Here is How to Plan Your African Dream Safari
Practical Advice and Tips that help you to Plan the Perfect African Safari in Uganda
How to plan the perfect African Safari – Step by Step Advice: A Comprehensive Guide to Planning the Perfect African Safari!
/going on an African safari is a dream that resides on the bucket lists of many travelers. Careful planning is essential whether you’re considering your first safari or looking to enhance your previous experiences. Here, you’ll find practical advice on how to plan the perfect African safari, offering a step-by-step guide to curating an ideal African holiday that suits your preferences.
It’s important to note that an African safari differs significantly from visiting destinations in Europe, the UK, Ireland, the US, or Canada. Instead of bustling towns like New York, London, Berlin, Paris, or Rome, African safaris immerse you in the wilderness. The focus shifts from cathedrals, museums, and iconic city landmarks to the awe-inspiring wildlife, primates, and exotic birds that inhabit these natural habitats.
Unlike the well-paved superhighways, expressways, and autobahns found in other parts of the world, the roads in the African wilderness resemble ancient elephant paths. It’s an environment where wild places are surrounded by untamed animals, where encounters with primates and colorful birds are the norm.
Safari planning serves as the discovery phase of your journey. It’s an exciting time to familiarize yourself with the destinations and experiences awaiting you. The Swahili word “safari” itself means “journey,” and for most travelers, it becomes an inner and outer journey of discovery.
To plan your safari effectively, there are several crucial points to consider. You’ll need to determine where you want to go, how long you wish to stay, what to pack, and establish a suitable budget for your safari. Today, we will guide you on where to start and how to meticulously plan the perfect African safari experience.
By following this comprehensive step-by-step guide, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on an unforgettable adventure that showcases the magnificent wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and the rich cultural heritage of Africa. Let the planning begin!
Plan the perfect African Safari-A Step-by-Step Guide to Safari Planning.
1. Decide which African country to visit for your Safari:
Choosing the Perfect African Safari Destination: A Country Selection Guide! Sub-Saharan Africa presents an array of captivating wildlife safari destinations, encompassing nine remarkable countries: South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, and Rwanda. Each country offers its unique charms and wildlife experiences, making the decision of where to go an exciting yet crucial step in planning your safari adventure.
In the southern part of the African continent, you’ll find four prominent safari destinations: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. These countries boast diverse ecosystems, ranging from vast savannahs to arid deserts, and are home to an abundance of wildlife.
On the other hand, East Africa is where you’ll discover Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda. This region is renowned for its iconic national parks, such as the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, where spectacular wildlife migrations occur, and where you can encounter magnificent creatures like lions, elephants, and giraffes.
While it may be tempting to try and visit multiple African countries on your safari, it’s essential to consider the vastness of the continent and the associated costs and logistics. African air travel and visa expenses can significantly impact the overall cost of your dream safari. Therefore, it is often advisable, especially for first-time African travelers, to focus on a single country to make the most of their experience.
By selecting one country as your safari destination, you can immerse yourself fully in its unique wildlife, landscapes, and cultural heritage. This allows for a more in-depth exploration and a chance to truly connect with the local environment and its inhabitants.
Carefully consider the highlights and attractions of each country, the specific wildlife you wish to encounter, and the type of safari experience you desire. Research the available national parks, game reserves, and conservation areas to find the perfect match for your interests.
Remember, every African country has its own allure, and whichever destination you choose, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable safari experience filled with awe-inspiring encounters and lifelong memories.
Which Country should I visit for my African Safari?
Why Choose Uganda for Your African Safari? When selecting the perfect country for your African safari, Uganda shines as an outstanding choice. Often referred to as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda has a rich history of captivating explorers who couldn’t help but express their admiration for this remarkable destination. In fact, Lonely Planet regards Uganda as a condensed version of Africa itself, despite its compact size comparable to the US state of Oregon.
Uganda stands out as one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, boasting awe-inspiring landscapes, an abundance of wildlife, and the highest populations of mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in East Africa. Here, you can witness the famed Big Five animals—lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinoceros—while also embarking on unforgettable experiences such as tracking mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
Visiting Uganda is like stepping into the Africa you’ve always imagined, but with an extra touch of magnificence. One of the remarkable aspects of Uganda is that you can still enjoy a safari experience without the crowds often found in other popular destinations. Immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness, where natural beauty reigns supreme, and encounter the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Ugandan people.
Prepare to be captivated by Uganda’s diverse landscapes, from mist-covered mountains to lush forests and sprawling savannahs. As you traverse these remarkable terrains, you’ll have the opportunity to witness majestic wildlife, including mighty elephants and graceful antelopes. But what truly sets Uganda apart is its unrivaled primate encounters. Here, you can embark on unforgettable journeys to observe and interact with both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, an experience that will leave an everlasting impression.
