Uganda the Pearl of Africa brings the best wildlife safari and cultural tours as you take a spectacular big five safari in Murchison Falls National Park, driving through nature’s most abundant park and coming face to face with Rhinos in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, lion prides in the park and variety of wildlife to spot.
Immerse yourself in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and spend one hour and explore the world’s famous mountain gorillas, spend a fascinating day with the chimpanzees of Budongo Forest Reserve. Spend time with the Batwa people listening to their ancient tales, learning about local life and discovering a remarkable culture.
When I and my family decided to travel to Uganda, the initial reason was to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Uganda turned out to be one of the best destinations that we have ever visited. We chose Gorilla Safaris Tours to take us through our safari. We were met at our hotel by our guide Emma.
Emma is really Knowledgeable, caring and a gentle person. He is very passionate about his country Uganda and took us on a journey that we will never forget. He advised us of what to expect for that day and throughout the whole trip. We instantly felt very safe and comfortable knowing we were in the hands of a courteous and profession guide.
I cannot imagine why people would decide to self-drive as having a guide is paramount. Emma was knowledgeable about the wildlife and had incredible in sightings. He would spot animals from several hundreds of metres away. Honestly, I never thought that I would get so close to the animals. He also gave us a lot of information about the culture and areas we were passing as we drove.
All the highlights we visited we would highly recommend including Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, and Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest reserve, Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest Impenetrable National Park and the Batwa cultural visit. There was a lot travelling by road which at time was challenging on unsealed roads.
On occasion, the day would be spent in the vehicle and sometimes 8-9 hours. But Emma was always accommodating to our needs and would stop for breaks whenever our family needed to. We always took a break for lunch and also we ask if we could stop off at local markets to buy some local crafts.
By travelling on the road we got to experience the culture of Uganda which would be missed if we had travelled by air. The 4×4 vehicle was well equipped for safaris but for a family of 4 on long road trips. Our safari tour started from Kampala off to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located barely 180km from Kampala and 60km from Masindi.
The dirt road from the main road leading to the sanctuary is a bit rough, so a lifted 4×4 is recommended. The sanctuary is electric fenced, covering 70 square km. Every 22 rhinos have its own ranger for protection. And they are not protecting you from the rhinos, but the rhinos from poachers.
The sanctuary has only white rhinos (which are grey, as the black one), and they are not as aggressive as the black one. That might be the reason for why we can walk freely around. But we must of course be careful. The guide will give you proper information, so don’t worry. Long pants and hiking boots are recommended.
Just before we went out to look for the rhinos a couple of guides says the only had seen two rhinos that morning, so if we saw more than one. We were more and less surprised when we saw 10 rhinos. And we didn’t look especially hard.
So I guess they wanted to lower our expectation in order to make us super happy. All in all, it was a great experience. We came close to the rhinos which was our primary goal. After the experience we continued to Murchison Falls National Park.
Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is one place any one visiting Uganda should not miss. Well placed in the Northern part of Uganda and dissected by the mighty River Nile, that’s the Victoria Nile, White Nile and Albert Nile.
At the top of the Murchison Falls, where the River Nile narrows to about 4.5 meters to plunge about 45 feet down the cliff and continue its great journey to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the most magnificent site for both memorable pictures as you listen to the sounds of the Nile river water.
The trip takes 3-4 hours and takes you to near the falls but best views of the falls are from above. You can see plenty of wildlife on the trip up the river including many hippos, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes.
Enjoy the animals on banks of the Nile especially the basking crocodiles, monitor Lizards and countless bird species viewed disappearing in holes drilled on cliffs. The staff and guides on bouts are very friendly and competent, giving lots of interesting information.
In Murchison Falls National Park, you will find Budongo Forest. We were briefed before we started out trek and it all felt safe. The trek can take as much time as you want, but of course within some limits. Our guide recommended around 3 hours. The best time to start such trek is early in the morning, after a good breakfast. You are rested and have just eaten. It might take some time before you reach the chimps. It took us around 20 minutes walking on manmade dirt path.
But in order to get a better view, we had to go off track. It might not suit everyone, but this is part of the excursion. Going through thick vegetation not knowing what’s ahead. Seeing the chimpanzees was an absolute treat and well worth trekking out in the rain. It is just amazing to walk through the forest, and then be amongst a huge family of chimps going about their daily routines, and calling out to each other, walking across the path 10 meters in front of you, caring for babies, grooming.
Be sure to bring proper rain gear and avoid bright reds and oranges, which some of our fellow trekkers were wearing and was apparently a reason that the chimpanzees kept their distance.
Visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to see mountain gorillas was the absolute highlight of our trip to Uganda. We found our gorillas after about a 2 hour trek. Then we sat down to observe them and they ended up observing us.
There were about 16 gorillas in our group and they ended up in a big circle around us, The silverback did the usual chest beating, we saw a couple mating, there were baby gorillas swinging in the trees and one of the mid-sized gorillas actually came up to me and played around with my leg, very scary at the time but an experience I will never forget.
While at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the Batwa cultural experience is one of the activities, excursion you should get involved and participate in. Bwindi being gazetted as national park, the forest was home to the Batwa pygmies who were referred as the original dwellers and keepers of this tropical rain forest.
So after Bwindi forest being gazetted as a national park in 1993, the Batwa were relocated from the forest to the nearby villages and towns.
For a long time the Batwa people depended on forest resources for survival. They used to hunt forest animals using spears and allows for meat and gathering plants and fruits for food. They could harness honey and depend on shrubs for medicine.
They constructed huts using trees, leaves and climbing plants from the forest. Since Bwindi forest was declared as a World Heritage, the Batwa were expelled from the forest and their life changed there and then leaving their lives endangered since they had no land outside the forest and were not used to the life outside the forest.