Katonga Wildlife Reserve

Katonga Wildlife Reserve is located in western Uganda near the river Katonga. The reserve was mainly started to handle the migrating animals to Sudan and Tanzania. The reserve was started up in 1964 to serve as a migrating corridor for wildlife. It became a wildlife reserve in 1996 when the Uganda National Parks and Game Departments joined together to form the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The reserve sits on about 207 square kilometer area. It spans the districts of Kamwenge, kyenjojo, and Ibanda. It is also part of the Kibale Conservation Area.

Additionally, Katonga Wildlife Reserve has no roads but can be accessed by canoes and nature walks since there is no access to the safari vehicles. The reserve had a lot of wildlife in the 1960s. However, due to the commercial and subsistence poaching in 1971 and 1985, the reserve lost most of its wildlife. Also, there was increased encroachment of the land by the cultivators and cattle keepers. In 2014 the encroachers were evicted by the government. The reserve is also made up of the savannah and acacia types of vegetation. It is mixed with wood grasslands and riverine wood grasslands. In the reserve, there are also several permanent and seasonal swamps. 

What to see in Katonga Wildlife Reserve?

Katonga Wildlife Reserve
Katonga Wildlife Reserve

Bird species

The reserve is home to over 150 bird species. These offer an opportunity for the travelers on their Uganda safari to do their birding safari within the reserve. The bird species in the reserve include; the kingfishers and the stork which live within the forests, wetlands, and forests. This makes it a birders haven for travelers on their Uganda safari.


 The wildlife in this reserve is similar to that in the other conservation area and the reserve is home to the primate species and mammals. The mammal species in the reserve include elephants, water bucks, elands, reedbucks, bush backs, and many others. The primate species in this reserve live within the forests including the reserve include the colobus monkeys, the river otter, olive baboons, and many others. The wildlife in this reserve makes it to be a good destination for travelers on their Uganda safari to enjoy their safari.

 What to do in Katonga Wildlife Reserve?

Nature walks

The guided nature walks are usually done in the trails of the reserve. A traveler on a Uganda safari will choose any of these tails to encounter the wildlife. These trails include; wetland canal trail, Sitatunga Trail, Kyeibale Trail, and the kisarara trail. The Wetland Canal Trail is a 2 km trail that allows you to explore the reserve in a boat canoe with a guided ranger from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

In this reserve, you can spot wetland mammals like otters and bird species. The Kyeibale trail is within the reserve that is in the scrub lands of this circular trek passing through the rocks and caves that are usually where you can see the animals under these shelters. Sitatunga trail offers a spot to see the mammals and bird species on the shorelines of the river Katonga. Also, the nature walk in the reserve can be done at night unless it has not rained.


The canoeing is done in the reserve and offers the opportunity to see the wildlife of the reserve and this activity is done on the river Katonga on the shallow channel of the river surrounded by the papyrus type of vegetation. This activity will offer you the opportunity to see wildlife like elephants, otters, and many others.

Where to stay?

The accommodation facilities in this reserve are not there but camping is optional. The other major accommodation Katonga View Hotel and Lodge. It is 2 kilometers away from the Katonga Wildlife Reserve headquarters through the Kabogore route.

How to access the Reserve?  

The reserve can be accessed through the Kampala – Mubende – Kyegwega highway which is about a three-hour Kyegegwa drive. The road connecting to the reserve from Kyegwega is about 41 kilometres on a dusty road which is so muddy and sticky in the wet season.

What is the best time to visit Katonga Wildlife Reserve?

Katonga Wildlife is usually open throughout the year for tourists to visit and enjoy the activities there. And it is better to visit the reserve in the dry season in June to September, December to January since in these months you can easily see the wildlife. In the wet season, you are unable to see the attractions with the reserve since the vegetation cover is thick and the water levels are high.

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