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UGANDA NATIONAL PARKS
Uganda is referred to as the pearl of Africa due to its giftedness by nature discovered from plenty of tourist attractions and destinations around the country and here are major destinations we take you too on safari.
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
The park lies in the western rift valley northwestern Uganda and is Uganda’s biggest park harboring about 450 bird species,76 mammal species and 451 bird species. Murchison falls that is formed by the mighty River Nile(world’s Longest River) is the park’s most notable wildlife attraction with several visitors flocking to explore its beauty. The Nile-Delta where the mighty Victoria Nile joins Lake Albert is a major area for bird watchers and a place to see the rare shoebill stork whereas KaniyoPabidi and Rabongo forests in this park are ideal for educational tours and are a bird watchers paradise since they allocate a great opportunity to identify birds, primates that include chimpanzee, Medical plants and trees.
Size: 3840 sq.kms and Altitude:500m – 1292m above sea level.
Water fall – Boat ( hike to the top)
A short drive on dirt road takes you to the top of the falls, where you can hear the thunder and feel the spray as the water forces itself through the rock. Views from the top of the falls are stunning and offer excellent photo opportunities; sometimes you can access it via a boat ride.
Delta boat Trip
This is a boat trip that takes down to Victoria Nile to where it merges into the Lake Albert, leads you through papyrus swamps filled with wildlife and various bird species. This trip takes about 4-5 hours and is a must for bird lovers. The Delta is the best place in Uganda to see the rare shoe bill.
Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest national park in Uganda. During a typical game drive you can be expected to see a large number of animal including; antelope species, including the bush buck, the water buck, Thomson’s gazelle and the dik dik and many others. Larger herbivores, such as buffalos, giraffe and elephant.
Murchison falls also provides Primates species, such as the chimpazees, baboon and the patas monkey, these are found in budongo forest and this also gives a great chance for bird lover then Murchison Falls National Park will not disappoint.
Chimpanzee tracking (in Budongo Forest)
Chimpanzee trekking takes place in the Kaniyo Pabidi in budongo forest reserve. Chimp habituation started officially in 1992 and guided chimp walks, the guides are extremely accommodating and flexible. The good seasons of good viewings of the chimps between the months of May and August. the beauty of the forest engulfs you entirely as you walk along the well maintained paths listening to the huge variety of bird song and animal calls. The informative guide will tell you about the history of the forest and help you to identify the rich flora and fauna.
Birding is mostly done within the Budongo’s famous Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro Ecotourism site are the major tourist site for birding activities, the Royal Mile – a wide forestry track considered by many to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. This is the best place in Uganda for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. Here we will find many confusing forest green buls to test us, including Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated, Red-tailed &Honey guide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Thrush and Uganda Woodland-Warbler.
Nile perch and various fish species provide an exciting challenge for the great fishermen competition. Sport fishing is possible in the river sections above and below the falls. Prior booking with bulamu safaris has to be made, as the number of people doing sport fishing at albert nile sites. You have to bring your own equipment or we can arrange them for you on prior booking.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
This is Uganda’s second biggest park and most popular tourist destination. It’s situated along the equator within the western rift valley in western Uganda neighboring Congo D.R.C with Africa’s tallest snow capped Rwenzori Mountain as the backdrop. The park has a diversity of wildlife inhabited in its stunning savannah, splendid lakes, green wetlands and forests that range from 95 mammal species, over 600 bird species and 10 primate species that include the Chimpanzee. It’s an ideal park for Bird watching and elegant game viewing. The Kazinga channel that connects lakes George and Edward in this park is known to harbor the biggest concentration of Hippos than any other water body.
Size: 1978 sq. Kms and altitude: 910m – 1350m above sea level.
