Uganda National Parks
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The Rwenzoris – the fabled Mountains of the Moon – lie in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border. The equatorial snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, 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.
Park at a Glance
- 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.
- The Rwenzori is not volcanic like East Africa’s other major mountains but is a block of rock upfaulted through the floor of the Western Rift Valley.
- The Rwenzoris were christened the “Mountains of the Moon” by the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150.
- 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.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
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 rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, 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.
The neighboring towns of Buhoma and Nkuringo both have an impressive array of luxury lodges, rustic bandas and budget campsites, as well as restaurants, craft stalls and guiding services. Opportunities abound to discover the local Bakiga and Batwa Pygmy cultures through performances, workshops and village walks.
Park at a Glance
- 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.
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 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.
We offer tour packages to this park, and other destinations in Uganda.
Park at a Glance
- Size: 3,840km2
- Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952
- At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow
- The northern section of the park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches
- The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park
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 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 well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Park at a Glance
- Size: 795km2
- Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip, which stands 1,590m above sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south.
- 351 tree species have been recorded in the park, some rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old.
- Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor.Kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites. While many researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others are investigating Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs and fish species, among other topics.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s 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!
Park at a Glance
- Size: 1,978km².
- Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00.
- The park 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.