Environment

The Ten Spectacular National Parks Of Uganda

The national parks in Uganda play a vital role in conservation by protecting the region's rare and endangered flora and fauna.

10. Semuliki National Park

A hot spring in Semuliki National Park.

The Semeliki National Park is located in the Bwamba County of western Uganda on the country’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was established in October 1993 and occupies an area of 194 square km. The Semeliki National Park is well-known for its rich and diverse flora and fauna and is especially famous for birds, of which over 400 species exist in the park. Nine hornbill species have also been recorded at the park. More than 60 mammalian species including leopards, hippos, forest buffaloes, elephants, civets, duikers, and 8 species of primates also live here. The Semuliki and the Lamia Rivers that flow by the park are watering places for the park’s wildlife. The Semeliki National Park also features a hot mineral swamp and two hot springs. Visitors to the park enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and visiting the hot springs. However, safaris across the savannah are the main driving factor for tourists visiting the park.

9. Rwenzori National Park

Great white pelicans in Rwenzori National Park.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is located in southwestern Uganda. The 1000 square km national park houses the continent’s third highest mountain peak. It also features numerous waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park was established in 1991 and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. However, due to insecurity prevailing in the region, the park was labeled as one of the World Heritage Sites in Danger between 1999 and 2004. A large number of species endemic to the Albertine Rift system including several endangered species. The park is famous for its plant species which are considered by some to be the world’s most beautiful botanical collection. The notable animals found here include the chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus, forest elephant, Ruwenzori turaco, L'Hoest's monkeys, and more. 89 species of birds and 15 species of butterfly also live in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The park offers unusual scenery, spectacular views, and excellent trekking and climbing opportunities to tourists.

8. Queen Elizabeth National Park

A lion in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.

The Queen Elizabeth National Park, located in the Western Region of Uganda, is the most visited national park in the country. The park is about 400 km from the capital city of the country, Kampala. It occupies an area of 1,978 square km and extends between the two lakes of Lake George and Lake Edward. The Queen Elizabeth National Park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park and renamed two years later to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit. The park is well-known for its volcanic features, rich bird-life, and diverse wildlife. The most notable mammalian species here are the elephants, Congo lions, chimpanzees, Cape buffaloes, hippopotami, etc. The tree climbing lions with black-maned males of the area around Ishasha are particularly famous here.

7. Murchison Falls National Park

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park.

Spreading inland from Lake Albert’s shores, the Murchison Falls National Park is located in north-western Uganda. The 3,893 square km national park is the largest of its kind in the country. The famous Murchison Falls is the major attraction of this national park. It is here that the Nile flows through a narrow gorge before plunging 43 meters down as a waterfall. The Karuma Falls and the Karuma Power Station are also part of the national park. The Murchison Falls National Park has 76 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and the largest crocodile population in the country.

6. Mount Elgon National Park

A cave in Mount Elgon National Park, Uganda.

The Mount Elgon National Park is located at a distance of 140 km from the northeast of Lake Victoria. It occupies an area of 1,110 square km in Uganda, as well as 169 square km in Kenya. The Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Turkwel River and the Nzoia River. The mountainous slopes of Mount Elgon also support a rich variety of ecosystems ranging from montane forests to open moorlands with the vegetation varying with altitude. The lower slopes of the mountain hosts buffalos and elephants. Forest monkeys, duiker, and antelopes also live here. 144 species of birds including the eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Jackson's francolin, and Tacazze sunbird are also found here. The Mount Elgon National Park is famous for its eye-catching scenery featuring waterfalls, gorges, cliffs, hot springs, mountain peaks, caves, etc.

5. Mgahinga National Park

Mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park.

The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located near the town of Kisoro in southwest Uganda. The park is famous for being one of the few surviving habitats to the endangered mountain gorillas of Africa. The park is contiguous with the DRC’s Virunga National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

4. Lake Mburo National Park

Zebras in Lake Mburo National Park.

Lake Mburo National Park is located in the Kiruhura District of western Uganda. The national park hosts a great diversity of species including the zebra, impala, jackal, leopards, elands, warthogs, and more. It is also home to more than 300 species of birds. At 260 square km, it is the smallest national park in the country.

3. Kidepo Valley National Park

Elephants in Kidepo Valley National Park.

The Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the Karamoja region in northeast Uganda. The park occupies an area of 1,442 square km and features a rugged savannah landscape. The 9,020 feet tall Mount Morungole is the central feature of the park. The River Kidepo, with its perennial water, serves as an oasis in the semi-arid landscape and hosts more than 86 species of mammals. Some of the most notable ones include Tanzanian cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards, elephants, Cape buffaloes, and the Rothschild's giraffes. More than 500 species of birds also are sighted here. Game viewing is possible by vehicle on the dirt roads in the western and southern regions of the Kidepo Valley National Park.

2. Kibale National Park

A baboon in Kibale National Park.

The 766 square km Kibale National Park is located in southern Uganda. The national park features an extensive area of moist evergreen rainforest. It is an important safari and ecotourism destination, hosting a significant population of chimpanzees and 12 other primate species. Other terrestrial animals found here include elephants, bushbucks, bushpigs, African golden cats, leopards, red and blue duikers, and more. The national park also serves as the home of 325 species of birds including the African gray parrot, the endemic ground thrush, olive long-tailed cuckoo, and two species of pittas.

1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The landscape of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south-western Uganda. The 331 square km park has both montane and lowland forest habitats and has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has great biodiversity including 120 mammalian species, 328 bird species, 220 butterfly species, and 27 species of frog. The park also hosts one of East Africa’s most diverse forests. This includes 1,000 species of flowering plants, 163 tree species, and 104 fern species. Rare and threatened species like the chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, turacos, and hornbills live here. It also hosts half of the world population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

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