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Best Time To Visit Uganda For A Safari

Uganda can be visited at any time of the year but some months of the year are better than the rest of the months, the peak season is the best season for visiting the country

Best Time To Visit Uganda For A Safari

What is the best time to visit Uganda for a safari? Uganda can be visited at any time of the year but some months of the year are better than the rest of the months, the peak season is the best season for visiting the country when it’s summer and holiday time in Europe and America. Uganda has two main seasons that is the wet season (April to May, October to November) and the dry season (December to February, June to September) which can be seen below.

Dry season

The long dry season in Uganda happens from June to September, the other short dry season is from December to February. This is the best time to visit the country because the vegetation is not very thick, the grass is very short and the wildlife can be easily spotted. During the dry season, the roads leading to the park are accessible and the animals are also concentrated at the water points making them easily spotted. Tourists visiting the parks this time of the year are advised to book with the tour operators in advance before arriving in the country to avoid inconveniences.

Best time for birding in Uganda

Uganda is one of the top birding destinations in Africa with over 1000 bird species. The best time to visit Uganda for bird watching is in the month of November when there are migratory birds in the country from Europe and North Africa. Uganda has two main seasons that is the dry season and the wet season which can be seen below

Wet season

There are two wet seasons in Uganda that is from October to November and from March to May. The country can still be visited at this time but it can’t be very convenient because the roads leading to the national parks are impassable and vegetation is very thick making it hard to spot wildlife. Visiting the park during the wet season is also advantageous because most of the lodges give discounts on their rooms making it possible for budget travelers to visit the country.

There are a lot of tourists activities to take part in while on a visit to Uganda, you can take game drives at the national parks such as Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park, Lake Mburo national park and so many others. You can go for gorilla trekking safaris at Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park, mountain hiking at Elgon and Rwenzori among others

What see / do in Uganda

  1. Primates – primate watching 

Uganda is the world’s prime destination for primates. There are different species of primates and these are 13 different species of diurnal and 6 nocturnal primates found in different national parks.

Examples of primates

Mountain gorillas

Most of the tourists who come to Uganda come to visit mountain gorillas and s visit without checking on these endangered apes is considered incomplete. Mountain gorillas in Uganda can be found in Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park both located in the southwestern part of Uganda. Outside Uganda, mountain gorillas can be found in Virunga national park of DR Congo and Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. Mountain gorillas can’t survive in zoos therefore you need to meet them in national parks. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is home to over 20 habituated mountain gorillas that are open for trekking at any time of the year. It’s also home to 2 gorilla families that are undergoing habituation namely Bishaho and Bikingi and these are found in Rushaga sector on the northern side of the park. Mgahinga on the other hand has only one habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi.

For one to take part in gorilla trekking or habituation experience they will need a valid gorilla permit which costs $700 foreign nonresidents, $600 foreign residents, and shs250,000 East African citizens, and gorilla habituation permits cost $1500 per person per trek.

Chimpanzees 

Chimpanzees are one of the human closest relatives sharing 98% human DNA. Chimpanzees live in Africa’s tropical forests and wet savannah areas in groups of 30 to 80 individuals. In Uganda, chimpanzees can be found in Kibale Forest National Park, Kyambura Gorge, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Ngamba island, Maramagambo, Budongo, and Kanyiyo Pabidi Forest near Murchison Falls. The best place to see chimpanzees is Kibale forest national park because it harbors the highest population of these primates. different national parks and reserves have different prices for chimpanzee trekking bit for Kibale forest national park it’s $200 per person.

Monkeys 

Uganda is blessed to have the highest number of monkeys species in the whole east African community and the African continent at large staying in the tropical rain forests found within the country. Uganda is blessed with different monkey species and these include black and white colobus monkeys, golden monkeys only found in Mgahinga national park, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, patas, monkeys, dent’s monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, bushbabies, De Brazza’s monkeys, vervet monkeys, and mona monkeys.

Best places to see primates in Uganda

Uganda offers the best primate safaris in Africa. The country boasts the highest concentration of primate species on the African continent and several groups have been habituated for primate viewing within their natural habitat.

The best place to see mountain gorillas in Uganda

The best place to see mountain gorillas in Uganda is Bwindi impenetrable forest national park located in the southwestern part of Uganda. The Park has over 20 different habituated gorilla families distributed in four sectors of the park and are open for trekking daily. Two of these Bishaho and Bikingi are open for gorilla habituation in the Rushaga sector located in the northern part of the park. Other mountain gorillas can be found in Mgahinga national park which had one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi. The price of the permit is $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and shs250,000 for East African citizens.

Best place to see chimpanzees in Uganda

The best place to see chimpanzees alongside other 12 primate species is Kibale forest national park located in the western part of Uganda. Chimpanzee trekking permits for Kibale forest national park cost $150 in the peak season and $100 in the low season. Other places to see chimpanzees in Uganda are Budongo forest near Murchison falls national park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park, Kalinzu forest reserve, and Ngamba island on Lake Victoria.

