DRIVING IN UGANDA’S NATIONAL PARKS
Taking a 4×4 Self-drive Uganda trip is one of the ways that have come up to explore Uganda. It is so possible to do because Uganda is a peaceful country with hospitable and friendly people. The most commonly visited places in Uganda are the national parks where there are Savannah and forest national parks. Game drives are only done in the Savannah parks where you drive through the trails in the park where you will expect to spot various animals and birds that live within a particular park.
When driving without a guide, below are some things you should know when driving in Uganda’s national parks;
Choose the right vehicle
The right vehicle will easily move on park gravel roads and soar through the bumps. Any car size can move through Ugandan parks but a slightly larger one will make you feel more confident and comfortable when driving past wildlife.
Have a good pair of binoculars
A decent pair of binoculars can make or break a sighting. You can as well use them to take photos and videos in case your phone has a weak zooming lens.
Wake up so early
Get up at the crack of dawn and be the first car out into the game park. Most animals, especially predators, are more active at dusk and dawn. This will give you a chance to sight many animals.
Driving slowly will make it easier for you to spot many animals and these animals are less likely to run away. It will as well reduce the chances of causing accidents. There is a huge fine in case you knock an animal, and this might tamper with your budget and your whole Uganda safari experience. Choosing to drive slowly would be a great idea.
While in the park, you will need to turn off your radio, roll the windows down and then pay attention to all the voices in the wild. If you hear the birds’ or other animals’ alarm call, there’s a good chance that there’s a predator in the area. You might even hear the elephant trumpeting around the corner.
Watch the herbivores
A herd of impala, wildebeest or a giraffe all staring intently in one direction means one thing – there is a predator. Sit tight and scan where they are looking with a pair of binoculars and see if you too can spot the danger.
Turn off your lights and engine in a sighting
Lights and vehicle noise can disturb animals, causing them to move away. It may be the middle of the day and forty degrees Celsius outside but if you sacrifice your air-con for a little bit you won’t regret it.
Respect the animals
All animals have the right of way. Therefore, when they are crossing from one side to another, patiently wait for them to pass. Remember, larger animals like elephants can be unpredictable and dangerous. During your self-drive, learn how to approach them. If you respect the animals, they will certainly respect you.
Don’t ever drive off the road towards an animal because you can’t see it properly. You will disturb it and damage vegetation. Instead, be patient and use a pair of binoculars.
Talk to other people
Exchanging information with other travellers at the lodge or camp in a specific national park is often very helpful because it will help you find out the sightings they’ve had. As you drive through the park you can still talk to other drivers because if they came across certain animals, they will direct you on what trail to take and find them (more especially lions or leopards). If you found them first, you can as well guide the others.
It’s a good idea to have some snacks and water with you when on a game drive such that in case you land in a good spot where you want to stay a little longer, you won’t starve. They will sustain you till you get back to your lodge or camp. Just make sure you keep all the rubbish in the car to avoid littering the park.