Where? You can be forgiven for asking.Ugalla is a whisper in the wind, a secret shared among those who crave raw, untamed beauty. This remote corner of Tanzania, cloaked in an emerald tapestry of untouched wilderness, is a sanctuary for the brave soul. Here, time slows to a gentle rhythm, dictated by the sun's ascent and descent, the river's ceaseless flow, and the enigmatic dance of wildlife.

Ugalla is part of a vast network of protected areas with various designations other than national park, and therefore largely unknown, found across Tanzania. These areas have traditionally been used for trophy hunting, as they tend to be extremely remote and rugged. To attract more photographic tourists to western Tanzania, the area north of the Ugalla River became a national park in 2019.

These places hold a big draw for people like me who pour over maps and listen to tall tales of lands way over yonder. So of course I jumped at the chance to visit with Nomad and their Expeditionary Walking Camp. As the name suggests, this is a mobile, lightweight, no thrills but very comfortable, back-to-basics safari. You can pick a nice spot by the river and set up there. A small and very talented team bringing hot water for your bucket shower, cooking delicious meals and making excellent company and just being there. 

A World Untouched by Time: Exploring Ugalla's Wilderness

Nomad's Expeditionary Walking Camp offers an intimate connection to this extraordinary ecosystem. Surrounded by the rhythmic pulse of Africa, you'll find yourself immersed in a world where every encounter is a revelation. Track the elusive leopard through the dappled shade of the miombo woodlands, or witness the breathtaking spectacle of a herd of elephants silhouetted against the setting sun.

There’s virtually no infrastructure in Ugalla, so the thing to do is walk. This allows you to explore new campsites, find out what birds are about, who is coming down to the river at night and sweat out last night's beer (Ugalla is hot and humid in October). This is great when you have a tremendously experienced walking specialist and an enthusiastic young park ranger to do it with.  

Beyond the Big Five: Encountering Ugalla's Diverse Wildlife

On the first evening, wandering along the river bank, listening to the hippos honking their protests I spotted an odd shape or two away in the distance. Maybe a ground hornbill or similar. Then another one, and another. A distinctive trot and bounce, looking back for each other. Wild dogs! We could hardly believe it. Twenty and more. The vehicle raced out to pick us up and we followed them into the thick bush as the sun went down. 

Ugalla isn’t for the faint-hearted, no air conditioning and 300 square foot rooms here. Just raw and rugged nature right up in your face. If you’ve ever been to Katavi, that’s a good reference point (the tsetse flies are equally as vicious). Except with great avenues of huge palm trees. You can see the flood lines on these, way up above your head. Whilst cruising around looking for Roan and Sable antelope, some descending vultures caught our attention.

Immerse Yourself in Nature: The Magic of Walking Safaris

  • Unforgettable Encounters: Witness the awe-inspiring wildlife of Ugalla on foot.
  • Unparalleled Access: Explore hidden corners of the wilderness inaccessible by vehicle.
  • A Deeper Connection: Develop a profound appreciation for the natural world.

Drawing closer, four lions popped up and hurriedly skulked away. Three sub-adults and a lioness who lingered for a moment to gaze at us before disappearing. No picture-perfect moment, but an enthralling feeling of being with lions that still run from humans. 

Beyond the thrill of wildlife encounters, Ugalla offers a profound sense of peace and solitude. As you wander through the golden grasslands, the weight of the world seems to lift, replaced by a profound connection to the natural world. The starry nights are a celestial masterpiece, a canvas adorned with countless twinkling diamonds.

Embrace Adventure: Unforgettable Experiences Await

Ugalla is more than a destination; it's a transformative journey. It's a place where dreams are born, where the spirit is rekindled, and where memories are made to last a lifetime. Let the allure of this hidden gem ignite your wanderlust and transport you to a world untouched by time.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with us here.

Related Articles