Uganda has a network of ten national parks. These protected areas are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a semi autonomous body that was created in 1996 to manage wildlife in national parks and game reserves. Uganda’s national parks have a lot to offer to its visitors. A trip to any attractions in Uganda is called a Uganda safari as it involves to traveling to long distances and also staying over for more than one day while encountering different attractions. This is why very many people are coming to Uganda to engage in these safaris because they offer a variety of attractions and they meet expectations and satisfactions of various people of different interest that is adventurous, outgoing, family vacations, honeymoons, relaxation and many more.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi is most famous for gorilla tracking, but there are also hiking trails where you can see a large variety of birds and primates. Trails begin at 08.30 a.m and 14.15 daily.
Accommodation: Clean and simple bandas at Buhoma. There are also 3 privately run campsites in the area along with some middle and up-market tented camps.
Access: 6 hour drive from Kampala to Kabale. Kabale to Buhoma Park HQ takes 3-4 hours and may require 4WD. Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma takes about 3 hours. The public does not use this road much and a 4WD is needed. A bus leaves from Kampala to Butogota daily at circa 06:30 a.m. Otherwise you may travel by bus or matatu from Kampala to Kabale for circa Ush 12,000. From Kabale you can hire a car for about Ush 100,000, or take a pickup truck to Butogota. Public transport to Butogota is unpredictable, but most common on market days in Kabale. It is 18 kms from Butogota to Buhoma.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano and the 4th highest mountain in Eastern Africa, reaching 4321 metres. The park has magnificent waterfalls, caves, gorges and hot springs and is excellent for hiking. No technical climbing equipment or skills are required, and all major peaks are accessible to hikers. The full trekking circuit takes 4-5 days to complete and there are also 3 “day” trails, 3-7km long. The magnificent Sipi Falls are 66km north of Mbale, en route to the Forest Exploration Centre and Kapkwata.
Accommodation: There are 5 basic campsites around the trekking circuit. Simple accommodation is available at the Kapkwata Rest house and the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapwai. Book through the office in Mbale.
Access: Good tar roads from Kampala to Sipi.
Kibale Forest National Park
Guided walks can be arranged and take 2-3 hours. There are 12 species of primate found within the park, including chimps.
Accommodation: Bandas at the Kanyanchu visitors’ centre. There are 3 basic campsites.
Access: The visitors’ centre is 36 kms south of Fort Portal on a dirt road.
Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley is extremely remote and offers some of the wildest and most magnificent scenery in conservation area. The park is in the far NE of the country, bordering Sudan and Kenya.
Access: Apoka, the park HQ, is 504 kms from Kampala and a 2 day drive. 4WD vehicles are recommended. Check with UWA HQ regards facilities and travel advice.
Lake Mburo National Park
This is the only National Park to contain an entire lake.
Accommodation: The park has 3 campsites and a private luxury tented camp.
Access: The park is about 3 hours drive from Kampala.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Found in the south west, bordering Rwanda and Congo. Mgahinga comprises 3 extinct volcanoes and 3 extensive swamps. Along with Gorillas, the park also supports Golden Monkey, Elephant, Leopard and Forest Hog. Birdlife includes 12 endemic species.
Accommodation: 2 privately run campsites, one just outside the park gates and a private lodge on the edge of the park. The nearest hotel accommodation is in Kisoro.
Access: 13 kms from Kisoro, access is via Kabale. The road is tar to Kabale, and dirt onwards.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls is situated north of Masindi, 350 kms from Kampala. Boat trips operate from Paraa to the foot of Murchison Falls and take around 3 hours. These enable you to see hippos, crocodiles and magnificent bird life close up. There are also nature walks to the top of the falls and at Kaniyo Pabidi, where you can trek chimpanzees. Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi-Paraa road, 8kms from Kichumbanyobo (main) park gate.
Accommodation: There is a basic campsite at the top of the falls and a privately run campsite with bandas at Paraa. There are 2 lodges within the park and 1 just outside.
Access: Kampala to Paraa takes around 5 hours and a 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park borders Lakes Edward and George which are connected by the Kazinga Channel. Launch trips on the Kazinga Channel last about 2 hours. Trips can be booked at the office adjacent to the lodge. Kyambura Gorge is part of the park and offers Chimp tracking.
Accommodation: There’s a safari lodge at Mweya and a camping site and hostel on the Mweya peninsula. Near Ishasha there are campsites and bandas. There is a lodge on a crater lake within the Maramagambo Forest.
Access: 438 kms from Kampala on a good tar road that leads to the main gate turn-off. From there it is 20kms on a dirt road.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park contains 6 snow-capped peaks, 3 with glaciers. Excellent mountaineering and hiking opportunities are available. Contact UWA HQ for details and bookings.
Semliki Valley National Park
Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve (formerly Toro Game Reserve), north of Fort Portal is Uganda’s first protected area. It offers over 40 kms of walking trails, chimpanzee reserch projects, night drives & boat trips on L. Albert. For further details please call: 0772 489497
Accomodation: There’s a lodge within the reserve.
Contact UWA HQ for further details: (0414) 346287
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Ziwa houses Uganda’s rhino reintroduction project. White and black rhinos are bred, and will eventually be brought to Uganda’s National Parks. Rhino tracking takes about 1 1/2 hours. Lunches can be booked. For further details, call 077 2713410.
Uganda has lots of exotic animals in their natural setting that can only be found in a few countries in the world that is lions, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippos, rhinos, antelopes, zebras, hyena, monkeys, mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons and many more. So if one is interested in seeing those common wild mammals like elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopards, zebras, antelopes in their natural setting, there are national park well designed for those animals and these are queen Elizabeth national, Kidepo national park, Murchison falls national park and lake Mburo national park. a visit to one of these national park is called a Uganda wildlife safari. Some visitors opt to visit one while other can visit two three or four national park to get a tremendous experience. It is always the choice of the tourist to visit any park.
There are also Uganda primates’ safaris which got their name from visiting the common primates in their natural setting that is the chimpanzees and the various species of monkeys. These are normally found in Kibale national park and Queen Elizabeth national park. These animals are so wonderful to watch since they are our closest cousin in the animal kingdom most especially the chimpanzees.
Uganda safaris can also offer you watching the mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. These safaris are normally called the Uganda gorilla safari. They involve visiting the mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga national park. These two parks have a half of the world’s population of gorillas of almost 900 individuals. Mountain gorillas are the most sought after animals in the worlds due to their unique physical and social character they possess. Many people who have tracked the gorillas have had a lifetime experience.
Uganda also offers bird watching as Uganda has over 1000 bird species and half of them are endemic meaning they are only found in Uganda only. Uganda has very unique bird in a shoebill and this is a very wonderful bird to watch as many birders who have seen it have had superlative remarks about it. The birds can be found in all national parks in Uganda and also some other ecotourism sites like Mabamba birding site and Botanical gardens. Other than the animals and birds, Uganda has some other places like the source of the Nile in Jinja where lots of tourism activities take place like boat ride, sightseeing and also at river Nile itself is a tourism site as it harbors activities like kayaking, whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. Lake Victoria in Uganda also has very may islands and beaches that are used as resorts for relaxations and picnics.
It is important to know you can as well make your itinerary for a Uganda safari from the different attraction found in Uganda for example you can opt to visit the big five animals, mountain gorillas and the lake Bunyonyi all at ago. The tour operator is always there to guide you on how to make the most of your Uganda safari. There are very many Uganda safari packages organized by the tour operator for tourists to take up. These packages are always posted on the websites of the tour and travel companies.