Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Safari | Ostrich in Uganda

by | Oct 4, 2023 | 0 comments

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Safari

The outstanding plateau landscape of rolling plains with black cotton soil drained by intermittent watercourses flowing westwards into Lake Kyoga, forest and wooded savanna grasslands home to eye-catching wildlife roaming in the plains as well as majestic hills and mountains like Mount Kadam (previously Mount Debasien) with ecstatic views of the countryside that offers a once-in-life African experience.

Pian Upe Game Reserve is located in Eastern Uganda, north of Mount Elgon in the districts of Moroto, Amudat, Katakwi, Napak, Kween, Kumi, Bukedea, and Bulambuli and it is connected to Matheniko Game Reserve by the Bokora Corridor land Tenure.

The game reserve is a paradise to a variety of mammals in the area including lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, buffalo, waterbuck, Uganda, mountain reedbuck, roan antelope, Jackson’s hartebeest Most of the eland, topi, and zebra migrate into the area to breed from North Bokora and Matheniko reserves and migrate northwards when the rains begin.

The game reserve also harbors reptiles like the Common Agama, Geckos, Venomous puff adders, Rock pythons, savanna monitors, chameleons, and crocodiles along river Girik.

Pian Upe Game Reserve is a birders’ haven with spectacular viewpoints for bird watching. The colorful Birds include ostrich, secretary bird, and yellow-billed shrike among others.

Pian Upe derives its name from its community. Pian refers to a clan among the Karamajong people of Northeastern Uganda while refers to a Kalenjin-speaking pastoral community of the Karamojongs who are said to have originated from the Pokot tribe in Kenya but are now settled close to the wildlife reserve in Amudat district.

Pain means “calm-hearted people while Upe means enemy. The combinations of the two words form one word “Friendly enemies”. These are predominantly pastoralists and live a very traditional lifestyle.

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Activities to Do in Pian Upe

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve features a variety of enchanting activities that tourists can engage in while on their wildlife and cultural safari to Uganda and these include.

Wildlife Viewing

The vast savanna reserve is best explored on a game drive using a 4×4 safari vehicle with an open roof that offers spectacular views of wildlife including giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffaloes, elephants, impalas, zebras, duikers.

The morning and evening game drives are the best time to sightsee the animals with magnificent sunsets and sunrises that give a colorful surrounding for wildlife photography shots.

Bird watching

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is every birder’s dream destination with over 200 species of colorful birds such as the Karamoja apalis, secretary birds, superb starlings, ostriches, Abyssinian ground hornbill, fox weavers, Jackson’s hornbill, Great hartlaub’s bustard among others.

Nature walks

Pian Upe offers guided nature walks in the savanna grasslands with a close view of the animals and flora.

The nature walk also gives thrilling views of the Napedet cave The cave is a famous ancient recreational site for the first occupants of this area.

While on guided walks/hiking tours at Napedet Cave, it is possible to see incredible paintings of baboons, giraffes, hartebeest, and roan antelopes.

Mountain Hiking

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is blessed with endless plains, dotted by acacia trees, rocky ridges as well as majestic mountains that offer an adrenaline-pumping hike with panoramic views of the rest of the planet.

The reserve is surrounded by stunning mountains like Mount Napak (2538m), Mount Kadam (3063m), and Mount Elgon as well as Mount Moroto 3083m that take you closer to the blue sky.

The hike on these mountains gives exciting views of the Napedet cave which is a popular ancient recreational place for the first inhabitants of the area who would gather to engage in paintings.

The hike also gives spectacular views of wildlife animals like roan antelope, hartebeests, baboons, and giraffes that are always wandering in the savanna plains.

Cultural experience

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is located in the Karamoja region and is inhabited by the Karamojong who are similar to the Masai and Turkana of Kenya.

The Karamojong have an exciting rich culture and traditions that give lifetime cultural experiences to the guests. They are mainly pastoralists whose life entirely depends on cattle and other domestic animals like goats and sheep.

The Cultural safaris in Pian Upe will immerse you with Karamojong cultures, traditions and other practices such as their homesteads, their famous traditional dance Edonga, and unique architecture are amazingly rewarding and give life-changing cultural experiences.

Best Time to go to Pian Upe

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is best visited during the dry seasons i.e. January and November to December when the vegetation is thin with clear views of wildlife and animals gathering along the water sources to quench their thirst as well as mud bathing for buffaloes and warthogs.

The wet season of April-October is not favorable for game viewing because most of the trails/tracks are muddy and impassable and also the vegetation is thick which makes game viewing difficult.

Visitors are recommended to travel in a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle most preferably a Land Cruiser for such weather conditions.

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How to get to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Uganda can easily be accessed by road from Kampala via Mbale to Sproti which takes about 8-9 hours.

The reserve is 90 km away from Mbale which takes for 4–5-hour drive along the Mbale-Moroto route.

By air, Amudat airstrip is the nearest place to land. This airstrip serves flights setting off from Entebbe Airport (EBB)/Kajjansi Airfield.

Accommodations to stay in and around Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Uganda offers a wide range of accommodations at affordable prices ranging from luxury to mid-range, and budget lodges.

They include Karamoja Overland Camp, Uganda Wildlife Authority Bandas or Camping. Other nearby accommodation choices include Lavender Inn, Shalosa Hotel, Mount Moroto Hotel, and Hotel Leslona Limited among others.


Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is among the less visited and explored destinations for wildlife safaris, but it has outstanding landscapes, majestic mountains, stunning wild animals, and flora that offer a wide variety of thrilling activities that provide an unforgettable African Safari experience.


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About the Author

Tony Kizito

Tony is an enthusiastic and self-motivated tour Consultant with over 5 years in delivering professional tailor-made Trips across East Africa. I am keen to offer strong attention to detail, understand the travelers' needs and then craft unforgettable African safari experience.

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