beauty and rare gorilla encounters.
Places to visit
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Gorilla Trekking)
For most, a trip to Uganda is focused around visiting the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The densely forested, mist-covered hillsides of this National Park are home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. As they do not survive in captivity, the conservation of Bwindi is vital to their survival. This incredible biologically diverse rainforest is over 25,000 years old, and aside from being home to over 320 gorillas, it also provides shelter for several monkey species, baboons, chimps, elephants, antelopes and 350 species of birds. Your journey to look for this incredible species can take anywhere from 1 hour up to 6-7 hours and mostly through the lush rainforest. Your heart will beat faster when you see the huge silverback, the mother gorillas grooming their babies and the juveniles playing with each other. The feeling of being in the middle of the rainforest surrounded by these peaceful creatures is an experience you will never forget.
Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park is best known for its primate populations. With 1450 chimpanzee and 13 other primate species, Kibale has the most Chimpanzees in Uganda and Africa as a whole! But man’s closest relative is not all the park has to offer, other primates include the uncommon Lhotse’s Monkey, the black and white Colobus monkey, blue monkey, Grey cheeked Mangabey, Red tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Bush baby and Patto. Though rarely seen because of their shy nature, you might be lucky to encounter Forest Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard or Bush Pig. A keen observer may also spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colourful variety of birds – at least 335 species.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda’s most scenic and diverse park enjoys a fabulous location on the floor of the Albelrtine Rift Valley and foot of the Rwenzori Mountains. Queen Elizabeth National Park has varied habitats, from the 40km Kazinga Channel, open savannah, acacia woodland, closed forest and vast wetlands. This small park is home to an impressive 95 mammal species and over 600 species of birds. Tree climbing lions are a highlight within this park and something you can only see in Uganda or some parks within Tanzania.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison is a picture of a pristine, untouched wilderness that is well preserved but also accessible. It’s a naturalist’s paradise and boasts a rich variety of large mammals including four of the big five. A drive through the park will give you the opportunity to see amazing wild game in their natural habitats. One of the many highlights of visiting Murchison Falls National Park is a Sunset boat trip on the Nile River with a glass of champagne and snacks. Hippos and crocodiles are abundant and you will see elephants, buffaloes, waterbuck and a variety of water birds like ducks, African Fish Eagle and sometimes the rare Shoebill.
Nile River (White Water Rafting)
For those looking for some adventure during their Uganda holiday, you cannot pass up the chance of White Water Rafting down the Nile River. At no point is the Nile constrained to a single channel. The multitude of rapids between the beautiful mid-river islands allow you to choose softer options for those not willing to subject themselves to certain capsize of the raft or for long solo swims through the rapids. For the serious adrenaline junkies you can take a more challenging option where you can expect to be washed from the raft by the mighty Nile white water and spend some time beneath a capsized raft. This is certainly an experience that will not be forgotten.
A visit to the Virunga Mountains is to experience hiking one of the 3 volcanos of the area that vary in landscape and difficulty.
Option 1: Mt Sabinyo – a steep hike with several ladders and a lot of scrambling. Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
Option 2: Mt Muhavura – a 6hr hike through a pure Bamboo forest.
Option 3: Mt Gahinga – the typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Once at the top, you are rewarded with the view of the Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Mountain Hiking)
The Rwenzori Mountains are, by geological standards, a relatively young formation that has been faulted as part of the process that created the Albertine Rift. They therefore are not of volcanic origin and after Mt Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, they are at the third highest elevation in Africa. Despite being just a few kilometres away from the equator, the highest peaks are constantly covered by glaciers. Of all the known mountaineering destinations of East Africa, the Rwenzori’s have been classified to be the toughest to climb and can take up to 9 days.
Uganda is commonly referred to as “The Pearl of Africa” which was a nickname given to the country by the famous Winston Churchill. Apart from being home to half to the world’s surviving mountain gorillas, Uganda is also blessed with half of Africa’s bird species, waterfalls, hot springs, forests, national parks, snow caped Mountains, sprawling jungles and the famous Nile River. In 2012, Uganda was rated the world’s most preferred tourism destination by The Lonely Planet guide and continues to amaze visitors in its natural beauty and rare gorilla encounters.
Republic of Uganda
Area: 236,580 sq km
Population: 34,510,000 approx (UN 2011)
Borders: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo
Time Zone: 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time
Religion: Roman Catholic 41%, Anglican 40%, Islam 5%, other beliefs 14%
Languages: English (official), local languages widely spoken are Kiswahili & Luganda.
Dialing Code: +256
Uganda has long been a cultural melting pot, as evidenced by the existence of 30-plus different indigenous languages belonging to five distinct linguistic groups. The country’s most ancient inhabitants, confined to the hilly southwest, are the Batwa and Bambuti Pygmies, relics of the hunter-gatherer cultures that once occupied much of East Africa to leave behind a rich legacy of rock paintings.
As a very poor country with quite a tumultuous history, especially during the time of Idi Amin’s leadership the country has been politically and socially stable for a long time. As a developing nation Uganda has diversified and created significant economic growth in the last 20 years. President Yoweri Museveni has been lauded by the West as a part of a new generation of African leaders.
Best Time To Travel
The best game viewing months in Uganda are during the dry seasons from December to February and June to September. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Uganda. The habitat of rainforests is, by default, very wet and one can’t avoid rain completely. However, after heavy rain, the skies often open up to bright sunshine. The months with the highest rainfall will be April to May.
Uganda experiences a temperate climate even though the majority of the country is within the Tropics. Temperatures in winter (June-August) will average between 16-26 degrees Celsius during the day, whilst in the summer (December-February) in excess of 30 degrees Celsius.
Uganda has the dry and rainy season. Although the country is suitable to visit all year round, most people prefer visiting during the dry season which normally runs between December to February and June to September.
Currency & ATM access
The main currency in Uganda is the Uganda Shilling (UGX). USD is widely accepted in tourist areas however it must be USD notes printed on/after 2003. Older notes printed before this time will not be accepted in Uganda or many other African countries.
In major towns you will have access to ATMs to withdraw local currency and you will need this for shopping at local markets, supermarkets, restaurants etc.
Credit cards are not widely accepted, only at a few major tourist spots and large hotels. Travelers Cheques are not advised, as you will pay extremely high fees to cash them.
At the time of writing this, AUD$1 = UGX2,500.
Australian passport holders are required to have a Tourist Visa to enter Uganda. This can be organized in advance through a Uganda Consulate in Australia or upon arrival at the airport. At the airport, you will need your passport and the visa payment of USD$50pp. This is subject to change at anytime therefore it is worth re-confirming before your trip.
In Uganda, the voltage is 240 and the frequency is 50 Hz. For charging cameras, phones etc, you will need a British plug adaptor, with the three rectangular blades.
Power outages are common in Uganda and although many properties will have generators, it’s worthwhile carrying a torch with you.
It is important to visit your travel doctor before traveling to Africa, as there are a range of vaccinations he/she may recommend based on current information.
Currently, the only mandatory vaccination is Yellow Fever and you may be asked to produce the Yellow Fever vaccination certificate upon arrival into the country. Other vaccinations that may be advisable are Hepatitis A/B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Cholera.
Taking a malaria prophylactic is also recommended and your doctor can advise which type is best suited for you.
It is customary to tip your guides/crew when on safari or other activities like hiking. Suggested tipping amounts will be advised at time of booking. Even though tipping is not culturally expected it is good to leave some loose change at restaurants or in other service situations.