Best national parks in Uganda
Best national parks in Uganda : Uganda is a small landlocked country but blessed with remarkable biodiversity. Uganda is best country for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking. However, Uganda is not just about gorillas and chimpanzees. During a Uganda Wildlife Safari, one can take park in several activities including spotting the big 5 (Lions, Buffaloes, Leopards, Rhinoceros and Elephants), going for boat cruises on lakes like Victoria (second largest in the world), rivers like the Nile (longest in Africa) or the Kazinga channel and Lake Bunyonyi and so many other attractions. Mountain hikers have several options including climbing Mount Elgon, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Muhabira, Mount Gahinga, and the Rwenzori Mountains. Below are the best national parks on Uganda that offer a variety of attractions and experiences for travellers. One can take upon 25 Days on a Uganda safari only visiting the best destinations in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi national park is home to the remaining mountain gorillas in Uganda found in the South Western part of the country next to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi forest and Virunga mountains national parks (Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park) where we can find the only existing Mountain gorillas in the world and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park became UNESCO World heritage site because of the mountain gorillas and overall biodiversity. Gorilla habituation and Gorilla trekking are the park’s main tourist activities however visitors can also take part in nature walks, community visits and bird watching thus Best national parks in Uganda.
Kibale forest national park
Kibale Forest is known as the primate capital of Uganda. There are more primates in this park than anywhere else in Africa with over 13 species including chimpanzees. Kibale Forest national park is arguably the best place for chimpanzee tracking in the world with about 5000 individuals. The key difference between chimpanzee tracking in Kibale forest and other national park lies in the success rate of finding the primates. Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees are very mobile and locating a family can be difficult since they don’t stay in one place for too long. The chances of finding the primates in Kibale forest are very high. Apart from primates, Kibale forest is a birders paradise with over 370 species. Visitors also have opportunities to take part in nature walks and community visits.
Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo national park is one of Uganda’s true hidden gems located far away at the North-Eastern corner of the country. The park has vegetation, seasons and landscape that are similar to that found in Masai Maraa national reserve but with virgin wilderness and less crowds. Kidepo Valley National park is the only park in Uganda where ostriches, cheetahs and wild dogs still thrive. The scenery and landscape in Kidepo valley is so stunning that CNN described it as one of the best national parks in Africa. Sadly, this amazing park is less visited by tourists in part because of its remote location and a past history of being a hideout for rebels. Game drives are the main activity in the park. A game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park provides opportunities to spot lions, leopards, buffaloes and Elephants, ostriches among others. A cultural visit can also be arranged to visit the Karamojong, Dodoth or the endangered Ik tribe. Other activities in the park include mountain climbing, nature walks and visiting hot springs thus Best national parks in Uganda.
Murchison falls national park
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the best places to go on a wildlife safari in Africa. It is the largest park in Uganda and found on the North-western part of the country. Murchison falls like Queen Elizabeth National Park is blessed with diverse features and landscape offering a whole lot of things to do. The key attraction is the beautiful Murchison Falls on the great river Nile. The park also attracts visitors because it is the only place where one can spot all the big five mammals. Although Rhinos are extinct in the park, they can be seen at the adjacent Ziwa rhino sanctuary on the way to and from the park. Apart from game drives and visiting the top of the falls, visitors can choose to track Chimpanzee in Budongo Forest or go for a boat cruise below the falls to spot one of the largest collection of crocodiles, hippos and birds. Apart from the game drives and boat cruises, visitor also have an opportunity to view wildlife from a hot air balloon or visit the local Boomu Women’s group to mingle with locals.
Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park is the most popular and visited national park in Uganda. The park stands out for its diverse landscape and wildlife. Queen Elizabeth receives good rains compared to the Maasai Maara national reserve and Serengeti hence giving visitors more panoramic views for much of the year. Among the amazing features in the park include crater lakes, Gorges, Salt Lakes and rift valley Lakes like Gorge and Edward. Queen Elizabeth national park is famous for hosting the rare tree climbing lions but visitors can also spot chimpanzees at the Maramagambo and the amazing Kyambura Gorge. The Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best places to spot birds in the world. During certain months of the year the sheer density of birds within and around the channel will leave even the most seasoned birders very impressed. Other activist and attractions include nature walks at the Maramagambo forest, hot air balloon wildlife viewing, visiting the Katwe salt mining lake, cultural visits and taking part in wildlife research tours.
Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo is the smallest savannah park in Uganda located in a strategic area on the main highway leading to Uganda’s major game parks like Bwindi impenetrable national park, Queen Elizabeth national park and Mgahinga national park. Tourists coming back from Bwindi forest and Queen Elizabeth National Parks usually make a stopover for a day before proceeding to Entebbe international airport for departure. Lake Mburo National Park is the only place in Uganda where Impala can be spotted in great numbers. Lake Mburo National Park is also the only place where once can go for a walking safari, horseback riding in the wild and Mountain biking in the national park. Being the closest game park to Kampala capital city, Lake Mburo national park is perfect for those who have come for a workshop, seminar or business trip in the capital and desire to see some of Uganda’s wildlife before returning home or do a longer safari. The other attractive activities in Lake Mburo are spot fishing, boat cruises along the lake, birdwatching and nature walks.
Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga national park is termed as the destination where “Silver Meets Gold” in this sense the Silver is a Gorilla while Gold is a Golden monkey. Mgahinga national park is located in the South-Western corner of Uganda near the border between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, Mgahinga national park is the smallest national park in Uganda and is the second home to Mountain gorillas in Uganda. Since there is only one habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga forest, most visitors prefer tracking gorillas in Bwindi forest, making Golden monkey tracking the most popular activity in this park. Apart from the primates, Mgahinga national park stands out because of its three inactive volcanoes – Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. These volcanoes are part of the eight Virunga ranges of mountains that include Karisimbi, Bisoke and Nyiragongo to mention a few. Hiking to the top of these volcanoes will reward tourists with breath-taking views of the Virunga ranges, Mount Rwenzori. Hiking in Mgahinga on Mount Muhabura offers hikes to reach the summit allowing one to step in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo at the same time. Other activities in this park include; nature walks, the Batwa pygmies trail and community tours. The Batwa lead the activity as guides and within the forest unlike in Bwindi where visitors go to meet the group of the park thus Best national parks in Uganda.
Mount Elgon national park
Elgon national park is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve found at the border between Kenya and Uganda. Most of the park is found on the Uganda side of the border. Climbing Mount Elgon with is the 8th highest in Africa is the main activity in the park but there are several animal species that can be spotted at the foot of the mountain and surrounding areas. The mountain area receives good rains throughout the year and when combined with the fertile soils support the growth of vegetation and forests that provide food for primates, buffaloes and elephants among others.
Nature walks are organized to experience the beautiful scenery, animal and plant life around the park. Visitors who are interested in exploring caves or visiting waterfalls will not be disappointed while visiting Mount Elgon. The famous Sipi falls are one of the over 50 waterfalls found at the slopes of the mountains. Cultural tours are organized to visit the Bagisu in their coffee farms or to witness their ancient circumcision ceremonies. The other activities arranged within and around the park are bird watching, game viewing, camping, sport fishing, abseiling, cycling or visiting the Matheniko Bokora and Pian Upe Wildlife Reserves.
Mount Rwenzori national park
This is another UNESCO World Heritage in the south-western corner of the country and next to the Virunga National Park in Congo. Although climbing the Rwenzori Mountains is the key attraction, the park is also known for the birds, animals and remarkable botany. A combination of heavy rains, cold weather and sunshine has led to the growth of rare vegetation commonly seen in cold countries. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to several primates and mammals like Colobus monkeys, buffaloes, chimpanzees, forest elephants and Leopards among others. Over 216 species of birds can be found in the park as well as rare reptile like the three-horned chameleon. Apart from mountain climbing, the park office arranges nature walks and visits to one the local Bakonzo tribe.
Semuliki national park
Semuliki National Park is found in the district of Bundibugyo along the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park has East Africa’s only remaining lowland rainforest. The forests in the park are an extension of the great Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo creating conditions typically seen in Central Africa.
The forest extension has enabled the park to attract bird species not commonly seen in East Africa making the park one of the best places bird watching in Uganda. But it is not only birds and forest that attract tourists to the park. Semuliki National Park is home to two fascinating hot springs – the Sempaya Hot Springs. Visitor can go and take a bath in one of the hot springs or go for a game drive to see some of the animals found in the park. Cultural visits can also be arranged to see the Bakonjo, Batwa or Bamba tribes.