Choose Uganda as your African safari destination, and you’ll be rewarded with an extraordinary adventure where nature’s wonders unfold at every turn. Discover why it is rightly called the Pearl of Africa, and allow Uganda to surpass your wildest expectations, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.
2. Decide what Season to go on Safari in Uganda:
Choosing the Ideal Season for Your Safari in Uganda: Uganda, blessed with the presence of the Rwenzori Mountains and stunning Great Lakes like Lake Albert and Lake Victoria, offers a temperate climate and holiday-worthy weather throughout the year. When planning your safari in Uganda, it’s essential to consider the seasons, which can be divided into high seasons (dry) and low seasons (rainy).
The timing of your safari is crucial for a successful experience in Africa. Let’s explore the two main seasons and their impact on your safari planning.
During the dry season, rainfall is infrequent, except in Uganda’s rainforests. The air is dry, and temperatures fluctuate between hot and cold. The savannah vegetation becomes sparse, and wildlife faces challenges in their fight for survival. While the daytime heat may make your safari a bit uncomfortable, it’s important to note that this is the best time of year for wildlife sightings. With limited water sources, animals congregate around riverbeds, lakes, and watering holes, increasing your chances of spotting them easily. The dry season offers the advantage of less foliage on trees and bushes, making wildlife more visible. However, temperatures can rise above 30 degrees Celsius in savannah parks, and Kidepo Valley Park experiences even hotter conditions during its dry season.
On the other hand, the rainy season brings cooler temperatures and transforms the landscape into a lush green paradise. This season is typically considered the off-season or shoulder season for safaris. Spotting game becomes more challenging as animals have abundant water sources and don’t need to travel to rivers or waterholes to drink. Additionally, road conditions may deteriorate during this time. However, if you time your visit well within the shoulder season, you can enjoy fewer crowds and lower prices, as luxury lodges often reduce their rates.
Ultimately, the choice of season for your safari in Uganda depends on your preferences and priorities. The dry season offers better wildlife sightings due to concentrated animal activity, while the rainy season presents a greener landscape and potential cost savings. Consider your comfort, wildlife viewing goals, and the overall safari experience you desire when deciding which season aligns best with your expectations.
No matter the season you choose, Uganda’s natural beauty and captivating wildlife will leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for this remarkable safari destination.
Dry Season (High Season):
- The dry season in Uganda generally occurs from December to February and June to September.
- During this time, rainfall is minimal across most of the country, except in the rainforests.
- The weather is characterized by dry air and fluctuating temperatures, often ranging from hot to cold.
- Vegetation in savannah areas becomes sparse as water sources dwindle, making wildlife more concentrated around rivers, lakes, and watering holes.
- This wildlife concentration provides excellent game viewing opportunities, including the chance to spot the iconic Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros).
- The reduced foliage on trees and bushes enhances visibility, making it easier to observe wildlife.
Rainy Season (Low Season):
The rainy season in Uganda typically spans from March to May and October to November.
During this time, the landscape transforms into a vibrant green as the rains bring new life to the vegetation.
The temperatures are generally cooler compared to the dry season.
The rainy season is considered the off-season or shoulder season for safaris, resulting in fewer tourists and lower accommodation rates at luxury lodges.
Wildlife sightings can be more challenging as animals disperse due to the availability of water throughout the landscape.
Road conditions may deteriorate due to the rain, making certain areas more difficult to access.
Despite these challenges, the rainy season offers unique opportunities to witness the beauty of Uganda’s lush landscapes and experience a quieter and more intimate safari experience.
It’s worth noting that Uganda’s weather patterns can vary, and there may be regional differences within the country. It’s advisable to check specific park and region conditions when planning your safari.
In addition to wildlife encounters, Uganda is renowned for its diverse range of activities, such as gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park. These experiences can be enjoyed throughout the year and add an extra dimension to your safari adventure.
Ultimately, whether you choose the dry season for optimal wildlife sightings or the rainy season for a greener landscape and potential cost savings, Uganda’s natural wonders and unique safari experiences are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Safaris occur all year, and Safari-Goers always have an extraordinary time.
3. What do you want to see and do on your African Safari?
Here are some of the Things to do and See – Activities that can be part of your Safari in Uganda
- Gorilla Trekking: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Mgahinga Gorilla Park – Gorilla Habituation Experience – 4 hours with a Gorilla Family – 4 permits only
- Chimpanzee Trekking: , Kalinzu Forest, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth Park, Semliki Park. The best park for Chimpanzee Trekking is in Kibale Forest, where 12 other primates reside.
