Uganda, known to the world as the “Pearl of Africa”, has ten national parks and twelve game reserves showcasing the best of East Africa wilderness. Their Rift Valley landscapes and tropical forests offer that dramatic backdrops to an extensive variety of flora and fauna.
Managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the parks offer ‘traditional’ savanna safaris along with boat tours, forest hikes, mountain climbing and wildlife research activities. Uganda is unrivaled on the continent as a birders watching haven with over 1,070 species of birds – most of which are found nowhere else in the world. Uganda the pearl of Africa is also home to 13 types of primates including over half of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas ; and our closest relative – the chimpanzee.
Explore the true wilderness of Africa in Kidepo Valley national park; spot the tree-climbing lions in Ishasha sector south of queen Elizabeth national park the melody of wonders; trek up the Virunga Volcanoes; summit the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains; take on Bwindi’s “impenetrable forest”; learn ancient tribal traditions and crafts – or just relax at your lodge surrounded by the wonderful sights and sounds of Africa’s number one hospitable destination.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park-The ultimate Gorilla Experience If you want to go gorilla trekking but have to choose between visiting Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, Congo's Virunga National Park and Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, concentrate on Bwindi. It is a tranquil UNESCO world heritage site that offers a maiden experience of wild life, with guaranteed chances of encountering the biggest primate species in Africa, Mountain Gorillas. This is thanks to it's rich concentration of over 40% of the world's last population of surviving gorillas(over 450 gorillas of the total 1004) gorilla tracking tours. Fast forward, Bwindi is a 321km2 highland enveloped by a 25,000 year old tropical forest. Its lush jungle is primarily made of 324 indigenous tree species and over 104 species of ferns and shrubs. This vegetation mix comprises of edible plants and wild fruits that provide the gorillas sufficient food. It's partly for this reason that they haven't migrated to any other park in Africa. As such, you have a 95% chance of encountering them anytime of the year. What's more, the verdant earthly paradise which lies at 1160m - 2607m above sea level has 17 habituated gorilla groups, compared to Volcanoes 10 and Virunga's 8. Although Bwindi's landscape is hilly, you don't need prior hiking experiences to be able to conquer its gorilla trekking excursion. There are trails for every level of physical fitness ranging from those that are gentle to those that offer tough climbing challenges. In both, there are stopovers where you can take a break whenever you need your system to recharge. If you wish to hire a porter to carry your luggage or give you extra support as you hike, we can get hire for you one. The average cost per porter is $20, and caters for the full hike. As you delve deeper towards the heart of the park, the altitude keeps getting higher. Each step forward will wow you with jaw dropping views of vast lowland and montane vegetation ranging from unique species. Such include Xymalos monospora, an Afromontane endemic that is native to Africa, Allophylus abyssinicus, a large tree with spirally arranged leaves and greyish-green bark, Neoboutonia macrocalyx, a Medium sized evergreen tree whose veins are set with stellate hairs and Teclea nobilis, an unarmed evergreen tree that can grow as high as 12 m. Other Animals Found In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Gorillas aside, Bwindi hosts 120 mammal species that thrive in forests. Such include forest elephants, forest buffaloes, antelopes and 7 diurnal primates. The cherry on the cake is 200 species of butterflies. On the part of bird watching, it is the third most visited park by tourists interested in encountering the 23 Albertine endemics to which it is home, inclusive of Neumann's warbler, Blue-headed sunbird, African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Short-tailed Warbler, Doherty’s Bush shrike and Bar-tailed Trogon. In total, the park has 360 recorded species most of which thrive in Mubwindi, a swampy part of the park from which Bwindi got its name. March and September present the most remarkable birding experiences because they are the peak of the breeding season. On the other hand, migratory species can best be seen from November to April. Bwindi is as wide as 331Km2. In the interest of effective management, it is divided into four zones, each with 4-7 habituated gorillas. Each of these has 8-32 members of different age brackets. As such, you will be able to understand how gorillas behave at different stages of growth. Rwenzori Mountain National Park-The Mystical Challenge This park is named after Africa's third highest mountain, Mountain Rwenzori(5,109meters above sea level). The park has been of strong historical and spiritual significance