ABOUT UGANDA

UGANDA OVERVIEW

Uganda is a landlocked nation in East Africa bordered by Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. Lake Victoria occupies a large part of the country’s southern part. Kampala is the capital city. Uganda’s total land area is 241,559 sq km. About 37,000 sq km of this area is occupied by open water while the rest is land. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which it shares with Kenya and Tanzania.

 

Uganda is located on the East African plateau, averaging about 1,100 meters (3,609 ft) above sea level. The plateau generally slopes downwards towards Sudan explaining the northerly tendency of most river flows in the country. Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform since the altitude modifies the climate. Uganda’s elevation, soil types and predominantly warm and wet climate impart a huge agricultural potential to the country. They also explain the country’s large variety of forests, grasslands and wildlife reserves.

 

Wondering why Uganda is called ‘The Pearl of Africa’? Where else can you see lions prowling across the open savanna as day breaks before white water rafting down the Nile; then the next day set off into the misty mountains in search of the majestic mountain gorillas before settling in to watch a local cultural evening around the camp fire? Uganda has been ranked the number one destination for tourists for the year 2012 by Lonely Planet which is the largest travel guide and media publisher in the world.

Best time to visit Uganda

Uganda sits squarely on the equator with an average altitude of around 1,000m, which tempers the heat and means this really is a year-round destination. Marc to May and Oct to Nov see the highest rainfall, but gorillas are still lurking in the mist although trekking to find them will be slippery and slower. However, accommodation and even gorilla permits can be much cheaper at this time. The best time to visit Uganda is June-Sep, which is the peak season but Uganda remains happily oblivious to mass tourism and you won’t need to worry about crowds.

Weather and climate in Uganda

The tropical climate of Uganda is modified by elevation and, locally, by the presence of the lakes. The major air currents are northeasterly and southwesterly. Because of Uganda’s equatorial location, there is little variation in the sun’s declination at midday, and the length of daylight is nearly always 12 hours. All of these factors, combined with a fairly constant cloud cover, ensure an equable climate throughout the year.

 

Most parts of Uganda receive adequate precipitation; annual amounts range from less than 20 inches (500 mm) in the northeast to a high of 80 inches (2,000 mm) in the Sese Islands of Lake Victoria. In the south, two wet seasons (April to May and October to November) are separated by dry periods, although the occasional tropical thunderstorm still occurs. In the north, a wet season occurs between April and October, followed by a dry season that lasts from November to March. Gorilla Trekking is regarded as a year-round activity; however, there are certain points during the year that are optimal. The dry seasons are considered the best time to see the mountain gorillas with trekking paths in better conditions – in the wetter months the trails tend to get washed out. The advantage of trekking in the wet season is that the gorillas stick to the lower slopes where temperatures are milder and food plentiful, which means trekking times, will be shorter.

BEST UGANDA SAFARI DESTINATIONS

Read more about popular Uganda safari destinations below. Our customized tours and packages holidays can include multiple destinations to ensure you get the most out of your Uganda safari holiday and other East Africa destinations.

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Queen Elizabeth located in southwestern Uganda It occupies an area of 764 square miles (1,978 square km) in a region of rolling plains east of Lake Edward and foothills south of the Ruwenzori Mountains. The park is located within the Western Rift Valley, and its landscape is dotted with volcanic craters of the Pleistocene Epoch.

 

Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, there are also areas of rainforest and of savanna grassland. The park’s wildlife includes chimpanzees, leopards, lions, elephants, hippopotamuses, water buffaloes, and several types of antelopes and over 600 species of birds.

Best time to visit Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth National Park is open all-year-long, but wildlife viewing is at its best from January to February and June to July (the Dry seasons). However, this scenic park is at its most beautiful in the Wet seasons from March to May and August to December. April, May, August and September are very wet months and during that time, the rain might interfere with your safari.

Weather and climate in Queen Elizabeth

The climate in Queen Elizabeth is warm. Temperatures remain uniform through the year. Daytime temperatures rise to around 29°C/84°F and slowly fall to around 17°C/63°F at night. Queen Elizabeth NP doesn’t have a real Dry season, so there is always potential for rain. Rain happens less during December through January, with June and July having the least rain.

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lays in southwestern Uganda covers an area of 321 square kilometers on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorilla -roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.

 

This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 300 bird species hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Best time to visit Bwindi

Bwindi is open for gorilla trekking all year long, but the best times to go are from June to August and December to February. At these times, the forest trails are drier and therefore less slippery. Also, your chance of a dry gorilla viewing experience is higher during these months. This might result in a better experience and photography will be easier.

