Uganda is home to an incredible variety of national parks, sanctuaries, and reserves, a remarkable diversity of wildlife, and is deemed a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird watching destinations. Undoubtedly making it one of Africa’s top safari and travel destinations amongst avid wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts, ardent adventurers, globe trotters, and eager travelers.
Boasting a vast and diverse array of landscapes, including fertile and thriving wetlands, swamps, sparkling lakes, tropical forests, open grasslands, volcanic craters, woodlands, sprawling savannahs, rolling green hills, misty valleys and craggy mountains, its nothing quite like anything you’ve seen before.
Where lions stalk their prey through grasslands, hippos soak lazily in the shallows, mountain gorillas move purposefully though tangled forests, and calm waters of Lake Victoria transform into the thundering rapids of the River Nile as it makes its way across Africa – Uganda is a country and wildlife safari destination unlike any other.
Less well-known, less-well travelled, but no less enchanting than its East African neighbors, Uganda is a country full of surprises and unbelievable highlights – All just waiting to be explored and discovered!
Here are some of the top things to do in Uganda you should absolutely add to your bucket-list.
#Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to nearly half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas – the highest population in the world – undeniably making going gorilla trekking in this highly esteemed East African national park a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience.
To make this experience even more thrilling, the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi is one of only three places in the world where travelers can see these remarkable and critically endangered primates in the wild.
Despite the fact that witnessing these magnificent mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is incredibly rare, considering their limited numbers, going gorilla trekking in Bwindi is regraded as one of the most sought-atter experiences and top tourist attraction in Uganda.
There is absolutely no exaggeration in gorilla trekking as life-altering as the one you’ll experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In fact, it is regarded as one of Africa’s (although some may go as far as to say the world’s) most powerful wildlife experiences and sought-after safari adventures.
#See Tree-Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Declared the best national park in Uganda, largely due to its incredible wildlife diversity, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to approximately 95 species of mammals, 20 predators, a large population of chimpanzees, and a whopping 611 species of birds.
In addition to being crowned the best national park in Uganda, undoubtedly making it one of Uganda’s top tourist attractions and one of the most visited National Parks in the country, it is also the second largest and most biodiverse national park in Uganda.
Renowned for its abundant and amazing safari and wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park’s standout wildlife highlight is undeniably its extraordinary tree-climbing lions.
The interesting, yet wonderful, thing about this breathtaking wildlife attraction and not-to-be-missed sighting is that Queen Elizabeth National Park’s famous tree-climbing lions are not some sort of unique, magical, and mysterious subspecies of lion – Although, we must admit, it would be pretty cool and remarkable if that was the case. The truth is, all lions are able to climb trees, but what sets the iconic Queen Elizabeth National Park apart from all the rest is that it just so happens to have an abundance of very climbable trees, paired with prides of lions who aren’t slow to take advantage of the glorious opportunity to go wild and climb trees to their heart’s desire.
It is said that besides Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, there is only one other place in Africa where you can witness these pristine tree-climbing lions. This not only makes it a rare and truly remarkable sight, but one of the very top things to do in Uganda.
**Extra Tip: To see the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park, simply drive to the Ishasha sector of the park. Ask every car you pass if they’ve seen a lion, and keep your eyes peeled!
**Extra Bonus: Besides the already extraordinary opportunity to see the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park in their natural habitat, one of the best things / additional perks about lions in trees is that they are much easier to spot and photograph. Hidden in tall, dry grasses at ground level, a lion is virtually invisible (we’re all familiar with the endless search of a lion pride, or even a single lion, lounging or hiding in what seems to be a never-ending stretch of tall dry grass, only to be left disappointed), but up in a tree, these powerful roaring mammals of the African Big 5 are on full display for all to see.
#Go on a Kazinga Channel Boat Trip
While you’re in Queen Elizabeth National Park it would be a major mistake and missed opportunity not to do a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. The Kazinga Channel is a 20-mile-long shallow river that flows between Lake George and Lake Edward, and is known to attract various incredible wildlife and birdlife species. Animals of all shapes and sizes come down to the water’s edge to drink and bathe. On any given day you’re guaranteed to see everything from chimpanzees, hippos (*Queen Elizabeth National Park is recognized for having the largest concentration of hippos in the world), and buffalos, to large prides of lions, and massive herds of elephants.
