Best national parks in Uganda for safari

Best national parks in Uganda for safari  : Uganda is a small country but blessed with remarkable biodiversity that is compared to none. One clear feature of Uganda as a tourism destination is the satisfaction of being the best mountain gorilla trekking destination in Africa. However, Uganda is also rich in Wildlife Safari and one can take part in several activities from the big 5 (Lions, Buffaloes, Leopards, Rhinoceros and Elephants), boat cruises on lakes like Victoria which is the second largest in the world, rivers like the Nile which is the longest in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi, hiking on Elgon, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, Mount Moroto and the incredible Mountain Rwenzori. Uganda is the best tourist destination for chimpanzee tracking with a population of about 5,000 chimpanzees, also chimpanzees can also be spotted in Budongo forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu and Maramagambo forest. Uganda is also among the world’s top birding destination, birding safaris exposes travellers’ to over 1,050 resident and migratory species. All these activities can be done in some of the 10 national parks in Uganda These national parks are spread across the country and each has something special.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most visited national park in Uganda as most travellers’ go there to find and see the most incredible creatures on earth which are the mountain gorillas. These mountain gorillas can only be seen in only 4 of the national parks in Africa with Uganda taking 2 of the national parks including Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mghinga national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most popular of the all the Bwindi national parks because it has the highest number of gorillas in the whole world with half of the remaining mountain gorillas while the other half is shared by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga national park. Bwindi forest national park is found in the South Western part of the country next to the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a UNESCO World heritage site because of the mountain gorillas and overall biodiversity. Apart from gorilla trekking in Bwindi, you can also do other forest activities in Bwindi forest including nature walks, community visits and bird watching to mention a few and is also one of the Best national parks in Uganda for safari.

Best national parks in Uganda for safari
Gorilla Trekking Safari in Bwindi

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga national park is the second home to the mountain gorillas in Uganda. What makes Mgahinga national park as one of the best and most outstanding national parks in Uganda is the fact that it has both the famous mountain gorillas and the rare golden monkeys thus the tittle “where silver meets gold”. Although the park only has one gorilla family, the Golden monkeys blend in well for visitors to visit this park. Mgahinga national park is the smallest national park of Uganda and it lies in the South-Western corner of Uganda near the border between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, However, Mgahinga national park receives fewer tourists compared to Bwindi and hence there is no issue of large crowds or privacy. Apart from the primates, Mgahinga national park stands out because of its three inactive volcanoes including; Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhabura. These volcanoes are part of the wider Virunga ranges of mountains that include Karisimbi, Bisoke and Nyiragongo. Hiking to the top of these volcanoes will reward tourists with breath-taking views of the Virunga mountain ranges, Mount Rwenzori, Uganda and DR Congo. Reaching the summit of mount Muhabura allows one to step in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo at the same time.

Mgahinga national was home to the indigenous people of the Uganda the Batwa before the park was gazetted, therefore, Mgahinga is also a place to find the Batwa pygmies. There is a Batwa trail in the park which offers great opportunities to explore the historical background of the Batwa people. The Batwa can also be visited in Bwindi forest. The Batwa lead the activity as guides and within the forest unlike in Bwindi where visitors go to meet the group of the park.  Other attractions in Mgahinga include nature walks, and birding.

Kibale forest national park

Kibale forest national park is the primate capital of Africa with over 5000 individuals and 13 primate species including chimpanzees. Kibale forest national park is debatably the best place for tracking chimpanzees in the world. The key difference between chimpanzee tracking in Kibale national park and other national parks lies in the success rate of finding the primates. Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees are very mobile and finding a group can be quite challenging since they don’t stay in one place for a long time. The chances of finding the primates in Kibale are very high compared to other related parks. Apart from primate tours, Kibale national park is also a birding destination with over 370 bird species. Visitors also have opportunities to take part in nature walks, community visits, Tea plantation tours, Crater lakes tours to mention a few.

Best national parks in Uganda for safari
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale

