Semuliki National Park, Uganda wildlife safaris in Semuliki Park
Semuliki National Park, Uganda Wildlife safari tours in Semuliki National Park, wildlife safari game & nature walks, birding, Batwa/ Pygyms adventure, when to visit, how to get there & where to sleep in Semuliki Park Uganda. Semuliki National Park is located in Uganda which is found in the East African region on the African continent on the geographical co-ordinates of 00o40’39”N 30o03’40”E. Semuliki National Park lies 360km or 5-hour drive from Kampala city the capital of Uganda in Bwamba county in the south western district of Bundibugyo. Semuliki National park is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, ntoroko district in the north, semuliki wildlife reserve in the north east, mt Rwenzori in the south and Kabarole district in the east. Semuliki National Park covers an area that is found in the Albertine rift valley basin lying between relatively flat surfaces and gentle slopes with its highest point being 760m or 2,490ft above sea level and its lowest point being 670m or 2,200ft above sea level.
The park comprises of tropical rain-forests making an extension of the great Ituri Congo basin forests on their eastern side and this makes it East Africa’s only truly tropical low land forests. The tropical rain forests of Semuliki are believed to be one of the oldest forests in East Africa as they are carbon dated to have existed as way back as the Pleistocene age or ice age which dates back 25,000 years. These forests experience an equatorial tropical climate with an average temperature range of 18-200C, minimum temperature range is 17-20OC and maximum temperature range is 26-30oC. The annual rainfall amount received in this forest ranges between 1400-1900mm or 55-75 inches throughout the year with most of it received in two periods of double maximum between March- May and between September – December. The humidity levels range between 77-88% every day.
The boundaries of Semuliki National Park are made up of two rivers i.e. Semuliki on the Uganda D.R. Congo border and also river Lamia and these 2 rivers flow into lake albert. Semuliki National Park plays as a habitat to 441 bird species of which 216 are truly forest birds,2 hot springs, 53 mammal species that range from large mammals like forest buffaloes, elephants, civets, leopards, water chevrotains, monkeys and 9 species of duikers. On the fringes of the park are 4 different communities of people i.e. the Batwa, the Bakonjo, Bwamba and Batuku.
The conservation journey of Semuliki National Park started as early as 1932 when the Imperial British government declared the area as a crown forest reserve, later on after about 6 decades in 1993, the government of the young republic of Uganda designated Semuliki forest reserve a national park covering an area of 220 sqkm to protect its rich bio-diversity. Between 1997-200, the newly created Semuliki national park suffered due to the political instability that existed in the region of Bundibugyo district when the Allied Defence Forces rebel group over powered the park rangers and occupied the park offices but these were later defeated by the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces which is the Ugandan national armed force by the year of 2001 hence restoring peace and sanity in the park and the entire region at large.
SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK AT A GLANCE.............!
SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Welcome to “The True Birders’ Haven”
Name: Semuliki national park
Location: continent- Africa, region- eastern Africa, country- Uganda, district- Bundibugyo, direction- west of Kampala city the capital of Uganda.
Geographical co-ordinates: 00o40’39”N 30o03’40”E.
Year of designation: 1993
Responsible Governing body: Uganda Wildlife Authority
Elevation of Semuliki National Park: highest point is at 760m and lowest point is at 670m above sea level
Climate of Semuliki National Park: experiences a tropical rainforest climate with 60mm or 2.4in of rainfall received every month, average temperature is (18-20)o C
Attractions in Semuliki National Park: 441 bird species of which 216 are truly forest birds,2 hot springs, 53 mammal species that range from large mammals like forest buffaloes, elephants, civets, leopards, water chevrotains, monkeys and 9 species of duikers. On the fringes of the park are 4 different communities of people i.e. the Batwa, the Bakonjo, Bwamba and Batuku.
Activities in Semuliki National Park: bird watching, game drives, nature walks, cultural encounters
Accommodation in Semuliki National Park. Semuliki safari lodge, Kyaninga lodge, Ntoroko game lodge, Mountains of the moon, Kirumia guest house, Bumuga camp site, UWA bandas
Access in Semuliki National Park: the park can be accessed by both road and air transport
Travel distance and time in Semuliki National Park: 360km or a 5-hour drive away from Kampala city the capital of Uganda.
Best time to visit in Semuliki National Park: December- February and June- July as these are the dry season months and the murram roads here can be easily navigated
Safari Attractions in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park has various attractions and these include; 53 mammal species, 441 birds, 2 hot springs, 4 different cultural tribes, and low land tropical vegetation and about 300 butterflies’ species
Wildlife in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is gifted with a count of more than 50 mammal species and these include;
African bush elephant in Semuliki National Park
African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch.
Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures.
They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephants body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry.
A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime. All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence have they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung.
They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains of Semuliki and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no this distinctive mark on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase.
The skin color of leopards ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage so that they can stalk their prey without ever being noticed. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomena, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals, they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.
The forest buffalo is sometimes referred to as the Dwarf buffalo because its smaller than the cape buffalo and also have a different skin color which is reddish brown unlike the cape buffalo skin which is dark. The forest buffalo weighs in at 250-320kg or 550-750Ib. The forest buffaloes also stay in much smaller herds of between 3-30 buffaloes and almost stay together for the greater part of the year unlike the cape buffaloes who usually herd together during the wet season mostly. These animals are herbivores and have a gestation period of between 281-334days with an average life span of 20-25 years.
The African civet has cat like general appearance but its muzzle protrudes out just like that of an otter or mongoose. They have a body length of 43-71cm or 17-28in and an average weight ranging between 1.4-4.5 kg or 3-10Ib. both male and female civets screed a strong fragrance called a musk or civet and this is used in perfume stabilizing. The civets are usually omnivores but sometimes they can also be herbivores depending mostly on fruit eating. They have an average lifespan of 7-20 years.
Red forest duiker.
This is also referred to as the Natal red duiker. The red duiker has a body length of 1m with a shoulder height of 43cm and an average weight of 14kg and short horn of 6cm. as its name suggests, this duiker has a reddish brown color with pale underparts. The red forest duiker is commonly identified by its short front legs and a hunched back with long hind legs. This body structure has evolved to this state to give the duiker a chance to quickly flee from danger by leaping in any nearby bush. The red forest duiker is herbivores with a gestation period of 8 months and a lifespan of 9-15 years in their natural habitat.
The pygmy flying squirrel.
