KENYA NATIONAL PARKS

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK

 

The only city in the world, which neighbors a natural game protection area, harboring over 100 species of mammals. The Park borders the traditional South Kapiti Plains and Kitengela Migration Corridor and attracts a range of exciting game. It is a seasonal park but most of the game like Kenya's indigenous Black Rhino, live in the protection of the Park year round. Herds of plains zebra, wildebeest and eland enter the park during the great migration in July and August to enjoy the rich grazing until the next rains come.

In recent years a unique trend has been recorded: with increasing frequency a cheetah has successfully raised 7 cubs in the Park to the delight of local and international visitors. The Park is an ideal starting point for ornithological safaris, with over 400 species of bird life.

Nairobi National Park was Kenya's first ever-National Park. Its golden anniversary occurs in 1996/97. It is the site of President Daniel Arap Moi's dramatic ivory bonfire, when in 1989 he torched 10 tons of ivory worth Kshs. 60 million, in a bid to eliminate the mass slaughter of Africa's elephants for their tusks. The site is near the main gate of the Park and bears a commemorative plaque with the legendary words "Great objectives often require great sacrifices." Since then, the great fire has been lit twice more to banish confiscated stocks of poached rhino horn and ivory.

There is no accommodation within the Park, but Nairobi offers a wide selection of excellent accommodation to suit all visitor preferences. Many other tourist attractions are located close to the park, making it an ideal day trip venue.

HELLS GATE NATIONAL PARK

Despite its name, Hell's Gate is an ideal family getaway for a day trip from Nairobi or stopover en-route to Lake Nakura or the Maasai Mara, located just beyond Lake Naivasha. Famous for its natural hot geysers, eagle and vulture breeding grounds, visitors have the choice of driving, walking, camping, cycling and rock climbing within the park. Horseback safaris can also be arranged.

Special locations to view include Fischer's Tower, formerly a volcano's plug, the Central Tower and Njorowa Gorges. Two extinct volcanos: Olkaria and Hobley's are worth a trip. Natural steam vents rise from fissures in the volcanic rock. Obsidian, a striking black glassy rock formed from cooled molten lava is a feature of this landscape. Game to view includes: buffalo, Maasai Giraffe, eland, Coke's Hartebeest, lion, leopard and some cheetah. A haven for ornithologists and rock climbers, the cliffs of Hell’s Gate is breeding grounds for vultures, Verreaux's Eagles, augur buzzard and thousands of swifts; 103 species of bird have been recorded in the park.

MT LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK

Mount Longonot, a young volcano that rises to 2,776 meters above sea level, is an arresting sight for visitors to the Naivasha basin. Created amongst the massive eruptions, which formed the Great Rift Valley, its sides now have beautiful V-shaped valleys and ridges with impenetrable forest around the area of the crater giving it a lush green aspect. The park surrounds the volcano.

Like Hell's Gate, Mount Longonot offers a wide range of attractions for visitors keen on activity holidays, including hiking, rock climbing, biking as well as bird and wildlife viewing. Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers are available as guides. Accommodation within these Parks is limited: Hell's Gate has three campsites, Longonot has no accommodation within the park; however, the fabulous range of nearby hotels, lodges, luxury ranch and home stays around Lake Naivasha provide ample accommodation for all budgets.

Lake Nakuru NATIONAL PARK

Lake Nakuru is world famous for, and was created a National Park, to protect its stunning flocks of lesser flamingo, which literally turn its shores pink. Its bird life is world-renowned: a beacon for leading ornithologists, scientists and wildlife filmmakers. The park spans an attractive range of wooded and bush grassland around the lake offering wide ecological diversity, from lake water, woodland to the rocky escarpments and ridges.

Notable game within the lake includes hippo and clawless otters. On the shores roam waterbuck, Bohor's Reedbuck and zebra. The woodlands and forest are now home to both black and white rhino. In 1987, only two black rhinos remained following the ravages of poaching. By creating a rhino sanctuary within the park and reintroducing a breeding herd from Laikipia, the K.W.S. has now successfully re-established rhino in the park.

Game viewing is relatively easy: buffalo, leopard, lion, Rothschild's giraffe, Black and White Colobus monkey are plentiful in the forest. The bush lands offer eland, steinbok, Impala, Chandler's reedbuck and dik dik, whilst rock hyrax and klipspringer occupy the cliffs and escarpment.

Accommodation includes two lodges, K.W.S. Guest House, five campsites, self help banda and two picnic sites: Makalia Falls & Njoro River Mouth.

Lake Bogoria NATIONAL PARK

Most of the reserve is occupied by Lake Bogoria, which is a spectacular sight reflecting searing blue skies and the rose pink of flamingo. It has significant ornithological interest with 135 species of birds recorded. Like Nakuru, the alkaline lake waters grow blue-green algae, which seasonally attract thousands of flamingos.

The surrounding bushed grasslands are home to a number of animals. The reserve's herd of the rare Greater Kudu makes it unique and other game to view includes: buffalo, zebra, impala, dik dik and many small mammals. The south shore has acacia-ficus woodland and to the north is a papyrus swamp.

There is one lodge, three public campsites, one professional campsite and one picnic site at the geysers.

Also reached on this circuit is Lake Kamnarok National Reserve opened in June 1983. It has a diverse landscape with a 4,000 ft deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on its slopes contrasting with the dry thorn bush at the base. The main game to see is bush pigs, waterbuck, buffalo, elephant, Rothschild's giraffe, dik dik and warthog. Waterbirds include pelicans and grebe. There is no accommodation within the reserve.

Maasai Mara NATIONAL PARK

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is probably the most famous and most visited Reserve in Kenya. It offers breathtaking views (as seen in the film "Out of Africa", much of which was filmed here), an extraordinary density of animals including "the Big Five" (lions, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros) and may varieties of plains game.

An impressive feature is the annual migration of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles from the plains of the Serengeti that cross the Tanzanian border and rivers to reach the Mara's grasslands from late June, tracked by predators: lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena, and circled by vultures as their journey unfolds. Their dramatic river crossings are a reality for tourists visiting in early July-August.

