From the source of the White Nile on Lake Victoria to the Snow-capped Rwenzori mountain ranges, the montane Forests of the Virunga Volcanoes to the desert plains of Karamoja, Uganda is an Equatorial Country of astonishing and amazing diversity of habitats and this richness is reflected in the ever-burgeoning bird list of over 1000 species.
Uganda is immensely endowed with over 1,000 bird species; some of which are endemic to the country; mainly in the Albertine region. These constitute 67% of Africa’s and 11.1% of the world’s total population, making the country a must visit for bird lovers. Some of the most interesting birds include; the crested crane (recently named ‘Gray crowned crane’), Shoebill, Wattled plorer, Africa Fish Eagle, African Jacana, Saddle Billed Stock, Pelican, African Pigmy Geese and Narina’s Trogon.
These special birds, such as the Shoebill and the numerous spectacular endemics of the Albertine rift Valley are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. The huge bird list is so remarkable given the small size of the country of over 235,000 sqkm; approximately the size of Great Britain. Making it arguably, the richest African birding destination.
The term “Africa Big 5” was coined by trophy hunters in the 19th centuries. For these five animals, the hunters knew well to be the treasure of the wilderness. Now, the Africa Big 5 are the most revered game to safari tourists and travelers, attracting flocks of people from across the world to see them… and, the Pearl of Africa has them all.
African Lion (Panthera leo)
The African Lion is the most fierce and astonishing of the Big 5 animals, admired for its girth, strength and braveness. Lions roam the savannah in groups called prides comprising anywhere from 5 to 40 lions and can be found in the three largest savanna parks: Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, which is home to the rare tree-climbing lions.
African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
The African Elephant is the largest land mammal existent on planet earth, even larger than its Asian counterpart flaunting its large ears and curving tusks. The adult elephant can be found roaming grasslands in all the major Parks in the country except Lake Mburo NP, consuming up to 300 pounds of food in a single day.
Averaging between 50 and 90 kg (110 to 200 pounds) in weight, the Leopard is the smallest of the Big 5. This darkly spotted solitary cat boasts of its stealth, elusiveness and hunting prowess that suit it as a formidable predator. The leopard can be seen in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, Lake Mburo and Mt Elgon National Parks.
When the African buffalo aren’t fighting off the predatory African lion, they are eating grass – and lots of it. They live and move in large herds of thousands for security and can be found around a water source, covered in mud. They are known to be dangerous and unpredictable, with a very precarious temperament and can be found in just about every National Park.
The Rhinoceros are large, with stumpy legs and massive bodies and characteristic horned stouts. The Northern white rhino and can only be seen in the massively protected Ziwa Rhino sanctuary and the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe commonly referred to as the Zoo.
Opportunities for camping in Uganda are all year round, thanks to a stable, warm and conducive climate. If you are planning on visiting a place to stay overnight, you might want to consider a nice outdoor camp with a well-lit bonfire. Camping equipment including a tent, a foldable mattress, a blanket and other add-ons can be rented out at your hotel or from the Safari Company you employ. Camping services are offered at just about every major destination in the country.