Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park is perfectly located at an estimated distance of 235square kilometers on the Eastern part of Uganda from Kampala. The Park in the east of Uganda stretches to cover a geographical spread of 1,279 km² split in the two parts with the Kenyan side taking 169km and the Ugandan side taking 1110 Sq.km
Mount Elgon National Park rests on the Elgon Mountain whose volcanic base is the largest in the world stretching to 4,000km and the mountain stands as the oldest free standing Volcano in the region of East Africa. The 80m diameter rise to 3,000m above the surrounding plains and the cool mountain tops present relief to the hot plains below providing a refugee of counts of flora and fauna.
It can be noted that Elgon Mountain was at one time the highest on Africa far exceeding Mount Kilimanjaro which currently stands at 5,895m before it was reduced to 4,321m above sea level by the forces of denudation standing as the fourth peak in the East African region and the 8th on the African Continent.

The slopes of Mount Elgon support counts of support a range of vegetation that range from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the giant lobelia and groundsel plants. The vegetation changes with the change on altitude where the slopes of the mountain are covered by olive Olea hochstetteri and Aningueria adolfi-friedericii wet montane forest. At the raised landscape, there the vegetation is altered to olive and Podocarpus gracilior forest, and then a Podocarpus and bamboo Arundinaria alpina zone. As you continue higher, there is a Hagenia abyssinica zone followed by moorland with heaths Erica arborea and Philippia trimera, tussock grasses such as Agrostis gracilifolia and Festuca pilgeri, herbs such as Alchemilla, Helichrysum, Lobelia, and the giant groundsels Senecio barbatipes and Senecio elgonensis.
The park’s botanical diversity incorporates giant podocarpus, juniper and Elgon olive trees cedar Juniperus procera, pillarwood Cassipourea malosana, elder Sambucus adnata, pure stands of Podocarpus gracilior and many orchids. Out of the 400 Species noted in the area, the following thrive only in the high altitude broad-leaf montane forest: Carduus afromontanus, Ardisiandra wettsteinii, Echinops hoehnelii, Romulea keniensis and Ranunculus keniensis.

mount-elgon-hiking

The Mount Elgon National Park is a habitat to around 300 bird Species among which include the endangered Lammergeyer. The park is also a home to small antelopes, elephants and forest monkeys. The raised landscapes of the Park present an extensive Trans boundary conservation area that has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.
The Mountain is a traditional to the two tribes namely the Bagisu and the Sabiny along with the marginalized Ndorobos who were forced to dwell deeper in the Benet forest. The Bagisu who are also known as the Bamasaba believe that Mount Elgon is an embodiment of their founding father Masaba and thus refer to the mountain by his name. The ascent to the Elgon Mountain presents a magnificent and virgin wilderness with not the summit oriented approach which seems to be common to many highlands. The ultimate encounter of reaching the Wagagai peak is not the final ascent to the Wagagai peak towering to 4321m above sea level but surprisingly the commencement to a descent to the expanse 40km2 Mount Elgon Caldera which is the largest Mountain Caldera in the World.
Attractions
Flora
Elgon’s slopes support a rich variety of vegetation ranging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the giant lobelia and groundsel plants. The vegetation varies with altitude. The mountain slopes are covered with olive Olea hochstetteri and Aningueria adolfi-friedericii wet montane forest. At higher altitudes, this changes to olive and Podocarpus gracilior forest, and then a Podocarpus and bamboo Arundinaria alpina zone. Higher still is a Hagenia abyssinica zone and then moorland with heaths Erica arborea and Philippia trimera, tussock grasses such as Agrostis gracilifolia and Festuca pilgeri, herbs such as Alchemilla, Helichrysum, Lobelia, and the giant groundsels Senecio barbatipes and Senecio elgonensis.
The botanical diversity of the park includes giant podocarpus, juniper and Elgon olive trees cedar Juniperus procera, pillarwood Cassipourea malosana, elder Sambucus adnata, pure stands of Podocarpus gracilior and many orchids. Of the 400 species recorded for the area the following are of particular note as they only occur in high altitude broad-leaf montane forest: Ardisiandra wettsteinii, Carduus afromontanus, Echinops hoehnelii, Ranunculus keniensis (previously thought endemic to Mount Kenya), and Romulea keniensis.
Wildlife
The Park supports a variety of wildlife including rock and tree hyraxes, elephant, buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hog, bush pig, leopard, civet and serval cats, serval cats, spotted hyena; aardvark and several rodent species. However these animals are rarely observed in the forest setting. More commonly seen creatures are the black-and-white colobus; baboons; red tailed, vervet, De Brazza’s and blue monkeys; duiker and tree squirrel.
Birds
The Mountain is home to 300 birds including 40 restricted range species. 56 of the 87 Afro-tropical highland biome species live here, notably the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird and Alpine Chat. Birds whose Ugandan range is limited to Mount Elgon include the Jackson’s Francolin and Black-collared Apalis. Among those limited to just a few mountains in eastern Uganda are the Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze Sunbird. Mount Elgon is one of the few places in Uganda where the endangered Lammergeyer can be seen, soaring above the caldera and Suam Gorge.
Forest Exploration Centre
The Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwaiis located just 13km from Sipi town, doubles as an educational Centre for schools and the trailhead for climbers using the Sipi trail to the caldera. Three circuits of between 3-7km run through the surrounding regenerating forest, where visitors can visit caves, waterfalls, escarpments and viewpoints; and observe birds and primates. Bird species encountered here include Hartlaub’s Turaco, Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Dusky-Turtle Dove, African Hill Babbler, Alpine Chat, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Thick-billed Honey guide, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike.
Caves
Mount Elgon’s slopes are riddled with caves left by moving lava and erosion of soft volcanic deposits. The most accessible are Kapkwai Cave, near the Forest Exploration Centre, and Khauka Cave on Wanale Ridge. Historically, such features acted as shelters for locals and their livestock; later on they provided manure in the form of bat droppings. More recently, they were used by climbers and their porters, and even today, campsites are still located at Hunters Cave, Siyo Cave (near the hot springs), Mude Cave and Tutum Cave – ideal for overnight expeditions.
Jackson’s Pool and Jackson’s Peak
Jackson’s Pool stands at 4,050m and is a natural pool with shallow waters. This pool lies in the shadow of the 4,165m high Jackson’s Peak, a free-standing volcanic plug rising from the western flank of the mountain. These features were named after the explorer Frederick Jackson, who in 1889 was the first European to climb Mount Elgon. The peak is used by the locals as a spot to communicate with their ancestors.
The peaks and the caldera
Mount Elgon’s highest peaks are formed by high points around a jagged rim enclosing one of the world’s largest calderas, at 40km long and 8km wide. The tallest peak is the 4,321m Wagagi, followed by Sudek (4,303m), Koitobos (4,222m) and Mubiyi (4,210m).
The Caldera was formed as a result of magma being drained from the chamber. When it could no longer support the overlying volcanic cone, it collapsed into a depression-like shape. In the eastern corner of the caldera, hot springs are found at the start of the deep Suam Gorge. In the northwest, Simu Gorge was formed by the sheer weight of the water in the caldera cutting two stream beds out of the weak volcanic ash and agglomerate walls.
Nkokenjeru Ridge and Wanale
Nkokenjeru Ridge is a distinctive finger of forest extending outwards from the main massif of Mount Elgon. It lies at an elevation of 2,347m and covers a 25km-long tongue of lava that flowed out of the side of the volcano after the cone collapsed to block the main vent. Nkokenjeru Ridge culminates at the superb Wanale Cliffs which tower above Mbale Town; the seasonal Nabuyonga and Namatyo Waterfalls are located here. A trail at this western end of the ridge leads you to Khauka Cave where petrified wood can be found.
This ridge also offers grounds for those interested in paragliding over the Mbale town.
The Nabuyonga Trail is a 5km loop with birding, fauna and flora. Viewpoints overlook Mbale town, Lakes Kyoga, Bisina and Salisbara, and the rugged mountains in Karamoja region. On a clear day, you may enjoy vistas of Wagagai peak and even areas of western Kenya. Beware of throwing a stone into the Nabuyonga stream – local folklore claims that if you do so, a thunderstorm will strike before you leave!

