Uganda is blessed with several destinations that offer golden opportunities for hiking and nature walks. These range from forest reserves, national parks and mountainous areas. Unlike game drives, nature walks offer closer encounters with wildlife and bird species. Would you like to explore Uganda? Here are notable and prominent hiking or nature walk opportunities that you can experience while on a safari in Uganda, the pearl of Africa;
Hiking and Nature walks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Nature walks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are characterized by 6 major hiking/nature trails within the Buhoma sector that allows tourists to explore this Ancient Impenetrable Forest to see different mammal species especially Primates, waterfalls, birdlife, tree species and butterfly species. Some of these Hiking trails include;
The Ivi River walk (14 kilometers round trip for seven hours) transverses an area called “Mukempunu” meaning an area of pigs because you will encounter so many pigs within this place.
Munyanga waterfall trail starts from Buhooma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and highlights into breathtaking views of Munyanga waterfalls plunging at 33 meters.
The Muzabajiro loop (6 kilometers walk around the hill) where you will see some primate species and birdlife and also relish the spectacular view of the Virunga Mountains.
The Rushura Hill walk transverses through one of the forests shared by two countries, and on a clear day, you will get to view Lake George and Edward, and the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains as well as the Peaks of the Volcanoes in the Virunga Massif.
The Habinyanja trail (for 4-6 hours) takes a steep climb to the Habigorogoro and Riyoyi Ridge overlooking River Buhooma. The most interesting feature along this trail is the “African Corner” named after a rock that shows the “map of Africa” you will enjoy different bird species especially African-Black ducks, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Black bee-eaters, to mention but a few. Another trail is the Buhooma-Nkuringo Trail (that takes 3-4 hours).
Hiking and Nature walks within Queen Elizabeth National Park
Nature walks/hiking within Queen Elizabeth National Park lead tourists into different landscapes, wildlife species and vegetation zones. Nature walks within this Park involves; nature walks within the dense Maramagambo Forest to explore forest bird species, unique tree species and mammal species, the Mweya Peninsula provides walks within savannah plains and woodland zones that offer amazing views of the landscapes and wildlife species like warthogs, the Ishasha river walk where tourists can see the tree climbing lions and herds of antelopes especially the Uganda Kobs.
Hiking and Nature walks in Mgahinga National Park
Nature walks and hiking within this National Park involve moving around the foothills of the Virunga Mountains offering tourists with the opportunity to sight a variety of Mammal species such as Forest Elephants, lush forests, forest bird species, Rugezi Swamps, bamboo forests and the mind-boggling views of the neighboring Lakes and farmlands. Hiking through this Park leads tourists to the steep Sabinyo gorge (an extensive gash in the side of Mount Sabinyo), takes about 4 hours and provides wonderful opportunities to sight interesting bird species such as the Rwenzori Turaco. The fact that the trail passes Rugezi Swamp makes it a perfect place to be for bird watchers aquatic bird species. The golden monkey track (for mainly 2 hours) is the popular trail within a gentle slope though the remnant of farmlands to the Bamboo forest, and on a good day you will see the Virunga Volcanoes and encounter mammals like Forest Buffaloes and Bush duikers. Another trail-through the Congo border passes several vegetation zones, and hikers will see the Calderas at the Peak of Gisozi hill to see Kisoro and Bunagana Towns and be rewarded by the views of Lake Mutanda.
Hiking and Nature walks in Lake Mburo National Park
The entire Lake Mburo National Park is open to all tourists interested in nature walks so long as it is done in the company of Uganda Wildlife Authority Park Ranger. At the Park Headquarters at Rwonyo, guided nature walks head to the salt licks where several wildlife species can be spotted. Nature walks within the western side of Lake Mburo start at 7am, lasts 2 hours and you may encounter animals like Hippos returning to the lake from feeding in the night, Lions and Hyenas retreating to their Dens. Other hikes include those through the Woodland for forest bird and wildlife species, Lake Banks, Rubanga Forest and hikes to the hilltop to reward tourists with incredible views of at least 9 of the Lakes in this Park.
Hiking and Nature walks within Rwenzori Mountains National Park
This destination offers one of the most wonderful hiking opportunities within the central circuit zone. There are several trails within the Rwenzori Mountains each offering different opportunities for tourists to enjoy what this Park offers. They include;
The Mahoma trail that leads to a higher elevation up to the magnificent Mahoma Lake and provides wonderful views of the Peaks of Mount Rwenzori and the different Afro-montane regions, popular for the Giant Heathers, lobelias and Groundsel. Another trail is the Ruboni Village walk that leads to Ruboni Village (occupied by over 2000 people of the Bakonzo tribe). This 3 hour walk will introduce you to the lifestyle of the people of this Village, see village woman weaving baskets using intricate skills, and visit to the village blacksmiths, learn how to prepare traditional meals using open fires and even taste the food, and listen to stories from some of the village elders. The Bwamba Pass, the Forest Hike and the Ruboni Hill Hike are other interesting hiking trails within this Park.
