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+256785588275, +256700632223 EMAIL: info@viennaugandatours.com


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It is a tough challenge to describe Uganda in a few short paragraphs. 

Despite the small size of the country, the diversity of landscape, topography, people, wildlife, birdlife and plant life is mind-boggling. If we had to distil the essence of Uganda down to one word, we might say ’Fecund’. This was used by Winston Churchill all those years ago… but fecund is hardly a word we hear much anymore. Lush? Luxuriant? Abundant? Diverse? They all work. 

This beautiful country we call home is right at the heart of Africa; at the crossroads of East and West, North and South. We have rich, misty primordial forests. Hot, vast grasslands with impossibly big skies. Glacier-peaked mountain ranges and palm-fringed tropical islands with sandy beaches. Tumultuous, roiling rivers, placid sparkling lakes and endless miles of papyrus wetlands.  

Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, and nowhere is this truer than in this lovely gem of a country. Uganda has many ‘parts’, many easily identifiable landmarks: the Equator, the River Nile, Lake Victoria, the Rwenzori Mountains, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the eastern most edge of the Central African Rainforest, the Western Rift Valley, the peak of Mount Elgon (the largest volcanic base in the world). National Parks, Game Reserves, Forest Reserves. It has incredible birdlife (even the most die-hard non-birder can’t fail to be impressed) and a tremendous array of wildlife. Our unique position on the continent means we have both savanna species typical of East Africa (lion, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthog etc.), and forest species more typical of Central Africa (forest elephant, red river hog, chimpanzee, mountain gorilla, forest buffalo). 

Wrap all of this up with the rich cultural history and heritage of more than 50 tribes – both Nilotic and Bantu – who live here and warmly welcome visitors, the ‘whole’ is great indeed. 

Regardless of what we say, regardless of the words we choose, our clients’ reactions are often the same: “I never knew it was so beautiful”. 

The message is clear. The only way to get a real feel for what Uganda is like, you need to come and see it yourself. So come and let us show you our Africa, our Uganda.            

AIRPORTS AND FLIGHTS: Currently there is one international airport at Entebbe, 45 minutes to an hour’s drive from Kampala (traffic dependent). A number of international airlines fly directly to/from Entebbe, among them Brussels Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad, Kenya Airways, Qatar, KLM, South African Airlines, Fly Dubai, Rwanda Air and Turkish Airlines. Most major towns have an airstrip as do most National Parks and Game Reserves. There are regular scheduled flights between most airstrips, and there are reputable charter operations as well. 

Note Regarding Baggage Limits Weight limits on light aircraft flights within Uganda are 15kg + 1 small hand piece. All bags must be soft – no hard suitcases or wheeled bags permitted. No excess baggage is usually allowed on these flights.  

CLOTHING: With regards to clothing, you are going to be hot, cold and possibly wet! So we would suggest a variety of light clothing: shorts, light long pants, t-shirts, flip flops, hat, rain jacket, as well as study shoes (essential for tracking). Long sleeved shirts and a sweatshirt or fleece are needed for evenings. Women in rural towns may feel more comfortable wearing clothing that cover their knees and shoulders, but this is not mandatory. It gets quite hot by midday, but evenings are always pleasant. Lodges do not have a dress code and for the most part casual clothes are de rigueur. Please note our recommendations for all on-foot activities in the parks (walking safaris, chimpanzee and gorilla tracks):

  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers (older clothes recommended as they can get dirty and torn from the thorns and jungle foliage). Avoid navy or black clothes as they attract tsetse flies
  • Good comfortable sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Long socks to truck your trousers into (or gators)
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves (old gardening gloves, just in case the tracking gets extreme through the thick foliage).
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera (but please note that using a flash is not permitted while photographing the gorillas)
  • Waterproof rucksack (or plastic bags inside your rucksack)
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen

CURRENCY: The Uganda Shilling (UGX) is the local currency and it is available in useable denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000. It is best to bring American Dollars to exchange. There are numerous forex bureaux and banks in Kampala and the main towns. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants, but generally it is best to carry cash (shillings) upcountry while on safari. Regarding credit cards, it is essential to note that VISA is most widely accepted, with MasterCard occasionally accepted. AMEX and others are not recommended as establishments usually don’t support them. 

