Dubbed ‘the pearl of Africa’ by Sir Winston Churchill, Uganda is one of Africa’s most beautiful and welcoming countries. The tiny landlocked East African nation possesses a staggering wealth of natural assets: foremost amongst these are the world-renowned primate safaris through the verdant rainforests of southwest Uganda, which lure intrepid visitors with the promise of unforgettable encounters with the many habituated families of critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in the Bwindi home to nearly half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Sir Winston Churchill never even tracked the Mountain Gorillas on his visit to Uganda.
Since this is an experience I’ve never heard a negative review, I wholeheartedly agree that trekking to see the mountain gorillas is something that every safari goer should strive to experience at least once in their lifetime, but, in my opinion, Uganda’s greatest safari attraction remains hidden and undiscovered in a far-flung corner of this diverse country. You can easily add-on a few more days – or spend a week or more to your Gorilla Trek in Uganda and include other Primates, Wildlife, Volcanoes, the Rwenzori Mountains, the River Nile and more – Uganda is simply Africa condensed into a small country.
With Kibale Forest boasting the highest primate density in the world and Bwindi home to half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, Uganda is a modern-day mecca for primate-lovers. Although chimpanzees can be found in quite a number of parks and reserves in East Africa, Kibale offers the best encounters with sighting chances virtually guaranteed. Chimpanzee Trekking is the favorite add-on to most that trek the Gorillas in Uganda. There are over 5000 chimpanzees in Uganda, over these are 1500 are found in Kibale Park.
What brings most people here is an enticing mixture of easy access but most importantly many chimpanzee troops have been extremely habituated to humans and the chances of finding them are quite good, plus the tracking is not very difficult. There’s the usual option to spend an hour with the chimps, but Kibale offers a day-long Chimpanzee Habituation Experience. Additionally, this lush jungle near the gorgeous Crater Lakes has 12 other primate species including black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey and L’Hoest’s monkey. Besides, there is wide array of other activities from seriously good birding in a neighboring area of Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary which offers grassland and wetland birds alongside Kibale’s forest species, plus numerous exciting community activities. Also, there is excellent value accommodations in all price ranges.
While the once-in-a-lifetime sightings of endangered primates definitely top the safari agenda here, Uganda is home to much, much more! With several days available, you can add fantastic wildlife encounters to your gorilla safari. Uganda has everything that her more famous neighbours have.
Queen Elizabeth National Park with its Ishasha region is a popular spot for Tree Climbing Lions and elephants plus the Kazinga Channel boat safari where you can find hippos, hippos and hippos along with a lot of other wildlife including birds.
Murchison Falls Park is where the wild Nile squeezes through a tiny fissure in the Rift Valley Escarpment forming one of the most dramatic and spectacular waterfalls in the World, you find largest Rothschild Giraffe population ins Africa, lions, elephants, elusive leopard and so much more. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary means you can score the Big Five in Uganda, if not the Big Seven. Murchison is a must do and see if you are visiting the country, being only 5-6 hours’ drive from Kampala.
Queen Elizabeth Park and Murchison Falls are justifiably the country’s biggest drawcards but if you have time head for Kidepo Valley National Park (in the far north, bordering Sudan). You would be slow to make such a rash statement (with so much of Africa offering so much incredible safari potential...and with so much of it that I am still to see) but if I was pushed into a vote I would say that Kidepo is probably the most stunning national park in all Africa! In 2017 Kidepo Valley Park was named Best African Destination by the Wanderlust Movement. Named by CNN-Travel… the 3rd best park in all of Africa and for 2016 naming it as a top African Safari destination. There the scenic little Lake Mburo Park close to Kampala, – is home to several wildlife species not easily seen elsewhere in Uganda. These include Burchell's zebra and impala. Although elephant are absent from the park, there is plenty of other wildlife to see, including Rothschild's giraffe, buffalo and Defassa waterbuck. Lake Mburo stop also helps you break the long drive between Entebbe or Kampala and Bwindi.
Additionally, the mix of Central African rainforest and East African savannah, hosting over 1000 species of bird, makes Uganda one of the best bird-watching destinations not just in Africa, but the world.
