Tour Sites

QUEEN ELIZABETH NP

INTRODUCTION:

The 1978km² Queen Elizabeth National Park enjoys a stunning location on the rift valley floor between Lakes Edward and George where a mosaic of habitats supports 95 mammal species and a remarkable 612 species of birds. Forty years ago, Douglas willocks described the diverse features that led to its creation in 1952. There still exists no better introduction or a more enticing invitation to visit the park.

‘Scenically the area had everything. Thirty miles to the north, the blue Rwenzori exploded from the plain, a composite, jagged mass of mountains, sixty miles long and forty wide and looking in certain lights as if you could reach out and touch them. Across Lake Edward to the west, the Mitumbe hills stood sentinel on the Congo, blue too in the long sight but in the closer green, wooded, precipitous, unfriendly and epitomizing darkest Africa. The eastern boundary of this possible park was marked by the calm green escarpment of the western Rift Valley. And between all the hills, mountains and lakes was endless savanna, its constantly repeated motif the branched cactus arms of the candelabra euphorbia tree’

The park forms part of an extensive system of contiguous protected areas, namely the Kigezi (265km²) and Kyambura (154km²) Wildlife Reserves, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Kibale National Park (766km²) and, in the neighboring DRC, the 2000km² Virunga National Park. Rwenzori Mountains National Park lies a few kilometers north.

The dramatic scenery is largely due to mountains beyond the park boundary. The park itself lies on the rift valley floor where it rises 480m form 910m at the Kazinga Channel to 1390m in the Explosion Crater field. The low altitude and its location directly on the equator mean that temperatures can be warm, rising from a mean minimum of 18ºC to a mean maximum of 28ºC. The park receives up to 1250mm of rain, mostly during March- May and September-November.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The park is easily accessible. The tarmac Mbarara- Kasese- Fort Portal highway runs through its centre, passing just 22km from the main tourism hub at Mweya. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara (420km) or the north passing through Fort Portal (410km). These routes can be combined to create an attractive circuit with short detours to visit Lake Mburo, Semuliki and Kibale national parks. The park can also be reached from the south from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Charter flights can be arranged to a choice of airstrips at Kasese. Mweya and Ishasha.

ACCOMMODATION:

A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets. Mweya Safari Lodge, Jacana Safari Lodge and the Ishasha Wilderness Camp off up market accommodation while the Mweya Hostel at Mweya, Ishasha bandas and various hotels in Kasese town provide budget accommodation.

Camping is possible at Mweya, Maramagambo and Ishasha. Convenient options just outside the park include Hippo Hill Camp close to katwe and Kingfisher camp on the lovely Kichwamba escarpment. There is a newly constructed lodge in the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve.

FLORA AND FAUNA:

The park is home to 95 mammal species while the bird list is 612 species long. This diversity is the result of an impressive range of habitats. Fifty-seven vegetation types have been identified though these can be summarized as just five: forest: grassland: bushy grassland: Acacia woodland and lakeshore/ swamp vegetation.

Residents of the park’s grassland include elephants, Cape buffalo, Uganda Kob, waterbuck, warthog, giant forest hog, lion, leopard and hyena. Topi are found in Ishasha, while forest primates are found in Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo

 

Forest.

In African protected areas, the park’s impressive bird list is exceeded only by the neighboring (and far larger) Virunga National Park. To name but a few species: martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, pink-backed pelicans, lesser and greater flamingo and shoebill stork.

AROUND THE PARK:

Mweya Peninsula

The peninsula is the hub for tourism activity and accommodation in the central section of the park. A nature walk with a ranger guide enables you to explore remoter parts of the peninsula. This and other activities can be arranged from the Mweya Information Centre. This facility overlooks the scenic Katwe Bay of Lake Edward and contains a souvenir shop and exhibits that describe the national park and its rift valley setting.

Kazinga Channel

The 40km-long channel that connects Lake George to Lake Edward provides the park’s prime wildlife spectacle. Its shoreline attracts large numbers of birds, mammals and reptiles year round. These can be seen from two covered launches, Topi and Simba that cruise between Mweya jetty and the channel’s entrance into Lake Edward. The launches run at 15.00 and 17.00. Additional voyages run at 11.00 and 13.00 subject to demand.

North Kazinga and Kasenyi

The plain north of the Kazinga channel is the primary game viewing area. A network of tracks enables you to find elephant, buffalo and other animals in the mosaic of grassland thickets that covers the North Kazinga area near Mweya. However lion are more reliably sighted on the open Kasenyi plain east of the Kasese road where they prey on a large population of Uganda Kob. Game drives are most rewarding in early morning and late afternoon. A ranger guide is recommended to help you make the most of the experience.

Lake Katwe

The Katwe Salt Lake is home to Uganda’s oldest industry. Salt has been extracted from the lake using evaporation beds and the process is continued today.

Katwe Explosion Craters

This cluster of extinct volcanoes north of Mweya Safari Lodge can be explored by the winding 27km crater Drive between the main and Equator Gates. This provides superb views into numerous craters, some filled by lovely lakes, as well as towards the Rwenzori and across the rift valley floor.

The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion

The spot where the equator crosses the Kasese road is marked by two concrete circles which provide a popular photo stop. The Queen’s pavilion stands nearby at the northern entrance to the crater Drive. A temporary shelter at this site hosted H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954; the permanent pavilion was built in 1959 for a visit by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. This was restored for a second visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007. Anew Information Centre on the site includes internet facilities and a coffee shop.

Ishasha

90km south of Mweya, the park’s remote southern sector provides a true wilderness experience. Diverse habitats, including the Ishasha River, savanna woodland and the marshy Lake Edward Flats support a variety of wildlife including Ishasha’s famous tree climbing lions and the rare shoebill stork.

Kyambura Wildlife Reserve

This area, which protects the south-eastern banks of the Kazinga channel contains four crater lakes, in which thousands of flamingos periodically congregate.

Maramagambo Forest
The dark depth of Maramagambo forest contrast starkly with the sunny plains around the Kazinga channel. One of Uganda’s largest tracts of  tropical forest. Maramagambo is notable for its primate and bird populations. Trails explore the forest around lake Nyamusingire. Wildlife sightings vary from day to day but guaranteed activities include Bat cave (with a resident bat hungry python) and the copper rich Blue Lake.

Kyambura Gorge
Habituated chimpanzee live in the 100m Gorge carved by the Kyambura River as it flows across the rift valley floor towards the Kazinga channel. Guided walks to search for them start at kyambura’s fig tree camp at 08:00 and 14:00 hrs

MURCHISON FALLS NP

Introduction

The Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern End of the AIbertine Rift Valley where the bulky Bunyoro escarpment merges into the vast plains of Acholi land. One of Uganda, s oldest conservation areas, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 to proctect the savanna that Winston Churchill describe n 1907 as ‘Kew Gardens and the zoo combined on un limited scale.

Murchison Falls has received  many notable foreign visitors .In 1907, Winston Churchill hiked, boated and bicycle up the Nile Corridor to the fall. He was followed by Theodora Roosevelt In 1909 during hunting safari that cost by, today‘s prices, a Phenomenal US$1.8m;

In 1951, the falls provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s famous movie, The African Queen which was filmed on the location along the Murchison Nile and on lake Albert .British royal have also visited Murchison, the price Of Wales (later Edward Vii) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959.

The least happy celebrity visitor was Ernest Hemingway in 1954 who literally dropped in .His intention was simply to over fly the waterfall but his plane clipped an old telegraph wire strung  across the gorge and cart wheeled into the riverine forest . Hemingway and his wife were rescued and taken to Butiaba where their rescue plane crashed on takeoff.

The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which first races down 80km of whitewater rapid s rapid before plugging 40m over the remnant rift valley wall at Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park.This waterfall was name in 1864 by the explorer Samuel Barker who considered it the most inportant object through the entire course of the river. The falls drians the last of the river‘s energy transforming into a broad, placid stream  that flows quietly across  the rift  valley floor for 55km to lakes Albert .This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most memorable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors include elephants , giraffe and buffalos while hippopotamus and crocodiles are permanent residents.

The park covers 3,893km2 and is Uganda‘s largest protected area. Today it is part of even larger Murchison Falls protected Area (5,072km2) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves.

The Albert Nile corridor is Uganda’s lowest area (612m at Delta point) and temperatures can be hot with a mean maximum of 290 C. The hottest times are mid of December to mid Febuary and June to July, tempered by rainy seasons in April and November

How to get there

By road, the Nile crossing at Para in the center of the park, is approximately 5hrs drive from Kampala (305km).Paraa is 85Km from Masindi town by the direct route . A  longer (135km) alternative  route passes through Budongo forest and enjoys spectacular views across lake Albert from the rift valley escarpment above Butiaba.Paraa can also be approached from the north , via Chobe Gate near Karuma Falls and Tangi Gate near Packwach     (25km to Paraa ), and Wankwar Gate near Purongo

 Accommodation

UWA campsite exist at the top of the falls, Rabongo forest and Delta point .These sites provide pit latrines and in some cases, basic showers. Budget accommodation and camping is available at Red Chill Rest Camp and Kaniyo Pabidi Camp .More up market accommodation is provided by Nile Safari Camp, Sambiya River and Paraa Safari Lodges .In Masindi, the Masindi Hotel and Court View are recommended.

Flora and fauna

The  park is dominated by  savanna woodland,rivers /wetlands and tropical forests habits which provide home for 76 mammals and 450 birds species . Large mammals include lion, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, Rothschild’s giraffe, Cape buffalo, hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog and Uganda kob. The Nile corridor provides year round water for these animals as wall as plethora of water birds including the rare shoebill stork) and Uganda’s largest population of the crocodiles, The Kaniyo pabidi forests provide refuges for chimpanzee and other primates as wall as an impressive 360 specie of birds.

Around the park

The Nile and Murchison Falls
When the park was created in 1952 the game Department enthused. The main attractions of this park are undoubtedly the unique Murchison Falls and the  river Nile with its teaming hippo and series ranks of crocodile on the sandbanks ,coupled with large numbers of other species … coming down to dink  and bathe…

Today the highlight of a visit to Murchison is the launch trip upstream to view the falls and riverside wildlife .The launch departs at 9:00 and 14:00n daily. The round trip takes three hours. An additional boat trip heads downstream from Paraa to the papyrus delta at the river’s entrance into Lake Albert .This 4-5 hour returns voyage offers a good chance of sighting the shoebill stork and a variety of other wild life.