Best place to see golden monkeys

Golden monkeys can only be found in Mgahinga national park in the southwestern part of Uganda. Golden monkeys stay in groups of about 30 – 100 and each group is led by an alpha male. Trekking golden monkeys is just $50 for foreign residents, $40 for foreign residents, and shs20,000 for residents East Africa.

Best time to go primate trekking in Uganda

The best time to visit Uganda national parks for primate trekking is the dry season of June to September and December to February when the roads leading to the park are passable and the forest trails are drier. You are advised to book your trekking permits in advance of 3-4 months to avoid disappointments.

  1. Mammals – game viewing 

Uganda has about 330 mammals that have been so far recorded in Uganda’s national parks. Of these mammal species, 17 are threatened, 21 are vulnerable and 7 are endangered. These mammals are found in different national parks and are have been categorized into carnivores like the African lion, leopard, cheetah, serval cat, felis, African golden cat, and African wild cat, jackals, bat-eared fox, African hunting dog, spotted hyena, African civet, honey badger, African otters, and genets.

Herbivores such as large antelope, common eland, greater kudu, defassa waterbuck, hartebeest, Uganda kob, roan antelope, sitatunga, bushbuck, reedbuck, grant’s gazelle, impala, lesser kudu, forest duiker, common duiker, oribi, klipspringer, large herbivores mammals include the African elephant, rhino, hippos, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, African pig, and lion among others. Mammals are found in almost every part of the park but for the best game viewing you need to go to Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park, or Lake Mburo national park. The only place to find white rhinos in Uganda is Ziwa rhino sanctuary located in Nakasongola district.

What is the best time to do game viewing in Uganda?

The best time to do game drives in Uganda is the dry season which happens in June to September and December to February, as the roads leading to the park are accessible and the wild animals are concentrated on the water sources to drink water or bathe.

  1. Birds – birding

Uganda has over 1050 birds that have been so far recorded in different parts of the country. The country has over 34 important bird areas most of which have been developed for bird watching and birding tours. The most visited spots for birding safaris in Uganda include Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Kibale impenetrable forest national park, Bigodi wetland sanctuary, Mpanga forest, Lake Mburo national park, Kidepo valley national park, Lutembe bay wetland, Mabamba swamp, Rwenzori mountains national park, Budongo forest, queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison falls national park, Semuliki national park.

The top 10 most sought-after birds on birding trips in Uganda include shoebill, Rwenzori turaco, green breasted pitta, African green broadbill, nahan’s francolin, black bee-eater, puvel’s illadopsis, jameson’s antpecker, Karamoja apalis, and brown chested lawping. Other birds in uganda include grauer’s rush warbler, western green tinker bird, Angolan swallow, chest nut throated apalis, montane oriole, bar tailed trogon, pigmy goose, fine banded woodpecker, western green tinker bird, lesser jacana, African citril, short tailed warbler, grosbeak weaver, black-faced prinia, regal sunbird, Kivu ground thrush, montane oriole, emerald cuckoo, mountain yellow, slender-billed weaver, shinning African blue, white tailed blue fly, white headed saw wing, impressed African emerald, Shelley’s crimson wing, and African jacana among others.

Best time to go bird watching in Uganda

Uganda has two any (March to May, October to November) and two dry seasons (June to September, December to February). You can visit Uganda for bird watching at any time of the year, however, the best time for birding in national parks is from late November through April when there is less rain and the food is a lot hence many birds may be spotted. During the same months, there are a lot of migratory birds coming into the country.

  1. Culture – cultural tours

There are a wide range of cultures in Uganda speaking many different languages, with different beliefs, eating different types of food, and having different ways of dressing. During cultural visits in Uganda, the visitors are welcomed by traditional dances and entertained by the local people with local musical instruments. Ugandans are ranked second in the world as the most hospitable, warm, and welcoming.

In Uganda, cultural tours/safaris can be done in the royal palace of Buganda and the Buganda parliament, Tororo palace, Busoga palace, Bunyoro palace, Karamojong, Batwa, Ankole, and Acholi. The most visited by tourists is the Batwa group of people because of their nearness to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla park. The next most visited is karamajong then acholi, Buganda nad ankole.

Cultural tours in Uganda involve tourists visit the local communities where they get involved in traditional dances, learn about their way of living and listen to interesting traditional stories. An example of Batwa pygmies, they used to live in the thick forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park as used to be hunters and fruit gatherers not until the government evicted them from the forest to gazette national parks. On the other hand, the Karamojong are nomadic pastoralists found in the northeastern part of Uganda and resemble the Masai of Kenya. They are mainly cattle keepers and move from place to place looking for pasture. When you visit the Karamojong people you get involved in traditional dances, milking cows, grazing, traditional dances, and get to learn how they make crafts.