Uganda’s national parks are lovely places but they have not been able to draw too many visitors. The entrance fee to most of the parks is fixed at USD35 per day. Possessing an ISIC student identity card entitles student visitors to a 25% discount on the entrance fee. The noteworthy national parks in Uganda are:
Uganda has a network of ten national parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is prime gorilla tracking area. Troops of gorilla arrive at the park from Buhoma in the north and a newer troop has arrived from Nkuringo in the south.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is near the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. You can track a gorilla troop from the park but since the gorillas often go into areas beyond the Ugandan borders, tracking can get difficult. Even more magnificent than the wildlife in the park are the Virunga Mountains with their active volcanic peaks. The mountains look like the imposing spine of the park.
Lake Mburo National Park is situated in the south. Accommodation is generally available at the Mihingo Lodge located beyond the park entrance. Horseback safaris start from the lodge.
Murchison Falls National Park offers an exciting boat ride (15,000 Ugandan shillings) where the boat is completely surrounded by hippos and crocodiles. The Nile dramatically crashes through a 7 m (23 ft) wide crevice and down a height of 45 m (150 ft). Go on a wildlife safari to get a glimpse of animals such as buffalo, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, leopards and lions. To explore the park as an individual is not easy or safe.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is made up of several sections but the area between Lake George and Lake Edward has the highest concentration of animals. The scenery is less impressive in this section except when the Ruwenzori Mountains, which are usually enveloped by clouds, are visible. Go on a drive along the southern edge of the mountains amidst the volcanic crater lakes. The Ugandan Kob is endemic to Uganda and can be seen on Ugandan currency as well as on the coat of arms, which also has the crested crane. The park’s Kazinga Channel has the densest concentration of hippos in the continent. The well-known tree-climbing lions also live in this park.
Kibale Forest National Park is highly recommended for tracking chimpanzees. Twitchers or serious bird watchers consider the park as one with some of the best bird watching opportunities in Central Africa. The park is situated near Fort Portal town and the Kasese Crater Lakes are nearby.
Rwenzori National Park is a range of mountains that border the Democratic Republic of Congo in southwest Uganda. Mt. Stanley at 5109 m (16,761 ft) is the tallest peak of the mountain range. The range has a length of 120 km (75 miles) and a width of 48 km (30 miles). In the second century, Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer first wrote about the mountains and called them the ‘Mountains of the Moon’. Italian explorers scaled the mountains for the first time in 1896. A phenomenon of concern is that by 2006, the ice cap of the mountains had retreated to less than 1.28 sq km (0.5 sq miles) from the 6.4 sq km (2.5 sq miles) observed 100 years ago. Visit Mitandi to explore the Rwenzori Mountains as well as to get a glimpse of the lifestyle and culture of the Bakonzo who are the local mountain folks. Mitandi is located quite close to the mountains near Fort Portal.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Uganda’s most spectacular parks. It is 1,442 square kilometers and harbors scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa. It is located on the north eastern border of Uganda. The park harbors a great diversity of animal species; Carnivore species include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, jackal and hunting dog. Ungulates include the kudu, reedbuck, klipspringer, dikdik, bright gazelle; beisa oryx and roan antelope.
Mt. Elgon National Park lies 256 km north east of Kampala, bordering with Kenya in eastern Uganda, it covers an area of 1155 square km and is a 4,321m high extinct volcano which in prehistoric times stood taller than Kilimanjaro does today. This park offers a diverse variety of scenery, vegetation and cultures. Mountaineering skills are not required. The whole region is excellent for hikers and climbers, with caves, rock painting, gorges, and waterfalls providing excellent scenery; Sipi Falls at the foothills of the mountain is a favorite destination.