Outside the park

Sipi Falls
The northern and western sides of Mount Elgon rise in a series of massive basalt cliffs, often several kilometers in length, over which the mountain’s rivers plunge as beautiful waterfalls. The best known are the three waterfalls at Sipi on the Kapchorwa road, just outside the park. The lowest of these falls is the most spectacular as it cascades over a 100m cliff. The second, known as Simba, plunges 69m over the entrance to a cave. Visitors can stand in the cave and enjoy a view of the back of the falls. The third waterfall, also known as Ngasire, gushes over an 87m high ridge. Sipi Falls is less than an hour’s drive from Mbale on a paved road.
Easily accessible waterfalls are also found at Sisiyi, Bulago, Chebonet and Wanale and many more are scattered across the mountain, offering spectacular views.
Tewei Hill

Outside the park overlooking Sipi falls is the hill where, during the 1960s, Chemonges Kingo, King of the Sabiny would meet his subjects. From the top you can view the three falls, the Karamajong plains and the Wagagai peak.
Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and Matheniko Bokora Wildlife Reserve
The wild life Reserve is located in the plains of Karamoja region which is situated on the northern part of Mount Elgon. Matheniko Bokora Wildlife Reserve and the expansive Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is the second largest protected area in Uganda, with an estimated area of 2,788km2. Wildlife found here and these includes unique species of the roan antelope, lesser kudu, Bright’s gazelle and ostriches .These species are only found here and in the beautiful flora of Kidepo national park since they lie in the same region in the Uganda.,
Wildlife in this part of Uganda is mainly concentrated around one place called Loporokocho swamp. The swamps within the wildlife reserve also host different bird species and the most chich can be easily encountered here include Hartlaub’s Turaco, Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, and Lemon Dove, Dusky Turtle Dove, Black-throated Wattle-eye, African Hill Babbler, Alpine Chat, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Thick-billed Honey guide and Grey Cuckoo-Shrike.
The interesting Rock paintings found at different sites within the Matheniko Bokora Wildlife Reserve are believed to date back over 3000 years and were created by the Kushite and Nilotic peoples.

Nyero Rock Paintings

The site is located in Ngora just a distance of 65km direve north of Mbale, the Nyero Rock Paintings are the finest of several rock art sites in the region. Three panels are found within the extensive granite outcrop of Moru Ikara, 10km from Kumi Town and 55km from Mbale on the Soroti road. The most impressive is Panel Two which includes two canoes bearing human figures.
Scenic Points outside Mount Elgon National Park
A detour to Bulago off the Mbale-Sipi road reveal a village standing high above a waterfall facing the Simu Valley towards Butandiga ridge. The route to Kapchorwa beyond Sipi Falls to the north provides a stunning view towards Mount Kadam and the vast plains of Karamoja. The top of the Sironko Valley in Budadiri, enclosed by the Mudangi Cliffs and the Nkonkonjeru Ridge, provides a picturesque view of the montane forest and caldera peaks. Visitors should also drive to the top of Wanale Cliff for panoramic views over the town of Mbale.

Tourist Activities

Birding

The famous Mountain is home to 300 birds including 40 restricted range species. 56 of the 87 Afro-tropical highland biome species live here, notably the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird and Alpine Chat. The existence of different bird species makes the park an excellent birding area in Uganda and around the park the unique bird spotting points include Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, in particular in the secondary forest and thick shrub along the loop trails extended to cover Cheptui Falls. It supports the African Goshawk; Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catcher, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders Bush-shrikes, Baglafecht Weaver, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Olive- and Bronze-naped pigeons, Black Kite and Black-collared Apalis.

Hiking/Nature Walks

In the mountain Elgon, Nature walks are done in the 7km mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave passes through tropical and bamboo forest and the walk takes around 4 hours for one to explore it. Along the trail one can watch the various species of the primates, birds and rare trees such as Elgon teak and Elgon olive. The 5km walk to the Chebonet Falls and 3km walk to the Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail. There is also an 11km hike to the Tutum Cave, with the option of camping overnight beside the cave.
In Wanale, a visit to Khauka Cave takes three to four hours. Alternatively one can go to the viewpoint through Nabuyoga loop where he or she can see Jackson’s Summit and Wagagai peak.
In Budadiri, short day hikes are available covering the Mudagi Cliffs, Sasa River Camp and Drigana lower falls. These are great for bird watching, nature walks and overnight camping.

