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National Parks in Tanzania

There are three safari circuits in Tanzania and each one of them makes the country a top wildlife destination. One of the best safaris in all of Africa is definitely the famous Northern circuit with the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, especially if you visit it during the annual wildebeest migration.

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Serengeti National Park

One of the most famous parks in Africa, Serengeti National Park is synonymous with classic African scenery and wildlife. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the oldest park in the country. Serengeti houses a spectacular wildebeest migration and premium wildlife viewing is possible throughout the year.

Scenery

The scenery in Serengeti is famous for its grassland plains in the southeast. The northern part has many hills and rocks, while to the west there are forests, valleys, and rivers. There are also koppies in several areas. Koppies are granite outcrops that rise up from the plains.

Wildlife 

The Serengeti is definitely the best park in Tanzania. The residents of the park at any time of the year are groups of elephants and giraffes, herds of buffalos, and many other hooves animals including Grant’s gazelles, kongonis, impalas, and topis. You will also have an opportunity to see all three big cats. Lions can be spotted practically everywhere, while cheetahs are quite common on the southeastern plains. Leopards can be seen along the Seronera River.

The Serengeti is well-known for its annual wildebeest migration, a time when over 8 million hooves cross the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra, 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle, and 1,500,000 wildebeest join the track. This migration is followed by plenty of predators and seeing big cats hunting is quite common and exciting. Black-backed jackal, spotted hyena, and golden-backed jackal can also be seen.

Best Time to Visit

Serengeti National Park is great for wildlife viewing all year long. However, certain areas are better at specific times. The Dry season runs from late June to October and offers the best wildlife viewing. During this time of year, the highlight of wildlife viewing is the wildebeest migration. Keep in mind that timing of this migration varies every year. The best chance to see it is in June and July, while the wildebeest calving takes place from Late January to February.

June to October –Dry Season

  • The best time to see the wildebeest migration in the western corridor is in June and July, while the migration can be also seen in the north of the park in August.
  • Animals gather around rivers and waterholes, which makes it easier to spot them. The vegetation is also less thick.
  • There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
  • The chances of contracting malaria are minimal because there are very few mosquitos.
  • The Seronera area attracts large crowds of tourists.
  • Warm clothing is recommended for early morning game drives from June to August since mornings and nights are cold.

November to May Wet Season

  • An excellent time to see predator in action is from late January to February during the calving in the southern Serengeti.
  • The scenery is lush.
  • The low season is from April to May which means less tourists and low rates.
  • It’s easier to spot wildlife in the Dry Season, but the best thing about Serengeti is that wildlife viewing is also amazing in the Wet season.
  • Bird-watching is amazing thanks to the migratory birds.
  • Except for March, April, and May, there is little rain and only short afternoon storms can mess with your tour.
  • The peak of the Wet season is from March to May.

Getting There

The town of Arusha is the starting point of most safaris to Serengeti. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This airport is located 46km/20 mi from Arusha. You can also fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), which is close to Dar es Salaam and then use a domestic flight to reach Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).

The best way to reach Serengeti from Arusha is via a small plane to one of the many airstrips in the park. In case you are planning to drive from Arusha to Serengeti, expect to take an eight-hour ride as the distance between the two is 325km.202mi. Keep in mind that this is a bumpy ride over dirt roads for a large part of the trip. However, the scenery is beautiful and you will spot some wildlife on the way to Serengeti.

Some tourists choose to fly one way and drive the other way to be able to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation area. They usually spend the night to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. The distance between the Seronera area and the Ngorongoro Crater is 140km/90mi and the ride is about three hours.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To see which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) please check Skyscanner. For multiple destination flights and to see how much you need to pay for the tickets check Expedia.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, your tour operator will book the charter flights between the park as part of the tour package. Several local carries offer domestic flights.

 

 

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Gombe National Park

One of the best destinations in Africa for chimpanzee tracking is definitely the Gombe Stream. It was first researched back in the 60’s by Jane Goodall. It’s one of the longest-running studies of any wild animal population. A visit to this place is an adventure of a lifetime and an unforgettable experience.

Scenery

Gombe is located at the shore of Lake Tanganyika. The forest is divided by 13 streams that go all the way from the escarpment to the sandy beach. Looking back at the way that forested slopes climb up the steep escarpment is breathtaking.

Wildlife

The population of the habituated chimpanzee is the main attraction here in Gombe Stream. Expect to find around 100 chimps in the small park. A guide is in charge of taking you on foot through the forest to find them. Once you spot chimpanzees, you can watch them for one hour. They can be feeding in the canopy which is a great sight. However, they tend to be on the move a lot and you and the guide will need to hurry up and follow them.

Besides the chimps, other primates can often be spotted. Olive baboons are under study since 1960’s and you can see a troop of them here. Red-tailed and red colobus monkeys tend to stick to the forest canopy. The bushpig is also present.

Best Time to Visit

You can track chimpanzees throughout the year in Gombe National Park. However, the odds that you find them are better at the end of the Dry season from July to October. This is a period when chimpanzees prefer staying close to the lower slopes. In case you’re visiting in the Wet Season, expect to locate the chimps in three to four hours.

May to October –Dry Season

  • The best time to track chimpanzees is from July to October then they stick to the lower slopes.
  • There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of catching malaria is lowered.
  • Although you might spot other visitors tracking chimps here and there, the park is rarely crowded.

November to April –Wet Season

  • There is no haze and the air is clear.
  • Bird-watching is great thanks to the presence of migratory birds.
  • There are many butterflies flying around.
  • The forest tracts are slippery to walk on.
  • It may be difficult to track chimps, as they move away from the lake.
  • It gets extremely humid and hot.

Getting There

Getting to Gombe National Park is not the easiest or cheapest. The only way you can get there is by taking a boat from Kigoma Town. Depending on the itinerary you choose, you can book an international flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha or to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam.

Your tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up from the airport and arranging domestic flights to Kigoma Airport (TKQ). This person will also charter a private motorboat to take you to Gombe. The boat trip is not that long and takes less than an hour.

Travelers can also wait for a public motorboat or as the locals call it “lake taxi from Kigoma to the park. This trip takes about four hours.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To see which airline companies can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) please check Skyscanner. Travelers who are looking for multiple destinations flights and would like to know the price of the tickets can check Expedia for more information.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, charter flights are booked by your tour operator as part of the package. Several local carriers offer domestic flights to Kigoma.

 

 

 

 

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Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is a seasonal park located in northern Tanzania. It features a lot of migratory movement within the greater ecosystem in Tarangire. The Dry season runs between June and October and attracts large herds of wildlife to the Tarangire River. During this period, the number of elephants which can be spotted here is spectacular.

Scenery

The main feature in the park is the Tarangire River. The river can get very dry, but the park is thickly vegetated with mixed woodland and acacia shrubs. Expect to see plenty of big baobab trees. The south and east parts of the park boast a big seasonal swamp network, which is an important water catchment area.

Wildlife

The Tarangire River attracts plenty of migratory animals in the Dry season including zebra, wildebeest, common eland, gazelle, hartebeest, elephant, and buffalo. Lions can also be spotted.

Dry-country antelope can be spotted in Tarangire, such as the long-necked gerenuk and rare fringe-eared oryx. Interesting wildlife viewing opportunities including buffalo, elephants and Silale Swamp lion can be found in the swampy areas in the south of the park. Visitors will have a chance to see big pythons in the trees when the swamps start drying up.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the park is from late June to October, which is the middle and end of the Dry season. Wildlife viewing is less good during the Wet season when most of the animals migrate out of the park. However, some of the elephants stay inside the park throughout the Wet season.

June to October –Dry Season

  • Animals from surrounding areas migrate into the park
  • It’s easier to spot wildlife because animals gather around waterholes and rivers and vegetation thins out.
  • The weather is sunny.
  • The risk of getting malaria is lower since there are fewer mosquitos.
  • In the beginning or end of the Dry Season, the abundance of animals can vary greatly. This is dependent on the amount and timing of the rains.
  • It is recommended to pack warm clothing from June to August since morning drives can get cold.

November to May –Wet Season

  • The vegetation is full and lovely
  • This is the low season and raters may be lower.
  • It is an ideal time for bird-watching and migratory birds can be seen.
  • Wildlife is not as good as in the Dry season because most of the animals migrate out of the park.
  • The peak of the Wet season is from March to May.

Getting There

Tarangire National Park is a part of the popular northern safari circuit and most tourists are visiting this place as part of the safari tour package that also includes a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. The starting point for most safaris to this circuit is the town of Arusha. The easiest and the best way to get there is to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This airport is situated 46km/29mi from Arusha. You can take a flight to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) near Dar es Salaam and then book a domestic flight to either Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK).

Travelers who are searching for a cheap flight can fly to Nairobi in Kenya and take a bus that operates between Arusha and Nairobi. The pick-up is in the morning and you should arrive to Arusha around 4 PM.

There are also regular flights from Serengeti and Arusha to Tarangire. It is a 2-hour drive from Arusha to the entrance gate of the park. It’s relatively easy to drive to Lake Manyara as the drive is two-hours long. The drive to the Ngorongoro crater which is 180km/110mi away lasts about four hours.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To find out which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) please check Skyscanner. For multiple destination flights and to see how much the tickets will cost you please check Expedia.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, the tour operator is in charge of booking domestic and charter flights as part of the tour package. Several local carriers offer domestic flights.