The launch trip along the Kazinga Channel is one of the most popular activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It provides, a relaxation and enjoy the fresh river breeze whilst observing a large selection of animals. Those species commonly seen along the riverbank are elephants, buffalo, water buck, hippos and Ugandan Kob. bird species in the area are plentiful, in particular, water, yellow-billed stork, various plovers, white pink-backed Pelicans and many others
Kyambura Gorge Chimpanzee Trekking
Kyambura Gorge is situated on the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park, it has a depth of 100m deep. The Kyambura River is responsible for creating the magnificent steep Kyambura Gorge. The gorge emerges from between savannah grassland and transits to papyrus swamps towards Kazinga Channel. Kyambura Gorge is home to habituated chimpanzees, many other primates and a huge variety of bird species. The best time to trek the chimpanzees is in the morning, trekking is also available in the afternoon. Trekking chimpanzees at Kyambura Gorge is slightly harder than at Kibale Forest National Park. The trails are maintained and are relatively easy going, however, getting back out of the Gorge sometime its difficult and it needs some energy.
This is done in Maramagambo Forest which is one of the largest forests in Uganda. It is of medium altitude, moist and semi-deciduous. There are many walks which can be taken through this lush green forest and it is recommended that you go with a ranger. One of the most popular walks is to the bat caves where thousands of fruit bats roost every day. The walks are on well defined paths.
The Ishasha sector is notably recognized for its resident Tree climbing lions that are an exceptional attraction and one among the highlights on all safaris taken within Queen Elizabeth National park. In the southern section of this park, the Lions are now and again spotted hanging on braches of huge fig trees whereas the Uganda Kob (which is the major food to these lions) grazes in the plains of the Ishasha sector.
Throughout the entire world there are only two places in which you can find populations of these tree-climbing lions, one being in Lake Manyara national park found in Tanzania and the other being the Ishasha sector within Queen Elizabeth National Park. In addition to the fascinating population of the Tree Climbing Lions within the Ishasha, visitors will also come across huge buffalo herds, numerous antelopes that keep crossing your path, there are also a number of elephants that have actually settled within the Ishasha area and also watch out for the numerous hippos an actually the only thing not plentiful here are tourists
Crater Lake walk
Visit to the Salt Pans and Fishing Villages
Katwe Salt Lake is a few hour drives from Mweya. Here salt is mined in the traditional methods; here the local people go down into the lake to dig the salt pans
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
This is the best park to track habituated chimpanzees and is one of the most beautiful distinct tropical rainforests located in western Uganda. Kibale harbors 70 mammal species,around 375 bird species, 250 butterfly species and is famous for 13 primate species including the chimpanzee. The park has the highest concentration of primates in Africa with biggest population of chimpanzees in Uganda and endangered L’hoestes and Red colobus monkey in the East African region. The park also has a rich biodiversity in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary that’s a bird’s haven with around 130 bird species, Bird watching can be best done here.
Size: 795 sq.kms and Altitude: 1100m – 1619m above sea level.
Kibale Forest is home to 13 primate species and a guided forest trek can be taken in search of one of the most popular primate species in the world. the chimpanzee. There are 9 diurnal primates, these include,vervet, red-tailed, L’Hoest’s, grey cheeked magabey, blue monkeys, red colobus, black and white colobus, olive baboon etc. even though chimps sighting are not guaranteed, but you are always with high chances of seeing them at 90%. Whilst trekking in the depths of the green forest, you will be surrounded by bird songs. The walking is fairly easy due to the well-maintained trails and flat terrain.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is an unforgettable and almost unbelievable experience for chimp enthusiasts and aspiring researchers. This involves staying with the chimps all day. Having the time to really connect with the group and learn about their different characters, behaviors.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
This is a impressive wetland sanctuary protects the Magombe swamp and is an important contribution to Ugandan conservation. It is run by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) and all the money raised from tourism is used in community projects in Bigodi. The trail offers one of the best guided bird trails in East Africa and gives walkers the attractive prospect of seeing various different primate species in just a few hours. The swamps are filled of huge number of bird and butterfly species.
