Things to do on a safari in Uganda
What are the top things to do on a safari in Uganda? Uganda safari can be a great adventure fully packed to give you memories you won’t forget in your lifetime. Uganda is blessed with so many tourism attractions found in different parts of the country. It’s better when you first plan on the activities you want to have on a safari to Uganda in order to avoid disappointments. In this article, we are going to look out for some of the things you can do on a safari in Uganda.
Uganda can be visited at any time of the year for different safari activities but travelers are advised to visit the country in the dry season when the rainfall is less or not there at all. The dry season is the best time for game drives and trekking activities since the game tracks and trekking trails are less muddy in search times. The rainy season is also not bad for a safari in Uganda for those especially coming for birding activities because that’s when migratory birds do come into the country
Things to do on a safari in Uganda
Mountain gorilla trekking on a safari in Uganda
Mountain gorilla trekking is a famous activity done in Uganda and one of the things you can do on a safari to Uganda. The mountain gorilla trekking activities on a safari to Uganda can only be done in 2 national parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park. If you want a safari in Uganda where you will trek mountain gorillas, you need to secure gorilla permits first.
Uganda alone harbors more than half of these mountain gorillas in southwestern Uganda. 19 habituated mountain gorilla families are in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park while 1 is in Mgahinga national park. if you want to trek mountain gorillas on your safari to Uganda, you can specify the national park and the sector when it comes to Bwindi where you would want to trek mountain gorillas.
There are 4 sectors in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park where mountain gorilla trekking is done and these have different gorilla families. The sectors are Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga in the north, east, and south respectively. Mountain gorilla trekking starts with rangers teaching trekkers about dos and don’ts of trekking after which trekkers are grouped into 8 and different armed ranger guides lead them into the wild to look for mountain gorillas which they will spend 1 hour with on meeting them taking photos, learning more about their habitats from the rangers and watching them do daily activities like hunting, nesting etc.
Tourists can also include mountain gorilla habituation on a gorilla safari to Uganda. The habituation of mountain gorillas started in 2014 and is done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. There are 2 sectors of Bwindi where mountain gorilla habituation takes place and these are Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors in the south. Only 2 families are available for habituation and these are Bushaho and Bikingi gorilla families. Habituate mountain gorillas on a safari to Uganda and get to spend 4 hours with mountain gorillas.
Game viewing in savannah national parks
Game viewing is one of the activities you need to add to your itinerary for a safari in Uganda. Uganda has over 10 national parks but game viewing activities are done in majorly 4 national parks across the country. Game drives in Uganda can be done in Uganda include Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park, Murchison falls national park, and Lake Mburo national park.
Game drive safaris are better done in 4×4 safari vehicles to have a good view of the park animals and to pass through poor road trucks in the parks. The day game drives can be done with a help of a well-trained safari guide but for the night game drives it’s a must to use an UWA ranger guide.
Game viewing safaris in all these national parks are done in the morning, evening, or night hours and while on these drives you have opportunities of seeing different park animals, birds, primates, and different vegetation covers. Uganda is home to over 330 mammals of which 7 are endangered, 21 are vulnerable, 1090 bird species, and 20 are primate species.
Some of the mammals likely to be spotted on day game drives on a Uganda safari include hyenas, buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks, lions, hippos, elephants, Jackson hartebeests, leopards, buffaloes, olive baboons, mongooses, crocodiles, black-backed jackal, impala, zebras, cheetah, caracal, bat-eared fox, African hunting dogs, topis, monkeys, and eland among others.
Birding on a Uganda safari
Tourists can be part of birding activities on their safari in Uganda so as to encounter the different bird species in the country. There are a lot of places where tourists can have birding activities from and these are mainly found in national parks. We have Bigodi swamp in Kibale forest national park a home to 375 birds, queen Elizabeth national park a home to 600 birds, Murchison falls national park a home to 451 bird species, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park a home to 351, and Mabamba swamp in Entebbe popular for the rare shoebill stork.
You need to carry along a pair of binoculars and a birding book in Uganda to see birds such as Pink-backed Pelican, African Broadbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Rwenzori turaco, dusky Crimsonwing, Neumann’s warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Black-rumped Buttonquail, strange weaver, regal sunbird, fine banded woodpecker, archer’s robin-chat, stripe-breasted tit, red-faced woodland warbler, handsome francolin, White-tailed Lark, Shoebill, Bar-tailed Godwit, African green broadbill, white headed saw wing, grauer’s warbler, short-tailed warbler, montane oriole, Shelley’s crimson wing, handsome francolin, dwarf honeyguide, and bar-tailed trogon.
Other bird species in Uganda are Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Africa emerald cuckoo, Black Bee-eater, marsh tchagra, Corncrake, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, pied kingfisher, papyrus gonolek, mountain masked apalis, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, African citril, impressed African emerald, white-tailed blue fly, western green tinker bird, blue-headed sunbird, brown illadopsis, Angolan swallow, Rwenzori batis, White-winged Warbler, cape robin-chat, Kivu ground thrush, firefinch, shinning African blue, and lesser swamp warbler among others.
Chimpanzee trekking on a safari to Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the activities that do make the safaris in Uganda memorable. Uganda alone is home to the highest population of mountain gorillas that are left surviving in the world. The highest population is in found in Kibale forest national park but there are other chimpanzee places in the country such as Budongo forest reserve next to Murchison falls national park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park, Toro Semuliki reserve, Kalinzu forest, and Ngamba island sanctuary.
In all chimpanzee trekking places, the trekking starts early in the morning at 8 am with a briefing at the park headquarters and those that have the evening session, it starts at 2pm in the evening. At the offices, the trekkers get a briefing from the park rangers where they get to learn about the rules and regulations of mountain gorilla trekking activity. The trekkers are later grouped not exceeding 8 and the ranger guides lead them into the jungle to search for the fully habituated mountain gorillas and spend 1 hour with them while learning about their habits, watching them do daily activities, and taking photos.
Tourists can as well habituate chimpanzees on a Uganda safari in Budongo forest reserve and Kibale forest reserve. The chimpanzee habituation experience does not differ that much from trekking but what makes it special are the 4 hours given to be around chimpanzees, make them get used to human presence, watch them do daily activities, and take photos. The 4 hours are long to watch chimpanzees as this can give you an opportunity to watch the apes breastfeed, play, hunt, nest, and fight their enemies.
Boat cruise on a Uganda safari
Uganda is blessed to be having so many water bodies of which some are found within the tourism places. Boat cruises in Uganda can be done in so many places among which include Lake Victoria in Entebbe, the source of the Nile in Jinja, to the Nile delta in Murchison falls national park, Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls in Murchison falls national park, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth national park, Lake Bunyonyi in southwestern Uganda and Lake Mburo in Mburo national park.
The boat cruises are done in the morning and evening hours in the above places and they do take you around the water bodies for 2- 3 hours watching different water animals like the crocodiles and hippos though they are absent in Lake Bunyonyi due to the depth of the lake. The boat cruise gives you another opportunity of seeing different water animals like the shoebill, grey crowned cranes, great white pelicans, pink-backed pelicans, great cormorants, Egyptian goose, great white pelicans, hadada ibis, great cormorants, and black-headed heron. Boat cruises in the parks give you a chance to see some of the park animals on the shores of the lakes drinking water such as antelopes, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and buffaloes among others.