Sometimes referred to as the Dwarf Japanese flying squirrel, due to presence of a membrane it has that connects its wrists to the hind legs and this enables it to cross from one tree to another by gliding. The pygmy flying squirrel is mostly a nocturnal animal that’s very active at night and during daytime it usually hides in a tree holes. The pygmy flying squirrel has a body length of14-20 cm with a flattened tail which 10-14cm long weighing between 150-220g. this squirrel has its back covered with grey brown hair and white underparts and large eyes. It feeds on fruits seeds and leaves and buds
Grey cheeked mangabeys– the grey cheeked can also be referred to as the White cheeked monkey. The males usually have an average weight of 4.3kg and length of 1.1m and the females weigh in at2.9kg and body length of 99cm. these monkeys are dark in color with white or grey cheeks. The mangabeys have a gestation period of about 183 days and can live up to 30 years. they can live both in forests and swamp or primary forests, these monkeys live in groups of 5-30 individuals with no dominant male. The female mangabeys will always stay in their birth group while the males will live their birth group when they become sexually mature and join other groups.
Ugandan red colobus monkeys
The Ugandan red colobus monkey has a rust red cap a dark grey to black face. The male Ugandan red colobus is larger than its female counterpart weighing in at 10.5kg while female weighs in at 7.5kg. this species of monkeys is purely herbivores with a diet dominated by leaves. these monkeys live in groups with many males and they consist between 3-85 individuals. The size of the group is majorly determined by the number of males available in it and female Ugandan red colobus will easily leave group with few males and join another one with many males. The Ugandan red colobus female monkeys groom all other monkeys in the group. These monkeys have exhibited a strange character of associating with other species of monkeys mainly for protection purpose from predators like the crown eagle and chimpanzees.
Red tailed monkeys
These monkeys are known as the Schmidt guenon. This monkey species is usually red, black or orange in color with a red coloring at its tail. This species has a body length of between 1-2 feet excluding the tail, the males weigh between 7-10 pounds by adulthood age while adult females weigh between 6-8 pounds. The red tailed monkeys are frictivoruous feeding mostly on a fruit diet. These monkeys can live in groups ranging between 7-30 individuals led by a dominant male. The red tailed monkeys are very active during early morning and late evening hours
De brazza’s monkey.
This is a special in semuliki national park as its only found here and also only in mt elgon national park in Uganda. The de brazza monkey has a grey agouti fur, reddish brown back, black limbs and tail with a white stripe running down its things. On the forehead of the de brazza monkey, there is an orange crescent shaped making and it has white eyelids that match with its muzzle aa well as its beard. These monkeys have cheek pouches in which they carry their food as they forage. These monkeys exhibit sexual dimorphism with males weighing at an average of 7kg while females come in at an average of 4kg. These monkeys have a lifespan that is over 20 years .
Busk babies– These are also referred to as nagapies or galagos, the bush babies are primarily nocturnal animals only seen at night. These animals have large round eyes which give them clear night vision. The animals are small and as their name suggests, they look like and even sometimes make sound calls that can be related to that of a human baby. The Galagos have bat like ears and this enables them to detect the slightest of sound in their habitat, they also have a strong hind limbs and a large flat tail that and these enable the Galagos to have strong and high jumps up to 2m high.
The Galagos have a gestation period of 110-133 days with a life span of 10-15 years in their natural habitat. The Galagos have a dental formula consisting of 18 teeth and their diet consists of small insects, fruits, tree gum. The female Galagos maintain territorial boundaries but males don’t as they usually leave their mothers territory at puberty stage.
The water chevrotain is also commonly known as the Fanged deer. They have body patterns of white stripes running from the shoulder to tail in a horizontal pattern and also vertical rows of white stripes on the back. These animals have a sleek red-brown coat on the upper parts and a white underbelly. Unlike other mammals, the female chevrotain is larger than their male counterparts weighing in at 12 kg 35cm of shoulder height and body length of 80cm while the male chevrotain weighs in at about 10kg. With so many powerful muscles at its back end than those in the shoulder legs, the chevrotain have their behind body bigger than that of their front part. These animals are purely nocturnal preferring to eat during night than daytime. Their diet consists of fallen fruits, palm nuts and breadfruit.
Sempaya hot springs.
The 2 hot springs of Sempaya are one of the biggest attraction sites of the Semuliki national park. These hot springs were named after a Swahili phrase known as “Sehemu mbaya” which when loosely translated means difficult side, this was all due to the challenging steep rock terrain experienced by the constructors of Bundibugyo- Fort portal road along the ridges of mountain Rwenzori. These hot springs are formed by geothermal processes when water perforates down to a depth of over 2000m and comes into contact with hot rocks. The water is heated to high temperatures usually over 100oC and it over boils creating high pressure which forces it upwards to earth’s surface.
Sometimes the pressure is overwhelmingly too much and this forces the heated water to shoot up into the sky forming what is known as a geyser. The hot springs of Sempaya were formed by the same geographical forces described but the local Bamaga clan residents have come up with a dramatic ear catching story to explain this rather exceptional phenomena in their locality. There are 2 hot springs in Semuliki, one of them is named the male hot spring and the other is named the female hot spring known as Nyansimbi.
This all began when one day, as the bamaga women had gone out to collect fire wood in the surrounding forest came across a man dressed in bark cloth walking in a zig zag way with his dog, this greatly scared these ladies hence they ran back to their homestead and informed the men back home of what had transpired, the village men came running to see this man whom no one knew of and when they saw him, they felt pity for him hence they decided to take him with them back to their village. Once they had returned, they got this man whom they learned was called Biteete, a wife from one of the village girls. Biteete was a seasoned hunter and he continued his hunting expenditions into the Semuliki plains, but one day he went out on a hunting mission but never did he return to the village, after missing for 3 days, the village men set out on a search and find mission for Biteete but they could only find his spear on the spot where the male hot springs are found today hence naming them the male hot spring.
The men returned home and informed his wife of the disappearance of her husband and with utter most shock and grief, Nyasimbi the wife of Biteete also set out to look for her husband but she also failed to return home just like her husband had done. The village men went back to wilderness to look for her as well but they could only find her cloths on the spot where the female hot spring are located today hence they decided to name these hot spring Nyansimbi female hot springs after Biteete’s wife. Up to date, the Bamaga clan believe that their ancestors live below these hot springs and as result they continue to perform rituals to appease their ancestors at these hot springs annually.
Birds in Semuliki National Park
With a recorded count of 441 bird species with 66% of the country’s total for forest birds all here in this one place, Semuliki national park is a birders Pandora box that never stops giving. Some of the bird species here include
The nkulengu rail has a body length of about 43cm and a female nkulengu rail has an average body weight of 390grams. This species of birds has a motled plumage color that is similar to that of the francolin birds. The nkulengu rail makes a sound call of a rhythmical antiphonal duet with a series of phrases of 6 notes described as “ko-kwaw-zi-k”
Yellow throated cuckoo
This bird has an average body length of 19cm weighing in at 30g. the male yellow throated cuckoo is bronze washed dark coppery on the neck side. This bird makes a clear flute like whistle of 9-12 notes on the same pitch with the first note being the longest.
