Uganda Parks: A Guide to Uganda National Parks & Game Reserves
Uganda Parks is the first stop in planning your safari in Ugandan national parks and game reserves. This is the ultimate guide to planning a safari in Uganda’s national parks, wildlife reserves, Ugandan forests, wildlife sanctuaries and other protected areas. This splendid guide illustrates Uganda’s exquisite and rich tourist attractions by region. The catalogue, in addition to the wildlife experiences, activities and attractions, also focuses on the wider perspective of culture, religion and Uganda’s rich history to offer a diversified tourism experience.
We strongly believe that this format will help both our visitors and the tour operators to develop itineraries. Find everything you need to know about where to explore, what to do, and even the wildlife to see at every National Park. Uganda, the Pearl of Africa is fortunate to have a network of 10 beautiful National Parks, 8 game reserves, forest reserves and other protected areas. Are you planning to take a safari in Uganda? Whether you are hoping to travel to the west or to the east, there are more than enough opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy a safari though some of Africa’s most magnificent parks. Discover Uganda’s most treasured places protected for the present and future generations. Start your travel planning here.
Experience Uganda’s National Parks
Uganda is a land gifted by nature. Winston Churchill called it ‘the Pearl of Africa’ which is perhaps an understatement considering its vast array of riches. The allure of adventure and discovery accompanies you as you travel around Uganda.
A country of huge diversity, it is home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla and is a primate paradise. The 10 National Parks and wildlife areas play host to Africa’s ‘Big 7’: Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo, plus Gorilla and Chimpanzee. Here are the top experiences to enjoy in Uganda;
Kigezi Wildlife Reserve
Kigezi is one of the most accessible Wildlife Reserves and is located in Rukungiri district, western Uganda. This Wildlife Reserve was gazetted in 1952 and covers an area of 265 square kilometers (26500 hectares/102 square miles). It was established to act as a buffer zone between Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Maramagambo Forest of the same Park, and stands at an elevation of 1010 meters above sea level.
Discover the Beauty and Diversity in Uganda National Parks and Game Reserves
Protected Areas in Uganda consist of 10 National parks, 11 wildlife reserves, 12 Community Wildlife Areas, and 6 Wildlife Sanctuaries. Uganda with her 10 highly treasured National Parks has wide range of tourists attractions. Each park with her unique attraction ranging from gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, bird watching, big game viewing, spot fishing, boat trips, nature walks to a lot more. Briefly, we bring to you information regarding the uniqueness of each park, tourist activities there and how to get to each of our National parks.
10 Different Uganda National Parks Await You!
Explore some of the most popular national parks in Uganda. Here is the full list of our all parks protecting Uganda’s wildlife.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (The Ultimate Gorilla Experience)
A UNESCO world heritage site in South Western Uganda, home to almost half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. This is the best place for gorilla trekking in Africa. This is one Africa’s richest ecosystems and Uganda’s most remarkable safari destination to visitors.
Conserving Importance: A UNESCO designated World Heritage Site that provides habitat to Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, two great African apes, both of which are listed in the IUCN Red Data Book as endangered animals. With 346 bird species recorded, 8 are known to occur only in the impenetrable forest and nowhere else in East Africa. Seven bird species are listed in the IUCN Red Data Book that includes the Dwarf Honey guide (NT), African Green Broadbill (rare), Kivu Ground Thrush (NT), Forest Ground Thrush (rare), Grauer’s Rush Wabler (Vulnerable), Chapin’s Flycatcher (rare) and Shelley’s Crinson wing (NT).
Specie diversity: At her size, specie diversity is great. There at least more than 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species.
Tourist Attractions: Gorilla tracking is the major activity in this park. About 18 groups of mountain gorilla families have been habituated and only 8 tourist are allowed to visit each family per day. This is the only park where you can go for a gorilla habituation experience in Africa. Forest trails leads to various attractions including rivers, waterfalls, swamps, special vegetation type and to high level of wildlife concentration like monkeys.
Kibale Forest National Park (The Primate Capital of the World)
Kibale Forest National Park is one of Uganda’s most beautiful tropical rain forests. A haven for chimpanzees and monkeys thus making it an ideal primate watching destination. If you are looking to chimpanzee tracking this is the ideal place to visit. During your stay, you will witness first hand the density and diversity of primates.
