Destinations > Uganda
‘A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.`
You need to leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the highlights of Uganda as some of the countries highlights are several hours drive. We always suggest viewing the chimps and gorillas two times in their natural habitat, where your entering their world and culture and joining their family gatherings for an experience of a lifetime. There are times when you are unable to view the Gorillas, hence why we always suggest booking two treks. To to search out Ishasha’s infamous tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and view the dramatic Murchison Falls are all treats! If you enjoy the local culture & the people – many opportunities abound to visit local villages and development projects.
Did you know that 2009 was the official United Nations Year of the Gorilla? The UN, and a number of International Conservation Agencies, joined hands with the aim of raising the global profile and plight of Africa’s critically endangered Gorillas and the continued threats facing their survival. Imagine sharing an hour in the company of these incredible animals. What other animal has the power to raise the hairs on your arms whilst melting your heart?
GORILLA FACT FILE
•Gorillas live in the tropical forest of Central Africa: Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea & Gabon.
•The Mountain Gorillas found in Uganda are one of four subspecies of Gorilla: Mountain Gorilla, Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorilla & the Cross River Gorilla.
•The Mountain Gorilla is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species (IUCN 2008, CRC1).
•Mountain Gorillas face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild due to their very small population level, continued habitat loss, poaching, human disease and war.
•Thanks to the pioneering work of the late Diane Fossey and her colleagues, Mountain Gorillas have become an icon for the conservation movement.
Uganda’s rich offerings include the following highlights;
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda in East Africa and part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The forest is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, and the diversity of species is a feature of the park. The park is a santuary for the 300 plus Bwindi gorillas, half the world’s population of the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas. There are four habituated Mountain Gorilla groups open to tourism: Mubare; Habinyanja; Rushegura near Buhoma; and the Nkuringo group at Nkuringo. The biodiversity in these parks is amazing and taking the time to hike some of the many trails in this park, other than on a Gorilla treks, is very rewarding to those interested by the fauna and flora of the region.
Kibale National park is acknowledged to have one of Uganda’s most gorgeous tropical forests. Its home to much forest wildlife and among these include the primates such as the chimpanzees. The rainy months are generally March-May, then September-November. Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best safari destinations in Africa for chimpanzee tracking. Kibale contains one of the most beautiful and most varying tracts of tropical forest in the whole of Uganda and my first trek there over 12 years ago still is imprinted on my mind. It is possible to view upto 13 species of primate here. Anyone travelling to Uganda must treat themselves with a visit to Kibale Forest.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls is a waterfall on the Nile which flows across northern Uganda from Lake Victoria to Lake Kyoga and then to the north end of Lake Albert. At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 metres (23 ft) wide. Sir Samuel Baker named them after Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Royal Geographical Society. Ernest Hemingway crashed a plane just downriver from Murchison Falls. Boating safaris up the river to the mouth of the falls enjoy sightings of many birds and mammals. A nearby bat colony is something I remember discovering in the year 2000 when I first visited this area.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda. The park is named after Queen Elizabeth II and known for its wildlife, although many animals were killed in the Uganda-Tanzania War many species have recovered, including hippopotamuses, elephants, leopards, lions, chimpanzees and over 500 species of birds identified. The area around Ishasha is famous for its tree-climbing lions, whose males sport black manes, a feature unique to the lions in this area. The park is also famous for its volcanic features, volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes such as Lake Katwe, from which salt is extracted. The national park includes the Maramagambo Forest. Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge can be arranged as a guided nature walk and gives you an opportunity to see chimpanzees and other primates such as black and white colobus, red colobus monkeys, Olive baboons as well as plenty of forest birds and very lovely scenery throughout.
