UGANDA

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

This park is home to more than half of the world’s wild mountain gorilla population and was declared a Natural World Heritage Site in December 1994. World Heritage Sites are internationally recognized as natural features of outstanding beauty or scientific value.
The landscape here is rugged, with deep valleys running between steep sided hills and ridges with barely a square kilometer of the park flat. There is a blend of both lowland and montane rainforest with a dense undergrowth of herbs, vines and shrubs (hence the name impenetrable).
This area is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa with the richest faunal community in East Africa. There are estimated to be 120 species of mammals (more than any other national park in Uganda except Queen Elizabeth) and is the only park where chimpanzees and gorillas co-exist together. There are an estimated 360 species of birds, including 23 localized species found only along the Albertine Rift Valley and 14 found nowhere else in Uganda.
The pristine rainforests of this park, one of the largest natural forests in East Africa, are home to approximately 300 species of butterfly (including two endangered species of swallowtails), 200 native tree species and many species of reptiles and amphibians (including one species of frog that may be new to science).
The rugged terrain makes gorilla trekking strenuous work and visitors should be prepared for up to 8 hours of hiking (good physical condition is a must).
When to visit: Any time, though conditions are more challenging during the rainy season.
Getting there: Bwindi can be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). Bwindi is 550 km from Kampala. The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate.
Distance from Kampala: 550km; estimated transit time: 9 hours
Private chartered flights are also available.

Murchison Falls National Park

Uganda’s largest park covers over 4000 sq. km, and is one of the most spectacular parks in Africa. Renowned for its scenic beauty and the spectacular falls from which it gets its name, Murchison Falls National Park supports an abundance of flora and fauna to delight the visitor. From rolling savannah and tall grasslands to thick bush and woodlands, the diversity of this park never ceases to amaze visitors and residents alike.
No visit to Murchison Falls would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Falls. They can be viewed from the top where the Nile River narrows from 50 meters to crash through a 7-meter gorge, falling 45 meters to the rocks below. The three-hour cruise to the base of the Falls is also unforgettable. One can experience the majesty of the Nile while onboard, viewing abundant wildlife along the banks. The more adventurous traveler may want to hike the trails around the Falls, while the avid birdwatcher will want to seek out some of the 424 species identified in the park. Fishermen can test their skills above and below the Falls, waiting patiently for 20-100 kg Nile Perch. Other game fish found in the Nile include Barbel, Electric Catfish and Tiger fish.
Cape buffalo, Rothschild’s giraffe, Uganda kob, hartebeest and waterbuck are commonly seen on game drives. You may also spot oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, the shy sitatunga, bush duiker, warthog and bushpig. Large carnivores include lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Chimpanzees and olive baboons head the list of six species of primates found in the park. Crocodile and hippo will be seen along the banks of the Nile. Some of the more common birds that can be seen include Goliath heron, Egyptian geese, pelican, bee-eaters, kingfishers, hornbill, cormorant, saddle-bill stork and the rare Shoebill stork. A boat cruise to the delta is a highlight for the avid birdwatcher.
Distance from Kampala: 300km; estimated transit time: 5 hours.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

As one of the outstanding treasures of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park has recently been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO. It is the most popular and easily accessible game reserve in Uganda. The park covers 1978 sq. km and includes a remarkable variety of eco-systems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah and swamps. A total of 95 mammal species has been recorded here, the highest for any Ugandan national park. It is the home of the famous tree-climbing lions, the Uganda kob and other antelope species, as well as elephant, buffalo, hippos, baboons and chimpanzee.
A total of 547 confirmed and 15 unconfirmed bird species have been recorded in Queen Elizabeth. This is one of the highest totals in the world and is truly remarkable for such a relatively small reserve. Species recorded include the Shoebill stork, black bee-eater, 11 types of kingfishers and a variety of raptors, including several falcons and eagles. In the crater lakes, spectacular flocks of flamingos gather, creating the image of a moving pink carpet. The launch trip along the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward is a memorable way to view the abundant game in Queen Elizabeth and to see an astounding number of bird species.
In the eastern section of the park is Kyambura Gorge where visitors can climb through a tropical forest in hopes of catching a glimpse of a variety of primates, including chimpanzees.
In the more isolated Ishasha sector of the park, visitors can move through the woodlands in search of tree-climbing lions perched on the boughs of ancient fig trees. To the southeast, travelers can explore newly opened trails in the Maramagambo forest.
Distance from Kampala: 440km; estimated transit time: 6 hours

Kibale Forest National Park

The main attraction of Kibale is the high density of primates that inhabit the rainforest. In fact, this forest supports the highest number of primate species in Uganda and one of the highest primate densities in the world. In addition to a large community of chimpanzees, there are 12 other primate species, including red and black-and-white colobus monkeys, l’Hoest’s, red-tailed, vervet and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, olive baboons, as well as four species of nocturnal primates. The birdlife is prolific, with approximately 400 species recorded for the area. Highlights include the crested guinea fowl, great blue turaco, grey parrot, green-breasted and African pittas, African crowned eagles and black bee-eaters.
Though elephants, buffaloes and giant forest hogs are found here, they live deep in the forest and are only seldom seen. More commonly encountered are bushbucks, duikers and montane sun and giant forest squirrels. This park covers 766 sq. km and runs contiguously with the northern end of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is located just south of Fort Portal.
Distance from Kampala: 360 km; estimated transit time: 5 hours.

Lake Mburo National Park

The park’s rolling hills and open grassy valleys, interspersed with thickets, woodlands and rich wetlands, are the only place in Uganda where impala still occur and is the best place to see large herds of eland (Africa’s largest antelope). Other antelope species include topi, bushbuck, sitatunga, common duiker, klipspringer, oribi, Defassa waterbuck and Bohor reedbuck. All of your senses come in to play when experiencing the African bush and a walking safari here can be most revealing. It is one of only two Ugandan national parks where Burchell’s zebra still occurs.
In addition to a game drive, many visitors enjoy a boat trip on Lake Mburo, the largest of the five lakes that lie within the park boundaries. The lake and lush fringing vegetation support healthy populations of buffalo, warthog, bushpig and hippopotamus. Birdwatchers will enjoy the more than 250 species of birds found in Lake Mburo, probably the best place in Uganda to see acacia-associated birds. Also of special interest to birders are the swamps, the place to see six so-called papyrus endemics, including the striking papyrus gonolek and the highly localized papyrus yellow warbler (recorded nowhere else in Uganda).
Distance from Kampala: 230km; estimated transit time: 3 hours

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