Are wild dogs making a comeback in Uganda?

wild dog hastily captured on phone camera as it quickly dashed away

The African Painted Dogs, also called African Wild Dogs have been sighted in Kidepo Valley National Park which is located in the semi-arid Karamoja region in the far north eastern corner of the Uganda. This confirmed sighting of the wild dog by the park on 27th June 2023 is the first after a long absence from Uganda since the wild dogs were extirpated (went locally extinct) in the 1980s.

Over the last few years, there have been reports of sightings of the wild dogs in that region such as in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve that is also in the semi-arid north east of country, and even in as close as Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda, but these have always been treated as rumors as there was never any evidence such as a picture. The dogs are quite quick and so offer very limited chance of a long enough appearance for one take a picture. They will quickly take a dash into the bush immediately they realize they are being watched.

The ranger guide in Kidepo National Park who found the dogs around the Narus Valley was able to steal a shot of two wild dogs on his low quality phone before the dogs quickly dashed away into the bush. The low quality pictures however properly reveal the features of the wild dog. Doubts have been put to rest that the wild dogs (African painted dogs) currently exist in Uganda.

Uganda Wild Authority has immediately sent out teams into the park for further investigation to establish the extent of the wild dog occurrence in the park. There are suggestions that these could be African migrants as the dogs are capable of traveling thousands of kilometers when dispersing to look for mates and new home ranges.

What are wild dogs?

Scientific name Lyacon pictus, wild dogs are recognized by the big rounded ears and their multi-colored far coats which have irregular patches of red, black, brown, white and yellow. In fact each individual has its own unique coat pattern.

The dogs also have four toes on their long legs, differentiating them from other dogs which has five toes on the forefeet.

Most prolific of hunters

The wild dogs are perhaps most famous for their incredible hunting abilities. They are praised as the best hunters of all the predators. They almost never fail and their hunting expedition does not take long till they have put down the prey. They hunt in large packs and will carry out a strategy of hunt depending on the prey. Their common tactic is chase after the prey until it wears down, and when the prey slows down or stops to rest they pounce on it and start biting pieces off it and will eventually die from pain (a similar way hyenas eat their prey, they do not kill the prey first before eating). The dogs are light, agile, fast and are persistent runners.

Also, unlike other predators like lions that hunt at night, the wild dogs hunt during day.

The wild dogs will raise the predator profile of Kidepo Valley National Park and Uganda.

Required vaccinations for visiting Uganda

One of the questions asked by travelers planning a business trip or safari vacation to Uganda is what the required vaccinations are for one to be allowed entry into Uganda. However, beyond the requirement of vaccination for entry, safety from disease is perhaps one of the biggest concerns for any traveler planning a trip to Africa, a continent many see as a cradle for disease and epidemics. So, beyond the mandatory vaccinations, it is important to protect against many other illnesses that you may be at risk of contracting and these too we are going to highlight in this article..

What are the mandatory vaccinations for visiting Uganda?

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory for all travelers coming into and leaving Uganda.

Normally it should be that visitors from yellow fever low risk countries do not need to have a yellow vaccination, BUT then Uganda is one of the WHO (World Health Organization) listed countries that are high risk with reported positive cases, so it is an absolute must to get vaccinated for your protection. After vaccination from yellow fever, you get the “International Certificated of Vaccination or Prophylaxis”, also commonly referred to as the “Yellow Card”, which is in fact a yellow card.

If you depart from Uganda a high-risk country you will need to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate wherever you will go, including your low-risk home country.

If flying into Entebbe Airport, Uganda, without the Yellow Card (irrespective of whether you are already vaccinated), there is a health facility on site where you will be sent to receive the shot and get a yellow card before you will be cleared by the immigrations.

To contain yellow fever outbreak in Uganda the government continues to carry countrywide vaccinations.


Vaccination against covid-19 (at least two shots) is mandatory for arrivals and departures but if not vaccinated you need to present a negative PCR covid-19 test result that is not older 72 hours from the time of taking the test.

Not required but essential vaccinations

  • Malaria
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Rabies
  • Hepatitis
  • Polio
  • Meningitis

Is there a vaccination requirement for trekking gorillas in Uganda

No, there is not vaccination requirement for the gorilla trekking in Uganda. Not even vaccination against covid 19. However you will be required to put on a mask during coming into contact with the gorillas.

How to best plan your safari to Akagera National Park

Before going on a safari to Akagera National Park there are a number of factors a lot of people overlook when planning the trip to the park.

Akagera National Park is just two and half hours’ drive away from Kigali, in the eastern province of Rwanda. This makes it an easy destination to visit, and so a lot of travelers may not put so much effort in planning their trip beyond knowing how to get to the park. However with better planning you will enjoy better the safari in Akagera National Park that can sometimes disappoint due to the small volume of a number of big game.

