Top Attractions in Uganda
The Impenetrable Forest of Biwindi
The Impenetrable Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1942, upgraded to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992 and recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1994. In the local Lukiga language, Bwindi actually means 'Impenetrable.' This double warning is apt, for Bwindi is all but impenetrable; 327km2 of tangled vegetation draped over a deeply fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys and high, draughty ridges. But if the terrain is far from easy to negotiate, it is well worth the effort. A trek
through this, one of Africa's most ancient rainforests, in search of the endangered mountain gorilla, ranks among the world's premier wildlife encounters.
Bwindi can be cold especially in the morning and at night. The annual average temperature range is 7°C - 20°C with the coldest period being June and July. Warm clothing is required, plus wet weather gear since Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain/ year. This is concentrated during two wet seasons, short rains in March-May and heavy rains in September-November. Instead of short tropical deluges, rain in Bwindi often falls as long hours of soft drizzle.
The Murchinson Falls
The Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the bulky Bunyoro escarpment merges into the vast plains of Acholiland. One of Uganda's oldest conservation areas, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 to protect a savannah that Winston Churchill described in 1907 as 'Kew Gardens and the zoo combined on an unlimited
scale’. Murchison Falls has received many notable foreign visitors. In 1907, Winston Churchill hiked, boated and bicycled up the Nile corridor to the Falls.
He was followed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 during a hunting safari that cost, by today's prices, a phenomenal US$1.8m!
Murchison Falls National Park
In 1951, the Falls provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's famous movie, The African Queen which was filmed on location along the Murchison Nile and on Lake Albert. British
royals have also visited Murchison, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959.
The least happy celebrity visitor was Ernest Hemingway in 1 954 who literally dropped in. His
intention was simply to overfly the waterfall but his plane clipped an old telegraph wire strung across the gorge and cartwheeled into the riverine forest.
Hemingway and his wife were rescued and taken to Butiaba where their rescue plane crashed on take-off. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which first races down 80km of white-water rapids before plunging 40m over the remnant rift valley wall at Murchison Falls, the centrepiece of the park.
This waterfall was named in 1864 by the explorer Samuel Baker who considered it 'the most
important object through the entire course of the river.' The Falls drains the last of the river's energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor for 55km to Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda's most memorable wildlife spectacles.
Regular visitors include elephant, giraffe and buffalo while hippopotamus and Nile crocodile are
permanent residents. The park covers 3,893km2 and is Uganda's largest protected area. Today it is part of the even larger Murchison Falls Protected Area (5,072km2) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves.
The Albert Nile corridor is Uganda's lowest area (612m at Delta Point) and temperatures can be hot with a mean maximum of 29°C. The hottest times are mid-December to mid-February and June-July, tempered by rainy seasons in April and November.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The 1978km2 Queen Elizabeth National Park enjoys a stunning location on the rift valley floor between Lakes Edward and George where a mosaic of habitats supports 95 mammal species and a remarkable
612 species of birds. Forty years ago, Douglas Willocks described the diverse features that led to its creation in 1952. There still exists no better introduction or a more enticing invitation to visit the park.
Scenically the area had everything. Thirty miles to the north, the blue Rwenzori exploded from the plain, a composite, jagged mass of mountains, sixty miles long and forty wide and looking in certain lights as if you could reach out and touch them. Across Lake Edward to the west, the Mitumbe hills stood sentinel on the Congo, blue too in the long sight but in the closer green, wooded, precipitous, unfriendly and epitomising darkest Africa.
The eastern boundary of this possible park was marked by the calm green escarpment of the western Rift Valley. And between all the hills, mountains and lakes was endless savannah, its constantly repeated motif the branched cactus arms of the candelabra euphorbia tree.'
The park forms part of an extensive system of contiguous protected areas, namely the Kigezi (265km2) and Kyambura (154km2) Wildlife Reserves, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Kibale National Park (766km2) and, in neighbouring DRC, the 2000km2 Virunga National Park. Rwenzori Mountains National Park lies a few kilometres north.
The dramatic scenery is largely due to mountains beyond the park boundary. The park itself lies on the
rift valley floor where it rises 480m from 91 Om at the Kazinga Channel to 1390m in the Explosion Crater field. The low altitude and its location directly on the equator mean that temperatures can be warm, rising from a mean minimum of 18°C to a mean maximum of 28°C. The park receives up to 1250mm of rain, mostly during March - May and September - November.
Kibale Forest National Park
The 795km2 Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. This is home to a host of forest wildlife, most famously 13 species of primate including
chimpanzee. Forest cover predominates in the northern and central parts of the park on the elevated Fort Portal plateau. Kibale is highest at the park's northern tip which stands 1590m above sea level. Northern Kibale is also the wettest area, receiving a mean annual rainfall of up to 1700mm, mostly during March-May and September-November. The climate is generally pleasant with a mean
annual temperature range of 14-27oC.
Temperatures are highest (and rainfall lower) in the south where the terrain drops down onto the hot rift valley floor and forest gives way to open grassland.
Southern Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park and together these protected areas maintain a 180km-long migration corridor for wildlife which extends from Ishasha, the remote southern
sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, to the Sebitoli forest in the north of Kibale. The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda's most rewarding areas to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil NdaliKasenda crater area and within a half day's drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks and the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Lake Mburo National Park is one of the exciting and dramatic park in Uganda, comfortably located close to the western highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. Even if the park is just about 370km2 in size, its landscape are varied and even a short drive is alive with interest as
well as colour. Furthermore you will pass gallery forest, open savannah as well as acacia woodland, rick kopjes, seasonal and permanent swamps, and open water, while you search for the wealth of wildlife they support. these in most cases include species such as impala as well as Burchell's zebra
Gorilla trekking is perhaps the most adventurous tourist activity in Uganda. Ist an experience , so unforgettable as you meet these gentle giants, the mountain gorillas.
Uganda is one of the few countries where you can see the mountain gorillas. With half the population of these living in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park, UTA encourages conservation efforts for these endangered species.
Gorilla Tour Preparation.
In order to track the mountain gorillas, you need a gorilla permit which is only issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Please note that only 8 people per day are allowed to trek and its for this reason that you are advised to book your permit at least 3 months in advance. A permit costs USD 500 per person per day and this can be arranged by the various Uganda tour operators listed on this
Gorilla Trekking Rules
Before departing on your gorilla safari:
1) A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
2) Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas:
1) Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
2) DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back
out with you.
3) You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla's trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla's nesting sites along the way!
4) When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
When you are with the gorillas:
1) A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
2) You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
3) Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
4) Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
5) Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
6) Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
7) Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
8) The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
9) After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 metres away from the gorillas.
General health rules:
Remember mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
1) Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
2) If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
3) If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
4) Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
5) Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbour diseases or other contaminants.
6) If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cms deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What to bring on this safari to Uganda
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend to use films of 400-800 ASA.