The Nile below Murchison falls provides exciting challenges to anglers including the chance to land a massive  Nile perch (the record is 108 Kg).Fishing is restricted to designated sites and places are limited so prior booking is recommended .Some boats may be hired for fishing by prior booking .Do bring your fishing equipment. The most dramatic view of the waterfall is the “Top of the fall” where the sight and sound of the Nile crashing through a 6m wide chasm make an unforgettable assault on the senses .This site may be reached either by vehicle or half hour climb after leaving the Paraa launch.

Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi Forests

Trail through Kaniyo Pabidi forest, 8Km inside Kichumbanyobo Gate, provide the opportunity to track chimpanzee and other primates beneath Uganda’s largest remaining Mahogany trees. Birding is excellent with the chance of sighting rarities such as the yellow footed fly catcher, Ituri Batis , and White thighed Horn bill , Nature walks are also offered at Rabongo forest.

Buligi Area

The Park’s prime savanna game viewing area , this lovely  grassland wilderness is sandwiched between the Victoria and Albert Niles with panoramic views  towards the western wall of the rift valley beyond Lake Albert in the D.R Congo .A game drive from Paraa passing Delta point takes 3 – 4 hours . Early morning and late afternoon are the optimum times for sighting game .A UWA Ranger guide is recommended to help you make the most of your game drive.

MT ELGON

Introduction

Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and Western Kenya. Its vast form, eighty kilometers in diameter, rises 3070m above the surrounding plains, providing welcome relief in more than one sense of the word. Its mountainous terrain introduces variety to an otherwise monotonous regional landscape .Its cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and it higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.

Mount Elgon has been a regional landmark for a long time is extinct volcano is one of Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 20 million years ago. It was once Africa’s highest mountain , towering above Kilimanjaro ‘s 5895m .Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4321m, relegating it to 4th highest peak in East Africa (and 7th on the continent).However , its 4000Km 2 surface area is still the largest base of any volcanic mountain world wide.

Mount Elgon is hugely important water catchments .Its forests receive up to 3000mm of rain each year, which they store and release to support flora , fauna and more than a million  Ugandans .Elgon’s water is equally important to many Kenyans , For Mount Elgon is bisected by the international boundary .The mountain’s natural vegetation , and its role as a giant biological sponge , is protected by a Mount Elgon National park on both sides of the border. The Ugandan park , which was upgraded from forest reserve  in 1993 , covers 1,110Km 2.Though its Kenyan  counterpart measures just 170Km 2, it is adjoined by a forest reserve and national reserve .These parks and reserves in both countries combine to form a transboundary conservation area  covering 2,229Km 2, which have been declared Man & Biosphere  Reserves under UNESCO.

Mount Elgon receives far fewer visitors than other higher and more famous mountains in East Africa. However as routes on Mt Kilimanjaro n and Kenya become increasingly crowded and degraded, hikers are appreciating Mount Elgon’s deserted moorlands .A climb on Mount Elgon is to explore a magnificent and uncluttered montane wilderness without the summit –oriented approach common to higher regional mountains .Indeed the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mount Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai peak, but the descent into the vast 40Km 2 caldera.

How to get there

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 .Murram roads  lead off the Mbale –Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.

Accommodation

The national park provide dormitory accommodation and self contained wooden cottages at the foresty exploration centre at Kapkwai .Meals are available on request. The park also has self catering guesthouses at Kapkwata and Suam .Outside the park, simple accommodation is available at Kapchorwa and Budadiri .A range of accommodation is found around the scenic Sipi Falls, and the foot of the mountain in Mbale.

The trails on the mountain have nine campsites, placed at strategic intervals. These are located near water sources, and tent pads and latrines are provided, but supplies and camping equipment must be carried.

Flora and Fauna

The ascent of mount Elgon passes through a series of roughly concentric vegetation zones .The lower slopes of the mountain are intensively farmed up to the park boundary .The first zone of natural vegetation  is montane forest which runs from the park  boundary up to 2500m.This is followed by bamboo and low  canopy forest (2400 – 3000m), then  high montane  heath (3000 – 3500m) which includes the giant heather (philipia excelsia) growing up to 6m tall .Above 3500m , cold temperatures and fierce winds force the heather to give way to open moorland. Finally, above  3800m , dramatic Afro alpine vegetation is found among tussock grasslands and Crex bogs .This rare and spectacular vegetation type is restricted to the upper reaches of East Africa ‘s highest mountains and includes the giant groundsel (Senecio elgnensis) and endemic Lobelia elgonensis.

Mount Elgon supports a variety of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, Defassa’s water buck, oribi, bushbuck, leopard, and spotted hyena. However, as is usual in forest environments most of these species are rarely seen .The most commonly seen creatures are black and white colobus, blue monkey, duiker and tree squirrel.

The mountain is home to 296 birds including 40 restricted range species .Birds whose Ugandan range is limited to Mount Elgon include Jackson’s francolin, mustached green tinker bird, and black collared apalis, the Ugandan ranges of which is limited to Mount Elgon .The bronze nape pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco and tecazze sunbird are limited to Mount Elgon and a few other mountains in eastern Uganda. Mount Elgon is also one of the few places in Uganda where the endangered Lammergeyer can be seen, soaring above the caldera and suam gorge.

Local People

Mount Elgon is home to three tribes, the Bagisu, the Sabiny and Ndorobo.The Bagisu and Sabiny are subsistence farmers and conduct circumcision ceremonies every other year to initiate young men (and in the sabiny’s case, girls) into adulthood .Traditionally, the Bagisu, also known as the Bamasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba, and you may hear the mountain called by his name. Local people have long depended on forest produce and have made agreements with the park to continue to harvest resources such as bamboo poles and bamboo shoots (a delicious local delicacy).

Climbing the Mountain

Mount Elgon National; Park is a road less wilderness .The park can only be explored on foot, on routes that range from day walks to extended hikes over several days to reach the  upper mountain. You can also make your hike a Transboundary adventure, ascending the Ugandan slopes and descending on the Kenyan side (or vice versa).This requires prior arrangement to meet with Kenya wildlife Services (KWS) rangers at crossover point at the hot springs in the Caldera.

A trained ranger guide is required on all treks .Local porters make your hike easier, each carrying up to 18Kg of supplies, in addition to collecting water, cooking and preparing the camp.

The best times to climb Mount Elgon ARE during the dry seasons of June –August and December – March. No technical climbing equipment or skills are required to reach the main peaks. The Caldera and the peaks are the main destinations, while along the way; a choice of trail of passes interesting and unique flora and fauna, waterfalls, lakes, caves, gorges and hot springs.

Rain gear and both cool and warm clothing are required as the area is subject to sudden weather changes .You should also take a camera , binoculars , hat, torch, wildlife guidebooks and insect repellant.

Health and Safety

Hikers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia and the various forms of altitude sickness. Be aware that above 2500m, altitude sickness can affect anyone, irrespective of age, fitness or previous mountain experience. The risk is reduced  by slow  ascents  to enable acclimatization , while the most effective  treatment is immediate  withdrawal  to a lower altitude .Hence affected hikers  should not descend into the Caldera ,which you must climb upwards to leave.

Around The Park

Trail heads and routes
Routes from three main trailheads lead to caldera .The trek lengths given below refer to return journeys.

Sasa trail.(4 days)
This route , which starts from Budadiri town , is the closest to Mbale and is the most easily accessible .It also provides  the most  direct route to the peaks , albeit with a stiff climb of over 1,600m on the first day .It crosses the park’s  largest  area of bamboo forest and passes  the lovely Jackson’s pool on the way to Wagagai  peak.

Sipi trail (7 days)

This route starts at the forest Exploration Centre at KIapkwai, a few kilometers upstream from the Sipi falls which lie just outside the park. The trail visits the spectacular viewpoint overlooking the plains 1200m below.

Piswa trail (7 days)

This trail, which starts at Kapkwata, 30 Km beyond Kapchorwa, is a longer route, but starts at a higher altitude and follows a more gradual route to the Caldera .It, is notable for the Podocarpus forest en route a prime habitat for wildlife viewing.

Suam Trail

This long and little used trail starts at the village of Suam on the Kenyan border crossing .It follows the Suam River through the steep and spectacular Suam Gorge to the hot springs on the eastern side of Caldera

It is possible to vary your hike by ascending from one trailhead and descending to another for example

Ascending Sasa Trail descending via Sipi Trail (5days)
Ascending Sasa Trail descending via Piswa Trail (6 days)
Ascending Sipi Trail and descending via Piswa Trail (7 days)

Wanale Ridge

The national park extends out from the main massif of Mount Elgon along the 25Km –long Wanale ridge. A massive huge of lava , this culminates in the dramatic cliffs that overlook Mbale town .A trail explores the national park ‘s regenerating forests on the ridge .Look for petrified wood in the Khaura Cave and enjoy splendid views over the plains of eastern Uganda.

NGAMBA ISLAND EXCURSIONS , UGANDA
Ngamba Island is a project of the Chimpanzees Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT), established in 1997 by the Born Free Foundation (UK), International Fund for Animal Welfare (USA), the Jane Goodall Institute (Germany and Uganda), The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Trust (UWECT) and the Zoological Board of New South Wales (Australia) and it provides these orphaned chimpanzees with a secure home to live out their lives, since a return to their natural habitat is not possible, while educating visitors and local communities about their remarkable species and the importance of conserving their fragile forest habitat.

Ngamba Island consists of approximately 100 acres, 98 of which are forested and separated from the visitors area by an electric fence. Ngamba Island was officially opened to visitors in October 1999 and is currently home to 40 orphaned chimpanzees.

