Uganda is a land locked country in East Africa located bordered by Kenya in the East, Tanzania in the north, Democratic Republic of Congo in the west and Sudan in the north. Uganda is blessed with geographical and cultural diversities including a number of lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, water falls, traditional customs among others. It is the reason for the name Uganda the pearl of Africa as named by Sir Winston Churchill in his book “My African Journey”.
However the western region of Uganda hosts majority of the National parks and tourist attractions that attract travelers over and over including Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park in south western Uganda known for gorilla trekking, Kibale National park known for chimpanzee trekking other primate walking, Queen Elizabeth National park the second largest National park after Murchison Falls National park with the highest concentration of wild life, Lake Mburo National park well known for game viewing, Semuliki National park with sempaya hot springs that attract travelers because their water is too hot to the extent of boiling eggs and make them ready, mountain Rwenzori National park the highest block mountain in Uganda and second highest in Africa after mountain Kilimanjaro. Each of these National parks offers different experiences on your safari to western Uganda. Western Uganda has the most breath taking and memorable safaris which include;
Mountain gorilla trekking safaris
Mountain gorillas are endangered species that are found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo only in the Africa and the whole world. But mountain gorilla safaris in western Uganda are done in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks situated in south western Uganda in the extreme end of Kanungu and Kisoro district respectively.
Bwindi impenetrable National park is home to over 450 mountain gorillas and almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Bwindi impenetrable National park has 4 sectors where gorillas are found and gorilla trekking is carried out including Buhoma sector in the north, Ruhija sector in the east, Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors in the southern part of the park. These sectors have over 18 gorilla families that can be trekked by people who are 15 years and above. Mgahinga National park has only one gorilla family called Nyakagezi habituated for trekking bringing it to a total of 19 habituated gorilla families in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking is done throughout the year but best advisable during the months of January, February, June, July, August and December when there is little or no rain fall and when the trails are less slippery.
Gorilla safaris in western Uganda makes your safari memorable as you encounter with the endangered species in their natural habitats very early in the morning guided by the ranger guides. Each gorilla family allows only 8 members per day for a maximum of 1 hour for observation and photography.
Gorilla trekking in western Uganda costs 600 US dollars per person currently but it will increase to 700 US dollars starting 1st July 2020 for foreign nonresidents, 600 for foreign residents and 250,000 Ugandan shillings for East African residents.
However, there is gorilla habituation as well in Bwindi impenetrable National park in Rushaga sector which allows travelers to spend 4 hours in the presence of the mountain gorillas compared to trekking which only allows only 1 hour, but the cost for gorilla habituation is 1500 US dollars for foreign nonresidents and 1000 US dollars for foreign residents.
However your gorilla safari can over chances to the Batwa community the ancient people of the forest, this can be done in the evening after gorilla trekking and learn about their ancient life style in the forest, traditional dances and other forms of entertain which makes your safari memorable.
Chimpanzee trekking safaris
Chimpanzees are also apes under the primate class which are close relatives of humans with 98% human DNA. Chimpanzees in western Uganda can be found in several destinations including Kibale National park the major destination for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and the whole world.
Kibale National park has over 1500 and highest number of chimpanzees and other 12 primate species, bird species, Kyambura gorge game reserve in Queen Elizabeth National park with variety of chimpanzees, Budongo forest reserve with quite a number chimpanzees after Kibale National park, Toro Semuliki forest reserve also chimpanzee trekking destination and Kalinzu forest in Bushenyi district close to Queen Elizabeth with over 50 habituated chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking is done early in the guided by the ranger guides to locate the chimpanzees, on encounter with the primates, travelers are allowed only 1 hour in the presence of the chimpanzees by people who are 15 years and above. Kibale National park and Budongo forest reserve also offers chimpanzee habituation experiences which allow travelers to spend the whole day in the presence of the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National park costs 150 US dollars currently and will be 200 US dollars starting 1st July 2020 while habituation is also 200 US dollars, chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura, Toro Semuliki and Kalinzu is 50 US dollars all managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is 80 US dollars but managed by Budongo Eco lodge.
The western Uganda wildlife safari offers different wild animals which are found in the different National park destinations in western Uganda. There is a hug diversity of wild animals that can be seen on your wildlife safari including, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, leopards, warthogs, spotted hyenas, Uganda kobs, giraffes, zebras, oribis, Topis, duikers, water bucks, cheetahs, jackals among others.
Wild life safaris in western Uganda are done in Queen Elizabeth National park in western Uganda stunning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge and Rubirizi. Queen Elizabeth National park is the second biggest National park in Uganda with variety of wild animals like elephants, lions, antelopes, hippos, crocodiles, impalas, Elands and so on which are normally sighted during game drives, primates like chimpanzees, monkey species like black and white colubus, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, L’hoest’s monkeys, civet monkeys among others.
