Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has a fascinating backstory. The tourism sector thrived in Uganda in the early twentieth century due to the wide variety of wildlife. The large population of Rhinos running free in Kidepo national park and Murchison Falls National Parks was a major factor for the tourism boom. The Colonial government and Uganda’s first post-independence government maintained strict anti-poaching regulations for white rhinos. Because of insecurity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, everything turned upside down allowing for tremendous poaching that ultimately wiped out wild White Rhinos in Uganda’s National Parks. However, not all was lost.

The Rhino Fund Uganda was established in 2005 and collaborated with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to reintroduce White Rhinos into national parks in the future. To achieve their long-term objective of reintroducing rhinos into the wild in Uganda, it was felt that a sanctuary would be needed to serve as a protected breeding area away from poachers. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary began with six rhinos (2 from Disneyland America and four from neighboring Kenya) surrounded in 70 square kilometers of land and safeguarded by 2m high electric fencing.

The sanctuary is found in Nakasongola District, right before reaching Murchison Falls National Park on the Kampala-Gulu Highway. It now contains 35 white rhinos because to the efforts of highly qualified and dedicated researchers, rangers, and donors. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is one of Uganda’s most significant animal conservation efforts. It is one of the top 20 sites to visit in Uganda on a safari. The Sanctuary is the only area in Uganda where tourists can track and photograph endangered White Rhinos on foot. Uganda is one of the few nations in the world where the Big 5 (lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and buffaloes) can be seen because of the sanctuary.

Why you should go to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Although most visitors to Uganda come to view the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga to go on safari in the other main national parks, more adventurous visitors have recently discovered the treasure that is the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Visiting the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is now a must for those looking to go on a full African adventure in Uganda. There are various additional activities that draw tourists to the sanctuary. They are:

Tracking rhinos:

The sanctuary’s main activity is rhino tracking, which serves as an excellent warm-up before heading to the Murchison Falls National Park for even more exciting activities. The program consists of a 1- to 2-hour guided walk or drive through the sanctuary. When you arrive by car near the Rhinos, the guides will walk you on foot 10 meters close to the Rhinos. You will appreciate seeing these endangered animals feed on fresh plants without being bothered by your presence. International visitors must pay $ 45 to track the rhinos.


Bird watching is another popular activity for visitors to the sanctuary. This full-day adventure includes guided walking, driving, and a boat trip around the four bird trails. You will be able to see some of the 350 different bird species as you go through the marshes, woods, and savanna plains. The majority of them are visitors from the adjacent Murchison Falls National Park, while others are locals. The rare yet highly sought-after Shoebill Stork is the top species to keep an eye out for. African Black Crake, African Darter, African Black Headed Oriole, African Crowned Eagle, African Citril, African Golden Breasted Bunting, Booted Eagle, Broad Billed Roller, Blue Spotted Dove, Bronze Manikini, Brown Backed Srub Robin, African Fish Eagle, Brown Crowned Tchagra, Brown Parrot, Cardinal Woodpecker, Giant Abdim’s Stork, Brown Throated Wattle Eye, Speckled Breast and others.

Nature hikes:

Visitors that walk through the Sanctuary will be rewarded with lovely scenery of lush tropical plants and bushes. The rich variety of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary foreshadows what is to come on your Uganda Safari. The rhinos are the main draw, but the sanctuary also features butterflies, reptiles, primates, and mammals. Ground Squirrels, Bush Duiker, Waterbuck, Oribi, Jacksons hartebeests, Grey Duiker, Mongoose, Reedbuck, and Bush Bucks are among the numerous species that occupy the sanctuary. The sanctuary’s small primates include the common Vervet Monkey and the black and white Colobus Monkey. During your nature walk, keep an eye out for huge lizards, pythons, insects, and a variety of butterfly species.

Night Walks:

The fun at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary does to stop at the end of the day – it can last all night. A guided night stroll in the African wilderness will allow you to discover new noises beneath the wonderful moonlight. Prepare to meet some of the sanctuary’s nocturnal resident creatures, bats, and birds as you travel through the night with trained guides.

