You are here:

Uganda Travel Guide

Uganda

Overview

Parks & Reserves

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Popular Routes

Getting There

Malaria & Vaccinations

Safety

Overview – Uganda
Uganda offers a captivating array of wildlife experiences, from dense forests to expansive savannahs. Essential to any visit is gorilla trekking, which you can do in the lush Bwindi Impenetrable or Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. For chimpanzee enthusiasts, Kibale National Park and other areas are prime spotting locations. If you’re drawn to the classic savannah safari, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and the secluded Kidepo Valley National Parks offer excellent opportunities for wildlife observation.
Uganda
uganda travel map
Rates (USD)
$267 to $762 pp/day
Best Time To Go
June to August and December to February
High Season
June to September (It's rarely crowded)
Size
241,038km² / 93,065mi²
Pros & Cons
Among the Rare Locations to Spot Endangered Mountain Gorillas
Merge Primate Encounters with a Traditional Savannah Safari
Well-rounded Mix of Vehicle, Boat, and Walking Activities
Superb Birdwatching Opportunities
Picturesque Landscapes
The Big Five Are Less Commonly Spotted Than in Other Safari Destinations
Long Drive Times on Rough Roads Between Parks
Wildlife

Uganda’s wildlife offers a captivating blend of abundance and rarity. The majestic elephant, hippo, buffalo, and zebra roam freely across its landscapes. While the regal lion, graceful giraffe, and elusive white rhino are more localized, they can still be easily spotted in the right places. The elusive leopard adds an air of mystery to the mix.

However, it’s not just the big game that makes Uganda a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. The country boasts a vibrant birdlife, with over 1,000 species recorded, making it a haven for birdwatchers.

Moreover, Uganda’s primates steal the show. Tracking gorillas and chimpanzees is a thrilling experience, but the country is also home to numerous other primate species that are equally fascinating.

In the savannah reserves, the Uganda kob, an antelope species, is a common sight and a preferred prey of the lions, adding a dynamic element to the ecosystem.

Weather & Climate

Uganda’s climate is as diverse as its landscapes, offering unique experiences in different parts of the country. In the north, from March to November, the land is bathed in a warm, rainy season that gives way to a similarly warm, dry season from December to February.

The south, however, dances to a different rhythm, with two dry spells (December to February and June to August) punctuated by two rainy seasons. This unique pattern creates a dynamic environment, where each season paints a different picture of Uganda’s natural beauty.

Best Time To Visit

The months of June to August and December to February unveil Uganda’s wildlife at its finest, offering unparalleled opportunities for observation. These periods, characterized by dry weather and ample sunshine, provide ideal conditions for wildlife watching.

However, the wetter months come with their own allure and challenges. While they bring the landscape to life with vibrant greenery, the possibility of road closures and disrupted primate trekking adventures due to heavy rains adds a thrilling element to the experience.

Premier Parks, Reserves & Wildlife Areas
- Gorilla trekking
- Boat and classic safaris
- Boat and classic safaris
- Chimpanzee trekking
National Parks & Game Reserves – Uganda
All Parks & Reserves
Wildlife & Animals – Uganda

Uganda’s allure lies in its distinctive blend of savannah and forest parks, offering nature enthusiasts a rich tapestry of experiences. While the iconic gorilla and chimpanzee trekking adventures steal the spotlight, the country is also a haven for encountering a diverse array of smaller primate species.

Beyond its primate wonders, Uganda’s savannah safaris promise thrilling encounters with the Big Five. Lions reign supreme in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo National Parks, where the dramatic spectacle of them hunting Uganda kob unfolds amidst breathtaking landscapes.

Gorilla
Chimpanzee
Wildebeest
Zebra
Buffalo
Hippo
Black Rhino
White Rhino
Giraffe
Elephant
Lion
Leopard
Wildlife Highlights

Uganda boasts a remarkable diversity of primates, including the Patas monkey, red-tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, golden monkey, Ugandan red colobus, and Uganda mangabey. The black-and-white colobus is also prevalent across the country.

