While at Kazinga channel within Queen Elizabeth National Park. Students from different schools within Uganda learnt, saw and were informed about the beauty of Uganda and how important she is in her Economical and Social development. student were encouraged to promote Ugandan beauty at there best.
Weekend trips in Uganda especially Kampala are enjoyable, they make you feel free from the noisy and toxic city and daily routine. you need to escape the hustle and bustle of Kampala for a short while? Or your visiting aunt is getting on your nerves and you would like to send her on a short trip out of Kampala? The following destinations are within easy reach of the city and make a good weekend getaway.
Jinja, being the “adventure capital of Uganda’’, has much to offer and is by far one of the most visited destinations for short weekend trips in Uganda: world-class grade-5 rafting, mountain biking, fishing, Nile River sunset cruises and much more. Hire a car for a weekend to escape the hustle and bustle of Kampala and enjoy the outdoors.
The area around Jinja has many nice places to stay. Recommended places to stay are listed on our accommodation page.
The biggest draw here is rafting, organised by three very professional companies, namely Nalubale Rafting, Nile River Explorers and Adrift. These three companies also cater for a plethora of other activities like bungee jumping, fishing, mountain biking, and sunset boat cruises on the Nile. Horseriding trips are organised by Nile Horseback Safaris. Also, Jinja Town is nice to wander around for an afternoon. The town has some nice coffee places (Flavours, Source Café), restaurants (2 Friends, Mezzanine), many souvenir shops and surprisingly good nightlife (Sombrero’s, Adrift at Nile High Camp, Nile River Explorers bar at NRE campsite).
Ssese is an archipelago of eighty-four tiny islands in the Northwestern part of Lake Victoria.
Many islands are uninhabited and covered with pristine rainforest, and all are hardly visited by tourists. Bugala Island is the largest of the Kalangala district and offers a variety of accommodation options, like the friendly serviced and well decorated Brovad Sands Lodge. You can take your car with you on the ferry. Ferries depart from Entebbe, Kasenyi (close to Entebbe), or Bukakata (close to Masaka / Lake Nabugabo). Unlike the many tiny islands, Banda Island and Bulago Island both have accommodation. Banda Island is a relaxing getaway for the easy going and relaxed budget traveller and Bulago Island’s Pineapple Bay Resort for the luxurious island explorer.
Entebbe is a charming town with a tropical vibe, and well worth spending the weekend.
Swimming at Lake Victoria Hotel, rent a little Laser sailboat at the Entebbe Sailing Club, visit the Zoo and the Botanical gardens, go to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or Mabamba Swamp.
Recommended places to stay: Entebbe Airport Guesthouse, the Boma Hotel, and 2 Friends Entebbe. Enjoy good food at the Boma Hotel, or eat fresh fish and great pizza at Gorreti’s with your feet in the white sands viewing Lake Vic… Nice!
One of Uganda’s smaller parks, Lake Mburo is the closest national park to Kampala and very ideal destination for weekend trips in Uganda. It is covered with extensive acacia woodlands and a big lake. It is one of the best places in the country to see the gigantic eland antelope and zebras.
Things to do: walking safari, game drive, boat ride and horseback riding amongst the wildlife offered by Mihingo Lodge. The latter are former racehorses from Kenya, so galloping is a true thrill.
Lake Nabugabo is some 150 km west of Lake Mburo, 20 km from Masaka.
Allow some three hours to make the trip from Kampala. This lake is a hidden jewel with fine sandy beaches and the bilharzia-free water makes this a great place for relaxing. It is always windy and so a paradise for kite surfers (bring your own gear). We love to camp at Church of Uganda Resort, a very spacious camp ground with a sandy beach, good amenities and bungalows available for more than reasonable prices. They serve meals, but bring your own alcohol.
Mpanga forest reserve
En route to Masaka, less than an hour’s drive from Kampala, lies Mpanga Forest Reserve near the small town of Mpigi.
There are a number of board swamp walks and forest walks starting from the ecotourism centre, which are great for bird watching. The forest ecotourism site has basic bandas and a camp site.