Lake Bunyonyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Bunyonyi ” Place of many Little Birds”is a body of water seven kilometres west from Kabale Town, southwestern Uganda close to the border with Rwanda.  It is 25 km long and 7 km wide, covering an area of 61 square kilometres. The lake’s altitude is 1,962 m above sea level and it is surrounded by hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 m high and intensely cultivated.
Towns on it shores include Kyevu and Muko, while its 29 islands include Punishment Island and Bushara Island are concentrated in the central part. These islands have few settlements, they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for a secondary and a primary school.
It is a popular location for watersports.
The data on the lake’s maximum depth varies, from 44 m to 900 m in parts. If the latter is true, Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa.
It is one of the few lakes in the region that is free of bilharzia and safe for swimming.
The temperature on the surface rises to 25 degrees Celsius. In the beginning of the 20th century, fish were introduced to the lake and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing, likely caused by wind. Subsistence fishing prevailed in the lake, people mostly caught clarias species – the lake’s depth and stratification makes it difficult for the breeding of the common Ugandan species Nile Perch and Tilapia. Nevertheless, 300,000 Nile Tilapias and Clarias fish were released in the lake at the end of 2002. Also present in the lake are Mud fish, Cray fish and Mirrowcarp – and plenty of their predators, otters.
The lake’s main centre is Bufuka Village. The area’s inhabitants are from the Bakiga and the Batwa tribes.

 Main islands

 Akampene = Punishment Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punishment Island in Lake Bunyonyi
The Bakiga used to leave unmarried pregnant girls on this small island with a tree – to die of hunger or while trying to swim to the mainland (swimming skills were rare). This was to educate the rest, to show them not to do the same. A man without cows to pay the bride wealth could go to the island and pick up the girl. The practice got abandoned in the first half of the 20th century. Although this practice has been abandoned, it is still possible to find women who were picked up from Punishment Island today.

Bushara Island

This island is the home of Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, an organisation with strong links to Church of Uganda, the main church of the lake area. They use tourism to generate funds for several development projects around Bunyonyi. It is also possible to rent out canoes and sailboats with a view to paddling to one of the other islands.
The striking feature of the island is its forest, a demonstration of the most appealing attribute of the eucalyptus tree: an exceptionally fast growth rate. The hills around Bunyonyi used to feature many forests but overpopulation led to them being cut down to create land for agriculture needs. Eucalypti have been imported to improve the situation. But eucalyptus plants may also have a negative effect: they can soak everything useful in the soil, leaving it more or less barren.

Bwama and Njuyeera (Sharp’s Island)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1921, an English missionary called Dr Leonard Sharp came to this part of Uganda and in 1931 established a leprosy treatment centre on the then uninhabited Bwama island.
A church, patient quarters (model villages) and a medical facility were built, while Sharp settled on Njuyeera Island (probably meaning ‘white cottage’, after the similarity of the doctor’s small white house to Sharp’s father’s house in Shanklin, now The White House Hotel). The rationale of the leprosy colony was that of ‘voluntary segregation’, where the provision of a happy community to live in would attract leprosy sufferers, so removing them from the communities where they might infect others.
The buildings of the hospital are now used by a boarding secondary school which attracts students from the entire region. There is also a primary school but no village on the island.

Bucuranuka = Upside Down

The legend says that this island killed many people. About twenty were once brewing local sorghum beer there. An old woman was passing by and she said: “Can you give me some local beer?” They wrongly though that she was a beggar they knew. They refused her: “Get lost, beggar! Get lost!!!” The old woman asked: “So you will not even give me a sip? Can I at least get somebody to take me to the mainland?” They answered: “Yes, because we are fed up with you!” They chose a young guy to take her over. When they reached the shore and the guy was just beginning to return, the island turned upside down. All died, only a chicken flew away and survived. .
Lake Bunyonyi has got a lot of history and it is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists.
There are a wide variety of tourist accommodations BUT the highly recommended is Bunyonyi Overland Resort.

 

MGAHINGA GORILLA NP

introduction

At just 33.7Km2, Mgahinga Gorilla is Uganda’s smallest national park .However , it is also one of the most dramatic for the park lies on the northern slope of Mts Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sabyinyo , three volcanoes that create unforgettable regional backdrop .These peaks are three of the six Virunga volcanoes that mark the southern limit of the Albertine Rift Valley and are divided between Uganda, Rwanda and Dr Congo .The Virungas are home to more than half of the world’s population  of the endangered mountain gorilla .380 individuals  roam slopes of the volcanoes while the remaining
340 live nearby in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable National Park. Fortunately for the gorillas, Mgahinga’s is small area is supplemented by those of two larger, adjoining parks in Rwanda (volcanoes NP) and DR Congo (virunga NP).

Through gorilla tracking is the park’s most popular activity, Mgahinga merits a visit simply  to appreciate the scenery choice of hikes allows for the  abilities, ranging from the 8 hour return trip to the summit of all Mt .Muhavura  ,to gentle strolls across the lower slopes beneath the magnificent  three peak backdrop.

The park experiences two rainy seasons’ march – may and September – November. October is the wettest month, with 250 mm of rain and July the driest with just 10mm.

How to get there

The park lies in the south west corner of Uganda 540km from Kampala .the journey take 8hours, including rests stops, passing via kabale and kisoro the 80km section between kabala and kisoro is a winding. mountainous drive on murram that take at least  2hours,while the park gate at Ntebeko lies a bumpy 14km(30minutes)south of Kisoro .charter flights can be arranged from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi)to Kisoro airstrip.

Accommodation

At Ntebeko, the volcanoes Camp provides up market accommodation while camping and basic cottages are provided in the community Campground. A wide choice of lodging is available in Kisoro.

Flora and Fauna

Mgahinga ‘s slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitudinal bands of vegetation .The lowest zone is an area of grass and bush which was formerly encroached and cleared by farmers and is now regenerating .Undisturbed vegetation starts  with montane woodland , followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest  and the Ericaceous zone which contains giant tree heathers . The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which occurs only on East African Mountains above 3000m and includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.

The park contains at least 39 species of mammal and 79 birds .Larger mammals include elephant,, leopard , buffalo and bush pig but these are rarely seen .Mgahinga’s most famous resident is the mountain gorilla .Less famous but equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the Virungas and in other forest in Rwanda . Notable bird species include the Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane.

Local People
Kisoro district is heavily populated with 331 people /Km2.There are two main ethnic groups. The most numerous are the Bafumbira who are primarily farmers. The Batwa, who one practiced a subsistence hunter gather life in the forest, form a minority group.

Around the park

Ndebeko Visitor Centre
Park activities are arranged from the visitor centre at Ntebeko.

A viewing platform, 800m uphill from the visitor Centre, provides good views of the park and the surrounding areas. A guide is not necessary and access is free.

The Peaks
Mgahinga has three volcanic peaks, Muhavura (4127m), Sabyinyo (3669m) and Mgahinga (3474m).These can all be climbed. Though no specialist equipment is required, a reasonable level of fitness is necessary if you intend to enjoy the experience.

The names of the three peaks come to life in translation. Muhavura means ‘the guide’ and its towering cone is a prominent landmark. During the 19th century its crater still glowed to provide a natural lighthouse for travelers. The rim of the older Sabyinyo has weathered into a ring of stubby peaks, earning it the title ‘old man’s teeth’. These imposing cones overshadow the stumpy Mt Mgahinga which is named for the local practice of tyding the volcanic rocks that clutter farmland into ‘small piles of stones’ – or gahingas

Mt Sabyinyo

Sabinyo has three peaks. Ascent leads first to peak 1 before climbing towards peak 2 along a narrow ridge that overlooks breathtaking drops into deep gorges on each side .Peak 3 is reached by  a steep and muddy scramble .The borders of three countries converge on this summit and you will find yourself simultaneously in Rwanda , Congo, and Uganda The 14Km round trip takes about 8 hours.

Mt Gahinga

An ascent on Mt Gahinga climbs through bamboo forest to reach a lush swamp which lies in the carter at the summit. The round trip from Ntebeko takes around 6 hours.

Mt Muhavura

This classic volcanic cone is capped by a small but pretty crater lake; a modest reward for a 5 hour trek that rises steeply  for 1700m to over 4100m.The real incentives for the climb are the mountain ‘s marvelous alpine vegetation and superb panoramas . The Muhavura trail provides the quickest and shortest ascent route to experience these dramatic plants while the view includes the five other virunga volcanoes, the rift valley, Lake Edward and (in clear weather) the Rwenzori mountains. The 12Km round trip takes around 8 hours. If you have your own equipment and food, you should consider camping at the ranger post at the base of the volcano to make an early start (and improve of your chances of clear views).

Buffalo wall and Bird watching

Farmland along the northern edge of the park is guarded by a dry stone wall that keeps buffalo in the park and out of crops .The trail along the wall is ideal for birding .Guides will escort you between 17:00 – 18:00 if you book by 10:00 that morning . A stroll towards the Democratic Republic of Congo takes you through a wetland area where ibis, specked mouse bird, and the finch are found.

Batwa Trail and Garama Cave

The Batwa trail leads from the base of Muhavura to Garama Cave .This walk is conducted by Batwa guides who provide insight s into their traditional forest life and culture.

The 342m long Garama Cave lies beneath a plateau near the northern edge of the park, 3Km from Ntebeko. It is set in the former farmland zone but in earlier times, the cave lay deep in forest when it is occupied periodically by Batwa who used it as a council chamber and a retreat after raiding their Bafumbira neighbours. Today the cave provides an atmospheric setting for a performance of Batwa music at the end of Batwa trail.

Gorilla Tracking

Mgahinga’s most exciting and memorable activity is tracking the mountain gorilla in thick jungle .The park has one habituated gorilla group (Nyakagyezi) which is visited by tourists. This consists  of 11 members 2 silverbacks ,  adult females , 4 juveniles  and 2 infants .This group is mobile and sometimes crosses into Rwanda  and DRC, so9 check for updates from. Registration and briefing  for gorilla tracking commences at Ntebeko at 07:45.Tracking starts at 08:30m and can take three to eight hours.

Gorilla tracking is Uganda’s most sought after tourism activity. You should book well in advance to ensure that permits for your requested dates are available.

