A Trip to Fort Portal
Fort Portal is the most beautiful city in Uganda and is a major tourist city in Uganda. This is because it is the gateway to most of the tourist attractions in western Uganda. It derived its name from the British Consul General of Zanzibar, Sir Gerald Herbert Portal, who came to Uganda to formalize Uganda’s status as a British protectorate in the 1890s. It lies in the northern foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, about 300km west of the capital city, Kampala, Uganda.
Fort Portal is endowed with exciting tourist attractions such as the Kibale National Park, which is famous for its ultimate Chimpanzee tracking safaris, and the magnificent Mountains of the Moon (Mountain Rwenzori).Fort Portal accommodates everything from caves to tons of waterfalls to crater lakes.
Below are some of the eye-catching sights of Fort Portal and the neighboring attractions.
Semuliki National Park.
This is about 150 miles from the capital city, Kampala. It is positioned on the border between Uganda and DRC, with the Semuliki River, the Lamia River, and Lake Albert in the north, as well as the stunning Ruwenzori mountains in the south-east. It accommodates about 442 species of birds and 53 species of mammals, and is also famous for its Sempaya hot springs, which are always spectacular to encounter. Though the park does not harbor an abundance of wildlife, Semliki National Park is a good spot for bird watching because it has so many bird species.
Mountain Rwenzori (Mountains of the Moon)
Rwenzori National park lies along the western border of Uganda and rises to a height of 5109 meters. It also covers an area of 996sq.km and covers the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo, and Kabarole in western Uganda. It was established in 1991 and it was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 with a reason to protect the highest parts of the mountain range, which is home to over 70 species of mammals and 217 species of birds. The mountains of the moon are popularly known for their fascinating and spectacular views and as a world-class hiking and mountain-hiking destination.
Mountain Rwenzori is recorded as one of the most significant water catchment areas in Uganda. The rivers flow on the slopes of the mountain ranges and feed the lakes of George and Edward, as well as containing the source of the White Nile through the waters of the River Semuliki that flows into Lake Albert in western Uganda.
The Rwenzori mountains have a wide range of latitudes that rise from about 1670 to 5109 meters above sea level. Though there are six major mountains with numerous ranges, Mt. Geiss (4715m), Mt. Luigi Di Savoia (4627m), Mt. Emin (4798m), Mt. Baker (4843m), Mt. Speke (4890m), and Mt. Stanely (5109m) are examples.these mountains are various peaks, which also include Alexandra (5044), Albert (5101m), Moebius (4925m), and Margherita (5109m).
These mountain ranges combine to form eye-catching peaks, glaciers, rivers, valleys, lakes as well as a wide range of wildlife species that make the Rwenzori mountains paramount. Mt. Rwenzori is the third highest mountain in Africa and has several high peaks, including the 5th, 6th, and 7th highest mountain peaks in Africa, which makes it visible while at a distance (from far).
In addition, Mountain Rwenzori harbors over 20 lakes and has stratified vegetation with five major vegetation zones. This adds to its beautiful scenery. The Rwenzori Mountain national park offers visitors an incomparable experience of an Afro-Montane rain forest. The mountain has a prolific vegetation that’s found above 300m like the Heather, Groundsel and the giant forms of Lobelia. In addition, it holds back rare bird species such as the Rwenzori Touraco, olive pigeon, and the handsome francolin, as well as several endangered and threatened species, such asthe Chimpanzee, the l’hoest monkey, the forest elephant, and the leopard.
Requirements for hiking on Mount Rwenzori
- Rain boots are emphasized. Tall boots are of an advantage as you may have to hike through bogs, cross rivers, and through the slippery wooden footpath.
- A sleeping bag and heavy and arm clothes are also required.
- A backpack is also recommended.
- Raingear is also very important, as it might rain at any time.
- The climbing stick is for supporting you while hiking and for checking the firmness of the ground while walking through bogs.
- sunglasses and sunscreen. This is because the ultraviolet rays are strong due to the high elevation.
- A waterproof hat is also needed. This is because it may rain at any time.
- Gloves are emphasized. This is to protect your hands from coldness and to create warmth.
- A long rope of more than 40 meters and a diameter of over 10mm.
- Harnesses are needed to rope up on the glaciers and for rock climbing.
- The ice axes are used to climb the ice wall and prevent sliding off the glacier.
- The crampon has more than ten teeth. This is because the entry point to the glacier is a gradual ice wall that is hard.
- Figure eight descender for abseiling on the rocky area.
Accommodation while on the Rwenzori mountains trip.
- Muhunga Safari Lodge.
- Equator snow lodge.
- Trekkers Hostel.
- From the Hotel Margharita
- Ruboni Community Camp.
Kibale National Park
It is situated in the western part of Uganda and covers parts of Fort Portal City, also known as the most beautiful city in Uganda that no one should miss on an itinerary. The park harbors the world’s moistest, all-green forest that covers about 795km2 in size. The Park is positioned between 1100m to 1590m above the sea level.
The park borders Queen Elizabeth National Park in the south, about 180 kilometers away, the Rwenzori Mountains foothills in the east, 24 kilometers away, and Fort Portal town in the east, 20 kilometers away. Kibale National park remains one of the few parks that still holds back lowland and montane forest in East Africa.
It was established in 1932 as a logged forest reserve by the British and was used to harvest coffee and to extract hardwood. Kibale National park occupies the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Kabarole and Kyenjojo.
