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Advice Tips

Things to know when planning a Safari to Uganda

Sir Winston Churchill dubbed Uganda “The Pearl of Africa” for many reasons and one of them are the endless natural wonders evidenced when he visited in 1907. This remarkable destination to awe is geographically placed in the Eastern region of the African continent.

It shares borders with different countries including Kenya in the East, Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, and South Sudan in the north, Rwanda in the South west and Tanzania in the South.

From diverse Wildlife, picturesque spots, lively cities, tranquil shorelines, welcoming locals, culture and enthralling activities offered, Uganda is a destination you should consider for your first Safari vacation to the African continent.

A number of travelers are dropping in for an unrivalled Wildlife Safari holiday, if you wish to join the trail, there are some things listed below you should know before you board to this unique destination.

What’s required on entry; Uganda is amongst the easily accessed countries in Africa, but one will not freely enter without meeting the necessary requirements.

There are three documents required on entry; a valid passport, tourist Visa and valid yellow fever vaccination card. The passport must be valid for six months to its expiration date.

Where to land on arrival; All visitors to Uganda from different parts of the World land at Entebbe, the only international airport in the country. The airport is about 47km from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.

Is it possible to get the Visa on arrival; Yes, you can get the Visa on arrival though sometimes it is time wastage. You may find a huge crowd at the Visa desk. Though its better when you book in advance.

How to get from the airport; You can get from the airport using a taxi but it is more comfortable, secure and cost friendly when you arrange the transportation with a local tour operator. Airport Taxis are more expensive and not available all the time.

Best time to visit Uganda; You can visit Uganda all year round but basing on activities you are interested in such as Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee tracking and Golden monkey tracking, it is more satisfying when you plan for the trip in the dry season (June to July & December to February).

In the wet season, you are most likely to miss out on some activities, as the roads tend to be muddy and slippery.

Best option of exploring Uganda; You can explore Uganda with either a customized, tailor-made safari or with a Self-drive. For customized and tailor-made safaris, all logistics including lodge and permit bookings, transportation, airport transfers and guide services are arranged by a local tour operator. For Self-drive, you have to hire a well-conditioned Car and drive yourself to the different places of interest.

The climate; Uganda has a much more favorable climate as compared to the rest of East African countries. It experiences two seasons including dry and wet season. During the dry season there is low rainfall and high temperatures. For wet season, high rainfall drops occur with low temperature rates.

Where to go. Uganda has a lot of picturesque spots to visit on your Safari. These include National Parks, game reserves and sanctuaries located in different regions of the country.

There are 10 National Parks; Bwindi forest, Mgahinga forest, Lake Mburo, Semliki, Kibale, Mountain Rwenzori, Mountain Elgon, Murchison, Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo Valley National Park.

What to see; There are lots to see while on a Uganda safari. Some of these things include; Wildlife, Gorillas, Cultural sites, forests, lakes, Rivers and historical sites.

How secure is Uganda; Uganda is more secure when compared to other countries in the Eastern part of Africa. Tourism Police is scattered in different regions of the country to provide security to all travelers.

Which mode of payment; While in Uganda, you can pay by cash or card.  There are also several online platforms you can use to make a payments.

Currencies used in Uganda; Uganda’s currency is shillings but other international currencies like dollar, Euro and Pounds are also accepted. Forex bureaus are available in different towns, you can also exchange foreign to local currency.

Mode of transportation; While in major cities like Kampala, you can take a taxi or Boda Boda to travel around the city though they are not secure. It is recommended arrange a city tour and other transportation around with a local tour operator. This is more comfortable and secure.

Food served in Uganda; Restaurants in Uganda serve both local continental dishes. Enjoy local Ugandan dishes.

Language used; Uganda consists of over fifty tribes and each tribe with its own language. English is the national official language and widely used in all parts of Uganda.

How are the locals; Ugandans are actually ranked to be the most welcoming in Africa. They are There are helpful and vey hospitable and offer the top most safaris.

Categories
Places

5 Best Uganda Cultural Tourism Sites

Would you like to explore Uganda’s cultural sites? Here are the best five places to visit in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

The Royal Tombs at Kasubi

These royal tombs are located in the outskirts of Kampala. The tombs lie approximately 5 kilometers from the city center that is Kampala city on Kasubi hill. This site is a very important cultural site among the Buganda tradition. It has been gazated as one of the UNESCO heritage place. Up to present, there are four (5) kings of Buganda who have been buried here. These are King Ssunna 11 who was buried in 1884,King Muteesa who lived from 1835 to 1884, King Mwanga from 1867 to 1903 though he died in exile on the Seychelles Islands. Daudi Chwa 11 lived from 1896 to 1939 and the last king to be buried here was Sir Edward Muteesa 11 (1924-1969). The significant location of the largest kingdom of Buganda takes dome like shape and if you visit the site, you will be required to pay some money.

