10 things to do on a Uganda safari
- Track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga National Park. Uganda is home to slightly over 50% of the world’s remaining population of the rare mountain gorillas. Visitors can ably trek the gorillas in either Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks accompanied with a hike to trek the golden monkeys. Tracking the gorillas in the misty rain forests of Bwindi or Mgahinga is a memorable experience and not just another tick on the bucket list. A walk through the forest in search of the mountain gorillas is like no other. Finally encountering the gorillas after a great hike is not comparable to a successful treasure hunt, it’s more than that.
White water rafting on river Nile in Jinja is great for lovers of adrenaline activities. Opt to do half day or a whole day and beat the rapids in a way that will amaze and excite you. White water rafting takes place east of Uganda about 85 kms from Uganda’s commercial capital Kampala. In case water rafting is not an option for you, then choose to slide into the Nile, do zip lining in Mabira tropical rainforest, or go quad biking around the local villages. You will be accompanied by a local guide all the way through the villages as you go quad biking.
- Kibale Forest National Park, also referred to as the primate capital of East Africa is a great place to see chimpanzees. The park is easily accessible by road and is located west of Uganda about 340Kms from Kampala. Chimpanzee trekking happens in 2 shifts the morning and afternoon shift, accompanied by game rangers after a brief to prepare you well for the experience. The trekking lasts 3-4 hours depending on how far the chimpanzees have wondered off in search for food. Alternatively choose to do a chimpanzee habituation experience where you get to spend the day following the chimps from 6:00am in the morning when they de-nest till 6:00pm when they make new nests for the night. The habituation experience gives you a chance to observe how the chimps feed and generally do life around the forest.
4. Visit the Batwa pygmies also known as the forest people of Uganda. The Batwa still lived in the forest and depended on it for food and shelter till the 1990s, when the Uganda, Wildlife Authority gazetted Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The Batwa did not know life outside the forest and still struggle to adapt to the new life of work and formal education. Visiting the Batwa is an amazing experience, moreover it helps raise funds to support their community.
5. Sail to Punishment Island locally called Akampene Island in Lake Bunyonyi where, young Bakiga girls were taken and abandoned to die as a punishment for getting pregnant before marriage. Many girls drowned in the lake trying to swim to safety and young men who could not afford bride price often went by the island to get themselves a free bride. At times the man responsible for the pregnancy followed up to rescue the girl and they went off to start a new life in an area away from home. This punishment was phased out a long time ago but hear.
6. Tour the famous Murchison Falls National Park and see one of the World’s most powerful waterfall. Murchison Falls National Park, is Uganda’s oldest park located at the end of the Albertine Rift Valley. It is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 44m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the center piece of the park. The park has hosted visitors like former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; and former American president Theodore Roosevelt among others. This park is home to a diverse bird and, mammal species like elephants the world’s largest land mammal, hippopotamus, Nile crocodiles, Rothschild giraffe, warthogs, antelopes, hyena, lions and more. A boat cruise to see the hippopotamus and crocodiles at close range is a highlight not to be missed.
7. Visit Mabamba bay swamp and enjoy the quiet search for birds under a beautiful clear sky. Mabamba swamp is a Ramsar site and host to over 300 bird species consisting several endangered ones. Some of the bird species in this swamp include the Papyrus Gonolek, the shoe bill, and huge flocks of migratory birds that come around in the months between October and March every year. This is a great place to visit for a day and return with a recording breaking list of birds sighted in one day.
8. A road drive to Kidepo Valley National Park is worth all the effort, with overnight stops to break the journey you have a chance to see more of the country and appreciate the culture. Kidepo valley is far away from Kampala making it a great place for the off the beaten path experience, ranking it one of Africa’s finest wildernesses. The park hosts over 476 bird species including the ostrich and 77 mammal species. It’s uniquely located near the Karamojong a nomad tribe similar to the Masai of Kenya and a threatened minority tribe known as the Ik who still survive through hunter gathering.
9. A boat cruise on Kazinga Channel is like no other. The stretch covered on the 3 hour boat cruise has been dubbed the ‘birders Paradise’ by some, because of the variety of bird species aligned along the lake shores. The Kazinga channel also hosts migratory birds linked to the Mediterranean fly way via the Nile basin into Africa. The birds fly from parts of Europe, Asia mostly during winter to breed among other reasons. On some unique days it’s possible to see elephants coming down to drink and do a great water splash in the air. The Kazinga Channel has many surprises tucked in it and a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is not complete without a boat cruise on the channel.
10. Unwind in Lake Mburo National Park, definitely a great place to spend the last days of a great Uganda safari. The park is well known for its serene atmosphere and great views into the horizon. In this park it’s possible to go on safari on foot! The park offers a unique nature walk trail through the park accompanied by an armed ranger. There are 2 shifts every day, so you may choose either the morning or afternoon nature walk.
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