Uganda Overview

Safe, small and with a perpetually spring-like climate, Uganda packs a lot in for its size. Ten national parks protect over half of the world’s mountain gorillas, along with chimpanzees, rare golden monkeys and a classic safari checklist including leopards, lions, elephants and hippos. Over 1,000 species of birds inhabit mountains, forests, wetlands and the shores of Lake Victoria. Uganda remains a tribal nation, and as you travel around, the music, dance and dress change almost by the hour – there are over 40 recognised languages. But as our Uganda travel guide explains, you’ll hear one word wherever you are: “Welcome!”

Our top Uganda holidays

Gorilla Safari & the Masai Mara

From £4399 to £4649
17 days inc UK flights
Superb safari and trip to see gorillas
Small group2021: 11 Sep, 2022: 25 Jun, 10 Sep

Uganda wildlife holiday

From £2650
8 days ex flights
This you cannot miss while in Uganda -The wild and beautiful!
Small group2021: 19 Apr, 3 May, 17 May, 31 May, 14 Jun, 28 Jun, 12 Jul, 26 Jul, 9 Aug, 23 Aug, 6 Sep, 20 Sep, 4 Oct, 18 Oct, 1 Nov, 15 Nov, 29 Nov, 13 Dec, 27 Dec, 2022: 10 Jan, 24 Jan, 7 Feb, 21 Feb, 7 Mar, 21 Mar, 4 Apr, 18 Apr, 2 May, 16 May, 30 May, 13 Jun, 27 Jun

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

From £3075 to £3810
8 days ex flights
Incredible wildlife experience in Uganda and Rwanda
Small group2021: 11 Jun, 7 Jul, 6 Sep

Best time to go to Uganda

Uganda sits squarely on the equator with an average altitude of around 1,000m, which tempers the heat and means this really is a year-round destination. March to May and October to November see the highest rainfall, but gorillas are still lurking in the mist – although trekking to find them will be slippery and slower. However, accommodation and even gorilla permits can be much cheaper at this time. June to September tends to be the peak season, but really Uganda remains happily oblivious to mass tourism and you won’t need to worry about crowds. Read more about the best time to visit Uganda.
Uganda temperature and rainfall chart

Map & highlights

There’s one clear reason to visit Uganda, and that’s the wildlife. And clear as day it will be, with expert guides taking you to track mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and lively chimpanzees in Kibale Forest or around Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here in the far west of Uganda you can also find tree-climbing lions among some of the country’s finest game-viewing. Bird-lovers, meanwhile, should flock to beautiful, island-pocked Lake Bunyonyi, where it’s also safe to swim. Jinja, near Kampala, is base camp for outdoor adventure activities in Uganda, but for trekking, there’s nowhere better than the Rwenzori Mountains.
Gorilla trekking

1. Gorilla trekking

Uganda is home to over half of the earth’s 800 or so mountain gorillas, and most of these live in the mist-shrouded forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Tracking one of the 11 habituated families is Uganda’s most compelling activity, as a 2-6 hour trek up the steep slopes of the Rift Valley culminates in an eye-to-eye encounter with one of our closest relatives, lasting up to an hour.
Jinja

2. Jinja

Jinja is Uganda’s outdoor adventure centre, famed for white water rafting on the thundering source of the Nile. You can also kayak, mountain bike and even bungee jump – or take a more leisurely horseback ride through the lush local scenery. Take a trek through nearby Mabira Forest with a birding guide, or explore pleasant Jinja town, with its Indian-influenced architecture and wonderful daily market.
Kibale Forest

3. Kibale Forest

70 mammal species, including 13 primates, inhabit this national park – that’s the highest concentration of primates in East Africa. A highlight is tracking habituated chimpanzees with a trained guide, looking out for mangabey, colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys along the way. Don’t miss the nearby Bigodi Wetlands – a superb community-run conservation area criss-crossed by wooden walkways.
Lake Bunyonyi

4. Lake Bunyonyi

The “lake of many small birds” – in the local language – is a strikingly beautiful scene, surrounded by bright green, terraced hillsides and filled with the gentle humps of 20 islands. This is a superb spot to relax after a gorilla trek, and is the only safe lake for bathing in Uganda. Canoe, hike, take a birding tour, explore the islands – each with their own histories and legends – or visit local Bakiga and Batwa villages.
Queen Elizabeth NP

5. Queen Elizabeth NP

Queen Elizabeth National Park, flanked by massive mountains and pocked with ancient craters, offers some of Uganda’s most compelling game viewing. Four of the Big Five can be seen here, along with thousands of hippos and over 600 species of birds. Cruise along the Kazinga Channel into Lake Edward for a serene safari experience, or head down to Ishasha to encounter tree climbing lions.
Rwenzori Mountains

6. Rwenzori Mountains

The “Mountains of the Moon” form an impenetrable, rocky chain along Uganda’s western edge, perpetually capped with snow, clouds and fog. Walks in the foothills reveal clear streams, lush vegetation and thriving villages; longer expeditions take you through otherworldy Afromontane forest, bamboo and giant heathers, with the option to summit Margherita Peak – Africa’s third highest, at 5,109m.

Gorilla watching

The mist-shrouded Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to an estimated 50 percent of all mountain gorillas. There are around 11 habituated families, each of which is usually led by a giant silverback. As part of impressive conservation efforts, permits for gorilla watching are tightly regulated – only 90 or so are issued every day. Tracking means trekking, for up to six hours in some cases, through often slippery terrain both uphill and downhill. But it’s worth every second to spend an hour watching man’s closest cousins as they play, forage and interact right in front of your eyes.