Conservation Importance: An evergreen rain forest National Park whose mammal fauna is dominated by primates. 13 species have been recorded of which the chimpanzee and the Red Colobus Monkey have both been assessed by IUCN as critically endangered. The park’s population of elephants travels between the park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other large mammals within the park include leopards, bush pigs, three species of duiker and two species of otter. Bird life is also profilic, two species of pittas (African and Green-breasted) and African Grey Parrots.
Specie Diversity: At least 71 species of mammals have been recorded, 375 of birds, 250 of butterflies, 350 of trees and shrubs, 27 of frogs and toads, and 14 of snakes. Among reptile, the rock python is the biggest in here.
Tourist Attractions: Several families of chimpanzee has been habituated for tourism. Chimp tracking/primate walk and bird watching are the major tourist activities here. With well-developed nature trails, tourists spend time exploring several kilometers of forest.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the best national parks in Uganda. Located in the isolated Kaabong district in the extreme northern part of Uganda, a safari to this savanna park is worthy the long journey through the Karamoja Region. Witness the splendid beauty of the rugged savanna national park, the only place to see cheetahs in Uganda.
Conservation Importance: Protects a wide range of rare, regional endemic and globally threatened species of wildlife. Of conservation importance includes, the Ostrich, Eland, Roan Antelope, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Dikdik, African wild dog, Cheetah and Leopard. Bat-eared Fox, Striped Hyena, Aardwolf, Caracal and Cheetah the unique carnivore species of the Karamoja region. The Beisa Oryx, Roan Antelope and the Bright Gazelle have been greatly reduced in number through poaching.
Specie diversity: At least 80 species of mammals have been recorded, 28 not known to occur in any other national park of Uganda. 486 bird species, ostrich inclusive.
Tourist Attraction: In one section of the park, a wetland is a major source of water. This area, Narus valley, is also source of pasture for grazers and a hunting ground for carnivores. By this, the valley is a prime game viewing areas for tourists. Animals to be seen here include the elephants, zebras, giraffes, eland, buffaloes, hyenas, and lions. Special birds in the park include the ostrich, KoriBustard, Karamoja Apalis, Verreaux’s Eagle, pygmy Falcon and the Egyptian Vulture. The so called Kidepo River is a seasonal river lined with a riverine forest of borassus palms and acacia trees along a sand bed river. Prime area for dwarf crocodile.
With close proximity to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park is the ultimate place to visit for a weekend escape. This savanna national park is a perfect scenery for photographers, those looking to game viewing and birding. The park is characterized with grasslands, woodlands and a wetland system.
Conservation Importance : Its diverse habitats of open savannas, dry savannas, lakes, swamps, rocky outcrops, forests, woodlands, thickets and dry hill sides provides suitable ecosystems to a wide range of fauna and flora. The impala, slender mongoose and bush rat that are nowhere else in Uganda, are better conserved here. A small population of klipspringer still remains in few isolated outcrop. African hunting dogs, black rhino, giant forest hogs, roan antelopes and elephants, have been extinct from the area.
Specie Diversity: 325 bird species and 68 mammals’ species have been recorded.
Tourist Attraction: Six swamp interconnected lakes are home to a variety of water birds including rare and endangered African fin-foot and shoebill, and mammals including the shy and elusive sitatunga. On a boat trip, you come closer to such wildlife including hippos, Nile crocodiles and water birds. On game, large mammals includes impala, zebras, buffaloes, eland, bush-bucks, water-bucks, monkeys, oribi, duikers, lions. Small mammals include rock and tree hyraxes, bush babies and dwarf mongoose.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Where Gold Meets Silver)
Mgahinga is the most scenic of all Uganda’s national parks. Sitting high in the clouds, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a dense forest and a natural habitat for the rare mountain gorillas and the endangered golden monkeys. A gorilla trek in Mgahinga is one of the most memorable adventures you can have in Uganda. Don’t miss the Batwa Cultural Trail that takes you through the life of the forest pygmies who used to stay in the park.
