Are you planning your next vacation? Do you prefer exciting adventures over stale tourist traps? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Uganda may not be the first country that comes to your mind when you are planning your next adventure, but I can assure you that once you read our safari itinerary for Uganda, you will be itching to pay a visit to this beautiful country.
How to Get to Uganda
First things first, if you are planning a trip to Uganda you should know that this adventure will definitely be off-the-beaten-path, especially for those visiting from the United States. Expect a long flight to Entebbe international airport with a layover in Europe or the Middle East.
Visas for Uganda
You will need a visa to visit Uganda. Don’t worry though! Getting a visa to visit Uganda isn’t difficult, expensive, or complicated. When you enter the country you can purchase a Uganda visa for $50, or you can purchase a $100 visa that covers all of East Africa.
If you want to make sure that you have a visa ahead of time, you can also take care of that online here.
Keep in mind that you will need to have an up-to-date Yellow Fever vaccine in order to visit Africa, so before you start planning your trip to Uganda you will need to plan a trip to your doctor’s office to get that taken care of.
You should also be aware that, while US dollars are accepted within Uganda, many places require that they must be crisp bills that were printed after 2006. Make sure that you withdraw some cash before your trip and don’t be afraid to check the bills before leaving the bank. You’ll be thankful that you did.
How to Travel Around Uganda
Once you arrive in Uganda, you will have to decide how to travel within the country. Here are a few of our recommended ways.
Book a Uganda Safari
One of the best ways to get around within the country is by booking a Uganda safari. Not only is this a great way to get around, but it will ensure that you don’t miss anything while you are there, as your entire trip will be led by professional tour guides who live in the area.
The best part is if you book an African safari you won’t have to deal with the stress of planning your trip, as the entire vacation will be planned out for you. All you have to do is show up!
If you are looking for a Uganda safari to book, Home to Africa would be a great place to start. They offer twenty-one-day Uganda Safaris that include meals, accommodations, transportation, activities, and so much more!
While this method of travel may be a bit on the pricier side, we still recommend it as the best way to get around Uganda. Even though it may seem more expensive upfront, these prices are all-inclusive, meaning that once you arrive in Uganda, there will be little that you will have to pay for out of pocket. After all, who wants to spend their vacation balancing a budget?
Traveling on a safari tour is the safest option, especially when you book with a trusted company, such as the one that we mentioned. They also provide less extreme accommodations than you might find elsewhere. These factors make safaris a perfect way for families or older individuals to travel through African countries like Uganda.
Having the safety net of traveling in a large group with reputable local guides can also make booking a safari the perfect option for solo female travelers or any other individuals who are concerned about safety while traveling. While Uganda is generally considered a safe country, there are always risks associated with traveling through unfamiliar territory. Having someone that you can trust who knows the area can make a huge difference, and safaris can provide this safety net.
Safaris are truly the most laid-back and enjoyable way to see the beautiful country that is known as “the pearl of Africa.”
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous and you want to see as much of Africa as possible, or if you are on a tight budget and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort, a better option for you might be booking an overland tour.
Keep in mind that overland tours are not for the faint of heart, as the tours involve traveling long distances in buses and sleeping in tents, but for those who can’t afford a glamorous safari and are willing to give up luxury in order to experience the adventure of a lifetime, overland tours can be a godsend.
Keep in mind, however, that Overland tours usually only include the cost of transportation and food, so you will still need to leave room in your budget for extra costs that will come up for excursions.
Hire a Driver
If you want to have more control over your trip, rather than following a group itinerary, hiring a driver may be your best bet. A local driver can also provide tips and guidance from a local’s perspective, which can make the trip much more interesting and enlightening.
The only disadvantage to this is that it will require a lot more planning and preparation, but for those who enjoy planning trips, that might not be such a bad thing after all.
Keep in mind, however, that hiring a driver can pose potential safety risks, as it is a lot harder to find information about the reputability of individual drivers than on large tours. If you are hiring a driver, you will want to go through a reputable website and find a driver with plenty of good reviews. As long as you are smart about it, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Best Time of Year to Visit Uganda
The good news is, that you don’t have to worry much about temperature when visiting Uganda. Because Uganda is close to the equator, the temperature stays pretty consistent throughout the year. The bad news is, you will definitely need to plan your trip around the rain.
Uganda has rainy seasons and dry seasons. This means that if you go during the wrong time, you could end up traveling all the way to Africa only to have all of your activities rained out. If you plan smart, however, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Uganda has two dry seasons: December-February and June-July. Your best bet, if you don’t want the weather to put a damper on your adventure, would be to book your trip for one of those months.
If you are willing to risk getting wet in order to save a little bit of money, however, another option would be to plan your trip for a month before or after the dry season.
This way, the rainy season won’t be kicked into full gear, but the chance of bad weather will be enough to deter tourists and bring down the prices of some tours.
Editor’s Note: Want to read up on different wildlife Safaris in Uganda? Click here to read our best ones!
Uganda Itinerary: Our Ultimate Guide
For those of you who are taking the plunge and planning your own trip to Uganda, we want to make this process a little bit easier for you. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Uganda so that you can be sure that you don’t miss anything on your trip.
This guide is for a two-week trip, but it can definitely be adjusted to suit whatever time you have available.
Days 1-2: Kampala
Every trip to Uganda should begin in the capital of Kampala. Kampala is about an hour’s drive from the airport in Entebbe, but it is well worth the trip! Kampala is definitely the most bustling city in Uganda and it will provide a great introduction to the country.
