Tourism & Travel

Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the\r\nWest African jungle. In this prowling lions, chimpazees, hippos, crocodiles,\r\ngorillas, antelopes etc. plus over 1000 species of birds can be tracked.

In addition to the wildlife, there is the mighty Nile, punctuated\r\nby the spectacular Murchison Falls, and the setting for some of the\r\nworld¡¯s most thrilling commercial white-water rafting. There are the snow-\r\ncapped peaks of the Rwenzori, which provide a tantalizing challenge to\r\ndedicated mountaineers, as well as the Virunga Volcanoes and Mount Elgon, both\r\nof which offer highly rewarding hiking opportunities through scintillating\r\nhighland scenery. More sedately, the myriad islands of Lake Victoria and\r\nBunyonyi are idyllic venues, as are the myriad forest-fringed crater lakes that\r\nstud the rift valley floor and escarpment around Fort Portal. Whether you¡¯re a\r\nfirst time safari-goer or a seasoned African travelers, Uganda – with its\r\nunique blend of savannah and forest creatures, its rare wealth of montane and\r\nlake habitats – is simply dazzling

Bwindi Impenetrable\r\nNational Park

A magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the\r\nAlbertine Rift Valley, this ancient rainforest – one of the few in Africa to\r\nhave flourished throughout the last Ice Age – is home to roughly half of the\r\nworld¡¯s mountain gorillas.

Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants\r\nis surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to\r\noffer – but we should not let distract from Bwindi¡¯s broader biodiversity, a\r\nresult of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m. The\r\nnational park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the\r\nblack-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. The\r\nforest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localized Albertine\r\nRift endemics present.

Mount Elgon National Park

Elgon is a 4,321m high extinct volcano which in prehistoric times\r\nstood taller than Kilimanjaro does today. Although the mountain straddles the\r\nKenya border, its loftiest peak Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best\r\nascended from the Uganda side. Elgon is an important watershed, and its slopes\r\nsupport a rich variety of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane\r\nforest to high open moorland studded with the other-worldly giant lobelia and\r\ngroundsel plants.

Spectacular scenery is the main attraction for hikers on this\r\noft-neglected and relatively undemanding mountain, but there is also a variety\r\nof forest monkeys and small antelope, along with elephant and buffalo. A\r\nchecklist topping 300 birds includes many species not recorded elsewhere in\r\nUganda. Other attractions include ancient cave paintings close to the trailhead\r\nat Budadiri, and spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater.

Kibale National Park

The most accessible of Uganda¡¯s major rainforests, Kibale is home\r\nto a remarkable 13 primate species, including the much localized red colobus\r\nand L¡¯Hoest¡¯s monkey. Kibale¡¯s major attraction, however, is the opportunity to\r\ntrack habituated chimps – these delightful apes, more closely related to humans\r\nthan to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble\r\nand play in fruiting trees.

A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight\r\nbotanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335\r\nspecies recorded including the endemic Prirogrine¡¯s ground thrush. The elusive\r\nforest elephant, smaller and hairier than its savannah counterpart, moves\r\nseasonally into the developed part of the park, while other terrestrial mammals\r\ninclude buffalo, giant forest hog and a half dozen antelope species.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Isolated from the Ugandan mainstream by the harsh plains north of\r\nMount Elgon, Kedepo is one of Africa¡¯s last great wilderness areas, a tract of\r\nrugged savannah dominated by the 2,750m Mount Morungole and transected by the\r\nKidepo and Narus Rivers. Perennial water makes Kidepo an oasis in the\r\nsemi-desert, reflected in its 86 mammal species (28 occurring nowhere else in\r\nUganda) and almost 500 birds

Predators are well-represented – not only lion, cheetah and\r\nleopard, but also the delightful bat-eared fox and insectivorous hyena-like\r\naardwolf – while a long list of dry-country antelopes include the regal greater\r\nkudu and Beisa oryx. While the game viewing can be excellent, it is the\r\nthrilling sense of supreme isolation that distinguishes this rare slice of wild\r\nAfrica, as yet undiscovered by the mass safari market.

Mgahinga Gorilla National\r\nPark

This small national park protects the Ugandan portion of the\r\nVirungas, a chain of six extinct and three sporadically active volcanoes which\r\nfollows the borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga\r\nwas proclaimed with the primary aim of providing sanctuary to the rare mountain\r\ngorilla, some 300 of which live in the Virungas, and gorilla tracking remains\r\nthe most popular activity here, though it is dependent on the seasonal\r\nmovements of the habituated groups.

Mgahinga supports a diverse forest and moorland fauna, notably the\r\nlocalized golden monkey and at least 12 bird species endemic to the Albertine\r\nRift, but also small populations of elephant, leopard, buffalo and\r\nblack-and-white colobus monkey. The spectacular setting at the base of the\r\nvolcanoes, the tallest of which reaches an elevation of 4,507m, is among the\r\nmost stirring in East Africa.

