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Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda | Uganda Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda is conveniently located about 100 miles north of Kampala on the Gulu highway toward Murchison falls park.

It is the only place to see Rhinos in the wild during your Uganda wildlife safaris. In fact, a traveler who is interested in seeing all the big 5 safari animals on Uganda safaris should visit the Uganda Rhino sanctuary.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a not-for-profit project established to revive the population of the endangered White Rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino species previously roamed free in the savannah plains of Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo National Park.

However, following the intense civil wars and poaching that happened in the 1990s, they depleted the species. And, today, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to 32 southern White Rhinos and has become famous for Rhino trekking.

Brief History Of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda

Uganda had both the Black Rhinos and Northern White Rhinos in its national parks of Murchison falls and Kidepo National Park. However, due to the prolonged civil wars in 1970s, poaching for ivory and mismanagement of their natural habitat led to the wiping out of the Rhinos by 1982.

Ziwa Ranch was first a cattle farm in 1983 that introduced exotic cattle in Uganda. It was a private farm owned by Captain Roy and his family.

In 2002, after lengthy discussions with Rhino Fund’s Executive Director, Yvonne Verkakik decisions were made to relocate 7,000 herds of cattle to establish a Rhino sanctuary.

After a lot of fundraising, the land was fenced to prevent intruders and create enough security for the project. Finally, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda was established in 2005 to re-introduce Southern White Rhinos in Uganda.

The project started with 6 Rhinos 4 of which were bought from Solio Ranch in Kenya and 2 were donated from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the USA. In 2013, the Rhino population had grown to 13 individuals.

Today, the number has increased to 32 Rhinos Southern White Rhinos. The Rhino sanctuary is 70 km2 surrounded by a 2-meter electric fence to secure Rhinos from intruders. It has 112 rangers who are on a full guard of the Rhinos.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary works hand in hand with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Rhino Fund of Uganda to conserve the Rhinos.

Attractions In Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary | What To See

Attractions in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda are gorgeous making the sanctuary a perfect destination for wildlife safaris in Uganda. The main prize is are the Rhinos. However, the Rhino Sanctuary is home to at least 40 mammal species including;

  • Monkeys,
  • Antelope species
  • Hippos, and
  • Crocodiles

There is a 10-kilometer swamp known as Lugogo wetland where the rare Shoebill is a resident along with other water-associated birds.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has over 350 bird species like

  • White Crested Turaco,
  • Great Blue Turaco,
  • Giant Kingfisher,
  • Palm-nut Vultures,
  • Barbets,
  • Woodpecker species

Safari Activities At Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda | What To Do

Usually, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda is a prominent stopover for those going for Uganda safaris in Murchison Falls National Park. However, this amazing place has wonderful Uganda safari activities one can always engage in during their visit.

Activities done in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary include;

  1. Rhino trekking,
  2. Shoebill trek and canoe rides
  3. Birdwatching
  4. Nature walks

Rhino Trekking

Rhinos are the second largest land animals after the African Elephant. Trekking the Southern White Rhinos in their natural habitat is extraordinary and a lifetime experience.

The endangered Rhinos move freely in the 7,000 hectares of land feeding on grasses. Rhino trekking is done at any time of the day though the recommended time is between 8-10 am or 4-8 pm.

Each session lasts between 1½ to 2½ hours depending on where you spot the Rhinos. You can first drive into the area in search of the species, and when spotted you can step out of the vehicle for up-close views.

However, you are escorted by armed rangers for safety and guidance. Those with no vehicles can always hire cars with a driver from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary reception.

Furthermore, it is advised to wear closed shoes, long pants and carry water and insect repellent.

Rhino Trekking Fees/Cost

Visitor categoryFees(per person)
Foreign non-residentUS$ 30
Foreign residentUS$ 20
East African citizenUGX 20,000

Please Note; the Rhino trekking fees listed above exclude entrance fees which are $20.

  1. Shoebill Trek And Canoe Ride

The Shoebill is one of the sought-after bird for everyone to see when birding in Uganda. And, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is one of the best places where the sighting of the Shoebill is guaranteed.

Records of Rhino Sanctuary have proved that 11 individuals were spotted in 1 trip within the swamps. Anyone who is on Uganda birding tours shouldn’t miss this golden opportunity of seeing the Shoebill.

Visitors set out on a canoe early morning at 6:00 am in search of the Shoebill along the 10 km stretch in Lugogo swamp. This epic encounter can last for approximately 4 hours enjoying the sunrise on the canoe along the nature swamp.

