The best time to visit Uganda

June, July, August and September are the best time to visit Uganda. These peak months are generally dry (although rain can fall at any time). Book well in advance if tracking gorillas, as permits sell out months in advance. Really, though, this is a year-round destination. Uganda sits squarely on the equator so there are no true seasons, plus an average altitude of around 1,000m tempers the heat. March-May and October-November see the highest rainfall, but gorillas are still lurking in the mist – although trekking to find them will be slippery and slower. Accommodation and gorilla permits can be much cheaper at this time.

visit Uganda
A mountain gorilla feeding

VISIT UGANDA MONTH BY MONTH

  • March, April and May see the heaviest rainfall in Uganda, with shorter rains in October to November. This doesn’t affect your chances of spotting gorillas, although be prepared for a soggy, slippery trek! Waterproofs, and waterproof boots, are essential. It’s also believed that the gorillas linger on the warmer, lower slopes during wetter weather, so your trek may be shorter.
  • The wildlife is not migratory in Uganda so you can still see plenty of game in parks such as Queen Elizabeth, although thicker vegetation makes spotting the animals a little harder. Do be aware that the already appalling roads will become even more bone shaking.
  • Murchison Falls in the northeast has a drier climate, so is a good place to head during the wetter months.
  • The Uganda Wildlife Authority, which issues gorilla tracking permits, offers discounts of up to 25 percent in April, May and November – well worth it if you’re on a budget.
  • June to September are popular months, thanks to dry weather and school holidays. Uganda remains happily oblivious to mass tourism, though, and you won’t need to worry about crowds.
  • December, January and February are also great months to visit. Generally dry (though rains can linger into December), the wildlife will be lured to waterholes, making this a great time for boat safaris. Migratory birds are also present.
  • Throughout the country, the temperature drops quite considerably at night – you’ll need a jumper or cardi. This makes it much easier to sleep. But it never reaches the chilly extremes of places such as Kruger of the Kalahari.

The New Big Five Animals in Uganda

The “Big Five” are the animal kingdom’s famous celebrities on the African Savana; every tourist hopes to set eyes on these dramatic creatures. Uganda, like many other African safari destinations, hosts the big players and more. That is why we thought we should tell you more about Uganda’s new selection of the big 5 game aniamls.

The ‘Big 5’ was coined by hunting safari explorers, back in the 1800s, based on how challenging to hunt these animals were. But since the big five experience is now all about photographing, viewing, and meeting the wild creatures, Uganda’s new big five list includes the mountain gorilla, lion, chimpanzee, African elephant, and leopard. Our list is based on travelers most south after animals to see on a Uganda safari, challenging to reach and offer memorable photography moments.

In addition to experiencing Uganda’s exquisite cultures, and people, and viewing some of the most stunning landscapes, your trip to Uganda will not richly reward you until you meet these magnificent animals.

The New Big Five Animals in Uganda

  1. Mountain Gorilla
  2. Lion
  3. Chimpanzee
  4. African Elephant
  5. Leopard

1. Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

a mountain gorilla
A mountain Gorilla resting on a tree

Arguably the most sought-after primate in Africa is the mountain gorilla (King of the rainforest jungle), and Uganda offers the best gorilla viewing experiences worldwide. The gentle giants in Uganda’s southwestern corner are so famous, hundreds of tourists wait up months in advance to spend a moment with these charming beasts. More than 1060 mountain gorillas find sanctuary in the east-central African mountain rainforests, and more than half of them are in Uganda.

Standing upright at 4 to 6 feet, a fully grown mountain gorilla can weigh a whopping 300 to 485 pounds (135 to 220 kilograms). The mountain gorilla unsurprisingly makes the number one on the list of new BIG five animals in Uganda because of its mass, scarcity, and magical moments. Most of all, the gentle giant lives in one of the most biodiverse homes in the world.

To stay warm in the mountains, mountain gorillas have longer hair than their eastern lowland cousins, the Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri). They also tend to be a bit larger than other gorillas and have shorter arms.

Gorillas can climb trees but are usually found on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. These troops are organized according to fascinating social structures.

One dominant, older adult male leads troops, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females, and their offspring.

2. African Lion (Panthera leo)

Big five
lion-in-queen-elizabeth-national-park

The most imposing feline on the African savannah now attracts more protection than a pop culture celebrity. The lion is the most sought-after of the new big five animals in Uganda’s wild. It is also considered the most sociable of the large cats, living in loosely structured cat prides of typically five to 15 animals.

This ferocious cat has special cultural significance in Ugandan cultures and enjoys a reputation as the king of the beasts and a symbol of royalty, strength, and bravery.

In Uganda, you can find lions in mainly three of the largest savanna parks: Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP), and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP).

In QENP’s southern section, the Ishasha lions show off their unique behavior of climbing trees, and travelers have branded them the “Ishasha tree-climbing lions.” Tourists flock to this sector to marvel at this rare behavior of wild cats.

Unfortunately for the lions in this section of Uganda have faced gruesome wildlife atrocities on two occasions in the last decade; once in April 2011 (poachers poisoned 11 lions) and recently in April 2021 (6 poisoned and dismembered). The worst threat still facing those magnificent lions in Uganda is poaching.

3. Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

7 out of 10 tourists visiting Uganda’s rainforest parks will say they had to come and see our playful primate cousins in their natural cradle. The chimpanzee’s celebrity status among travelers earns it a great position on Uganda’s new BIG five Animals lists.

The common Chimpanzee is a distinctive black-coated ape that’s more closely related to man than any other living creature. Along with bonobos, they are our closest living relatives, sharing 98.7 percent of our genetic blueprint. Science research has consistently shown that humans and chimps share a common ancestor who lived some seven to 13 million years ago.

The Chimpanzee lives in large, loosely bonded communities based around a core of related males with an internal hierarchy topped by an alpha male. Females are generally less strongly bonded to their core group than are males; emigration between communities is not unusual.

Mother—child bonds are strong. Daughters normally leave their mother only after they reach maturity, at which point they break their relations. Mother—son relations have been known to survive for over 40 years. A troop has a well-defined core territory which is fiercely defended by regular boundary patrols.

Chimpanzees are primarily frugivorous (fruit-eating), but they eat meat and even hunt on occasion — they’ve regularly hunted red colobus monkeys in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains national parks. Simultaneously, researchers in Kalinzu Forest in Uganda have observed chimps eating blue and red-tailed monkeys, and unsuccessful attempts to hunt black-and-white colobus.

Chimpanzees are among the most intelligent of Uganda’s new BIG five animals. These guys have been observed regularly using tools like modified sticks to ‘fish’ in termite mounds. Scientists have also observed chimps cracking nuts open using a stone and anvil.

In language studies in the USA, researchers have taught chimps to communicate in American sign language. They have demonstrated their understanding, in some instances, by even creating compound words for new objects (such as rock-berry to describe a nut).

Uganda hosts more than 4900 chimps within its national park, making it a top destination for primate viewing. Kibale National Park, in western Uganda, offers the best chimpanzee viewing (in their natural habitat) opportunities in the world, with over 1500 chimps swinging the park’s tree-tops.

Kibale also has the highest density of primates on the continent, with researchers recording 13 primate species within the park. Much work has gone into habituating chimpanzee troops for tourism in Kibale Forest, so seeing our primate cousins in the park is highly guaranteed.

You can also see chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge found in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, and the Budongo and Kanyiyo Pabidi forests near Murchison Falls National Park.

4. African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

African Elephant
An African Elephant in Queen Elizabeth National Park

African Elephant is the world’s largest of all Uganda’s new BIG five animals and perhaps the most enduring symbol of nature’s grace and fragility. The elephant is also one of the most intelligent and entertaining to watch on a classic Uganda safari game drive.

A fully-grown male elephant can weigh a whopping 13,889 lbs (6300 kilos). Even the smallest adult male rarely dips below 4000 kilos, which is way more than twice the weight on an average family SUV. Females are usually just over half the weight of the male.

The size difference between the two is not as surprising as when it comes to height – the tallest males are 4 meters tall, the tallest female rises to 3.4 meters. Apart from overall size, unless the male is sexually aroused, the most obvious difference between males and females is that females have an angular forehead. In contrast, a bull’s forehead is more rounded.

