The Big 5 Trips in Uganda

What does the term ‘big five’ stand for?

The term ‘big five’ originates from the traditional hunting practice where it was used to describe five most difficult animals to hunt on foot. The ‘African Big Five’ is one of the most spectacular creatures to the view of the wild game. Although it would be unforgettable to see all the members in one habitat, a few lucky visitors usually spot three to four of the big-five members in one national park.

An overview of each ‘big five’ member

  • Lions

The lion ‘king of the savannah’ is the only truly social cat on the African continent. African lions are the largest and most imposing carnivores on the continent. They are the only animals that belong to a group known as ‘prides’ from which society has derived the term ‘pride of lions’ in reference to more than one lion. In Uganda, lions are the most thought about species after mountain gorillas by visitors while on safari. Lions live in a fission-fusion society of mainly related females and one male. Usually, female lions do the most important role which is hunting while the male lions ensure the protection of the group (pride) at all times. Lions are thus an amazing attraction impressive to observe while on your big-five safari in Uganda.

Which is the best place to see lions in Uganda?

Lions in Uganda are mainly found in the three largest savannah national parks: Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, and Kidepo valley national park. Murchison falls National Park is home to about 128 lions which can be viewed while on a game drive at the park. While at Kidepo valley national park, guests may spot the pride of lions seated on rock outcrops or while on a game drive as is the case for Murchison falls national park.

The Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park is the only place in Uganda where you may see a unique species of Tree-Climbing Lions.  These rare tree-climbing lion species are by most tourists the most thought about species after the gorilla trekking in Uganda (Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park). More so, visitors may see collared lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park along the Kasenyi Plains while on the big-five safaris in Uganda.

Although lions were previously extinct in Lake Mburo national park, they have recently been sighted again hence a visitor may visit the park to observe these incredible cats famed ‘king of the jungle’ while on a Big five safari in Uganda.

  • Elephant

Uganda has a total of about 5000 elephants today distributed in several national parks. These incredible giants exist into two species: the forest elephant whose habitat is the forest parks and the bush elephant whose habitat is the savannah parks.

The elephant is by far the largest terrestrial mammal on earth. Elephants are one of the most classic animals in Uganda’s wild game, not to mention one of the frequently seen of all the big five while on safari to Uganda.

Famous for taming the vegetation, elephants exhibit complex intelligence, social behavior, and play a key role in ecosystems. These giants of the savannah and sometimes the forest live in big herds and enjoy a matriarchal society; that is to say with female elephants in charge. While at the pearl of Africa, do miss seeing these incredible creatures.

Which is the best place to see elephants in Uganda?

Elephants are found in all savannah national parks in Uganda, except Lake Mburo national park. These are easily seen while in the comfort of a safari vehicle on your game drive in the park or while on a boat cruise as they draw to the drainage systems to quench their thirst. On the other hand, forest elephants are popularly found at Kibale forest national park.

  • Rhino

The Rhino is the second-largest land mammal after the elephant and exists in two species: the black rhino and white rhino. Uganda has only one of the two species- the white rhino. In Uganda, the rhino is the only member of the big five that cannot be found in the country’s national parks while on a big five safari.

Which is the best place to see Rhinos in Uganda?

Ziwa rhino sanctuary is the only destination where Rhinos are found in Uganda. Sited in Nakasongola north of Kampala, the sanctuary sits on 70 sq km. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is home to the endangered white rhinos whose population is about 20 individuals. Rhino tracking at the sanctuary is, therefore, a unique adventure that allows you to see rhinos on foot at a safer distance while on a Safari to Uganda. You wouldn’t want to miss the awesome experience of taking pictures of the rare white rhinos as they feed in their habitat.

  • Buffalo

The buffalo is by far the most fearsome and dangerous bovine. Due to their unpredictable nature, buffaloes are considered to be the most dangerous among the African big five. They are one of the most commonly seen members of the big five, of course, with the elephants. In Uganda, buffaloes exist in two subspecies: the larger savannah buffalo and the small forest buffalo. Buffaloes live in two families- the family herd which is comprised of females and calves, and the bachelor herd with each having several hundreds of individuals.

Which is the best place to see buffaloes in Uganda?

