Planning a safari tour to Uganda, an underrated destination in Africa that leaves many travelers wowed? Look no further! This comprehensive Uganda Travel Guide will tell you everything you need to know about organizing your ideal safari holiday in this beautiful country.
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, known as the “Pearl of Africa” for its rich biodiversity. Despite being small in size, there is plenty to see and do in Uganda. The country is particularly renowned for its Great Apes, including the endangered Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, as well as other rare primates. However, Uganda has much more to offer visitors beyond its primates, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo), beautiful hiking destinations such as the Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Victoria, and adventure opportunities on the Nile River.
When it comes to planning a safari tour to Uganda, one question that often comes up is “What is the best time to visit?
What is the best time for a safari tour to Uganda?
Uganda is an all year-round safari destination, with the best time to visit being during the drier months of the year, from June to October and again December to February. During this period, temperatures are mild and the sky remains clear, providing optimal visibility for spotting wildlife. However, it’s important to note that Uganda is located in the tropics, so it can rain at any time without warning.
To help you plan your Uganda safari, this comprehensive Uganda Travel Guide is a useful resource. If you’re ready to start planning your safari, visit our website Uzuri Uganda Safaris. Our team is always ready to answer your questions and provide exceptional safari experiences for our customers.
Ready, Set, Visit Uganda
Are you set on traveling to Uganda, but have questions about what to do, visa requirements, how long to stay, and the best time to go? We have got you covered! We’ve compiled answers to all of the questions that may be on your mind in this comprehensive guide, ensuring that all of the bases are covered. By the end of this read, you’ll be well-informed and ready to plan your Ugandan adventure & Safari tour.
Uganda Visa Requirements & Application Process
Visitors to Uganda for tourism purposes are advised to apply for the Uganda Tourist Visa, which is a single entry visa that is valid for up to 3 months. To apply for the visa, you will need to visit the Uganda Immigration portal at https://visas.immigration.go.ug. Once there, you will fill out an application form and will be required to upload the following documents:
- A copy of your passport (bio-data page) with at least 6 months validity
- A tour plan
- A travel itinerary or booking
- A recent passport-size photograph
- A vaccination certificate for Yellow Fever
- A hotel booking or reservation (or if you are staying in alternative accommodation, the address should be provided)
Be sure that you have all the documents needed before applying for the visa, to avoid any complications or delays in your application process.
The visas cost USD $50. These fees are non-refundable and all payments are subject to a bank charge.
Please note all documents attached should be in the English Language. Other documents may be required during the process.
Steps for Applying for a Uganda Tourist Visa:
- Log in to https://visas.immigration.go.ug and select “Start New Application.”
- Accept the terms and conditions in the disclaimer.
- Select the visa or permit type, category, and subcategory that applies to your application.
- Complete the application form.
- Upload the required documents, including a copy of your passport, tour plan, travel itinerary or booking, a recent passport-size photograph, vaccination certificate, and hotel booking or reservation (or an address if you are staying in alternative accommodation).
- An application ID, such as (234790123) will be automatically generated as the reference number.
- Make payment for applications that require prepayment.
- If the application does not require a top-up payment, an approval letter will be generated and emailed to the applicant upon approval.
- If the application does require a top-up payment, make the payment and after payment an approval letter is generated and emailed to the client
- Report to the immigration office/border for biometric capture with all documents uploaded, payment receipts, approval letter, and passport.
Luggage & Essentials
Most airlines limit luggage capacity to 20kgs. So you need to be mindful while packing. Keep the most essential things like light clothing, your cameras and anything that is essential for your safari trip.
It is important to come well prepared for this incredible experience.
Here below is our advice on what you should pack for a Uganda safari holiday; be it a wildlife, primates, birding or activity safari.
- Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. Make sure your shoes are well worn-in before departing to avoid any nasty blisters.
- Light, breathable, waterproof jackets and trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. It’s important to wear light, long layers due to the variable weather and to avoid any insect bites. (You’ll likely encounter long trails of safari ants – tuck your long trousers into your socks to avoid getting bitten!)
- Warm layers for the chilly mornings and cold nights.
- Long, lightweight woolen socks.
- Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
- Toiletries such as sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream and lip balm.
- Garden gloves to protect your hands as you grip the vegetation during your trek.
- A small backpack to carry your water, lunch, extra clothes, binoculars and camera.