Conservation Importance: Provides habitat for the Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkey, the two world’s rare and endangered apes.
Specie Diversity: 76 mammals among which are buffaloes, elephants, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, duikers, leopards, civets, golden cats, jackals and porcupines, have their home here. Because of the difficult terrain and most being nocturnal, they are rarely seen. At least 127 bird species have been recorded.
Tourist Attraction: You can go on a gorilla safari and meet eye to eye with the mountain gorillas in Uganda in this interesting park. In this small park there are two gorilla families that have been habituated for tourism. Advance booking is also required. A troop of Golden monkey has been habituated for tourism. Bird watching is an activity here too. The three mountains of the Virunga volcanoes Mt. Muhabura (4,127m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474m) and Mt. Sabyinyo (3,645m), provides good challenge to mountain climbers. New on the list of tourist activities in the park is the long walk Batwa Heritage Trail. The park also offers cave exploration of the ancient Garama Cave.
Mount Elgon National Park (The World’s Largest Mountain Caldera)
Intersecting the border of Kenya and Uganda, Mount Elgon National Park is large extinct volcano that protects a wide range of flora and fauna. Stretching over 1110 sq kms, this park offers great opportunities for hiking, birding and even game viewing of some mammals.
Conservation Importance: Apart from the special sceneries that includes waterfalls, gorges, mesas, cliffs, caves, calderas, hot springs, and mountain peaks, the unique fauna and flora, the park deserve to be conserved.
Specie Diversity: Elgon’s slopes support a rich variety of vegetation that ranges from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the giant lobelia and groundsel plants. 42 species of mammals ranging from elephants, leopards, buffalo, bushpig, monkeys to a variety of small antelope. 312 bird species including the Black-collared apalis, Green tinker bird, Jackson’s francolin, verreaux’s eagle, black-collared apalis and endangered Lammergeier.
Tourist attraction: The major activities in this park are mountain hiking, primate and bird watching, cave explorations and camping photography. The most popular areas around Mt. Elgon are the vast caves where frequent night visitors such as elephants, bush pigs, and buffaloes come to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls. They are ancient cave paintings near the trail head to Budadiri, the hot springs 48 degrees Celsius in the former volcano’s crater, and the sipi falls at the foot of Mt. Elgon.
Murchison Falls National Park (The World’s Powerful Waterfall)
Murchison Falls National Park is the ultimate destination for wildlife safaris in Uganda. Located in north western Uganda, this is Uganda’s largest conservation area. It is spread over the land from the shores of Lake Albert and the Nile. It is home to the mighty Murchison Falls, the most beautiful falls formed along the Nile.
Conservation importance: The first Uganda’s protected area to be gazette as a National Park in 1952. The park protects the only sizeable population of giraffes (small population Kidepo Valley N.P), herds of buffaloes, elephants, Uganda kobs, Oribi, hartebeests, lions, leopards and hyenas. Also the park protects a 20 – 30km stretch of River Nile as a breeding area for fish, hippos, Nile crocodiles and waterbirds.
Specie Diversity: Ecosystems types range from savannah grassland, woodland, tropical rainforests, rivers and swamps. In this wide range of habitat types, 479 species of birds have been recorded, 87 of mammals and 14 of reptiles. Fish and butterflies.
Tourist Attraction: There are 2 way to access Murchison Falls. Drive straight to the top or by boat on River Nile from parra to the bottom of the falls. Along the 7km river stretch, there is plenty of water birds, hippos, crocodiles, bush-bucks and water bucks. Much more wildlife lions, leopards, hartebeests, kobs, Oribi, giraffes, elephants and can be seen while on game drive.
Queen Elizabeth National Park (Medley of wonders)
Named after the royal Queen Elizabeth II of England, this is one of the most famous national parks for wildlife safaris in Uganda. It is home to some of the big five that include elephants, hippos, tree climbing lions, African Leopards, chimpanzees, etc. The park hosts 95 species of mammals and over 600 bird species.
Conservation Importance: The Park is World Bio sphere reserve (UNESCO 1997) that includes a Ramsar wetland site and is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.
