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National Park

National Park

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK. (The World’s Greatest Waterfall)

It is located in northwestern Uganda and is surrounded by 4 districts and these are Masindi, Kyiryandongo, Nwoya, and Bulisa. It is 305km from Kampala and it takes approximately 5 hours.

It can be accessed through Kampala via the Masindi route which is 280.9km, Kampala via the Matuga route which is 288.6km, and Kampala via the Hoima route is 321.5km. It is the oldest, protected area in Uganda. It is comprised of Murchison falls national park, Bugungu wildlife reserve, and Karuma wildlife refuge. The National park itself encompasses 3,893 sq. the park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and it is also known as Kabalega falls national park, Murchison falls national park is grouped as part of the great Murchison falls conservation area (MFCA) which consists of bugungu wildlife reserve, Karuma falls and Murchison falls national park.

History initially protected as a game reserve in 1926, Murchison falls national park was declared as one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952 and now making it the largest protected area in the country.

Murchison falls national falls has two northern sectors and a southern sector, the northern sector is characterized by savannah and Borassus palms, acacia trees, and marshy woodland, while the southern part of the national park is dominated by woodland and forests.

Attractions

Murchison Falls. The falls are characterized by water gashing violently through a narrow gorge, thus creating a permanent rainbow. From the baker’s point on the southern side of the national park, visitors can view the famous Nile River split into smaller Uhuru falls, the Uhuru was created in 1962 when the river burst its bank.

Wildlife. There are over 76 wildlife species that reside in the park and these include elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, topi, waterbucks, and others. And also over 451 species of birds such as the giant kingfisher, the giant heron, marabou stock, nightjars, and the shoebill stork.

Paraa. Is a tourism hub in Murchison falls national park, the word means home of the hippo in the native Luo language, this is where all boat trips and nature walks in the park start from, using passenger ferries to link visitors to the northern and southern river banks.

River Nile. Can be explored by a boat cruise, it takes visitors to the base of Murchison falls rewarding them with lovely sights.

The Nile delta-lake Albert, the Nile delta marks the point where Victoria Nile flows into the Nile flows into Lake Albert, it is a key sport for birders, with its papyrus banks graced with abundant birdlife such as Goliath herons, great egrets, African fish eagle shoebill and others.

Game drive tracks in Murchison falls National Park.

Game drive racks are used while on a game drive safari, these game tracks lead you to various regions of the park and offer sights of many attractions in the park. These tracks include;

Buligi tracks. Is the prime game drive track of 7km in the park, the track converges at the delta point where the river Nile flows north out of Lake Albert, the track runs around the triangular Buligi peninsular which is dominated by grassland and bounded by Victoria Nile as it enters Lake Albert and Albert as it flows out of Lake Albert.

Other tracks in Murchison include Albert tracks and Victoria tracks

Activities

Bird watching, with over 450 bird’s species, the Nile corridor of the Murchison of the water birds such as rare shoebill stork and other popular species including the goliath heron, African Quail-Finch, the elephant Grey Crowned cranes and others

Game drive; the prime game viewing lies on the Buligi peninsula, it takes a maximum of 3 hours to see the hyenas, hippos, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, and many more, Nocturnal game drive; here you can get a chance to see the predators of the night such as leopards, lions, hyenas, serval cats, among other. It can take 2 hours to see nocturnal in their habitats.

Boat cruise on the Nile River; there are two boat cruises in Murchison for example the boat cruise upstream to the bottom of the falls and the boat cruise downstream to the Nile delta, where u can see hippos, elephants, as they bath in water, antelopes, water birds and many along river Nile.

Hiking and nature walks, guided walks to the top of falls, Kaniyo Pabidi, and Rabongo forests. It can take a 2-4hour walk

Sportfishing. It is carried out in designated arrears along the Victoria Nile and its mainly done at the bottom of the falls by use of catch and release methods, fishing methods such as casting lures, use of live bait like worms, spinning methods where you can catch fish types like Nile perch, tiger fish, catfish among others.

