Uganda Travel Guide
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11 Animals (Besides Gorillas) You’ll Find in Uganda

While Uganda is one of the most famous places in the world to spot gorillas, there are many other fascinating creatures that call this country home.

Uganda is an absolute paradise for nature and wildlife lovers, best known for its gorilla treks in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. However, the country is home to a huge variety of animals, big and small. From a colorful kaleidoscopes of butterflies to cheeky chimpanzees, from the elusive leopard to the endangered Nubian Giraffe, Uganda is an animal kingdom. All you need is a bit of patience–if you are looking for a close encounter with your favorite animal, Uganda will deliver.

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PHOTO: CherylRamalho/Shutterstock
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Chimpanzees

Kibale Forest is home to approximately 1250 chimpanzees, some of which have been habituated and can be visited by humans. A chimpanzee trek is no walk in the park—you’ll need to go deep into the forest to find them, usually in the morning while they are having breakfast. Follow in the footsteps of Dame Jane Goodall and learn how chimps live and socialize, listen to their many vocalizations and watch them play or fight high above your head in the treetops. If you get lucky, you may run into one on the ground. If you happen to meet the alpha male, make sure to stay humble and avert eye contact—a grown male chimpanzee is as strong as four humans.

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PHOTO: Martin Mecnarowski/Shutterstock
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Red-tailed Monkeys

WHERE: Kibale Forest

Another primate species found in the Kibale Forest is the Red-tailed Monkey. While they get their name from their long reddish tails, you can also recognize them by their white noses that look like they’ve been dipped in ice-cream. Red-tailed Monkeys are known for being rather prudent when it comes to foraging since their cheeks are very elastic to provide plenty of space for collecting food and keeping it safe from other cheeky monkeys.

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PHOTO: ATUL GUDKA/Shutterstock
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Tree Climbing Lions

WHERE: Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park

There are only two places in the world where you can see tree-climbing lions and one of them is the Ishasha sector in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Usually, it is quite uncommon for lions to climb trees. Whether the Uganda lions are climbing to escape flies or the midday heat is unknown, but you’ll likely see some lazy kings of the jungle lounging in a branch in Ishasha when the sun is at its highest. If you’re heading out with a safari guide, you’ll learn how to look out for them–some trees are better for a digestive nap than others.

INSIDER TIPMidday offers the best chance to see the tree-climbing lions. If rain is coming, they tend to climb down since trees get too slippery to climb when wet.

 

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PHOTO: Sam DCruz/Shutterstock
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Butterflies

WHERE: Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park

Uganda is mostly known for its big wildlife, but it’s also as an absolute paradise for butterfly enthusiasts. The country is home to 31 endemic species, which can be found all over—not just while hiking. If you’re driving through Ishasha looking for lions, it pays off to keep your eyes peeled—when the roads get muddy after a downpour, you’ll find swarms of colorful butterflies by the puddles and along tire tracks. From modest white and orange butterflies to bright yellow and iridescent blue beauties, you can find yourself immersed in a fluttering kaleidoscope of butterflies on the side of the road.

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Hippos

WHERE: Kazinga Channel

To see one of the most dangerous animals of the world, head to the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George. Here, crocodiles and hippos live in neighborly harmony, with the more dangerous of the two being the deceptively cute-looking hippo. Take a boat cruise to spot them from a safe distance and watch them dive, chill, and play ferry to some of the many bird species found here. Take binoculars for a closer look, but don’t worry, you can’t really miss them—the Kazinga Channel has one of the highest hippo populations in the world and its shores get crowded with wildlife.

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PHOTO: Travel Stock/Shutterstock
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Nile Crocodiles

WHERE: Kazinga Channel

People from the local fishing villages on the shores of the Kazinga Channel have to be careful when they get to their boats, as the wildlife is plentiful. Not only is the channel home to many bird species, buffalos, and hippos, but also Nile Crocodiles. The largest freshwater predator in Africa can be seen lounging (seemingly) lazily in the mud, but don’t be fooled—they can be lightning-fast when it counts.  Have your camera ready and keep your limbs inside the boat when you’re cruising down the channel.

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PHOTO: GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock
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Nubian Giraffe

WHERE: Murchison Falls National Park

Unfortunately, the Nubian Giraffes, formerly known as Rothschild’s Giraffes, still belong on the endangered species list due to poaching and the disappearance of their habitat. Murchison Falls National Park is one of the few places where you can still see them in the wild and luckily, their numbers here have increased over the last few years. Today, both sides of the Nile are inhabited by over 1,200 giraffes, making it one of the few places where you can actually see big towers together, a fitting name for a group of these wonderfully weird giants.

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PHOTO: Sam DCruz/Shutterstock
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Ostrich

WHERE: Kidepo Valley

With their long necks and legs, ostriches seem to be slightly out of proportion and funny-looking.However, not only are they the largest birds in the world, but also the fastest. With their long legs, they can run up to 45 mph and give a powerful kick–especially if they need to defend themselves from lions and other predators. The Kidepo Valley is probably the most remote of Uganda’s national parks and the only place in the country where you can find ostriches in the wild.

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PHOTO: RulleMagnusson/Shutterstock
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Leopard

WHERE: Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of Uganda’s parks, but for those who want to see a leopard, it is paradise. As one of the “Big Five,” leopards are notoriously hard to spot on safari, making a sighting the Holy Grail for wildlife fans. Due to its small size, Lake Mburo has the highest density of resident leopards in Uganda and with an experienced guide, your chances of seeing one of these rare felines up close are good. If you want to get even closer, you can go on a walking safari in the park for a seriously close encounter.

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PHOTO: eickys/Shutterstock
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Zebra

WHERE: Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park could also be called “Zebra Park” because it is home to the largest zebra population in Uganda. You’ll see plenty of striped families here and can even get close to them. While regular game drives are offered, you can also do walking and horseback safaris as well as mountain bike tours in Lake Mburo.

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PHOTO: Anjo Kan/Shutterstock
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Ankole Cow

WHERE: Anywhere in Uganda

Ankole Cattle, also called the Cattle of Kings, is a species with a long and noble lineage in Uganda and Rwanda. For their meat or their horns, they are still a status symbol today and once you lay eyes on these majestic animals, it is easy to see why. They are easily recognized by their enormous, curved horns and known to be quite sturdy and undemanding. You can see them everywhere in Uganda, whether they’re grazing on fields and roadsides or in large herds in some of the national parks.