Uganda lies astride the Equator in Eastern Africa between longitudes 29 ½° East and 35° East and between latitudes 4 ½° North and ½° South, at an average altitude of 1,100 meters above sea- level. The total area is 236,580sq.Km.
It is bordered by the Republic of South Sudan to the North, the Republic of Kenya to the East, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, and the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Rwanda to the South.
Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else but in this uniquely lush destination can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippos and crocodiles before setting off into the misty mountains to visit the majestic mountain gorillas? Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plain antelopes. Besides the wide biodiversity, Uganda is also blessed with a vast bird population of more than 1,000 species.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular National Park and certainly one of its most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori ranges in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the South, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from wetlands to savannah to lowland forest. The lush savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park offers prime grazing to buffaloes, elephants, various antelopes and and a variety of over 600 bird species.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is best known for its Mountain Gorilla populations and gorilla tracking although, it also offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder doing a Safari to Uganda. Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including spectacular, globally threatened species such as Shelley’s Crimson wing and the African Green Broadbill. Bwindi is one of the few national parks in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Though it is best known for its outstanding gorilla tracking, it also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope and bird species. The variant biodiversity is supported by the fact that Bwindi is extremely old and also its slopes extend over a broad altitudinal range of 1447m above sea level, enabling habitats ranging from lowland forest to Afromontane vegetation.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is found in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, about 530km from Uganda
The park occupies the size of about 321 sq km. This park is divided into four gorilla tracking sectors including Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors.
The Buhoma sector was the first to be developed for gorilla tourism and is the most popular of all the four sectors. It is at this sector where other walks have been developed including; the Munyanga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short walk for viewing birds and primates along the forest edge. The waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns as well as orchids to visit three dazzling waterfalls. The Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi Trail of which the latter follows an old raod through the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the impenetrable forest. The Buhoma community walk and cultural performances which takes up to three hours visiting a typical homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of recent, the Batwa cultural experience has been developed in this section of the park. Gorilla families in this sector include; Rushegura, Mubare and Habinyanja.
The Nkuringo sector which lies closely to the Buhoma sector is about 10km from Buhoma although this distance is covered by the Impenetrable Forest and a walk through the forest takes about 4 hours. Connecting by the car from the two points takes about 7 to 8 hours. Villages at Nkuringo also operate a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith and brewers. Nkuringo gorilla family is the only family in this sector.
The Ruhija sector which is famous for its abundant birdlife on top of the gorillas is considered the most remote sector of all the four. There is a three hour hike to visit the Mubwindi swamp and this rewards birder lovers with countless bird species. Gorilla families in this sector include; Ruhija, Bitukura and Kyaguriro.
The Rushaga sector boasts the highest number of gorilla family to include; Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, and Busingye. It lies between Kabale and Nkuringo coming from either Ruhija or Kampala.
By road, there are alternatives that include:
There is also a route that goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park via Kihihi and to Buhoma passing through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famed for the tree climbing lions. Sometimes this route is not favoured because of the bridge which keeps on breaking down.
The major activity in Bwindi is; Gorilla tracking limited to a maximum of 8 people per particular gorilla group per day – Permits must be booked before since they are on a very high demand all year round. You can do this by getting in touch with Uganda wildlife Authority or contacting your local Uganda safari Operator for advice.
Guided forest walks, birding and other primates viewing. There is also the interesting activity of the people (Batwa Pygmies) whereby recently the Batwa Cultural Experience was introduced.
Uganda is suitable for travel any time of the year, but not advisable during rainy seasons. Uganda is sunny most of the year with temperatures rarely rising above 29 degrees (84 degrees Fahrenheit). The average annual temperature is about 26 degrees Celsius (78° Fahrenheit).
The rainy season is from March till May and October till November. Light rain season falls in November and December. Dry seasons are from December to February and June to August. The best time, the best months of the year would be December to late February and from June to September
Uganda’s smallest and probably most scenic National Park is situated in the extreme South-Western corner of the Country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to to include Parc de Volcanoes in Rwanda and Parc de Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct Volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area. Mountain gorillas form the main attraction at Mgahinga National Park, which protects the Ugandan portion of the Virungas, an imposing string of nine freestanding extinct and active volcanoes that runs along the border with Rwanda and the Congo.