 

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Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is an off the beaten track Dry season park that offers great wildlife viewing. Four of the Big Five can be found at the park. Elephants, buffalos, and lions are present, while leopard sightings are rare. Only rhino is absent.

Scenery

The habitat here at the Katavi NP is grassland savannah and miombo woodland on the east side of the park. This place turns into shallow lakes and lush marshes after the rains.

Wildlife

The Dry season attracts huge herds of zebra, buffalo, and impala that gather with Defassa waterbuck and elephant around the drying water reserves of Lake Chada and Lake Katavi. Crocodile and hippo can also be seen at this time. Lions are usually situated close to the water sources, just waiting for they prey.

Katavi National Park isn’t that known for being home to unusual animals. However, thousands of buffalos can be spotted. You will also have a chance to see hippo and sable antelope that are usually nestled in the miombo woodland.

Best Time to Visit

The Dry season is definitely the best time to visit Katavi National Park. Unlike other parks that offer good wildlife viewing even in the Wet Season, Katavi is a classic dry-country reserve. The Wet season (November to April) is a time when wildlife disperses and wildlife viewing becomes difficult. The Katuma River gets reduced to a narrow stream after the rains and the floodplains become a magnet for a variety of animals.

May to October Dry Season

  • Animals are easier to spot since the vegetation is thin.
  • There is little rain and the weather is usually sunny.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of malaria is lowered.
  • It doesn’t get extremely hot.
  • It can be quite dry and dusty.
  • Some lodges are closed in May.

November to April Wet Season

  • The scenery is quite lush.
  • Better rates can be found from November to May also known as the low season.
  • The conditions for bird-watching are ideal.
  • Wildlife viewing becomes more difficult, as wildlife disperses into the woodland.
  • There are many mosquitos and it can get extremely hot and humid.

Getting There 

The easiest way to reach Katavi is by flight from Arusha. There are public scheduled flights operated by Safari Air Link between Mahale, Katavi, and Ruaha, but this service is only available twice a week. Nomad Safaris operates camps in Katavi and Mahale and runs a scheduled air service from Mahale and Katavi to Arusha via the airstrips in the northern parks.

There are two entry points to the country. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is located about 46km/29mi from Arusha, while Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) is situated near Dar es Salaam. The tour operator is usually in charge of picking up guests from the airport and making further arrangements including a charter flight to the airstrip in the park.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To find out which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), check out Skyscanner. For multiple destinations flights and ticket prices, please check Expedia.

Domestic Flights

The tour operator is usually in charge of booking charter flights as part of the tour package. Flight tickets to Katavi can be booked with Safari Air Link.

 

 

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Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater offers an experience of a lifetime. There is a chance that you will see all of the Big Five in just one day here and all this in a beautiful setting with a backdrop of the 600m/1,968ft-high crater wall.

Scenery

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is remarkable in every way. Besides the famous Ngorongoro Crater, Olmoti and Empakaai craters are also scenic. Flocks of flamingos can be spotted in both Empakaai and Ngorongoro crater. The forested crater rim here is in contrast with the crater floor. This crater field consists mostly of grassland. You will also have an opportunity to see the Lerai forest, which is an amazing yellow fever tree forest.

Wildlife

The main attraction of the Conservation Area is the famous Ngorongoro Crater: a volcano that is extinct and often compared to the Garden of Eden. The crater offers great wildlife viewing and all major animals can be spotted. The giraffe is the only animal that is absent, but you can see it in the Conservation area. Elephants are common, as well as all big cats. The density of spotted hyena is quite amazing.

One of the main features of the crater is the black rhino. Rhinos are not that easy to spot in Tanzania, especially because rhino is usually shy and sticks to thick vegetation. This is not the case in the crater, where black rhino has a predictable routine spending the day in the open grassland and the night in Lerai forest. Visitors will also have a chance to see a golden and black-backed jackal in the crater.

Best Time to Visit

Ngorongoro Crater offers ideal wildlife viewing throughout the year. The best time for wildlife viewing here is in the Dry Season (June to September) simply because the grass on the crater floor is shorter during this time of year. Wet season months that last from November to May offer beautiful and lush scenery.

June to October Dry Season

  • The grass is shorter, so it’s easier to spot animals.
  • There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the chance of getting malaria is minimal.
  • The Ngorongoro crater gets overcrowded with tourists.
  • Bring warm clothing, as mornings and nights tend to be cold.

November to May –Wet Season

  • Excellent wildlife viewing is possible in Ngorongoro Crater even in the Wet season.
  • The scenery is beautiful.
  • Better rates and fewer tourists can be found during the low season which occurs in April and May.
  • Rains are mostly short afternoon storms at the beginning of the Wet season. Heavy rain can be expected in March, April, and May.
  • The peak of the Wet season runs from March to May.
  • Pack warm clothing, since its cold during the nights and mornings.

Getting There

The visit to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is usually a part a bigger package, including a visit to the Serengeti. The conservation area is a three-hour ride from Arusha, which is the starting point of safaris in the northern part of the country.

The easiest way to visit the parks of the northern circuit from Arusha is with scheduled and chartered flights. You can also drive in a safari vehicle and explore that whole circuit. One of the most popular options is to fly to Serengeti and go back by a safari vehicle via the Ngorongoro crater. The tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up from the airport.

If you are coming from the Seronera area in the Serengeti, expect the driving time to the crater to be about three hours, as the distance is 140km/90mi. Wildlife viewing is possible along the way, but the ride takes much longer. The distance between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater is 80km/50 mi and it will take you two hours by a vehicle to cover this distance. The drive from Tarangire takes about two hours.

Flying to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is the best option to reach the town of Arusha. The airport is located 46km/29 mi from Arusha. You can also fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), which is situated close to Dar es Salaam and fly to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). The last option is to book a cheap flight to Nairobi in Kenya and reach Arusha via a shuttle bus.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To see which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) check Skyscanner. Check Expedia for multiple destination flights and to find out how much money you will need to spend on the tickets.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, the tour operator books the charter flights between the parks as a part of the safari tour. Several carriers offer domestic flights.

 

 

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Lake Manyara National Park

Located at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara National Park is a small park with a groundwater forest that offers something different from other parks that are dominated by savannahs. The park is well-known for tree-climbing lions. However, these big cats are not seen that often. The main attraction at the Lake Manyara National Park is the elephants.

Scenery

This shallow lake is nestled at the base of the Western Rift Valley escarpment. There are different habitats in the park and all of them are scenic. After you’ve reached the park entrance, you will continue your journey through the amazing groundwater forest. Some of the other habitats here in Lake Manyara National Parl include acacia woodland, grassy floodplain, and rocky escarpment. All of the mentioned habitats can be covered in one day.

Wildlife

The park is well-known for being home to plenty of wildlife including the main attractions like tucked elephants and tree-climbing lions. Grassy plains of the park attract large buffalos, zebra herds, and wildebeests. The best place to see these animals is the hippo pool. Travelers will have a chance to see large flocks of flamingos, as well as a variety of water birds.

At the entrance of the park, there is a forest patch that houses troops of olive baboons and blue monkeys. Bushbuck can be also spotted here on rare occasions and pairs of klipspringer are visible on the rocks at the southern part of the park.

Best Time to Visit

Wildlife viewing in Lake Manyara National Park is good throughout the year. However, the best time for watching wildlife is during the Dry season from June to October. The Wet season which lasts from November to May also has its advantages. The waterfalls cascade down the escarpment and the vegetation is lush during this time of year.

June to October –Dry Season

  • Animals are easier to spot in the thinner vegetation where they gather around water sources
  • There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and less chance of getting malaria.
  • Pack warm clothing for game drives in June and August, as it gets quite cold in the mornings.

November to May –Wet Season

  • The scenery is quite lush and green.
  • There are fewer visitors in April and May since it’s the low season. The rates are also lower.
  • Although the best time for wildlife viewing is the Dry Season, Lake Manyara NP offers good wildlife viewing conditions all year long.
  • There are migratory birds and this is the best time for bird-watching.
  • Some roads become impassable because of the heavy rain.
  • The peak of the Wet season is from March to May.

Getting There 

Lake Manyara NP is a part of the northern safari circuit. A number of safaris to this circuit start from Arusha. The easiest way to reach it is to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is located 46km from Arusha. You can also fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and then take another flight to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) via domestic flights.

You can also book a cheap flight to Nairobi in Kenya and then take a shuttle bus to Arusha. Your tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up from the airport in Tanzania. Travelers can also get to Manyara’s airstrip via flights from Serengeti and Arusha. However, the trip from Arusha only takes 90 minutes by car. Most visitors do the circuit in a safari vehicle, especially as the park is on the way to some other parks of the northern circuit including Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

The driving time from Ngorongoro Crater and from Tarangire Np is in both cases about two hours.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

Travelers can check Skyscanner for airlines and ticket prices. You can also check Expedia for multiple destinations flights and to find out which airlines fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK).

