We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Barbara, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Barbara lives in the United States and submitted the following report about the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: English, Luganda, Swahili
Reasons to go: If you are in the Kampala area and want a one to two night unique getaway, consider visiting the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. You will need to hire a driver to get there, though the sanctuary did say the local buses stop nearby at Nakitoma village. I didn’t look into that option.
Uganda has no more wild rhinos in their parks. The rhinos were killed off in the 1970s/80s. There is a small non-profit group that is trying to change this. About 3 hours northwest of Kampala on the road to Murchison Falls National Park is a rhino sanctuary. The closest village is called Nakitoma. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has been around for about 10 years and started with six white rhinos imported from Kenya and the USA. They now have 15. The rhinos live in a large park with many acres of land and are essentially wild. The rhinos are accustomed to humans being near them as each rhino has armed guards near it 24 hours a day due to poaching.
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has guest houses, budget rooms, and camping. I stayed in the guest house and it was very comfortable with an ensuite bathroom and mosquito netting over the bed. Breakfast was included in the $50.00 per night rate. You can eat all your meals at the Rhino Sanctuary restaurant and the food is quite good.
Rhinos are active mostly at night and you must wear a head torch when walking after dark. I heard rhinos eating outside my window at 3 am. It was a really cool experience. When I looked out the window I couldn’t see them, but they were there!
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary offers:
- rhino hikes
- nature walks
- boat tours
- birding and especially shoebill tours
(Shoebills are a rare marsh-dwelling bird similar in size to a heron.)
Rhino hikes are $40/person and I would recommend going more than once. If interested in the shoebill canoe tour, sign up the day before as it departs at 6:30 am! You can easily do both the shoebill tour and a rhino trek in one day.
The rhino hike starts from the Welcome Center. The guide radios to learn where some rhinos are located. Then he rides with you to that area in the park. Once there, you set out on foot, following the guide, and spend maybe 1 – 1.5 hours hiking and seeing the rhinos. I had arranged this tour through the guest house in Entebbe (Olive Safaris) and they had someone drive me out to Ziwa. He stayed there as well and was able to go on the rhino safari. They also have a small gift shop and you can purchase items made locally as well as t-shirts featuring your favorite rhino.
The rhino trek went through grassland with some trees here and there. We spotted a group of rhinos sleeping under a tree. We didn’t get too close to these three rhinos, so it helps to have a good zoom lens on your camera in this case. It was really nice to see them out in the wild.
We continued hiking and found Bella and her 3-month-old baby, Luna walking around. We were able to take many good photos and were about 15 feet from the rhinos at times. The guides don’t let you get too close. If the rhinos start to look annoyed, they move the group away. We did follow these two rhinos for a while before heading back to the camp.
I would definitely return and even consider volunteering.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 2 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)