US$ to UGX exchange rate indications are as follows:  For the 12 months between 01 Jan 2018 and 01 Jan 2019, the exchange rate fluctuated between:  US$ 1 = UGX 3,634 – 3,837  

US$ Dollar bills smaller in denominations than US$100 may attract a less favorable rate of exchange and notes older than 2009 are not accepted by hotels, banks, etc.

  ECONOMIC SUMMARY GDP/PPP (2005 est.): US$46.06 billion; per capita US$1,700. Real growth rate: 9%. Inflation: 9.7%. Unemployment: n.a. Arable land: 22%. Agriculture: coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers, beef, goat meat, milk, poultry. Labour force: 13.17 million; agriculture 82%, industry 5%, services 13% (1999 est.). Industries: sugar, brewing, tobacco, cotton textiles; cement, steel production. Natural resources: copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land. Exports: US$768 million f.o.b. (2005 est.): coffee, fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products; gold. Imports: US$1.608 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies; cereals. Major trading partners: Kenya, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Rwanda, U.S., UAE, South Africa, India, China, UK, Japan (2004). Member of the Commonwealth of Nations.  


President: Yoweri Museveni (1986) Prime Minister:

 Ruhakana Rugunda (2014)

Type of Government: Multi party democratic republic

Land area: 93,065 sq. mi (236,580 sq. km)

Population (2008): 40,386,141 (2014)

Life Expectancy: 56 (2013)

Capital and largest city: Kampala  

HEALTH: Yellow fever vaccinations are now compulsory for entry in Uganda – and are usually compulsory for returning to your country of origin. The Yellow Fever vaccination card also forms part of the requirements for your online visa application (see: Visas).  We also highly recommend anti–malaria tablets, especially during the rainy season. Please visit your local travel clinic to determine what recommendations there are for vaccinations (examples are Hepatitis A&B, Meningitis, and Rabies). Prescription drugs can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Kampala. Personal travel and emergency evacuation insurance is strongly advised.

HISTORY: About 500 B.C. Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to the area now called Uganda. By the 14th century, three kingdoms dominated, Buganda (meaning “state of the Gandas”), Bunyoro, and Ankole. Uganda was first explored by Europeans as well as Arab traders in 1844. An Anglo-German agreement of 1890 declared it to be in the British sphere of influence in Africa, and the Imperial British East Africa Company was chartered to develop the area. The company did not prosper financially, and in 1894 a British protectorate was proclaimed. Few Europeans permanently settled in Uganda, but it attracted many Indians, who became important players in Ugandan commerce. 

Uganda became independent on Oct. 9, 1962. Sir Edward Mutesa, the king of Buganda (Mutesa II), was elected the first president, and Milton Obote the first prime minister, of the newly independent country. With the help of a young army officer, Col. Idi Amin, Prime Minister Obote seized control of the government from President Mutesa four years later. On Jan. 25, 1971, Colonel Amin deposed President Obote. Obote went into exile in Tanzania. Amin expelled Asian residents and launched a reign of terror against Ugandan opponents, torturing and killing tens of thousands. In 1976, he had himself proclaimed “President for Life.” In 1977, Amnesty International estimated that 300,000 may have died under his rule, including church leaders and recalcitrant cabinet ministers. After Amin held military exercises on the Tanzanian border in 1978, angering Tanzania’s president, Julius Nyerere, a combined force of Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles loyal to former president Obote invaded Uganda and chased Amin into exile in Saudi Arabia in 1979. After a series of interim administrations, President Obote led his People’s Congress Party to victory in 1980 elections that opponents charged were rigged. On July 27, 1985, army troops staged a coup and took over the government. Obote fled into exile. The military regime installed Gen. Tito Okello as chief of state. The National Resistance Army (NRA), an anti-Obote group led by Yoweri Museveni, kept fighting after it had been excluded from the new regime. It seized Kampala on Jan. 29, 1986, and Museveni was declared president. Museveni has transformed the ruins of Idi Amin and Milton Obote’s Uganda into an economic miracle, preaching a philosophy of self- sufficiency and anticorruption. Western countries have flocked to assist him in the country’s transformation. Nevertheless, it does remain one of Africa’s poorer countries. A ban on political parties was lifted in 1996, and the incumbent Museveni won 72% of the vote, reflecting his popularity due to the country’s economic recovery. 

