Experience incredible biodiversity and warm Ugandan hospitality in one road trip adventure!
Uganda is home to incredible natural beauty and one of the most diverse and concentrated ranges of animal life in all of Africa. The dominant tourism draw is the highly endangered mountain gorilla, and Uganda gorilla tours are incredibly popular. In keeping with our mission to provide authentic road trip adventures, Planet Ride features a couple of Uganda safaris. However, our trips are far from the average touristy schemes that plague the industry! We work diligently to find expert local guides whom we can trust and rely on to provide an amazing experience. Our guides are highly knowledgeable about the countries you’ll visit, the vehicles you’ll travel in, and every other aspect of your trip. Whether you need a hand understanding the local road signs or a restaurant menu, changing a flat tire, or deciding on which sights to see, they’ve got you covered!
Take, for example, our 3-day exploration of Uganda on the Bwindi gorilla track. While it is only one of many gorilla safaris in Uganda, we promise Greg, your guide, will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Planet Ride chose to partner with Greg based on his experience, professionalism, and reliability. He is even the co-founder and president of the Ruhengeri Community Eco-Tourism Association, a local association of people collaborating to enhance tourism! If that resume doesn’t instill confidence (and excitement), we don’t know what would.
This 4×4 trip begins in Kigali, Rwanda, where you and your travel partners will meet Greg, load up in Toyota Landcruisers, and hit the road. After arriving at your accommodations in Bwindi, it’ll be time for dinner before winding down for the night. The next day, you’ll start early on your trek to catch a glimpse of the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the only African forest that is home to both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. It is also home to hundreds of other species, including 200 types of butterflies and over 350 types of birds. Don’t worry, before we set out on our one of a kind gorilla safaris in Uganda you’ll receive a short briefing on how best to find these gentle giants and how to behave when you encounter them. After a full day in the park, we’ll spend the night resting and relaxing before returning to Kigali the next day.
While the game reserves and national parks are certainly the main attraction, and Uganda safaris will be hard to top, there is still plenty to explore and experience. Be sure not to miss a visit to a coffee or cocoa farm, as the country is renowned for high-quality exports of both. For a little more excitement, go horseback riding or whitewater rafting. Then, there’s also the opportunity for a leisurely bicycle ride through Fort Portal as you enjoy the colonial architecture that dots the town.
Uganda’s weather varies a bit depending on your particular location within the country, so plan accordingly. Southern Uganda is wetter with rain generally spread throughout the year, while Entebbe, which sits on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, receives most of its rainfall from March to June and in November and December. Further to the north, a dry season dominates the months of November to February and the northeastern region is dry enough to be prone to droughts in some years. Based on all of this, we plan our Bwindi gorilla trek for June through October and would recommend that as a great travel period.
Most gorilla safaris in Uganda set out from Entebbe and travel southwest to the highland parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga. Some tours, like ours, will journey from neighboring countries. Assuming you plan to arrive by plane, Entebbe Airport is the primary destination for international air travel to Uganda, and there are numerous airlines connecting to other African cities, as well as further away hubs, like Istanbul. Be aware, however, that since July 2016, nationals of the EU, US, Canada, and a number of other countries have been required to apply online for a visa prior to traveling to Uganda. Consider either the single-entry tourist visa which is valid for 30 to 90 days or the East Africa Tourist Visa which allows up to 90 days of travel in Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya.
Uganda’s culture is built on numerous different ethnic communities and is very diverse. The country has a tumultuous past, and even present, but the people are generally welcoming and kind. Be respectful and open and embrace the local cultures! If you do, you are sure to have a fantastic travel experience. Along the way, be sure to try a few of the local specialties. There is Luwombo, which is meat or fish steamed in banana leaves. It has an incredible aroma and is always served with “food,” which in Ugandan parlance, indicates any starchy carbohydrate. That food varies from region to region and might include plantain matooke in the south, millet in the north, and potatoes in the west. Cassava, posho (made from ground maize) and rice are also common. Along the lakes and waterways, one might find whole fried Tilapia or slices of Nile Perch, usually served with chips. Other everyday dishes around the country include matooke, binyebwa (groundnut sauce), chapati, and goat’s meat stew.
While you aren’t likely to have any troubles during your Uganda safaris, there are a few key items to be aware of prior to traveling. You should definitely keep your wits about you and use common sense. Urban areas are home to the same types of crime as anywhere else in the world. Beyond that, be mindful of the fact you will be around wild animals, and that this part of the world is still home to some strife and rebel groups, as well as poaching. Rest assured, though, while there may be a visible security presence, this is a preventative measure rather than a response to anything specific. On a different front, make sure you are up to date on vaccinations and that you have medicines for malaria and the other diseases and health threats that can be present in Uganda. Lastly, visitors are advised to check with their local Ugandan embassy or immigration department prior to travel; good advice for any trip no matter the country!