Things to do in Uganda National Parks
Wanting to have a safari in Uganda’s national parks? Don’t look any further. Vibrant Holiday Safaris can organize for you a safari to the various national parks in Uganda. Though Uganda is a landlocked countrymate beautiful destinations, climate and landscape make it the pearl of the African continent. For now, Uganda has 10 national parks, but we know that in the future, more will be gazetted.
The national parks have different species of mammals that tourists can be able to watch and also participate in some of the activities. Among the national parks we have Murchison Falls national park, which is the largest national park, and Semuliki national park, the smallest. All the national parks are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority whereby tourists have to pay a fee like the park entry fee and permit at the headquarters of the national parks in order to access the parks at the time of arrival.
The list of the national parks include; Murchision falls national park. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale national park, Bwindi impenetrable, Kidepo national park, Mughinga national park, Rwenzori mountains national park, Mount Elgon national park, Semuliki national park, Lake Mburo national park.
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
It is located in the north-western part of Uganda, spreading inland from the shores of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile up to Karuma falls. The park was gazetted in 1926 and as an national park in 1952. The park is surrounded by the districts of Buliisa,Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi. The explorers John Speke and James Grant were the first Europeans to visit the park in 1862, and later Sir Samuel and Florence Baker in 1863, and that is when the park gained its name from Kabalega National Park to Murchison Falls, from which it derives the name “The Devil’s Cauldron” after the geologist Roderick Murchison, who was then the president of the Royal Geographical Society.
Murchison Falls National Park is the world’s largest national park, measuring approximately 3,893 kilometers in length, and is located near the falls, where the Nile’s water flows through a narrow gorge only 7 meters wide before plunging in a thunderous pour through a 43-meter gap.Murchison is filled with Savannah and is adjacent to Bundongo woodland forest. It is the only park that has the big five, which include the lions, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, and rhinos. However, the rhinos are not located in the park, but tourists can go visit them at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, where the endangered species are found in their natural wild.
Murchison Falls national park has 76 mammal species, a large number of crocodiles, 450 bird species including the rare shoe-billed stock, dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, white-thighed horn-bill, and the blue turaco, making it the most popular and visited park.
Tourists can participate in both day and night game drives; boat cruises to the delta and the bottom of the falls; nature walks; bird watching; and chimp tracking.
Tourists heading to the park can drive for about 6 hours from Kampala to the park, and there are domestic flights by the use of Aerolink, which lands at Pakuba air strip.
Accommodation facilities are also available where tourists have a chance to choose from different classes depending on their budget and the accommodation facilities that are chosen regardless of the class ensure that the tourists are given the best service at the facility. Some of the accommodation facilities include;
- Hornbill bush lodge.
- Cottages in the Saltek forest
- Mama Washindi lodge.
- Murchison backpackers
- Pakuba lodge
- Murchison River Resort
- Fort Murchison Safari Lodge.
- Sambiya River lodge.
- Chobe Safari lodge.
- Paraa Safari Lodge
- Nile Safari lodge:
- Baker’s lodge
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
It is found in the western part of Uganda, laying between Lakes George and Albert with the Kazinga Channel crossing through its 700 sq. mile land area. In 1952, the park was called Kazinga channel national park, but in 1954, after the visit of Queen Elizabeth 11 of England, the park was named Queen Elizabeth national park, and it is surrounded by Kamwenge, Kase, Rukungiri, and Rubirizi districts.
The park covers 1980sqkm and has over 618 bird species besides the wildlife attractions. Queen Elizabeth is blessed with culture whereby tourists can have a chance to diversify the cultures through joining the dance, telling stories, music, among others.
The park includes Maramagambo forest, which borders Kigezi Game Reserve, Kibale National Park, Kyambura National Park and Virunga. Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park includes Nile crocodiles, hippos, leopards, elephants, lions, buffaloes, Uganda kob, and tree climbing lions, which can be found in the Ishaha sector of Rukungiri.
The park is also blessed by the volcanic features which include crater lakes, deep craters, volcanic cones and many more. The park is known for its aerial views where tourists tend to view the wildlife from the air by the use of helicopters. Though being expensive, the tourists are awarded a certificate at the end of the safari. The Kazinga channel is one of the attractions found in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It connects Lake George and Lake Albert in the Mweya sector and around the channel during the dry season, 600 bird species and animals are always seen during a boat cruise along the channel.
Some of the birds that migrate from North Africa and Europe during the month of November to Queen Elizabeth National Park include: Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Great Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Emerald Spooted Wood Dove, Nubian Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, African Crake, Grey Crowned Crane, White Spotted Flufftail, Bare-away bird, African
Chimpanzee tracking, bird watching, and primates such as Olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and these and other butterfly species are all possible.