Adding the above destinations your time in Uganda help also helps to break the long drive between Bwindi and Entebbe International Airport.
With the ‘Switzerland of Africa’ clawing its way back onto the global tourism stage, now is the time to visit this alluring country before the tourist hordes discover Uganda’s rich array of natural attractions.
Taking a hike to track down the park’s other endangered primate: the rare golden monkey. Substantially smaller than the gorilla, these more arboreal primates still give tourists a good run around and great primate experience as they bound across the ground and leap between the tree branches while feeding.
There are two types of monkey viewing on offer here. The standard visit gives you just an hour in the company of the little fellows and is similar to the golden monkey visits on offer in Rwanda. Much more interesting, and unique to Mgahinga, is the far more in-depth ‘Golden Monkey Habituation Experience’
Mgahinga Park is beautiful forest with diverse flora and is a nice place to visit for all nature lovers. Despite the name, the park provided the best golden monkey viewing opportunities in East Africa. Sighting chances are guaranteed. There is a team that goes out early to track the monkeys, they then radio in the position, and the trekking begins. The trek is doable and only about a 3km hike but you have to be in good shape to be able to go all the way up in the forest. It is about continuous 2 hours of climbing and going up a steep track...passing by various bushes, trees, flowers, bamboo trees until finally reaching the top and finding the golden monkeys is so rewarding. For most, this is highlight next to gorilla tracking.
With an extra day or half day, visitors may be drawn to Uganda’s tantalizing Bwindi Impenetrable Park and Mgahinga Park by the chance to see the endangered mountain gorillas, but there’s another reason to make the journey: the “endangered” Batwa tribe.
On the fringes of the national park are the last remaining members of the endangered Batwa Pygmy tribe that once flourished in the area. A visit to their community is not only a way to learn more about the traditional forest practices of this hunter-gatherer culture, but a way to support a people whose ancient way of life has been almost completely wiped out by modernisation.
The Batwa do not and have not eaten Gorillas. Instead, they coexisted with them for centuries. The Batwa people were keepers and protectors of the forest until the Bantu People came to the area. The Bantu tribes were the ones who cut down the forests, cultivated and grazed their cattle on fields that were once their precious Rainforests. The Batwa coexisted with Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and every other animal, bird, in the now parks. Today the Batwa are stigmatized as Gorilla Killers and Poachers and are readily blamed for any poaching that takes place in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
There are small Batwa villages, normally consisting of no more than half a dozen families, dotted around the edges of both Mgahinga and Bwindi, and near to Lake Bunyonyi. Many of them welcome visitors, so the details of your experience may vary depending on where you go.
At Mgahinga you can take the Batwa Cultural Trail, a gentle five-hour nature walk through the forest accompanied by community guides who will show you how they forage for food, trap animals with snares made from branches, and make tools and medicines out of plants. The trail ends at Garama Cave, a 200m-long lava tube, where members of the tribe perform spine-tingling songs and music in the echoey darkness of the cave.
Spending time with the Batwa isn’t just a fascinating opportunity to learn about centuries-old nomadic forest living, but a rewarding introduction to a proud community that will leave you feeling both inspired and moved.
Batwa Trail Experience is part of the activies offered by the Uganda the Uganda Wildlife Authority and it costs 80 USD in Mgahinga and 40 USD in Bwindi. The fees include entrance fees.
Volcano Climbing is a perfect add on to your gorilla trekking safari if you have an extra day. Mgahinga is an inspiring location and a great base if you’re a hiker or walker. The landscape includes pastoral, meadows, jungle, thick bamboo hills, and open volcanic mountain vustas, with changes in elevation and views of the Rwandan Virungas.
You can Hike one of the three volcanoes:
Mt.Gahinga (3,474m) is the least challenging climb of the three volcanoes on the Ugandan side. The round trip takes of 6-7 hours passes through farmland, bamboo and swamp up to the old crater. Though this is the 3rd highest peak in Uganda, not many hikers have gone on this trial so it's relatively cheap.
Mt.Sabinyo (3,634m) is the second toughest of the three volcanoes. The reward for the steep climb is chance to summit three countries simultaneously: Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo meet on the peak. This is a round trip of 8-9 hours.
