This is the smallest Uganda national park at just 34 sq-km which punches well above its weight with an altitude of 2300 to 4127m a.s.l. Tucked away in the far southwest corner of the country, the tropical  rainforest cloaks three dramatic extinct Volcanoes and, along with the contiguous Parc National Des Volcans in Rwanda and Parc National Des  Virungas in the DRC( which together with Mgahinga forms the 434 sq-km Virunga Conservation Area), this is  the home of half the worlds mountain gorilla population. Elephants, Buffaloes and Serval are rarely seen, but they’re also out there.

ACTIVITIES

Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla Tracking is still the main attraction here, but it’s less popular than Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, due to only one Habituated family having atendency to duck across the mountains into Rwanda or the DRC but there’s much more on offer here than just gorillas. Mgahinga also serves up some challenging but rewarding treks and an interesting cave, plus Golden monkey tracking is almost as fun as hanging out with the big boys and other wildlife include Buffalo, Stripped Weasel, Boehm’s and  Ruwenzori Sun Squirrel, Side-stripped Jackal, Honey Badger and Servel Cat.

Birding in Mgahinga

Although scenically very rewarding with at least 115 Bird species, it’s not necessary to climb to the top of the Volcanoes to see the specialties of the park. Most of the avian attraction may be found on the excellent gorge trail, which loops half way up Mt Sabinyo, traverses a variety of montane habitats and takes 3-4 hours to complete. From Ntebeko camp, the trail winds up through former Farmland where the regenerating vegetation has a semi-natural heath character.

Ruwenzori Turaco, Dusky Turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Brown crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, and Black headed waxbill, Streaky Seedeater, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Scarlet-tufted malachite Sunbird, Striped-breasted Tit, White-starred Robin, Lagden’s Bush-shrike, African Hill Warbler, Dusky Crimsonwing, Regal Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Buff spotted Flufftail, Chestnut-throated and Collared Apalises, White tailed blue Flycatcher  and Montane Sooty Boubou, Chubb’s Cisticola and Doherty’s Bush-shrike.

Home to almost half of the world’s serviving mountain Gorillas, the world Heritage-listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Africa’s most famous national parks. Set over 331-sq-km of improbably steep mountain rainforest, the park is home to an estimated 360 gorillas: undoubtedly Uganda’s biggest tourist draw card.  The impenetrable forest, as it’s also known, is one of Africa’s most ancient habitats, since it thrived right through the last Ice Age (12,000 to 18,000 years ago) when most of Africa’s other forests disappeared. Along with the altitude span (1160m to 2607m) this antiquity has resulted in an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, even by normal rainforest standards. And we do mean rainforest; up to 2.5metres of rain falls here annually.

Its 120 species of mammal is more than any of Uganda’s other national parks though sightings are less common because of the dense forest. Lucky visitors might see forest Elephants 11 species of primate (including Chimpanzees, Blue, Red tailed Guereza Colobus and L’hoest monkeys), duiker, bushbuck, African Golden Cats and the rare Giant forest Hog.

ACTIVITIES

Gorilla Tracking

 A genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience, hanging out with mountain gorillas is one of the most thrilling wildlife encounters in the world, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best places to see them. Trips leave (from the park office nearest the group you’ll be tracking) at 8:00am daily, but should report to park offices at 7:30am.  Once you finally join a tracking group’ the chances of finding the Gorillas are almost guaranteed. But, since the terrain in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Mountainous and heavily forested.  Walking sticks are also a very good idea and provided by UWA.

Of the 28 Gorilla groups living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Varying from families of 5 to 27 individuals) nine have been habituated to be visited by tourists with permits issued for the following regions, Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. NATURE WALKS; Even if you can’t afford Gorilla tracking, Bwindi is rewarding park to visit just for a chance to explore the lush virgin rainforest. Several three to four hours nature walks penetrate the impenetrable forest around Buhoma.

Birding in Bwindi

Bwindi Impeneratrable National Park offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder visiting Uganda. Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift Endemics, Including Spectacular, and globally threatened species.   The forest lies in rugged Kigezi Highlands of Southwester Uganda, protecting acintinuum of forest that ranges from montane to lowland areas Including; Ruhija is situated at an altitude of 2300m, which is likely to be one of the highlights of any trip to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings, the bamboo zoon (2525m a.s.l) is reached about 5km from the park offices and it offers the best chance of finding the Handsome Francolin while on the track. Buhoma lie in the valley of Munyaga rive at 1550m a.s.l, flanked to the south by steep, forest hills. Excellent forest birding, not least the prospect of numerous rare and localized Albertine Rift endemics make this a true birding Mecca.

 Key species include;

 African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s  Crimson wing, Carruther’s Cisticola, Red throated Alethe, Archers Robin Chat, Kivu ground thrush, Montane masked Apalis, Collared Apalis, Grauers warbler, Short tailed Warbler, Red faced woodland Warbler, Yellow eyed black Flycatcher, Ruwenzori Batis, Strange Weaver, Western Bronze napped pigeon, Dusky and Olive long tailed cuckoos, Frasers Eagle Owl, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Bar tailed Tragon, Black bee-eater, Willcock’s honey guide , Fine banded and Elliot’s Woodpecker, Grey chested  and Mountain Illadopses, White bellied Robin chat, Forest Ground Thrush, Banded Prinia, Black faced Rufous warbler, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Many collared Bush shrike, Brown capped Weaver, White collared Olive Back, Red fronted Antpecker, Oriole- Finch, African Swooty Flycatcher, Equatorial Akalat, Red-tailed Bristle bill, Narrow tailed Starling, Dusky Tit, Pettit’s Cuckoo shrike, Olive Green Camaroptera.