Mountain/Volcano Climbing

Many travellers find Mt. Elgon an exciting alternative to the more strenuous climbs in East Africa. It is easier to access throughout the year, less congested and has many of the same attractions, with a milder climate and lower elevation. Climbing the peaks requires no special equipment or technical experience.
The Sasa trail is the shortest but toughest route to the peaks, traversing the community land and allowing you to explore BaMasaba farming settlements and culture. The round trip takes four days and starts at Budadiri town at an elevation of 1,250m. The toughest climb of over 1,600m is completed on the first day, before crossing the park’s largest area of bamboo forest and passing Jackson’s Pool on the way to Wagagai Peak.
The Sipi trail (four to six days, 56km round trip) starts at 2,050m at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre. It is the longest trail to the peaks, passing through the northwestern mountainside through Tutum Cave to enter the caldera and reach Wagagai Peak. The trail begins gently, but becomes tougher on the third day from Kajeri Camp.
The Piswa trail (seven days, 49km round trip) is long and the gentlest trail. Starting at the village of Kapkwata on the north side of the mountain, it traverses the soft wood plantation to the Podocarpus forest. It’s notable for its rich wildlife and spectacular views of the Karamoja plains in Uganda and the Nandi and Kapeguria hills in Kenya. The Piswa trail also passes the hot springs on the way to the caldera and the peaks.
Alternatively, the various routes can be combines, ascending the Sipi/Piswa/Sasa Trail and descending along the Sasa/Sipi Trail for example. This allows a traverse of the caldera and a visit to the hot springs.

Transboundary hike/cross border tourism:

The higher slopes of Mount Elgon are shared with an adjacent national park in Kenya and a Tran’s boundary hike can be arranged. After ascending to the caldera with a UWA guide, climbers cross the border to descend with a Kenya Wildlife Service escort.
Cultural Encounters

Sipi Widows’ Group

Find out where your coffee comes from. Grown on the mountain shambas (an area of cultivated ground) of Mt Elgon is the Arabica coffee also named Sipi or Bugisu by the farmers – who have a reputation for producing some of the finest washed Arabica in Kenya and Uganda. The Sipi Widows’ Group will take you on a guided walk through the coffee plantation demonstrating how to plant, pick, grind, store and wash the coffee.
Visitor will also learn about life of the Sabiny as one can meet local residents, and participate in different traditional weaving. Learn about interesting African cuisine through the preparation, cooking and tasting of local dishes. A visit to the women’s handcraft shop in the trading Centre is also highly recommended. Proceeds from the tour and shop are invested in maintaining the coffee trees; raising awareness about the dangers of female circumcision (traditionally practiced in this region); and paying school fees for orphans.

Budadiri Community Walks Ecotourism Experience

This community group, based in Budadiri, offers accommodation, car hire, cultural dances, guided coffee tours and community nature walks. Visitors can discover the region’s cultural dances, food preparation, folklore and its famous malewa bamboo shoots.
There is also a tour of Mt Elgon’s famous Arabica coffee processing plants, which supports local farmers. Nature lovers can indulge in one of the three trails – the full-day Namugabwe Cave Trail, passing through BaMasaba community land and banana plantations to reach a historical cave filled with bones; the Dirigana Loop Trail to the Dirigsana Falls and Gabushana Cave past local markets and the “Walls of Death”; or the three day walk to Sipi Falls which reveals the culture of two neighboring tribes.

Mountain Biking in Mt. Elgon

A mountain biking trail runs from Sipi trading Centre to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa town. It should take 1.5 hours and provides views of various waterfalls and the Karamoja plains. Bikes can be hired from Sipi River Lodge.

Nature walks in Mt. Elgon
A full-day nature hike leads from Budadiri to the Mudange cliffs, known as the Walls of Death, at the boundary of the national park. These cliffs are located in the tropical forest, and blue monkeys, black-and-white colobus and baboons are likely to cross your tracks. At Sipi Falls, guides from the local community can organize walks of a few hours up to a full day around local viewpoints. In Kapchorwa, a 20-minute Sunrise Trek at 6am from Noah’s Ark Hotel leads to the nearby Tewei Hill to watch dawn spreading across the vast Karamoja plains at the base of the mountain.

Rock climbing in Mt. Elgon
Rock climbing takes place outside the park at Sipi. There are 14 climbs requiring various levels of rock scaling techniques, and all equipment can be hired from the Sipi Falls Tourist Guides Association. The toughest is a 35m climb while the easiest is 15m. Both command a picturesque view of the main falls and the Karamoja plains.

Sport fishing in Mt. Elgon
Sport fishing is done above the highest peaks of the three waterfalls at Sipi outside the park. It provides exciting challenges to anglers who take pride in battling with the rainbow trout because of its beautiful coloration and fighting ability. The largest can weigh 3kgs.Fishing is restricted to designated sites and places and advance booking is not necessary. Interested sport fishers are urged to bring their own equipment and secure a permit from Sipi River Lodge.

Getting Here

Mount Elgon National Park lies 235km east of Kampala. A tarmac road runs through Jinja to Mbale town at the western base of Mount Elgon, before climbing to Kapchorwa on the mountain’s north-western flank. Dirt roads lead off the Mbale-Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.
Accommodation
Mount Elgon Hotel & Spa
Mount Elgon Hotel & Spa, conveniently located in Mbale opposite Mt Elgon National Park Offices is a hotel offering superb guest accommodation
that include standard rooms, superior rooms, executive rooms and Junior suites. All guest rooms now feature Satellite TV, free wifi access, complimentary access to swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and jacuzzi.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda is located in southwestern Uganda in edge of East African Rift Valley. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and it is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. It comprises 331 square kilometers (128 sq. mi) of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazzetted in the year 1991 and it was declared UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site in the year 1994.

This biologically diverse region also protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas which is representing half of the world’s total population of the endangered species of the mountain gorillas, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked in the park. In addition the park provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. The park houses220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. Floristically Bwindi is amongst the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low altitude) sector is rich in species of the Guineo-Congolian flora. These include two species internationally recognized as endangered, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemism of the Albertine Rift.

