Uganda, often referred to as the “Pearl of Africa,” is a landlocked country in East Africa known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife that includes the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. While traditional safaris on land have been the go-to choice for wildlife enthusiasts, there’s a new (not so new) and exhilarating way to experience Uganda’s wonders: flying safaris in Uganda are done using light aircraft. In this article, we will take you on a journey through the skies of Uganda, exploring the advantages and attractions of this unique approach to safari adventures.
Traditionally, safaris in Uganda involved game drives and walking tours through national parks and reserves. While these methods are still popular and offer remarkable experiences, flying safaris have gained popularity for several reasons. Light aircraft flying safaris provide a unique perspective, allowing you to witness Uganda’s landscapes and wildlife from a bird’s-eye view.
Advantages of Flying Safaris in Uganda
1. Time Efficiency: One of the most significant advantages of flying safaris is time efficiency. Uganda’s national parks are often vast and rugged, making overland travel time-consuming. Light aircraft can cover long distances in a fraction of the time, ensuring you maximize your time in the parks. For example, for a safari that would take 3 days to just do gorilla tracking at Bwindi, you save a whole day and also avoid the long driving distances (About 9-10 hours) from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
2. Scenic Beauty: Flying at low altitudes provides breathtaking views of Uganda’s diverse landscapes, from lush forests and winding rivers to vast savannahs and serene lakes. The aerial perspective allows you to appreciate the country’s topography like never before.
3. Exclusive Access: Light aircraft safaris often provide access to remote and less-visited areas that may be challenging to reach by road. This exclusivity offers a more intimate wildlife encounter, away from the crowds.
4. Wildlife Sightings: Flying at low altitudes increases the chances of spotting wildlife from the air. You might catch a glimpse of elephants, giraffes, or herds of antelopes as they move across the open plains. Imagine the views when landing at Pakuba Airstrip at Murchison Falls National Park.
Light aircrafts are designed to have a lower environmental impact compared to larger ones and, traditional safari vehicles. This is also an eco-friendly approach aligns with the growing focus on sustainable tourism in Uganda.
Popular Destinations for Flying Safaris
1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park: Known for its population of mountain gorillas, Bwindi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts. A flying safari allows you to reach this remote park quickly and comfortably. The park has 4 sectors these are served by 2 airstrips, Buhoma sector is served by Kihihi airstrip (This also serves Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southern side of Ishasha). The Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija are served by the Kisoro Airport and Rushaga can be reached by a Helicopter.
2. Kidepo Valley National Park: Located in Uganda’s remote northeast, Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the country’s hidden gems. The park is the furthest from Uganda’s capital- Kampala, yet it is one of Africa’s most amazing parks. Once named by CNN Travel as park of the year. Due to the driving distance, it is usually avoided and missed by many who have short stays in Uganda, but you can fly to the park- Kidepo Airport and now with the opening of an airstrip at Pian-Upe Game Reserve, its 2 options now that serve the park.
Flying into this park offers an opportunity to witness incredible wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, and zebras, in a less-visited setting.
3. Queen Elizabeth National Park: This park is famous for its diverse ecosystems, including savannahs, wetlands, and the stunning Kazinga Channel. A flying safari can give you a stunning overview of the park’s varied landscapes. Land at Kasese, Mweya or Kihihi airstrips to access the park.
4. Murchison Falls National Park: Home to the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, this park is Uganda’s largest. A flying safari allows you to see the falls from above and explore the park’s many attractions. This has of the past been served by Pakuba Airstrip and Bugungu airstrip. At the moment, Bugungu is not frequently used.
5. Kibale Forest National Park: For a unique experience, consider a flying safari to Kibale Forest, famous for its chimpanzee tracking experiences. The lush canopy and diverse birdlife make this park a fascinating aerial destination.
Choosing a Flying Safari Operator
When planning a flying safari in Uganda, selecting the right operator is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. Tour companies like us will help put the itineraries together and get you the best deals for flying with Domestic Flight providers. Look for operators with:
1. Experience: Opt for companies with a proven track record in conducting flying safaris in Uganda. Experienced pilots and guides can enhance your overall experience, there are several and these include Aero Link (has daily flights and chatter flights), KEA (Only Chatter), Bar Aviation, among others.
2. Safety: Ensure that the operator prioritizes safety. Check for adherence to safety regulations, well-maintained aircraft, and a comprehensive safety briefing.
3. Itinerary Variety: Choose an operator that offers a range of itineraries to suit your interests and budget. They should be able to customize your safari to include specific destinations and activities, one that offers several option (Chatter and daily flights).
4. Sustainability: Support operators committed to sustainable tourism practices, minimizing their environmental impact and contributing to conservation efforts.
Flying safaris in Uganda provide a thrilling and unique way to explore the country’s natural wonders. With time efficiency, exclusive access to remote areas, and breathtaking aerial views, these safaris offer an unforgettable adventure for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. As you embark on this exciting journey, remember to choose a reputable operator to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Uganda’s “Pearl of Africa” awaits your discovery from the skies.
Book your Uganda Flying Safari here.