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A game drive around the Buligi game tracks on the northern bank with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile Valley. Your guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding, and you may even spot a leopard at dusk!

The launch trip upstream from Paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the Falls. Recommended for birders is a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Alternatively, a tranquil sundowner cruise offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.

Uganda is home to an impressive 29 species of antelope, including the eland - the world’s largest antelope, which can measure up to 180cm at the shoulder!
Other large species include the greater kudu, which has long, elegant spiral horns and white side stripes; Jackson’s hartebeest - an unusual, flat-faced creature found only in Uganda, and the shaggy waterbuck - often found near rivers and lakes, as their name suggests.

Fascinating yet rarely seen is the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope, whose splayed hooves are adapted for life in the papyrus swamps. Much more common are Grant’s gazelle, which can live in herds of hundreds of individuals, and the pretty Uganda kob - Uganda’s national antelope. 

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/

Uganda is a birder's paradise. Over half of all bird species in Africa can be found here, making it one of the richest birding destinations on the continent. Crammed into this diminutive country is an astonishingly rich diversity of habitats, from the scenic shores of Uganda’s many great lakes to the lush forests of the Albertine Rift and the banks of the mighty Nile River.

The most prized species here is the incredibly rare, prehistoric-looking shoebill, located among the papyrus swamps. Keep an eye out for the beautiful grey-crowned crane – these elegant birds have wild gold crests and sport the same colors as the Ugandan flag (red, yellow and black) – it is the country’s national bird. The saddle-billed stork also displays the flag’s colors proudly across its vivid beak.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/

Reaching a height of 165cm (65”) at the shoulder and weighing in at 680kg (1500lbs), it is no wonder that the enormous Cape buffalo is one of Africa’s “Big Five”. Though they are herbivores, feeding almost exclusively on grass, buffalos are known to be one of the most dangerous species in Uganda thanks to their unpredictable and defensive nature.

They will happily trample a lion who threatens to attack! Visitors to Uganda needn’t worry about getting caught in a stampede however; the buffaloes’ poor ability to regulate body temperature means that throughout the hot equatorial days they are most commonly found wallowing in mud or water - making them easy to view at close range during a launch trip.

Two subspecies of buffalo exist in Uganda - the larger savannah buffalo and the smaller forest buffalo. They live in two types of groups - family herds, which contain mainly females and calves; and bachelor herds. A herd can contain several hundred individuals.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/

Our closest cousin, the chimpanzee, shares at least 94% of its DNA with humans. Sociable, communicative and intelligent, one of the chimp’s most astonishing traits is its ability to use tools such as rocks for smashing nuts, empty pods for scooping water and sticks for drawing termites from their nests. As these skills are passed from generation to generation, it has been observed that different troops are specialists in different tasks, depending on their habitat and diet.

Chimpanzees live in communities containing 10 to 100 members. They hold hands, kiss, groom each other and babysit for each other’s offspring - young chimps do not become independent until around the age of four. But they can also be aggressive and unfriendly, particularly towards unrelated individuals.

Though they spend a lot of time on the ground, chimpanzees usually eat and sleep in trees. Their varied diet includes leaves, fruit, flowers and seeds.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/

The largest living land mammal, the African elephant, is a sight to behold on Uganda’s sprawling savannah. Their massive black forms can be seen from far away marching across the grasslands in search of the incredible amounts of vegetation they need to eat each day, along with around 30-50 gallons of water. This constant grazing is essential to the ecosystem, as it prevents the savannah and shrubland from turning into impenetrable forest.

The elephant’s trunk is by far its most useful feature - it is used with absolute precision to dig, signal, gather food, spray water and dust, siphon water into the elephant’s mouth - and even as an extra foot! They are also sociable, affectionate animals, and have been observed caressing companions with their trunks, and greeting other family members when they meet. They will care for weaker individuals, adopt orphaned calves and even display grieving behavior over dead companions.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/

Confusing to early explorers, who described it as a cross between a camel and a leopard, the giraffe is certainly an awkward-looking creature. Its swaying gait comes as a result of it moving both right legs simultaneously, followed by both left legs; and its favourite food is the hideously spiky acacia, which it strips of leaves using its long, dark purple tongue. Though they are the world’s tallest land mammal - even a newborn giraffe stands at six feet (2m) tall! - their neck contains just seven vertebrae - exactly the same as a human.

Little wonder, then, that this curious gentle giant fascinated Africa’s prehistoric inhabitants, who depicted it in cave paintings across the continent. Unfortunately, the giraffe’s unique characteristics also led to them being heavily hunted.

Their tails alone were made into bracelets, fly-swatters, threads for sewing and threading beads, and the species found in Uganda - Rothschild giraffe - is now one of the most endangered giraffe species, with fewer than 700 individuals remaining in the wild.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation (http://www.awf.org/)

Uganda’s dense forests are home to over half the world’s 750 or so mountain gorillas - the rest live in the neighboring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As they do not survive in captivity, preservation of these fragile habitats is essential for their survival.

Gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback - a mature male - who selects places for the group to eat and sleep, and has many privileges, including the right to feed first. This privilege pays off for the rest of the family, as if the group is threatened, the silverback - weighing up to 120kg (260lbs) - will defend them to the death, if necessary.

Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.

The name gorilla comes from the Greek gorillai - meaning hairy women.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation ( http://www.awf.org/) and Friend-A-Gorilla ( http://www.friendagorilla.org/)

Hippos are the third largest land mammal after the elephant and the rhinoceros. Weighing in at 1,500–1,800 kg (3,300–4,000 lb), an adult male stands up to 1.5m (4.5 feet) at the shoulder, and, oddly enough, their closest living relatives are whales and dolphins. Hippos spend most of their days submerged in water to keep cool, as they have no sweat glands.

Though they have webbed feet, their huge bulk prevents them from floating and they cannot swim. Their size does not, however, prevent them from outrunning a human - hippos have been estimated to reach terrifying speeds of up to 30 or even 40km per hour on land.

An adult hippo can spend as long as six minutes underwater, and their raised eyes, ears and nostrils allow them to remain almost entirely submerged for long periods of time. After spending the day bathing, hippos venture out at dusk and spend the night grazing, traveling up to 8km (5 miles) and consuming up to 68kg (150lbs) of grass each night to maintain their enormous size.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation http://www.awf.org/