Now is a good time to plan your next post-covid travel adventure. Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa”, seems a perfect place to start. The landlocked country in Eastern Africa is resplendent with diverse wildlife that inhabits the vast, carefully maintained national parks and mountains that form the Rwenzori.
Here’s our pick of 5 incredible wildlife encounter safaris organised by Ugandan based tour operator Rafiki Eco-Safaris.
1 Western Circuit Culture & Wildlife Safari – 15 Days
Elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park (c) Matthias Mugisha
Discover Uganda’s community, culture and wildlife on this 15-day tour that will take you to the snow-capped Rwenzori to observe rare birds and chimpanzees, and to Queen Elizabeth National Park where you’ll get to see elephants and watch the charming if fearsome hippos at play on a relaxing riverboat cruise.
This tour has a strong community aspect and you will also participate in various tours and experiences that support local communities. This includes a Crater Lake walking tour at Rweteera Safari Park to explore the beauty of Lake Nyabikere (lake of frogs). The tour guides are all local to the area, and income from tours has contributed to the construction of a local primary and secondary school.
Price: Starting at $7,125pp
2 Luxury Game and Gorilla Trekking Safari -17 Days
Baby Gorilla feeding at Bwindi Impenetrable National park
This epic 17-day safari will offer you glimpses of almost every type of wildlife Uganda has to offer, but the crowning glory is the guided gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Learn about the feeding habits and behaviours of these endangered apes whilst observing them in their natural habitat.
Other highlights include a boat cruise on the Nile to the famous 43m high Murchison falls and a visit to Echuya swamp that harbours the largely endangered Grauer’s swamp warbler.
Price: Starting at $17,700pp
3 Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari – 6 Days
Tree Climbing Lions (c) Matthias Mugisha
If you dream of seeing big cats in the wild, this one is for you. Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular savannah park and one of Africa’s best places to observe tree-climbing lions. The park has an impressive diversity of habitats including lakes, forests, wetlands and savannah grasslands that harbour the country’s greatest variety of large mammals.
The tour begins with a boat trip on Kazinga Channel, a natural channel between Lake Edward and George where you can observe hippos and crocodiles. The following day you will wake early and take part in a game drive through the park where you can see lions, antelopes, buffalo and other wildlife. The tour also includes various community activities including a visit to Bunyangabu Bee Keepers Cooperative group to learn about honey harvesting.
Price: Starting at $4,680pp
4 Lake Mburo Tour – 3 Days
Lake Mburo National Park is Uganda’s smallest savannah national park, helpfully located near to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is an excellent choice if you are looking for close encounters with wildlife, as the park has no lions, thus reducing the risk of animal attacks. Here you will observe large eland antelope with their spiral horns, impalas, zebras and acacia related birds.
At the start of your tour, before arriving at Lake Mburo you will stop at a traditional drum maker at Mpambire, then on for a quick stop at the Equator – Uganda is one of the few places in the world where this imaginary line that divides the earth passes through. The following day you will embark on a nature walk through the park, followed by a game drive to see the wildlife at close range. On the final day, you can take part in another game drive before returning to Kampala.
Price: Starting at $2,720
5 Uganda Birding & Wildlife – 10 Days
The iconic Shoebill
If you love to bird watch then this 10-day safari adventure could certainly float your boat. Embark on a quest to spot the iconic Shoebill, a stork-like bid that can reach up to 140cm in height, at the Mabamba birding site in Lake Mburo National Park. You’ll also get the chance to see saddle billed storks and long-tailed cormorants with their silver-speckled backs.
You’ll also have the opportunity to go gorilla tracking at Bwindi National Park, which is home to 50% of the world’s gorillas. The wildlife portion of the tour ends with an early game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you’ll get the chance to observe the lions in tree-climbing action.
Price: Starting at $9,688pp
More info about Rafiki Eco-Safaris
Rafiki Eco-Safaris caters to the inbound travellers and groups who are planning their safari to the Pearl of Africa. They focus on creating friendly experiences for travellers that are also sustainable to the wildlife and environment and also support local communities.
Rafiki Eco-Safaris is a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association and is associated with Uganda Safari Guides Association, Uganda Tourism Board, Nature Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.