Piping horn bill
The piping hornbill is 45cm long with a medium to smallish pied hornbill, it has a white underpart and rump and the male piping hornbill has black wings with its central secondaries being broadly white tipped and the outer tail is also white tipped. This bird makes calls with fast seriesof nasal barks in a “kehkehkehkeh…” voice call at a speed of c. 8 notes per second.
Black dwarf hornbill
The black dwarf hornbill is a small bird that has an average of 32cm and males have an average weight of 96.6-135g while females weigh less at an average of 83.4g. It has a black hornbill with white eye stripe and a tail with a white tip. The black dwarf hornbill makes a voice call with 2-3 high pitched whistling notes or a single high piping notes.
Red- billed hornbill
This species has a body length of 35cm and males weigh in at 124-185g while females weigh between 90-151g. They have spotted wing coverts and their outer tail is white. Their bills are long slender and red in color. This species makes a high pitched single clucking notes in contactor low intensity alarm that becomes or intense and irregular when alarmed with a “kok-kok-kok-kok-kok” sound.
Red rumped tinker bird
This is a small forest bird with a body length of 12-13cm and weighs 14-21.1g. both male and female tinker birds have glossy black upper parts with yellow wing bars and a red rump. The red rumped tinker bird makes a voice call of unbroken series of a “pop” notes at 1.3 notes per second.
This is a small bird species with body length of 9-10 cm. this species also resembles the Crombec species but the African piculet males have their foreheads between chestnut to rufous color. The African piculet makes a high trill “ti-ti-ti-ti-ti” sound call.
White throated blue swallow
This species is 14-17 cm long, the white throated blue swallow has glossy dark blue upper parts with a bright chestnut crown, white throat and greyish white under parts and underwing coverts. It has a forked like tail that is blackish blue.
Maxwell’s black weaver
It has a body length of 13-15cm and weigh between 25-30g. the male maxwell’s black weaver have plumage black with glossy upper parts with nape feathers that have white bases. This species of weaver birds make a soft sizzling call with a “chick chick” sound.
Lemon billed crombec
It has a body length of 8cm and weighs 8-9g. lemon-billed Crombec have short bill with a lemon color and their underpart are yellow in color. The male species has an olive grey head with pale grey ear coverts and the upper parts are also olive grey. The lemon-billed crombec makes a high piercing notes of “tsiuu-tsiuu-tsiuu” sound.
Orange checked waxbill
This species has a body length of 10cm weighing between 6.5-9.6 g. the male species has an orange patch frome lores to superciliary area and also its ear coverts are orange. They have a nape grey fore head that merges with a brown mantle and back. The orange cheeked waxbill makes a nasal and strident “zee” or chi-dee-chi” sound.
The shoe bill is also called the whale head given its large shoe shaped bill. The shoe bill can be distinctively identified by its signature large bulbous bill that has greyish markings on it. This bill has a length of 18.8-24cm or 7.4-9.4in measured along the upper mandible. The shoe bill mandible is very hard as it is made out of keratin and it has sharp edges which enable this bird to decapitate its prey. The shoe bill also has long dark legs that have21.7-25.5cm of length with large feet as its middle toe can measure up to 16.8-18.5cm or 6.6-7.3in. and this enables to stand on water vegetation when it goes fishing.
Adult shoe bills have a blue grey color with darker slaty grey flight feathers. The shoe bill has a height ranging from 110-140cm or 43-55in with also a body length of 100- 140cm or 39-55in and a wingspan 230-260cm or 7ft7in-8ft6in. the male shoe bill is larger than its female counterparts with male having an average weight of 5.6kg or 12Ib while the females weigh 4.9kg or 11ib. The shoe bill stock is not known for flying long distances as it usually flies between 100-500m or 330-1640ft when flashed or scared. Their wings are highly adapted to soaring and they have low flap rate that can only go up to 150 flaps per minute. The shoebill has a lifespan of about 35 years in their natural habitat. Both male and female shoe bill participate in nest building, incubation and chick rearing. Their incubation period is 30 days and usually lay between 1-3 eggs per mating season.
Culture of people in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park on its peripherals hosts 4 distinctive tribe of people, ie the Batuku, Bamba, Bakonzo and the Batwa.
The Bamba are Nilotics who are believed to have migrated from the Bharel ghazel in Sudan and settled in the current day Bundibugyo district. These people belong to the Bwamba kingdom which broke off from Tooro kingdom. The Bamba practiced male circumcision just like many other African tribes and marriage was highly polygamous.
The Bakonzo people.
According to population census results of 2014 census, there are 850,646 Bakonzo in Uganda hence representing 0.025% of the country’s population. The Bakonzo people are closely related to the Nande people of eastern D.R. Congo in their ways of living and both the Nande and the Bakonzo are occupying the slopes of the Rwenzori mountain.
Circumcision and marriage
Long ago, circumcision among the Bakonzo, circumcision had to be done by the Bamba as it was a taboo for a mukonzo to circumcise a fellow mukonzo. No mukonjo was expected to marry without being circumcised. Just like many other African societies, when it came to courtship and marriage among the Bakonzo, the parents of the children had to do the scouting for a good suitor for their child.
Naming among the Bakonzo
The Bakonzo have a unique culture when it comes to giving names to their new borns. The Bakonzo name their children following their birth positions which is unique from the rest of other great lakes tribes which usually give names basing on their clans or families. The Bakonzo have a total of 13 names for boys and girls that are born by one wife, Boys have 7 names given to them following their birth positions and these are; 1st born is named Baluku/ Mumbere, 2nd born is named Bwambale, 3rd born is Masereka, 4th born is Kuule, 5th is named Thembo,6th is named Mbusa and 7th is named Ndungo. The girls have 8 names and they are 1st born is Masika, 2nd born is Biira, 3rd born is Kabugho, 4th is Mbambu, 5th born is named Ithungu, 6th born is named Kyakimwa, 7th born is Nziabake, and the 8th girl is called Bulubasa.
Religion among the Bakonzo
The Bakonzo believed in 2 supreme gods ie Kalisa and Nyabarika. Kalisa was depicted as a half man like god with one arm, leg, eye, half a nose and half mouth but the structure of the Nyabarika god is unknown. The Nyabarika god was very powerful and welded powers over life death, ability to bare children or not, famine and good harvest while the Kalisa god was majorly for hunting powers. This therefore meant that these two gods had to be appeased by the Bakonzo in order to have success in their way of life as hunters and farmers. Many small sized huts for the gods were constructed and in these huts sacrifices of animals and food stuffs were offered to appease these gods, these huts are believed to still be in existence in the areas of Nyamugasani. but with the coming of Christianity and Islam to the region, the Bakonzo abandoned their small gods for the new Christian and Islamic faiths.