Apart from the seasonal migration, gameviewing is excellent year round. Game includes elephant, black rhino, buffalo, plains zebra, hartebeest and big cats. The rivers are home to hippo and crocodiles. 452 species, 53 of which are raptors.

Accommodation ranges from stone built lodges to luxury-tented camps. The area to the North owned by the Maasai offers great game viewing, game walks and night games. Safari operators set up private camps for small groups seeking exclusive and traditional safaris out of the Reserve. In the Reserve are four tented camps and two lodges.

EBERDARE NATIONAL PARK

The Aberdare National Park is part of the Aberdare Mountain Range, a fascinating region of Kenya. According to traditional Kikuyu folklore they are one of the homes of Ngai (God).

Mountain ranges and peaks soar to around 14,000 ft. giving way to deep V-shaped valleys with streams and rivers cascading over spectacular waterfalls - this area is a must for landscape lovers. From its vital catchments area the Aberdare Rainforest feeds the entire local and Nairobi water supply. Above the forest is a belt of bamboo, a favorite haunt of the Bongo, a rare and elusive forest antelope. At 10,000 ft. the bamboo gives way to moorland, home to the eland, spotted and melanistic serval cats. Other features are the giant varieties of lobelia, groundsel and heather. Ideal for walking, picnics, camping and trout fishing in the rivers, the moorlands are reminiscent of the European Highlands.

Animals abound in the forest: elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog and Kenya's indigenous endangered Black Rhino. The entire forest is being fenced to protect settlement farmers from animal raids and to create a rhino and forest sanctuary. The Rhino Ark Trust organizes fundraising events to raise the money to build this fence.

Game viewing is very rewarding: lion. Leopard, baboon, Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys are abundant. Rare sightings have also been made of the Golden Cat. Bird viewing is incredible with over 250 species recorded, including Jackson's Francolin, sparrow hawk, African goshawk, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.

There is a variety of accommodation. Treetops tree-house lodge and the Ark, a lodge built in the shape of Noah's Ark provide night game-viewing in the Salient area of the Park with excellent sightings of elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino, drawn to the waterholes and saltlicks each evening.

Overall within the Aberdare National Park, there are two lodges, three self-help banda sites, eight special campsites (requiring advance booking) and one public campsite (moorland). There are five picnic sites.

MT KENYA NATIONAL PARK

At 5,199 m. high, Mount Kenya is Africa's second highest mountain. It offers easy or challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty.

To the Kikuyu tribes people it is the home of the Supreme Being: Ngai, a name also used by the Maasai and Kamba tribes. In traditional prayers and sacrifices, the Kikuyu as Mwene Nyaga addresses Ngai: the Professor of Brightness. The name comes from Kere Nyaga, the Kikuyu name for Mount Kenya, meaning Mountain of Brightness - Ngai's official home.

Part of the mountain's fascination is the variation in flora and fauna as the altitude changes. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest, the true montane forest begins at 2,000 m. is mainly cedar and podo. At 2,500 m. begins a dense belt of of bamboo forest which merges into the upper forest of smaller trees, interspersed with glades. In this area the trees are festooned with high altitude moss.

These forest belts are host to many different animals and plants with at least 11 unique species. Game to view includes: Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant and lower down Olive Baboon, waterbuck, black rhino, black fronted duiker, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cat, bush pig and hyena. More elusive is the bongo, a rare type of forest antelope.

A number of other rare or endangered species can be found here: Sunni Buck, Mt Kenya Mole Shrew, skinks (lizard), and a variety of owls. Occasional sightings have been recorded of albino zebra.

The high altitude heath at the top (3,000 - 3,500 m.) is generally open, dotted with shrubs: African Sage, protea and helicrysum. The peak (above 3,500 m.) is moorland, with little game other than high altitude zebra and eland common in the norhtern moorland.

There is only one lodge inside the Park, seven climbers huts and three self-help banda sites. Just outside the Park there are three lodges and another self-help banda site.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is a fascinating day trip out of Nairobi, only 65 kms away. The mountain rises to 8,000 ft, covering 20sq. kms. Particularly attractive for hikers or families wanting some freedom and exercise out of their vehicle. Visitors are recommended to approach via the spectacular Fourteen Falls on the Chania River. The Park's attraction is its beauty and views of Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro. There is game including baboon, colobus, bushbuck, impala, duiker and abundant birdlife for ornithologists.

The name is Maasai, meaning 'Mountain of Buffalo'. Today some 250 buffaloes roam the slopes. Kikuyu traditionalists call it Kea-Njahe, known as the 'Mountain of the Big Rain', one of Ngai's lesser homes.

The solitary mountain rears up to 2,145m from an otherwise flat area. The steep ascent requires a 4WD vehicle. Near the summit lies the grave of Sir William Northrup McMillan (1872-1925) and his wife Lady Lucie. He was a huge Scot, raised in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He arrived in Kenya in 1901 for the big game shooting, playing host to Roosevelt during his famous 1911 safari at their ranch Juja Farm (now a popular location for film crews). He and his wife were great philanthropists, creating the MacMillan Library in central Nairobi.

Also in the area is Mwea National Reserve (altitude 3,000-5,000 sq. ft - opened January 1976, covering an area of 68 sq. kms), 180 kms from Nairobi. Its main feature is the meeting of the Tana and Thiba Rivers within the Reserve and the Kaburu and Masinga hydro-electric dams.

Elephant is plentiful in the Reserve. Other prevalent game includes buffalo, impala, hippo, baboon, vervet and Sykes monkeys, warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, hartebeest, lesser kudu and jackal. Crocodiles are also found in the dams and two rivers.

There is no hotel-type accommodation in these Reserves or Parks. Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park has one campsite. Mwea National Reserve has two picnic sites: Gichuki Island and Hippo Point.

