With much of western Uganda now a well established tourist route, Africa enthusiasts are starting to discover the less visited parts of this beautiful country. With little visited wildlife reserves and national parks, mountain terrain, waterfalls and a fascinating cultural landscape, Ugandas wild east is just waiting to be explored.
From the peaks of Mount Elgon to the plains of Kidepo Valley National Park, this diverse off the beaten track area offers a very different view of Uganda.
In the foothills of Mount Elgon, there is a series of three waterfalls with great walking trails and fantastic views of the nearby mountainous landscape. Often the starting point for Elgon climbs, the Sipi Falls region offers hikes and trails for all abilities.
Located on the Uganda/Kenya border, Mount Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain. Years of erosion have meant it is now only the fourth largest, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting! Home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer, Mount Elgon makes a fantastic addition to any birding itinerary.
A trip to Pian Upe is a trip to wild Uganda, where other visitors are few and far between. Located in the Karamoja region of north east Uganda, Pian Upe is the second largest protected conservation area in Uganda. As well as being the only reserve in Uganda to have Roan Antelope, there are also leopard, cheetah, hyena, zebra and buffalo. In addition, there are plans this year to repopulate giraffe in the park, through the translocation of giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park, an exercise that has proved great success in Lake Mburo. Primates are also well represented here with vervet monkeys, pata monkeys and olive baboons. Accommodation in the park is limited to Bandas near the parks headquarters, with a handful of lodges, hotels and homestays in the surrounding area.
As enticing as the wildlife of Uganda is, it is often remarked that it is the friendly, welcoming local culture that makes the trip memorable. The region of Teso is increasingly opening up to tourism and gives visitors the opportunity to see rural Uganda up close and take part in traditional village activities. Join farmers ploughing the fields, sample locally grown coffee or visit a market as you pass through the region on your tour of eastern Uganda. For those wanting to stay in the area longer homestays and volunteering opportunities are available.
Kidepo Valley National Park
The most isolated National Park in Uganda, Kidepo Valley in the north east, is also arguably one of the best wilderness areas in Africa. With abundant wildlife and over 450 species of bird, it’s little wonder that a CNN travel report names Kidepo as one of the best safari destinations in Africa.
Culturally very different from the rest of the country due to it’s proximity to Kenya and South Sudan, Kidepo offers an interesting alternative to the usual safari circuit of Ugandas south west.
A true hidden gem, the combination of large wildlife herds (around 13,000 buffalo!) and small visitor numbers means that this is a safari destination where you’ll enjoy viewing the game, not the other tourists.