What to take – A Checklist

  • Solid walking shoes or boots
  • Rain gear and hat5
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Porters are available at modest cost

Gorilla Rules

To protect the gorillas and visitors, the following rules must adhered to:

  • – No one with a communicable disease, such as flu, diarrhea, is allowed to visit the gorillas.
  • – Do not surround the gorillas but remain in a tight group
  • – Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas.
  • – If they approach you, move back slowly
  • – Flash photography is strictly forbidden
  • – Do not eat or smoke within 200m of the gorillas
  • – If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth
  • – Bury all human faeces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterwards.
  • – All litter must remove from the park for disposal;
  • – Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park
  • – No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas
  • – When with gorillas d, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements
  • – Contact time with gorillas is strictly limited to one hour
  • – Please observe all instructions from your guide.

KIBALE NP.

Introduction

The 795KM2 Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. This home to a host of forest wildlife , most famously 13 species of primate including chimpanzee .Forest cover predominates  in the  northern and central parts of the park on the elevated Fortportal  plateau.Kibale is highest  at the park ‘s northern tip which stands 1590m above  sea level.Nothern Kibale is also the wettest area , receiving a mean annual rainfall of up to 1700mm , mostly during March – May  and September – November .The climate is generally pleasant with a mean annual temperature  range of 14 – 27oC .Temperatures are highest (and rainfall lower) in the south where the terrain drops down onto the hot rift valley floor and forest gives way to open grassland.

Southern Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park and together these protected areas maintain a 180Km – long migration corridor for wildlife which extend from Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth NP, to the Sebitoli forest in north of Kibale.

The Kibale – Fortportal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding areas to explore .The park lies close to the Tranquil Ndali – Kasenda crater area and within a half day‘s drive pf the Queen Elizabeth , Rwenzori Mountains  and Semuliki National Park s and Toro – Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.

How to Get There

Kibale National park is located in western Uganda, 26Km south – east of Fortportal town .Kanyanchu River camp , the primary centre for tourism  activities , can be reached from Kampala either from the North , via Mubende and Fortportal , or the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300Km tarmac road running to Fortportal  followed by 36Km on murram to Kanyanchu.Sebitoli Forest camp , a secondary tourism centre, is even easier to reach. This stands directly on the Kampala road , 16Km before Fort portal.

Accommodation

Kibale Primate Lodge provides a choice of accommodation at Kanyanchu including stone cottages , tree houses and an up market tented camp. Siple cottages are found at Sebitoli. Both sites provide campsites and canteens that provide basic meals to order.

Basic and mid range accommodation is available in the nearby villages of Bigoodi and Nkingo while a wider  choice is to be found in the Ndali crater area .This ranges from the up market Ndali Lodge to good budget options at Chimpanzee guesthouse and Lake Nkuruba . Accommodation can also be found in Fortportal town.

Flora and Fauna

Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest (moist evergreen forest) on the Fort portal plateau, through dry tropical forest (moist semi deciduous), to woodland and savanna on the Rift Valley floor.

Around Kanyanchu, in the central part of the park, the high forest contains a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees with the evergreen species dominant. Trees rise to over 55m and exhibit a semi closed canopy of stratified  tree crowns .The undergrowth is sparse with shade tolerant herbs , shrubs , a variety of ferns and broad leaved forest grasses ,.351 tree species have been recorded in the park.

The diversity and density of primates in Kibale is the highest in Africa. They most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative .Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate .Kibale is also home to the rare I’Hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey. Other primates include the black and white colobus, blue monkey,, grey cheeked  mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.

Other mammals are present, though rarely seen .These include forest elephant, buffalo, leopard, bush pig and duiker. A keen observer may also spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colorful variety of butterflies.

The park boasts 325 species of birds , including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift Region , namely black capped apalis , blue headed sunbird , collared apalis , dusky crimson – wing , purple breasted sun bird  and red faced woodland warbler. Other Kibale specials include the African Pitta, green breasted pitta , black bee eater, yellow spotted nictaor, yellow rumped tinker bird , little greenbul, black eared ground thrush, brown chested alethe, blue breasted King fisher, Abyssinian ground thrush, and the crowned eagle.

Local People

The people living around the park are mainly Batoro and Bakiga.The Batoro are indigenous to the area while the Bakigaare immigrants from the densely populated south western part of Uganda. The Batoro take pride in the cultural heritage of the Toro Kingdom, a scion of the ancient kingdoms of Africa’s great lakes region. The omukama (king) and the kingdom embody the traditional and cultural values of the Batoro.The Bakiga immigrants still maintain their tradition and culture as expressed in their folklore, dance, and language.

The park plays an important role in the lives of local people who enjoy a variety of benefits from the forest .The forest provides  them with many traditional forest products such as wild  coffee , food, fuel wood, building materials and herbal medicines.

Around the park

Kanyanchu River Camp
Kanyanchu is the hub for tourism activities inn the central part of the park. The main attraction is the opportunity to track chimpanzee in their rain forest home. A community of chimpanzee has been habituated since 1991and the chances of locating them are very good indeed (over 90%).Note that the park is only accessible on foot; there are no motorable tracks open to tourists.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience allows you to accompany Kibale’s researchers and habituators as they follow chimpanzee during their daily activities, thereby getting them used to human presence without altering their natural behaviour.You can expect to see chimps de nesting (coming out of their nocturnal nests)between 05:30 – 06:30, before following them during the day until they create new nests and retire for the night around 19:00.The habituation Experience runs during tourist low season months (March, April, May and November).

Primate Walk (Chimpanzee Tracking)
The most popular of Kibale’s walks starts from the Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 08:00 and 15:00 and lasts 2 – 3 hours. Chimpanzee are primate most sought after by visitors , but you should also look out for the black and white Colobus , red tailed monkey and grey cheeked Mangabey.Your guides  will point out sunbirds , pittas and other bird species and will explain the traditional uses of plant species within the forest. This walk is for six persons per group. Advance booking is essential during peak seasons

Forest Hike
This seasonal 12Km hike is restricted to the dry seasons of mid November – February and June – September. It explores the park’s diverse habitats including tropical rainforest, riverine forest, swamp and grassland. You will have the chance to see a wide variety of birds and primates and perhaps also duiker and bushbuck. The walk begins at 08:00 from Kanyanchu Visitor centre and ends at the elephant wallow around 14:00.Take drinks and snacks .Pre booking is recommended.

Children’s Activities
Children of 2 years and below who are not allowed to view the chimps or go into the forest  can instead enjoy educational forest walks 0f 1 – 2 hours  duration followed  by creative activities .Parents can enjoy their forest walks in the knowledge that their children are occupied in a worthwhile activity with trained ranger guides. The children visit the forest and learn about the eco system and its inhabitants through short interesting walks .Games and creative activities include pond dipping, cyanotype, photography and batik making.

Sebitoli Forest Camp
Sebitoli is located 12Km from Fort portal town on the Kampal – Fortportal road .This part of forest offers excellent bird and primate viewing in moist evergreen forest with a semi closed canopy of stratified tree crowns .

Cultural Heritage and Nature Trail (Former Long distance walk)

The adventurous visitor can follow a 2 – 6 days trail through the forest. The full walk starts or finishes at either Kanyanchu or Sebitoli .The route explores the forest during the day, emerging in the evening to sleep in community – run campsites near the villages of Kikoni, Nyaibanda and Nyakalongo.These provide the opportunity to meet local people and gain insights in their Batoro and Bakiga cultures .Porters can be hired at trailheads to carry equipment .Groups of up to 6 people can undertake the walk .Pre – booking is essential.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is situated just outside the park in Magombe Swamp. This is known for a wide range of wildlife that  includes primates , such as chimpanzee , red colobus , black and white colobus , red tailed monkey and other mammals such as Sitatunga , bushbuck , Otter and Mongoose. The wetland is also home to 138 bird species .These can be seen during guided walks from viewing platforms and boardwalk trail.

The sanctuary is a community – run initiative aimed at conserving the unique biodiversity and environmental values of the wetland. Enquire about the sanctuary at the Kanyanchu Visitor Information Centre or at the UWA HQ in Kampala

Kihingani Wetland
Guided walks, similar to those at Magombe, are conducted in the Kihingani Wetland, just outside the national park near Sebitoli.

KIDEPO NP.

Introduction

Located in Uganda’s remote north – eastern corner , some 700Km from Kampala and tucked between the borders with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley is most isolated park .However the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja to visit it , would agree that it is also the most magnificent , For Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wilderness .From Apoka , in the heart of the national park, a savanna landscape extends in all directions , far beyond the gazetted area of 1442 Km2, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.

The park has a semi arid climate with just one rainy season per year (April –September) and rainfall is light. The valley of the Narus River in the south of the park receives some 890mm of rain /year while just 635mm of rain /year falls in the Kidepo Valley to the north .Both Rivers are seasonal, and dwindle and disappear in the dry season. During these months, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools along the southern Narus Valley near Apoka and as a result, wildlife is concentrated in this area .This consideration, combined with the valleys open, savanna habitats, makes it the park’s prime game viewing location. Indeed it is possible to sight variety of wildlife simply by scanning the valley with binoculars from the comfort of Apoka lodge.

How to Get There

L.MBURO N.P

Introduction

Lake Mburo National Park is a gem of a park, conveniently located close to the western highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. Though the park is just 370KM2 in size, it’s landscapes are varied and even a short drive is alive with interest and colour. You’ll pass gallery forest, open savanna and acacia woodland, rock kopjes, seasonal and permanent swamps, and open water, as you search for the wildlife they support. This includes species such as impala, Burchell’s zebra, and eland that are not found elsewhere in western Uganda.

Accommodation

UWA provides a range of budget accommodation in the park.
On the eastern side of Lake Mburo, permanent tents are available at Rwonyo Rest Camp while a beautiful campsite is positioned on the lakeshore, 1km to the south.
Lakeside chalets will soon be available nearby at Arcadia Cottages.

Up market accommodation is found at the Mantana Tented Camp, which enjoys a hilltop location 3.5km north of Rwonyo, and at Mihingo Lodge which stands on a rocky kopje just outside the eastern boundary of the park.

How to get there

Lake Mburo National Park lies between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara in western Uganda, 228km2 from Kampala – about 3 and half hrs drive. Two gates enter the park from the Mbarara road. Approaching from Kampala, the turning to Nshara gate is 13kms past Lyantonde. The junction for Sanga gate is at Sanga trading centre, 27 kms past Lyantonde. Both junction are clearly signposted. It is about 20 minutes drive from either gate to Rwonyo.