Mt. Muhabura (4,127m)is also known as Mount Muhavura. Climbing the distinct cone shape of ‘the Guide,’ as it is known locally, is the most demanding. Although not a ‘technical’ climb, it can nevertheless be tough, sometimes cold and muddy. The round hike takes between 8 and 10 hours but the ascent is well worth it, for the dramatic changes in vegetation, a chance to swim in a crater lake and breathtaking views as far north as the Rwenzori Mountains.
Best to start any of the 3 climbs very early before the African sun is out in its full glory as it make the climb between rest point 1 and 2 extremely difficult (there is thin vegetation cover).One needs a bit of fitness to summit the peak on any of the 3 climbs (a random attempt to summit this peak will end in frustration).
Hiking through the mountains of the moon – the Rwenzori mountains are spectacular . This place is gorgeous! It is unspoilt and a must go for anyone who loves pristine destinations. You see wild animals, most amazing plants, relax in ancient nature. The hike to the Margerita Summit can take 6 – 9 days depending on your skills. Short trips of even one day are possible.
Tip: Heading out in smaller groups of similar fitness levels would make the hike fun.
While in Bwindi and with an extra day on your schedule, spending time at Lake Mutanda and embarking on an engine ran or 2½ peddled boat deep into the lake into the virgin Islands can be one of the highlights of your visit to the Pearl of Africa - Uganda.
One of the islands which has a population of less than a hundred 130, you learn more about some experiences from the dark past, there is a prison island where those who were deemed as misfits in the society, especially thieves, witches and young girls who caught pregnancy before marriage were thrown to suffer and die.
Enjoy a full day on the water in the Great Lakes area of East Africa. For the dugout canoe, helping to paddle is optional - but good exercise as it as its sometimes windy. The views of the volcanoes are great and being on the lake is very relaxing and peaceful. Fabulous two and a half hour journey in a handmade dugout canoe in good condition and life jackets were supplied.
Lake Bunyonyo Southwestern Uganda is the best place to stay- a day or 2 for relaxation. It's this Bunyonyi Lake the second deepest lake to tanqanyika of Tanzania in East Africa where you find a lots of lush greenery islands with almost around 300 bird species. This lake is especially mystical in the early mornings, as the it is shrouded with mist and cool breeze. There are many activities one could do here, but if you only have a day here, you must take a slow boat ride down Lake Bunyonyi.
You can do canoeing at and it is really amazing as enjoy bird watching, swimming in the Bilharzia, Crocodile, and Hippo-Free water. Wildlife ie impalas at Mutebire's island this is massive. Lake Bunyonyi is really the best place to stay for relaxation and chill out after a gorilla trek. Don't let anything stop you from spending a night here at the very least. Rejuvenate at Lake Bunyonyi before flying home.
The source of the Nile is one of the most spectacular Whitewater rafting destinations in the world and for many visitors to Uganda a rafting trip is the highlight of their visit. Nile River Whitewater Rafting or Kayaking Trips at Jinja start out with a safety orientation and then off down the river for the most exhilarating ride of your life. Whether you are a raft or a Kayak.
White Water Rafting – a day or two if you so choose on and in the ancient River Nile. Here you can expect long, rollicking strings of Grade 4 and 5 rapids, with plenty of thrills and spills. Despite the intensity of some rapids, most people who venture here are first-time rafters. This can be a perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something different.
We can add this to any of the safari tour packages we offer. An overnight safari with Jinja sightseeing is most recommended to make your Safari in Uganda even more special and the next day you can raft once again or do one of the many activities offered here along the River Nile in Jinja. Enjoy your time on the Nile White Water Rafting or Kayaking from Mild to Wild Jinja ... there is nothing to compare with it. All Rafting and Kayaking companies are equal in terms of professionalism and pricing and have a great safety record. You are surrounded by safety rescue boats in case you take a spill into the Nile.
Besides the standard big water runs, there's also less-extreme options for those who don't want to be flung into the raging water. Family float trips are offered, which bypass the big waves and are guaranteed to garner squeals of delight from young kids. White Water Adventures can be added to you Uganda time before or after the safari trip
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