The Batwa people. On the peripherals of this park, are the Batwa or Twa people or commonly referred to as pygmies because of their short sized heights, a fully grown Mutwa person has an average height of about 4 meters tall or even less and these makes them shorter than any other people within this region. The Batwa are the original custodians and guardians of these forests as they lived a hunting and food gathering life that depended on this forests. These people are believed to be earliest inhabitants of the great lakes region of east Africa.
Some historians and anthropologists say that their ancestry dates as far back as 60,000 years ago in east Africa. Presently these people can be found in Uganda Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda alone it is estimated that there are about 6000 batwa people with majority of them living in the districts of Rukungiri, Kabale, Kisoro and Bundibugyo. The batwa people had a vast understanding of these forests that remains unchallenged up to today
Activities in Semuliki National Park.
Semuliki National Park has various activities and these include the following; game drives, cultural encounters, birding, nature walks. For any activity to be carried out in this park, a separate park entrance fee has to be paid at the park offices and this fee is 35$ foreign nonresidents adults while children 5$, 25$foreign residents adults while children 5$, 15000ugx east African citizens adults while children 2500ugx, 3000ugx local university students and high school students and 1500ugx for local primary pupils.
Game drives in Semuliki National Park
These game drives can happen on any of the three tracks that have been developed linking throughout Semuliki national park. While on these drives please look out for animals like forest buffaloes, bush elephants red duikers, monkeys and at night watch out for the elusive bush babies and pygmy flying squirrel which are nocturnal. Game drives can be done both during daytime and nighttime. You can hire a game drive vehicle which costs 30$ for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents per person and 30000ugx for East African residents per person during day time, for a night game drive this vehicle costs 40$ per person for both foreign residents and foreign nonresidents and 40000ugx for east African residents, this vehicle requires a minimum of 3 persons for it to be hired out. Private daytime drive costs 20$ for foreign nonresidents, 20$ foreign residents and 20000ugx for East African residents. while private night drives cost 100$ foreign nonresidents, 100$ foreign residents and 100000ugx for East African residents. Night game drives require you to go with a UWA ranger.
Sempaya hot springs hike.
This hike leads you first to a one-hour trail leading you to the male springs via a trail that’s rich in bio diversity with various bird species to be sighted and many monkey species in the park as well. The trail to the female springs leads you to a 30-minute walk to the breath takingly beautiful Nyasimbi springs. When you make are going to these springs please don’t forget to carry raw food stuffs like banana plantains and eggs that you will prepare for your lunch or dinner courteous of the boiling power of these hot springs, believe me, your meal will be ready in no time. As of January 21 2019, the Uganda wildlife authority stopped charging for the hikes to these hot springs hence its free trail for you.
Cultural encounters in Semuliki National Park
With 4 distinctive cultural communities in Semuliki National Park, you will be definitely spoilt for choice of which culture to visit, but of course the Batwa never cease to amaze people who visit this park so you can always start with the Batwa to have your senses taken on a mystical journey of discovery about the ways of life of these forest hunter gatherer community of people. When you indulge yourself in this activity, please be rest assured that you have put a building block on the journey to improve the lives of the people in these communities as proceeds from this activity go directly into improving social service delivery and social infrastructure and providing a living wage to the people involved. This experience costs only 10$ for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents and 10000ugx for east African residents.
Nature walks and hiking
Semuliki National Park has developed 3 nature trails that have maximum chances for you to sight some of the rarest planet creatures that call this park their home and these trails include;
This is an 8km trail that will take you through the Semuliki forest to the plains of the valley and finally end you at the banks of the Semuliki river as it meanders its way into lake albert. This maximizes your chances of viewing the various forest bird species in the forest canopy. This hike usually starts at 0800hrs and lasts for 8 hours
The red monkey trail.
This is aimed at giving you a front row seat to view the rare Albertine red tail monkeys. The trails is done at the eastern park border and ends at the semuliki river. The red monkey trail will cost 30$
The last trail is the hot springs view trail
Anyone who desires to take part in this activity should know that they have immensely contributed towards the conservation of Semuliki National Park. The cost of these nature walks is 30$ for foreign nonresidents 15$ for foreign residents and 10000ugx for east African residents except for the hot springs view trail which is absolutely free of charge.
This is carried out at Ntandi and Sempaya areas. With over 400 recorded birds in this great wilderness, birders should expect to be in for a treat to some of the rarest bird species which habituate in this park like the red billed dwarf hornbill, piping hornbill, white crested hornbill, the elusive shoebill, Maxwell black weaver, nkulengu rail and yellow crested cuckoo. The cost is 100$ for foreign nonresidents 100$ for foreign residents and 10000ugx for east African residents.
Accessing semuliki national park.
Semuliki national park can be accessed using both air and road transport means
Using road transport.
Semuliki national park can be accessed using two major routes from kampala the capital of Uganda.
Kampala- mubende-Fort portal – Bundibugyo route. This journey covers 360 km or 5-hour drive. The section from Kampala to Bundibugyo is well tarmacked giving you a comfortable ride and from Bundibugyo to Sempaya gate is a murram road. Sempaya gate lies 59 km from fort portal town and then Ntandi park center is further away from the gate by 6km This is the quickest route to semuliki national park.
Kampala- mbarara- Fort portal- Bundibugyo route. This journey covers 465 km or 7-hour drive but with the amazing opportunity to visit lake mburo national park on your way to semuliki national park. This route is also tarmacked right from kampala- Bundibugyo so expect a comfortable ride as you embark on this lifetime adventure.
Using public means you can book a bus en-route to Fort portal from Kampala from Kisenyi bus terminal and a bus ticket can range between 20000-25000ugx one way. There are many bus companies plying the Kampala – Mubende- Fort portal route, so you will be able to get one at any time of the day but a morning bus should be preferred. From fort portal hire a taxi to take you to Ntandi park center but this will require you some negotiation skills as the price will range from 70000 and above depending on your negotiation ability.
Using air transport
Semuliki national park can be accessed using air transport by chartering flights to Semuliki park. The following companies have chartered flights to Semuliki national park.
Aerolink club. Aerolink club has chartered flights departing from Entebbe international airport to Semuliki airstrip daily though the timing of these flights may vary depending on availability and flight routing. Aerolink club uses an 11 seater and 2 flight crew Caravan aircraft equipment that is highly comfortable. The cost of this flight will be determined on request and varies depending on the seasonal demand.
