Uganda

Home to endangered Mountain Gorillas, the widest range of primates in Africa and birds galore.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Jan to Feb & June to Aug

Overview

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is synonymous for many with the endangered Mountain Gorilla. These live in its remote southern forests in Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Yet Uganda safaris have a rawness and authenticity that sets them apart. They have so much more to offer than just gorilla trekking. See primates like the golden monkeys in Bwindi, and chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Semliki National Park.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Nearly all our Uganda Safaris include a day or two of gorilla trekking. There can be few more moving experiences than meeting the brown-eyed gaze of the hugely endangered mountain gorilla. Gorilla tracking in Uganda can be quite challenging. You must be prepared to trek for up to seven strenuous hours for the reward of an encounter with a 220 kg ‘silverback’ gorilla. But the anticipation is matched only by the euphoria after the short audience.

Game-viewing in Uganda

As well as being home to the mountain gorillas, the Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks of Uganda support diverse wildlife including chimpanzees, golden monkeys and other primates. A short drive away are the plains, lakes and wetlands of the Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo National Park. These support good numbers of elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, hippo and crocodiles. Further north again is the safari mecca of Murchison Falls. This is Uganda’s largest national park and home to the ‘Big Five’ and more chimpanzees. Finally those who make the journey to the remote Kidepo Valley National Park are rewarded with less common sightings. Such as bat-eared fox and spotted hyena amongst the 77 mammal species found here.

Birding Tours in Uganda

Uganda boasts one of the widest ranges of bird species in Africa. You don’t even need to be a twitcher to get excited by the ease with which you can spot “big tick” species such as the unforgettable Shoebill Stork. Semliki Wildlife Reserve has an almost 100% success rate for such birding sightings. And they can even be found within 50km of Kampala.

Gorilla Conservation

Uncontrolled hunting and the accelerating human encroachment into its high-altitude rainforest habitat have brought the mountain gorilla of Uganda to the brink of extinction. Due to conservation efforts, gorilla numbers are once again slowly increasing. And so now there are about 880 gorillas in the wild. Roughly half live in the Bwindi Forest National Park in Uganda and the remainder in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, and in the DRC.

A handful of family groups of gorillas have become habituated to limited human contact. But the number of gorilla trekking permits is strictly limited per day. So you need to book your Uganda safari well in advance.

Features

Why you may love it

  • Gorilla trekking is a must – Uganda is home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla.
  • One of the widest range of primates in Africa.
  • Remarkably varied landscapes – from tropical forests, snow-capped peaks and savanna plains, to beautiful lakes & wetlands.
  • Ultimate adventure destination.
  • Mass tourism is unknown.
  • Ugandan people and friendly and welcoming.
  • Birding paradise - boasts one of the most extensive range of bird species in Africa.

Explore the Uganda map

When to visit Uganda

December to mid-March

Uganda’s climate, though straddling the equator, is mitigated by altitude. Most of the country is on a plateau which ranges from 1000 to 1400m in altitude. So overall the climate is pleasantly warm rather than hot, with high rainfall ranging from 900mm to 1500mm. Effectively Uganda has two seasons, each heralded by a rainy period, so generally its best to travel in these two dry periods when the trekking to see the gorillas and chimpanzees is at its best. December to March, overall, is probably the best time to visit as it is the driest in both the north and the south of Uganda. This tends to be the warmest period, though there is not much year-round variation. (The main seasonal difference revolves around rainfall.)
AVG RAINFALL 110mm
AVG HOURS OF SUNSHINE 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 29 ℃ / 84 ℉
MIN TEMP 18 ℃ / 64 ℉

Mid-March to May

Rainy season

This is the time of the long rains and generally is not an ideal time to visit, especially for gorilla trekking. Plus roads are not in a good condition. However the parks are lush and green and it’s also a good time for birders.
AVG RAINFALL 140mm
AVG HOURS OF SUNSHINE 6 Hours
MAX TEMP 27 ℃ / 82 ℉
MIN TEMP 18 ℃ / 64 ℉

June to September

Best time for gorilla trekking

This is the best time by many to visit, especially if you are heading to the south (Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth Park, Kibale). As this is the driest period with pleasant day time temperatures for hiking and tracking. However the north (Murchison Falls) continues to be rainy through the winter.
AVG RAINFALL 35 to 90mm
AVG HOURS OF SUNSHINE 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 27 ℃ / 81 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

Mid-October to November

Short rains to dry plains

This is the time of the short rains so the dry plains gradually turn to green. But it's not an ideal time for gorilla trekking given the muddy conditions.
AVG RAINFALL 120mm
AVG HOURS OF SUNSHINE 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 27 ℃ / 81 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

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Loved the tree climbing lions

"I did not expect much from the chimpanzee trecking in the Chamburu Gorge, but it was the best of the whole trip. We got really close to the chimps and it was an amazing experience. It was a much more private trip (only 8 people) than later in Kibale, where we did not get that close. I also loved the tree climbing lions, which we saw three times near Ishasha Wilderness camp in QE, and once again near Mweya Lodge. What I should have done differently is, I should have gone for two gorilla trekking permits, as the first day it rained and although we saw the gorillas, they just sat there trying to get as less wet as possible. All the other members of my group had two permits, so went again the next day and had a much better viewing. The Bwindi bird walk was pretty bad, but mostly because the guide was not interested and we did not see much. The Shoebill tour was good, but I would recommend the morning one at 9:30am, as they saw two Shoebills in the morning. As soon as I arrived in the afternoon the guides said, it will be hard to spot one, and it was as we did not see it. " Mrs Monika Maintz
 
Did you know
  • LanguagesOver 30 different indigenous languages are spoken in Uganda
  • GeographyHome of the tallest Mountain Range in Africa - The Rwenzori Mountains

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Natasha Jantjies

Africa Travel Specialist

Hi I’m Natasha, I’m here to help you plan your ideal holiday experience

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