The Semuliki Valley is a little corner of Congo poking into Uganda at an altitude of 670m to 760m a.s.l. The only tropical lowland rainforest in East Africa is continuation of the huge Ituri Forest in the DRC and forms a link between the heights of East Africa and the Vast, steaming jungles of central Africa. The views on the descent into the valley from Fort Portal are breathtaking. The National Park covers 220 sq-km of the valley floor and harbors some intriguing wildlife.

SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES

There are nine primate species, including De Brazza’s monkey, Olive Baboon, Red tailed monkeys, Vervet monkey, Blue (Gentle) monkey and Chimpanzees, and many mammals not found elsewhere in Uganda, such as Zenker’s Flying mice. Residents’ elephants, buffaloes, Bush pigs, Harvey’s Duiker, Bush buck and Giant forest Hog.

Semuliki Hot Spring

People come here to see the steamy sulphur hot springs, which, while not on the same scale as Rotorua (New Zealand) and Iceland, make for an impressive and unexpected sight nevertheless. The female hot spring is the more accessible of the two, and where women from Bumaga clan would make sacrifices to the gods before bathing naked in the natural springs. Its steamy, soupy atmosphere has a distinct prehistoric feel, and features a small burbling Geyser. Your guide will demonstrate the water’s temperatures by boiling an egg-available from the information office at a cost though with stench of sulphur it’s probably the last thing you feel like eating. The male spring a half an hour walk, is where the men carried out their sacrificial rituals and is accessed via a muddy forest trail with plenty of primates and bird life along the way. It leads to a verdant clearing of swamp where boardwalk passes through sweeping grass and squawking frogs to the hot spring located in a 12m pool.

Bird Watching

Birdwatchers come to Semuliki National Park for the central African species, such as Congo Serpent Eagle residing at their eastern limits. At least 133 of the 144 Guinea-Congo forest species have been recorded here and nearly 50 species are found nowhere else in east Africa. Key species here include Spot-breasted Ibis, Hartlaub’s Duck, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Red-thighed sparrow hawk, 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 bellied Dwarf, Piping, Black-wattled Hornbills, Green tailed Bristalbill, Fire-crested or Brown Chested Alethes, White or Red tailed Ant Thrushes, Jameson’s wattle- eye, Grants Bluebill, White throated, Xavier’s and Red tailed Greenbuls, Grey headed sunbird and Crested Malimbe, Red eyed puff buck, Red bellied and Blue-billed Malimbes, Red –fronted Antpecker and Chestnut-breasted Nigrofinch.

Twa (Batwa) Village

Located  outside  the park in Bundumusoli , the Twa people were relocated here when the park was established and, with no other choice, have since adopted  agriculture , but they’re keeping hold of their traditions as best as possible . The park allows them to collect rattan, leaves, mushrooms, medicines and other forest products. Village visits are arranged at the Office of the King of Batwa in Ntandi, 5km past the Sempaya Gate; the Village is another 2km away and Tours include singing and dancing.

Kibale is the lush tropical rainforest believed to have the highest density of primates in Africa; this 795-sq-km national park is home to 13 primate species, including the rare Red Colobus and L’hoest’s Monkey. The stars of the show are the chimpanzees, three communities of which have been habituated to human contact. Larger but rarely seen residents include Bushbuck, Bush pigs, sitatunga, Buffalos Leopard, Forest Duikers and forest elephants. While on the smaller side, kibale also has a greatest bird list of about 375 species and there are also an incredible 250 species of butterfly that live here.

ACTIVITIES

Chimpanzee Tracking

Chimpanzee tracking is done twice in a day at 8:00am and 2:00pm with around a 80% chance of finding them on any particular day; kibale forest national park is undoubtedly the most popular place to track chimpanzees in Uganda and also other primates you will encounter in the trails or along the main road include Red Colobus, Grey cheecked Mangabey, L’hoest, Red tailed, Black and white colobus, Vervet, Olive Baboon and Blue Monkey.  Children aged 12 and under aren’t permitted.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

 Regular trackers just get one hour with the playful primates, but those on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience can spend the whole day with them. If you want to join the experience, you must spend a night before near the park since you head out to the nests around 5:30am before they come out since you have to follow them.

Bird Watching

Kibale Forest National Park offers excellent birding; the forest section (77%) of the park is covered by medium altitude moist evergreen forest in the north and medium altitude moist semi-deciduous forest at lower altitudes in the south. The remaining 23%consists of grassland, swamps and some plantations with exotic conifers. Keys here include Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Fluff tail, white naped Pigeon, Green Breasted Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey throated Flycatcher, White-Bellied –Crested Flycatcher, Masked and Black Capped Apalises, Uganda woodland Warbler, Chestnut winged –Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny sunbird, Grey headed Olive-back, Hairy breasted and Yellow billed Barbets, Thick billed, Willcocks’s and Cassin’s Honey guides.

 

Bigodi Swamp Walk

Bigodi wetland Sanctuary; It is located 6km south of the kibale forest national park visitor centre at Kanyancu. Bigodi was established by the local development organization.  Kibale Association for Rural and Environment Development. (KAFRED) to protect the 4-sq-km Magombe Swamp. It’s a home of around 200 species of birds, as well as butterflies and 8 different species of primates.