Uganda has a total of 10 beautiful national parks. Each of Uganda national Parks is unique and remarkable in its own way – offering something special that is not found in the other.
It could be the animals, landscape, vegetation, or an experience to do! Let us embark on a journey through these remarkable Uganda safaris parks, where every single step is a great discovery and every moment is a connection to the extra ordinary unmatched experiences.
Here is a list of 10 Uganda National Parks
1. Queen Elizabeth National Park
Situated in southwestern Uganda, it is the country’s most popular safari destination. This is partly due to its proximity to the country’s gorilla trekking hubs, but also reflects its status as one of East Africa’s most biodiverse protected areas.
Here you’ll find expansive freshwater lakes, swathes of equatorial rainforest, tracts of rolling savannah and brackish crater lakes nestled below the snowcapped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.
The park’s most popular attraction is a scenic boat trip on the Kazinga Channel that takes you past large herds of elephant, buffalo and hippo.
But there are plenty of other highlights: game drives on the Kasenyi Plains; chimp tracking at Kyambura Gorge or Kalinzu Forest; birding and monkey viewing; exploring explosion craters; and – last but emphatically not least – heading off in search of the legendary tree-climbing lions that inhabit the remote Ishasha Plains.
- Diverse wildlife including lions, chimpanzees, elephants, leopards, buffalos, and hippos
- Scenic boat safaris on Kazinga channel
- The dramatic landscapes of the Rwenzori Mountains in the distance
- The rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha Sector
- Over 600 bird species
Tours In Queen Elizabeth National Park
2. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
When you talk about a safari in Uganda, it always starts with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; it’s a place of ethereal beauty and ecological significance.
Nestled in the south west, it is best known as a sanctuary for the endangered mountain gorillas, housing nearly half of the world’s population.
Today, 21 habituated gorilla families can be tracked in Bwindi, a thrilling wildlife adventure regarded by most who have undertaken it to be a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Bwindi is also one of the finest birding destinations in Uganda, thanks in part to the presence of 23 Albertine Rift Endemics, while other attractions include forest nature walks in search of smaller primates such as black-and-white colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey.
- Home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population
- Rich bio diversity with numerous bird species and other wildlife
- Stunning lush rainforests and challenging trekking experiences
Tours in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
3. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park’s main attraction, as its name suggests, is mountain gorillas, though it habours only one habituated group as opposed to Bwindi’s hefty tally of 21.
The next-best thing to seeing the mountain gorilla is the chance to track the rare and endemic golden monkeys. Characterized by a bright orange-gold body, cheeks and tail that contrasts heavily with their black limbs, crown and tail end, these little-known bamboo-associated primates are listed as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
However, within Mgahinga it is the numerically dominant primate and visitors might luck a glimpse of this charismatic monkey on any hike that passes through the park’s bamboo zone. But, to be sure of seeing them up close, it is best to do the tracking excursion that leaves from Ntebeko. This operates in much the same fashion as gorilla trekking.
The parks unique allure extends beyond prime mates, hiking enthusiasts can tackle mountain Gahinga, one of the Virunga volcanoes, surrounded by enchanting bamboo forests.
- Opportunity to see mountain gorillas and golden monkeys
- Volcano hiking including the chance to climb Mount Sabinyo
- Beautiful bamboo forests and scenic views
4. Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is also a haven for primate enthusiasts and nature lovers.
More than a dozen primate species inhabit this vast rainforest, most visibly red-tailed monkey, red colobus, black-and-white colobus and the endemic Uganda mangabey. Kibale Forest is also a stellar bird-watching destination, with a checklist of 375 bird species that includes the glamorous likes of great blue turaco, double-toothed barbet and papyrus Gonolek.
But for most visitors, Kibale’s main attraction is the chimpanzees.
The park has largest concentration of chimpanzees in east Africa. It is home to a chimpanzee population of up to 1,500 individuals, divided into at least a dozen different communities, four of which are habituated and now incredibly relaxed around people.
Visitors are able to track these intelligent and charismatic creatures in their natural habitat. Visiting humankind’s closest relative in Kibale is a truly thrilling bucket-list experience. The towering trees, dense foliage and the network of trails create captivating setting for trekking and exploration.
- Largest population of chimpanzees in East Africa
- Chimpanzee trekking adventures
- Bird watching of more than 300 species
- Day and night forest walks
- Monkey viewing
Tours in Kibale Forest National Park
5. Murchison Falls National Park
As we journey northward, Murchison Falls National Park graces our exploration with its dramatic beauty. It is Uganda’s most alluring destination for those seeking short wildlife safaris that doesn’t include gorilla trekking. This scenic park is also a great add-on to a longer holiday itinerary that does incorporate a visit to Uganda’s gorillas.
Attractions include the world’s most powerful waterfall for which the park is named and the wildly tropical stretch of the Nile River that bisects the park as it flows toward Lake Albert. Adventurers can also embark on the Nile cruises to witness this natural wonder up close.
When it comes to wildlife viewing, an itinerary that combines Murchison Falls with the nearby Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Budongo Forest provides you with a decent chance of seeing all African Big Five animals as well as chimpanzees and shoebills in the course of one short, affordable trip.
- Spectacular Murchison falls and Nile River cruises
- Large herds of elephants and other big game animals
- Excellent birdwatching opportunities along the Nile
Tours In Murchison Falls National Park
6. Kidepo Valley National Park
In the far northeast of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is arguably the most remote safari destination anywhere in East Africa.
It is also one of the most beautiful. Set below a range of craggy peaks bordering South Sudan, this underrated park protects an atmospheric tract of savannah carved by two perennial rivers and studded with giant boulder-strewn hills.
