Kidepo Valley National Park

 Situated in North-Eastern Uganda, Kidepo is a remote wilderness savanna that has a plethora of animals. This includes the Big Five and practically every other mammal and arid bird species you’re likely to have on your checklist. It’s a first class ticket to encountering lions, cheetahs, leopards, side-striped and black-backed jackals, bat eared fox, buffaloes, elephants, giraffes. The park is a haven for 12 antelope species the biggest of which are elands. Others include jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, Uganda kob and klipspringer.

The best time to head out for a game drive is early morning or late evening when the predators are out for a hunt. In between, around mid-day, they tend to disappear out of sight, into distant shades where they can take shelter from the scorching sun. To stand better chances of photographing a leopard napping next to the kill it has hoisted into a tree, concentrate on where you see vultures gathering (with the hope of devouring left-overs). If lady luck is on your side, you might spot a pair of cheetahs sitting high on their relatively high termite hills with the intent of getting clear view of prey that are wandering back and forth. You visit Kidepo and miss out on seeing the seasonal river after which it is named.  It is scenically spectacular.

The limited number of lodges and camps means that its ‘wildness’ doesn’t feel tamed and the experience isn’t ‘package-holiday’ like.

A visit to Kidepo is incomplete with a treat of the authentic traditional cultures of the Karimojong. It is a tribe of nomadic warriors with a strong attachment to the ancient way of life. It has a strong influence in the way they eat, dance, marry and hold festivals.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison is an absolute A-list destination! Where else can you be following a lioness and her cubs towards their hideout and at the same instant see a tower of giraffes gracefully matching in search for food? The park is a delightful revelation with a richness of wildlife and great concentration of Africa’s wild animals from reptiles to mammals and anything in between. It has everything that Kruger has…plus such once-in-a-lifetime sightings chimpanzees. Its waterfall is and rejuvenating boat cruises are justifiably its biggest drawcards but if you have time head for a sport fishing excursion along the Nile or an early morning hot air balloon safari.

Famed the world over for its thunderous waterfall, a dense tropical rainforest and lush savannah, Murchison is Uganda’s biggest wildlife park, covering 3,840km2. It boasts of 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds, including Shoebill, Widow Bird, Marabou Stork, Secretary Birds, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Open-billed Storks and Black-bellied Bustards.

You can top your game drive with a sightseeing boat cruise along the shores of river Nile. Massive numbers of grazers and browsers gather here to quench their thirst and cool of the day’s steam. This in turn provides an incredible opportunity for predators to strike for a feast. It’s a captivating wildlife sighting that will leave you squealing in delight.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

There is a good reason why this is the most visited park in Uganda. It is everything you’d expect of an African wilderness area; rolling plains, densely forested gorges, savannah, swamps, rocky outcrops, stunning crater lakes and deep green winding rivers full of crocs and hippos. Its animal diversity is one of the greatest in the great lakes region and all of the Big game is easily found no matter the time of your visit. Lying across the Equator, this 1978 km² conservation area has everything within an incredibly short distance; boat cruises, chimp tracking avenue and open plains where game drives excel. On such is Kasenyi, a breeding ground for animals in the antelope family.

The safety and well being of animals is paramount. You don’t have to worry about missing out on the thrill of seeing a pride of lions and its young ones because there are no dozens of vehicles jockeying for the best position for viewing.

The boat cruise along Kazinga channel provides one the classic scenario of witnessing African fish eagles as they swiftly dive into water to snatch out fish. It is a vast river stretch connecting two scenic freshwater lakes that subsequently feed the world’s longest river, River Nile.

Tree climbing lions

At Ishasha, you stand great chances of witnessing a full-scale battle over a kill between a pride of lions and a pack of about 25 hyenas!

Lake Mburo National Park

You can’t beat the drama of Mburo – a massive herd of giraffes and their zebra friends marching across the grasslands, a buffalo wallowing in the mud to get rid of ticks, a pack of hyenas quibbling over a carcass, or a hungry croc dramatically rising from the lake after which the park is named.

Thanks to its strategic location in Western Uganda, this savannah park is four hours’ drive from Kampala and five hours drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This makes it a great point to take a break for travellers heading or returning from a gorilla adventure in Bwindi. Its evenly spread network of trails offers lovely game drives and nature walks.  Other mammals found here include warthogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, toppi and hippos.

The open plains surely lend to the ease of game viewing, whilst the rolling hills and whistling acacias complete the classic image of safari. If you wish to go off the beaten path, a horseback ride will treat you to the delight of seeing animals you could have missed out on seeing during game drives which are restricted to trails. It offers good sighting of wildlife as there is no jostling and competing for the best spot, unlike the case in Masai Mara.

Lake Mburo remains a great destination for safari virgins and those on a stricter budget. There is variety of budget camps as well as a good balance of luxurious safari lodges with infinity pools.