Cultural encounters, energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, Boom women’s group offers accommodation, a craft shop, and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community.

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Situated in the southwestern part of Uganda on the slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The forest is known to be the most biologically diverse in Africa with over 120 mammal species, making it second in mammal numbers to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The name Bwindi comes from the local word “Mubwindi Bwa Nyinamukari” which was commonly referred to as the Mubwindi swamp in the southeast of Bwindi. It all started when parents asked for help and guidance from the swamp spirit so the spirits told the parents if they would only sacrifice their most beautiful daughter who was called Nyinamukari. After they threw the girl in the water so they crossed safely to another side. When the news spread, people stopped going to the swamp calling it “Mubwindi Bwa Nyinamukari”

Mountain Gorillas are Uganda’s premier attraction and one of the world’s most exceptional expeditions is an encounter with these gentle giants on the secluded slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Not only does Bwindi Impenetrable National Park harbor more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population (over 450 members) but also 11 other primate species which include: the black-and-white colobus, chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Red-tailed, Greater Potto, Demidoff’s galago, Blue monkeys and baboons to mention a few. Other residents of the park include forest elephants and a variety of other antelope species. The park also boasts of about 200 butterflies and over 400 bird species which include: Grauer’s broadbill, Handsome francolin, strange weaver, yellow-eyed flycatcher, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori nightjar, Grauer’s rush warbler, Bar-tailed trogon, Jameson’s, Vanga flycatcher, dwarf honeyguide, white-tailed crested mantled flycatcher, Newman warbler to mention a few. Its altitude ranges from1, 160m and 260m above sea level. In 1991, the 331 sq. km forest was gazetted to a national park status and later in 1994, declared a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site to protect its biodiversity. The park has about 19 habituated mountain gorilla groups, open for tourism in the four tracking sectors which are; Rushaga in the south, Nkuringo in the southwest, Buhoma in the northwest, and Ruhija in the east. All these offer unique mountain gorilla trekking experiences.

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla trekking

This is undoubtedly Bwindi’s foremost activity which involves walking through the thick forest under the guidance of an armed ranger and guide in search of these gentle giants. The first gorilla trekking expedition in Bwindi happened in 1993 when the Mubare family was tracked. This activity can take between 2-and 7 hours depending on the location of the gorillas. To undertake this activity, tourists require a permit which costs USD 700 per person and it is advisable to purchase the permit six months before the tracking date due to its high demand. About 19 families are open for tracking and a maximum of 8 adult visitors are allowed for each of the habituated groups each day.

Gorilla habituation

Gorilla habituation is a unique experience that involves gently making wild mountain gorillas familiar and comfortable with human presence. Worldwide, this activity can only be done in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where only two gorilla families are open for habituation. These families are: Bikyingi and Bushasho and this experience take between 3-6 hours in the presence of the gorillas, costing USD 1,500 per person and allowing a maximum limit of 4 people per group per day.

Bird watching

Holding up to 400 bird species of which 25 are endemic to the Albertine rift, Bwindi is a birder’s haven. With about four trails for birders, Bwindi provides an excellent spot for ticking off the forest rarities. The River Ivi trail which lies between Buhoma and Nkuringo is as rich as the Buhoma forest-edge Munyanga River trail. Leading to the 2607m Rwamunyonyi peak and the Mubwindi swamp trail is the Ruhija Bamboo trail.

Nature walk

Carefully developed trails in the park provide a more relaxed way of exploring the luxuriant rainforest as you get to learn more with the help of a guide. The Munyanga river trail leads to scenic waterfalls. The nature walk also provides an opportunity to see the abundant and amazing flora and flora, making your trek even more interesting. These nature walks can take between 3-and 6 hours depending on the interest of the visitors.

