THE TEN NATIONAL PARKS IN UGANDA.
Uganda is located in eastern part of Africa. Famously referred to as the pearl of Africa, this has made it a must visit country in Africa. Uganda has so much to offer from wildlife to culture. The country is located between the savannah and the equatorial forests, with over 60 tribes. Uganda is home to the shortest and the tallest people in the world, making her the the cultural tourism destination. With over 1000 bird species some of which are endemic while others are migrant birds, Uganda a birder’s haven. The country’s night life and entertainment is unrivalled, there are a lot of clubs, casinos and lounges, Kampala city the country capital was named the entertainment capital of east Africa.
Uganda is a country gifted with nature with 10 national parks and twelve wildlife reserves. Expect to see the big fives when you visit Uganda, tree climbing lions, buffaloes, chimpanzee, gorillas and primates. Not forgetting the most favorable climate.
Today we are talking about the 10 national parks Uganda has.
1.Kidepo valley national park.
Kidepo valley national park is located in the north-eastern part of Uganda found in the district of kaabong, seated on 1,442 square kilometers. Kidepo valley national park is one of Africa’s great wildernesses remotely located in the savannah landscape in the northern corner of Uganda near South Sudan and Kenya. The park is dominated by the mountain forests within the high areas near River Lorupei, the land is covered with tiny hills and rocky outcrops making Kidepo valley national park the best and unique safari destination.
Kidepo valley national park has a wide range of unique carnivorous animals you can luckily spot while on a game drive, these include; the hunting dog, cheetah, caracal, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and the stripped hyena.
Other animals you can see while on a game drive in Kidepo valley national park include; waterbucks, bushbucks, zebra, giraffe, buffalo. The park has animals that can only be found there, these animals include; the cheetah, Lesser kudu and Eland.
Kidepo valley national park harbors over 400 bird species like the Karamoja Apalis, red-cheeked cordon-blue, black breasted barbet, scarlet chested sunbird, mosque swallow, superb starlings, vinaceous dove, Nubian woodpeckers among others.
There are two sectors for game viewing, the Kidepo sector and the Narus valley river sector. Kidepo valley national park has dry seasons between the month of September to March, then it rains from April to August.
2.Queen Elizabeth national park.
Queen Elizabeth national park was gazzetted in 1952. The park has five levels of vegetation, which include; the forest grassland, lakeshore, bushy grassland, swamp vegetation and acacia. The park has over 600 bird species and over 90 species of mammals. Examples of mammals in the park include, the elephants, leopards, cape buffalo, lions, hyena, warthogs, Uganda kob, giant forest hog and the waterbucks. The park has 5 regions each offering something unique from the other. These are; the Ishasha region, rift valley escarpment, north east escarpment, Mweya peninsula and the kyambura Gorge. The sky at queen Elizabeth national park seems to be much closer and the park’s altitude is higher than that in Kampala city. The park was named in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of England.
3.RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Rwenzori Mountains covers approximately 1000km squared, the mountain has the third highest peak in Africa which is approximately 5,109 feet. The mountain has waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, flora and fauna and lakes. The mountain has different mountain ranges which include Margherita the highest on this mountain but third highest in Africa, the mount Speke, and mount Baker which is the fifth highest peak in Africa. However, the mountain has other ranges like mount Luigi da Savoia, Mount Stanley which is the highest, mount Emin Pasha and mount Gessi which are separated by deep gorges. As you climb the mountain, the vegetation keeps on changing. This is because of the altitude.
Rwenzori Mountains national park is located in south western Uganda, kasese district near the Democratic Republic of Congo boarder, approximately 300km from Kampala city if you pass via Mubende Fort portal route, and approximately 360km if you use Masaka-Mbarara busenyi then to kasese route. The park was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1994, it is also referred to as the mountains of the moon.
4.MOUNTAIN ELGON NATIONAL PARK.
Mountain Elgon is 4000km squared bordering Uganda and Kenya. Mountain Elgon has the largest volcanic base in Africa. It is one of the oldest physical features Uganda has, first erupting approximately 24 million years ago. The mountain is an extensive trans-boundary conservation area declared by the UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. It was once the highest mountain in Africa but has been reducing due to eruption and erosion that made it reduce to 4,321m and became the 4th highest in East Africa. Mountain Elgon national park harbors over 300 bird species inclusive of the lammergeyer which is endemic to the area, its home to the colobus monkeys, black and white monkeys, spotted hyena, deffassa waterbucks, buffaloes, oribi, elephants among others. One of the famous activities done at mountain Elgon national park is hiking to the caldera which has the mountain’s peak Wagagai at 4321m. Other places you can hike to are; Mubiyi which is at 4210m, Sudek at 4303m and Koitobos at 4222m.
5.Semuliki national park
located in western Uganda in Bundibugyo district on Uganda Congo border. The park begun as a forest reserve in in 1932 but later in 1993 it became a national park. It is bordered by Rwenzori mountains on the south eastern side and the lake Albert in the northern side. Semuliki national park is known as the birder’s haven with over 400 bird species. There are over 50 mammal species in the park. The park faces a challenge of encroachment from the locals around the park who hunt animals, cut down tree for firewood and herbs. There are tribes which live near the park, they include; the Bakonjo and Bamba, the Batuku and the Batwa. The Bamba are farmers who grow crops at the foot of Rwenzori mountains.
