BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
Located in southwestern Uganda, on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (331 square km) is said to be Africa’s oldest rain forest. It is thought to be one of the most biologically diverse jungles in Africa.
As the name suggests, it is an area of almost impassibly dense rain-forest with steep ridges and valleys rising up to an altitude of 2,600m, with cascading waterfalls and beautiful mountain streams.
The forest is one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas up close and is supporting approximately half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. It is the only forest in Africa in which the gorillas and chimpanzees successfully co-exist.
Aside from these great apes, one can also find L’Hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey and colobus, five species of duiker and bushbuck. As well as a small population of forest elephants. For the bird-lovers, Bwindi is also home to around 350 bird species of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine Rift and at least 14 are found nowhere else in Uganda.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NP
North of Bwindi, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the West, lies the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Nestled at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains on the rift valley floor between Lakes Edward and George. The 1978 square km park is one of the county’s most popular parks. The landscape is a diverse mix of volcanic craters, tropical forest, open savanna plains and swamps.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to almost 100 mammal species a remarkable 612 species of birds, including the impressive and unusual shoebill. The park now has four of the Big Five, with steadily increasing populations of lion, elephant and leopard, as well as great herds of buffalo.
This is also one of the few places in the world known for tree-climbing lions, in the Ishasha sector in the south of the park. The Kazinga Channel (great boat trips) contains a large concentration of hippos and the Kyambura Gorge, is home to habituated chimpanzees.
KIBALE FOREST NP
Kibale Forest (795 square km) is located just to the east of Uganda’s snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife.
The forest is home to the highest diversity and concentration of primates found in Africa. There are 13 primate species found within the forest including the highlight of the park the chimpanzee, red-tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red colobus and black and white colobus monkeys.
Other (more elusive) animals can also be seen including leopard, forest elephant, duiker, bush pig and buffalo, although the dense vegetation makes them difficult to spot.
Kibale’s birdlife is outstanding, with over 375 species of birds, including the sought-after African pitta and the secretive black bee-eater. Although the dense growth and high forest canopy means stealth and patience are needed.
Activities in the forest include chimpanzee treks, chimpanzee habituation experience, bird watching tours and nature walks.
RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NP
The remote Rwenzori Mountains, also referred to as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, lie in Western Uganda on the Congolese border. The Rwenzori Mountains are the tallest mountain range in Africa. The national park itself is about 100,000 hectares, covering almost the whole area of the actual mountains.
The mountain range has six peaks permanently covered in ice and glaciers, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forest. Mount Margherite is the highest peak at 5,109 metres, making it the 3rd highest peak in Africa.
The Rwenzoris are one of Africa’s most beautiful alpine areas offering hiking treks through varied and stunning landscapes, with none of the crowds found at Kilimanjaro. Most of the park is accessible to hikers (both experienced climbers and casual hikers) with magnificent scenery and 19 Albertine Rift endemics, amongst them.
MURCHISON FALLS NP
Murchison Falls National Park covers 3.893 square km, making it Uganda’s largest National Park. Named after the world’s most powerful waterfall and the main attraction of the park, the Murchison Falls. Formed by the fast-flowing Nile pushing through a seven-meter gap in the rift valley, creating a powerful surge of leaping water.
The landscape features dense rainforest, rolling savannah, flanked by lush riverine woodlands and a diversity of abundant wildlife. The forests are home to various primates, including chimpanzees, and near the river, buffalo, elephants and Rothschild’s giraffe can be seen. Other commonly seen wildlife include: lions, antelope, waterbucks, great pods of hippos and the country’s largest population of crocodiles. The birdlife is extraordinary, with over 460 species recorded in the park such as the great blue turaco, dwarf kingfisher and the shoebill stork.
A great way to experience the wildlife here is by boat on an exciting river safari. The mighty Nile River at Murchison is also famous for its exciting sport fishing for the monstrous Nile Perch and vicious Tiger Fish.
Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the deep far north of Uganda, in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province, and is a real hidden gem. This is one of the few places in Africa where you feel you are all alone.
Sharing borders with Sudan and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, it is one of the most remote parks on the entire continent and Uganda’s most beautiful and least-explored park.
The terrain varies from open savannah, which stretches as far as the eye can see, to dense jungle forests. It is home to over 77 mammal species, 28 of which are found at no other park in the country, including cheetah, wild dog, aardwolf, caracal and striped hyena. Visitors can enjoy excellent wildlife sightings with big herds of buffaloes and elephants, lion, leopard and Rothshild giraffe.
Kidepo is also a birdwatchers paradise, as there are over 475 recorded species. Rare birds to be seen here include the black-breasted barbet and karamoja apallis.
ADDITIONAL UGANDAN HIGHLIGHTS
Uganda still has a lot more to offer: Entebbe, Kampala, Lake Mutanda, Mgahinga National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Jinja and Lake Mburo National Park. If you would like to know more about any of these, please get in contact with us.