Uganda is a greatly gifted nation with both nature and wildlife, hence being one of the top countries in Africa best for safari experiences. Uganda receives a large number of tourists annually, who come with different aspects – some go to Uganda to trek the mountain gorillas, well as others go there specifically for viewing the big game as others go there for birding and others are very much interested in the impressive culture that Uganda has got. Many people keep on wondering as to why most people go visit this small and third world country – Uganda!! However the fact is that; Uganda attracts a large number of tourists due to its extraordinary features such as; its good climate, varied wildlife, welcoming and friendly people, fantastic cultures, and the endless adventurous places, all which even made it to get the name of ‘’Pearl of Africa’’ which was given to it by Sir Winston Churchill. Below are some of the unforgettable wildlife safari experiences in Uganda;
- Gorilla Trekking
Uganda is one of the only three refuges of the endangered mountain gorillas all over the world and these gentle giant apes attract a substantial number of individuals from all over the world to go trek these primates. The other two mountain gorilla refuges in the world are; Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Uganda is the only country with two national parks protecting the mountain gorillas – Bwindi Impenetrable forests national park and Mgahinga National Park, all found in southwestern Uganda. Meeting these gentle apes is a life changing experience and the activity (gorilla trekking) involves hiking since the mountain gorillas live in mountainous forested areas. The activity is recommendable to only individuals above the age of 15 years and those who are mentally stable and physically fit because it is tiresome at most cases.
Though tiresome, gorilla trekking is very joyous and memorable and once you meet the gorillas, surely you will forget all the difficulties that you encountered during your primate safari. For you to trek the mountain gorillas in any of Uganda’s two Parks, you are required to have a gorilla permit which costs US$ 600 in Uganda and the activity of trekking the gorillas is done in groups of 8 individuals per each group trekking. Besides the interesting gorilla trekking activity, Bwindi also offers another fascinating activity about the gorillas – gorilla habituation, where you will come to know more about the mountain gorillas since during the habituation of gorillas you are given much time with them. Gorilla habituation is a process of making the wild gorillas to become used to humans and in this process, you will spend 4 hours with the gorillas instead of the one hour you are given to spend with the gorillas during gorilla trekking. A gorilla habituation permit costs US$ 1500.
2. Bird Watching
Talking of birding safaris in Africa, definitely Uganda should be the first destination to think about simply because this small-beautiful country comprises of various amazing birding sites including the mighty SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK – ‘the true birders haven’!! In Africa, Semuliki Park is the best destination for serious birders as the Park comprises of almost every African bird species that a birder could want to experience on his/her birding safari. Uganda, at large, comprises of over 1000 bird species in its best birding paradises which include; Semuliki National Park, Budongo forests (Murchison Falls National Park), Kibale Forests National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forests National Park, Mabamba bay wetland, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and others. The most suitable and appropriate time for bird watching are the morning hours and in the late evenings. Among the bird species to spot in Uganda include; the crested Uganda (Uganda’s national bird), shoebill storks, marabou storks, African green broadbill, green-breasted pitta, great blue turaco, standard-winged nightjar, Shelley’s crimsonwing, short-tailed warbler, and many others.
3. Lion Tracking
Lion tracking is such a very unique experiential tourism activity whereby a traveler gets a chance to view lions often closer than the usual game drives where you don’t get to learn and understand into detail about the lions. Tracking the lions in their natural habitants in Uganda can only take place in western Uganda’s national park – Queen Elizabeth National Park, of which the activity is most suitable in the morning and late afternoon hours and it is done twice in a particular day. The activity is really exceptional and magnificent and many travelers enjoy doing this, therefore if you are also interested to join the researchers in the field as they track the lions in their natural habitants you are highly emphasized to book in advance such that you don’t miss out this awesome activity which others call it breathtaking!! The Lion tracking permit costs US$ 150.
4. Rhino Tracking
Rhinos are among the so called popular ‘African big five’ – Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffaloes, and Leopards, and every wildlife lover in Africa would wish to see these popular animals. Unfortunately today the rhinos are on the verge of going extinct due to heavy poaching and in Uganda the animals can only be tracked from the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, a 3 hours’ drive from Uganda’s capital city (Kampala). Tracking the rhinos in the sanctuary is quite affordable as you will only be required to pay US$ 50 which will help in conservation of the rhinos such that they can be re-introduced back in the national parks.
5. Cheetah Safaris
The cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth and it is among the three African big cats which include; African lions, African leopard and the African cheetah. Cheetahs are all over the African continent though rarely spotted in Uganda (the pearl of Africa) and the cheetah safaris in Uganda can only be conducted in the northern parts of the country – in the magnificent KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, True African Wilderness. Cheetahs are addicted to the open grasslands, savannas, even hills, and mountains all which Kidepo Valley National Park is composed of. The cheetah safaris in Kidepo can be accompanied with views of other big games such as; lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, and various bird species.