In addition to its primate population, Uganda is home to a wide range of antelope species. The Uganda kob, considered the national antelope, is abundant in local areas, while the elusive sitatunga antelope can be found in six national parks but is seldom spotted.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

For an unforgettable wildlife experience in Uganda, the Dry season, from December to February and June to September, is the prime time. During these months, the landscapes come alive with wildlife, offering excellent viewing opportunities.

However, navigating the roads can be challenging during the rainy seasons from September to November and March to May. Despite this, gorilla tracking remains a year-round activity. Yet, the Wet season may dampen the experience with heavy rain.

Recommended Wildlife Books
Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa
The best starter’s guide to large mammals; app available by Chris Stuart and Mathilde Stuart
The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals (book and app)
This detailed guide is especially strong on primates by Jonathan Kingdon
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals
This unique book is dedicated to explaining mammal behavior by Richard D. Estes
East African Wildlife
Introductory coverage of more common mammals and birds by Philip Briggs
Field Guide to East African Reptiles
The definitive field guide for reptile enthusiasts by Stephen Spawls et al.
Wildlife Photos
New Project (75)
Birds - Uganda

Uganda’s avian diversity is truly remarkable, with over 1,000 species inhabiting an area similar in size to Great Britain. This wealth of birdlife can be attributed to Uganda’s unique location, situated between the East African savannah, West African rainforests, and the semi-desert regions of the north.

Although Uganda has only two endemic species, it boasts 150 species that are found exclusively within East Africa. The country also serves as a seasonal home to migrant birds from November to April, further enriching its already vibrant bird population.

Notable Birds in Uganda

African jacana
common
Black-headed lapwing
common
Orange weaver
common
Red-throated alethe
common
Shoebill
common
Best Time for Bird Watching

Uganda’s appeal lasts all year for birding enthusiasts, thanks to its diverse resident bird population. However, the country’s climate, characterized by high rainfall, is a factor to consider.

The optimal bird-watching time is generally from late May to September when rainfall is lower, and food sources are plentiful. Yet, during the Wet seasons, navigating roads and forest trails can be challenging, while rain may disrupt birding excursions.

The key nesting period for endemic species in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks falls in May and June. However, heavy rains from mid-April to mid-May can hinder birding activities. Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve experiences relatively dry conditions in February and early March, except for the northern areas like Murchison Falls National Park, which can be uncomfortably hot.

December and January offer favorable birding conditions, with the north still temperate and less rain in the south. The Dry season, from June to August and December to February, is also prime for primate tracking and wildlife viewing in the savannah reserves.

Recommended Birding Books
Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
A must-buy as the best field guide that’s complete for Uganda by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe
eGuide to Birds of East Africa (app)
The app version of the above book is comprehensive for Uganda by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe
Birds of Africa: South of the Sahara
Complete for Uganda, but the vast scope makes it cumbersome by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan
Birds of Uganda: A Photographic Guide
Far from complete (only 280 species) but lovely to look at by Quentin Meunier and Sherry McKelvie
Facts & Figures

Bird Species

550+

Migratory Birds

Oct to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Uganda

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

he prime times to uncover Uganda’s wonders are during the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February, offering optimal conditions for wildlife encounters. Among the safari highlights are the captivating primate walks through the verdant forests.

While Uganda’s rainforests are inherently wet, these Dry seasons provide the best opportunities to minimize exposure to heavy rainfall. Moreover, following a downpour, the skies often part to reveal glorious sunshine, enhancing the enchantment of the safari experience.

