5 Best Activities to Do on a Self-drive Safari in Uganda’s National Park
Uganda’s national parks are one of the best natural habitats you can ever visit on your holiday. These amazing natural places are endowed with lots of fauna. The experience becomes more enthralling when you make the exploration on your own in what is commonly known as a self drive safari. Self drive safaris are trailblazing because of the liberty they offer to travel around the pearl of Africa at your pace.
You simply have to rent a car in Uganda from a renowned company and hit the road to the countryside without the guidance of the driver. The rental companies are doing such a great job of providing well-conditioned 4×4 vehicles that are making it easy for tourists to have a safe and triumphant road trip. There are minor car issues faced while driving but the supporting and mechanical teams of the rental agencies swiftly solve them and the travelers can continue with their road trip.
Away from the fear of the car getting issues, there are lots of beauties to experience on the road. Before you reach the national parks, you are amazed by the outstanding landscapes, organic foods, fruits, and friendly people.
As you escape Kampala, you witness interesting landforms fleeced with sheer greenery which is food for the eyes, the soothing fresh air coming from all angle corners is something to cherish. During a road drive, there are busy trading centers along the highways that act as stopovers for buying refreshments and body stretching.
The opportunity avails to mix and mingle with the cordial people of Uganda while buying refreshments and craft items at the stopover points. The popular refreshments and foods to enjoy are the Muchomo (roasted meat or chicken), gonja (roasted plantain), maize, pineapple, sweet bananas, mangoes, mineral water, and ice-cold coca cola.
With the attractions experienced on the way, travelers reach the national parks without feeling the long-distance lag and boredom. At the national park, there are lots of activities to do to epitomize the self drive safari in Uganda. Most of these activities are nature-based and adventurous, they require one to be well prepared both mentally and physically and also have the right safari gear. The items in the safari gear should include trekking shoes, safari clothes, rain jacket, binoculars, camera, insect repellent, hat/cap, sunglasses, sun jelly, toilettes, and first aid kitty.
Back to the main motive of this article, let’s look at the 5 best activities to do on a self drive safari in Uganda;
Safari game drive
Viewing wild animals in their default setting is the most popular activity done by tourists in Uganda. It involves moving by 4×4 vehicle around the savannah park on demarcated tracks searching and watching common mammals such as lions, elephants, giraffes, elands, leopards, buffaloes, warthogs, zebras, oribis, reedbucks, and bushbucks to mention but a few. The safari game drives in Uganda are conducted at Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park. These savannah parks sit on loads of acres of land, it takes about 3 days to comprehensively explore any of them. However, game drives take 4-5 hours and tourists are taken to the high animals breeding places to get the best out of the experience. There are two options for safari game drive, the guided game drive where a game ranger is hired to lead the search for the animals, and the self-game drive which involves searching the animals in the savannah grasslands on your own as a tourist. Although you might be on a self drive safari in Uganda, we advise hiring a park ranger to lead you through your game drive expedition. Park rangers provide insightful, informative, and guaranteed game viewing experiences since they know the park inside out.
Uganda is home to numerous primate species and this is one of the reasons why the country is making big strides in the tourism world. A mammoth of travelers visits different forest parks to observe and enjoy the primates in their natural settings. Uganda has over 15 types of primates but the standout ones are the mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees. Both gorillas and chimpanzees belong to the same classification as man, they have a more advanced brain compared to other animals. They show compassion for one another and also have the ability to use the surrounding environment as tools to help them in their daily routine. Tourists come to Uganda to meet these intriguing and shrewd apes and hang out with them at close range, a rare experience to get in other parts of the world. The gorillas are tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mghahiga national parks while the chimpanzees are observed in Kibale National Park, Kyambura gorge, Budongo forest, and Kaniyo Pabidi. Of the two trekking experiences, the gorilla trekking is the most captivating one because gorillas are slow and terrestrial animals. Travelers get more intimate with them compared to the chimpanzees which are arboreal and agile.
Uganda’s national parks can be explored on foot and this is the best way to explore these natural habitats beyond the common wildlife. nature walks are majorly done in eco forest areas such as Bwindi impenetrable forest, Kibale forest, Mabira forest, Maramagambo forest, Mgahinga forest, Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge, and many more. They are rarely conducted in open savannah grasslands. Nature walks offers that feel of being close to nature as you can touch and feel the flora, and encounter water streams, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and insects. Within these forests, there are established trails that are taken by tourists to experience the different attractions the eco area has to offer on foot.
With a third of the total species of birds in the world, Uganda is truly a bird haven. Birds are always hovering in the clear heavens of Uganda everywhere but there are some gazetted places to enjoy a comprehensive bird sighting. The birds in Uganda are mainly found in wetlands and forests such as Mabamba swamps, botanical gardens, Kyambura gorge, Bwindi impenetrable forest, Kibale forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and many more. The iconic bird to find in the aforementioned areas include shoebills, crown cranes, great blue turaco, regal sunbird, egrets, handsome francolin, and so on. birding is such an extensive activity; tourists spend over 3 days in a certain destination to get the best out of the experience. Hiring a bird guide is advised and a good camera and binoculars should come in handy.
The national parks of Uganda consist of a plethora of physical features, some of these are the waterbodies making boat riding a viable activity. The popular national parks offering exhilarating launch trips are queen Elizabeth national with the Kazinga channel, Lake Mburo National Park with Lake Mburo, and Murchison Falls national park with the River Nile. A boat ride on one of the water bodies in the parks exposes tourists to countless marine species including birds, hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks, and fish species.
If you wish to take a self drive in Uganda on your next holiday, ensure to put one or more of the above-mentioned activities on your bucket list. You will have a great time, an experience you will always remember for a lifetime!