Safari in Uganda

Why would one want to choose Uganda for their African safari experience? Uganda is home to snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests, sparkling lakes, and vast savannas. The Rwenzori Mountains, the source of the Nile River, offer breathtaking hiking trails. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a haven for endangered mountain gorillas. Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, provides a serene setting for boat rides and fishing expeditions. Uganda even has 10 national parks, each with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife.

Why you should choose Uganda

Uganda is an excellent choice for your wildlife safari due to its diverse landscapes, abundance of wildlife, and relatively affordable prices. Here are some of the reasons why Uganda is a great safari destination:

Diverse landscapes: Uganda is home to a variety of landscapes, including savannas, rainforests, mountains, and lakes. This diversity of habitats means that there is a wide variety of wildlife to see on safari.

Abundance of wildlife: Uganda is home to over 1,000 bird species and 350 mammal species! This includes lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, and chimpanzees. Uganda is one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Affordable prices: Uganda is a relatively affordable safari destination compared to other African countries. This is because Uganda is not as well-known as some other safari destinations, and there is less competition among tour operators.

Pearl of Africa

Uganda is called the “Pearl of Africa” for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. The nickname was coined by Sir Winston Churchill, who was captivated by the country’s splendor during his visit in 1907. He wrote in his book “My African Journey”: “For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly ‘the Pearl of Africa.'”

What is a Safari?

Did you know the word “safari” comes from the Swahili word for “journey”? It typically refers to a trip into the wilderness, especially in Africa, to observe and photograph wildlife.

A safari is a broader experience that may include activities like game drives, bush walks, bird watching, cultural experiences, and boat rides.  Moreover, you can do all of this on safari in Uganda!

Rhino Trekking on Safari in Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary (Instagram: @allabouthechange) is home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda, specifically the southern white rhinos. The sanctuary was established in a collaboration between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rhino Fund Uganda in 2005, aiming to reintroduce and breed white rhinos after their local extinction. The white rhinos were wiped out in Uganda during the civil unrest of the 1970s and 1980s due to heavy poaching and loss of habitat.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary plays a critical role in re-populating the white rhinos by providing a protected habitat where they can breed and grow without the threat of poaching. In fact, ZRS’s goal of reintroducing white rhinos back into Uganda’s national parks will help restore the ecosystem’s balance. 🤍🦏

The efforts at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary represent a significant step in global conservation, reflecting a broader commitment to protecting endangered species and maintaining the integrity of Africa’s rich and diverse ecosystems.

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s oldest conservation area and largest national park.

In general, game drives typically last for 3-4 hours. Morning game drives typically start at 6:00 AM and last until 10:00 AM. This is the best time of day to see animals, as they are most active in the cool of the morning. Afternoon game drives typically start at 3:00 PM and last until sunset. This is a good time to see animals that are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Night game drives are less common, but they can be a great way to see nocturnal animals. In general, night game drives typically start at 8:00 PM and last until 10:00 PM.

Elephants in Murchison Falls

The elephant population is thriving here, growing 12% annually. We were lucky to see over 100 of the estimated 1,300 that roam freely in this beautiful area.

Elephants are capable of feeling joy, compassion, grief, altruism, and self-awareness. They have the capacity to empathize. They are the only non-human mammals to mourn their dead, perform burial rituals and return to visit grave sites. Their bond with and love of family runs deep. Their ability to feel is just as real as yours or mine.

Elephants are a matriarchal society. Females will adopt young elephants into their herds so they aren’t left alone. These incredible animals can remember and distinguish particular cues that signal danger. They remember places long after they’ve visited. They keep memories. These creatures are extraordinary!

Giraffes in Murchison Falls

In Murchison Falls National Park, you can find two types of giraffes: the Rothschild’s giraffe and the Uganda giraffe. They’re very common to see in the park!

Rothschild’s Giraffe: This giraffe subspecies is one of the most endangered giraffe species. It’s characterized by its distinct coat pattern with large, irregularly shaped spots separated by bright white lines. Rothschild’s giraffes are known for their tall and slender appearance. Additionally, Murchison Falls National Park is one of the few places where you can still find a wild population of these beautiful giraffes.

Uganda Giraffe: Also known as the Nubian giraffe, the Uganda giraffe is another subspecies found in Murchison Falls National Park. Comparatively, it has a coat pattern similar to the Rothschild’s giraffe, with irregularly shaped spots and pale lines. The Uganda giraffe is native to the savannas and woodlands of East Africa.

Other Big Game Animals in Murchison Falls

Lion: Lions are the apex predators of Murchison Falls National Park and are commonly seen on game drives. They are typically found in groups of 2-30 individuals, and, if you’re lucky, their distinctive roars can be heard for miles.

Buffalo: Buffaloes are large, horned animals that are often seen in herds of up to 1,000 individuals. They are grazers and are found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and swamps.

Leopard: Leopards are shy and elusive animals, and they are rarely seen on game drives. They are nocturnal hunters. Generally they are found in forested areas.

Hippopotamus: Hippos are large, semi-aquatic animals that spend most of their time in water. They are herbivores and are often seen grazing on the banks of rivers and lakes.

In addition, Murchison Falls National Park is also home to a variety of other wildlife. For example, crocodiles, warthogs, antelope, monkeys, and over 450 species of birds.

Boat safari on the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park

The Nile River has its source at Lake Victoria in Uganda, and the river’s 6,650 km / 4,130 mi journey makes it the longest river in the world. Consequently, part of that journey through Uganda includes Murchison Falls, where the river is forced through a narrow gorge, dropping 43 m / 141 ft!

As a matter of fact, you can hop on a boat to observe animals from (and in) the Nile River, as you make your way towards the base of Murchison Falls. As you cruise along the Nile River, you’ll have the opportunity to spot elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, and crocodiles. Also, you’ll see a variety of birds, including the iconic shoebill stork.

Boat safaris typically last for 2-3 hours and depart from Paraa Jetty on the south bank of the Nile River. They will happen during daylight hours to ensure best visibility.