UGANDA SAFARIS & TOUR HOLIDAYS IDEAS
Uganda is the country where East and West Africa meet, featuring lush forests inhabited by primates and arid savannahs which are home to a wide array of plains game that make Uganda safaris tours so appealing in words. Lakes, mountains, tea plantations and waterfalls are some of the landmarks that made an impression on Winston Churchill when he travelled here, leading him to refer to it as “The Pearl of Africa”.
Unsurprisingly the feedback of those who have had the privilege to visit this country or adventured on Uganda safaris tours seems to be consistent. There is something magical about it, a fantastic vibe created by a mix of elements that combined have the power to metaphorically blow every traveller away. If the fact that Lonely Planet chose it as the best destination to travel to in 2012 hasn’t convinced you to visit, then hopefully our highlights will!
Uganda Safaris tours will tell you that nothing beats a face to face encounter with a200kg giant Mountain Gorilla silverback, with eight times the power of a grown man, in its natural habitat, although an encounter with the over 100 strong family of chimpanzees in Kibale forest National Park must rank as the truest definition of ‘a walk on the wild side’ – it could make your heart skip!
Take to some of the world’s most amazing grade 5 rapids by water rafting amongst the rapids of the magnificent river Nile, the world’s longest river and experience the true epitome of an adrenaline pumping river adventure in Jinja. Many a traveler will tell you that a Uganda Safaris Itinerary is not complete till you visit the adrenaline capital, the source of the mighty Nile river, Jinja colonial Town. Top it all up with a ‘Dare Devil’ bungee jump thrill over the river Nile at the same spot; we have it all in our diverse Uganda safaris tours packages.
How about climb the legendary ‘Mountains of the moons’, the Ruwenzori Mountains and marvel at their ice capped peaks that straddle the equator on a 10-days adventure with experienced guides; or hike the fringes of the famous Mount Elgon on the Uganda/Kenya border. Take a launch cruise on the crocodile infested waters of the Nile, in Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks.
In Murchison Falls, come up close to the base of the vicious Murchison Falls. Here, the mighty river forces its entire self through a narrow 7m cleft to tumble 130ft down in a thunderous show of mighty power; without a doubt one of the most breathtaking sceneries imaginable. Take a hike up to the top of the falls and marvel at the falls from above, or take a sunset boat safari cruise to the delta area of this amazing park. There just so many things you could do – Request a quote for truly adventurous Uganda Safaris tours, in the adventure capital of the world!
Tour holidays in Uganda
Explore the world’s second largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria for a relaxed time at the beach on its edge in Entebbe or venture out to the numerous islands such as Ssese Islands and Bulago Island. Enjoy walks on the beach, boat rides, birding, sport fishing and visits to the local fishing villages.
Cool off on the shores of Africa’s second deepest lake, Lake Bunyonyi as you enjoy the serenity, beauty and tranquility, Get onto a boat to explore the source of the mighty Nile in Jinja and visit the Mahatma Gandhi plaque, and where his ashes were immersed in the river Nile in 1948, as per his request. Enjoy launch cruises on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most scenic and diverse national park and see or step out to mix and mingle with local Ugandans on a night outing in Kampala and feel the pulse of Uganda’s capital by night; Ugandans are some of the most fun loving people in the world – you’re more than welcome to join!
THE PEAL OF AFRICA
Lonely Planet Top Travel Choice
Location: East Africa
Entry: Entebbe Int. Airport & Kenya, Rwanda, S.Sudan, & Congo DR Borders
Official languages: English, Swahili
Currency: Ugandan shilling
Population: 37.58 million (2013) World Bank
When is the best time Uganda Safaris tours?
Uganda can be visited all year round, with temperatures barely changing throughout the seasons. However, the country is at its best during its two dry seasons between December and February and between June and August, when conditions are particularly good for trekking to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. Game spotting in national parks is also good at this time, as well as between February and March and from September through to early October when large numbers of wildlife can be seen at waterholes. Uganda safaris tours are also fabulous for bird spotting all year round.
