Uganda National Parks
Uganda is known to be a home to over ten national parks and these include Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Lake Mburo, Kibale, Bwindi, Mgahinga, Mount Elgon, Kidepo, Mount Rwenzori, Semliki. Each National Park has its distinctive vegetation, landscape and wildlife. Visiting one of these national parks is regarded as the most breathtaking moment on earth as they offer a number of activities. Let us examine them one by one.
Queen Elizabeth national park was opened by Queen Elizabeth of England in 1954, and this park is located in the Southwestern part of Uganda shared by districts of Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukungiri. The headquarters of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Mweya can be reached through Fort portal to Kasese about 440 kilometers or Mbarara just about 425 kilometers and both way can be travelled between 6-7 hours. For those who want to travel by air a private charter flight can be arranged for you to Kasese air strip where a transfer to the park can be made.
This is the largest of the ten national parks Uganda has and it covers an area of about 3,893 sq. kilometers. From Kampala to Murchison Falls it takes about 5-6 hours through Luweero via Nakasongola and Masindi District or through Kiboga via Hoima and Masindi. The park is one of the most spectacular parks in all of Africa. Its well known for its rolling savannah, wetland, as well as tropical forest and the stunning falls, the park has plenty of flora and fauna with over 70 mammal species, over 445 different species of birds, 250 species of butterflies, 10 of primate species and more than 450 species of plant
This park is positioned in the Southwestern part of Uganda and covers an area of about 331square kilometers. It takes 8-10 hours to reach the park through Mbarara, Kabale and Kanungu to Buhoma. The park has both lowland and montane rainforest with thick bushes of herbs, vines and vegetation, making the Park looks impenetrable. The forest is a home to many rare species and the most common one is the few remaining mountain gorillas in the world. More than a half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas is found in Bwindi impenetrable forest about 325 out of 770 individuals.
Kibale forest National Park is located in the Western part of Uganda in the district of Kamwenge about 450 kilometers from the capital city Kampala and can be driven in just about 5-6 hours. It is one of the newly created Parks having been a forest reserve and it has been a national park since 1995. The park covers 795km2 and is bordering to the northern end of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Most of the Southwest part of Kibale National Park is a mix of grassland and wetland with interesting plant life, while North and Southeast part are mainly tropical forest with more than 345 trees species recorded in the area over (27% of country’s total).
Lake Mburo National Park is located in Southwestern part of Uganda between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara, and it is about 260 Kilometers from Kampala Uganda’s capital and largest city and can be traveled in 3-4 hrs. The park covers over 260sqkm and it has attractive rolling hills woodlands, wetlands and open grassy valleys.
The park is a home to over 68 different mammal species; it’s the only park in Uganda where Impalas are still move freely, zebras, buffalo, leopard, various antelope species such as topi, bush buck, common duiker, bush buck, Sitatunga, water buck, oribi, klipspringer, Lake Mburo National Park is the only two parks in Uganda the other being Kidepo where you can find the Burch ell’s zebra and eland. The park also is a home to various species of birds including the rare shoebill, crested crane to mention but a few.
Kidepo valley National Park is regarded as the most remote National Park in Uganda as it is located in the far Northeastern corner of Uganda along the boarders with Sudan and Kenya. It has been a National Park since 1954 and it covers an area of about 1,442sqkm. It is about12hours drive or more in good weather from Kampala, via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto which is about 700-800 kilometers. A 4WD is recommended and it is advised to schedule a two days journey in case you are travelling by road, or it can be accessed by air and chatter flights are readily available daily. The Park is regarded as a fabulous national park because of its mountain scenery and savannah plains.
Uganda’s smallest yet most scenic National Park is situated in the extreme South-Western corner of the country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to include Parc des Volcano in Rwanda and Parc de Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area, and provide a striking backdrop to Mgahinga’s gorgeous scenery. Mountain gorillas form the main attraction of the Park, and are the reason for its existence, thought the habituated group frequently crosses the border to Rwanda.
Mountain Elgon is an extinct volcano that first erupted more than 24 million years ago. With the largest surface area of any extinct Volcano in the world (50km by 80km), Mount Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in East Africa, with the second highest peak in Uganda (Wagagai peak, 4321 m). It contains the largest intact caldera, a collapsed crater covering over 40kms at the top of the mountain, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks. While ascending Mount Elgon’s enchanting slopes you will meet four-distinct forest types: the lush montane forest where you will find the Elgon peak, mixed bamboo belt, the fascinating heath and spectacular moorland hyrachs which contain stands of some of the most rare endemic plant species, like the giant lobelia elgonensis and dotted clusters of peculiar groundsels which are unique in Africa.
The park is located in the western part of Uganda on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park has an area of 998 sq km and was named after the famous Rwenzori Mountains which is also referred to as the legendary “Mountains of the Moon.” Rwenzori Mountain is one of Africa’s tallest mountain range with an elevation of 5,109m. The Rwenzori range has 6 major peaks which include, Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savoia (4,627m). The highest peak is the Mt Stanley complex and is called Margherita peak (5,109) and it is this peak which makes the Rwenzori Mountains the 3rd highest range in Africa. Rwenzori Mountains are not volcanic but predominantly old quartzite unlike the two highest mountains in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya).
Semliki National Park is one of Uganda’s newest National Parks. It is located in the extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo. It lies along the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the Rift valley. The park covers an area of 220 sq km and covers an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest. It forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, and is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa most especially birds. This park harbors a large number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa and these include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honey guide Black-wattled Hornbill and the Nkulengu Rail.