Best Time
June to August and December to February (across all parks)
High Season
June to September, crowds are rare, but it's essential to book your gorilla permits well in advance.
Low Season
March, April, May, October, and November, some lodges and camps in high-rainfall areas may close down, and roads and forest trails can be in poor condition.
Best Weather
June to July and January to February, there is typically little rainfall.
Worst Weather
March, April, and May mark the peak of the Wet season.
June to August & December to February – Dry Season – Winter
This period is ideal for gorilla trekking as it falls during the drier months.
In the savannah reserves, sparse vegetation and congregating animals around water sources make wildlife easier to spot.
Even in the peak season (June to September), the parks maintain a sense of spaciousness without feeling crowded.
The skies are clear, with less rainfall and more sunshine.
Gorilla permits require booking well in advance.
March to May & September to November Wet Season – Summer
The savannah reserves are lush and green during the low season, which means lower rates and fewer crowds.
While wildlife is more easily spotted in the Dry season, there is still an abundance to see in the savannah reserves.
here is a plethora of newborn animals.
Some roads deteriorate significantly, leading to vehicle immobilization, while forest trails become slippery and challenging to navigate.
Changing your expensive gorilla permit due to heavy rain is not possible; departures proceed as scheduled.
Wildlife Photos
New Project (75)
​Weather & Climate – Uganda

Nestled along the equator, Uganda boasts a climate marked by remarkable stability throughout the year. January and February stand as the zenith of heat, with daytime temperatures averaging between 24°C to 33°C (75°F to 91°F), occasionally soaring to a scorching 40°C/104°F in the northern reaches. In the south, two distinct wet seasons grace the landscape: one from mid-September to November and the other from March to May, though the heavens may open up unexpectedly at any given moment. Conversely, the north experiences an uninterrupted wet season stretching from March to November, followed by a clear-cut dry season from December to February.

Kampala's climate compared to Uganda's parks

In the tapestry of Uganda’s climate, the southern regions echo Kampala’s tropical character, albeit with nuances. Nestled near Lake Victoria, Kampala enjoys a gentler climate, a whisper softer than its southern counterparts. Here, in the verdant south, parks bask in slightly warmer daytime caresses and cradle cooler nocturnal embraces. Yet, ascend to the lofty realms of the gorilla parks, and you’ll find yourself ensconced in a crisp, mountain-kissed chill. Venturing northward, where the land unfurls toward Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, the warmth envelops you, with daytime temperatures embracing a balmy 32°C/90°F.

Wet Season – June to August & December to February

In the afternoon, temperatures generally peak at around 27°C (81°F), while mornings are cooler at approximately 16°C (61°F). Expect even chillier conditions at altitudes above 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), particularly in the gorilla parks.

 

> June, July, and August – These months are the driest in the south, with occasional rain showers. However, they correspond to the Wet season in the northern regions. The far north, including Kidepo Valley, is semi-arid and can sometimes face drought conditions

> December, January, and February – While the southern areas see reduced rainfall compared to mid-year, they still receive more than in June and July. In contrast, the north experiences a clear Dry season with very little rain.

New Project (74)
Wet Season – March to May & September to November

During the day, temperatures typically average around 28°C (82°F), while mornings are cooler at about 16°C (61°F). In the gorilla parks at higher altitudes, temperatures are colder, whereas in the north, they tend to be warmer.

 

> March, April, and May – These months bring heightened rainfall across the country, peaking notably in April, particularly in the southern regions. Despite the rain, expect some sunny days. However, travel may be more challenging due to the precipitation.

> September, October, and November – Comparable to the earlier months, these months also experience increased rainfall but generally less than in March, April, and May.

New Project (77)
Popular Routes – Uganda
uganda travel map
Popular Routes Where Wildlife Viewing Is a Major Part of the Tour

For those focusing solely on Uganda, there’s a clear and commonly followed route, allowing for travel in two directions. This itinerary, known as the Wildlife Circuit, is favored by most tours:

 

The Wildlife Circuit (1.5 to 2.5 weeks):

 

Start at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport (EBB) and either spend the night along Lake Victoria’s shore or head directly to Lake Mburo National Park if time allows.

 

> Lake Mburo National Park (1 to 2 days): Offers diverse activities like game drives, horseback riding, and boat trips.