MT ELGON NATIONAL PARK

Mount Elgon on the Kenya/Uganda border is a volcanic mountain, formed when the earth's crust erupted creating the Great Rift Valley. The National Park is one of Kenya's most beautiful, still wild and intact, with vast areas of untouched forest. Game viewing is excellent; the Park is home to an estimated 400 elephants, buffalo, leopard, the protected colobus and blue monkeys, giant forest hog, waterbuck and various other types of antelope. Over 240 species of birds have been recorded. Huge Elgon teak and cedar trees, some over 80 ft tall, dominant the forest scenery.

A major attraction is a series of four caves: Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil and Ngwarisha, all of which are explorable. Kitum is the largest, extending horizontally for 200 m. into the heart of the mountain. In Maasai, its name means Place of the Ceremonies.

The caves are favorite gathering places for elephants. Every night, long convoys venture deep into the caves to feed off the salt rich deposits. This nightly phenomenon has earned them the title "underground elephants".

Mount Elgon also offers excellent climbing and walking opportunities. No special equipment for hiking is required and the Park management provides guides. The highest peak on the Kenya side is Koitobos (4,200 m.). It is reached accross beautiful moorlands and the hot springs can be visited on the way.

The Park is criss-crossed by four rivers, leading to Lake Turkana: the Nzoia, Suam, Kerio and Turkwell. Sport fishing is available in the Suam River. There are no lodges inside the Park, but there are three campsites and one picnic site. Three short nature trails lead to Kitum Cave, Makingeni Cave and the Elephant Bluff.

Other places to visit include Kerio Valley National Reserve and Saiwa Swamp National Park. Kerio Valley is a 4,000 ft deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on the slopes leading down to dry thorn bush at the base, with impressive views. The Kerio Valley was made a national reserve in 1983 for its bio-diverse importance, covering an area of 66 sq. kms.

Saiwa Swamp National Park is one of Kenya's smallest parks, only 3 sq. kms. Opened in 1974 to protect the semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelope notable for its wide spread hooves which allow it to walk at the surface of the swamp. It is also home of the endangered De Brazza Monkey and a variety of otter, giant forest squirrel, Black and White Colobus monkey, bushbuck and grey duiker.

Accommodation is available in Sirikawa tented camp outside the park. There is one camping ground and one serviced campsite within the park. It has three nature trails, bridges for walking over the swamp and three Sitatunga viewing platforms.

Kakamega Forest National Reserve is the only tropical rainforest in Kenya, left over from past millenia when dense rain forest stretched from West Africa, across Central Africa and into the highland areas on the west and eastern walls of the Great Rift Valley.

The forest has been a protected area of Kenya since its vital role in the eco-system was first recognized in 1933.

The sheer size and grandeur of these rainforest trees, some over a hundred years old, is impressive. The trees create a complete environment for the birds, insects, butterflies and wildlife, so plentiful in the area.

The forest includes some of Africa's greatest hard and soft woods: Elgon teak, red and white stink woods and several varieties of Croton and Aniageria Altisima. Splendid orchids sit amongst the branches of the larger trees. Walking beneath the lush forest canopy the deep shade is pierced by flashes of colour, exotic birdcalls, the scents of wood, flower and moss. The best time to visit is during the rainy season, April to July, when the flowers are at their most beautiful.

There are 7 kilometers of trails with a team of ranger guides to escort visitors through the forest. The walk to Buyango Hill, the highest point in the forest, is a must for visitors. The indigenous trees lining the trails are identified on signs with their local and latin names.

The Reserve is twice the size of Nairobi National Park with 380 species of plants spread in swamps, riverine and hardwood forest areas, glades and the shallow forest around the edge of the reserve. 350 species of bird have been recorded including rare snake-eating birds. Butterflies and snakes normally only found in West Africa can also be seen, although visitors need have no concern about meeting them round every corner. Forest mammals include bushpig, grey duiker, civet, Sunni, clawless otters and some fascinating nocturnal game: Ground Pangolin, porcupines and the occasional leopard.

Kakamega offers excellent primate viewing: Black and White Colobus are plentiful and the De Brazza Monkeys (known as 'Karasinga' in Swahili, thanks to its distinctive white beard) can be found in the adjacent Kisere forest area. Many rare species of primate are common here such as the Blue Monkey, frequently seen near the Ishiuki Falls, the Olive Baboon and the Red Tailed Monkey.

Accomodation is available within the Reserve: one guest house (total 8 beds), self-help bandas with 10 beds and two campsites. Other nearby hotel accommodation is available as well as the Rondo Retreat, recently opened to visitors, located inside the Reserve.

Easily included on the same western circuit is Ruma National Park. Created as a reserve in 1966 to protect the only remaining habitat of Roan Antelope, the Park is in the Lambwe Valley in South Nyanza, 140 kilometers from Kisumu town. The 120 sq. kilometers Park is a mix of rolling savannah, woodlands, rivers and hills. Its main attractions are game viewing, birdwatching, hiking and walking, and fishing in the rivers.

Game to view includes: Bohor's Reedbuck, Rothschild's Giraffe, Jackson's Hartebeest, Roan Antelope, buffalo, leopard, serval cat and hyena, as well as diverse birdlife. There is not hotel/lodge accommodation in the Park, but it has two campsites.

Two other parks on this circuit are Ndere Island National Park and Kisumu Impala Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ndere Island Park is only 4.2 square kilometers, an island just off the northern shore of Lake Victoria, opened in November 1986. Ndere means 'Meeting Place' in the language of the local Luo tribe. According to Luo folklore, Kit Mikayi, mother of the tribe, rested up near Ndere after her long journey south down the Nile Valley. She found the lush shoreline so pleasing that she and her people stayed.

It is home to a variety of birds including fish eagles and a dense population of swifts. Hippo and crocodiles, including the lesser-known Spotted Crocodile, is a familiar site. 50 impalas have been introduced to the woodland, which fringes the shores. Attractions include hiking, walking, traditional fishing, boat safaris and picnics. No accommodation is available.

