Uganda Safari Holidays

Gorilla, chimps and big game all inhabit Uganda, where the East African savannah runs in to Central African rainforest, generating astounding diversity

The only country where it's possible to encounter both Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzees and undertake a first-class classic "big-game" safari

From the semi-desert of Karamoja, to the snow-capped mountains of the Rwenzoris and the "impenetrable" Bwindi rainforests: Uganda seems to capture the eclectic natural beauty of the whole African continent.

Uganda is an extraordinarily green and beautiful land. Straddling the equator it is approximately the size of the UK, with no less than a sixth of the country covered in fresh water - a combination of numerous Rift Valley Lakes, the mighty Nile and mammoth Lake Victoria.

The biggest attraction are the mountain gorillas, of which approximately 300 (a third of the surviving global population) live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Several habituated families can be reliably visited in well-organised, small trekking parties. Chimpanzee tracking, with the option of a full-day habituation experience in the Kibale Forest, is another alluring possibility.

Apart from the great apes there are several national parks sheltering more familiar East African wildlife - lions & leopards, elephants & giraffe, hippo & hyena:

Queen Elizabeth National Park is the best park in Uganda for big game. We particularly like the wild and remote Ishasha sector, famed for its tree-climbing lions, situtated on the doorstep of gorilla country. An astounding 547 bird species have been recorded in QENP, among the highest figures for any single protected area in the world.

In the arid north-east of Uganda Kidepo Valley is cut-off from the rest of the Ugandan Parks, accesible only by air, which definitely adds to the feeling of wilderness and splendid isolation. Part of Kidepo's attraction is the chance to see some of the 28 dryland specialist mammals not found anywhere else in the country, including charismatic Bat-eared Foxes, caracal and cheetah.

Murchison Falls is named for the famous cataracts where the Victoria Nile rushes through a 20 foot wide gorge crashing on to rocks 150 foot below. Fish dazed by the ride are easy prey for one of the largest concentrations of crocodiles in Africa lurking below. Superb game-viewing and sport fishing is possible here.

Semliki Game Reserve is the site where the savannah and forest coverge, making for compelling wildlife-watching with buffalo, lion and leopard occuring in the same habitat as forest hog and mangabeys.

THE LESS-IS-MORE FORMULA NATURAL HIGH ADVOCATES MAKES COMPLETE SENSE. LUXURY LIES IN EXPOSING THE SENSORY, INSTINCTIVE SELF TO THE SCENTS AND SOUNDS OF THE WILD ”

- The Daily Beast

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Experiences

Africa's Great Apes

Where, when and how

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It's not just about the Great Apes

Uganda is rightly known for it's gorillas and Chimps, but there is so much more to this diverse country

Because the Great Apes are such a big draw in Uganda there’s a common assumption that they are the sole attraction, this is a massive misconception. Uganda should merit shortlisting for a safari even were the country, as in most of East and southern Africa, completely devoid of Gorillas and Chimpanzees, or encountering these particular primates have little appeal to you. ALL the mammals that collectively represent the cast of a classic safari can be seen here, and seen well - lion reliably loll in fig trees in Ishasha, cheetah stalk the plains of Kidepo, leopard and hyena are widespread, as are giraffe, elephant and buffalo.
 
The official Ugandan mammal checklist boasts an extremely impressive 132 ‘larger mammals’ (no bats, rats or other peripherals) and while it’s true that primates are prolific, this isn’t at the expense of carnivores (seven cats, three hyenas, Wild Dog & Bat-eared Fox all present) or herbivores with over a dozen large antelope thriving, including eland, roan, Greater and Lesser Kudu alongside the ubiquitous, eponymous kob.
 
Paradoxically, the misconception that Ugandan wildlife is not the of same caliber as the more celebrated areas only serves to make it a better experience for the enlightened few.

The country receives a fraction of the number of visitors that make their way to the Masai Mara, Serengeti, Kruger, Etosha or Chobe each year. Added to this the parks are many and disparate, so there’s not one single circuit, meaning that encountering massed ranks of safari jeeps at a sighting, a uniquely effective way to destroy the ambience, is virtually unknown. Over time this will likely change and Uganda will one day take its rightful place among the safari luminary, but until that happens it’s possibly the best kept secret on the continent.
 

ALL the mammals that collectively represent the cast of a classic safari can be seen here, and seen well - lion reliably loll in fig trees in Ishasha, cheetah stalk the plains of Kidepo, leopard and hyena are widespread, as are giraffe, elephant and buffalo”

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BEST TIME TO GO TO UGANDA - understanding a complex climate

As a rule the best wildlife viewing months in Uganda are during the dry seasons from June to mid-September and December to February.

Primate trekking, particularly for Gorillas and Chimpanzees are a big part of any safari to Uganda. Because the habitat for these Great Apes is rainforest, which be definition is wet, you can never avoid rain completely. 

If combining Great Apes with a savannah safari then you may want to steer clear of the wettest months: March, April, May, October, November - although the chance of encounterring less people and benefitting from low season rates on accommodation and permits can have its own appeal. 