One of the greatest pleasures of wildlife spotting by boat is that the animals seem entirely unbothered by its presence, meaning that you are able to get much closer than you might be able to by car. This guarantees some of the most spectacular up-close wildlife sightings and encounters.
On a sunny day a lazy boat journey down any river is a wonderful thing, but when you add Queen Elizabeth National Park’s remarkable, and vastly diverse wildlife to the mix going on a Kazinga Channel boat trip is without a doubt one of the top things to do in Uganda – Not to mention absolutely thrilling and bucket-list worthy.
#Track & See Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park
Kibale Forest National Park, in southern Uganda, forms a massive wildlife corridor with Queen Elizabeth National Park. Boasting a mixture of tropical rainforest, swamp, and grasslands, Kibale Forest National Park, together with Queen Elizabeth National Park, supports Africa’s largest population of chimpanzees along with at least a dozen other primate species, including colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and de Brazza monkeys. This makes it a top destination for those wanting to trek primates, including gorillas.
In addition to Kibale Forest National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, several of Uganda’s parks and forests have habituated chimpanzee families over the years.
Embarking on a chimpanzee tracking experience can either be a half or full day adventure. This thrilling experience involves hiking through the forest to find a group / family of chimpanzees, before spending time observing them in the wild. If you’re lucky enough to get close to them, it will undoubtedly be an experience you’ll never forget. Trekking chimpanzees in Uganda’s wild forests is definitely one of the top things to do in Uganda.
#Explore Murchison Falls National Park
Covering a massive 4000 square kilometres / approximately 1,500 square miles, the famed Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the northwestern part of the country (sitting on the shores of Lake Albert), Murchison Falls National Park includes the famed Rabonga Forest, as well as the Nile River.
By far one of Murchison Falls National Park’s top and highly sought-after attractions (other than its exceptionally diverse and abundant wildlife and birdlife), is what is regarded as the most powerful waterfall in the world – The Murchison Falls.
The acclaimed Murchison Falls is where the River Nile (the world’s longest river), squeezes its entire force through a tiny 6-metre crack and plunges over a 43-metre drop at 300 cubic metres per second. Irrespective of the thundering noise / sound, it is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive, commanding, and awe-inspiring sights to behold.
As a surprise to absolutely nobody, it goes without saying that seeing this breathtaking natural wonder unfold before your eyes puts it right up there with the top things to do in Uganda of all time.
**Extra Tip: There are essentially two ways to see Murchison Falls – and we highly recommend you do both of course:
- Firstly, take an exciting boat trip along the Nile in order to see the bottom of the Murchison Falls. This gives you the opportunity to see the Falls front on and from an entirely different perspective / point of view.
- Secondly, depending on your fitness level and/or preference, you can choose to either hike up to the top, or alternatively take the boat back and drive to the top of the Murchison Falls to see the churning, tumbling water up close | **There is NO denying that the most magnificent and dramatic view of the Murchison Falls in full force is at the very top of the falls, where the sight and sounds of the Nile crashing through a tiny 6-metre-wide chasm makes for an unforgettable assault on your neural senses – It is an unforgettable experience unlike any other.
Bisected by the Victoria Nile, Murchison Falls National Park offers travelers and avid adventurers both land and water safaris. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy a boat cruise / water safari along the Nile and get up close to bathing elephants, water buffalo and massive hippos. As well as embark on a thrilling game drive through the vast savannah showcasing the very best of this country’s wildlife.
You will spot several hippos, ample chimpanzees, and plenty of crocodiles on your visit to this stunning natural wonderland. It is especially known for its large herds of elephant, giraffe, and buffalo, as well as for lucky sightings of the rare ground-dwelling patas monkey.
If you deem yourself to be an avid birder, Murchison Falls National Park is the best place to try and track down the rare shoebill stork. The shoebill stork is not only the crowning glory of Uganda’s birding scene, but an extremely rare and highly sought-after sight for the true birder.