Uganda has waged an enormously successful campaign against AIDS, dramatically reducing the rate of new infections through an intensive public health and education campaign. 

Close ties with Rwanda (many Rwandan Tutsi exiles helped Museveni come to power) led to the cooperation of Uganda and Rwanda in the ousting of Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, and a year later, in efforts to unseat his successor, Laurent Kabila, whom both countries originally supported but from whom they grew estranged. But in 1999, Uganda and Rwanda quarreled over strategy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and began fighting each other. The two countries mended their differences in 2002. Uganda also signed a peace accord with the Congo in September, 2002 and finally withdrew its remaining troops from the country in May 2003. In July 2005, parliament amended the constitution to eliminate term limits, thus allowing President Museveni more terms in office.  In 2016, he was re-elected for his fifth term as President of the Country. 

Uganda’s 18-year-long battle against the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an extremist rebel group based in Sudan, showed signs of abating in August 2006, when the rebels agreed to declare a truce. Between 8,000 and 10,000 children have been abducted by the LRA to form the army of “prophet” Joseph Kony, whose aim was to take over Uganda and run it according to his vision of Christianity. The boys are turned into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves. Up to 1.5 million people in Northern Uganda have been displaced because of the fighting and the fear that their children will be abducted. Kony and four other LRA leaders are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.  

LANGUAGES: English is the official language, but Ugandans speak many local languages and dialects, Ganda or Luganda, other Niger- Congo languages and Nilo-Saharan languages. Swahili is also widely spoken and understood.  


Roman Catholic: 41%

 Anglican: 40%

Ethno religionists or indigenous beliefs: 4%

Muslim: 5%

Other: 10% 

TIPPING: In all instances tipping should be treated as a personal matter; and a gratuity only given if you feel the service warrants it. If you do wish to tip, it is important to recognize service people such as airport transfer drivers, restaurant and lodge personnel, and your local safari guides.  If providing a tip for a group of people, please be sure to provide this in full view of others.  If you are ever unsure, the Lodge/Hotel management or your Overland Guide will be able to direct you. 

The following should serve as a useful guideline: “Group / party” refers to group / party of travellers within one booking ie travelling together

If more than 5 in one group / party, then the amounts below should be increased slightly

  • Driver/Guides (Transfers) : US$ 5 – US$ 10 per group / party per transfer
  • Driver/Guides (Overland): US$ 10 – US$ 30+ per group / party per day
  • Guides (Other) (Game Drives / Boats / Other Activities): US$ 5 – US$ 20+ per group / party per day
  • Porter (Airport & Lodge/Hotel): US$ 5 per group / party
  • Staff (City Hotel & Restaurant): 10% of total bill (some city hotels & restaurants automatically include this)
  • Staff (Lodge/Hotel): US$ 10 – US$ 30+ per group / party per day
  • Tracking (Gorillas) (Guides, Trackers / Security) : US$ 20 – US$ 30+ per track per group / party This may be given to the head guide in view of the rest of the staff for distribution amongst the staff
  • Tracking (Chimpanzees) (Guides, Trackers / Security) : US$ 10 – US$ 20 per track per group / party This may be given to the head guide in view of the rest of the staff for distribution amongst the staff
  • Porters (Gorillas)s: US$ 15 (set fee) + tip of approximately US$ 5 – US$ 10+
  • Tips may be given in Uganda Shillings or US Dollars (or Rwandan Francs / US Dollars in Rwanda) the lodges will usually have a staff tip box from which tips are distributed equitably amongst the entire staff.

