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Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to Uganda's natural endangered rhinos. FILE PHOTO

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, located in the Nakasongola District next to Nakitoma Village, is Uganda’s proud home to natural endangered rhinos.

Uganda’s natural endangered rhinos are proudly housed at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. It is located in Nakasongola District, near Nakitoma Village. 

This is roughly 180 kilometres north of Kampala along the Kampala – Gulu highway. The drive takes approximately three hours; this is almost halfway to Murchison Falls National Park.

A collaboration between the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rhino Fund Uganda and Ziwa Ranchers Limited led to the establishment of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. 

Rhino Fund Uganda is a Ugandan non-governmental organisation dedicated to the restoration of the country’s rhinoceros population while Ziwa Ranchers Limited is a commercial land management company. 

The sanctuary provides a secure environment in which rhino populations can be increased through breeding, shielded from human and non-human predators, and eventually reintroduced into Uganda’s national parks, while also allowing the public to appreciate these gorgeous creatures as the initiative progresses.

To ensure the rhinos’ protection, a staff of around 78 park rangers and security guards monitors them 24 hours a day. 

The 70-square-kilometre (7,000-hectare) sanctuary is enclosed by a 6.6-foot-high electrified fence that keeps rhinos safe inside away from intruders. The refuge began with six rhinos but had grown to 22 by March 2018. 

The number of animals is projected to increase steadily over the next decade, with the goal that they will be restored to the wild in the national parks where they originally roamed. 

At least 40 mammalian and reptilian species call it home, including monkeys, antelopes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and several bird species. The sanctuary’s visitor facilities include a safari lodge, a guest house, budget lodging, and camping.

There is certainly a lot to do and see in the sanctuary, including birding and nature hikes, yet the primary activity is rhino tracking.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Activities

Rhino Trekking 

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In Uganda, rhino trekking is only possible in this refuge. FILE PHOTO

Only in this refuge can one experience rhino trekking in Uganda. 

This exercise will begin with a briefing at the sanctuary’s entry, during which numerous directions will be provided, including the requirement to walk in a single file or line. 

This is because going alone or apart from the line makes you an accessible target for rhinos in the case of an attack. To avoid regrets on this walk, you must follow the ranger’s directions.

Depending on where the rhinos are placed, you may wish to drive to the closest route to prevent walking large distances. The ranger guide will also provide further information about rhino behaviour and how you should respond in the event of an encounter.

With the assistance of professional ranger guides, you may approach as near as 6 to 7 metres to these endangered rhinos, snap as many shots as you like, and witness them feed in their natural habitat.

Birdwatching

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is not solely dedicated to rhino conservation; it is also a hub for a variety of other interesting activities, such as bird viewing. 

Over 300 bird species call the sanctuary home, including the highly sought-after Shoebill. Four birding trails have been constructed at the refuge by the resident bird guides. 

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to a variety of bird habitats, including woodlands, swamps, and savannah. 

Among the several bird species at the sanctuary, these are a must-see; Namaqua Dove, Marico Sunbird, Shoebill, the Grey-crowned crane, Grey Kestrel, Heuglin’s Francolin, Red-headed Bluebill, Red-headed Malimbe, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Nubian Woodpecker and Pallid Harrier.

Shoebill Canoe ride

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Visitors to the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary in the Lugogo swamp are likely to see Shoebills. FILE PHOTO

The Shoebill is a sought-after bird by many birders in Uganda and throughout the world. While visiting the Ziwa Rhino refuge in the Lugogo swamp, there is a good chance of seeing the Shoebill. 

Besides this sought-after bird, you can also see Egyptian geese, Giant Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, African Jacana, Black crake, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, African open-billed stork, Great egret and African fish eagle.

The canoes are provided by the community, which is compensated for their services. This reaffirms the community’s conservation relationship with Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. 

While staying at the sanctuary, you can take a night drive in search of nocturnal species.

Nature strolls

The sanctuary offers guided nature excursions through the vast savanna, which allow visitors to appreciate the richness of nature contained within the Sanctuary’s 70 square kilometres. 

You can walk beside a ranger guide and receive advice on proper behaviour as well as information about the plants, animals, and birds, all of which contribute to your understanding of the sanctuary’s overall ecosystem. 

On this wildlife walk, you may see waterbucks, bushbucks, kobs, leopards, and duikers.

Travel recommendations for your visit to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

  1. Do not forget to bring your water-resistant hiking boots or closed-toed shoes.
  2. During the rainy season, a rain poncho is necessary.
  3. Sun hat
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Repellent against insects
  6. Avoid flash photography at all costs to avoid frightening the rhinos into defensive behaviour while rhino trekking.

Accommodation at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

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Located near the camp quarters, Ziwa Rhino Lodge offers cottages and rooms with porches. FILE PHOTO

Ziwa rhino sanctuary is a haven of peace and tranquillity set in the breathtaking scenery. There are numerous lodging options to suit your overnight needs.

Amuka safari lodge 

This is the signature lodge in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, offering lush, comfortable accommodation in the sanctuary’s environment. 

It features lovely comfy amenities for an overnight stay in the tented cottages, and the food served is delectable. Additionally, this lodge features a swimming pool; overall, it’s a wonderful place to spend time.

Ziwa Rhino lodge

This is a guest house located in the vicinity of the camp quarters. You can stay in cottages or rooms with tiny porches here. 

Additionally, there is a restaurant selling modest fare and cool beverages, as well as campsites for overlanders equipped with cooking facilities and restrooms.

Apart from the accommodation facilities stated previously, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary also offers affordable bandas, guest homes, and campsites for safari travellers in Uganda on a budget. 

Indoor facilities are available in both private and communal guest accommodations. The cheap rooms share a complete bathroom.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary tour

Will the White Rhinos withstand the international horn trade’s onslaught? Ultimately, only time will tell. 

However, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda is doing all possible to make this a reality.

Your tour of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary will contribute to the conservation of rhinos in Uganda.

If you are looking for a complete Uganda travel experience, we also recommend checking out our guide to Kidepo Valley National ParkKibale National ParkLake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.