Despite its remote location, Kidepo offers exceptional wildlife viewing, including four of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo; no rhino), with large herds of buffalo especially prominent.
Here, you can also encounter cheetahs, ostriches, bat-eared foxes, kudus, zebras, giraffes, caracals and other unique African safari animals. Very few travelers make it up to this forgotten corner of Uganda, but it’s as affordable to visit as the country’s other top safari destinations and boasts a more untrammeled wilderness feel than any of them.
- Remote and untouched wildness and minimal tourist crowds
- Classic safaris
- Unique wildlife species like cheetah, ostriches, battered foxes and kudus
- Four of the Big Five animals
- Breathtaking landscapes including Narus valley and Morungole Mountains
Tours In Kidepo National Park
7. Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Did you know that Uganda is also a place of snow and ice? The Rwenzori Mountains form the jagged western border of the country with DR Congo.
The highest point is Mount Stanley, at 5,109 metres, and it is the third highest peak in Africa.
The Rwenzoris are a haven for trekking adventures. Hardly anybody is there, which makes visitors feel like they have the world to themselves – a geographer once called them the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, an apt description of its isolated feel.
Fascinating day hikes in the foothills are available that connect to stays in Kibale or the Crater Lake region, or multi-day, multi-peak ascents for experienced mountaineers.
These treks are operated by experienced local operators who spend years hacking routes through the forest, feeling their way up cliff faces to make the adventure possible.
- Uganda’s most alluring hiking destination
- Third highest peak in Africa at 5109 meters
- Unique afro-alpine vegetation
- Snow-capped peaks
8. Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo national park, the closest to Uganda’s capital Kampala, offers a perfect introduction to the country’s wildlife and natural beauty.
Its accessibility makes it a popular choice for Uganda wildlife safaris, where you can spot zebras, buffalos, giraffes, impalas, and various antelope species.
The park also boasts the picturesque Lake Mburo, where boat trips reveal the secrets lives of hippos and crocodiles. A visit to this park is a relaxing yet thrilling experience, making it an ideal destination for families, short Uganda tours, and weekend trips.
- Closest national park to Kampala, making it easily accessibility
- Walking and classic safaris with opportunities to see zebras, giraffes, and impalas
- Cycling tours and horseback safaris inside the park
- Boat trips on Lake Mburo with a chance to spot hippos and crocodiles.
Tours in Lake Mburo National Park
9. Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park in western part of Uganda is a paradise for the bird enthusiasts and nature lovers. Over 435 bird species have been recorded, including more than 50 species that are unknown from elsewhere in East Africa.
But Semuliki is not just about birds; it’s also known for its unique hot springs and geothermal pools. These natural wonders, with their reputed healing properties, make for an intriguing and rejuvenating stop on a Uganda safari. Despite this, the relative remoteness of the park means it is seldom visited, even on bird watching tours.
- Rich birdlife with over 440 species, including the rare shoebill stork
- Unique hot springs and geothermal pools with healing properties
- Diverse wildlife and lush tropical rainforests
10. Mount Elgon National Park
Situated in eastern Uganda, Mount Elgon National Park is a hidden gem known for its volcanic landscapes and challenging treks. Hiking on Mt Elgon vast caldera and exploring its mysterious caves provide a sense of adventure.
Along the way, keep an eye out for buffaloes, birds, and monkeys which often roam these rugged terrains. Another popular attraction on Mt Elgon is the Sipi falls, a series of stunning waterfalls that cascade dramatically through the landscape, offering perfect photo opportunities and moments of serenity.
- Hiking and trekking on mount elgons vast caldera and caves
- Stunning waterfalls including Sipi falls within the park
- High chances of seeing wildlife like buffalos, monkeys and elephants
Tours to Mount Elgon
FAQs about Uganda National Parks
1. How many national parks does Uganda have?
Uganda has got 10 National Parks, including Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and more as listed above.
2. Which is the largest national park in Uganda?
The largest national park in Uganda is Murchison Falls National Park. It covers about 3,840 km2 of wilderness. It’s part of the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area.
The park’s landscape is dominated by savannah-woodland habitat dotted with beautiful Borassus palm trees. It also encompasses vast tracts of tropical forests, swathes of grassland, and wetland habitats. To the south, west and east, it adjoins Bugungu Wildlife Reserve (782 km2), Budongo Forest Reserve (825 km2), and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserve (720 km2).
These reserves are diverse ecosystems in their own right, but serve a vital function as buffer zones between the game park and the nearby local communities.
3. Which is the smallest national park in Uganda?
The smallest national park in Uganda is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
This scenic little of park 33.7km2 protects the vital protect part of the Virunga Mountains, a chain of 8 volcanoes, of which 3 are in Mgahinga. All 3 of the volcanoes in Mgahinga have long since retired from spewing lava (though there are 2 active volcanoes in the range in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park.
With the Volcanoes National Park (160km2) of Rwanda in the south and Congo’s Virunga National Park (7,769 km²) to the east, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Greater Virunga Conservation Area. This trio of national parks acts as the guardians of half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas living on the forest-swathed slopes of the imposing volcanoes.
Ready to Explore Uganda National Parks?
Uganda’s national parks are not just natural wonders but portals to the unforgettable safari and wildlife experiences. Each Uganda safari park holds its unique charm, from the profound encounters with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to the mesmerizing birdlife of Semuliki, and the remote wilderness of kidepo valley.
Whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast, a trekking enthusiast, or simply seeking tranquility of nature, Uganda national parks have something exceptional to offer.
As you explore these pristine landscapes, you will not only witness the magic of Africa but also discover why Uganda truly shines as the pearl of Africa.