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Uganda Gorilla Trekking & Safari Tours

4.3/5  –  195 Uganda Reviews

If your dream is tracking mountain gorillas, Uganda is the place to go. Rwanda is the only other country in which these gentle giants can be encountered on a trek, and Ugandan permits are a fraction of the price charged over the border. Apart from gorilla tracking, there are lots of other things to do in Uganda. The country is home to many primates and Kibale NP offers amazing chimpanzee tracking and habituation experiences. Kidepo, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls NP are great for game drives in a savannah environment with plenty of lion, buffalo and elephant, as well as a range of antelope species. The country is particularly scenic and has a lot to offer to people with a keen interest in natural history and who enjoy active holidays.

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8 Questions About Uganda Gorilla & Safari Tours

 
 

8 Questions About Uganda Gorilla & Safari Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

When is the best time to visit Uganda?

“Uganda can be visited at any time. Trekking mountain gorillas is on most tourists’ itineraries and permits are available throughout the year. Uganda is a tropical country with lots of rainfall. The wettest months are March to May and these months can be problematic to travel in. During these Wet season months, some lodges close down and some roads become very muddy and hard to negotiate. The Dry season months of June to August and December to February offer the easiest travel conditions and these months are also recommended for Ugandan gorilla trekking. General wildlife viewing in the savannah reserves is also best during the Dry season months as animals gather around rivers and waterholes, and the grass is shorter, which makes spotting easier.”

More about Uganda's best time to visit 1

Why visit Uganda, and what are the major attractions?

“Uganda is mostly known for its mountain gorilla tourism and most people on Uganda vacations will include a gorilla trekking experience in their itinerary. It is possible go on a Uganda gorilla tour as an add-on to an East African safari in Kenya or Tanzania, but Uganda has lots more to offer, so consider visiting some of the savannah reserves and tracking chimpanzees as well. Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a variety of activities such as chimpanzee trekking in Kyambara Gorge and a boat trip on Kazinga Channel. The wildlife is diverse and one of the highlights is the tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector of the park. Murchison Falls National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing as well as spectacular scenic beauty. You can take a boat trip on the Nile River to the famous Murchison Falls or to the delta. The latter is particularly rewarding for birders, and sightings of the prehistoric shoebill are very common in this area. More remote is Kidepo Valley National Park. This park offers a true wilderness experience and is home to many species that don’t occur elsewhere in the country, including the graceful cheetah. Primate lovers should visit Kibale National Park as it offers the most reliable chimpanzee trekking in the country, and a special habituation program is available for visitors wanting the spend a full day with their closest relatives.”

2

What does Uganda gorilla trekking cost?

“The permit fee for mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda is currently US$600. Although this might seem expensive, it is a bargain compared to the US$1500 permit fee in Rwanda, which is currently the only other country where these gentle giants can be tracked. Gorilla trekking is offered in two parks in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Both offer a similar experience where you can spend one hour with a gorilla troop after you have reached their location. The group size is limited to eight people. A new activity offered in Bwindi only is the gorilla habituation experience. Two semi-habituated troops can be tracked by a limited group of four tourists daily, who can stay for four hours. Viewing is less easy as these gorillas prefer to keep their distance since they aren’t yet fully habituated. The price for this special activity is US$1500.”

3

How is the wildlife viewing in Uganda?

“Uganda is an exciting destination for wildlife viewing, and its strength lies in its variety. Uganda has beautiful rain forests that are home to many primates. Mountain gorilla trekking is the top attraction, but almost equally exciting is chimpanzee trekking. A variety of monkeys can be seen throughout the country and a troop of habituated golden monkeys, endemic to the Albertine Rift, can be visited in Mgahinga National Park. Away from the forest environment, Uganda has several good savannah reserves where more conventional wildlife viewing is offered on game drives and boat trips. None of the savannah reserves offers quite the same level of exciting animal viewing as the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Masai Mara in Kenya; however, the scenic beauty in Uganda is unparalleled and the birding is nothing less than outstanding.”

More about viewing Uganda's wildlife & Animals 4

How safe is Uganda for tourists?

“Today Uganda is a very safe destination, even though it has received bad press in the past due to instability in its north. These problems are mostly in the past and tourists can now freely move around the whole country. This new level of security has opened up the north for tourism, and in particular the beautiful Kidepo Valley National Park, which was previously only accessible via very expensive charter flights. As is the case in any developing country, petty crime is a concern in urban centers, and visitors should take normal safety precautions when visiting cities and avoid travelling at night. All national parks have security police to maintain the safety of all visitors.”