 

> Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (2 to 3 days each): Both parks offer exceptional gorilla trekking experiences.

 

> Queen Elizabeth National Park (3 to 4 days): Uganda’s renowned savannah reserve, popular for wildlife sightings.

 

> Kibale National Park (2 to 3 days): Best known for chimp trekking experiences in Uganda.

 

> Murchison Falls National Park (3 to 4 days): Offers superb wildlife viewing and boat trips along the Nile River.

 

> Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch: The sole location in the country to observe rhinos.

 

 

Popular Add-ons:

 

> Kidepo Valley National Park: Known for its remote wilderness appeal.

 

> Mt Elgon: Ideal for mountain climbing enthusiasts.

 

> Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve: Renowned for exceptional birdwatching, including the elusive shoebill.

 

> Rwenzori Mountains: Offers a thrilling mountain climbing challenge.

 

> Jinja: Known for its adventure activities like white-water rafting and bungee jumping

 

​Getting There – Uganda

Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is the primary gateway for flights into Uganda, situated near the town of Entebbe, approximately 46 km (29 miles) from Kampala, the capital. While Uganda is relatively compact, most internal travel is typically done by vehicle, though premium safaris are increasingly incorporating flights for added convenience. For your gorilla trekking trip, Bush 2 City Adventure will handle your airport or hotel pickup, with all further transportation included in your safari package.

Main Park Map
uganda travel map
Flights & Airlines to Botswana

You can book your flight directly through the airline’s website, or alternatively, we recommend checking Skyscanner to compare airlines and ticket prices for your trip to Uganda.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Uganda

For scheduled flights, we can book Aerolink and Fly Uganda, which offer domestic flights to various parks and nearby gateway towns. Alternatively, we can arrange charter flights, though these tend to be quite expensive. The remote Kidepo Valley National Park is the only destination in Uganda that is more frequently accessed by air than by road.

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements
Given that entry regulations can be subject to alterations, we recommend reaching out to your local Ugandan embassy or high commission to ensure the accuracy of the details outlined below.
All foreign visitors are required to possess a passport valid for a minimum of six months.
Passports must have a blank, unused visa page for endorsement.
Most countries' citizens require a visa. A list of countries exempt from this requirement is available.
Visit: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/help
Visas are best obtained in advance through the official online visa application portal. However, they can also be acquired from your local Ugandan embassy or high commission. Currently, visas on arrival are still available alongside the online application process, but this option is expected to be phased out, so it's advisable to check before choosing this route.
Online visa-application portal: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/
Tourist visas can be obtained for Uganda alone or for East Africa, which allows entry to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, all at the same cost.
All visitors to Uganda must possess a valid yellow fever certificate. This certificate is required for the visa application process and may also be checked at the port of entry.
For further details, including any COVID-19-related entry requirements, please refer to the website of your local Ugandan embassy or high commission, or consult the government travel advisories listed below:
> Australia – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/africa/uganda
Canada – https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/uganda
EU member states – https://ec.europa.eu/consularprotection/travel-advice_en
Ireland – https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/uganda/
New Zealand – https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/uganda
United Kingdom – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/uganda
United States – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Uganda.html
Malaria & Vaccinations – Uganda

The information provided on this page serves as a general guide and should not substitute for a consultation with your travel doctor. The government organizations and travel clinics listed below are reliable sources for comprehensive and current information on travelers’ health in Uganda.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are advised; for detailed immunization recommendations, please refer to the websites listed below.

Malaria Risk

The risk of malaria is high throughout the country except in high-altitude mountains over 2,000m/6,500ft, such as Mt Elgon and the Rwenzoris. All safari parks are considered high-risk zones. The peak periods for transmission are during the rainy seasons (March to May and October to December). For more detailed advice, please consult the websites listed below.