Hiking and Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park
The extensive landscapes and beautiful scenery of the Murchison Falls National Park and the nearby Conservation Area can be mainly explored on foot. Nature walks through Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi Forests offer opportunities to spot several Primate Species, bird species. The trail within the Nile-Lake Albert Delta (is 2-4 hour) guided Swamp walk offers chances of seeing the Elusive Shoebill stork, especially when the water levels of the Swamp go down. After your afternoon boat ride up-river, you will take a nature walk through the woodland to the top of the Murchison Falls for a totally exceptional experience of the magical waterfall. Bird watching enthusiasts and nature lovers can enjoy an invigorating short trek beginning from Sambiya River Lodge or Mubako Junction, walking from the North Bank from Paraa transversing Emmy River and the Southern Banks and both walks take one and a half to two hours.
Hiking and Nature walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
Nature walks through Kidepo Valley National Park involves hiking to the Lomej Mountains and take relaxing walks through the Narus Valley to encounter the small tribe-Ik tribe and stroll around the spectacular Kidepo River Valley within Banks of Borassus Palm Forest. Hike to Lomej Mountains takes 4 hours and begins at 7am, while the shorter guided walk Lasts 2 hours and goes through Narus Valley stretching through a 5 kilometer radius from Apoka park Headquarters. Hikers also stroll along the remarkable Kidepo River Valley within the Banks of impressive borassus palm Forest, and Namamkweny Valley can be accessed within one hour from Apoka and hikers can also enjoy some moments with the Ik people at the Morungole Mountains outside Kidepo Valley National Park.
Hiking and Nature walks within Semliki National Park
The main hiking trail within Semliki National Park is the 13 kilometer Kirumia Trail that transverses through the center of the Forest to the mighty Semliki River, taking about 8 hours for the round trip. This trail begins from 8am and is the best place for bird watching enthusiasts. Nature walks can also lead to the eye-popping Sempaya Hot springs where you can boil an egg for 5-10 minutes only. These Hot springs have cultural and geographical significance to this National Park.
Hiking and Nature walks in Kibale Forest National Park
If you are interested in Forest walks, then visit this Forest National park and you will enjoy everything that this Park offers. This Park offers Nocturnal forest walks which allow tourists to see mammals and birds that are active during the night such as Bush babies, Pottos, Tree hyrax, Leopards and serval cats among others. Nocturnal bird species present in this Park include the Nightjars and Verreaux’s eagle Owl, and starts at Kanyanchu Visitor Camp from 7:30pm and takes at least 2 hours. The Forest walk-which is a 12 kilometer trail, takes 6 hours and achieves a memorable experience when conducted in the dry season. This Hike involves passing though varying terrains and vegetation areas including Swamplands, Riverine Forests, Tropical rainforests and Savannah plains. The notable mammal species you will see include Blue duikers, Giant Forest Hogs and Black Duikers, bird and butterfly species.
Hiking and Nature walks in Mount Elgon National Park
The prime trail within this National Park is the 7 kilometer bamboo trail, for 4 hours up to Kapkwai Cave crosses the Tropical and bamboo Forest. Be sure of seeing a variety of primates, exceptional tree species for example Elgon Olive and Elgon Teak and bird species.
Another trail within this Park is the 5 kilometer hike leading to the Chebonet falls and the 3 kilometer walk to the wonderful Kapkwai Caves. Another trail is the 11 kilometer walk to the Tutum Cave offering opportunities for overnight camping near the Tutum Cave. Short day hikes are also possible in Budadiri and explore the Sasa River Camp, Mudagi Cliffs and lower Drigana falls that offer opportunities for nature walks, birding and camping.
Another fascinating walk is in Wanale where tourists visit Khauka Cave and lasts 3-4 hours. Similarly, tourists can go to the viewpoint via Nabuyoga Loop to watch the Wagagai Peak and the Jackson’s Peak.
In conclusion, besides mountain climbing and bird watching, game drives, chimpanzee tracking and mountain gorilla tracking tourists who visit Uganda can also engage in exhilarating nature walks to reward them with several wildlife and bird species.