Mgahinga gorilla national park

Size: 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park.

The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes.

The British administration declared the area a game sanctuary in 1930; it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991.

Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group.

The Batwa were self-sufficient – and visitors can see how during a fascinating tour with a Batwa guide to learn the secrets of the forest.

Semuliki national park
Size: 220km² with an altitude of 670-760m above sea level

 

Semuliki Forest Reserve was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park status in 1993.
It is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa, hosting 441 recorded bird
species and 53 mammals.

 

Large areas of this low-lying park may flood during the wet season,a brief reminder of the time
when the entire valley lay at the bottom of a lake for seven million years.

 

Four distinct ethnic groups live near the park – Bwamba farmers live along the base of the
Rwenzori while the Bakonjo cultivate the mountain slopes. Batuku cattle keepers inhabit on the
open plains and Batwa pygmies, traditionally hunter gathers, live on the edge of the forest.

Mount Elgon national park

Size: 1,121km²

This extinct volcano is one of Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 24 million years ago.

Mt Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain, far exceeding Kilimanjaro’s current 5,895m. Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4,321m, relegating it to the 4th highest peak in East Africa and 8th on the continent.

Mt Elgon is home to two tribes, the Bagisu and the Sabiny, with the marginalized Ndorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet.

The Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba and refer to the mountain by this name.

Rwenzori national park

Size: 996km2

The park was gazetted in 1991 and was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 and Ramsar site in 2008.

Highest point: 5,109m above sea level on Mt Stanley’s Margherita Peak. Mt. Stanley is bisected by the border with the DR Congo.

The Rwenzori is not volcanic like East Africa’s other major mountains but is a block of rock upfaulted through the floor of the Western Rift Valley.

The Rwenzoris were christened the “Mountains of the Moon” by the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150.

The explorer Henry Stanley placed the Rwenzori on the map on 24th May 1888. He labeled it ‘Ruwenzori’, a local name which he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.”

The oldest recorded person to reach Margherita Peak was Ms Beryl Park aged 78  in 2010

Murchison falls national park.

Size: 3,840km2

Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952

At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow

The northern section of the park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches

 

The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park

Size: 321km2

Altitude: 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level.

Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.

The Mubare gorilla group was the first to become available for tourism in Uganda in April 1993. Nine groups are now habituated for tourism, and one for research.

Spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward.

Queen Elizabeth National park.

Size: 1,978km².

Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00.

The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species.

The Katwe explosion craters mark the park’s highest point at 1,350m above sea level, while the lowest point is at 910m, at Lake Edward.

 

Kibale national park.

Size: 795km2

Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip, which stands 1,590m above sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south.

351 tree species have been recorded in the park, some rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old.

Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor.

Kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites. While many researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others are investigating Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs and fish species, among other topics.

Lake Mburo national park.

Size: 370km2

Altitude: 1,220m – 1,828m above sea level

Wetland habitats comprise 20% of the park’s surface

The parks’ precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated several times: firstly in various attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies, then to make way for ranches, and finally as a result of subsistence poaching.

 

20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools.

Kidepo valley national park.

Size: 1,442km2

The park’s altitude ranges between 914m and 2,750m above sea level.

The park contains two rivers – Kidepo and Narus – which disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife.

 

The local communities around the park include pastoral Karamojong people, similar to the Maasai of Kenya, and the IK, a hunter-gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened gorilla.