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Safari in Uganda: Best Places to Visitby Dalene Ingham-Brown

Uganda, popularly referred to as the Pearl of Africa, is Africa’s most beautiful and diverse nation. With a range of unique attractions, a stable political atmosphere and a rapidly developing infrastructure, the country is fast becoming a favorite destination for many travelers, so much that Lonely Planet ranked Uganda the best travel destination for the year 2012. Thanks to Uganda budget safaris, a safari in Uganda, to this amazing country is possible for everyone. Uganda offers a range of opportunities to different types of travellers; from those that seek to explore untamed African wildlife offered by the Uganda safaris, to those that seek to experience nature set in tranquility and serenity. Below are the best places that will give you a satisfactory safari in Uganda experience, no matter what level of adventure you seek.

Ngamba Island

This 100 acres island is located in Lake Victoria, 23 kilometers from the landing site in Entebbe. Ngamba Island is largely covered by a rainforest and endowed with a rich diversity of wildlife that includes over 120 bird species, crocodiles, hippos, monitor lizards, and butterflies. The island has over 40 chimpanzees, protected by a wired fence. These are orphaned chimpanzees that were rescued and brought to the Island to provide for their safety.

Chimanzees feeding in the Ngamba Island

Above: Chimpanzees Feeding in Ngamba Island

The Island was opened up to adventure travellers enjoying wildlife safaris in Uganda especially for the thrilling chimpanzee experience. The Island has since become a must visit for first time travelers to Uganda. It is a great alternative to the strenuous chimpanzee treks in the rather large game parks of Kibale National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is also a great place for family and relaxation tours. Accommodation on Uganda budget safaris can be enjoyed in tents overlooking the vast waters of Lake Victoria.

Lake Bunyonyi

Located in southwestern Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is believed to be Africa’s second deepest lake rumored to be between 44m and 900m deep, 25km long and 7km wide. Lake Bunyonyi – “Place of many little birds” - is set amidst highly terraced rolling hills with breathtaking green scenery. The lake is dotted with 29 islands that are covered in lush green, the temperatures are cool and the atmosphere is usually misty. It is no wonder Lonely Planet compares its scenery to one of the scenes in the movie “Lord of the Rings”. The lake is totally bilharzia free and safe from dangerous water creatures like crocodiles and hippos making it a perfect spot for swimming.

the Mystic Lake Bunyonyi

Above: The mystical Lake Bunyonyi on a safari in Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi is a favorite destination for adventure travelers on camping safaris and many have compared its experience to that of Switzerland. It is great for relaxation tours especially after the strenuous gorilla trekking expedition in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. One can also do canoeing and sport fishing. A range of beautiful lodges have been set up overlooking the Lake including Lake Bunyonyi Safari Resort, Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Arcadia Cottages, and Bushara Island Camp among others. If you're looking for that Uganda budget safari option, there is always a camp site near by.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest game park covering 3,940 square kilometers. It is popular for the breathtaking Murchison Falls, where the longest river in the world, the Nile, in a massive explosion of force squeezes through a teeny chasm, causing a violent tempest, 43 meters below. It is the best choice for game drives as it is well endowed with a variety of game including giraffes, lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, warthogs, hyenas, Uganda kobs, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeest, waterbucks, bushbucks and spectacular savanna landscape, making for an epic safari in Uganda.



Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

The highlight of a Murchison Falls tour is the thrilling 4 hour boat cruise on the Nile where you see the densest hippo population on the African continent, lots of Nile crocodiles, buffalos, lots of birds and an array of wildlife immersed in a splendid savanna landscape. South of the park is Rabongo forest home to the chimpanzees, several bird species and lots of other rainforest creatures. It is a great alternative to the traditional game drive and boat cruise where one can do chimpanzee tracking, birding, and nature walks, making for a camping safari in Africa with a difference.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park has of one of the highest biodiversity in the world ranging from open savanna to rainforest, dense papyrus and brooding crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward. The park is a home to more than 100 mammal species and over 600 bird species. Elephants, hippos, giant forest hogs, the Uganda kob are popular in the Mweya Peninsula.


Above: Tree Climbing Lioness on a Uganda budget safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The remote section of Ishasha is popular for the special tree-climbing lions. Other animals include buffalos, leopards, waterbucks and hyenas. All these animals and more can be seen during a game drive on most Uganda budget safari routes. The lush Kyambura Gorge is famous for the habituated chimpanzees and chimpanzee tracking. Other primates in the gorge include Columbus monkeys, red-tail monkeys and olive baboons. Forest birds such as Hornbills, Kingfisher and Sunbirds can all be found in the gorge. More forest monkeys and a range of birds are found in the Maramagambo Forest. Flocks of flamingos are found on the crater lakes more so Lake Manyanyange. Located in southwestern Uganda, the park is a 7 hours drive from Kampala and is easily accessible compared to Murchison Falls National Park.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable is home to about 340 Mountain Gorillas. 10 gorilla families have been habituated to allow for a one hour interaction with these shy giants. Located in southwestern Uganda, the park has become a common destination for many safari seekers from around the world for the thrilling gorilla tracking expedition. The gorilla experience is one of the most emotional wildlife experiences Africa has got to offer. A gorilla tracking permit is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and each costs USD 500. A group of not more eight people can track a particular gorilla family per day.


Above: Gorilla Family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also a rich ecosystem with an immense diversity of species, including 120 species of mammals including 7 diurnal primates, and about 30 forest elephants, about 360 bird species plus more than 200 butterfly species. In addition to the thrilling gorilla experience, the park gives you a true jungle safari in Africa experience. The park can be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). All roads meet at Butogota, 17 km from the Buhoma entrance gate.

Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains are the longest mountain ranges in Africa and comprise of extremely steep and rugged ranges and. The Mountain possess such fascinating beauty comprising of a combination of spectacular snow-capped peaks, glaciers, V-shapped valleys cut by a multitude of fast flowing rivers with magnificent waterfalls, clear blue skies and a unique stratified vegetation. The mountains are a world heritage site and UNESCO has ranked them among the most interesting and challenging mountains for hiking and mountaineering. There is a well established circuit that can accommodate first time hikers. Camping safari facilities are available along the hiking trail. The mountain slopes are rich in a diversity of wildlife including 89 bird species, 4 species of diurnal primates and 15 butterfly species. This will give you a unique hiking experience mixed with wildlife. Check out this great photo gallery for a visual tour of Uganda and its awesome surrounds. If you're planning to venture off on a Uganda budget safari, be sure to pick a route that gets you to all your favourite places.

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