About Uganda

About Uganda - Visit Uganda

Uganda Overview

Uganda is a truly authentic "safari destination - definitely less sophisticated than Tanzania or Kenya in terms of infrastructure and not in the same "big game league but equally untouched and as genuine as Africa gets.

Uganda's Gorillas, chimps, birds and wider range of special interest attractions makes it a perfect match for first timers and seasoned African visitors.

More About Uganda

Its well publicised, strife-torn history lies deep in the past and the only news that is coming   from Uganda these days is good reports about the economy and the conversation of its wilderness areas.

Imagine rainforests, lakes, volcanic mountains and royal burial tombs - but the biggest attraction is ofcourse the several hundred highly endangered mountain gorillas in one of the few habitats left to them on earth.  Chimpanzees make up one of the 120 mammals and over 1,000 species of birds have been recorded in this fertile country. 

Location
The country lies mostly on plateau with three major volcanic mountain ranges: the Rwenzori, Mountains, Elgon and Mgahinga.  These ranges are interpersed by several  lakes and the great River Nile, which flows towards the Mediterranean from Lake Victoria.

Uganda has a tropical climate that is tempered somewhat by its altitude.  Year round temperatures average 20 - 30 degrees Centigrade, although at night temperatures can be relatively low at 12 degrees centigrade.  There are many rainy seasons, between March and May and also in October and November.

Although there are 2 distinct rainy seasons, rain does continue to fall intermittently through out the year.

A few facts about Uganda
Area: 235796 km2- similar to great Britain or the State of Oregon

Capital: Kampala (population 1.2 million 2002 census)

Time Zone: GMT +3 hrs

International dial code: +256

Currency: Uganda shilling

Electricity: 240 volts at 50HZ

Language: English is the official language with 33 indegenous dialects; Luganda being the most predominant

90% of Ugandans are subsistance farmers or involved in agriculture

Location: Land-locked Equatorial Africa - bordered by Rwanda and Tanzania in the South: Kenya to the East; Sudan to the North and DRC to the west

Altitude: 85% of the country lies between 900m and 1500m above sea level.  The lowest region is Lake Albert basin (612m) and the Albert Nile.  The highest point is Mount Stanley (Rwenzori range) at 5,110m

Land use: Arable land 25%, agriculture 9%, forest and woodland 28%, open water 18%, marsh 4% other 7%

Major exports: Coffee (55%), fish (7.5%), tea (5%), tobacco (4%)

Other crops: bananas, maize,millet, sorghum, cotton, rice, cassava, groundnuts, potatoes

Mineral resources:copper, cobalt, limestone, salt, alluvial gold.  In jluy 2006 significant  oil reserves were found beneath Lake aLbert at Kaiso-Tonya.

What to See
The relatively high proportin of closed canopy forest distinguishes Uganda from any other safari destination.  The country harbors a wide variety of vetebrate and other species absent elsewhere in East and Southern Africa.

Uganda is not a safari destination to compare against Kenya and Tanzania when it comes to conventional game viewing but good sightings of lion, elephant, and giant forest hog can be experienced nevertheless.

The staggering recovery of wildlife in the savanna reserves and accessibility to tourist highlights has improved the attraction for tourists beyond recognition since President Museveni took charge of the government in 1986.

When to visit
Uganda lies on the equator and consequently has a warm climate year round; season temperature fluctuations are insignificant.  The main factor to consider is the rainfall pattern.  There are two wet seasons - April/May and October / December.  When hiking, camping, road access to certain areas could be difficult.  This is of particular consideration for those planning to hike the Rwenzoris.  Gorilla tracking is certainly done through out the year.

Temperatures are between 20 and 30 degrees centigrade on lower end.. Highest temperatures are experienced near Lake Albert and the lowest on the glacial peals of Rwenzori.

Our advise is to travel  when it is most convenient for you and the rain (which is often for short periods) is part of the experience.  You may avoid tracking in the "official rainy season only to find it pours at another time of the year!

For this reason most of the lodges/camps remain open throughout the year unlike those in more traditional savanna areas 

Why Choose Uganda

Uganda Gorilla Trekking:
Only something like 750 mountain gorillas survive in the world today, all on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC which makes them one of the most unique primates especially when compared to the number of human beings on earth!  Approximately 320 mountain gorillas reside permanently in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Seing Gorillas in the wild is an awe-inspring and experience and leaves a significant impression on visitors.

Gorilla tracking permits are in great demand and cost US$500 per person at present.  The high cost is put to the numerous trackers, guards, soldiers and maintainance staff required to safeguard these precious animals.  Gorilla Permits should be booked well in advance and the schedule of most Ugandan safaris is dictated to some extent by the availability of Gorilla permits.

Chimpanzees:
Man's closest relative lives in large, loosely bonded communities based around a core of related males topped by an alpha male.  Troops have well defined territories fiercely defended by regular boundary patrols

Chimps live in most of the forests in Western Uganda and have been habituated for tourists in Kibale Forest, the Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki, Budongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests near Murchison Falls National Park.

Chimp tracking usually starts at 8:00 am and 11:30 am and the afternoon shift starts 2:00pm and end at 5:30 pm.  The cost of the chimp prermits is US$150 for Kibale Forest and US$50 for Kyambura gorge.

Chances of sighting chimpanzees in Kibale Forest is 90% .  Kyambura chimp trek though is not always as succesful .  Sightings in Semliki are improving as the chimps are slowly becoming habituated with the research project beng conducted by the University of Virginia

Game viewing:
Official check lists show 342 species of which 132 can be classified as large mammals .  Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls are the two main spots to visit for big game viewing while the Lake Mburo areas offers a wide variety of antelope, zebras, as well as waterbirds and is convenient stop over between Bwindi and Entebbe or Kampala.

Kidepo valley hosts dry country antelopes, predators such as leopard and lion as well as buffalo, elephant, zebra among others.  Situated in the Notrh East, this area is generally not much visited and expensive to get to.

Birding Safaris:
Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa for birders because of the relatively easy access to bird-rich habitats (which can be difficult to reach elsewhere).  Due to its transitional point between East African savanna and West African rainforest the avian diversity is remarkable with 1,108 species recorded.

How to get there:
Uganda's international airport is located in Entebbe, 40km from Kampala.  Several well known airlines such as British Airways, Kenya airways, KLM Royal Dutch airlines, Turkish airlines, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, SN Brssels, South Africa Airways, Qatar Airways amongst others that fly regular scheduled flights in and out of Entebbe International airport.

The highest percentage of visitors enters the country by road from Kenya or Tanzania traveling in local buses or in private vehicles.  Flying directly to Entebbe Airport is highly recommended.

Some main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than in Europe or America.  Secondary roads are of variable quality and slow or bumpy especially during rainy season.  Recently the main arterial roads have seen substantial improvements.

Most safaris require long car journeys often taking most of the day.  Four-wheel vehicles are very highly recommended especially for the rainy conditions.  Light aircrafts can also be chartered to the main airfields and is actualy the only method for getting Kidep National Park.  All private charters are in small light aircraft with a maximum baggage allowance of 15kg per person in soft duffel bags.