Flora and fauna

Avariety of vegetative habitats surround the open water of Lake Mburo. The lake’s western side is dominated by a grassy escarpment rising above a shoreline fringed with acacia forest and the closed canopy Rubanga forest. To the north and east, grassy valley floor, made seasonally lush and soggy by rain, drain between undulating hills. These seep through expanses of wetland into the lake. Rock kopjes are found along the eastern margins of the park.

These varied habitants support an impressive variety of wildlife including 68 mammal species. These include some rarities. Lake Mburo is the only park in Uganda to contain impala and the only one in the rift region to host Burchell’s zebra and eland. in Uganda, topi are only found in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Commoner species include warthog, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck and reedbuck. Leopard and hyena are also present while hippo and crocodile are found in the lake.

The park also has a very respectable bird list with around 315 species recorded to date including the shoebill, papyrus yellow warbler, African fin foot, saddle bellied stork, brown chested wattled plover, carruther’s cisticola, Tabora cisticola, great snipe, Abyssinian ground hornbill and white winged warbler. Acacia woodland bird species are especially well represented while forest species may be found in Rubanga Forest.

 

Around the park

Rwonyo Rest Comp
Rwonyo is the centre for tourists’ activities in the park. Rest camp is the starting point for nature walks while an Interpretation centre on the hilltop behind the rest camp describes the park’s history and biodiversity.

Lake Mburo

The eastern shores of Lake Mburo can be explored by boat , departing from a jetty at the Lake side campsite near Rwonyo .Watch out for Crocodiles and hippopotamus during the 2 hour voyage, as well as  birds including pelicans , heron, cormorant and fish eagle and perhaps even the rare shoebill stork.

Fishermen with there equipment may fish in the lake from the campsite by arrangement.

Salt Lick
Guided walks explore the park around Rwonyo, culminating in a visit to a natural salt lick frequented by wildlife .Viewing is facilitated by a timber observation platform.

Game Tracks
The eastern hinterland of Lake Mburo is served by a network of game tracks along which a variety of savannah animals and birds can be sighted .Impala are most commonly seen along the Impala track while zebra frequent the grassy valley floors traversed by the zebra track. This connects to the Ruroko track which passes rock kopjes that are home to the elusive klipspringer.

In the south of the park, the lakeside track passes through dense woodland –home to bushbuck and bush duiker – to Kigambira Hill which provides panoramic view of Lake Mburo. This lake and seven more can also be seen from the Kazuma Hill lookout close to the Kazuma track.

Rubanga Forest
Though small, this tract of forest on the western side of Lake Mburo provides a taste of a tropical high forest with closed canopy and is home to a variety of forest bird species. Rubanga can be explored with a ranger guide.

Conservation Education Centre
The park has a conservation education centre, 1Km west of Sanga gate. This provides accommodation and an education hall for school groups, visitors, seminars and workshops.

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE N.P

Introduction

The impenetrable Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1942, upgraded to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992 and recognized as World Heritage Site in 1994 .In the local Lukiga language, Bwindi actually means ‘Impenetrable’. This double warning is apt, for Bwindi is all but impenetrable; 327Km2 of tangled vegetation draped over a deeply fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys and high , draughty ridges .But if the terrain is far from easy to negotiate , it is well worth the effort . A trek through this, one of Africa’s most ancient rainforests, in search of the endangered mountain gorilla, ranks among the world’s premier wildlife encounters.
Bwindi can be cold especially in the morning and at night .The annual average temperature range is 7oC – 20oC with the coldest period being June and July .Warm clothing is required , plus wet weather gear since Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain / year. This is concentrated during two wet seasons, short rains in March – May and heavy rains in September – November. Instead of tropical deluges, rain in Bwindi often falls as long hours of soft drizzle.

How to Get There

Bwindi lies in South – western Uganda , about 530Km from Kampala .The park can be reached by road from several directions .  From Kabale it is about 120 to Buhoma northen sector and Nkuringo tourism zone, about 110 km to Rushaga tourism zone Southern  Sectors of Bwindi National Park and it is just 49 km to Ruhija tourism zone eastern Sector.  It is very important to know the sector you are going to because your Gorilla tracking permit dictates the group of Gorillas to be tracked hence the sector.

Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya) – Kihihi – Buhoma.

This route passes the park’s southerly Ishasha sector, providing the chance of a stop over to search for the famous tree – climbing lions.Bwindi is 160Km from Mweya and 64 Km from Ishasha.

Kampala – Kabale – Kanungu – Buhoma.This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414Km) and takes 5 – 6 hours .The next section , which follows winding murram roads for 120Km , passes through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo and takes 4 – 5 hours a 4WD vehicle is required.

Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Kihihi – Buhoma.This, the quickest and most direct route from Kampala , follows tarmac  roads to Rukungiri (390 Km) followed by 82Km on murram roads to Buhoma.

Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma.The Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma segment on this route is 95 kilometers on a murram road and takes 3 – 4 hours. The Ruhija section is in poor condition and should only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle .The public does not frequently use this road.

Kampala – Kabale – Nkuringo.Nkuringo is 105Km from Kabale.The drive takes 4 hours on a mountainous murram road .Most visitors  overnight in Kisoro(80Km from Kabale) before proceeding to Nkuringo .The road from Kisoro is a winding 35Km that takes 1 – 1.5 hours. A 4WD vehicle is recommended for both approaches to Nkuringo.

 

Kampala – Kabale – Rushaga-Nkuringo is 105Km from Kabale.The drive takes 4 hours on a mountainous murram road .Most visitors  overnight in Kisoro(80Km from Kabale) before proceeding to Nkuringo .The road from Kisoro is a winding 35Km that takes 1.5 – 2  hours. A 4WD vehicle is recommended for both approaches to Nkuringo.

 

Air
Travelers can fly from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi airfield) to the modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro .Visitors to Buhoma can charter planes to the grass Kayonza airstrip.

Accommodation

Buhoma
A range of accommodation caters for both up market and budget visitors. It is advisable to book well in advance.

  • Up market and moderate locations
  • Gorilla forest camp
  • Montana tented camp
  • Volcanoes Bwindi camp
  • Gorilla homestead
  • Buhoma homestead
  • Lake Kitandara camp
  • Gorilla resort

Budget Locations

  • Buhoma Community Campground
  • Bwindi View Canteen

 

Flora and Fauna

Bwindi supports a tremendous biodiversity as a result of two factors. Firstly, its slopes extend over a broad altitudinal range of 1447m to create habitats ranging from lowland forest at 1160m to rare Afromontane vegetation above 2600m .Secondly, it is extremely old .When most of Africa’s forests disappeared during the arid conditions of the last ice age (12,000 – 18,000 years ago), Bwindi was one of a few refugia that persisted.

Consequently , while most of today’ s forest are no more than 12,000 years old , Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itself  into tangles over atleast 25,000 years , in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This include s 310 species of butterfly , 51 reptiles , 200 trees  , 88 moths and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10mprimates .The latter includes chimpanzee , L’Hoest’s , red tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus , baboon , and Bwindi ‘s famous resident, the mountain gorilla.

Bwindi is a prime destination for birdwatchers .Its 350 species include seven which are IUCN red data listed and 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, species which are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa. An experienced birdwatcher can easily identify up to 100 species in a day.

Local People

The local people neighboring the park are mostly Bakiga and Bafumbira .Small communities of Batwa (Pygmies) are also present. The Bwindi area support one of the highest rural population densities in Uganda with 350Km people /Km2

Around The park

Buhoma
Bwindi’s busiest tourism site is Buhoma on the northern edge of the forest. It is the trailhead for tracking three gorilla groups  and a wide range of accommodation is available .Though gorilla tracking is the main attraction , a range of other walks provides  more relaxed opportunities to spot birds  and monkeys while exploring one of Uganda’s loveliest rainforests. These walks can be arranged to depart in the morning at 9:00 and in the afternoon at 14:15.

  • – Munyanga River trail in the valley below Buhoma provides an ideal short walk to view birds and primates along the forest edge.
  • – Waterfall trail leads though one of Uganda’s most pristine tracts of rainforest , passing beneath  tree ferns , epiphytic  ferns  and orchids to visit three sparkling waterfalls
  • – Rushura Hill Trail provides expansive views across the plains of the western rift valley to the west and (on clear days) Lake Edward and the Rwenzori to the north.
  • – Muzabajiro loop trail climbs to the summit of Rukubira Hill for breathtaking views of Bwindi Forest, The western rift valley and the Virunga Volcanoes.
  • – River Ivi trail follows an old road through beautiful forest emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest.

It is highly recommended for bird watchers.

Buhoma Community Walk and Cultural Performances

The local community operates a village walk which takes up to three hours .This immerses visitors in village life .Sites visited include a typical homestead , the traditional healer  and a banana  beer brewery .Local dance groups also perform traditional dance and music in the evenings by arrangement .Proceeds from these events are used for community development  projects

Nkuringo
As the crow flies , Buhoma is just 10 Km from Bwindi’s second  gorilla tracking location at Nkurigo is on the Southern edge of the forest .However this distance  is covered  by the impenetrable  forest  and  the lovely  walk between the two sites  takes at least four hours The Nkurigongo trailhead  lies on the isolated  Nteko  Ridge which enjoys grandstands views across  Bwindi forest to the north  and towards  the Virunga  volcanoes  in the south.

Gorilla tracking is the primary activity at Nkuringo .Visitors should be fit as the park boundary lies in a steep valley 600m below the road .This provides good exercise before and after tracking gorillas.

Nkuringo Community Walk
Villagers at Nkuringo operate a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith, and brewers.

Rushaga

Rushaga also lies on the southern sector of Bwindi Natinal Park and it just 10 km to Nkuringo.  This has  a total of 3 gorilla groups namely Nshongi, Mishaya and Kahungye

Rushaga Community Walk
Villagers at Rushaga operate a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith, and brewers.

Nombe Pocket forest.

This pocket forest is between Nkuringo and Rushaga gorilla tracking points.  It has so many bird species and water falls.