Cultural / Farm Walk
This is available for any of the clients and lasts about 2 hours. The walk includes visiting the vanilla plantations, where Ndali grow and process their own vanilla. On the walk you also encounter coffee plantations and a wide variety of birds and some small primates. On the way back up to the lodge, clients are shown the extensive Ndali kitchen gardens where a wide variety of fruit and vegetables is grown and used at the lodge or sold at the local markets.
BWINDI NATIONAL PARK
The Park lies within the western rift valley in southwestern Uganda. It’s one of Uganda’s oldest tropical rainforests with about 400 species of plants and is a habitat to half of the world’s endangered Mountain Gorillas around 340 with several habituated groups to be tracked. It’s also home to about 350 bird species including 23 Albertine rift endemics and 120 mammals that include 11 primate species like chimpanzees. The forest has also provided shelter from Bacongo to Batwa, pygmies for quite a long number of years.
Size: 321Sq.Kms and Altitude: 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level.
Here I you have a chance to have a taste of the Ugandan lifestyle. You will meet with locals of many different generations and see the way of life they live. You will also get the chance to interact with the local Batwa community; they will show you how they incorporate every day activities into dance.
Batwa Cultural Experience
This activity needs a free day in Bwindi. You will walk into the forest to a Batwa village and meet the community. Here you will learn about their life style, past and present. They will invite you into their homes and show you their traditional hunting techniques and craft making skills.
The Waterfall Trail is for best for primate species and general scenery. It takes about 3 hours and leads for 2km along an abandoned road before crossing the Muyanga River several times on the ascent to the waterfall. Bathing is permitted at the bottom of the waterfall and often required after the relatively tough hiking.
Meet with friendly Mountain Gorillas.
Visitors into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest frequently inquire if mountain gorillas are dangerous? Although dominant and very strong, these are gentle as well as shy, and in addition the mountain gorillas which visitors see within Uganda have been habituated. In other words they are habituated to people. And the money that collected from the money used to buy the permit it’s the one used to treat these endangered species, and seen their number increase over the recent years. And if gorillas are threatened they do attack so as to protect themselves as defense.
Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10. Out of the 36 Gorilla groups in Uganda, 12 are habituated to visit. In northern Bwindi you can track 3 gorilla groups from the Buhoma, in the eastern side you can track 2 Gorilla groups from Ruhija, and in the southern bwindi you can track 6 gorilla groups from Rushaga, Nkuringo and 1 group in Mgahinga NP (if they are not on the run).
LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
This is Uganda’s smallest savannah park located in western Uganda and the nearest to Kampala city and Entebbe airport. The park boasts of 350 bird species and 68 mammal species including rare antelope specie not found in any other park in the country such as the Impala. Lake Mburo is part of the 5 lakes located within the park boundaries that form a 20% wetland network that harbors various wetland birds and Reed bucks. This is the only savannah park that can be explored on foot and more so since there are no elephants, woodland vegetation has tended to cover the park.Size: 370 sq.kms and Altitude: 1220m – 1828m above sea level.
Lake Mburo’s most popular activity is the motorboat trip on the lake. A journey on the lake will provide great opportunities to observe mighty hippo and crocodile populations. Water bird species are often too numerous for even the keenest birder to identify them all. These great wildlife experiences coupled with the stunning scenery and panoramic landscape views will really impress upon you true African beauty.
Doing a game drive is the best way to explore the park fully is by road. Game driving in Lake Mburo will give the best opportunity for seeing the impala and zebra, these are the most known for the park, because it is the only place in Uganda to see the majestic impala and the only easily accessible place to see Burchell’s zebra.
Game Drives can be taken along numerous different paths, the best choice dependent upon weather and seasonality. During the dry season, animals tend to congregate around the swamps and lakes; this is a remarkable photo opportunity with the sparkling lakes in the background.
Unusually, the whole park is open to walkers as long as they are accompanied by a ranger guide. At Rwonyo, a guided walk leads to a salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks.
