This post was most recently updated on February 18th, 2018
You cannot talk about Uganda tourist attractions without talking about the popular Uganda Gorilla Trekking excursions. Much of Uganda is so lush and green that visitors can be forgiven for thinking that they are somewhere in the Congo. Winston Churchill famously called Uganda the ‘Pearl of Africa’ and the name has stuck to date.
As far as wildlife goes the gorillas are the ultimate experience that Uganda has to offer. There are also herds of water buffalo and hippo as well as crocodiles and rich bird life. Uganda still has a lot of indigenous forest such as the luxurious Bwindi forest.
BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK,
If luxurious tropical forests and gorilla tracking are more your thing, then the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a must visit. Almost half the mountain gorillas in the world live here in the Bwindi. Contact with gorillas is limited because there are only a few that are accustomed to dealing with people.
The main activities are Gorilla tracking, bird watching, nature walks and cycling tours. A gorilla trekking permit must be obtained first. Bwindi hosts 350 different bird species. Besides the birds, there are more than 200 species of butterfly.
It does not get closer to nature than a 25,000 year old rainforest. Mountain climbers can combine their excursion to Bwindi with a climb up Mount Nyiragongo. There are some nearby pygmy tribes that visitors can visit and observe their culture.
To have the best of both worlds, some visitors will combine a Kenyan safari with a visit to Bwindi forest. Visitors can choose to fly or drive.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Queen Elizabeth National Park is in Western Uganda. Here visitors can experience some unique things, like seeing the tree climbing lions of Ishasha. Only two tree climbing lion populations exist in the world and this is one of them. Boat trips on Lake George and Lake Edward are very pleasant experiences. The boats take off every day twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
95 mammals and 612 birds live here at the Park, making it a good place for game drives and bird watching. Some of the birds here are not easily spotted anywhere else in the world.
The road trip from Kampala to Queen Elizabeth takes 6 hours. There is also a dirt road from Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth. Visitors can choose between luxury and budget friendly accommodation. Both are available.
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
The Murchison Falls Conservation Area is made up of Murchison Falls National Park, Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves, and Bugungu.
As the name suggests, there is plenty of water here. The waters of the Nile River make a splendid home for hippopotamus, crocodiles, waterbucks, and the buffaloes that come to drink. Between the mature woodlands, the lush river forests and the grasslands, the vegetation supports a lot of animals. These animals are birds, chimpanzees, Uganda kobz, elephants, hartebeests, oribis and the carnivores that prey on them.
Famous visitors to Murchinson include Winston Churchill, the Prince of Wales, Humphrey Borgart, Ernst Hemmingway and Queen Mother in 1959.
Murchinsoin is home to Budongo forest which is the biggest Mahogany Forest in East Africa. It also hosts the biggest Chimpanzee colony that you will get anywhere in Uganda. The Karuma falls also offer breathtaking sights for visitors.
KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Kibale Forest National Park is the best place in Uganda for Chimpanzee trekking. There are 13 species of primates here, so there is plenty of forest wildlife to see.
When it is not too wet, visitors can go on a 12 mile hike which is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. There is no better way to get up close with nature than hiking through a tropical forest, swampland, grassland, and woodlands found here. You need a permit to track chimpanzees in Uganda but that is easily obtainable. The grounds are too wet during the rainy season so trekking is mostly done in the dry season.
A nature walk in Kibale can take anything from 2 days to 6 days depending on how much time you have allocated. The bird watching is amazing and the forest scenes are varied. There is wet tropical forest, dry tropical forest and woodland savanna. While there, visitors can sample the culture of the Batoro and Bakiga tribes.
LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo is located in Western Uganda, 31/2 hours from Uganda. At 260 square kilometers, Lake Mburo is the smallest National Park. It was established in 1930. There are excellent camping and game viewing opportunities here. There are leopards, zebras, impala, jackals, buffalo, warthogs, eland, and hippos.
Jinja is a small resort city located on the shores of Lake Victoria right where the River Nile begins. Best known as the source of the Nile, it is a great place for sightseeing and water sports.
Visit Kilombera workshop to buy arts and crafts from the local artisans. They sell African print fabrics, bedspreads, and table mats among many other things. You can even stand by and watch while they work on them.
Dine at the Bujagali justify where they specialize in exotic foods like tilapia grilled in banana and ribs. Later one can sample the nightlife by visiting Spot 6 and Babez for a good time.
Hang out at the Source Café where they serve very good coffee and give free wifi. Also visit the Source of the Nile Gardens where there is a monument to commemorate the first explorers to find the source of the Nile.
ZIWA RHINO SANCTUARY
The Nakasongola district of Uganda plays home to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This is the only place in Uganda where you can get wild rhinos. Ziwa is a two hour drive from Kampala. Fifteen Southern White Rhinos live here.
Visitors can engage in rhino trekking together with the trained guides available at the sanctuary. Bird watching is also a favorite activity here. There are hundreds of bird species that live in Ziwa.
Nature walks and camping are also popular activities here. It is near Murchinson Falls. The Rhino restocking was done by the Rhino Fund Uganda and the government.
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
At Kidepo, it is a lot easier to spot rare predators like the striped hyena, the hunting dog, the bat-eared fox, the cheetah, the caracal, and the aardwolf. Unlike other parks like Bwindi, Kidepo’s landscape is open tree savanna. It is not as heavily forested as the other parks. Lions and jackals live there too.
There are plenty of primates at Kidepo, but the Kavirondo bush baby stands out among them all for it is only found here. 465 different types of birds live here, making it yet another excellent site for bird watchers.
Kidepo is in a remote area which means that the roads are not as good as the other roads in Uganda. It is close to the border of Uganda and South Sudan. Visitors are not allowed to cross into South Sudan. Use a 4 wheel drive car and travel beware of mud. Never travel during the rainy season without an experienced local driver.
Elephants, antelopes, and dozens of other grazers live in Kidepo Valley National Park.