Gorille de montagne, gorillon  / Mountain Gorilla, Gorillon

Geographically the park consists of Precambrian shale phyllite as well as quartz, granite, quartzite and schist. It is positioned at the edge of the Western Rift Valley in the highest altitude parts of the prominent Kigezi Highlands in south western part of Uganda which were formed by tectonic forces of up-warping which forced the Western Rift Valley to rise up. The topography around Bwindi National Park is rugged, with narrow valleys crossed by rivers as well as the steep hills. The Altitudes in popular Bwindi Impenetrable National park ranges from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level. The highest elevation in the park is identified as Rwamunyonyi hill found in the eastern extremity of the park and the lowest part of the park is found at the park’s northern part.
The area around Bwindi Impenetrable National park experiences a tropical type of climate and the annual mean temperature of the Park Range from a minimum of 7–15°C to a maximum of 20–27°C. The park’s peak rain pour is from the month of March to April and also from the month of September to November and during this period the rain fall received in this places ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 millimeters.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is very remarkable water catchment area because much of the park’s rain fall creates streams and the forest has calm dense network of water streams. This makes the forest to be the source of various rivers that mainly flow into the low altitude northern, southern and western parts of the park. The notable rivers that originate from the park are Ivi, Ishasha river, as well as River Munyaga and Ihihizo river and these prominent rivers in the area with the park flow direct to Lake Edward were they pour there water.
The park is covered with rare vegetation type which is afromontane unique in the whole of African continent. The park is located at point of conjunction between the mountain forests and the plains and in the park there is varying difference between low-altitude to high altitude primary forests in the park. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys as well as chimpanzees and various birds’ species fir instance hornbills, turacos among others.
The popularly known park Bwindi Impenetrable forest park is home to an estimated total population of a round 340 individual member mountain gorillas also known as Gorilla beringei beringei. The total number of the mountain gorillas surviving in park constitutes almost half of the total population of mountain gorillas surviving in the whole world and the rest of the other half of the surviving mountain gorillas are protected in the neighboring parks of Virunga national park in Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda.

Tourist Attractions.

Mountain Gorillas
Bwindi has a population of around 400 Mountain gorillas. Gorillas are intelligent, majestic, gentle giants that share over 90% of their genetic material with humans. All of Bwindi’s habituated gorillas are known individually by the rangers and have been given names in order to identify them. The males can weigh more than 500lb and some silverbacks exceed 6ft.
The research that was carried out by Craig Stanford showed that the Bwindi gorilla’s mainly feed on leaves, fruits, shrubs, and generally they are vegetarians. In Bwindi national park, mountain gorillas are habituated in four main regions within the park and these regions include Buhoma region which is the first region where gorillas were first habituated and opened into tourists by the year 1993, Nkuringo as well as Rushaga and Ruhija regions.
Buhoma
Buhoma region is located to the northwest of the park in Kanungu district and faces the dark, hilly forests of Bwindi. Buhoma region is well known by tourists because it was the first region where mountain gorillas in Uganda where first habituated and opened to be visited by tourists in the year 1993 .The region has three gorilla groups that can be trekked by the tourist in this region and among this includes the oldest gorilla group that was first habituated in this region i.e. Mubare gorilla group Mubare Group which received its first tourists in the year 1993, the group which had around 18 members since then has lost most of its group members and current the group has only 5 individual gorilla members.
The second gorilla group in this region is the Habinyanja Group that was habituated in the year 1997 and managed to receive its first time visitors in the year 1999 .The group has total number 17 individual members and these include the two silver backs that lead the group.

Gorille de montagne, gorillon  / Mountain Gorilla, Gorillon
The third group of gorillas in Buhoma is the Rushegura Group that was habituated in the year 2000 and received its first tourists in the year 2002. Currently it’s the biggest group with 19 individual members of gorillas including one silver back within the Buhoma trekking region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park.
Besides mountain gorillas, there are also community-run village walks for exploring the culture and lifestyle of the local Bakiga and Batwa tribes. Bird watching is also a major activity with great opportunities to see various Albertine Rift endemics such as the Short-tailed Warbler. Other activities include mountain biking and nature walks to waterfalls and parts of the forest.
Buhoma region of Bwindi Impenetrable National park has various lodges and these involve luxury, mid -range and Budget accommodations for instance Luxury lodges are Buhoma Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp and Mahogany Springs. Mid-range properties such as Engagi Lodge, Silverback Lodge and budget accommodation such as Buhoma Community rest camp and Bwindi View Lodge.

Nkuringo Region.
Nkuringo gorilla area is located on the southwest side of the Bwindi forest and lies near to the well –known Buhoma region at an estimated distance of round10km from Buhoma through the Impenetrable forest and roughly takes visitor 4 hours walk to link to Nkuringo. Linking by the car from Buhoma to Nkuringo takes about 7 to 8 hours’ drive due to the hilly nature of the land. The gorilla group which can be trekked here is the Nkuringo group. Trekking gorillas in this area offers tourists an exciting but challenging experience because the activity is done through walking in the steep hills forest side. But the region is not busy compared to Buhoma.
The Nkuringo gorilla group which can be found here has 19 individual members. There are also other opportunities to discover the Bakiga culture through village walks, and here visitors can have cultural encounter filed with vibrant dance performances and cultural workshops organized by community groups.

Rushaga Region.
It is situated in the southeast of the Bwindi and it was opened for gorilla tourism in the year 2009 and positioned in Kisoro district. There are five Gorilla groups which can trekked in this area i.e. Nshongi as well as Mishaya and Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza. The trail in this area takes visitors into the Centre of the Impenetrable forest straight to the south part of the park. It lies between Kabale and Nkuringo for those coming from either Ruhija or Kampala.
Rushaga regions as well as the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are located at highest point in terms of altitude. The region is mainly occupied by high hills and this has resulted to subdivisions and separations of different habituated mountain gorillas in this area because the different groups have ended up occupying separate hills found in the region.
Due to the presence of many hills in the region gorilla trekking is bit hectic because it involves hiking hills when searching for mountain gorillas Because of these hills, however tourists participate in gorilla trekking in this area are highly rewarded with great scenic views plus even enjoying the sights of the Virunga Massifs both in Uganda and Rwanda and Uganda and these involve views of the Mt. Mgahinga as well as Muhavura Volcanoes plus the oldest Mt.Sabinyo and the highest Karusimbi mountain, Bisoke among others. Avisit in this area also offers opportunities to visitors to enjoy Lake Mutanda Uganda’s lava damned lake

virunga view from nkuringo

Ruhija Region
The region is positioned on the eastern side of the park but sitting on top of the hill at an estimated height of 2,345m. Ruhija region is habitant to three Gorilla groups’ such as the Bitukura gorilla group, Kyaguriro and Oruzogo Gorilla groups. The region is Uganda’s trekking trail located at highest altitude and its one of the only two regions in the park where elephants reside.
The six-hour bamboo trail in this region takes visitors to Rwamunyoni Peak (2,607m,) which is the highest point in the whole of the Bwindi Impenetrable National park and its recommendable region for bird watching activities. The other interesting bit to bird lovers is the three-hour trail which descends to Mubwindi swamp where the rare endemic African Broadbill species can be easily seen.

