Uganda Vacation


Vacation in Uganda is a fun full vacation which will connect you Uganda which is one of the East African countries bordered by Kenya in the east, South Sudan in the north, Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, Rwanda in the southwest and Tanzania in the south. Uganda’s southern part includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria shared with Tanzania and Kenya. Uganda was described as the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill in 1908 to convey the variety, beauty and natural wealth of this nation. Therefore as described by Winston, Uganda truly offers a serene tranquil beauty with magnificent tourist destinations well known for its breathtaking landscapes, biodiversity and abundant bird species and wildlife including the largest living primate species known as the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. On your vacation in the Pearl of Africa, expect to explore Uganda’s unique tranquil habitats to be rewarded with great views of staggering ranges of flora and fauna species including those that are endemic to the Albertine Rift valley. Unwind in the countryside to mingle with the locals to get a fascinating cultural experience that is as ancient and variable as the country’s splendid panoramic landscapes. There are boundless reasons to visit Uganda and below are some of the best and eye catching tourist destinations you should never miss out on your vacation in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; a haven to the mountain gorillas

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a natural rainforest dominated national park located in the southwestern part of Uganda on the rim of the Rift valley. These rainforests date back to more than 25,000years made up of about 450 varied plant species that the ancient Batwa pygmies used to depend on for survival many years back. These impenetrable forests are known to harbor more than half of the world’s remaining gorilla population among which are some habituated gorilla families that are ready for trekking whereas the others are still wild and still undergoing the habituation process. Therefore one should consider visiting the critically endangered mountain gorillas on one’s vacation to Uganda. However gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are done in two National Parks namely Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi; Gorilla trekking in Bwindi’s misty forests is once in a life time experience and considered one of the best tourist activities to engage in while on a vacation in Uganda. Gorilla trekking starts with a briefing about gorilla trekking dos and don’ts after which you are allocated the gorilla family that you will go trekking before you set off on foot for a hike uphill and downhill through dense misty rainforests. Tracing for the allocated gorilla family may last for about 1 to 6 hours depending on how far these gentle giants could have moved in search for their food. An hour is allowed with the gorillas as you closely follow after them and watch them feed and nature their young ones. This activity seems exhausting but it is definitely worth it and rewarding upon encountering these endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

The Batwa pygmy communities; The Batwa pygmies are a hunter-gatherer tribe that lived side-by-side with the wildlife of Bwindi forests for thousands of years. They are therefore known as the “keepers of the forests” that lived in harmony with the forests surviving on hunting down small animals for food using bow and arrows and gathering wild fruits for food. On your vacation to Uganda, one should plan to take on the Batwa cultural experience that starts with a 3 hours’ hike through the Bwindi forests to their settlements where you engage with the medicinal men, observe how the Batwa women prepare their local dishes, listen to ancient and traditional songs through their lively musical performances, learn about their fascinating way of life as you interact with the Batwa old tribesmen. Making visits to these local Batwa communities gives one an insight of how this ancient tribe exists.

Murchison falls National Park

Murchison falls National Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest protected area that was first gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1926 located north of Kampala at the end of the Albertine Rift valley. Murchison Falls National Park is a home to over 76 mammal species and 451 bird species making it a perfect place for game viewing and bird watching. This National is a home to the dramatic Murchison waterfalls along the Victoria Nile which plunges over a remnant valley wall and forcing its way through a 7 meter wide gorge creating the falls. On one’s vacation to Uganda one should plan a visit to Murchison Falls National Park to have one of Uganda’s wildlife spectacles. Rewarding and eye-catching activities in Murchison Falls National Park include the following;

Game viewing; Game viewing involves being driven in a 4WD tourist vehicle through the Park’s trails while seeing several animal species and bird species. Animals that can be spotted in Murchison falls National Park include the Big four namely; lions, African elephants, cape buffaloes and leopards. Other mammals include the giraffes, warthogs, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeests, Uganda kobs, primates like olive baboons, patus monkeys to mention but a few. Game viewing can be done by one embarking on the morning game drives, evening game drives and the night game drives that offer an experience of the nocturnal animals that are always active in the night.