The best places to spot buffaloes in Uganda are: Queen Elizabeth national park, Lake Mburo national park, Murchison falls national park and Kidepo valley national park. Although buffaloes are not the number one reason why visitors travel to the above destinations, while on a big five safari the above national parks are a great place to view them in impressive herb numbers.

  • Leopard

Leopards are found in several national parks in Uganda. Despite the fact that leopards are very solitary creatures, they are also nocturnal and hunt their prey at night using the ambush means of attack. Leopards are the hardest to see of the big five while on wild game Safari to Uganda. This is why guests who spot them count themselves very lucky. Leopards are athletic, strong, and protect their hunting territories ruthlessly from fellow leopards. The sight of a leopard is magnificent to behold for those who get a chance.

Which is the best place to see leopards in Uganda?

The ideal destinations to see leopards in Uganda include: Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park, and Lake Mburo national park. Although rarely seen, leopards are also found in the rainforested parks of Uganda- Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, and Kibale national park.

When is the best season to travel for the big five trips in Uganda?

The big five trips can be arranged in any season throughout the year. However, the best season to travel for the big five trips in Uganda is during the dry season which runs around July to October and December to February. This is because during the dry season it is easier to spot the powerful creature as they move freely in their habit. Similarly, most wildlife tends to gather around drainage points to quench their thirst during the dry season making it easy for visitors to spot them and take amazing photographs.

Why you should go for the ‘big five safari’?

Big five safaris are incredible lifetime encounters. The creatures have a way of capturing the imaginations of visitors to Africa that one only needs one encounter with a member of this powerful group to understand why. The experience of seeing most of the big five members in person especially being in close proximity while taking photographs is a memorable experience that most visitors enjoy while on the big five safaris.

Having a game drive around the park in search of the big five with a game ranger is very adventurous, safe and a great learning arena since you will see other attractions that will make your safari more magical.

The big five safaris are a must-try for anyone fascinated about wildlife because going for a big five trip acts as a form of conserving them since funds generated are used to preserve their habit as well as provide an alternative source of income to their hunters (man).

What should you pack for the big five safaris in Uganda?

While on your Big-Five Uganda safari, you will need to carry light clothing, your camera, lightweight binoculars, glasses, and sunblock. Try to dress predominantly in dull colors like Khaki and Olive green that blend with the environment, and avoid wearing shouting colors.

Where to stay while on a big five safari in Uganda?

Visitors can book accommodation in the park or around the park. Accommodation services may range from budget to mid-range and luxury accommodation depending on the visitors’ preferences and budget. Here are some options a guest may consider while looking for accommodation while on a big-five safari in Uganda;

While at Queen Elizabeth national park, visitors may book accommodation with Mweya safari lodge, Mweya hostels, Enganzi Lodge, Hippo hill lodge, Hotel Margherita Ltd in Kasese, Ishasha jungle lodge, Ihamba safari lodge, Ishasha tented camp, Kyambura game lodge, Katara Lodge, Jacana safari lodge, Queen Elizabeth safari camp, and many others.

At Kidepo valley national park, you can book accommodation within the park at Apoka safari lodge, Apoka rest camp, Kidepo Safari Lodge, Kidepo Savanah Lodge, and Kakine self-catering campsite. Outside the park, accommodation could be at Nga Moru Wilderness camp and many others.

While at Murchison falls national park, a visitor may choose to stay at Paraa safari lodge, Sambiya River lodge, Chobe safari lodge, Budongo Eco lodge, Nile safari lodge, Yebo safari camp, New court view hotel, Masindi hotel, and many others.

Inclusion, create unforgettable memories in Uganda by having an up-close adventure with wildlife that is considered the strong, brave, and ruthless to predators but most importantly adorned by mother nature with unique beauty, a must-see for all wildlife lovers. For more of the Big-Five in Africa, we recommend Kenya and Tanzania, there is plenty of these animals at a closer range. Self-drive in Serengeti and other Tanzania parks requires a strong 4×4 car such as Land cruiser because the tracks are some times impassable especially in the rainy season. Such strong 4x4s can allow you to go deep in amazing destinations such as the Ngorongoro conservation area, Tarangire National park, Lake Manyara National park, and Kenya’s Masai-mara wildlife reserve among others.