January – February
Considered a dry season, this is one of the best times to visit Uganda, although rainfall can be expected here in any month. A Uganda Wildlife Safari is particularly good at this time of year as there is less vegetation to obstruct your view and a variety of wildlife can be seen seeking waterholes. This is also a great time for mountain gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking, while bird watchers can enjoy spotting migratory birds.
March – May
Considered one of Uganda’s wet seasons. Safari parks are lush and green and animals give birth to their young. It’s also an excellent time to spot migratory birds. The roads can often be in bad condition, so expect bumpier journeys. Gorilla permit costs are often reduced at this time, but you can expect heavy rain showers.
June – August
This is one of the best times for a Uganda safari and is considered a dry season, although rainfall can still be expected. It is particularly good for wildlife spotting as there is less vegetation to obstruct your view and a variety of wildlife can be seen seeking waterholes. It’s also a great time for trekking to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
September – October
A good time for Uganda holiday tours although rainfall can be expected. There are still excellent opportunities for a wildlife game drive as vegetation remains low and animals continue to seek out waterholes.
Considered a wet season, November sees dry plains gradually turn green in the national parks as heavy rain showers fall across the landscape. It is a good time to see migratory birds, while gorilla permit costs are often reduced at this time of year.
You can expect some rainfall during December, but wildlife spotting opportunities are good. This is also a great time for trekking to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, as well as for spotting a variety of migratory birds.
What should I expect on a Uganda safari?
this small East African Country has a fairly high population (44 Million people in 2018 – according to Worldometers.info) and human habitation reaches right up to the borders of many of the safari parks. A striking beautiful feature that is most often seen in the areas near the rain-forests is the use of terraced agriculture, which rings the hills in thousands of shades of green.
Beginning at the main point of arrival in Entebbe, most wildlife safaris will head west to the broad belt of national parks that form the western border. Due to the country being situated right on the meeting point of the eastern savannah and western jungle ecosystems, Uganda has excellent terrain for a wide variety of off-the-beaten-path safaris, from traditional game drives through golden grassland seeking lion or elephant to strapping on your hiking boots and trekking through the thick misty jungles in high altitudes.
The bird watching or birding is superlative, with the variation in habitat attracting a vast array of species, including the crowning glory of the shoebill, a highly sought-after sight for the true birder.
The traditional Big Five game parks of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls, have come to match the game densities of their contemporaries to the east. The game viewing is very much alive and well and the parks boast a mere fraction of the tourist numbers that may dilutes the experience for those visiting the more developed destinations. A sighting of lion, elephant or leopard here is a moment to treasure and is seldom shared with other vehicles.
Who is it for?
Uganda is the dream destination for those in search of the absolute pinnacle of primate safaris. Chimpanzees roam in numbers in Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National Park, as do colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, de Brazza monkeys and a host of other species.
The last mountain gorillas are carefully protected in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi. There is absolutely no exaggeration in gorilla trekking as life-altering. The destination is just as much sought after by birders, as Uganda boasts over a thousand species among its varied habitats.
A keen birder can hope to encounter the handsome francolin, dwarf honeyguide and purple-breasted sunbird, among many other species that are very difficult to see anywhere else. And, like the gorilla, there is the highlight of seeing the unforgettable shoebill.
Uganda outshines all other safari destinations in these two areas, but, in addition, it remains a superb destination for traditional safari by vehicle or by boat, thanks to its lush habitats and variety of species. For those in search of something fresh and vibrant, Uganda is the perfect choice.
How long to stay?
The length of a typical Uganda safari will vary. Those seeking to track gorillas will fly into Entebbe and often overnight on the shores of Lake Victoria before flying out to the south western parks the following morning.
Experts recommend tracking the gorillas twice, as the first time is often a little overwhelming and guests don’t take it all in. After the gorilla experience, visitors usually fly back to Entebbe to continue their wildlife safari elsewhere or to head out onto the Ugandan safari circuit with visits to Kibale, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls.
Further north, at the very tip of the country, travellers can explore the untouched open spaces of lesser-known parks like Kidepo Valley National Park. On average, however, stays range between four to six days.
When should I go?
Uganda is a good year-round destination, but the rainy seasons (March to May and November to December) can make logistics a little tricky. Rain also increases the difficulty of tracking in Bwindi, Mgahinga and Kibale, rendering the mountain slopes muddy.
Uganda has a major advantage in terms of temperature – although its location is equatorial, the high altitude eases the heat, meaning that the weather remains temperate all year round. The high season for Uganda safari falls in line with other East African destinations, which means during the winter months in the southern hemisphere, from June to October. Read: The best time to visit Uganda
Where to go on safari in Uganda
Tips For Planning Your Uganda Safari
Travelling to any country in Africa takes some good amount of time to prepare, plan, make payments and wait for the d-day. The whole process is not easy for first time travellers, that why we put this information together for you to consider Gorillas and Chimps Luxury Safaris services to take you on a Uganda safari without you hustling.
Follow our blog to get first hand updates on travelling in Uganda. A couple of videos on Youtube and Movies like Gorillas in The Mist and more have been made about Uganda. These should get you inspired to embark on a Uganda Safari.
Getting to your destinations by Air
If you are coming to Uganda on Safari the traditional Way is to fly into Entebbe International Airport and explore the country from there.
What most do not realize is this. If you are coming to track Mountain Gorillas, then you might consider into flying into the unofficial Gateway to Southwest Uganda – Kigali International Airport. From there it is 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla park and 4 1/2 hours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Most of our travellers that come in for a luxury gorilla trekking adventure choose that option for convenience.
But, there’s there the traditional safari route way where a traveller may want to enjoy the breeze and picturesque scenery of the countryside on a drive. Now, nothing can beat such an adventure. Forget about the 9 hours drive through, that’s nothing to endure. In the comfort of a well customised land cruiser, the roads have been recently paved to international standard and the immensly attractive spot en-rout to any destination, you may want to consider this option.
There are local carriers that fly to almost all corners of Uganda and would make it easier for those avoiding the drive.
Packing for your Trip to Uganda:
Practical Advice for Packing for Uganda- and the most practical is that you do not pack the kitchen sink – keep it down to the essentials starting with the reason you are coming to Uganda for. That can decide even the type of suitcase that you will need and use.
If you are coming for a Uganda Safari – you will need to pack differently than if you are coming as a volunteer or business visitor – however every visitor while visiting Uganda should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari.
How much you can pack is determined by which region of the world you are flying from since different regions have different allowances for suitcases.
Packing wisely is the key and if you are coming for a Safari or as a volunteer pack with purpose and pack some things such as deflated footballs, books, dolls, no candy please, stethoscope, blood pressure kits and more.
Africa is different any part of the world, quite different from anywhere else in the world and it takes practical common sense to get the most out your time in Uganda
Nothing is predictable but the wonders of Africa. Often the African ways may frustrate a Westerner. Things like lack of customer service – something improving, the indifference of wait-staff, hotel management at times can drive a Westerner crazy.
Just before you lose your patience or sense of human – take a deep breath and realize that in many ways we may do things differently, but well have similar dreams of tomorrow
*Rely on your practical Common Sense along with a dash of adventure and awe along with a sprinkle of patience and a sense of Humor:“
Uganda Travel Visa
The most convenient Way for Tourists to obtain visas for Uganda is on arrival at the airport in Entebbe if you are flying. By land, you can obtain the Uganda Visa at any entry point into the country at only $50
You can apply for the Uganda Tourism Visa online if you want everything settled prior to arrival. The process in our opinion is cumbersome compared to the visa on arrival, there are photos, uploads of itineraries, plus a Credit Card fee.
For those continuing on to Rwanda – as of January 1 -2018 visas can be obtained at the point of entry. There is also the East African Visa that allows you to move freely in between Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
What currency can I use in Uganda?
