Uganda is a country with hidden gems, isolated rural communities in the countryside, and wildlife good areas that go beyond mountain gorillas. The African country is far more diverse than you could think and it is one of Africa’s best safari destinations. The major destinations here are unevenly distributed and have different circuits that go to these destinations. This write-up is about Uganda’s most epic safari circuits.
The Eastern Loop
The eastern safari circuit is Uganda’s most spectacular and scenic circuit. The roads here are less traveled but are full of wonder. It is away from the most popular and most traveled trail in the west. It starts from the Capital, Kampala via Mabira Forest where you can follow the forest birds and primates at canopy level using the Skyway zip line at the forest on your way to Jinja.
Jinja is the adventure capital of East Africa and it is where the River Nile starts its 6800km journey from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea. The turbulent waters of the Nile as they head north of Jinja have an exciting menu of activities from White water rafting, boat cruises, kayaking, bungee jumping, tubing, river boarding, quad biking, and horse riding among others.
The extinct volcano-Mt. Elgon is the most distinctive geographical feature on the loop and it is the world’s largest Caldera. On the slopes of the mountain, are 3 series of waterfalls in a small hamlet-Sipi Village on the Sipi River. The communities around are welcoming and famous coffee growers. In the far northeast corner, on the border of Kenya and South Sudan, is the Kidepo Valley National park which is one of Africa’s great wilderness with a range of unique wildlife only found here in Uganda.
If you are looking for Uganda’s best and unspoiled cultural region, then you can’t skip the loop. The Karamojong pastoralists who live between Mt. Elgon and Kidepo living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, the Bagisu who is famous for the Imbalu ceremony that is held twice every even year in which boys are initiated into manhood by braving the knife to remove the foreskin on their manhood, the Tepeth in Moroto ranges, and the IK who are a small population living in Mt. Morungole inside Kidepo Valley national park, add spice to safari through the loop.
The Circuit: Kampala-Jinja-Kapchorwa (Mt. Elgon)-Moroto-Kidepo Valley National Park
The Western Circuit
Natural areas are a magnet to visitors and they are the biggest reason why the western circuit has the most traveled roads amongst all circuits. The area is in the Albertine Rift Valley area and has the biggest concentration of parks in Uganda.
It stretches from the southwestern corner at Mgahinga Gorilla National park where mountain gorillas roam the 31sqkm forest together with golden monkeys to the trails of Bwindi Impenetrable National park for a close encounter of the thrilling kind. The two parks have a remarkable diversity and dramatic landscapes with mountain gorillas being the star attraction. A few kilometers east of Bwindi, is the valley dammed lake- Lake Bunyonyi that is growing as Uganda’s best waterfront chill-out place. It is Africa’s second deepest lake, with rich history and dotted with 29 islands.
North of these two, the landscape is pocked by craters from the seismic activities that happened millions of years ago (some filled with water to form lakes and others dry), covered by savanna grasslands and patches of tropical rain forests. There is an abundance of flora and fauna that is made of the big game in Queen Elizabeth National park, highlighted by the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, the life in and along the Kazinga Channel, The birds of Semliki National park on the hot floor of the rift valley alongside the 103o C boiling hot springs before joining the East African Savanna to go and chill at the snowcapped Rwenzori mountains and the primates of Kibale Forest.
Isolated from these is Lake Mburo National park, which offers a break on the long drive between Kampala and southwest. It has a mosaic of habitats that include woodlands, grasslands, forest patches, swamps, and open waters. It is a unique park, with unique activities like walking safaris and cycling safaris because it has a low count on the big 5.
The route: Kampala-Lake Mburo National park- Lake Bunyonyi- Mgahinga Gorilla National park-Bwindi Forest-Queen Elizabeth National park- Rwenzori Mountains National park- Semliki National park-Kibale Forest National park.
Murchison Falls National park in the North West connects the two circuits as it is only near Kampala (380km) and it is a Jewel divided by the Nile River and a steep escarpment that drops from Bunyoro Escarpment to Lake Albert in the Albertine Rift Valley still. The Nile River and Ziwa Rhino tracking add magic to this Uganda’s favorite circuit.
The loop goes to Uganda’s largest conservation Area 3840km2, Murchison Falls National park. The falls here are an electrifying sight of the kind in East Africa with a fast-flowing and wide Nile River forcing its self through the 7m gorge to create exploding white waters that drop 43m before continuing the flow northwards. It is the loop that fulfills the Africa Big 5 Safari because, along the loop, travelers do an on-foot Rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary before or after exploring the palm-dotted plains and ticking some of the 76 mammal species at the park that include 4 of the Big 5.
These circuits are explained in accordance to the main attractions along each loop, but off the beaten tracks, there is a lot more than just what is mentioned and a lot can be embedded into a safari on each loop to give the most and the best of Uganda.
Book your next safari to Uganda to these remote regions with us.