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Home » Blog » Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda Rhino Sanctuary, Rhinos In Uganda, Rhino Trekking Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda Rhino Sanctuary, Rhinos In Uganda, Rhino Trekking Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only Uganda Rhino sanctuary as well as the only place where one can track Rhinos in Uganda on foot. Ziwa Rhino trekking in Uganda on foot is one of the most thrilling Uganda wildlife safari experiences that boosts the Uganda safari industry, as it attracts many tourists to visit Uganda.

Rhinos In Uganda At Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Tracking rhinos on foot offers you a great chance to get close to the wonderful wild rhinos than you ever could in a 4x4x Uganda safari vehicle. This Uganda safari activity that is done in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – the only place in Uganda where you can track, see, photograph, and even film these fascinating animals of Uganda in the wild, is an amazing dream African safari activity for adventurous animal lovers in search of the rare endangered White Rhino species (Wid Mouth Rhinos).

Rhinos in Uganda are among Africa’s Big Five land animals. They’re also the second-largest land mammals on earth today (behind only elephants), weighing up to 7,700 pounds/3,500 kilograms.

Distinguished by their thick skin and long nose horns, rhinos are remarkably tough, and quick animals. Their amazing horns and bulky pre-historic appearance make them instantly recognizable – but their unpredictable nature, strength, and speed are legendary.

Even the bravest of rangers will be super alert around these massive mammals.

On your Ziwa Rhino tracking safari in Uganda it is scary, but entirely possible to get really close to these pre-historic-looking heavyweights on foot. It won’t be easy, but in the capable hands of an expert ranger guide at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda, it can be done!

Plus, when you see the White Southern Rhinos at Ziwa, you’re supporting an important conservation program for this highly threatened Uganda mammal species. In this guide, I am taking you through all the details of Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot in Uganda.

Here Is A Quick Summary Of What This Ziwa Rhino Tracking Guide Entails:

  1. About Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda
  2. The Ziwa Rhino Tracking Experience In Uganda
  3. Is it safe to track Ziwa Rhinos on foot in Uganda?
  4. Rules and guidelines to follow while on Ziwa rhino tracking on foot
  5. How much is Ziwa Rhino tracking in Uganda?
  6. Best time to go for Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot
  7. What to bring for Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot?
  8. Other activities to do in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary before or after rhino tracking
  9. How to get from Kampala to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda?
  10. A few fascinating facts about rhinos in Uganda
  11. Other Uganda safari destinations to combine with Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
  12. Frequently asked questions about Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot
  13. Where else in East Africa can you trek Rhinos?
  14. Conclusion

About Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary In Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is an outstanding Uganda safari destination in Nakasongola District. The protected area is located about 123km/4-5 hours’ drive northwest of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. It is the only place in Uganda where you can track, see, photograph, and even film Rhinos in their natural habitat. It contains a guesthouse, campground, restaurant, research and conservation center, and 7,000 hectares of untouched rhino habitat.

This non-profit Uganda rhino sanctuary is a collaborative effort between the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch Limited, a private land management company. Its primary purpose is to build a sustainable population of rhinos in Uganda and relocate them back to their original habitat-protected areas/Uganda safari national parks.

Historically, both white and black rhinos are indigenous to Uganda. But due to post-independence conflicts and poaching, these incredible creatures were declared extinct in the country in 1983.

However, in 2005, following decades of peace and stability, Rhino Fund Uganda started the Ziwa Sanctuary. The sanctuary started as a risky project with the release of 6 adult southern white rhinos. Four were trans-located from Solio Ranch in Kenya and two from the Disney Animal Kingdom in the United States of America (USA).

The first successful birth occurred in June 2009 when baby Obama was born. The baby rhino was named Obama because his father is Kenyan and his mother is American. Since then, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has gone from strength to strength, and the current population stands at 32 rhinos.

It has now become one of the most inspiring conservation success stories in East Africa, offering amazing rhino tracking on foot.

  1. The Ziwa Rhino Tracking Experience In Uganda

Taking a Ziwa rhino tracking tour is the only way you can see wild rhinos in Uganda.

And your only option is to go on foot.

Although you can choose to do rhino tracking in Uganda at any time of the day, please note that Rhinos are most active in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. You will want to time your trek with that (watching them sleep is not exciting at all).

So, Ziwa rhino tracking on foot is best done between 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.

The activity starts with a short safety briefing. Then you embark on the actual tracking adventure. Because the rhinos are free to move around on 7000 hectares of land, it is often required to drive to the areas where the rhinos are, before trekking into the bush.

During the trek, follow your guide while keeping your voice low. Fortunately, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary terrain is flat. You just have to be careful with the occasional acacia thorn.

Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot takes anywhere from 1½ to 2½ hours. This depends on the location of the rhinos. As you trek, you’ll also see other Uganda wildlife. The sanctuary is to about 40 Uganda mammal species and over 300 species of birds of Uganda.

When you find the rhinos, your guide whispers a few more safety instructions to you. Stay at least 6-7 meters away. Don’t use flash. Keep your voices low. Please follow the instructions at all times. It is a spine-tingling experience.

All your senses will be on the alert and every sight, sound and scent will be magnified. You are free to walk around the area and take photos as long as you stay near the guide. Trust me, you’ll be relieved, if I haven’t said it yet, rhinos are huge (adult white rhinos can weigh 3 tonnes).

Given their bulk rhinos are surprisingly quiet; yet at close quarters you can hear them breathe and grunt, coupled with the rhythmic sound of their grazing, and even the smell of the earth disturbed beneath their feet.

If the rhinos get too close, your guide will instruct you to move back. You spend up to an hour with the rhinos before they become stressed.

You then return to your car and travel back to the visitor’s center.

  1. Is It Safe To Track Ziwa Rhinos On Foot In Uganda?

Rhinos are members of African ‘Big Five’ land animals in Uganda. Other members include Lions, leopards, African elephants, and African buffalo. The term Big Five was coined in the late 1800s during Africa’s colonial period, referring to what trophy hunters considered the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.

So you might be wondering – is it really safe to get to the 3000kg fully grown wild rhino on foot! The answer is yes. It is extremely unlikely that anything bad will happen to you on your Ziwa rhino tracking on foot if you follow your ranger guide’s instructions.

Please remember that these are wild rhinos, even if they are living in a fenced area.

The premise of Ziwa rhino tracking on foot is dependent on the fact that these massive mammals have very poor eyesight. So the aim is to keep you out of their vision the entire time. They could still be able to hear you – but because most of these rhinos have no memories of being threatened by humans, that won’t alarm them.

This is why it is important to stay at least 6-7 meters away from them and to follow your ranger guide’s instructions when they advise you to move away from the rhinos. Moreover, you must not make any sudden movements, speak above a whisper, or use your camera’s flash.

White rhinos in Uganda are less aggressive than their cousins, black rhinos. They only charge if they are surprised/threatened, and they usually give up quickly. If that happens, you should climb a tree or hide behind a bush (they won’t charge through the bush, unlike black rhinos).

Be extremely cautious if you come across a baby rhino or a pregnant mother. Never put yourself in the way of a mother rhino and her calf on your Ziwa Rhino tracking safaris in Uganda.

Another thing to note is that your safety depends on the actions of those in your tracking group. You’ll all be in danger if you’re all crouching behind a bush and one person suddenly raises his head for a quick selfie.

As a result, it’s critical to ask your fellow trekkers to follow the guide’s advice. And as noted above, before you go on the journey, your guide will give you a thorough safety briefing.

And as long as you pay attention to them, you shouldn’t have any troubles on your Ziwa Rhino tracking Uganda wildlife safaris.

  1. Rules And Guidelines To Follow While On Ziwa Rhino Tracking On Foot

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, like any other respected organization, has specific guidelines that guests must strictly follow. Those who refuse to follow the regulations face a $100 fine. If the Guides believe that certain regulations are not being observed, they can stop any activity. While visiting the sanctuary, you should abide by the following rules:

  • At all times, follow the directions provided to you by the Sanctuary guides.
  • Any unguided/unauthorized tour activity in the sanctuary is illegal.
  • For your own and the animals’ safety, any attempts at feeding or touching them are forbidden.
  • Any litter should be properly disposed of in the available bins.
  • Cycling and jogging cannot be done anywhere and at any time within the Sanctuary.
  • While at the entrance, declare any firearms, GPS, Pets, Drones, or any other item that may cause suspicion.
  • Unnecessary noise of any sort within the sanctuary is strictly not allowed.
  • While with the animals, switch off your cell phones or simply put them in Silent mode.
  1. How Much Is Ziwa Rhino Tracking In Uganda?

Ziwa Rhino tracking on foot, like other Uganda wildlife safari activities, is reasonably priced. Here are the costs of Ziwa rhino tracking on foot in Uganda per visitor category:

Foreign Non-Residents

  • USD 50 per adult
  • USD 25 per kid

Foreign Residents

  • USD 40 per adult
  • USD 20 per kid

East African Citizens

  • UGX 30,000 per adult
  • UGX 10,000 per kid
  1. Best Time To Go For Ziwa Rhino Tracking On Foot

The best time for Ziwa rhino tracking on foot is during the dry season which takes place from December to February, and then late June to October.