Nearby, Kisumu Impala Wildlife Sanctuary was opened in October 1992, to protect a herd of impala and provide safe grazing grounds for hippo from the lake. It is used as a holding point and sanctuary for 'problem' animals, such as leopard, hyena and baboon. It is close to Kisumu town and occupies less than one square kilometer.

MERU NATIONAL PARK

Meru National Park is wild and beautiful. Straddling the equator and bisected by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an especially beautiful area of Kenya. It has diverse scenery from woodlands at 3,000 feet on the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain Range, northeast of Mount Kenya, to wide-open plains with wandering riverbanks dotted with doum palms.

Game to view includes: lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard and some of the rarer antelopes; Lesser Kudu, duiker and Dik Dik, one of Africa's smallest antelopes. Large prides of lion can be seen and some of Kenya's largest herds of buffalo. The rivers abound with hippo and crocodile; fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at campsites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980's, the Park suffered from poaching, however Kenya Wildlife Service armed wildlife security patrols have driven out the poachers and the elephant population has stabilized with breeding herds settling down.

Over 300 species of birds have been recorded including: the Peter's Finfoot which inhabits the Murera and Ura Rivers, the Pel's Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers.

The Park is most famous as the setting for Joy Adamson's book "Born Free" -- the story of the Adamson's life and research amongst lion and cheetah. "Elsa" the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. One lodge and two tented camps are planned inside the Park. There are eight special campsites which must be pre-booked, one public campsite, Kenya Wildlife Service self-help banda and Leopard Rock bandas (total 120 beds).

On the border of Meru National Park is Bisanadi National Reserve. Known as 'Kinna', the border between Meru and Bisanadi Parks is the traditional division between the Meru and Boran tribes’ people. The Reserve was opened in September 1979 and occupies an area of 606 square kilometers. A true wilderness area without any accommodation it is only accessible by 4WD vehicles. There is an airstrip at Korbessa.

Another area made famous by the Adamsons is Kora National Park. Opened in October 1989, 280 kilometers northeast of Nairobi, it is an easy outing from Meru National Park. Covering an area of 1,787 square kilometers, bounded by the Tana River, George Adamson's camp was here until he died. A feature is the sudden appearance of lush green "oases", created by the lines of doum palms which shelter the banks of the Tana River. Striking are the Inselbergs -- isolated rocky outcrops covered in vegetation which create random islands above the plains. Kora has diverse wildlife: 21 species of fish have been recorded, with 500 species of insect, 33 molluscs and 40 reptiles. Species to view include: elephant, Lesser Kudu, wild dog, striped and spotted hyenas, leopard and cheetah.

Other regional Parks include Rahole National Reserve, offering a wide variety of plains game, hippo, crocodile and excellent bird viewing; also Mwingi National Reserve, formerly North Kitui. Game to view includes hippo, crocodile, buffalo and warthog.

SAMBURU AND BUFFALO SPRINGS NATIONAL RESERVES

All three reserves offer unique vistas of rounded and rugged hills and undulating plains. The mix of wood and grassland with riverine forest and swamp is home to a wide variety of animal and birdlife. Buffalo Springs records over 365 species of bird. Game viewing and visibility is excellent. Reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, elephant, oryx, Somali ostrich, hippo, crocodile, gerenuk, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Shaba National Reserve is home to Joy Adamson’s Monument. It is notable for its hot springs. Samburu and Buffalo Springs, in particular, are popular tourist routes. There are three lodges in Samburu, one lodge in Shaba and one tented lodge. There are a number of special campsites in each park, favoured by the mobile-tented safari operators, which have to be pre-booked. Shaba also has an airstrip.

Maralal and Laikipia Game Sanctuaries are also located in this area and can be visited by arrangement. Laikipia Plateau Reserve was opened in October 1991. It is north-east of Laikipia district and borders Isiolo district. To the west is the Mkogodo Forest Reserve, a belt of riverine forest along the Ngare Ndare River. It is the homeland of a unique small tribe known as the Laikipia Maasai.

The landscape is rich and varied, game includes elephant, eland, buffalo, zebra, bushbuck, duiker, bushpig, Gerenuk, Plains game and the big cats: cheetah, leopard and lion. Good for birdwatching, it is a little known area which is ideal for walking holidays and camel safaris for the intrepid traveller. No accommodation is available yet in this area.

LAIKPIA GAME RESERVE

All three reserves offer unique vistas of rounded and rugged hills and undulating plains. The mix of wood and grassland with riverine forest and swamp is home to a wide variety of animal and birdlife. Buffalo Springs records over 365 species of bird. Game viewing and visibility is excellent. Reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, elephant, oryx, Somali ostrich, hippo, crocodile, gerenuk, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Shaba National Reserve is home to Joy Adamson's Monument. It is notable for its hot springs. Samburu and Buffalo Springs, in particular, are popular tourist routes. There are three lodges in Samburu, one lodge in Shaba and one tented lodge. There are a number of special campsites in each park, favoured by the mobile tented safari operators, which have to be pre-booked. Shaba also has an airstrip.

Maralal and Laikipia Game Sanctuaries are also located in this area and can be visited by arrangement. Laikipia Plateau Reserve was opened in October 1991. It is north-east of Laikipia district and borders Isiolo district. To the west is the Mkogodo Forest Reserve, a belt of riverine forest along the Ngare Ndare River. It is the homeland of a unique small tribe known as the Laikipia Maasai.

The landscape is rich and varied, game includes elephant, eland, buffalo, zebra, bushbuck, duiker, bushpig, Gerenuk, Plains game and the big cats: cheetah, leopard and lion. Good for birdwatching, it is a little known area which is ideal for walking holidays and camel safaris for the intrepid traveller. No accommodation is available yet in this area.

UGANDA NATIONAL PARKS

Kidepo Valley NATIONAL PARK

Location and Habitat

Kidepo is one of the most spectacular parks in Uganda (1,344 sq.km). The Park  possesses scenery  unsurpassed by any other park in East Africa. In the vast panorama you can watch a constant parade of wildlife: elephant, zebra, buffalo, countless antelope and over 200 species of birds. As Kidepo Valley is quite remote, it is easily the most tranquil park. Tucked into the corner of Uganda's border with Sudan and Kenya, the Park contains sensational mountain and savannah landscapes.