Specie diversity: Most area is covered by water, thickets rain forests, swamps and savanna grasslands. This has provided suitable habitat for a wide range of species. At least 98 mammals, 606 of birds, and various species of fish, insects and reptiles.
Tourist Attraction: The tree climbing lions in Ishasha sector has made this park famous. Chimpanzee tracking is done in Kyambura, nature walks in Maramagambo forest and boat trips on the Kazinga channel to the shores of Lake Edward at Mweya peninsula. While on the boat, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Nile crocodiles, and a lot of water birds are easily seen. Game drives to Kasenyi matting grounds, or leks for kobs, are famous places for lions, leopards and hyenas. For birders, the check list of 606 species may be good enough.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (The Mystical Challenge)
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one of the only three UNESCO world heritage sites in Uganda. It is home to one of the most dramatic scenery. Characterized with one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, lots of opportunities await you in the region. Experience hikes to the iced Magherita Peak or opt for a shorter hike. There are breathtaking waterfalls, high glaciers, lakes, flora and fauna etc.
Conservation Importance: A world Heritage Site whose vegetation cover ranges from tropical rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of Giant groundsel and Giant lobelia. Six small mammals are Albertine Rift Valley endemic including Rwenzori otter shrew and the Rwenzori red duiker. It supports 19 endemic bird species including the Rwenzori Turaco, and the Blue-headed sunbird. Endemic reptile includes the Great lakes bush viper and the strange horned chameleon.
Specie diversity: 217 bird and 77mammal species have recorded in Rwenzori.
Tourist Attraction: Unlike our other parks that offer excellent game viewing opportunities, this is better known for its spectacular sceneries and unique plant life. Mountain climbing is the major activity, trekking along the Central Trail Circuit taking up to 7 days.
Semuliki National Park (The true Birders’ Haven)
Semuliki National Park is less explored but a place worthy visiting in Uganda. Located in Western Uganda, this park is home to the popular Sempaya Hotsprings that attract most tourists. There are lots of things of to do in Semuliki National Park that is part of the vast Ituri Forest. These include game viewing, chimpanzee tracking, night safaris, etc
Conserving Importance: River Semuliki and Lamia, from the border between Uganda and D.R.Congo. The flora and fauna show strong affinities with the Congo basin forest with many species reaching the eastern limit of their ranges in Semuliki Forest. Suggesting it is the vast Ituri forest that has stretched from Congo into Semuliki in Uganda, coming along with its unique fauna and flora. No wonder 31 species of bird, one species of primate, and one of butterfly are West African part of their ranges.
Specie Diversity: 447 bird species have been recorded, 216 being true forest birds that include Sassi’s Olive Greenbul and White-crested Hornbill. 53 mammal species including the Beecroft’s flying Squirrel, water chevrotain, and Zenker’s flying mice, nocturnal animals of West Africa.
Tourist Attraction: Unique birdlife is the core reason for birdwatchers to visit this park. However, the 2 hot springs about a kilometer apart, makes an easy stop over for tourists with little time to spend. Other attractions are primate: chimpanzee, red colobus, de Brazza’s and Dent’s Mona monkeys. Also, buffaloes elephants, pygmy hippos, and leopards.
Planning a safari to Uganda requires getting informed so that you can make insightful decisions. Now let’s get started with planning a Uganda safari so that once you step foot in the park you can enjoy a smooth trouble free safari.
Places of Interest
- Kazinga Channel (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Ishasha (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Lake Bunyonyi
- Lake Victoria
- Ssese Islands
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Where to stay
There are several accommodation ranges from campsites, lodges, hotels and guesthouse. From luxury tented lodges to open spaces for camping, there are options for lodging for visitors holidaying in Uganda national parks.
- Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Lodges in Murchison Falls National Park
- Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Lodges in Kidepo Valley National Park
- Lodges in Lake Mburo National Park
- Lodges in Kibale Forest National Park
- Lodges in Semuliki National Park
- Lodges in Mgahinga and Kisoro
- Lodging in Pian Upe Game Reserve
- Lodges Around Lake Bunyonyi
Latest News and Updates
Latest news and updates from the Uganda national parks, game reserves, forest reserves, travel and tourism industry.