Have you ever dreamt of coming close to the majestic silverback mountain gorillas? If so Uganda is the place to be! Uganda, the Pearl Of Africa, is a lot less visited than its neighbours Kenya and Tanzania yet it has so much to offer.
It has something for everyone, from extreme sports such as white water rafting on the Nile, to safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park, to trekking the Rwenzori Mountains, to beautiful lush landscapes and stunning lakes. But obviously the highlight is tracking the chimpanzees and mountain gorillas!
We offer guided small group tours to Uganda with several that visit all the places I have been to. It is a brilliant way to explore the country, hassle free. Being on a tour is also a great way of meeting like minded people and having everything planned out for you. It is especially good if you are on a tight schedule.
I however chose to travel independently with my husband for 10 days. If you like the outdoors you will love the idea of being able to camp wherever you go. Uganda is a safe country to travel independently and you will meet a few other “muzungus” (white people) along the way. Using local transport is easy and there will always be someone to help you find your way around. English is one of Uganda’s national languages which makes it quite easy to travel.
Whether you are on a tour or not, be sure to try out the most common means of transport: Boda bodas (motorbikes). You will get a rush of adrenaline riding along those red dirt roads. It is however not for the faint hearted!
Our first stop was at Kibale National Park. The main activity here is chimpanzee tracking, as well as bird watching and bush walks. To track the chimpanzees you can book your permits in Kampala at the Uganda Wildlife Authority for $150 per person. There are two tracking times a day.
We spotted our first group of chimps after about an hour’s walk; they were all up in the trees messing around until they finally came down. We were merely meters away and yet they did not feel phased with our presence. You have a total of 2 hours with them. It is incredible how human like they look!
This park offers various safaris, boat cruises, bird watching tours and the quest for the famous tree climbing lions. You will need a driver to get in the park if you are travelling independently. We offer a Culture and Wildlife of Uganda & Rwanda tour that will take you to the park for two days to enjoy the boat cruise.
Within 10 minutes of entering the park we were already snapping pictures of warthogs, various deer, impalas and elephants. It seemed we had already done a game drive just by driving from the entrance to the accommodation on the Mweya Peninsula!
With limited time we opted for the 2 hour boat safari along the Kazinga Channel which connects the two lakes within the national park. It is $25 per person and you can book in the park. You will get to see large quantities of different animals in the space of two hours: elephants, hippos, buffalos, eagles, crocodiles, deers, monitor lizards, snakes and a huge array of birds including pink pelicans. This is definitely a trip I recommend to all.
There are only roughly 700 mountain gorillas left in the world and Uganda is one of the 3 places in world where you can see them in their natural habitat. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I highly recommend! If you are travelling independently be sure you book your permits a few months in advance via the Uganda Wildlife Authority ($500 per person).
You can also have a look at this 3 day Gorilla trek which I can help you book. This tour starts and finishes in Kampala and also goes past the equator.
We set off early in the morning with our group and walked for over an hour until we reached a family of about 10 gorillas. It is such an incredible feeling to stand within 5 meters of a 220kg Silverback who feels comfortable with your close presence!
You do need to be quite fit for this. This is park is appropriately named Bwindi Impenetrable as you will crawl and make your way through the thick vegetation and steep climbs. It is well worth the effort though!
Lake Bunyonyi was our last stop in Uganda and is a must see. It is located in the South Western part of Uganda and is a sight for sore eyes. It is a massive lake comprised of 29 small islands, some of which have accommodation. Make sure you go to the view point for spectacular views over it all.
Many come here to relax after the gorilla tracking or on their way to Rwanda as the border is only a few miles away. It is also the only clean and hippo/crocodile free lake in that region! Yet another example of how amazing this country is!
Uganda is without a doubt a country I recommend visiting and if you’re looking for a way to include it in your round the world trip, here’s a route I would suggest: