Game drive is a word formed on two words that is game and drive. The word game means animals which are not domesticated i.e. which are called wildlife and then the word drive refers to a drive with a safari vehicle. Game drive is an adventure that is required for viewing wildlife in an off-road car it could be a national park or game reserve lead by a professional safari guide in 4×4 game viewing vehicles which is planned to allow a safari trip or journey for a tourist to go successfully in an open savannah grassland, woodland which are inhabited for a variety of wildlife. Game drive is the second done activity in Uganda tours and the most vibrant and pleasant experience everyone wishes to encounter in Uganda’s protected national parks which is best done throughout the year and takes place in the early morning hours, late afternoon and in the evening time because it’s when number of animals are more active during cooler times of the day.
However, Uganda is blessed to have ten national parks and among them, there are four national parks where a tourist can decide to choose to have a game drive. Some of these include Murchison falls national park, Lake Mburo national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, and Kidepo valley national park. These are homes to 4 of the Big 5 Animals. These parks are all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority and this is the body which governs all national parks in Uganda.
Game Drive in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls national park boasts with 4 of the big 5 and is home of a variety of wildlife species with over 451 bird species, 76 mammals such as lions, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, waterbuck, warthogs, Uganda Kobs, giraffes and many more. These animals are widely spread all over an open savannah grassland making the park’s landscape so unique for a game drive or game viewing.
Murchison falls national park is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes from Kampala the capital of Uganda and is located in the north-western direction of Uganda spreading the water body of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile up to Karuma falls and estimates 3893 square kilometres of its lowland which was created in 1952 as a gazette area for game reserve and forest reserve. The park is the oldest and largest in the country giving high opportunity to travellers to spot out the wildlife.
The park is divided into two parts such as the Northern bank and the southern bank of the park where the game drive can be best. The northern side is where tourists can enjoy the sight-seeing of the large concentration of wildlife in an open savannah plain.
In the southern part, there are various antelope herds and also other few mammals. But there is nothing as amazing as watching predators with your own eyes such as lions as they make move on their prey more especially the Uganda kob. This is awesome experience in a way that most antelopes are being hunted down and killed. All this great game viewing is observed during dry seasons when the grass is short. The game drive is done all year round though in the rainy season when the grass is a bit tall thus challenging and more especially during game viewing and during wet months some animals can be missed out.
The park’s unique game viewing area lies on the Buligi peninsula at a triangle of grassland that spring by the Victoria Nile entering lake Albert. Along here a tourist can have great opportunity of seeing variety of mammals such as elephant, buffaloes, antelopes and giraffes and keep you finger crossed for leopard and lion. The game track at delta point where the Nile flows north outside lake Albert there is a fantastic opportunity of viewing the lions waiting for prey as they link up for drinking water. This is also a place to stop for fresh breath taking as well as viewing water birds at offshore and hippos. Travellers can also take to the air to encounter the savannah plains north and west of Paraa in a hot air balloon experience.
The Heart of Murchison in the southern part of Murchison falls national park covered by forest and bush. Safari vehicle tracks have been currently opened in this sector and is becoming a famously location for lions. In 2016, 15 giraffes’ left other sectors in the park and positioned along here and now it is very possible to spot these graceful mammals on the honeymoon track. In Murchison fall national park a tourist can also do night game drive as well.
However, the best time for a game drive is in morning hours at around 6:30 am and if you spent your night in one of the lodges in the southern bank you are required to cross Victoria Nile at the ferry at around 7 am just to keep time. There is also another optional time for tourists who choose to do an evening game drive that begins at around 16:00 pm and last between 3 to 4 hours. Other activities offered within the park are guided nature walks, chimpanzee trekking in Budogo forest, boat lunch along Victoria Nile, hiking, viewing of the falls, birding and you can come across the rare and unique shoe bill stork.
Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is famous for tree-climbing lions and home of Big 4 mammals and other various species like 95 mammal species such as African buffaloes, Uganda kobs, African leopards, African bush elephants, lions, hippos, chimpanzees and over 500 species of birds. The park is also popular for its volcanic feature such as deep craters with very many crater lakes such as katwe crater lake from which salt is pulled out. The park also offers Kazinga Channel connecting the two lakes i.e. Lake George in the northeast to lake Edward in the southwest side of the park. Queen Elizabeth national park is situated in the western part of Uganda in the Kasese district covering an area of about 1978 square kilometers and it was established in 1952 as a game reserve. The amazing game drive/game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park can be best done in the Kasenyi plains and Ishasha Sector within the park.
Kasenyi Plains is an open savannah grassland that provides Queen Elizabeth national park’s best-done activity game-viewing area. It is good to view herds of Uganda kobs as lion’s prey on their heads. The park’s professional safari guide can easily locate lion movements and see predators which can be assured by selecting up for a tour with the Mweya based Uganda predators project who are professional to lion movements, leopards and with help of radio collars.
Ishasha sector is found in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park offering a huge fantastic game viewing experience under massive rift valley skies in the park. Tourists expect to see beautiful elephants, buffaloes, hippos, topis and many more. There is a high chance of seeing lions is isolated in Ishasha and watch their pride as they spend their day resting up in the branches of shady fig trees. Game drives along here can be carried out using safari vehicles which is a 4X4 wheel safari vehicle.
The park also offers night game drive since you can decide to carry out this exciting activity during the day or at night. In Uganda, the night game drive can be done along here because the park is recommended for this vibrant activity. The advice we give to the tourist is that they should know where to book for their nocturnal game viewing basically with a well-known tour operator. You can as well book for Uganda wildlife armed ranger who goes for only USD20. Other activities include; boat trip, bird watching, chimpanzees trekking and habituations, nature walk and many more.
Game Drive in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game drive/game viewing is very possible by the safari vehicle on the dirt road that can be conducted on the southern side and western side of this park. Kidepo valley national park is located in the northern part of Karenga Karamoja in Kaabong district of Uganda. The park is estimated 520 kilometers by road from northeast of Kampala the capital city of Uganda and covering an area of about 1442 square kilometers and was created in 1958 to protect the wildlife species. It is dominated by mount Morungole which is divided by Kidepo Valley and Narus Valley the best area to carry out game drive. The park is a semi-desert and it has the largest population of the wild animals such as 86 mammal species such as spotted hyenas, lions, cheetah, leopard, wild dog, elephant, giraffes, African buffaloes, zebras bat-eared foxes, Rothschild’s giraffes, and many more other species. It has 500 species of birds, tree species like sausage trees, red thorn acacias, drumstick tree and many more. Narus Valley is a place that offers shorter red oat grass, fine thatching grass and taller bunchy Guinea grass where a large number of wild animals inhabits from and kidepo valley is an area where whistling thorn acacias bush are found.
Narus Valley is rewarded with permanent water supply from the natural Narus River that attracts number of animals to come and drink water in the valley all year round and the commonly seen mammals in Narus valley on game drive are savannah elephants, buffaloes, Uganda kobs, giraffes, waterbuck, lions and hippos in some of the watershed area and many more.
Kidepo Valley has less concentration of wild animals due to its dry nature wilderness, to note driving through kidepo valley is pleasant adventuring of dry kidepo with a white sand bed. The valley has an hour-long drive to Kanangorok Hot springs passing through some magnificent land escapes and 30 meters to the north of the park tourism site at Apoka to the road crosses the sandy bed of the Kidepo river to enter an interesting plain lined to the east side of Morungule mount range and also to the north looming 2975meter high in south Sudan. In kidepo valley animals are rare but is a bird paradise such as Ostriches, tourists can visit the hot springs and other species.
Night game drive can be a highlight for your safari journey days in Kidepo valley national park which is conducted out on 4×4 safari vehicle. A night game drive is the only game viewing time that reveals to you to the nocturnal animals along Narus valley and such animals include; cheetah, dik-dik you can as well encounter some predators like leopards feeding on their hunted prey and lions and for tourist who likes to engage in night game drive kidepo valley national park is highly recommended for you, what you need to do is to book for park’s guide ranger who can help you to light touch that brings out light in the darkness. Enjoy the amazing night game drive through touring kidepo valley national park. Other activities offered in here are culture encounter, hiking, visiting the IK people the people to originate the area, birding is also amazing here and many more .
Game Drive in Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo national park is considered as a lion conservation area and home of other variety of animals such as hippo, African leopards, African buffalo, warthog antelopes like elands, impalas, dik-dik and many more, 300 species of birds and it is inland area such as Lake Mburo. The park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah protected national park and the closest park to the capital city of Uganda ‘Kampala’ which is approximately 240 kilometers by road from west of Kampala. Lake Mburo national park is situated in Kiruhura district in the western region of Uganda and covering a total land of about 260 kilometers which can be accessed on foot and was established on 15 -sept -2006 to protect the wildlife species.
Game drive in Lake Mburo national park came up due to the result of the park being located in the beautiful town of Mbarara that has got a conducive range of climate that favors both animals and the travelers. Game drive can be done in a place that has great features and landscape which is rewarding because of the rocky plain, forest gorges shrub, water bodies such as swamps, lakes which are found within the boundaries above all having Lake Mburo as the main largest but also it has beautiful wild animals that are found in here which have played a big role for the game drives to take place in the park-like the impalas.
Game drives in Lake Mburo national park which starts in the morning hours, late afternoon these are the best hours to search for the hidden treasure of the wild animals in the park. The Eastern part of the park has various landscape features such as wetland, grass hillside, acacia woodland, rocky outcrops and also seasonally valley floors which are a habitat for wildlife. Lake Mburo also has the night game drive which starts at 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm and it can be accompanied by an armed guide with a strong holding lightening touch in a 4 wheel safari vehicle.
What is the best time to do Game Drive viewing in all Uganda’s national park?
The best time to do game drive viewing in Ugandan national parks is all year round but more especially in June to September and December to February when the animals are gathering around the rivers, waterhole and also during wet seasons starting from March to May and September –November where large population of mammals can be seen in the open valleys.
Game drive costs USD 20 per person per day.
Kidepo valley national park, Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, and Lake Mburo national park are the top-visited and best tourist destinations for game drive viewing on Uganda’s tour that shelter the Big 4 wild animals and other variety of mammal species, unlike other Uganda’s protected national park.