Chimpanzee tracking

Chimps share around 98 percent of their DNA with humans, so if connecting with your extended family on holiday appeals, then try chimpanzee tracking in Uganda. The most popular place to do so is Kibale National Park, but Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, while less likely to yield sightings, also offers sensational scenery into the bargain. Watching chimps is more fun than gorillas it must be said – they move around a lot so you’ll be following them around the forest. Permits cost less too, although still contribute to essential conservation projects.

Wildlife

Uganda might be on the small side, Africa-wise, but when it comes to wildlife they super-size it here. Apart from magnificent mountain gorillas and cheeky chimpanzees, you’ve got tree-climbing lions, hippos, elephants, rhinos, eagles, buffaloes, even the occasional zebra, and almost one in 10 of the world’s bird species. You basically can’t turn around for wildlife in Uganda. And all of it set against a spectacular backdrop – volcanoes, crater lakes, mist-laden forests, lush savannah – to be explored on foot, by 4x4 or canoe. Wildlife holidays have unquestionably helped conservation efforts, which in turn leads to more animals appearing in your binoculars.

More holiday ideas

Small group adventure holiday in Uganda

From £2380
7 days ex flights
Experience the fresh waters, wilderness & Jungle in Africa!
Small group2021: 20 Apr, 4 May, 18 May, 1 Jun, 15 Jun, 29 Jun, 14 Jul, 28 Jul, 11 Aug, 25 Aug, 8 Sep, 22 Sep, 6 Oct, 20 Oct, 3 Nov, 17 Nov, 1 Dec, 15 Dec, 29 Dec, 2022: 12 Jan, 26 Jan, 9 Feb, 23 Feb, 9 Mar, 23 Mar, 6 Apr, 20 Apr, 4 May, 18 May, 1 Jun, 15 Jun, 29 Jun

Uganda highlights tour

From £4950
12 days ex flights
Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi & Murchison Falls National Parks
Tailor made

Best of Uganda wildlife tour

From £5250
7 days ex flights
Chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, tree-climbing lions & more

Gorilla and game safari in Uganda

From £3050
10 days ex flights
The great Silverback Gorilla & wildlife all in one package!
Small group2021: 19 Apr, 3 May, 17 May, 31 May, 14 Jun, 28 Jun, 12 Jul, 26 Jul, 9 Aug, 23 Aug, 6 Sep, 20 Sep, 4 Oct, 18 Oct, 1 Nov, 15 Nov, 29 Nov, 13 Dec, 27 Dec, 28 Dec, 2022: 11 Jan, 25 Jan, 8 Feb, 22 Feb, 8 Mar, 22 Mar, 5 Apr, 19 Apr, 3 May, 17 May, 31 May, 14 Jun, 28 Jun

Uganda wildlife and activity holiday

From £4450
15 days ex flights
Experience the Pearl of Africa...true African adventure!
Small group2021: 19 Apr, 3 May, 17 May, 31 May, 14 Jun, 28 Jun, 12 Jul, 26 Jul, 9 Aug, 23 Aug, 6 Sep, 20 Sep, 4 Oct, 18 Oct, 1 Nov, 15 Nov, 29 Nov, 13 Dec, 27 Dec, 2022: 10 Jan, 24 Jan, 7 Feb, 21 Feb, 7 Mar, 21 Mar, 4 Apr, 18 Apr, 2 May, 16 May, 30 May, 13 Jun, 27 Jun

Uganda primate trekking and community holiday

From US $6431 to US $7035
10 days ex flights
Community focused gorilla and chimpanzee safari
Tailor made
Quote. The secret to a great holiday is that it's great for everyone - you, local communities and nature.
Tourist and Masai

More about Uganda

Rwenzori Mountains

Running along the border between Uganda and DR Congo, the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains are rarely visited. But among trekkers and birders that have ventured into them, their landscapes are spoken of in hushed and reverential whispers. Otherwise known as the Mountains of the Moon, this 120km-long range is blanketed on its lower slopes by bamboo and moist montane forests. Higher up, the valleys have been carved out by glaciers over centuries, and the flora is thick and diverse. Small group trekking holidays are the best way to explore the Rwenzori Mountains, camping or sleeping in huts and led by expert guides.

Combining gorillas with East Africa safaris

Uganda is often combined with Rwanda, Kenya or Tanzania to create East Africa safaris that bring mountain gorillas into the mix with a dazzling range of wildlife. After a few days watching gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you might move on to migrating zebras, gazelles and wildebeest running the gauntlet against lions and cheetahs on the Maasai Mara. Chimpanzee tracking can be combined with game drives around the Serengeti, then dolphin watching on the Zanzibar coast. If you want to make the most of your time, there are tour operators who can conjure up a safari itinerary that will do precisely that.

Types of holidays

Practically all Uganda holidays are wildlife holidays – it’s a superb country for big game viewing, as well as seeing the famous gorillas and chimpanzees. We recommend small group holidays here for several reasons. Firstly, all the logistics are taken care of, including accommodation, permits and transport, so you can concentrate on what’s at the end of your camera lens. Secondly, you’re joining a ready-made group of fellow adventurers. And thirdly, these itineraries are designed by professionals with years of experience who aim to show you as much as possible in a short space of time.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Uganda or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
[Gorilla watching: Pia Andrews] [Chimpanzee tracking: iStock] [Wildlife: Rene & Marjolein] [Rwenzori Mountains: Jorn Eriksson] [Combining gorillas with East Africa safaris: Magdalena Kula Manchee] [Types of holidays: Keith Kasaija]
Photo credits: [Page banner: GUDKOV ANDREY] [Gorilla watching: Pia Andrews] [Chimpanzee tracking: iStock] [Wildlife: Rene & Marjolein] [Rwenzori Mountains: Jorn Eriksson] [Combining gorillas with East Africa safaris: Magdalena Kula Manchee] [Types of holidays: Keith Kasaija]