Because the majority of your trip through Uganda will likely not provide the opportunity to stay in luxury hotels, Kampala can be a great place to splurge on accommodations and enjoy the opportunity to relax after a long flight. Kampala offers a great opportunity to relax, go shopping, enjoy some delicious food, and even get a massage.
Here’s the plan: spend your first day in Kampala resting and relaxing. Your second day can be spent exploring the city. Don’t worry about making any major plans. You will appreciate these two low-key days once you get into the hustle and bustle of your trip.
Days 3-4: Murchison Falls
Murchinson Falls is the largest national park in Uganda and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Uganda. Filled with a wide variety of wildlife and beautiful scenery, Murchinson falls is a great place to get acquainted with the diverse flora and fauna of Africa.
One activity that you don’t want to miss in Murchinson Falls National Park is the boat tour. This tour will take travelers on an adventure through the Nile River, where they will have the opportunity to see exotic animals as well as view the gorgeous 45-meter waterfall that the park is named after.
Murchinson Falls is a good bit out of the way from the rest of the stops on this trip and you will be spending the majority of day three traveling, but trust us! A good waterfall is always worth the wait, and this one will not disappoint.
Day four will be free for you to spend exploring the National Park, as well as enjoying that boat tour that we talked about.
Days 5-7: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers an almost endless array of things to do, especially for those who love spending their time in nature. As one of the world’s most biodiverse game parks, Queen Elizabeth National Park provides the opportunity for visitors to see lakes, forests, grasslands, and wetlands all in one stop!
Because Queen Elizabeth National is so biodiverse, containing a whopping 96 different species of mammals, this park is a great location to book a safari! You can book a day trip on one of the many land or sea safaris in the area for the opportunity to see hippos, elephants, leopards, and so much more! If you’re lucky, you may even have the opportunity to see the famous tree-climbing lions that inhabit the area.
While you are in the area, you will also want to be sure and make time for a chimpanzee hike in the nearby Kibale National Park. Only an hour’s drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Nation Park provides visitors with the unique opportunity to watch chimpanzees in their natural habitat. You will be amazed as you watch these fun little guys playfully hang from the trees and run through the forest.
While day five will be a long travel day, days six and seven will both be free for you to enjoy the area. We recommend spending the first day on a day safari trip and spending the second-day hiking and looking out for birds and chimpanzees.
Alternatively, you could also book a two or three-day safari that will guide you through your entire stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Days 8-10: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
If the Chimpanzees didn’t provide enough monkey business for one trip, you can continue the fun by watching gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Compared to the long hours that you have spent traveling so far, the trip from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will be a piece of cake. Still, you may want to spend the day resting once you arrive, as Gorilla trekking is no easy task.
Your day of gorilla trekking will begin early in the morning with a group meeting and possibly enjoying breakfast, depending on the tour. Your group will be accompanied by experienced guides who will help your group to locate a gorilla family to follow, as well as armed guards, who serve to protect the group in case anything goes wrong.
The time that it takes to locate a gorilla family can vary. Sometimes groups are able to locate a family in only thirty minutes, while other times it can take several hours. Once your group locates a gorilla family, you will be able to spend one hour watching and following them.
Gorillas aren’t the only primates that you will get to see on your journey. Along the way, many visitors are also able to spot chimpanzees, baboons, bush babies, blue monkies, red-tailed monkies, and much more!
If culture is your thing, Bwindi also provides the opportunity to visit the Pygmies, the original inhabitants of the Bwindi forest. There are several Pygmy villages outside the forest. The people are very friendly and love visitors. While visiting the Pygmy villages, you can meet amazing people, learn about tribal culture, and buy handmade crafts.
As for your day-by-day schedule in Bwindi, we recommend making day 8 a low-key day spent resting and exploring local villages. You can schedule your gorilla hike for day nine and expect it to be an all-day affair. Day ten can be spent on a few minor hikes and resting up for the next travel day.
Days 11-12: Lake Bunyoyi
Once you leave Murchison Falls, you should make your way over to Lake Bunyoyi, where you might even have the opportunity to see more gorillas in their natural habitat.
Lake Bunyoyi also affords some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country, and that’s saying something! The lake itself is surrounded by luscious green hillsides and includes twenty-nine islands scattered throughout its crystal blue waters. Overall, this place looks like something out of a fairytale.
The best part? This gorgeous body of water is safe for swimming! Being one of the few lakes in east Africa that isn’t teeming with predators, such as hippos and crocodiles, Lake Bunyoyi is an absolute oasis for water lovers that goes far beyond what any beach could offer.
To break down your time at Lake Bunyoyi, day eleven will be spent traveling and exploring and day twelve will be spent relaxing and swimming in the beautiful lake.
If you like taking pretty pictures, be sure to have your camera ready for this one, as it is without a doubt the best place in the country for an Instagram-worthy photo shoot.
Days 13-14: Return to Kampala
After leaving Bwindi, you can begin winding down your trip by traveling back to Kampala. This will be quite a long trip, and you should expect to spend an entire day traveling. Once you arrive at Kampala, you will need to get a good night’s rest before making yet another long journey back home.
Uganda is definitely overlooked by most vacation goers. Often Africa as a whole is overlooked, as it is usually not portrayed as a “hot tourist destination.” Even the people who do decide to take the plunge and book a trip to Africa often tend to focus on the more populated areas, such as South Africa-yet, this quaint, modest country has so much beauty, life, and adventure to provide to visitors.
If you are looking for your next adventure, this is definitely not a country that you want to overlook, especially now that you know all of the inside tips and tricks to have an amazing trip. We hope that this article helped to prepare you for the ultimate safari adventure of a lifetime.
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