Other Wildlife Species
There are least 120 mammal species living in the forest, making Bwindi second only in mammal numbers to the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park. The eleven primate species found here include black-and-white colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys, baboons and chimps. Of Bwindi’s 200 butterfly species, 42 are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
Birds
Bwindi offers some of the finest montane forest bird watching in Africa, and is irreplaceable destination for any birder visiting Uganda. There are an estimated 350 bird species with 23 endemic to the Albertine Rift and 14 recorded nowhere else in Uganda. Globally threatened species such as African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimsonwing are also found here. Other birds include the Handsome Francolin; Black-billed Turaco; African Broadbill; Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters; Western Green Tinkerbird; Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds; Short-tailed and Black-faced Rufous Warblers; Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis; Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls; and Many-colored Bush-Shrike, among others.

Tourist Activities

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is found in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, about 530km from Uganda. The gorilla trekking activity is carried out in four (4) regions of Bwindi that have got habituated gorilla groups. The Buhoma region in the north is gifted with Habinyanja gorilla family, Rushegura Gorilal Family and Mubare gorilla family; Rushaga in the south with five (5) gorilla families namely Bweza, Kahungye, Busingye, Nshongi and Mishaya; Nkuringo in the south west with one (1) Nkuringo gorilla family and Ruhija in the east with three (3) habituated gorilla families namely; Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguliro. Each gorilla family takes eight (8) gorilla trekkers per day and the gorilla trekking encounter commences at 8am with briefing at the respective park headquarter per region. The duration for gorilla trekking is unpredictable and it would definitely depend on the gorilla movement that day. However, the acceptable duration range is between 2 – 8 hours. And because of this extended time packed lunch is relay necessary.
Birding
The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill. Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija

Nature Walks
It is at this sector where other walks have been developed including; the Munyanga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short walk for viewing birds and primates along the forest edge. The waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns as well as orchids to visit three dazzling waterfalls. The Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi trail of which the latter follows an old road through the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the impenetrable forest.
Cultural Tours
The Buhoma community walk and cultural performances which takes up to three hours visiting a typical homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of recent, the Batwa cultural experience has been developed in this section of the park.
Buhoma Community Tours / Mukono Development Association
The three-hour village walk begins with a visit to the handcraft shop – selling handmade artifacts such as fabrics, beeswax candles and wood carvings, all produced by talented local craftsmen and women. The neighboring Batwa community performs songs and dances about their former life in the forest, introducing you to another unique local culture. You will also meet the traditional healer who treats the sick with medicinal plants, and the teachers and pupils of the local primary school. Finally, you can learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer and gin – and taste the results!
Proceeds from the tour support community development projects such as a secondary school, maize mill and microfinance circle, and the Batwa receive all proceeds from their performances.
Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF)
Set in a lush hillside bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with dramatic views towards Congo, Nkuringo is a wonderful place to visit for those who want both a cultural experience and beautiful scenery.
A visit to Nicholas the blacksmith rewinds time to the Stone Age with the sound of sheepskin bellows spewing air into a charcoal-fired furnace, from which Nicholas hooks out red hot metal and hammers it into tools; from knives to machetes. Sesilia welcomes you into her home – a series of traditional huts housing a millet-grinding stone, cooking pots and apparatus for distilling local waragi banana gin. Pena is the village´s traditional healer who uses native plants to make tea, ointments and herbal powders that cure a range of ailments.
NCCDF supports local artisans and the local Batwa community through its crafts shop. They train orphans who perform at a nearby lodge, and can make arrangements for visitors to sponsor them.
Buniga Forest Nature Walk
Discover the gorgeous hidden treasures of Buniga Forest and its diverse flora and fauna on this trail, led by locals who are expert regional guides.
Buniga Forest Reserve is one of the three remaining pocket forests adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Due to the increased encroachment on the forest and associated loss of biodiversity and other forest resources, the trail was created by Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF) to protect the forest and manage it for ecotourism activities. As well as protecting this precious forest, proceeds from the tour also benefit surrounding communities, and encourage them to actively participate in its conservation.

nature-walks-mgahinga
Nkuringo Cultural Centre (NCC)
Why not learn a new skill during your trip to Uganda? At Nkuringo Cultural Centre, after a long day spent tracking gorillas or bird watching, you can enjoy one of our fascinating cultural evening workshops. Choose from African cooking, traditional weaving, or for those who are feeling a little more energetic – a dancing and drumming workshop is available.
You can also take one of our guided village walks during the day to meet the residents, learn about life in Rubuguri and participate in a crafts demonstration. You will then visit the primary school to watch this region´s most famous cultural attraction – the dynamic Kiga dance. The best dancers are said to be those who make the earth shake!
NCC creates employment opportunities for local residents and a percentage of profits is used for community projects such as IT classes and a stage and costumes for local dance groups.
Nyundo Community Eco-Trails
Nyundo’s residents were firsthand witnesses to climate change. They cultivated crops on the hillsides bordering Bwindi Impenetrable forest, but noticed erosion, changing rain patterns and the disappearance of the characteristic mist. Ultimately, their crops began to fail. The community decided to protect the land and allow the forest to grow back, and now the trees, the rains and the mist have all returned.
Nyundo Community Eco Trails were developed by community members as a sustainable alternative to agriculture, poaching and logging; providing both an income and an incentive to conserve the forest.
On King Bakyara’s Waterfall Trail, enjoy spectacular scenery surrounding a waterfall where only kings may bathe! Visit a blacksmith, a local banana beer distillery, a beekeeper, a cattle farm and a banana plantation.
During the Traditional Skills Trail, learn about millet-bread preparation, yoghurt making and craft making. Visit a traditional birth attendant and traditional homesteads, and meet the friendly villagers.
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) is a grassroots organization that has improved the health of wildlife, livestock and some of the poorest people in Africa. In Buhoma, visitors can take a tour of the Gorilla Health Centre to learn about their health and how diseases are transmitted between wild animals and livestock, as well as other conservation issues addressed by CTPH.
Tour the Village Aquaponics project where you will learn about sustainable methods of farming fish, which is then sold to local lodges. If booked in advance, CTPH staff can also offer presentations on conservation issues in Bwindi and guided tours of local communities to demonstrate how improving the health and livelihoods of people and their livestock supports the conservation of gorillas.
Lodging is available at the Gorilla Conservation Camp; all fees support the work of CTPH. There are also volunteer opportunities and working holidays which contribute directly to all these activities.
Rubuguri Village Walk (NCC)
Reached by rustic roads clinging to steep hillsides, this small community makes up for its isolation with the warm welcome of its inhabitants. The Village Walk takes you past a swamp to a small homestead, where you will have the chance to meet the residents and learn about life in Rubuguri, as well as participate in a crafts demonstration.
You will then visit the lively St Peter´s Primary school to meet the pupils and teachers, and to watch this region´s most famous cultural attraction – the dynamic Kiga dance. The best dancers are said to be those who make the earth shake – and as the barefooted students leap several feet into the air to the rhythm of joyful songs you will be able to decide for yourself if they achieve their goal!

