Bwindi Impenetrable N. Park – “The Ultimate Gorilla Experience”

Bwindi-impenatrable-national-ParkConservative Importance: A UNESCO-designated World heritage Site that provides habitat to Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, two great African apes, both of which are listed in the IUCN Red Data Book as sndangered animals. With 346 bird species recorded, 8 are known to occur only in East Africa. Seven bird species are liste in the IUCN Red Data Book that includes the Dwaft Honey guide (NT), Forest Ground Thrush (rare), Grauer’s Rush Warbler (vulnerable), Chapin’s Flycatcher (rare) and Shelley’s Crinson-wing (NT).

Specie diversity: At her size, specie diversity is great. There are at least more than 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species.

Tourist attraction: Gorilla tracking is the major tourist activity in this park. 9 groups of Mountain Gorilla families has been habituated and only 8 tourist s booked per group per day. Forest trails leads to various attractions including rivers, waterfalls, swamps, special vegetation type and to high level of wildlife concentration like monkeys.

Size and accessibility: The 331kms of jungle forests containing both montane and lowland forest. While there is a road that cuts through one section of the park, Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma road, most areas are only accessible on foot.

Queen Elizabeth National Park-“A Medley of Wonders”

Queen Elizabeth800pxConservation importance: The Park is a World Bio-sphere reserve (UNESCO 1979) that includes a RAMSAR wetland site and is classified as an important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.

Specie diversity: Most area is covered by water, thickets rainforest, swamps and savanna grasslands. This has provided suitable habitat for a wide range of species. At least 98 mammals, 606 of birds, and various species of dish, insects & reptiles.

Tourist attraction: This Park is famous for tree climbing lions in Ishasha sector, chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura, nature walks in Maramagambo forest and boat trips on the Kazinga channel to the shores of Lake Edward at Mweya Peninsula. While on the boat, Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippos, Nile Crocodiles and a lot of water birds are easily seen. Game drives to Kansenyi matting grounds or leks for kobs are famous places for lions, leopards and hyenas. For birders, the checklist is 606 species.

Size and accessibility: This park was first gazzetted in 1952 as Kazinga National Prk and in 1954 re-named Queen Elizabeth National Park. Coveres 1,978kms and located along the equator in South-West Uganda. The Mbarara- Kasese highway cuts through the park leaving Mweya 22Kms from this highway. 406km from Kampala, 146km from Mbarara and 40Km from Kasese the closest town.

Murchison Falls N.Park-“The World’s most powerful Waterfall”

murchison-falls NPConservation Importance: The first Uganda’s protected area to be gazetted as a National Park in 1952. The park protects the only sizeable population of giraffes (small population Kidepo valley N.P), herds of buffaloes, elephants, Uganda kobs,oribi, hartebeests,lions,leopards and hyenas. Also the park protects a 20-30km stretch of River Nile as a breeding area for fish, hippos, Nile crocodiles and water birds.

Specific diversity: Ecosystem types range from Savannah grassland, woodland, tropical rainforests, rivers and swamps. In this wide range of habitat types, 479 species of birds have been recorded, 87 of mammals and 14 of reptiles. Fish and butterflies.

Tourist attraction: There are 2 ways to access Murchison falls. Drive straight to the top or by boat on River Nile from Paraa to the bottom of the falls. Along the 7km river stretch, there is plenty of water birds, hippos, crocodiles, bush-bucks and water-bucks. Much more wildlife-lions, leopards, hartebeest, kobs, oribi, giraffes, elephants, and can be seen while on game drive.

Size and accessibility: the Park, together with adjoining wildlife reserves of Karuma and Bugungu are jointly managed as “Murchison Falls protected area” this totals to 5,072kms. The park alone covers 3840kms. Kampala-Paraa is 305km while only 86km from Masindi, the closest town.

Kibale National Park-“The Primate Capital of the World”

kibale-Forest800pxConservation Importance: An evergreen rainforest National Park whose mammal fauna is dominated by primates. 13 species have been recorded of which the Chimpanzee and the Red Colobus Monkey have both been assessed by IUCN as endangered or critically endangered. The rare L’Hoest’s Monkey live in this forest too. The park’s population of elephants travels between the park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other large mammals within the park include leopards, bushpigs, three species of duiker and two species of otter. Bird life is also prolific, two species of pittas (African and Green-breasted) and African Grey Parrots.