Batwa Forest Experience

The Batwa were the first people and are believed to have lived in the forest for about 60,000 years, hunting and gathering fruits for survival. However, upon acquiring a national park status in 1992, the Batwa were evicted from the park and today, live in the communities bordering the park. To give visitors an insight into the lives of these people, the cultural experience provides a demonstration of how they hunted, cooked, made a fire out of sticks, collected wild honey, and also shared their knowledge about the different plants in the forest. The highlight of this experience is watching the Batwa performing and dancing to their cultural songs.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking experiences are best done in the Buhoma sector. This activity is organized by Ride 4 a Woman community group that hires out bikes as well as provides guiding services to the bikers where the guides share their rich knowledge about the places visited as well as the community. Some lodges in the park can also arrange this activity upon prior booking.

Community Tourism/Walks.

Community visits by visitors interested in visiting the villages on the edges of the forest can be arranged with the help of a guide who will take you through the Batwa and Bakiga communities.

How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

By Road

The park can be accessed from Kampala through Mbarara, a drive that takes about 7-8 hours. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihihi. From Queen Elizabeth National Park, the journey takes about 3-5 hours, passing through Ishasha.

By Air

3 airstrips serve Bwindi at Kihihi and Nyakabande in Kisoro. Planes can be chartered from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield.

 

MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK (where gold meets silver)

Located in southwestern Uganda in the Kisoro district. It covers the Ugandan slopes of three of the Virunga Volcanoes; Muhavura, Gahinga, and sabinyo these three parts form the Transboundary Virunga conservation area which protects half of the world’s 780 mountain gorillas.

It is 524km from Kampala via Mbarara and Kisoro, and air from Entebbe to Kisoro airstrip.

Activities and attractions

Gorilla trekking; following a trail of trampled and snapped vegetation across the slopes of the Virunga to spend an hour in the company of a family of mountain gorillas, Learning about the different members of the Nyakagezi family and general gorilla behavior. Carry along with sleeved shirts, trousers, garden gloves, sun hat, rain poncho, insect repellant, and sturdy boots.

Volcano hiking; the way to the summit of Sabinyo is filled with mushy vegetation whose uncomfortable can be reduced by dressing appropriately in hiking work-proof boots, hiking mount Gahinga requires a hike through a bamboo forest.

Golden monkey trekking; the volcanoes are the stronghold of the golden monkeys which can be tracked through the bamboo habitat on the slopes of Mt. Gahinga, and it is the only place where you can track golden monkeys, which are also endangered and endemic t to the Albertine Rift Valley. There are an estimated 3000-4000 individuals in the Virunga area of which 40-565 are habituated in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Bird watching; is an excellent bird viewing opportunity with different trails. The gorge trail lies between Gahinga and Sabinyo takes about 3 hours for birders it is said to have 180 bird species which include the dusky turtle dove, cape robin chat, and brown crowned chakra, bronze sunbird, regal among others,

Cave exploration. Caves are found on some of the steep slopes of the mountains and you can visit some while on a hiking adventure. The most famous is the Garama cave found near the park headquarters, it was home to Batwa and acted as a fortress in times of war protecting them and their loot from their enemies.

Batwa trail. The Batwa lived in the forest for centuries, as hunter-gatherers, they depended on the forest for food, medicine, and shelter, the Batwa trail takes you into the forest where you experience life as it was for Batwa.

Nature and hiking walks, hike up Gisozi hill and experience great views of Kisoro and Bunagana town as well as Lake

Mutanda can also view the calderas while atop this hill, walk along the Congo border, and transcend different vegetation zones.

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK. (A medley of wonders)

Found in southwestern Uganda along with fort portal –Mpondwe road, Rubirizi, It is approximately 410km from Kampala and it can take 46km from Entebbe

It is accessed through the Mbarara-Masaka highway and the drive takes approximately 6hours depending on the road amount of time spent on stopovers.

By air transport, it means one should schedule a flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Mweya or Kasese airstrips and then connect to the park headquarters by road.