Accommodation in Nkuringo and Rushaga

These gorilla groups are near each other in a home range of about 10 km from each group.  So people use any of the following lodges or campsite

1.       Silverback Gorilla Resort-Budge and middle range

2.      Clouds mountain Gorilla Lodge – High end

3.      Gorilla Safari Loge – High end

4.      Wagtail eco safari Camp – middle range

 

Ruhija

Visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable Park   should consider  crossing  the centre  of the park  from Buhoma  park headquarters  through Ruhija (a 4WD is essential).This ridge top route offers vistas  into deep  valleys n containing  undisturbed  rainforest .Watch out  for duiker, primates  and both  forest and grassland  bird species .

At Ruhija, birders should take the three hour hike to visit the Mubwindi swamp. Visitors may also climb through the bamboo zone to find Afromontane vegetation and panoramic views towards Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest 

Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla tracking is captivating and Unforgettable  experience which more than repays the effort needed to reach Bwindi and to trek  through the forest . Bwindi has 9 habituated gorilla groups that are tracked by tourists .Three of these are the vicinity of Buhoma and one at Nkuringo, three at Rushaga and one group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park..

  1. The Mubare group (‘M’) was opened for tourism in 1993 and consists of 10 gorillas with 1 silverback.
  1. The Habinyanja group (‘H”) was opened for tourism in 1998 and is composed of 21 individuals with 2 silverbacks.
  1. The Rushengura group (‘R’) is composed of 10 gorillas and 1 silverback) and was opened for tourism in 2002.
  1. The Nkuringo group (group) was opened for tourism in 2004 and is composed of 19 gorillas and 1 Silverback.
  2. The Nshongi group was opened for tourism in 2007 and is composed of 23 gorillas and 2 Silverbacks
  3. The Mishaya Group was opened in tourism in 2009 and is composed of 11 and 1 Silverback
  4. Kahungye Group was opened in tourism in 2011 and is composed of 34 and 3 Silverbacks
  5. The Bitukura Group was opened in tourism in 2004  and is composed of 17 gorillas 2 Silverbacks
  6. Oruzogo Group was opened in tourism in 2011 and is composed of 13 and 2 Silverbacks
  7. The Nyakagezi Group was opened in tourism in 2006  and is composed of 14 .and 1 Silverback

 

Gorilla tracking is Uganda’s most sought after tourism activity .You should book well in advance to ensure that permits for your requested dates are available.

Gorilla tracking can be challenging and you need to be reasonably fit. Registration and briefing at the park offices at Buhoma and Nkurigo commences at 07:45. Tracking starts at 08:30 and can last from a few hours to the whole day depending on where the gorillas are in the forest.

Gorilla rules

To protect the gorillas and visitors, the following rules must be adhered to:

  • – No one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhoea, is allowed to visit the gorillas.
  • – Do not surround the gorillas but remain aim a tight group.
  • – Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas .If they approach you, move back slowly
  • – Flash photography is strictly forbidden
  • – Do not eat or smoke within 200m of the gorillas
  • – If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth.
  • – Burry all human faeces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that is properly filled in afterwards.
  • – All litter must be removed from the park for disposal
  • – Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park
  • – No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas
  • – When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements
  • – Contact time with gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.
  • – Please observe all instructions fro your guide.

 

 

 

 

 

Rwenzori National Park

 

 

 

 

 

In AD135, the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy wrote of a snow capped mountain range, deep in the heart of Africa that, he claimed, was the source of the Nile and which he called the mountains of the moon .Over the centuries this curious notion of tropical snow faded into mythology and, when John Speke found the Nile’s exit from Lake Victoria, a place in fiction for the mountains of the moon seemed assured. But then, in 1889, Henry Stanley emerged from central Africa to announce that such a mountain did not exist. He mapped it by its local name of Rwenjura – or ‘rainmaker’.

In due course mountaineers explored Ptolemy’s mountains of the moon .Though just miles north of the equator, they found in high Rwenzori glaciers and snow peaks whose melt waters represent the highest springs of the Nile. These trickle downwards into U – shaped glacial valleys where supplemented by up to 2500mm of rain/year, they saturate the broad valley floors to form great soggy bogs .Within these rain and mist filled troughs, loom specimens of Africa ‘s bizarre high altitude vegetation and stunted trees enveloped by colourful mosses and draped with beards of lichen.

This is bisected by the Uganda – Congo border which passes through Mt Stanley the highest peak. The Uganda Rwenzori is protected by the Rwenzori mountains National park and, in Congo by the Virunga National Park. The park can be explored along a 7 – Day trail that meanders along the Mobuku and Bujuku valleys beneath the highest peaks. Though distances are short, the terrain , altitude and weather combine to create a tough trek , the difficulty of which should not be underestimated.

After its sighting by Stanley, the weather confounded several attempts to scale (or even observe) the mountain’s main peaks .In 1906, the Italian duke of Abruzzi timed this expedition more carefully, making his attempt during June and July. He and His companions succeeded in scaling, mapping, photographing all of the main peaks and establishing the lay out of the high Rwenzori

How to Get There

The Rwenzori lies a few kilometers north of the equator, rising over 4000 m above the floor of the Albertine RiftValley.The park trail head at Nyakalengija can be reached from Kampala from the North via Fort portal (375 Km) or the south passing through Mbarara and Queen Elizabeth National Park (450Km).Nyakalengija is 17Km off the Kasese – Fortpotal road and 25Km north of Kasese town. Charter flights to Kasese can be arranged from Kampala (Kajjansi) or Entebbe.

Flora and Fauna

The Rwenzori today is remarkable for its flora rather than fauna .Elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, bushbuck, chimpanzee and leopard are present but are rarely seen. However primates such as black and white colobus and the blue monkey may be seen, as well as the hyrax, the elephant’s diminutive cousin.

The Rwenzori is home to 241 bird species of which 19 are endemic to the mountain .Several birds are limited to just a few forests along the Albertine rift, notably the Rwenzori Turaco .In the alpine zone look for the Malachite sunbird

An ascent of the mountain passes through a series of increasingly  dramatic vegetation zones .Above the Bakonzo  farmlands , montane forest (1350 – 2500m)gives way  to bamboo stands  and messy tangles  of Mimulopsis (2500 – 3000m).This followed  by the lovely Heather – Rapanea zone (3000 – 4000m), which is characterized by giant tree – heathers (Erica spp.), garshly  coloured mosses and drab beards of lichen. Spectacular forms of giant lobelia (Lobelia spp) and groundsels (Senecio spp.)Are first found in this zone .These plants persist into highest, Alpine zone (3800 – 4500m) where they are joined by wiry but pretty thickets of Helichrysum or everlasting flowers.

The Bigo Bogs in the Upper Bujuku Valley, are colonized by tussocks of sedge (carex spp).These provide climbers with useful if disconcertingly wobby stepping stones with which to negotiate these notoriously muddy sections.

Accommodation

The mountain’s central circuit is [provided  with basic mountain huts (you should take your own sleeping bags and sleeping mats).Camping and rooms are available at the circuit’s Nyakalengija trailhead at Ruboni campsite and RMS Guesthouse .The trailhead of the proposed Kilembe trail is swerved by Rwenzori Back packers  Hostel. Other options exist in Kasese, Fort Portal and in nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Planning Your Trip

While those with inclination can scale the main peaks, most visitors are content follow the central Circuit trail to enjoy their magnificent setting. Time your ascent for the driest months which are July – August and December – February. Pack for an alpine expedition, taking a good quality sleeping bag and raingear, and a supply of spare warm clothes, especially socks .There will be little opportunity to dry clothes and equipment .Strong boots capable of being fitted with crampons are essential for the peaks. A pair of cheap gumboots is better suited to the boggy conditions of the central circuit.

The central circuit hike is organized through the Rwenzori mountaineering Services (RMS) and starts from Nyakalengij a. RMS will provide a guide book, cook, and sufficient porters to carry your heavy equipment and food , leaving you to carry a small pack with raingear , spare clothes, camera, water bottle and snacks.UWA will provide a ranger escort .You will be responsible for providing your own food , cooking equipment5 and fuel, first aid kit , and a sleeping bag  and mat. Some equipment , such as crampons , ice axes , ropes and harnesses , can be rented  from RMS .Food  can be purchased in Kasese or Kampala but specialized, light weight  dried meals  should be brought with you to Uganda .Note that park fees are paid separately  to UWA.

Expeditions with technical mountaineering guides and quality equipment can also be arranged through several companies internationally or, if in Uganda, the Adrift Adventure Company.
The Central Circuit Trail

Day One: Nyakalengija (1615m) – Nyabitaba Hut (2651m).

The central Circuit starts at the RMS offices at Nyakalengija.You should arrive in the morning to allow ample time to rent equipment and meet your guides  and porters .The trail begins  by passing through farmland to the park boundary beyond which it follows the Mubuku river, crossing its Mahoma tributary before starting a long, steep climb unto a massive ridge to reach Nyabitaba hut. The hike takes around 5 hours.

During this part of the trip you may hear chimpanzee and see black and white Colobus, blue monkey and the britantly couloured Rwenzori Turaco.

Day Two: Nyabitaba (2651m) – Mubuku River (2600m) John Matte Hut (3505m)

This involves a demanding 7+hour trek up to John Matte hut.
The central circuit ‘proper’ starts a few hundred metres beyond Nyabitaba where the trail divides .The right fork leads to the peak s up the Bujuku valley while the path on the left is used for the subsequent descent.

The trail leads to the Kurt Shafer Bridge which crosses the Mobuku valley  just below  the river’s confluence  with the Bujuku valley. Beyond the river, a muddy, slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest.

After a five hour trek is the start of the giant lobelia and groundsel zone, a vegetation type limited to East Africa’s highest mountains .The final hour’s walk to John Matte hut passes through m a challenging bog full of extra ordinary plants.

Day Three: John Matte (3505m) to Bujuku (3962m)

The route fords the Bujuku River as you cross the Lower  Bigo bog, A steep climb follows to reach the Upper Bigo Bog where  a boardwalk has been constructed to assist  walkers .In clear  weather, there are superb views of Mt Stanley at the head of this cavernous , glacier – carved valley. Above the bog, after a long steady climb over glacial moraine, criss – crossing the river, the trail reaches the lovely Lake Bujuku.

