Uganda

Uganda might just break your heart with how truly stunning it is—not just the scenery, but the people as well. People who exude a quiet calm and ‘joie de vivre’ roll out the welcome mat for you on your way to the rugged Virunga Mountains and deep verdant jungles in Bwindi for gorilla trekking, the rivers at Murchison Falls to view the Nile, and the prolific Kidepo Valley. There is almost a shyness about Uganda—the nation prefers to keep its treasures safeguarded. For those who dream of a safari full of activity combined with raw uncrowded wilderness, then Uganda is for you.

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What to Expect

Uganda is a delightful surprise. Reaching far beyond the superlative primate viewing, wildlife populations have thrived in the nation and the people have a vibrancy that is refreshing.

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Large herds can be found in Murchison Falls National Park along with the elusive Shoebill. Stroll beneath fig trees in search of wild chimpanzee families at Kibale National Park. Enjoy the serenity and diverse wildlife viewing found at Kidepo Valley National Park. Spot a lion lazing in a tree in the spectacular Queen Elizabeth National Park. And, of course, trek into the clouds to spend some time with the gentle mountain gorillas who call Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks home. Uganda is full of opportunities to get out of your vehicle and into the wilds or the local communities.  We are standing by to help you make sense of it all!

Don't Miss Out

The Essence of Uganda — Travel with a research scientist through Queen Elizabeth National Park to track collared endangered lions.

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For a few hours, become part of the research team, using telemetry to track the animals, observe their behavior and record your data as part of the study for the Uganda Carnivore Project.  It’s tremendously gratifying to join the effort to protect a species. You will have new respect for the researchers who work tirelessly to make a meaningful contribution to the world on behalf of the lions.

Let’s talk primates— It is one of the most humbling and thrilling experiences in the world to look a mountain gorilla in the eye. You may wonder who is observing whom.  You may also marvel at the tender relationships between the gorilla families that are not unlike our own. The trekking to find them is usually arduous but entirely worth it once you glimpse those magnificent creatures.  For less effort but equal reward, search the forests of Kibale for chimpanzees. Don’t forget—at least ten other primate species are found within Uganda’s borders, including Blue monkeys, baboons, De Brazza’s monkeys, Grey-cheeked mangabeys and Black and White Colobus monkeys.

The Culture of Connecting—We always say that you learn about the culture of Uganda ‘by osmosis’; just rolling along on the roads and watching the world go by. Women in vibrant traditional dress sell street food and balance water jugs on their heads; motorbikes piled with produce, or chickens, or too many passengers speed by; and a traffic jam might just be caused by Ankole cattle and their enormous horns. It seems like there is constant motion throughout the country. Dive deeper into the traditions of different tribes on authentic relaxed exchanges with locals over a meal or a song.

Water, water, everywhere – One of the most eye-opening experiences is climbing to the top of Murchison Falls. Here you see just how much volume of water is forced through the rocks to then reside in a languid pool at the bottom of the falls before lazily meandering North as the Nile River. Cruising the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park is relaxing and will reveal the diversity of wildlife found in the park. Quietly gliding up close to a crocodile or a hippo is just thrilling.

Hidden gem— Kidepo Valley National Park is an enormous park dominated by mountains and valleys with stretches of semi-arid plains tucked between them. It might just be the prettiest park on the continent full of true wilderness and plentiful wildlife. Enjoy wonderful game viewing of massive herds of buffalo, Ugandan Kob and elephants as they wander the savannas, while predators like cheetah and lion intently follow them across the expanse. The marvel of this park is true wilderness feel complemented by pure isolation. You will feel like you are the only intrepid explorer out there!

Need to know

Flights are easily arranged into Entebbe, from European gateways like Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, and Zurich or via Nairobi, Dubai, Doha or Addis Ababa.

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  • Uganda is a wonderful destination on its own and travelers with this mindset should spend 9-14 days here. If you are only interested in gorilla trekking four days is usually enough following a longer safari in Kenya or Tanzania.
  • Both first-time safari goers and veterans will find primate viewing outstanding; other wildlife viewing throughout the country is sparse but rewarding.
  • Visas are required for most visitors, but inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you see a travel medicine specialist for advice.
  • Overland safaris are very common throughout Uganda and road conditions are improving as we speak. Fly-in safaris are possible as well, but routes are limited and typically require at least four passengers to operate the flight, thus making flights costly.
  • English is an official language of Uganda and you will find communication quite easy.
  • Guiding in Uganda is excellent. Your specialist guides in Kibale and Bwindi are well-versed on all things primate.
  • Gorilla trekking permits are currently $600 per trek, which can last from 2-8 hours. Chimpanzee trekking permits are currently $150 per trek and are typically booked for up to 4 hours. Permit fees can change at any time and must be secured in advance.
  • Uganda is not known for its cuisine, but you will find hearty and delicious international and local cuisine sourced locally.

