There is nothing more enthralling in this world than visiting the various national parks of Uganda on a Self Drive vacation. This adventure is very exciting, exhilarating, and explorative as you encounter the different unique species of wildlife, and what a better way to do it on your own! Uganda has ten national parks but we shall look at five popular ones that give travelers a whole new experience while on a self-drive safari. We shall have them in order of how best to visit following an itinerary;
Murchison falls National Park
Of recent, Murchison Falls National Park has become the most sought-after tourism destination in Uganda because of the possibility of viewing the big five. The park itself has four of the big five animals that is to say lions, leopards, elephants, and buffaloes. The rhinos are found at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district which is within the vicinity of the park. En route to Murchison Falls National Park, most tourists dash off to the rhino sanctuary to track the rhino and then continue to the park to view the other big five animals henceforth completing the whole experience.
Besides the big five animals, Murchison Falls National Park has other tour highlights like a hike to the top of the falls to witness how the Nile forces its way into a narrow gorge to plunge into the basin. This feature is a very beautiful sight and great for photography. Boat rides are also carried out on River Nile in the park. There are two boat trips arranged on the Nile; the first one is to the bottom of the falls where you view the might Murchison falls from the river base and on this cruise, you might as well encounter some water birds, hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards and sometimes elephants and buffaloes n the river banks. The other boat cruise arranged is to the delta area where the major attraction is to view the shoebill. This is one of the places in Uganda where the shoebill can be viewed in the wild.
Kibale Forest National Park
This is known as the capital of primates. Kibale Forest National Park has the highest concentration of primates in the whole of Africa with 13 different species. Some of the primates found in the park include chimpanzees, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, pottas monkey, blue monkey, black and white colobus, and so forth. Although Kibale has numerous species of primates, tourists mainly visit this natural forest to encounter the chimpanzees. The chimpanzees are very shrewd and interesting animals to interact with. They are capable of using tools like stones, sticks, and other natural surroundings to gather food and also build their shelter. They also show compassion to one another as though they are human beings. The chimpanzees are related to mankind with 95% DNA similarity. And a date with the chimpanzees in Kibale is always a memorable one, plus you have a 98% guarantee of viewing the chimpanzees making Kibale one of the places that you are assured of viewing the chimps in their natural habitat.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park formerly known as Kazinga National Park is one of the oldest wildlife conservation areas in the country. It used to be the most visited national park in Uganda but it lost its glory to Bwindi impenetrable national park and Murchison falls national park due to the Human-animal conflict that has led to a drastic decline in the number of wildlife species in the park. However, it has still got an edge over the others and this is why it is still among the top five popular parks to visit on an Uganda Self Drive Vacation. Queen Elizabeth National Park has the best plains to view wild animals and within its short savannah plains, travellers spot wild species like lions, buffaloes, elands, warthogs, antelopes, elephants, oribis, Uganda kobs and so many more.
This park also has the highest concentration of birds in Uganda with over 600 species. Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers the most epic boat ride experience in the country. The boat ride operates on a famous and formidable water channel, Kazinga which entwines the two great lakes of Edward and George. The 2 hours’ boat ride at the channel avails lots of thrilling experiences of viewing aquatics like crocodiles, hippos, waterbucks on the banks, water birds, and also other animals like elephants and buffaloes which normally loiter at the banks of the channel quenching off their thirst after a heavy graze. When you drive south of the park is the Ishasha sector famed for the tree-climbing lions. In this sector in case you are lucky, you may encounter the tree-climbing lions, leopards, topis, elephants, buffaloes, and countless birds.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This is pitted at the southwest edge of Uganda in the Kigezi region. It is one of the most visited national parks in Africa because of being home to one of the most unique wildlife species you can ever imagine, the Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to over half of the total population of these endangered species in the world. It is one of the few places on this planet to meet up close and personal with these gentle beasts in a gorilla trekking expedition.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is just 9 hours away from Kampala and the road leading to the Kigezi region from Kampala is well paved and direct and hence making a self-drive safari a very viable option for the traveler. Aside from the Mountain Gorillas, this park is often referred to as the bird watchers’ paradise as the forest hosts a number of the Albertine endemics.
Lake Mburo National Park
This is the nearest park to Kampala the capital of Uganda. It is about a 4 to 5 hours drive from Kampala and the same drive time from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is located in the central-western region of Uganda. This is a very nonchalant national park compared to the others. Nonetheless, it has lots of wildlife species and tourism activities to engage in. For instance, a game drive is possible where tourists view animals like zebras, giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes, elands, and many more. A boat ride at Lake Mburo is also a great experience to get involved in while on a self-drive safari. The boat experience offers sights of different marine animals like hippos, water birds most notably the African Finfoot, and waterbucks. Lake Mburo National Park is one park, a visitor can either start off or end off with the trip due to its proximity to Kampala and Entebbe, the two start and endpoints of every safari trip in Uganda.
The above parks are the most sought-after parks for clients on an Uganda Self Drive however, on rare occasions, some have included Kidepo Valley National Park, Mount Elgon National Park with a stop at Sipi Falls, then Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Mount Rwenzori National Park. Due to the reliability and beauty of the volcanoes of Mgahinga gorilla National Park, some travelers have visited this area to explore the volcanoes, track the mountain gorillas in the area and also engage in the Batwa Cultural Experience.