Walks on the western side of the lake begin at 7am and take two hours. At this time of day, you may encounter hyenas returning to their dens and hippos retreating to the lake. Hikes through the woodland provide an opportunity to sight forest birds and mammals, while the walk to the top of the hill rewards visitors with a spectacular view of 9 of the region’s 14 lakes. This gives tourists the unique chance to get out and absorb the park wildlife without the confines of a vehicle.
The best birding spots in Lake Mburo National Park include the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti, and the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and the jetty. There are also ideally-situated viewing platforms at the salt lick, in Miriti Valley, and in Rubanga Forest. Species observed at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Finfoot among others.
Horse Back Safaris
Horse back safaris are mostly available from Mihingo Lodge. Horseback activity is an exciting way to see wildlife in and around Lake Mburo National Park. Here you feel part of nature and often get the chance to see the more timid animals. zebra come towards you to check out the strange relative without strips. Even the normally very shy eland curiously look at the horses without running away, just keeping their distance.
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
This is Uganda’s most spectacular park that lies in a rugged semi-arid and predominantly mountainous area located extreme Northeastern Uganda between Kidepo valley and Narus valley. It has open grassland vegetation interspersed with woodland, forest and rocky patches that harbor 77 mammal species including 20 species of predators with many not found else in the country and around 475 bird species. The park has for several years been Uganda’s most isolated and not visited due to challenges of accessibility however this is no more and those who have gone on safari there will tell you it’s the most splendid park in Uganda.
Size: 1442 sq.kms and Altitude: 914m – 2750m above sea level.
Discover the wonders of the wilderness in an open top safari vehicle,Kidepo Valley National Park is truly a land of unspoiled beauty. Lions, cheetah, osterich elephants, giraffes, zebra as well as many antelope species inhabit these grasslands.
Narus Valley is a rolling, grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains. The valley has permanent water, and for much of the year the park’s wildlife congregates here. Thus, the area is well provided with game tracks, with four loop circuits exploring the valley around Apoka. Many creatures such as lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, buffaloes, giraffes, oribis and reedbucks can be seen in the valley. Less commonly seen are cheetahs and leopards. The Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season. At the southern end of the Katurum loop, Katurum kopje (the site of a derelict lodge) is an attractive destination with superb views north across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
For most of the year, a lack of surface water means that little wildlife is found in Kidepo Valley, though it is still worth the drive to visit the dry Kidepo River to stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with borassus palms. Kidepo means to pick from below and the valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer. The Kanangorok Hot Springs lie 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the Sudan border. This is a glorious place to sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.
The Karamojong people have been settled in Northern Uganda since 1600. the name Karamojong is derived from a phrase meaning ‘the old men can walk no further’. The main livelihood for the Karamojong is cattle herding and livestock have a significant importance in the day to day lives of a Karamojong community. Apoka Lodge has established a good relationship with a nearby Karamojong community and the opportunity is there to visit the village and learn about this history of this interesting community and its culture and traditions.
MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga is Uganda’s smallest park and another place to track endangered mountain Gorilla’s. It’s an extension of the Virunga Mountains in Congo D.R.C located extreme south western Uganda. The distinct extinct volcanoes make it a unique and spectacular tourist destination. The park is also a home to the endangered Golden monkey, 184 bird species recorded, 76 mammal species and the Batwa pygmies as the indigenous people with an amazing culture.
Size:33.7sq.kms and Altitude:2227m – 4127m above sea level.
This is the most exciting and unforgettable experience, which might take one through a thick jungle. The tourists group (The Nyakagezi group) consists of 9 members; 2 silver backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. (Tracking can take three to eight hours).
This is about 800meters from the park gate. Once you on top, you will have a good view of the park and the surrounding area.
Birding along the edge of the park is available on request. The guides are happy to take you out from 5-6p.m. bulamu’s guide will take you through a wetland area where Ibis, Whydah, Speckled, mouse bird, and fire finch are found. Stonechart, grey-capped warbler, waxbills and yellow-vented bulbul are always seen around the campground.
SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
This lies extreme west of Uganda in the Semuliki valley situated in the Albertine rift. It’s dominated by the extension of the Ituri forest in Congo D.R.C. and is an area of interest to mostly birdwatchers being the only lowland tropical forest in East Africa hosting 441 bird species(including rare shoebill stork) though there is game to watch. Its splendid Sempaya hot springs, Pygmy community and wildlife abundance in Semuliki valley wildlife reserve make it yet a tourist destination to visit. The park is a habitat to 53 mammal species including the fanged deer, pygmy Antelopes and two flying Squirrel species
Size: 220 sq.kms and Altitude: 670m – 760m above sea level.
Birding in Semuliki
Birders who make it to Semuliki will be rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding. Sempaya and Ntandi provide excellent viewing of the birds including the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos. The area around Kirumia River is another top birding spot. The shoebill stork is regularly seen at close quarters on Lake Albert and forest walks are good for tracking water birds.
The Batwa’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle means they have always been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools, though this is beginning to change as a result of interaction with other local communities.
Tourism offers an alternative source of income for the Batwa, and gives them the opportunity to maintain and display their rich cultural history through music and dance performances at Ntandi. They also produce intricate handcrafts for sale.
A boma, or cultural village, is currently being built so that the Batwa can demonstrate how they used to live in the forest.
Game Drives in Semuliki
Three tracks cross the savannah grassland of Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Smaller forest and larger savannah elephants are regularly seen, along with buffalo, water buck, crocodile, warthog and Uganda kob. With luck, you may even see pygmy hippopotami, leopards and elusive bushbabies. Game drives in the Wildlife Reserve can take place in the morning, afternoon and at night; after dark, visitors may come across curious nocturnal species such as the white-tailed mongoose.
Hiking and Nature Walks in Semuliki
The 13km KirumiaTrail runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. This 8 hour round trip starts at 8am and is perfect for birders.The 11km Red Monkey Track follows the park’s eastern border – a stronghold of the rare deBrazza’s monkey – to the Semliki River.
Along the 8km Sempaya Nature Trail, you can view the hot springs and primates. This 2-4 hour hike can take place in the morning or afternoon.
Hot Springs in Semuliki
The hour-long trail to the outer, “male” spring leads through a patch of forest where red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys are common. A tree house en route provides an aerial view.
A 30-minute hike through palm forest from the main road leads to the inner, “female” spring, dominated by a boiling geyser. Eggs and matooke (green plantain) can be cooked in these boiling waters and enjoyed by hungry hikers!
RWENZORI NATIONAL PARK
The Rwenzori Mountains are Africa’s tallest snow capped block mountain range locate in western Uganda within the Albertine rift. They harbor over a 120km long mountain ranges with some of the world’s distinct vegetation, 217 bird species that include 19 AlbertineRiftendemics and 70 mammal species. They are believed to be the most challenging to hikers in Africa and are a top mountaineering destination in the world with 3 high points of Mount Stanley, Speke and Baker though Mount Stanley’s Margherita Peak is the highest. This mountain separates Uganda. From Congo, D.R.C Size: 996 sq.Kms and Altitude: 5109m above sea level.
This mountain is known for its un-engineered, steep and slippery trials and frequent rain. Rainfall and cold temperatures, bogs, mud, stiff terrain and high altitude make it a challenging trip. Nevertheless it’s exciting! You should need to try it! Since during much of the year mud, Rain, Mist and wind occur daily, adequate clothing (and a mental altitude!) for these conditions are a must. The periods of July-August and December-February are relatively dry and for inexperienced hikers are the best seasons for a trek.
During any season, rain gear, good sleeping bags, warm hat, gloves, heavy shocks, gumboots, gaiters and a walking steak for balance (and to probe the mud) are recommended. A basic first Aid kit is a necessity.
