A complete guide to Pian Upe wildlife reserve

Pain Upe Wildlife Reserve; Pian Upe wildlife reserve has the distinction of being among the least visited game reserves in Uganda. It is a hidden gem in the north of Mt. Elgon that has not been frequented and explored by many people leaving it in an unspoiled state. The wildlife reserve is one of the best places to go if you are looking for an authentic African wilderness safari experience.

Covering an area of 2,788 square kilometers, Pian Upe is the second largest wildlife reserve in Uganda after Murchison falls national park. Together with Matheniko and Bokora Wildlife reserves and Mount Elgon national park, they form the larger Mt. Elgon Conservation Area which is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Location of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve  

Pian Upe is geographically located in northeastern Uganda, in the Karamoja sub-region, Nakapiripiriti district. Other districts that are partly covered by the reserve include Moroto, Amudat, Kumi, Bukedea and Napak among others.

Attractions in Pian Upe wildlife reserve

Going on a Uganda safari to Pian Upe wildlife reserve offers a chance to see an array of wildlife, and spectacular landscapes.

The reserve is dominated by wooden savannah plains characterized by short trees, shrubs, lemon grass, beard grass and bristle species among others.

It is home to about 44 mammal species including topis, zebras, buffaloes, Oribis, Hartebeests, dik-dik, giraffes, greater Kudus, roan antelopes, elands, hedgehogs, leopards, lions, jackals, aardvark, spotted hyenas, civets, serval cats, African hare, to mention but a few. Some of these will be encountered while on game drives. Note that Pian Upe is the best place go if you want to look out for the cheetah in Uganda, with chances of seeing it measuring over 70%.

More than 240 bird species have been recorded in the reserve, some of these are the ostriches, hartlaub’s bustard, Jackson’s hornbills and white headed buffalo weaver. Some of the reptiles confined in the reserve are the water snakes, rock pythons, puff adders, chameleons and lizards.

Primates in Pian Upe include the Olive baboons, Patas monkey and Vervet monkey.

Things to do in Pian Upe Wildlife reserve

It is a pity that many travel enthusiasts especially wilderness lovers have not included this destination on their Uganda safari bucket list yet it would offer a fantastic wilderness experience. Here are the top tourist activities you can engage in when you visit Pian Upe.

Game drives

Game viewing is the highlight for most Uganda safaris to Pian Upe wildlife reserve. The best way to explore this wilderness is going for a game drive which exposes you to many of the wildlife here. With a 4X4 safari car, you will have a perfect game viewing experience in the plains of Pian Upe. Expect to see animals such as zebra, duiker, giraffe, lion, leopard and cheetah among others.

Bird watching

For birding enthusiasts looking for places that will give you a remarkable bird watching experience, Pian Upe is worth adding on your bucket list. It is home to interesting bird species like the secretary birds, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Jackson’s hornbill, Karamoja apalis, superb starlings and Great hartlaub’s bustard.  Ostriches are common while the fox weaver is endemic to Uganda and Pian Upe is one of the places you can spot it.

Guided nature walk and hiking

A guided nature walk in Pian Upe is most times combined with a hiking adventure. The reserve is surrounded by mountains Elgon, Napak and Kadam. As you walk through the plains, you will enjoy views of these mountains at a distance. Hiking to Napedet cave is a great chance to learn about how the first occupants of the area lived here. While on the tour, you could be able to see paintings of animals on the rocks at Napedet cave.

Community tours

Among the tribes that live near Pian Upe wildlife reserve are the Karamojongs. This is one of the few tribes in Uganda that have preserved their culture and tradition up to date. Their lifestyle is similar to that of the Masai in Kenya and Tanzania. While on Pian Upe safari, you can take on a cultural tour to the Karamojong community and learn about their pastoral practices, have a look at their local homesteads and enjoy a cultural dance performance that involves jumping so high in the air.

When is the best time to visit Pian Upe?

The best time to go to Pian Upe, just like most Uganda wildlife reserves is during the drier months of the year. From November –February and June – August are the dry seasons and best time for safari. The time allows clear views of wildlife and the scenery. In addition, tracks are dry and vehicles can easily go through. However, note that sometimes the weather can change and you therefore need to be flexible.

Where to stay in Pian Upe/ accommodation in Pian Upe Wildlife reserve

Since Pian Upe is still in its lower stages of growth in regards to tourism, there are few accommodations. Most travelers to the reserve use the Uganda Wildlife Bandas located close to the reserve headquarters. An alternative is Karamoja Overland Camp, a midrange facility with en-suite facilities. Travelers who wish to camp can carry their own tents or hire tents and go immerse themselves in this wilderness.

Safari destinations in eastern and northern Uganda that can be added to the Pian Upe Safari include Sipi falls, Mt. Elgon National park, Kidepo Valley national Park, Jinja and Mabira Forest. Get in touch with our expert travel consultants with all your inquiries or for a tailor made package to Pian Upe.

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