There’s more: an African elephant has the giant brain of any mammal alive; it can weigh up to 6 kilos. Its trunk, which serves an elephant like a hand, can be 2 meters long and weigh over 130 kilos – a trunk has no bones but may have 60,000 muscles in it. An elephant uses its tusks as both tools and weapons. The longest recorded tusks were 3.17m long, while the heaviest reached 70kg.

There are two subspecies of the African elephant – the forest and the savannah elephant. You may be lucky to see the smaller and slightly hairier forest elephant in Kibale and Bwindi’s equatorial forests. The savannah elephant dwells throughout the grassy plains and bushlands of Uganda’s massive savannah parks. The two races are thought to interbreed in parts of western Uganda.

5. Leopard (Panthera pardus)

A leopard lying on a tree branch
A leopard lying on a tree branch

This is the most elusive of Uganda’s BIG 5 animals. Leopards in Uganda are sneaky and harder to spot. Naturally shy and exclusively nocturnal, leopards spend the daylight hours hidden from view. These solitary felines are impressive to watch when hauling large kills, such as zebra or antelope, into a tree to eat alone, in peace.

Leopards can be distinguished from cheetahs by their rosette-shaped spots and more robust build and their preference for wooded or rocky habitats. They are found in virtually all habitats which offer adequate cover and are present in most Ugandan national parks and forest reserves.

Its capacity for adapting to changes in prey species, hunting conditions, carnivore competition, vegetation patterns, and human activities enables it to survive in developing Africa with more success than almost any other large wild animal. It can even persist in more or less advanced agricultural areas, though often in significantly reduced numbers.

A leopard differs from other new BIG five animals because of locals reporting them outside protected areas. They hunt using stealth and power, often getting to within 5 meters of their intended prey before pouncing, and they habitually store their kill in a tree to keep it from being poached by other large predators.

Meanwhile, together with the poaching, it has induced, the international fur trade has depressed leopard populations in several parts of Uganda. We do not have any reasonable measure of population numbers anywhere for this species. However, we do have sightings from rangers collected while they are on patrol in the protected areas managed by UWA.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is the most popular tourist activity done in both countries. It is also referred to as Gorilla trekking and it is where the ranger guides try to find the given habituated gorilla group for the clients on their trekking date. The clients will be divided into a group of 8 people in the morning to be assigned to a specific Gorilla group or Gorilla family and escorted at exactly 8:00am by ranger guides into the forest to search for the rare Mountain Gorillas. It might take you 2-6 hours while in the forest depending on the time and the place where you will find the Mountain Gorillas. Upon finding the Gorillas, clients will spend only one (1) hour of interacting with these lovely primates. You will learn the Gorillas behavior, how they feed, and play, couple and how they associate with each other then you will realize that these are closest creatures to human beings.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla tracking tours is for everyone in the world apart from children below 15 years old and if you realize that you cannot walk into the forest then there are porters who can carry you to and from the forest using the stretchers. You have to agree the price for being carried on the stretcher with the porters and our safari guide will help you out.

The rare Mountain gorilla’s family or group is led by the Silverback which is the male Gorilla and it weighs over 200kgs.

The Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has over 20 Gorilla families but only 19 Gorilla groups are available for clients to track. The Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include; Katwe, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare group in Buhoma sector. Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro and Mukiza group in Ruhija sector. Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas family in Nkuringo sector. Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi, Bikingi and Kutu Gorilla family in Rushaga sector while Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also found in Uganda has only 1 (one) Gorilla family called Nyakagezi Gorilla family. This Park forms the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration as continuation of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo.

The one and only Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park known also for Gorilla trekking has 10 Gorilla families designated for tourists and they include Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family), Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B), Sabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Umubano Gorilla Group, Agashya Gorilla Group, Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Hirwa Gorilla Group, Bwenge Family Group and Ugenda Gorilla Family.

Trekking Mountain Gorillas on a Budget Friendly Plan

Even though gorilla trekking is known to be a life time experience, most trekkers have been left thinking that it’s only for the wealthy class and this is not right. A gorilla trek to see a group of endangered mountain gorillas in the thick tropical rain forests in Uganda and Rwanda is the most thrilling experience that comes once a life time. These are classified as the critically endangered apes by the IUCN and not more than 1,200 individuals still live in the whole world with half of them living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. To be able to view these species, there are about 20 habituated groups that are assigned to eight trekkers per day all of which belong to different trailhead. Some of these groups include; Katwe, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare group in Buhoma sector. Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro and Mukiza group in Ruhija sector. Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas family in Nkuringo sector. Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi, Bikingi and Kutu Gorilla family in Rushaga sector.

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a magnificent verdant swathe of forest across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley, these 331 km²ancient rains forest, one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is a home to the rare Mountain Gorillas.

Gorilla Tracking In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda)

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda at just 33.7km2. It is located in the corner of south western Uganda in Kisoro District, 12.5km south of Kisoro town council. It makes up the northeastern part of the Virunga Volcano ranges which extends into DR Congo and Rwanda. This comprises of Mount Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.

The summit of Mount Muhavura is the highest point of the park at 4,127 m and has a small crater lake that tourists may want to visit. The view from the summit is frequently obscured by the cloud. The vegetation in the park includes montane, alpine and sub-alpine flora at each of the different levels up the volcano, varying the altitude. It is possible to climb to the peaks of Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhavura, although the pace set by the ranger and armed escort may be exhausting unless you are fit. Climbs can be organised at the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park office in Kisoro.

Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national park in Rwanda and it harbours some of the worlds rare Mountain Gorillas and the rare Golden Monkeys only found in East Africa. It forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area covering more than 125km2, including five extinct volcanoes: Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Karisimbi and Bisoke. The Virunga conservation area is formed of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in DRC Congo and the Virunga Massif contains over 603 rare Mountain Gorillas to add on the ones in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Volcanoes National Park has the fantastic scenic forest that is covered with mountains and diverse vegetation as well as the six volcanoes; this is why Rwanda is also known as the land of a thousand hills.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.

Permit Cost

Uganda gorilla trekking permit = Cost US$ 700 per person and you will spend 1 hour with rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

Uganda Gorilla habituation permit = Costs US$ 1,500 per person and you will spend 4 hours with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them

Rwanda Gorilla trekking permit = Costs US$ 1,500 per person and you will spend 1 hour with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

DR Congo Gorilla trekking permit = Costs US$ 400 per person and you will spend 1 hour with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

Planning Your First Uganda Safari

Enjoying a Uganda safari is the most memorable and life-changing of leisure holidays. You’ll fall in love with safari life in Africa. The first time you go on a game drive, see an elephant, touch a rhino, giraffes, and watch lions climb trees, the moment will stay with you forever.

The Ultimate Guide To Planning Your First Uganda Safari

The most profound of all Uganda safari experiences is the close encounter with the higher apes. That little moment you’ll spend close to a mountain gorilla or band of chimpanzees will profoundly change your relationship with nature.

We live in this giant wildlife reserve and use every leisure time we can spare to inspect this destination’s treasure trove. We have been on countless Uganda safaris and work with numerous safari lodges. We have traveled extensively through the Pearl of Africa as travel bloggers. For us, anytime is safari time because our love for the wide-open spaces, the bush, and all the beautiful creatures in it reincarnates every single day.

Planning your first Uganda safari may be a daunting experience, but with a bit of research and local expert advice, it becomes the most memorable journey you ever make. We’ve written this first-timer’s guide to making planning your holiday in Uganda a great memory.

Why Go On A Uganda Safari

Your first Uganda safari will unwrap vast horizons, open skies, emerald landscapes, and rich tropical forests. Take more days on your first-time safari for a great memorable experience. A slow safari will allow you to immerse yourself in the raw wilderness, to get up close and personal with primates, meeting people of different cultures and ways of life, and contributing to the conservation of the very places and animals you’ve come to see.

You may have seen a lion or elephant in an enclosure at a zoo or in a wildlife documentary on the National Geographic channel. But there is a profound difference when you come upon a band of chimpanzees, a herd of elephants, or a pride of lions in their natural habitat with no fences between you and no commercial breaks to interrupt the action.