This is also the perfect time to visit other Uganda wildlife safari destinations for general wildlife game viewing, gorilla trekking in Uganda, and chimpanzee tracking in Uganda. Rain has a lower likelihood of ruining your planned Uganda safari activities or things to do during the dry season.

More important than the time of year, though, is the time of day. Rhinos are most active in the mornings and late in the afternoons. So you want to plan your journey around that (seeing them sleep isn’t nearly as fun). When you arrive, you may talk to the rangers about whether it’s worth it to undertake the hike in the middle of the day.

If you want to do the shoebill canoe safari, you must stay overnight at the sanctuary. The canoe ride can only be done with a departure between 6:30 and 7:30 am. This is also the finest time to go bird watching in general.

  1. What To Bring For Ziwa Rhino Tracking On Foot?

Like any Uganda wildlife safari tour, you need to prepare in advance to have a memorable Ziwa Rhino tracking adventure on foot. Tracking Rhinos is less demanding compared to other wildlife activities like Gorilla trekking in Uganda. But, here are some of the essential things to bring for the Ziwa Rhino tracking tour in Uganda:

Neutral colored clothes: You don’t want to stand out too much from the bush environment on your on-foot Ziwa Rhino tracking, Uganda tour. That could mean khakis, but black and white are also fine. Avoid bright or vibrant collars like blue, pink, or orange.

  • Long pants: These are the best because the grass has thorns in some places. Tuck your pants into your socks to protect from the nasty bites of safari ants.
  • Simple comfortable walking shoes are also required on your Ziwa Rhino tracking safari in Uganda.
  • T-shirt, a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is at low elevation, so it’s warmer than Kampala.
  • You can also bring a sweater or waterproof rain jacket because it could rain at any moment.
  • Insect/Mosquito repellent is a good idea – this is a high-risk area for malaria.
  • Drinking water and snacks, especially if traveling by public transport.
  • A camera: A 300-mm zoom lens is best, but you’ll be close enough to get away with a more standard 55-mm lens if you have to. Learn how to use your manual focus for best results.
  1. Other Activities To Do In Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Before Or After Rhino Tracking

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary isn’t only about Rhino sanctuary. There are other activities you can including canoe rides to explore the Shoebill, nature walks, and bird watching tours.

Canoe Ride In Search Of Shoebills

Ziwa Rhino sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is also a popular destination for canoe safaris in search of the elusive shoebill stork (a rare, prehistoric-looking bird). Success rates are very high on the four-hour trip. The swamps around are great sources of food for the stork.

Nature Walk And Bird Watching Tours

Additionally, you can do a nature walk or a more specialized Uganda bird-watching tour. A total of more than 300 Uganda bird species live in the sanctuary including Giant Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, and Great Blue Turaco. The sanctuary is also home to at least 40 mammals of Uganda and reptilian species including monkeys, Uganda kobs, and oribis, bushbucks, waterbucks, and Nile Crocodiles

Note: You are not permitted to walk around the grounds of the sanctuary on your own for any reason. All activities require a guide. Additionally, you can’t head into the park after 5:30 pm. The rhinos are more active in the evenings and it wouldn’t be safe to be around them as well as other animals in Uganda that duel in this sanctuary.

Canoe ride in search of Shoebills fees: USD 45 Per Guest

Nature walk Fees: USD 40 Per Guest

The fees above include the entrance fees.

  1. How To Get From Kampala To Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

From Kampala to Ziwa rhino sanctuary, you a take a drive northwest.

You pass through traditional Ugandan villages and bustling towns and then branch off at Nakitooma in Nakasongola District after about a 115km (4-5 hours) drive. Divert from the main road for another 7km drive to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. It’s possible to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on a day trip from Kampala. You’d just need to get a very early start.

Alternatively, you can consider tracking Ziwa Rhinos on Uganda safari to Murchison Falls National Park or Kidepo Valley National Park which offers more traditional Uganda wildlife game viewing.

