Catch up on our Uganda event

Missed our Uganda event? Catch up on the full recording, find the answers to your questions and see the highlights from the event here…

26 April 2022

More than 300 of you tuned into our Uganda event to hear Charlotte Beauvoisin, writer of the award-winning blog Diary of a Muzungu, speak live from this incredible country alongside other expert speakers from Wildlife Worldwide and the Uganda Tourist Board. We learned all about Uganda’s incredible wildlife and fascinating culture.

If you missed the event or had to leave early, then don’t worry. We have the full recording of the event plus the answers to your questions right here…

Watch the full recording

Your questions answered

Where was Charlotte talking from?
I was talking live from Kyaninga Lodge a high-end lodge near Fort Portal and Kibale Forest (so a good base for chimp tracking).

Can you drive yourself around Uganda or is it easier to get a driver?
Self-drive holidays are possible but not recommended if you haven’t done an African road trip before. We always recommend having a driver guide. They know every road – and pothole! They will tell you what time you need to leave your lodge for your next activity, maintain your vehicle and generally be a really good addition to your experience of Uganda. Ideally hire a trained guide with expertise in your particular interest e.g. safari, birding, culture, etc. If you do choose to self-drive, don’t drive at night. Very few roads are lit and it can be dangerous. I frequently take bus trips between Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. It’s incredibly cheap but they don’t have the best safety reputation. I would recommend this road trip for the rainy season.

Can you self drive in the game parks?
Yes it’s possible to drive yourself in the game park but you must stick to the marked tracks. Failure to do so may result in a cash fine or even eviction from the park. If you travel independently, you will need to have an armed ranger escort, at your (small) cost. Choose the right one, and you will have an expert guide to the park. Although the idea of doing your own game drive sounds exciting, local people know exactly where the different wildlife hunts and sleeps. (It’s amazing what you may drive past while looking in the other direction!)

What budget do you recommend per day, excluding air fares?
Options can vary wildly according to the standard of accommodation and the number of people in your group. You generally pay a little more for being inside a National Park. Uganda has a range of accommodation from homestays and campsites to mid-range accommodation and luxury lodges with spas and butler service. Daily rate would include: 4×4 vehicle with English-speaking driver and fuel. Most vehicles are minibus vans. For best value, travel in a group of four or more; Accommodation and meals; Activities such as game drives and nature walks (excluding gorilla / chimp tracking permits).

Generally speaking, allow a budget of $200 or more / day to cover all of the above. If opting to stay in high-end lodges, daily rates would start at $450 per person.

How accessible and reliable is medical care?

The first thing to remember is to buy travel insurance before you travel to Uganda. It’s easy to access basic medical advice and clinics but if you take regular medication, do bring a good supply with you. It can be difficult to access certain medicines outside Kampala, however, you will easily find malaria testing and treatment facilities, for example. Prevention is always better than cure. Minimise health risks by taking antimalarials, sleeping under a mosquito net and alerting your guide or travel company if you are feeling unwell. Drink bottled water (few tourists complain of stomach upsets in Uganda).

For more serious health issues, you would need to get to a town or even Kampala. Medivac evacuation (by helicopter for example) is available but very expensive. Compared to many, Ugandans have not been badly hit by COVID-19. Read my advice about various health and safety issues based on my 10+ years living in Uganda.

What is so special about seeing mountain gorillas?

What isn’t special about a mountain gorilla? They are the largest primates on the planet and are gentle giants. Coming face-to-face with such a beautiful species is a once in a lifetime encounter. Words really don’t do the experience justice, but I can’t recommend it enough. It really will change the way you see the world. You can see mountain gorillas with Wildlife Worldwide.

How does seeing chimpanzees differ from seeing mountain gorillas?
Both are obviously incredible experiences but they do have their differences. The first difference is the terrain. The mountain gorillas can be a little tougher to get to – as their name suggests they live in the mountains of south west Uganda whereas the chimps live in a habitat of rolling hills. The next major difference is the experience with the two species. The gorillas are usually very sedate and the encounters are incredibly intimate. The chimpanzees by comparison can be incredibly intense, often on the move and very noisy. Both are magical wildlife experiences and I can’t really recommend one over the other, so if you are going to Uganda I suggest you make the most of both. You can see chimpanzees with Wildlife Worldwide.

Where and when is the best time and place to see giraffe and elephants?
The best place to see giraffe would definitely be Murchison Falls National Park. Elephant can be easily seen in both Queen Elizabeth & Murchison Falls National Park. Typically, as for any safari, the best time to visit is in the dry seasons when the weather conditions are more favourable.

How easy is it to see the Shoebill Bird?
I once saw three Shoebills on the Delta boat ride in Murchison Falls National Park. Their size makes them easy to spot but they are shy and very few in number. Make sure you have an expert guide. If you absolutely have to see the Shoebill and time or budget are an issue, why not pass by Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe? In addition to the Shoebill, you can see indigenous species such as elephant, lion, white rhino, chimpanzee and serval cats. Another location that is an easy drive from Entebbe is Mabamba Bay. Although the Shoebill can be viewed in other parts of Uganda, the above are the most popular Shoebill viewing destinations.

Wildlife Worldwide’s recommended places to see wildlife in Uganda
There are so many, but here are the best spots and what you can see in each:

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Mountain gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Mountain gorillas & golden monkey.

Queen Elizabeth National Park – Tree-climbing lion, elephant , chimpanzee, Ugandan kob.

Kibale Forest – Chimpanzees, other primates and birds.

Murchison Falls National Park – Nile crocodile, countless bird, typical safari species giraffe, elephant, lion, buffalo and hippo.

Kidepo Valley National Park – The only place in Uganda you can see cheetah and very good for lion. The landscape here is spectacular.

Mabamba Swamp – Shoebill.

Top travel tips from our expert speakers

Charlotte: Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda is the country’s most popular National Park (yet for all that, there are few tourists compared to many of Africa’s tourist areas). The park is named after the dramatic falls where the River Nile narrows from 1/2 a kilometre wide to just seven metres wide and plunges 43 metres. It’s a fantastic sight, seen from below via boat or from above. At the Top of the Falls, you can feel the power of the water in the rocks beneath your feet. I write about it in Stirring up magic at the Devil’s Cauldron, Murchison Falls. Murchison is an excellent safari destination, whether for game drives, safari boat rides, birdwatching or chimp tracking in Budongo. It is an excellent place to see the Shoebill, one of Murchison’s 400+ bird species.

Bret: For myself, as a wildlife photographer and guide, the undoubted draw in Uganda is the experience with the mountain gorillas. Although it is expensive and can involve a trek at altitude, it is up there with the most magical things you can do anywhere in the world. Even now, just thinking back to my first encounter with the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest I get emotional.

What did you have to say?

Thanks all. Now looking at a trip.

Thank you I will be booking!

Thanks very much. It’s been a great evening. Great words from great people. Thanks very much to Charlotte and your friends, good job.

Excellent evening, thank you!

Thank you, interesting as usual!

Thank you for a fascinating insight into Uganda. I really enjoyed the event and would love to visit there!

Thank you for a wonderful evening. It reminds us of the great time we had in Uganda (and that was without seeing the gorillas as we felt we weren’t fit enough for the trek). It also made us want to go again.

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