Where can I see the Big Five in Uganda?

The best places to see the big five animals while on a Uganda safari. Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.  During the 16th century, the hunters in Africa usually went hunting in the surrounding areas of their places of residence. During the hunting, the difficult animals to hunt usually were termed the big five animals. Hunters who used to hunt down this wildlife were given a trophy. These big five include lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes.

Big Five in Uganda

Why are they called the big five animals in Uganda?

The big five animals are called so because they cannot be easily hunted down by man. Back in the day when man used to rely more on hunting for food, it was always difficult hunting any of these animals down. The big five animals play a big role in the environment of wildlife and some of these roles include;


These are big mammals living within the African wilderness. Specifically, the elephants are called the Loxodonta Africana. The elephants usually become aggressive when they interfere with the young ones. Elephants play a great role in the ecosystem of the wildlife in the park.  For instance, elephants help in rock disintegration and make weathering easier. More so, elephants help in the dispersion of seeds from one area to another. Lastly, they provide food to the other wildlife like the giant beetles which feed on their dung.


These giant cats are also one of the big five and are scientifically called the Panthera Leo. Lions as the big five animals play an important role in the ecosystem. For example, lions help in the food chain where when they hunt, small carnivores usually feed on Additionally, lions also help in balancing the population of wildlife in the ecosystem of the herbivores. By feeding on the grazers, they help keep the numbers balanced as the game of ecosystems usually does.


Part of the cat family usually lives in isolated places like tree branches and other areas of the park. Leopards also play the same role as lions in the ecosystem. Leopards have a long tail and run about 58 kilometers per hour. It is called a Panthera pardus scientifically. Like lions, leopards play a vital role in regulating the animal population in the wilderness. This is done by eliminating the weak and allowing the strong ones to survive.


The rhinos in Uganda are classified as white and black rhinoceros which are of large herbivores. These rhino species are classified as endangered and threatened creatures. The rhino’s hunting is more highly praised than any other big five. This is one of the reasons why they are on the verge of extinction. Thanks to organizations like Rhino Fund which have played a big role in seeing these species survive. A visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary will allow you to learn more about the conservation stories of rhinos in Uganda.

African cape Buffaloes

The African cape buffaloes are one of the big five that is not threatened or endangered in the ecosystem. These buffaloes are one of the most dangerous of the Big Five animals that usually attack human beings. The buffaloes are considered to play the same role as the elephants and rhinos in the ecosystem. Buffaloes are majorly herbivorous.

Where to see the Big Five in Uganda?

In Uganda, there are several places where you can see the big five and some of these include;

Ziwa rhino sanctuary

Located in the Nakasongola district in north-western Uganda. This is the home of the rhinos in Uganda and this is one of the areas near Kampala. Rhinos are one of the threatened features and are being conserved in this area to help in the increase in their number.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

UWEC is also the nearest place to the airport and also on the shores of Lake Victoria. The zoo has all the big five animals that are in captivity. Travelers during the safari, will site the big five animals like lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and the rhinos. During the search for the wildlife, other wildlife can be seen in the park.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The most popular park in western Uganda is crossed by the equator. The park is named after the queen of England who visited the park in 1952. The park is home to some of the big five animals like lions, leopards, elephants, and buffaloes. Usually, travelers view the wildlife through game drives, boat cruises, and many others. The big five can be seen in the areas of the Kasenyi Plains, Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsular, Ishasha sectors, and many others.

Murchison Falls National Park

The park is located in north western Uganda which is the most visited park and largest park in Uganda. The park is covered by a savannah type of vegetation. Murchison Falls National Park is home to the big five like elephants, buffaloes, lions, and leopards. This wildlife can be seen in the Pakuba track, Victoria track, shores on the Victoria Nile, honeymoon track, and many others. The big five can be seen through the game drive, boat cruise, cycling, and many others.

Kidepo Valley National Park

The Kidepo Valley National Park is located in northern Uganda and it is among the less visited national parks in Uganda due to its distance. The park is made up of the Narus and Kidepo Valley. The park is home to buffaloes, lions, and elephants which are one of the five animals that are encountered in the park.

Lake Mburo National Park

The smallest savannah park which is near Kampala about 4 hours from the park. The park is located in western Uganda. The park has several wildlife including the big five animals like leopards and buffaloes. These big five can be seen through the game drive and boat cruise.

Threats facing the big five in Uganda

The big five animals are facing several threats and some of these include;

  • Poaching by human beings for their body parts like ivory, skins, and many others.
  • Land encroachment by human beings to get land for farming, settlement, and many others.
  • Habitat loss like deforestation, bush burning, and many others.
  • Harsh weather conditions like drought
  • Epidemic diseases like Anthrax, rabies, and many others.
  • Wildlife fights amongst them like elephants and lions, lions and buffaloes
What other activities can I do when you are in Uganda to see the Big Five animals?

While on a Uganda safari to see the Big Five animals, there are other activities that the travelers can engage in and these activities include;

Chimpanzee trekking

This is the most popular activity which is done to see one of the large primates in the different gazette areas in Uganda. The activity usually lasts for 4 to 6 hours of the day and they are considered to be endemic primates. In Uganda, the chimpanzee can be seen in the Kibale National Park, Ngamba Island, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, and many others.

Gorilla trekking

Uganda is home to over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. These are also one of the endangered creatures and they usually live in families. The gorilla trekking is done within the Mgahinga gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable national parks. The activity lasts for 2 to 7 hours of the day. The activity requires a traveler to have a gorilla trekking permit which costs about 800 for foreign non-residents,700 dollars for foreign residents, 500 dollars for the rest of Africa, and also 300000 Uganda shillings for the East African community.

What are the ideal safaris to see the big five animals in Uganda?

While planning where you can see the big five in Uganda, the ideal safaris you can engage in include;

As you plan to see the big five animals in Uganda, travelers are recommended to plan accordingly and book in advance.

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