Since the spectacular activity is done in the morning, it is advised to spend the night in the sanctuary since no one is allowed to access it before 7:30 am.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Shoebill Trek Fees/Cost

Visitor categoryFees(per person)
Foreign non-residentUS$ 25
Foreign residentUS$ 20
East African citizenUGX 20,000

Note that the mentioned rate is not inclusive Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary entry fees.

  1. Bird Watching

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has over 350 Uganda birds those on Uganda bird watching safaris can enjoy. The Rhino sanctuary has four birding trails that cover woodlands, swamps, and savannahs.

And, during bird watching in the sanctuary, you can as well see other game like Antelope species and Warthogs. Visitors can observe birds here at any time of the day though the best times are in the morning (7-9 am) and evening (4-6 pm).

The wonderful activity usually lasts for 2 hours. They may seem short though are worth it. However, to enjoy the experience of seeing birds more, one has to spend more than 1 night in Rhino Sanctuary.

These are some of the birds spotted in the Rhino Sanctuary;

  • Shoebill
  • Grey-crowned Cranes
  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
  • Pel’s Fishing Owl
  • Hammer Kop
  • African Fishing Eagle
  • Giant King Fisher

And many spectacular bird species

  1. Nature Walks

Nature walks in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda are among the notable wildlife safari activities in the area one on a Uganda safari holiday can enjoy. The guided nature walks in this sanctuary will see you off in search of Uganda wildlife and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Visitors can always go for nature walks at any time of the day though the best and recommended time is in the morning and evening. More also, you are escorted by armed rangers during the nature walks to offer you protection and guidance.

You can follow the four walking trails in the sanctuary passing in savannah and woodland vegetation giving you natural wonders. If lucky, you can spot primates like Monkey species, Rhinos, animals, and bird species.

The nature walks in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary usually last for 2 hours leaving you mesmerized by the beautiful landscape of the small area.

Nature Walks In Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Fees/Cost

Visitor categoryFees(per person)
Foreign non-residentUS$ 20
Foreign residentUS$ 20
East African citizenUGX 20,000

Please note that all prices listed exclude Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary entry fees which is $20.

What Is The Best Time To Visit The Rhino Sanctuary?

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is open to visitors all year long though the best time to visit the sanctuary is in the dry season. The dry season is epic as it gives you successful experiences, especially during activities when on your Uganda tours.

Since all the tracks in the Uganda Rhino Sanctuary are marram, they are dry in the dry season leading to easy accessibility. It is also easy to spot birds especially the rare Shoebill since the water levels in the swamp are low favoring the residence of the bird.

The dry season in Uganda is from December to February and from June to August. Usually, this is as well the peak season of tourism in the country.

In the wet months, it may rain heavily during safari activity time causing delays or missing the activities. However, nature lovers who are interested in scenery viewing should visit in the wet months as new green grasses will be growing again.

Visitors especially birders should put in mind that the sanctuary receives migrant birds from November to April.

Why Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda? | What is Unique At The Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Uganda should be on every tourist’s itinerary on safaris to Uganda especially those visiting Murchison Falls National Park. It is the only place in Uganda to see Rhinos making your African safari memorable as you get to see all the big 5.

It is one of the best places for spotting the prehistoric-looking Shoebill. A canoe ride in the Lugogo swamp is the best way of seeing the Shoebill when in the Uganda Rhino Sanctuary.

And, there are other birds to see in the sanctuary as has over 350 Uganda birds making it a paradise for bird lovers.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has other wild animals as it has over 40 mammal species including Antelope species, Warthogs, and Crocodiles. For sure, every visitor on Uganda tours in Uganda should visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary as it has got it all in one place.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Accommodation | Where To Stay?

Visitors visiting Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary don’t have to worry on where to stay as the Rhino sanctuary has got fine accommodation.

Accommodation in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary fits every travelers’ budget as there is a luxury lodge, mid-range guesthouse and a campsite. Accommodation in the sanctuary includes Amuka safari lodge and Ziwa Rhino Campsite, BackPackers and Lodge.

  1. Amuka Safari Lodge

Amuka Safari Lodge is a luxury lodge nestled in pristine woodlands in the heart of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This wonderful lodge brings you breathtaking encounters of Uganda’s only Rhinos as well as birds and other wildlife.

The Lodge offers comfortable and affordable accommodation not expected elsewhere in the African wilderness. Its accommodation is offered in unfenced chalets that make the most of the bush environment.

Amuka safari Lodge has an escapist feel of seclusion and when you are there, it is like nothing else exists in the world.

Rooms at Amuka Safari Lodge

Amuka Safari Lodge currently has 10 units and among these are 4 family chalets having 3 beds perfect for families.

The other are 6 standard chalets each with one bedroom and bathroom. Each chalet is named after one of the Rhinos and are constructed from hardwood timber and stone.