When to go

Uganda enjoys comfortable temperatures the year around, although humidity is considerably higher than in Kenya or Tanzania.

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Daytime temperatures range from the high 70’s to the mid-80’s with nighttime and early morning temperatures about the low-60’s. Most of Uganda is at an altitude of 3,800 feet (1,158 meters) or higher above sea level. Unseasonable weather can occur during any season, especially in Bwindi, and you should pack with a degree of flexibility in mind. 

June – October: This is the long dry season when wildlife viewing is at its best. Wildlife congregate around water sources and grass is short. Guests can expect cool mornings and evenings. This is peak travel season for visitors and gorilla trekking.

December – March: The short dry season and a good time to travel with the warmest temperatures being February.

November, April – May: These are the two rainy seasons, when landscapes are lush and skies dramatic. Wildlife is a bit more dispersed but still plentiful. Expect showers in the morning with clearing in the afternoon before clouds roll in again for heavier rains in the evening.

Accommodation

Uganda is not as ‘polished’ as some other safari destinations, but there some stand-out properties that have incredible style and service.

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Here, experience is more important than fancy details and amenities and your stay will be full of Ugandan hospitality. Most of the accommodation throughout the nation would be considered solid 4* experiences. Vibrant African colors, natural materials and responsive friendly staff are usually the norm at the independent boutique properties and wilderness lodges we prefer to support. Every property booked on a Rothschild Safari is vetted by staff and offer the highest standards in each category.

What our travelers say

Amy Lundberg

Wow, wow, wow!! We are back in LA now, recovering from jet lag and still in shock and awe regarding our experience. From the moment we landed in South Africa to the moment we touched down in LA, our experience was seamless and amazing. 

Betsy Robertson

We were thrilled with the trip. It was as good as or better than described at every turn. The prep, attention to detail, willingness to make changes and ensure we were ready and prepared was outstanding. Our Travel Designer was awesome! 

Dawn Jacobs

Choosing a safari expert is never easy given the choice and lists upon lists of "top suppliers"....but we made the BEST choice for us....why....because above all, Rothschild listened ....really listened to what we wanted to experience.

George Kowalski

It was a well organized trip. It was easy to get around since we were guided through all of our itinerary. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful. This is an excellent way to travel. Rothschild Safari did very well and brought a fantastic African experience to us.

Jackie Smith

My trip was beyond AMAZING! I truly enjoyed every moment. The itinerary allowed me to experience a variety of different activities all of which I enjoyed! When I originally thought of going to Africa I was just thinking of safaris. This trip opened my eyes (and my family/friend's) to so much more Africa has to offer.

Jamie Scarlett

Trip was PERFECT!! Every single detail was planned out and the accommodations and people were wonderful. This trip exceeded all of our wildest expectations. Every place we stayed was just lovely and each each camp had a different vibe, which was really neat. Everyone we worked with was outstanding. 

Joe Moravec

On behalf of the Moravec’s and the Stone’s……thank you for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Every detail was accounted for and all the recommendations were perfect. It honestly could not have gone any better.

Kim Mather

Meggan Woody and Kim Killick were extraordinary at crafting THE PERFECT safari for our family of 8. They both listened (actually 'read' my email) to EXACTLY what we wanted, within the budget that we needed, and miraculously pulled off miracles in obtaining the properties that we wanted! 

Lisa Anderson

Every aspect of my trip went according to plan and the plan Rothschild's help me to orchestrate was magnificent! I loved every lodge that I was blessed to be in! They were all very different yet all high end and very accommodating.

Mary & Rob Johannigman (and family)

It was the most exciting, scenic, inspiring trip we've ever taken. To say it was a trip of a lifetime doesn't begin to capture our experience. Pam Langhoff and the Rothschild team did an outstanding job of helping us plan this trip.