Fly Uganda. Fly Uganda operates private flight charters around Uganda from kajjansi airstrip. The minimum number of passengers required is 2 passengers. The flights usually depart from kajjansi airfield in the morning hours but this is subject to flight routing and demand. The cost for a flight to semuliki with fly Uganda ranges about 290$ per person one way
Air-Serve Limited and Mission Aviation Africa (MAF) also do private charters to semuliki.
Accommodation in Semuliki national park.
Semuliki national park has accommodation facilities ranging from luxury options to mid-range and budget size options.
Luxury accommodation facilities in or near Semuliki National Park
|Name||Location||Budget type||Number of guestrooms||Nature of guestrooms||Other services and amenities||Prices|
|Kyaninga lodge||Fortportal||Luxury||9 cottages||All rooms have en suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water.||Restaurant
Mid-range accommodation facilities in or near Semuliki National Park
|Mountains of the moon||Fortportal town||Mid-range||33 guestrooms||All rooms have en suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water.||Restaurant
|Prices range from 157-200$|
Low budget size accommodation facilities in or near Semuliki National Park
|Kirumia guesthouse||Outside the park||Low budget size|
|Bumuga camp site||Outside the park||Low budget size|
|UWA bandas||Inside the park||Low budget size||5 bandas
|Prices range from 40000-82000ugx.|
Luxury accommodation can be obtained from the following facilities
Kyaninga Lodge. Located on the shores of lake Kyaninga and a back drop of the rolling hills of mountain Rwenzori in fort portal, Kyaninga lodge is an elegant place to stay as you travel to Semuliki national park. This lodge offers 9 carefully crafted cottages with private verandas aimed at giving you a beautiful glimpse of mother nature work of art in Rwenzori mountains. With en suite bathrooms that have hot water to the lush gardens with spectacular flowers its no secret that your stay at Kyaninga lodge will definitely be a memorable one. Other services at Kyaninga include a restaurant that has international European cuisines with a Ugandan touch, free wi-fii connection, lounging area and a swimming pool to cool down from the tropical heat.
Mid-range budget size accommodation facilities can be got from
Mountains of the moon hotel. Located just a few meters outside Fort portal town, Mountains of the moon hotel is the perfect place for to stay at as you take a break from your journey to Semuliki national park or other parks like Kibaale national park and mountain Rwenzori national park. This hotel offers you 33 guest rooms that have been decorated with the sleekest natural wood furniture and other fittings to give you a sense of the African wilderness with a modern touch, these rooms have ensuite bathrooms with hot water for you wind up and get cozy from a busy day of travelling. The hotel has a restaurant that will endeavor to prepare you any international cuisine but with a touch of the Ugandan taste. For golfers, this hotel gives the opportunity to be close to the fort portal golf course where you can go and have some good quality golfing. Wireless internet for you to stay in touch with the world as you relax in this natural pristine inspired hotel. The price range is 157$-200$
Low budget size accommodation facilities include the following
Kirumia guest house. Located on the highway to Bundibugyo 10km to sempaya gate in kirumia village, kirumia guest house is your option in case you are travelling on a budget size. The guest house offers comfortable but relatively cheap accommodation to visitors. Other services here include a restaurant that provides mainly local dishes that are well prepared to give that Ugandan taste. Kirumia guest house can also arrange for your activities like chimpanzee trekking, nature walks as its only 100m to the Kirumia trail and the sempaya hot springs trail at an extra fee.
Bumuga camping site. Located about 3km from Sempaya gate, Bumuga camping site is good for low budget size travelers and anyone else who would like to do some camping under the beautiful night skies of Semuliki national park. While at bumuga camping site you can do self-catering and all you need is to hire the cooking requirements and then you will be good to go but if you aren’t in the mood for self-catering, you can always order for your food to be prepared and brought to your tent.
Semuliki national park UWA bandas. These are accommodation facilities inside the national park that are managed by the park authority, they can host about 21 people in 5 bandas and a camping site for 12 people, these offer accommodations at a relatively cheap price ranging from 40000-82000ugx on a bed and breakfast arrangement.
Uganda travel health Advice, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda travel health Advice – Uganda Travel Information
Vaccinations and Immunizations
Vaccine recommendations are based on the best available risk information. Please note that the level of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases can change at any time. The following information was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Uganda.
Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
Routine- Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.
Hepatitis B-Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.
Meningococcal (meningitis)- Recommended if you plan to visit countries that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
Typhoid- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Africa, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.
Polio- Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.
Rabies – Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites
Yellow Fever- Recommended for all travelers from 9 months of age. Uganda requires travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10-year intervals if there is ongoing risk. Find an authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccination clinic.
How to stay healthy while on Uganda Safari, Uganda Travel Information
Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
In developing countries like Uganda, drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
What you are supposed to do while on your Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
Do not drink beverages with ice
Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are both international and regional flights to Uganda being offered by various airbuses including British Airways, Kenya Airways, Brussels and so much more. You can as well charter a flight but this can be damn expensive. Uganda has all means of transport although the most accessible is by bus; it’s cost effective and safe when it comes to traveling. Bus companies for instance Regional Coach, Link and Scandinavian Express and Akamba have strict departure time if travelers can’t adhere to this, they are often left behind.
The Min buses usually go for shorter journeys. Transport in Uganda has been improved with well-maintained roads, speed governors as well as seat belts to ensure the safety of all passengers. The buses assemble in the new taxis park and some may be got along the public roads. The bus fares are fixed but cheaper to all the passengers. In the villages, there are motorcycles, bicycles, taxis for hire that can take you to your destination and remember to get small denominations of money to ease on transport. Ugandans are friendly people and are so willing to give directions when required. A visa to Uganda guide has also been put here.
Flights in Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are 12 airports in Uganda and the 4 biggest are
Entebbe Airport (Entebbe, Uganda)
Right now, 31 airlines operate out of Entebbe Airport.
Entebbe Airport offers nonstop flights to 22 cities.
Every week, at least 49 domestic flights and 490 international flights depart from Entebbe Airport.
Arua Airport (Arua, Uganda)
Arua Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 28 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Arua Airport.
Gulu Airport (Gulu, Uganda)
Gulu Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Gulu Airport.
Kasese Airport (Kasese, Uganda)
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Kasese Airport.
English is the national language. There are other local languages like luganda, runyankore, lusoga, luo, runyakitara, lugisu, lugbara and many more spoken by different tribes in Uganda. For those who can only communicate using languages like Chinese, Germany, French, Arabic and others, we can organize special interpreters for them while taking their tours in Uganda.
Uganda’s climate is humid; it combines hotness and coldness in some parts. Uganda has dry spells from June-September and rains from November to mid-January and many rains from March-June but at times such seasons change unexpectedly.
