KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
The park’s altitude ranges between 914m and 2,750m above sea level. The park contains two rivers; Kidepo and Narus which disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife. The local communities around the park include pastoral Karamojong people, similar to the Maasai of Kenya. Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species. Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, but the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent. Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges. During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.
LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
The park’s altitude ranges between 1,220m and 1,828m above sea level. The Park spans a Size of 370km2 of which 20% of the surface is wetland habitats.
The parks’ precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated several times; firstly in various attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies, then to make way for ranches, and finally as a result of subsistence poaching. 20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools. Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. It is home to 350 bird species as well as wild game such as; zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.
MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Mt. Elgon is an extinct volcano that first erupted more than 24 million years ago. With the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world (50 km by 80 km), Mt. Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in Eastern Africa, with the second-highest peak in Uganda (Wagagia Peak at 4321 metres). Mt. Elgon contains a crater covering over 40 kms at the top of the mountain, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks.
The secondary forest and thick scrub along the Chebonet River near camp supports, African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catchers, Chin-spot Batis, Mackinon’s Fiscal, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush-Shrikes and Baglafecht Weaver.
While ascending Mt. Elgon’s enchanting slopes, you will pass through dense montane forest and mixed bamboo belts teeming with birdlife. You will then enter the fascinating heath and moorland zones containing several interesting endemic plant species such as Giant lobelia and groundsels. Wildlife enthusiasts will be pleased to spot primates such as the Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, and hundreds of fascinating bird species, including Golden Winged and Tacazze sunbirds, Ross’s and Hartlaubs Turacos, Black and White Casqued and Crowned Hornbills, the endangered Lammergeier and the Jackson’s Francolin which is found nowhere else in Uganda. If you are particularly observant you can also see buffalo, duiker, hyena or even the elusive leopard.
Visiting Mount Elgon National Park presents an exciting setting for extended hikes. In addition to the interesting and unique flora and fauna, you can expect to experience magnificent waterfalls, enormous caves, scenic peaks and gorges, and hot springs which bubble up at 48’C. The best times to visit are during the drier seasons from June to August and December to March. However, even in the wetter months trekking is manageable. No technical climbing equipping or skills are required, and all major peaks are accessible to hikers.
Please support local community members and encourage continued conservation of MENP’s valuable resources by hiring local guides and porters.
The magnificent Sipi Falls are located 66 km from Mbale, en-route to the Forest Exploration Centre and Kapkwata. Several trails in the area allow for intriguing day hikes through friendly local villages and beautiful farming country. Pleasant campsites and lodge facilities, including meal services and hot showers are available at Crow’s Nest located just before the Sipi trading centre. More expensive accommodation is available at the Sipi Falls Resort.
MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district and is the smallest National park of the 3 national parks in the Virunga conservation area. The other two parks are Virunga National park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and all form 434 sq.km of this conservation area. The park was established in 1991 and it is governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with a size of 33.7 sq. km and it lies between altitudes 2,227m and 4,127m. It covers 3 of the Virunga volcanoes which are Mt. Muhavura (4,127), Mt. Gahinga (3,474), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645).
Mgahinga National park was established majorly to protect the mountain gorillas and in this same park also endangered Golden monkeys have made it their habitat.
Mgahinga National Park has about 39 mammals of these including the Mountain gorillas, buffaloes and elephants, also endangered golden monkeys. Others include; giant forest hogs, bushbucks, leopards, spotted hyenas, black fronted duikers among others. It also has around 79 bird species.
MURCHISION FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952
At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow. The northern section of the park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches.
The northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 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 rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
QUEEN ELEZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00. The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species. The Katwe explosion craters mark the park’s highest point at 1,350m above sea level, while the lowest point is at 910m, at Lake Edward. Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which 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. Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, 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.
As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities.
MOUNTAIN RWENZORI NATIONAL PARK
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located within the “Mountains of the Moon”, as Mount Rwenzori is called. Mountain Rwenzori is situated in Western Uganda in the East African Rift Valley and straddles also to the Democratic Republic of Congo and its conservation area known as Virunga National Park. The mountain is the third highest in Africa rising up more than 16,700 feet above sea level and its highest peaks rise above the clouds and are permanently snowcapped. The Rwenzori Mountain ranges are higher compared to the Alps and they have glaciers which are one of the sources of the longest river on earth, the River Nile. Margherita Peak is the highest peak on the ranges making it the 3rd highest peak in Africa together with its twin peak, Mount Stanley, which is within the park. The 4th and 5th highest peaks, Mount Speke and Mount Baker, are also within the park. The mountain ranges were first brought to the worlds notice in CE 150 by Alexandrian geographical researcher and photographer, Pletomy, when he described a stunning mountain which he christened “mountain of the moon.” Later in 1899, English explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, was as spell bound as Pletomy when he beheld the ranges and christened them the “Cloud Mountains.”
The Rwenzori national park, which is the conservation area for the mountain, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers almost 1000 sq. km and strides across the districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibudyo. It includes most of the center and the eastern half of the mountain and is known for its beautiful plant life coupled with waterfalls, glaciers and a lot of other unique mountainous vegetation. The park has glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls and has been portrayed as one of the mainly attractive Alpine areas around the world.
SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Semuliki National Park Uganda is an impeccable Uganda safari spot located in the extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo district along geo-graphical coordinates 0o 44′- 00 53′ N – 290 57-30o 11’E. It is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest, and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene period. It forms one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa particularly birds.
It lies within the western arm of the East African Rift Valley along the Uganda/ Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. Semuliki National Park is bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains to the southeast, to the west is the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the north are the Semuliki flats and Lake Albert further on. What an interesting view all round!!!
This 220 sq km Semuliki National Park Uganda, one of the newest national parks in Uganda was gazetted in October 1993. Her land form includes a flat land form with a gently undulating park that ranges between 670 -760 meters above sea level. Many areas in this park flood up during the rainy season because all streams and rivers from the surrounding area drain through the park, coupled with the poor topography and drainage.
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
This largely forested park, 795 sq. Km in area, is best known for the large number and variety of resident primates. An impressive list of 13 primate species includes Uganda’s largest population of chimpanzees- an estimated 1450. Habituated groups can be tracked with experienced ranger guides at Kanyanchu River Camp. Established in the 1940s, Kibale was upgraded to national park status in recognition of a biodiversity that includes 350 tree species, 71 species of mammals and 370 bird species.
BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK
One of Africa’s oldest forests- being one of few that predate the arid conditions of the last ice age- the 325 sq.Km Bwindi Impenetrable has carpeted the margin of the Albertine rift valley for some 25,000 years. During this time it has accumulated a remarkable biodiversity. Species counts include 350 birds, 310 butterflies, 200 trees, 51 reptiles, 88 moths and 120 mammals.
Uganda’s foremost tourist attraction, and indeed one of the world’s most remarkable wildlife encounters, is tracking mountain gorillas across the misty slopes of the remote Bwindi Impenetrable forest of south-western Uganda.