to Bakonzo tribe since the 16th century. They believe their spirit lives in the mountain, an ''omnipotent'' spirit they love immensely for being a provider, protector and healer. Rwenzori offers very high levels of bush vibe and is easy to get around. Its trails are not in bad shape for much of the year as it receives much lesser visitors compared to Kilimjaro. This gives you the feeling of being alone for hundreds of miles away. To get to Uganda's highest point, you will hike through five vegetation zones starting with Afro-montane forest 1,800-2,500 meters above sea level, Bamboo zone 2,500-3,00 meters, Heather zone 3,000-4,000 meters, Alpine zone 4,000-4,500 meters and Snow zone 4,500-5,109 meters. Each of these zones boast of unique flora and fauna. For instance at the forest, you will find lots of endemic bird species like Rwenzori Turaco, a brightly coloured red, green and blue bird with strident cackling cry. Other residents include Handsome Francolin, Archer's Robin-chat, Scarlet-tufted and Malachite sunbird. There are two routes through which you can access Rwenzori's snow peaked summit, both of which have well insulated huts where you can spend your nights as you hike. The Kilembe trail takes an average of 8 days to conquer. It is highly recommendable for tourists who want tough climbing challenges-due to its relatively steep terrain. On the other hand, it takes an average of 6 days to reach to and fro Uganda's highest point via Central circuit trail. Should you chose to hike through Kilembe trail, you will have awe-inspiring views of Africa's oldest National Park, Virunga. It is found in the mineral rich Eastern Congo, and borders Rwenzori from the West the West,mount hiking tours. During your hike through this remote attraction,you will feel like you own the world as there are no other tourists in sight most of the time. He who pays the most attention during the hike stands the highest chances of seeing resident mammal species like the rock hyrax and leopard. Why? They are so good at camouflaging with the surrounding. Mgahinga National Park--Where Gold Meets Silver Meet Uganda's smallest heaven on earth, Mgahinga, measuring 33.7Km2. You can think of it as a huge forest covering three enormous dormant volcanoes situated along Uganda's border with Rwanda and Congo. They are one of Africa's most hilly and mineral rich countries respectively. Mgahinga is a one-stop-destination for gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, mountain climbing and cultural tourism. Fast forward, it is one of the few parks in Africa with four altitude zones, the highest being heather zone and the lowest being forest zone. In between them is the bamboo zone, a jungle where Nyakagezi, a Mountain Gorilla family spends much of their time eating sweet bamboo shoots. Each member consumes at least 250 kgs in a year. Yes it is true that you will have 95% of encountering them during your visit here. That is exciting, but not as moving as coming to the realization that it comprises of members of different age brackets. You will find black backs that are working upon their martial skills in preparation to overthrow the dominant silver-back. There are also mothers and who always keep a watchful eye on their babies. Thanks to their lifestyle, they are believed to me over four times more powerful than humans in their age-brackets. For that, you would expect them to be violent because they have the power to effortlessly crush anyone who comes their way. Surprisingly, they are very welcoming and have a warm personality that you will easily love. If you want to experience how forest tribes used to live in the 19th Century, the Batwa trail experience will blow you off your throne. The Batwa are one of the only two known indigenous tribes of Uganda. Having lived in Mgahinga for over three centuries before their eviction in early 90s. They adapted to the forest. During this experience, they will show you different places in the forest where their present was shaped. You will visit rock shelters where they used to worship their gods, you will see festivals where they used to enthrone their kings. There will also be a showcase of their different authentic dances. Queen Elizabeth National park-Melody Of Wonders Wildlife highlight: Found in the Western arm of the East African rift valley, this park is made of a ground water forest, an acacia woodland, humid forests, grassy floodplains and arid land. These landscapes have been offering refuge to over 600 bird and 95 mammal species for over 300 years now. These include colorful flocks of flamingos,semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope, Uganda kob, topi, bush bucks, elephants, giraffe, hippos, buffaloes, hyenas, lions, leopards, and chimpanzees. What It Is Like To Be In Queen Elizabeth There are three places in East Africa where you can encounter tree climbing lions; This easily accessible Savannah park lying across both hemisphere's of the Equator is one of them. Its hallmark is Kazinga Channel, a 32-kilometers permanent river connecting Lake George to the park's deepest point in Lake Edward (910m). It