Uganda is a great destination to view wildlife in both forest and savannah. Not to be missed is gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga, while chimps can easily be spotted in Kibale and several other locations. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks offer wonderful savannah safaris with good wildlife viewing, as does the more remote Kidepo National Park.
$301 to $811 pp/day
Best Time to Go
June to August and December to February
June to September (It’s rarely crowded)
241,038km² / 93,065mi²
- One of the very few places to see endangered mountain gorillas
- Combine primate viewing with a classic savannah safari
- Good balance between vehicle, boat and walking activities
- Excellent birding
- Scenic beauty
Elephant, hippo, buffalo and zebra are plentiful in Uganda. Lion, giraffe and white rhino are more localized but easily seen in the right location. Leopard are less certain. The birding is a real highlight with more than 1,000 species recorded. So is the tracking of primates, in particular gorilla and chimp, but there are many other species worth watching. The antelope known as the Uganda kob is found in most savannah reserves and is a favorite prey of lion.
Uganda is a unique destination offering a wonderful mix of savannah and forest parks. Gorilla and chimp trekking are highlights, but many smaller primates can be seen as well. Uganda also offers great savannah safaris, and all of the Big Five are present. Lion is quite common in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo national parks, where they can often be found hunting Uganda kob.
Primates are especially well represented in Uganda. Patas monkey, red-tailed monkey, l’Hoest’s monkey, golden monkey, Ugandan red colobus and Uganda mangabey are some of the specials. The black-and-white colobus is widespread throughout the country. Uganda is home to a wide variety of antelope species. The Uganda kob, the national antelope, is locally common, while the rare sitatunga antelope is found in six national parks in the country but rarely seen.
Best Time for Wildlife Viewing
The 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.
WEATHER & CLIMATE
Uganda’s tropical climate is a little different in the north and south of the country. From March to November, the north experiences a rainy and warm Wet season, followed by an almost equally warm Dry season from December to February. The south, on the other hand has a pair of Dry seasons (December to February, and June to July) broken up by a pair of Wet seasons.
Straddling the equator, there is little year-round fluctuation in temperature. 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, but it can really rain at any time. The north, 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 parks
In 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. Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley in the north are warmer with daytime temperatures averaging 32°C/90°F.
Dry season – June to August and December to February
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.
- June, July & August – June and July are the driest months in the south, but it can still rain. 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. The north has a clear Dry season with little rain.
Wet season – March to May and September to November
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.
- 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.
- September, October & November – These months are comparable to March, April and May but, on average, there is a bit less rain.
WHEN TO GO
The drier months from June to August and December to February are the best for wildlife watching in Uganda. There’s also plentiful sunshine at this time. In the wetter months, there’s the possibility that rain will cut off roads and wash out your primate trekking adventure.
The best wildlife viewing months in Uganda are during the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Uganda. The habitat of rainforests is, by default, very wet, and one can’t avoid rain completely. However, after heavy rain, the skies often open up to bright sunshine.
June to August and December to February (All parks)
June to September (It’s rarely crowded, but you’ll need to book your gorilla permits long in advance)
March, April, May, October, November (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)
June-July and January-February (Little rainfall)
March, April and May (Peak of Wet season)
June to August and December to February –Dry Season
- This is the best time for gorilla trekking because these are the drier months
- In the savannah reserves, vegetation is less and animals gather around water sources, making wildlife easier to spot
- Even during the high season (June to September) the parks don’t feel crowded
- The skies are clear; there is less rain and more sunshine
- Gorilla permits need to be booked very far in advance
March to May and September to November –Wet Season
- The scenery of the savannah reserves is greener – it’s low season, resulting in lower rates
- Although wildlife in the savannah reserves is easier to spot in the Dry season, you’ll still see plenty
- There are many newborn animals
- Some of the roads get very bad and cars often get stuck; forest trails can become slippery and challenging
- You won’t be able to change your expensive gorilla permit if it pours with rain; departures go as scheduled
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