8 Road Trips to Take on Budget Travel in Uganda
Take a Uganda safari road trip, visiting some of the best ecotourism sites and wilderness with excellent outdoor adventure possibilities. To set off on a road trip around Uganda is a true adventure’s spirit. Even if you have only a day tour or arrange a safari and make reservations a head of time to spend several days on a trip. Visitors will need to check out places, arrange a vehicle from one of the car rental services in Kampala and driver guide or look to use scheduled coaster buses but that would on your trip plans and convenience. There are no limitations before your road trip to experience Uganda. Whether its traditional customs and culture tour for a sweet taste of Ugandan food, bush camping experience, primate tracking, wildlife viewing, mountain climbing, birding, white water rafting, rain forest canopy zip lining or exploring Sesse islands and cities like Kampala, Fort Portal, Jinja source of the Nile, Mbale or Kabale. Expect a rewarding African holiday experience.
The explosion crater lakes Western Uganda
The explosion crater lakes trail stretches in and outside Queen Elizabeth national park including the Katwe crater lakes, the Fort Portal town Crater Lakes, the Ndali-Kasenda Craters and Bunyaruguru craters. It is easy to get, just 5-6 hours from Kampala city on a safari to western Uganda. The crater lakes are one of the top beautiful scenic places in the world, offering wild breathtaking views of rift valley floor and snow peaks of mountains of the moon.
Visitors need to spend a few days to appreciate nature, wildlife and stunning scenery. With bush camping experience at Edward flats, top of the world hike, 10 km hiking trail at Kabatooro in Queen Elizabeth national park, smooth drive through the western rift valley, visiting Sempaya hot springs where you can soak in mineral rich underground Semuliki river and Amabere caves at the base of Mountains of the moon. Spot many birds and primates along the shores of Lake Kigere where a foot print of the Bachwezi kingdom is legendary with opportunities for swimming, canoeing and traditional fishing.
Stay in one of many budget lodges and camps including those with honeymoon safari packages from where you can arrange biking, village walks to Katwe salt mining communities, agro tours in Kikorongo village sharing experience with local women and children support them and buy their hand crafts like baskets. Most of the locals earn from eco-tourism initiatives such bee keeping and making eco-stoves.
On top of exploring the craters if you still have time you can visit neighboring parks like Kibale for chimpanzee tracking, Bigodi wetland sanctuary, game drives for wildlife and boa boat cruise on kazinga channel. Note, however accommodations in Kibale national park or Queen Elizabeth National Park will require to you to make advance reservations.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
No matter which way you decide to travel to Mgahinga National Park where gold meets silver, the drive is not tough with paved roads but approximately long taking 9-10 hours from Kampala or just 3 hours coming from Queen Elizabeth national park or kibale. Visitors who land at Kigali international airport, you can access Mgahinga Park. Take a 2 hours drive across the northern border of Virunga shared by Uganda and Rwanda to kisoro with bumpy volcanic roads to Ntebeko the main visitor center in Mgahinga, where you will check with Uganda wildlife authority guides and pay for your activities.
Once you arrive, it’s clear you will realize that the road trip to Mgahinga gorilla national park was worth the effort. Gorilla trekking is the main activity but there’s much more to see and do including golden monkey tracking, birding, volcano hiking, BaTwa cultural encounters.
During your gorilla trek, choose from a good selection of places where to stay from some of the low cost community camp sites, guest houses, budget lodges to bungalows with nice rooms, private bathrooms and offer village walks.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is an eco-tourism paradise. With its 3 of the Virunga volcanoes shrouded in the clouds at an altitude of 2221 – 4,127 meters above sea level and filled with rare unique animals including golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, big game like buffalos, leopard, elephant, giant forest hogs, Albertine rift endemic birds like Rwenzori turaco, great blue turacos, and picnic swamp filled crater lakes, mysterious ancient BaTwa caves.
Get even closer to the rare habituated golden monkeys on a guided trek observe and take photos of them swinging through the tree. Full day hiking to the summits of Gahinga, Muhabura or Sabinyo is rewarding with scenic views the entire Virunga massifs and rift valley, colorful birds, lizards, jackals and picnic at the swamp craters.
After a day of hiking, take BaTwa cultural trail walk through the bamboo forest. Interact with BaTwa forest hunter gathers, learn about their ancient customs and culture. They demonstrate their traditional dances, hunting skills, fire making revolution and natural healing healthy medicinal herbs and legendary name Mgahinga meaning a pile of volcanic rocks found on Mt. Gahing one of the Virunga volcanoes.
Kampala to Mabira Forest Reserve
Mabira forest is Uganda’s central forest reserve highly threatened by encroachment. You’ll learn how eco-tourism is helping to save its biodiversity including 315 species of birds, rare primate species like Ugandan Magabay, ancient trees, orchids, variety of butterflies and flowers.
This short trip, only 2 hours drive along the Kampala-Jinja high takes to you Mabira forest reserve with best eco-tourism experience including eco-lodges and camps. You will break off from the adventures for lunch or dinner if you want to spend an overnight and the following continue to visit source of the Nile and Jinja city. Spend the day here doing a lot of activities including zip lining through the rainforest canopy is done morning to noon, nature walks along refreshing griffin falls, seeing some of the ancient large trees, butterflies viewing, bird watching, monkey tracking, mountain biking in and outside the forest.