Domestic Flights

Flights between parks are usually booked by the tour operator as part of the safari package. Domestic flights can be booked via local carries.

In most cases, flights between parks are booked by your tour operator as part of your safari package. Domestic flights can be booked with a local carrier:

 

 

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Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park offers amazing wildlife viewing and it is the largest national park in Tanzania. The park is ideal for spotting a number of predators including lions and endangered wild dogs.

Scenery

The Great Ruaha River is the main feature of the Ruaha National Park. This river attracts plenty of animals during the Dry season. Some areas are full of baobab trees and the dominant vegetation is miombo woodland.

Wildlife

Aside from rhino, Ruaha National Park is home to all major safari animals which are present in good numbers. Lions are known to live in large groups and in order to feed themselves, they frequently attack other big animals like buffalos. A high diversity of antelope can be spotted including dozens of rare species such as roan, kudu, and sable antelope.

Ruaha National Park seems to be a bit wilder than other pars in the area, but the real draw are the wild dog packs which you can spot regularly. The largest population of greater kudu in East Africa is located right here in Ruaha National Park.

Best Time to Visit

The best time for observing wildlife in Rhuna National Park is from the middle to the end of the Dry season, which lasts from June to October. During this time of year, the animals are easier to spot as they concentrate close to trusted water sources.

May to October Dry Season

  • Animals gather around waterholes and rivers which makes wildlife viewing easier.
  • There is almost no rain and the skies are usually bright
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of getting malaria is at a minimum.
  • It is not humid.
  • Dryness and dust are quite common.
  • Many lodges are closed in May.

November to April Wet Season

  • The scenery is known to be full and green
  • There are fewer tourists in April and May and the rates for accommodation and tours are better.
  • It is an ideal time for bird-watching.
  • Some roads get impassable.
  • Wildlife viewing is not at its best. The middle and the end of the Dry season offer better wildlife viewing.
  • It can get extremely hot and damp.
  • Many lodges and other types of accommodations are closed in April.

Getting There

Most safaris to Ruaha start from Dar es Salaam and the main point of entry to the country is Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR). The tour operator is usually in charge of picking up visitors from the airport and taking care of all further domestic flights and transportations.

The drive from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha takes around 10 hours. Keep in mind that the roads are quite dusty and bumpy. There are many travelers who make a stop at Mikumi NP during this drive. From Mikumi, you will need about five hours to reach Ruaha.

The easiest and the best way to get to Ruaha is a scheduled or a chartered flight to the airstrip in the park. Unless you are planning to visit the park as a part of a southern circuit, all flights leave from Dar es Salaam. In case you are visiting the park as a part of a southern circuit, the flights depart from Mikumi and Selous. There are also flights from Arusha town and Coastal Aviation has direct flights between Ruaha NP and Serengeti.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

For flights and ticket prices please check Skyscaner. You can also check Expedia for multiple destinations and see which airlines can transport you to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR).

Domestic Flights

Charter flights are usually booked by the tour operator as part of the tour package. Local carriers offer scheduled flights.

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Selous Game Reserve

One of the largest parks in Africa, Selous Game Reserve offers relatively small animal viewing since most of the park is set aside for hunting. However, amazing boat safaris and predator sightings can be found on the Rufiji River.

Scenery

The part of Selous that is located north of the Rufiji River is open to the public and can be described as scenic. There is the main wildlife circuit that follows five connected lakes which are fed by the Rufiji River. The Rufiji boasts swampy islets and palm-fringed channels. It is also one of the great rivers in all of Africa.

Wildlife 

In general, wildlife viewing in Selous is very good. You will find that the string of lakes along the main circuit is an ideal spot to spot a large group of giraffes, as well as other ungulates including zebras, impalas, waterbucks, and buffalos. Watch out for the hungry lions that can be seen close to the waterholes.

Several antelope species can be found here in Selous including puku and majestic sable. Black rhino can only be spotted in some remote areas. wild dogs can be spotted in the park.

Best Time to Visit

The best time for wildlife viewing in Selous is from later June to October. This is the Dry season and it’s easier to spot animals as they gather around water sources. Vegetation is also thinner during this time of year. The Wet season runs from October to May and during this period the scenery is lush and green. Keep in mind that afternoons can be extremely hot in Wet season and many of the lodges are closed from March to May.

June to October Dry Season

  • It’s easier to spot animals since they gather around rivers and waterholes. There is also less vegetation.
  • There is little rain and it’s usually sunny.
  • It’s less risky to get malaria as there are not that many mosquitoes around.
  • It’s not extremely hot and the humidity is lower.
  • Drought and dust are quite common.
  • Some areas of the park can get overcrowded with tourists.

October to May –Wet Season

  • Expect to find beautiful and green scenery.
  • There are fewer visitors from March to May and the prices for tourist attractions are lower.
  • It’s the best time for bird-watching as migratory birds are present.
  • It is more difficult to travel, due to muddy roads.
  • Wildlife viewing is better during the middle and the end of the Dry Season.
  • There are lodges that are closed from April to May.
  • Humidity and heat are known to be overwhelming.

Getting There

A number of safaris to Selous are fly-in packages from Dar es Salaam. Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) is the main entry point to the country. It is located just outside Dar as Salaam. Your tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up and organizing further arrangements.

Tourists usually visit Selous as part of their beach holiday on Zanzibar Island or as an extension of their visit to the beaches around Dar es Salaam. There are scheduled flights from these departure points to both Ruaha and Selous. Visitors can also fly from Arusha Town, which is the base for the northern safari circuit. Scheduled flights between Selous GR and Serengeti have just been recently introduced by the Coastal Aviation. This is an ideal route for travelers who don’t want to stop in Arusha, as it connects the northern and the southern circuits.

You can also drive from Dar es Salaam to Selous on a road safari. However, the road is quite bumpy and the ride usually takes a full day. In some cases, to break up the trip visitors stop at Mikumi National Park.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

For airlines and ticket prices please check Skyscanner. For multiple destination flights visit Expedia to find out about flights to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR).

Domestic Flights

Charter flights are usually booked by a tour operator as part of the safari tour package. There are also scheduled flights to Selous which can be booked with a domestic carrier.

 

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Malaria & Vaccinations in Tanzania

The information here is a general guide about malaria and vaccinations in Tanzania and you should consult your travel doctor before the trip. Travelers can find more information about traveler’s health on travel clinics and government organizations pages below.

Malaria Risk

There is a high risk of malaria throughout Tanzania except in high altitude mountains like Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro, Crater rim, and some parts of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Most safari parks in Tanzania are high-risk zones. The rainy season which lasts from November to May is the highest risk of transition. Detailed advice can be found on websites below.

Vaccinations

Recommended; see websites below for more detailed immunization advice.

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Wildlife in Tanzania

Tanzania offers amazing wildlife viewing. You will find three different safari circuits and each one offers something different. The Big Five are easily seen, as well as other high profile animals. The black rhino is quite rare, but there is a chance you will spot it at the Ngorongoro Crater. One of the best wildlife spectacles in Africa is the wildebeest migration. There are around two million ungulates mainly wildebeest, but you will also find zebra and gazelle moving around the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. A special time to visit is also the wildebeest calving season. Plenty of wildebeest and their calves attract a number of predators, which makes it an ideal time to see some action.

The abundance of big cats can be found in Serengeti, while the endangered African Wild Dog can be easily spotted in Ruaha and Selous. The two best chimpanzee reserves are Mahale and Gombe Steam.

Best time for wildlife viewing

Good wildlife viewing in Tanzania can be found year-round. The wildebeest migration runs from June to July, while the best time to spot the wildebeest calving in the Serengeti is from late January to February. The Dry season which lasts from late June to October is the best time for wildlife viewing. During this time of year in Tanzania, the weather is great and animals gather around waterholes. The Wet season runs from November to May and offers green parks and fewer tourists. Southern and Western circuit parks are not easy to access from March to May because of the rain and some lodges are closed during this period.

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Best Time to Visit Tanzania

The Dry season that lasts from late June to October is the best time for wildlife viewing in Tanzania. You will have an opportunity to see the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti in June and July. The best time to see the wildebeest calving is from late January to February. The Dry season is the ideal time to visit the southern and western circuit parks, while northern circuit parks can be visited year-round. The only exception is Tarangire where wildlife viewing is better during the Dry season.

June to October –Dry Season

  • The best months to see the wildebeest migration are June and July
  • It’s easier to spot the animals since most of them gather around rivers and waterholes and there is less vegetation.
  • The weather is sunny and the skies are clear. There are also fewer mosquitoes simply because there is little rain.
  • Although many travelers like visiting circuits during the Dry season, the parks are not that crowded. The only exception is the Seronera area in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Mornings and nights are usually colder and you should pack warm clothing for morning drives, especially in June, July, and August.