The Queen ‘s pavilion, which was established during the Queen’s visit to the park in 1959 and the Duke’s in 2007, became an attraction where tourists could take photos and also have a cup of tea or coffee at the pavilion since the place has been made for resting for tourists who have been on a game drive.
The park can be accessed via the Mbarara-Masaka highway with a stop over at the Equator as you are heading to the back and coming back, and there is availabilty of flights to the park by the use of Aerolink, which lands at Mweya and Kasese airstrips.
Tourists visiting the park have accessibility to accommodation of any class, depending on the budget, with good services. These include
- Pumba Safari lodge.
- Safari Lodge Tembo
- Simba Safari lodge.
- The Buffalo safari lodge
- Lodge Queen Elizabeth Bush
- Elephant Hub Resort
- Isasaha Wilderness
- Kyambura Gorge Lodge.
- Elephant Plains Lodge is
- Mweya Safari Lodge.
NATIONAL PARK OF KIDEPO VALLEY
The Kidepo Valley National Park is the least visited national park in Uganda, but a tourist who visits the park will never regret it because it is the only virgin park in the best wilderness areas in Africa because it has some of the animal species that cannot be found in other national parks such as the Ostrich and Cheetah, among others, and cultural activities in the park because there are various cultures such as the Karamojongs and others.
The national park, which covers 1,442 sq km of rugged Savannah and is dominated by Mt.Morungole, is located in Kaabong district in Northern Uganda and the park was gazetted the same year Uganda got its independence from Dr.Apollo Milton Obote under the leadership of Ian Ross as the first chief Warden and later replaced by Paul Ssali in 1972.
The area is blessed with 75 mammal species and 400 bird species, which include the Cheatah,Leopards,zebras,bush pigs,Rothschild Giraffes,Eland, Lions, and the birds include spotting Egyptain vultures,Ostrich, Verreaux’s eagle, and Karamonjong apalis, among others. The park is rated among the best visited national parks in Uganda.
The Kidepo national park is one of the driest places in the north because it receives rain once a year and it is the longest season ever. The culture of the locals around the park is so interesting and beautiful, and these people include the IK and the Karimojong, who are the indigenous people. The Ik people have the smallest population of about 10,000 and have a culture whereby a child at the age of 3 or 4 is not allowed to stay with the parents and the child is supposed to fend for himself/herself, whereas the Karimojong are nomadic pastoralists who move from one place to another with their cattle, which they consider the most valuable possession since they get everything from the cattle.
Since Kidepo Valley national park is a semi-arid area, water collects in Narus valley during the rainy season, which animals and the Karamojong benefit from. The valley is always a good place for game viewing since animals do gather there to take water and also bathe.
During the visit to Kidepo National Park, tourists get accommodation at Apoka Safari Lodge, Apoka Rest Lodge, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, and also Nya Moru wilderness camp, which is outside the park.
Lake Mburo NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo is found in the Kiruhura district in western Uganda and covers 370sqkm. The park is mostly covered by woodland due to the absence of elephants in the park. Together with 13 other lakes, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km long wetland system linked by a swamp.
Lake Mburo is rich in the diversity of cultures where tourists are able to learn, and these can all be found in the Igongo cultural center, which is located 4km away from the Sanga gates of Lake Mburo national park.
The park is about 240km by road and it was gazetted in 1933 as a controlled area and upgraded to a game reserve in 1983 but later into a national park. This was a decision made during Dr. Milton Obote’s regime where many locals were sent out of the park without being compensated. This made the locals angry and they decided to chase away the park officials and kill many animals, leaving a few in the park. It was later re-gazetted by the National Resistance Movement in 1986.
The park is blessed with wildlife like zebras, elands, impalas, buffalos, hippos, jackals, leopards, reedbucks, crocodiles along the shores of the lake and 350 bird species with the rare shoebill stork inclusive. The park also has different activities apart from the game viewing and boat cruise and they include; horseback riding, bicycle riding tours.
Lake Mburo gives you a game watching experience where you are able to watch the nocturnal animals hunt and hide their prey in the trees to feed the cubs or eat later. So visitors can visit the park all year; during the dry season, animals can be found along the lake’s shores, while during the wet season, they can be found grazing in open areas.
A guided nature walk to the Rubange forest makes the trip so amazing because tourists move under the canoped trees and find animals licking the salty soil. And during a boat cruise is when the tourists are able to find the aquatic animals like the hippos,crocodiles,birds such as great cormorants, pelicans, fish eagles, and the rare shoebill stork.
Lake Mburo is the nearest national park to the Equator, where tourists stand with one leg in the north and the other in the southern hemisphere and take photos there, also buying souvenirs at the Equator.
Accommodation at the park is available in all classes but depends on the budget of the visitor.
- Mihingo lodge
- Mantana is a luxury camp.
- Rwakobo rock restaurant.
- Camp at Lake Mburo