Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Small But Spectacular

Katonga Wildlife Reserve is located along the Katonga River banks in Uganda. It gazetted in 1964 as a game reserve with the sole purpose of acting as a passageway for migrating animals from Western Uganda to Tanzania and Sudan. In 1996, it was elevated to the status of a Wildlife Reserve. The 207 km2 Reserve was named after the Katonga River which flows from the swamps southwest of Lake Wamala towards Lake Victoria in the east.


The Katonga landscape is mainly rising and falling in nature with distinct vegetation types including mixed savannah with acacia scrubland or woodlands, rolling grasslands and pockets of riverine and tropical habitats, swamps and papyrus. However, major parts of the Reserve are either permanent or seasonal wetlands. The main plant species found in Katonga include the Chloris Gayana and the Sporobolus Festivus, existing in association with species like the Setaria, Hyparrhenia and the rare Panicum Maximum. The wetland structure is interlaced with the Nile structure, creating a significant wetland system for humans.

Acacia Tree snarglebarf Licence: CC


Katonga Wildlife Reserve has a good Sitatunga population occupying the Katonga Wetland System. The Reserve is also home to animals that include the Buffalo, the Warthog, the Bushbuck, the Waterbuck, Elephant, the Reedbuck, the Hippopotamus, the Black and White Colobus Monkey, the River Otter, the Impala, the Olive Baboon, the Uganda Kob, the Leopard, the Duiker, the Chevrotain. There are also various reptiles, amphibians and butterflies.

Sitatunga Laura Wolf Licence: CC

Bird life is prolific in the Reserve with over 150 bird species recorded in the wetlands, savannah and forests.

Turtle dove Koshy Koshy Licence: CC

Getting There

The Reserve can be reached by road. The journey is a three-hour drive from Kampala to Kyegegwa Town Council then at Kyegegwa, one makes a detour southwards for 42 km following well visible signposts to the Reserve. Katonga can also be accessed by aircraft via Kasese.

Car on a dirty road vanessa lollipop Licence: CC


Katonga Wildlife Reserve offers no other accommodation option to visitors besides the camping site and restaurant managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

There however is, in Kabagole 2 km from the Reserve Head Quarters, basic accommodation available at the Katonga View Hotel and Lodge where meals and cold drinks are available for those unable to camp.

Another option is the Igogora Country Resort located in Kamwenge, 37 km southwest of Katonga Wildlife Reserve. The Resort offers rooms that come with air conditioning and a private bathroom. Also on offer is a restaurant where continental breakfast is served, a bar, a garden and private parking.

The Rena Akasha Establishments is set in Kyenjojo, 43 km North West from the Reserve. The establishment offers well placed room with a flat-screen television sets that feature satellite channels, a kettle, a DVD Player, a private bathroom a bidet, free toiletries as well as a hair dryer. Most of the rooms are fitted with a terrace where one has access to spectacular views. Visitors also have access to a 24-hour front desk and a restaurant where continental or buffet breakfast meals are served.

At the Rwengobe Homestay situated in Kamwenge, 43 km north west from the  Reserve , visitors have access to accommodation with access to a garden as well as a continental breakfast available each morning.

Best Times To Visit

Katonga is open to visitors all year round even though the best time for game watching is during the dry season, which is from December to February and from June to July when grass is shorter and vegetation is thinner.

Elephant Dan Dickinson Licence: CC

Weather And Climate

The climate and weather of Katonga Wildlife Reserve is similar to that of Uganda at large.

Other Safety Considerations

To be safe when visiting Katonga and the rest of Uganda, visitors are urged to always take precautionary measures against malaria. These include taking malaria prophylaxis, using insect repellent sprays, sleeping under treated nets and covering bare skin at dusk.