For the past centuries, the ancient Ganda cultures have been performed at this site and the site holds numerous historical treasures within the Buganda kingdom. It is one of the most visitied places visited by tourists taking safari holidays in Uganda. The site has been constructed reconstructed today with modern structures under the new katikiro called Peter Charles Mayiga who is working under the current kingship of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi. The Katikiro has been vigorous in soliciting for funds to reconstruct these tombs. Not only has he built these tombs but also many other places within the kingdom

Ssezibwa Falls

Sezibwa falls stands as the heritage site in Buganda. The people in this culture have attached this site as a place where they obtain blessings from. Following the local legend given at the site, Sezibwa and Bwanda rivers where born as twin from a woman who was known as Nakkungu Tebatuusa. Bwanda river is strategically flowed towards the mother’s village though the Sezibwa river cut its own path and flowed west. In so doing it passed a number of obstacles which were so difficult. For the Sezibwa, the name was driven from a local phrase called sezibwa kkubo and this meant, no obstacles can stop me from moving along.

This place is full of nature trails most especially for those who are nature lovers. A long the river, there are hikes which will offer you opportunity for hiking in case you are interested in this activity. There is a forest surrounding the heritage site while it is muddy in some areas. Because of this therefore, you will be advised to wear good hiking shoes which will guarantee you good hiking opportunity when you are at the site. This cultural heritage site has also got a number of bird species. Indeed it has been a much loved spot where you will view a number of bird species. This site also hosts a number of animals which will offer you opportunity for wildlife viewing. The most notable species of animals found at this heritage site include; the bush and the red tailed monkeys. These will be readily available when you visit this heritage site. To carry good memomories back to your country, you can take some photos of these animals.

Namugongo Shrine

Every year on June, 3rd , many believers from catholic,Anglican and moslem do frequent the martyrs shrine at Namugongo. These martyrs shrine are a vital attraction in Ugandan history. In this place, twenty two (22) catholic Christian converts were brutally executed following the orders which were given by Kabaka Mwanga 11. This was in the year 1886. He ordered a degree to kill all these Christians who were against the doctrines of the king. This site is a vital tourism site and was erected by the Roman Catholic Church Christians and the Church of Uganda, and annually pilgrimages are made to this place. Other converts who were killed included; Anglicans and Moslems.

The Karambi Tombs

The Karambi tombs are located in the town of Fort portal which is found in Kabarole town. They are strategically found along Kasese road which is about 5 kilometers from the town of Kasese town. These sites are a burial place for Kasagama and Rukidi III and are a historically important to the Kingdom of Toro.

Categories
Wildlife

Rothschild giraffe: The Gentle Giant Endemic to Uganda

The giraffa camelopardalis camelopardis, or the Rothschild giraffe, commonly known as the giraffe, is one of those under-appreciated wild animals found in Uganda. Apart from the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, the Ugandan giraffe is unique to its home and cannot be easily found elsewhere apart from Uganda and Kenya, where they have lived for years.

The Rothschild giraffe population has drastically reduced over the years, leaving an estimated number of 800 individuals. The giraffe lives in some of the most fertile parts of Uganda and Kenya, making it easy for people who practice farming to encroach on their habitats and sometimes attack them.

The Rothschild giraffe is said to be a relative of the deer family, and science might soon prove that giraffes used to be shaped like deers centuries back before they evolved into the gentle giants they are today.

There are many attributes that make the Rothschild giraffe stand out from the rest of of the giraffe family.

Characteristics
Standing at an estimated height of 20 feet tall, they are considered the tallest giraffes in their subspecies.

They can weigh up to an estimate of 2,500 pounds with the female giraffes being several pounds lighter than males.

The spots on their body are quite unique; they are brown patches with cream or white lines marking through the brown spots. Their long legs have fewer markings and stop at the top turning into a pure white spread from the kneecaps.

The Rothschild giraffe has more horns — five more than its other relatives who usually have two. There are two in the regular place on top of the head, one in the middle, and two at the back and the first three are easier to notice.

They have very long necks although their vertebrae is the same length as that of a human.
Their senses are very acute, meaning that they can see even further than a normal person and have a strong sense of smell.

They are also attributed with averagely long tails that help to thwart flies off their bodies.
Their height is also attributed to their long legs and necks but the legs contribute a lot to the swiftness of the Rothschild giraffe, making them very fast and agile. It is believed that they can easily match up with a cheetah in the wild just incase they are being chased around for prey.

Although this has not to been proven, these giraffes are not easy prey to catch in the wild and that’s why they are not constantly attacked.

They have characteristics of cows with four stomachs, meaning they chew cud as well.
Feeding is made easy with their long necks that reach out to the trees and the long strong tongues to tag at the leaves.

It has been observed that the males tend to feed on the high branches whilst the females feed on the lower ones.

Giraffes can reproduce when they are between three and five years old, which is estimated to be sooner for females compared to the males. Their gestation period can last up to 16 months and they usually give birth to one calf at a time.

Breeding projects
There are many breeding projects being carried out to increase the population of giraffes through Uganda and Kenya.

You can get a chance to see these gracious giants in several national parks in Uganda. You only need to plan a Uganda safari to any of these national parks; Kidepo Valleys National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Pian Upe Game Reserve and Murchison Falls national park.