A longer Uganda safari allows you a chance to experience indigenous cultures. Whether through traditional foods that might appear on the menu or perhaps interacting with local tribespeople. Uganda Safaris can leave you with a new perspective on life as you witness different ways of living in the remote villages you walk through.

Most Uganda safari holidays are eco-friendly and contribute a big chunk to the conservation of wildlife resources. Uganda’s tourism generates much-needed income to fund conservation efforts. For example, gorilla tourism ensures that the conservation and protection of the mountain gorillas and their sanctuary are well supported. Uganda safaris operators, camps, and lodges directly employ people and resources from local communities.

Going on your first Pearl of Africa safari journey will be a break from the hustle and bustle of daily modern life. It’s a change of scenery, an adventure, and maybe even a culture shock. As the sun rises over the savannah plains or sinks in the Rwenzori Mountain backdrop, you will catch your breath and embrace the silence of these moments, knowing that they will remain in your memory long after you have returned home.

When And Where To Go

Uganda is a well-endowed destination with many incredible attractions to visit, each with its own charms and attractions. The country has a warm and sunny tropical climate, mostly throughout the year. But different regions within the country experience a variety of climates and weather conditions.

When planning your first Uganda safari, the best time to travel depends very much on the destination activity you’ve chosen. Generally, it’s best to go during the dry season, when water is scarce, and animals tend to gather in places where the water hasn’t dried up.

Dirt roads are also easier to navigate during the dry season, and so you can expect to see a lot more animals during the two dry seasons of December to January and June to August.

Note, though, that since the dry season is considered peak season for Uganda safaris, it will likely come with a heftier price tag. If you’re expecting to observe the mountain gorillas in the impenetrable forest of Bwindi, be sure also to consider the availability of gorilla permits.

 

10 reasons why you should go on a Uganda Safari

A Uganda safari because of the people, gorilla trek, climate and breathtaking scenery. Uganda encompasses the typical African travel experience any traveler could ever dream of. It is the confluence of African nature, landscape and cultural melting pot. Here are 10 reasons why Uganda should be on your bucket list.

Reasons you should take on a Uganda safari

1. Ugandans: Warm and Friendly People

People come to Uganda for gorilla safaris but leave with good impressions of the people. Ugandans are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet. They are hospitable often happy to share their food and welcome you in their home.

2. Uganda’s Climate and Weather

The climate in Uganda is what many will refer to as near perfect all year round. You can plan your Uganda safari any time of the year and expect to have an amazing time. Uganda is along the equator, home to mountains, lakes and forests that give you the best climate. If you love sunrise’s and sunset’s, you will enjoy these on your Uganda safari. The country has dry and wet seasons only. In the wet seasons – the sun comes out shortly after the rain, making it possible for one to travel and enjoy nature.

3. Fresh Organic Food

The food in Uganda is organic and fresh from the gardens grown by small holder farmers. You have access to fresh vegetables and fruits from the markets daily. The pineapples in Uganda are like no other. If there was a competition, Uganda’s pineapples would win the Guinness book of records. You have opportunity to enjoy different traditional meals from the different tribes. You can include this experience while on your Uganda safari.

4. Breath-taking Scenery

The breath-taking savannah areas and mountainous eastern and western Uganda. The amazing Sipi falls, Sezibwa falls and Kisizi falls while on your Uganda safari. The undulating hills of Kigezi terraced by locals as they work in their gardens. The Ssese Islands in the oceanic-sized Lake Victoria. They have beaches and burning sunsets – the kind of place you’ll want to seek out a hammock and bring a good book.

5. Endangered Mountain Gorillas

The gorilla safari in two national parks in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mgahinga gorilla national park is home to the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Gorilla tracking is an experience you look back to and reminisce on with happiness. The experience in the rain forest even before you sight the gorillas is fulling. The mountain gorillas are often found feeding, grooming each other and playing.

6. Chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzees are mans’ closest relatives sharing a DNA of about 98.7% with man. The chimpanzees develop tools for use and raise young ones mimicking humans. Did you know chimpanzees eat meat? Go chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest, Budongo forest, Semliki reserve, Kyambura gorge and Kalinzu forest. Enjoy other forest inhabitants and the cool air.

7. Game drives in Uganda’s Savannah national parks

Uganda has 10 national parks and about 12 game reserves. The savannah parks offer game drives. Murchison Falls National Park Uganda’s largest park offering fulfilling game drives. Queen Elizabeth national park for the elusive leopard and tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. Kidepo Valley National Park has rewarding game drives of large herds and scenery. Lake Mburo national park has few numbers of predators but offers nature walks.

8. Jinja: Source of the Nile – Adventure Capital of East Africa

Jinja is the adventure capital of East Africa. It is home to all the adrenalin activities. It is the source of River Nile and home to the best white water rafting experiences over several rapids. You can also do kayaking and or jet boat ride. Bungee jumping to kiss the Nile, Quad biking and horse riding on the banks of the Nile or in the communities.

9. The Mountains

Uganda is home to several mountains that offer great hiking and mountaineering experiences. You can do hiking for a few hours, one day hikes or multi day hikes with the longest being one week. National Geographical selected the Rwenzoris as one of the World’s Best Hikes.

Mount Elgon is one of the oldest volcanic mountains in Africa and has the worlds’ largest caldera. Enjoy sights of beautiful vegetation and landscape as you ascend to Wagagai peak. The Virunga volcanoes are one day hikes – Mt Gahinga, Mt Muhabura and Mt Sabyinyo. Other mountains for your hiking cravings: Mt Moroto, Mt Murungole, Mt Kadam, Mt Napak etc.

10. Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi surrounded by beautiful terraced hills and home to 29 islands is a must visit for you. It is the second deepest lake in Africa. The lake is free from dangerous animals hence people love to swim. You can hire a canoe to take out for a paddle.

We invite you to visit Uganda and experience the hospitality of Ugandans and nature.

Birding in Uganda

Birding in Uganda is one of the top activities that are carried out. The country has numerous bird species and has a record of half of the continent’s bird species. There are over 1000 recorded bird species in the country and these are found in different parts of the country. The country has migratory birds that fly in during the wet season, endemic birds, Albertine rift valley endemic birds and near-endemic birds. Some of the top birding destinations include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park, Mabamba Bay, Murchison falls National Park and Lake Mburo National Park among others.

Uganda has a high population of bird species because of its closeness to the Equator which brings about the two seasons that the country experiences, that is the dry and wet seasons. The two seasons attract different bird species which can easily be seen from the comfort of your room. Uganda also has a wide range of habitats that are conducive to bird breeding and these include the lakes, Rivers, swamps and wetlands, savannah grasslands and woodlands, tropical rainforests and the Albertine Rift Valley.

Bird species in the country

The endemic Albertine Rift species in Uganda include the Rwenzori Turaco, collared Apalis, Fox’s weaver, short-tailed warbler, Handsome Francolin, blue-headed sunbird, African Green Broadbill, Rwenzori Nightjar, Red-throated Alethe, Red-faced woodland warbler, Regal sunbird, Archer’s Robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, Dwarf Honeyguide, Mountain Masked Apalis, yellow-eyed Black flycatcher, Chapin’s flycatcher, Regal sunbird, strange weaver, Shelley’s crimson-wing, strange weaver, Kivu Ground Thrush, stripe-breasted Tit, Dusky crimson wing, purple-breasted sunbird, and Grauer’s warbler.

The top bird species in Uganda that you should look out for while on a birding safari in Uganda include the Short-tailed Warbler, the Green-breasted Pitta, Doherty’s Bushshrike, African green Broadbill, Standard-winged Nightjar, The Bar-tailed Trogon, The Black-breasted Barbet, Shoebill and Shelley’s crimson-wing among others. A few of the top birds that are found in Uganda have been explained in detail below but note that these are not the only birds in the country.

African green Broadbill: also known as the Grauer’s Greenbul, is an endangered species that mainly live in tropical forests. It has a small bill, light green colour on its feathers and a blue throat.

Standard-winged Nightjar: these are mainly seen during the evening hours since they are always sleeping or hidden during the daytime.  They can be seen flying in the skies when the sun is setting and their feathers can reach 38cm long when they are stretched.

The Northern Carmine bee-eater: this can be found in the Northern part of Murchison falls National Park and is quite common and note that it is a red and blue bird.