Ssese Islands – Lake Victoria
The Ssese Islands are an archipelago of eighty-four islands in the northwest of Lake Victoria in Uganda. The islands lie in two main groups. The south west can be referred to as the Bugala Group group, after Bugala Island, the largest in the archipelago. The northeastern group can be referred to as the Koome Group, after Koome Island, the largest in that group. The two groups are separated by the Koome Channel. Other inslands in the Bugala Group include: Bubeke, Bufumira, Bugaba, Bukasa, Buyova, Funve and Serinya. The main islands in the Koome Group include: Damba, Koome and Luwaji. The Ssese Islands are inhabited by the Bantu speaking Bassese tribe, closely related to the Baganda and the Basoga, and speaking a similar, though distinct language. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the islands were one of the most important spiritual centers of the region. About 50% of the islands are inhabited. The principal industry in the Ssese Islands is fishing for the huge Nile Perch, with much of the catch being exported. Overfishing is a huge concern on these and other islands in Lake Victoria. Other industries include agriculture, forestry and tourism. Livestock farming is practiced on the islands. It is estimated that 3,000 cattle, 250,000 poultry (chicken and ducks), 1,235 goats and 7,000 pigs are kept on the islands. BIDCO, a private palm oil processor based in Jinja District, on the mainland, owns a 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) palm oil plantation on the islands. In addition, outgrower farmers grow palm oil on contract with BIDCO and sell their produce to the processor. Logging is another economic activity that is practiced on the Ssese Inslands. The islands are also home to a variety of animals including primates, which are not easily accessible on the mainland. This has led to the evolution of a small but growing tourism industry. Please contact us for options and explorations. Thanks to Anna Heimbichner for her image taken over the Ssese Islands while departing from Entebbe Int’l airport.
Mt Elgon and the Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls in Eastern Uganda and located on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan border. The area has a cooler climate than most of the country and Sipi Falls is a nice place to unwind, relax and literally chill out away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities. Located on the foothills of Mt. Elgon, Sipi offers a number of alternative activities to the mainstream river activities in and around Jinja.
Activities in the area include abseiling, and especially hiking to the different falls offering stunning views of the Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga, and the slopes of Mt. Elgon. Most trekking expeditions up Mt. Elgon are based in the Sipi Falls area. The Sipi River is named after the ‘Sep’, a plant indigenous to the banks of the River. Resembling a type of wild banana, Sep is a medicinal plant, the translucent green frond with a bolt of crimson rib is used for treating measles and fever.
The Sipi Falls area is particularly famous for Bugisu Arabica Coffee produced and grown locally by farmers. Bugisu Arabica only grows at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,900 metres, it is the main cash crop in the area and genuinely one of the finest coffee’s in the world. Coffee tours can be arranged.
Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in1998 for orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Many of the chimpanzees were rescued from poachers and are unlikely to survive reintroduction to the wild. Ngamba Island is 100 acres (approximately 40 hectares) of rainforest situated 23 km from Entebbe, near the Equator in Lake Victoria, Uganda. It supports a rich diversity of natural wildlife and provides a variety of natural foods for the chimpanzees. The island is set up as an eco-friendly project with compost toilets, rainwater collection, proper waste management practices and solar energy for electricity and hot water. The Sanctuary is a non-profit organisation which is co-ordinated and managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust. CSWCT is a partnership with six organizations committed to the welfare and conservation of wildlife. The Trustees are: Born Free Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Jane Goodall Institute, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST) and the Uganda Wildlife Society, and ofcouse funds coming in from visitors like you and personal donations. The sanctuary is open all year round to visitors who pay a nominal entrance fee to view one or both of the chimpanzee feedings. Day and overnight visits (staying in luxury tents) are available and can be booked through us.
Mabamba Bay and Swamp
Mabamba bay is a spectacular site for bird watching in Uganda. Mabamba bay which is very close to Entebbe and is a good destination for the elusive Shoebill Stalk that can generally be spotted at almost anytime there, so if this bird is on your life list, this is certainly your destination.
Toro-Semliki Game Reserve
Toro-Semliki Game Reserve is found in the Semliki Valley in Western Uganda and offers a combination of tropical rainforest and savannah that join wetlands giving way to lake Albert, the flat plains are punctuated by deep river valleys and the rise of the Rift Valley Escarpment and the rolling foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. This unique geography is reflected in the diversity of wildlife species in the reserve such as the Central Africa forest buffalo, a darker leopard sub-species and the smaller forest elephant, and key savanna species of East Africa: lion, elephant, various antelope species, warthog, buffalo, etc. The birdlife is unique with the rare and elusive shoebill which nests in the shallows of Lake Albert. Chimpanzees live in the river valleys of the reserve where daily treks are arranged. Activities include; Chimpanzee Trekking, Game Drives, Guided Walks, Birdwatching, Boat trips on Lake Albert, Visits to the local Batwa (pygmy) community, night drives and visits to the geological features such as the hotsprings shown in the image here.