VISAS: Visas are necessary for most tourists and may be obtained prior to travel.  

With effect from 01 July 2016, the Government of Uganda has introduced the online visa application system. Guests intending to visit Uganda for tourism-purposes are required to apply and obtain a visa online. The decision taken on the application will be sent electronically via the email address provided by the applicant. This entire process should take +/-3 days.  When/if approved, an approval letter will be sent as an attachment to this email. The applicant should print out this approval letter and present it at the port of entry (together with documentation and payment as mentioned below). 

With effect from 22 July 2016, all those entering Uganda on a Single Entry Tourist Visa will pay $50 instead of $100.  The East Africa Tourist Visa (Uganda | Rwanda | Kenya) remains at $100.    Please follow the steps below in order to apply for a visa online: 

  • Go to the website: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/
  • Complete the online form
  • Attach the supporting documents (for list of documents, view website: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/help/visa or see list below) and submit

Ordinary / Single Entry Tourist Visa documents required: 

  • Passport copy (Bio-data page)
  • Recent Passport size photograph
  • Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever)

 East Africa Tourist Visa documents required (includes entry for Uganda | Rwanda | Kenya):

  • Passport copy (Bio-data page)
  • Recent Passport size photograph
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever)
  • Return Ticket
  • Await official approval notification/letter via email
  • Print the official approval notification/letter and present it on arrival in Uganda, together with:
  • Your fee in cash ($50 for Ordinary/Single Entry Visas and $100 for East Africa Tourist Visas) (please remember to have the correct amount in cash on arrival, in bills that are newer than 2006).
  • Valid Passport
  • Original Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever)

  Please also visit: http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/country/uganda/ to get details on an embassy near you for further queries.    

WEATHER: The climate is good in Uganda all year round and the bulk of the country is tropical with daytime temperatures generally hovering between 24 and 28°C. It can cool down considerably at night (to about 16 to 18°C), enough to warrant bringing a sweatshirt, fleece or wrap. The rains generally come twice a year, in October/November (short rains) and late March to end of May.  

Kampala has a slightly milder climate; and the parks in the south tend to be a bit warmer during the day, and cooler at night.  The areas at high altitude, such a Bwindi, get considerably colder as temperatures tend to drop about 6°C for every 1000m one climbs.  The parks further north, such as Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley are usually warmer with daytime temperatures at about 32°C. The hottest months are usually January and February when the average daytime range is 24-33°C with peaks of up to 40°C in the far north. 

The south has two wet seasons: from mid- September to November and March to May. The dry season from December to February means only that it rains less, but the gorilla parks still remain fairly wet during these months. The second dry season from June and July is considerably drier. Still, with 1000 to 2000mm (39.4-78.7in) of rain every year, it can rain at almost any time. The north, including Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, has one continuous wet season from March to November and a more obvious dry season from December to February.   Generally, when raining, it can make travel more difficult since dirt roads and forest trails used for gorilla tracking can become more challenging to navigate. However, rainy season is no real reason to postpone travel as it generally rains for a while, leaving the rest of the day clear and sunny. It is essential to remember that weather patterns worldwide are no longer predictable and this information is a guideline only.     


 Month                              Min                               Max                         Rainfall

January                     18 °C / 64 °F                  28 °C / 82 °F                46 mm / 1.8 in

February                   18 °C / 64 °F                  28 °C / 82 °F                61 mm / 2.4 in

March                       18 °C / 64 °F                  27 °C / 81 °F                130 mm / 5.1 in

April                         18 °C / 64 °F                  26 °C / 79 °F                175 mm / 6.9 in

May                          17 °C / 63 °F                  25 °C / 77 °F                147 mm / 5.8 in

June                          17 °C / 63 °F                  25 °C / 77 °F                74 mm / 2.9 in

July                           17 °C / 63 °F                  25 °C / 77 °F                46 mm / 1.8 in