The Northern section of the Park is currently closed due to insecurity in Sudan.

Two game-viewing loops connect the rest-camp with prime wildlife areas near the Winy River and the rock escarpment to the south-west. On the northern border of the Park are the Kananorok Hot Springs.

The Park has spectacular mountains and savannah landscape. The Napore Nyangea Range is located to the west of the camp and the Natera Hills to the east. In the north you can see the 236 meter high peak of Mt. Lotukei.Two game viewing loops connect the Rest Camp with prime wildlife areas near the Winwing River and with the rock escarpment to the Southwest into which Grand Katarum Lodge is being built. Further tracks take you to the Lokadul Palm Tree Forest, at Kananorok Hot Springs on the Park's Northern border with Sudan.

The thrilling wildlife seen in this area (which is part of the Karamoja region) includes lion, ostrich, cheetah, zebra, kudu and dik-dik.

Access

By Road: Some hardy tourists drive the 840km from Kampala, but this is not generally recommended,

By Air: The airstrip at Apoka gives access for light aircraft.

It is 840 km from Kampala to Kidepo by road. The journey takes a day or two through a variety of physical features and ends up in the total wilderness of Karamoja. There is also an airstrip near Apoka. Chartered light aircraft can be arranged through tour operators in Kampala.

Accommodation

There are four camping sites close to Apoka.

16 chalets with 32 beds are available at Apoka Rest Camp. The camp stocks some dry food but visitors are advised to take drinks and other food stuff which camp staff can help to prepare.

Wildlife

Elephant, Giraffe, Oryx, Leopard, Kudu, Zebra, Buffalo, Cheetah, Bushbaby, Uganda Kob, Lion, Baboon

MT ELGON NATIONAL PARK

In every region the colourful dances, dress and handicrafts of the people are well worth seeing. The village markets bustle with life, and local craftsmen work as they have done for generations. In this area visitors can discover the infinite variety our lifestyles and heritage which make Uganda so special

In the easternmost region of Uganda, along the border with Kenya, towers the dramatic mass if that is Mount Elgon.

Although Mt. Elgon was well known to Arab traders passing along old slaving routes to the East (Kenya), explorer Henry Morton Stanley was the first to write about Mt. Elgon when he presumably saw it while circumnavigating Lake Victoria in 1875.

Joseph Thomson, a British explorer and geographer was the first European to visit Mt. Elgon in 1883. Thomson referred to the mountain as "Masawa" or "Elgon" and generated curiosity among other explorers.

In 1890, with a 400 men caravan, Fredrick Jackson of the Imperial British Exploration Association was the first European to visit the caldera and to climb any of the major peaks. Ironically, Jackson climbed Sudek Peak from the south and probably never even saw Masaba Peak, which was later named Jackson’s Summit after him.

Mt. Elgon has been called a "Mountain of Illusion" partly because of the number of hiking parties lost on its slopes in the past and also because no one could determine its highest point. Sudek and Koitobos Peaks (Kenya) were both proclaimed " the top of Elgon" at different times. Wagagai, the highest peak (4321m), does not protrude markedly above the caldera rim and conceals its height well. In fact, Wagagai Peak was overlooked by explorers until the early 20th century.

Formerly a forest reserve since 1938, Mt. Elgon was promoted to national park status in October 1993, making it one of Uganda’s three youngest national parks managed under the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The key decision behind upgrading Mt. Elgon’s protection status was to meet an increasing demand to conserve the mountain’s valuable resources in their most natural state.

Mt. Elgon provides a vital source of good quality water to several million people in eastern Uganda and western Kenya, and acts as a major water catchment area for the Lakes Kyoga, Turkana, Victoria, and eventually the Nile River.

In addition, the mountain provides essential forest products such as fresh bamboo shoots, honey, and medicinal plants. Over 110,000 hectares of this 1154 sq km national park is heavily forested, thus presenting an important timber resource for local communities and the nation as a whole.

LOCATION

The mountain is positioned approximately 100km northeast of Lake Victoria and straddles the border of Uganda and Kenya. The Suam and Lwakaka Rivers, and the beacon on Sudek Peak mark the international boundary. Administratively, the mountain falls into two districts (in Uganda); Kapchorwa District to the north and Mbale district to the south. Measuring about 80km from north to south, and 50km east to west, more than half of Mt. Elgon (including the majority of its caldera) lies in Uganda.

The fourth largest Ugandan national park, MENP encompasses 1154 sq. km and stretches between

0 52’-1 25’N and 34 14’-34 44’E. The majority of the park is situated above 2000m and extends up to the highest peak (Wagagai) at 4321m.

ACCESS BY VEHICLE

Distances between important locations

Kampala to Mbale via Jinja and Tirinyi Rd. 256km/3hours

Mbale to Budadiri 30km/0.25hrs

Mbale to Nagudi Rock 15km/0.5hrs

Mbale to Sipi Falls 66km/1.5hrs

Sipi Falls to Forest Exploration Center 12.5km/0.5hrs

Sipi Falls to Kapkwata 45km/1.5hrs

Accommodation in this park is available at Volcanoes Sipi Falls Rest Camp.

GEOLOGY

Positioned on the Pre-Cambrium bedrock of the Trans Nzoia Plateau, Mt. Elgon is similar to other such volcanoes in East Africa in that it is associated with the formation of the Rift Valley. Similar to other Rift Valley Volcanoes, one thing sets Mt. Elgon apart…its age!

Although there is no verifiable evidence of its earliest volcanic activity, Mt. Elgon is estimated to be at least 24 million years old, making it the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa. This presents a striking comparison to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5895m, which is just over one million years old.