Uganda travel clothing/dress
Carry along lightweight, washable clothes plus a coat, jacket or sweater for morning wildlife game drives or any cold as a result of any weather changes. Items like sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen etc. are also important. Trousers or long sleeved shirts save you from dangers of insect bites. Any other form of dressing by one’s preference is good as long as it isn’t offensive for public displeasure. Women travelers need to carry a wrap to cover legs in the village and towns. At Lodges and hotels with swimming pools, better to carry a swimsuit along with you.
Baggage on safaris
Baggage on safari is limited to one bag, plus one small piece of hand baggage per person (excluding a camera bag). In total this should not weight more than 20kg. Suitcases and other heavier items can be stored in town hotels whilst clients are on safari.
Uganda tour and travel photo shots
To make your tour unforgettable, its better you carry along with you a video and a digital camera with enough charged batteries for shooting anything that interests you throughout your trip. Keep cameras from dust, sunshine or rain. It is advisable to seek permission first before photographing anyone or anything.
Uganda travel security
Uganda is a very safe and sound country in African continent .The country presently has no rebel activity going on inside of Uganda. Even the north of Uganda is enjoying a state of peace and rebuilding since the LRA has signed a cease-fire in the summer of 2006.
Hence Uganda is a very safe country to visit, work and stay, but still precautionary measures have to be ensured while traveling. Below are some guides on how to be cautious so as to keep safe.
The best way to carry your money is when you keep it at your front pocket where you can put your hand over it rather than a back pocket where it can easily be stolen. Do not flash money or count it in public, pull out what you need and pay, never carry large amounts with you. Keep money and any other valuables in your hotel safe.
Carrying Passports and Return Tickets:
It’s very risky carrying your passport on you, it’s best to make a copy of your travel documents and leave the originals at your hotel safe. If you are traveling on a safari, keep it all such things in a small backpack that you can easily carry with you. It is best to carry that small Backpack even if you go on a game drive while on safari. It is always best to be on the safe side of life instead of having later sorrow.
Keep your Jewelry at home or hotel safe:
Take inexpensive jewelry with you (you can buy some lovely items here in Uganda at a low price). Gold chains and jewelry can be torn off you. Avoid expensive watches and if you are wearing one, have one preferably with leather strap that can be tightened and safely worn.
Buy some local Ugandan crafted jewelry and support a local artisan and their families and you will safe-keep your expensive items at home and at the same time make a difference in Uganda through your purchase of local hand-crafted items.
Keep your Mobile Cell-Phone in your pocket and do not carry it in your hands. If you carry it in your hands, someone may take a cigarette burn your hand and you drop the phone when pain strikes and it is gone.
Do not put in on a table in a restaurant or bar since again someone might just come and grab it – Stay on the safe side. Mobile phones are stolen daily in Uganda – hold on to it tightly.
Walking at night:
Do not walk alone on your own in most neighborhoods to be on the safe side – what you would do at home, do here while visiting Uganda. You do not hear of many cases where Visitors to Uganda are robbed or harmed but it is best to be wise and smart.
Visits to Slums:
Slums in Kampala happen to be a place of misery and where you can find quite a few people who would not have the best intentions in mind when it comes to dealing with you. Most slum-dwellers are there not because of choice but because of circumstances in life.
Visiting a slum unless you are visiting a school, an NGO, a charitable work such as an orphanage is ill-advised. We do not offer slum tours as is the fashion in Kenya in order to make money and once company does here in Kampala. We believe in the dignity of all human beings and do not want to benefit off another person’s misery.
Gay Travelers Safety:
In February of 2014 President Museveni signed the stronger anti-gay bill into law. 97% of Ugandans concurred with his decision. Uganda had been in the news for five years regarding the anti-gay bill and it had an effect on Uganda’s image in the world even though it is one of 38 African Countries and over 80 worldwide with strong anti-gay laws.
What does it mean to a gay traveler wanting to come to Uganda? In Uganda there is no public affection between any gender. No promotion of homosexuality and simply discreet behavior that does not draw attention to a visitor to Uganda. The traditions of held values of Uganda and most African Nations are simply different.
The law is there – the choice is up to the gay visitor to Uganda whether to come or whether to stay away – the previous anti-gay law was hardly enforced since in Uganda personal relationships are kept private.
Statement from Stephen Asiimwe -Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board “no gay visitor to our country will be harassed or not welcome for the only reason that he or she may be gay. Cultural policies are important in Uganda. We ask visitors to respect them. They include touching in public for example or engaging in sex with children.”
Is it safe for single travelers?
It’s very safe for tourists to travel solo on safari in Uganda. It’s always best to travel with a reliable tour company like Africa Adventure Safaris Ltd to run your safari in Uganda.
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Major foreign currencies – like the US$, Pound Sterling and Euros, South African Rand and currencies for the Uganda’s neighboring countries can be exchanged in the local forex bureaus and banks. Travelers’ cheques are accepted in Uganda and are exchangeable at banks and forex bureau in Kampala City and other major towns and hotels. Credit cards are getting common and are acknowledged in some shopping and banks. Majority of banks have ATM facilities. In some national parks or tourist centre, visitors can pay using foreign currencies if they didn’t get time to convert into local money. It is not suitable to exchange money on the streets from individuals as you may be given fake notes of Uganda shillings.
Bank and money transactions in Kampala Uganda;Where to get and how to make money transactions in Kampala.
Uganda Banks, Money exchange, Forex rates, in Uganda
The simplest way to acquire money on your initial arrival is using a Visa ATM card (MasterCard is more challenging; do not bother using anything else). The ATMs are scattered across Uganda, beginning at the airport, and nearly all of them offer the favorable Visa logo. It is a good idea to talk to your bankers back at home and inquire about any kind of deals they offer within Ugandan banks – for example, as I write this, in case you use your Bank of America ATM card in any of Uganda’s Barclays ATMs, you will not be charged that annoying ATM fee. Western Union is as well an alternative for quick cash from foreign countries, although the fees are somewhat large. On the other hand, if it is a better option for you, there are several Western Union places throughout Kampala.
Do I need my International Banking card While in Kampala Uganda?
The majority of properly-ATMed banks are Barclays plus Stanbic that appear to have ATMs almost anyplace you would require one. A properly-informed friend informed me that Barclays, regardless of its international name, is pretty short on service, and that its competitor Stanbic could be a better choice. Additional alternatives include Centenary bank whose ATMs and branches can be accessed in most of the rural parts of the country plus Standard Chartered, that has fewer branches as well as ATMs although fairly good service.
How do I make mobile money transactions with my cell phone in Kampala Uganda?
