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Uganda has got a lot to see including some of the rarest tourist attractions. Here are the top five tourist destinations in Uganda that tourists visit throughout the year.

Top Five Tourist Destinations in Uganda

  1. BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK;

The park which was gazzetted in 1991 lies in south western Uganda on the edge of rift valley and covers 321km2 with an altitude of 1160- 2670 above sea level. The mist covered impenetrable is a home to over 400 mountain gorillas which is almost half of the world’s population of the remaining mountain gorillas and these compose the main attraction of the park, there 11 habituated gorilla groups/families in Bwindi.

Besides the mountain gorillas, the park is also home to 120 species of mammals, elephants, 360 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies, 324 tree species and 10 of these cannot be found elsewhere in Uganda.

Habituated Gorilla families include;

Mubare group- 16 members’ with1 silverback

Habinyanja group-20 members with 2 silverbacks

Rushegura group-20 members with 1 silverback

Oruzogo group-16 members with 1 silverback

Nkuringo group– 18 members with 2 silver backs

Bitukura group-13 members with 4 silver backs

Nshongi group-25 members with 2 silver backs

Mishaya group-12 members with 1 silver back

  • Gorilla permits are issued at Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) offices, permit for foreigners costs 600$ and 250000ugshs for East African residents.
  • Make sure to book early enough to ensure the requested dates are available.
  • A maximum of 8 visitors are allowed per group
  • Tracking guidelines are given at the briefing center upon the arrival
  • Park rangers, tour guides, porters are available to assist you during your tracking experience.

Bwindi National Park is not to be missed on your travel itinerary, besides the main highlight [gorilla tracking] there are quite number of activities that you may be engaged in which include;

  • Bird watching, the park accommodates 348 species of birds and 90% of these are Albertine rift endemics such as Honey-guide, yellow-eyed black fly-catcher, kivu ground thrush etc. Ruhija and Buhoma are the best places for bird watching.
  • Nature walks; Bamboo trail to see about 14 vegetation types, the Ivi river walk that goes through mukempunu [about 14 km], the habinyanja trail, the Batwa trail and others.
  • Hiking; you can use local guides and walk from Buhoma to Nkuringo
  • Mountain biking and culture encounters
  • Spectacular views of Virunga volcanoes

There are different community initiatives that arrange these tours; Buninga forest walk, nkuringo cultural center, Rubuguri village walk, nyundo community eco-trails, NCCDF among others.

ACCESS;

  • Mbarara route is 8-9 hours’ drive from Kampala
  • Lake mburo-Bwindi is 5-6 hours’ drive
  • QENP-Bwindi is 5-6 hours’ drive
  • Entebbe airport-Nyakabande airstrip is 1-2 hours flight

Where to stay;

  • Nkuringo guest house
  • Clouds hotel
  • Bwindi guest house
  • Buhoma community rest camp
  1. KIBALE NATIONAL PARK:

A park gazzetted in 1932 is located in western Uganda and covers about 795kms[26km] south –east of fort portal with an elevation of 3600ft-5200ft.kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites for chimpanzees and other primates, eco systems, wild pigs and other topics, its southern part adjoins Queen Elizabeth national park {QENP] and creates a 180km wildlife corridor which stretches from Ishasha sector to the distant southern part of QENP along with sebitoli forest located in the northern part of kibale with an array of landscapes.

Kibale is one of the best safari destination in Africa for chimpanzee tracking and other primates coupled with the most beautiful tropical rainforest. It has a pleasant climate almost throughout the year, the wettest area being the north of the park receiving an average annual rainfall of equal to 1700mm especially in march-May and September-November.

The beautiful ndali-kasenda crater is just outside the park which is a must see in case you are visiting kibale national park, it will also take you short distance about 30 minutes’ drive to QENP, Semuliki national park and mountains of the moon [Rwenzori] and this helps you to arrange with your tour operator to have all of them on your trip package.

