1. Semliki National Park
The park is situated in the extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo District. It lies along the Uganda/ Democratic Republic of Congo border within the western arm of the East African Rift valley. In the south east are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is Democratic Republic of Congo and to the north are the Semliki Flats and Lake Albert. The park is 220 square kilometres and occupies flat and gently undulating terrain raging from 670metres - 760metres above sea level. The average annual rainfall is high at 1,250mm that peaks from March to May and again from September to December. The temperatures vary from 18 degrees centigrade to 30 degrees centigrade with relatively small daily variations. Wildlife diversity The park is the only lowland tropical rainforest in East Africa classified as moist and semi deciduous. There are 336 tree species recorded, 374 species of butterflies, 63 species of mammals and 9 species of primates. These include: chimpanzee, blue monkey, vervet monkeys and olive baboons while the nocturnal primates include pottos and galagos. Also to be found are Forest buffalo, blue duiker, bee croft's flying squirrel, pygmy squirrel, little collared fruit bat and target rat. Other attractions include the Batwa people (pygmies) hunters gatherers that live a simple life style and depend on Semliki forest for food. The meandering river Semliki and the Sempaya hot spring. River Semliki is a shelter of water birds and crocodiles. Activities: Game viewing,Bird watching, Nature walks.
2. Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is found in western Uganda and accessed through the town of Fort Portal. The park adjoins the Queen Elizabeth National Park and is a very popular ecotourism destination on the countries safari circuit. The park is best known for it's population of habituated chimpanzees. There are many other species of primates including Baboons, Red columbus monkey, L Hoest's monkey, Black and white colobus monkeys. The park can be visited through out the year and covers an area of 776 square kms. With many different ecosystems within it's boundaries it is primarily endowed with thick rainforest cover where forest Elephant's roam. Most of the animals in this park are smaller in size than their savannah counterparts and very elusive. Other species present include Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, and several species of secretive antelope. There are over 335 species of birds where the extremely rare Green Breasted Pitta would be regarded the highlight of any visit. Butterflies are very numerous in the forest with excellent knowledgeable guides to point them out to you. The forest has a network of trails for chimpanzee trekking, bird watching and nature walks. Bird watching activities are also conducted at the Bigodi wetland sanctuary on the border of the forest. Activities: Bird watching, Chimpanzee trekking, Forest walks, Educational research
3. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
This is the smallest national park in Uganda covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers. As you approach from the east the huge cones of volcanoes start to dominate the landscape. The region surrounding the park is primarily inhabited by Bafumbira and a small population of Batwa peoples. The park is part of the great Virunga conservation area covering the northern slopes of three volcanoes, namely, Mt Muhavura 4,127 metres, Mt Sabinyo 3'645 metres and Mt Gahinga 3,474 metres. The park is bordered to the south by Republic of Rwanda and to the west by Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virunga range as a conservation area. The three parks together form the 434 square kilometers of the Virunga Conservation Area. There is one habituated gorilla group at Mgahinga known as the Nyakagezi group which roams across the international borders that make up the conservation area. The Park experiences two wet rainy seasons; February - May and September - December. The average monthly rainfall experienced being 250mm (October) and minimum is 10mm (July).
4. Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park lies on the Uganda - Kenya boarder east of the town of Mbale. The park size covers 1,145 square kilometres. The park is named the mountain of the same name which is the 8th highest mountain in Africa at 4,321m, with the largest base of any extinct volcano in the world. This volcano is estimated to have first erupted more than 20 million years ago and it is thought to have remained active for another 14 million years. The highest peak is found on the Ugandan side of the border; it's called Wagagai peak (4,321m). The other three peaks on the Kenyan side are Sudek (4,302m), Kuitobos (4,222m), Mubiyi (4,211m), with Masaba (4,161m) in Uganda. The first European to reach the mountains lower slopes was Joseph Thompson who observed it from the direction of Masai land in 1883 and named it the Mount Elgon. Elgon is an important watershed and its slopes support a rich variety of attitudinal vegetation raging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the other worldly Giant lobelia and Groundsel plants. Vegetation and wildlife The park's vegetation is characterized by tall afromontane forest, below 2500m and low canopy montane forest and bamboo between 2500m and 3000m. Other attractions are the ancient paintings close to the hiking trail head at Budadiri, and spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater. A variety of forest monkeys, small antelope, elephant, buffalo and sitatunga have found a home on the mountain. The mountain also supports a rich variety of forest birds like Jackson francolin, Green tinker bird, Alpine chat, and Red throated wryneck among others.