Mabira forest reserve
En route to Jinja, some 1.5 hour drive from Kampala. Mabira Forest inhabits the largest stand of indigenous forest in Central Uganda.
There are cycling and hiking trails (poorly signposted) ranging between 45 minutes to 4 hours to complete, all starting from the Eco-Tourism Centre. We did mountain biking on our own, which we do not recommend as it is easy to get lost in the dense forest. Consider taking a local guide from the Eco-Tourism Centre.
On a quest for the Shoebill
The Shoebill is a large prehistoric-looking bird related to the stork family. It is a very rare, unusual looking bird and fascinating to watch.
Mabamba swamp, located about 1 hour’s drive west from Entebbe, is possibly the most reliable place in the country for shoebill sightings. You can see the shoebill with a one day car rental. The villagers offer trips into the swamp in a traditional dugout canoe for shoebill spotting. Coming from Kampala driving towards Entebbe, turn right just after Kisubi town (12 km from Entebbe) and follow a dirt road which leads to Kasanje town. The swamp is not easy to find, so contact Hannington (number below) and use your Google Maps to navigate.
You have already paid for your gorilla trek safari, gorilla permits, transport and accommodation. The next very important thing is what to pack for a gorilla safari to make sure that you have have the right gorilla trekking gear for your gorilla safari. Gorilla trekking clothes are the same for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park as well as Volcanoes National Park So, the next question to be answered is what to pack for a gorilla safari. What we have advised below is for gorilla trekking but if your gorilla tour combined with wildlife safaris you might need more. Please contact Klek Uganda Tours for more details.
Cameras and extra batteries
Photography is an important component of your safari and thus make sure that you have your camera ready, charge your batteries very well and if necessary, carry extra batteries as you will need to take as many photographs in the one hour you will have with the gorillas. Please make sure that you switch off your flash while taking gorilla photographs.
Hat and Sun Glasses
If it is hot, please carry a hat to protect you from the strong sun rays. You may also need to carry some sun glasses too. These are extra optionals.
Long Sleeved Shirts/Blouse/
You are required to have long sleeved trousers/shirts/blouse for your gorilla trekking. Please ensure that you tack in your trousers in your hiking boots to avoid insects such as safari ants entering your trousers. Jeans and Kachi trousers can do this better.
Pair of Binoculars
Don’t forget that you are on safari and you want to have clear views of everything. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to over 350 birds, chimpanzees, black and white colubus monkeys among other primates, forest elephants and buffaloes so during your trek in search for the rare mountain gorillas, you will have a chance to spot some of the above.
Energy Giving snacks
Gorilla trekking can take from 30 minutes to eight or so hours and that’s why a certain level of fitness is required. To add on that, we advise that you carry some energy giving snacks as supplements. Before departing from your lodge, you need to carry your packed lunch and lots of drinking water as you never know when you will return. Energy giving foods can be bought in Uganda or Rwanda so contact or ask your guide to take you to a nearby super market.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located near Nakitoma Village, Nakasongola District, in the Kafu River Basin, of the Kampala-Gulu Highway and it is about 180km by road north of Kampala. In addition to on foot rhino trekking, tourist activities include birding, canoe rides, and nature walks. The sanctuary offers a secure place where rhino populations can be expanded by breeding, protected from human and non-human predators and gradually re-introduced into Uganda’s national parks, while at the same time, allowing the public to enjoy these majestic animals, as the project moves forward. The sanctuary is home to at least 40 mammal and reptilian species including monkeys, antelopes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles and numerous bird species. Beside foot rhino trekking, tourist activities include birding, canoe rides and nature walks. Objectives and functions of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
- To promote the reintroduction of rhinoceros to protected areas within Uganda;
- To promote breeding programs to ensure the long term viability of reintroduced rhinoceros populations in Uganda;
- To establish programs in conjunction with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), district governments and local communities to ensure the protection of the rhinoceros populations from poaching;
- To conduct education programs about the endangered rhinoceros;
- To build national support for the protection of rhinoceros populations in Uganda;
- To conduct fund raising campaigns and generate funds in support of translocation, protection, and management of the reintroduced rhinoceros populations.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Rates >>
Birding at Ziwa Sanctuary:
Birding can be done by boat or you can take some guided walks that are from half-day to full-day in length since beside being a Rhino Sanctuary, it is also home to 350 bird species and these include: as the White Crested Turaco, the Giant Kingfisher, and the Speckled breasted Woodpecker and the rare shoebill inclusive.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Nature Walks:
Beside the Rhino tracking at the sanctuary, the nature walks with Klek Uganda Tours will also give you an opportunity to encounter other animals such as: bushbuck, grey duiker, oribi, waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, mongoose, ground squirrels, vervet monkeys, black and white Colobus, and various reptiles such as large monitor lizards, butterflies and interesting insects. This will also be a great chance for the bird watchers to sight different bird species.
