Friday, March 14, 2014

About Uganda’s national parks and Other Wildlife Spots































Uganda offers excellent Africa vacation tours to its national parks and game reserves were you may have the opportunity to see a diversity of wildlife through game drives and walking or chimpanzee trekking safaris.

 Unlike Tanzania and Kenya safaris, Uganda includes gorilla safaris to Bwindi national parks where the Virungas extend to Rwanda and Congo. Hiking expeditions offer additional adventure in Rwenzori national park similar to those of Mount Kenya.

 The tourism and hospitality sector provides a variety of safari accommodation options including camping, safari lodges, hotels, resorts and guest houses. These may be luxury or discounted / cheap depending on what you want for your Uganda accommodation.

 BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK
This Park is located in south western Uganda, Size: 321km2 Altitude: 1,160m - 2,607m above sea level.
Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. The Mubare gorilla group was the first to become available for tourism in Uganda in April 1993. Nine groups are now habituated for tourism, and one for research.
Spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward.
The park is covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region. Bwindi's Impenetrable Forest is a true equatorial jungle, inhabited by four gorilla groups. Amongst the dense vegetation the Columbus Monkey jumps from branch to branch, chattering its warning to its fellows hidden by the foliage. Chimpanzees, in families of 20 or 30, make the rounds, searching for fruit and edible plants.
It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region. The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, and from June to September, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry, and warm. Temperatures average at around 25 degrees Celsius.

KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.
The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.
It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.
The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks, as
This tropical rainforest provided a (very substantial) dinner, bed and breakfast for large herds of migrating forest elephants and, even now, the park contains the largest population of this subspecies in Uganda. Although they're rarely seen, and dangerous, the signs of these elephants' presence are abundant.
However, Kibale's claim to fame is its enormous variety of primates and its families of habituated chimpanzees its home to an astonishing 12 species of primate and provides one of the highest primate densities in the world. Here, on a daytime or evening guided forest walk, you may find families of chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys chattering and swinging through the ancient forest trees.
The sightings of birds in the forest are no less impressive - there are at least 325 species, many of which are found nowhere else. In addition there are over 144 species of butterflies.

 LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK                                  
 LakMburo National Park is a compact jewel, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. It is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.

Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.
Lake Mburo National Park lies in a rain shadow between Lake Victoria and the Rwenzori Mountains, and receives an average of only 800mm of rain a year.  The park got its name from the two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo lived in a large valley.  One night, Kigarama dreamt that they were in danger.  When he awoke the next morning, he told his younger brother Mburo of his dream and said they should move.  Mburo ignored this advice, but Kigarama wisely moved up into the hills. The valley flooded and a lake was formed, drowning Mburo. Today the lake is named after him, and the hills are called Kigarama after his brother. The word Mburo is similar to the "mboro", the Runyankole name of the cassine tree which has a powerful aphrodisiac effect. One such tree, showing signs of bark and branch removal, may be seen close to the Kigambira Loop crossroads.
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK                                                                                                                    This Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda's largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river's energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda's most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.

Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and several British royals. Travel Explore Africa Ltd offers tour packages to this park, and other destinations in Uganda.
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most spectacular in Uganda, and indeed in the whole of Africa. This is the largest game park in the country (3,840 sq.km.) and has the most intense concentration of animals along the river. Here is the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, where the River Nile hurls itself in appalling convulsions through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 metres in one breathtaking leap. Before the Murchison Falls themselves, in the eastern sector of the Park, are the Karuma Falls where the Nile cascades over 23 kilometres of rapids in a breathtaking sight. This is some of the most exciting white water in Africa.
A launch trip up stream to the falls is one of the great experiences in Africa.  Elephant, hartebeest, giraffe, buffalo, crocodiles and countless antelope and birds (including the rare Shoebill stork) can be admired at the water's edge as the launch glides along The Murchison Falls National Park, with its variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamp lands to broad Savannah, provides the opportunity of seeing many of the animals found  in Uganda.



QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination.  It has a total Size: of 1,978km². And it was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species. The Katwe explosion craters mark the park's highest point at 1,350m above sea level, while the lowest point is at 910m, at Lake Edward.
The park has a diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
 Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities.
Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly a Medley of Wonders!
Travel Explore Africa Ltd offers tour packages to this park, and other destinations in Uganda.
The Park provides an unforgettable and unique experience is  situated astride the Equator in the Western Rift Valley of South West Uganda, close to the Southernmost tip of the tabled, mist covered "Mountains of the Moon - Rwenzori Mountains and is contigious with Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire).
It is a region of varied habitats including, open grassland with thickets, thick bush, forest, swamps and lake-shore. Queen Elizabeth National Park together with Virunga National Park in (DRC) completely encircles Lake Edward which is connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Channel.

KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Kidepo Valley National Park is a 1436 km² national park in Karamoja region in northwest Uganda. Kidepo is rugged savannah, dominated by the 2750 m Mount Morungole and transected by the Rivers Kidepo and Narus . Perennial water makes River Kidepo an oasis in the semi-desert which hosts over 86 mammal species including lion, cheetah, leopard, bat-eared fox, giraffe — as well as almost 500 bird species. The Kidepo Valley National Park was established in the 1960s under the rule of Milton Obote.
The forcible eviction of the Ik people out of the fertile Kidepo valley contributed to a famine among the Ik. In contemporary protected area management, this case is often used as an example of the unacceptable consequences of not taking community needs into account when designating reserves

SEMLIKI VALLEY   NATIONAL PARK
Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.
The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.
While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
The park has a Size of 220km² with an altitude of 670-760m above sea level and was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park status in 1993.
It is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa, hosting 441 recorded bird species and 53 mammals.
Large areas of this low-lying park may flood during the wet season,a brief reminder of the time when the entire valley lay at the bottom of a lake for seven million years.

Four distinct ethnic groups live near the park – Bwamba farmers live along the base of the Rwenzori while the Bakonjo cultivate the mountain slopes. Batuku cattle keepers inhabit on the open plains and Batwa pygmies, traditionally hunter gathers, live on the edge of the forest.

MT. ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Mt. Elgon National Park is located on the Kenyan-Ugandan border. Mt Elgon is an extinct volcano mountain. Its highest peak is Wagagai (4321 m), but it’s on the Ugandan side. The highest peak on the Kenyan side is Koitoboss. The main attraction of Mt Elgon is its spectacular caves in its slopes. These saline caverns are beautiful by themselves, and there’s a chance you could even see elephants inside them, getting their daily allowance of salt. The three caves open to tourists are called Kitum, Chepnyali, and Mackingeny. Mt Elgon’s flora is incredible, and there are a few ways to experience Elgon’s beauty on foot. Most trekkers start from a town called Kimilili, 36 km south of Kitale on the road to Kisumu. From here get a matatu to Kapsakwany, then hike five km to Kaberua Forest Station. From here it’s another 20 km to Chepkitale Forest Station, which is abandoned. Seven km past this station is an ugly mountain hut. From this hut, it’s about a four hour walk to Lower Elgon Tarn, a small lake. From here you are close to Lower Elgon Peak, and around the crater rim lies Koitoboss peak and the Suam hot springs.
At 4,000km²  Mt. Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world. Located on the Uganda-Kenya border it is also the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. Its vast form, 80km in diameter, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffalos also live on the mountainside. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, creating an extensive trans-boundary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.
A climb on Mt. Elgon’s deserted moorlands unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains: the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt. Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km²caldera.
We offer suggested itineraries, but you can vary them to suit your needs. Let us know what your budget is and we will do our best to design a trip that gives you the experiences you want within the budget you set.
Please inquire for more information on Uganda customized safari packages

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.

Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The Rwenzoris the fabled Mountains of the Moon lies in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border. The equatorial snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, Size: 996km2. The park was gazetted in 1991 and was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 and Ramsar site in 2008. Highest point: 5,109m above sea level on Mt Stanley's Margherita Peak. Mt. Stanley is bisected by the border with the DR Congo while the lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest. Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers”, creating an enchanting, fairytale scene.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.
The Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine- to twelve-day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.
For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.
The explorer Henry Stanley placed the Rwenzori on the map on 24th May 1888. He labeled it ‘Ruwenzori’, a local name which he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.”
The oldest recorded person to reach Margherita Peak was Ms Beryl Park aged 78 in 2010.