Your Guide to Uganda’s National Parks: Cat’s top spots

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We love Uganda. For starters, it’s the best place on earth to come face-to-face with an endangered mountain gorilla – a life highlight, just waiting to happen.

Picture this, you’re walking through the lush rainforest, the air thick with humidity as every step takes you closer to an encounter you’ll never forget. All of a sudden, your guide tells you to stop and be very quiet. And there, in the clearing just ahead, is a family of mountain gorillas cleaning themselves in the speckled sun as it shines through the trees.

Uganda is about more than the gorillas though. Every holiday here promises to be packed full of unique and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first African adventure, a Uganda holiday is an experience like no other.

Chat to Cat, our Uganda specialist here at HA about discovering the magic and beauty of this remarkable country – you won’t be disappointed! Below, she shares some of her favourite national parks in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Uganda's National Parks - a view through the trees in Bwindi National Park

Home to half of the world’s remaining population of endangered mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the must-visit national park for any Uganda holiday.

This national park is so famous for its large population of endangered mountain gorillas. Taking off from your beautiful lodge for a guided trek through the forest to find these magnificent creatures is an absolute must here. It can be tough going on the legs, but it’s worth it in the end!

Once you’ve finished pinching yourself over your unforgettable gorilla trekking encounter, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also offers opportunities for unique gorilla habituation experiences, birdwatching, hiking, cultural tours to the nearby Batwa pygmy community and nearby treks through the bamboo forests in search of the exceptionally rare, golden monkeys.

Wild and very rare golden monkey in the bamboo forest. Unique and endangered animal close up in nature habitat. African wildlife. Beautiful and charismatic creature. Golden monkey.Cercopithecus kandti
A golden monkey hanging out in the bamboo forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Kibale National Park

Trek with the chimpanzees in Kibale National Park Uganda

Away from the gorillas, you have so much more wildlife to explore. Head to the beautiful Kibale National Park in the west of Uganda, to trek in search of wild chimpanzees. This national park, a 5-hour drive from Kampala, boasts a population of more than 1,000 of these cheeky primates, so your chances are good! In addition to the chimps, you can also spot warthogs, elephants, adorable big-eyed bush babies and so much more here.

Plus, surrounded by volcanic crater lakes, the landscape around Kibale National Park is truly unique and makes a beautiful addition to any Uganda holiday.

The Crater Lakes in Kibale National Park

Birdwatching in Uganda

Kibale National Park is said to be home to more than 400 species of bird, some of which are extremely rare and endemic to Uganda. If you’re a keen birdwatcher, keep an eye out for the Cassin’s spinetail, green-breasted pitta, masked apalis, and blue-headed bee-eater – all birds that haven’t been recorded anywhere else in the country. The Bigodi Swamp in Kibale National Park is the place to head to if birdwatching is top of your agenda.

Papyrus Gonolek Uganda
Papyrus Gonolek

The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a community-run project, set up to protect the swamp area and its birdlife from development. Hundreds of birdwatchers have been lucky enough to glimpse sightings of Papyrus Gonoleks and Congo biome birds.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Head to Queen Elizabeth National Park to experience the very best of African wildlife. You’ll take game drives through the spectacular Rift Valley scenery, hop on a boat and cruise along the Kazinga Channel, all the while keeping your eyes peeled for the countless animals around. Afternoon cruises often coincide with the time that families of elephants move down to the river, and you might be lucky enough to spot lions, leopards, hippo and Ugandan kob, too!

Kazinga Channel

Don’t miss a visit to the remote Ishasha sector. This region is the best place to go in search of the famous tree-climbing lions. Plus, being so close to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, combining a visit here with a gorilla-trekking adventure would work brilliantly for your Uganda holiday.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park

If you’ve got the time on your Uganda holiday, we hugely recommend a visit to the Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest of the country.

Yes, there will be a few extra transfers to endure, but once there, you’ll be in for a treat.

The sight of the powerful River Nile forcing its way through the Rift Valley scenery really is a sight to behold. Take a trip to the top of the falls to get up close and personal with the majestic force of the nile as it crashes its way through the 8-metre gap in the landscape.

murchison falls national park

Combine this with a tranquil boat trip on the river at the bottom of the falls, and you’ll experience this powerful example of nature from all perspectives – with wildlife viewing opportunities throughout, of course.

lion cub perched on a termite mound in Murchison Falls National Park
lion cub perched on a termite mound in Murchison Falls National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park

We love to get you off the beaten track here at HA, and adding Kidepo Valley National Park to your Uganda holiday itinerary would do just that.

Hidden right up in the north-eastern corner of Uganda, Kidepo National Park is as remote as it is beautiful. With semi-arid valleys, distant mountains and open savannahs, it’s the perfect place for a wildlife adventure away from it all. Plus, being so tucked away, this sprawling national park is home to some of the country’s rarest wildlife.

On a game drive here, keep an eye out for cheetahs. Kidepo Valley is the only park in Uganda where you can spot these majestic big cats in the wild! It’s not just about the speedy cats though, you can see lions, elephants, buffalo, impalas, hyenas, Rothschild giraffes, Burchell’s zebras and warthogs… and with 475 species of bird too, that’s just the start.

Cat Uganda Specialist

Cat is so wonderfully knowledgeable about Uganda. She’s got the first-hand knowledge and experience needed to design a Uganda holiday that’s absolutely perfect for you. So, whether bird-watching is a top priority, or extra time with the majestic gorillas – she can get that sorted. Give her a call today on 01242 253 073 or email [email protected].

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