The landscape here is rugged, with deep valleys running between steep sided hills and ridges with barely a square kilometer of the park flat. There are continuous stands of both lowland and Montana rainforest with a dense undergrowth of herbs, vines and shrubs (hence the name impenetrable).
This area is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa with the richest faunal community in East Africa. There are estimated to be 120 species of mammals (more than any other national park in Uganda except Queen Elizabeth) and is the only park where chimpanzees and gorillas co-exist together. There are an estimated 360 species of birds, including 23 localized species found only along the Albertine Rift Valley and 14 found nowhere else in Uganda.
The pristine rainforests of this park, one of the largest natural forests in East Africa, are home to approximately 300 species of butterfly (including two endangered species of swallowtails), 200 native tree species and many species of reptiles and amphibians (including one species of frog that may be new to science).
The rugged terrain makes gorilla trekking strenuous work and visitors should be prepared for up to 8 hours of hiking (good physical condition is a must).
Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda's largest park covers over 4000 sq. km, and is one of the most spectacular parks in Africa. Renowned for its scenic beauty and the spectacular falls from which it gets its name, Murchison Falls National Park supports an abundance of flora and fauna to delight the visitor. From rolling savannah and tall grasslands to thick bush and woodlands, the diversity of this park never ceases to amaze visitors and residents alike.
No visit to Murchison Falls would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Falls. They can be viewed from the top where the Nile River narrows from 50 meters to crash through a 7-meter gorge, falling 45 meters to the rocks below. The three-hour cruise to the base of the Falls is also unforgettable. One can experience the majesty of the Nile while onboard, viewing abundant wildlife along the banks. The more adventurous traveler may want to hike the trails around the Falls, while the avid birdwatcher will want to seek out some of the 424 species identified in the park. Fishermen can test their skills above and below the Falls, waiting patiently for 20-100 kg Nile Perch. Other game fish found in the Nile include Barbel, Electric Catfish and Tiger fish.
Cape buffalo, Rothschild's giraffe, Uganda kob, hartebeest and waterbuck are commonly seen on game drives. You may also spot oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, the shy sitatunga, bush duiker, warthog and bushpig. Large carnivores include lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Chimpanzees and olive baboons head the list of six species of primates found in the park. Crocodile and hippo will be seen along the banks of the Nile. Some of the more common birds that can be seen include Goliath heron, Egyptian geese, pelican, bee-eaters, kingfishers, horn-bill, cormorant, saddle-bill stork and the rare Shoe bill stork. A boat cruise to the delta is a highlight for the avid birdwatcher.
Distance from Kampala: 300km; estimated transit time: 5 hours.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
As one of the outstanding treasures of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park has recently been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO. It is the most popular and easily accessible game reserve in Uganda. The park covers 1978 sq. km and includes a remarkable variety of eco-systems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah and swamps. A total of 95 mammal species has been recorded here, the highest for any Ugandan national park. It is the home of the famous tree-climbing lions, the Uganda kob and other antelope species, as well as elephant, buffalo, hippos, baboons and chimpanzee.
A total of 547 confirmed and 15 unconfirmed bird species have been recorded in Queen Elizabeth. This is one of the highest totals in the world and is truly remarkable for such a relatively small reserve. Species recorded include the Shoebill stork, black bee-eater, 11 types of kingfishers and a variety of raptors, including several falcons and eagles. In the crater lakes, spectacular flocks of flamingos gather, creating the image of a moving pink carpet. The launch trip along the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward is a memorable way to view the abundant game in Queen Elizabeth and to see an astounding number of bird species.
In the eastern section of the park is Kyambura Gorge where visitors can climb through a tropical forest in hopes of catching a glimpse of a variety of primates, including chimpanzees.
In the more isolated Ishasha sector of the park, visitors can move through the woodlands in search of tree-climbing lions perched on the boughs of ancient fig trees. To the southeast, travelers can explore newly opened trails in the Maramagambo forest.
Distance from Kampala: 440km; estimated transit time: 6 hours
An early morning start for the scenic drive to Murchison Falls with a visit to the Rhino sanctuary and lunch break at Masindi. Drop your luggage at the lodge and enjoy an afternoon/evening game-drive. Return to your accommodation for dinner and overnight.
On the early morning game drive, you may see Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Giraffe, Hartebeests and many more. After lunch, enjoy a boat trip on the placid Victoria Nile, upstream to the base of the Falls. En route you will see hippos, crocodiles, water buck and a wide variety of birds like the unusual shoebill stork. The boat stops just tens of meters from the "Devil's Cauldron". Take pictures of the photogenic and majestic Murchison Falls. Disembark from the boat and take a hike to the Top of the Falls where you can see the Nile's beauty perfected!! Marvel at the Nile, compressing from 50 meters to squeeze through a 7-metre canyon dropping 40 meters with a thunderous roar creating a beautiful rainbow, a plume of spray and the best thing that happened to the Nile..."the Murchison Falls".
Start your day with a walk in Pabidi Forest, whose primate residents include l' Hoest's, red colobus, blues, red tailed monkeys and grey cheeked mangabeys. Your guide will provide detailed explanations, not only about primates, but also on all the forest flora and fauna and will ensure that our walk is both informative and enjoyable. This walk is excellent for bird watching and for seeing primates at close quarters. After a picnic lunch, return to Kampala, arriving late afternoon. Drop-off at your residence in Kampala.
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