Judging by the diameter of its base, it is a common belief among geological experts that Mt. Elgon was once the highest mountain in Africa, however erosion has played a significant role in reducing the height to its present elevation of 4321m. Mt. Elgon is now the eighth highest massif on the African continent!

During the Miocene Epoch (12-20 million years ago) Mt. Elgon’s volcanic activity was probably violent. In fact, the bulk of Mt. Elgon was formed from the build-up of debris (older rock) ejected from the enlarged main vent.

In contrast, lava flows began at a relatively late stage of its development. Elgon disgorged mainly fluid basic lavas, creating a low convex profile (4 slope) known as a shield volcano. Given that the overlying lava is harder and more resistant to erosion than the underlying debris, Elgon has weathered in an uneven fashion, resulting in a number of caves and the characteristic step-like cliffs and bluffs well known to Elgon’s lower slopes.

The last major eruption occurred in the early Pleistocene Epoch (12 million years ago). Only minor eruptions occurred since, the most recent being about 2 million years ago. When the main vent became blocked, horizontal fissures were created from which lava spilled out. Wanale Ridge, the 20km long escarpment of "peninsula" that extends west from the main mountain towards Mbale town , is the result of this process.

The caldera (crater) is one of Mt. Elgon’s most spectacular geological features. Following intense eruptions, the magma chamber drained and the hardened, over-lying volcanic cone collapsed, forming the caldera. Approximately 8km in diameter, Mt. Elgon’s caldera is one of the largest intact calderas in the world. Weathered hills and peaks several hundred meters above the caldera floor form a wide ring around the caldera. The highest peaks in Uganda are: Wagagai (4321m), Mubiyi (4211m), and Jackson’s Summit (4161m), while Sudek (4302m), and Koitobos (4222m) Peaks are located in Kenya.

During the Pleistocene Epoch (1.5 million years ago), glaciers filled the caldera and extended down (on the outer slopes) to about 3500m. The glaciers left behind evidence of their presence. Small lakes (mires) were carved out of the ground’s surface and the accumulation of glacial debris (moraines) can be observed. As global temperatures increased at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, the glaciers began to melt.

As a result, the powerful run-off water eroded and cut through the caldera rim in two places. The main break in the rim is now known as the Suam Gorge. Hot springs bubble up to 44C at the head of the Gorge. To this day, the Suam River is the largest river flowing from the mountain, and the only river that drains the caldera. There is also a smaller break in the northwestern rim (Uganda pass) which marks the headwaters to the Simu River.

CLIMATE

Considering that Mt. Elgon is a massive solitary volcano in the relatively flat plains of eastern Uganda and western Kenya, it creates and experiences weather patterns considerably different from the surrounding environment. The climate follows seasonally alternating moist (southwesterly) and dry (northeasterly) air streams.

The wettest season occurs from March to October, while the driest season is from November to February with a short dry period around June or July. Annual rainfall records indicate that the southern and western slopes receive more precipitation (about 2000mm) than the northern and eastern slopes (about 1500mm).

It is generally accepted that maximum rainfall occurs in the forest zone. Climatic conditions are more temperate and less seasonal with the increasing altitude of the upper slopes. At higher elevations, light rain is common, rather than the heavy rains that occur down slope. Hail and freezing temperatures may be encountered at any time of the year on the upper slopes.

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

Two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo lived in a large valley.  One night, Kigarama dreamt that they were in danger.  When he awoke the next  morning, he told his younger brother Mburo of his dream and said they should move.  Mburo ignored this advice, but Kigarama wisely moved up into the hills. The valley flooded and a lake was formed, drowning Mburo. Today the lake is named after him, and the hills are called Kigarama after his brother.

The word mburo is similar to the "mboro", the Runyankole name of the cassine tree which has a powerful aphrodisiac effect. One such tree, showing signs of bark and branch removal, may be seen close to the Kigambira Loop crossroads.

Location

Situated between Masaka and Mbarara in Western Uganda, it is the only park to contain an entire lake. Beautiful and tranquil Lake Mburo National Park is situated in rolling hills and open grassy valleys. This lovely landscape also consists of four other smaller lakes where you'll see impala, eland, waterbuck, klipspringer, zebra and buffalo.

Wildlife

The Park has Aardvark, Hyrax, Porcupine, Hippopotamus, Zebra, Pangolin, Warthog, Hyena, Leopard, Buffalo, Civet, Genet, Topi, Eland, Klipspringer, Oribi, Sitatunga, Impala, eland and crocodile  There is an excellent variety of water and acacia savannah bird species (357 bird species) like crested crane, the rare shoebill stork, marabou stork and bronze-tailed starling, bee eaters and even more exotic birds like Blue Naped Coucal, Bare-faced Go-Away Bird, Nubian Woodpecker and swamp flycatcher.

Hippos and crocodiles can be seen grazing on cool mornings. The surrounding papyrus swamps hide the beautiful sitatunga, a very special antelope with narrow, elongated hooves, which allow them to move freely on marshy land.

Exotic sights you may enjoy are male impala characteristically looking over their territory from the top of a large anthill, an exquisite panoramic view of the lake land expanse from a hilltop
vantage point, or the sight of locally
ranched long-horned Ankole cattle grazing with wild impala and zebra. Don't forget to take a wooden Ssese canoe trip on the lake to see kingfishers, herons and other water birds, your guide will keep you a safe distance from the hippos and crocodiles!

The attractive acacia-dotted savannah (256 sq. km) is home to huge herds of impala, as well as uncommon topi, eland, klipspringer and other antelope. Zebra and buffalo also graze these peaceful acres.

The lake supports a wonderful diversity of birds. Because of the different habitats, the lakeshore and the broad savannah, the variety seems endless. Catch a glimpse of water birds diving for fish, the Marabou Stork, bee-eaters and the cheeky Bronze-tailed Starling, as well as the majestic Crowned Crane. Make sure you bring your binoculars.

Activities

Walks, Game drives, Lake Cruises, Excellent Bird watching

Access

By Road: the park is bounded to the north by the main Kampala-Mbarara road. From Kampala it is 430km (4 hours) to the Park headquarters and rest camp at Rwonyo. On the way you will pass several interesting market villages as well as crossing the Equator Line. The left turn to the Park is sign posted 211km from Kampala.

