Where to visit in Uganda
Compared to other safari destinations with over 50 or so national parks, Uganda is home to a modest 10 beautiful and protected national parks. Other than Kidepo National Park in the very north of the country (bordering South Sudan), all of the other nine national parks are located in the western part of Uganda. Although each national park is home to vibrant green forested landscapes, they all offer something different, with either a unique species to see, or an experience to do.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south-west of Uganda is arguably the most famous national parks and included in almost every Uganda itinerary. This park is home to the famous mountain gorillas and, with 11 gorilla groups habituated, it is possible to spend an hour with these gentle giants in the forest. Mgahinga National Park also has one habituated gorilla group.
Bwindi National Park
Bwindi, located in Uganda’s southwestern region on the edge of the African Rift Valley, is renowned for its remarkable biodiversity and around 400 mountain gorillas. It became a national park in 1991 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. Tourists visit annually to observe habituated mountain gorillas that live in family units and exhibit social behaviors akin to humans. The main distinction is their weight, with large silverbacks weighing up to 150 kilograms. Bwindi is typically included in Uganda itineraries, often serving as an exhilarating finale. Safari camps and lodges are situated near Bwindi Park Headquarters, where you’ll receive a safety briefing before the gorilla trek.
Kibale, situated in western Uganda, is renowned for its chimpanzee trekking. The forest boasts East Africa’s highest primate diversity, including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, and more. The lush, moist forest provides a year-round habitat for primates. In addition to chimpanzee trekking and habituation experiences, visitors can partake in cultural and crater lake tours before embarking on a Queen Elizabeth National Park safari. The chimpanzee trek offers a unique experience. Exploring the forest reveals Uganda’s natural beauty, with sunlight filtering through the tree canopy, illuminating the vibrant flora and fauna. On the morning of your chimpanzee trek, you’ll receive a safety briefing at the park headquarters. A ranger will guide you through the forest, and upon encountering the chimpanzees, you’ll have one hour with them.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Nestled in western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a true gem, named after the Queen of England following her 1954 visit to Uganda. The park offers a diverse safari experience, from tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector to the iconic Kazinga Channel. This channel teems with hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, various fish, and bird species, making a boat safari a must-do. Observing the park’s wildlife from the water provides a fresh perspective, allowing you to appreciate both the larger species like elephants and buffalo and the smaller creatures, such as native lizards and exotic birds. This park is frequently included in Uganda itineraries due to its convenient location between Kibale Forest and Bwindi National Park.
Murchison Falls, one of Uganda’s oldest national parks (gazetted in 1927), is renowned for its powerful waterfall. A visit to the falls is a must, offering the impressive sight of water rushing through the gorge. Game drives are equally popular, allowing you to spot buffalo, lions, elephants, hartebeests, and more. Accommodations in Murchison Falls are typically situated along the Victoria Nile, offering secluded views and undisturbed “armchair safaris.” This park complements an extended Uganda itinerary and features a demanding but rewarding hike to the falls for those who are fit and able. For those with health concerns, driving to the top with a safari guide is recommended.
Kidepo National Park
Kidepo National Park is a secluded gem in the far northeastern region of Uganda, bordering South Sudan. This park stands out with its unique landscape, featuring arid savannahs adjacent to rugged mountains. Due to its remote location, Kidepo receives few tourists, offering an exceptional safari experience. The park boasts over 75 mammal species and 420 bird species. In addition to game drives, Kidepo offers cultural visits to the indigenous Karamojong people, providing insights into their strong traditions. Apoka Safari Lodge, a sister property to Clouds in Bwindi National Park, is the recommended accommodation, offering breathtaking views over the Kidepo savannah. A typical safari day includes early morning game drives, a relaxing lunch at the camp, and another afternoon game drive, followed by memorable sundowner drinks in the bush.
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda offering bustling and energetic streets and local people. It is situated in the southern part of Uganda, homing the western shores of Lake Victoria. There are a number of things to do in Kampala and nearby areas, such as visiting architectural sites such as mosques and churches, the Kasubi Royal Tombs and the Uganda Museum. Whether a trip starts here in Kampala, or the nearby city of Entebbe, it is a great introduction to Uganda.
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