The last stage of the 3 – 5 hour hike to Bujuku Hut past Cooking Pot Cave is perhaps the muddiest stage of the expedition. The hut is well placed for parties climbing Mt.Speke.

Day Four: Bujuku (3962m) – Scott Elliot Pass (4372m) Kitandara (4023m)

From Bujuku hut, the trail crosses more mud before climbing steeply through a forest of giant groundsels, climbing a short metal ladder to ascend the Groundsel Gully .Above the gully , a branch in the trail climbs directly to Elena Hut )4430m) for the ascent of Magheriata peak on Mt. Stanley (5109m).This climb needs an ice axe , mountain boots, crampons and ropes.

The main trail continues up a steep screen slope over Scott Elliot pass, the highest point on the circuit .The pass provides fabulous vies back down the Bujuku valley and on Mts .Stanley and Baker towering above .Beyond the pass, the route runs downhill beneath the massive cliffs of Mt Baker. After passing upper Lake Kitandara, the 3 – 5 hour hike ends at the hut beside lower Lake Kitandara, a beautiful site surrounded by towering peaks.

Day Five: Kitandara (4023m) – Fresh field Pass (4282m) – Guy Yeoman (3505m)

Fresh field is along flat traverse through tracts of fabulously colorful moss (and more mud), beyond which the long descent to Nyakalengija begins. The hike to guy Yeoman hut takes around five hours .The hut enjoys a lovely location close to the Mobuku River with terrific views of the looming Mt. Baker to the north.

Day Six:/Seven: Guy Yeoman (3505m) – Nyabitaba (2651m)

The descent to Nyabitaba takes around 5 hours but with an early start it is possible to make it all the way down to Nyakalengija.Below GuyYeoman, the route descends the cliffs of Kichuchu.Beyond Kichuchu the muddy path crosses the Mobuku river twice before climbing upwards to Nyabitaba to complete the circuit.

Day Seven: Nyabitaba (2651m) – Nyakalengija (1615m)

The descent from Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija takes 2 – 3 hours.

Kilembe Trail

UWA plans to re open an alternative route into the Rwenzori from Kilembe near Kasese. Check us for developments.

Health and Safety on the trail

Hikers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia and the various forms of altitude sickness (see Osmaston’s guide to the Rwenzori).Above 2500m, altitude sickness can affect anyone, irrespective of age, fitness or previous mountain experience. The most effective treatment is descent to lower altitude.

Good behavior at the huts and on the trail is appreciated

  • – The park operates a ‘leave no trace’ policy. Collect all waste and make sure you or your porters take it out of the park.
  • – Please use the latrines provided at huts
  • – Respect others in the huts by sharing space at the stoves and taking quietly.
  • – Observe the prohibition on wood fires which degrade the park’s vegetation .Gas cookers are provided by RMS.
  • – During periods of bad weather, it may be necessary to wait more than one night at huts to ease congestion ahead.

Minimize damage to the trails by following your guide closely and avoid making new paths.

 

 Semuliki National Park

Introduction

The 22km2  Semuliki national park lies in the isolated  bundibugyo
district ,beyond the Rwenzori mountain on the floor of semuliki section on the albertine rift valley .this largely forested park represents the easternmost  limit of the great Ituri forest of Congo basin and contains numerous species associated with  central rather eastern Africa. thatch huts are  shaded by west Africa oil palm ,the semuliki river (which forms the international boundary) is miniature version of the Congo river ,while the local population includes the batwa (Pygmy)  community originated from the Ituri.
As a result, visit to semuliki provided a taste of central Africa just a couple of hours from the comforts of Fortpotal.

semulikli is one of Africa’s most biodiversity forest and it is particularly noted for its  varied bird population this biodiversity is enhanced its great age,  for it is one  of the Africa most  ancient .during the last ice age ,12 – 18;00yearss ago ,most of the Africa‘s forests shrank and disappeared .only a few patches like semuliki and wind survived ,protecting forest species during the arid apocalypse until they could eventually emerge to the re – colonize better ,wetter world .today the semuliki valley is hothouse for vegetation growth, with temperature rising to humid 30oc  doused by an annual 1250mmof rain between march – may and September – December.
while semuliki’s species have been involved for over 25000 years , the park contains  evidence of even older processes. hot spring bubbles up from the depth beneath sempaya to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that has been shaping the rift valley
During the last 14milion years. The loe kying park lies on the rift’s sinking floor, most of it just 670mabove sea level. Large areas may flood during wet seasons; brief remainders of the time when the entire valley lay at the bottom of lake for 7 million years.
The semulimki forest reserve was created bin 1932 when the forest village were evacuation as a measure to control sleeping sickness and yellow fever .the reserve was upgraded to nation park status in 1993.

How to get there

As the crowd flies, Semuliki National Park is just 27 km from the regional capital of fort portal. However the direct route is complicated by the massive Rwenzori Mountain and a detour to the north is required to thread through the rocky
Buranga pass into the  Semliki Valley. The 52 km drive to the park office at Sempaya provides panoramic views over the rift
During the descent from Buranga. In good weather the drive takes about two hours but mountainous section are muddy in wet weather and a 4wd vehicle is recommended.

Public transport runs daily from Fort portal and Bundibugyo town , 15Km beyond Sempaya .Transport for the return journey  can be hard to find later in the day (after 4pm) so be prepared to stay over. Backpackers can enjoy more flexibility by forming a group to hire a vehicle from Kabarole Tours in Fortportal behind Don’s Plaza).

Two routes connect Fortportal to Kampala .Theses can be combined to create an attractive circuit to and from the capital. The direct option is 300Km 4 – hour drive via Mubende. The alternative through Mbarara to the south is considerably longer but offers stopovers at Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks.

Accommodation

The park provides a campsite with basic cottages at Bumaga 2.5 Km from Sempaya .Meals can be prepared to order .Cooking facilities are available with utensils available for hire.
Hotels and guesthouses are available in Fort portal and Bundibugyo.

Flora and Fauna

Classified as Moist Semi –Deciduous forest, Semuliki is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa. The centre of the forest is dominated by Cynometra (iron wood) but the edges are attractively varied, with riverine swamp forest along the Semuliki River and Beautiful mixed forest around Sempaya.

A spillover from the Ituri of the Congo basin, Semiliki contains 336 tree species .It also supports an exceptional variety of mammals, birds and butterflies. This is attributed to the forest’s great age, its transitional location between central and eastern Africa, and to a variety of habitats, notably forest, swamp, and savannah woodland.

Birdlife is especially spectacular with 441 recorded species  that represent 40% Uganda’s total of 1007 .216 of these are forest species – 66% of the country’s fore3st bird list –while the list is expanded by the riverine habitat and a fringe of grassland in the east of the park. There are numerous rarities .46 Guinea –Congo biome species are found nowhere else in East Africa while another 35 can be seen in only 2 – 3 other places in Uganda .Five species are endemic to the Albertine Rift Ecosystem.

 

 

The forest is home to 53 mammals, of which 27 re large mammals; duiker sized and above, several are central African species found nowhere else in East Africa. Forest Elephant and forest buffalo are smaller versions of their savannah relatives’ .Hippos and crocodiles are found in the Semiliki River while the forest is remarkably rich in primates.
Chimpanzee , black and white Colubus, central African red colubus , blue monkey , red – tailed monkey, de Brazza ‘s monkey , Vervet monkey , grey –cheeked mangabey , baboon, and Dent’s mona monkey are present .Nocturnal primates include potto and bush baby.

Local People

There are four ethnic groups living around the park. The Bamba and the Bakonjoare found in the valley and the mountain slopes respectively and are agriculturalists who produce cash crops such as coffee and cocoa while subsisting on food crops that include bananas, rice and potatoes. North of the park, the rift valley plains are occupied by Batuku pastoralists. The smallest group in the valley is a community of Batwa (Pygmies). Traditionally, these were forest dwelling hunter gathers originating from the Ituri. Their life style is now changing due to interaction with other local communities and the impact of tourism, and the Batwa have migrated to the forest edge at Ntandi. They now support themselves by small scale cultivation and contributions from visiting tourists.

Around the park
Sempaye Hot springs
The hot springs at Sempeya are Semuliki’s most famous attraction. Two main springs are set in a lush swampy clearing close to the south – eastern corner of the forest. The outer spring is just a few minutes walk from the Sempaya park office. This is dominated by a boiling geyser (103˚c) which spurts up to 2m – high from a white, iced cake – like base of precipitated mineral. Water also bubbles in small pools in which eggs can be cooked.

The more distant inner spring is reached by a 30 minute trail that leads through palm forest before crossing the swamp on a boardwalk. This spring is a broad, steaming pool about 10m across.

Sempaya – Ntandi road
The 5 km section of pubic road between Sempaya and Ntandi village runs through one of the loviest tracks of forest in Uganda and provides clear view up into the forest canopy to spot birds and monkeys. The pretty Mungiro Falls lie in the North Rwenzori Forest reserve, just off the Bundibugyo road 500m

 

KATONGA WILDLIFE RESERVE

Katonga Wildlife Reserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katonga wildlife reserve served as a path way for game migration between western Uganda, Sudan and Tanzania in search of water. In 1965, this area was gazetted as a wildlife reserve. However, poaching and cattle encroachment took a heavy toll in the 1970’s and 1980’s which resulted in the decrease of animal populations.

Katonga wildlife reserve protects 211sq km of mixed savannah, papyrus swamp and rain forest with acacia woodlands. A large portion of the area is a wetland.
This reserve is located 200km west of Kampala and it can best be explored on foot or by use of canoes. It supports 40 mammal species and 150 bird species. Among the more visible mammals include elephants, water bucks, reed buck and river otter, Uganda Kob, olive baboons as well as colobus monkeys. The secretive Sitatunga Antelope makes Katonga wildlife reserve a unique and special place to visit in Uganda as it is the only place where they are spotted at ease.