Attractions and activities

Wildlife; the queen is gifted with 95 mammals, over 600 bird species, bats, reptiles, and a lot of insect species

It has over 300 hippos, over 4000 elephants, and 2000 buffalos

Tree climbing lions: in Ishasha south of Queen Elizabeth national park

Kazinga channel: which harbors most of the wild animals of Queen Elizabeth during the dry season and it is where the launch cruise is operated.

Game drives; during the game drive you can spot elephants, lions, antelope, warthogs, hyena, buffalo herds, cobs, and leopards among others.

Bird watching; it’s a haven of over 600 birds including sedge warbles, papyrus canary, the martial eagle, pink back paleocon, yellow-throated cuckoo, all these inhabit grasslands, forests, and wetlands in queen Elizabeth national park. And there are also flamingos at Katwe and Bunyampaba salt lake.

Boat cruise; which takes place on the Kazinga channel linking Lake Edward and Lake George, during the cruise, there are enjoying sights and sounds that the park’s rich aquatic life offers, there are hippos, and Nile crocodiles at the banks, and different kinds of birds.

The tree climbing lions in Ishasha; lions are found perched on acacia and fig trees which is an enchanting sight, this place is also home to buffalos, a large number of elephants, antelopes, warthog which make the trip more memorable.

Chimpanzees trekking; in Kyambura Gorge also known as the valley of Apes, these chimpanzees are habituated meaning they have been accustomed to human presence.

Maramagambo forest nature walks; the nature walk is guided by armed ranger guides to protect tourists from dangerous animals. During these nature, walks can come close to different kinds of species like monkeys, baboons, elephants, cobs, and birds and also feel the coolness of the environment of the mental well-being, and relax the minds.

Ishasha wilderness camping

Culture experience.

 

KIBALE NATIONAL PARK. (Primate Capital of the World)

It’s located in western Uganda which takes about a 5-hour drive from Kampala (348) km, it’s fairly situated south of the fort portal, from the fort portal to Kanyanchu the park headquarters of Kibale national park. Kibale national park can be accessed through the Kampala-fort portal through Mubende town

Kibale national park is the best destination for chimpanzee trekking and It is home to 13 primate species.

Attractions and activities in Kibale national park

Primates; it has the highest population of chimpanzees, it is covered with thick forest with big tall trees where primates habit, feed and build nests to sleep.

Kibale national park is a habitat for 13 primate species which are chimpanzee, black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, Ugandan red colobus monkey, central African monkey among others, and a chimpanzee with the largest population of 1450 individuals.

Wildlife species; apart from being a home of primates, it is also a habitat of other wildlife species in the thick forests and these include elephants, golden cats, lions, leopards, serval cats, Harvey’s duiker, giant forest hog, sitatunga, marsh mongoose, warthog, and others.

Birds; Kibale national park is home to about 375 attractive colorful species of Ground Thrush birds which are endemic to Kibale national park,

It harbors forested bird species and migratory bird species which occasionally migrate from Queen Elizabeth and other neighboring areas

These birds include tinker bird, African grey parrot, olive long-tailed cuckoo, blue breasted kingfisher, yellow-rumped tinker bird, brown crested alethe, red-chested Owled, and others.

Spectacular vegetation. Kibale national park features a thick most evergreen forest and semi-deciduous forest covers which consist of approximately 250 tree species and some of them are endangered timber species such as Cordia millennia and other species like eucalyptus and pine trees.

Butterfly species; there are approximately 250 species of butterflies seen in Kibale national park.

Chimpanzee trekking; is the main activity in Kibale national park, it is a home of about 1500 chimpanzees and trekking starts in the morning with a briefing at the Kanyanchu visitor center, it takes about 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on where the chimps are located.

Chimpanzee habituation experience; it is where chimpanzees are trained to get used to human presence for trekking, it can take 2 years process to complete.