Specie diversity: At least 71 species of mammals have been recorded, 375 of birds, 250 of butterflies, 350 of trees and shrubs, 27 of frogs and toads, and 14 of snakes. Among reptile, the rock python is the biggest in here.

Tourist attraction: A single group or family of chimpanzee has been habituated for tourism. Chimp tracking/primate walk and bird watching are the major tourist activities here. With well developed nature trails, tourists spend time exploring several kilometers of forest.

Size and accessibility: Gazetted in 1993, the park covers 975kms of rainforest, swamps, riveres and few areas of grassland. The Park headquarters, Kanyanchu, from the nearest town of Fortportal, is 36Km. While Kampala to Kanyanchu via Fortportal, is a distance of 358Km.

Kidepo Valley National Park– “True African Wilderness”

Conservation Importance: Protects a wide range of rare, regional endemic and globally threatened species of wildlife that includes: the Ostrich, Eland, Roan Antelop, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Dikdik, African wild dog, Cheetah and Leopard. Others, the Bat-eared Fox, Striped Hyena, Aardwolf, Caracal and Cheetah the unique carnivore specie of the Karamoja region. The Beisa Oryx, Roan Antelop and the Bright Gazelle have greatly reduced in number through poarching.

Specie diversity: At least 80 species of animals have been recorded, 28 not known to occur in any other national park in Uganda. 486 bird species have their homes here, ostrich inclusive.

Tourist attraction: In one section of the park, is a wetland which is a major source of water. This area, Narus valley, is also source of pasture for grazers and a hunting ground for carnivores. This makes the valley a prime game viewing area for tourists. Among the animals to be seen here includes the Elephants, Zebras, Giraffes, Eland, Buffaloes, Hyenas, and Lions. Special  birds in the park include the Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Karamoja Apalis, Verreaux’s Eagle, Pygmy Falcon & the Egyptian Vulture. The so called Kidepo river is a seasonal river lined with a riverine “forest” of borassus palms and aacia tress along a sand bed river. An area to look for the Dwarf Crocodiles.

Size and accessibility: The Park covers 1,442kms of arid Karamoja region. Kampala to Kidepo is 571km of tarmac and marram road.

Lake Mburo National Park-“ Whispers of the Wild”

Lake-Mburo-NP800pxConservative importance: Its diverse habitats of open savannas, dry savannas, lakes, swamps, rocky outcrops, forests, woodlands, thickets and dry hill sides provides suitable ecosystems to a wide range of fauna and flora. The impala, slender mongoose and bush rat that are nowhere else in Uganda, are better conserved here. A small population of klipspringer still remains in few isolated outcrops. African hunting dogs, black rhino, giant forest hogs, roan antelopes and elephants in this park, were hunting to extinct during 1930-70s.

Specie diversity: 325 bird species and 68 mammals’ species have been recovered.

Tourist attractions: Six swamp-interconnected lakes are home to a variety of water birds including rare and endangered African fin-foot and shoebill, and mammals including the shy and elusive sitatunga. On a boat trip, you come closer to such wildlife including hippos, Nile crocodiles, and waterbirds. On a game drive, large mammals include impala, zebra, buffaloes, eland, bush-bucks, water-bucks, monkeys, oribi, duikers, klip-springer, bush-pigs, leopards and rarely lions. Small mammals include rock and tree hyraxes, bush babies and dwarf mongoose.

Size and accessibility: At 260kms this park is our 2nd smallest park after Mgahinga. It is 253km from Kampala to Rwunyo, the park headquarter, and 54km from Mbarara.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park-“Where God meets Silver”

Conservation Importance: Provides habitat for the Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkey, the two world’s rare and engendered apes.

Specie diversity: 76 mammals among which are buffaloes, elephants, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, duikers, leopards, civets, golden cats, jackals and porcupines, have their home here. Because of the difficult terrain and most being nocturnal, they are rarely seen. At least 127 bird species have been recorded.

Tourist attraction: Apart from Bwindi impenetrable National Park, gorillas in Uganda can also be tracked here too. In this small park only one gorilla family, has been habituated for tourism. Advance booking is also required. Golden monkey tracking. A troop of golden monkey has been habituated for tourism. Bird watching is an activity here too. The three mountains of the Virunga volcanoes- Mt Muhabura (4,127m), Mt Gahinga (3,474m) and Mt Sabyinyo (3,654m) provides  good challenge to mountain climbers. New on the list of tourist activities in the park  is the long walk Batwa Heritage Trail. The Park also offers cave exploration of the ancient Garama Cave.