                                                  Activities and Attractions:

Canoe trips.
Canoe trips which follow a narrow channel through the swamp gives visitors opportunities for seeing various water and papyrus associated birds, the Sitatunga and the river otters. The wetlands canoe trail is a two kilometer ride through the reed and papyrus swamp guided by a local boat operator allowing the best opportunities to spot kingfishers and the rare shoebill storks.
Guided walks.
There are three guided half day walking trails which can be arranged. The Kisharara trails takes you through main habitats within the park comprising of grassland, Savanna and swamp fringes and is a good trail for seeing Sitatungas, birds and monkeys. The kyeibale trail takes you through an area with tall rock formations as well as forested valleys and caves. The Sitatunga trail takes you through a mixture of grassland and wetland habitats offering more chances of seeing the rare Sitatunga for which it is named.
Accommodation.
There is a campsite in Kabagole 2 km from the Reserve HQ basic accommodation is available at Katonga View Hotel and Lodge, meals and cold drinks are available for those unable to camp.

 

BIRD WATCHING IN MABAMBA WETLAND:
Mabamba wetland is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the main body of Lake Victoria. Miscanthus and Cyperus species dominate, but there is a narrow open water channel and a small patch of Nymphea caerulea. There are also areas of Cladium mariscus , and sometimes drifting papyrus swamp islands. It forms part of Waiya Bay south west of Nakiwogo Bay; these are all to the west of Entebbe International Airport. This IBA is one of the best marshy areas along the northern shores of Lake Victoria: it is the closest place to Kampala where Shoebills are regularly seen. The climate is similar to other areas of the northern shoreline of the lake (1200-1500 mm of rain with average minimum temperature of 170C and average maximum temperature of 260C).
Mabamba bay has grown into one of the most interesting and spectacular site for bird watching in Uganda. Apart from Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba bay is the only place and site ( so far rated as the best in Africa and/or the whole world) where the elusive Shoebill can be spotted at any one time of the day. Recently, Mabamba has become one of the strong holds for the migrant Blue Swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year. Mabamba has been surveyed in recent years and now boosts of over 260 species with one day’s record of 157 species.
There are other four globally threatened species and other species of regional significance, i.e. the Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler and the Blue Swallow. The Shoebill feeds primarily on lungfish (Protopterus aethipicus), which is also cherished by the local community. Shoebills are regularly recorded in pairs or in threes in the marsh at Nakowogo, about 2 km north east of Mabamba Bay.
Recent visits also confirmed presence of flocks of other species especially migrants such as Gull-billed Terns, White-winged Black Terns and Whiskered Terns, and residents such as Grey-headed Gulls. Other interesting species found in the marsh include good numbers of Goliath, Herons, Spur-winged and Pygmy Geese, and a number of migratory waders. Five Lake Biome species have also been recorded here.
The overwhelming bird watching experience in Mabamba in not only at the Swamp, but along the way, there are other birding spots with a variety of habitats. After birding in the labyrinth of channels in the marsh, one can choose to follow a woodland and savanna trail up to the sand mining quarry to maximize on chances of other species apart from the wetland birds.

TORO – SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE.
Semliki Wildlife Reserve was established as a Game Reserve in 1926 to protect the large population of the Uganda Kobs in the area and is among the first protected areas to be gazetted. It covers an area of 542 sq. km. It is located in Western Uganda, within Bundibugyo and Kabarole Districts. The reserve occupies the floor of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley. The Wasa River that flows from the Rwenzori Mountains to Lake Albert forms a riverine forest system that traverses the reserve and supports unique forest tree species as well as providing habitat to a variety of wild animals.
Access:
The reserve can be accessed using two major roads from Kampala. Kampala – Fort Portal via Mubende is about 290 km and Kampala – Fort Portal via Masaka – Mbarara – Kasese is about 465 km. From Fort Portal up to Karugutu trading center is 27km. The reserve headquarters are about 2km off Fort portal- Bundibugyo road on the Karugutu – Rwebisengo road.
Flora and fauna:
The area is a transitional zone for three of Africa’s bio-geographical regions ( Sudano-sahelian, Guinea-Congolian and Zambezean). Diverse habitats occur in the valley floor of the reserve supporting a variety of vegetation types such as grasslands, riverine forests, scrub woodland, swamp forests, papyrus swamps, and savannah woodland mosaic.
The unique and diverse habitats recounted above support a variety of wildlife animals dominated by the Uganda kob (Kobus kob). Today, there is a noted recovery of animal populations which had declined due to conflicts, wars and state of lawlessness. The reserve is also habitat to lions, elephants, reedbuck, hippopotamus, baboons, bush pigs, giant forest hog, warthog, buffaloes, bushbuck, leopard, chimpanzee, and waterbuck. According to Plumptre et al. (2003), the reserve has about 66 chimpanzees. The reserve is also known to host about 400 bird species. The neighboring Rwangara CWA comprising a permanent wetland area is a notable habitat to the endangered Shoebill Stork. Thirteen rodent species, 41 species of reptiles, and a variety of butterflies have also been recorded in the reserve.

Around the Reserve.
Unique dry habitat Chimps: The reserve is a habitat to a number of endangered species (IUCN red list) including the chimpanzees in the central savanna and the riverine forest of Mugiri, Wasa, and Nyaburogo Rivers. Most of the chimpanzees are found in tropical rain forest. However the chimpanzees in this reserve are found in the dry woodland forest mosaic. They exhibit a number of unique features e.g. they dig drinking holes even when water is available, they have the shortest food items list of any known chimpanzee population, use very few tools, rarely hunt and are quite silent compared to other studied groups. Unlike forest chimps that build nests everyday, these ones at times sleep under trees without nests.
Ntoroko fishing community: This community constitutes a Sub-county (Ntoroko) and is situated at the south-eastern tip of Lake Albert between the estuaries of the Wasa and Muzizi rivers. The area, covering approximately 4 sq. km has now been excised from the reserve and gazetted as Wildlife Sanctuary to offer protection of any wildlife that interface in this area. A public access road connects Ntoroko from Karugutu and other areas including Fort Portal town. The Ntoroko community depends mainly on fishing and other related activities.
Scenic beauty comprising of the escarpment, Lake Albert, gorges, river line forests and open savannah areas. This reserve has magnificent scenery being located in a scenic and exceptional landscape in the Albertine Rift. It comprises unique geographical features and landscapes such as the flat open area in the rift valley, gorges, Lake Albert and the escarpment with its undulating and dissected hills.

SSESE ISLANDS

Ssese islands – Kalangala is situated in Lake Victoria/ South Western Uganda. It covers an area of 9,066.8Km2. Only 432.1Km2 (4.8%) is land and the rest is water. Total population is 34,766 (20,849 male and 13,917 female). Kalangala district is entirely made up of a total of 84 Islands widely scattered in Lake Victoria. The biggest Island is Buggala and covers an area of 296Km2. It is bordered by Mpigi district to the North, Mukono to the East, the Democratic republic of Tanzania to the South and Masaka and Rakai districts to the West.

Economic activities:
The islanders depend a lot on fishing. They always migrate following the seasonal movements of fish.
Apart from tourism, the district holds several investment potentials like the BIDCO/IFAD palm oil project. IFAD has started out-growers schemes involving 35,000 farmers. Lumbering is also another economic activity.
For Livestock farming, Kalangala district is involved in production of goats, cattle, poultry (chicken) and ducks. Current estimate have the livestock population at 2,999 cattle, 250,000 poultry 1,235 goats and 7,000 pigs

Climate and vegetation:
Kalangala experience a typical humid climate. The annual rainfall ranges from 1,125 to 2,250mm and the rainfall peaks are in March – May and October to November.

Tourism:
When it comes to tranquil white sandy beaches, water wonder and natural rain forests, there is non other than Kalangala with the best. The 80 different Islands that add up the Ssese Islands grant more incredible experiences of life in Africa’s’ biggest Lake Victoria. This is a heaven in its making that offer a wonderful get away destination from the shove and flurry of the main land with in Uganda. Kalangala is composed of different Island resorts such as the Bulago Island beaches and the Chimpanzee sanctuary on Ngamba Island. Kalangala has attracted both the local and foreign tourists due to its uncountable beaches hence providing the great holiday. Besides tourism, the Ssese Islands are rich lands with fertile soils, plentiful water supply, natural tropical forests and above all jolly faces when ever you visit.

Infrastructure:
Kalangala district is connected to the main land by ferry and several boats. The main means of transport linking the Ssese Islands with in and to the main land is water transport. Recently the district obtained a new bigger ferry from the government to improve transport to and from Kalangala district.
The mean annual temperatures vary from 250C to 27.50C with minimums of 17 – 180C. The district receives plentiful sunshine with up to 7.3 hours of sunshine per day.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa rhino sanctuary is a popular destination and most of our clients traveling from Kampala to Murchison Falls N. Park include a stop at the sanctuary as a permanent part of their itineraries. Feedback from visitors is extremely positive.
A security force of 40 Rangers patrols the fence, guard the gates, and monitor the rhinos 24 hours.  The sanctuary is currently in process of becoming a game reserve, in which rhinos and other species of wildlife can be encountered, highlighting Uganda’s unique biodiversity and emphasizing the importance of conserving it. There are over 20 species of mammals already living in the sanctuary and their numbers are increasing.

Uganda Wildlife Authority in partnership with Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU),   and Ziwa Ranchers Ltd, welcomes you to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This sanctuary was created to reintroduce rhinoceros to Uganda which have been extinct since 1982. This 70square kilometer sanctuary in pristine bush country is currently home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The sanctuary’s long term goal is to build a sustainable rhino population and relocate rhinos back to their original habitat in Uganda’s protected areas. In addition to the rhino breeding program, Rhino Fund Uganda also runs community upliftment and education programs in the surrounding villages.

Come take a walk and meet the rhinos.  The Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is conveniently located in Nakasongola district just off the Gulu highway between Kampala and Murchison Falls N. Park. In addition to rhinos, there are vervet monkeys, bush bucks, crocodiles, hippos, and a huge variety of bird life, among many others.

Rhino Tracking
Upon your arrival, one of the sanctuary’s well trained rangers will meet and give you an introduction to the sanctuary and some information about the rhinos. Depending on where the rhinos happen to be when you arrive, you will drive to the closest location and then approach the rhinos on foot.

You will then have an opportunity to observe the rhinos in their habitat at a very close and very safe, distance. The animals are magnificent and the opportunity to see them up close is truly one not to be missed!  The tracking excursion lasts on average between 1-2 hours.