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Uganda National Parks
Uganda’s wildlife is concentrated in its protected areas, categorized as
These areas are Conserved and managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) under the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry and the Uganda Forestry Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Uganda has 10 established National Parks where you can enjoy the African wilderness.
Murchison falls national park
The largest National Park in Uganda covering approximately 3,877 sq km and one of the most spectacular in Africa.
At the Murchison Falls, the Nile River plunges through a narrow crevice and over a 40-metre drop.
East of the Murchison Falls within the park, are the Karuma Falls, where the Nile River cascades over a breathtaking 23 km of rapids. The scene creates one of the most exciting white-water rafting opportunities in Africa. Your cruise upstream the Nile to the Falls is would definitely be an unforgettable experience. On the banks of the Nile River you will find prolific wildlife including elephant, crocodile, hippopotamus, lion, giraffe, buffalo, and countless antelopes and birds can be observed.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under the auspices UNESCO. Located in the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, Queen Elizabeth covers approximately 2,056 sq. km. You will find a remarkable variety of ecosystems within the park; from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, Savannah and swamps. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the home of a species including: the famous tree-climbing lion and the Uganda Kob, antelope species, elephants, baboons, hippos, buffalos, chimpanzees and over 500 species of birds.
The park would definitely make you a wonderful Uganda birding Safari.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi is Impenetrable because of its dense ground cover of vines and shrubs. The Park is home to the world famous Mountain Gorillas, of which they are less than 600 still left in the entire world. You will need to reserve a Gorilla Permit at least 3 months in advance as a requirement for tracking these Uganda Gorillas. Bwindi is one of the richest areas for flora in Eastern Africa. The forest is also sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many bird types including some endangered species.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga National Park is yet another haven for the persecuted Mountain Climbing Gorilla. Located on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, in the extreme southwest corner of Uganda, the park has been set aside to provide a secure habitat for these Uganda gorillas. Besides the gorillas, however, you can view other wildlife within the park including the leopard, the giant forest hog, bushbuck, buffalo, and the golden monkey. You will also find the summit of Mount Muhavura with Mgahinga National Park, about 4,127 m high, with a small crater lake.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale rainforest is situated to the north-east of Queen Elizabeth National Park. In addition to forest, you will also find areas of grassland and swamp. The park is popular for its impressively varied primate population. You will find 13 different primate species inhabiting the park including many families of chimpanzees Columbus monkeys, Bushbuck Waterbuck Duiker and Giant. The forest hog may also be seen. You will find the forests and grasslands supporting almost 300 species of bird life and over 140 types of butterfly.
Kidepo National Park
Kidepo National park is located in North Eastern Uganda and covers a good 1,436 sq. km. The park is inhabited by various wildlife including elephants, buffalo lion, leopard cheetah giraffe various antelope species baboon, bushbaby and over 200 species of bird. Two game viewing routes connect the rest camp with the prime wildlife areas near the Winwing River and the rock escarpment to the southwest.
On the park’s northern borders are the Kananorok Hot Springs.
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano located on Uganda’s eastern border. The Mountain boasts of numerous interesting features including gorges ancient caves waterfalls and hot springs.Bird life is abundant on the mountain although various wildlife may also be encountered.
Semuliki National Park
Semuliki is the only park in Uganda composed primarily of tropical lowland forest. The forest is very dense and quite flat, creating a startling contrast to the rugged Rwenzori Mountains nearby. The Semliki River attracts many animals and the park is home to 8 species of primates, 400 birds 300 butterfly species, Elephant, buffalo, leopard, civet, bushbaby and flying squirrels.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is situated between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara. When compared with other parks Lake Mburo is a comparatively small on measuring only 371 sq. km is The park is primarily grassland, wetland and acacia woodland. At the center lies the Lake Mburo, which together with 14 other lakes, forms part of an extensive wetland area. The animals you will find in the park include the Impala Eland, Rock hyrax, Zebra, Waterbuck, Buffalo warthog, leopard, Civet, Hyena, Hippo, and Crocodile. The park has over 357 species of birds including the marabou stock and the crowned crane.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Located on the Western Ugandan border,the mist-shrouded peaks of the Mountains of the Moon give you a stunning backdrop to the magnificent Rwenzori park. In the center of the range, some of the peaks are permanently covered in snow and glaciers, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forests.