Doherty’s Bushrike: they have a red and green throat and head and are some of the hardest to see although they can easily be heard. They are multi-coloured with a black tail and a light yellow/ lime green middle area.

Malachite Kingfisher: this is a blue-winged bird with an orange chest and can be seen perching on the trees or twigs near the Riverside. It is almost similar to the pygmy kingfisher and can be found in many of the birding spots in Uganda.

Short-tailed Warbler: this is also known as the Neumann’s warbler and has a short tail. It is green and dull white around the eyes and it also has a patch of hair above each of the grey eyes.

Shoebill: best seen in marsh areas, it can be found in Murchison falls National Park and is one of the hardest birds to spot in the country. It has a blue-grey colour to its feathers and a whale head with a big bill.

Birding sites in Uganda

Birding can be done in different parts of the country but the top birding destinations in the country include the following:

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Queen Elizabeth National park is the most visited National Park in the country and has the highest number of registered bird species in the county with over 600 registered bird species. The bird species in QENP can be seen as you enjoy nature walks and game drives through the National Park. The most common bird species that you should look out for include Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, slender-tailed Nightjars, Martial Eagle, Black-headed Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Malachite Kingfishers, Sedge Warbler, Pied Kingfishers, collared Prancticole, Gabon-tailed Nightjars and African skimmer among others. Birding in QENP is done in the different parts of the National Park and these are:

Ishasha sector: best known for the climbing lions, it is also a good birding spot and the birds found here include the African shoebill, African wattled plover, Grey Kestrel, Cisticola, African crowned eagle and the African green pigeon among others.

Lake Kikorongo and Mweya peninsular: common bird species found in these sectors include the sacred Ibis, saddle billed stork, African Jacana, Knob billed duck, little bee-eater, Nubian woodpecker, Swift’s swallows, grey-headed kingfisher and the swamp Night-jar among others.

Katuguru: this is also located in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the bird species that you should look out for here include the Malachite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, great winged warbler, papyrus gonolek, lesser swamp swabler and the white-winged warbler among others.

Kasenyi: birds in Kasenyi include hooded vultures, little bee-eater, croaking Cisticola, palm-but culture, white-tailed lark, brown-backed robin and the black-bellied bustard among others.

Maramagambo forest: bird species found in the forest include the blue-shouldered Robin, African emerald cuckoo, brown Illadopsis and Red-throated Wryneck among others.

MABAMBA WETLAND BAY

The Mamba wetland Bay is located right at the edge of Lake Victoria and is one of the few places where the shoebill can be seen in Uganda. Canoe rides carried out along the wetland will give you a clear view of the bird species that are found around the wetland and these are the African open-billed stork, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-headed Heron, Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Shoebill stork, African Marsh Harrier and the pied Kingfisher among others.

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison Falls National Park is home to about 400 bird species and these can best be seen while enjoying a boat ride below the falls, nature walks through the Park and Game drives. Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park include the Rock Prancticole, white-faced whistling Duck, swampy flycatcher, Red-throated Bee-eater, black-billed barbet, Squacco Heron, Grey Plantain eater, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, African Quail Finch, Northern Red Bishop, Ground hornbill, Goliath Heron, Blue-headed and the shoebill being the main attraction for birders.

Budongo forest: the forest is found in Murchison falls National Park and has 250 recorded bird species which can be seen by taking a guided nature walk through the forest. You will get to see the Rufous-crowned Elemomela, Blue-throated Roller, spotted Greenbul, Fire-crested Alethe, white-thighed Hornbill, blue-breasted kingfisher and not forgetting the chimpanzees and other primates like the black and white Colobus monkeys.

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is found in the south-western part of Uganda and is best known for gorilla trekking. It is however home to about 350 bird species with about 24 Albertine endemic species, about 68 highland birds (Afro-topical) and 4 Victoria Biomes. Bwindi is a typical jungle and the only way you get to see the different species is by walking through the different trails within the National Park and the main ones are the waterfall trail which is found in Buhoma, the Bamboo zone and the trail in Ruhija known as the Mubwindi swamp. Bird species in Bwindi include Archer’s Robin-chat, Fine-banded woodpecker, western green Tinkerbird, African wood owl, Red-throated Alethe, Handsome Francolin, African Green Broadbill, collared Apalis, Chapin’s flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco and the white-bellied Robin among others.

SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK

Semuliki National park is home to over 400 bird species with 9 different species of the Hornbill. Bird species around Semuliki include the Great blue Ross’s Turaco, red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, yellow-throated Nicator, Xavier’s Greenbul, and Piping Hornbill, western Bronze-naped pigeon, Yellow-throated cuckoo, Maxwell’s Black-weaver, Nkulengu rail, Dwarf Honeyguide and the Purple-breasted sunbird among others. The best birding spots in Semuliki National Park are River Kirumia, Ntandi and Sempaya area.

MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK 

Mgahinga National Park is also best known for gorilla trekking but it also has about 180 registered bird species. The birds can be seen while taking guided nature walks through the National Park with species like the savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemic birds. Some of the bird species found in Mgahinga include the Greater Double-collared sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, cape Robin, white-starred Robin, Archer’s Robin-chat, white-faced whistling duck, Rock Prancticole, Martial Eagle, Hugli’s Francolin and the cinnamon Bracken warbler among others.

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

The National Park has different birding spots where tourists can be able to see the birds more clearly while in their habitat and these are the Warukiri forest, camp Rwonyo, Miriti near the salt lick and the Rubanga forest. Common bird species here include the common Scimitar bill, Rufous-bellied Heron, red-faced Barbet, Bateleur and the Green wood-hoopoe among others.

LUTEMBE BAY

Also located along the Lake Victoria basin, Lutembe Bay is a birding spot with about 200 recorded bird species with 26 migratory birds. While at Lutembe Bay look out for the Holub’s golden weaver, Tropical Boubou, white-winged Black Tern, sooty chat, African pygmy Kingfisher and the lead-colored flycatcher.

RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

Rwenzori Mountain National Park is home to Albertine Rift valley bird species and has about 217 recorded bird species. Bird species here include the Bearded vultures, Long-eared owl, blue-headed sunbird, slender-billed starling, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, white-starred Robin and the Rwenzori Turaco among others.

KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

Kibale National Park is best known for having the largest number of chimpanzees in the country and is a top destination for tourists.  It is home to about 350 different bird species and this is because of the dense vegetation that is found in the National Park which acts as habitats for the birds like the Red-chested owlet, little Greenbul, Black bee-eater, Grey-throated flycatcher, white-naped pigeons, purple-breasted sunbird, blue-breasted kingfisher, crowned eagle, yellow-billed barbet, papyrus canary, white-winged warbler, white-collared olive back and the dusky-blue flycatcher among others.

The Bigodi wetland sanctuary which is found within the Kibaale National park is home to the white-spotted flufftail, speckled breasted woodpecker, Bocage’s Bushrike and the snowy crowned robin-chat among others.

What to bring on your birding safari to Uganda

Choosing Uganda s your birding destination is the best choice because of the many birding spots that are found in the different parts of the country. And to have a good birding trip, you will need to have all the essentials with you without actually over packing. Below are some of the things that you should bring on this trip so that you can have a wonderful birding experience while in Uganda.

Neutral clothes: birding is just like any other activity carried out in Uganda and the right clothing will be needed for a memorable experience. The clothes should be neutral in colour because brightly colored clothes attract wildlife and yet you need to be able to fit in so that you can comfortably view the birds, pack long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid scratches on your body from the trees and bushes, a light rain jacket for when the weather changes, a pair of thick socks where pants can be tucked into and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. As you look for neutral-colored clothes, avoid camouflage because they are linked to the army in Uganda.

Guide books: guide books are extremely important for birders and should be on your packing list. The books are sold in a few stores and a few can be found in safari vehicles for tourists to use. The books have almost all the bird species that are found in Uganda and can help you in identifying the bird species that you are looking at since they have both the picture and descriptions of the different bird species. If you are buying a guidebook, try out the Birds of Africa, South of the Sahara among others.

