User Reviews – Uganda
Email Marcus Richardson | 35-50 years of age
Not like other safari destinations!
I have been lucky enough to take several safaris in East Africa over the last few years (in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania). If you're looking for the "classic" safari in an open-top vehicle admiring the wildlife on the plains, perhaps Uganda is not really the right destination for you. You probably won't see huge migrating herds like in the Serengeti, for example. And perhaps you'll find the general infrastructure and tourist facilities a bit more basic and lacking the luxury factor. But what I found in Uganda was something special, and quite different from other safari destinations I've been to.
My primary reason for going on safari to Uganda (and Rwanda) was to see the mountain gorillas, and that experience is worth a whole review in itself, so all I'll say about that here was that it was an extraordinary, wonderful experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Truly the highlight of my trip by far.
Also magical were walks in the forests, hearing chimpanzees shrieking in the trees, and coming close to them (with great care!). Those forest treks really made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Lots of fascinating monkeys to see and hear in those magical forests too.
Another highlight for me (in one of the forest treks) was the encounter at the bat cave in Maramagambo Forest (although the last I heard it has been closed to the public due to health fears).
I opted to take a camping safari, rather than lodge-based. It's truly the best way to experience the magic of the bush. There is nothing quite like lying in your tent at night, listening to the sounds of lions roaring nearby, monkeys shrieking in the trees, and hippos grazing on the grass outside your tent. There are no fences and "safe" enclosed campsites - you are truly amongst nature. One night a group of elephants came into our camp, another night it was lions. Not for the faint-hearted, but truly extraordinary, and you don't experience these things in lodges. Also, it's worth bearing in mind that camping safaris are quite luxurious - I had a very comfortable tent set up for me every night, complete with bed and wash-stand. Showers and toilets were portable and therefore not luxurious, but on the other hand you can only laugh and feel the wonder of the bush when a baboon steals your toilet paper... Food was excellent, all transported along with us vacuum packed for freshness as part of a very impressive logistics operation that accompanied our safari as it moved around the country.
Some "normal" game drives were also included in this safari, and while perhaps not as spectular as others I have been on in East Africa, there was still some excellent game viewing to be had. Highlights of game drives included the incredible tree-climbing lions (seen several times), a leopard strolling in front of our vehicle, and of course the spectacular birds (even as a non-enthusiast I couldn't help but be blown away by the incredible birdlife). Guides were very hard-working and dedicated, always making every effort to find the most elusive wildlife and get us up close, but always respecting nature at the same time. They were very, very few other tourists around, so we didn't experience the "20 vehicles surrounding a lion" phenomenon that often blights safaris in the more popular safari destinations.
In short, I can say that Uganda is perfect for the more adventurous safari-goer who wants to do something a little different (more on the wild side). If you're willing to get wet, muddy, bitten by ants, and exhausted in order to get up close, on foot, to some of the most wonderful and rare creatures on earth, this is the place. For me, Uganda is all about spine-tingling experiences in magical forests, and getting face to face with the wildlife, with no vehicles or fences to separate you. I've never been anywhere quite like it.
Email Zsolt Banyai | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
First of all, we have to define "safari destination". In my response, I rather took this as "wildlife destination", since neither Kibale nor Bwindi are really "safari destinations" for me.
I saw 10 different pimates, which is extraordinary. Plus, you have a chance of enjoying hippos, elephants, and even lions, and a great variety of birds making this an amazing wildlife destination.
Email mark | 65+ years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
i loved this is an amazing country and wildlife destination and i hope that this country gets more love
Email Nick Groocock | 65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
I was mostly interested in the Kidepo Valley landscape - not the wildlife - and enjoyed every moment
I had been wanting - but that’s another story - to visit Kidepo Valley National Park for decades but the PLO Entebbe airport hijacking in 1976 put paid to a first visit. While I did visit Uganda in the early 1990’s our trans-Africa itinerary over six months between Tangiers and Capetown did not permit travel to the far north. Finally, in 2019, it WAS possible. I looked into various group tours but could find nothing that suited - most tours were more interested in gorilla tracking - wonderful I’m sure - and Uganda’s south west. I had ‘done’ my gorilla tracking years earlier in Rwanda and Zaire, and had seen ‘all’ the wildlife elsewhere during various visits. I was interested in the Kidepo landscape and walking through it. Finally I looked at several companies offering a ‘driver and me’ type of travel. After a number of widely varying quotes I settled on Grassrootz, a Ugandan/Dutch company and I could not have been happier with my choice. Quite expensive as far as my bank account was concerned but Apoka Lodge, where I spent four nights, was never going to be inexpensive, even during the low season I was there for. ‘My’ driver Bob Asiimwe picked me up at the Guinea Fowl, a very comfortable guest house near Entebbe airport (Guinea Fowl did not complain when I reached them just before sunrise due to my flight from Ethiopia being briefly diverted to Kigali due to bad weather) and we, well HE, drove through the day to Apoka. We were expected and Apoka immediately made me feel at home. Kidepo Valley National Park, and Apoka, were wonderful. A morning drive by an Apoka driver, generally a very professional James, with other guests before breakfast and a late afternoon walk for just myself and a Kidepo Ranger Andrew, driven to and from a drop-off point by James - who even signalled all his turns when going from one dirt track to another. Andrew and he were both very, very good about spotting things I was completely missing. They seemed to have a good rapport and while not from the Kidepo area, were from the same other part of the country. I could not have had better company, so kudos to whoever is responsible for them being there. Since a first visit to Africa in 1971, my rural accommodation has almost always been in a two person tent or under the stars so, for me, Apoka was very comfortable and if they were missing something - don’t know if they have ‘wellness’ facilities, but those would represent no value at all to me - I don’t know what it could have been.