is a perfect place for a relaxing boat cruise and while at it, set your camera for random sightings of lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, bushbacks and crocodiles. Other delightful surprises include colourful flocks of African finfoot, Yellow-throated cuckoo, African skimmer, White-backed night heron, Black bee-eater, Shoebill, Black-rumped buttonquail,Red-chested sun bird, Caspian plover, Pel’s fishing-owl, Crab-plover, Great blue turaco, Pink-backed pelican, Palm-nut vulture, Grey-winged robin-chat, Papyrus gonolek. They are some of the 600+ recorded bird species that are resident here. At the heart of the park is Kyambura Gorge, a verdant underground forest where chimpanzees can be trekked anytime of the year. You can observe up close as you pursue a nature walk along tracks which are free of venomous plants and creatures. The hike starts with a short climb upon a vantage deck from where you can have unobstructed views of Kyambura's canopy and its scenic rivers. During this experience, you will also get relaxed views of butterflies and birds. If you are looking for the world's most beautiful crater lakes, Queen Elizabeth will leave you begging for more. It has a rich concentration of 72 huge round basins with astonishing shapes, colour and wildlife. You will see lots of them as we drive you over a wild stretch between Kabatoro gate and Queen’s Pavilion. You don't need a binoculars in order to have fruitful sightings elegant queens of the sky like egrets, greater and lesser flamingos. They are in abundance and fly very close, queen Elizabeth safari. A visit to Queen Elizabeth is incomplete without a stopover at Katwe Salt lake, an oval shaped community owned lake. Here, you will be fascinated by how locals mine salt using traditional methods that date back to the 16th century. To be exact, environmentally friendly methods. The neighboring Lake Munyanyange is a bird sanctuary, as well as a migratory location for the lesser flamingo from August to November. Tree Climbing Lions Ishasha Queen Elizabeth Tree climbing lions in Ishasha southern sector of queen Elizabeth adds a more unique activity to this mighty park. Semuliki National Park-The True Birder's Haven Do you live for birds? Rest assured you will encounter at least 40% of Uganda's bird species at this well kept secret found towards Uganda's border with Democratic republic of Congo. The park is picture perfect with lush tropical forests of the Congo basin, vast savannas, roaring rivers, endless ridges of Mountain Rwenzori and Congolese Blue Mountains. The cherry on the cake is Lake Albert, a freshwater lake with Uganda's most sought bird species like the shoe bill. This thriving mix of vegetation attracts notables such as Abyssinian ground horn bills, Green wood-hoopoe, African crake, Marsh tchagra, Moustached warbler, Pennant-winged nightjar, Black coucal, Red-necked falcon, Double-toothed barbet, Blue-breasted bee-eater, Semuliki is served by good weather which makes it possible to have fruitful sightings of birds anytime of the year. However if you want to register unmatched luck, March is a better bet. It is the climax of the breeding season which follows a dry season from December to February. On the other hand, migratory species can best be seen from November to April. On the part of mammals, Semuliki once stood out as a Big 5 destination prior to the heavy poaching that brought it down on it's knees in 1980s. As you read this, it is on a steady path to recovery and has a promising population of lions, elephants and buffaloes. Most of these can be seen during game drives in the Savannah's alongside Uganda kobs, waterbucks. Semliki also boasts of a virgin gorge where chimpanzee habituation comes alive. Other pleasant surprises in here include unusual specials like Central African Red colubus, De brazza's monkeys, Dents' mona monkeys and vervets. Lake Mburo National park- Whispers Of The Wild This park lies in Western Uganda and offers superb wildlife viewing. Huge herds of burchell's zebras, rothschild giraffes, impalas, defassa waterbuck, oribi,topi, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, duiker, bohor reedbuck, klipsringer and the unique Eland Africa's largest antelope. In terms of scenery, Mburo is a breath of freshness. It is diverse with sheer escarpments, wetlands, woodlands, rugged hills, lakes, hilly planes and river-line vegetation. For a more intimate date with nature at the above mentioned sites, you can opt for a short walking safari or guided horseback safari. However if you have limited time, a three hours game drive will not disappoint you. Our nomad guides are pleasant and stop at nothing to make the experience as intriguing as possible. During your adventure,you will see more zebras here than in any other park in Uganda, over 10,000 of them. This is thanks to limited number of predators in the park and the abundance of palatable vegetation. Mburo is named after a vast water system that comprises of over 15 major lakes that are interlinked by wetlands. They are a great place to look forward to visiting if you want special sightings of