Waterproof hiking boots: although birding can be done o game drives, you will at one point need to move out of the Safari vehicle so that you get better pictures and clear views of the bird species. The guided nature walks might either be short or long and that is why you need good, strong and waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet warm and blister-free after the walk since birding is mostly done during the rainy season with muddy and flooded trail routes.

Spotting scope and binoculars: both equipment helps you to see the different bird species that are always far away from you and those that blend in well with the wilderness. Uganda has all kinds of birds from the smallest to the largest and good binoculars with good magnifying lenses and telescopes will help you see all the bird species in your preferred destination. And as you carry your equipment, make sure that you have a waterproof bag to carry them and we also advise that you an extra pair of binoculars in case the first one gets damaged.

First aid kit: even when you are in good health before you set off for your birding safari while in Uganda, we still advise that you carry a first aid kit because everything is possible in Africa. The first aid kit should have all the necessities like Band-Aids, spirit, antiseptic cream, prescription drugs, pain killers, cotton, and sunscreen, tablets for diarrhoea, rehydration powder and iodine. These will help because you will not have access to clinics or good hospitals while doing birding so make sure that the first aid kit is the first thing in your safari vehicle.

Bottled water and snacks: carry lots of bottled water and snacks because the activity might take long and you do not want to get hungry while enjoying the great views of the different bird species in the country. Other essentials include travel insurance, toiletries and your travel documents.

A camera: this is an important aspect for birders because it helps capture and keep your memories intact. You do not need to be a professional photographer to take photos but all you need is a good camera that comes with an extra memory card, batteries and other camera accessories. Make sure that the camera you have carried is not so heavy and with a good lens. Sony, Nikon and Canon cameras are good and user-friendly for both professional and non-professional photographers.

Ssese Islands

Introduction to the Ssese Islands

If you are looking for somewhere to unwind, the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria’s northwestern corner are the perfect retreat.

Ssese’s flourishing archipelago of 84 islands comprises white sandy beaches, clear waters, and tropical forests.

The islands are home to many primate species including colobus and vervet monkeys, sitatunga antelope and several rare birds.

The inhabited islands each have something unique to offer. From landscapes to activities, Ssese is very diverse. 

Ssese Islands

The Islands

Buggala is the largest and most developed island for tourism. Swimming is a popular activity here, especially at Mutambala beach. You can also hire bicycles or quad bikes to explore the island. 

The privately-owned Banda Island is tranquil and serenely beautiful. Bring a good book, as the best thing to do here is read and soak up the sun.

If you do fancy venturing onto the lake, canoes can be hired, or you can go fishing for tilapia and Nile perch.

For animal lovers, Ngamba islandalso known as chimp island, is a chimpanzee sanctuary, set up by the Jane Goodall Foundation. 

Bulago Island is excellent for nature walks, the diverse terrain of rocky outcrops and woodlands means there are several trails to choose from and good opportunities to see uncommon birds and wildlife

Ssese Islands

Things to do

Swimming

The clear cool water is perfect for a hot afternoon swim. Mutumbala beach on the Buggala Island is the most popular spot from which to swim, but it’s likely that your accommodation will also have designated areas for swimming.

In the Ssese Islands, there are no hippos, and crocodiles are extremely unusual. Be aware that Bilharzia, while very rare these days, is thought to be present in the lake so many choose to swim in the hotel pools instead. Ssese Islands

Clear and cool waters are perfect for swimming.

Fishing

Fishing in Uganda is becoming an increasingly popular excursion and the Ssese Islands are a fantastic fishing spot for tilapia and Lake Victoria’s largest fish, the Nile Perch. 

For fishing on Lake Victoria, a UWA fishing permit is not required, but you must go with a licensed boat operator, registered by the Ministry of Fisheries. If you book with us, this will all be arranged for you. 

Fishing equipment can be hired, or you can bring your own. 

Ssese Islands

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Home to over 50 rescued and orphaned chimpanzees, Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary is now a primate’s paradise and an important conservation project thanks to the Jane Goodall Foundation.

Many of the chimpanzees were rescued from poachers and are unlikely to survive reintroduction to the wild.

Under the protection of the sanctuary, they now spend their time swinging from the rainforest trees that cover the island.

The sanctuary allows guests to spend quality time playing with and feeding the chimpanzees, a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in Uganda. 

Wildlife Viewing

The Ssese Islands are home to many primates including Vervet and Colobus Monkeys.

Crocodiles occasionally visit the more remote islands and hippos can be sighed near Buggala’s southwestern shore.

The elusive sitatunga love to hide in the marshy banks of the lake, and are best seen while taking an early evening canoe ride.Ssese Islands

Despite their name, Blue monkeys are mainly olive or grey.

Quad Biking

For those feeling adventurous, quad biking is a great way to get to know the islands.

The quad bike’s ability to cover all terrains means you can drive along the rocky cliff tops and sandy beaches, through the forest and stop by one of the local fishing villages for lunch and a chance to learn about the local culture.

Previous experience of quad biking is not required, and if you need, you can practice before heading onto more difficult terrain. Ssese Islands

Hire a quad bike for the day and explore jinja on four wheels.

Places to Stay

The hotels and lodges within the Ssese Islands are comprised of budget and mid-range choices. There are no luxury options just yet.

However, the current choices will not leave you feeling disappointed. All the hotels and lodges offer uninterrupted views and access to the lake.

The mid-range options include bandas, cottages and self-contained rooms, while the budget accommodations include several campsites and a dormitory on Banda Island.  
The Ssese Islands, Lake Victoria.

The Ssese Islands are an inland tropical paradise.

Mirembe Beach Resort

Mirembe(meaning peace in Luganda), is a beach-front resort with 30 private guest rooms and suites, which are perfectly secluded under the canopy of trees.

The resort is situated on Buggala Island near Kalangala. The rooms are basic, but stylish and Wi-Fi is included.

The restaurant serves a blend of local and international food and drinks, which can be enjoyed while sitting round the campfire or at a table directly overlooking the lake.

Mirembe also has a camping ground for those looking for a low-budget alternative. The campsite has access to the hotel’s facilities and amenities. 

Ssese Islands

Brovad Sands Lodge

Located on Buggala Island, Brovad Sands Lodge is the closest to pure luxury you will get while staying in the Ssese Islands.

With beach front access, a spa, sauna and swimming pool, there are several ways to unwind.

For accommodation guests can choose between large suites, cottages or a family villa.

Free Wi-Fi, restaurant, lounge and bar and the many activities on offer has made Brovad Sands Lodge one of the most popular options in the Ssese Islands. 

Ssese Islands

Ssese Island Beach Hotel

Situated in Lutoboka Bay, just five minutes from where the ferry docks from Entebbe, Ssese Island Beach Hotel is another great option for activities

An on-site golf course, banana boating, quad biking, canoe rides, nature walks, and cultural visits will keep you busy, or opt to lounge all day by the cool waters on a sun bed.

There are several suites to choose from, which have views of the lake, forest or golf course. There is also a restaurant serving an à la carte menu, a bar and a campfire area. 

Ssese Islands

How to get to the Ssese Islands

From Kampala or Entebbe to Kalangala Bay in the Ssese Islands, a large modern car ferry departs from Nakiwogo Dock, just south of Entebbe at 2pm every day.

The ferry returns to Nakiwogo Dock (Entebbe) from Kalangala Bay at 8am every day.

The journey is approximately three and a half hours. First and second class tickets are available. The only difference is that the first class is likely to be less busy.

A speed boat can be arranged to transport you to Bulago Island, and an airstrip is currently being built on the island.

Other Islands will be connected by lake taxis (large wooden boats) and private boats.

Ssese Islands

When to visit the Ssese Islands

The best time to visit the Ssese Islands is during the cooler dry seasons from late June to October

During these months, there is a smaller chance of rain ruining planned activities, and wildlife viewing opportunities are better as the animals congregate around central water sources.

Ssese Islands

Why you should visit Entebbe.

What are the top things to do in Entebbe town? Most Ugandans only go to Entebbe when visiting one of the beaches or on their way out of the country through the only international airport. This shouldn’t be the case because Entebbe town has so much to offer. Entebbe is one of the most naturally beautiful towns in Uganda. It is part of Wakiso District and is found 40 kilometers away from Kampala city. The town is surrounded by Lake Victoria, lush green vegetation and great landscapes giving it a cool temperature and natural charm.

