3 Major Transport Means to Access Uganda Parks

Depending on the long-distance involved to access Uganda’s national parks, many travelers would love to know the top means of transport to use. The pearl of Africa has ten national parks, about 13 wildlife reserves, and numerous cultural and historical sites for tourism. However, most of these tourist sites are far from Kampala and Entebbe, the two starting bases for almost every tour in Uganda.

The nearest national park to access from Kampala or Entebbe is Lake Mburo National Park which is situated about 235 kilometers west of the two cities. It takes about 4 hours and a half by road travel for tourists to reach it.

Nonetheless, the long-distance involved to reach Uganda’s national parks is never a problem for tourists because of the great development of the transport system in the country. Uganda has a good road network, all highways leading to the remote areas where the parks are found are asphalt. For those who have limited time on their safari or need convenience and comfort, numerous airstrips are strategically established in the towns or areas close to the national parks.

Due to the remoteness of Uganda’s national parks, many tourists request the most convenient means of transport to reach them. Based on tourism statistics in Uganda, there are three means of transport frequently used by tourists to travel to the various tourist destinations in the country.

Car rental

Car hire is the most popular mode of transport used by tourists visiting national parks in Uganda. Car hire services are regarded as cost-effective, safe, convenient, and relatively fast and the aforementioned attributes are what the tourists look for when choosing a means of transport to tour around. Car rental in Uganda comes with two options which include hiring a car with a driver and self drive. Car hire with a driver is the option used for classic Uganda conducted by tour companies.  The drivers hired are seasoned tour guides who have vast experience and information about the road routes, the locations of the parks, and the wildlife within them. The drivers are the custodians of the safari trip, they assist the tourists with lodge check-in, navigating and driving to the tourist destinations and tour guiding on game drives, and other activities.

Self drive is the new trend in the country. Travelers have become brave enough and are driving themselves to tourist places. All they do now is rent a car from a reputable company and take on the mantle of being their own driver guides around Uganda.  Self drive in Uganda provides the freedom and independence to be in control of your itinerary. Though self-guided tours are adventurous and fun, travelers are cautioned to be vigilant and careful. They need to follow tips like not driving at night, adhering to the traffic rules, and traveling to only safe places.

Public means

The public means are available leading to the towns close to the national parks.  The public means are in form of buses and taxis (passenger vans).  The buses which are usually 60-seat vehicles are the main means of transport in Uganda for long-distance travel. The Matatu or vans are used for short-distance travel but a few take long routes as far as Mbale, Fort Portal, Mbarara, and Gulu.

If you wish to use public means to access Uganda’s national park, buses are recommended because they are safer and cheaper than taxis.  You don’t have to worry about how and where to book the bus services. You have to simply visit their stations in Kampala. Various routes have varied stations situated in different areas in the city center.  Note: some bus routes have scheduled times while others have frequent commutations, as soon as one bus leaves the other is ready for boarding.

To get to the station, you can ask locals around the city center by informing them of the route you wish to take and you will be directed to the station. Or take a boda boda, the riders are more or less city tour guides, they know each and each corner of the city, they simply lead to the bus station.

The public means normally drop travelers to the nearby towns to the national parks and then take a boda boda or a local special hire to access the park premises. For instance, if you wish to go to Murchison falls national park, you will board a bus to Masindi town. Upon reaching Masindi, you will get a special hire (normally an old saloon car driven by a freelance driver) which will take you to the park premises.

Chartered/scheduled flights

For travelers who have limited time on their safari and are of affluent background, chartered flights to the airstrips within or close to the game parks are available from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip in Wakiso district.

The recommended airstrips within or close to the national parks include Pakuba/Chobe Airstrips for Murchison falls national park, Mbarara Airstrip for Lake Mburo national park, Apoka Airstrip for Kidepo National Park, Mweya/Kasese/kihihi for Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kisoro/Kihihi airstrips for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.  When tourists arrive at the airstrips, ground transport arranged by their tour operators is always present to transfer them to their actual destination which is normally the lodge.

The charter flights to Uganda’s National parks are managed and operated by Aero Link. A tourist can directly contact them or indirectly reach out to them through the local tour operator to book a flight. AeroLink own a fleet of light airplanes with a carrying capacity of five people that fly to Uganda parks.

Tourists are advised to plan their travel considering the daily schedule time for the flights and booking of the flight must be done in advance, especially in the high season of travel in Uganda.

The above 3 explained means of transport are the most frequently used by tourists to travel to the game parks. However, car hire and charter flights are more convenient and recommended.

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