Introduction to Ziwa Rhino Reserve
Uganda's wild rhinos became extinct in the early 1980s after human encroachment, poaching and conflict wiped them out.
However, 20 years later, in 2005, six rhinos were reintroduced to Uganda at Ziwa Rhino Reserve, a 70-sq-km private non-profit sanctuary set up with the long term goal of getting the rhino back into the Murchison Falls National Park.
There are now 22 southern white rhinos, including nine baby rhinos, the first in almost 30 years.
Located half-way between Kampala and Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa is a worthwhile overnight stay if you wish to see all the Big Five, but also works as a stop-off en route to Murchison.
What to Expect
Ziwa Rhino sanctuary allows you to experience the majesty of these creatures up-close with a rhino trek, where an experienced ranger will lead you on foot to see them at a safe distance (6-7 meters away).
Ziwa is also home to almost 40 other mammal species, including crocodiles, hippos, leopards, oribis, bushbuck, and approximately 300 species of bird, which can be observed with a game drive, canoe trip or night walk.
Things to Do
Free to roam across the savannah, acacia woodlands and cool muddy swamps, Uganda's only rhinos spend their day grazing on the thick shrubbery or resting under the shade of tall trees.
An experienced and knowledgable ranger will guide you to them, and educate you on their habits and behaviours in their natural habitat.
You will be positioned a safe six to seven meters away, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities.
Depending on their location in the park, you may need to drive to where they are, and then trek the remaining distance on foot.
Although you can choose to do a rhino trek at any time of the day, the best time to go is between 8 am and 10 am and 4 pm and 6 pm. Make sure you wear comfortable closed shoes, long trousers, and bring plenty of water.
Shoebill Stork and Canoe ride
At first glance, shoebill stalks have a goofy charm due to their Dutch Clog-esque foot-long bill.
Despite first impressions, this stork is an unassuming predator known to feast on baby crocodiles, big fish like tilapia and Nile monitor lizards.
Head out on an early morning canoe ride in the adjacent swamp, to see this prehistoric looking bird and enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the Lugogo Swamp.
Ziwa is one of the few places in Uganda where you are almost guaranteed to see this endangered bird.
Alongside rhino trekking, Ziwa Rhino Reserve also offers a number of other walks.
For those keen on birdwatching, there are four different trails to choose from which take you across the savannah, woodlands or swamps, each a habitat to the various species of bird that live here.
The best time to go birding is in the early morning between 6 am and 8 am or the early evening between 4 pm and 6 pm
Ziwa is home to many nocturnal animals and the best way to catch a glimpse of them is with a night walk between 8 pm and 11 pm.
During these nature walks you will be accompanied by a ranger, who will ensure your safety and are also knowledgeable about the flora and fauna present in the sanctuary.
Nature walks often take between one and three hours and can be quite physically demanding. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, long trousers, insect repellent, a torch and bottled water.
Where to stay
Ziwa Rhino Reserve
Situated near the headquarters of the reserve, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary offers a wonderful location with beautiful surroundings. They pride themselves on creating a tranquil atmosphere for their guests to unwind.
They have a range of different accommodations to suit every budget, guests can choose from large family bandas, smaller bandas with shared facilities or staying in a tent.
The on-site restaurant serves a great selection of food, both international and local dishes and has a fully stocked bar.
Amuka Safari Lodge
Nestled in a small woodland in the heart of the reserve, Amuka Safari lodge offers its guests the luxury experience.
From secluded unfenced chalets, named after the rhinos in the park, to a fantastic restaurant serving safari cuisine, a swimming pool, and exquisite views, staying here will guarantee the serenity feeling that only the African Savannah can provide.
When To Go
The best time to visit is during the dry season which takes place from December to February, and then late June to October.
This is the best time for general wildlife viewing, as the animals will be drawn to watering holes, making them easier to find.
In the dry season, there is a smaller chance for rain to spoil your planned activities, and with most of the activities at Ziwa Rhino Reserve being outside, this is an important consideration.
However, in the wetter months from September to November and March to May, the reserve is beautifully green and is a great time for birdwatching.
How To Get There
It is a 3-hour drive (176 km/100mi) from Kampala to Ziwa Rhino Reserve.
It is conveniently located in Nakitoma on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls, and makes the perfect stopover, either to or from the national park.
Our Most Popular Trips
The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.
Combine chimp trekking in Kibale Forest with mountain gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A well-paced highlights tour unlocking some of Uganda's most impressive experiences. Consider breaking up the journey from Kibale to Bwindi with a classic safari at…
- 7 Days
Combine gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with beautiful lakeside retreats at Lake Mutanda. Tough treks and primate encounters paired with idyllic, calming lakes and oases make for an unforgettable experience in this remote pocket of Uganda.…
- 6 Days
Light adventuring and charming safaris in Lake Mburo National Park coupled with lakeside retreats and days of reflection and exploration around Lake Mutanda. Close out the trip with a few days canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking and more in Jinja, Uganda's…
- 12 Days
Board a Cessna light aircraft and head into the southwestern pocket of Uganda. Trek through the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in search of the mountain gorillas. Retreat to luxury lodges for sundowners and delicious food. Hard days, soft…
- 4 Days
Beautiful landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a undercurrent of the wild vastness of central Africa that lies just beyond the borders, the north of Uganda beckons adventurers who dream of exploring the frontiers. It's proper adventuring, but luxury lodges mean you…
- 9 Days
Discover the exceptional bio-diversity of Uganda by combining the beautiful savannah grasslands of Murchison Falls National Park with chimpanzee trekking in the forests of Kibale National Park. Connect the dots with epic road trips looping through northwestern Uganda.…
- 7 Days
Trek the Rwenzori Mountains where forests morph into ice-clad mountain peaks, cut through jungle thickets to hang out with mountain gorillas, and finish your trip relaxing lakeside amongst the staggering beauty of Lake Mutanda. This is Uganda.…
- 15 Days
Open top road trips looping through Uganda's epic southwestern pocket; this is the safari adventure of your imagination. Track chimpanzees in Kibale Forest, go in search of gorillas in Bwindi, cruise the savannah plains of Queens, and look out for…
- 14 Days
The quintessence of Ugandan exploration. Start your adventure in the wild Kidepo Valley in the northern tip of Uganda before weaving down to meet the gorillas in southwestern jungles. Epic landscapes, incredible safaris, and luxury lodges; this is a proper…
- 20 Days
Travel to the farthest corners of Uganda where towering volcanoes mark the border between the thick jungles of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the untamed vastness of central Africa. After trekking the gorillas in Mgahinga, head inland for a couple…
- 6 Days
Ready to explore Uganda?
We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.
Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.
We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.