Taking an African safari experience to Uganda can best be enjoyed in its National Parks. At the moment 10 national parks have been gazetted by Uganda Wildlife Authority as national parks. They are distributed throughout the country. Ones needs a well-tailored itinerary to avoid backtracking during Uganda safari.
Some of the Uganda National Parks are renowned for hosting particular wildlife but also have other animals too.
A few of the current Uganda National parks include Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Kidepo valley National Park, Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National park, Rwenzori National Park, Elgon National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.
Uganda wildlife Authority is responsible for taking care and monitoring activities in this park including game drives, launch trips, birding in Uganda, mountaineering, nature walks and others.
Details Of Uganda National Parks
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is located in southwestern Uganda hosting the foremost Uganda tourist attraction of the country the mountain gorillas. The word Bwindi locally means impenetrable and indeed this double meaning is appropriate to the nature of this ancient forest.
Several primates live in this dense forest including blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabe, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, pottos, chimpanzees and others.
The park occupies an area of about 327 square kilometer having tangled vegetation draping over a deeply fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys with high draughty ridges. The forest is made-up of medium altitude moist evergreen forest, montane forest with patches of Bamboo The feeling you get after emerging successful from gorilla trekking is unmatched and cryptic.
When all is done, you get a sense of achievement at the culmination of the long journey air, vehicle or on foot to find the mountain gorillas.
The Bwindi landscape constitutes an Island of remnant forest in the densely cultivated region of hills and deep valleys adjoining the Albertine Rift Valley and the Virunga Volcanoes.
Bwindi forest offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is key destination for any birder visiting Uganda. Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 species of the 24 Albertine rift endemics like African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimmsonwing, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Turaco and others. The Buhoma headquarters which lies in Munyega River at 1550 meters above sea level is flaked to the south by steep forest hills. It is an excellent birding spot with Ruhijah area in Mubwindi swamp are prime birding spots in the park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park lies on the Albertine rift valley surrounded by the valley’s escarpment the Rwenzori mountain and lake Edward and Lake George to the remote ishasha River in the south. This park is at an altitude of 914 meters above sea level at the foot of 5100 meters Rwenzori mountain.
It is one of the most scenic and popular National Parks in Uganda because of its unique game, birdlife and mesmerizing landscape. Queen Elizabeth National park incorporates a wide variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to galley and low land forest.
Its varied habitats favor the survival of great animal like lions, leopards, herd of elephants, cape buffaloes, topis, mongoose, warthogs, giant forest hogs, hyenas and others.
Taking a launch trip on Kazinga channel is one of the highlights of this Uganda Safaris to Queen Elizabeth National park. This three hours return voyage on Kazinga channel gives you chance to enjoy a number of animals like hippos, crocodiles, lions, waterbucks, bushbucks and others enjoy great time along the shores of this channel.
Kazinga channel shoreline is an all year round natural magnet to an array of birds including foreign migrants. Uganda birding opportunities present on the shores of this Kazinga channel ranging from easy water bird sighting from Mweya launch to careful searches for rare species in Maramagambo forest. Some of the birds you may get to spot include African Fish eagle, White backed night Heron, Pel fishing owl, great blue turaco, African Finfoot and others.
Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park is a primate haven in Uganda having about 13 of primates of which 9 are diurnal. The forest habors the greatest variety and concetration of primates in East Africa. Few of these primates include blue monkey, L’Hoest’s monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus and others.
This extensive biodiversity national park protects a large block of rainforest Uganda birding too. From Kanyanchu Visitor center you can use the main road to the bridge where you may spot Scaly Francolin, grey-headed olive-back, black-crowned Waxbills, green-backed Twin spot, black and white Mannikin and others.
The Bigodi wetland sanctuary is a haven for birding in Uganda just on the outskirts of Magombe Swamp. More than 138 bird species are residents here. You may view them from the visitor platform.
For great scenery, the Kibale Fort-Portal road is unmatched as you pass the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area. You spot amazing crater lakes nestled in the valleys of several highlands.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National park is a game viewing and ornithologist center in Africa which have become synonymous with the word safari. The magnificent rapids of Murchison Falls on river Nile sets the best scene for an adventure that impresses even the most discerning of visitors.
This park is bisected by River Nile creating the Northern and southern banks but Buligi area on the Northern bank is the parks’ prime game rich area.
During the game drives, you have chance of spotting Rothschild giraffes, cape buffaloes, hartebeests, herds of elephants, giant forest hogs, waterbucks, reedbucks, oribi, statungas, leopards, hyenas and others.
When you take a launch trip to the magnificent Murchison Falls, you feel the earth tremble as River Nile water cascades the 41 meters high cliff to continue with the course. Daring tourists may hike to the top of the falls where clearer vision of Murchison Fall’s vigorous behavior seen.
Murchison Falls National park offers unique habitats of an impressive 450 species of birds which makes the birding adventure to Murchison Falls National Park worth for ornithologists.
Kidepo Valley National Park
This Park lies in the farthest corner of wild Karamoja district of Uganda. It is haven for great game lovers In Africa. This park hosts wildlife that is rarely or not seen in other Uganda protected areas like bat-eared fox, aardworlf, striped hyenas, elands, giraffes, lions, hartebeests, zebras, elephants, black-backed ans side-striped jackal and others.