Porters will be carrying your heavy equipments and food, leaving a small pack with rain gear, warm cloths (on higher sections), cameras, water bottle, snacks and lunch. Purchase your own food (in Kasese or Kampala). Rwenzori Mountaineering Service (RMS) can provide cooking utensils and cooks.
There are over 20 lakes in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The lowest and most accessible is Lake Mahoma (2,651m) in the bird-rich forest of the Central Circuit. The beautiful Lake Bujuku lies at the head of the deep, glacier carved Bujuku valley in the shadow of Mounts Stanley, Baker and Speke. In the Nyamwamba Valley, ascended by the Kilembe Trail, dams created by glacial moraine have created a string of eight delightful lakes. Several rivers and streams originate from the mountain forming lifelines for the flore and flora in the flood plains and supporting local communities.
Birding in Rwenzori Mountains
Birding opportunities are greatest in the montane forest. Bee-eaters, robins, sunbirds and barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Other species to watch out for include the RwenzoriTuraco and Long-eared Owl; while higher up on the slopes, Bearded Vultures, Swifts and Black Eagles may be seen circling for prey.
Cultural Encounters in Rwenzori Mountains
Discover the peaceful farming village of Ruboni, home to around 2,000 Bakonzo, in the foothills of the Rwenzoris. Walk with the villagers as they demonstrate their daily activities, from tending to their animals and crops to preparing meals with the freshest ingredients. Meet the blacksmith, traditional healer, basket weavers and storytellers, and enjoy a vibrant dance performance accompanied by lively drumming.
Alternatively, your guide will lead you along the rocky Mubuku River. Ruboni means clear water in the local language of Lukonzo, and you will follow this crystal-clear stream, passing villagers carrying crops and wood. As the trail winds upwards, your guide will point out many colorful native birds such as the RwenzoriTuraco, tiny sunbirds and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters. There are also chameleons, squirrels and vervet monkeys.
Look out for Baker and Portal Peaks rising above the forests
The tiny village of Mihunga faces the craggy, snow-capped peaks of Rwenzori Mountains. The Bakonzo tribe has lived here for over 300 years with no electricity or running water, and this community has adapted its way of life to the climate and steep green hillsides of the Rwenzori foothills.
Mihunga‘s community tourism group, Turaco View, takes visitors on a cultural tour of the village. This includes a demonstration by a traditional healer, whose herb-based concoctions are believed to cure many ailments. There is also a trip to the village school, a crafts demonstration and a lively dance performance.
Visitors can also choose to walk with a local guide through the surrounding forests. They may be lucky enough to spot brightly colored turacos in the forest canopy. The expert guides will be able to point out other species such as bee-eaters, sunbirds and playful black-and-white colobus monkey.
Walk with Bakonzo villagers through their homesteads in the foothills of the Rwenzoris as they demonstrate their daily activities, from tending to their animals and crops, to preparing meals with the freshest ingredients. See cultural dances, traditional costumes and hear their fascinating folklore.
Hiking and Nature Walks in Rwenzori Mountains
The park provides opportunity for nature walks within the central circuit zone. These include trails up to Lake Mahooma and Buraro chimp forest; walks through the communities of Kichamba to reach the Karangura ridge; and hiking to Bundibugo area through Bwamba pass.
The communities of Ruboni and Turaco View also offer guided forest walks of various lengths just outside the park. Visitors can follow the River Mubuku, and glimpse views of Baker and Portal Peaks as they hike up to 2,300m above sea level. On a clear day it is even possible to view the snow cappedMargherita Peak – a truly spectacular sight. Along the way, keep an eye out for chameleons, squirrels, vervet monkeys and many birds.
Bwamba Pass: Before a road was built in 1938 to link Fort Portal with the remote town of Bundibugyo, local people followed the most direct route between these settlements – a tough, 1,500m high trek over the steep north Rwenzori ridge, known as the Bwamba Pass. The AbanyaRwenzori community group leads visitors over the mountain through isolated mountain villages to visit the bamboo forest and enjoy superb rift valley views.
