Nearly every traveler’s dream is to tick off all the famous Big 5 animals (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo) on their safari trip in Africa. Uganda is one of the countries that offer this possibility, having all these animals in many parks and wildlife reserves. And, being home to the mountain gorillas, a safari in Uganda gives you the chance to see the Big Five and the famous Mountain Gorillas – two of the biggest highlights of an African safari holiday.
However, one wonders what the chances are of seeing the big five animals in Uganda and which destinations have the best chances to see particular animals
The Big Five in Uganda and best places to to see them
Rhinos in Uganda
The Rhino is the least widespread of the Big Five and the most endangered mostly because it is highly poached for its horn.
The rhinos in the wild in Uganda are found in only one destination, that is, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary was started in 2015 as a program to reintroduce the rhinos back into Uganda’s wilderness after they were poached and wiped out during the insurgencies of the 1970s. The fate which befell many rhinos in Africa. The rhinos have been thriving on the sanctuary and from the 13 White Rhinos that were originally introduced have since multiplied to more than 30 rhinos.
The sanctuary offers a guided rhino tracking activity for tourists to see the rhinos on foot. You therefore are guaranteed to tick off the rhinos in Uganda when you visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Note, there are NO Black Rhinos in Uganda at the moment.
A safari is not complete without seeing the “King of the Jungle”, the Lion. It is therefore the most sought after Big Five animal.
If you ask which park will give you the best chance of seeing lions in Uganda? First of all, none of the parks guarantees seeing the lions on a normal game drive. But if you visit at least two of the parks there is a high probability you will see them at least in one of the two parks.
Murchison Falls National Park offers slightly better chances to see the lions. The park is also located in the same direction and close to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, so the shortest tour to see the all the big five in Uganda is combing these two destinations in a 3 days Murchison Falls tour with rhino tracking.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for the tree climbing lions and is one of the few parks in the world where lions have developed this unique capability to climb trees like leopards. Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers a lion tracking activity where tourists join researchers to monitor collared lions. You should include lion tracking in your itinerary if you want to guarantee seeing the lions during your safari vacation in Uganda.
Leopards are arguably the most widespread of the big five and yet the most difficult to find. They live in most of the parks and wildlife reserves across Uganda. They are very solitary and stealth, and a sighting is by pure luck. The savannah parks have provided the best chances to see leopards in Uganda, and one park in particular is the Lake Mburo Park which is the smallest of the savannah parks. For better chance to see the leopard you should do the night drive when leopards are most active. All savannah parks allow a night game drive.
You sure cannot miss seeing the Elephants in Uganda. Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park all have plenty of elephants.
Buffaloes are a constant sighting in all the savannah parks in Uganda.