November to May –Wet Season

  • The best time to spot the calving in action in the southern Serengeti is from late January to February.
  • Expect to find green and beautiful scenery. Low seasons means less crowded parks and lower rates.
  • Although it is easier to spot wildlife during the Dry season, tourists will have an opportunity to spot wildlife in northern circuit parks.
  • Bird watching is best and there are migratory birds all around
  • Except for March, April, and May, the Wet season mostly brings afternoon showers.
  • The peak of the Wet season runs from March to May.
  • Wildlife viewing in Ruaha, Katavi, Selous is better during the dry season, as most big wildlife has already migrated to Tarangire NP.
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Getting to Tanzania

Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro (near Arusha) can be reached via direct and one stop flights from overseas. The starting point for the popular Northern Safari Circuit in Tanzania is Arusha Town, which is located 46km/29mi east of Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). The main airport in Tanzania, Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) is located 13km/8mi from Dar-es-Salaam. It is also the entry-point to travelers who are visiting the southern parks in Tanzania. You can fly or drive between the reserves of Dar-es-Salaam. Some flights out of Arusha depart from Kilimanjaro International Airport. However, most flights to the reserves leave from the small Arusha Airport (ARK) which is located 8km/5mi west of the city. In most cases, the tour operator is in charge of picking travelers up from the airport and arranging all other transportation as a part of the agreed safari package.

Flights & Airlines to Tanzania

For flights please check Skyscanner. For multiple destination flights check Expedia and see which airlines fly to Tanzania and at what price.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Tanzania

Both charter and domestic flights are usually booked by your tour operator as part of the safari package. You can also book domestic flights with a few domestic carriers.

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Malaria & Vaccinations in Zambia

The information about malaria and vaccinations on this page is just a basic guide and you should consult your travel doctor before the trip. Information about traveler’s health in Zambia can be found on the pages of the government organizations and travel clinics below.

Malaria Risk

There is a high risk of Malaria in Zambia. The rainy season is a time when the risk of transition is at its peak. Click on websites below for more information.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are recommended. Take a look at the websites below for advice regarding immunization.

 

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Wildlife & Animals In Zambia

Zambia is an amazing safari destination and you will have a chance to spot most of the high profile animals. Kafue, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi are ideal for leopard sightings. However, cheetah and wild dogs are not that easy to see. The only place in Zambia where you can see a black rhino is in North Luangwa, while white rhino can be spotted only in Mosi-oa-Tunya.

There are many amazing endemic sub-species in Zambia including Crawshay’s zebra, Thornicroft’s giraffe, and Cookson’s wildebeest. Specific swampy areas are home to black lechwe and Kafue lechwe.

Best time for wildlife viewing

The best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry season from May to October. During this time of year, animals gather around rivers and waterholes and the water is scarce. Animals are easy to spot at this time and the bush is less lush. The weather usually gets really hot from October until the Wet season that starts in November and lasts until April. It is difficult to drive on some roads during the Wet Season and there are several camps that are closed to visitors at this time.

 

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Best Time to Visit Zambia

The Dry season in Zambia runs from May to October and this is the best time for game viewing. It is a time when animals gather around waterholes and rivers. On the other hand, the Wet season lasts from November to April and during this time of year the dirt roads in parks are usually impossible to pass and most parks are closed to public. You will find sandy soil and all-weather roads at the Mfuwe sector of South Luangwa National Park which make it accessible all year round. The best time to explore Victoria Falls is from June to September.

 May to October –Dry Season – Winter

  • Game viewing is best during the Dry season simply because there is less vegetation. It is much easier to spot wildlife, since animals gather around river and waterholes.
  • There is practically no rain, there are fewer mosquitos, and the skies are clear for most of the time.
  • Although it is high season, only the Victoria Falls is crowded. Most of the other parks are not crowded.
  • The best time to visit Victoria Falls is from June to September. The views of the falls are not blocked by the spray and the water is mid-to-low.
  • Parks with lower altitude like Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa can get hot in October.
  • Keep in mind that morning game drives tend to be cold during the Dry season. Visitors are advised to pack light winter clothes during June, July, and August.

November to April –Wet Season – Summer

  • During the Wet season, the rates are lower and the scenery is greener.
  • Newborn animals can be spotted.
  • The Wet season is the best time for bird watching.
  • There is no heavy rain, mostly short showers in the afternoon.
  • There are some camps in South Luangwa that stay open and are more flexible about bringing kids. Some of these camps also offer boat trips.
  • Wildlife is not easy to spot because the vegetation is thicker and animals can’t rely on water recourses.
  • Most parks and camps are closed and dirt roads are impassable. The premier park in Zambia also known as South Luangwa remains open to visitors.
  • The Victoria Falls are usually just a small steam on the Zambia side from October to December. Expect to find the greatest flow of water from March to May. However, the spray is often too strong and sometimes blocks the view of the falls.

 

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Getting To Zambia

Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) is the main airport in Zambia. It is located 14km/9mi from the capital of the country, Lusaka. Travelers can either drive or fly from Lusaka between the reserves. If your safari includes South Luangwa park then you can also fly to Mfuwe International Airport (MFU). Visitors whose safari includes a visit to Victoria Falls can fly in or out of Livingstone Airport (LVI), which is located close to the falls. It’s usually the local tour operator who arranges pick-ups from the airport, as well as further transportation as part of the safari package.

Flights & Airlines to Zambia

Check Skyscanner for flights and Expedia for multiple destination flights. This is the best way to find out which airline company offers flights to Zambia and at what cost.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Zambia

 Proflight is the only domestic carrier that runs scheduled flights. There are small charter flights which can be used for traveling between parks and reaching remote areas in the country. In most cases, your tour operator is responsible for booking charter flights.

Passport, Visa and Other Entry Requirements

  • Make sure to contact your local Zambia embassy in order to verify if the information below is valid, since entry requirements can often change.
  • All foreigners are required to have a passport that needs to be valid for at least six months.
  • There need to be at least three empty pages on your passport.
  • Citizens of some countries can get a visa upon arrival, while citizens of other countries don’t need a visa to enter the country. Zambia’s Department of Immigration offers a list of countries whose residents can obtain a visa upon arrival and a list of countries whose residents don’t need a visa.
  • In case you are coming from a country that is infected with yellow fewer, you will need to obtain a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

 

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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is the most famous park in Zambia. Expect to see four of the Big Five here with only rhino being absent. Besides game drives, there are amazing night drives and walking safaris conducted and organized by some of the most experienced guides in Africa. South Luangwa National Park is suitable for both experienced visitors and first-timers. You will find plenty of wildlife in the park. Smaller creatures of the bush and birds can also be seen here.

Scenery

South Luangwa National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in southern part of Africa. Locals like to call it “The Valley” and it is the southern extension of the Great Rift. It is dominated by the Luangwa River. Some of the habitats include acacia shrub, riverine forest, and mopane and miombo woodland.

Wildlife

South Luangwa is ideal for wildlife viewing and four of the Big five can be spotted easily. If you wish to see a leopard, this is one of the best parks to spot these shy cats that can usually be seen during night drives. Elephants are also present, as well as huge herds of buffalos. Expect to see lion and hyena and nocturnal creatures such as porcupine, genet, and bushbaby.

Luangwa Valley is home to a few specials including the Thornicroft giraffe, which is well-known for its intrinsic patterns. Visitors will also have an opportunity to see the Crawshay’s zebra. Cookson’s wildebeest is not easily spotted and there is more chance you will see it in North Luangwa.

Best Time to Visit

The wetter months that run from November to April are also known as the “Emerald Season”. Although the air is fresh and the scenery is remarkable, the conditions for wildlife watching is not ideal. Safaris are more challenging at this time of the year because of the waterlogged roads and extremely hot weather. The best time for spotting wildlife is during the sunnier months from July to September before it gets hot.

May to October –Dry Season

  • It’s a prime wildlife-viewing time because vegetation thins and animals gather around the river.
  • There is plenty of sunshine and little rain.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of malaria is lower.
  • It can become busy at Mfuwe area where lodges are located.
  • The high season lasts from July to October.
  • The bush is parched and the skies are cloudy.
  • It is cold in the mornings from June to August, so make sure to pack warm clothes.

November to April- Wet Season

  • The air is fresh and the scenery is beautiful and green.
  • Rates are lower and there are fewer tourists.
  • Perfect time for bird-watching
  • Many newborn animals can be spotted.
  • It can get extremely hot and humid.
  • Some lodges don’t work from December to March
  • The risk of Malaria is higher than in the Dry season.
  • It is difficult to drive because some roads are impassable.

Getting There

South Luangwa National Park is located close to the Mfuwe village and 700km/343mi from Lusaka. Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) is the main airport in Zambia and new arrivals often come through this airport.

Regular flights transport passengers from Lusaka to Mfuwe International Airport (MFU). You can also fly to Mfuwe from Livingstone Airport (LVI) (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport), which is located near Victoria Falls. Direct flights from Johannesburg to Mfuwe are offered in the high season.

Visitors who are driving to the park usually come via Chipata. The road is much better than it used to be and the ride takes is two hours long. A 2WD car will just do.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

Check Skyscanner for flights and Expedia for multiple destination flights. This is the best way to find out which airline company offers flights to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) and at what cost.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, charter flights between parks are usually included in the safari package. The tour operator is often in charge of booking the tickets. Proflight is the only domestic carrier and runs up to three flights a day from Lusaka to Mfuwe. This carrier also has regular flights from Livingstone.

