Inspiring Wildlife Experiences in Uganda
You know about the Serengeti and the Mara. You may be familiar with Madikwe in South Africa or the Okavango Delta in Botswana. But for many, Uganda remains an unknown entity as a safari destination. One of our favourite areas of the country is Kidepo Valley National Park in the far north, which is a thrilling safari experience with wonderfully few other visitors. However more popular areas of the country also have much to recommend themselves. From seeing the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest to snapping pictures of the famous shoe-bill stork in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda offers a wildlife experience that is completely its own.
There are over 5000 chimpanzees found in Uganda many of them in National Parks while others are in Wildlife Preserves and other places that they find conducive to their lifestyle. Our closest relative in the animal kingdom, they share 98.9% of the same genes as man. Seeing the Chimpanzees acting like humans in their own environment in an amazing experience.
There are a number of places where you can track habituated wild chimpanzees in Uganda including Kyambura Gorge and Kibale forest. Kibale is home to 1,500 Chimpanzees plus 12 other species of primates besides many endemic birds, mammals, and exotic jungle plants and trees. Observing the chimps here is a fantastic family activity as it is a far easier trek than the hike to see the mountain gorillas.
Bwindi National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to approximately 330 Mountain gorillas: almost half of the world’s total population. Bwindi is also the only forest in Africa which has Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas co-existing. As well as hosting five other species of primate, the forest contains 113 species of mammal, over 200 species of butterfly, 360 bird species, 324 tree species and even a herd of forest elephant. This seems like reason enough to visit Bwindi but there are also some great cultural experiences which we feel makes this area extra special.
We can arrange for a local villager to take you on a fascinating walk around the community to see what is happening. Visit the local witch doctor, see how they ferment bananas into wine and gin (with tasters of course) and see the local school. We would also highly recommend visiting the local hospital who have extremely informative staff who are very enthusiastic in explaining what initiatives they have put in place to help the community. Due to its extremely remote location women come to the hospital 2 or 3 weeks prior to giving birth so that they are at the hospital when they go into labor. A dorm has been set up for ladies to stay in when they are expecting and this has dramatically reduced the amount of women and babies dying in childbirth.
Another brilliant initiative helping women in the area is a charity called Ride 4 a Woman. Here women have restored old bicycles and will take you out on rides around the community.
This has allowed them to raise enough money to buy sewing machines which they use to create laptop cases, Iphone covers, aprons and other products with the extremely colourful Ugandan material. It is really inspiring to see these positive projects which really have a huge impact of the surrounding people.
Queen Elizabeth National Park: a bird watcher’s dream
Queen Elizabeth National Park consists of two thousand square kilometres of bushy grassland, acacia woodland, lakeshore, swamp and forest grassland. Due to the diverse habitats, the park is home to 612 recorded bird species. Among these include the Shoebill stork, African skimmer, Chapins flycatcher, Pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus canary, martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail as well as the great flamingos. There is also the possibility of seeing the elusive Forest Hog and the Ugandan Kob.
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers many different exciting wildlife experiences. In the southern west tip of the park there is an area called Ishasha which is well known for its tree-climbing lion. Kyambura Gorge in the North-Eastern side of the park is home to a number of primates including red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus, baboons, vervet monkeys and a habituated group of chimpanzees.
Another highlight is the Kazinga channel which is approximately 40 meters long connecting the two Lakes; Lake Gorge to the east and Lake Edward to the west. The shores of this channel draw a large number of wild animals, birds in addition to reptiles all through the year, with one of the largest population of hippos in the whole world as well as plentiful Nile crocodiles.