Kibale accommodates I Hoests monkey, red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboon, golden cats, red & blue duikers, Bush baby alongside a variety of birds. Buffalos, leopards, elephants are also present, a large number of reptiles and butterflies are also there though hardly seen

What to do and see in the park;

  • Chimpanzee trekking which is the main highlight of the park as well as the chimpanzee habituation experience, no wonder kibale is known as the primate capital in East Africa
  • Bird watching
  • Crater lake hikes such as the Ndali-kasenda ‘’Top of the world” hike
  • Caving- visit the amabere caves which is short distance drive from the park
  • Cultural visits with the help of local tour guides
  • Bigodi wetlands sanctuary- the swamp in the tropical jungle which is the best place for birding
  • Visit the historical sites e.g. Nakayima cultural site{ witch’s tree}
  • Nocturnal forest walks- this costs more than normal hikes, you can see bush babies, pottos and a lot more
  • Bush craft children activities- while their parents are away doing other activities children are also taken to kids-friendly activities. Bookings must be done earlier

Access;* Mbarara route {420km}

              *Fort Portal route {410km}

Where to stay;

  • Crater safari lodge
  • Isunga lodge
  • Chimpanzee forest guest house
  • Nkuruba nature reserve
  • Kyaninga lodge
  1. MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK:

Murchison falls national park [MFNP] was established in 1952 and covers surface area of 3893km2, it falls under the umbrella of Murchison falls conservation area [MFCA] which comprises of Murchison falls national park, Bugunga and karuma falls wildlife reserves.

The park is located in the northern region of the Albertine rift valley in Masindi district of western region situated 300km by road northwest of Kampala. The Murchison falls also known as kabarega falls is where the Nile bursts through the narrow gorge and spreads down to a placid stream flowing into Lake Albert. Hippos, crocodiles and water bucks throng the banks of the stream.

The park has got a spectacular view with the huge waterfalls roaring and finding their way within the small slit of 7 meters or 23 feet wide between the rocks and this is the connect point of Bunyoro escarpment and Acholi plains. Also in the park adjacent to the Masindi-Gulu high way are the magnificent karuma falls.

Wildlife mainly include elephants, buffalos, lions, giraffes, chimpanzees and many others, Vegetation is commonly savannah, woodland and riverine forest.

In Murchison there are four of the big five; buffalos, lions, elephants and leopards are mostly seen in the northern part.

Boat rides are usually arranged and operate from paraa to the foot of Murchison falls, they always take 3 hours which gives you a clear view of the hippos, crocodiles and the wildlife that is always close to the falls.

The 1951 film the “African queen” was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in the Murchison falls national park.

WHAT TO DO & SEE IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK;

  • Murchison falls as the main attraction of the park, you can do a 30 minutes climb or use paraa launch boat cruise
  • Game drives, this helps you see the vegetation of savannah, woodland and tropical forest. At Nyamsika cliffs is the best spot to view wildlife and the best time is the dry season
  • Bird watching. Commonly seen bird species include vitelline masked weaver, silver bird, black headed batis, Gray crowned crane, Goliath herone and many more, paraa rest camp is the best place to enjoy this activity.
  • Nature walks. There is a trail at paraa winds through low hills, forest around the river, also walk to the top of the falls at kaniyo pabidi and Rabongo forest eco-tourism center located on the island of tropical river forest in the south –east of the area within in Budongo forest reserve, chimpanzee trekking is the most famous activity here plus bird watching.

WHERE TO STAY;

  • Paraa safari lodge
  • Bwanda tembo safari lodge
  • Kalalo cottage inn
  • Fort Murchison lodge
  • Pakuba safari lodge
  1. QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK:

QENP is located in western Uganda and stretches along the districts of kasese, Bundibugyo, Rukungiri, kamwenge and Bushenyi. The park which covers surface area of 1978km2 existed as Lake Edward and Lake George game reserves in 1920’s and was later gazetted in 1952 as kazinga national park by the British colonial government, in 1954 the park was baptized queen Elizabeth national park in commemoration of the visiting British monarch.

