Overview – Katonga WR

Ariadne van Zandbergen
Expert
By Ariadne van Zandbergen

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Uganda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Uganda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Uganda.

Ariadne and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Uganda.

Katonga is a little-known, low-key wildlife reserve about 270km/168mi (five to six hours drive) east of the city of Kampala. Efforts to better protect the park against poaching are slowly restoring the animal population. Several antelope species are easily seen, including the Uganda kob. The rare, marsh-dwelling sitatunga antelope can sometimes be spotted as well, as can hippo and otter. There are no roads for vehicle safaris, so the park is best explored on foot.

Size 210km² / 81mi²
Altitude 1,184-1,367m / 3,885-4,485ft

Pros & Cons

  • Guided walks available
  • One of the few places in East Africa to see sitatunga antelope
  • Exceptional aquatic birdlife
  • Only very basic accommodation available
  • Low animal densities

Katonga WR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Katonga doesn't support most of the large safari animals. Big cats are absent, and elephant and buffalo occur in small numbers only. But the park is one of the few places in East Africa that offers a chance to see the sitatunga antelope. Several other antelope species are present as well, including reedbuck, bushbuck, waterbuck and Uganda kob. Baboon and black-and-white colobus are also regularly spotted. As a first phase of restocking, zebra and impala were translocated to the park from Lake Mburu in 2013. The birding is great due to the variety of habitats.

Scenery

A variety of habitats can be explored in the park including rainforest, papyrus swamps and savannah. The park is on the edge of the Katonga river valley.

Weather & Climate

The weather and climate of Katonga is comparable to that of Uganda in general. More info:

Best Time to Visit

Katonga can be visited at any time of the year, but the best time for wildlife viewing is in the Dry season (December-February and June-July).

Getting There

Katonga is the closest park to Kampala as the crow flies, but it still a good six-hours’ drive away, and can be reached from the Fort Portal–Kampala road. It can easily be incorporated in a standard Uganda itinerary, but seldom is due to the lack of amenities and low wildlife densities.

Health & Safety

Please read our vaccinations and malaria page for Uganda, and our general wildlife-viewing safety precautions page for more info:

Want to Visit Katonga WR?

Katonga WR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Tim Bewer  –  
United States US

Tim is a travel writer who has covered 10 African countries for Lonely Planet's Africa, East Africa and West Africa guidebooks.

Not the right place for everybody
2/5

I like this reserve, I really do, but first-time safariers should give it a pass; and even returners will want to consider whether it’s the right destination for them. There just isn’t much wildlife here, although since it’s seldom...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Alvin B.  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Nov 11, 2016
3/5

I didn't see enough of birding to decide; and I don't know what bush vibe means.

Full Review