​Expert Reviews – Uganda

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Stephen Cunliffe   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times (and lived here)

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

27 people found this review helpful.

Primate Capital of Africa
Overall rating

Dubbed the ‘Pearl of Africa’ by Sir Winston Churchill, Uganda is one of the continent’s most beautiful and welcoming countries. This small landlocked East African nation possesses a staggering wealth of natural assets. Foremost amongst these are the world-renowned primate safaris through the verdant rainforests of the southwest. These forests lure intrepid visitors with the promise of unforgettable encounters with habituated families of endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees (our closest living relatives). With Kibale National Park boasting the highest primate density in the world and Bwindi home to almost half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, Uganda is a modern-day mecca for primate-lovers.

While primates definitely top the safari agenda here, Uganda is home to much, much more. Spilling out of gigantic Lake Victoria, the White Nile offers world-class white-water rafting at Jinja, while further downstream the impressive Murchison Falls thunder through one of the country’s most scenically spectacular national parks. Uganda also lays claim to Africa’s third-highest mountain range, the Rwenzori, along with some of the region's more uncrowded and attractive wildlife areas.

I wholeheartedly agree that trekking to see the mountain gorillas is something that every safari-goer should strive to experience at least once in their lifetime, but, in my opinion, Uganda’s greatest safari attraction remains hidden and undiscovered in a far-flung corner of this diverse country. Unknown to all but the most committed and adventurous safari-goers, the world-class Kidepo Valley National Park beckons to wildlife enthusiasts looking for an off-the-beaten-track safari experience they can call their own. From Queen Elizabeth National Park, the country’s premier safari destination, in the southwest to the remote wilderness savannas of Kidepo in the northeast, there is little doubt that Uganda truly has it all.

What I really like is that all these action attractions are bottled into a small, friendly equatorial country with a decent road infrastructure. This enables safari-goers to drive between their chosen parks and safari lodges, thereby getting a much better understanding and appreciation of the country as a whole, while simultaneously keeping the cost of their chosen safari down by forgoing the need to take the usual expensive charter flights.

With the ‘Switzerland of Africa’ clawing its way back onto the global tourism stage, now is the time to visit this alluring country before the tourist hordes discover Uganda’s rich array of natural attractions.

Tim Bewer   –  
United States US
Visited: August-September

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

20 people found this review helpful.

Add Gorillas to Your Safari
Overall rating

Let’s be clear right up front. Because Uganda’s parks suffered such a massive poaching scourge during the turbulent 1980s, it is generally seen as a second-tier safari destination when compared with its neighbors Kenya and Tanzania. But that does not mean you shouldn’t consider visiting Uganda. Wildlife populations have rebounded in the national parks and the reintroduction of white rhino into the private Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch means you can score the Big Five again. But, ironically, the safari animals are not the main reason to do a safari here; it’s a variety of other things that make Uganda a special destination. Scenically, Uganda holds its own with any other country – the mountains and lakes of the southwest are postcard perfect, standing atop Murchison Falls is exhilarating and Kidepo Valley is simply amazing. The safari experience is also great because the national parks receive far fewer visitors than most parks in other countries. The day I went searching for the tree-climbing lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park I didn’t see another vehicle the entire morning. Plus, the mix of Central African rainforest and East African savannah, hosting over 1000 species of bird, makes Uganda one of the best bird-watching destinations not just in Africa, but the world. But more than anything it’s the chance to see gorillas that makes Uganda excellent for safaris. Almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks, where groups have been habituated to humans to allow up-close encounters. It’s one of the most amazing wildlife experiences a person can have. This unique combination of factors, not available anywhere else, is why, overall, Uganda is solidly one of my favorite countries in Africa and I’ve met others who share this opinion. Whether it’s your first safari or your tenth, Uganda can make it special.

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.1/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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