Size and accessibility: At 33.7Kms this park is the smallest in Uganda. Located in the South- West corner, the park shares a border with Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The three parks, form the 434Kms (168Miles) Virunga Conservation Area (VCA).

Rwenzori Mountains National park- “The Mystical Challenge”

Conservation Importance: A world Heritage Sit whose vegetation cover ranges from tropical  rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of Giant groundsel and Giant lobelia. Six small mammals are Albertine Rift- valley endemin including Rwenzorie otter shrew and the Rwenzori red duiker. It supports 19 endemic bird species including th Rwenzori Turaco, and the Blue-headed sunbird, endemic reptile includes the Great lakes bush viper and the Strange horned chameleon.

Specie diversity:  217 birds and 77 mammal species have been recorded in the Rwenzoris.

Tourist attractionUnlike other national parks in Uganda that offer excellent game viewing opportunities, Rwenzori is better known for its spectacular sceneries and unique plant life. Mountain climbing is the major activity with trekking along the Rwenzori Central Trail Circuit taking up to 7 days.

Size and accessibility: Gazetted in 1991, covers an area of 995Km2. The 6 mountain ranges of the Rwenzori include, Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890), Mt. Baker (4,843m), Mt Elim (4,798), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt. Luigi di Savoia (4,627m) separately by deep gorges. Mt Stanley is the largest with Margherita (5,109m) as the highest peak. Highest Rwenzoris are permanently snow-apped. No roads within the park different parts of the mountain explored only on foot along established trails.

Mt Elgon National Park-“The World’s largest Mountain Caldera”

Conservation Importance: Apart from the special sceneries that includes waterfalls, gorges, mesas, cliffs, caves, calderas, hot springs and mountain peaks, the unique fauna and flora, the park deserve to be preserved.

Specie diversity: Elgon’s slopes support a rich variety of vegetation that ranges from montane forest to high open moorland studded with a giant lobelia and groundsel plants. 42 species of mammals ranging from elephants, leopards, buffalo, bush pigs, monkeys to a variety of small antelope. 312 Bird species including the black-collared apalis, green tinkerbird, jackson’s francolin, verreaux’s eagle, black-collared apalis & endangered lammergeir.

Tourist attraction: The major activities in this park are the mountain hiking, primate and bird watching, cave explorations and camping photography. The most popular areas around Mt Elgon are the vast caves where frequent night visitors such as elephants, bush pigs and buffaloes come to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls. They are the ancient cave paintings near the trail head at Budadiri, the hot springs-48C in the former volcano’s crater, and the Sipi falls at the foot of Mt. Elgon.

Size and Accessibility: Gazetted in 1992, the park covers an area of 1145kms. Nearest town is Mbale 28km to the trail ahead of Budadiri. While, if you have to travel from Kampala, it is 314km. There are no roads in the park, and all activities are done on foot. No game drives!

Semuliki National Park-“The true Birders’Haven”

Conservation importance: River Semuliki and Lamia form the border between Uganda and Dr Congo. The flora and fauna show strong affinities with Congo basin forest with many species reaching the eastern limit of their rangesin Semuliki Forest that has stretched from Congo into Semiliki in Uganda, coming along with its unique fauna and flora. No wonder 31 species of bird, one species of primate, and only recorded in Semuliki on the East African part of their ranges.

Specie diversity: 447 bird species have been recorded, 216 being true forest birds that include Sassi’s Olive Greenbul and White-crested Hornbill. 53 mammals species including the Beecroft’s lfying Squirrel, Water chevrotain and Zenker’s flying mice, nocturnal animals of West Africa.

Tourist attraction: Unique bird life, is the core reason for birdwatcher to visit this park. However, the 2 hot springs about a kilometer apart, makes an easy stop-over for tourists with little time to spend. Other attractions are primate: chimpanzee, red colobus, de Brazza’s and Dent’s mona monkeys. Also, buffaloes, elephants, pygmy hippos & leopards.

Size and accessibility: Covers 220kms of mainly deciduous and low attitude moist evergreen rain forest. Easily accessed from FortPortal 64kms or Kampala 423kms.