Winter months are the best to travel to Uganda. If you want to explore this diverse African country as a self-drive travel, make sure to visit it in January. January is the driest month, what makes best road conditions and the whole country is drivable, even the most remote Kidepo National Park, just beneath Sudan.
15 days Uganda self-drive travel itinerary
Day 1: Entebbe – Kampala – Jinja (125 km)
Arriving at Entebbe international airport, you will get your visa on arrival for 100 USD. Arrange your rented car to wait you at the airport and continue your way directly to Jinja through Kampala – the capital of Uganda. Remember that driving in Uganda is on the left! (Coordinates: 00.25.15.2N / 22.214.171.124E)
Jinja is mostly known for the Nile River source, so make sure to see it. We staid the night at the Nile River Camp, few kilometers from Jinja, along the Nile. (Coordinates: 00.28.55.9N / 33.09.51.2E)
Day 2: Jinja – Sipi Falls (200 km)
When traveling around Africa, you should start your day early, as the road conditions are bad and you need a lot of time to drive few hundred kilometers. Leaving the campsite towards Jinja, stop at the local market and grab yourself some fruit and fresh chapatti for your breakfast. (Coordinates: 00.26.46.2N / 126.96.36.199E)
You will arrive at the Moses Campsite, looking down on the 100 meters high Sipi Fall, in the afternoon. Hike to this amazing waterfall before dinner. (Coordinates near the camping spot: 01.20.12.0N / 188.8.131.52E)
Day 3: Sipi Falls- Moroto (200 km)
Today will be one of the longest days. Lots of travelers reach Moroto through Soroto, as the roads are better. But if you are like us, forget about Soroto and take a »shortcut« and go straight up to Moroto from Sipi Falls. There is only 200 kilometers to overcome, but you will need about 7 hours to drive them due to huge potholes. The drive is long and tiring, but all the beautiful sights around you will make everything worth it. (Few coordinates on your way: 01.27.18.1N / 184.108.40.206E, 01.57.31.3N / 220.127.116.11E, 02.16.46.3N / 18.104.22.168E, 02.31.34.8N / 22.214.171.124E)
Arriving to Moroto, you will come in the region of Karamojong people, which was known as extremely dangerous few years back, but it is safe here now. Moroto does not have lots of accommodations to choose from, but we have found a solid one near the main road, soon after coming into town. Look for Leslona Hotel. (Parking coordinates for hotel Leslona: 02.32.00.4N / 126.96.36.199E)
Day 4: Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo NP (290 km)
Another long day waits for you. You will need the whole day to reach Kidepo NP. In between, stop at Kotido and find UWA office. Book a local guide, who will take you to the largest manyatta in Eastern Africa. Having the local guide with you, who knows Karamojong’s language, your visit will be much more welcoming and educational. (Few coordinates on your way: 02.34.27.8N / 188.8.131.52E, 02.53.57.3N / 184.108.40.206E, 02.57.56.0N / 34.08.53.5E, 03.00.22.1N / 34.06.52.8E)
After one of the best experiences during your Uganda travel, continue your way towards Kaabong and to Kidepo NP. You will reach the entrance to this rarely visited national park in the late afternoon, which is the best time for a safari drive.
Stay in a campsite Kidepo Bandas, in the heart of the national park. (Few coordinates on your way: 03.19.35.7N / 220.127.116.11E, 03.19.40.1N / 34.09.37.6E, 03.30.13.4N / 34.09.20.2E, 03.41.32.0N / 18.104.22.168E, 03.43.42.7N / 22.214.171.124E)
Day 5: Kidepo NP – Kitgum (150 km)
Get up before sunrise, put your tent in the car (if you were camping) and enjoy your safari. The best safaris are at sunrise and sunset and not just because of the light, but also because of animals, which are more alive, when it is not yet hot.
After your unforgettable game drive, continue your way towards Murchinson falls NP, but because the drive would be long again, make a stopover at Kitgum. (Few coordinates on your way: 03.43.15.4N / 33.42.08.0E, 03.41.25.7N / 126.96.36.199E, 03.38.42.1N / 33.43.03.0E, 03.26.57.3N / 188.8.131.52E, 03.22.11.0N / 184.108.40.206E, 03.17.43.4N / 220.127.116.11E)
Kitgum is nothing special, but good enough for staying overnight and walk around the center for some local feeling. A little bit outside of town’s center is a nice hotel Little Palace. (Coordinates near Little Palace hotel: 03.17.38.6N / 32.53.03.4E)
Day 6: Kitgum – Murschinson Falls NP (250 km)
After breakfast you will need few hours to reach Murchinson NP. Coming from Kitgum, the most convenient for you are the Northern Gates. (Coordinates: 02.15.22.2N / 18.104.22.168E)
After game drive, take the ferry ride over the River Nile and find Red Chili camping spot. Make sure you don’t miss the last ferry ride! (Ferry coordinates: 02.17.10.3N / 31.34.00.9E, camping coordinates: 02.16.39.2N / 22.214.171.124E)
Day 7: Murchinson Falls NP- Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary (180 km)
Start your day with the River Nile boat cruise, which will show you wildlife from another perspective. It is amazing to see crocodiles, elephants, hippos, numerous bird species… Mother Nature is truly spectacular!