Nature walks; through the forests of Kibale where one can get to feel the natural air and learn about different flora and fauna. With the company of a well-trained park guide passing through grasslands, and swamplands where you can get a good spot of wildlife species like forest elephants, duikers, bushbucks, and primates like black and white colobus, blue monkeys, and plant species, birds.

Bird watching; Kibale national park is home to more than370 recorded bird species including forest birds, endemic birds, and migratory birds which make it an ideal destination for bird watching.

These bird species include the great blue turaco, black-billed turaco, yellow spotted barbet, purple-headed starling, black bee-eater, casinos spine tail, winged francolin, black-crowned

waxbill among others.

 

  1. ELGON NATIONAL PARK. (The world’s largest caldera)

It is located in eastern Uganda with 1145 square km. It lies above Mbale town, 235km east of Kampala, you can reach the park from Kampala –Mbale-Kapchorwa at approximately 231km, and it can also be accessed from Kidepo valley national park in northeast Uganda with 420km.

Alternatively, take a charter flight from Entebbe international airport to land at Soroti airstrip.

 

Attractions and activities

Caves and mount slopes are comprised of various caves, the most accessible of these caves are Kapkwai cave which is near the forest exploration Centre and Khauka cave on Wanale ridge.

Jackson’s Pool and Jackson’s peak. Jackson’s pool is a natural occupied by the shallow waters and Jackson’s peak is a free-standing volcanic plug rising from the western flank of the mountain.

The peaks and the caldera. The tallest peak is the 4321m Wagagi, followed by Sudek with 4303m, Kitobos at 4222m, and Mubiyi with 4210.

Vegetation. The lower mountains are covered with dense forest and regenerating forests, hung with vine-like lianas, epiphytes, and lichens, the floor is covered with a floor of ferns, orchids, and flowering plants

Mountain climbing; most activities are done here, where travelers engage in the exciting climbs and it is a rewarding activity

Hiking or Nature walks, done with the help of a tour guide who leads hikers to trails with magnificent views, it covers 7km and takes 4hours hike into the mountain bamboo trails, you will be able to see the parks birds and the unique trees like Elgon tick and Elgon olive.

Birding bird watching opportunities exist around the Kapkwai forest exploration Centre and secondary forest and shrubs along the trail to Cheptui fall and these include African Goshawk, African blue flycatcher, and cinnamon bee Eater among others.

 

KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARKS. (The African Wilderness)

It is found in the northeastern corner, close to Kenya and South Sudan. Home to a variety of wildlife species and support 86 mammal species and 475 bird species.

The quickest way is via Gulu and Kitgum with 571km and also by air, charter, and schooled flights to fly to Kidepo airstrip from Kajjansi or Entebbe International Airport.

Activities and attractions

Narus valley game drive; the southerly

Narus valley contains the park’s only permanent water points and wildlife congregates in this area for much of the year, you can look at buffalo and elephants in the swamps along the valley floor, giraffes, and eland on the drier slopes above and scan the rock outcrops for lions.

Kidepo valley drive; is short on the big drive but massive on scenery, mammals are rare in the area but ostriches and secretary birds are often seen

Nature walks; opportunities for guided walks range from short nature walks around Apoka Rest Camp to longer walks through the open grasslands of east Kakine.

Bird watching; experienced ranger guides are available at Apoka to help locate and identify birdlife in the park’s various habitats.

Community walks; outside the park provide an opportunity to learn about life in the local Karamojong manyattas at Kawalakol, Lorukul, and Karenga.

 

RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK. (The Mystical Challenge)

The Rwenzori Mountains lie along the Uganda-Congo border in western Uganda.

It is accessed from the tarmac fort portal- Kasese road, it is 375km from Kampala via fort portal and 450km passing via Mbarara.

Activities and attractions

Mountain trekking is the best activity because the peak hosts the third highest peak in Africa called margarita where u can be challenged with a 7-day climb until the top.

