Uganda National Parks
Lying in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province on the far northern border with the Sudan, Kidepo Valley is Uganda’s most remote national park. Few undertake the pilgrimage to the park but the spectacular beauty of this pristine wilderness impresses all that make it. For the visiting birder, Kidepo Valley National Park boasts a bird list of over 475 species, a total second only to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Amongst the host of dry, eastern “specials” not found in any other Ugandan national park are some of East Africa’s rarest and most sought after birds such as Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis.
The Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking the swallow, southern Narus Valley is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding. The attractive Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as do a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. A small permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Location:South Western Uganda, bordering Rwanda and Congo, 14 km from Kisoro.
Size: 33 square kilometres.
Altitude Range:2227 metres – 4127 metres.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District.
The fabled “Mountains of The Moon” lie in Western Uganda on the Congolese border, with snow-covered, equatorial peaks rising to height of 5110 m and lower slopes blanketed in moorland and rich montane forest. Most of the park is accessible to hikers with magnificent scenery and 19 Albertine Rift endemics, amongst them;
Rwenzori Turaco and Shelley’s Crimsonwing, would be ample reward for the intrepid, backpacking birder.
The Rwenzori Mountains have been selected as one of the
World’s Best Hikes by National Geographic!
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ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS
ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS
Districts : South Western Uganda, on the edge of the western rift valley, shared by Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro Districts.
Size : 996 Km-Sq.
Elevation : 1700 metres to 5109 metres atop Margherita peak on Mount Stanley.
Habitat : Montane forest with bamboo ( Arundinaria ) on lower slopes, heath and Afro-alpine moorland on higher slopes.
Status : National Park since 1991.
Timing : January – February and July – August are the driest months but rain is possible year round.
Time required : 3 days for the shorter foothill hike and 6-7 days for the usual mountain loop.
Birds Recorded : 195 species.
Situated in a remote corner of southwestern Uganda, Semliki National Park protects an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest and forms part of a forest continuum that stretches across the Democratic Republic Of Congo to the Zaire River. Being a relatively stable forest “refugium” during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, this is one of the richest areas for forest birds in Africa. A large number of predominantly Central African species reach the eastern limit of their distribution here and cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa. These include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Nkulengu Rail, Black-wattled Hornbill and Lyre-tailed Honey guide . Although it lies a bumpy three hours’ drive from Fort Portal, birders who take Uganda safaris , Semliki National Park will be richly rewarded with some of the very best forest birding in Uganda.
Common species in this area are:- Spot-breasted Ibis, Hartlaubs’s Duck, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Forest Francolin, Nkulengu Rail, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Black-collared Lovebird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Bates’ Nightjar, Chocolate-backed, White-bellied and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crested, Black Dwarf, Red-billed Dwarf, Piping and Black-wattled Hornbills, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Spotted, Lyre-tailed and Zenker’s Honeyguides, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Red-sided Broadbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Sassi’s Olive, Xavier’s, Swamp, Simple and Eastern Bearded Greenbuls, Yellow-throated Nicator, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Forest and Grey Ground Thrushes, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Red-billed Helmet -Shrike, Red-eyed Puff-back, Black-winged Starling, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-bellied Malimbes, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Negro finches, Grant’s Bluebill.
120 species of mammals including 7 diurnal primates and about 30 elephants. There are about 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines, shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.
GORILLA SAFARIS / GORILLA TRACKING
The Mountain Gorillas are undoubtedly Bwindi’s major tourist attraction, where they have been habituated since April 1993. There are now four different groups that can be visited:
Mubare group (16 gorillas; 1 silverback )
Habinyanja group (23 gorillas; 2 silverbacks)
Rushegura group (9 gorillas; 1 silverback)
Nkuring group (20 gorillas; 2 silverbacks)
Eight permits per day are sold for each of these groups at UWA Headquarters in Kampala. Book at least 4 months (but not more than one year ) in advance to ensure that requested dates are available.