Planning your Uganda trip? In this post about Uganda's 10 National Parks and 4 Wildlife Game Reserves, you'll learn about their topography, animals you can see, and where they are located. We also include 7 travel videos to give you a true picture about each Uganda National Park.
Uganda's 10 National Parks
The national parks in Uganda are the country’s gift to the world. Not only are they teeming with a profusion of incredible wildlife that includes Africa’s Big Five, but they also offer breathtaking scenery, once-in-a-lifetime adventures like gorilla trekking, and cultural experiences with tribes who still retain the knowledge, customs and forest secrets of their ancestors.
If you’re planning a trip to Uganda, you should know about the following 10 national parks and 4 wildlife reserves in Uganda.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
If mountain gorilla trekking is on your bucket list, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is your premier destination as it is best known as the home of half the world’s population of mountain gorillas (estimated 400 individuals).
However, don’t think that gorillas are the only attraction here. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also home to numerous animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, trees, and plants. You may see chimpanzees, antelopes, and elephants as well as birds not found anywhere else in the world.
In addition to gorilla trekking, you can enjoy camping, hiking, biking, birdwatching, and village walks to learn about the Batwa Pygmy culture.
2. Kibale National Park
Dreaming of going on an African safari? Kibale offers you one of the most rewarding experiences since it abounds in wildlife that include the likes of chimpanzees, elephants, leopards, warthogs, African buffalos, and more than 375 bird species.
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Of all the national parks in Uganda, Kibale boasts one of the most beautiful rainforests where you can take nature walks or night safaris to see nocturnal creatures. You can also go hiking through amazing scenery, swim in crater lakes, explore caves, and tour tea and vanilla plantations.
3. Kidepo Valley National Park
Enter Kidepo Valley National Park and you step back into time when Africa was at its most raw and wild state. The most remote of all the national parks of Uganda, Kidepo receives less than 10 visitors per day.
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This means you have the land of Eden for yourself to view a plethora of game such as giraffes, lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, antelopes and hyenas. Kidepo is also the only national park where you can see cheetahs and ostriches in the wild. You can also take a guided hike to meet the ethnic Karamoja People.
4. Lake Mburo National Park
Visitors looking for national parks in Uganda closest to the capital city, Kampala, will want to check out Lake Mburo National Park. It may be one of the smallest parks, but Lake Mburo packs a treasure chest of attractions and adventures.
This park not only shelters hundreds of bird species and animals like zebras, hippos, topis, crocodiles, Defassa waterbucks, and impalas, but it also contains Precambrian metamorphic rocks dating back more than 500 million years. A visit here offers you unforgettable experiences where you can go on a nocturnal boat safari, stand on the Equator, and visit ethnic villages to learn about African drum making.
5. Mgahinga National Park
Endangered golden monkeys and cloud-enshrouded volcanoes set this small protected area apart from other national parks in Uganda. While Mgahinga was established to protect rare mountain gorillas, it is also a crucial habitat for the golden monkeys that live high up in the elevated bamboo forest.
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Not only can you go on treks to see mountain gorillas and golden monkeys here, but you can also enjoy nature walks, climb the extinct volcanoes to explore their diverse ecosystems, and meet up with the indigenous Batwa Pygmies to learn about their ancient forest secrets.
6. Mount Elgon National Park
Many visitors come here to climb the majestic extinct volcano for which this national park is named, but Mt. Elgon National Park offers much more for non-mountain climbers.
Nature enthusiasts will love the prospect of seeing antelope, buffalo, elephants, blue monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and more than 300 bird species. Caves, gorges, calderas, hot springs, and the spectacular Sipi Falls are all natural attractions here that you may enjoy exploring. You can also tour coffee plantations, fish for trout on the Sipi River, and take a hike to see the prehistoric Nyero Rock Paintings.
7. Murchison Falls National Park
If you could only visit one of the national parks in Uganda, Murchison Falls might be your best pick. Named after the waterfall where the mighty Nile River bursts through a narrow gorge before plunging into a powerful display, Murchison Falls is both the largest and most visited of Uganda national parks.