QENP is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa as well as the most visited national park in Uganda. The park which is commonly known as “medley of wonders” is an ideal habitat for big game, 10 primate species and over 600 birds’ species.

The park gives you spectacular views of Rwenzori Mountain, kazinga channel, the large area of the swamp, the beauty of open savannah around Lake George, the beautiful crater lakes and a lot more.

QENP spans the equator with the monuments on either sides of the road which marks the exact point where it crosses latitude 00.

Besides the remarkable wildlife attraction, QENP is also proud of attractive heritage and cultural history the tourists usually get an opportunity to visit local communities with the help of local tour guides and entertainment in terms of music and storytelling is offered to them, this will definitely leave the visitors yearning for more.

How to get there;

  • Kampala via mbarara- 420km
  • Kampala via Fort portal-410
  • May go through Bwindi and Ishasha sector
  • Air travel- charter flights to airstrips of kasese, mweya and Ishasha

          Where to go:

  • Mweya peninsular which is the best view for birding
  • Kazinga channel which adjoins lake George and lake Edward, a launch boat cruise is usually arranged for visitors
  • Forested Kyambura gorge and kyambura game reserve
  • Maramagambo forest
  • Kasenyi plains for the best game drive through the open grassland
  • Ishasha sector which covers 100km south of mweya, a home of the renowned tree climbing lions and ishasha river
  • Lake katwe crater for salt mining and its works
  • Lake George and lake Edward
  • Network trails between mweya peninsular and katunguru gates
  • Equator and the queen’s pavilion- beautiful place for photo shooting with many craft stalls.in 1954 queen gave a provision shelter for this site.

Where to stay:

  • Mweya safari lodge
  • Ishasha wilderness camp
  • Ihamba safari lodge
  • Jacana safari lodge
  • Simba safari lodge
  • Kingfisher lodge kichwamba
  1. KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK:

The park which was gazzeted in 1962 covers surface area of 1442km2 with an altitude between 914 and 270m above sea level, it is located in semi-arid area between Uganda borders with Sudan and Kenya. This blissfully remote and stunningly beautiful park is quite unvisited compared to the rest of the national parks in Uganda, kidepo is located in the most remote area of the far Eastern Uganda and has a long journey of about 700km [12 hours’ drive] to cover while on your trip but this status is changing overtime with road improvement and availability of charter flights many people are getting to learn of its existence and the beauty it holds.

Kidepo is an ideal home to big game, over 70 mammal species as well as 475 bird species, contains two rivers of kidepo and Narus that dry up during the dry season.

Dodoth pastoralists and IK farmers lived in the area before it was gazzeted as a game reserve in 1958 by the British colonial government and the purpose was to protect the wildlife from poaching and prevent further clearing of the bush for tsetse fly control. In 1962 the game reserve was renamed kidepo valley national park.

Although tourists are allowed to visit the park throughout the year but the best time would be during dry season [Jan-May and oct-dec] and it is usually advisable to use 4WD vehicles to avoid any inconveniences caused by bad roads. Always seek advice from your tour operator on how best you can access the park and arrange with the UWA office at Apoka tourism center headquarters

The park is fast becoming preferred destination for many tourists planning an African safari especially Uganda wildlife safaris and cultural tours

What to do and see in kidepo:

  • Game viewing on the roads that crisscross the southern and western parts of the park ,you will see buffalos, elephants, lions, leopards and many others
  • Most of the birds especially superb starling, karamoja apalis, Nubian woodpecker, ostrich and others are clearly spotted at Apoka rest camp,Namamukweny as well as Narus valley
  • Nature walks and hiking especially to lamoj hills and mount morungule, the namamukweny valley [a home of birds], kidepo valley and kanangorok hot springs you cannot afford to miss this beautiful scenic view.
  • Cultural trails. These will help you meet the IK people [smallest ethnic group] and have more cultural encounters at Karamojong manyatta which makes your trip an exciting adventure.

Where to stay:

  • Apoka rest camp
  • Nga moru wilderness camp
  • Apoka safari lodge

Contact us for more information about the Top Five Tourist Destinations in Uganda.

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