The forest park accommodates about 70 species of mammals, 13 primate species that include the chimpanzee, olive baboons, bush babies, black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, grey cheeked Mangabey, the blue monkeys among others. It also holds back about 375 species of birds, like the African pitta, black-capped pail, collared pail, black-bee eater, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow-spotted nicator, little greenbul, and brown-chested Aletha, among other birds.
Main activities in Kibale National Park.
Chimpanzee tracking is one of the paramount activities done in the Kibale Forest National Park. It begins at 8:00am with a briefing at a tourist center called Kanyanchu. From there, the visitors are split into different groups of 12 members for easy allocation of the chimpanzee group to be tracked. Chimpanzee tracking is done in two sessions; the morning session and the afternoon session. The clients will be escorted by the wildlife rangers as well as the ranger guide on each tracking group as they may be allocated. On reaching the chimpanzee, clients are subjected to spending only one hour with the chimpanzee, while with the chimpanzee, you will learn their social behaviors as well as they will be entertaining.
Bird watching: besides a number of primates present in the national park, Kibale National Park is home to about 375 bird species, including 138 species located at the Bigodi wetland sanctuary with the rarely sighted papyrus Canary, and the White-winged Warbler, among many others. This activity starts at 7:00am for the morning session at Kanyanchu, and at 3:00pm for the afternoon session. While doing this activity, you will have a chance to enjoy the paramount of true African nature.
Nature walks; this is usually a 12km walk/hike and it’s carried out only in the wet seasons. Here you will have a chance to encounter the tropical rain forest, riverine forest, swamps, and grassland, a variety of species of birds and monkeys, and perhaps the duikers as well as bush pigs.
The nature walk starts at 8:00am from the offices at Kanyanchu that ends at around 2:00pm at the elephant wallow. While the guide will describe and explain various plant species and their importance, mostly the medicinal plants, you will spot various birds and primates like the blue monkeys, olive baboons, the velvet monkeys, and Grey Cheeked Mangabey. There are also night nature walks for the nocturnal and here you will be able to see the night cricket, serval cat, the tree hyrax, the bushbaby, among others. This nature walk starts at Kanyanchu and ends at Sebitoli.
This is an extremely rare experience, more interesting than chimpanzee tracking. This activity, like others, starts with a briefing at the tourist information center in Kanyanchu. You will set off as early as 6:00-6:30am and trail to where the chimpanzees built their nest the previous night. Upon meeting them, you will spend hours interacting with them. Surprisingly, you will be able to see how they breast feed, hunt, feed, patrol, rest, and later you will see how they build the new nests for the new nights. Around 7:00 p.m.
Guided walks in the crater lakes region are popular because of the unique sights and culture that offer an unforgettable experience. Fort Portal (Kibale National Park) records the highest number of crater lakes that total up to 52 crater lakes in the area. The crater lakes were formed as a result of volcanicity, that occurred with violent eruption that caused the top of the volcano be blown off, thus leaving a crater.
There are numerous crater lakes that vary in size and formation shape. However, it is important to note that these crater lakes are bilharzia-free, so they are safe for swimming. These crater lakes are ideal for fishing, cycling, nature walks, as well as intensive bird watching with over 300 species of birds.
These crater lakes include; Nyabikele, translated as the lake of frogs, lake Nyinambuga (the Blue-Green Lake) and this is found on Uganda’s 20000 currency note, lake Nkuruba, Nyamugasani, Ntambi, Mubiro, Lyantonde, Nyanswiga, Kasenda, among others.
This is locally known as Lake Mobutu Sese Seko, and is one of Africa’s great lakes. It is recorded as Africa’s 7th largest lake and is the world’s 27th largest lake in terms of volume. Close to Lake Albert is a wildlife reserve called Kabwoya wildlife reserve that offers a magnificent tour. Lake Albert is positioned between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda on the western border. The River Semuliki and the Victoria Nile are the sources of water that feed Lake Albert.
Fort Portal town really gets a panoramic view from the Karuzika palace. It is the circular structure that was built in 1963, and it was ruined after the abolition of the Royal Kingdoms by the Late President Iddi Amin Dada. It was later restored in 2001 with the support of funds from the Late President of Libya, Colonel Gadhafi.
The Amabere caves, commonly known as Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru, are literary translated as “Breasts of Nyinamwiru”. These caves were named after the ancient folklore where the local king cut off his daughter’s breasts so as to make her less attractive to men. Later, this daughter, called Nyinamwiru, got pregnant, thus the king’s plan failed. The king hid his daughter in the caves. The scenic beauty that surrounds the caves is charming and breath-taking. There are also nature walks to the nearby crater lakes that are so close after a short steep hike. A story is told of how a footprint of a man was found in the caves, however, after in a volcanic eruption, the footprint disappeared into the lake, and the tale has existed to date.
Botanical Gardens of Tooro
Tooro botanical gardens have got a variety of indigenous plant species and tree species, and a well-designed organic farming project, growing of herbs, natural dyes, medicinal plants, and flowers, among others.
Where to stay in Fort Portal
- Kluges Guest Farm.
- Kyaninga Royal Cottages
- Fort Heights
- Kyaninga Lodge.
- Reina Tourist Hotel
- Mountains of the Moon Hotel
- The New Fort Resort
- Kalitusi Backpackers Hostel and Camp
- Suits by Njara