National Parks


Uganda is a country that is gifted by nature. Winston Churchill called it ‘the Pearl of Africa’ which is perhaps an understatement considering its beauty, riches and among all is the favorable climate. Uganda has a network of ten national parks that protect a wide diversity of wildlife. Uganda is home to interesting wildlife including primates, cats, birds etc. The country is home to almost half of the remaining population of the endangered mountain gorillas, rare species that are endemic to 3 countries.

The 10 National Parks and wildlife areas play host to Africa’s ‘Big 5’: Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, and Buffalo without forgetting Gorilla and Chimpanzee. The Equatorial climate provides permanent year-round temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius yet the Rwenzori mountain range, Africa’s highest, is snow capped. Uganda is also the source of the world’s second longest river, The Nile, which starts its journey at Africa’s largest lake, Victoria, dotted with tropical islands and their sandy white beaches. Here are the different national parks that will make you fall in love with this gifted nation;

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers some of the finest motane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder visiting Uganda. Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including spectacular, globally threatened species such as African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimson wing. Bwindi is one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Of Uganda’s forested reserves, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its superb gorilla tracking, but it also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope and bird species.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo national park is known as the ‘Home for Zebras’. The park’s well developed Acacia woodland harbors a number of wildlife species and it is the best place in the country to see the gigantic eland antelope, as well as topi, impala and several acacia-associated birds. Lake Mburo is the largest of the five lakes found this park, which together attract hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of water birds, while in swamps hide sitatunga antelope and red, black and yellow papyrus on a lake.

Kibale National Park

Kibale National park is an extensive biodiversity National Park, protecting large block of rainforest birding. It harbors the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa. Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile destination. Many of the facilities are community-based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the areas.

As the most accessible of Uganda’s major rainforests, Kibale is a home for over 13 remarkable primate species, including L’Hoest’s and red colobus monkey. The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier move seasonally into the developed part of the park.

Kidepo National Park

Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka, in the heart of the national park, a savanna landscape extends in all directions, far beyond the gazetted area of 1442km2, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.The park has a semi-arid climate with just one rainy season per year (April-September) and rainfall is light. The valley of the Narus river in the south of the park receives some 890mm of rain/year while just 635mm of rain/year falls in the Kidepo valley to the north. Both rivers are seasonal, and dwindle and disappear in the dry season. During these months, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools along the southern Narus valley near Apoka and as a result, wildlife is concentrated in this area. This consideration, combined with the valley’s open, savanna habitat, makes it the park’s prime game viewing location. Indeed it is possible to sight a good variety of wildlife simply by scanning the valley with binoculars from the comfort of the Apoka lodge.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Uganda’s smallest and probably 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 parcdes 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.

Mountain gorillas form the main attraction at Mgahinga National Park, which protects the Ugandan portion of the Virungas, an imposing string of nine freestanding extinct and active volcanoes that runs along the border with Rwanda and the Congo.

Murchison Falls National Park

The Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the bulky Bunyoro escarpment merges into the vast plains of Acholi land. One of Uganda’s oldest conservation areas, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 to protect a savanna that Winston Churchill described in 1907 as ‘Kew Gardens and the zoo combined on an unlimited scale’.The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which first races down 80km of white-water rapids before plunging 40m over the remnant rift valley wall at Murchison Falls, the centre piece of the park. The Falls drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor for 55km to Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most memorable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors include elephant, giraffe and buffalo while hippopotamus and Nile crocodile are permanent residents.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular National Park and certainly one of its most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori ranges in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the South, incorporating a wide of variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest.The lush savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park offers prime grazing to buffaloes, elephants, various antelopes and a checklist of over 600 bird species.

Semliki National Park

Semliki National Park and the beautiful Semliki wildlife reserve lies on the southern shores of Lake Albert and offers a mosaic of different habitats with some excellent birding opportunities.The Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve (formerly called the Toro Game Reserve) is subtly different and shows affinities with the northern savanna woodland with over 400 bird species coupled with a number of exotic scenery views.