Uganda Travel Guide
Like a pearl, Uganda is small but precious – its luster is the bright greens of Africa’s highest mountains, spectacular waterfalls, thick forests, and dramatic valleys. But the beating heart of Uganda is its parks – the best locations for trekking to and viewing the rare mountain gorilla.
Half the world’s surviving gorillas live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. But families of other primates dominate the landscapes and parks – you’ll find chimpanzees and 10 other species of monkeys in these hills and rain forests.
But Uganda is not all monkey business, at reserves like Kibale Forest and Queen Elizabeth Park you’ll experience animals usually seen on the savannah such as giraffes, lions, buffaloes, and elephants.
The Ruwenzoris Mountains here are the source of the world-famous Nile which runs through the country, dazzling visitors at the iconic Murchison Falls, an explosive display of cascading thunder crashing down 45m (147 ft.).
Your safari here will begin at the largest city in Rwanda, Kampala, its capital. This is no backwater but rather a beautiful, vibrant, and friendly hub. So much to do and see – cultural centers, museums, even palaces – plenty for several days’ worth of activities.
As you discover the streets of central Kampala filled with shoppers, markets, and vendors, you’ll find the people of Uganda to be friendly and engaging. They’ve experienced a history of upheaval but now have rebuilt their country and their lives into a safe and flourishing nation.
Today’s Uganda is a genuinely friendly tourist destination – there are great values to be enjoyed and you’ll experience fewer visitors here than other countries in the region.
Great mountain ranges, deep “impenetrable” forests, magnificent cascading waterfalls and the world’s treasure of primates – these are the rich natural heritage of Uganda’s National Parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – this is where you’ll trek to find the endangered mountain gorilla. A world of steep mountain rainforest, it supports over 300 gorillas, half the world’s population.
Trekking these dense forests, you may see elephants, duikers, African golden cats, and giant forest hogs. Gorillas aren’t the only primates in the park, as chimpanzees and many species of monkeys also inhabit these hills.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – the variety of wildlife here is rich and sightings are common. You’ll be watching for lions, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and elephants. The park even features unique tree-climbing lions.
The birdlife is colourful and dense, with over 611 species filling the reserve. Of special note: a side trip to Kyambura Gorge is an especially rewarding paradise alive with chimps and other primates.
Kibale Forest National Park – this is a thick rainforest overflowing with primates like the red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys. Forest elephants also rumble through the woodlands and a special treat – over 250 species of butterflies and hundreds of bird species.
Ruwenzori Mountains National Park – this UNESCO World Heritage site offers visitors a world of waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers atop some of its mountain peaks. This beautiful but uncrowded park contains several rare plants and animals.
Kidepo Valley National Park – the lost valley encircling this park is a stunning canvas of perhaps the most beautiful landscapes in the country. You’ll find animals here not seen elsewhere in Uganda like cheetahs, aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, and lesser kudus.
Murchison Falls National Park – Uganda’s largest park contains another gift from the Nile – in the narrow gorge here, the wide river is squeezed and suddenly plummets with astonishing power down into Lake Albert. The result is an unforgettable explosion of cascade and thunder you can feel in your bones.
The park also includes strong populations of elephants, Rothschild’s giraffes, lions, buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary– not a wild park but a controlled protected space, the sanctuary on Lake Victoria supports about 50 orphaned chimps that have been rescued throughout the country. On this richly forested island, they are rehabilitated and wander freely. Forest walks with the chimps are offered for a fascinating one-on-one experience.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre – it’s a zoo but also a renowned animal refugee, home to injured and recovering animals. Most were harmed by poachers but are now on the mend. Say hello to recuperating chimps, white rhinos, leopards, and storks.
Igongo Cultural Centre – this is a cultural village that hosts one of the finest museums in the country. The displays show off the culture of the Ankole people using artifacts and a replica of an actual village. The Centre also features a restaurant serving Ankole dishes plus an in-depth bookshop with Ugandan reading material.