From Mbarara it is 47km to the Park Headquarters. The right turn to the park is at Sanga. The park gate is at Rweshebeshebe, 12km from Sanga.4-wheeled drive is recommended.

By road from Kampala it is 4 hours (230km) to the park head quarters and rest camp at Rwonyo.

On the way, places of interest include, Mpambire Drum shop (40km from Kampala), the Equator (76 km), Kinoni for papyrus mats (147 km), Kyazanga for Gonja (roasted bananas) (169 km) and the Lake Mburo Heritage Village.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available at park headquarters, where chalets are available for single or double occupancy. Meals are available or visitors may carry their own food that the camp staff can help to prepare. Hurricane lamp lighting and warm water bucket bathing are provided. Campfire may be organised on request.

The Lake View Hotel in the nearby town of Mbarara is a modern locally-owned hotel. All rooms have private facilities. The hotel has a bar, restaurant, terrace, swimming pool and sports centre. The hotel's own small lake is often surrounded by marabou storks.

Mantana Camp, run by Mel and Paul has stunning vistas over 3 lakes, It offers good service whilst retaining the authentic safari spirit. Each tent has twin beds and a bathroom. Each verandah is placed so as to take advantage of stunning African sunsets. The dining room is built on stilts so as to offer guests bird's eye views across the treetops to the lakes. 

Climate 
  
Lake Mburo National Park lies in a rain shadow between Lake Victoria and the Rwenzori Mountains, and receives an average of only 800mm of rain a year.  Being near the equator, the rainfall pattern is bimodal, with the long rains occurring from February to June, and the short rains from September to December.

The rains are rather erratic and unpredictable, but most rain tends to fall in April and November.  The average recorded temperature is 27.50C with daily variation ranging from 21.50C to 34,00C. July and August are the hottest months.  

Topography

The Park lies between 1,219 and 1,828 m above sea level.  High hills and rocky, eroded ridges characterise the western part of the Park; here deep valleys support dry forests found nowhere else.  In the eastern sector, the rolling, wooded hills are intersected by wide, flat bottomed valleys which are seasonally flooded and drain into the swamps and lakes.  The Ruizi river flows in a south -easterly direction and forms part of the western boundary of the Park. Lake Mburo and its associated wetlands eventually drain into Lake Victoria.

Geology

The Park is underlain by very ancient (more than 500 million years old) Precambrian metamorphic rocks which belong to the ‘basement system'.  These rocks can be seen from the Zebra Track in the Park as outcrops or "tors". The soils in the western uplands tend to be clays and loams, while those of the eastern lowlands are sandy

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK- Uganda

 

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most spectacular in Uganda, and indeed in the whole of Africa. This is the largest game park in the country  (3,840 sq.km.) and has the most intense concentration of animals along the river. Here is the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, where the River Nile hurls itself in appalling convulsions through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 metres in one breathtaking leap.

Before the Murchison Falls themselves, in the eastern sector of the Park, are the Karuma Falls where the Nile cascades over 23 kilometres of rapids in a breathtaking sight. This is some of the most exciting white water in Africa.

A launch trip up stream to the falls is one of the great experiences in Africa.  Elephant, hartebeest, giraffe, buffalo, crocodiles and countless antelope and birds (including the rare Shoebill stork) can be admired at the water's edge as the launch glides along.

The Murchison Falls National Park, with its   variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamp lands to broad Savannah, provides the opportunity of seeing many of the animals found in Uganda.

In the southern section of the park is the beautiful Rabongo Forest, home to several families of chimpanzees and other primates. Make sure you have plenty of film for your camera, although they are difficult to spot in the thick canopy above.

This is the biggest National Park in Uganda with an area of 3840km2. The River Nile divides the park into the north and south sectors and forms falls where it flows over the western rift valley escarpment. Here, the river is forced through a 3 meters gap in the rocks and cascades into a boiling pot 30 meters below.

A boat cruise upstream to the falls provides an unforgettable experience. The falls can also be viewed from the top, which gives a completely different impression.

Wildlife

Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Leopard, Warthog, Lion, Giraffe Aardvark, Chimpanzee, Pangolin, Civet, Buffalo, Hyena, Crocodile, Oribi, Patas monkey, Uganda kob, baboon.
Fish in the Nile include Nile perch, Tilapia and Tiger fish. 450 species of bird including Pel's fishing owl, pennant winged nightjar, red-throated bee eater and the magnificent shoebill stork. In the southern sector of the park, there is Rabongo Forest, a home of chimpanzees.

Activities

Unforgettable Launch trips on the Nile up to the Falls with abundant game viewing along the way; Game drives in the Park; Forest walks in the Rabongo Forest and Fishing at the foot of the falls.

 

Fishing

At the top of Murchison Falls, the Victoria Nile explodes through a 6 -metre gap, causing the very rock to shake - quite literally. This phenomenon is said to be the most powerful natural flow of water anywhere on Earth. Can you imagine the strength and size of the Nile Perch, which can withstand such a force which exists at the foot of this perpetual avalanche of water!

Charles Norman described the first such perch, spotted soon after their arrival by his companion, who: "...let out a strangled squawk and I found myself staring at the hog-sized back of a huge fish protruding above the water at the rock's edge - a 100kg fish with scales the size of tennis balls. "Swimming next to it was a smaller one, a 'midget' of a mere 40kg or so.

Slowly these two moved along the rock, obviously feeding, and then sank out of sight almost at our feet. My knees turned to water and my whole body began to shake..." This adventure turned into what the prodigiously experienced Charles Norman describes as "...the most exciting morning's fishing that I have ever known. "

Having landed some magnificent specimens, he concludes by pointing out that the most memorable strike of the day was one that ...just for a second felt rock solid before my double line came flying back to me. " He adds that only tigerfish can sever nylon line in this way and that, since his bait was such a large bream, the tiger must have been a very big one.