The Rwenzori Mountain ranges host the third highest mountain peak in Africa, Mt. Magherita. Magherita rises to approximately 5,100 metres above sea level. You have the opportunity of making a Walking tour in the foothills of the Rwenzoris however, only the experienced and fit should attempt an ascent on the peaks.
The difficulty in climbing these mountains is second to none and only comparable to the Alps. Some of the wildlife to be found in the mountains includes the chimpanzees, the blue monkey, hyrax, the giant forest hog and many unique bird species such as the Rwenzori touraco, the francolin and the olive pigeon.
Uganda People and Culture
Ugandan society is still predominantly rural with 80% of the population living in rural areas. Traditional customs and lifestyles are still alive in many parts of the country, and these can spice up your tourism experience. Ugandans generally have a reputation for openness, and a friendly attitude to visitors.
The customs of various the Ugandan tribes are kept alive by many colourful ceremonies marking specific historical events. Spontaneous dancing and music are typical of life in Uganda and visitors are often welcome to observe these ceremonies. As a courtesy, you should always seek permission before taking photographs. In addition to the rich cultural experiences, you can choose souvenirs from countless local traditional art pieces and handcrafts. These are sold in most villages, along the roadsides, and also at specific tourist curio shops within Kampala.
You also have the opportunity to visit a number of cultural sites. Including Kasubi Royal Tombs, the Official Burial site for Buganda Kings, and a host of other historical sites in many different parts of the country.
Uganda Lakes and Rivers
Uganda has been called a land of lakes because almost one third of the country is covered by water.
Lake Victoria is the largest fresh water in Africa, dominates the southern border of the country.
Lakes Edward and Albert lie to the west.
Linked to Lake Edward is the Kazinga Channel
Lake Mburo, 230 km to the west of Kampala, is the only lake entirely within a National Park.
Lakes Kyoga and Kwania in Center are fed by the waters of the River Nile.
Other lakes include
Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale and
Lake Bisina in the shadow of Mt. Elgon
Uganda’s fresh water lakes offer opportunities for water activities and sports including:
White water rafting, pioneered by Adrift, the country now attracts 500 rafters every month.
Lake cruises, on Lake Victoria
Sport fishing and
The Ssese Islands
Consisting of 84 islands in the north-western section of Lake Victoria, the Ssese Islands have, for a long time, only been visited by local people and campers because of lack of tourist facilities. As of today, three campsites have been opened and you book them through your local tour operator. Nonetheless, many of the Ssese Islands are un-inhabited; you can only find a few fishermen there. Forests and swamps on the Ssese Islands are therefore ideal for birding Safaris. The wildlife you will find on the Ssese islands includes hippos, crocodile, waterbuck, sitatunga, antelope, chimpanzees and monkeys. The islands can be reached by a nine-hour steamer trip from Port Bell or a 45-minute ferry trip from Bukakata.
Book Your Flight to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda
Uganda is becoming a popular destination for holiday, business, and volunteer travel. The physical landscapes, national game parks, emerging middle class, source of the River Nile, vast oil deposits, and welcoming culture are attracting not only visitors from Western Europe and North America, but also from other markets. Diaspora Ugandans, Kenyans, South Africans, and Asians are coming and going with increasing frequency.
There are a number of ways to easily fly into Uganda. When flying into Uganda, you fly into Entebbe International Airport.
Some of the Airlines Flying Into Uganda:
Ethiopian Airlines flies into Entebbe 3 times a day, everyday. 01:40, 12:15 and 17:50. This carrier often has the best price, but the least spectacular service. Transferring through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, your layover will be hot and unexciting. But if cost is your number one factor when booking flights to Uganda, Ethiopian will likely be your best bet.