- Camera with extra lenses and batteries. Bring more memory than you think you need.
- Binoculars to have a clear view of everything and to spot other wildlife such as birds and monkeys.
- Snacks – the trek can be quite strenuous, so bring some snacks for extra energy.
- A reusable water bottle to limit waste – you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water on your trek.
- Multi-way travel adaptor.
Beside the basic and budget lodges/camps, all mid-range lodges and above during your Uganda Safari Tour will provide you with the essential toiletries. But it is always a better option for you to carry your own. Some of items are listed below.
- Travel Toothbrush and Tooth paste
- Shampoo and conditioner / shower gel
- Hair Dryer and Straighter
- Moisture/ Lotion
- Hygiene essentials
- Shaving Supplies
- Perfumes / Deodorant
- Hand Sanitizer.
Required Medications for Your Uganda Safari
Uganda is a malaria prone country owing to the fact we are situated in the tropics. So talk to your personal doctor about anti-malaria prophylaxis weeks before your flight to Uganda. On top of that carry the anti-malaria tablets on top of all your other medications, insect repellents etc.
In terms of vaccinations, please carry a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate as well as your Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate. Every passenger/ tourist arriving in Uganda is required to present his/her passport, Yellow Fever Card and Covid-19 vaccination certificate to Port Health.
If you are not vaccinated for Covid-19, you are required to provide a negative PCR test that is still valid 72-hours within the time you arrive and report to Port Health.
Gorilla & Chimpanzee Permits
Gorilla permits as well as habituation permits need to be secured 6 months in advance with time to spare especially if you intend to travel during the busy months of June, July, August, December, January, February when permits sell out fast.
To visit Uganda for a mountain gorilla and chimpanzee safari adventure, before anything else, you have got to secure your gorilla permits without fail prior to your travel. Our advice is once you have determined your travel dates, talk to us and we will be able to help you secure your permits.
In terms of gorilla permits, effective July 01, 2020 the price changed to
- USD 700 for foreign nationals,
- USD 600 for foreign residents
- and Ugx250,000 for East Africans.
- Habituation permits stayed at USD 1,500 for foreign nationals, USD 1000 for foreign residents and Ugx 750,000 for East Africans.
Visitors can choose between a morning and an afternoon trek especially during the summer months of June, July and August. However, like gorilla permits, chimpanzee trekking or habituation permits have got to be purchased and secured in advance.
Effective July 1, 2020, the Uganda Wildlife Authority increased the chimpanzee trekking permit to USD 200. Chimpanzee Habituation permits costs USD 250 per permit.
Uzuri Uganda Safaris will help you check availability of either gorilla trekking or habituation permits by sending us an email or via WhatsApp (+256 772 425294) when you speak to one of our safari consultants.
Where to Stay
Accommodation for your Uganda safari holiday/ vacation ranges from Basic through Budget, Mid-range to Luxury. Up-market options are also available in the popular destinations but these have got to be booked 6 months in advance especially if you intend to travel in the summer months.
For accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, it depends on the sector where we have secured your gorilla permits that determines where you will stay. If for example we have secured your gorilla permits in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are different accommodation options in the Buhoma sector that fit your budget which Uzuri Safaris can help with. Similarly, If your permits have been secured in the Rushaga sector, again we will propose to you the options in Rushaga that fit your budget. Let us know your budget for your gorilla safari and we will recommend a lodge that will give you comfort and value for your money.
Languages Spoken in Uganda
The official language of Uganda is English. Major language spoken by the people is Luganda. The tour guide and staff will communicate with you in English.
Currency Used in Uganda and Forex Exchange
- The official Uganda Currency is the Uganda Shilling. It exchanges at Ush3,600 for 1 US Dollar averagely.
- Uganda also accepts US dollar, British Pound, Euro. other currencies can be exchanged in privately owned Foreign exchange bureaus and banks.
- Major hotels, lodges and camps also accepts your Visa, MasterCard and Amex.
Places You Can Visit During Your Uganda Safari Holiday
Uganda is appropriately named ‘the Pearl of Africa’ and you have got to come to bear witness. It is a destination where visitors get to experience so much packed in this small country and yet there is more. Because it is not Kenya or Tanzania, Uganda is the perfect place for nature enthusiasts who want to avoid the crowds whether you are on a birding safari, looking for the Big5, rare primates, snow-capped Mountain Rwenzori, looking to catch the big Nile perch and more. Some of the famous places that you can visit here are mentioned below;
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you trek through forested Mountain-sides to see Silverback Mountain Gorillas and their families majorly.
