Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe in located in the Karamoja sub region of northern Uganda at an area of 2788 km2, making it Uganda’s second largest protected area after Murchison falls national park. Pian Upe wildlife reserve is one of Uganda’s splendid protected areas and it was first gazette in 1958 as a Debasien Animal Sanctuary in the northern part of Uganda. This wildlife reserve was then extended northwards in 1964 and obtained its current name Pian Upe which was derived from Karamojong local dialect which means “Friendly Enemy.”

The Name Pian Upe originated from the two most popular neighboring pastoral tribes. The Pian which is one of the Karamojong groups and the Upe- a Kalenjin speaking people also commonly known as the Pakot located in Kenya and Uganda. And this the name Pian Upe.

Attractions in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe wildlife Reserve features hot springs as one of the incredible attractions with the mercury wells and it is sited just at Mount Kadam. The area is comprised of intact woodland and grassland, kopjes, riverine woodland, among others including the remarkable tree species like the bush willows, red acacia, harrisonia abyssinica, desert date, red spike thorns and shrubs like the wooly caper bush, and butterfly pea.

Pian Upe is also a proud home of various species of mammals like elephants, giraffes, lions, zebras, oribi, common elands, and the roan antelope that is only remaining in Uganda among other wildlife mammals.

There are also remarkable reptiles that can be sighted in this wildlife reserve such as the puff adders and rock pythons and harmless water snakes. Other reptiles like the chameleons, geckos, skinks and common agama also inhabit Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

A visit to Pian Upe wildlife reserve is a must especially for those planning to undertake a safari to Kidepo valley national park in northern Uganda of mount Elgon National Park in Northeastern Uganda. Why not to also include Pian Upe-another Uganda’s tremendous wildlife paradise

Pian Upe wildlife reserve is also a remarkable paradise for avid birders because of the various bird species that dwell in the area. Such as the rare Ostrich, white headed buffalo weaver, great hartlaub’s bustard and Jackson’s hornbill all of which can be sighted in Loporokocho swamp. The area is also a home to common primate species like the vervet monkeys and olive baboons.

How to get to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

The headquarters of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve are located about 100km away from Mbale town along the Mbale Moroto road. From the headquarters, Pian Upe wildlife reserve is just 11km. a total of 5hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s capital to Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

Accommodation in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

There are four bandas around the headquarters of the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve where visitors to the park can spend a night, visitors to this protected area have nothing to worry about accommodation. Nearly, the reserve accommodates all the travel needs to enhance your experience on a Uganda safari.

Other optional accommodation facilities can be got from Mbale Town which is not too far from Pian Upe.

Best Time to visit Pian Upe

Like any other national park of wildlife reserve in Africa and particularly in Uganda, Pian Upe wildlife reserve can be visited all year round. The below shows the best time to visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

From January to March: the vegetation is usually dry which allows the splendid views of wildlife as they gather around water sources to quench their thirst. This is the best time of all to visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

From April to October: this is a rainy season when sometimes the roads are impassable because of mud and the game drive tracks are hard to negotiate. The lush vegetation also hinders clear views of wildlife.

From November to December: this is yet another dry season, the only difference is that the vegetation is still lush and the views of wildlife cannot be very clear.

The major activities in Pian Upe

Wildlife safaris

The plains of Pian Upe Wildlife are dotted with various animals which can be explored on guided game drives. Expect to encounter animals such as the rare roan antelope, cheetahs, dik-dik, black backed and side stripped jackals, greater kudu, buffalos, hartebeests, eland, zebras, among others. A 4×4 wheel drive is recommended for game drives in Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

Bird watching safaris in Pian Upe

Pian Upe is a famous destination for avid birders in Uganda with a massive number of at least 242 confirmed bird species including the ostrich-the land`s largest bird, also found in Kidepo valley National Park.

mount kadam

Mountaineering and Scenic Viewing in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe features less challenging but most rewarding hills that travelers can undertake for a remarkable experience in the northern part of Uganda. Mt Kadam is one of the areas with high altitude in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and its peak allows magnificent views of the plains of this game reserve.

Guided nature walks in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe is one of the few destinations in Uganda where visitors can get close to the wilderness on guided nature walks. Search for animals like antelopes, zebras, baboons and many species of birds among others while on your nature walk guided by a ranger from the Uganda Wildlife authority.


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