Top safari holidays in western Uganda – Encompassing the vast majority of the country’s National Parks and reserves, Western Uganda dazzles with its blockbuster wildlife, excellent bird watching and astonishing landscapes and natural attractions, making it the most popular region with travellers.
In the southwest corner of the region, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to the majority of Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas, so it is usually at the top of any safari itinerary. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, at Uganda’s most south westerly corner on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to just one habituated Gorilla family.
Further to the north of the region, Queen Elizabeth National Park, with its open savannah and huge variety of animal and bird species, is the most popular safari destination; it offers East Africa’s most impressive and spectacular wildlife in beautiful landscapes.
Chimpanzee trekking is another top activity in Western Uganda. Kibale Forest National Park and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park are two of the places to go in search of our closest living relatives.
Close the capital of Kampala, Lake Mburo National Park is the easiest wilderness area to access in Western Uganda, and while it can’t compete with other parks for scenery and wildlife diversity, it’s worth a visit for its special species not seen elsewhere.
Gorilla tracking in the mountainous tropical rain forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is without a doubt, one of Africa’s best wildlife experiences. It is a thrilling adventure to hike through the lush, hilly forest to find your assigned Gorilla family, but coming face-to-face with these majestic apes is a moment you’ll never forget.
There are two options for Gorilla tracking of either spend an hour with a habituated Gorilla family, or pay more to spend four hours with a family that is in the process of being habituated. Aside from Gorillas, Bwindi’s other animal life (l’Hoest monkeys, forest duikers, olive baboons, bushbuck and black-and-white colobus monkeys) and 350 bird species can be spotted on guided walks through the forest.
Lake Bunyonyi is a popular spot for people to base themselves in for a few days to go Gorilla tracking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and then relax at the beautiful lake, which is surrounded by green terraced hills and small villages. There’s plenty to fill a few days here, from bird watching and hiking to canoeing, swimming and mountain biking as well as community interaction.
The snow-dusted, jagged Rwenzori Mountains – the “Mountains of the Moon” – Africa’s highest mountain range, soar up to 5109 metres high along Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountains are protected by Rwenzori National Park, and provide thrilling landscapes for adventurous hikes and mountaineering trips.
Treks can be anything from one day to a multi-day mountaineering expedition to the top of Mount Stanley, Africa’s third highest peak, and along the way you’ll be treated to scenery of cloud forests, tropical rainforest, bamboo glades, dramatic valleys and glacier lakes.
In a remote part of the region on the western side of the Rwenzori Mountains and lying alongside the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Semliki National Park sees few tourists due to its isolated location and undeveloped infrastructure, but those who do make it out to the park are rewarded with one of the best forest birding hotspots in Africa.
The park protects one of Africa’s oldest forests, and with it, a remarkable number of bird species – more than 400 – as well as 300 butterfly species. Highlights include Central African bird species such as black-Wattled hornbill and Congo serpent eagle that aren’t found in any other place in East Africa.
Western Uganda is best visited during the drier months of June to August and December to February, when it is easiest to go Gorilla tracking in hilly Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the wildlife viewing in the savannah parks is at its prime.
Travelling during the rainy low season months of March to May and September to November does have its budget-friendly benefits though you will get cheaper room rates at hotels and lodges, but be prepared for muddy roads, torrential downpours, challenging hiking and low visibility for wildlife.
If you want to go Gorilla tracking, you need to book your permit several months in advance through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or through Great Adventure Safaris, as there is a limited number of permits that sold every day and during the most popular months for trekking (June to August) the permits can sell out five months in advance. For Chimpanzee habituation experiences it is best to book around three months in advance.