Check out our Guide to Murchison Falls: 16 Things to Know
Game drives here offer you chances to see lions, elephants, Jackson’s hartebeest, big cats, Rothschild giraffes, and a variety of monkeys. Birdwatchers will be in paradise here with hundreds of birds species. You can also take a Nile River boat cruise to spot nile crocodiles, hippos and water birds such as the crested crane, the country’s national bird.
Check this before you begin packing: Complete African Safari Packing List
8. Queen Elizabeth National Park
Named after the present queen of England following her visit in 1964, this national park offers you a little bit of everything. This park features a diversity of habitats like savannah grasslands, lowland forests, and wetlands, so this means a wide variety of wildlife.
There is a multitude of elephants, hippos, and chimpanzees here as well as many bird species, reptiles like monitor lizards, and several big cat species that include the tree-climbing lions.
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The park is also home to incredible scenery and natural wonders such as volcanic crater lakes and awe-inspiring mountains. Best of all, you can explore this national park by way of lake cruises, hot air balloon rides, hiking trails, and safaris (both day and night).
9. Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Did you know that Uganda is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery? When you visit the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, you will be awestruck with the park’s stunning Mountains of the Moon, which are loftier than the Alps. Rwenzori’s beauty is accentuated by waterfalls, lakes, trees, and flowers as well as snowfields and glaciers.
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The park is also home to forest elephants, black-and-white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, hyraxes and chameleons in addition to many bird species that are only found in this region. You will make unforgettable memories here with hiking, mountain climbing, nature walks, mountain stream fishing, and visits to the Ruboni Village to learn about their culture with dancing and drumming lessons.
10. Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is unique from other national parks in Uganda because it possesses many features that are more common in Central Africa such as its landscapes, animal species, thatched huts, and ethnic communities. The park is home to one of the most ancient forests on the African continent, providing a habitat for more than 400 bird species in addition to various animals and reptiles.
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A visit to Semuliki offers opportunities to see hot springs with boiling geysers, chimpanzee trekking, and hiking and nature trails to observe hippos, crocodiles, birds, and forest elephants. You can also go on a game drive to glimpse lions, pygmy antelopes, leopards, and flying squirrels.
4 Ugandan Wildlife Game Reserves
1. Katonga Wildlife Reserve
Located along the Katonga River in western Uganda, this wildlife reserve is home to various plant and animal species that live in swampy habitats.
Visiting here presents you with the chance to see more than 40 animal species that include bushbuck, river otter, waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, and hippo. The best way to explore this wildlife reserve is by taking a canoe trip along the river where you can spot a diversity of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
2. Karuma Wildlife Reserve
According to local legend, a spirit named Karuma created the magnificent waterfalls for which this wildlife reserve was named. Seeing the roaring falls up close is worth a visit to this reserve that is found in western Uganda near the conservation area of Murchison Falls in the Kiryandongo district.
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While you are here, you can also view a remarkable array of bird species as well as animals that include giraffes, elephants, olive baboons, L’Hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, Ugandan kobs, and many more.
3. Bokora Corridor Game Reserve
Named after the Bokora people who belong to the Karamojong ethnic group of this region, this game reserve is located among the arid plains of eastern Uganda. Within the reserve, you’ll find a prime birding habitat, the Loporokocho swamp, which is home to species that are difficult to see anywhere else.
Two of these species are the Jackson’s hornbill and the white-headed buffalo weaver. In addition to the many birds, you may also get to see animal species such as roan antelope, Bright’s gazelle, zebra, lion and Rothschild’s giraffe.
4. Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve
One of the largest wildlife reserves in Uganda, the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is also found in the Karamoja region. Because of its close proximity to the Kidepo National Park, you are likely to glimpse ostriches here as they are mostly found in that national park.
Featuring predominately savannah grass and woodlands, this reserve protects animal species such as the hartebeest, bush pig, eland, reedbuck, baboon and buffalo in addition to rock pythons, water snakes, puff adders, chameleons, geckos, and savannah monitors.
With so many wildlife reserves and national parks in Uganda, you would be hard-pressed to decide which ones you most wish to visit.
Hopefully, this list gives you a better idea of how to narrow down your options so that you can maximize the best of your Uganda experience.