The 6 Best National Parks in Uganda to visit in 2021

Uganda is constantly and successfully headed towards a triumphant future. Its ace card to success is undoubtedly its abundant natural diversity and rich wildlife. Tourists from all over the world flock to this country to be one with nature; and many mostly find it in the many Uganda national parks.

Uganda houses 10 national parks and these offer easy encounters with the big five: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros during incredible wildlife safaris while allowing the convenience of glamping (fancy camping that is) and luxury hotels in the midst of the wilderness. Here is our list of the best six national parks in Uganda (in no particular order), each distinct in its own right.

1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

If you love Gorillas, then Bwindi impenetrable national park is the perfect park for you! The park lies in southwestern Uganda across the steep ridges of the Albertine rift valley. This park is found on the border area of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo in Kanungu district and it was gazetted in 1991 as a national park purposely to protect the famous, rare endangered mountain gorilla species. It has also been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1994 due to its extraordinary biodiversity ecology and categorized as one of the best gorilla trekking destinations in the world.Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Bwindi National Park Key Facts

Size: 321 square kilometres.

Common Wildlife Sightings: Mountain Gorillas, Baboons, Elephants, Birds, Butterflies, Frogs, Geckos and many more.

Best Time to Visit: The Park can be visited any time of the year.

Possible Activities: Gorilla Tracking, Gorilla Habituation experience, Birding, Nature Walks, Community Walks, Cycling, Batwa Experience.

2. Queen Elizabeth National Park

Shared by Lake George and Edward in western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth national park is the most famous of all the national parks in Uganda. Listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for humanity, it is the second-largest in Uganda National Parks, next to Murchison Falls National Park and covering 1978 square kilometres.

Tree Climbing Lions in UgandaThe large size means you are most unlikely to cover it all, so plan ahead to ensure you get to see the sights you wish to see! A fantastic boat cruise along the Kazinga channel rewards you with a variety of animals such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippos, Huge Nile crocodiles, monitor lizards and over 600 bird species. The boat provides a clear platform for excellent game viewing and photographing! The Ishasha sector in the southern part of the park is famous for its tree-climbing lions. More nature walk and birding in Imaramagambo Forest, as well as chimps and other primates tracking in Kyambura Gorge.

Key Facts

Size:  1978 square kilometres.

Common Wildlife Sightings: Lions, Leopards, Hippos, Buffaloes, Elephants, Birds, Warthogs, Waterbucks, Uganda Kob, Topi, Antelopes, Chimpanzees in Kyambura gorge, Monkeys, Baboons, Civet and more.

Best Time to Visit: Queen Elizabeth National Park is open all-year-long, but wildlife viewing is at its best from January to February and June to July (the Dry seasons). However, this scenic park is at its most beautiful in the Wet seasons from March to May and August to December. April, May, August and September are very wet months and during that time, the rain might interfere with your safari.

Possible Activities: Day and Night Game Drives, Chimpanzee Tracking, Launch Trips, Cultural Encounters, Hiking and Nature Walks, Birding, Caves exploration, Research and Monitoring.

3. Murchison Falls National Park

The park got its name from its renowned scenic beauty and its spectacular falls. Seeing it at sunset is a must! Besides the sights, Murchison falls national park is Uganda’s largest park covering over 3840 sq. km, and is one of the most spectacular parks in Africa if you want to discover big cats and find out what the north of Uganda is like. Situated at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna.

African ElephantFirst gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds. Budongo forest reserve is famous for forest birds, chimpanzee tracking and habituation experience!

Key Facts about Murchison Falls National Park

Size:  3840 square kilometres.

Common Wildlife Sightings:  Elephants, Birds, Cape Buffaloes, Rothschild’s Giraffes, Uganda Kob, Spotted Hyenas, Lions, Leopards, Chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, Hippos, Olive Baboons, Oribis, Sitatunga, community tours and many more.

Best Time to Visit: Game safaris in Murchison Falls National Park is generally good and at its best during the Dry season, from December to February. However, January and February can be very hot and the scenery is more beautiful during the Wet season from June to November.

Possible Activities: Game Drives, Chimpanzee Tracking, boat cruise, Cultural Encounters, Hiking and Nature Walks, Birding, Sport Fishing, Research and Monitoring.

4. Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is another park that features breathtaking landscapes with forests and wetland sanctuaries. It’s also home to the high density of primates that inhabit the rainforest. Chimpanzee Tracking in UgandaIn fact, this forest supports the highest number of primate species in Uganda and one of the highest primate densities in the world. You also find a large variety of animals, including bushbucks, forest Elephants and duikers here.

Kibale National Park Key Facts

Size: 759 square kilometres.

Common Wildlife Sightings:  Chimpanzees, Monkeys, Bushbucks, Duikers, Montane Sun and Giant Forest Squirrels, Grey-Cheeked Mangabeys, Olive Baboons As Well As Four Species of Nocturnal Primates.

Best Time to Visit: June to September is the driest time and temperatures average 80°F (25°C) when most animals remain near water, but be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms at any time. The hot dry time is January to February and is a good time to visit.

Possible Activities: Chimpanzee Tracking, Chimpanzee Habituation Experience, Nature Walks, Night Walks, Bigodi wetland exploration, Crater lakes tours, Local community visits and Birding.

5. Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the national parks Uganda has to offer which offers great spotting of the big five. It is also the only place where impalas still exist in Uganda than anywhere else in the country! Located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda, Lake Mburo national park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks.

Key Facts about Lake Mburo National Park

Size: 370 square kilometres.

Common Wildlife Sightings: Burchell’s zebra, Elands, Impalas, Topi, Sitatunga, Bushbuck, Duiker, Oribis, Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Hippos, Buffaloes, Warthogs, Giraffes, Birds And More.

Best Time to Visit: The park is open year-round, but the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February are the best time for general wildlife viewing as animals gather around the lake and other water sources. Wildlife viewing is still ok in the Wet seasons from March to May and from September to November and at this time the park lush and scenic.

Possible Activities: Game Drives, Nature Walk, Boat Rides, Cycling, Community Walks, Birding, Sport Fishing, Horseback Safaris.

6. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

This is another destination for gorilla safaris in Africa, located in southwestern Uganda, with one habituated gorilla group known as “Nyakagezi”. The park is located on the border with Rwanda and DR Congo, and sometimes, this gorilla family crosses to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and/or Virunga National Park in DR Congo. This means one can easily combine a gorilla safari in Rwanda with DR Congo and Uganda because these three gorilla destinations are found in the same location, the Virunga Massive.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Key Facts

Size: 33.9 Square Kilometers

What do See: Mountain gorillas, Forest Birds, Golden Monkeys

Best Time to Visit: The Park can be visited any time of the year.

Possible Tour Activities: Gorilla Trekking, Golden Monkey tracking, Mountain hiking (Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhabura), bird watching and Batwa Trail.