Launch cruise to the bottom of the falls and downstream to the Albert Delta; Launch cruise to the bottom of the falls is the Park’s most rewarding and exciting activity that starts at Paraa and sail up-close to the centerpiece of the Park while you have clear views of aquatic life such as hippopotamuses, Nile crocodiles and various bird species like the African darter, grey-headed kingfishers, giant kingfishers, pied kingfisher, swamp fly-catcher, giant heron, herons and many more. A boat cruise to the Albert delta offers the best birding opportunity as you sail to an area where the Victoria Nile enters Lake Albert. At this place you will have good sights on water birds hiding in shrubs and floating vegetation such as the prehistoric elusive shoebill stork, pied giant malachite, giant kingfishers, grey herons, warblers, francolins to mention but a few. Other activities that can be indulged in at the Park include hikes to the top of the waterfalls (devil’s cauldron), nature walks, chimpanzee trekking and habituation in Budongo forest to mention but a few.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular savannah National Park and the most visited protected area in Uganda. This savannah National Park is situated in the western region adjoining the Kyambura game reserve to the east and Kibale National Park to the northeast. This National Park has a great diversity of habitats that include savannah grasslands, forests, lakes and wetlands that serve as havens to a variety of mammal species and bird species. Queen Elizabeth National Park is also famous for its volcanic features such as volcanic cones and deep crater lakes for example the Katwe craters, Bunyaruguru craters and many more. Queen Elizabeth National Park offers several fascinating tourist activities that one can indulge in on one’s vacation to Uganda which include;

Game viewing; Game viewing is conducted in the early morning and evenings during game drives that offer an opportunity to tourists to see several animals like the African elephant, cape buffaloes, lions, leopards, hyenas, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, bushbucks, warthogs to mention but a few. Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers an opportunity for chimpanzee trekking that is carried out in rainforests bordered by steep-sided slopes referred to as the Kyambura gorge. This gorge also harbors several other primates such as the olive baboons, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, grey checked mangabeys to mention but a few.

Boat cruise along the Kazinga channel; This is one of the most famous tourist activities carried out in Queen Elizabeth National Park that offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. A boat cruise along this water channel that connects Lake Edward to Lake George is conducted twice a day that is in the morning and in the afternoon. This boat cruise sails you through schools of hippopotamuses while having great views of crocodiles lying along the channel banks and various mammals wallowing and quenching their thirst on the Kazinga waters such as buffaloes, African elephants, sitatungas, waterbucks to mention but a few with several exotic bird species.

Viewing Tree climbing lions in the ; The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the southern part of the Park and is one of the few places in Africa where tree climbing lions can be seen. Tree climbing lions are easily spotted hanging in Figtree branches while on one’s way to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or during Lion trekking with in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Kibale National Park; the world’s primate capital

Kibale National Park is a moist evergreen rainforests located in the western region of the country popular for its diverse primate population. Kibale National Park is regarded as the world’s primate capital well known for harboring up to 13 primate species that are not seen elsewhere in the country. These primates include the chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoest’s monkeys, grey checked mangabeys, Pottos, Galagos, vervet monkeys, Patas monkeys to mention but a few. Kibale National Park is therefore a perfect place for Chimpanzee trekking, chimpanzee habituation and primate viewing. Chimpanzee trekking starts off with a briefing about chimpanzee trekking dos and don’ts before you proceed to hike through the lush tropical rainforests to embark on the search of these great apes. Trekking the Kibale chimpanzees takes to about 1 to 4 hours depending on their movements. An hour is allowed with the chimpanzees as you closely watch them go by their daily duties such as foraging for food, grooming, playing from one tree branch to another before you retire off the forests. During this wondrous activity, several other primates can as well be seen roaming the forests.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary; birders’ paradise; The Bigodi wetland sanctuary is a jungle swamp located in Kibale National Park which is a home to various mammals, primates and over 200 bird species more notably the great blue turaco. This sanctuary is run by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) aimed at funding and supporting the Bigodi community projects.  This sanctuary is therefore a perfect place for bird watching as well as viewing different mammals, primate species and plant species. Therefore one shouldn’t hesitate making a visit to this beautiful jungle swamp on one’s vacation to Uganda.

Kasenda crater lakes region; The Kasenda crater lakes region is located within Kibale National Park comprised of 60 spectacular explosion craters some of which are filled with water and others with toxic green-colored water while a few depressions are empty. These crater lakes are believed to have formed during the violent volcanic eruptions that occurred about 10,000 years ago. Some of the beautiful crater lakes in this region include Lake Kifuruka, Lake Nyinambuga, Lake Nyabikere, Lake Nkuruba to mention but a few. This region offers beautiful and dramatic scenery while undertaking a guided nature walk to the “Top of the world” offers great views of the area, hills, crater lakes, lush canopy views of the forests and the Rwenzori Mountains.