August                      16 °C / 61 °F                  25 °C / 77 °F                86 mm / 3.4 in

September                 17 °C / 63 °F                  27 °C / 81 °F                 91 mm / 3.6 in

October                     17 °C / 63 °F                 27 °C / 81 °F                  97 mm / 3.8 in

November                 17 °C / 63 °F                 27 °C / 81 °F                 122 mm / 4.8 in

December                 17 °C / 63 °F                27 °C / 81 °F                  99 mm / 3.9 in  

WILDLIFE: As yet mostly untouched by mass tourism, Uganda’s parks and reserves are ideal retreats for the discerning eco-tourist. The experience is different to that in some of the parks in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. Here there are no tarmac roads through the parks, no mass convergence of zebra-camouflaged safari trucks and no animals turning up by appointment! The experience takes you back to basics where patience and good game tracking skills are key. 

Tourism has attracted massive investment and interest, aiding the redevelopment of infrastructure in the National Parks with increased control and management. Uganda’s National Parks encompass and conserve all of the ten major habitat types occurring in Uganda. 

Gorilla tracking is one of Uganda’s main wildlife highlights.  We have a separate document, detailing all you would need to know regarding gorilla tracking in Bwindi, Uganda.                


KAMPALA: Built on seven hills: Kololo, Mengo, Rubaga, Namirembe, Kibuli, Kampala and Nakasero, the name Kampala comes from the Bantu word Mpala meaning a type of antelope, which, it is said, the Buganda chiefs used to keep on the slope of a hill near Mengo Palace. In 1890 Captain Lugard, a British Administrator, established his fort, also an administrative post, on Kampala Hill (now known as Old Kampala Hill) which attracted several hundred people and a small township developed. 

Kampala grew and the town spread over the surrounding seven hills. On top of three of these hills, Rubaga, Namirembe and Kibuli, places of worship were built – Catholic, Protestant and Muslim respectively. The town has continued to grow and now encompasses 23 hills over an area of nearly 200km². Over the last few years the city, the centre of most economic activity in Uganda, has changed dramatically. After systematic looting and destruction during the earlier changes in government, it is being rebuilt with office towers, hotels, stadiums, restaurants and shopping malls appearing almost monthly. On the hills, all is calm with pleasant colonial-style buildings and pretty streets lined with jacaranda trees. Most of the buildings, if not government offices or embassies, have been turned into apartments. Downhill all is a bustle with a huge street market surrounding the chaotic matatu station and Nakivubo Stadium. 

ENTEBBE: 40 kms South of Kampala (approximately 1 hour driving time from Kampala, depending upon traffic) Entebbe is the second major town in Uganda. Located on Lake Victoria’s peninsula, the town was once the seat of government for the Protectorate of Uganda, prior to Independence in 1962. Entebbe is the location of Entebbe International Airport, Uganda’s largest commercial and military airport, best known for the dramatic rescue of 100 hostages kidnapped by the resistance group of the PFLP-EO and Revolutionary Cells (RZ) organizations. Entebbe is also the location of State House, the official office and residence of the President of Uganda. Entebbe offers many good hotels of varying standards and sizes and is often used as a stopover in and out of Uganda due to its proximity to the International Airport. 

JINJA: 80 kms Southeast of Kampala Access: Driving (approximately 2.5 hours from Kampala) The town is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, near to the source of the Nile River. The nearby Owen Falls Dam regulates the flow of the White Nile and generates electricity. Jinja is the largest metropolitan area in Jinja District, and is considered the capital of the Kingdom of Basoga. It is known as the Adventure Capital of Uganda, with many fun activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, boat cruises, horse riding and kayaking. 