Weather and climate in Bwindi

Bwindi has a wet, yet mild, climate. Temperatures remain consistent year-long due to its short distance from the equator. Daytime temperatures of around 23°C/73°F are usual, with a significant drop at night to around 11°C/52°F. Bwindi receives a lot of rain throughout the year. The months of June and July receive the least rain. From March to May and October to November the rainfall is highest. Waterproof clothing and hiking shoes are essential.

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison Falls National Park a natural wonder found in northwest Uganda. The fall is not only one of the most visited spots in Uganda but in the entire African continent. The name Murchison was given by Sir Samuel Baker during his explorations of Uganda during the 19th Century. As the largest park in Uganda, Murchison Falls has almost all of Africa’s major mammals. It is a Lion conservation unit and has one of the largest populations of Roskilde Giraffes in Africa.  The parks consist of vast savannah grasslands and also great forests like Budongo.

 

There’s plenty to keep you busy during your safari to Murchison National Park but the most popular activity by far is a guided safari. Murchison wildlife includes everything from elephants and hippos to chimpanzees and crocodiles. You can also see White Rhinos at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary which was built close to the park.

 

Once you see the powerful waterfall of Murchison, you’ll understand why the entire 1,500 square miles of the park is named after the cascading falls. The water comes from the Victoria Nile River, but it is not like the waterfalls you’re probably used to. The water surges through a narrow gorge in the ground that stretches about 6 meters, pushing onwards before it makes its way down a massive drop.

Best time to visit Murchison Falls

Watching wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park is generally good and at its best during the Dry season, from December to February. However, January and February can be very hot and scenery is more beautiful during the Wet season from June to November.

Weather and climate in Murchison Falls

The climate in Murchison Falls is tropical and hot. Temperatures are quite uniform throughout the year. Daytime temperatures of around 31°C/88°F are common, with it cooling down at night to around 18°C/64°F. The Wet season runs from March to November, with a drier period from June to July. There is little rain during the Dry season (December to February).

MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district and it is the smallest National park of the 3 national parks in the Virunga conservation area the other two parks are Virunga National park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and all form 434-sq.km of this conservation area. . The park was established in 1991 and it is governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with a size of 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Best time to visit Mgahinga

Mgahinga is open for gorilla trekking the whole year, but the best time is during the drier seasons from June to August and December to January. At this time the trails tend to be easier to navigate and spending a precious hour with the gorillas might be more pleasant when it isn’t raining.

Weather and climate in Mgahinga

The climate in Mgahinga is mild to cold and wet. The high altitude (2,227-4,127m or 7,306-13,540ft) makes this one of the coldest destinations in the country. It is on average 20°C/68°F during the day, becoming cold in the evening (9°C/48°F). Mgahinga experiences no real Dry season, so rain is always possible, but there tends to be less rainfall in December to January, while June and July receive the least amount of rain. There are two recognizable Wet seasons: from February to May and from September to November. It is advised to pack decent hiking shoes and waterproof clothing.

KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

There’s a reason Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. It’s been a top tourist destination for a few years now because of its stunning scenery and wildlife. One of its best treasures, however, remains hidden. Off the beaten track, Kidepo National Park is nestled among the rugged hills and valleys of northern Uganda. It’s a place so hidden away its beauty has mostly gone unnoticed until now.

 

Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, but the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazette area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.

 

During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.

Best time to visit Kidepo Valley

The prime time to see wildlife in Kidepo Valley NP is during the Dry season (September to March). Kidepo is however located in a semi-arid region and can be visited throughout the year. The Wet season months (April to August) are pleasantly less hot and bring beautiful scenery. Bird watching is at its best at this time as well.

Weather and climate in Kidepo Valley

The climate in Kidepo Valley NP is semi-arid. Droughts are common. Temperatures can reach as high as 40°C/104°F, but average around 29°C/84°F in the afternoon and 17°C/63°F at night. There is one Wet season (differing from two Wet seasons in most of the country) from April to August.

KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

Kibale’s 795km2 National Park contains one of the most beautiful and with the most varying tracts of tropical forest in the whole of Uganda. This is place to a number of forest wildlife, most especially 13 species of primate coupled with chimpanzees. The Forest covering predominates in the central and northern part of the park on the raised Fort Portal plateau. At the park’s northern tip Kibale is highest and stands 1590m above sea level. Kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites. While many researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others are investigating Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs and fish species, among other topics.

 

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. Kibale is famously known for Chimpanzee tracking. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.