Source of the Nile Jinja
River Nile is the longest in the world and best white water rafting destination in East Afric and this trip takes you to its source in Jinja the adventure capital of East Africa. It is accessible from Kampala city by 2 hours drive through sugar cane plantations and visit Sezibwa falls en route. There are many mysteries regarding discovery of source of the Nile and you’ll not leave minus breaking them with your local guide. Move on with exciting adventure activities. The main highlight is white water rafting but your holiday in Jinja is adventure packed.
Hard core rafters can enjoy the rushing grade five stretches of rapids while family rafters can float on calm waters or use speed jet boats with birding opportunities.
In the morning go for kayaking, boat cruises along Victoria Nile offer sunrise or sunset in the evening or spend 2 days on a house boats with food and accommodation on board. Enjoy horse-back riding across the Nile valley, bungee jumping, and mountain biking, all terrain quad biking. That’s Spend time exploring Jinja city markets and enjoying its fresh cool air from the Nile at the time without missing to relax and chill is riverside camps and lodges with amenities like sport rooms and free wireless internet. There are bars and restaurants that offer a variety of wine, liquor and Nile special beer which is locally sourced from the Nile breweries. The food is tasty and fish is usually caught locally.
Mount Elgon National Park and the hill tribes of Bamasaba
Mountain Elgon national park located in Eastern Uganda on border with Kenya offers a wonderful game viewing and mountain climbing experience. Mount Elgon’s Wagagai peak at 4231 meters above sea level has the largest caldera in the world. Hikers need camping tents to sleep in while climbing to the summit.
It has the most beautiful mountain scenery to experience nature including waterfalls, hot springs, gorges, cliffs, ancient caves and numerous streams make it a water catchment area. The most popular visited are the Sipi falls and Kapkwai exploration center where you spend time visiting villages interacting with hill tribes, then go for forest walks, coffee plantations tour, rock climbing. Mountain biking are great way to make excursions to Nyero rock paintings a special archeological site dating 3000 years indicating Nile valley civilizations and locals call it sacred place.
Mount Elgon is a UNESCO recognised biosphere reserve due to four vegetation zones with diversity of wildlife. The lower forested slopes are teeming with big game such as elephants, buffalos, zebras, waterbucks and over 300 birds providing you excellent game viewing and bird watching.
Mount Elgon national park makes a great road trip that can be done on a weekend. Easily accessible from Kampala by 4-5 hours drive passing via Mabira forest and jinja to Mbale town the largest town at the base of the mountain.
Kidepo Valley National Park
A full day drive through northern Uganda to kidepo Valley National Park takes travelers into a different side of Uganda with semi-arid deserts of Karamoja region, far away from the Albertine rift valley in the western Uganda. Many of the traditional karamajong villages along the way have local food and cultural experiences to enjoy before arriving at one of the few budget lodges in kidepo.
Great game viewing, birding and hiking bounds in the Narus and Kidepo river valleys famed for large herds of buffaloes than any other area in east Africa. You can also lions, leopards; cheetah, jackals, wolves, African hunting dog, elephants and giraffes and you to the dry murongole mountains on the border with south Sudan
Murchison Falls National Park
This trip takes you to Uganda’s largest conservation area Murchison falls National Park including Kaniyo-pabidi eco-tourism sites and Budongo forest reserve home to chimpanzees and other primate species. If you want to visit all of the sites on your road trip, include them in your itinerary. You can visit Murchison first then transfer to Budongo for chimpanzee tracking, primate viewing, and nature walks and make a good end of your trip back to Kampala.
On the way to Murchison you can stop at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary for white Rhino tracking on foot with a ranger, have lunch and enter the park with top of Murchison falls walk.
Murchison falls National Park’s landscape features some of the most beautiful in the world. Murchison falls are the strongest after Victoria Falls, Albert-Nile delta swamp, palm dotted savannah make home to 79 mammals and 400 species have put the park high up on many visitor’s bucket list. There are budget lodges such as pakuba safari lodge, paara safari lodge from where you can embark on game drives to spot lions, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, and boat cruise to the bottom of the falls offer sightings of hippos and water birds.
A drive around Lake Bunyonyi in southwestern Uganda is so interesting taking in outstanding natural beauty of the lake’s19 islands surrounded by picturesque terraced rolling hills. Getting to Lake Bunyonyi may be a long 8-9 hours drive but the journey is interesting with several stops from Kampala such as equator crossing, igongo cultural museum in Mbarara city and Bakiga museum.
The attractions include 19 islands which are explored by boat or traditional canoeing, visiting the local villages, and participating in traditional cooking experience, schools, picnic hills, hiking, and spotting birds and otters. To do all of them, you could spend the whole day but an overnight stay on the shores of the lake is enough to explore the lake and its surrounding.
Source of the Nile Jinja
Travelers who like to be active or want to spend a weekend holiday with family, Jinja is a perfect place to do it. On this trip you’ll be fascinated by the speeding rapids of River Nile, the longest in the world starts from here. Make your historical visit to the source of the Nile with excellent outdoor adventure activities every visitor on Uganda safari should explore. Top things to do include; white water rafting and identifying birds down the Nile grade five rapids to calm waters for family rafting. You’ll take hikes along the river and horseback riding across the Nile valley. Enjoy bungee jumping, all terrain Quad biking and go for sunset boat cruise as well as 2 day house boat on Victoria Nile.
In addition you can also tour Jinja town, the adventure capital of East Africa with accommodation ranging from camping facilities, bed and breakfast to luxurious. Some offer riverside relaxation, sport rooms and free wireless internet. The 2 hours drive from Kampala is one of the coolest passing through Mabira forest reserve, the only place for zip lining tours in Uganda. Stop at this eco-tourism site take forest walks to view primates, birds, butterflies and learn how human encroachment has affected the forest.