The top reason to visit the ‘Pearl of Africa’, Uganda, is for its extraordinary wildlife adventures. Bwindi National Park offers travellers the incredible opportunity to see the almost-extinct silverback gorillas in their natural habitat. Beyond gorillas, Uganda is a perfect place to experience a jungle boat safari, visit a chimpanzee reserve, or see rare tree-climbing lions.
Bwindi National Park: Uganda has worked diligently for years to protect the silverback gorillas, an endangered species, and offers a limited number of permits for travellers to see these extraordinary creatures in their natural habitat. To enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing silverbacks in the wild, you’ll join a group that includes rangers and trackers. Every hike into the mountains to see the gorillas is different, depending on where the family of gorillas you track is located that day – some hikes are challenging.
Tree climbing lions of Ishaha: It’s hard to imagine, but in the southern part of Uganda it is a rare treat to spot tree-climbing lions lazing about in fig trees. It is believed these tree-climbers can only be found in two places in Africa, and the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is one of them (the other is Tanzania).
Kibale: Another must-see is the tropical forests of Kibale, home to humankind’s closest relative, the chimpanzee. Hiking, you can expect to find the chimpanzees and other primates, such as the black and white colobus or red-tailed monkey.
Jungle boat safari: In Queen Elizabeth National Park, jungle boats will give you an opportunity to see pods of hippos loafing about in the water as you sail along the shores where you’re likely to catch a glimpse of some of Africa’s most recognizable animals, such as elephants or warthogs
Raft the Nile: The world’s largest river, the Nile, runs through Uganda and thrill-seekers have the chance to get right in the water on a raft, or slow things down and take in the Nile on a river boat cruise at sunset.
Chimps: If you miss the chimpanzees in Kibale, it’s also possible to see them closer to Kampala, Uganda’s largest city, at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Orphaned rescue chimps are being rehabilitated in this reserve.
The best time to trek gorillas is the dry season from January – February, and June-September.
Be mindful that regardless of how long you trek to finally reach the gorillas, travellers are only permitted one hour of viewing time to watch them. That time will be diligently enforced by rangers and is for the safety and well-being of these near-extinct animals.