HIKING AND NATURE/ FOREST WALKS IN UGANDA
Whether you are looking for a short nature trail or an adventurous, all-day endeavor, Uganda has you covered. Each region of the country has something unique to offer and you can do this while on your nature walk or hikes. Below are some of the common areas where hiking is mostly done.
Lake mburo national park
Lake Mburo national park is located in the western region of Uganda in Kiruhura district. It is located 240 kilometers by road from Kampala (Uganda’s capital). Of Uganda’s savannah national parks, Lake Mburo national park the smallest covering an area of 260 square kilometers. The park is a home to a variety of wildlife such as zebra, hippopotamus, impala, warthog, common eland, African buffalo, jackal, African leopard, and over 300 bird species.
Nature walks are open to all tourists to the park and must be accompanied by the park ranger guide. There is a guided walk at Rwonyo that leads to a salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks. This trail will take you through the salt lick at Rwonyo, Lake Mburo banks, Rubanga forest and a hill top view of the beautiful lakes in the park.
The walk on the western part of the lake takes around 2 hours and begins at 7am. Around this time of day, you will expect to spot animals like hyenas as they return to their dens and hippos as they get back to the lake. Treks through the woodland provide an opportunity to spot some of the bird species and mammals that live in the park.
For birders, a walk through Rubanga forest is the ideal one to take where you will be able to spot several forest bird species. This arrangement comes with the company of a ranger.
Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga national park encompasses 3 inactive volcanoes; mount Muhabura, mount Sabyinyo and mount Gahinga. The park is part of the Virunga conservation area. The parks altitude ranges between 2227m to 4127m above sea level. It is contiguous with Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and the southern sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park is a home to the famous mountain gorillas.
All the 3 mountains in the park can be hiked while on your tour to the area. And the activity is a full day, it takes between 6-8 hours. the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes offers hikers a chance to spot forest birds, the Rugezi Swamp, wild vegetation, bamboo forests and glorious views of the surrounding lakes and agricultural villages.
The walk to the Congo border takes you through different vegetation zones. Hikers are able to spot the calderas on top of the Gisozi hill.
The walk to the Congo border transcends different vegetation zones. Hikers can sight the calderas on top of the Gisozi hill, look out for Kisoro and Bunagana towns and be captivated by Lake Mutanda. You will also have vies of Kisoro and Bunagana towns as well as views of the beautiful lake mutanda.
The golden monkey track is a gentle steep but an interesting two-hour trek through former farmland to the bamboo forest. On a clear day, you may view the Virunga Volcano range and come across a buffalo and duiker. You will expect to see golden monkeys jumping from one bamboo tree to another as they go about their daily life.
You may also take the gorilla trekking trail which takes from 3-6 hours. You will follow this trail in search of the mountain gorilla. And once you find then, you will be given an hour to see them as they go about their daily life and also take photos before getting back to the base. As you track the gorillas, there are high chances of spotting some of the bird species that live in the tropical forests.
Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls National Park is the largest and oldest national park in Uganda. The park covers an area of about 3893 square kilometers with many attractions to be encountered during your tour to Uganda, Murchison falls national park harbors the big five animals, 76 mammal species, reptiles, over 450 bird species, different tree species, the Nile River, Murchison falls and many more panoramic views.
The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile-Lake Albert Delta, two- to four-hour guided swamp walks offer possible sightings of the Shoebill when the water level is low. After an afternoon boating upriver, you can also hike 45 minutes through woodland to the top of Murchison Falls for a completely different experience of this magnificent waterfall.
Hiking to the top of the Murchison falls
The hike to the top off the great Murchison falls start with a 2 hour boat cruise on the Victoria Nile. Whilst the boat cruise, you will expect to spot various water bird species like the pied king fisher, African fish eagle, African jacana, pelicans, yellow billed stork, among others. You will also expect to spot some animals like hippos, buffalos, elephants, crocodile, monitor lizards and many more.