endangered and unusual bird species like White-winged swamp warbler, Carruthers’s cisticola, Shoebill,Blue-headed coucal, Blue-breasted kingfisher, Papyrus gonolek, African finfoot, Abyssinian ground horn bill. In total, the park has Over 310 bird species have been recorded in Lake Mburo NP. This park has over 310 recorded bird species most of which can be easily seen during a nature walk at Rubanga forest. No other park in Uganda has as pleasant sightings of acacia-dwelling birds like Mburo. As you navigate the park, you could watch herds of giraffes scan through the shrubs for a beastly lion fond of laying ambush. Kidepo Valley National Park-The True African Wilderness Kidepo is surrounded by ranges of enormous jagged mountains. In between them, you will find valleys of golden grass, ebony woodland, rolling hills, acacia shrubs and ebony woodland. This park borders Kenya in the East and South Sudan in South. It prides in being a multi-award winning destination, where impossible aspects of wildlife become possible. For instance, while it is extremely rare for predators to spare their target prey, at Kidepo so many lions play with calves of their prey after eating their mothers. Kidepo has lots of termite mounds that are several feet high and lots of acacia trees that breath life to the park. At sunset, they make a beautiful silhouette that could leave you with tears of joy. The park is named after Kidepo River, a huge watercourse that looks lifeless and startlingly white in the dry season, but bursts its banks at the peak the rain season. Wildlife viewing here is excellent in the dry seasons between June and October. Thousands of animals flock in to rehydrate themselves,for a safari to Kidepo contact a tour company. These include Uganda kobs, Rothschild giraffes, buffaloes, zebras. guenther's dik diki, greater and lesser like. Predator like the following are never far away; lions, leopards, side-striped jackal, black backed jackal, bat eared fox, cheetah. The park has one of the highest densities of buffaloes in Africa, over 20,000. No other corner in East Africa is as dear to species from the antelope family as Kidepo. It has 12 species including klipsringer, Uganda Kob, eland, jackson's hartebeest, oribi. Kidepo is equally a great bird watching destination with 470 unique species. You cant miss seeing flocks of 56 species of raptors as they fly swiftly with an audible, harsh, squealing sound. There is also Karamoja apalis, Abyssinian roller, Black-breasted barbet, D’Arnaud's barbet, Northern carmine bee-eater, Jackson's hornbill, Rose-ringed parakeet. Apart from March to April, November to February equally presents very fruitful birding encounters. Murchison falls Nation National Park-The World's Most Powerful Waterfall Wildlife highlight: 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds. elephants,lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards and buffaloes,Jackson’s hartebeest, waterbucks, bushbucks, Uganda kob, warthogs, hippos, Nile crocodiles. What Is It like To Be In Murchison Falls One of the things that make this Savannah park extraordinary is that although it is Uganda's largest national park measuring 3,840km2, it is still as remote as the olden, wild Africa of long ago. In other words, you have double chances of encountering wildlife that thrived even before Africa was colonized. While finding lions in most national parks in East Africa is gamble, here it is not surprising to be encircled by over 20 of them.Some prides comprise 12+ individuals. The same applies to herds of elephants and guess what.....leopards. Murchison's plains are anything but gentle with tumbling granite boulders, giant borassus palm trees and whistling acacias. The park has 76 mammals, most which can be seen easily during a morning or evening game drive. The park has a thriving population of chimpanzees and Rothschild giraffes, over 800 and 1,000 of them respectively. More than 20 kilometers of the world's longest river snakes it's way through Murchison as it journeys Northwards to the Mediterranean ocean. It is fun to head out for a nature walk to identify different animals by the footprints they left in the sand overnight. If you want patas monkeys or chimpanzees in specific, Budongo Eco forest in the place to be. Other primates found here include Blue and red-tailed monkeys and black-and-white colobus. 451-odd bird species have recorded here, inclusive Shoe bill Stork and the most gigantic heron on earth, the Goliath Heron. As you pursue the afternoon boat cruise destined to the top of the falls, you are likely to run into Blue-headed Coucal,African Quail-Finch, Swamp Flycatcher,Speckle-fronted Weaver, Squacco Heron,White-browed Sparrow Weaver, African Jacana, Red-throated Bee-eater, Sandpipers, Abyssinian Ground-Horn bills, Black-headed Gonolek and Malachite Kingfishers among others. There is also the most cherished bird in Uganda, the Grey Crowned crested crane, an elegant national emblem cherished by all. The best time to visit is March-June. Being a dry season, viewing the animals is easier as many of the jungles and shrubs are not in bloom.