“Gifted by nature”, “the pearl of Africa”, “the source of Nile” are among the many taglines that have defined the evergreen primates and classic safari destination of Africa; Uganda. The diversity of experiences and the uniqueness of each of the ten national parks of Uganda make it hard to even come up with the best five national parks.
But with focus on the classic African safaris and primate safaris, here are the best five national parks in Uganda to visit this summer.
Murchison Falls National Park
Situated in the northwest adjacent to the rift valley, Uganda’s lowest and hottest point, Murchison Falls national park is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country. It registers thousands of entries on its entrance throughout the year.
The most standout features of the park are its powerful and cascading waterfall; Murchison Falls, and its stretching savannah plains teemed with peculiar wildlife species. Murchison Falls, a phenomenon on River Nile the longest water stream in Africa, forcefully flows through a narrow gorge to plummet down into a water basin creating a deafening sound and an unprecedented water fountain decorated with rainbow colours.
This is such an interesting occurrence to watch and take pictures from. Murchison bolsters over 76 animal species within its savannah expanse which are sighted on a game drive. The popular mammals to see in Murchison Falls National park include the big four animals (lions, elephants, leopards, and buffaloes), giraffes, hyenas, and ungulates such as elands, hartebeests, oribis, and topis.
River Nile and its shores are a lifeline to a couple of maritime animals like hippos, waterbucks, Nile crocodiles and birds. It is the sights of the same that make the launch cruise in Murchison falls national park an interesting phenomenon.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi forest was part of the legendary central tropical rainforest which used to stretch from the west to the east of Africa. Due to human settlement in the area, the forest was split forming numerous little forests thus the birth of Bwindi forest.
During the British colonial rule, the latter was gazetted and named Crown Forest Reserve to protect the mountain gorillas and other wildlife species. In the early 1990s, it was transformed into a national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Africa.
The Kigezi highland established tropical rainforest is home to almost half of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas. The forest takes so much pride in sheltering these wonderful huge apes because they are endangered species threatened with extinction. Bwindi is and has been a case study of wildlife conservation and its significance.
Before it was turned into a gorilla tourism destination, the number of mountain gorillas was as low as 400 individuals in the world. But now they are over 1000 individuals and Bwindi plays a remarkable role in conserving more than 460 individuals in its forests.
Tourists visit Bwindi to meet the gorillas in close proximity and appreciate their existence. These great apes have very interesting social characters and are so friendly hence offering a lifetime experience to tourists.
The park is also a bird haven with over 360 species registered and some restricted to the Albertine Rift. It has several trails to take and encounter different birds including the African Emerald Cuckoo, black-billed turaco, handsome francolin, blue flycatcher, and many more.
Kidepo Valley National Park
This is a semi-arid wilderness isolated in the northeast of Uganda in Karamonja region. Because of its poor infrastructural development, Kidepo Valley National Park is less known in the circles of safari goers but it is one of the most captivating wildlife habitats to visit. Its terrain is characterized by a huge gorge, Kidepo valley, and a few hills awash by short brown savannah prairies, making it one of the best places for game viewing in Africa.
Kidepo valley national park is reckoned for its astronomical population of buffaloes mainly spotted on the northern side. Other resident animals to sight in this breath-taking national reserve are lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, and many more.
Within the locality of Kidepo valley national park, there is the Karamajong community that harmoniously lives with the wild animals and this is why Kidepo has the highest concentration of animals among all the national parks in Uganda. The Karamajong forge their lives by mainly rearing livestock and leading a raw life. Their way of life and homestead are a charm to tourists.
Queen Elizabeth National park
Although Queen Elizabeth National Park is facing lots of issues like human-animal conflict and poaching which have depleted its wildlife number, it is still one of the five best national game parks in Uganda. The park anchors over 95 animals and 600 bird species, the highest among Uganda’s game parks.
While at Queen Elizabeth national park, tourists engage in activities such as game drives, boat trips and nature walks because of its varied natural landscapes, features, and wildlife. For instance, Kasenyi awash by savannah grasslands is an animal breeding area offering game viewing expeditions. Kazinga Channel a waterway stretching from Lake Edward to Lake George provides launch trip experiences encountering aquatic species such as crocodiles, hippos, water, and a wave of birds.
The park also has Kyambura gorge and Maramagambo forest two green natural areas perfect for nature walks. To be specific, Kyamburo is a natural habitat for chimpanzees, making the park one of the few destinations in Uganda to meet our closest relatives. Noteworthy is the Ishasha sector, a famous spot for tree-climbing lions, the most sought-after attraction in the park.
The aforementioned attractions and places truly manifest why Queen Elizabeth national park is labelled the medley of wonders.
Kibale Forest National Park
With a colossal concentration of primates, Kibale National Park is dubbed the premier capital of primates. It has over 14 primate species recorded including chimpanzees, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus, and so forth.
Albeit Kibale forest has lots of primates, chimpanzees are the most sought species. The chimpanzees are one of the most interesting animals to watch and interact with because of their dramatic social behavior that leaves visitors awestruck.
Chimpanzee trekking comes second to gorilla trekking because of the agile and arboreal nature of the chimpanzees which makes their watching very tricky. Otherwise, it could have the best nature experience because the chimpanzees have lots of intriguing antics to show as opposed to the gorillas.
Apart from the primates, Kibale is an abode of other wildlife like forest elephants, leopards, forest hogs, birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, herbs, ferns, and trees. The aforementioned can be enjoyed on nature-guided walk through Kibale forest national park.
Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa
The above are just five of the ten national parks that await you to explore in Uganda. These protected areas offer everything from exclusive meetings with the great apes, wonderful hiking trails, photography and game viewing. There is so much to do in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and there are multitude of ways to experience this beautiful East African country.