A lot of tourists who visit Uganda usually desire to visit at least one of the numerous game parks in the country, mostly to get a glimpse of Africa's big five. The African big five are the lion, buffalo, white rhino, elephant and leopard. Although most people fear they will miss seeing the animals while they drive, the thrill of driving one’s self in a game park teeming with wildlife is unparalleled. Uganda is one of the countries you can freely rent a car to drive yourself within and around the country wwhich includes inside the game parks with abundant wildlife. Game parks and wild life reserves however, are not conventional places to self drive through and hence demand caution and special protocol to be followed, especially if you are to see and observe the wildlife. Below are some tips and pointers you will find helpful when self driving through wildlife.
Time of the-day
Different animals are active at different times of the day so it is useful to know what animals you want to see and what time they are most active. Some animals like lions hunt in the night time so it is advisable to wake up at dawn if you're to catch sight of them finalizing their hunt. Night time game drives are recommended because animals such as hippos, leopards are active then. Afternoon game drives provide incredible opportunity to see and photograph animals such as elephants and giraffes.
Drive slow and be-alert
If you are on holiday and casually on safari in Uganda, drive slow to get the most out of your time in the park. Not only will the animals be less intimidated to run away if you drive slow, but also your chances of spotting wildlife is increased. As much as you are driving slow, you should also stay alert to increase your chances of seeing any movements because the wildlife in the park has evolved to camouflage in its habitat making it harder to spot them.
Carry a decent pair of binoculars
Savanna grass with scattered trees is the most dominant vegetation covering the panoramic plains of Uganda's game parks and reserves. The topography and open space in the game parks accommodates and favors the use of binoculars to comfortably see wildlife which is far away without having to drive further and aimlessly. The most suitable binoculars for seeing game in the parks are 7×35, 8×32 and10×42.
Switch off your lights and engine
If you happen to see an animal or a herd and do manage to get closer without startling it, switch off your engine and radio. Mechanical sounds for example engine revs and radi
tend to attract the animals attention if not scare them. Scared animals usually feel threatened and can attack you to defend themselves so its advisable to switch off your engine while you’re at a sighting and preferably use your binoculars instead of driving closer to the animals. Nocturnal animals are adapted to see excellently at night time and flashing lights at them can be distracting and scare them away.
Try the watering hole
In case you have had a not-so-successful self drive through the park, you can always go to the watering hole and wait for the animals there. In the dry season, most of the animals share water sources and it is at this location that you not only see the animals but also get to witness how the different species in the parks relate to each other. The watering hole also provides opportunity for some excellent photography.
It is barely possible to exhaustively enjoy all that Ugandan national game parks have to offer within a day of self driving. One way you can even be more thrilled is if you set up a bush camp with a bonfire. As much as you can camp in the game park, you have to use your own camping gear. Nevertheless, if you did not carry camping gear you could simply rent a car with fantastic camping gear to use while on your safari. This way, you can sit around a bonfire with friends or family listening to the sounds of nature while enjoying the ambiance of the game park. Once you've made the choice to camp in the game park, be advised to carry enough food and drinks although you shouldn't leave any leftovers outside your camp as they could attract scavenger animals.