Uganda, deservedly dubbed the Pearl of Africa, is located in the Great Lakes Region in central Africa and boasts an ecological diversity that rivals many larger countries. Here, Eastern savannah meets West African jungle – Uganda really does offer visitors incredible diversity with its multitude of varying ecosystems. Bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains (often called the Mountains of the Moon, the 3rd highest in Africa), the Virunga Mountains and Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, it’s a beautiful country bursting with bird and wildlife.
In no other African destination can one see a comparable variety of primates with so little effort – not just the great apes, but also more than ten monkey species. And if Uganda will have primate enthusiasts grinning with satisfaction, it will have birdwatchers doing cartwheels.
Uganda is by far the smallest of the four African countries in which more than 1,000 bird species have been recorded, and it is particularly rich in western rainforest specialists – in practical terms, undoubtedly the finest bird watching in Africa.
For most, the highlight is found amongst the forests in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where coming face to face with Endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the most profound wildlife encounters you will ever experience. Discover tree climbing lions around Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park, trek chimps in Kibale Forest or Chamburu Gorge, or snatch massive Nile Perch up north at Murchison Falls where the mighty Nile cascades through a gap just 7m wide. Adrenaline junkies will find Jinja simply exhilarating; with its white-water rafting, kayaking and bungee jumping activities Jinja is rapidly emerging as East Africa’s answer to that more southerly “adrenaline capital” Victoria Falls.
We invite you to explore Uganda, a diverse landscape with abundant wildlife, plenty to discover and unique experiences you’ll struggle to find words to do justice to when recounting your time in this jewel of a country.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Park
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – including several habituated families.
This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 species of mammal, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savannah, shady humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classical 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.
Kibale 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 180 kilometre 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 Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savannah. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45 metres over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centrepiece of the park and the final event in an 80 metre 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.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is the smallest of Uganda’s savanna 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 50 kilometre 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.