General Information About UgandaUganda is a great destination to experience wildlife viewing in both forest and savannah. Not to be missed is gorilla tracking in Bwindi; while chimps can easily be spotted in Kibale National Park. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks offer wonderful savannah safaris with good wildlife viewing With a tapestry of landscapes, excellent wildlife watching and welcoming locals, Uganda packs a lot into one small country. It's home to Africa's tallest mountain range, the Rwenzoris, the source of the Nile, the world's longest river, and the continent's largest lake. Rafting the Nile offers a world-class adrenaline adventure but the country's most iconic experience is tracking mountain gorillas in their misty habitat.
Wildlife in UgandaUganda is a unique destination offering a wonderful mix of savannah and forest parks. Gorilla and chimp tracking are highlights, but many smaller primates can be seen as well. Uganda also offers great savannah safaris, but not all of the Big Five are present. Black rhino is extinct, and the status of the white rhino was the same until they were reintroduced in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in 2005. Cheetah is very rarely seen. Lion is quite common in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks. They can often be found hunting Uganda kob, which gives them away with their alarm calls. Giraffe can only be found in Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley national parks, while zebra exists only in Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo. Uganda is also a prime birding destination. Uganda is home to many West African mammal species as well as the more usual East African safari animals. Primates are especially well represented. Patas monkey, red-tailed monkey, De Brazza's monkey, l'Hoest's monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey are some of the specials. The black-and-white colobus is widespread throughout Uganda. Uganda is home to a wide variety of antelope species. The Uganda kob, the national antelope, is a near endemic. The very rare sitatunga antelope is found in six national parks in the country but rarely seen. The uncommon oribi is often seen in pairs in Murchison Falls National Park. Uganda is home to lots of game parks and game reserves and they include the following
Best time for wildlife viewingThe best time for wildlife viewing is in the dry season (December-February and June-September). Some of the roads are impassable during the rainy season (September-November and March- May). Gorilla can be tracked year round, but the experience can be spoiled – to some extent – by heavy rain in the wet season.
Queen Elizabeth National ParkLocated in western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park was named after the royal Queen Elizabeth II of England and was established in 1954. Famous for its exotic wildlife, the park is home to many elephants, hippos, Congo lions, African Leopards, chimpanzees and 95 species of mammals. Bird-watchers will be delighted to learn that the park also house 500 species of birds. Come see two of the park’s main attractions: the tree-climbing lion and its volcanic features, like volcanic cones and deep craters. Services that are available include a telecenter, boat launches, park lodges, games and scenic drives.
Bwindi Impenetrable National ParkThe Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that forms part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one of the richest ecosystems in Africa. This park is perhaps one of Uganda’s most remarkable destinations for visitors. Come with your cameras and observe over 200 different species of trees, 120 species of mammals, 27 species of frogs, geckos and chameleons, 220 species of butterflies, 348 species of birds and other endangered species in their natural habitat. And of course, take advantage of the opportunity to see mountain gorillas and elephants up close.
Murchison Falls National ParkIf you are in the mood for a good safari tour on an epic river Nile adventure, then Murchison Falls National Park is a good place to visit. Spreading inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Nile, Murchison Falls National Park forms part of the Murchison Falls Conservative Area (MFCA). Come see four of the ‘big five’ (elephant, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo) just above the Nile. Then have a peek at the famous Murchison Falls where the waters of the Nile squeeze through a narrow gorge to make a beautiful waterfall.
Culture and History
ReligionReligion plays an important part of daily life in Uganda. Over four-fifths of Ugandans are Christian, either Protestant or Catholic. Around 10% are Muslims, a legacy of the Arab traders who came here in the 19th century. Ugandans are strong in their faith and see no conflict in holding to some traditional beliefs. In times of trouble, as well as praying to the Christian or Muslim God, people may also consult a local oracle or healer. Many shrines to the spirits are still in active use.
LanguageUganda is ethnologically diverse, with at least 40 languages in usage. Luganda is the most common language. English is the official languages of Uganda, even though only a relatively small proportion of the population speak English. Access to economic and political power is almost impossible without having mastered that language. Swahili is relatively widespread as a trade language and was made an official national language in September 2005.
ClothingIn Uganda, the kanzu is the national dress of men in the country. Women from central and eastern Uganda wear a dress with a sash tied around the waist and large exaggerated shoulders called a gomesi. Women from the west and north-west drape a long cloth around their waists and shoulders called suuka. Women from the south-west wear a long baggy skirt and tie a short matching cloth across their shoulders. Women also wear a floor long dress called a busuti, which was introduced by the 19th century missionaries.
Weather and ClimateStraddling the equator, there is little year-round fluctuation in temperature and no real winter or summer. The hottest months are January and February when the average daytime range is 24-33°C (52-91°F) with peaks of up to 40°C/104°F in the far north. The south has two Wet seasons: from mid-September to November and March to May. The Dry season from December to February means only that it rains less and the gorilla parks remain fairly wet during these months. The second Dry season – from June and July – is considerably drier. Still, with 1,000 to 2,000mm (39.4-78.7in) of rain every year, it can rain at almost any time. The north, including Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, has one continuous Wet season from March to November and a more obvious Dry season from December to February.
Kampala's climate compared to Uganda's parksIn general, the south of Uganda shares the same tropical climate as Kampala. The city has a slightly milder climate due to its location near Lake Victoria. The parks in the south tend to be a bit warmer during the day and cooler at night. The areas at high altitude, including the gorilla parks, get considerably colder because temperatures drop by about 6°C for every 1,000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1,000ft). Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley in the north are warmer with daytime temperatures averaging 32°C/90°F.
- June, July & August – June and July are the driest months in most of the south, but it can still rain. Average temperatures hover around 27°C/81°F in the afternoon and 16°C/61°F in the morning. It will be colder at altitudes above 1300m/4265ft, including the gorilla parks.
- Unlike the south, these months are part of the wet season in the north. The far north, including Kidepo Valley, is semi-arid and can experience droughts some years.
- December, January & February – Most of the south has less rainfall, but still more when compared to June and July. It is slightly warmer with daytime temperatures of about 28°C/82°F and morning temperatures of 16°C/61°F. The north has a clear Dry season with little rain.
- March, April & May – There is more rainfall throughout the country during these months, with a clear peak in April in the south. Most days have some sunshine as well. The rain can make travel more difficult since dirt roads and forest trails used for gorilla tracking can become challenging to navigate. Daytime temperatures average around 28°C/82°F and morning temperatures around 16°C/61°F. It will be colder in the gorilla parks at high altitudes and warmer in the north.
- September, October & November – These months are comparable to March, April and May but, on average, there is a bit less rain. Daytime temperatures are around 28°C/82°F.