Ugandan transactions are mostly cash based with preference to US Dollars as a choice of International transactions. Credit/Debit cards – VISA and Mastercard – are accepted in many hotels and lodges but you should note that every transaction on your credit card will incur a charge of 5% on your credit/debit card.
ATM machines are found in major towns, have a Visa ATM Card – Master Card can be used at limited banks, forget American Express Cards with ATM machines.
You will also hear a term “Mobile Money” being thrown around almost everywhere you go. This is a new currency for Africa where someone walks to a Mobile Money Agent, hands him a couple of bills and receives the equal amount onto their mobile phones. Its the easiest way to move money in Uganda and is used by many locals. It may not apply to a traveller because of their phone carriers.
Picking the right Uganda safari lodge or hotel
Don’t be fooled to book a hotel or Uganda safari lodge that has no reviews or not recommended by our safari team. Just like there’re many good safari lodges, there’re also many bogus lodges that will take your money and give back next to nothing ambiance.
Book your hotel through a reputable safari Agency like Gorillas & Chimps Luxury Safaris, who understands the Ugandan market and knows your expectations and your stay will be pleasant at an affordable price.
The choices range from Shoestring to Luxury Accommodations, from hotels that look like they came from the old Soviet Bloc to luxurious Tented Camps.
Note: Self-Booking of lodges for a safari often tends to lead to mistakes in location and paying more.
The Food in Uganda – Restaurants:
Most likely you will not be cooking on your own unless you are like me and live here. If you are going to cook for yourself I can tell you where you will find a butchery and bakery that is reasonable and cuts meats in western ways. As far as eating out, there are some basic precautions that one must use in order to stay healthy.
Avoid food that is not hot, avoid buffets where candles are used for sauces, this is especially the case with some sauces that will attract all kinds of micro-organisms, avoid fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes, juices where water is not boiled or bottled.
spicy food does not mean you will not get sick. You do not want Amin’s revenge and be laid up in your lodging instead of enjoying Uganda.
Getting a Good Cup of Coffee while visiting Uganda:
Great coffee may be easily gotten in your country, but in Africa, in Uganda where coffee was born and is grown, it is not always the easiest. In fact, at budget lodges, you just might receive tepid water and instant coffee, that in our opinion is like dancing without music.
If you want a great cup of coffee and you know how to brew one, my advice is to ask the lodge manager if you can supervise the making of that coffee or be allowed to make it yourself.
Can a Vegan or Vegetarian survive Visiting Uganda?
Uganda – has lots of fruit to choose from – vegetables such Broccoli, Cauliflower that was not readily available, great dark green Salad greens are now available here and there and lodges are growing their own.
We have had many vegetarians on vegans on Safari with us in Uganda and they all had a delightful time and we were able to able to create an itinerary for them that including Hotels and lodges where their dietary needs were met in a most satisfactory way.
Tipping in Uganda
Uganda is not a tipping culture country – however, your tip will be gladly accepted by a waiter, waitress, driver-guide, lodge or hotel staff during your time in Uganda.
What might surprise you is how much of an impact your tip left will have. It is also customary to tip your driver-guide while on Safari and those leading you on gorilla tracking or chimpanzee tracking and wildlife Game Drives.
Tipping may not be common in Uganda but as an ambassador of your country is a good thing to practice. The tip does not have to be large – keep in mind the low salaries that a waiter or waitress receives here in Uganda.
Safety and Security Advice
Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa and Kampala one of its safest Capitals, however, it will be prudent to be wise especially when it comes to money handling.
Be aware of a few things that will protect your valuables. If you are on safari it is the safest place to be in Uganda.
Health Tips – Staying Well in Uganda
When it comes health – most travelers do not become ill while in Uganda besides maybe some intestinal discomfort, none of our clients have ever come down with malaria.
There are precautions to take before you arrive here and some things to do after you get here.
Most visitors to Uganda will get some immunizations prior to coming here and buy a malaria regiment. All Travelers to Uganda are required to enter Uganda.