More Info
Safety & Security – Uganda

Uganda offers a welcoming and safe environment for visitors. The warmth and friendliness of its people create a memorable experience. While some governments advise against travel to remote areas, reputable tour operators ensure that you explore only safe destinations. For details about these remote regions, consult the travel advisory links below. Like any other country, urban areas may have some crime, but adhering to common safety practices can prevent most incidents. Uganda receives numerous tourists annually, with the vast majority enjoying trouble-free stays.

Here are essential tips for a safe visit to Uganda:

Staying Safe on Wildlife Viewing Activities

Your safari guide is committed to ensuring your safety at all times, so simply follow their instructions. It’s important to remember that all animals in parks and reserves are wild. If you’re on a self-drive safari, only exit your vehicle where it’s been designated as safe to do so, and maintain a safe distance from animals while driving. For additional safety tips:

 

Ensuring Safety During Your Gorilla Trek

Embarking on a gorilla trek is a remarkably safe adventure. Mountain gorillas are known for their gentle nature, often either ignoring or displaying curiosity toward humans. These gorilla groups are habituated, meaning they have become accustomed to human presence. Before setting off on your trek, the park authorities’ guide will provide a briefing on how to interact safely with the gorillas. Despite thousands of annual gorilla trekkers in Uganda, incidents are exceptionally rare.

 

Safety Tips for Gorilla Trekking:

Gorilla trekking is widely regarded as a very safe activity, with dangerous incidents being extremely rare. Visitors are guided to habituated gorilla troops by experienced park rangers. These gorillas are accustomed to human presence, seeing people daily and recognizing that they pose no threat. They typically ignore humans, although young gorillas may sometimes display curiosity.

Mountain gorillas are inherently peaceful creatures, showing minimal aggression toward each other and maintaining a tranquil demeanor.

 

To ensure a safe and respectful experience:

> Always adhere to your guide’s instructions and guidelines.

> Stay with your group and guide at all times.

> Maintain a recommended distance of at least 7 meters (23 feet) from the gorillas; wait for your guide’s instruction if a gorilla approaches you.

> In the rare event of a gorilla charge, crouch down slowly, look down, and await further instructions from your guide.

> Avoid direct eye contact with the gorillas.

> Avoid sudden movements and keep your voice low.

> Do not obstruct the path of gorillas when they are moving.

> Do not use flash photography.

> Gorillas are susceptible to human diseases; if you are ill, do not visit the gorillas, and turn away if you need to cough.

> If nature calls, dig a hole in the ground and cover it afterward.

> Do not bring food or drink near the gorillas; leave your daypack with the trackers when approaching the animals.

> Cover your arms and legs to prevent nettle stings and use insect repellent containing DEET to ward off mosquitoes.

> Wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

> Wear sturdy walking shoes, waterproof clothing, and bring a waterproof bag for your camera and belongings.

 

 

Safety Tips for Chimpanzee Trek

Chimpanzee trekking is considered extremely safe. Several parks offer chimpanzee trekking experiences, where the chimpanzees are habituated and accustomed to human presence. They continue with their daily routines, often disregarding the presence of humans. Before your trek, a park ranger will provide a briefing on what to anticipate and how to ensure the safety of both yourself and the chimpanzees.

 

To ensure a safe and respectful experience:

> Always adhere to your guide’s instructions and guidelines.

> Stay with your group and guide at all times.

> Maintain a recommended distance of at least 8 meters (26 feet); wait for your guide’s instruction if a chimp approaches you.

Avoid sudden movements and keep your voice down.

Do not obstruct the path of chimps when they are moving.

Avoid direct eye contact with the chimps.

Do not use flash photography.

In the rare event of a chimp charge, crouch down slowly, look down, and await further instructions from your guide.

Chimps are susceptible to human diseases; if you are ill, do not visit the chimps, and turn away if you need to cough.

If nature calls, dig a hole in the ground and cover it afterward.

Do not bring food or drink near the chimps; leave your daypack with the trackers when approaching the animals.

Cover your arms and legs to prevent nettle stings and use insect repellent containing DEET to ward off mosquitoes.

Wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

Wear sturdy walking shoes, waterproof clothing, and bring a waterproof bag for your camera and belongings.

 

 

For additional safety tips:

Staying Safe in Cities & Towns

Crime occurs in most cities in the world and Uganda is no exception. Most issues are minor, such as petty theft and pickpocketing. You are unlikely to encounter any trouble on guided activities. When venturing out in the city, you can easily avoid issues by following a few simple safety precautions. Seek advice from your hotel before taking a walk in the city; don’t wear valuables and only take the money you need with you; and don’t walk after dark, rather take a taxi. For more safety tips that apply to African cities in general:

Other Tips on Staying Safe

Please review the following pages for information on malaria, vaccinations for Uganda, and general travel safety precautions.

Safari Tours to Uganda

No data was found

Things to know before traveling to the destination

Uganda Travel Tips

For many, the African continent remains a mysterious and unfamiliar destination. If you’re unsure about what to expect when traveling there, we’re here to reassure you: there’s no need to worry! Many African countries are not only safe to explore but also boast stunning beauty waiting to be discovered. To ensure you board your plane with excitement for the incredible wildlife and scenery that awaits, we’ve compiled some tips for both first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike.

 

Prioritize Your Safety

Uganda is a safe country to visit (hooray!). This is especially true when you’re participating in organized game drives with private guides, as you’ll be doing with us. While there are areas to avoid, particularly in larger cities like Kampala or Entebbe, you can ensure your safety by taking some basic precautions. For example, avoid exploring cities at night without a driver or guide, keep your valuables secure, refrain from wearing conspicuous jewelry, and consider leaving items like passports in your hotel safe.

 

Excuse me, do you have the time?

Uganda operates on GMT + 3. To simplify this, here’s a quick reference to the time difference between Uganda and various cities:

 

Los Angeles: -11 hours

New York: -8 hours

London: -3 hours

Berlin: -2 hours

Hong Kong: +5 hours

Tokyo: +6 hours

Sydney: +8 hours

Auckland: +10 hours

 

Currency Information

The official currency in Uganda is the Ugandan shilling, although many places also accept dollars and euros. Approximately, one euro equals 4,000 Ugandan shillings, and one dollar equals 3,800 Ugandan shillings.

 

Language Essentials

English and Swahili are the official languages of Uganda, with English being the more widely spoken and used. This is largely due to Uganda’s history as a British protectorate until 1962, making English widely understood in the country.

It’s always appreciated to use local language when visiting a foreign country as a sign of respect. Here are some basic Swahili phrases that will surely bring a smile to both locals and you:

 

Hello > Hujambo

How are you? > Habari Gani?

I am fine > Sijambo

Nice to meet you > Nafurahi kukuona

Goodbye > Kwa heri

See you later > Tutaonana

Thank you > Asante

No, thank you > Hapana asante

Yes > Ndiyo

No > Hapana

To enter Uganda, you must have a passport that remains valid for at least six months after your intended departure date. Additionally, you will need a valid visa, which can be obtained through the official Uganda immigration website. The visa is for single entry, valid for three months, and costs 51.50 USD.

Here is the link to apply for the Uganda eVisa: Uganda eVisa Application

Uganda, being a tropical country, requires some vaccinations for entry. For instance, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is mandatory for individuals aged one and above (including when traveling to or from Kenya or Tanzania overland).

 

In addition to routine vaccinations like MMR and Tdap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend additional vaccinations for Uganda, such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Vaccinations for rabies, meningitis, and typhoid are also advisable depending on your activities and the season.

 

Malaria is prevalent throughout the country. However, preventive treatment is available and should be taken. It’s also wise to pack long-sleeved clothing and trousers if you plan to be outdoors at night. All lodges are equipped with mosquito nets to protect against mosquitoes.

 

Lastly, the most crucial tip is to consult your doctor about any specific precautions you should take.

Photo Gallery of Uganda

Map of Uganda

Photo Gallery