Budget safaris cost from $150 per person per day, mid-range from $300 per person per day and top-end safaris start at around $600 per person. Uganda is one of Africa’s most overlooked safari destinations, yet it’s the most naturally diverse safari country. It’s also one of the affordable safari destinations.
Average Costs of a Safari in Uganda (Per person per day)
The costings table here gives an instant overview of how much the average Uganda safari will cost, depending on your travel style. Using this table allows you to quickly match your daily budget to the kind of Uganda safari you can afford. There’s one – large, hairy thing – that has a serious impact on Uganda safari budgets: the mountain gorilla. If you want to see Uganda’s most iconic resident then you need to budget $700 for the permit alone. Traveling during the low seasons (October to November and March to April) helps reduce costs.
|Comfort Level||Private(per day)||Group(per day)|
|Mid Range Accommodation||$425||$275|
|Luxury Plus Accommodation||$750||n/a|
Rates in USD $
Excluding additional costs, such as international flights, tips and personal items
Additional Costs Explained
The following list covers a few additional Uganda costs – some obvious,
Direct international flights to Uganda aren’t that common. It’s often considerably cheaper to fly via Nairobi and change to a Kenyan budget airline there.
Most nationalities pay $50 for a single-entry visa. If you’ll also be traveling to Kenya or Rwanda (Tanzania is not included in this visa) get an East African tourist visa for $100.
Safari accommodation in Uganda is generally a little cheaper than in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania. A couple of hundred US dollars will often get you a very pleasant place to stay. Around the gorilla national parks, prices are higher.
A yellow fever vaccination is obligatory for entry into Uganda. The steamy climate means that mosquitoes are common and it’s wise to take precautions against malaria.
Tipping is expected in better-quality hotels, safari lodges and camps. Guides and drivers also expect to be tipped. Bring a couple of hundred dollars in smaller bills to cover tips. To give you a hint: $25 per person per day.
Standard travel insurance is fine for most safari activities, including gorilla trekking. If you’re heading up to the remote, little-visited far north, where there have been security issues in the past, check that your insurance is valid for that region.
10 factors influencing the cost of a Uganda safari
The general cost of a Uganda safari varies hugely depending on a number of factors. The most important are the time of year you’ll be traveling, the parks and reserves you wish to visit, and how exclusive you’re prepared to go.
Length of stay
If you’re buying a fully packaged Uganda safari using the same company for everything, then the per-day price does tend to drop slightly the longer you spend on safari. Otherwise, if putting together your own itinerary the per-day costs don’t change much whether you spend a weekend or a month in the country. Hiring a jeep and driver is always cheaper per day if you hire the vehicle for a longer period.
Level of comfort of accommodation
It goes without saying that the more comfort you require the more a Uganda safari will cost. That said, compared to, for example, Tanzania, Ugandan safari accommodation is surprisingly good value and you can get a double room at a decent mid-range safari lodge or camp for $200.
Location of the accommodation
Safari accommodation in Uganda is generally split between those found within the protected areas or those that are a little further away. The latter is normally cheaper. The areas surrounding Ugandan protected areas tend to be more developed than in much of Kenya and Tanzania. There are often towns and villages not far from the main entrances to the country’s national parks. Many of these have fairly cheap places to stay. Accommodation close to the gorilla national parks is almost always more expensive than similar places elsewhere.
Traveling on an organized group tour can be cheaper than going it alone. Especially if it’s organized through a local Uganda operator rather than an internationally based operator. One thing that never changes, whether you’re traveling solo or in a big group, is park entry fees, which are always per person. As an add-on to your organized safari, and for a different experience for the more adventurous, you could try and create your own small group, hire a vehicle and driver, and explore some of the country at your leisure. This will give you a sense of independence and flexibility.
When you want to go
Uganda follows the classic East African weather pattern with two rainy seasons between March and May and October and November. However, unlike Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda’s most famous national parks are rainforest parks, and rain of varying quantities can be expected year-round. If you can deal with some mud, lots of leeches and some slippery roads, then the start and end of the rainy seasons can be reasonable times to visit with overall lower costs. The July-to-August and Christmas high seasons are naturally enough the busiest and priciest times to visit.
How to get around
The easiest, but most expensive way, of getting around is by air. Aerolink (aerolinkuganda.com) uses small planes to connect the major national parks. But even the shortest hop is unlikely to cost less than $200 per person. The country’s small size and close proximity of many of the parks mean that rather than flying many people hire a jeep and driver (from $125 per day) and in Uganda this is probably the choice way to get around as it allows greater flexibility and the chance to see more of this stunning country than just the parks and reserves.
Where you want to go
Hiking through forest to see habituated gorillas is simply the most intense wildlife experience the planet can offer. But you pay for the honor. Gorilla permits cost $700 per person (you spend one hour with the gorillas). Chimpanzee permits cost $200 at Kibale National Park (the best place), but as little as $25 in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. With all aspects of a gorilla safari being expensive, the best way of keeping Uganda safari costs down is by not seeing the gorillas at all. Uganda has many other protected areas full of interesting wildlife that can be visited for much less.
A white-water rafting experience near Jinja or a trek in the Rwenzori Mountains are gaining in popularity, but each will add a chunk of money. Much cheaper is a few days chilling on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi. It’s a beautiful island-studded lake and there’s lots of good-value accommodation.
A short safari in Kenya is a popular add-on to a Uganda safari and is especially easy to organize if you fly via Nairobi. This will add quite considerably to overall costs though.
A special-interest safari in Uganda is most likely to be one focused exclusively on primates or birds. Uganda is quite probably the single best safari destination in Africa for those interested in communing with chimpanzees, gorillas and smaller monkeys, but the cost of gorilla- and chimpanzee-viewing permits is high, which means such a safari is going to cost a lot. A safari focused on bird watching will cost more for a specialized guide, but otherwise is likely cheaper overall due to the likelihood of visiting lesser-known parks and reserves.