One new and expanding approach to handle money within Uganda is using cell phones commonly known as Mobile money. You can Sign up with any of the local carrier and then send and also receive money directly on your phone, obtainable almost any place across the country. But of course, you need to have some money deposited on it.
Shopping in Uganda
From jammed but fascinating markets filled with collectable handicrafts, to glitzy malls in our big city with the latest must have name brands, more so because our favorable exchange rate makes your retail therapy last longer too. Uganda’s shopping centers provide world-class shopping, plenty of entertainment, the latest movies and delicious food in conveniently situated and safe surroundings. Whether you are looking for something specific, have time on your hands to browse around or just love to shop, the boutiques, chain stores and specialist shops in the country’s malls have it all. The quality, cost and variety of goods on offer along with the safe, sophisticated environment provided by Uganda’s shopping centers should not take visiting international holidaymakers and business people by surprise.
Uganda’s malls are famous for their excellent shopping and entertainment facilities. When you leave the country after your holiday or business trip, you will lament the baggage restrictions of the international airlines and wish that you could take more of Uganda home with you! Vacationers can choose from dining and enjoying a drink at local or hotel bars and restaurants, seeing a movie at the cinema, attending a theatrical production at the cultural centre or gambling at one of the two casinos in town. Some bars host live music sessions at weekends. Uganda is known for their woodcarvings, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and attractive basketry – all make a memorable souvenir of your trip.
Nightlife in Kampala
From a night of fine dining to raucous all-night party in Kampala city Ugandans love to have a good time. Let your hair down and live it up in our clubs, pubs, late-night bars, theatres and live music venues. You won’t just find the best wildlife in our game parks…come on, the party’s starting! Experience a sundowner. Sip a cool drink and enjoy a glorious sunset at the end of a satisfying afternoon game drive. In the tourist towns of Kampala, there are a handful of restaurants, cinema and a clutch of places to grab a cold beer with fellow travelers and the friendly locals.
Casinos in Uganda
Bet on having a good time around Uganda. From our most famous Kampala casino for high-rollers to family entertainment venues– we’ve myriad casinos where you can take chance with Lady Luck. Ugandan casinos, including several large entertainment complexes, can be found countrywide. These entertainment destinations are typically designed around a specific theme and include a large range of activities for the whole family. Many are also geared towards business tourism, providing hotels and conferencing facilities as well.
Uganda’s casinos can be found on the fringes of most major centers. The emphasis is on being a one-stop leisure destination, with access to both indoor and outdoor entertainment. In Uganda, casinos are designed around a specific theme, offering a vision of life somewhat different from the run of the mill expectation of Africa. Nor are they typical casinos, most offering entertainment that goes beyond the usual slots and gaming tables. Among the most popular casinos in Uganda is the famed Kampala casino, in the city centre. Garden city is as famous for its golf course, game drives and outdoor activities as it is for gambling.
Uganda offers a wide variety of hotels lodge’s guesthouses, safari lodges available for travellers ranging from budget, midrange and high-end accommodation that are distributed in all parts of the country. For any destination you want to travel to, there accommodations that you can book at. Feel free to contact us for any of your travel accommodation plans and you will find all answers for Uganda accommodation.
Uganda Public Holidays
Below is the list of Uganda’s public holidays that are officially noticed by all citizens: Liberation day(26 Jan),Women’s Day (8 March),New Years’ Day (1 Jan),Independence Day (9 Oct),Labor Day(1 May),Heroes Day(9 June),Martyrs Day(3June),World Aids Day (1 Dec),Boxing Day (26 Dec),Christmas Day (25 Dec),Human Rights’ Day (10 Dec),Africa Day (25 May)
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
Tours and Adventures in Uganda
There are so many activities and adventures on a Uganda safari that it is difficult to stick to the details on your plan. Here are some of the top interesting tourist activities in Uganda that most tourists have come to love through the years.
Gorilla Trekking Safari, Uganda Travel Information
This ranks as the most important part of any Uganda safari itinerary. The once-in-a-lifetime experience takes you through the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park on the slopes of the Rwenzori ranges in search of the gentle giants. Groups of 8 people launch every day into the forest canopy behind the lead of a trained and armed ranger! It is surely exciting and a challenge that may take you up to eight intense hours of trekking. Without mountain gorilla trekking expeditions, Uganda safaris are not same!
Chimpanzee tracking and the Primates of Uganda
Uganda’s forests are home to an estimated 13 or more species of primates include the black & white colobus, red tailed monkeys, bush babies, olive baboons, gorillas and the habituated chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking is a fascination in Kibale Forest National park but there are also a few of these primates in Semliki National Park and Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria.
Wildlife safaris and National Parks in Uganda
There are 10 National parks and 12 game reserves in Uganda gifted with a wide range of flora and fauna. The most visited include Murchison Falls Park (which is the largest) and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Take a game drive or a guided safari walk in the wilderness and encounter Uganda’s best kept mammals like the tree climbing Lions, zebras, Uganda kob, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Harte beest and many more. Unique safari experiences take you to Lake Mburo National park for a canoe ride for sights of Uganda’s birds and animals visiting the vast lake.
Lake Bunyonyi tours
Lake Bunyonyi is found in South Western Uganda in the district of Kabale. It is Africa’s second deepest lake dotted with a few islands that are historically important to the people in this area. The lake is named after the birds that nest on the lake’s shore and surrounding swamps such as kingfishers, malachite eagles, sun birds, bee eaters, the rare shoebill stork and a few of the Albertine endemic species. Take a canoe ride to the island, nature walks around the lake or go swimming – Yes…the lake is Bilharzia free and good for swimming!
Bird watching safaris
If you are a nature enthusiast, then Uganda must have a special place in your heart. Over 3,000 species of birds are recorded to have nests in papyrus swamps, forests, lakeshores and national parks all over the country. Some of the best birding destinations like Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi forest park, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth Park and also in the different cities. Kampala city also has a few swamps with notable species like the stork and sun birds among others.
Hiking is not a popular sport In Uganda but you can be among the few tourists to reach some of the peaks of Uganda’s skyline. The ‘mountains of the moon’ popularly known as the Rwenzori mountain offer great hiking experiences often challenging but worth when you reach the glaciated peak. Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano in Eastern Uganda is also good for hiking and at the same time discovers some unique plant species that grow on the slopes of this fertile rock.