Lots of elephant and buffalo, usually at a distance, but Apoka knew I was not there for the wildlife. The walks were wonderful. Meals were all very enjoyable.
My return to Entebbe involved two nights at Sipi River Lodge, on the side of Mount Elgin. A wonderful drive down from Kidepo. Before and after Kidepo the road was not always the smoothest - though nothing like Zaire and other countries to the west - and Bob would weave back and forth to avoid bumps and pot holes. Having spent a year or two on similar roads / tracks elsewhere in Africa, and Asia, I tried second guessing for awhile where Bob would go - right, left, straight ahead. Gave it up. Bob was far, far ahead of me.
My cottage at Sipi River Lodge was within sight and hearing of the falls. A very enjoyable stay. During the day I went for walks with Bob, and local guide Chebet Juma, and learned about the production of coffee, from planting it to grinding. I made the mistake of pitching in when it came to the grinding bit, with mortar and pestle. Wrist has not recovered four months later - apparently I didn’t do it properly, though ‘my’ coffee tasted just fine, to me.
All in all, my Grassrootz experience, both in Uganda and with Zander in their Holland office can’t be faulted. My memories of 1993 Uganda and 2019 Uganda are quite different, not surprising after a quarter century away.
Were I to return to Uganda for a similar journey, would be the first people I would contact. Would I stay at Apoka again? If I wanted that level of comfort THERE, I’m sure I would. The landscape alone would make another visit worthwhile, as would being in the company of people such as James and Andrew.
Email Kyle | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Great for Rainforest. Not as great for typical safari.
The tour was fantastic.! Not as good as other east Africa countries but still a wonderful place to visit
Email Yasuyo Tsunemine | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Uganda is a wonderful country. This is my fist time to visit Africa. I truly enjoyed time there and would love to visit there again. I highly recommend it!
Email Macca | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
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 and remote vibe. Wildlife numbers and diversity continue to recover, and whilst it hasn't got the same density of wildlife as some other parks, you will see plenty and usually when you do, you are on your own.
Sunrises and sunsets are epic, with the backdrop of the mountains surrounding the valley. An hour or so drive up to the south Sudan border and you will be sure to see some ostriches, the only ones in Uganda.
It really is a stunning place, that should be on everyone's wish list!
Email Jens | 65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Georgeous look at the remains of african wilderness
Pleasant hilly landscapes or wast savannah-like plains. We travelled at the beginning of the rainy season, and found temperature-range very enjoyable. We admired the sublime unrestraint of the nile valley, the rwenzory hights, the easy access to chimp- and gorilla habitats. After making peace with the salt poverty of the food, we gained 2 kilos each within 3 weeks. Seducing sweet and ripe fruits, some of them we had never seen before, excellent meat and fish, tasty side-dishes. All you can eat, and more. Shame on me. Never got a stomach egg though. Almost no moskitos. Tsetse-flies only on the people around me dressed in blue and black just like the insect traps . Thrilling Boda-boda rides, allegedly even more dangerous than hippos. Drivers were true reliable acrobats, so was our tour guide. Intelligent, always friendly, never tired, very communicative, competent. Felt like travelling with a friend. Safari-van in best shape to survive african massage. Commod way to get around. Wonderful wildlife experience, getting as close as that elephant sniffling at the porch of my tent. Accomodation viable. Sometimes no warm water, sometimes broken tent zippers, sometimes mosquito-tents only useful as decoration. Had not seen a single water tap properly bolted to the sink, however this is a mysterium to be found all over east africa. Opined Uganda with its vivid chaos much more attractive than almost suisse-like rwanda. This may however change with the soon expected doubling of population, meaning the doubling of dwellings, infrastructure, traffic. No more space for wildlife of any kind (please refer to Germany). No more rain forests. No more rain. Do your travelling now!
Email Mezza | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
The best thing I have ever done, fantastic, great tour company and staff, great service, great time.
We went with "Go Explore Safari" in December 2017 and it was a really good tour company. I travelled with my elderly parents (60 plus) and my daughter (4yrs). They were punctual in picking us up and the cars were clean and in good condition. They were very responsive via email or whatever mode of communication we preferred. The trip was very well organised and we were well informed all the way throughout the trip. The staff were very friendly and extremely helpful all the way throughout the trip. We really had a good time and my family were very happy because we got to see a lot of wild animals, the tour company staff were very patient when we wanted to take photos and were happy to drive round to look for the big five to maximise our safari. Food and accommodation was good, rooms were clean and spacious. Please note that with the three different ranges of accommodation you get what you paid for so don't expect five star service for low budget accommodation.
My family and I had a brilliant safari and were really pleased with the service offered. I would definitely travel with Go Explore Safari and have actually started organising another trip in Northern Uganda with them. I would definitely recommend doing a safari with them.
Email Emilie | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
I only went to Queen Elizabeth NP for a true safari, but only a couple hours away I went on a chimpanzee trek in Kalinzu Forest. And even driving on the outskirts of Lake Mburo, without actually entering the park, we saw quite a lot of wildlife. Although I was only there for a week, Uganda is rich with wildlife, and I met many Ugandans who were so hospitable.