Best time to visit Uganda

Best time to visit Uganda

Temperature & rainfall

March-May and Oct-Nov see the highest rainfall, but don’t be put off. Gorilla permits are much easier to get your hand on at this time (in dry season, they can sell out months in advance), and may even be cheaper. There’s still plenty to spot on game drives – and the north, including Murchison Falls, is pretty arid year-round. The disadvantage is that the already appalling roads become even more bone-shaking, while gorilla trekking – even if you luck out with a dry day – will be slippery and slow. Peak season is June-Sep, but Uganda remains happily oblivious to mass tourism and you won’t need to worry about encountering crowds.

Things to do in Uganda

What to do in Uganda & what not to

Things to do in Uganda...

Uganda shelters over half of the earth’s mountain gorillas, and most of these live in the mist-shrouded Bwindi Forest. Visiting one of the 11 habituated families is Uganda’s most compelling activity, as a 2-6 hour trek through the rainforest culminates in an eye-to-eye encounter with one of our closest relatives. All tours are regulated through the Uganda Wildlife Authority - so you can be sure that your fee is reinvested into the national park and the gorillas' protection.

Chimpanzees also inhabit several of Uganda’s forests, and with abundant permits costing a fraction of those for gorillas, a half-day tour is highly recommended. These noisy primates are much more animated than the gorillas – watching them is exhilarating.

Uganda’s national parks are a well-kept secret. Lusher than their Kenyan counterparts, with rivers and lakes for cruising as well as standard game drives. Dented with volcanic craters against a mountain backdrop, the landscapes alone are spectacular. Thousands of hippo and buffalo, along with elephant, lion, giraffe, leopard and over 1,000 species of birds can be seen here – without bumping into hordes of other visitors. Top spots are Queen Elizabeth for game, Bwindi for gorillas, Mgahinga for volcanoes and golden monkeys, and Murchison Falls for vast savannah and the mighty falls themselves.

Visitors to Uganda credit it with being one of the friendliest nations in Africa. Still very much tribal, culture varies widely across the country – be sure to catch the wonderful music and dance, traditional demonstrations (medicinal plants, cooking, weaving) or consider a home stay alongside one of the national parks.

Things not to do in Uganda...

The Batwa people have inhabited Uganda’s forests for centuries – but were evicted in the 1990s when national parks were gazetted to protect gorilla populations. The conservation efforts worked – but the Batwa were left homeless, landless and jobless. While there are now some excellent tours which work with the Batwa to introduce visitors to their forest and traditions, there are also terrible “see the pygmies!” experiences – which are degrading for the Batwa and uncomfortable for visitors. You may just be watching a staged dance, with little of your fee going back to the Batwa. So do your research.

Leave! Many visitors spend their day tracking gorillas – then head straight to the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania. But why not stay? Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks offer superb game viewing, stunning landscapes, river cruises and accommodation to suit all budgets. These are much better kept secrets than the Serengeti and the Masai Mara – with lower visitor numbers to match.

Break the gorilla rules. Valid across Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo, these are in place to protect these rare creatures. You’ll be in their company for a maximum of one hour – and must stand at least 7m away from them in order to stop the transmission of diseases; even a common cold can be fatal for a gorilla.
Be openly gay. Uganda's anti-gay laws are a seriously dark blot on its tourism landscape - as is the general public attitude towards homosexuality. The proposed introduction of the death penalty for homosexuals was, thankfully, not passed - but Uganda remains a dangerous place to be gay.

Uganda travel advice

Tips from our friends in uganda

Paul Callcutt, from our supplier Natural World Safaris:
“Responsible tourism holds the key to improving the situation for the Batwa people and responsible local lodges like Mt Gahinga Lodge has a trust to aid the Batwa people. It has been used to purchase land for pastoral purposes allowing them a dignified lifestyle that, while still somewhat alien to their traditional lifestyle, is a huge step forward from when they were initially displaced and left to fend for themselves with little or no support.”
Paul Callcutt offers gorillas tracking advice:

“I always recommend that people take more than one visit to the mountain gorillas. Every time is so very different from the others, after your first visit you will relax significantly and perhaps spend less time focused on taking pictures but actually absorb the experience a lot more.”

Uganda travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful Uganda travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Combine seeing Mountain Gorillas with Safari in Uganda. Why waste time flying around? - Liz Green

Apart from the extra clothing required for trekking (boots, waterproofs etc), travel light, some (not all) offer laundry services and they are very efficient. - Darren Winslow

By prepared for some hours driving between locations depending on your personalized itinerary but understand the time is rewarded with fantastic experiences upon arrival to each location of the customized itinerary. - Robert Roberto

Always take the option of a porter when trekking the gorillas. After paying 100's of dollars for the permit, $15 for the use of a porter is peanuts. The trek is really tiring and the porter not only carries your bag but pushes, pulls and generally helps get you into t he best spots to photograph the gorillas! - Kathy Hammond

To expect the unexpected! Don’t get hung up on itineraries, when something doesn’t work out the way YOU are expecting it to. - Helen Rankmore

Bring more money than you expect to use as it is easy to get carried away when buying gifts, also traveler cheques are not easy to change and there are not many opportunities to access ATM's or banks. - Joanne Halpin
Photo credits: [Gorilla family: Cristoffer Crusell] [Ugandan market: Jake Stimpson] [Batwa mother & baby: Vicki Brown] [Trekking: Jørn Eriksson] [Gorilla trek: Hjalmar Gislason]
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