The park protects around 500 of the world’s mountain gorilla population and has 19 habituated groups/families. The forest is also a bird-watchers’ paradise with 350 bird species recorded, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Here, you can also experience cultural encounters when you meet the Batwa Pygmies who used to share the forest with the gorillas before it was gazetted as a National Park, birding, hiking/ nature walks.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – the smallest of Uganda’s National Parks. It is part of the Virunga ecosystem and so it protects the Ugandan slopes of the Virunga Mountains, a range of free-standing volcanoes that rise to a maximum of 4,507 metres on the border with Rwanda and the DR Congo.
The park’s only habituated gorilla family/group Nyakagezi is makes Mgahinga the alternative destination to Bwindi for mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda. Given the park’s varied habitats, birdlife is prolific with more than 180 species of birds recorded. The rare and endangered Golden Monkeys can also be tracked here.
Murchison Falls National Park – A favourite park for a lot of visitors given the diversity of activities chief among them the boat cruise along the Nile to the bottom of the iconic Murchison Falls.
Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which winds its way through the park and gives life and prosperity to the diversity of wildlife that is home to Uganda’s largest conservation area – covering an area of 3,893 square kilometres (1,503 sq mi).
Here you can enjoy Boat Cruise, Guided Game Drives, Night Game Drives, Fishing at the bottom of Murchison Falls, photographic safari, visit to top of Falls, Birding on land and along the Nile.
Kibale National Park – The park is home to the largest of Uganda’s chimpanzee populations, which stand at more than 1,500 members and is the best place to trek to see wild habituated chimpanzees in Africa. Despite its many attractions, it is the chimpanzees that draw visitors to track/go on a trek to see and encounter man’s closest relative – the chimpanzees.
There are a total of 13 primate species to be found here, which, aside from the chimpanzees include the grey-cheeked Mangabey, endangered red colobus, black and white colobus, blue monkey, olive baboon, potto, bush baby, red-tailed monkey and the rarely seen L’Hoest’s monkey.
Kibale is also prolific for birds with over 375 species recorded such as the endemic Kibale Forest thrush, the Green-breasted Pitta, Great blue turacos and the African grey parrot.
Here you do chimpanzee trek/ habituation, birding, hiking/nature walks.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – Covering an area of 1,978 square kilometres, scenic Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most popular game parks in Uganda. The major reason this is the case is the fact that it boats a high biodiversity rating with varying landscapes – the reason you find a high mammal count of 95 as well as 600 bird species.
The varying landscapes including savannah plains, bushland, wetlands, lush forests make the park an ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
The game includes healthy numbers of hippos, elephants, lions, leopards as well as chimpanzees and hyenas.
Here you can experience Game Drives, boat trip along Kazinga channel, birding, community visits, chimpanzee treks and more.
Kidepo Valley National Park – Kidepo Valley National Park is considered to be one of the most remote safari game parks in Africa. The park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Kenya and South Sudan – over 650 kilometres from the capital, Kampala.
Gazetted as a national park in 1962, Kidepo has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well around 475 bird species including the majestic Secretary Bird that stalks the open savannah plains.
The park is most notable for being home to a number of animals found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, caracal and greater and lesser kudus. There are also large concentrations of elephants, zebras, buffaloes, bushbuck, giraffes, lions, jackals, leopards and hyenas.
To travel ‘off the so called beaten track’ is to visit Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo is so remote that those who have dared to make the trip get rewarded by the absence of crowds. When you visit Kidepo, you have the expansive savannah all to yourself.
Here you can experience Game drive, bush walks/ hiking and Birding and cultural experiences.
What is the best time for a safari tour to Uganda?
Uganda is a year-round safari destination. Still the Best Time to Visit Uganda is during the drier months of the year, from June to October and again December to February. During this period, temperatures are mild and the sky remains clear. Visibility remains high, for you to spot wildlife. However, there is a caveat given Uganda is situated in the tropics and so it can rain at any time without warning.
This comprehensive Uganda Travel Guide will help you in planning your Uganda Safari. If you are planning for a safari, visit our website Uzuri Uganda Safaris. Our team is always ready to answer your queries. We have been providing exceptional safari experiences to our customers.