Located in the heart of the African continent, Uganda is that ideal place that offers a true African safari experience. The breathtaking landscapes, diversity of riveting cultures, friendliest and warmest people, unsurpassed wildlife viewing experiences and wide array of animals and birds make Uganda difficult to be ignored. Dubbed the “Pearl of Africa” by Sir Winston Churchill in 1909, this country is just magical with once in a lifetime opportunity of exploring world-class natural attractions while escaping the masses experienced in neighboring countries, especially Tanzania and Kenya.
Uganda hold safari lovers dearly! The country is one of the best places for big game safaris in Africa. Travelers are easily overwhelmed by the country’s ten spectacular and well-protected national Parks, given its iconic status. It is one of the best birding destinations in Africa (sheltering about 1084 bird species-about half the species in the Continent and 11% of the entire confirmed Bird species in the World). It is also the best gorilla trekking destination in the World hosting almost half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. It also offers a plethora of thrilling activities that will blow your mind such as mountaineering, chimpanzee trekking, sport fishing, and cultural tours, adrenaline activities (whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, quad biking and zip lining among others).
To whittle down your choices, we bring you the five best secluded National Parks in Uganda to help you discover the true beauty of Africa on a Uganda safari and these include;
1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park brings out the true meaning of seclusion, even with its small size (331 square kilometers), because what it offers cannot be found in the famous parks elsewhere in Africa. This park is of much significance to the protection of endangered mountain gorillas with about half the World’s total population of these Giant Apes calling the impenetrable forest home.
Nestled at the brim of the Rift Valley in south-western Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 as part of the Global conservation effort to save the beautiful Giant Apes from extinction and 3 years later, the Park received its first gorilla trekkers.
Besides mountain gorillas, Bwindi is teeming with other outstanding animals that include over 120 species of mammals (highest ever recorded in the country). There are also over 350 species of birds including endemic birds that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. The park protects about 300 butterfly species, 50 species of reptiles and about 27 Amphibian species.
For those who love adventure, Bwindi is an ideal place for gorilla trekking, the top adventure that pulls tourists to Uganda. You can also do guided forest walks, bird watching, mountain biking and more.
The surrounding communities of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are also worth visiting during your safari.
2. Kidepo Valley National Park
The remote and semi-arid Kidepo Valley National Park is found in the extreme north-eastern corner of the country. It lies in the semi arid area and it is so far the most secluded park in Uganda. Despite its far location, the park hosts some of the Continent’s most sought-after animals as well as featuring spectacular sceneries. This beautiful National Park’s vast savannah plains cover an area of 1442 square kilometers. Two River Valleys; Narus and Kidepo separate the savanna plains.
Kidepo Valley National Park shelters over 77 mammal species that include the rare cheetahs, side-striped jackals, caracals, African wild dogs etc. Common animals to see in the park include elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards, and Cape Buffaloes. Over 475 bird species are found in the park including Ostriches.
The park can be best explored with 4WD safari vehicles given the dirt roads that literally become impassable during wet seasons.
3. Semuliki National Park
For travelers interested in having the exceptional taste of Central Africa without necessarily leaving the borders of Uganda, the isolated Semliki National Park offers it all. Established in 1993, it is one of the newest Parks in the country and is nestled on a vast and flat valley to the western side of Rwenzori Mountains and the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.
It lies at the junction of several climatic and ecological zones. If you are talking geological dynamics, the Park is actually the eastern boundary of the vast and ancient Ituri forest on the Congo River basin.
The park host a high density of plant and aminal species. Besides featuring one of the few African rainforests that have survived the last Ice Age, Semliki National Park is notable for sheltering over 53 mammal species, about 441 species of birds within its 220-square kilometer boundaries. Visitors to this Park are treated to unforgettable game viewing experiences, birding tours, guided walks through some of the trails that include the 13-kilometer Kirumia Trail and many others.
4. Kibale Forest National Park
Most travellers know Kibale Forest National Park as the primate capital of the world. This tropical rain forest offers world-class chimpanzee trekking experience to travelers who would like to see man’s closest relatives. The park is home to thirteen different primate species including both nocturnal and diurnal species.
Did you know that Kibale Forest has a diversity of habitats? This 795-square kilometer Park is contiguous with the spectacular Queen Elizabeth National Park in addition to featuring montane and lowland forests. These exceptional ecosystems are haven to about 300 species of trees, 50 terrestrial mammal species and about 350 species of birds.
In addition to chimpanzee watching, visitors are treated to rewarding birding tours, guided forest walks, cultural tours and a chance to explore the nearby Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
5. Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Established in 1991, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is another secluded National Park in Uganda and sprawls for about 1000 square kilometers within the western side of the country.
This Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its rich mountain flora diversity in addition to the threatened snow-capped peaks. Visitors that climb to the peaks of this remote Mountain are served with breathtaking views of Queen Elizabeth Park as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nicknamed the “Mountains of the Moon”, Rwenzori Mountains offer world-class mountaineering and hiking experiences that involve traversing lake-filled valleys, Alpine meadows and glacier. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park shelters over 70 species of mammals and about 200 species of birds.
Visiting the above five national parks is a splendid experience unmatched anywhere in East Africa. However putting together an itinerary featuring these five national parks is sometimes tricky. The sparse location of Kidepo valley national park often forces it to be over-looked even though it is the most recommended savannah national park in Uganda. But with the help of local experienced trip planner in Uganda; visiting these five national parks will turn out to be a trip of a lifetime.