 

Categories
Activities Guides

Visiting the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best national parks in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Located in South Western Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the four conservation areas protecting the endangered mountain gorillas. Gazetted in the 1990s, the park is host to half of the total remaining population of the mountain gorillas. The park provides a thrilling experience of gorilla trekking; a wonderful journey to see the endangered gorillas in the wild. The trek leads you through undulating hills and small-scale farmlands. It provides a memorable experience when you spend time in the jungle viewing varieties of primates, birds and the giant mountain gorillas.

One of the quintessential Uganda experiences is tracking the giant mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and nothing quite prepares you for the first glimpse of black fuzz amidst the dense foliage. The adrenaline kicks in when you’re up close to the imposing figure of a silverback pounding its chest and it’s all very Dian Fossey-like when curious babies peek through leaves and twist, turn and somersault for your entertainment. Gorilla permits will set you back a hefty US$500 but don’t think twice about forking out for this genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Bwindi being a tropical rain forest will also provide an amazing experience to you all nature lovers.

Keep in mind that a portion of the fee goes to the park and gorilla conservation initiatives, helping to ensure these giant mountain gorillas survive. Also experience the beautiful and hospitality of the local community who showcase their culture.

Planning a Visit Bwindi for gorilla trekking? Here are some of themust know things that you should note;

  • In order to track the mountain gorillas, one need to secure gorilla permits. It is advisable to book your gorilla permits at least 3 months before the tour desired tracking date. Remember gorilla permits are available year-round but do sell out fast during the peak season. Many travelers book their permits a year in advance and some even reserve them 2 years before.
  • If you are looking to smooth travel experience, it is advisable to book your trip through a tour operator or travel agency. There are several companies that specialize in organizing gorilla safaris in Uganda and the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Congo (former Zaire). Some of the recommended tour operators include Go Gorilla Trekking, Gorilla Expeditions, Budget Gorilla Safaris and more.
  • When tracking the mountain gorillas, always follow the steps outlined by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, ORTPN or Virunga National Park. These rules are aimed at protecting the mountain gorillas and as well guide the experience of watching the mountain gorillas (Gorilla Tourism) so that it can be a win-win situation.
  • Remember children below 14 years are not allowed to track the mountain gorillas.
Categories
Activities Explore

Exploring Western Uganda: 5 Must See Things!

Known as the mother of the pearl of Africa Uganda, southwestern Uganda has a lot to offer clients not to miss out on for the greater and memorable experience. The region host the most varied circuit anywhere in Africa, studded with national parks and other protected areas shielding a range of habitats that embraces everything from the snow capped glacial peaks. The frosty Afro-alpine moorland to marsh-fringed Rift Valley lakes and forest-swathed volcanoes – not some vast tracts of the archetypal African savannah. The southwest is Uganda’s top wildlife-watching region and one of the world’s best places to spot primates some of which are very rare and not found in many other destinations except the few. The very distinctive features to explore include among others:

The mountain gorillas

Found in the Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park in the Virunga conservation area, mountain gorillas are the best wildlife encounter in the whole world recommended for every traveler looking for a greater and memorable experience. South western Uganda is home to over 480 mountain gorillas in the whole world alongside volcanoes national park in Rwanda and the Virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo. There are 13habituated gorilla families in Uganda with Bwindi having twelve and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The gorilla permit is sold at 600usd and travelers to Uganda have the greatest opportunity to see the mountain gorilla due to the available permit as compared to other destinations.

Chimpanzees

These are found in the Kibale forest national park also in south western Uganda. Trekking the chimps started as really as 1993 and is done in Kanyanchu village, the chances of locating them are excellent and the guided walks start at 8am and 2pm and last an average of three hours, depending on various factors. In the process of trekking the chimpanzees, travelers also look out for the black & white colobus, red tailed monkey or the grey cheeked mangabey and the many bird and butterfly species.

Game drives

These are done in the open savannah grasslands f queen Elizabeth national park. Travelers view a wide variety of wild anilams among which includes the elephants, buffalos, waterbucks, impala, Uganda kobs and bush babies. As travelers drive towards the southern section of the park, the ishasha sector, they are blessed to see the rare climbing lions which are not found in any other national park except Manyara in northern Tanzania. This is a real great experience as travelers see the big five as they hunt and graze, it is indeed memorable.

The volcanoes

There are there volcanoes in Mgahinga national park which include Mt Gahinga, Mt Muhabura and Mt Sabyinyo both in south western Uganda. Volcano hike/climb can take up to 8 hours and travelers need to have a clear climbing gear and should be physically fit. Each of these peaks has its own amazing view. No matter which volcano you choose to climb the ascent into the afro montane zone which has plants and vegetation covering you have probably never seen before is exciting and worth the trip and the effort.

Lake Bunyonyi

The second deepest lake in Africa with the depth that vary between 44m (144ft) and 900m (2,952ft), the lake is known as a place of many little birds and it lies in south western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale close to the border with Rwanda. It is Located at 1,962 m (6,437 ft) above sea level, it is about 25 km (15.5 mi) long and 7 km (1.35 mi) wide.

In conclusion, therefore, southwestern Uganda is the best tourism destination with many natural, cultural and historical features all of which provide a great and memorable experience.