Parks in Uganda: The Pearl of Africa
Brief Overview of Uganda
North of Lake Victoria sits Uganda, one of the fertile, sempiternal verdant and interesting countries of Eastern Africa. It is a beautiful land with grassy plains, rolling hills and dark mountains. Its best soil is of a rich red. There are hills of fine pasture, thick forests filled with big game, swamps choked with papyrus reeds in which hippos are found, and other regions where the grass is 10 feet in height. There are vast patches of meadow land, dotted with groves of beautiful trees, and dotted here and there with villages about which are thriving farms. Uganda lies almost in the middle of Africa and the Equator runs it as does in Kenya. It occupies only a small part of the continental map, about 241,037 km2 – with a north-south extent of 650 km and east-west extent of about 500 km – yet, few countries belong so vibrantly to the continent’s fertile block, where the entire area is virtually evergreen and flourishing. The first impression on the visitor to Uganda is how green everything is. Its climate, thanks to the altitude, is unexpectedly pleasant, the mean temperature rarely rising above 29 Celsius or 85 Fahrenheit. Uganda forms part of the interior plateau of Africa, with an average altitude of 1,200 m (4,000 feet). There are vast open plains in the north and flat-topped hills in the central, western and eastern regions of the country. The rise of the plateau both in the east and west creates mountains along the borders; Block Mountains of the Rwenzori, Mufumbira, Mount Elgon, Moroto, Morungole, Timu and Kadam. Excellent roads are some of the main features of Uganda. Travelling through Kampala – its largest – the scenery varies from the scenic hills of the capital to the rolling savannah of Mityani and Mubende, and then on to Fort Portal, set in much more open country, with the epic backdrop of the Mountains of the Moon, where many of its parks are cited. Among the variety of attraction in Uganda are its National Parks. Rwenzori, as a cool, moist island rising from the dry tropical plains, has encouraged the development of a unique variety of animals and plants, including many endemic species. Keen motorists who decide to drive up into Uganda from Kenya (it is 667 kms from Nairobi to Kampala) now travel on good roads all the way through fine scenery.
Map of the National Parks in Uganda
Discover the National Parks in Uganda
1. Kidepo Valley National Park
It is one of Uganda’s earliest established National Park. Kidepo Valley National Park expands over 500 km2 of the northern part of the Karamoja District, along the boundary with Sudan, and it was opened to the public in December, 1965. It is approachable from Kampala by a 210 kms drive along the tarmac to Tororo, and then an excursion of a little over 320 kms, through Mbale and Moroto. In a country that is rapidly developing, well laid with growing towns and farmlands, this region of Uganda is still untouched by development. It is a country of rich fertile valleys and vast plains, which are the kingdom of the elephant, buffalo and lion. Among the variety of attractions of the Kidepo Valley National Park is the spectacular display of wildlife which currently features almost 75 species of mammals and 470 species of birds. Its wealth of wildlife was the main reason for the area to be declared a National Park. Among the species not found in any other park in Uganda include eland, greater and lesser kudu, klipspringer, dik-dik, Bright’s gazelle, roan antelope and Chanler’s mountain reedbuck. Perhaps the outstanding vista at Kidepo Valley National Park is the self-same valley, a wide basin lying at altitude of between 3,000 feet and 4,000 feet, with the hills surrounding it rising to almost 6,000 feet and the Morongole Mountain soars up to 9,000 feet. This remarkable variation in the altitude over a small area has pieced itself as one of the most epic landscapes in Uganda. Formerly the haunt of Sudanese Didinga cattle raiders and rebels, who from time to time swooped into Uganda on cattle rustling raids, this remote typically Africa bushland has a lot to offer, both in fine scenery and in presenting nature at its least disturbed stage. The park itself gets its name from the Kidepo River, which is several yards wide in many places, mainly dry for most of the year, and is reduced to mere sand and pebbles, with only Borassus palms which line its entire length reminding the visitor that it is a great river basin. Then comes the rains, the many tributaries are quick to react, and within a few hours the basin is full and overflowing, the Kidepo is unbridgeable and the might rush of water is magical. Then within hours the water disappears into Sudan, or sinks beneath the sand and black cotton soil, leaving nothing behind but moistened sand and pebbles.