Uganda’s Jurassic Park-The Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge
Take the Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge – the best Cycad Plant Destination in Africa
The Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge near Queen Elizabeth Park is nothing new. They have been here for millions of years and date back before the “Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs. In the Mpanga River Gorge, locals have chopped them down to make room for farming and grazing of animals. A few Tourists ventured to see the ancient Cycad Plants after reading about them in the “Uganda Bradt Guide-Book.”
Some Ugandan Ecologists began to Ring the Alarm that the endangered Cycads of the Mpagango were facing eradication by locals. Many responded, including the Toro Kingdom. Today, the tide has turned with sense and sensibility, having prevailed.
According to the Uganda Tourist Board’s Chief Executive Officer Lilly Ajarova, who reconnoitered the Mpanga River Gorge along with Team Members and the local media, announced that plans were being made to make the area accessible for Tourists.
At present, the often muddy and challenging Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge is not for the faint of heart and takes a moderate level of fitness for those who wish to take it.
The Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge
Cycad Plants-What are they?
The Cycad plant, scientifically known as the Encephalartos villosus, is an evergreen ornamental plant categorized as either male or female that lives for a long time, and most cases are mistaken for palms or tree ferns. The male plant produces cones filled with pollen, while the female, usually bigger, produces seeds.
Cycads are believed to be the oldest seed plants on earth traced from 315 million years ago even before the Jurassic period when dinosaurs flourished. A time that has often been called “the Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs.”
The plants are also believed to have been food for dinosaurs leading to conclusions that the beasts might have lived in Uganda millions of years ago.
The cycads in Uganda are found only in Kitagwenda, Kayunga, and Kitgum districts. In Kitagwenda District, the Cycad Plants are located in the Mpanga Gorge, a very scenic area near Queen Elizabeth Park.
The Mpanga Gorge Trail is closest to other Tourist destinations in Western Uganda such as Kibale Forest and Queen Elizabeth Park.
Hitting The Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge
We can include the Mpanga Gorge Cycad Trail in your safari with us while staying in Queen Elizabeth and doing a day trip to the Gorge which is home to the Cycads. You will need hiking gear such as daypack, packed lunch from the lodge, drinking water. Walking Sticks to ease the trail will be supplied by us, Though you are hiking in equatorial Africa, long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt are best since they protect you. Wear a hat for protection against the sun. A light rain jacket in the daypack is also a good thing to have.
The Mpanga Gorge is more than cycads. There is the Mpanga River, the Mpanga Falls, sleepy, out of the way hamlets and an abundance of birds including the Large Blue Turaco that is found here.
You will get marvelous views across Lake George and the Northern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park with the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon in the distance.
If you like to include The Cycad Trail in the Mpanga River Gorge on a safari with us, please let us know.