5

How do you select a reliable Ugandan tour operator?

“Most Africa-specialist operators will be able to add a Uganda gorilla trekking package to any African safari. However, if you would like to explore the country further, a specialist Uganda operator is recommended. There are several good local outfits in the country and many of them offer Uganda gorilla trekking tours through the Safaribookings.com website. Always check the customer reviews as this will give you a good indication on reliability and quality of the guides and vehicles offered by the different operators. International operators usually work through these local outfits, but they sometimes offer more insurance and they might be in a better position to deal with issues if something goes wrong. They are also able to book your international flights as part of a Uganda gorilla trekking tour.”

6

What type of accommodation can I expect on a safari?

“Uganda has developed for tourism more recently than some of the more established safari destinations in the region, such as Kenya and Tanzania. Most parks and reserves now offer a good variety of accommodation options ranging from budget to very upmarket. The Ugandan gorilla trekking reserves of Bwindi and Mgahinga are located at high altitude and the climate tends to be cold and wet. Most accommodation in this area is therefore suitable to this kind of climate, and you can expect cozy cottages with log fires. Luxury tented camps are a popular option in the savannah reserves. One can also consider a camping. Aside from being the most budget-friendly option, it can be very rewarding for the more adventurous traveler.”

7

What can I expect from an African safari in Uganda?

“Variety is key on a Uganda safari. Each park in the country offers a very different experience and set of activities. The country is immensely beautiful, with many scenic highlights and landmarks such as Murchison Falls on the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park, the volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains in Mgahinga National Park, true rainforest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and a string of Rift Valley lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Wildlife viewing in the savannah reserves is not as overwhelming as in some of the top safari countries, but there is a good variety of animals to be seen. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks offer excellent boat trips to supplement the game drives. Most visitors to the country will track mountain gorillas and many will also track chimpanzees. A minimum level of fitness is required and one must be prepared for strenuous hiking on slippery mountain slopes through thick forest vegetation. The country receives quite high rainfall throughout the year, and although most rain happens in the afternoon, you might well get wet on occasion. So all in all, Uganda is a top destination for slightly adventurous visitors enjoying wildlife viewing as well as a bit of hiking.”

8

Uganda Safari Reviews

4.3/5 195 Reviews
Expert
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for CNN Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Fantastic wildlife and some of the friendliest people in Africa make Uganda unbeatable
5/5

I spent a month travelling around Uganda with a self-drive, expedition-prepared Landcruiser and visited almost every national park in the country. Uganda was a revelation! I had not expected such a richness of wildlife or such great...

Full Review

Expert
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Mountain gorillas, chimps and birds in lush, well-watered and incredibly green hills and valleys
4/5

Most of the superlative descriptions you read about Uganda are totally true, and it really is a place of shimmering lakes, lofty mountains and mysterious forests. Best known as the place to see mountain gorillas, no safari to the country...

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Timmerman Trudy  –  
Belgium BE
Reviewed: Nov 18, 2018
The safari was just fantastic.
5/5

We went on a safari with Lifetime Experience and they organized for me a great safari, including the visit of the gorilla's which was a unique experience. Only sitting in the car and watch the scenery was a pleasure. We came in the 'rainy'...

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Debra Bookbinder  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Nov 6, 2018
Exceeded all hopes, which were high
5/5

I hadn’t realised the distances involved and the quality of the roads, so my chosen itinerary was challenging but am so exceptionally grateful to Yala Safaris for taking it on and their guide, Robert, who went to exceptional lengths to...

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Macca  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Oct 20, 2018
Stunning Kidepo
5/5

It is about 10-11 hours from kampala, but it is totally worth it. The drive into Kidepo is absolutely stunning, incredible scenery all around. The park is certainly the hidden gem of East Africa, with very few tourist it offers a unique...

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Jens & Saula  –  
United Arab Emirates AE
Reviewed: Oct 18, 2018
Great Safari Experience with close encounters of wild life
5/5

We had a great 3 days trip with Wamba Safaris, filled with impressions and experiences. The guides were experienced and knowledgeable. The Pakuba lodge had the right level of comfort after the days travel and tracking and the wild life...

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