Tips for driving in Uganda National Parks help you navigate the parks without finding any difficulties. Uganda is one of the best countries to rent a car and explore its nature, culture and its untouched beauty. At the beginning of May 2015 we took our visiting friends on a self drive safari to Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. We reassured ourselves that self drive safaris are the most awesome adventures to do! Driving on your own through the parks gives a great sense of adventure and excitement. Below are my tips and tricks to keep it safe and make your time in Uganda unforgettable.
Tip 1: Go for bush camping in Uganda
In my opinion, bush camping is the true safari experience. You won’t be able to get more immersed into the wild than going on a bush camp within in the National Parks. In most parks, there are two options: either use the facilities of designated UWA campsites (of varying quality / cleanliness), or find your own spot in the wilderness with the guidance of an UWA ranger.
The UWA, Ugandan Wildlife Authority, is the governmental arm that protects and manages the flora and fauna in the National Parks.
Bush camping in the complete wilderness is possible with the guidance of an UWA ranger. You can arrange this at the entrance or headquarters in the parks. You need to bring your own food and water. It is polite, even expected, that the ranger can join you for the meal. The UWA ranger will help you to find a great spot to pitch your tent, make a fire, and will safeguard your tent at night. Rest assured, no toilets, shower or other guests. It’s you, a campfire and jungle. Steve Irwin, eat your heart out…
During our friends’ visit we went bushcamping in Lake Mburo. Upon arrival, the hippos in the lake welcomed us with their mouths wide open, and as soon as the sun set, we could hear a cacophony of strange noises from the surrounding bushes (we were quite sure it was a leopard). After dinner, we took a good nightcap to ensure some sleep, but still we could hear the hippos standing besides the tent flapping their faeces around. Exhilarating!
Tip 2: The early bird catches the worm
If you thought that going on a safari was a good opportunity to catch some sleep, think again! Safaris are very relaxing, but ideally they require an early morning lifestyle. You will increase your chances of spotting hyenas, lions, leopards and other wildlife in any national park in Uganda if you are among the first at the gate (the parks open at 7AM). Most lodges are used to the early morning habits of their guests and serve breakfast from 5:30 AM onwards. On our safari with our friends we were lucky enough to spot five hyenas in Queen Elizabeth National park before hitting 8:00 AM.
Tip 3: Drive Mpola Mpola
‘You have no idea that you have been rushing all your life until you arrive in Uganda’… – Myself
Coming from crazy rushy London, it took some time for me to adjust to the tropical pace of life. We bazungu (foreigners) are used to rushing from one place to the next, but really during a game drive in the park, you see most if you are driving not faster than 15km/h. You hardly have to hit the gas pedal at all in my opinion. What’s the rush? And besides, when you go slowly, you have the chance to distinguish whether that brown heap in the grass is an ant hill or a lion.
Tip 4: Get yourself a Ranger Guide
Yes, just the two of you in a Landcruiser on the wide savannah plains is pretty amazing and I can surely recommend you go into the park by yourself. However, it’s advisable to also take an UWA guide with you on one of your game drives. These rangers know every corner of the parks and can lead you to the best places to spot predators such as lions. You can book an UWA ranger/guide at the entrance gate of the park, and they will accompany you in your car and guide you through the plains and bushes. They are worth every penny of the $20 fee you pay for this service.