Uganda's equatorial climate is significantly tempered by its elevated altitude. There's regional variation in rainfall patterns across the country. In western Uganda and the Lake Victoria region it can rain at any time of year, however as a rough guide the wet-seasons are from mid-September to November and from March to May.

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How to travel in Uganda

Uganda is particularly blessed in having multiple disparate attractions within reasonably easy reach of each other

"Safari" is a Swahili word derived from the Arabic "safar" - both of which mean journey. In English it has come to mean a mission to observe, or historically hunt, big game.

Uganda, possibly more than anywhere else on the continent, offers the ability to both journey and watch wildlife. All the National Parks bar Kidepo are accesible by road and it is perfectly possible to weave your way accross country taking in several completely contrasting areas without spending marathon sessions in a vehicle. By far the best way to do this is with a private vehicle and guide who willl be with you throughout and engaging specialist local guides in each location. Having wended your way west or north at the end of your safari you can fly back to Entebbe and out, having got a really good feel for the country and its fauna.   

If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari again”

- Karen Blixen

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SAMPLE TRIP

Ugandas Great Apes

Highlights:

Uganda's Gorillas and Chimps combined with some excellent classic safari country

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SAMPLE TRIP

Uganda's Big Game

Highlights:

Classic safari Uganda-style in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo

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Natural High shines rays of adventurous light into some of the least explored, most exciting corners of the wider world”

- FINACIAL TIMES

The journey to meet some of planet Earth’s last Mountain Gorillas ought to have an element of pilgrimage to it

These days scheduled flights can get you from Kampala to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in a couple of short hours. However, if time allows, we think it’s worth considering the slow route and going overland.

There’s something about the time taken; ten hours or so, perhaps stopping on the way in Lake Mburo National Park, followed by the steep and strenuous walk through the dense forest undergrowth, that serves to underline quite how special an opportunity this is. 

It feels appropriate that the journey to meet some of planet Earth’s last  Mountain Gorillas ought to have an element of the pilgrimage to it.  Time to contemplate.

Only 150 years ago many in the west believed Gorillas to be as mythical as the unicorn, and in the past few decades that analysis has come perilously close to being the case. 

These days though, albeit in the face of a continuing threat of total global extinction, Bwindi’s Gorillas are for the moment a story of success.  With numbers in recent years increasing to 400, half of the population of the world’s Mountain Gorillas now live in Bwindi.

With time restricted to one hour in the presence of the Gorillas, it could be argued that it’s a long way to go, one hell of an uphill struggle to get there and only a short time when you get there. 

But then without the support of dedicated conservation efforts, aided by the tourist dollar that supports the communities around Bwindi this could more truthfully be said to apply to the plight of the Gorillas themselves.

It feels appropriate that the journey to meet some of planet Earth’s last Mountain Gorillas ought to have an element of the pilgrimage to it. Time to contemplate.”

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Uganda's Highlights

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Home of the iconic mountain gorilla

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Uganda's Highlights

Murchison Falls & Lake Albert

Uganda's largest park and home to the famous falls

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Uganda's Highlights

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Famous for it's tree-climbing lions

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Blog

Gorilla trekking Safari in Uganda’s Bwindi Forest

Anyone who has looked into the intelligent eyes of a gorilla reports it to be a profoundly disconcerting, and deeply moving experience.  The...
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Blog

When is the best time to visit Uganda?

Uganda, where the eastern savannah meets the central African rainforest creating one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and coupled with it...
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Our experienced travellers include:

Andrea Hulme
Andrea Hulme
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan
Olly Williams
Olly Williams

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

Reviews

Another Perfect Trip

"Morocco was our fourth trip with Natural High and true to past trips, the itinerary was right on point for our interest and goals, all logistics went off without a hitch and the service throughout the trip was high end. Everyone we worked with were friendly and professional. We had a fantastic time...Thank you!"

Tom & Karen Holterhoff

Perfect holiday from start to finish.

"Absolutely excellent service. The itinerary was spot on and the whole holiday worked like clockwork. The pre holiday notes and briefing were most useful too. I would have no hesitation in recommending Natural High Safaris to others."

Angela R CR

Fabulous trip to Tanzania

"This is the second time we have used Natural High Safaris, and again they organised an outstanding holiday for us, this time in Tanzania, combining a safari and beach holiday that was top-notch. Highly recommend them, with huge range of experience and desire to really understand what it is their clients want - and then delivering! Thanks to Catherine Ronan."

Anonymous

An outstanding trip to the Himalayas superbly designed by Natural High.

"Natural High organised a 2 week family trip to Ladakh in August 2018. Andrea Hulme used her local knowledge to design an exciting trip that included a 5 day trek, white water rafting and numerous cultural visits and experiences. Their local partners Shakti were absolutely outstanding and we loved staying in the village houses as opposed to hotels. Their female Ladakhi guide Sonam was really one of the best we have every had on our travels."

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"Yet again another great holiday arranged by Natural High - Air France tried to ruin it but Natural High and their local agent were very helpful in resolving the problems caused. ."

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