Note: International visitors who like to participate in activities apart from rhino tracking, such as nature walks, birding, and night walks, normally pay a flat cost of $30. There are packages available for individuals who want to combine rhino trekking with any of the other activities, the cost goes up to $65. Those who merely want to visit the Sanctuary must pay the entrance fee. The best approach to arrange a visit the sanctuary is to contact your tour company. The tour company will not only pay the charges on your behalf, but will also assist you in arranging transportation and lodging throughout your Uganda safari.

Rules and Guidelines for Rhino Tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, like any other well-organized and respectable organization has defined guidelines that visitors must rigorously follow. Those who actively refuse to follow the regulations face a $100 fine. The Guides have complete ability to terminate any activity if they believe that certain regulations are not being followed: While visiting the sanctuary, visitors should abide by the following rules:

  1. Always follow the instructions given to you by the guides. Please feel free to ask any questions you have about the regulations or the animals.
  2. Report any illegal animal deaths along the road to the Rhino Fund Reception.
  3. Any unguided tour activity is prohibited. This is especially true if it is completed after 17:30 p.m.
  4. Feeding or petting the animals is prohibited for your own and the animals’ safety.
  5. Littering is strictly forbidden in the park. Litter should be disposed of appropriately in the available bins.
  6. Cycling and jogging are not permitted anywhere or at any time within the Sanctuary.
  7. Declare any firearms, GPS, pets, drones, or other items that may raise suspicion at the gate.
  8. No unnecessary noise of any kind is permitted within the sanctuary. Turn off your cell phones or put them on silent mode while you’re with the animals.

Rhino Tracking Packing List

To have a remarkable experience at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, you must plan ahead of time, just like any expedition or wildlife tour. Begin with the necessities such as a valid passport, visa, and yellow fever vaccination card. After you’ve taken care of the necessities, you should proceed with your travel schedule, local cash notes, and a local network sim card. Before traveling to Uganda, try to obtain medical and travel insurance. Tracking rhinos is less difficult than other wildlife activities in Uganda, such as gorilla tracking. The dress code might be simple with a light shirt and dull-colored pants. Pack a cardigan or waterproof rain garment in case it rains unexpectedly. During the dry season, wear basic, comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses, and a hat.

Aside from the previously stated items, consider carrying bug repellent, pain relievers, vitamins, tooth brush, anti-malarial drugs, hand sanitizers, tooth paste, hair shampoo, Vaseline, lip balm, flash lights, and a camera

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Accommodation

The Rhino Fund came up with the idea of a Lodge within the sanctuary to ensure that visitors had all they needed when visiting. They pitched the idea to the Genade family, who were eager to fund a high-quality safari lodge. Thus Amuka lodge was birthed. The lodge is made of wonderfully sculpted wood, natural stones, and canvas finishes. It includes 8 units, including 4 Luxury rooms with private bathrooms and terraces. International and local dishes are available as well as the famous Rolex. Other amenities include a well-stocked bar, a swimming pool, and power (which is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week). 10% of the lodge’s overall earnings are used to finance activities relating to rhino conservation.

Other Wildlife safari destinations in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Luxury Bwindi Gorilla Safari Through Kigali

Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda, arguably one of the oldest “last Edens” on the African continent, offers a tantalizing picture of how the world once was. It is home to some of the most pristine  forests on the African continent. Mountain gorillas, other primates, forest elephants, and scores of various bird species, reptiles, and other 120 mammal species call it home. About half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are heavily protected within this gorgeous “impenetrable” rainforest. The gorillas provide a spectacular backdrop amidst lush emerald green foliage and a kaleidoscope fluttering of birds and butterflies, feeding on healthy roots, leaves, and fruits from the park’s tree and fern species. The Bwindi forest, which dates back 25,000 years, is one of Africa’s most ancient rainforests and is thought to have served as a haven for species during Pleistocene glaciations. Trekking through this lush, rich thicket is a wonderful experience, made even more amazing when you come across these gigantic beauties in silence. This is a breathtakingly humbling event you will never forget.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Tree climbing lions photo By Alex Brackowski