River Nile Adventures
It is the world’s longest river with its source on Lake Victoria in south central Uganda. The river has a number of rapids and water falls on its course to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. Bujagali falls is particularly good for kayaking and water rafting with class I, II and IV rapids while Bungee jumping is also done near the falls. You can continue pursuing the river to the spectacular Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile in the west and so on
Kampala City Tours, Uganda Travel Information
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and the busiest town in the country. It is Uganda’s largest town and an important centre for business, industry, transport and administration. There are also many interesting things to note and tour about this friendly town such as the independence monument, Uganda Museum & art galleries, Makerere University, Kabaka’s palace, the National theatre, Uganda Martyr’s Shrine at Namugongo and the different religious centres around the capital.
Shopping in Kampala
Kampala being the capital city of Uganda, it has plenty of modern and western style shops with a feel of western typical malls with luxury goods and fast food outlets. You can visit numerous local and upscale shopping places like local markets for fresh foods, supermarkets, boutiques and departmental stores. In some parts of the city there are shopping complexes offering designer labels, computer equipment and other wide range of goods available let it be specialist or luxury. From colorful and bustling markets to newly developed shopping malls, Kampala now has it all. There are many upscale hotels that cater to the influx of tourists.
Kampala is famous for its intoxicating overcrowded markets, streets and arcades with upscale goods and services. Very chaotic but with pretty experience, Owino market normally acknowledged as Balikuddembe market is the most admired local market in Kampala. Sprawling around Nakivubo stadium, Owino is well stocked with everything from manufactured goods to traditional medicine. Eminent for its second hand clothes “Ebikadde” in Luganda, new clothes can be made as well by local tailors after making a selection for a piece of cloth material. Visitors are bound to spend much time here not because they are having much fun but once you are inside it’s really difficult to find your way out.
Apart from these local markets, Uganda is endowed with shopping centers with a feel of typical western styles and among the best places for shopping are 5 big shopping centers; if you want luxury goods especially the American and European brands. This is your best bet because you are likely to do your shopping in one place from one of the following malls; Lugogo shopping mall, Acacia mall, Garden city, and Freedom city. Shopping places indoors include; big supermarkets like Nakumatt, Capital shoppers, Uchumi, Game and Payless, departmental stores, fast food outlets, jewelry and book shops.
Looking out for the best rates for changing large amounts of foreign currency, Kampala is the best way to go. Try out bureaus in Kampala for the best rates this time especially the dollar house and half east all located conveniently next to each other at king Fahad plaza along Kampala road. There are many more bureaus and rates change from time to time but are usually printed in local papers and white boards at the entrance.
There are several sophisticated craft shops around the national theatre and Uganda crafts 2000 limited that sell locally made Arts and crafts. Original and smart local items like bark-cloth clothing, drums, wood carvings, sandals, basketry, beaded jewelry and Muzungu t- shirts plus other items from all over Africa are sold. Look out for many cheaper crafts at park headquarters and the nearby communities, Entebbe airport, Garden city and Lugogo mall. Pieces of valuable handcrafts are available at relatively low prices compared to imported crafts; therefore don’t hesitate to snap a chance. Your purchase of arts, crafts, souvenirs and gifts impact the lives of ordinary Ugandans.
Look out for the best places for English language publications, with the great selection of books like novels and as well as Uganda at very reasonable and affordable prices. The best place is Aristoc, where books are stocked up to satisfy the customers’ needs. Get a reading material before heading on to long road trip. You can also have second hand books with a good selection of novels at a bit cheaper price down town. Bargaining is acceptable and the way to the business. You can bargain for better prices especially on souvenirs and your bargaining power determines what you pay in the end.
Cultural tours and safaris
Uganda is home to many tribes and peoples who live in harmony. Almost every part of Uganda has a tribe that relates to it with a unique heritage and institution called a Kingdom. The most popular kingdom is Buganda in central Uganda with proper institutional structures headed by the Kabaka who is the king. Some of its significant tourist sites include Kasubi Royal tombs, the Kabaka’s palace and lake in Mengo, Sezibwa falls and a host of cultural/spiritual sites dotted around the country. Other kingdoms worth visiting include Toro Kingdom Palace in Fort Portal and Busoga in Jinja among others.
Lake Victoria tours
Lake Victoria is Uganda’s largest lake seen on landing at the Entebbe International Airport. Catch a ferry or hire a charter boat to the spectacular Ssese Islands for a treat of the best beaches in Uganda. Ngamba Island is also another island to visit on the lake, synonymous with the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary. The best ways to relax on one of these islands is by taking nature walks, forest walks, go fishing or treat yourself to some of the best fish in Uganda’s waters. It is the perfect place to relax after hectic safaris in Uganda before you take your departure flights.
Spot fishing in Uganda
Go fishing in Nile River and in Lake Victoria to explore a world of untouched, mystical beauty. Take advantage of some of the other activities on offer such as gliding along the scenic waterways of the Nile and Victoria on a dug-out canoe. For game fisherman, the Nile River teems with Nile perch one of the biggest fish species in Uganda. Catch your biggest one yet and be amazed at the size that the fish grow to in these areas. Houseboats offer 360 degrees of lush greenery filled with the music of chirping birds and beautiful waterways and absolutely luxurious living conditions. Glide through the Nile and Lake Victoria fringes to find fish-rich water
Lake Mburo national park is one of fewest parks that offer horseback riding in safari Uganda, but for the adventurous this is an experience not to be missed. Uganda is a land of immense natural beauty with diverse terrain and landscapes of which Lake Mburo national park with a lush emerald paradise of swamps and Precambrian metamorphic rocks, rich savannah grasslands is undoubtedly living proof of. On horseback you can truly absorb the magnificence of park like unique spectrum of ecosystems that supports an unbelievable variety of bird, plant and wildlife waiting to be discovered. Venture further into the park and get much closer to the abounding wildlife. Encounter exciting moments along the game trails as your horseback safari ride brings you upon great herds of buffalo, zebra, elands and other antelopes. Be assured that this activity is a magical and humbling experience that will touch your soul and remain in your heart for an eternity.
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flying to Uganda is simple and affordable. With many direct flights to Entebbe from Europe, Asia and Africa, Uganda can now be easily accessed from any part of the world. Below are the major international airlines that fly to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda:
KLM / Amsterdam – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Brussels Airlines / Brussels – flights to and from Entebbe 3 times a week.
Emirates / Dubai – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
South African Airways / Johannesburg – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Kenya Airways / Nairobi – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Ethiopian Airways / Addis Ababa – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Qatar Airways / Doha – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Feel free to contact Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd for advice on flights to Uganda and which airline would be most suitable for you.
Domestic Flights, Uganda Travel Information
Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd would be delighted to book your scheduled domestic flights or private charters, providing excellent access to most of the national parks within Uganda. Daily domestic flights are available at affordable rates from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, flying to Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Kidepo National Park among others.
Contact prime safaris and Tours Ltd for more information and prices on charter and scheduled flights to Uganda’s national parks or regional flights within East Africa.