Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is located in northeastern Uganda in the Karamoja region and Pian Upe is one of the largest wildlife conservation reserves in Uganda after Murchison Falls National Park. Pian Upe wildlife reserve covers a total area of about 2,788 square kilometers and it is well located just between Kidepo National park and Mount Elgon National Park so one can easily connect from either of the parks, Pian Upe also shares borders with Bokora Wildlife Reserve and Matheniko wildlife reserve which means this area has a lot to offer in terms of wildlife viewing.
A visit to Pian Upe wildlife reserve can be easily combined with a visit to Mount Elgon national park and Kidepo Valley National park because it is close to each other in terms of connection from Mt Elgon to Pian Upe wildlife reserve, it takes only about 2 hours’ drive. Pian Upe wildlife reserve experiences a steppe climate with one main rainy season in a year which makes it hard for some animals and plants to survive without water during the dry season, there is a few of species tree that can survive during the dry season including the desert date and red acacia and few other species like red spike-thorns, bushwillows, Harrisonia abyssinica, and different shrubs.
Why Visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve?
The most attractive thing about Pian Upe wildlife reserve is the landscape that is so amazing combining vast plains, mountains, valleys, and rocky outcrops, Pian Upe is home to different big mammals, different bird species, and reptiles, tourists who visit Pian Upe wildlife reserve should expect to see different wild animals like famous big cats which include cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, and many more other animals like zebras, elands, gazelles, and oribi. Other animals include civets, jackals, serval cats, topi, wildcats, buffaloes, roan antelopes, reedbucks, Duikers, Dik-dik, the Ugandan Kob, waterbucks, hares, porcupines, the rock hyrax, aardvark and hedgehogs among others.
The attractions in the Pian Upe area are two amazing indigenous African tribes that are Karamojong and Kalenjin, you cannot visit the Pian Upe Wildlife reserve and miss out on visiting the local communities in the area otherwise the tour will be incomplete because these two tribes have an amazing cultural experience that you must experience yourself.
What you should know before you visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve
1. The recommended and easiest route to reach Pian Upe Wildlife reserve from Entebbe airport or from Kampala is via Jinja, Iganga then to Mbale town which takes about 5 hours drive, from Mbale you drive to Pian Upe via Mbale-Moroto highway for an about 85 kilometers which also takes about one and a half to 2 hours drive to reach Pian Upe, park officers.
2. You can easily have to combine your visit to Pian Upe wildlife reserve with Kidepo Valley national park and Sipi falls or Mount Elgon National park.
Activities to do in Pian Upe Game Reserve
Pian Upe Wildlife reserve location is very remote if compared to other national parks and reserves in Uganda so it may not get the same attention as them but for those who want to discover something new and different Pain Upe is a very rewarding game reserve for all categories of both local and international visitors because Pian Upe gives privacy and an opportunity to explore a true pristine African wilderness that is not crowded like other busy national parks in Uganda, below are some of the main activities
1. Game viewing/drives: This is the main activity in the vast plains of the Pian Upe guided game viewing gives you opportunities to spot rare animals that can’t be seen in most Ugandan national parks, among them the cheetahs, ostriches, and the Roan antelope, these rare animals can only be seen here in Pian Upe and in Kidepo national park and in fact this is the only place where you can see the roan antelope in Uganda.
2. Birdwatching: Pian Upe wildlife reserve is one of the best places to go for birdwatching because in terms of bird density Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve ranks 2nd after Queen Elizabeth National Park, among the bird species to look out for in Pian Upe includes ostriches which you will find in the vast dry plains ideal for running away from predators and taking care of their young, apart from ostriches there is over other 240 bird species can be seen in Pian which includes the owls, hornbills, jacanas, African eagles, cormorants, cranes, darters, egrets, grass birds, hawks, herons, lapwings, pelicans, plovers, and turacos among the many more birds to see in Pian.
3. Mountain and rock climbing/hiking: as soon as you reach there you will find that the main features of the Pian Upe Wildlife reserve are vast plains, mountains, and big rocks so for those who like exploring big rocks or rock climbing that is less demanding mountains can this is a good place challenge yourself.
4. Guided Nature Walks: one of the best ways to explore Pian Upe Wildlife reserve is by walking on foot which will give you that great feeling of being in a true African wilderness because there will be no other humans to be seen walking in the wild, this walking activity is a guided walk and not done in most bigger savannah national parks in Uganda. Murchison Falls National Park, on this walk, expects to different wild animals at close range.
5. Cultural Experience: the local communities living around Pian Upe Wildlife reserve as already mentioned earlier are the Karamajong and Kalenjin bribes, these two tribes are both pastoralists and only depend on their cattle for survival. When you go for a cultural experience on the guided community walk, you will get the opportunity to learn about how the local communities go about their daily lives, on this cultural experience you can a chance to see and participate in Karamajong traditional dances/drama and marriage ceremonies in the evening after the walk. if time allows you can as well visit the new Karamoja cultural museum in Moroto town, the Karamajongo museum different large collections of items/artifacts that describe the Karamajong culture.
6. Cave exploration: Those big rocks in the Pian Upe wildlife reserve hide ancient rock paintings, for example, the Napendio (rock) cave and, Napedet cave, these cave in Pian Upe is well known as sacred by the local communities around but also these caves hide different paintings of wild animals, these paintings are back to thousands of years ago when the first humans settled in the Karamajong region.
What is the best time to visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve?
There are two main dry seasons and one rainy season, if you visit at the beginning of the year from January to March it’s the main dry season and the driest season of the year, and November to December, the two main seasons are the best time to visit Pian Upe, then after there is rains season from April to October. The two main dry seasons are the most preferred for the tourists visiting Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve. During this dry season, it is easy to view the animals as they gather around the few remaining water holes making it the best time to visit Pian Upe Wildlife reserve.
What is the price-cost of visiting Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and how to book?
The entrance fees to Pian Upe Wildlife reserve are $35 per person for Foreign nonresidents, $25 per person for Foreign residents, and 15,000 Uganda shillings for East African Nationals. If you want to have an armed park range/guide in your car you must pay $20 extra per car and for those who wish to do guided nature walks you will also pay $30 per person. All the Payments can be made directly to Uganda wildlife Authority offices but you can as well book through a local tour operator like us who books the whole tour including accommodation and transport.
You can as well reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +256785790925 and also on WhatsApp for a free quote or any other enquires you may need to make.