There are several sectors in the different parts of Queen Elizabeth National park where wild animals can be sighted including Mweya peninsular, Kasenyi plains, Kazinga channel, Kyambura game reserve, Maramagambo forest, Kalinzu forest and Ishasha sector which is famous for tree climbing lions.
Wildlife safaris can also be done in Lake Mburo National park located in Kiruhura district which approximately 244 km from Kampala. Lake Mburo is the smallest savannah park in Uganda famous for wildlife viewing. Lake Mburo is home to over 68 animals including zebras, impalas, Topis, Elands, giraffes, Uganda kobs, buffaloes, bush bucks, leopards, hyenas, jackals among others. However it is important to note that there are no elephants and lions in Lake Mburo National park.
Wildlife safaris are done in Semuliki National situated in Bundibugyo district at the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. Semuliki National park also is home to over 60 mammal species including African elephants, leopard, Mona monkeys, buffalos, hippos, African civet among others that are seen during game drives in the park.
Murchison falls is another destination for wildlife safaris and game viewing. It is the largest National park located in north western Uganda covering an area of 3840 square kilometers. The vegetation of Murchison falls National Park is made up savannah, riverine forest, woodland which shelter several animal species like elephants, lions, leopards, Rothschild giraffes, chimpanzees, kobs, hartebeests, hippos, oribis among others that are viewed the game drives.
Western Uganda is one of the best places for boat safaris and there is popular destination for boat cruise including boat cruise on Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Boat cruise on Kazinga channel. Kazinga channel is the longest and widest natural channel in Africa with the highest concentration of wild animals and bird species. There are over 400 bird species, elephants, buffaloes, hippos among others. The boat cruise on kazinga channel is done in the morning and afternoon for 2 hours, it is one of the activities that you cannot miss when you come to Queen Elizabeth National park.
Boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi. Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika with 29 islands. It is also known as a bird paradise because it hosts very many bird species where it derives its name Bunyonyi meaning “small birds” in the native language. There is boat cruise on lake Bunyonyi which offers memorable experiences especially cruising to the different island with different historical back ground like the punishment island where the bakiga girls who got pregnant before marriage were taken in isolation to die, then the Akacuraniko which means upside down and many others with their own history that also shelter many wild animals, birds and primate species.
Boat safari on Lake Mutanda. A visit to Lake Mutanda is an interesting adventure that cannot be missed on your safari to western Uganda. The lake has many interesting activities that can be engaged in on your visit for a boat cruise especially after gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National park. The activities include nature walks, birding, game viewing among others.
Cultural safaris in western Uganda are a component because Uganda is a culturally diverse country with over 54 tribes. When it comes to cultural safaris in western Uganda Queen Elizabeth National park is the best place to visit with several cultural groups like Nyanzibiri community cave which means 2 lake in the native language, Leopard village located close to muhokya village managed by the socio economical management that promotes culture and wildlife conservation. Those who tour the leopard village have a chance to visit the traditional huts of Basongora, Bakonzo and Nyabindi ethnic groups then kikorongo women community where you enjoy songs, dances, fire making, visit the Kikorongo African art and craft workshop and learn about weaving baskets among others.
A visit to the Batwa community deep in Bwindi and Mgahinga forests. The batwa trail and batwa experience are one of the major cultural activities that cannot be missed on your cultural safari to western Uganda. Learn about the batwa people also referred to as the people of the forests that co-existed with the wild animals before they were evicted after gazetting their areas as national parks. Learn about their way of life as hunters and gathers, enjoy their traditional dances, hand craft making and so on. You can go for the batwa trail in Mgahinga National park of batwa experience in Bwindi impenetrable National park
Visit and encounter the fascinating cultures of Toro on western Uganda cultural tour. Learn about the “Empaako ceremony” which involves giving pet names to the children at birth. The pet names include Akiiki, Amooti, Adyeeri, Ateenyi, Abwooli, Acaali among others, visit the King’s palace overlooking Fort Portal town where the king resides. There is the Karambi tombs where the Toro kings are buried that is visited during your cultural safari in western Uganda.
Mountain hiking safaris
Hiking mountain Rwenzori in western Uganda is the best experience you can have on your safari in western Uganda. Mountain Rwenzori is the highest block mountain Uganda and third highest in Africa after mountain Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at 5895 meters above sea level, mountain Kenya in Kenya at 5199 meters above sea level then mountain Rwenzori at 5109 meters above sea level with the highest peak known as margherita.
Hiking Mountain Rwenzori is done in seasons, which are from January to March and June to October. Usually January to March is too cold compared to June to October where there are higher chances of encountering snow at the peak.
Western Uganda is a great destination in Uganda where you can go for your different fascinating safaris like gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, boat safaris, cultural safari among other which offer you great experiences on your safari.