East African Uganda is a landlocked country – but its border with Kenya and Tanzania runs through Lake Victoria. But Uganda also has a number of other lakes and the White Nile… which, by African standards, results in an unusually large proportion of fertile soil that Winston Churchill once called Uganda the “Pearl of Africa”. The area that is used for agriculture is correspondingly large, but the landscape is also characterized by primeval forests, wet savannahs and marshland, as well as by the 5,110 m high Margherita Peak and the Murchinson waterfalls. Overall, Uganda has a rather atypical African vegetation – which, however, in combination with unusual ecosystems, ensures that one encounters the most species-rich animal populations in Africa in this country. In addition to all the “classic” African animal species, you can also observe countless species of birds and even chimpanzees and rare mountain gorillas. In terms of natural space, Uganda is also given a variety of natural spaces thanks to the central plateau with its wet savannahs, the Mount Elgon massif in the east, the Virunga volcanoes and the Ruwenzori mountains in the southwest, dry forests and semi-deserts in the northern to northeastern region and tropical rainforest in the deeper parts of the country or the Bujagali waterfalls near Jinja. In the south of the country, the region that is largely occupied by Lake Victoria, lies the country’s capital: Kampala. The city with the Makerere University is one of the most important science centers in East Africa – but also worth seeing for tourists.
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
England’s Queen Elizabeth has set herself a monument in Uganda – she gave her name to one of the largest African national parks. That was back in 1954 when she visited what was then the British colony. The real stars of the game-rich park are the chimpanzees, who apparently feel very comfortable in the Kyambura Gorge and are hardly afraid of the groups of visitors from all over the world.
Savannas, swamps and rainforests
The Queen Elizabeth National Park on the western edge of the East African Rift Valley covers 2,000 square kilometers. Almost all varieties of African vegetation can be found here: savannas, swamps, dense rainforests and numerous lakes. The diversity of the game population in the park is accordingly, because in addition to the approximately one hundred different species of mammals, over six hundred species of birds have now made their home there. All of this makes the Queen Elisabeth National Park in Uganda one of the most extraordinary protected areas on the Black Continent.
There are plenty of elephants
Visitors to this park get their money’s worth on safari, as the chance of seeing some of the great inhabitants of this region is very good. There are almost an abundance of elephants in this part of Uganda – sometimes they are even perceived as a nuisance. Impressions of the nature of the national park and the multitude of animals can be obtained in the visitor center on the Mweya peninsula. The so-called Kazinga Canal, which is actually a natural river, connects two lakes – Lake George and Lake Edward. These names are also borrowed from the English royal family.
Hippos and colobus monkeys
In Queen Elisabeth National Park there are always special motifs for taking photos when the ranger’s car drives towards a lion that is preparing to climb into one of the trees. Hippos can be seen on a boat tour, and in addition to the chimpanzee colonies, there are baboons and red colobus monkeys here. A total of five lodges have been established in the park over the past few years.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
The 7,000 hectare wildlife sanctuary was established in 2005 and is used to reintroduce the white rhinos, which have been extinct in Uganda for many years, mainly due to poachers. The first six pachyderms from Kenya and the USA were brought to the reserve for breeding and in 2008 the first babies were born in the park. The herd now consists of over 15 rhinos. As soon as it is big enough, it will be released into the “Murchison National Park” and “Kidepo Valley National Park”. In total, over 80 gamekeepers guard and care for the small herd day and night.
The visitor gets fantastic and unique impressions during “Rhino-Trekking. The special thing about the hike, which leads through a savannah and bush landscape, is the encounter with the rhinos in the wild. It is the only possibility to see rhinos still alive in Uganda Sometimes it is even possible to get close to the gray pachyderms and observe them in their natural habitat. To be on the safe side, experienced rangers accompany the tour and bring the group closer to interesting information about the gray giants.
The reserve is home to up to 20 other animal species and with a bit of luck, one or the other will see monkeys, hippos or antelopes on the way.
In addition, over 250 exotic bird species live in the reserve, which can be observed on a guided tour. Another exciting experience is a canoe trip through the swamp called “Lugogo”. Here you go in search of the rare shoebill, a large African walking bird.
The income goes to the animals of the reserve.
Bwindi National Park
The 334 km² Bwindi National Park in Uganda runs along the flanks of the East African Rift Valley. Anyone who has already been captivated by the film “Gorillas in the Fog” should definitely plan a safari there when traveling to Uganda. The park, founded in 1991, is home to around half of all still living and endangered mountain gorillas and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.
In addition, ten other species of monkeys live in the Bwindi National Park, such as guerezas, chimpanzees, white-nosed cats, bearded cats, diadem cats and anubis baboons. But also small antelopes and elephants are at home there as well as several species of birds that can only be found here.
The “Impenetrable Forest”
The forest area of the Bwindi National Park is called the Impenetrable Forest because it consists of dense rain and mountain forests with almost impenetrable undergrowth. The rainforest developed from the last ice age and still shows a lot of this originality today. Between the forests there are wetlands, which are criss-crossed by numerous streams. In the southeast is the Mubwindi wetland, it is the largest of the park with 2 km².
Experience mountain gorillas up close
For gorilla tourism, there have been six so-called habituated gorilla groups in the Bwindi National Park since 2010 that are used to being close to humans and are visited on guided excursions. To protect the animals, the number of participants per group is limited to eight people, who can watch the gentle giants for an hour.
A visit to the mountain gorillas is an incomparable experience for every participant, which leaves lasting impressions and justifies the often quite strenuous trek through the thicket of the forest.
The park can be reached all year round with a four-wheel drive vehicle and is a worthwhile destination, especially for those interested in study trips and zoology.
Murchison Falls National Park
The Murchison Falls National Park, also called Kabalega Falls National Park, is located in the northwest of Uganda. The park, which was established in 1952, is 3.840 km2 in size and is considered Uganda’s largest and best-known nature reserve. The terrain is an indescribably beautiful place with lush green forests, clean lakes, extensive savannah and spectacular waterfalls. The Victoria Nile divides the national park into south and north. In terms of area, the southern area is larger. In the north, however, you can see almost all the animals living in the park, with the exception of the buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodiles and some species of birds.
After the national park was severely affected by poaching in the 1970s and 80s and the rhinos and elephants were almost completely exterminated, the animal population is now gradually recovering, so that lions, Rothschild giraffes, elephants and also leopards are regularly observed on safaris can be.
In addition to the monkeys, crocodiles, giraffes, hippos that can be seen in many areas of the Victoria Nile, most other animal species live in the northern area of the park or come to the banks of the river to drink. The park got its name from the impressive Murchison waterfall. Here the Victoria Nile falls from a height of 43 m over a step and then flows into the Albertsee, which it leaves again towards the north. Thus, the Victoria Nile forms the western border of the national park at this point. Crocodiles live under the waterfall and feed on the animals that fall prey to the waterfall, especially birds and hippos.
The highlights of the national park include above all the waterfalls, which can be hiked from a rest area or explored on a boat trip to the foot of the falls. Exciting game drives can also be undertaken; a guided tour by a gamekeeper is not compulsory, but advisable for every tour.