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. The park is located at kabarole district just 320 square kilometers on the western part of Uganda. Kibale Forest is interspersed with patches of grassland, swamp and dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau of 1,590mabove sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley in the southern part of the park.
It’s approximately 326 kilometers by road west of Kampala, Uganda‘s capital city. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes Kibale is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests. In East Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest.
Kibale National Park covers an approximated area of 795 square kilometers and the park 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. The park is strategic place where Makerere field station for research is located.
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. The forest park is proud of 351 tree species that are recorded in the park; some of the trees rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old.
The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. This adjoining of the parks creates a 180 km (111 mi) wildlife corridor. It is an important eco-tourism and safari destination, popular for its population of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It is also the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS).
The inhabitants of the park are majorly two tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga, inhabit the area around the park. The two tribes use the park as source of food and fuel as well as other natural resources with the help of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. In the last century, the population around the park increased by sevenfold. This was assumed to be so because the park directly brings in revenue for those living around it and the tourism industry creates jobs. In addition, many farmers believe that the soil is better for growing crops year round. This increase in the population has caused the area around the park to be divided and developed or turned into plantations and farmland. This fragmentation of the area outside the park has begun to affect the biodiversity inside the park.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey (status: Endangered) and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey (Vulnerable). The park is also home to over 325 species of birds, 4 wild fellids, 13 species of primates, a total of at least 60 other species of mammals, and over 250 tree species. The predominant ecosystem in Kibale is moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a Forest Reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations (pines and eucalyptus). Since the national park was gazetted many of these introduced trees have been removed and logging has ended.

Tourist’s attractions

chimpanzee trekking

Primates
Kibale National Park Uganda is the only park in Africa with the highest diversity and density of primates. The most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative. Kibale’s protected area houses an approximated area of 1450 chimpanzees. This represents Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. The forest is also home to East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. Other primates include the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.
Other Wildlife
At least 70 mammal species are present in the park though ground-dwelling animals are difficult to see in dense forest. Forest elephants are present, along with buffalos, leopards, warthogs, bush pigs, golden cats and duikers. A keen observer may spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colorful variety of 250 species of butterflies.
Birdlife
The Park boasts more than 375 species of birds. Kibale specials include the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Afep Pigeon, White-naped Pigeon, Crowned Eagle, Red-chested Owlet, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Grey Parrot, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Brown Illadopsis, Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Little Green Bul, and Black-eared Ground Thrush.

Areas of Interest outside the Park

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Rich in biodiversity and beautiful scenery, the wetland is a birder’s paradise with about 138 species. Located outside the park in Magombe Swamp it also hosts eight species of primates including the black-and-white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed, L’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons. Bushbucks and mongooses can also be found here. The sanctuary was set up to preserve the exclusive environmental features along with the wetland and is managed by the local community.

Kihingami Wetland
Located near Sebitoli in northern Kibale, this community-run project offers excellent bird watching and visits to the local tea estates and factory. Nature walks will bring visitors up close to primates such as the black-and-white colobus, red colobus and red-tailed monkeys. Other animals like otters, mongooses and bushbucks can be observed in the wetlands.

Tourists Activities
kibalemulti

Birding in Kibale
Bird watching tours start at 7am at Kanyanchu and visitors are advised to book in advance. Rare species include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. These could include the White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill among others.
Chimpanzee Tracking and Habituation in Kibale
Kibale’s most popular activity is the Kanyanchu Primate Walk. Thirteen species can be sought, and a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered, but the stars of this trail are the chimpanzees. Kanyanchu’s chimps have been tracked since 1993 and the chances of locating them are excellent. Guided walks start at 8am and 2pm and last an average of three hours, depending on various factors.
The full-day Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) works with a chimp community which is undergoing habituation. Early visitors can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7pm.

Cultural Encounters in Kibale

Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development (KAFRED)
KAFRED is a community-based organization which promotes local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through ecotourism. During the nature walk, a local guide will take visitors along the boardwalk through the Magombe swamp wetlands. Tourists are likely to see wildlife at close-hand, including several of the 200 species of birds, eight varieties of primates and numerous butterflies, along with unusual swamp vegetation.
The daily life of the Batooro can be discovered during the village walks. The tour stops by the village’s primary school, church, and traditional healer. During the cultural encounter one can learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, and the history of Bigodi is told through the story of the “Village of Two Tribes”, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from southwestern Uganda in the 1950s.
Income from this activity is invested in education, health, sanitation and improving the livelihood of local residents. It is also used to help raise awareness of the value of biodiversity through music, dance, and drama performances at local schools. In 2010, KAFRED they won the prestigious UNDP’s Equator Initiative Award and it has also won Silver at the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 held in South Africa.
Night Nature Walks
When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active. Night walks though the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures such as the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30pm and last between one and a half and two hours.

Accommodation at Kibale National Park

Primate Lodge –Luxury
Primate Lodge
Primate Lodge Kibale is a fashionable Eco-lodge located within Kibale National park. It’s enclosed by a flourishing tropical forest that is a habitat to many different species of primates for instance the chimpanzees. It’s secretly sheltered in the rainforest, it’s one of the lodges that give a really dependable jungle familiarity and it’s the most favorable place for tracking the primates in Uganda. Primate lodge Kibale has accommodation for all visitors ranging from luxury, cottages as well as tents. This lodge gives a chance to take your time in the morning and first have breakfast and later on plan for the day and how you are going to track the chimpanzees without much trouble.
The lodge has about 8 lavish safari tents, wooden platform with a thatched roof that tends to match well with the environment. The verandahs on each tent offer a beautiful view of the enclosed forest. The inside of the lodge is designed with an African style with beautiful beds. The bathrooms and toilets have a natural touch of the environment made out of local stones, wall paintings as well as bamboo.
The lodge has about 7 friendly cottages are secretly located in the forest. The rooms are big with double beds, a sitting room with an African design and standard en suite bathrooms and toilets.
Sky Tree House Another exciting adventure is the sky tree house, it has a bedroom with other facilities that can enable you enjoy a nigh there. It’s suited at a 10 minutes’ walk from the major lodge. Giving you a perfect view of the Elephant lurch. At night, all elephants gather at this point.
The restaurant serves both international and local foods with hospital waitresses. Next to the restaurant is a fully stocked bar with a beautiful scenic view of the forest.
The lounge has well designed chairs; soft cushions along with sofas that will make you enjoy the red-tailed monkeys in the forest.
Cultural dancing at the fire place. The evenings are usually enjoyed around the camp fire to give you all the warmth you need. Late in the night, you will experience the great sounds of the forest as well as the winding forest elephants.