Jinja; East Africa’s adventure capital

Jinja is one of Uganda’s cities situated in the eastern region of the country on the northern shore of Lake Victoria. Jinja in the past was popularly known as an industrial city before it was developed to become one of the best adventure destinations in the entire East Africa. This adventure capital houses the historic source of the Nile which is the starting point of the world’s longest River that flows from Lake Victoria finding its way through northern Uganda to South Sudan and Egypt to pour its waters in the Mediterranean Sea. On your vacation in Uganda endeavor to indulge in adrenaline activities along the River Nile and its source in Jinja for example a boat cruise to the Speke monument at the source of the Nile, kayaking, tubing, bungee jumping, white water rafting, quad bike riding to mention but a few. A boat cruise to the source of the Nile offers a great opportunity for bird watching since one is able to spot several bird species that live and roam around Lake Victoria for example the great blue turaco, purple swamp-hen, giant kingfisher, African open-billed stork, green-backed heron, white-spotted fluff tail, Bruce’s green pigeon, white-crested turaco to mention but a few.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is one of Uganda’s beautiful and tranquil places to include on your itinerary for a vacation in the Pearl of Africa. Lake Bunyonyi is Africa’s second deepest lake after Lake Tanganyika dotted with over 29 Islands all with historical and cultural attachment worth exploring. This magnificent Lake is located in southwestern Uganda near the Uganda-Rwanda border just a few hours’ drive form Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Lake Bunyonyi and its surrounding areas is referred to as the Switzerland of Uganda since the area is surrounded by hills, green terraces and winding valleys. This gorgeous Lake offers an opportunity to indulge and interact with the local communities for example the Batwa and the Bakiga cultural tribes and thus learning about their cultural traditions, norms and values. Exploring Lake Bunyonyi’s Islands on a boat or a canoe is rewarding since one gets to learn about the historical attachment of the Islands to the local communities for example the Akampene Island also referred to as the Punishment Island where unmarried pregnant girls were taken to starve to death as a form of punishment. Other Islands that are worth exploring include Bwama Island, Bacuranuka Island, Bushara Island, Kyahugye Island to mention but a few.

Mabamba wetland

Mabamba wetland is situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria 12 kilometers west of Entebbe. This wetland is one of Uganda’s most important birding sites harboring to about 300 bird species including the elusive pre-historic shoebill stork. One should include this natural wetland on one’s vacation to Uganda since it offers captivating ecosystems that draw bird lovers, nature and wildlife enthusiasts. On one’s visit to Mabamba wetland, expect to jump on a motorized wooden boat and sail you through a maze of trails cutting through thick mashes while your eyes are easily taken away by various bird types enjoying this Ramsar swamp. Other bird species that can be spotted in this beautiful swamp include the papyrus Gonolek, orange weaver, black egret, goliath heron, black-faced rufous warbler, black crake, lesser jacana to mention but a few.

Kidepo National Park

Kidepo National Park is Uganda’s most isolated National Park situated in northeastern region of the country bordering South Sudan to its north. Kidepo National Park is referred to as the Serengeti of Uganda due to its rugged savannah, semiarid plains and valleys that are habitats to over 75mammal species and 470 bird species. This National Park is a perfect place for game viewing where animals are seen around two valleys name the Kidepo valley and the Narus valley where animals converge to cool their temperatures and quench their thirst. Animals that can be seen include the African buffaloes, elephants, cheetahs, greater kudus, oribis, aardwolf, reedbucks, lesser kudus, guenther’s dik-dik, lions to mention but a few. Kidepo National Park offers one an opportunity to mingle with the local communities where one gets to learn about their ways of life style, traditions, norms and cultural beliefs. Cultural communities around this Park include the IK group of people who are the ancient occupants of Kidepo National Park and the Karamajong people who are a pastoral tribe similar to the Masai of Kenya. Therefore one should think of exploring Uganda’s Serengeti on one’s vacation in Uganda.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is the closest of all Uganda’s National Parks to the capital city located conveniently close to Kampala-Mbarara high way in Mbarara. This is Uganda’s smallest National Park though worth a visit due to its biodiversity and habitats those range from savannah grasslands, forests to lakes and wetlands. Lake Mburo National Park is a home to over 68mammal species and 350 bird species making it a perfect destination for game viewing as well as bird watching. This National Park harbors several animals for example the elands which is the world’s largest antelope, cape buffaloes, impalas, zebras, oribis, waterbucks, hippopotamuses, topis, giraffes to mention but a few. Lake Mburo National Park is a perfect place for walking safaris and horseback riding safaris that one should embark on while on a vacation in Uganda.

