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Four Hidden National Parks Not to Miss While in Uganda

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While Uganda boasts of its 10 spectacular national parks and many wildlife reserves, not all of them have been explored thus features variety of hidden treasures for you to discover while on African safari.

If you are looking for those places that offer unique travel experiences while on your Uganda safari, then you need not to look any further than the following hidden protected areas in Uganda.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo inhabits 5 primate species and many antelope families.

This park lies at the extreme North Eastern Uganda just within the rugged semi-arid Karamoja province valleys.

It is a lonely planet of its own offering remotest and true wilderness experiences in East Africa. While on your safari at this park, you will be amazed by its mesmerizing scenic landscape.

This park expands for about 1442 square kilometres and bordered by South Sudan and Kenya. It became a national park in 1962 mainly to offer refuge to its abundant wildlife and many other tourist attractions of great visitor interest while on Uganda safari.

It boasts of more than 475 distinct avifaunal species making it the second with highest bird species in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The notable bird species to look out at this park include black breasted barbet, Karamoja apalis, long tailed and standard winged nightjars, Nubian woodpecker, pygmy falcon, little weaver, fox kestrel, African grey flycatcher, white faced scoops owl, white bellied tit, white billed buffalo weavers and many more.

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With all these diverse bird species, Kidepo Valley National Park is ideally perfect for birding tours. Bird watching at this park is ideal at Apoka rest camp, southern Narus valley.

If it is wildlife that you need to catch a glimpse at, this park has a lot more for you to explore. The park is perfect for wildlife viewing and while on your safari, you will be amazed by encounters at wildlife species like striped hyenas, African lions, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, giraffes, black backed jackal as well as 5 primate species and many antelope families.

Other amazing activities to explore at this park include hiking or scenic viewing at Lamoj Mountains, Lotukei Mountains, Morungole Mountain and many more; picnicking at Kidepo River, cultural encounters with the Karamojong or Ik people, nature walks and others.

This park boasts of its diverse habitats where most of its wildlife species are inhabited and they range from the open savannah grassland, riparian woodland to semi-desert scrub.

For visitor overnight stay, the available accommodation options include the Apoka Rest Camp and Lodge. Kidepo National Park can be reached both by road and road.

By road you need 12 hours to drive from Kampala to the park and the notable routes take you from Kampala through Mbale to Sironko then to Kotido and finally to the park or Kampala to Lira, Kotido to Kidepo Park; from Kampala through Soroti to Kotido to Amuria and to the park.

You need a 4 wheel drive safari vehicle to help you navigate through the remote routes to this park. By air, you can set off from Entebbe International Airport to Kidepo park headquarters or land into the airstrip at Lomej and then connect to the park about three kilometres.

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe is home to many Rothschild giraffes

Besides Uganda’s national parks, the Pearl of Africa also features a number of remarkable wildlife reserves and Pian Upe is one of the most splendid reserves you need not to miss to explore.

This reserve is a true wilderness paradise in Uganda and features a vast number of wildlife and avifaunal species.

It is situated in the greater Karamoja region, northern part of Mount Elgon and expands for over 2788 square kilometres making it the most extensive wildlife reserve.

A trip to this protected area rewards travel endeavours with amazing views of wildlife species such as zebras, hartebeests, Topis, buffaloes, Greater Kudus, Oribis, lions, leopards, Rothschild giraffes as well as bird species such as great hartlaub’s bustards, ostriches, Jackson’s hornbill, white headed buffalo weaver and others.

There are also primate species for you to catch a glimpse at especially the olive baboons, vervet monkeys and not to forget the rock pythons.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Gorilla safaris are a major activity in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Situated in south-western Uganda, Mgahinga National Park is one of Uganda’s most beautiful parks with area coverage of about 34 square kilometres making it the smallest park in the country.

Besides its small size, the park boasts of its rare tourist attractions including mountain gorillas that exist in only 4 national parks in the entire world, golden monkeys, volcanoes like Mgahinga, Sabinyo and Muhabura.

Mgahinga also has many bird species that make up a total of about 80 avifaunal species including the grey capped warbler, yellow vented bulbul, waxbills, speckled mouse bird, stonechat, fire finch and others.

This park is ideal for hiking adventures, gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, bird watching, cave exploration at Garama cave, cultural encounters with the Batwa.

The available accommodation options for your overnight stay at Mgahinga National Park include Virunga Hotel, Rugigana camp site, Mount Gahinga Rest Camp, Mubano Hotel, Mgahinga safari lodge, Traveller’s rest camp and many more.

This park can be reached by road and air. By road, take off from Kampala through Kabale to Kisoro with a 4wheel drive car or take a flight from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airfield and land into Kisoro airfield where you will connect to the park by car.

Semuliki Valley National Park

The Sempaya hot-springs in Semuliki Valley National Park

This park is situated within the Semuliki Valley just along the remotest western part of Mount Rwenzori. In the eastern part, it is bordered by the mighty Ituri forest of the Congo River basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This park covers an area of about 220 square kilometres and it was designated into a park in 1993 making it a newly established park. Semuliki national park stands between altitude 670 and 760 meters and receives rainfall amount of 1250 mm.

Interested visitors can pay a visit to this protected area at any time of the year depending on which activity you intend to participate in.

This park inhabits over 336 tree species, 435 avifaunal species 216 of which are largely forest birds including the Sassi’s olive greenbul, forest ground thrush; 53 mammal species including pygmy antelopes, 2 flying squirrel species, hippos, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and many others.

Other wildlife species include crocodiles, 374 species of butterflies, primates and sitatunga.

It is ideal for game viewing, nature walks, hiking, cultural encounters with any of the 4 ethnic groups that live adjacent the park including the Bakonjo and Bamba, exploring the Sempaya hot-springs, birding and others.

The notable accommodation facilities for visitor stay at this park are Semuliki Safari Lodge, Ntoroko game lodge as well as UWA Campsite and Bandas. You can reach this park within 6 to 7 hours’ drive from Kampala on road via Mubende-Fort Portal.

In conclusion, Uganda comprises of 10 stunning national parks where most of the safaris and tours are conducted each day. Visiting any of the 4 listed parks’ above rewards you with true wilderness experiences that is any traveller’s dream in Africa.

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