 

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Kafue National Park

One of the largest parks in Africa, Kafue National Park is also one of the most accessible parks in Zambia for self-drive visitors. There are many quality lodges located just off the Lusaka-Mongu Road. One of the major features in the park is leopard sightings. Keep in mind that animals here can be shy. Expect to see four of the Big Five, with the exception of rhino. The park is home to a wide variety of antelope.

Scenery

Kafue National Park boasts a wide range of habitats. The main features are the Kafue River and its tributaries. Rivers are lined with riparian forests. Patches of miombo woodland are mixed together with swamp areas away from the rivers. The Busanga Plains are located in the far north of the Kafue National Park. Beware that these floodplains are difficult to reach during the wet season. However, the floodplains are home to an enormous amount of wildlife in the dry season.

Wildlife

There is a large variety of animals that can be easily spotted in Kafue National Park. Giraffe and rhino are the only two absentees. You will have a chance to see all big cats, as well as wild dogs. Crocodile and hippo can be found in the rivers. Elephant bulls are known to be aggressive, while elephant and buffalo are quite shy.

There are also a lot of antelopes present. Expect to find wetland species like red lechwe which can be usually spotted in big herds. Travelers will also see puku and the shy sitatunga antelope. Oribi, roan antelope and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest prefer drier grounds are move around in pairs.

Best Time to Visit

Thanks to its tropical location, Kafue National Park doesn’t experience much deviation in temperatures throughout the year. The only exception is right before the rains arrive in October. Days are warm during the Dry season which lasts from May to October. The Wet season brings hot and humid weather.

May to October –Dry Season

  • Animals gather at water sources which make the conditions for wildlife viewing ideal.
  • There is little rain and days are sunny for most of the time
  • The risk of getting infested with Malaria is minimal because there are fewer mosquitos around
  • If you wish to visit Busanga Plains, it is only accessible during the dry season.
  • Rates are high during this time of year.
  • Bush seems parched and the sky can be cloudy.
  • It’s extremely hot in October.
  • Warm clothing is recommended, as mornings are cold.

November to April –Wet Season

  • This is called the “Emerald Season”. The scenery looks fresh and green.
  • Rates are low and there are fewer tourists.
  • Migrants are present, which means this is the best time for bird-watching.
  • A number of newborn animals can be spotted
  • Busanga area is unreachable and many lodges get closed
  • Game drives are limited and most roads are in poor condition
  • It can get both hot and humid.
  • The risk of Malaria is higher in the Wet Season.

Getting There

Lusaka is located 360km/223mi from Kafue National Park. It is relatively easy to reach the park via the Lusaka-Mongu Road by car. There are a couple of lodges located close to the highway. In case you wish to venture any distance into the actual park, a good 4×4 is recommended. A couple of safari operators can be found in Lusaka and they offer trips to Kafue.

Most visitors who are staying in premium lodges in the park usually fly by a chartered airplane to Kafue. You will see several airstrips in the park.  The main airport in Zambia also known as Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) is located 14km/9mi from Lusaka which is also the main entrance point to the country. Travelers can also reach the park from Livingstone Airport (LVI) (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport)

Airlines & Ticket Prices

In order to find out which airlines transfer passengers to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and about prices, please check Expedia and Skyscanner.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, chartered flights between parks are part of the safari package. The tickets for these flights are usually booked by the operator who is arranging the safari trip.

There are no scheduled flights to Kafue. However, you can book tickets for scheduled flights between Mfuwe, Lusaka, and Livingstone. The only domestic service that offers scheduled flights is Proflight.

 

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Lower Zambezi National Park

Located on the northern bank of the Zambezi River in Zambezi Valley, Lower Zambezi National Park offers a variety of wildlife including four of the Big Five with only rhino are absent. One of the most popular attractions is definitely canoeing on the Zambezi.

Scenery

The Zambezi River is the main feature of the park.  Muchinga escarpment is the northern boundary of the park and it forms an amazing backdrop to the river down in the valley. There are mopane woodland, sandy flats, and acacia shrubs in the river.

Wildlife

Although the variety of wildlife is not as diverse as in South Luangwa or Kafue, Lower Zambezi National Park is home to a many animals. You will have a chance to see elephants and buffalos, while giraffes, cheetahs. Some of the main predators here include spotted hyenas, lions, and leopards. The Nile crocodile and hippo are present in the river.

There are wild dogs in the park, although they are rarely to be seen. To see some action, head out to the park early in the morning or late in the afternoon. A favorite pray for the dogs is impala. Although roan antelope is rare, you can spot it close to the escarpment.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Lower Zambezi in July and in late September at the end of the Dry season. This is an ideal time of year for wildlife viewing. In case you arrive later in the year, expect to be greeted by the Wet Season which is known to be hot and humid.

May to October –Dry Season

  • It’s the best time for wildlife viewing
  • The skies are sunny and there is little rain
  • There are fewer mosquitos around, which means less risk of malaria.
  • It is quite busy during this time of year.
  • July to October is the high season and a time when high season rates apply.
  • The views are interrupted by haze in the skies and the bush is parched
  • It gets extremely hot in October
  • From May to August the mornings are cold and warm clothing is necessary.

November to April –Wet Season

  • We call this the “Emerald Season”. The scenery looks fresh and green.
  • Rates are lower and there are fewer tourists.
  • Thanks to the presents of migrants, this is the best time for bird-watching.
  • Expect to see many newborn animals.
  • Dry Season offers superior wildlife viewing.
  • It can get hot and humid.
  • Many lodges are closed.
  • Higher risk of Malaria than in the Dry season
  • Some roads are in bad shape.

Getting There

Located 216km/134mi southeast of Lusaka, Lower Zambezi National Park can be reached by a chartered flight to one of the airstrips in the valley. You can also book a tour with one of the tour operators that offer trips from Lusaka. There is also an option of driving yourself. However, you will need to have a good, high-clearance 4×4. You can also drive to Gwabi River Lodge and from there arrange a boat pick-up. The main entry point to Zambia is the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) and most visitors arrive here. In case you are planning to visit Victoria Falls, you can arrive at Livingstone Airport (LVI) (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

In order to find out which airlines transfer passengers to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and about prices, please check Expedia and Skyscanner.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, chartered flights between parks are part of the safari package. The tickets for these flights are usually booked by the operator who is arranging the safari trip. There are no scheduled flights to Lower Zambezi.. However, you can book tickets for scheduled flights between Mfuwe, Lusaka, and Livingstone. The only domestic service that offers scheduled flights is Proflight.

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Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is the ultimate destination for chimpanzee tracking in the country. You will find 13 species of primates, as well as dozens of other species that can be seen on primate walks. Butterflies and birds are also abundant.

Scenery

There is a wide range of habitats over different altitude zones in Kibale National Park. The tropical forest located on the Fort Portal plateau is gets replaced by a savannah in the Albertine Valley floor. The forest didn’t suffer that much from logging when compared to other forests. Therefore, it is quite pristine and houses figs, mahoganies, and other hardwoods.

Wildlife

There are 13 species present at Kibale National Park and its diversity is one of the highest in all of Africa. The most popular activity is definitely chimpanzee tracking. Some of the other primates including blue monkey, black and white colobus, and grey-cheeked mangabey can be regularly spotted.

Best Time to Visit

Chimpanzee tracking is possible all year long here in Kibale. The driest months are December to February and June and July. These months are also the best time for chimpanzee tracking because the trails are easy and there is little rain.

Dry season –December to February and June to July

  • December to February and June to July: This is the dry season and it’s mostly sunny with clear blue skies. However, these months are also the hottest. The temperature goes down at night.

Wet season – March to May and August to December

  • March, April, and May: It starts raining in March and there are plenty of overcast skies. Expect to see more rainfall in April and May.
  • August, September, October, and November: These are the months when there is a lot of rain. The wettest month is October.

Getting There

Kibale National Park is usually a destination where you stop on your way to other parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is located in the western part of Uganda, just 22km/14mi southeast of Fort Portal and 360km/224mi from the Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.

The entrance point to Uganda is the Entebbe International Airport (EBB). It is located 46km/29mi from Kampala. The local tour operator picks up the passengers from the airport and provides further transportation as a part of the safari tour package.

 Domestic Flights

Your tour operator is also usually in charge of arranging domestic flights between the parks in Uganda. Daily scheduled flights with seat rates to Fort Portal are run by Fly Uganda.

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Queen Elizabeth National Park

One of the most popular savannah reserves in the country, Queen Elizabeth National Park features a wide variety of wildlife and offers a variety of habitats including lakes, wetlands, grassland savannah, and forests. It is an ideal setting for many primates and large mammals. You will have a chance to see four of the Big five here at Queen Elizabeth National Park. Only Rhino are absent.

Scenery

Queen Elizabeth National Park is conveniently set against a backdrop of the Ruwenzori Mountains. Some of the other scenic points include Kazinga Channel right between Lake George and Lake Edward and more than 10 crater lakes. Open savannah is the easiest part of the park to get to. However, the public has access to the large forests such as Maramagambo forest and Kyambura Gorge.

Wildlife

You will have a chance to spot buffalos and elephants, as well as lions. Unfortunately, giraffes and zebras are absent, but hyenas can be occasionally spotted. Several interesting species of antelopes can be seen here including bushbuck, topi, and Uganda Kob. Kazinga channel is home to hippos and crocodiles, while chimpanzees have been habituated for tracking. You will also find nine more primate species including the black-and-white colobus monkey.

