Visit SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK

Initially known as Toro game reserve, Uganda’s only remaining low land forest is located in Bundibugyo District beyond Rwenzori Mountains on the floor of Albertine rift valley. It lies on Uganda’s boarder with Democratic Republic of Congo.

The enormous part of the reserve is dominated by low land forests. The park was established as a game reserve in 1926 and is among the oldest reserves in Uganda. The reserve is now famously known for it’s a birding haven, right spot for birding and its rapid hot springs, Sempaya hot springs.

Semuliki National Park being an extension of Africa’s largest forest called Ituri forest that even goes and spreads out irregularly to Rwenzori Mountains, covers a land total area of about 545km2 south nearing the shores of famous Lake Albert and North of the Bundibugyo extending to Ntoroko. Uganda Wildlife Authority manages the park.

Explore Uganda Safaris

ATTRACTIONS IN KIDEPO

Kidepo valley national game park is known for having the biggest number of mammals among Uganda’s national parks. This includes the predators and other species. The big four of the five cats, that is leopards and the lions that are seen from time to time, and the elephants and buffaloes that are so common within the park.

Other mammal species that are within the park are the zebras, oribis, Uganda kob, elands, Jackson’s hartebeest, hyenas, giraffes, wild dogs, bared fox, black-backed and the side-striped jackal.

There are other rare species which are not found in any national park that are cheetah, caracal, aardwolf, mountain reedbuck, greater and Gunther’s dik-dik. The rare patas monkeys are also spotted in some parts of the park which are covered with savannah vegetation.

 Most of the birds found in Kidepo are rare. The park has over 475 bird species making it second to Queen Elizabeth national game park. Kidepo has 16 Sudan and guinea savvans, 3 Somali species and 21 Afro tropical bird species. The top two rare species are the black-breasted barbet and the Karamoja Apalis.

 

 Other bird species are ostriches, golden pipit, dark chanting goshawk, black-breasted barbet, Abyssinian roller, Abyssinian scimitarbill, Fan-tailed raven, Mosque swallow,  Brown-backed woodpecker, Jackson’s hornbill, Purple grenadier, Red-winged lark, White-faced scops, Rupell’s starling, Superb sterling, White-bellied tit, Rufous chatter, Ethiopian swallow, Brown-rumped bunting, Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Chestnut-crowned sparrow weavers, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Violet-tipped Courser, Fox Kestrel and the White-billed buffalo weavers.

This is a striking valley with rolling grasslands and distant isolated mountains. Most of the wildlife is usually found here because this place has permanent water hence providing the best game drives accompanied with four loop circuits, especially during the dry seasons. Lions, buffaloes, orIbis and reedbucks are commonly seen around this place.

 

The rarely seen animals are the cheetahs and leopards. You can as well reach the finishing ends of the south of the Katurum loop that provides the best views of the Morungole mountain ranges. Kidepo River and travellers are demanded to walk through the shrubs and thicket to this destination. the water here is beyond 50 degrees Celsius.

These hot springs are located 11 kilometres away from you are able to encounter different types of vegetation, birds as well as animals.

These hills are located just near Kidepo valley national game park headquarters. These Lomeji hills are favourable for birdwatching as well as game viewing. Some of the bird species that can be seen are the rare mountain reedbuck

ACTIVITIES TO DO IN KIDEPO

Kidepo Valley game park offers the best game viewing and dives because it has the biggest number of animals found in the open savannah. This activity is best done at Narus Valley where most of the animals gather. Lions are usually seen at the rock tops. The best time to do this activity is during the morning hours when the herbivores are grazing as cats are hunting.  But during the afternoon hours, you are more likely to find these animals around water sources. Game drives can be done during the morning, afternoon and night.

The morning game drives are conducted starting from 6:00 am, the afternoon game drives start at 2:00 pm and the night game drives are conducted after dinner.

During the morning game drive, you are able to spot different animals like giraffes, elephants, zebras, buffaloes, oribi and lesser kudos grazing in the open savannah.

During the afternoon game drive, you will get to encounter animals like buffalos, Oribis. You may not get a chance to see the big cats since the sun is hot during that time of the day.

On night game drives, with the help of a torch and a game ranger, you are able to spot different nocturnal animals like leopards and cheetahs plus wild dogs.