Chalet facilities at Amuka Safari Lodge

  • All chalets are complete with, personal verandas can where visitors can lounge.
  • They have chairs where visitors can sit and take in the serenity of the surroundings.
  • All chalets are tucked into the woodlands which provide complete privacy.
  • They have en-suite bathrooms with private toilets and showers.
  • It has double comfortable beds with clean linen and clear views to the surrounding area.

Other facilities at Amuka Safari Lodge

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Swimming pool
  • Kid’s play area
  • Free Wi-Fi
  1. Ziwa Rhino Campsite, BackPackers and Lodge

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary offers budget and mid-range accommodation to visitors. The budget accommodation is offered at a campsite which is like the compound of the sanctuary.

Visitors who camp at the campsite pay $20.

The midrange accommodation at the sanctuary is divided in two guesthouses.

Guest House One

This guesthouse is comfortable and nice to spend a night in and has the following rooms.

  1. Room Obama En-suite with Veranda (Single and Double occupancy)
  2. Room Malaika (Single and Twin occupancy)
  3. Room Sonic and Nguzo En-suite Room (Single and Double occupancy)
  4. Augustu (Family Room) (Max occupancy 4 pax + 1 child)

Guest House Two

Guesthouse two has 4 rooms all with special names and these are;

  1. Room No. 1 Bella
  2. Room No. 2 Kori
  3. Room No. 3 Umoja, and
  4. En-suite Dorm Room

Room facilities at the guesthouse

  • En-suite bathrooms with toilets and showers
  • Comfortable double beds with mosquito nets
  • Inside working table
  • Lounge
  • Private verandas

Other facilities at the Ziwa Rhino Campsite, BackPackers and Lodge

  • Restaurant
  • Bar

What To Wear When Visiting Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

When visiting Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, you need to dress decently and simply. Choosing what to wear may seem challenging for you and that’s why we are here to guide you. This is a list of what you can wear.

  1. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers
  2. Comfortable shoes
  3. Hat or cap
  4. Sunglasses

Long-sleeved shirts and trousers will cover your body entirely preventing insects from biting you and itching plants from contacting you. They can as well keep you warm when it is cold.

However, they should be light and not bright colors as these colors stress animals. Khaki and brown are highly recommended.

Comfortable shoes are of great importance as they keep your feet dry and protected from piercing objects. They should be light, cover your ankles, and have rubber soles to always keep you stable on the trails.

A hat or cap keeps your head from the strong sunlight as it covers your entire head. It should however be fitting enough as it can be blown away by the wind during your wonderful safari activities.

Sunglasses should be polarized to reduce the glaze of the sun protecting your eyes and giving you cleat sightings.

What To Pack Or Carry When Visiting Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a great destination to visit when on your safari Uganda. However, there are some essential items you need to carry with you if you are to enjoy the full gist of the visit.

These are;

  1. A good camera with extra batteries
  2. Binoculars
  3. Poncho/ Rain Jacket
  4. Insect Repellent
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Bottled Water
  7. Backpack
  8. Walking sticks

A good camera is for capturing all the safari memories that you will share with friends at the end of your trip. And, mind carrying extra charged batteries and memory cards since there are very many memories to encounter.

Binoculars are one of the best things to pack first as they give you clear sightings of far wildlife by zooming in. They are used often, especially during birding excursions in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

A poncho or rain jacket will prevent you from getting wet in case it rains when embarking on safari activities in the sanctuary.

The Insect repellent will chase away all dangerous insects that may bite you and infect you with diseases.

Sunscreen is to protect your skin from getting damaged by the strong sunlight in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, especially during nature walks.

Bottled water is to keep you hydrated at all times since you may move long distances during Rhino trekking or birdwatching.

The backpack is to help you keep essential small items in one place with you always. Items like sunscreen, camera batteries, insect repellent, water, and travel documents are kept in a backpack.

Walking sticks give you extra support during the activities especially when the trails are slippery.

How To Get To Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located in the north of Kampala the capital city of Uganda in Nakitoma in the Nakasongola district. Its geographical coordinates are 1°29’08.0″N, 32°05’43.0″E.

From Kampala along Gulu Highway is about 190 km which a round a 3 hour drive en route to Murchison falls.

Conclusively, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a top touristy destination for one on a Uganda safari vacation. It is the only place in Uganda to find Rhinos in the wild. Also, it is a good place for seeing the Shoebill during Uganda birding tours.

Visitors going for Murchison falls safaris can en-route to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to trek the Rhinos and get new experiences.

Let us tailor your safari in Uganda including the Rhino Sanctuary to get all the fun on your safari. Kindly send us an inquiry.

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