Nyinabulitwa Country Resort

The resort is located just about 20 Kilometers off Fort Portal in the western part of Uganda. The resort surrounds Kibale Forest National Park acknowledged to be the most gorgeous tropical rainforest in the country with eye-catching birds and insects. It has different species of primates with about 1400 population of Chimpanzees.
The resort has well designed accommodation with self-contained cottages that put up both double and single beds with high quality services.
The Restaurant serves both international and local cuisines and some of the food is got from the garden and is prepared to the visitors.
The resort has a craft shop with all African items managed by the community women group. Get for yourself something that will always remind you of Uganda as a great country.
The Resort is located in Surroundings of Kibale forest which is habitant to many animals such as buffaloes, bush pigs, elephants, duikers and many reptiles. The resorts have tour guides that will lead visitors through the forest. The tree house will give one a perfect view for seeing birds and monkeys. A forest walk will give you a chance to get closer to some primates and birds. The lake offers many activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing as well as Kayaking. Mountain biking and hiking are also great games.
The resort has a craft shop with all African items managed by the community women group. Get for yourself something that will always remind you of Uganda as a great country.

Kyaninga Lodge

Kyaninga Lodge is located just mere 15 minutes’ drive outside Fort Portal town. Perched on top of a hill overlooking a stunning blue crater lake, the lodge enjoys spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, set against a magnificent backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains in the distance. The lodge accommodates twenty guests in eight raised log cabins.
The rooms have got space more than enough and if that piece of earth is not enough one can spend his or her afternoon with a tennis match on grass ground.
This lodge consists of a series of lofty thatch cottages, each gracefully perched on stilts, marching up a steep hilltop, and culminating in a double-story log structure with Reception, Bar/Sitting Room, and a Dining Hall, complete with a loft for those wanting to dine apart from the crowd. The cottages are interconnected with a glorious Escher-like cascade of suspended wooden stairways and bridges, and overlook a stunning landscape of fields and forests on one side, a spectacular crater-lake and mountains on the other. The interiors are tastefully finished in wood and thatch, with custom-designed wooden furniture. The level of service is exceptional, and the food served at the lodge is excellent. The environmentally-friendly banana-leaf wrappings to packed lunches are an experience. Facilities Swimming Pool, Tennis, Badminton, Croquet, Bar/Lounge, and International Chef
Kibale Forest Camp-
Kibale Forest Camp is situated in a patch of indigenous forest, just outside Kibale Forest National Park. It borders Bigodi swamp and is located on a mere 4 km from the starting point for chimpanzee tracking. The camp is a renowned birding paradise, not only frequented by our human visitors, but also by the black and white colobus, the red colobus, the red tailed monkey, the bleu monkey and the grey cheeked mangabey.
The complex is a beautiful wooden construction with a grass thatched roof which blends perfectly in the forest surroundings. The open construction permits our visitors to fully enjoy the beauty of this magical place.
Due to the remote location of the camp they work with set menus: delicious 2 course lunches and fine 4 course dinners. If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, it is wise to inform them at your earliest convenience.
The camp consists of 7 African safari style tents, which are comfortably furnished with twin or double beds. Each tent has its own private ensuite bathroom with an eco-friendly toilet, a dressing room and a bush shower.
The tents are placed in thick forest, are on raised wooden platforms and have their own verandah from where the forest and all its secrets can be observed.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National park is located in western Uganda and it’s shared by three district of Kiruhura, Mbarara and Isingiro Districts. The park is situated about 30 kilometers by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. The location of the park is approximately 240 kilometers or150 mi, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The coordinates of the park are: 00 36S, 30 57E and it covers an approximated area of 370 square kilometers.
The famous Lake Mburo was originally gazetted in 1933 as a Controlled Hunting Area and later upgraded to a Game Reserve in the year 1963. In spite of the fact that the area around Lake Mburo was gazzatted game reserve, the local Banyankole Bahima residents who are the traditional inhabitants of the area around Mburo continued to graze their long horned cattle in the Reserve until it was upgraded to National Park status in 1983. The Obote government’s decision to upgrade the Park was reportedly in part intended to weaken the Banyankole, who supported anti-Obote rebels. It came at the time of the Operation Bonanza massacre of 300,000. As the evicted pastoralists were not compensated for lost grazing land or assisted with resettling, many remained hostile to the Park’s formation. The rangeland outside the park was subsequently subdivided into small ranges and subsistence farming plots.

bahima cattle of mburo
In 1985 the second Obote regime fell and the previous residents of Lake Mburo re-occupied the Park’s land, expelling park staff, destroying infrastructure and annihilating wildlife. Less than half of the Park’s original land area was eventually re-gazetted by the NRM government in 1986.
Lake Mburo national park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. It is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.