As you plan your trip, consider the following

What is the best time to start the trip to Akagera National Park?

Akagera National Park is only two and half hours drive from Kigali which gives people such laxity in deciding when to depart from Kigali. And perhaps, this nearness gives such flexibility for one to start their trip at the more convenient or flexible time of the day.

However, depending on how much time or number of days you plan to spend in Akagera, the time you depart from Kigali is important.

Starting time for 1-day safari

If you are planning a one-day safari to Akagera National Park and return to Kigali on the same day, you should depart from Kigali as early as 5am or even earlier so that you can start the game drive not later than 7.30am to give you enough time for the 5+ hours complete game drive through the park allowing you properly explore Akagera without rush.

If you want to do the boat cruise safari on Lake Ihema which is difficult to include in a day trip then you will have to depart from Kigali as early as 4.30am to be able to find the first boat cruise schedule of 7.30am – 8.30am, so that you game drive would start by around 8.30am.

Starting time for 2+ days

If you are going to have at least 2 days for your trip to Akagera then you can depart from Kigali at 7.30am or later.

What time does Akagera National Park open and close?

The park opens at 6am and closes at 6pm.

No entry or exit is allowed beyond this time.

Also all day game drives should have ended before 6pm. If found in the park beyond 6pm you are penalized.

Only persons that will have booked the night game drive operated by the park are in the park beyond 6pm. The night game drives start at 5.30pm and end at around 8.30pm.

Accessing Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park has two gates.

The first gate is in the south of the park in Kayonza District and is the only ENTRY gate into the park. It can also be used to exit the park.

The drive time from Kigali to the Kayonza gate is 2.30 hours.

The second gate is in the north of the park in Nyagatare District and is an EXIT ONLY gate. Entry is not allowed through the Nyagatare gate.

Game drives start from the south of the park and normally end in the north, and continuing to exit through the Nyagatare gate if end of the trip. The drive from the exit gate back to Kigali is about 4 hours long.

Deciding on where to stay: Inside the park vs affordable hotels outside the park

Deciding where to stay is one of the key factors to consider carefully, especially if you are looking for an affordable lodging or hotel. Also, certain activities may require you to stay at particular accommodations or close to certain areas. Follow below:

Inside the park vs affordable hotels outside the park

The most convenient place to stay on your safari in Akagera is inside the park, at Akagera Game Lodge or Ruzizi Tented Lodge. Staying inside makes it convenient for you start the tour, and also gives you a great bush experience as you are within nature and enjoy great views from the lodges.

There are also hotels that are just outside park that are more affordable than those in the park.

But, but, it is important to note that, staying inside the park has an incentive, park entrance fees are paid per night, and after the first night the second night is 50% less. For example, park entrance for international visitors is $100 for the first night and $50 for the second night. On the other hand, when you stay outside you are charged $100 at every entry, even if you entered for a couple of hours the day before and exited to sleep outside.

Therefore, lodges near but outside the park may seem way more affordable but you will pay more in entrance fees

Activities that need you at specific accommodations

Balloon safari

The balloon safari in Akagera National Park starts quite early. By 5am you should at the starting point in the south of the park. This is before opening time of 6am. It is therefore more convenient to stay within the park at Ruzizi Tented Lodge or Akagera Game Lodge

Rhino tracking

The rhino tracking in Akagera National Park takes place only in the north of the park which is more than 4 hours drive away from the south of the park. And, the rhino tracking takes place only in the morning. So, you cannot sleep in the south and plan to include this activity in your itinerary.

You have to stay at Karenge Bush Camp that is located in the north of the park overlooking the Kilala plains and surroundings where the rhino tracking takes place.

The game drive: southern area of the park vs the northern area

Entrance into the park is through the southern gate of Kayonza, hence all game drive start from the south.

The south is mostly dominated by acacia woodland, thickets and forest habitats, in addition to wetlands and a nice lake shore. So not a lot of game viewing driving here. The prized sighting in the south are the black rhinos that in this part of the park, but of course not so easy to see. Common sightings in the south include monkeys, zebras, antelopes, elephants, hippos and crocodiles.

The game drive continues northward till arriving at the Kilala plains the climax of the safari in Akagera National Park. The Kilala plains and surroundings is where you will find a lot of animals in the same area such as zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, antelopes. This makes the Kilala the best place to find the lions too. The white rhinos are also found in the north of the park.

How about you book a customized trip with a trusted tour operator?

2 day trip to Akagera National Park

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Kazinga Channel boat cruise safari – hippos, crocodiles, birds, & lots of wildlife

The Kazinga Channel boat cruise safari is a must do activity in the Queen Elizabeth National Park – one of Uganda’s prime safari destinations that is home to a variety of big game. The boat cruise safari supplements the wildlife tour to Queen Elizabeth National Park with plenty of animals and birds along the channel as well as lovely views all around. In fact, you can miss the game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park but the boat cruise cannot be missed as it offers such up-close views of a number of wildlife that you may not get when on a game drive. The huge concentration of wildlife along the Kazinga Channel also makes this one of the best boat safaris in Africa.

