Ajai Wildlife Reserve

Ajai Wildlife Reserve is located in northeastern Uganda in the west Nile region – Arua district. The reserve was first gazette in 1962 as a white rhino sanctuary and 1965 as a game reserve. The name of the reserve originated from a chief in the west Nile called Chief Ajai. He controlled the reserve in the 1930s until it was taken over in 1962 as a white rhino sanctuary. By that time, the reserve had over 60 to 80 white rhinos, which were hunted down by the poachers for the horns. In 1962, the anti-poaching project from world wildlife was fighting this poaching but it did not stop until the rhinos went into extinction.

In 2002, the government of Uganda had to cut off 12 kilometers of the total land of the reserve for human settlement leaving the reserve with 148 square kilometers. This affected the reserve tremendously. In 2008, the reserve was privatized to an organization. This organization only offers sport hunting and photography. There are fewer tourism activities in the reserve since the reserve is being conserved for future generations. Ajai Wildlife Reserve is made of swampy vegetation type, with a lot of the river deposits from the river Nile with its tributaries that is to say the Ala and Acha. More so, in the reserve, there are several swamp islands including the Ajai island formed by river depositions of the Ala River.

Ajai Wildlife Reserve

What to see on your safari to Ajai Wildlife Reserve?

Wildlife species

In 1962, the rhinos were the major wildlife in the reserve but there are some more wildlife species to see in Ajai while on a Uganda safari. Also, the Uganda Wildlife Authority has reintroduced buffaloes and white rhinos. The other wildlife species in the reserve are warthogs, sitatungas, zebras, common duikers, Oribis, Uganda Kobs, and many others. The primate species in the reserve include; vervet monkeys, black and white monkeys, olive baboons, and many others. The reptiles are the crocodiles, pythons, and many others.  

Bird species

The birds are of different types in the reserve but in small numbers. These species include; grey-crowned cranes, Marabou stocks, African fishing eagles, white-backed vultures, helmeted Guinea fowl, black-headed weavers, little bee-eaters, and others. Here birders on their Uganda safari will have the opportunity to enjoy their birding safari within the reserve.

What to do on your safari in Ajai Wildlife Reserve?

Nature walks or safari walks

Travelers on their Uganda safari will have the opportunity to enjoy their safari on foot within the reserve. This safari walk will involve the use of an armed ranger guide while in the reserve. During this safari walk you will be able to spot animals like duikers, Uganda Kobs, buffaloes, rhinos, and many others. This is done in the paved and mapped trails of the reserve. During this nature walk, you are required to put on light clothing, pack enough water, and also have mosquito repellents since the reserve has a quite number of wetlands.  

Game drives

This is one of the major activities that travelers on their Uganda safari would wish to spot wildlife in the reserve in a 4×4 safari van within the trails of the reserve. During this game drive, the travelers will spot wildlife like buffaloes, rhinos, Uganda Kobs and many others where this wildlife spotted will offer a traveler an opportunity to enjoy his safari within the reserve.


The siting of bird species within the reserve is one of the essential key activities within the reserve. Birding in the reserve is one of the amazing opportunities that travelers on their safari will enjoy. This activity involves walking on foot to the reserve to site binoculars and it is recommended to have birding books, binoculars, and many other equipment that will help you to site the bird species in the reserve.

Where to stay?

There are no facilities within the reserve, but travelers on their Uganda safari will tend to choose facilities in Arua City, Gulu, and the Murchison Falls National Park. Also, within the reserve, there are campsites for travelers who would wish to have a night in the reserve through camping or sometimes hire tent facilities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is also recommended for the travelers on their Uganda safaris to always book in advance to ensure availability in these facilities 

What is the best time to visit Ajai Wildlife Reserve?

Ajai Wildlife Reserve is always open throughout the year for travelers on the Uganda safari. However, the best months for travelers to enjoy the reserve are during the dry months of the year. That is to say June to September and December to February. During this time the reserve is so dry and chances of spotting wildlife are high. The reserve is made up of swamps which usually have low volumes of water. The wet season of the year becomes difficult since the reserve will have slippery roads. More so, there will be flooding caused by the high levels of swamp water. However, this could also be the best time for travelers interested in taking on a walking challenge during their safari. Additionally, low seasons come with a reduction in accommodation prices. This makes the low season the best time to visit Ajai, especially for budget travelers.

How to get there? 

The reserve is located in northeastern Uganda where it is about 6 to 7 hours from Kampala. It is recommended to use a 4×4 safari van since the roads are slippery, especially during the wet seasons. Additionally, the other route is via the Murchison Falls National Park. Here, you will use a ferry via the Nile River to the reserve through Para. Furthermore, you can use a direct domestic flight from Entebbe Airport or the Kajansi Airstrip to the Murchison Falls National Park or Arua. Then you will be transferred by road to the reserve.

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