The general topography of Kidepo valley is dominated by open tree savannah habitat. For the hills, they have been colonized by dry mountain forest whereas watercourses support Acaccia Forest. Most of the hilltops are capped by rock Kopjes that give home to Klipspringer.
Kidepo Valley national Park hosts an extensive list of birds about 463 species confirmed. Some of them include ostrich, Kori bustard, secretary bird, carmine, Abyssinian roller, Abyssinian scimitarbill, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills, Karamojah Apalis and others.
Lake Mburo National Park
This Uganda safari park is the closet to Kampala the capital city of Uganda. This a possible stop over for anyone wishing to visit the National parks in western Uganda. The parks has galley forest, open savannah and acacia woodland, rock kopjes, seasonal and permanent swamps
Lake Mburo national park hosts a number of animals like Impalas, elands, zebras, waterbucks, bushbucks, bush duikers.
Its main tourism center is Rwonyo where you can do nature walks and other park activities. During game drives in Lake Mburo National Park, you may spot a number of animals and an array of birds.
Other activities you may enjoy in the park include visit to Salt lick area, a walk through Rubanda Forest, Birding and others
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park may be one of the smallest parks in Uganda occupying about 33.7 square kilometers of land but also home to the only leftover mountain gorillas in the world. This park still possesses virgin vegetation cover because it is less visited.
It is most popular attractions are primates like the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus, red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, L’hoest’s and others.
Only one gorilla trekking family called Nyakagezi is so far opened for tourism in this park. in the past, it was known to be mobile. This family would cross into Rwanda since the mountain gorillas are wild and therefore respect no political boundaries.
Mgahinga National park is a haven for birding in Uganda at the moment hosting about 115 species. You have high chances of spotting Albertine rift endemics too. Some of the birds you may get to see include crowned hornbill, shelley’s Crimmsonwing, African Green Broadbill, Rwenzori Batis, black kites, crowned cranes Collared Apalis, White-browed Crombec and others.
Hiking some of the Mgahinga National park Mountains in a day is exceptional. This park lies on the northern slopes of three distinctive ranges that is mountain muhavura, mountain Gahinga and mountain Sabyinyo. When you stand at the top of Mountain Gahinga, you get to see Uganda, Rwand and D.R.Congo from one point.
Elgon National Park
This is the only national Park located in Eastern part of Uganda. It’s cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitude provides a refuge for lots of fauna and flora.
Mountain Elgon is one of the renowned regional landmarks. Ascent of mountain Elgon passes through a series of roughly concentric vegetation zones. The human activities here have led to erosion especially during the severe rainy seasons.
The park vegetation is made up of montane forest, then bamboo and low canopy forest, high montane heath then Afro alpine
While walking in the park, you may spot bushbucks, warthogs, Defassa’s waterbucks, spotted hyenas, oribi and others.
Mountain climbing is the main activity on this park but its best done in June to September or December to February. The way is drier and passable too. The caldera and peaks are the main point to arrive at during this hike. While hiking, you may get to view waterfalls, beautiful fauna and flora, lakes, caves, hot springs and others
Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Hiking Mountain Rwenzori is the main activity in this park. You have a minimum of about seven days to get to ice capped Margheritah peak. You make stopovers at the different points of the hike.
The past explorers thought it was the source of River Nile until John Speke found the actual point in Jinja where River Nile water dramatically parts from Lake Victoria water.
Within these rains and mist filled troughs, loom specimens of Africa’s bizarre high altitude vegetation and stunted trees enveloped by colorful mosses and draped in beards of lichen.
More than 241 bird species are residents of this park of which 19 are endemic to the mountain. Chances of spotting Albertine endemics are high including Rwenzori Turaco, Malachite Sunbird and others.
Some wild animals also live closer to the bottom of Rwenzori National Park including chimpanzees, cape buffaloes, elephants, giant forest hogs , black and white colobus, veevet monkeys, blue monkeys and others.
Semuliki National Park
This park occupies about 220 square kilometers of land hosting a great amount of fauna and flora. Some of the animals you may get to see include forest elephants and buffaloes, Hippos and serried crocodiles in Semuliki River, duikers, chimpanzees, black and white colobus, blue monkeys, grey checked mangabey and others.
The highlight of this park is Sempaya hot spring where hot water splashes from the geysers underneath. You can boil some eggs at this location for fun. Hot springa bubble from underneath to demonstrate the forces that have dominated the rift valley over 14 million years.
Semuliki National Park’s bird list is long and its biodiversity is enhanced by its old age. In Africa, Semuliki National Park is identified as one of Africa’s ancient forests. It is estimated to be one of the survivors of the ice age period when most of African Forests were wiped out. Just patches of them remained including Bwindi forest and Semuliki forest.
To book an itinerary to visit any of the Uganda national Parks, you must know the requirements for book an Africa to Uganda. Some of these parks have must requirements like gorilla trekking permits, chimpanzee trekking permits, park entry fees and others