Kidepo is an excellent destination where every bird lover would wish and love to watch birds. The checklist is over 475 different bird species. The national park is ranked second to Queen Elizabeth National Park for having the biggest number of bird species. What makes bird watching interesting in this game park is that you are able to spot rare species that are found nowhere else in Uganda’s national game parks. Some of the rare species include ostriches, black-breasted barbet, and Karamoja Apalis.

Book a game ranger who will join you to do nature walks at Apoka Tourism Center. along the way, this game ranger will protect you from big cats and any other animals.  Souvenir shopping can be done since the centre is full of craft shops selling tourism books, and beverages like soda and water. Food is also cooked at one’s wish, you can as well hire utensils like forks, spoons, plates, and cups.

This demands hiking through rocky terrain with vegetation as well as excellent views of Kidepo valley national game park. The movement will lead you to the IK people, the cattle keepers who migrated to Northeastern Uganda, and get a chance to learn their dances, way of life and the history of their migration.

These hills are located just near Kidepo valley national game park headquarters. These Lomeji hills are favourable for birdwatching as well as game viewing. Some of the bird species that can be seen are the rare mountain reedbuck

SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN UGANDA

How to Get to Kidepo?

Kidepo valley national park is accessible throughout the year, you can use both road and air transport. By road, it requires you to drive from Kampala to Mbale, Soroti, Moroto, Kotido to Kaabong then Kidepo. This takes approximately 12 hours which is about 792 km.

However, there is a short route from Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kotido then to Kidepo taking about 10 hours at a distance of approximately 571 km.

Domestic flights that take two hours can be arranged and booked from Kajjansi or Entebbe.

What is the Best Time To Visit Kidepo Valley National Park

The dry seasons ranging from September, October, December, and March are when the vegetation is dry and scarce hence seeing the animals around the water sources is easier. July and August are said to be the best months to visit since they are the rainy seasons.

SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN UGANDA

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

After reading about the mountain gorillas, meet them physically and watch the silverback protect its family, mothers nurse and youngsters play. Half of the total population of the mountain Gorillas call Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park home.

Mountain Gorillas are only found in the pearl of Africa, around the vast Virunga chain of mountains which spans through Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo. All trekkers must be 15 years and above, with a valid Gorilla trekking permit which can only be used once-the date of the activity.

Gorilla trekking permits are purchased from Uganda wildlife Authority, or through a licensed tour agency and costs 700Usd for foreign non-residents, 250,000ugx for East African residents and 600$ for foreign residents. 

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzees trekking is done in Kyambura gorge, Kibale national park, Kalinzu forest and Budongo forest. This is one of the must-do safari activities in Uganda, and thus one of the best for holiday goers. Get to experience the silence of the jungle, know what the forest has, and encounter other forest inhabitants.

The Gorilla trekking experience is done in the morning and afternoon hours, taking about 1-4 hours on foot. It is open for only persons aged 16 years and above in groups of not more than 8 persons. One can combine chimpanzee trekking with other activities like game viewing, boat cruise, hiking, birding and more. At Kibale forest National Park, you will visit Isunga community for the top of world hike and coffee experience.

Game drives and camping safaris

Akagera national park is the only place where game drives are done in Rwanda. The park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, with a wide range of flora and fauna, cool weather, and classic lodging options.

Game viewing in Akagera National Park is rated as one of the best in the continent, and offers high chances of encountering among others; the African elephants, cape Buffaloes, lions, leopards, Rhinoceros, forest genet, zebras, wild dogs and more. There are birds, plants and more to explore during your stay in the park. Game drive is best in the morning and late evening hours.

Boat cruises

Boat cruise experiences in Murchison falls national park, Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo, Bunyonyi and Kazinga channel are quite unmatched. The best way to explore water, and uncover the aquatic world. Get closer to Nile crocodiles, hippos, kingfisher, water duck, shoebill stock and more, the papyrus swamps, and cool water breeze. This experience takes about 1-3 hours, in either morning or afternoon hours.

Bird watching tours.

Uganda is a host to 10% of total bird species in the world. Birds are found across the country, in the swamps, lake shores, mountains, river shores, and forests. For bird enthusiasts, you get to learn of these birds by name, and character.

Take time to capture numerous photos of the many species notably; Turacos, eagles, Kori bustards, shoe bill stock, cranes, francolins, Albertine owlets, kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori Turacos, regal sunbirds, mountain masked Apalis, Red-billed quale, western nicator eagles, African Jacana, eastern black korhaans, lover birds, guinea fowls and more.

Hiking and Mountaineering activities.

