Uganda’s Best National Parks-Africa as you Imagine it-only Better
The Best 10 National Parks in Uganda for a Gorilla – Chimpanzee – Wildlife Safari
It is called the Pearl of Africa, a country of incredible beauty. Home to 10 National Parks with their diverse landscape that encompasses the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon. Two Mountain Gorilla Sanctuaries, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and Mgahinga Gorilla Park, have three brooding Volcanoes.
There are five Savannah Parks, including the much-loved Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, which gives whispers of Africa’s wild.
Semliki National Park in the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, Murchison Falls, the only wildlife park with the Nile flowing through it.
Then there is the remote Kidepo Valley, a “lost Eden” that is Africa as it was fifty years without the crowds and remote tribes.
Kibale Forest National Park is the premier primate park in all of East Africa. The park is home to thirteen primate species, wildlife, countless birds, and butterflies in a jungle-like setting.
Last, there is Mount Elgon National Park in the East, straddling the border with Kenya. Once the tallest Mountain in Africa until it blew its top. Climbing here is affordable and without the crowds.
Here is a list of the Best 10 National Parks in Uganda
Discover What we think are the Best 10 National Parks in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa on Safari. Uganda is Africa, as you imagine, only better.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
The highlight and focal point of most visitors to Uganda are tracking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest of Uganda. The park, a gorilla sanctuary, is home to the largest number of mountain gorillas.
Gorillas, Chimpanzees. The rare L’Hoest Monkeys, Black and White Colobus, Baboons, and four other primate species live side by side. You might even see some forest elephants as you explore the wonders of this mystical forest.
There are over 200 distinct species of trees, 120 species of mammals, 27 species of frogs, geckos, chameleons, 220 species of butterflies, 348 species of birds, and other endangered species in the ancient Rainforest.
CNN Travel named it the most beautiful place on earth in 2019. They also placed the park on its “Best Hikes in the World List.” The park is also one of the best Birding Destinations in all of Africa. Read more about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
2. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The smallest of the Ugandan National Parks ranks high on our list because of the many activities you can do here. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s idea of paradise, and yet it is an off-of-the-beaten-tourist path, a park without the crowds.
It is one of those rare, out-of-the-ordinary adventure Destinations in the Virunga Volcanoes, called locally the Mufumbiro Mountain, meaning the mountains that cook, the dormant volcanoes.
You can track Mountain Gorillas and endangered Golden Monkeys. Climb one of the three Virunga Volcanoes, Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, or Mount Sabinyo. Hit the Border or Sabinyo Gorge Trail, and you might see some forest elephants and other wildlife along the way in this small but most stunning scenic park.
See the forest through the first people of the forest, the Batwa. Now conservation refugees, Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest used to be their home for thousands of years.
The park became the original Gorilla Tourism site when Walter Baumgärtel and his Batwa guide Reuben Rwazangire led tourists from his Travellers Rest Hotel in Kisoro to see the Mountain Gorillas Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the 1960s. Read more about Mgahinga Gorilla Park here.
3. Kibale Forest National Park
The Premier Chimpanzee Tracking destination in East Africa is Kibale Forest National Park, with 1,500 Chimpanzees. It is here where the jungle of West Africa meets East Africa.
It is here where you find 13 species of primates, including our closest cousins in the animal kingdom, the chimpanzees.
The park is one of Africa’s main research sites. While most researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others investigate Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs, and fish species.
The Park also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long wildlife corridor between the Democratic Republic of Congo through Ishasha in 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. It is not only a destination for Primate Lovers but Birding and Butterfly Enthusiasts. It is also home to but rarely seen Forest Elephants, Forest Buffaloes, and Leopards.
Do not overlook the often one-of-a-kind nocturnal Forest Walk led by rangers with powerful spotlights allowing you to see the creatures of the night in the park. Read more about Kibale Forest National Park here.
4. Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley. One of the park’s distinctions is that the ancient River Nile runs through the park bisecting it. Not only that, as the river tumbles down forty-give meters, the western Rift escarpment creates the most powerful waterfall in the world.
Below Murchison Falls, the once energetic river turns 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 excellent wildlife viewing areas.
It is here on a boat ride where you will see elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos, the enormous Nile crocodiles, monitor lizards, and aquatic birds, making it one of the highlights of your visit to the park.
The northern section of the park contains savannah and Borassus palms, acacia trees, and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches the north end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna.
Murchison Falls Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting seventy-six species of mammals, including the most significant number (over 1,000) of Nubian (Rothschild-Baringo-Uganda) Giraffes in the wild in Africa and 451 species of birds. The park is the all-around wildlife park in Uganda that is within a reasonable distance of Kampala. Chimpanzee and Rino can be part of the Murchison Falls Park experience in nearby Budongo Forest and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, and several British royals. The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart was filmed in part on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park. Read more about Murchison Falls Park here.
5. Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park sitting in the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains has been called “a Medley of Natural Wonders,” and one can only concur with that. It is no wonder that it is one of the most popular parks in the country, best known for its large Elephant herds, Tree-Climbing Lions, the Kazinga Channel Wildlife boat safari, the vast Maragambo Forest, the enormous explosion craters, and the famed Kyambura Gorge featured on BBC,
Queen Elizabeth National Park, unlike Murchison Falls National, does not have the River Nile run through it. Instead, here, it is the Equator that runs through the park.
The park was initially named Kazinga National Park. When Queen Elizabeth visited in 1954, the park was renamed in her honor to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the name has stuck ever since.
Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is actual “a medley of Wonders” and one of the must-visit parks in Uganda. Read more about Queen Elizabeth National Park here.