These Uganda safari tourist destinations are home to a variety of wildlife including:

  • Lions
  • Leopards
  • African elephants
  • African buffalos
  • Rothschild’s Giraffes
  • Burchell’s Zebras
  • Cheetahs, and much more.
  1. A Few Fascinating Facts About Rhinos In Uganda

    Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

  • The elephant is the only land mammal that is bigger than a white rhino.
  • Rhino calves/baby rhinos already weigh about 140 pounds (63kg) when they’re born.
  • Rhinos have an 18-month gestation period.
  • White rhinos and black rhinos aren’t actually white or black. They are all the same gray colour.
  • White rhino got its name based on the shape of its mouth – “wide” in Dutch sounds a lot like “white,” and somehow the mistranslation stuck.
  • The biggest distinguishing feature between the two species is that white rhinos are much larger.
  • White rhinos can spend as much as 12 hours a day eating and other several hours drinking.
  • They don’t walk very much – only when they need to find more grass.
  • All of the white rhinos in Uganda are Southern White Rhinos.
  • Tragically, the Northern White Rhino has been completely wiped out.
  • White rhinos are social creatures. You’ll often see them hang out with family groups as adults.
  • A group of rhinos is called a ‘herd’ – or a ‘crash’.
  • Rhinos are threatened largely because their horns are highly coveted as an aphrodisiac, for medicinal purposes, and as a symbol of wealth.
  • In parks throughout east and southern Africa, rhinos are at huge risk of poaching due to the massive international market for their horns.
  • White rhinos were almost completely extinct as little as 20 years ago, but today their population has recovered and they’re categorized as “near threatened”.
  • Conservation is still incredibly important, but they’re one of the biggest success stories in Africa.
  1. Other Uganda Safari Destinations To Combine With Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Aside from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda offers 10 national parks, 12 wildlife reserves, forest reserves, spectacular mountain scenery, lakes, and rivers. These Uganda safari destinations have a wealth of wildlife game viewing experiences and Uganda adventure safari activities worth adding to your Ziwa Rhino tracking tour.

Here are the best destinations to combine with your Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary tour:

  1. Frequently Asked Questions About Ziwa Rhino Tracking On Foot

Where Can I See Rhinos In Uganda? /Where Are The Rhinos In Uganda?

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where you can see wild rhinos. The sanctuary is conveniently located 123km (4-5 hours) drive north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitooma Trading center).

How Much Is Rhino Tracking In Uganda?

Ziwa Rhino sanctuary allows visitors to do Rhino tracking at the sanctuary at a fee of:

  • $50 Adult Non-Resident
  • $25 Child Non-Resident
  • $40 Adult East African Resident
  • $20 Child East African Resident
  • UGX 30,000 Adult Ugandan Citizen
  • UGX 10000 Child Ugandan Citizen

How Many Rhinos Are In The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary? / How Many Rhinos Are There In Uganda?

There are currently 32 rhinos in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary started with 6 Southern White Rhinoceros in 2005 with 6 adult southern white rhinos. Four were trans-located from Solio Ranch in Kenya and 2 from Disney Animal Kingdom in the USA. The first successful birth occurred in June 2009.

Who Owns Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

Ziwa is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary in Uganda. It is a collaborative effort between the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch Limited, a private land management company, committed to the restoration of Uganda’s rhinoceros population.

  1. Where Else in East Africa Can You Trek Rhinos?

For other exhilarating rhino tracking experiences in East Africa, you can visit the exclusive Saruni Rhino Camp in the Sera Community Conservancy, near Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya. This 54,000-hectare-sanctuary is one of the few places in Kenya – or indeed Africa – where you can still track the critically endangered black rhinos on foot while also helping to conserve them at the same time. It’s one of the best Kenya safari tour experiences.

You can also go rhino trekking in Kenya at Borona and Ol Pejeta Conservancies in Laikipia Plateau near Mount Kenya. Ol Pejeta offers a good chance of seeing some of its 140 elusive black rhinos for which the conservancy is famous, as well as the white rhinos which are happy to graze on the open plain. It is also home to the last 2 remaining northern white rhinos in Africa, a pair of females kept safe in a large enclosure. On a Tanzania safari tour, you can see black rhinos on foot in Nyerere National Park, although sightings are very rare.

  1. Conclusion

Witnessing a herd or “crash” of rhinos in the wild is a truly extraordinary and spectacular sight.

Like everywhere as far as rhino conservation is concerned, the main threat to Ziwa rhinos in Uganda is poaching.  In Africa in the last decade, an estimated 7245 rhinos have been poached for their horns, which are illegally exported to Asia for use in traditional medicine.

As a result, there are now only around 20,000 white and just 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild in the whole of the African continent. Fortunately, we can collectively do something about this.

And Ziwa rhino tracking safari to Uganda is the best way to support the conservation of rhinos. All revenues from Ziwa Rhino tracking ensures that the UWA has the resources needed to manage the sanctuary, undertake community projects, and, ultimately, protect the rhinos.

In its own small way, your Rhino trekking Uganda experience helps to safeguard these threatened animals, demonstrating how responsible tourism can make a difference.

If you would like to include Ziwa rhino tracking on foot in your Uganda safari packages, please let us know. We can organize your fantastic rhino tracking tours in Uganda and other incredible wildlife safaris in Uganda experiences such as:


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