Sipi Falls

Sipi falls is a series of three water falls located on the northwestern slopes of mountain Elgon situated on the Uganda-Kenya border. These magnificent water falls are adjacent to Mountain Elgon National Park northeast of Sironko and Mbale. The Sipi falls were formed by the Sipi River that flows from the upper slopes of Mountain Elgon. The Sipi falls are a hiker’s paradise that are only accessed by hiking on foot through cultivated areas and plantations with the guidance of a local guide who shares historical and the Falls’ geographical background that are worth taking away during one’s vacation to Uganda.

Ziwa rhino sanctuary

Ziwa rhino sanctuary is a wildlife ranch that was gazetted to harbor the critically endangered white rhinos in Uganda. This Rhino sanctuary is located in Nakasongola district a few hours’ drive to Murchison Falls National Park. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where white rhinos can be seen in the wild freely grazing. Rhino trekking is the sanctuary’s major activity that involves hiking through bush accompanied by ranger guides to encounter them in their natural habitat where one is allowed to watch over them for an hour while the ranger guide explains each and every details about these endangered mammal species. Other activities one can indulge in at Ziwa rhino sanctuary while on a vacation in Uganda include shoebill trek while on a canoe ride along the Lugogo wetland, mammal viewing, birding, nature walks and night walks to mention but a few.

The Equator line in Kayabwe

The Pearl of Africa is one of the countries that is crossed by the Equator that divides the earth into two equal parts namely the southern and the northern hemispheres. Kayabwe hosts the most iconic equator crossing spot located 70 kilometers from Kampala along the Kampala-Mbarara highway. The equator line in Kayabwe is a widely known landmark that is often visited by tourists on their way to and from several National Parks located in the country’s southwestern region. This is a fun stopover where one is able to capture photos while having one’s legs in both of the hemispheres. This place as well offers one the opportunity to purchase some souvenirs from craft shops to take with him/her back home. Therefore one shouldn’t miss out on this equator line experience while on one’s vacation in Uganda.

Kampala; Uganda’s capita city

Kampala is Uganda’s capital city and one should consider exploring this capital on one’s vacation to the Pearl of Africa. Kampala is a city made up of seven hills and bordered by Lake Victoria which is Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Kampala offers a variety of places to visit such as market places like the Owino market and Nakasero market, religious places like the Namirembe cathedral, Namugongo Martyrs shrines, Gadhafi mosque, cultural places like the Kabaka’s palace, Kasubi tombs, Idi Amini’s torture chambers on the grounds of the Kabaka’s palace, the Uganda museum to mention but a few. You can as well relax and enjoy the ambiance of Kampala hotels expecting to experience the night life of Kampala.

Ssese Islands

Ssese Islands are an Island chain made up of 84 Islands in northwestern parts of Lake Victoria in Kalangala district and the largest being Bugala Island. Several other Islands include Banda Island, Bulago Island, Ngamba Island that harbors the rescued and orphaned chimpanzees to mention but a few. Bugala Island attracts many visitors due to its white sands and great forestry scenery. On one’s vacation in Uganda, one shouldn’t miss out on visiting the Ssese Islands to engage in activities for example swimming, bird watching, visiting Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary, wildlife viewing, nature walks, Island drive, beach games and cycling, visiting Nanziri waterfalls in Bukasa Island, canoeing, boat cruise to different Islands to mention but a few.

Best time to visit Uganda

Uganda is open to visits all year round though the best time for a vacation in Uganda is during the dry season in the months of December to February and June to August. During these months, wildlife viewing is at its peak since animals gather around water sources making wildlife easier to spot. During these months, the weather is also perfect for encountering Uganda’s primates in their natural habitat since the trekking trails are dry and passable compared to the wet season when the trails are muddy and slippery.

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