4×4 Self Drive Safari Holidays in Uganda with Rooftop Tents

Uganda Self drive Safari is among the ultimate Safari adventures that are recommended to travelers wishing to explore the great Uganda national Parks.  During the open Game drive in Uganda you will require to have strong 4×4 Safari Jeep with or without rooftop tents from Uganda Car rental. Uganda has a vast network of roads and highways crisscrossing the country, as well as a great variety of off road drives. The highways are well maintained but the up country roads are bad but passable with a good strong vehicle.

Traveling by car or 4WD, a Ugandan self-drive itinerary allows you to set your own pace. And having your Ugandan self-drive itinerary planned by self-drive Uganda experts will ensure you make the most of your experience.

There are various regions in Uganda to self-drive holidays – where do you want to go, and how do you want to travel? Self-drive Uganda is a specialized Ugandan travel agent can help you with organizing the best places to go and things to do.

Open Roof Car rental

Get started in planning your Uganda self-drive holiday by:

Browsing our suggested Ugandan self-drive itineraries – Take a look through our themed itineraries and find the best one which suits your interests and budget. If you want to save a tour and come back to it later or perhaps compare it with another tour then simply add the tour to your shortlist!

Enquire or Book – We’ve made this option super easy for you! If you discover an itinerary that’s perfect for you and do not wish to change a thing, then simply click on Book Now. We’ll send through a booking form based on the agreed itinerary, before providing an updated itinerary with all the key information like maps, directions, etc.  If you find something close, or would like us to develop your own customized itinerary from scratch, just complete our enquiry form and let us know what you are looking for.

All our Uganda self-drive itineraries can be customized to fit your needs and budget, but dont miss to add gorilla trekking as a contribution towards the conservation of the mountain gorillas. Perhaps you want to change an activity with something you’ve always wanted to do in the area! Simply click on our enquire now button to let us know what you would like to change.

Luxury Landcruiser Jeep

The Uganda Classic Drives

What are the truly classic drives of Uganda? It is the drives that are capable of changing your life and showing you the absolute best of the continent. Uganda is enormous and whichever way you plan it, distance should be your first consideration when you’re mapping out your great journey. If you’ve only got a few days or weeks, it’s best to choose a select area or two to explore. The second consideration is your choice of vehicle – this will greatly depend on how long you’re traveling and where you’re going.

Experience the open roads and remote areas of Uganda on any of the self-drive holidays to visit 10 National Parks.  like bwindi impenetrable forest national park, mgahinga national park all located in south western Uganda . Discover the unique and diverse natural beauty of Uganda’s dense tropical rain forest to it’s savannah and highlands.

The itineraries are designed to be a journey of learning and exploring, seeing new perspectives and uncovering unfamiliar territory. The drives will allow you travel by car at your own pace and in your own time.

Gorilla Watching rules

Mountain Gorilla Tracking in the three countries of Rwanda, Uganda and the democratic republic of Congo is regarded as the major tourist activities among those countries. After embracing gorilla tourism in these countries, strict rules were set to guide tourists taking gorilla safaris into the protected areas. These rules were set by conservationists and must be strictly adhered to in order to protect the mountain gorillas.

Any tourist who is interested in gorilla tracking before and during the activity in order should take these rules serious so as to put your life and that of gorillas safe. Some of the information given below is well written in the printed-leaflet offered by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to get clear information before and during an encounter with these giants. Only eight members are allowed to track gorillas in each family per day, as this help to reduce on the pressure human cause on to these species as well as the risk of exposing them to human borne diseases.

While On the way to the mountain gorillas:

  • During your walk to meet the gorillas in their natural habitats, you are required to keep your voice as down as possible, and during the walk you will be in position to see the rich bird life and some wildlife within the forest.
  • Do not visit gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness like flue or cough
  • Human waste should be buried 30cm (12) deep
  • Do not leave any rubbish within the park. Whatever you take into the forest must be taken out as you leave.
  • The guide will inform you when you close in to the mountain gorillas

When you are with the gorillas:

  • Maintain a distance of about 7-10m (21ft) from the gorillas as this will help the gorillas to keep relaxed and not to charge on you in case you get so close to them.
  • When you meet gorillas, You should stay together as a group avoid staying alone and follow the guide’s instructions
  • Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the tour as this may put the life of gorillas and you in danger
  • If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn around away from the gorillas, as they can catch cough and colds from human hence this may result into death of gorillas
  • Ounce you meet gorillas you are strictly allowed only one hour with them studying their behaviors as well as taking as many photos as you can( a flash camera is not allowed) . But, if the gorillas turn to be restless or nervous, your guide will end the visit earlier.
  • When you are with gorillas try much as possible to maintain your voice low. However it is ok to ask your guide questions.
  • When the gorilla charge follow the guide’s instructions for example squat down slowly, don’t look directly into the eyes of the gorillas they may think you are an enemy wait for them to pass). Don’t attempt to run away as this will increase the threat.
  • You are not allowed to touch gorillas remember they are wild animals they may charge on you. .