Nature walk and hiking are some of the best safari activities done in your holiday. It is an activity where everything is within your presence, notably; the birds, plants, water and more. It is a much practical way of uncovering Mother Nature and doing physical exercise.

Spend a few nights above the ground, by hiking to the summit of Mount. Rwenzori; one of the tallest mountains in the continent of Africa. Other destinations include; Mountain Elgon which offers a scenic view of the magnificent caldera, coffee plantations and more.

Other activities in Uganda include; City tours, cultural tours, night life, and religious tour.

F.A.Q.

There is no standard price for Uganda, Rwanda or Congo gorilla permit –each country has its rates. In Uganda, the charges vary depending on the visitor category. The foreign non-residents are charged USD 700 to have their gorilla permits booked, USD 600 for foreign residents and Ugandans (East Africa citizens) pay shs. 250,000 per person. To have a gorilla permit secured/booked, you need USD 1500 for Rwanda and this is most ideal for luxury/high-end travelers interested in visiting the endangered mountain gorillas.

When booking a gorilla permit, it is also a good thing to have a destination of your desire in mind. The key places to consider a must-visit on gorilla tour include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park –these are gorilla trekking destinations for tourists on a tour in Uganda. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is where you can locate habituated mountain gorilla families and crossing the D.R. Congo, you can explore Virunga National Park.

It is a good thing to also understand when best to book your gorilla permits to avoid having issues on actual date of gorilla trekking. Considering our experience, we always recommend our clients to have their permits booked early enough at least 2-4 months. This can save you from last minute stress, especially if you plan to travel during the dry season also considered to be the peak season. The peak months of the year fall around June, July, August to September, and December, January to February.

Gorilla permits are among the relevant documents visitors must have to be allowed to track gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not any gorilla permit should be presented on actual gorilla trekking adventure but a valid one. Booking gorilla permits is part of making the entire gorilla trip complete and should be done early enough before the actual visit to see mountain gorillas or eastern lowland gorillas.

To have your gorilla permit booked, there is a process one should undergo through and is generally tedious. Considering your tight schedule back home, you may wonder how easier you can have your permit booked in advance to avoid last minute stress.

The easiest way to secure your gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda is by dealing with a recognized tour operator/company on the ground. This is where our reservation team comes in. As part of your gorilla safari requirement, our team being on ground will ensure that your permit is booked early enough and everything else that is needed for gorilla trekking is put together.

The beauty about dealing with local safari company such as ours is that we have knowledge on the different gorilla groups and surrounding communities plus various accommodation facilities for your night stay. This is in addition to making the entire gorilla permit booking process easier on behalf of our clients.

There is also an option of booking the permit directly through the reservation team of respective park authorities. But the challenge is that you must undergo through the long process to have your permit booked and this may not favor you depending on your schedule. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is an organ in charge not only for conservation of wildlife in the Pearl of Africa but also sets prices for tourism activities in the parks including gorilla permits. In Rwanda, you can contact Rwanda Tourism Board/Rwanda Development Board to have your permit booked.

The East African tourist visa is a joint visa that permits one to travel to specific countries within East Africa, namely Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda only. A joint tourist visa can be used several times for various purposes as long as it’s not overdue. 

Tourists should therefore find it important to always remember that the tourist visa lasts for only 90 days.  Processing the tourist visa takes a maximum period of two working days. It is also important to note that the tourist visa prohibits employment.

The process of applying for a tourist visa has been made easier since it can be done with the help of a tour operator or by the individual themselves online through the Ministry of Internal Affairs immigration portal. Visitors are required to log in to the portal, go ahead and accept the terms and conditions for the tourist visa, select the Visa / permit type, the subcategory and category, complete the application form and upload the required documents. 

A reference number will be generated and sent to you through your email, submit it and proceed to payment. It’s important to note that the payment can be made using Visa cards.  An approval letter will be sent to your email after the above process.

Report at the immigration office or border post for the biometric capture with all the necessary documents, receipt of payment, approval letter and your passport. Visitors should regard it as important to enter through the home country issuing the visa.

The East African tourist visa costs a fee of $100 only, meaning that it can be obtained by all travelers ranging from the budget to luxurious ones.

  • Persons aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek gorillas.
  • Avoid sneezing in the presence of gorillas.
  • Always stay away from gorillas by observing distance
  • Do not try to feed gorillas
  • Do not chew in the presence of gorillas
  • Do not take photos with flash light on.