Mountain Climbing in Rwenzori Mountains
The Central Circuit Trail: This challenging, seven-day climb provides a circular tour of the high Rwenzori. From the trailhead at Mihunga, the route ascends the Bujuku Valley via Nyabitaba for acclimatization before reaching the peaks. Clients joining the Central Circuit after Bujuku will traverse the Scott Elliot and Freshfield passes to descend through the Mubuku Valley. Climbers can scale the snow peaks though many consider the exceptional scenery ample reward for their exertions.
Kilembe Trail: The recently reopened Kilembe Trail ascends the southern slopes of the Rwenzori from a trailhead at Kilembe near the town of Kasese. The route along the lovely Nyamwamba Valley passes glacial lakes and some stunning viewpoints before joining the Central Circuit at Lake Kitandara. The standard route scales Mount Baker though the scenery makes shorter treks rewarding enough.
MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Located in Eastern Uganda and neighboring Kenya, this extinct volcano was once Africa’s tallest mountain. It’s the largest volcanic base in the world and oldest volcanic mountain in East Africa. The park harbors 300 bird species including 40 restricted range species and a number of mammal species. Its caves are ideal for overnight expeditions whereas flora and fauna with moorlands reveal a splendid untouched wilderness that attracts any hiker compared to other mountains.
Size: 1121 sq.kms and Altitude: 4321m above sea level.
Visiting Mt. Elgon National Park presents an exciting setting for extended hikes, interesting and unique flora and fauna, magnificent waterfalls, enormous caves, scenic peaks, gorges and hot springs, which bubble up at 48?c. The best times to visit are during the drier seasons from June to August and December to March. No technical climbing equipment or skills are required, as all major peaks are accessible.
Mount Elgon’s slopes are riddled with caves left by moving lava and erosion of soft volcanic deposits. The most accessible are Kapkwai Cave, near the Forest Exploration Centre, and Khauka Cave on Wanale Ridge. Historically, such features acted as shelters for locals and their livestock; later on they provided manure in the form of bat droppings. More recently, they were used by climbers and their porters, and even today, campsites are still located at Hunters Cave, Siyo Cave (near the hot springs), Mude Cave and Tutum Cave – ideal for overnight expeditions.
The Park supports a variety of wildlife including rock and tree hyraxes, elephant, buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hog, bush pig, leopard, civet and serval cats, serval cats, spotted hyena; aardvark and several rodent species. However these animals are rarely observed in the forest setting. More commonly seen creatures are the black-and-white colobus; baboons; red tailed, vervet, De Brazza’s and blue monkeys; duiker and tree squirrel.
The mountain is home to 300 birds including 40 restricted range species. 56 of the 87 Afrotropical highland biome species live here, notably the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird and Alpine Chat.
Birds whose Ugandan range is limited to Mount Elgon include the Jackson’s Francolin and Black-collared Apalis. Among those limited to just a few mountains in eastern Uganda are the Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze Sunbird. Mount Elgon is one of the few places in Uganda where the endangered Lammergeyer can be seen, soaring above the caldera and Suam Gorge.
The northern and western sides of Mount Elgon rise in a series of massive basalt cliffs, often several kilometres in length, over which the mountain’s rivers plunge as beautiful waterfalls. The best known are the three waterfalls at Sipi on the Kapchorwa road, just outside the park. The lowest of these falls is the most spectacular as it cascades over a 100m cliff. The second, known as Simba, plunges 69m over the entrance to a cave. Visitors can stand in the cave and enjoy a view of the back of the falls. The third waterfall, also known as Ngasire, gushes over an 87m high ridge. Sipi Falls is less than an hour’s drive from Mbale on a paved road.
Easily accessible waterfalls are also found at Sisiyi, Bulago, Chebonet and Wanale and many more are scattered across the mountain, offering spectacular views.