Head out to the Ishasha sector to see tree-climbing lions. Giant forest hog can also be easily spotted in the park and buffalos are often reddish-brown because they inbreed with the forest buffalos from Congo. If you are interested in Chimp tracking, go to the steamy forest of Kyambura Gorge.

Best Time to Visit

Queen Elizabeth National Park is open throughout the year. The dry season that lasts from January to February and June to July is the best time for wildlife viewing. You can also visit the park in the wet season from March to May and August to December. Keep in mind that heavy rain might influence the quality of your safari during this time of year.

Dry season –December to February and June to July

  • December to February and June to July: Expect to find plenty of sunshine and little rain during these months. It can also get really hot in the dry season, but nights are chilly and ideal for sleeping.

Wet season – March to May and August to December

  • March, April, and May: Expect less rain in March and more rainfall in April and May.
  • August, September, October, and November: These four months are known to be the wettest season of the year. October brings heavy rain, while the temperature usually increases in November.

Getting There

Located around 410km/255mi from Kampala, Queen Elizabeth National Park can be reached in about 6 hours. Keep in mind that the itinerary usually includes visits to the parks on the way. You can also take a flight to nearby airstrips of Ishasha, Mweya, and Kasese by a charter or scheduled aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield.

Tourists will land at the Entebbe International Airport (EBB), which is located about 46km/29mi from the capital city of Kampala. In most cases, the tour operator arranges pick-ups from the airport and organizes further transportation as part of the safari package.

Domestic Flights

There are domestic flights between Ugandan parks which are usually arranged by your tour operator.

  • Fly Uganda (daily flights from Kajjansi Airfield to Pakuba Airfield)
  • Aerolink (Entebbe to Pakuba, Chobe and Bugundu Airfields)
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Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park

Offering amazing wildlife viewing, Murchison Falls National Park is a part of the well-known Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA). Tourists will have an opportunity to see many safari animals including four of the Big Five. The Victoria Nile divides the park and one of the highlights is definitely a boat trip to the amazing Murchison Falls. Make sure to hike to the top of the waterfall for spectacular views.

Scenery

A boat trip ride will take you to the base of the Murchison Falls. Here, you will be able to see the scenic Victoria Nile River going through a narrow gorge before it drops into the Devil’s Cauldron. There is a savannah habitat north of the river which boasts grasslands with borassus palms.  Woodlands with forest patches are located south of the river.

Wildlife

Tourists can spot four of the Big Five, as rhino is the only one absent. Buffalos and elephants can be seen on every corner, as well as dozens of lions. There are also several antelope species including Uganda kob, oribi, grey duiker, Jackson’s hartebeest, and bushbuck. Zebras are absent and hyenas can be spotted on rare occasions. Thanks to the Victoria Nile, you will be able to spot hippos and crocodiles. For chimpanzee tracking, go to the nearby Budongo Forest.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to watch wildlife in the Murchison Falls National is during the dry season that runs from December to February. The temperature tends to be really high in January and February. You can also spot a variety of wildlife during the wet season from June to November.

Dry season –December to February

  • December, January, and February: There is little rain and plenty of sunshine during these three months. The average temperature is 33°C/91°F at daytime, while nights are a bit cooler and the temperature drops to around 18°C/64°F.

Wet season –March to November

  • March, April, and May: The rain starts falling in March, but more rainfall is expected in April and May. Daytime average temperature is 31°C/88°F. At night, the temperature usually doesn’t go below 20°C/68°F.
  • June and July: These two months bring a mixture of clear skies and rainy days. The average temperature during the day is around 30°C/86°F.
  • August, September, October, and November: Expect to witness plenty of rainy days during these 4 months. Although it doesn’t rain every day, there are torrential storms at this time of year. By November, temperatures start to increase.

Getting There

Murchison Falls is mostly visited as a part of the add-on safari package. Located 305km/190mi north of Kampala, Murchison Falls NP can be reached by vehicle in four hours. You can also fly to Bugundy, Pakuba, and Chobe Airfield by a scheduled or chartered aircraft service from two of the main airports, Entebbe International Airport (EBB) or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala.

If you are visiting from abroad, expect to arrive at the Entebbe International Airport (EBB). This airport is located 46km/29mi from Kampala. The local tour operator usually arrangers pick-ups from the airport and is in charge of the further transportation as part of the safari package in Uganda.

Domestic Flights

Tour operators can arrange a charter flight. There are also tour operator who arranges domestic flights between the parks as part of your tour package. Domestic flights are regularly scheduled and run by:

  • Fly Uganda (Kajjansi Airfield to Pakuba Airfield)
  • Aerolink (Entebbe to Pakuba, Chobe and Bugundu Airfields)
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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

    A UNESCO world heritage site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best destination in the country for tracking mountain gorillas. The part itself is home to several habituated groups and protects half the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Visitors will also find around 350 species of birds including dozens of Albertine Rift endemics in the forest.

    Scenery

    Located right on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, Bwindi is a pristine rainforest with a terrain that consists of valleys and a string of ridges. It is home to one of the most diverse species of East Africa and has 10 tree species which can’t be found anywhere else in the country.

    Wildlife

    Mountain gorillas are definitely the main attraction in Bwindi. There are approximately 400 individuals, of which more than a hundred are habituated. Bwindi also houses more than 120 mammal species and the Queen Elizabeth NP has more species than them. Most of the species in the forest are small with the exception of the elephants, but they are rarely to be seen. There is more chance that you will spot some of the six antelope species including a couple of types of duiker and bushbuck.

    Best time for wildlife viewing

    One of the main factors that need to be considered when choosing the right time to go gorilla tracking is the rainfall. If there is heavy rain, expect to find very challenging and slippery hiking trails. There is less chance that you’ll see rain during the dry season that runs from June to August and December to January. All of the forest trails are less slippery at these times. Your chances of a gorilla viewing experience are higher during the dry season and it’s definitely a better time for taking photographs. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is open throughout the year.

    Dry seasons – June to August and December to February

    • June, July, and August: June and July are considered being the driest months in Uganda, but there is still a chance of rain. In August, the chances of rain increases. As for the average temperature, it ranges from 23°C/73°F in the afternoon to 11°C/52°F in the morning. It can get colder at higher altitudes.
    • December, January, and February: Although this falls under the dry seasons, there are still chances of rain during these three months. Expect less rain in December and more rainy days in February. The average temperature during the day is around 24°C/75°F, while morning temperature is usually close to 11°C/64°F.

     

    Wet seasons – March to May and September to November

    • March, April, and May: Expect a lot of rain in April. Driving to Bwindi may become difficult during the wet seasons, due to poor roads. The forest trails are known to be difficult for hiking and slippery. The average daytime temperature is around 23°C/73°F and the morning temperature rarely goes above 12°C/54°F.
    • September, October, and November: October and November are months when you should expect a lot of rainy days. It is not uncommon that the rain continuously falls for several days. The average daytime temperature in September, October, and November is around 23°C/73°F.

     

    Getting There

    In case you are visiting the country as a part of the Ugandan tour, it will take you two to three hours to reach Queen Elizabeth NP from Bwindi. The trip from Lake Mburo NP to Bwindi lasts approximately from 4 to 6 hours. People who are coming from Kampala and Entebbe will need 6 to 8 hours to reach Bwindi. Traveling in a 4WD is a must during the wet season. Scheduled and charter flights also transfer passengers to Bwindi.

    Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is the main airport and this is where most of the visitors enter Uganda. It is conveniently located just 46 km from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. You can also take a domestic flight from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi Airfield) to Kihihi or Kisoro near Bwindi. Bwindi can also be reached via chartered flights.

    Domestic Flights

    The good news is that almost all domestic flights between parks are organized by tour operators and included in the tour package. You will find two domestic carriers flying to Kisoro and Kihihi:

    • Fly Uganda
    • Aerolink
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National Parks in Uganda

If you are searching for an exotic destination, Uganda is well-known for its wildlife in savannah and forests. Head out to Bwindi for some gorilla tracking or visit the Kibale National Park to see white chimps. Amazing savannah safaris with great wildlife views can be also found at Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks. However, parks in Tanzania and Kenya offer a wider variety of animal life.

Best Parks in Uganda

 

 

 

 

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Getting to Uganda

Located close to the town of Entebbe and 46km/29 from Kampala, Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is the main airport in Uganda. Since the country is relatively compact, the best option for getting around Uganda is by vehicle. Travelers flying to Uganda can expect to be picked up at the airport by the local tour operator who will transfer you to the hotel. This person is usually in charge of all further transportation, as it is a part of your safari package.

Flights & Airlines to Uganda

The easiest way to check for flights to and from Uganda is by using Skyscanner or Expedia for multiple destination flights. Use these travel meta-search engines to find out which airlines have flights to Uganda and how much money the tickets will cost you.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Uganda

If you are looking for domestic flights in Uganda, Fly Uganda and Aerolink offer flights to most of the parks in the country. A charter flight can also be organized by the tour operator, but expect to pay a high price for this service. Kidepo Valley National Park is probably one of the only destinations in the country that is often reached by air.