The park is situated in one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests. The park is a good place for those interested in hiking as they see flora and fauna, different bird species like long-tailed Hawk, red-billed Helmet shrike among others.
Semuliki national park lies along the main fort portal to Bundibugyo Road, approximately 52km from fort portal. The road becomes muddy with trenches after heavy rains.
6.LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK.
Lake Mburo National Park is one of the smallest and one of the best national parks in Uganda, the park being small gives you an opportunity to see wild animals easy without travelling long distances. It is endowed with a lot of zebras, the impala, leopard, Rothchild giraffes and other animals with an exception of the elephants and the lions. Its lack of lions is an assurance that you can get closer to other animals with no fear of being attacked by a lion. The park is not so far from Uganda’s capital city approximately 240 km from Kampala, and approximately 280 km if you coming from Entebbe where Uganda’s international airport is found, it takes only 3-4 hours to reach the park, this makes it easy for a tourist who has little time in Uganda to go and have a look at the beautiful animals lake Mburo harbors, you can have a stop-over at the Equator where the earth divides its self from, into northern and southern hemispheres in Kayabwe, take photos and then proceed to your destination. This is where you can spread your hands or arms in the south and the northern hemisphere at the same time.
Lake Mburo national park was first gazzetted in 1933 as a hunting area, later in 1963 it was upgraded to a national park. The park is characterized by narrow bands, rocky ridges, forest gorges and woodlands. It has seasonal and permanent swamps all year round.
The park has a great story where it got its name Mburo from. It is said that two brothers lived in that area, one brother who was called Kigarama had a dream; that the place was going to receive a lot of rain that will cause floods, he told his brother who was called Mburo about the dream but the brother was hesitant and didn’t take his brother’s dream seriously. Kigarama left the place and left Mburo behind, later heavy rains came with floods, Mburo and his properties perished in the floods hence the name lake ‘Mburo’ national park.
Guides and the locals at the park will tell you more about the fantastic stories of lake Mburo national park.
7.MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK.
Murchison falls national park is locally known as kabalega national park, located in the north east of Kampala approximately 305 km, in masindi district near, Nwoya, kiryandongo and Buliisa. Murchison falls national park is bisected by the Victoria nile. The conservation area is made up Karuma wildlife reserve and Bugungu wildlife reserve. It is the largest and oldest national park in Uganda situated at the end of the Albertine rift valley. The strong falls splash water around and create a beautiful rainbow. The park has over 100 mammals, 51 amphibians, over 500 birds and 51 reptiles. The park harbors a third of the world’s Rothschild giraffes.
Murchison falls national park is home to the four of the big five animals apart from the Rhino, these include the Lion, elephants, the African buffalo and the Elephants. Coming to Murchison falls national park will fulfill your wanderlust. ENGAGI SAFARI is your trusted travel partner to explore with you the beauty of Murchison falls national park.
8.kibale national park.
Kibale national park is a rainforest located in south western Uganda and easily accessible from Kampala city. There are thirteen different chimp species that are found in kibale national park. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park is conducted twice a day at 8 am in the morning and 2pm in the afternoon which lasts for about three hours depending how far the chimps have travelled, when you spot them, you are given maximum of one hour to see the chimpanzees, you can take photos as you want but avoid using camera flashes.
Chimpanzee trekking in kibale is easy because the chimps can easily be seen and are many.
Before you kick start your trek, guides will brief you on what to expect during the trek, like very loud noise from the chimps, see them hunting for food, fighting, playing and much more. Be prepared for a strained neck because chimps love being on top of the trees, be aware of falling fruits, and sometimes urine from the chimps.
9.MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK.
Mgahinga national park is located in south western Uganda in Kisoro district famous for gorilla treking. The park is also part of Virunga conservation area was gazzetted in 1991 having about 80 gorillas. Mgahinga has both habituated and wild mountain gorillas with only one habituated gorilla family.
Mgahinga national park has a family called the nyakagezi with 9 members, including 2 silver backs. The family is under the leadership of a silver back called mark who took over the leadership from Bugingo his father
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park is done in two sessions, one the morning and another in the afternoon at around 2pm. Trekking gorillas can last from one hour to four hours depending on the gorilla movements
The trek in Mgahinga takes place through the year but its better you visit during dry seasons of June-September and December-February when the rain is not so heavy and roads are clear.
Apart from gorilla trekking, there are lot of other attractions like birds, mammals, chimpanzees and a lot more.
Gorilla permits for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park cost 700 dollars for foreign non-residents, 600 dollars for foreign residents and 250000 for East Africans.
You can get a gorilla permit through your tour operator or directly from UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY.
It’s better you book for trekking permit early before your arrival to Uganda
9.Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a UNESCO world Heritage site. The park has over 300 bird species, 200 butterfly’s species, over 120 mammal species and over 200 tree species. The park is one of the best places you can go for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi being the most popular for gorilla trekking because of the highest number of mountain gorillas, it harbors inclusive of 14 habituated groups.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is done in four sectors of buhoma, nkuringo, rushaga and Ruhija