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Uganda safari


... is rather different from safari in most countries, in that it is primarily focused on forest rather than savannas, with primates including mountain gorillas and chimpanzees being top of the list. There are some savanna safari locations in between, but these are most definitely subsidiary to the main event.

Upsides ...

Uganda is is an absolute jewel of a country which lies to the north and west of Lake Victoria in east-central Africa, much under-rated and relatively little-visited.

The scenery along the western side of the country is awesome, some of the most dramatic on the continent, with dramatic volcanic peaks, lush tropical forests, flooded calderas, broad lakes, open savanna and verdant farmlands.

The main reason to visit Uganda is to head into the forests to track gorillas, chimpanzees and a host of other primates.

In between there are lesser opportunities to experience some more conventional savanna safari, with decent populations of elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras and kobs in a number of areas.

Read more about the upsides for this country ...

Downsides ...

The main potential downsides are that gorilla permits are often in very short supply, that the country lacks quality savannah safari, that the weather can provide challenges almost throughout the year and that the price of visiting is unavoidably high.

Read more about the downsides for this country ...

When to visit ...

When it comes to deciding when to visit, the seasons here are not very pronounced, but there is a slight preference for Dec/Jan and Jun/Aug, when there is usually slightly less rain in most parts. The Kidepo Valley in the far north has a different climate and is usually best visited Nov/Feb.

Read more about when to visit this part of the world ...

Areas ...

We divide Uganda into eighteen separate areas, which you can find listed in the map menu above. The following seven areas are by far the most interesting ...

Bwindi Forest ... is a relatively small tract of protected tropical forest to the south-west of the country which is arguably the best location in Africa for tracking mountain gorillas.

Kibale Forest ... is a larger area of tropical forest a little further north which offers good opportunities for tracking chimpanzees.

Queen Elizabeth is a large national park which lies in the Rift Valley between these two primate reserves and offers the chance of some modest savannah safari, notably including elephants and lions, as well as further chances of chimpanzees.

Murchison Falls ... is the largest conservation area in the country, lying further north along the western border with the Congo and containing a wide range of forest and savannah landscapes.

Kidepo ... is an extremely remote and little-visited national park on the northern border with South Sudan, a savannah reserve which is expensive to access, but a real badge of honour amongst experienced safari travellers.

Jinja ... is a town on the northern shore of Lake Victoria and the source of the Victoria Nile. The area is most commonly visited for its high quality white-water rafting.

Entebbe ... is the former capital of the country, a relatively laid-back place on the northern shore of Lake Victoria and the main transport hub for international visitors.

Resources ...

Here are a few tips on issues relating to travel in Uganda ...

1. Passports and visas
2. Health
3. Money
4. Security
5. Electricity
6. Good books

How we like to include this country in trips ...

Uganda is way off the beaten track, the number of international visitors is very low and the level of facilities is generally not to the standards of more popular locations.

The primate tracking experiences also require a reasonable level of fitness. So the country is most definitely best suited to a more outdoorsy and intrepid type of guest.

Up to 2012 travel around these key areas of Uganda was almost exclusive carried out as relatively arduous overland safaris, but the recent introduction of light aircraft services has greatly improved accessibility.

We now only offer flying safaris around Uganda, since they have proved to be better, easier, cheaper and a good deal more popular than the old-style overland trips.

But we continue to connect the three main western areas, Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth and Kibale Forest, by road since the journey itself can be a real highlight.

Many people only visit Uganda for the gorillas in Bwindi Forest, in which case they are simply in country for 3 to 7 nights.

But it is also possible to spend a good deal more time in Uganda, most commonly combining Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth and Kibale Forest in trips of 7 to 10 nights, or adding any or all of Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley and Jinja in trips of 10 to 18 nights.

Uganda is most commonly combined with Tanzania, most notably for safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro, a trek on Mount Kilimanjaro and time down on the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.

It is also possible to combine Uganda with other countries across Africa, although the connections tend to be less smooth.

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Tony Fishlock
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