- Nocturnal walk in Kibale Rainforest: An out-of-the-ordinary experience where you encounter the rainforest creatures of the night.
- Golden Monkey Trekking: The is a beautiful, endangered monkey. They live in the Bamboo Forest of the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- Savannah Wildlife: Kidepo Valley Park, Murchison Falls Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Semliki Park, Kabwoya and Pan Upe Wildlife Reserves, Lake Mburo Park.
- Hiking – Climbing: Mgahinga Gorilla Park Volcanoes, Bwindi Impenetrable in and near Queen Elizabeth Forest, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, including the Foothills, Mount Elgon, Kidepo Valley, Lake Mburo Park, Semliki Park, Kibale Forest.
- Uganda without the Crowds Locations in Uganda:
- Authentic Africa: You can still find it in Uganda, in places like Kidepo Valley Park, Africa, as it was 50 years ago.
- Nile Adrenaline Pumping Adventures in Jinja: White Water Rafting, Kayaking, mild to wild.
- Birding: Uganda is the best destination for birders in Africa.
- Cultural Encounters in Uganda include Time with the Batwa, Karimojong, and Ik Peoples.
- Relax and Chill out: At the end of the Safari, spend a couple of days on the Tropical Sandy Beach Ssese Islands. Bulago Island’s Pineapple Beach resort is the perfect spot.
4. How many Days will I need for my African Safari?
The number of days depends on the activities that you choose. A 3-day Gorilla Trekking Safari is like dipping your toes into a swimming pool and calling it swimming. Ten days or longer allow you to immerse yourself in Safari Life and give you various activities and places.
Below are some examples of safaris for you to consider. All safaris are changeable to your liking.
- 3-Day Gorilla Trekking or Habituation Safari: Three days is the minimum Time for a Gorilla Trekking or Habituation Experience Safari.
- 5-DAy Gorilla Wildlife Safari: The Safari includes Gorilla Trekking and wildlife, including the Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha.
- 5 Day Gorilla – Chimpanzee Trekking Safari: Trek Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest.
- 8-Day Gorilla Trekking – Hiking – Dugout Canoeing – Volcano Climbing Safari: Trek Gorillas in the Buhoma region of Bwindi Forest. Hike through the forest to the southern area. There you trek gorillas again. Hike to Lake Mutanda. Climb a Volcano in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- 8-Day Gorilla Trekking – Wildlife – Chimpanzee Trekking Safari: Gorilla Trekking or Habituation Experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
- 12-Day Gorilla – Chimpanzee – Wildlife Safari: A safari includes Gorilla – Chimpanzee Trekking, Queen Elizabeth Park, Murchison Falls Park, and Rhino Trekking.
- 14-Day Gorilla – Chimpanzee Wildlife – White Water Rafting on the Nile: The Safari includes Gorilla – Chimpanzee Trekking, Queen Elizabeth Park, Murchison Falls Park, Rhino Trekking, and Jinja on the Nile with White Water Rafting.
- 20-Day Gorilla – Chimpanzee- Wildlife – Jinja on the Nile – Mount Elgon-Sipi Falls – and the remote Kidepo Valley Park: This Safari takes most of Uganda.
The above-suggested Safari types gave you the days to incorporate various activities into your Safari.
Decide on a Budget for your Gorilla Safari in Uganda
Setting a budget is not easy unless you have been blessed in life and have abundance. If you want to maximize your African Experience and, at the same time, stay on budget, you need to set how much you are willing to spend for the Safari alone. The flight to and from Uganda is not included in the Safari Price, so you must add that to your African trip’s overall cost. Of course, fares vary depending on your place of departure and travel dates.
The Cost of your Safari is determined by the activities you include and the type of lodges you wish to stay in. Based on our tour operator experience, we suggest you use midrange or luxury lodges and hotels for a more satisfactory and meaningful African safari experience.
Your Safari Cost comes down to the Following Factors:
- Type of accommodation that you will use: Quality Midrange or Luxury Lodge.
- The level of service you would like: Luxury and Exclusive Lodges offer the best assistance with highly trained and competent staff. Exclusive Lodges will provide world-class service, including a private butler and house cleaner.
- Quality of Meal: Luxury and exclusive will serve restaurant-style meals. Some exclusive Lodges have their kitchen staff trained by renowned international chefs at exclusive Lodges. The rate of the meals will exceed some of the restaurants in Kampala. Midrange serves tasty and sumptuous meals. Many meals will be European, Asian, and African fusion meals. Dietary needs can be met, including Halal, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free. Certified Kosher meals are impossible; however, kosher-friendly meals can be readily served.
