A Few Words About Uganda Safaris and Uganda Safari Vacations In Uganda, an area smaller than Oregon, the world's largest tropical lake, longest river, largest volcanic base, and most coveted coffee unite with three African Great Lakes, ten national parks, and three of Africa's highest mountains. It’s no wonder that Winston Churchill named the precious nation the Pearl of Africa.
Uganda tour packages offer expertly-chosen itineraries and comprehensive encounters with Uganda's dense biodiversity and world-renown geography. Book an all-inclusive tour and prepare to explore forested mountains, thriving wetlands, and tropical savanna immersed in an unmatched array of flora and fauna.
Uganda Topography & Orientation Uganda is the keystone of the East Africa Plateau, adjacent to tourism giants Kenya and Tanzania upon the East African Rift highlands. The elevation is a result of tectonic plate separation, which also creates a massive system of rift valleys, mountain ranges, tablelands and lakes down the African continent's eastern spine.
The Eastern Rift Valley (also called the Gregory Rift) bisects Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia, continuing north through the Afar Triple Junction into the Red Sea. On this side of the plateau, climbers make pilgrimages to the two highest peaks in Africa (Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya) and safaris abound. The Western Rift Valley, commonly known as the Albertine Rift, is dominated by water, lush forests, and its own set of daunting peaks and distinctive ecosystems that have yet to see crowds of tourists.
Uganda is situated at the northernmost culmination of the Albertine Rift, fusing jagged mountains and vast lakes in the west with dry savanna grasses in the north. Fringes of Kenya's rift mountains penetrate the east, and in the south Lake Victoria gives life to the Nile River. In central Uganda, the Nile Basin waters disperse into vibrant marshes and then coalesce again in Lake Kyoga, Uganda's central backbone of thriving wetlands, before finally surging into Lake Albert in the west.
Kampala & Around Uganda tour packages begin either directly Entebbe (with the only international airport), or from nearby Kampala, Uganda's only true "city." From Kampala, it's possible to book transportation to any destination (domestic or international). Day tours from Kampala (quad, bicycle, rafting, kayaking, trekking) include Lake Victoria's recently-developed Ssese Islands, Mabira Forest hiking trails, the town of Jinja and source of the Nile River, and Lake Mburo National Park's papyrus swamps with hippos, waterbucks and buffaloes.
North Uganda: Emergent Savanna The southern fingers of the East Sudanian Savanna reach into northern Uganda and produce hot, dry plains of trees and elephant grass. The climate is tropical but highly seasonal: rains come from April to October, and in the dry season trees go bare and grasses shrivel into a flat, brittle sea.
In the northeast, South Sudan's Kidepo Game Reserve crosses the border into Uganda and becomes the Kidepo Valley National Park, one of the only places to see cheetah, ostrich, and secretary bird on Uganda safaris. The northwest grasslands are home to the Ajai Game Reserve and its brand-new luxurious safari camp. Ajai fauna includes Olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, warthogs, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, pythons, and the famed Ugandan kob (which you'll also find illustrated on Ugandan shillings).
Farther north are two white rhino sanctuaries, Mount Kei and Otze Forest, that sadly are no longer home to any rhinos. Fortunately, the Ziwa Rhino Wildlife Sanctuary is endeavoring to restore numbers and invites visitors to meet 15 resident white rhinos on a gorgeous, privately-owned property just outside of Kampala (Uganda's capital, in the southern region).
West Uganda: Lakes, Mountains, Forests and Primates To spot hippos and crocodiles, opt for Uganda safari vacations by boat through Murchison Falls National Park, the country's largest protected area situated northeast of Lake Albert. Or, trek to the explosive waterfall where the Victoria Nile gushes through a narrow gorge into the "devil's cauldron," and do some world-class bird watching along the way. You can even go on a hot air balloon safari to track lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, and, of course, Ugandan kob.
On the other side of Lake Albert is Semuliki National Park, the only stretch of lowland tropical forest in East Africa. The park marks the eastern edge of Congo Basin forests, expressing a taste of Central Africa with 441 bird species, 300 butterflies, and 53 mammals (including pygmy flying squirrels and bush babies!) The park is inhabited by a Batwa pygmy community and around 100 Basua people, who benefit from tourism and are eager to teach visitors about their culture and history.
Between Lake Albert and Lake Edward is the most enchanting zone of Uganda. If you have time, trek the popular seven-day circuit around the third, fourth, and fifth tallest African peaks (Stanley, Speke, and Baker). You'll wander the forests between ice caps and dry plains, glimpsing chimpanzees, forest elephants, and turacos along the way.
If you prefer to stay lower, go just west of the mountains to Kibale National Park to track chimpanzees in the Kanyanchu sector. The park has some of the best birding in central Africa and the highest concentration of primates in Africa (13 different species!).
Almost all Uganda tour packages allot a significant portion to Queen Elizabeth National Park, whose northeast Kasenyi sector (also known as Mweya) embodies the rich Kazinga Channel and surrounding volcanic fields with crater lakes. A Uganda safari vacation along the channel and Queen's Mile is the ultimate opportunity to see hippos and lions that prey upon the large resident populations of Ugandan kob. The southwest corner of the park, known as the Ishasha sector, is famous for its tree-climbing lions and gorilla sanctuary.
In the southwest, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the premier place to get up close and personal with highly endangered mountain gorillas. Expert guides meticulously track the movement of the apes and patiently lead trekkers through the rainforest to watch the astonishing giants as they go about their daily routines in their native habitat. On the park's west edge are Buhoma and Nkuringo, two communities with lodging and trekking arrangements as well as a glance into local lifestyles.