Uganda, popularly known as “The Pearl of Africa” has got some of the best safari experiences in Africa. This makes the country one of the leading tourist destinations for travellers especially those interested in wildlife and adventure encounters.
Uganda boasts a variety of tourist destinations including 10 national parks, 12 wildlife reserves which offer travellers amazing wildlife experiences, historical and cultural centres, among others. The country is home to most of African wildlife species including endemic and endangered species. From rare and endangered species like mountain gorillas and golden monkeys to endemic bird species, Uganda is a true gem for all wildlife enthusiasts. Some of the most popular safari experiences in Uganda include the following;
Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the only 3 counties in the word where mountain gorillas are found. However, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest of the country protects half of of the total population of these endangered species. Bwindi has over 500 mountain gorillas which roam within its thick mountainous forests with the rest found in 3 different national parks in the 3 countries including Mgahinga Gorilla National Park at Uganda-Rwanda border.
Of the 3 countries, Uganda receives the highest number of gorilla trekkers due to the favourable gorilla trekking conditions of the country compared to Rwanda and DRC. These include relative gorilla trekking rates of $700 per permit which is far less compared to Rwanda’s $1,500. The large number of mountain gorillas in Bwindi also gives travellers assurance of seeing these elusive animals. The park has over 15 families of habituated mountain gorillas which are visited by trekkers every day higher than that in any other park.
Trekking mountain gorillas has been described as one of the best wildlife experiences in the world with the animals which share 98% of the human DNA exhibiting many human-like behaviour before their visitors. Gorilla conservation is highly emphasised and this makes gorilla trekking strictly regulated to allow these endangered species which were at the brink of extinction a few decades ago to thrive in their natural habitat. A group not exceeding 8 trekkers is permitted to visit a gorilla family once a day and spend one hour in their presence. This hour spent in the presence of gorillas has been described as ‘magical’. Once trekkers conclude their gorilla trekking trip, they accept that the experience was worth every penny they paid.
Uganda has some of the best national parks for game viewing experiences. The parks protect hundreds of game species including large species like lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino, zebra, giraffe, among others. Other common species in Uganda’s parks include a variety of antelope species, duiker, warthog, hyena, wild dog, among others. Most of these species are usually seen while on a game drive through the parks. Best Uganda’s national parks for game viewing include Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park. Queen Elizabeth National Park in the west of the country has got the amazing tree-climbing lions which have become travellers’ favourites in the park found in its southern sector of Ishasha. Kidepo Valley National Park in the northeast is one of the best destination in Africa to see large herds of buffalo with visitors able to see over 12,000 of the park’s buffaloes moving at once.
When it comes to bird watching, Uganda is one of the most ideal destinations in the world for the experience. Uganda boasts over 1,000 bird species within its boundaries including Albertine Rift endemics that are not found anywhere else in the world. These include the Rwenzori Turaco, Neumann’s warbler,Red-faced woodland warbler, Yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Chapin’s flycatcher, among others. Best spots for bird watching in Uganda include Mabamba Swamp near Entebbe, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park and Kibale Forest National Park.
In addition to mountain gorillas, Uganda has also got a variety of other primates including several monkey species, chimpanzees, baboons, among others. After gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys are the next sought-after primates in Uganda. Chimpanzees are found in most of Uganda’s national park including Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale while golden monkeys can be found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Chimpanzees are also found at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee on Lake Victoria near Entebbe International Airport where they live in captivity.
Cultural and historical tours
Uganda is a multi-ethnic country with over 30 tribes found within its boundaries. Cultural enthusiasts can visit some of the cultural centres and communities in the country to experience and associate with some of the most amazing traditions and practices in Uganda. Some of the most visited communities in Uganda for cultural experiences include the Baganda in the central, Bagisu in the East, Batwa in the southwest and Karamojong in the northeast. Visitors are always entertained with amazing traditional songs and dance as well as being introduced to local cultural practices as well as activities. Uganda has got several historical sites which are of interest to history scholars and travellers. These include the Kasubi Tombs in Kampala where former kings of the Buganda Kingdom are buried, the Uganda Museum in Kampala, Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Kabaka’s Palace at Mengo, Bigobyamugenyi, among others.