National Parks and Game Reserves in Uganda
There are 10 National Parks plus several games reserves, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries on which Uganda’s tourism thrives. All combined, Uganda National Parks are the ones that define Uganda Safaris and Tour activities. Several safaris in Uganda take place in these park that are evenly distributed and represented in almost all regions of Uganda.
Notable among these parks is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park which inhabit Uganda’s treasured animals, the ‘Mountain Gorillas in Uganda’. Gorilla Safaris and gorilla tours combined contribute significantly to Uganda Tourism earnings very year.
Other prominent parks include, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, Semuliki and Kidepo National Park where much of the Uganda Safari activities are done throughout the year. Kibale National Park is notable for Chimpanzee Safaris in Uganda, as the park has one of the highest concentrations of chimpanzees in the East African region. Mount Rwenzori National Park and Mount Elgon National Park are notable for climbing and nature activities mainly for adventure tour lovers.
National Parks in Uganda include the following:-
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park found in southwestern Uganda is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas. The park hosts around about 440 mountain gorillas almost half the number of the world’s gorilla population, the rest being shared among Mghainga in Uganda, Volcanoes and Virunga National Park in Rwanda and DR Congo respectively. Bwindi forest found across the districts of Kabale and Kanungu is famous for Gorilla Trekking Safaris. Others activities include nature tours, community walks, cultural tours and birding among others.
Murchison Falls National Park is among the largest national parks in Uganda under the Murchison Conservation Area. This is the largest protected area in Uganda covering about 5.025 kilometres comprising of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserve and Budongo Forest in the Southern section of the park. The park is the busiest in the country with several Uganda safaris and tours everyday by visitors from all over the world. Game drives, boat cruises and Top of the Falls visits are commonly done at the park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is the country’s most popular game park for anyone with a keen interest in safaris in Uganda, beautiful nature and scenic views. The park established in 1954 was named after Queen Elizabeth II. Geographically, the park runs from the foothills of the Rwenzori crater in the north to the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, Lake George and Kazinga Channel, combining a wide variety of habitats like savanna, wetlands and lowland forests among others.
Kibale National Park is one of the most accessible of Uganda’s major rain forests offering an excellent environment for chimpanzee tours in Uganda and bird watching. Found in Kabalore and Kibale districts, the park that covers 560 sq kms and is a home to 13 primate species, including the much localised red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys. Main activities are Chimpanzee tracking and a visit to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary famously known as Bigodi Swamp Walk, a habitat to several birds and primate species.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is the highest mountain range in the whole of Africa. The physical feature has six glacial peaks including Mount Speke, Mount Stanley, Mount Gessi, Mount Emin Pasha, Mount Luigi da Savoia and Mount Baker. The main peaks can be perhaps compared to those of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. These two peaks, Margherita (5.109m) and Alexandra (5.083 m) on Mount Stanley are good for climbing by an adventurous hiker. Hiking to Margherita peak, the central circuit and Kilembe trail are the common routes for climbers.
Kidepo Valley National Park covers an area of 1,442 square kilometres in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province in the far northern Eastern part of Uganda near South Sudan and Kenya border. The tourist attraction is one of Uganda’s most remote and spectacular national parks. The Valley has a scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa as well as great numbers of plant and animal species. Major animals found here include giraffes, the lions, leopards as well Ostriches as a major bird in the park.
Mount Elgon National Park is found in Eastern Uganda is located near Mbale and lies across the Kenyan border covering 1,145 square kilometres. Mount Elgon, an attraction of several water falls, with Sipi Falls being the main one is known to be the fourth highest mountain in East Africa and second highest peak in Uganda. It towers up to 4321 meters high. This extinct volcano is believed to have first erupted about 24 million years ago. Locally known as Mount Masaba, it has got three major peaks, Kiongo (4303m), Mubiyi (4210m) and Jackson’s summit (4165m).
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is found in south western Uganda in Kisoro district. Known for Gorilla and Golden Monkey trekking, the park is 14 kms from Kisoro town and covers 33 sq kms on the northern slopes of the 3 Virunga Volcanoes. These include Mountain Muhavura (4,127 m), Mountain Gahinga (3,474 m) and Mountain Sabinyo (3,645 m). Rwanda and DR Congo, each protects a portion of the Virungas in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively.
Semuliki National Park occupies 220 square kilometres is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest and formed part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene. Located about 50 kms from Fort Portal town, Semuliki is one of the richest areas in both flora and fauna in Africa with mainly birds. The most fascinating attractions include the fantastic scenery, Sempaya Hot Springs, forest walks, birding, primate watching plus and the meandering river Semuliki.
Lake Mburo National Park is the largest of five lakes which, together with the surrounding wetlands, constitute 20% of the park’s surface of 260 square kilometres. But being only 260 square kilometres, makes it the smallest of the County’s savanna National Parks. This kind of nature makes this park very good and interesting for birding (over 310 species) throughout the year.
Mount Moroto National Park lies in the north east Uganda in the Karamoja region and its one of a chain of volcanoes along the border with Kenya that begins with Mount Elgon in that south and includes Mount Kadam and Mount Morungole. Moroto is a forest reserve protecting a range of habitats from arid thorn savanna to dry montane forest. Although a long hike is required to reach the higher areas, excellent arid thorn savanna and rocky slopes are accessible from the town at the foot of the mountain.