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK: 530 kms Southwest of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kisoro [Southern Bwindi] and Kihihi [Northern Bwindi] – approximately 1 hour & 10 minutes from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 10 hours from Kampala) Nestled down in the Southwest of the country, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley this 331km² of montane rainforest is the only forest in Africa where gorillas and chimpanzees occur together. The world population of mountain gorillas is currently estimated at about 880, half of which live in Bwindi, alongside an estimated 350-400 chimpanzee. In addition this ancient rainforest – one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age (making it over 25,000 years old) – is home to several other mammals (approximately 93 species) as well as roughly 360 species of bird, including 22 of the 23 Albertine Rift endemic species. The most sought-after activity in and around Bwindi is gorilla tracking; but there is also opportunity for Community and Batwa experiences and bird watching excursions. 

KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK: 350 kms West of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kasese – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe | charters only to Fort Portal – approximately 1.5 hours from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 6 hours from Kampala) This 760km² area of rainforest, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, supports a rich variety of fauna, 250 species of animal and around 375 bird species. There are 13 different primates here, the highest total for any Ugandan National Park, including a large population of chimpanzees, some of which have been habituated. The main activity in Kibale is chimpanzee tracking. The Bigodi Swamp walk, community walk and birding are all recommended as well. 

KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: 840 kms Northeast of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kidepo – approximately 2 hours from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 12 hours from Kampala) Tucked into the corner of Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo is a truly stunning park (voted 3rd best in Africa by CNN Traveler in 2013) boasting a real sense of wilderness that enchants visitors. The mountainous terrain of the park is broken by the Narus Valley in the Southwest and the Kidepo Valley in the Northeast; and is more typical of Kenya than the rest of Uganda. Whilst the park is large (1,442km²) most of the wildlife is concentrated within the Narus Valley revealing fantastic panoramic views of vast herds of buffalo with elephant, giraffe, waterbuck and zebra grazing alongside. There are also a number of predators present including lion, cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena. Activities enjoyed here are cultural visits to the interesting Lorukul Village, walking safaris, game drives, night drives and hikes (including the strenuous hike to the remote and rarely-visited, but fascinating, Ik tribe on Mount Morungole). 

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK: 230 kms Southwest of Kampala Access: Flying (charter only to Mbarara – approximately 1.5 hours from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 3.5 hours from Kampala). With a varying landscape of open plains, acacia grasslands and marshes, this park is home to a huge array of flora and fauna. About 68 different species of mammals can be found within its 260km². The park also has around 315 different species of birds including Uganda’s national emblem, the crested crane. Activities include horse riding, game drives, game walks and boat trips. 

MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK: 560 kms Southwest of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kisoro – approximately 1 hour & 10 minutes from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 10 hours from Kampala). It is Uganda’s smallest national park with a total surface of 33,7sqkm. The Park is bordered in the South by the Republic of Rwanda and to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct Northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabyinyo (3,645 m). From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. Activities to be enjoyed here are hiking, tracking the Nyakagazi gorilla family (however, due to their constant movement, one can only book with a short lead time from Kisoro), and golden monkey tracking.    

MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK: 235 kms East of Kampala Access: Flying (charter only to Mbale – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 5.5 hours from Kampala). Lianas, orchids and a lot of fern turn the extinct volcano Mount Elgon into a magical jungle. Its highlight is the world’s largest caldera with a total surface of about 40km². Curious explorers will be attracted by the numerous mysterious caves that were formed through moving lava, as well as the descent into the caldera where hot springs await you. The mountain is home to 296 birds including 40 restricted range species. The Northern and Western sides of Mount Elgon rise in a series of massive basalt cliffs, often several kilometers in length, over which the mountain’s rivers plunge as beautiful waterfalls. The best known are the three waterfalls at Sipi, just outside the park. The lowest of these falls is the most spectacular as it cascades over a 100m cliff. The second, known as Simba, plunges 69m over the entrance to a cave. A third waterfall, also known as Ngasire, gushes over an 87m high ridge. Sipi Falls is less than an hour’s drive from Mbale on a paved road. Hiking and viewing the Sipi Falls are the main highlights here. Walking, birding and mountain biking are also popular. 