Ethiopian Airlines is part of the Star Alliance network, whose members include Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air China, United Airlines, and Air New Zealand. To be a part of Star Alliance, an airline must comply with the highest standards of customer service, security, and technical infrastructure.
Etihad flies direct to Entebbe from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arriving at 13:00. Relatively new to Uganda, Etihad partners with Brussels Airlines, American Airlines, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand.
Air Emirates flies into Uganda every day, arriving from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at 13:50. Emirates easily has the highest quality services of any carrier entering Uganda. It has great luggage allowance, as well. While their prices are competitive, they’re not the absolute cheapest. They do, however, allow you to extend your layover in Dubai for a few days at no cost.
Dubai International Airport has amazing shopping and entertainment options for long layovers. Emirates also flies to 150 destinations in 81 countries all over the world.
Air Emirates flies into Uganda every day of the week.
Dubai is a popular destination for Ugandan holiday makers and business people
Air Emirates partners with EasyJet, JetBlue, Quantas, and Virgin America, among others.
Qatar flies into Uganda everyday, from Doha, Qatar, arriving at 14:10. Touted as the “world’s five-star airline”, its services are rather decent. Staff is polite, food is fine, the seating comfortable. This is my favourite airline to use when coming from Europe. They always have the best price. They also have a huge network of flights, flying to 150 destinations around the world.
Qatar’s international partners include British Airways, American Airlines, Cathy Pacific, and Quantas.
South African Airways
South African Airways flies into Entebbe from Johannesburg every day, arriving at either 14:30 or 19:00. While this used to be a popular flight for people coming from Australasia, it is now mostly used by people hailing from southern Africa.
South African Airways is part of the Star Alliance Network.
Brussels Airlines lands in Entebbe every day except for Friday and Sunday, arriving at 20:55. Also a popular option for visitors from northern Europe and North America, it must compete hard with Ethiopian, Emirates, and Qatar.
Brussels airlines flies to Uganda 5 days week.
Brussels Airlines is also part of Star Alliance.
KLM Royal Dutch Airways
KLM flies from Amsterdam to Entebbe everyday, arriving at 22:20. It’s a popular flight for people coming from northern Europe. It used to be very popular with visitors hailing from North America as well. However, Ethiopian, Emirates, and Qatar now fly from many major cities, without a European stopover, and offer better prices.
KLM’s international partners include Air Canada and Delta Airlines.
Egypt Air and Turkish Airlines
Both these carriers fly into Uganda daily but arrive and depart between 02:00 and 04:00, and are often late. These are inconvenient flight times to say the least. Be aware that Egypt air had security emergencies in 2015 and 2016. Turkish Airlines in a bid to increase local tourism, does offer free multi-day layovers in Istanbul, but loses luggage often.
Both airlines are part of Star Alliance.
Almost all the above carriers also fly to Entebbe via Nairobi, Kenya. There are 4 daily flights between Nairobi and Entebbe: 09:30, 12:45, 16:45, and 20:30. It is important for travelers to know that if one or more of those flights is not sufficiently booked, it will be cancelled without notice. Passengers are simply booked on the next Entebbe bound flight. However, adding a few more unexpected hours to your travels may not please you.
A great way to compare prices is to use a website like Skyscanner, Expedia, or Orbitz. However, you can also book direct with the airline.
What to do on Arrival at Entebbe, Uganda
You’ll first queue to show the required yellow fever vaccination certificate. Then you’ll queue for customs. Here is where you present your passport with your e-visa Approval Letter.
Once inside the arrivals lounge, you can change cash at the forex bureau or withdraw from the ATM machines. Airport forex rates are usually less than optimum, but don’t differ vastly from those found in town. The ATM machines take Visa related cards.
Want to connect a local phone line? Head over to one of the few telecom shops in the arrivals lounge. They’ll sort you out with a SIM card, airtime, and an internet data package for your unlocked smart phone. SIM cards are $1. Monthly internet costs start at $15 for 10Gb of data. It gets cheaper the more you buy.