5 Destinations wildlife lovers should visit in Uganda
Uganda is located in East Africa astride the equator thus the country is geographically set between East African savannahs and west central African jungles. The country has diverse habitats such as tropical forests, savannah, lakes and rivers, wetlands, mountains, volcanoes which provide home to abundant wildlife including half of the world’s mountain gorilla population and more than 1000 species of birds.
The people of Uganda are friendly and welcoming which itself sets a safe atmosphere for travelers to enjoy a vacation. There are 10 national parks but if you are a wildlife enthusiast make sure to visit these 5 destinations for incredible wildlife adventure experiences for travelers.
Murchison Falls National Park – World Strongest Waterfall
Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the River Nile which form Murchison falls, the world’s strongest waterfall. The River Nile waters support an astonishing wildlife found in Murchison falls include 79 mammals and 451 species of birds.
For your adventure in Uganda, visit Murchison Falls National park and experience big 5 safaris. Game drive safaris in the park provide visitors with sightings of large mammals and antelopes including elephants, lion, leopard, buffaloes, Uganda kob, Jackson’s hartebeest, topi, eland, and warthogs.
Boat cruises on the River Nile offer a relaxed way to view wildlife such as hippos, Nile crocodiles, and water birds.
Birding excursions are conducted on the Albert-Nile delta wetland in search for the rare bird species such as shoebill stork and papyrus gonelock.
Murchison falls is located in western Uganda about 4-5 hours’ drive from Kampala/ Entebbe. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is situated in Nakasongora along the route to the park. Ziwa is home to 23 rhinos. Visitors are allowed to track rhinos on foot with ranger.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park
May be you are one among who haven’t tracked mountain gorillas in the wild. It has always been said that mountain gorilla trekking is a life changing wildlife experience. It’s true. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is home to 400 gorillas including 17 gorilla families that are habituated for tourists to visit in the wild.
Bwindi protects 332 sq km of the oldest tropical rain forest that survived the ice age about 2.5 million years ago, thus is very rich in biodiversity and recognized as a world natural heritage site by UNESCO.
Besides the gorillas, Bwindi is home to 350 species of birds including 23 birds endemic to Albertine rift valley. There are 120 mammals including chimpanzees, 10 primate species and forest elephants.
Mountain gorillas are the main tourist attractions and many visitors go to Bwindi for gorilla tracking safaris. The park has 4 visitor centers where you’re guaranteed to track mountain gorillas at Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. One thing to do when planning to see gorillas is to book a gorilla permit first. Then you can arrange a safari to take you to Bwindi which is located in southwestern Uganda about 9-10 hours drive from Kampala city/ Entebbe airport. The journey is quite long however, if you land at Kigali airport Rwanda Bwindi would just be 3-4 hours away.
One of the questions visitors ask often is how fit do I need to be to see gorillas? Visitors also want to know how long it takes to hike to see gorillas. The truth is you need to be averagely fit and able to endure hiking through thick vegetation and over steep terrain.
Queen Elizabeth national park- the medley of wonders
Queen Elizabeth national park is the most visited park in Uganda and it has a lot to offer for wildlife lovers.
There’s a variety of ecosystems including savannah plains, tropical forests, wetlands, lakes and water channels, thus the park boasts rich wildlife with 95 mammals and over 600 species of birds. Mammals like elephants, lion, leopard, buffalo, Uganda kob, white tailed mongoose, topi, warthogs, are found in the park. However the highlight of the park is the tree climbing lions in Ishasha wilderness in the south of the park.
The park is also the best place for bird watching in East Africa and it has over 600 species of birds including shoebill stork, swamp purple hen, African fish eagle, and malachite kingfisher.
The Kazinga channel a 40 km water channel which connects lakes George and Edward boasts highest concentration of hippos, Nile crocodiles, water birds. During boat cruise safaris along the banks of the channel also expect to see mammals which come to drink water such as elephants, buffaloes and waterbucks.
The park also boasts scenic beauty which includes breathtaking rift valleys, many volcanic crater lakes, rolling savannah grassland plains set against the stunning backdrop of snowcapped Ruwenzori Mountains.
The rift valley tropical forests, both Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu amd maramagambo are home to chimpanzees and provides opportunities for chimpanzee tracking and nature walks in the park.
Lake Mburo National Park- “Whispers of the wild”
Lake Mburo national park is located along the western Uganda tourist route and thus easier to reach by 2 hours drive from Kampala or Entebbe international airport. When the journey to southwestern Uganda is too long, Lake Mburo serves as an overnight stopover.
Mburo is the smallest savannah park in Uganda with about 370 sq km area. It is mostly covered with open savannah plains, bush thickets, rock outcrops, forests, lakes and wetland system that occupy 20% of the park’s area.
In this small park, we find the largest population of Zebras and impalas are known to be nowhere else in Uganda. There are also buffaloes, giraffes, topi, errand, reedbuck, bushbucks, waterbucks, leopard and warthogs. Lake Mburo waters are home to hippos and Nile crocodiles.
Because of the undulating and flat terrain, visitors can go horseback riding; bicycling, guided game walks on foot with a ranger to spot wildlife in addition to game drive safaris and boat cruises for viewing hippos, crocodiles, swamp dwelling antelope sitatunga and many water birds.
Among other attractions in Lake Mburo, the Ankole long horn cattle. The local cattle keeping Hima communities offer a unique cultural experience that most visitors miss.
Kibale forest national park – Primate Capital of the World
If you want to see chimpanzees and various species of primates, then you have to visit Kibale Forest National Park for its home to 13 species of primates including more than 1000 population of chimpanzees.
In case you don’t know, Kibale is referred to as the primate capital of the world for that reason. Chimpanzee tracking safari allows visitors to spend 1 hour viewing and taking photographs as the local expert guides explains more about the chimps known as man’s closest cousin because they share 98.7 % of their DNA with humans.
You go to Kibale to see chimpanzees but there are several species of primates and more than 300 species of birds. If you are a birder or primate lover, you should visit Bigodi wetland sanctuary which is near to Kibale. After chimp tracking, most visitors go for a swamp walk which is different from a walk that you normally have during chimp tracking.
Kibale forest is connects to Queen Elizabeth national park and mammals such as elephant, leopard, warthogs, buffalo often move between the parks and lucky visitors can spot them too.