Hiking and nature walk. Through the trails which provide a panoramic view of creatures like Muhooma, and Buraro chimp forest

Birding in the Rwenzori Mountains, it’s the best spot for birders

Wildlife viewing in Rwenzori

 

SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK. (A true birders haven)

It is located in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District in the Western region of Uganda.

It can access through Kampala- the Fort portal via Mubende which is 290km and it takes 4-5hours, and also the Kampala-Fort portal via Mbarara and which is 465km and it takes 7-8 hours

Chartered flights can land at an airstrip on Toro Semiliki Wildlife Reserve.

Attractions and activities

Birding; the birders will be rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding. The best part for birding are Nandi and Sempaya, they provide good viewing of birds for example piping hornbill, white-crested hornbill, great blue and ross turacos, the shoebill can be seen around the quarters of lake Albert and nature walks are best for tracing water birds.

Hot springs; the most famous attraction is the pair of hot springs male and female, the female spring is called Nyansimbi. Visitors can buy eggs locally to cook in boiling pools that surround the central spout.

On the trail to male spring, visitors can get to spot grey-cheeked monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, mangabeys, and black and white colobus.

Nature walks; several short trails around Sempaya cater to nature lovers and birders, nature and birding walks are available, as well as night walks to seek nocturnal primates. You can spot vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, and olive baboons.

Game drives; it can be done in three tracks across the savannah and grassland of Toro Semiliki Wildlife Reserve. Savannah elephants, buffalos, Uganda cob, crocodiles, waterbuck, and warthog are regularly seen.

Primate/forest walks; the 4-6 hour guided walks through the Mugiri River forest provide the opportunity to find the habituated chimpanzees and other primates plus a wealth of birdlife.

 

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK. (The ultimate gorilla experience)

Located in southwestern Uganda in the Kanungu district, the Bwindi forest is at the edge of the Albertine Rift, the Western branch of the East African Rift valley. It is approximately 7hours and 30 minutes with 463.7km via Masaka road from Kampala.

Travelers can fly from Entebbe International airport to Kisoro savannah and Ishasha airstrip.

Attractions and activities

Mountain gorilla tracking; is a magical hour company in the company of a family of mountain gorillas, tracking the gorillas can last from a few houses to a whole day, depending on how far the group has moved since it was observed nesting up the previous evening.

Birding; the forest has 348 different species of forest birds recorded in the park, some include the African green broadbill, Chapin s flycatcher, and Shelley’s crimson wing. Bird watching mostly takes place in the Buhoma area along village paths and the forest margins.

Nature walks; nature walks provide more relaxed opportunities to explore the loveliest rainforests, forest trails lead to scenic waterfalls and ascend to Bwindi forest, the Albertine rift valley, and Virunga volcanoes.

Community walks; community walks through forest edge villages provide insights into the lives of the local Batwa and Bakiga people.

 

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK, (Whispers of the Wild)

It lies between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara close to the main, it is a 228km drive from Kampala and it takes 3.5hours and it can be accessed from Kibale national park via Ibanda and Rushmere.

Activities and attractions.

Boat cruise on Lake Mburo; the eastern shores can e explored by boat, departing from a jetty at the lakeside campsite near Rwonyo Rest camp, watch out for crocodiles and hippos, and also you can side a variety of birds including pelicans, herons, and fish eagle and perhaps the rare fin foot and shoebill.

Game drives; it hosts 68 mammals and 350 bird species with a growing giraffe family and a healthy hippo population.

Night drives; mostly in search of nocturnal wildlife in the park such as leopard, porcupine, white-tailed mongoose, and also hearing the sounds of animals like hyenas, zebras, buffalos, and others

Horseback riding safaris; game viewing while riding on a horse at Mihingo lodge under the guidance of trained staff in conjunction with park rangers.

Mountain biking; is a unique way of adventuring the park and its confines and it can take like 1-hour to view zebras, elands, buffalos, antelopes, bushbucks, and others.

 

 

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