Uganda named among world’s 19 must-visit destinations, Uganda’s dense forests are home to over half the world’s 1,000 or so mountain gorillas, according to Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA).
The rest of these International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endangered subspecies live in the neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It’s for this reason that National Geographic Traveller has listed Uganda named among world’s 19 must-visit destinations in 2019.
“If you’re longing to see mountain gorillas in the wild, but Rwanda’s ultra-luxe lodges and high permit fees don’t suit your budget, head for Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest instead,” writes the US-based magazine.
The steady growth of Uganda’s gorilla population is one of Africa’s great conservation success stories, with tourists playing an important role.
Almost 20 families can now be visited by guided groups of up to eight. Trekking fees raise funds not only for gorillas and their habitat, but also for Uganda’s other national assets including Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks – home to chimps, giraffes and hippos.
Other indulgencies you can’t miss include exploring Bwindi’s birdwatching trails, cycle routes and craft scene after your gorilla trek.
When Rwanda doubled the price of its gorilla trek permits from $750 to $1,500 (£572 to £1,144) in 2017, Uganda responded by freezing its own rates at $600 (£458) until mid-2019.
What you need to know about gorillas
Gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback – a mature male – who selects places for the group to eat and sleep, and has many privileges, including the right to feed first. This privilege pays off for the rest of the family, as if the group is threatened, the silverback – weighing up to 120kg (260lbs) – will defend them to the death, if necessary.
Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.
The name gorilla comes from the Greek gorillai – meaning hairy women.
Where to find them in Uganda
Uganda has two main places where these Mountain Gorillas may be seen, one is Mgahinga Gorilla Park; a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Below is the full list of the world’s 19 must-visit destinations in 2019 National Geographic
6. San Miguel de Allende
7. West Yorkshire
8. Hong Kong
Isolated from the Ugandan mainstream by the harsh plains to the north of Mount Elgon, Kidepo the true definition of the wild is Uganda’s most remote Park covering an area of (1440 km2). This national park is one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas, a tract of rugged savannah dominated by Mount Morungole (2750 m) and transected by the Kidepo and Narus rivers. Perennial running water in the Narus River makes Kidepo the true definition of the wild an oasis in the semi desert. The mountainous terrain is divided in the Narus Valley in the southwest and the Kidepo Valley in the northeast. You will find wooded savannah areas, forests, large fields of borassus palms and rocky kopjes. This Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, with a distance of about 700km from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, home to 86 mammal species with 28 found nowhere else in the country. Birders can enjoy its 463 recorded species of birds with 60 species being endemic to the park. Predators include lions, cheetah, jackals, leopards, spotted hyena, smaller cats and mongoose.
Here are some interesting facts about Kidepo National Park
- The park’s altitude ranges between 914m and 2,750m above sea level.
- The park contains two rivers – Kidepo and Narus – which disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife.
- The local communities around the park include pastoral Karamojong people, similar to the Maasai of Kenya, and the IK, a hunter-gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened.
- In 2018 the Park was listed among 8 of the best safari destination to visit in Africa by CNN, Here is what CNN’s Mark Eveleigh wrote “the park’s sweeping plains and Narus Valleys overshadowed by the brooding mountain scape of Mount Murongole (the scared peak of the mysterious IK people) has a huge appeal just for the Scenery alone. It might be the most beautiful park in all of Africa”
- Some of the animal species found in this park include Herds of Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, 5 kinds of primates, bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog, eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribis.
- Kidepo borders Uganda’s nomadic agro-pastoralists “the Karamojong” known for their love of cattle and their resistance to the trappings of modern civilization. They consist out of numerous tribes and clans that once migrated from modern day Ethiopia including the Maasai, Turkana and Nyangatom living on the Omo Valley of Ethiopia.
- There three other unknown Game Reserves next to Kidepo in the Karamoja region, Pian Upe, Bokora and Matheniko Game Reserves, Pian Upe Game Reserve covers the area from Mt. Kadam in the south to Mt. Napak to the north. Together with the game reserve of Bokora and Matheniko these plains create a larger ecosystem of savanna and mountains. Kidepo Valley Park is the Hidden Gem and a Top Destination in Africa.