Tourist attractions

Horses boats and Quad bikes mburo

Wildlife
The Park’s varied habitats support 68 mammal species. Rarities include impala, which, in Uganda, only lives in Lake Mburo, and Burchell’s zebra and eland which are found only here and in Kidepo. Other species include warthog, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck and reedbuck. Leopard and hyena are also present while crocodile and over 300 hippos are found in the lake. Previously extinct in the park, lions have recently been sighted again.
Birds
The Park is home to an estimated number of around 350 bird species that have been recorded to date. Some of these bird species include the Red-faced Barbet, only seen in Lake Mburo, the endemic African Finfoot and the rare Shoebill if found in the swampy areas of Lake Mburo national park. Other unique species found within this protected area are the Brown-chested Lapwing, the Papyrus Yellow Warbler as well as Saddle-billed Stork, African-wattled Lapwing, African Scops Owl, White-winged Warbler and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. Acacia woodland bird species are especially well represented, while forest species may be found in Rubanga forest. These include Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Hairy-breasted Barbet and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, among others.
Culture
Lake Mburo National Park is perfectly located in the traditional hunting grounds of the Banyankole -Bahima cattle keepers who utilized the land for grazing their Ankole long horned cattle and hunting wildlife . The geographical landscapes extending from the stretched valleys to the ancient Precambrian rocks, rolling hills like Kazuma, and historical lakes like Mburo have got a cultural attachment to the local people that live in the sounding areas to the park. Following the establishment of the park in 1983, the local people who were settling in the park evicted from the area and they settled in the nearby areas and since then, their local traditions, beliefs are still alive including the music dance and drama, unique long horned Ankole cattle, arts and crafts, values and customs and protected landscapes. Currently, the Enyemebwa cultural center is found on the park margin presenting the Hima heritage and conserving the beauty of Ankole long horned cattle.
Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo is a natural haven for fauna and flora. The bank teems with animals and birds. Crocodiles and hippopotami are permanent residents, and buffalos come to drink during the dry season. The wide variety of resident birds includes Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles, Rufous Long-tailed Starlings, Blue-headed Weavers, Green-necked Doves, Hammerkops, Pelicans, Herons, Cormorants and even rare Shoebills.
Rubanga Forest
Though small, this tract of forest on the western side of Lake Mburo provides a taste of tropical high forest with a closed canopy and a viewing platform for visitors. It is home to a variety of forest birds; commoner species include the Harrier Hawk, Green Pigeon, Narina Trogon, Grey-backed Cameroptera and Double-toothed Barbet. Rubanga can be explored with a ranger guide.
Tourists Activities

Zebra tracking of mburo
Birding in Lake Mburo National Park

The best birding spots in Lake Mburo National Park include the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti, and the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and the jetty. There are also ideally-situated viewing platforms at the salt lick, in Miriti Valley, and in Rubanga Forest. Species observed at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitar bill, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Finfoot among others.
Rubanga Forest can be visited using a vehicle or on foot. This is a real draw for keen birders, and prior arrangement should be made with the warden. The rare Red-faced Barbet – only seen in Lake Mburo National Park – is one of the of the forest’s featured species.
Game Drives in Lake Mburo
The network of game tracks in the east of the park passes a variety of landscape features; acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides, rock outcrops and seasonally flooded valley floors. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to roam the park in search of wildlife. An alternative view of the park, hopefully including sightings of animals rarely seen during the day, is provided by guided night drives. These start between 6.30-7pm and last two to three hours.
Zebra tracks. The Zebra track offers impressive views of Burchell’s Zebra alongside other species like bushbucks, oribi and reedbucks. The track connects to Ruroko track junction traverses through the wetland and thick acacia woodland marked by olive trees and eurphorbia species. The adjoining Ruroko track takes you the rocky out crops with opportunities to spot a Klipspringer.
The Kazuma track. This track passes through grassland dotted with wood species where the black-bellied bustards are common sightings. You climb the splendid Kazuma hill which offers the great scenic views of Lake Mburo National Park and beyond considering its altitude. The wild game tend to graze on the lower layers of the hill while the open hill top allows you to explore all the five lakes in Lake Mburo National Park.

Kigambira Loop. The Kigambira loop trails traverses through the woods and spaced thicket which opens you to bush duikers and bushbucks.
The Lakeside Track. The Lake side track allows you to explore the water environment featuring the water flora and fauna. The range of water birds dwelling in the water logged areas and swamps that surround Lake Mburo can be seen long this track not forgetting the swamp dwelling animals like the Sitatunga.
Game drives are best done in the morning and in the evening and tend to last 3 – 4 hours. The drives are taken along various tracks considering the factor of season and weather. For example in dry seasons, animals assemble around water bodies like lakes and swamps which tend to offer extraordinary photo sessions when herds of animals congregate in mutual co – existence on water shores.

Hiking and Nature Walks in Lake Mburo
Unusually, the whole park is open to walkers as long as they are accompanied by a ranger guide. At Rwonyo, a guided walk leads to a salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks. Walks on the western side of the lake begin at 7am and take two hours. At this time of day, you may encounter hyenas returning to their dens and hippos retreating to the lake. Hikes through the woodland provide an opportunity to sight forest birds and mammals, while the walk to the top of the hill rewards visitors with a spectacular view of 9 of the region’s 14 lakes. Of particular interest to walkers and birders is Rubanga Forest, which may be visited by prior arrangement and in the company of a ranger.

mount-elgon-hiking

Horseback safaris in Lake Mburo
Horseback safaris are an exciting way to view wildlife, including eland and buffalo. Also commonly sighted are warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra. The four-hour hacks take visitors up to hilltop viewpoints with the option of bush breakfasts or sundowners. This activity is arranged at Mihingo Lodge.

Launch Trips in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo national park is located in the middle of the park and the tranquil, calm waters of the lake offer opportunities for launch cruise and the activity takes two hours .The activity done in the afternoon hours enables one to explore the wildlife-rich eastern banks of Lake Mburo and species which can be viewed include the crocodiles, buffaloes and hippos as well as colorful Kingfishers, magnificent Fish Eagles, Hammerkops and their enormous nests and even the prehistoric-looking Shoebill. Voyages depart from Rwonyo jetty every two hours (subject to demand) starting at 8am.

Sport Fishing in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo contains around six species of fish, with tilapia being the most common. The designated fishing spot is at Mazinga and visitors planning to participate in sport fishing are requested to come along with own fishing equipment and obtain a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority. In Uganda sport fishing is only done in two protected areas i.e. Murchison falls and Lake Mburo national park.

Cultural encounters in Lake Mburo national park.
The local communities living around Lake Mburo National Park possess unique cultural heritage that originates from their traditional activities of cattle rearing. The Ankole long horned cattle kept in this part of Uganda are stunning species that can be encountered by any traveller alongside other unique practices of the local communities. While in this part of the country Uganda, One can take a look at the local traditional homesteads of the local Bahima people, arts and crafts, music dance and drama among other cultural products. Visit the Enyemebwa center to participate in cow milking, churning, rearing and cattle watering.

How to get there.
Lake Mburo National Park can be connected to from the following originating areas;
Two roads lead to Lake Mburo branching off from the Masaka – Mbarara road.
One helps you to enter via Sanga gate 37km east of Mbarara. While the other helps you to enter via Nshara gate 20 km from Lyantonde and 50 km to Mbarara.
You can also use public means to transfer to Lake Mburo National Park where you can board a bus up to Sanga town and then get a private taxi or a boda-boda to take you to Lake Mburo National Park.