After the boat ride pack your bags and continue towards Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, but just before leaving the Murchinson NP, stop at the viewing point, to really get the feel of the River Nile. (Coordinates: 02.16.38.9N / 126.96.36.199E)
Reaching the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary late in the afternoon, makes it a good time for the Rhino trekking with the ranger. It might sounds funny, but you will be sleeping behind the fence today. (Coordinates: 01.26.58.5N / 32.04.45.1E)
Day 8: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – Fort Portal (280 km)
If you will be as lucky as us, you will be waking up surrounded with Rhinos from Ziwa Sanctuary. Eat breakfast and continue your travel to Fort Portal. You will reach it for lunch, so you will have plenty of time to explore its markets, tea plantations and meet the locals.
A good place to stay overnight is Daj Guesthouse, with private secured parking and just few steps from the city center.(Coordinates near Daj Guesthouse: 00.39.18.0N / 188.8.131.52E)
Day 9: Fort Portal – Queen Elizabeth NP (130 km)
Fort Portal is not far from Queen Elizabeth NP, so you have enough time to take more scenic road to reach it. You will be driving pass volcanic lakes Nadali-Kasenda. If you want to do a chimpanzee trekking, now is your chance – the Kibale NP close by is famous for chimpanzee trekking. Reaching the main road again, you will soon pass the famous Equator line. After the photo-shooting you will be soon entering Queen Elizabeth NP. Enter at the Crater Drive gate to drive along volcanic lakes. (Coordinates: 00.01.09.1S / 184.108.40.206E)
If you are into local life, visit also Katwe Lake, which is famous for producing salt. You might be shocked when seeing how people work and live here, but getting yourself a local guide and paying a small fee, you will help the Katwe community and find out a lot more about its salt production. (Coordinates: 00.08.42.7S / 220.127.116.11E)
Continue your day with a game drive, which will be perfect ending of your day. Queen Elizabeth NP has a large concentration of elephants.
You can stay the night in a lodge or camping place inside of the NP or outside of it. We staid the night outside of the national park, close to the Kazinga channel – look for the place called Tembo Safari Lodge. (Coordinates near Tembo Safari Lodge: 00.07.31.3S / 30.02.46.3E)
Day 10: Queen Elizabeth NP – Bunyonyi Lake (240 km)
Start your day again before the sunrise as it is time for another game drive. Game drive is such a wonderful experience, you will definitely not mind getting up early.
You will finish your day at the scenic Bunyonyi Lake, which lies at 1840 meters above the sea level. The altitude makes the countryside lush, green and a bit cold too, so be prepared.
Lake Bunyonyi is great for relaxation and outdoor activities like trekking and kayaking, offering amazing views. (Coordinates: 01.16.16.2S / 18.104.22.168E)
Day 11: Bunyonyi Lake – Masaka – Sesse Islands (400 km)
Your last day before short holidays is up. Lots of people join their Uganda travel with a flight to Zanzibar for holidays, but our budget just was not cut out for it. Instead of holidays at Zanzibar, we spent few days in the middle of Victoria Lake, at the archipelago of 84 small islands called Sesse.
Lots of travelers are turned down to visit Sesse Islands due to the fact that 90% of the people living there are affected with HIV virus. If you can go over that, you will love the Sesse Islands – the place with the most friendly people in Uganda.
Another obstacle which might turn you down for visiting Sesse Islands is bilharzias in the Victoria Lake, meaning it is not safe to swim. The islands, on the other hand, are perfect for doing nothing, hanging out with locals and just enjoy some free time after the tight travel itinerary.
You can pitch your tent right along the pier (Kingfisher camping place), where boats from Kampala arrive. You will reach the ferry for Sesse Islands through Masaka – Bukakata pier – the ferry should be free of charge! (Coordinates: 00.16.20.7S / 32.01.35.0E)
Day 12, 13, 14: Sesse Islands
Enjoy the real African lifestyle – without running water, without electricity, but with people, having big hearts. (Coordinates near Kingfisher camping spot: 00.13.28.9S / 32.11.02.1E)
Day 15: Sesse Islands – Masaka – Kampala (160 km)
Due to the fact that the ferry directly to Kampala was broken, we needed to drive again to Masaka. From there we headed up to Entebbe, stopping at the crocodile farm (Coordinates near the farm: 00.00.41.6S / 32.05.50.2E) and in a local production shop for traditional drums. (You will notice the drums from the rod)
End you Uganda adventure at Entebbe International Airport and return the rented car. (Coordinates: 00.02.40.6N / 22.214.171.124E)
Uganda is a true pearl of Africa and the best thing about it is that you can explore it driving yourself, giving you all the needed freedom. A self-drive travel around Uganda is adventurous, but completely safe. We had a blast here and we would do it again in a heart bit!