His parting thought reads: "There are tigerfish in the lower Nile and Lake Albert, 30km downstream, but are they Goliaths! Incredibly, nobody knows, there simply hasn't been any sportfishing in Uganda for the past 35 years, and the inhabitants of its many waterways remain a mystery." Anyone angling for a solution to that mystery!

Access

By road, it is a 3 hour drive from Kampala to Masindi, 217 km on tarmac and 40 km on high grade murram, then an additional 2 hours (97 km) from Masindi to the Falls on murram. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is advisable as the Masindi-Paraa road is rough.

Air Charter Services can reach the Park. There are airstrips at Paraa and Rabongo which can accommodate light aircratfs of up to six seats capacity.

Accommodation

There is a campsite at the top of the fall, which can be used by those with their own camping gear. Contact UNP for reservations and current rates.

The riverside Nile Safari Camp must be one of the most romantic lodges in the world. Accommodation is in beautifully designed waterside log cabins each with its own internal tent, terrace, bathroom and outside shower. There is an al fresco restaurant and small gift shop. Watching a stunning sunset from the friendly bar is a must.

In an elevated position on the north side of the river, guests at the Sarova Paraa Lodge benefit from simply massive views. This historic lodge, which, before its restoration, was host to many dignitaries, is now central to Paraa reclaiming its former glory. The site, service and ambience, which so impressed Britain's Queen Mother, is being recreated to great effect for the enjoyment of modern tourists. Each room has full facilities and a remarkable view. There is an impressive restaurant, swimming pool and bar.

The Sambiya River Lodge presents a unique African experience. Thatched bungalows, all in a very special setting, surround a traditionally designed thatched hotel. The atmosphere is relaxing, warm and friendly and the lodge provides a restaurant, bar and gift shop. All rooms are complete with full private facilities

KIBALE NATIONAL PARK- Uganda.

 

Once this tropical rainforest provided a (very substantial) dinner, bed and breakfast for large herds of migrating forest elephants and, even now, the park contains the largest population of this subspecies in Uganda. Although they're rarely seen, and dangerous, the signs of these elephants' presence are abundant.

However, Kibale's claim to fame is its enormous variety of primates and its families of habituated chimpanzees - it's home to an astonishing 12 species of primate and provides one of the highest primate densities in the world. Here, on a daytime or evening guided forest walk, you may find families of chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys chattering and swinging through the ancient forest trees.

The sightings of birds in the forest are no less impressive - there are at least 325 species, many of which are found nowhere else. In addition there are over 144 species of butterflies.

Kibale, with ancient trees up to 55 metres in height, is a wonderful place to experience the extraordinary diversity of life in a tropical rainforest. Take part in a guided forest walk - you may see a crowned crane nesting and feeding site, you may climb up a tree house viewing platform to see the exotic looking Dura River screw palms, you may take a walk along the Kanyanchu river. You will certainly be more than impressed by the grandeur of the forest and the abundance of exotic life forms in this thriving and ancient environment.

Kibale, 766 km2, is one of Uganda's enchanting forested parks. Here, you can hike in the park for hours observing the drama of life in a rainforest.

The park contains pristine lowland tropical rain forest, montane forest, and mixed tropical deciduous forest. In addition to forest, you will also notice areas of grassland and of swamp.

Wildlife

The forest is rich in wildlife. It is most noted for its primate population. Some of these are red-tailed monkey, diademed monkey, blue monkey, white cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, chimpanzee, black, white and red colobus. Some of the other mammals you might see are bushbuck, Harvey's red duiker, blue duiker, Uganda kob, genet, bush pig, and African civet. More difficult to spot are buffalo, waterbuck, hippo, warthog, and giant forest hog. Herds of elephant once travelled back and forth through the area. These elephants have become more and more rare, and now are seldom seen.

The bird life in the forests and grasslands of the forest is abundant. There are almost 300 species that have been identified here, including hoopoe, grey parrot, ant thrush, Negro finch and one particularly worth noting is the Kibale forest thrush, which is endemic to Kibale forest. There are 144 species of butterfly in the park and a diverse population of moths and other insects.

A system of trails has been developed within the park, and tour guides are available to guide visitors.

Access

The park is located 35km south, of Fort Portal. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended, especially during the rainy season.

Accommodation

There are a number of hotels in Fort Portal.

The Ruwenzori View Guest Houseis situated in beautiful and quiet Surroundings. All rooms have hot and cold running water, shower and toilet. In this family-run establishment the ambience is friendly and the food is extraordinarily good.

At Ndali Lodge, each of the four cottages face the Mountains of the Moon. On a clear morning, the snow on the peaks is clearly visible. All cottages have private facilities. The lodge sits near a delightful crater lake. Mark Price provides a friendly welcome and an interesting stay.


CVK (Crater Valley Kibale) Resort Beach Lodge, 21 km from Fort Portal town and just on the border of the Park, 10 km from Kanyanchu, is another alternative to the above. It is elevated to provide beautiful views of the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and has a myriad of crater lakes to which tourists can walk. CVK is a beautiful example of ECO-TOURISM being practiced.

Kanyanchu Tourist Camp just 35 km from Fort Portal town. With an open forest and large community of chimpanzee, Kanyanchu offers an enjoyable chimpanzee tracking experience. There is an on-going habituation project of chimpanzees and monkeys run by The Jane Goodall Institute & Uganda Wildlife Authority. All of the guides are actively involved with the Kibale Habituation Project. Visitors are assured that they are supporting a sustainable eco-tourism initiative for effective conservation of the Park.

At the nearby villages of Bigodi and Nkingo, there are simple lodges, and meals are available.

A good spot for Campers and backpackers is Rwengo Lakeside Tourist Camp

Inside the park, camping facilities are available. There are two, private campsites, each with a tent which sleeps two. Bedding is provided. There are four additional campsites, where you must bring your own tent and bedding. At all sites, you must bring your own food and utensils. Fuel can be provided for cooking.