Best time to visit Kibale

Kibale is open for chimpanzee trekking throughout the year. December to February and the months of June and July are the driest months and are therefore the best times for this activity. Walking the trails is easier at this time and the overall experience tends to be more enjoyable.

Weather and climate in Kibale

The climate in Kibale is moist and temperate. Temperatures stay almost the same year-round. Daytime temperatures are about 27°C/81°F, cooling off nightly to about 15°C/59°F. Kibale lacks a real Dry season; rain is possible anytime. However, December through February are typically drier and so are June and July. Two Wet seasons exist: March to May and August through November. It is recommended to bring waterproof clothing.

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

At 370 square km, Lake Mburo National Park is small in comparison with many other East African parks, but with its rich variety of habitats; dries hillsides, rocky outcrops, bushy thickets, open and wooded savannah, forest, lakes and swamps; it is home to a surprising diversity of plants and animals.

 

Lake Mburo is the only park in Uganda with eland, impala and klipspringer. It is also home to the largest population of zebra in Uganda estimated at about 5,000 and probably contains the highest concentration of leopard found anywhere in Uganda. Buffalo, waterbuck, topi and warthog are also very common. Reedbuck and oribi can also be spotted in the open valleys. Hyena, genet, bush pigs and white tailed mongoose are often seen on night game drives.

 

At the centre of the Park is Lake Mburo, which together with 14 other lakes in the area, forms part of a wetland system. This system is linked by a swamp some 50 km long, fed by the Ruizi River on the western side. Five lakes, of which the largest is Lake Mburo, occur within the Park’s boundary.

 

Almost a fifth of the Park’s area consists of wetlands – both seasonally flooded and permanent swamps. The various types of swamps are home to a wide variety of wetland birds, as well as the shy, rare sitatunga antelope. Lake Mburo’s surface and its fringing vegetation are always changing, and it is delightful to take a boat out and experience the lake’s moods and watch the numerous hippos, some crocs and an incredible amount of African fish eagles. The lake is also one of the best places to spot the rarely seen African fin foot and white backed heron amongst many other water birds.

Beat time to visit Lake Mburo

Lake Mburo is open year-round, but the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February are the best time for general wildlife viewing as animals gather around the lake and other water sources. Wildlife viewing is still ok in the Wet seasons from March to May and from September to November and at this time the park lush and scenic.

Weather and climate in Lake Mburo

Lake Mburo experiences a mild climate. Daily temperatures are around 27°C/81°F, with nightly temperatures of 14°C/57°F on average. Rain occurs throughout the year – although June and July get the least amount of rain. December through February also tends to be a period of lesser rainfall. There are two recognizable Wet seasons, from March to May and from September to November.

RWENZORI MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a Ugandan national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rwenzori Mountains. Almost 1,000 km² in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. The park is known for its beautiful plant life. Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.

 

The Rwenzoris are a world class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine to twelve day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita the highest peak though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks. For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.

Best time to visit Rwenzori Mountain

The best period to climb the Rwenzori, It is clear to all that the climatic seasons are changing characteristics in recent years, however it is still advisable to climb the Rwenzori especially during the dry seasons, between December and March, between June and July, between September and October. It is a notable point to remember as you plan to climb the Rwenzori.

Weather and climate in Rwenzori Mountain

Generally temperatures around the 3,000 to 4,000 meters mark are around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius during the day and 2 to 6 Celsius at night. Temperatures in camps 4 and 5 during the day can vary from +1 to +12 Celsius with temperatures dropping to minus 5 to +3 Celsius at night.

MOUNT ELGON

At 4,000km² Mt. Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world. Located on the Uganda-Kenya border it is also the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. Its vast forms 80km in diameter, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna. Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffalos also live on the mountainside.

Best time to visit Mount Elgon

The best time to climb Mount Elgon is during the dry seasons between June-August and December-March. However, it should be noted that climbing Mt. Elgon can be done all year round.

Weather and climate in Mount Elgon

Climbing Mt. Elgon can be done all year round. Mount Elgon has moist to moderately dry climate. It receives 3000mm of rainfall annually. Mt Elgon is a water catchment area. The forest zone receives the maximum rainfall and is important in the mountains role as a water catchment for several million people. April- October is the wettest period.

 

Although the park can be visited any time of the year and mountain climbing can be done pretty much the entire year, it gets extremely cold during the rainy season; snow and hail are common and will put a damper on your volcano climbing experience. Rain gear and warm clothing are necessary regardless of what time of the year you make your trip.

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