Murchison Falls National\r\nPark

Uganda¡¯s largest national park protects a chunk of untamed African\r\nsavannah bisected by the mighty river Nile. It is named for the dramatic\r\nMurchison Falls where the world¡¯s longest river explodes violently through a\r\nnarrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m\r\nbelow.

Wildlife populations have largely recovered from the poaching of\r\nthe 1980s; in the lush borassus grassland to the north of the Nile, elephant,\r\nbuffalo, giraffe and a variety of antelope are regularly encountered on game\r\ndrives, while lion are seen with increasing frequency. In the southeast,\r\nRabongo Forest is home to chimps and other rainforest creatures. The Nile\r\nitself hosts one of Africa¡¯s densest hippo and crocodile populations, and a\r\ndazzling variety of waterbirds including the world¡¯s most accessible wild\r\npopulation of the rare shoebill stork.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

From open savannah to rainforest, from dense papyrus swamps and\r\nbrooding crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward, it is little wonder that\r\nQENP boasts one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game park or reserve\r\nin the world.

Almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 606 bird species makes\r\nthis superb safari territory, with elephant, a profusion of hippos, the elusive\r\ngiant forest hog and handsome Uganda kob all regularly sighted around the\r\ntourist village on the Mweya Peninsula – which also boasts a marvelous\r\nwaterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains. Elsewhere, the\r\nremote Ishasha Sector is famed for its tree-climbing lions, the Kyambura Gorge\r\nharbours habituated chimps, the Maramagambo Forest is home to an alluring selection\r\nof forest monkeys and birds, and flocks of flamingo are resident on the crater\r\nlakes.

Rwenzori Mountains National\r\nPark

The 120km Rwenzori chain is regarded to be the legendary\r\nsnow-capped Mountains of the Moon, described by Ptolemy in AD150. Reaching an\r\nelevation of 5,109m it is also Africa¡¯s tallest mountain range, exceeded in\r\naltitude only by the free-standing Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The distinctive\r\nglacial peaks are visible for miles around, but the slopes above 1,600 m are\r\nthe preserve of hikers, who rate the Rwenzoris to be the most challenging of\r\nall African mountains.

A variety of large mammals inhabits the lower slopes, but the\r\nRwenzoris are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation.\r\nThe trails lead through rainforest rattling with monkeys and birds, then tall\r\nbamboo forest, before emerging on the high-altitude moorland zone, a landscape\r\nof bizarre giant lobelias, towered over by black rock and white snow, looking\r\nfor all the world like the set of a science fiction film.

Semiliki National Park

Situated within the remote Semliki Valley, site of the Sempaya Hot\r\nSprings and named for the river which forms the Congolese borders, Semliki\r\nNational Park protects an extension of the Congo¡¯s vast Ituri Rainforest, and\r\nis of particular interest to birders with 40 essentially Congolese species\r\nfound nowhere else in Uganda. A 4,321m high extinct volcano which in\r\nprehistoric times stood taller

The forest harbours many mammals, ranging from widespread forest\r\ndwellers such as elephant and chimp, to the rather more localized De Brazza¡¯s\r\nmonkey and pygmy antelope.

Semiliki Wildlife Reserve

Formerly called the Toro Game Reserve, this large reserve abutting\r\nLake Albert and the northern base of the Rwenzoris is a rich mosaic of\r\ngrassland, savannah, forest and wetland habitats. The fauna is correspondingly\r\ndiverse: Uganda kob is the commonest large mammal, but there are also forest\r\nelephant, chimpanzees, buffalo, leopard and various monkeys and antelope.

Of the 400 bird species recorded, the shoebill stork is regularly\r\nseen at close quarters on Lake Albert.

Lake Mburo National Park 

Lying in the one part of Uganda covered in extensive acacia\r\nwoodland, Mburo has markedly different fauna to other parks and reserves. Lake\r\nMburo is the best place in the country to see the gigantic eland antelope, as\r\nwell as zebra, topi, impala, and several acacia-associated birds.

The five lakes within the park attract hippos, crocodiles and a\r\nvariety of waterbirds, while fringing swamps hide secretive papyrus specialists\r\nsuch as the sitatunga antelope and red, black and yellow papyrus gonalek. Mburo\r\nis the closest national park to Kampala and offers a refreshing stopover when\r\ntraveling to or from the western parks and reserves.

Katonga Wildlife Reserve

Only recently developed for tourism, the reserve protects a\r\nnetwork of forest-fringed wetlands along the Katonga River. Best explored on\r\nfoot and by canoe, Katonga supports some 40 mammal and at least 150 bird\r\nspecies, many specific to wetland habitats. Most visible are elephant,\r\nwaterbuck, reedbuck, colobus monkeys and river otter. This is one of the best\r\nplaces in Africa to look for the elusive sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope\r\nwith webbed hooves that forages almost exclusively in swamps

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