Murchison falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda and the best place to go on a wildlife safari in Africa. Murchison falls national park is blessed with diverse features and landscape offering a whole lot of things to do and the main tourist attraction are the beautiful Murchison falls on the great River Nile. Murchison falls national park is located in the North-western part of Uganda. This park attracts visitors because it is the only place where one can spot all the big five mammals. Although Rhinos are extinct in the park and can be seen at the adjacent Ziwa rhino sanctuary on the way to and from the park.  Murchison Falls is a lion conservation unit and has more Roskilde Giraffe than any other park in Uganda. Apart from game drives and visiting the top of the falls, visitors can choose to track Chimpanzee in Budongo Forest or go for a boat cruise below the falls to spot one of the largest collection of crocodiles, hippos and birds. Apart from the game drives and boat cruises, visitor also have an opportunity to view wildlife from a hot air balloon or visit the local Boomu Women’s group to mingle with locals.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth national park is the most popular and most visited savannah national park in Uganda and the second largest national park after Murchison falls national park. This is the most popular and visited national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth national park stands out for its diverse landscape and wildlife because it receives good rains compared to the Masai Mara national reserve of Kenya and Serengeti national park of Tanzania hence giving visitors more panoramic views for much of the year. Among the amazing features in the park include exploration crater lakes, Gorges, Salt Lakes and rift valley Lakes like Gorge and Edward. Queen Elizabeth national park is famous for hosting the rare tree climbing lions but visitors can also spot chimpanzees at the Maramagambo and the amazing Kyambura Gorge. The Kazinga channel is one of the best places to spot birds in the world. During certain months of the year, the sheer density of birds within and around the channel will leave even the most seasoned birders very impressed.  Other activist and attractions include nature walks at the Maramagambo forest, hot air balloon wildlife viewing, visiting the Katwe salt mining lake, cultural visits and taking part in wildlife research tours.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo is one of Uganda’s true hidden gems located far remote in the North-Eastern corner of the Uganda bordering South Sudan. Kidepo national park has vegetation, seasons and landscape that are similar to that found in Masai Maraa national reserve but with virgin wilderness and less crowds. Kidepo Valley National is the only park in Uganda where ostriches, cheetahs and wild dogs still thrive. The scenery and landscape in Kidepo is so stunning that CNN described it as one of the best national parks in Africa. Sadly, this amazing park is less visited by tourists in part because of its remote location and a past history of being a hideout for rebels. Game drives are the main activity in the park. A game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park provides opportunities to spot lions, leopards, buffaloes and Elephants, ostriches among others. A cultural visit can also be arranged to visit the Karamojong, Dodoth or the endangered Ik tribe. Other activities in the park include mountain climbing, nature walks and visiting hot springs and its also regarded as one of the Best national parks in Uganda for safari.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo national park is the smallest savannah park in Uganda located in a strategic area on the main highway leading to Uganda’s major game parks like Bwindi national park, Kibale forest national park, Mgahinga national park and Queen Elizabeth national park. Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo national park are the only places to stop the Zebras in Uganda, it is also the only place in Uganda to spot Impala. Given that Lake Mburo National Park does not have all the big 5 game (Only has the leopard, hippos, and buffaloes), the park has supported the existence of other park leisure activities for example Lake Mburo national park is the only place where one can view game while on a horseback ride, other activities in mountain biking, walking Uganda safari and being the closest game park to Kampala city, Lake Mburo national park is perfect for those who have come for short business trips in Kampala city and desire to see some of Uganda’s wildlife. The other attractive activities in Lake Mburo are sport fishing, boat cruises along the lake, birding (among the best) and nature walks.

Best national parks in Uganda for safari
Lake Mburo Zebras

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Mountain Rwenzori national park is yet another UNESCO World Heritage in Uganda located in the south-western corner next to the Virunga National Park in Congo. Although climbing the Rwenzori Mountains is the key attraction, the park is also known for the birds, animals and remarkable botany. A combination of heavy rains, cold weather and sunshine has led to the growth of rare vegetation commonly seen in cold countries. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to several primates and mammals like Colobus monkeys, buffaloes, chimpanzees, forest elephants and Leopards among others. Over 216 species of birds can be found in the park as well as rare reptile like the three-horned chameleon. Apart from mountain climbing, the park office arranges nature walks and visits to one the local Bakonzo tribe to thrill and is also one of the Best national parks in Uganda for safari .

Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon national park is yet another UNESCO world heritage and Biosphere Reserve in Uganda located at the border between Kenya and Uganda. Largest park of the park is on the Uganda side of the border. Mount Elgon is eight highest mountains in Africa at a height of 4,321 meters. The main activity in this park is mountain climbing however, there are several animal species that can be spotted at the foot of the mountain and surrounding areas. The mountain area receives good rains throughout the year and when combined with the fertile soils support the growth of vegetation and forests that provide food for primates, buffaloes and elephants among others. Mount Elgon is a non-volcanic mountain and after eruption, it formed a Caldera at the top of the mountain and today most travellers’ visit the park simply to see the Caldera which is at the top of the mountain. Other attractions on Mount Elgon include Nature walks which are organized to experience the beautiful scenery, animal and plant life around the park. Visitors who are interested in exploring caves or visiting waterfalls will not be disappointed while visiting Mount Elgon. The famous Sipi falls are one of the best waterfalls found at the slopes of mount Elgon. Cultural tours are organized to visit the Bagisu in their coffee farms or to witness their ancient circumcision ceremonies. (8th highest in Africa). The other activities arranged within and around the park are bird watching, game viewing, campingsport fishing, abseiling, cycling or visiting the Matheniko Bokora and Pian Upe Wildlife Reserves.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park is home to the fascinating hot springs called the Sempaya Hot Springs. Sempaya hot springs include the female and male hot springs. They are found in the district of Bundibugyo along the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park has East Africa’s only remaining lowland rainforest. The forests in the park are an extension of the great Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo creating conditions typically seen in Central Africa. The forest extension has enabled the park to attract bird species not commonly seen in East Africa making the park one of the best places bird watching in Uganda. But it is not only birds and forest that attract tourists to the park. Semuliki National Park is also one of the Best national parks in Uganda for safari. Visitor can go and take a bath in one of the hot springs or go for a game drive to see some of the animals found in the park. Cultural visits can also be arranged to see the Bakonjo, Batwa or Bamba tribes.

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