- The quality of the Safari Tour: You want a full-service safari with an experienced driver-guide.
- Activities you choose: Gorilla Trekking Permits are $750, Chimpanzee Permits are $200, and Hot Air Balloon Rise is $380—just three activities with costs that will increase the cost of your Safari.
Other Safari-related expenses:
- Tips and Gratuities on Safari: See our tipping page for more information.
- Drinks such as Sodas and Alcoholic Beverages: Some excluded include non-premium alcoholic beverages for their guests. You incur a bill for sodas and Beer, Wine, and Spirits at most lodges.
- Activities not included in the Itinerary: At rare times, safari-goers may consist of an action not previously included in the Safari.
- Souvenirs-Gifts: Are not included in the price of the Safari.
- International Airfares, Visas, medical insurance, and comprehensive travel insurance.
- Vaccinations: Are not included in the Safari Price.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking is less than half the price of what it is in Rwanda:
Uganda is the premier primate destination in East Africa. Uganda has more Mountain Gorillas than any other East African Union country. It also has more permits, all without compromising on the Gorilla Trek. Additionally, lodging is lower in price than in Rwanda. This has led to the excellent gorilla Trekker Migration to safe and affordable Uganda.
6. Go on your Safari with a Local for the best African Safari Experience:
Most Visitors and Tourists know little about Uganda, and what they think they know about Uganda turns out to be wrong. Now you want to plan and implement your Safari without knowing the lay of the land.
You need to plan for the distances, Drive Times, Road Conditions, vehicles, lodges, hotels, and a driver. By now, you might be ready for a one-stop planning experience and book your Safari with us instead.
We are not confused, and we know the Country quite well. We live and work here, and Safaris are our Business. While on Safari with us, you are going with a local, and your Ugandan driver-guide knows things you will never find researching on the Internet.
You are the center of their attention when you go with a local tour operator on a private Safari. You cannot even get background information from Bradt’s Guide to Uganda.
For an enriching African Safari, Experience goes with a local tour operator. It will give you the lowest price and the most information, and your driver-guide will not need a GPS device.
7, What should I pack for My trip to Uganda?
What you need to pack for your trip to Uganda depends on why you visit the Country. If you are coming on Business, we suggest you dress more formally for a convention—Ugandans like to dress smart, especially in the capital city of Kampala.
If you are coming for a Safari, what you will pack will depend on the type of Safari you will be on.
Check with your airline as to luggage limitations from your Country. North Americans will have more generous luggage limitations than Europeans.
- Packing for a Safari: covers general safaris and gives you a packing list you can download.
- Gorilla Trekking Safari: Gorilla Trekking requires different clothing and gear, as does a Savannah Park Safari.
- Fly-In Safari: On a Flying Safari, you deal with weight restrictions of 15kg. You can have more luggage, but there is an excess charge.
As you can see, coming for athan coming as a volunteer or business visitor. Every visitor, while visiting Uganda, should plan to spend a few days in the African Wild, even on a mini safari.
8. Booking your African Dream Safari:
The Booking Process with Kabiza Wilderness Safaris
Contact us and tell us what you would like to include in you Gorilla-Chimpanzee-Wildlife Safari. Let us know whether you would like a midrange or luxury Safari
Planning your Safari
With your input we create the private, luxury or midrange Safari Itinerary that fits you. Permits are bought, Lodges are booked.
On the date of your choice - your African Dream Safari in Uganda begins
Advice on Booking your Flight to your Safari Destination:
Try to resist the temptation to book a flight deal before you have a good idea of your safari plans. First, having your safari plans and booking flights is always better, giving you more freedom to pick a wildlife safari that suits you and your budget. Also, having set travel dates (due to flights ) limits your choices, and you could miss fantastic travel deals.
Planning your African Safari in Uganda:
You need someone who knows Uganda, has the latest information – adds value to your Safaris, and takes the Chaos and Confusion out of the mix when planning your Safari.
For over a decade, Kabiza Wilderness Safaris has created memorable Hakuna Matata – No Worries, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and Wildlife Safaris in Uganda, where we live and work. We focus on Uganda and Rwanda, which is what we know best.
We give you value-added Midrange and Luxury Safaris where you do not have to worry about your accommodations but focus on the Safari Experience.
We make planning your Safari easier, you give us your ideas, and we weave together the Tapestry that Turns out to be your Safari.
Contact us soon – you will be glad you did…We know Uganda – we live here and have been in the Business of offering Safaris for over a decade since 2008. We are an Association of Uganda Tour Operators member licensed by the Uganda Tourism Board.