For a small, landlocked country of which almost 25% is lakes and rivers, Uganda certainly packs in the places of interest. Mountainous, forested Bwindi National Park is where to go in Uganda for gorilla treks but the country is also home to large savannah reserves, lowland rainforests and enchanting lakes which – in combination – make for one of the biggest wildlife experiences in Africa.
Uganda’s raised topography means a cooler climate than its equatorial setting suggests but if you’re planning a gorilla trek, it’s important to know when to go to Uganda for the easiest trekking conditions. Although it’s regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking is during the country’s two dry seasons: January and February and from June to September.Game viewing in Uganda’s savannah parks is best at the end of the dry seasons – February and March and September/early October – when wildlife is concentrated around water sources. Bird watching is fantastic all year round but is at its peak between November and April when migrant species are present.
We’d recommend avoiding a Uganda safari entirely during the heavy rains of April and May.
Best time to go to Uganda by major parks
All parks are best visited in the dry season from June to August and December to February.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas, the World Heritage-listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular game reserve for Uganda safaris and certainly one most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori range in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest. This remarkable diversity is reflected in its bird list of over 550 species, the largest of any protected area in Africa.
Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda’s largest National Park acts as a conservation area to untamed wilderness and savannahs, split through the middle by the dramatic river Nile.
Murchinson Falls is the name that was given to the point at which the world’s longest river, the river Nile, is channeled through a narrow gorge within the Rift Valley, descending almost 50 metres below. Sir Roderick Murchison (1851–1853), was President of the Royal Geographical Society, which was the catalyst for many explorations within ‘colonial’ Africa, most notably the search for the source of the river Nile.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.
The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.
It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District.