Passport, Visa and Other Entry Requirements

  • Keep in mind that some of these entry requirements can change, so make sure to reach out to your local Uganda Embassy to check if the requirements below are current.
  • All foreign visitors need to have a passport that needs to be valid for at least six months.
  • Your passport needs to have a full and clean visa page for endorsement.
  • Travelers who are visiting Uganda must obtain a valid yellow fever certificate. This document will be required as a part of a visa application and in some cases, you will be asked to show a valid yellow fever certificate at the port of entry.
  • A valid visa is required for citizens of most countries. There is a list of countries that don’t need a visa.
  • The best way to obtain a visa in advance is by using the official online visa-application portal. You can also get a visa through high commission or your local Uganda Embassy. Alongside the online application process, visas on arrival are still being issued. However, it is recommended to inquire about this whole process beforehand.
  • Visitors can obtain a tourist visa for Uganda only or they can get a tourist visa for East Africa, which includes entry to Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda at the same price.
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Wildlife & Animals in Uganda

Expect to find a wonderful mixture of forest parks and savannah in Uganda. Highlights include chimp and gorilla tracking, but you will also have an opportunity to see dozens of smaller primates. The country is also home to many savannah safaris. However, not all of the Big Five are present. Cheetah can only be seen on rare occasions, while Black rhino is extinct. The white rhino was reintroduced in 2005 in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. If you are interested in seeing lions, head out to Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks. Lions can also be spotted hunting Uganda Kob. Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley national parks are home to giraffes, while Lake Mburo and Murchison Falls are the only two places where zebras exist. Uganda is also a popular bird-watching destination.

There are a bunch of West African mammal species and East African safari animals in Uganda. Primates are known to be very well presented and some of the specials include grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, l’Hoest’s monkey, De Brazza’s monkey, and red-tailed monkey. Uganda is also home to the black and white colobus, as well as to a variety of antelope species. The Uganda kob can be best described as near-endemic. Six national parks in Uganda are home to the rare sitatunga antelope, but this species is rarely seen. If you wish to see the uncommon oribi, go to the Murchison Falls National Park.

Best time for wildlife viewing

The dry season that lasts from December-February and June-September is the best time for wildlife viewing. Note that many roads get damaged during the rainy season that runs from September to November and March to May. The good news is that gorilla tracking is possible all year round. However, the weather conditions for gorilla tracking may not be perfect due to heavy rain in the wet season.

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Malaria & Vaccinations In Uganda

The information here on Malaria and Vaccinations in Uganda is just a general guide and you should consult your doctor regarding this matter. Travel clinics and government organizations that you can find below offer up-to-date information about visitor’s health in Uganda.

Malaria Risk

The risk of malaria is high throughout Uganda. The only exceptions are high altitude mountains that include the Ruwenzoris and Mt. Elgon. Keep in mind that all safari parks are known to be high-risk zones and that the rainy season is a time when the risk of malaria transition is the highest. Check out the websites below for more information and advice.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are recommended. Take a look at the websites below for advice regarding immunization.

 

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Best Time to Visit Uganda

The best time to visit Uganda for wildlife viewing is during the dry seasons which last from June to August and December to February.  The biggest part of any safari in the country is primate walks. Visitors should know that the habitat of the rainforests is usually very wet and sometimes rain can be avoided. The good news is that the weather in Uganda is sunny after heavy rain.

June to August and December to February –Dry Season

  • The dry season is definitely the best time of year for gorilla tracking.
  • There is less vegetation in the savannah reserves during the dry seasons and many animals can be found around water sources.
  • The good news is that from June to September the parks are not overcrowded with tourists.
  • There is little rain and more sunshine during the dry season.
  • You should definitely book Gorilla permits months in advance.

March to May and September to November –Wet Season

  • The low season usually means lower rates and the savannah reserves are greener during the wet season.
  • Although the dry season is known to be the best time to spot wildlife in savannahs, visitors will have a chance to see many animals and even newborn animals.
  • You should know that some of the roads in the country are not in the best shape during the wet season and vehicles often get stuck. Beware that forest trails tend to be slippery.
  • Tourists will not be able to change their gorilla permits if the weather is bad with heavy rain.
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HIV and STD testing in Kampala

HIV/AIDS is a well known disease in Uganda today with the latest statistics putting HIV prevalence at 6.7% of the total population.  Almost everyone knows a person or knows of a person that has been affected by HIV- whether family member, friend or work colleague. This is the reason every sexually active person is being encouraged to test for HIV and other STDs.  HIV and STD testing is done free of charge at most clinics and health units across the country. Voluntary HIV and STD testing is encouraged across all age-groups, from teenagers to married couples. The AIDS Information Centre-Uganda was one of the first organizations to provide voluntary HIV counseling and testing services in the country. It has branches in different parts of the country and also operates in select hospitals and clinics as well.  The idea is that if someone knows their status, they can make better health/life choices.

Many organizations, both government and non-government, have since started programs to encourage HIV and STD testing. One of such programs is the PMCT [Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission- of HIV] where all pregnant mothers are tested for HIV during antenatal visits.  If one is found to be HIV positive, they are given medication to prevent the unborn child from contracting the virus. There are also a number of free counseling and HIV and STD testing centers specifically for the youth in Kampala, the most popular being Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre.

If you are in Kampala, you can choose from the numerous clinics/health centers that provide HIV counseling and testing, or you can have the test done in any hospital for a fee. All government hospitals like Mulago and the smaller KCCA Health Centre IVs provide free testing services. Other STD and HIV testing clinics include all TASO [The AIDS Support Organization] centers across the country.

That said, many people still fear going for these tests because there is still some social stigmatization attached to HIV and other STDs. This probably explains the recent influx of HIV self-test kits in some pharmacies in Kampala. Health officials are however encouraging people to go for testing from professionals, since these self-test kits lack the counseling service.

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The Crested Crane

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The Crested Crane is Uganda’s official bird. It has been Uganda’s national symbol since the colonial times. Also known as the grey crowned crane, this beautiful bird is graceful, elegant, and moves with a very dignified gait. It is slightly over 3ft. tall with long legs and a slender neck, almost as long as its legs. Its head is crowned with stiff gold feathers. Although most of its wings and body plumage is white, the feathers are quite colorful, containing the three colors of the Ugandan flag- black, yellow, and red.

The Crested Crane first made it to national status in the early 90s when the then colonial Governor of Uganda, Sir Frederick Jackson was captured by its beauty and chose it to adorn the Union Jack. [see; Imperial Flags-Uganda Governor’s flag 1914-1962]. When the Uganda Flag was adopted in 1962, replacing the Union Jack, the Crested Crane was chosen as the official symbol of the independent Uganda. This majestic bird now adorns the centre of the flag, standing on one leg, facing the flagpole, surrounded by the national colors- black, yellow and red. The one-leg stance symbolizes the idea of Uganda moving forward.  It also adorns one side of the Uganda Coat of Arms [National Insignia]. It was chosen as Uganda’s symbol due to its dignity, elegance and its peaceful and friendly nature, which is without a doubt a representative of the Ugandan people. Of course there is the fact that its wing feathers are black, yellow and red. The Crested Crane name also extends to other fields such as sports. For example, the Uganda National football team is called the Uganda Cranes where as the National Women’s team is called the She-Cranes.

The Crested Crane can be found in almost all regions of Uganda. Although it is considered a crime to harm one of these birds in Uganda, their numbers are drastically reducing because most of their habitats have been encroached on by human settlement and other activities such as poaching. Witchdoctors also contribute to this tragedy because they use the birds’ body parts and/or eggs to make love potions believed to make relationships stronger since crested cranes are monogamous and mate for life. Despite this, the Crested Crane remains the most cherished bird in the country.

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Ugandan Fruits

“Uganda is the food basket of East Africa”. Make that ‘fruit-basket’! Uganda boasts of an endless variety of fruits.  There are mangoes, pineapples, avocado, bananas, watermelon, passion fruits, apples, papaya, oranges, and lemons; and perhaps the fruit unique only to Uganda- the jackfruit. Because of Uganda’s warm, yet less humid tropical climate, fertile soils and plenty rainfall, most of these fruits grow throughout the year.

In Uganda, fruits are available everywhere you go- roadside vendors are the most common and convenient fruit sellers, but also the local market stalls host an impressive and colorful collection. If you are a fruit-lover in Kampala, fresh-food markets like Nakasero, Kalerwe, and Nakawa are a must-visit. If you are travelling outside the city, there are still a variety of roadside fruit stalls along the highways. Most fruits like pineapples, mangoes and bananas are very cheap because they are produced from almost all over the country.

Let’s briefly look at some of the most common fruits in Uganda.

Mangoes; very common and sizes vary- ranging from the very small to very large, depending on the part of the country they are produced. They turn yellow and soft when ripe, but most people I’ve met prefer them when they are still a little green and hard. Can be eaten separately or used for fruit salad. The overly ripe ones are usually used for juice. Mangoes are cheapest during peak season.

