Big Five safaris in Uganda

Big Five safaris in Uganda are a must-do for anyone fascinated by wildlife. Big Five refers to buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino and the term comes from the animals considered most dangerous to hunt. Now the thrill comes from photographing them in their natural habitat.

Did you know?
It takes a while to develop ‘bush eyes’ and spot wildlife while on Ugandan holiday.
If you’re looking for a Big Five tour in Uganda you can opt to go to almost any region in Uganda, but the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western region and Murchison falls national park remains an iconic tourism draw card. The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) abound in the park, and you see them by self-drive, guided drives or guided walks.
But remember, you are not in the middle of a National Geographic documentary. You may well see all Big Five; you may well not, although your chances are high in Uganda. Drive slowly, stop at waterholes, listen for the warning calls of birds, watch when other vehicles stop, and always keep your eyes open.

In Uganda, Prepare to be awed. To see a leopard dozing in the bough of a tree, spotting a white rhino half-hidden in thick shrubs, finding a pride of lions in the shade after a kill, or watching a large herd of elephants or Cape buffalo move soundlessly across the road – these are all priceless moments. Always remember that you’re dealing with wild animals, and that you’re in their territory. There are rules of engagement relating to Big Five safaris in Uganda. Read your guidebook carefully and heed the words of your ranger at all times. Accommodation for Big Five safaris in western region is either within the Queen Elizabeth National Park or on the neighboring communities such Kyambura, Kasese and Kihihi. Some lodges pride themselves on showing the Big Five to guests in record time, and you’ll even walk away with a certificate.

Once you’ve done Big Five activities in western Uganda, it’s time to ‘sweat the small stuff’ and learn about wondrous creatures like the dung beetle…

Travel tips & planning info

How to get here
If you’re heading for Queen Elizabeth national park, you can fly to Kasese airfield/Mweya and be picked up there. Or your lodge can arrange a charter flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield. Or hire a vehicle in Kampala and drive yourself in Queen Elizabeth. It’s best to hire a van or because you will have more leg room, and you’ll sit up higher for spotting game. Reserve well in advance

Tours to do
Game drives in your own vehicle are fun, but nothing can beat a ranger’s practiced eye. Go on a drive or walk guided by a ranger. You will learn plenty, and see much more than you might have on your own.

How to get around
Drive yourself in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the roads are excellent. Arm yourself with a good map you can buy on arrival. Or take a guided game drive. If you stay at a private lodge you will be driven in an open-air game vehicle by your ranger.

Length of stay
If you’re keen on seeing all of the Big Five, give it at least five days in Uganda. But remember, there are no guarantees in the wilderness.

What to pack
Carry your camera, lightweight binoculars, hat and sun block. Even in the height of dry season, take a jacket along for night drives. While in Uganda’s park, Try to dress predominantly in dull bush colors of khaki and olive green.

Where to stay
If you have kids, stay at one of Queen Elizabeth’s bigger lodges which have a pool, a restaurant and spacious rooms. Good tip: it’s always better to make a telephone booking than on line. Check with the private lodge if they take kids – not all do.