Queen Elizabeth National Park to many is refereed to as the  truly a Medley of Wonders! Situated in South Western Uganda, this Uganda safari park has different  ecosystems made up of vast savanna, tropical rain forests, crater lakes and  wetlands, which makes a suitable home to different wildlife species for example primates and bird life which makes it a hotspot for visitors coming on Uganda Tours and Safaris.

Kazinga National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated against the back drop of the mountains of the moon Rwenzori Mountains, stunning lake Lake George and Lake Edward views and of course signature crater lakes. The many signature crator lakes tend to be in between dramatic green rolling hills.

A visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park will reward you with extraordinary chance to see the Kazinga Channel. Kazinga channel’s is famous for it has one of the highest concentration of hippos but you will see many elephants, buffaloes, crocodiles and many other animals as they come to have a drink or bath in the water normally in the afternoon

Murchison Falls National Park

Lions seen on African Wildlife safari in UgandaMurchison Falls National Park, formerly named as Kabalega National Park after one of the former monarchs of the Bunyoro Kingdom, is Uganda’s largest protected area, covering 3,893 square kilometers. Wildlife in Murchison Falls is under threat as a result of the discovery of oil in the Albertine lift valley, since the government prioritizes oil exploration and extraction over conservation and protection of wildlife.

Murchison Falls, located in Northern Uganda, was designated as a game reserve in 1926 before becoming Uganda’s first national park in 1952. It is home to roughly 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds, including the uncommon shoe bill stork, which can be seen there.

Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee Habituation in UgandaKibale National Park is also recognized as the world’s primate capital. It is home to a variety of wildlife, but it is best known for its 13 species of primates, including chimps. Kibale National Park is located near the peaceful Ndali-Kasenda crater area and is about a half-day drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Rwenzori Mountains, Semiliki National Park, and the Toro-Semiliki National Reserve. All of these parks can be included in your safari package.

The forest’s variable height supports a variety of ecosystems, including woodland, Savannah, wet tropical forest, and semi-deciduous dry tropical forest, giving the park the ability to host creatures from each environment.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the country’s far northeast. The park has a truly wilderness aspect to it and is ideal for the adventurous traveler. During the dry season, it offers superb animal watching, with some species rarely found elsewhere in the country. The park’s mammal list is quite amazing. Twenty predator species live here, including several that are not found in any other Ugandan park (including cheetah and black-backed jackal). Leopard and lion are both common. Elephant, Burchell’s zebra, buffalo, and Rothschild’s giraffe are all common, but black rhino is now extinct. There are twelve antelope species present, some of which are unique to the country.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Virunga National ParkMgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park, at only 33.7km2. It is situated in the southwest of Uganda. The Park encompasses the northern slopes of three Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The park is located about 10 kilometers south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a component of the broader Virunga Conservation Area, which spans three nations. In the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virungas, each of these countries safeguards a piece of the Virungas.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is Uganda’s smallest wildlife park and is conveniently placed a few hours’ drive from Kampala and less than a day’s travel from the southwest of the country (home of the mountain gorillas). Lake Mburo has a diverse animal population, with over 315 bird species and 68 animals (including impala, buffalo, leopards, hyenas, jackals, etc). Lake Mburo is also Uganda’s sole park where you can see zebras. Antelopes, Common Duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bofor, Impalas, Buffalos, Bush pigs, Giraffes, Eland, and Zebras are among the 69 animal species found in the park. Hiking, horseback riding (a safari option exclusively available at Lake Mburo), biking across the rocky difficult terrain, or a day or night wildlife drive are several ways to explore the environment. The beauty of this park’s multitude of ways to experience wildlife is that the adventure is not just in what you see, but also in how you see it.

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