Jackfruit; ‘Ffene’ as it is commonly known is a large irregular oval-like fruit, yellowish-green when ripe. It has sticky sap when cut open, but also the most delicious yellow fruits inside. The roundish fruits have seeds inside that need to be removed before they can be eaten. Jackfruit is mostly sold by roadside vendors pushing hand carts- they usually cut it into smaller pieces and sell them separately. Ready-to-eat packed fruits can also be found in some supermarkets.

Passion fruits; commonly used for juice. Passion fruit juice is the most common juice in restaurants/hotels and homes across Uganda. They come in two sizes [small and relatively big- orange-like size], and are either purple or yellow.

Pineapples: very sweet and juicy and common across the country. You will find pineapples in food markets, at roadside stalls, and on Kampala streets, you are likely to meet a vendor with a hand cart, selling pieces of peeled pineapple on a hot day.

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Boda Boda Transportation in Uganda

In Ugandan speak, ‘boda boda’ refers to motorcycle taxis. Boda boda are a common sight on Kampala streets and in other towns around the country. It is the fastest way to get anywhere in the city, considering the traffic problem prevailing in Kampala. In upcountry towns, the lack of other public transport means such as taxis into the villages make boda boda not just a quick way but the only way to move around. If you don’t own a car, boda boda is the only other transport system that takes you straight to your doorstep.

On Kampala streets, boda bodas are overwhelmingly many and hardly respect the traffic rules. It is a common sight to see pedestrians stop for a boda boda to ride by before they use the designated pedestrian crossing [zebra crossing]; or boda bodas competing with pedestrians on the street pavements/ sidewalks. For these vey reasons, boda bodas have been cited as the number one cause of road accidents in Uganda, most of them fatal.

Despite their disrespect for traffic laws, boda bodas are still a quick and common way of getting around town if you are not patient enough to sit in a commuter taxi, get stuck in traffic and get to your destination late. It is also a sure way to get to a place you do not know, especially if you are new in town or just going to a new area. Boda boda riders know almost all the places in town.

So if you are new in town; here are some tips to the boda boda experience.

  • There are several boda boda stages along the streets, so pick one from anywhere closest to you. Alternatively, you can just stand on the street and yell ‘boda!’ if you see one passing by. They will always stop and pick you up.
  • If you don’t know where you are going, it is likely that you will be charged a higher price than usual especially if you negotiate before setting off. Get to where you are going first then according to the distance, offer the price you think is suitable. The lowest price for any boda ride is Ugx. 1,000 [about $3], for the shortest distance. Most Mzungus are usually charged a higher price than the locals, so beware and negotiate your way to a lower price!
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Traffic in Kampala

Unbelievable traffic is the way of life on Kampala roads especially in the mornings and evenings. People getting to and from work, parents and school buses dropping off or picking kids from school, or people just going around their business.  If you have an appointment in town at 9 am, and you live in one of the suburbs that is about 20 minutes away, you need to get on the road by 7 am . That is how bad Kampala traffic is, especially on weekdays. And when it rains, the situation gets worse. You are very likely to hear someone at the office say they are leaving early; reason; “it looks like it’s going to rain”.

There are a number of roads famous for their traffic- Entebbe road where you are likely to get stuck on the Clock Tower round-about, just as you are trying to get out of town, for over thirty minutes. Folks headed towards Mukono often leave town very either early, or very late in the evening to avoid the traffic. The traffic situation on Kampala roads is made worse by the countless number of roundabouts and the size of the roads [most Kampala roads are two-lane].

A drive during Kampala’s traffic-crazy hours is nothing to look forward to. You have to deal with the dust and heat [during the dry seasons] and the noise because drivers tend to lean on their horns out of frustration. Many drivers, especially taxi drivers try to take short-cuts to avoid the delays on the main roads. Most of these so-called ‘short-cuts’ are barely roads.  I have been in situations where a taxi gets stuck in one of these small, muddy short-cuts.

Any driver on Kampala roads will tell you about dealing with the menace that is boda-bodas [motorcycle taxis]. They blatantly ignore traffic rules and are forever trying to get to their destination faster than anyone, albeit in a terrifying dance routine around other road users. This accounts for the large number of boda-boda accidents on the roads. That aside, if you are pressed for time or don’t have the patience to sit in a taxi or your car for hours, boda-bodas are the fastest option.

Image Credit: Tim Abbott

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Witch Doctors and traditional african healers in Uganda

When one speaks of witch doctors in Uganda, one thinks of ‘Abasawo abaganda’ as they are commonly referred to in the central region or ‘Abafumu’ in the western region. They claim to communicate with spirits of the dead and provide solutions to people’s problems. These range all the way from all manners of ailments and afflictions from cancer, infertility to HIV/AIDS, to offering success whether in business, politics, and education or just help someone seeking fame. These doctors usually demand a fee, on behalf of the spirits, before one’s problem can be addressed. This payment is usually a sacrifice in form of animals, most commonly hens and goats, but human sacrifice is sometimes demanded.

While witchcraft is a long-time custom in most cultures in Uganda, it was usually thought to be a practice for the rural, uneducated communities, but recently, it has become an almost commercial venture with an increasing number of the educated people turning to the practice. Many politicians, wealthy businessmen as well as celebrities in Uganda have been linked to witchcraft. A couple of years back, there was an increase in child sacrifice in Uganda, and this was linked to witch doctors. Many popular businessmen were said to be having children abducted and taken to witch doctors for sacrifice, being assured that they would get even wealthier. These particular witchdoctors catering to the elite class are very well compensated and have become very wealthy themselves.

In the rural areas, a number of communities still resort to witchcraft instead of hospitals when they get sick. Others go to witchdoctors to get revenge on their enemies, by having a witchdoctor for instance cast a spell on their enemy or the person who has wronged them. In some areas, it is used as a threat, to keep peace within the community. A thief would for example know not to steal anything from a particular village in fear of being cursed.

Witchcraft, although feared, is still a widely practiced custom in Uganda. Witchdoctors have come from as far as Tanzania, Congo, and Zanzibar to set up shop in Uganda.

Image Credit: Dave Catchpole

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Why Uganda is called the Pearl of Africa

“The Pearl of Africa” is a phrase popularized by Winston Churchill when he described his impression of Uganda after his trip in 1907. Some sources however credit one of the earliest explorers into Uganda, Henry Morton Stanley, as the first person to refer to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa in 1871. Regardless of who came up with the phrase, both men had similar reasons for this reference; Uganda’s natural beauty- the lakes, mountain ranges, wildlife, the people and their culture.

So why Uganda is still referred to as the Pearl of Africa today? Let’s start with the natural beauty Uganda offers. We start off with the famous Lake Victoria- the largest lake in Africa, the largest tropical lake in the world and the world’s second largest freshwater lake. Lake Victoria is also the source of the longest river in the world, the River Nile. The Source of the Nile monument in Jinja is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.

The wild life is another unique feature that attests to Uganda being the Pearl of Africa. From the rare mountain gorilla species in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to the biggest number of bird species in Africa in Queen Elizabeth National Park, to the Big Five [lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, leopards] and all sorts of smaller animals in Uganda’s other national parks.  Don’t forget the lush mountains, the green forests, and the gorgeous waterfalls along the Nile.

Of course, the Pearl would not be complete without its people. Ugandans’ hospitality is a well-known fact in the region. You will not find a more welcoming, hospitable, and friendly people anywhere in East Africa. Even with the diverse culture spread over the different tribes, everyone is ready with a smile for everyone; even a stranger.

It was no mistake that Uganda was named as ‘the best country to visit’ by Lonely Planet in 2012 or as ‘one of the best travel destinations for 2013’ by the National Geographic. Uganda is truly the Pearl.

Photo Credit: stttijn

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What you need to know about dating a Ugandan

Credit: Jake Stimpson

The dating scene in Uganda is a controversial one. The men will tell you that dating a Ugandan girl is dramatic and expensive, while the girls will say dating a Ugandan man is a road to heartache. Most young Ugandan girls especially the ‘campusers’ [University students] prefer dating older men- the working class, because of the financial benefits that their fellow university male students cannot afford to provide for them. So while the working class bachelors go for the campusers- because they are cheaper to maintain than the average working class woman, the working class ladies go for the married men. The majority of Ugandan men hardly settle with one woman.

Most married men often have a girlfriend on the side, commonly known as a ‘side-dish’. I have found that most girls do not mind being side-dishes, as long as the man provides for them, especially financially. It is common to find a group of married men boasting about their side-dishes over drinks in a bar. This practice is kind of an unspoken but acceptable situation in most marriages.

There’s been a recent rise in mixed relationships. Most Muzungu men [expats and tourists alike] prefer to date Ugandan girls. For most of these guys, it’s the allure of a new experience of being with a black girl. It doesn’t matter whether these men are married or not. It is a common occurrence to find a white man with both a wife back home and a girlfriend or ‘African wife’ in Kampala. Most of these relationships end when the man has to go back home. For the girls on the other hand, most of them go for the Muzungus because they are more generous than most of their Ugandan counterparts- financially, emotionally and sexually. What else explains a beautiful twenty-something Ugandan girl dating a seventy-something white man?

You will find a smaller number of Muzungu ladies dating Ugandan men. It could be because most of these women already have stable relationships back home- something that doesn’t deter their male counterparts, or prefer to date their fellow Muzungus.

Image Credit: Jake Stimpson