Despite its small size, Entebbe is a key town in Uganda with important historical roles. Entebbe was the administrative capital of Uganda before the role was shifted to Kampala after independence. It is for this reason that the town is relatively well organized and built with great attractions considering its size. Entebbe still hosts the official state house, one of the largest UN logistics bases in the world, government offices and the only international airport.

For anyone visiting Uganda, Entebbe town is a place you must visit or explore in more detail if you have spare time. You can never be bored while in Entebbe. The town offers so many attractions that never bore even those who have lived there for decades. It is a town where you can spot amazing wildlife and visit some of the best beaches and hotels Uganda has to offer. Entebbe is arguably a better place to stay in than Kampala city or Mbarara town for those who want a clean town, cool temperature, clean air, a serene atmosphere and less crimes.

This article can be useful for those visiting Entebbe for the first time or those who have missed their flight and still have a day or two in the town with nothing to do. You might be interested in  a similar article covering cultural tourism in Uganda as a country or car rental services in Entebbe. By the time you complete reading, you will have an idea of the best places to visit while in Entebbe. You will be surprised to find places you never knew existed.

We hope the article will help you know the popular places and plan accordingly. After finishing reading about Entebbe, you can also read our article about the tourist attractions in Mombasa Kenya. We have an amazing 1 day Kampala city tour package for those who want to visit the key landmarks in Uganda’s capital. If you are targeting Jinja, check out the Jinja tour package.

Let’s look at key some facts about Entebbe before discussing the major tourist attractions

Facts about Entebbe town

  1. Entebbe is found on the northern section of Lake Victoria – the largest lake in Africa.
  2. Entebbe has a population of about 70,000 people.
  3. In the Luganda language, the word “e tebbe” means to sit on a chair. The town was named Entebbe because it was where the local Baganda chiefs sat to resolve legal cases.
  4. Entebbe has Uganda’s largest and only international airport. Because of that, most visits to Uganda start and end in Entebbe.
  5. Entebbe has the official residence and office of the head of state. It is therefore the main center of power
  6. One of the Tarzan movies was shot at the Entebbe botanical gardens.
  7. Entebbe is one of Uganda’s best birding destinations. The botanical gardens and Mabamba swamp are the first places a birder should check out while on a birding tour in Uganda.
  8. Entebbe town has the oldest golf course in Uganda and East Africa. It was established as early as 1900.
  9. Entebbe has some of the most amazing beaches in Uganda and the world when you factor in the amazing Ssese islands.
  10. Entebbe became famous in July 1976 when a team of Israeli commandos stormed the airport and rescued over 100 hostages (mainly Jews) who had been kidnapped while on board an Air France jet. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin supported the hijackers.
  11. To reach Entebbe town from the airport, you will need to hire an airport taxi for about 20,000 Uganda Shilling. While in town, there are three modes of transport – by boda boda, special hire or public minibuses.
  12. Getting decent accommodation in Entebbe for long term use is not easy and can be quiet expensive. This is partly because of the large UN personnel living and working in the town.

Best Things to do in Entebbe town

Visit Lake Victoria: Lake Victoria is the largest fresh water lake in Africa. It is also the second largest in the world after only Lake Baikal in Siberia. The lake is one of the leading tourist sites in Uganda and Entebbe is arguably the best place to explore it. Lake Victoria surrounds the town on almost all sides. There are several activities that can be done around the lake including swimming, fishing, boat cruises, canoeing, island hopping or simply relaxing by the lake shores.

Visit the beaches: As a town surrounded by water, Entebbe has arguably the best and most popular beaches in Uganda. Some of the beaches include white sand beach, Sports beach, Lido beach, Aero beach, Imperial resort beach and Spena beach among many others.

The hotels and resorts in Entebbe also have their own beaches like Anderita and Botanical beach hotels. On weekend, these beaches are full of revelers from Kampala and other nearby towns. Almost all the beaches have loud music playing in the background while some organize boat cruises on the lake in different shifts for revelers.

Swimming in these beaches is not 100% safe (because of the possibility of catching bilharzia) but it is a great way of mingling with the locals and seeing how they go about their daily lives.

Despite the obvious poverty, Ugandans love to enjoy life. Ugandan’s are very friendly and you will find this out while visiting one of the beaches. If you are afraid of swimming, you can just go and relax by the beach and swim in one of the high end hotels in town.

Visit the Entebbe Sailing Club or go for a sunset boat cruise: Entebbe has one of the oldest sailing clubs in Uganda. The club is busy over the weekend and you will spot several dhow looking boats floating out into the lake with a number of revelers. The Club organizes sporting competitions to reward the fastest boats.

Entebbe Sailing club is a perfect place to go with your friends or family for a truly amazing weekend. Sunset boat cruises are also organized with food and drinks starting from the Uganda Wildlife Educational Centre all the way to some of the Ssese Islands.

Activities in Entebbe town

Visit Entebbe International Airport: Entebbe town is host to the only international airport in Uganda. The airport is built close to the shores of Lake Victoria and is about 25 miles away from Kampala city. Entebbe international airport is also host to one of the largest UN logistics bases in the world.

You can find several UN and other humanitarian aircraft stationed here and ready for missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and South Sudan.

best things to do in Entebbe

Visit the UN Base in Entebbe: As mentioned earlier, the United Nations uses the old Entebbe international airport for keeping some of their heavy military and humanitarian equipment before being taken for use in peacekeeping missions around Africa.

Visiting their offices is not easy without appointment. Security is tight because they have their own customs and immigration procedures. Easiest way to visit is to befriend one of their staff in the town bars or hangout places and request for a tour of the site. You might have interest in our article about the things to do in Dar es Salaam.

Visiting Entebbe town

Visit the Entebbe Botanical Gardens: These gardens were founded around 1901. It is believed that one of the original Tarzan movies were filmed here. The gardens are a popular hangout place for locals and tourists who want a quiet place for relaxation and experiencing nature. In terms of biodiversity, it is one of the best within central Uganda.

The Entebbe Botanical gardens are considered important learning centers by academics within and outside Uganda. You can visit the center for plant identification and birding. Expect to also spot Colobus and Ververt monkeys. The gardens are also home to several species of birds and if you are a birder, this is the perfect place to start from.

places to visit in Entebbe Uganda

If you are planning to visit the gardens, expect to find Guides at the entrance. There is an entrance fee but the Guides will ask for a separate fee. The Guides know all the tree, bird and animal species. They will take you to the different zones of the gardens ending with a visit to the beach on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The species of birds to look out for are African Open-billed Stork, Black headed Gonolek, Black-headed herons, Common Squacco, Grey headed gull, Hammerkop, Long tailed Cormorant, Orange weavers, Red- chested Sunbird, Swamp Flycatcher, Verreaux’s eagle owls, Yellow billed duck, Giant and Pied Kingfishers. It is recommended that you visit these gardens on week days to enjoy a more private tour.

Visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Center: Popularly known as Entebbe zoo, this facility has become one of the best educational centers for wildlife in the African continent. The center was opened in 1952 for rescued animals before later turning into a zoo. The Centre still helps rehabilitate animals rescued from poachers before their release back to the wild when possible. The Centre has an amazing collection of wildlife and beautiful scenery.

It is a quick place to go if you cannot visit Uganda’s national parks. Here you will see DeBraza monkeys, baboons, hyenas, pythons, lions, ostriches, antelopes, leopards, buffaloes and chimpanzee among many other creatures. Over 121 species of birds can be sported at the Centre including the African fish eagle, Hammerkops, sun birds, Giant Kingfishers and the Great Blue

Most of the animals are held in spacious areas which resemble their natural surroundings. You will not only see but learn how the animals communicate, play, eat and live together. The Centre strives to educate visitors about wildlife conservation and their importance to prosperity and the ecosystem. After seeing all the animals in the zoo for about 2 hours, you can go down to the beach and take a swim or relax with the family as you enjoy camel and donkey rides.

Visit Entebbe Uganda

As already noted earlier, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center is one of the most visited places in Uganda and is a favorite learning place for schools and other educational institutions. The Centre receives generous funding from donors and institutions around the world enabling it to expand and put together an excellent team of caretakers.

