Uganda is famous for its population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (see the travel story here)
There are however several opportunities to see great wildlife in the country, so you can keep yourself busy for at least 7-8 days of trip in Uganda (if you consider 2-3 days for Gorilla tracking)
Kibale Forest National Park
Without leaving the primates family, an exceptional experience is seeing che chimpanzees, that are actually our closest cousins.
The main chimp tracking in the country is done in the Kibale Forest National Park, that is also where I strongly recommend you to book. Main reasons are the easiness of trekking, concentration of families and closeness to them. There are other tracking in Uganda (such as in Queen Elizabeth National Park), but nowhere else you will get such an high probability to see chimpanzees like in Kibale Forest.
You could either choose to do a chimpanzee tracking experience (the shorter one, around one hour with them) or a chimpanzee habituation, where you can spend around half a day with them. Obviously I recommend you the latter.
Keep in mind that chimpanzee families in the habituation experience (as the word suggest) has to be habituated yes to human presence, so it might be harder to see them up close, like it happened with my group.
But no worries since the guides are there to make the best experience for you: after spending few hours watching a chimp family really up in the trees, we moved to a more habituated one (where other groups doing the tracking were staying), and we got to see them really, really close.
I don’t usually recommend specific accommodations, but I have to make an exception for Isunga Lodge, a beautiful lodge placed on a hill, overlooking a mesmerizing valley. But more than the beauty of the place, the cleanliness, the good food is the outstanding service provided by the owners and the staff. By the way, I shot this photos from the lounge:
The second best spot for wildlife is the Queen Elizabeth National Park, the main and biggest national park in Uganda, that can be divided in two different parts: Ishasha sector and Kazinga Channel.
Queen Elizabeth NP: Ishasha Sector
There is one and very good reason to come to the far-west side of Queen Elizabeth National Park: the tree climbing lions.
This population of lions has the habit to climb up fig trees to escape the extreme heat on the ground, especially during midday hours (from 11am to 3pm).
They are not the only ones in the world, but surely the most famous ones!
You have to remember anyway that the number of lions is actually very low and sometimes the cross the border to Congo, so you have to be lucky.
If they are within the park, is very easy to spot them, just look for fig trees, within the branches.
You can spend 1-2 days here looking and shooting lions, but beware that the concentration of wildlife in the area is actually pretty low: we just saw some impalas, buffalos and hear hippos near the river. So don’t spend more than 1-2 days around here.
Queen Elizabeth NP Kazinga Channel
Kazinga channel is a 40 km stream of water that connects Lake Georgia and Lake Victoria, and home to an amazing concentration of safari wildlife, that is why is the top 1 spot for wildlife spotting and photography.
My recommendation is to do 1 or 2 boat tours, 1 during midday (where the thirsty animals come to drink water) and 1 in the sunset-early morning, to get a better light for photography.
There are the official national park safari boat, that departure near the mweya safari lodge (the most expensive lodge in the area), and the community boat tours, organized by local villagers. These are a good addition to the experience, plus you will help the local communities (you can book them through here).
Queen Elizabeth National Park game drives
Around the Kazinga Channel, there are many tracks for game drives. As wildlife, you can expect to see herbivores (like gazelles and antelopes), elephants (some big herds here), lions (more difficult), leopard (we spotted one, very rare), hyenas, hippos, buffalos.
There are no giraffes and no cheetah.
There is also the possibility to do night game drives, where a ranger comes with you on your vehicle (if you have one, otherwise you can rent it) equipped with a huge torch. It was among the highlight of the experience, especially when we follow a pack of lions beginning the hunt. Don’t miss this experience.