6. Kidepo Valley National Park:
Remote, unvisited, a park-like no other, not just in Uganda but all of East Africa. It. Some have called it “a lost Eden.” It is no wonder that CNN Travel named it the Number Three Wildlife Park in all of Africa.
To us, Kidepo Valley Park is Africa from another era. a time described in the writings of Karen Blixen, Beryll Markham, and Ernest Hemingway.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a fabulous wildlife park in Northeastern Uganda – when on a game drive, you have the feeling that you are all alone here and alone. You are in the most remote park in Uganda and, for that matter East Africa.
While here, you can have an authentic culture with the Karamojong, a Herder-Warrior tribe, and the Ik People, the first people in the area, living high on Mount Morungole without roads and signs of modernity.
Kidepo Valley Park is a rugged, beautiful park with an abundance of wildlife like Africa that you imagined it to be, but only better. A park not to be missed. It is on many people’s bucket lists, yet it remains untouched without the crowds.
Fly-In and Discover Africa as it used to be and still is in Kidepo Valley National Park. Read more about the Park here.
7. Lake Mburo National Park
Find whispers of the African Wild in Lake Mburo National Park. The smallest of the Savannah Parks is located halfway on the road that connects Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahina Gorilla Park. Many stop over here and take in the wildlife and 350 species of birds found here.
It is only in Lake Mburo National Park where you take a bike ride, go horseback, hike, or even jog through the park.
It is the only park in Western Uganda with Burchell zebra and Nubian (Rothschild and the large Eland antelopes. There are also impala, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, crocodiles, hyena, topi, and reedbuck.
Lake Mburo National Park is a must-visit Park if you are heading west to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Mutanda, or Queen Elizabeth Park. Read more about Lake Mburo National Park here.
8. Semliki National Park:
Semliki (Semuliki) National Park and Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve in the Semliki Valley are part of Uganda’s Western Rift. An area unlike others in Uganda. It is where the vast Ituri Forest spills over from DR Congo into Uganda.
It is a stunningly beautiful park that is off-of the beaten Tourist Paths. It is a must for birders, a park for those that would like to experience the Central African Jungle in East Africa.
The Park is the only one in East Africa where you can experience a true lowland Tropical Forest Jungle. It is the park where you find some of the richest and most diverse flora and fauna in Africa, with 441 species of birds and 53 kinds of mammals, including chimpanzees.
The Sempaya Hot Springs trail is a “must-do -hike” for visitors to the Park. There Four distinct cultural groups that live near the Park. The Bwamba farmers live along the base of the Rwenzori while the Bakonjo cultivate the mountain slopes. The Batuku cattle keepers inhabit the open plains, and the indigenous Batwa were the first people of the forest.
When you visit Semliki National Park, you taste the Congo, even the Semliki River that forms the border with DR Congo is like a miniature version of the Congo River. Read more about Semliki National Park here.
The Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon are off the beaten path for many since most believe that the only activities there are, are for mountaineers only.
One can partake in many activities that involve the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon.
You can have a village stay; hike, bird, nature walks all without the crowds. It has been one of our client’s favorite places in Uganda.
You can also conquer some of the snow-covered peaks. In 20 years, the glaciers will probably be gone, so the time is to climb them before it is too late. One added plus, Mountaineers, will find ascent to the peaks of the Mountains of the Moon a lot more affordable than anywhere else.
The Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon are close to Queen Elizabeth Park, Kibale Forest, and Semliki Park.
The Park can be explored in the Foothills, or you can climb the Peaks. Read more about the Rwenzori Mountains National Park here.
10. Mount Elgon National Park:
Mount Elgon 24 million years was the tallest mountain in Africa, and then it blew its top. Before it erupted, it far exceeded the present height of Mount Kilimanjaro.
At 4,000km² Mount Elgon has the most extensive volcanic base in the world. The mountain straddles the Uganda-Kenya border. It is also the oldest and largest solitary volcanic mountain in East Africa.
Its vast form rises more than 3,000 meters above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
Most climbers find that the highlight is not reaching the 4,231-meter Wagagi Peak, but the descent into the largest intact 40km² caldera in the world.
Mount Elgon, along with Sipi Falls, is part of the Eastern Wonders of Uganda – Adventure, Nature Walks, Hikes, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Trout Fishing, Volcano Climbing, and much more to do and see here.
It is a fantastic area with many things to be discovered, great hikes, incredible nature walks, visit Bagisu and Sabinyi people. It is also the area where you find the Abayudaya, the only African Jewish Community in Uganda. Near here is where Uganda’s World Class Runners train, and visitors are welcome. Read more about Mount Elgon National Park here.
Map of Uganda’s National Parks:
Here is a map of Uganda that shows the parks’ location and gives you a feel of the country. The 10 National Parks in Uganda are located primarily in the western part of Uganda. Murchison Falls National Park is in the north, while Mount Elgon is east on Kenya’s border. Kidepo Valley Park is in the remote northeast of the country.
To include all parks in one Safari would take fourteen or more days on a drive-safari. It can be done in fewer days if you choose a fly-in and drive safari. You can even include Gorilla and Chimpanzee tracking with the remote Kidepo Valley National Park.
Most visitors concentrate on Western Uganda, discovering Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki National Park, Kibale Forest Lake Mburo National Park.
To get a taste of Uganda, we suggest a Safari of seven to eight days, including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Gorilla Trekking, Queen Elizabeth National Park Wildlife, and Kibale Forest National Park Chimpanzee Trekking.
You can cut down on drive-times by flying into Kigali – Rwanda beginning your safari in southwest Uganda and ending it in Entebbe, Uganda.
“For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”– Winston Churchill-my African Journey published in 1908.
The Best 10 National Parks in Uganda can be part of your Safari – if you like to see any of them on a safari with us – Let us know.