Where to See Mountain Gorillas in Africa

There are only two populations of mountain gorillas left in the world. Mountain gorillas are found on two separate locations, the first one lives in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, with groups scattered between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The second population lives deep in the thick Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. As of September 2016, the estimated number of mountain gorillas remaining is about 880.

The distribution of mountain gorillas is entirely within national parks, but despite their protected status, all three countries inhabit similar rugged terrain and have similar habits. Individual mountain gorilla groups vary in their accessibility. The regulations and quality of local gorilla guides and trackers is similar in Rwanda and Uganda.

It’s important to know what you’re getting into before setting out for budget gorilla trek in Africa. The hike through the forest is challenging and tough-going (your guides will often have to machete a path through the ferns that clog the undergrowth), but it’s within reach for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. You will get muddy though and sweaty. Beneath the forest canopy the humidity is very high, and it’s a good idea to bring a canteen of fresh water to hydrate as you go.

Uganda has two places where these Mountain Gorillas may be seen, one is Mgahinga Gorilla Park; a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has more than half of the rare estimated population of 480 mountain gorillas. The park is situated in the south western park of Uganda on the edge of the Albertine Rift montane forests. Trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda is a truly unforgettable experience that offers a great privilege for the rest of your life time. No safari to Uganda would be complete without experiencing this particular wonder at least once.

The must see life experience is the first single hour you can spend in the wild with our so close related gorillas. As the venture is starting with a good hike to the last know where about of the family, it takes you through beautiful scenery. The clear cutting line of trees and farmland shows so clearly the pressure of humans on the wildlife.

Back in the nature, in Bwindi you will have looked like over a century ago. Marvelous and impressive you have to find the gorillas here deep in the jungle with some less restraining hike, they are just across the farmland and showing their gentle nature close by. You can take videos and pictures of them playing, sleeping, swinging from trees, and many others, the guides visit the gorillas every day, for over many years before they may host the guest from all over the world. The relatively high price to pay for the 1 hour visit is worthy every drive and some is used to protect the species and land for future generations.

In Rwanda, gorilla trekking takes places in Volcanoes National Park lying north western Rwanda bordering Virunga national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Virunga National Park is known for its haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest. The park is home to five of eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains including Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo and span 160km covered in rain forest and bamboo.

The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.  Of all attractions in Rwanda, the one that really draws people to visit Volcanoes National Park, are the rare mountain gorillas. A thrilling trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virunga’s offers stirring views in all directions entering the national park with armed guides and trekkers leading you in the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest jungle alive with the calls of colourful birds and hooting of the rare golden monkeys.

In Democratic Republic of Congo, gorilla trekking takes place in Virunga National Park. Trekking mountain gorillas on foot starts early in the morning and after border formalities you are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and as close as is allowed to a gorilla family. The rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free roaming animals, and their sighting cannot be guaranteed. Trekking can take anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours and it can be quite tiresome, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. No camera flashes and you avoid sustained eye contact or finger pointing. If a gorilla moves toward you, step calmly out of the way. If one charges, follow the guide’s instruction to drop to the ground in submission.

Conservationist Gorilla Trekking safaris in Uganda

Bwindi is home to more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Bwindi is considered to be the richest biodiversity forest in East Africa with hundreds of plant species, birds and other wildlife. The main tourist activity in the park is tracking the mountain gorillas. Bwindi has different habituated gorillas groups open for gorilla trekking tours in Uganda. There are groups in the northern sector of the park, 03 in Ruhija and 03 groups in the Buhoma and southern sector, in Kisoro district – 08 of which are in Rushaga and the other one is Nkuringo.

The supreme threat to the Mountain Gorillas is human encroachment for settlement around them.  previously there was a slash as well as burn mentality however, through an educational program by the Uganda Wildlife Authority plus cash motivation to the community through the tourism industry that the gorillas within Uganda are today no longer as threatened by various poachers as it was in the DRC. Additionally they are threatened by various diseases transmitted by human visitors into the park, and for that reason the Uganda Wildlife Authority has set up strict rules to prevent spreading of such diseases. All this has come in place to save the lives of mountain gorillas in Bwindi.

Visitors into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest frequently inquire if mountain gorillas are dangerous?  Although dominant and very strong, these are gentle as well as shy, and in addition the mountain gorillas which visitors see within Uganda have been habituated.  In other words they are habituated to people, which process that takes close to 2 years.  Dian Fossey actually was against the idea of visiting mountain gorillas which is done today, however it’s the money collected that survival of this endangered species, and seen their number increase over the recent years.