Visiting the center costs $15 for international visitors and about 10,000 for Ugandans. For those interested in a more comprehensive visit, they can opt for the Keeper for a Day Experience, the behind the Scenes Tour and the Chimpanzee Close-up experience. Tour operators in Uganda can organize trips to the Entebbe zoo but at an extra cost. We have a new article about the things to see in Nairobi that you might find interesting.

The Reptile Sanctuary: Visiting the Uganda Reptiles Village is excellent for those who are fascinated with reptiles. The sanctuary takes care of all kinds of reptiles including crocodiles, turtles, tortoises, lizards, chameleons and snakes (vipers, cobras, mambas and puff adders).

Most of these reptiles where rescued and rehabilitated after being found in people’s homes and gardens. After the Centre receives a call from someone about spotting a reptile in their compound, they send staff to go and pick them up. When their numbers increase, some are released back into the wild.

The staff at the sanctuary will help educate you about these often misunderstood creatures. The Reptiles village is located a short drive away from the town. You stop at a small town called Abaita-ababiri as you head towards Kampala. From Abaita, you leave the main highway and follow the 4km dusty road to the Reptile village. Entrance to the Reptile sanctuary is 15,000 Uganda Shillings at the time of writing this article. The Entrance fee includes a Guide to take you around the site.

Visit the Uganda Virus Research Institute: If you are an academic spending time in Entebbe, a good place to visit is the Uganda Virus Research Institute. This is a government institute that was built to help in researching about communicable diseases among animals and humans. The Uganda Virus Research institute is a leading Centre for research in East African and has been responsible for some amazing findings in the area of communicable diseases. It houses some of the brightest minds in Uganda as well as international researchers from all over the world on short assignments.

attractions in Entebbe

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary: This sanctuary is home to more than 40 orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from within and outside Uganda. The young chimps are brought at the Centre for rehabilitation and to start a new life in a beautifully forested island. Here they are looked after by some of the best caretakers and researchers. To reach the Ngamba island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, one would need to take a boat or public ferry to the island.

Once in the island you have an opportunity to observe the chimps feeding from an enclosure before retreating back to the large forest. Visitors to the island can also feed the chimps or volunteer for a while in the facility. There are flights arranged from Entebbe International Airport to the sanctuary at a cost.

State House Entebbe: Uganda has two main state house buildings. One in Entebbe and the other in Nakasero. Although visiting is only by invitation, you can still take a walk around the structure to admire the beautiful gardens. If you are lucky you will spot the presidential convoy entering and departing from the man gate.

Things to see in Entebbe

Entebbe Golf Club: This 18 Hole Golf Course is the oldest in Uganda. It was founded as early as 1901 close to the shores of Lake Victoria. It is a large golf course that offers a unique feeling of privacy and serenity even on busy weekends.

This gold course remains green throughout the year because of the cool weather from the lake and good rains throughout the year. At the entrance, you may see a sign post stating that playing is for only members but tourists are allowed in at an affordable fee.

Golfing is now becoming very popular among the middle class in Uganda and has received wide media coverage. Because of that, you will meet some of Uganda’s top businessmen and the middle-class citizens playing side by side. You can learn a lot about Uganda, the politics and opportunities available while playing and hanging out at the club. Apart from the golf course, the club also has a basketball court, a cricket oval and a basketball court. Members can also play snooker, darts and badminton.

Tourist attractions in Entebbe Uganda

Visit Entebbe’s main Markets: The best way to learn about a new place and the local people is to visit the main markets. Entebbe has two main markets. One is close to the first shell petrol station from the Kampala side and the other is in Kitoro.

There are also smaller markets opened on specific days of the week such as the one close to Manyago. I shouldn’t forget to mention the Nakiwogo Market.

The Nakiwogo market is a beehive of activity and the best place to watch vendors sell off their products or offload goods from the different Ssese Islands. While in all Entebbe markets, you can buy Uganda’s tasty tropical fruits and foods from a kiosk. If you have nothing to buy, you can just choose a place to sit and observe the local Ugandans hustling to make ends meet. You might even get a chance to hear some of the most current gossip.

Explore Kitubulu Forest and Beach: This forest and beach are located just as you enter Entebbe town from Kampala and start getting a clear view of the lake. Kitubulu forest is perfect for nature walks that end at the beach or Lake shores. Entrance is free but be cautious while there. Avoid taking forest walks late in the evening or in the night. The beach is open to the public at no cost but security is non-existent hence you could be prone to pick pockets.

Entebbe town Uganda

Visit Zika Forest: This is the forest where the Zika Virus was first discovered by scientists in 1947. This strain is different from the one that troubles certain parts of the world recently.

In fact, to be clear, there is no strain of the Zika Virus in the forest these days. A group of researchers are currently studying the insects trapped in the forest to come up with groundbreaking findings that will be of benefit to the world. Zika forest is a favorite for birders and those who just want to explore a tropical forest within reach. Expect to spot monkeys, birds and countless butterflies.

Nkumba University: Nkumba university is a private university founded in 1994. It started as an institution specializing in promoting business management but has now grown to also offer science based courses. Unlike many private universities in Uganda, it is not affiliated to any particular religious’/Christian organization. The University is built on Nkumbi Hill which is 10 kilometers away from the Entebbe airport in the District of Wakiso. The University compound spreads all the way to the shores of Lake Victoria.

Entebbe Town

Mabamba Swamp: Mabamba bay wetland is found along the shores of Lake Victoria. This extensive marshland covers an area of 16,498 hectares and consists of mainly of Miscunthus sp along the main bay and papyrus towards the clearer waters of Lake Victoria.

A narrow water channel extends inside the swamp allowing for birders to visit the inside by boat. The most popular bird species sighted here is the amazing shoebill stork. The Mabamba wetlands sanctuary is considered the best place to spot Shoebill storks in Uganda. These elusive birds are often found standing on drifting papyrus islands as they fed on insects and frogs. Apart from the Shoebill storks and other birds, swamp antelopes (Sitatunga) thrive on these swamps.

places to visit in Entebbe

Sport Fishing on Lake Victoria: Uganda is home to the largest fresh water fish in Africa – the Nile Perch. Entebbe provides one of the best and most organized fishing areas in Uganda.

You can hire a boat and go out with your equipment for an adventure of a lifetime with the possibility of a big catch to show your buddies and fellow anglers. Some of the hotels and resorts can help you acquire fishing gear and a professional angler to take you to the best fishing spots while on a whole day sport fishing trip in Uganda.

Visit the Ssese Islands: The Ssese Islands are a collection of 84 Islands in Lake Victoria. Only 43 have constant human presence. All the islands offer pristine tropical vegetation with amazing wildlife. The Ssese Islands offer some of the best fishing spots in Uganda.

So prepare for a whole day of fun, fishing, swimming, canoeing, quad biking and even horseback riding in some of the islands. Visiting the Ssese Islands should be done in three days to experience the best of what the Islands have to offer.

Go shopping: Entebbe is a major shopping Centre with large supermarkets like Victoria shopping mall, Imperial Mall, Pearl Supermarket, Shoprite and many other smaller one built within the magnificent hotels and resorts. All these shopping malls have ATM Machines which accept Visa and MasterCard. The banks with branches in Entebbe town include Stanbic, Ecobank, Diamond Trust bank and Standard chartered.

The Entebbe Craft Village: This Craft village was built in 2002 and is believed to be one of the largest in Uganda. While visiting the craft village, you can buy wood carvings, bags, African fabrics, sandals, paintings, batiks, place mats, tableware, clothing’s, ornaments and jewelry. You can also buy the fabric and have it made and adjusted to your size if you are staying in town for a while.

Top things to do in Entebbe

Eat Out: If you want to taste some of Uganda’s local dishes as well as international ones, then you should check out 4 Points for their calming environment and Indian food.

They even have a pool table and bar that is frequented by Entebbe’s expert community. Gately Inn Entebbe is one good open-air restaurant with beautiful gardens and all kinds of international dishes. For the best pizza, visit Bologna or hotel Anderita. Other pizza points include Arthur’s Café, Goretti’s Pizza.

