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Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a 70-square kilometer Sanctuary set within the Central district of Nakasongola, about 100 miles northwest of Kampala City on the Gulu highway. The Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where Rhinos can be seen in the wild and presently the site is a safe haven to over 22 southern white rhinos. Was founded in 2005 as a Rhino re-introduction project of Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rhino Fund Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to restoring the country’s Rhino population. The Sanctuary is where these giant endangered mammals are safely protected, bred and slowly re-introduced into the National Parks when the time comes.

For tourists planning to visit Murchison falls or Kidepo Valley National Parks in addition to the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, the dream of encountering the big five animals (lions, Rhinos, leopards, buffaloes and elephants) can be achieved.

Wildlife in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Besides the southern white Rhinos, the 1.8 meter-tall electric fence of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary also shelters other 39 species of mammals that include the Hippos, Uganda Kobs, warthogs, common grey duikers, Oribis, Defassa waterbucks, Topis, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, common elands, Reedbucks, vervet monkeys, Sitatunga, leopards and bushbucks among others. Reptiles especially the Nile crocodiles, Agama lizards, Chameleons and African rock pythons are also found in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

Birds

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is also a home to more than 300 species of savannah, aquatic, forest and wetland species of birds. These include the rare shoebill storks, Bronze Manikin, Brown-throated wattle-eye, African Black Crakes, African fish eagles, Saddle-billed storks, grey-crowned cranes, Ross Turaco, Tawny eagles, Nubian woodpecker, giant kingfishers, cattle egrets, African black-headed Oriole, Superb starling, Red-rumped swallow, Senegal Coucal, African grey hornbills, speckled weavers, Egyptian Goose, Crested francolin, white-crested Turaco, wattled lapwing, African paradise flycatcher, long-crested eagles, Fox weavers, wood sandpiper, Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Eurasian Hobby and Little egret among others.

Tourist activities 

On-foot Rhino trekking

On-foot Rhino trekking is the most sought-after and once in a lifetime tourist activity conducted in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Trekking the southern white rhinos on foot through the vast savannah plains is worthwhile with chances of spotting these giants freely grazing across the 7000 hectares of land. This magical tourist activity usually takes between one and a half to three hours to find them.

Shoebill treks and canoe rides

Who knew you would get on a canoe and head for shoebill treks? It is possible within the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Shoebill storks are one of Uganda’s top ten most sought-after species of birds and it’s not surprising that you can do anything to see them. The activity is normally conducted early morning through the wetlands and besides the shoebill storks, other aquatic species of birds can be spotted.

Guided nature walks

Day and night nature walks are also conducted within Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, in the company of well-trained tour guides. Day nature walks go through the lush savannah bush lands and offer views of warthogs, Uganda Kobs, common grey duikers, bushbucks, Oribis and wetland as well as the birds and reptiles. Tourists not only see animals but also extraordinary flora species. Night nature walks are ideal for spotting the nocturnal wildlife species especially leopards and Aardvarks that stealthily hunt through the tall grasses.

Birding

Although it is not as popular as other birding Areas especially National Parks, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is an excellent birding hot spot with over 300 species of wetland, water, savannah and sometimes forest birds. Birding adventures reward visitors with the sights and sounds of the Egyptian Goose, pin-tailed whydah, Grey woodpeckers, Red-rumped swallow, Tawny eagles, giant kingfishers, cattle egrets, Martial eagles, African black-headed Oriole, Sacred ibis, Superb starling, Senegal Coucal, African grey hornbills, speckled weavers, Ring-necked Falcon, Large brown snake eagles, Nubian woodpecker, pied kingfishers, scarlet-chested sunbirds, Crested francolin, white-crested Turaco, helmeted guineafowls, wattled lapwing, Sedge warblers, African paradise flycatcher and many others.

Best time to visit

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is open all year round although most activities record many visitors during the dry season-June to September and December to February when roads to and through the Sanctuary are drier. Best birding experiences are however achieved during the rainy season-March to May as well as October and November.

Accommodation facilities

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has few accommodation facilities that include the Amuka Safari Lodge with 6 standard chalets and Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch. There are also several designated Campsites for budget travellers who those that wish to have a closer feel of the wilderness.

How to get to there

Found in central Uganda, approximately 100 miles north-west of Kampala and can be reached through air and road transport. For air transport, flights can be chartered from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport to Nakasongola airfield, thereby continue to the Sanctuary by road. Alternatively, you can use private or public means of transport to the Sanctuary through the Kampala-Luwero-Nakasongola-Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

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