The Staying well in Uganda page has health tips and advice that you will find practical and make your trip to Uganda more enjoyable.
Mobile – Cell Phones in Uganda:
You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and buy a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL, AfriCell or Airtel.
International phone calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia, and North America, at times there are country promotions such the US or UK, other times India and Pakistan.
You can even buy a local phone with sim-card for about 8 USD and give as a gift when you leave Uganda.
Phones can also be used to send or received money both in Uganda and Internationally -World Remit is the best way to send money to you in Uganda.
Internet Access in Uganda
You can access the Internet at one of the many Internet cafe’s that you will find in Kampala and most larger Ugandan cities. Many hotels and guest houses will have internet access. WiFi is becoming more common and there are hotspots in Kampala. Some restaurants such as coffee shops will offer WiFi for their customers.
More and more Ugandans are accessing the Internet with a smart phone and you can buy data time for your smartphone or tablet.
You can use your laptop and buy a 3 or 4G USD dongle and if you are with a group you can even buy a low-cost router that can take care of up to 5 devices. Speeds can be up to 4G depending on the Network provider – MTN and Airtel are the two best providers.
Electrical Current and Plugs
240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally.
The power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system in place. Uganda can have extended power outages that last up to 12 hours. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another.
In Uganda, you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices. If you are staying they might even have a power strip that will work your plugin
One thing to keep in mind – you might want to bring a book light since nightstand lamps are often non-existent in Ugandan budget and moderately priced hotel.
What to wear in Kampala – Entebbe:
Ugandans in Kampala dress in style There is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari As Ugandans say “You are looking Smart”
When you come to visit Uganda one of the things that will amaze you is to see how well Ugandans dress in towns such as Kampala.
Short skirts such as mini-skirts – are not recommended – the style of dress for most of Africa is smart but conservative and that applies to women and men.
Shorts – in Uganda the only people you will find in shorts are school-boys – though if you are a visitor – no such thing would ever be said.
It is good to have one more outfit with you for functions that you might attend such as church – a special dinner, etc.
What to Wear while Gorilla Trekking
The Weather and Climate in Uganda – East Africa
Uganda’s year around Holiday Weather – Is just another plus to visiting Uganda The Weather and Climate in Uganda Best Times of the Year to track Mountain Gorillas would be the dry seasons Uganda has the gift of Holiday weather year around.
There are two reasons, one is its place on the equator and the other reason is Uganda’s elevation. We have two rainy seasons, but even during them most would consider it Holiday Weather all – year-long.
One of the nice things about Uganda is that the sun will come out even during the rainy seasons of the year. For the most part, we do not have dryers or even washing machines – normally all laundry is done by hand and dries within hours when hanging on the line.
North of Masindi it is 5 degrees hotter than in Kampala, however in the Southwest of Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest it can get quite cool at night and lodges give their guests hot-water bottles for a comfortable sleep.
Getting around Uganda
Getting around in Uganda for Visitors. The various options that visitors to Uganda have as means of transportation.
There are mini-bus taxis that serve cities and the countryside. You have Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxis by the thousands that offer quick, efficient transport, however with some dangers involved.
There are long-distance buses in the country and beyond to Kigali, Rwanda, Nairobi and even into Tanzania.
The best way is to be driven around Uganda on a safari – that is the most comfortable safest way to see Uganda.
Top Tips for Women Travelers to Uganda:
Here are the Top-Tips for Women Travelers to Africa – to Uganda. Tips that will keep you safe and secure while in Uganda on a Holiday.
The safest way is for women traveler is to be on a Safari with a company such as ourselves where our Driver-Guides act as almost a guardian-angel to ensure your well-being on Safari.
There are many things you might want to know, need to know about Traveling in Africa, it its Pearl as a woman, out site will have most of the information and the tips for women travelers will give you all that you need to make your African Holiday in Uganda safe and secure.
Learn about when and where to get your visa for Uganda, what to leave at home and what to bring. Enjoy your time here.