Uganda, which shares its eastern frontier with Kenya, has several beautiful National Parks but is really famous for one thing: Mountain gorillas. It is estimated that over half of the world's population reside in its Conservation areas and meeting them is an experience of a lifetime.
Most people combine a visit to the Gorillas with a stay in the Parks and beaches of Kenya or Tanzania, but it is easy to enjoy a holiday solely in this little visited and largely overlooked country.
For many travellers that visit Uganda, the biggest draw is the natural habitat of the mountain gorillas. Both silverback and blackback gorillas as well as chimpanzees and golden monkeys of Mgahinga can be spotted. Head to Bwindi Impenetrable forests, Mgahinga National Park and Ngamba Island and wait patiently for your gorilla encounter.
If you wish to trek to and observe chimpanzees then Kibale forest is the best location. Our Gorilla tours all offer a morning here with this other fascinating primate.
When to go to Uganda:
The majority of the country has a tropical climate which varies according to altitude. During the year the hottest months are from December to February when the temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius. The rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April.
Temperatures in some parts of the country can be quite cool owing to the country’s high altitude, despite its position on the equator. The mountain areas become much cooler and the top of Mount Elgon is often covered with snow. Other parts of the country are much warmer.
The best times to visit are December-March and June-September. It can be somewhat rainy then, but not as rainy as in the rainy season, March-June. December-February and June-July are the driest times, when things can even be a bit dusty. Although the country lies astride the equator, most of Uganda is on a plateau 3,600-6,000 ft/900-1,830 m above sea level.
Featured tour: Uganda Highlights
This tour is for those who have probably safaris before or have a special interest specifically in the primates. The highlights of the holiday are a full day gorilla trekking in Bwindi Inpenetrable Forest, as well as a visit to the chimps at Kibale.
You travel in your own vehicl, with your own driver guide throughout and there are two standards of accommodation available to match your requirements.
To see the full itinerary of our Highlights of Uganda Holiday, please click here.
What to do and see in Uganda
Uganda is a wonderful destination, with a different feel to many of its neighbours. The areas you visit are green and lush, areas of jungle and plantation all framed by an amazing natural beauty. With Lake Victoria lying on its southern border it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that there is plenty of water about. It is this lush forest that has made it home to some of the last families of mountain gorillas as well as other primates such as chimpanzees.
With a gorilla population of about 335 gorillas, the Bwindi National Park in Uganda is home to nearly half of all known mountain gorillas. The National Park is a thick jungle, covering a steep upland terrain of ridges and valleys. It makes gorilla trekking a challenging experience and one you should prepare for. Often you need to walk for 4-5 hours to see a family group (depending where the gorillas have moved to within the Park) and the going is hot and tricky underfoot. When you find the gorillas you are allowed one hour with them.
Visiting the chimps is usually much less tiring. At Kibale you normally find them quite quickly and again are allowed to stay with them for up to an hour before leaving them alone. Especially with the chimps its sometimes hard to work out exactly who is observing who! When visiting the chimps you can stay at the nearby Crater lakes, an extraordinary series of long extinct volcanic now filled with water and forming a network of lakes.
While the primates are the undoubted stars of a Ugandan safari holiday, there is still plenty more to see and enjoy. A more traditional safari experience can be enjoyed at the Queen Elizabeth National Park. This large reserve, situated between Lake George and Lake Edwards , is home to nearly one hundred mammals including lions, leopards, elephant and buffalo. It also has excellent flora (with five distinct climatic zones within its borders) and over 500 species of bird. Game-viewing can be done by vehicle or by boat, usually along the Kazinga Channel which connects the two lakes and is home to lots of hippos. There is a reasonable choice of lodges and camps within the park, from large to small, expensive to reasonable.
The other unique sight to consider when going on a safari holiday in Uganda is a visit to Murchison Falls. Situated in Murchison Falls National Park, which is part of the largest conservation area in Uganda, the Nile (part of the Victoria Branch which joins the Blue Nile from Ethiopia in the Sudan) falls over 40 metres through a gorge only 7 metres wide. The roar as over 300 square metres per second of water forces its way through is quite something and you can view them from both the bottom and top. There is also Game viewing here, with wildlife recovering after the widespread poaching of the Amin years. A Rhino breeding project is currently underway in the south of the area to restore the Big five to the area.
Many of our clients visit Uganda with us on their second or third trips to Africa, choosing to visit one of the more traditional safari holiday locations first. You will see more traditional game in Kenya or Tanzania, but can still enjoy an authentic safari in Uganda with the additional, and considerable, bonus of the Gorillas. They are an experience not to be missed!