We can’t forget to mention Faze 3 for Indian and continental food. Faze 3 is built close to the airport and has some of the tastiest fried pork, chicken and tilapia.

Go Drinking and Clubbing: To find out about Entebbe’s night life and sample some of the local beer, you should start with 4 Turkeys Pub located along Kampala road. They have international beer brands in stock like Guinness and Heineken. Red Rooster Sports Bar is a favorite of UN Personnel and hence security is tight.

You will find a pool table and giant TV screens to watch your favorite sports teams over the weekend in all the bars.  If the two are not to your taste, you can visit O’s Bar located close to the golf course with its indoor lounge and large television screens. Club Knight Riders is arguably the most popular dance club in Entebbe.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was established in 1952. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds is also impressive. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.

The Park can be divided into 3 sections. The popular southern/central part (Seronera Valley), is what the Maasai called the “serengit”, the land of endless plains. It’s classic savannah, dotted with acacias and filled with wildlife. The western corridor is marked by the Grumeti River, and has more forests and dense bush. The north, Lobo area, meets up with Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, is the least visited section.

Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. It’s unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists – many of which have put their works at our disposal to create this website.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat. Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of their most fascinating inhabitants.

African Village Tours Uganda

Village Tours in Uganda
Most villages in Uganda still hold their traditional way of life and many still follow the way their ancestors lived; it is evidenced by the traditional rituals, music, dance and drama, traditional way of harvesting, food preparation and cooking, among other things. Some of these villages have been mentioned below to guide you on which to visit. The most amazing thing about it, is that all these villages are located in the famous tourist sites such as National Parks, Forests, and Lakes among others.

African village safaris

Boomu Cultural Village

Boomu Cultural village also known as Boomu Women’s Group is an African setting neighboring Murchison Falls National Park. It was formed in 1999 by subsistence farmers from villages of Kigaragara and Kihaguzi, in a time when the northern region of the country was dry, there was less produce to sell and consume hence poverty and malnutrition levels increased.
So these people resorted to making crafts and what began as a small group, today is a beautiful community with gardens, traditional accommodation facilities, exceptional guided tours and a restaurant. In fact to enjoy this village to the fullest, you could spend a night in a real African hut, before getting to bed, sitting at the fire and listening to stories about this place from the elders is unforgettable.
Visiting this village introduces you the way the locals live; how they grow crops, how children get education, how baskets are woven, their traditional dances and cultural performances, and also how food is harvested, prepared, cooked and served in the authentic African way.
At Boomu you truly experience what is termed as an African authentic village setting. There is no solar or hydroelectric lighting, food is harvested directly from the garden and put on a locally made stove, then to your plate, most of the locals eat with their hands, tourists are given forks if it is what they want. There is even no refrigeration since all foods are fresh.

The Batwa Cultural Trail

The Batwa are an indigenous group of people famously known as pygmies. They used to live in unity with other forest inhabitants about 500,000years ago in huts made out of leaves and branches hence were referred to as the “Keepers of the Forest”.
Their stay in the forest never destroyed the forest since even their shelters were eco-friendly. They entirely depended on the forest for shelter, food, firewood, and fruits among others. It is said of them that “the way they love their bodies is how they love the forest”.
The Batwa lived in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, these parks are homes to the remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. Around 1991, the lives of the Batwa totally changed when these parks were permanently established to protect the Rain forest and wildlife especially the Mountain Gorillas hence by 1992 all people living in these National Parks were evicted and were not given any compensation either in form of money or land from the Government.
But in 2011, the Batwa Cultural Trail was started in Mgahinga National Park by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The members of the Pygmy community guide the visitors through the jungle and expose them to their ancient way of living including their old way of gathering fruits, hunting, collecting honey, traditional healing, and also other traditional performances like rituals done in caves and dances.
Today this cultural trail is so famous and every visitor to the park shouldn’t miss out on this great experience, it has helped the Batwa keep their traditions and beliefs. The trails are two; both a long one and a short one, the visitor is at liberty to choose the trail they will go for.
All proceeds from the visit support the community of the Batwa; they help in the development and sustaining of the community projects such as the maize mill, microfinance and the secondary school.

Entanda Cultural Village

Entanda village is a unique cultural tourist village that is aimed at preserving arts and crafts, traditions, culture, and performances of Uganda hence described as a Community Based Tourism Organization. All tourists to this village can be assured to experience and also participate in the old way of life for the Ugandan culture and the natural beauty in the village.
Entanda is a small village situated in Mityana district among green rolling hills about 1 hour drive from Kampala. People in Entanda have also ensured to preserve their traditional ways of animal keeping, bee keeping, farming, food harvesting, preparation, serving and cooking, growing of vegetables and fruits plus the traditional playing of games.
Entanda has a great historical background; it is said to have existed thousands of years ago when Kintu “the first man” to live in Buganda met death spirits that wanted to kill Nambi his wife. The death spirits also locally known as Walumbe used to dig very deep pits to hide and kill people. This is proved by the existence of about 240 deep pits and the Nambi rocks which today are used for traditional worship.
Tourists while at Entanda can engage in activities such as traditional dances, hunting, walks through forests, banana and coffee plantations, fruit harvesting, food preparation and cooking, and lessons about the traditionally made musical instruments.

Katwe Village Tour

The village is situated in Kasese district at the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The village is close to Katwe Lake, it is a salt lake and one of the economic activities carried out in this area is salt mining. A day in Katwe village is exceptional since visitors get a chance to meet the local people and involve in their day-to-day lives.
Visitors are welcomed in a local homestead where they get to observe how the residents harvest salt from the lake, they can also observe how food is traditionally prepared, cooked and also be able to taste it.
During the village tour, visitors should always keep in mind that by visiting they are giving back to the people, they can also visit a primary school in this village and see how the children get education. All proceeds from the visit go towards improving the health sector of this area and provide income to those that can’t mine salt to earn a living especially the elderly.

Nshenyi Village Tour

Nshenyi Village exposes visitors to the Ankole culture and traditions. This cultural village is situated on a farm at the edge of Ntungamo district in Kitwe Town. It is an hour’s drive if someone is coming from Mbarara town and takes only 30minutes to drive to this village from Ntungamo Town.
Nshenyi is a beautiful areas characterized with acacia trees, savannah grass, and lush rolling hills. This environment favors cattle rearing. The people in Nshenyi are pastoralists with agriculture as the main economic activity carried out. This is evidenced by a number of commercial crops and large banana plantations owned by various residents.
This place has activities that are unique for visitors hence it is visited by a number of people on safari in the western part of Uganda.

Activities include; traditional cooking, nature walks, visiting primary schools and local markets, milking the Ankole long-horned cattle, visit local homesteads, engage in tree planting, observe the processing of milk, discover how the homesteads do food processing and cultivation of crops, birders are also sure to spot a number of beautiful bird species, among other activities.

Rubuguri Village Tour

Rubuguri Village is situated at the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable NP a natural habitat to the world’s remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. So it is very easy for the tourist to track Gorillas and wrap up the trip with a walk in the Village of Rubuguri.
Rubuguri village is a small isolated village with friendly inhabitants and can be accessed by a rustic road along the steep hillsides. While here, you can engage in a village walk through small homesteads, where you are able to meet the locals and enjoy their day to day way of life in this area.
Tourists can visit the local schools in the area, and also have a remarkable time watching people perform the Kikiga dance and sing amazing joyful traditional songs.

Karamoja Village Tour

Apart from sightseeing, a tour to a Karamojong community is defined as a participatory experience, because the tourist gets an opportunity to engage with the locals and learn more about their culture. One can also plan to have an overnight stay in a traditional hut.
A Karamojong Village is also locally called a “Manyatta”. Karamoja Manyattas are traditional homesteads for the Karamojong located near Kidepo National Park. It is where they live in harmony just like their ancestors lived and their culture and traditions have been preserved, so visiting a manyatta you get exposed to this amazing group of people.
The Karamojong live in an unspoiled part of the country; in the North Eastern part of Uganda. They are described as a tribe of fierce warriors, they are pastoralists who even feed on mainly animal products like milk, meat, blood among others. The women have tried to develop themselves by involving in the making of beads and crafts.
Therefore if one is on safari to Kidepo National Park, you could include visit a Manyatta on your itinerary.