There are more than seven hundred and eighty six mountain gorillas in the whole world.  Uganda hold close to half of their total population, and the majority of them live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, whereas the others are found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park; however these at times cross over to Rwanda.

Fortunately the Gorillas are growing in numbers because of the protection they are offered from the government of Uganda which also included efforts of the adjacent communities to the parks to whom part of the USD 600 fee of Gorilla tracking permits charged from foreign visitors to Mgahinga as well as Bwindi is offered to them in order to have a strong protection to the gorillas.

A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.

Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.  DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.  You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!  When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.  A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should try to be observed at all times from the gorillas.

The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be. You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.  Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.  Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass).

Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk. Flash photography is not permitted!  When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.  Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas. All these rules are part of the gorilla Eco-tourism which needs to be observed in order to save the gorilla lives.

4×4 Road tripping in Uganda

To enjoy a self drive tour to Rwanda, starting from Uganda was an added advantage for me due to the exciting moments I had with my colleagues in some of the key a must visit places in Uganda and In this case, we had to first hire a car from Car Rental Uganda since we couldn’t manage to come with our vehicles. Before coming since we wanted to preserve our relationship with the company, we made all the reservations through them including booking permits for the different activities we were to do in the vast parks of Uganda and Rwanda.

Since the gorilla permit for Rwanda was expensively sold at $1500 we couldn’t manage it that’s why we decided to buy that of Uganda at $600. We had to stage first at Lake Mburo national park in the western Uganda. Having reached at the park in the   afternoon we went to the park headquarters for briefing and in the evening we went deep in the swamp of Warikiri within in the park to watch birds including the brown parrots, white winged tit, and grey crowned crane and fin foot just to mention but a few. Here we slept at Mihingo Lodge on half board.

Early in the morning, we traveled to Kabale for gorilla tracking at Bwindi impenetrable national park, since tracking is usually scheduled for early morning, we couldn’t track at that day, and here we slept at Gorilla safari lodge on half/full board, early in the morning, we went to the park from where we were given the guides who briefed us and also escorted us through the deep in the forest from where we tracked the Mishaya gorilla group.

“Besides being a prominent sector, this has the largest number of gorilla groups. Bwindi in total is a habitant place for fourteen gorilla groups from its four sectors of Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo and the Buhoma sectors” quoted by a tour guide who led us in the tracking activity. In the evening, we went back to Gorilla Safari Lodge for an overnight. The next day we went to Kigali which was our major destination via the Katuna border but here we had to visit the two national parks of Akagera and Nyungwe.

We entered Kigali city where we slept at Landmark suites and since we had to track chimpanzees from Nyungwe, we first went to this park since it is located far in the south west of Rwanda and it is popular for its unique two chimpanzee family’s one in Uwinka and the second in Cyamudongo. Since chimpanzees are like early birds, they also move in the early morning therefore here we slept at Nyungwe Forest lodge on full board which enabled us to catch up with time the next day.

Early in the morning we started this challenging activity but fortunately we were given experienced guides who were well conversant with chimp movements and it didn’t take us long time by midday, we were in touch with them, here we got a chance to see some of the baby chimps on the back of their mothers, we also got experience on how these chimps behave in their habitat but even the Rwenzori black and white Colobus were busy looking at us with their mimicking voices.

The next day we did a community based tourism around the park from where we interacted with the local people at Kitabi cultural village where we got to understand the Rwanda kingship history, enjoyed their traditional local beer and the dances. In the evening we went back to Nyungwe Forest Lodge and the next day we went for a guided canopy walk which delighted our visit by giving us a frontal and an Arial view of bird species while we were high above the tree

Monkeys and other wild animals were wondering how we invaded in their territory since they knew that they are the kings of the sky, they were giving us an eagle eye plus communicating in their voices as a result of being suspicious and also telling one another that they are seeing unusual people.  Having enjoyed Nyungwe forest, the next day we traveled back to Kigali where we staged and the next day we traveled to the Akagera national park which is located in the north eastern Rwanda.

From this park, we only subscribed for a boat trip and fishing which we did at 3:30pm, we did not stop at enjoying the boat and also sailing on the waters of Akagera but we also watched herds of hippos and crocodiles over the shores. As we were entering the park, the oribi and the impala animals were the first one to give us a sight. Unfortunately due to the minimum skills we had regarding fishing, we didn’t hook any fish but instead we bought fried ones from the existing fishermen, here we slept at Akagera Game Lodge.

The next day since it was our second last day on the African continent, we drove back to Uganda where we had hired the car and this took us a full day while on the way, on reaching Uganda, we went up to Entebbe from where we left the car since we paid all the dues and this was too exciting.