Uganda is a true tourist hurb and gem in the East African and great Lakes region region. It habours over 50 attractions and destinations! There is more to Uganda than meets the eye. Located right below the equator- yet with a very moderate and temperate climate; Graced with mountains, rain forests, deserts, beaches and 10 national parks, this place is an ecotourist’s dream! Home to half the famous Mountain Gorillas, source of mighty Nile, snow capped Mt. Rwenzori, highest mountain range in Africa, highest concentration of primates in the world and friendly diverse cultures of people. The merging of habitats from eastern, western and
northern Africa in Uganda also provides an awesome bird-watching experience unrivalled in the World.
NATIONAL PARKS OF UGANDA
BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK
It is part of the Bwindi impenetrable forest situated next to the Virunga national park and on the edge of the Albertine rift in southeastern Uganda along the democratic republic of Congo boarder. The 331 sq kilometers of jungle forests containing both mountain and lowland forests are only accessible on foot. It is designated world heritage site by UNESCO.As one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, the forest boasts the diversity of species as a feature of the park providing habitat for some 220 species of butterflies, 348 species of birds,120 species of mammals, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species.Bwindi is amongst the most diverse forests in East Africa as far as floral diversity is concerned. It has more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low altitude) sector is rich in species of the Guineo-Congolian flora including the two species internationally recognised as endangered, the Brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.The 340 Bwindi gorillas which make half of the world’s population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas are the most popular in this park. Four habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism and they include; Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura near Buhoma and Nkugringo group at nkuringo. Also the park is sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many birds.
LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park is situated about 30 kilometres (19 mi), by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometres (150 mi), by road, west of Kampala.Those who come to Lake Mburo watch out for a variety of animals such as zebras, impala, buffaloes, and over three hundred (300) bird species. Most of these bird species are not found on other national parks here in Uganda. Its sculptured landscape, with rolling hills and idyllic lake shores has a varied mosaic of habitats; forest galleries, seasonal and permanent swamps, and rich acacia-woodland, and grassy valleys which all support a wealth of wildlife. At 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi), the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks. The park has camp grounds and permanent tent facilities for visitors.The park is underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years.The park has Lake Mburo at its center forming a wetland system with other 14 lakes in the area. The 50km long swamp links these lakes into a wetland system fed by the Ruizi river on the western side. Of these 15 lakes, 5 are withing the park’s boundary creating almost a wetland on almost a fifth of the park’s area. The seasonally and permanent swamps are home to a wide variety of wetland birds, and the shy, rare sitatunga antelope. The lake’s surface and fringing vegetation are always changing making it delightful to take a boat out for an experience of a life time.Climate:Lake Mburo National Park lies in a rain shadow between Lake Victoria and the Rwenzori Mountains, and receives an average of 800 mm of rain a year. Being near the equator, the rainfall pattern is bimodal, with the long rains occurring from February to June, and the short rains from September to December. The rains are rather erratic and unpredictable, but most rain tends to fall in April and November. The average recorded temperature is 27.5¡ãC with daily variations ranging from 21.5¡ãC to 34.0¡ãC. July and August are the hottest months.
THE RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Western Uganda is a home to the Rwenzori mountain also known as the fables mountains of the moon. They have are the third highest equatorial snow peaks point in Africa, while the lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest.This park serves as a protection to the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range, hosting 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of vegetation very rare to the world.For you hikers, the ranges are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination. The trek which will take 9-12 days will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.After the hikes, the neighboring Bakonzo villages will offer you nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine. With that kind of experience, I wouldn’t miss this tour for anything.
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Being the largest national park in Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park measures about 3,840 square kilometers (1,480 sq mi). The park is a portion of the 5,308 square kilometers (2,049 sq mi) that make up the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA).It lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. Victoria Nile bisects the park situated in Masindi District in western Uganda and in Amuru in northern Uganda. Victoria Nile lies 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapidsThe large African wild animals including Water buffalo, elephant, Crocodile, Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Antelope, Giraffes, Uganda Kob, Oribi and other animals plus a number of bird species, are habitats to the park. River Nile crossing the park is a home to selection of water birds, including the amazing Shoe bill stork
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale national park has got one of the most amazing varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. The forest is interspersed with grassland and swamp dominating the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.The park covers an area of 760 sq kms. It is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate. The 13 primate species estimated include red, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, baboons and a large number of chimpanzees which are a must-view when ones visits the park. The park has a population of more than a 1000 Chimpanzees, over 340 species of Birds, 27 species of Frogs and toads and 14 species of snakes. The dense rain forest surroundings are also fascinating to look at.Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.Kibale national park lies close to tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, making it one of the most rewarding destinations.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. It is defined by its diverse ecosystems. These include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.The park also awes its popularity to its strategic location as set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains which is the highest mountain range in the whole of Africa, with 6 glacial peaks that include Mount Speke, Mount Stanley, Mount Gessi, Mount Emin Pasha, Mount Luigi da Savoia and Mount Baker. The park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.On addition to the outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts a fascinating cultural history. The local people have lots of beautiful stoies to tell the visitors, those plus music, dance and drama, all for the enjoyment of the visitors.
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Uganda’s most isolated national park. It occupies an area of 1,442 square kilometers in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. It hosts big game and over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species. The few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. The savanna landscape extends from Apoka, in the heart of the park to far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.The park also boasts oases during the dry season only found in the wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus valley near Apoka. These combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.The park has over 475 species the second largest number next to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park is naturally gifted with a number of birds great to watch. These include Ostrich, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton's and Heuglin's Francolins, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub's Bustards, Eastern Yellow and Jackson's Hornbills Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Bruce's Green Pigeon and Rose-ringed Parakeet.
SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Semuliki National Park covering an area of 220 square km sprawls across the floor of the Semuliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori and is one of Uganda's newest National Parks having been gazetted in October 1993. The Park occupies a flat to gently rolling landform ranging from 670 -760 metres above the sea level. It is an extension of the huge Ituri Forest and is one of the richest areas in both flora and fauna in Africa with largely birds.Its features are more associated with Central Africa rather than East Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK Mt.
Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world spread at 4000km sq. It is found along the Uganda-Kenya border and is the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. Its 80km diameter form, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. Locally known as mount Masaba, Mt. Elgon, an extinct volcano is said to have stood taller than Mounatin Kilimanjaro of today during the prehistoric times. Elgon has got three other major peaks which are Kiongo (4303m), Mubiyi (4210m) and Jackson’s summit (4165m). Masaba is the name of the founding ancestor of the Bagisu believed to have emerged from a cave on its slopes several centuries ago. Masaba’s spirit is believed to be personified by Jackson’s Summit but may be the taller Kiongo peak.The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.The Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffalos also live on the mountainside.The deserted moorlands unveil a magnificent and unclutter wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains: the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt. Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km²caldera.
MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was created with gorillas in mind, the intention was to protect the rare mountain gorillas and endangered golden monkeys within the dense forests. It sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m.Its wildlife bizarre is complimented by a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.The most striking features of this national park are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.