5. Lake Mburo National Park
The park is located in west of Kampala covering an area of about 370 square kms and is the smallest of Uganda's savannah national parks. The park harbours 68 different species of mammals including Zebra, Impala, Eland, Topi and Buffalo. Leopards, hyena and jackals are the predators that are present. The bird population includes 315 species of birds including the rare Shoebill stork, papyrus yellow warbler, African fin foot, saddle billed stork, brown chested wattled plover, ground hornbill, and white wing warbler. The beautiful landscape with grass hills and idyllic lake shore provides a varied mosaic of habitat with gallery forest, rich acacia valleys, seasonal and permanent swamp to support this wealth of wildlife. The park derives it's name from Lake Mburo that is within its boundary. The lake is rich in diversity of animal, bird and plant species. The best way to experience the lake is on one of several boat trips conducted daily by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with a competent guide. The activity enables visitors to see crocodiles, hippos, and a many birds. Popular activities include a guided walking safari, game drives, Bird watching and Boat rides. The Rubanga Forest Within the park the Rubanga forest is a very small but attractive to the bird watchers. The forest though small, is a real high forest with closed canopy. There are over 40 species of birds recorded 5 of which are forest specialists and include Harrier hawk, Green pigeon, Narina trogon, Grey-backed cameroptera and Double-toothed barbet.
6. Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the far North East of Uganda sharing a border with both Sudan and Kenya. It is one of the most spectacular parks where visitors will experience a real feeling of wilderness. It's the fifth largest National Park in Uganda covering an area of 1,442 square kms. The park offers a wonderful scenery with varied terrain consisting of mountains and savannah landscapes. The vegetation can be described as open tree savannah which varies much in structure and composition, dry mountain forest dominates some of the hills, while areas along the Narus river supports dense acacia forest. Wildlife The park harbours the greatest diversity of animal species in Uganda. These include: Bateared fox, striped hyena, Aardwolf, Caracal, and Cheetah. Less common ungulates include greater and lessor kudu, chandler's mountain reedbuck, Klipspringer and dik dik. Other large ungulates are the bush pigs, bush elephants, burchell's zebra, warthogs, cape buffalo, eland, bushbuck, Rothschild giraffe, bushduikers. Other carnivores present include lion, leopard, several small cats, spotted hyena, black-backed jackals and side- striped jackal. The park also boasts an extensive number of species of birds offering a good opportunity for bird watching activities. 465 species have been recorded among them being birds like the Ostrich to be found nowhere else in the country and the Kori birds. Birds of prey include the Egyptian vulture, Verreaux's eagle and the pygmy falcon. The Narus river valley that rolls out in front of the lodge contains much of the wildlife species to be found here where visitors will focus their game drive activities. Hiking of the Morungole mountain some few kilometres from the park headquarters is a spectacular trek. The Lonyili mountain is another possible trek. The Karimajong culture is of special interest as a cultural tourist attraction. Their simple lifestyle that harbours traditional customs, use of stools, spears, headdresses, knives, bows, arrows, and decorative jewellery is very interesting to witness.
7. Murchison Falls National Park
This is Uganda's largest protected area situated north of Masindi District and spanning the Victoria Nile. The park is named after the dramatic Murchison falls, where the River Nile explodes violently through a narrow 7m gap to fall a distance of 47m. The River Nile is the world's longest river which cuts a grove through the Murchison Falls National park. The park covers an area of 3840 square kilometres with a variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests, swamp, to broad savannah. Wildlife The parks wildlife species attractions includes Rothchild's giraffes, Lions, Buffalos, Uganda Kob, Elephant, Warthogs and an abundance of birds. These provide opportunity for excellent game drive viewing. The main game viewing area is the peninsular between the Victoria and Albert Nile on the north bank of the river. Budongo Forest This forest administered by the National Forestry Authority is to be part found within the parks protected area and is habitat to chimpanzees, monkeys, baboons and some very special forest bird species. Chimpanzee tracking, bird watching and nature walks are all popular activities that can be undertaken at the Kanyio Pabidi Ecotourism centre close to the main entrance Kichumbanyumbo gate when approaching from Masindi. The Victoria Nile One of the most exciting activities at Murchison Falls is a 14km launch trip from Paraa to the base of the falls and back. Many water bird species, hippo, and crocodiles can all be viewed from the launch trip.
8. Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The snow capped peaks of the Rwenzori mountain range lie along and shares the western border of Uganda with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is regarded to be legendary snow-capped mountains of the moon, described by Ptolemy in AD150. The highest peak reaches an elevation of 5,102m, it is also Africa's tallest mountain range, exceeded in altitude only by the free standing volcanoes of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro. The distinctive glacial peaks are visible form miles around, but the slopes above 1600m are the preserve of trekkers who rate the Rwenzori to be the most challenging of all African trekking tours. The park covers a total area of 998 square kilometres and is 120 km long. The mountain has several peaks with the highest being Margherita peak. This peak is the goal main trekking route known as the Central Circuit Trail. The main attraction in the Rwenzori is the luxuriant vegetation found above 3000m which includes the Giant lobelia. It is also a home birds such as the Rwenzori turaco and Olive pigeon. A variety of large mammals inhabit the lower slopes including chimpanzees. Trekking The best time for trekking and mountaineering is during the dry seasons from mid December to March and from June to mid August.
9. Queen Elizabeth National park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated astride the equator in south western Uganda. It's the second largest national park in Uganda covering an area of 1,978 square kilometres. The park has varied habitats that include grass savannah, dense bushes, forest, swamp and lakes. The park offers magnificent game viewing experiences, a memorable launch trip and spectacular bird watching opportunities. The park has over 100 species of mammals among which lion, elephant, buffalo, Uganda kob, warthogs, hyena, and leopards are the main draw cards. There are over 606 bird species many of which to be seen along the the Kazinga channel to the Mweya peninsular. The kazinga channel joins Lake Edward to Lake George where a launch trip allows visitors a close up encounter with many wildlife species. Northern Crater Area This region of the park is dominated by huge volcanic craters, some containing salt lakes. These unique ecosystems attract buffalo, elephant and on occasions many thousands of flamingo a sight to behold. Maramagambo Forest This huge forest just out side queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the biggest forests in Uganda. It covers a total area of 280 square kilometers of both primary and the secondary forest, 5 species of primates that includes chimpanzees, Baboons and monkeys. The Blue Crater Lake at the sight of the Jacana Lodge is an impressive sight. Kyambura Gorge The gorge is within the savannah sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This 16 kilometer long scar in the earth is home to a group of habituated chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys and birds. The gorge is about 100m deep to where organised chimpanzee trekking can be conducted, bird watching, nature walks and sight seeing can be undertaken from the visitors centre. The Ishasha Sector This sector is the southern part of the park that is famous for it's population of tree climbing Lions often to be seen in large fig trees in the plains.
10. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi is found in South Western Uganda on the edge of western rift valley. It covers an area of 321 square kilometres, it also lies a long the border of Uganda an the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is well known as the home of the world's mountain gorillas. Uganda is ranked number one in the world as a destination to experience the thrill of a mountain gorilla safari. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda has been designated as a world heritage site for the protection and conservation of these amazing animals. Within Uganda there are, six habituated gorilla groups - five in Bwindi and one in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Each of the habituated gorilla families is named where in Bwindi they are Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushugura, Bitukura and Nkuringo. In Mgahinga the group is named Nyakagezi. Today there are about 650- 700 gorillas left in the world, half of which are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park a lone. The Bwindi Forest is described as impenetrable, due to its shear density of vegetation and the vast area it covers. It's no wonder that in the local language "Bwindi" means a place of darkness because of the thick vegetation which indeed makes it impenetrable. The park is covered by the thick tropical afromontane forest with dense under growth of fern and vines. There are over 324 species of trees, 90 species of mammals, 11 species of primates, 360 species of birds and 23 Albertine rift valley endemic species. Bwindi's major tourist activities are gorilla tracking, bird watching, forest walks and village walks. A maximum of eight visitors may track each of the gorillas groups daily. The permit tracking fee is $500- per person.