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK: 300 kms Northwest of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Pakuba and Bugungu – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 5.5 hours from Kampala). The sight of the Nile River, the world’s longest river, winding its way through the park and plunging through a narrow gap is unforgettable. The falls are stunning, notable not so much for their size as for their immense power, caused by the 50m-wide Nile being funneled through a narrow cleft (7m-wide) in the rocks before falling into a pool 43m below. The park is vast and beautiful. Predominantly wooded savannah, the 3,980km² area is home to many of Africa’s best-known plains animals including giraffe, lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, hartebeests and many more. Fishing beneath the falls is quite an experience where Nile perch and tiger-fish provide an exciting challenge to anglers. Game drives, birding, viewing of the falls and fishing are the main attractions in the park. Southwest of the Murchison Falls area you can find Budongo Forest. It is an ideal area for birders and primates. There are over 800 chimpanzees here. 

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK: 435 kms Southwest of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kasese and Mweya – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 6 hours from Kampala). Lying across the equator, this 1,978km² park is bordered to the Southwest by Lake Edward and to the Northeast by Lake George with the Kazinga Channel connecting the two. Queen Elizabeth boasts one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game park or reserve in the world, with almost 100 mammal species and an incredible 606 bird species. To support such biodiversity the vegetation is hugely varied from open savannah to rainforest, from dense papyrus swamps and crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward. The rainforest in the Kyambura Gorge is home to chimpanzees and the remote Ishasha Sector is famed for its tree-climbing lions with flamingoes providing a stunning splash of color on the crater lakes. Game drives, game walks and cultural activities entice visitors here. Hot air ballooning is the latest exciting activity – soaring in the open air over the park is a must-do activity for those who can squeeze their budgets a little. Chimpanzee / primate walks in Kyambura are also high up on the to-do list.     

RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK: 455 km West of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Kasese – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 6 hours from Kampala). The rare, mystic and enchanting vegetation as well as the 20 different lakes of the Rwenzori Mountains make you feel like a part of the Lord of the Rings Saga – the fabled “Mountains of the Moon”, voted as one of the World’s Best Hikes by National Geographic, are composed of six different mountains, each being covered by glaciers and snow all year round. The Rwenzoris are especially notable for their dense vegetation consisting of a luxuriant forest with abundant flowering plants and the largest and most extensive stands of alpine ‘big game plants’ in East Africa. The park has a wide variety of plants across five distinct vegetation zones. Here the giant lobelias and groundsels are even larger than on the other major East African mountains. The strange nose chameleon is only found in this National Park. By embarking on a ten day hike that demands all your energy, motivated explorers will be able to reach the highest point of Uganda, the Margarita peak at 5109m above sea level which is also the third highest point on the entire African continent. A 3 day walk or a foothills walk are great alternative activities for those who are not very fit or do not have all the time it takes to do the full hike. 

SEMLIKI NATIONAL PARK: 370km West of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Semliki – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 5.5 hours from Kampala). Situated within the remote Semliki Valley, site of the Sempaya Hot Springs and named for the river which forms the Congolese border, this 221km² area of park protects an extension of the Congo’s vast Ituri Rainforest. The park is of particular interest to birdwatchers since a high proportion, 40 of the 400 bird species recorded here, are thought to occur nowhere else in East Africa. Activities include game drives, game walks, birding and the Sempaya Hot Springs.  

SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE: 375km West of Kampala Access: Flying (scheduled and charter flights to Semliki – approximately 1 hour from Entebbe) and driving (approximately 5.5 hours from Kampala). Previously known as the Toro Game Reserve, Semliki Wildlife Reserve is the oldest protected area in Uganda. It is unique, gifted with geographic barriers that have formed a natural haven for wildlife. Where the savannah is criss-crossed by shining river valleys, and the escarpment, the edge of the Western Rift Valley, plunges into Lake Albert. The habitat diversity within the 558km² area of the reserve supports an array of fauna including lion, leopard, elephant (both savannah and forest species) buffalo, and chimpanzees as well as a staggering number of birds, with over 400 having been recorded. Activities abound with game drives, game walks, night drives, boat trips on Lake Albert to view the endangered and sought-after Shoebill and chimpanzee research project experiences.      

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