The boat cruise tour is two hours long, enough time to watch as much wildlife as possible and enjoy relaxation

But what is the Kazinga Channel?

The Kazinga Channel is a large stream of water that joins two lakes George and Edward. The channel is 32 km (20 miles) and the waters flows east to west, from George to Edward.

The channel is an important eco system in the park as it harbors and attracts a plethora of wildlife. It is also a source of livelihood for the communities providing fish and water.

Animals to see during the Kazinga channel boat cruise

The channel provides great views of a number of animals and some of the animals commonly seen in and along the channel include:

  • Buffaloes
  • Elephants
  • Hippos
  • Crocodiles
  • Warthogs
  • Waterbucks
  • Uganda kob
  • Gian forest hog
  • Warthogs

Common birds to see during the Kazinga Channel boat cruise

The Kazinga Channel is a birding paradise. The banks of the channel attract lots of water birds. Birdlife on the channel is at its best during the migration season from October to May/June when many Palearctic migrating birds make the channel their home.

The channel is one of the best places to see the African Skimmer.

Some of the birds at the Kazinga Channel include:

  • African Skimmer
  • Yellow-billed Stork
  • Spoonbill
  • Knob-billed Duck
  • Egyptian Goose
  • African Jacana
  • Spur-winged Lapwing
  • Water Thick-knee
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Grey Heron
  • Black Crake
  • Cattle Egrets
  • Goliath Heron
  • Pelicans
  • Gulls
  • Terns
  • Cormorants
  • Fish eagles
  • etc…

Where to take a boat cruise from?

The Kazinga Channel boat cruises are available at two places. At the Katunguru bridge where locals run wooden motorized boats on the channel. These are more affordable.

Another place is at Mweya peninsula adjacent to Mweya Safari Lodge. At Mweya the boat trips are provided by Mweya Safari Lodge and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The boats here are more upmarket and slightly more expensive. If you would like a big executive boat then proceed to Mweya. Boats start at 2pm prompt.

What is the best time for the Kazinga Channel boat cruise?

Boat cruises are arranged at different schedules throughout the day. The afternoon cruise that starts at 2pm provides best big game sightings as elephants, antelopes and other animals move to the channel to drink water and cool off the heat.

Meanwhile the morning is the nature time for birdwatching.

The fishing villages on the Kazinga Channel

The Kazinga Channel accommodates both man and animal and it is such a phenomenon to witness, man and beast side by side. A woman fetching water from the channel while an elephant drinks from the same in few meters. You will see the Katunguru fishing village and watch as local people utilize the channel unbothered by the hippos and crocodiles a few meters away.

What is the best time to visit Amboseli National Park

View of Kili from Amboseli

Amboseli National Park is the famous iconic destination of Kenya whose landscape is dominated by the Kilimanjaro Mountain towering over dusty plains filled a variety of wildlife that include some of the biggest herds of elephants you will ever see. The park is mostly taken as the favorite extra to the safari in Masai Mara National Park, to catch the spectacular view of the Kili, but travelers will be wowed by the amount of wildlife there is to see. Among other animals in Amboseli include lions, hyenas, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeests, yellow baboons, grants gazelles, Thomson’s gazelles, giraffes, etc…

Amboseli is situated below the Kilimanjaro on its leeward side that receives less rains hence the desert like environment for much of the year. However underground rivers originating from the mountain have created huge wetlands and ponds that become lakes during the rainy season. While animals can be seen throughout the year, the time you decide to visit Amboseli will very much determine the kind of experience you shall have on your trip to Amboseli.

Dry vs wet season in Amboseli National Park

The best time to visit Amboseli National Park is during the long dry season from June to October. During this time there are virtually no rains so the park turns into some sort of desert dotted with huge wetlands and ponds that are oases for wildlife in the park. It is easier to explore the park and reach many areas to discover plenty of wildlife. The dry season also makes it easier to spot animals as they concentrate around the ponds and wetland hence you can see animals and birds as close as possible…

When the rains come the ponds and wetlands overflow cutting off many areas of the park from access. Dusty plains hence become “muddy” plains.

On the other hand, however, the wet season turns the scenery of the park to more spectacular. The park seems to regain life as the dried-out grasslands and savannah become lush green cover. The Kilimanjaro that shows a small snow cover on the park during the dry season now a large snow crown.

If you are therefore looking for an experience more than just spotting animals, the wet season of November to December and March to May will offer you a beautiful experience of Amboseli National Park

Book a trip to Amboseli National Park

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