The boat cruise will leave you at the bottom of the falls, this is where you will start the hike to top of the great Murchison falls. The hike will take about 45 minutes, the trails has built steeps at some points to make the hikers movement minutes. As you hike you will have a great time watching rolling hills, vegetation types, birds, and you will keep hearing the thunderous roars of the falls. When you are at the top it’s a great time to watch the Nile make its way through rocks 8m wide hence forming a 45m fall as it falls down to continue with its course.
Kaniyo Pabidi forest walk
The Kaniyo Pabidi is a natural tropical forest that extends over an expanse of approximately 8 km within the middle of Kichumbanyobo gate along paraa road in masindi. A nature walk through this forest offers all guests an opportunity to track the impressive chimpanzee which share 98% of the human DNA. Trekkers will expect to spot other species of primates which can be found within the mahogany trees there. The forest is a home to a variety of bird species such as the yellow-footed flycatcher, the Ituri batis, the white thighed hornbill, Chocolate backed Kingfishers among others.
There is a campsite in the forest when camping lovers can spend the night and get a chance to spot dome of the nocturnal animals and birds that live in the forest.
Rabongo Forest walk
This forest is located in the southeast of the Murchison falls conservation area and approximately one and a half hour drive from Paraa. It is a great place for hiking and nature walks together with primate trekking. This area is encompassed with savannah grasslands and also here you find good forest cottages and a campsite. During your walk you can spot beautiful birds, medicinal trees/plants, primates like vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees and many more.
Mount Rwenzori national park
The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers an area of about 1,000 km2. Mount rwenzori is Africa’s third highest mountain with the highest peak Margherita (5109m). In the park, there are waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. The park is known for its beautiful plant life.
The Rwenzori Mountains National park provides opportunity for nature walks within the central circuit zone. These include trails up to Lake Mahooma and Buraro chimp forest; walks through the communities of Kichamba to reach the Karangura ridge; and hiking to Bundibugo area through Bwamba pass. There is also the kilembe trail. The communities of Ruboni and Turaco View and other accommodation at the base of the mountains also offer guided forest walks of various lengths just outside the park. Visitors can follow the River Mubuku, and glimpse views of Baker and Portal Peaks as they hike up to 2,300m above sea level. On a clear day there are high chances of spotting the snow on margherita peak. As you walk, you will expect to spot some 3 horned chameleons, squirrels, some monkeys and various bird species.
Rwenzori treks range from 1-10 days. To make up to the top, you will need at least 7 days on the mountain. There are various camp sites with huts where mountaineers can spend the night. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has built some board walks in the muddy areas along the trail and ladders in so steep areas to make movement easier.
Bwindi impenetrable national park forest walk
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the south western region of Uganda. The park covers an area of about 331 square kilometers composing of both montane and lowland forest. It provides habitat for 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many endangered species.
There are various nature walk trails in the forest which tourists follow when exploring the area; waterfall walks, forest walks, primate encounters, mountain views and impressive birdlife.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail takes between 2-4 hours, and crosses right through the park, connecting the two villages and offering impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hills towards Nkuringo. Where you start from is not the same place you return. The guide will therefore find you on the other side of the trail end.
You can leave our luggage with your driver, who will meet you at the other side. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja Trail takes between 4-6hrs. After crossing the Munyaga River, it takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendry “African Corner” named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enkoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja swamp. Birders on this trail should watch out for the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others.
There is the munyanga waterfall walk which starts from buhoma along river Ivi and culminates in the sensational sight of the 33 meters falls.
Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two countries. On a clear day you can view Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzubijiro Loop is a 6km walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas.
The Ivi River Walk is 14km and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu - meaning “a place of pigs” - where wild pigs can often be found.
Kibale forest walk
Kibale forest national park is a tropical rain forest covering an area of 595 square kilometers. The park is commonly known for the chimpanzees that live in the forest. Apart from the chimps, there are other primate species that 12 primates species that live in the park. Chimpanzee trekking is the major activity but also nature walks can be done in various sites in the forest and about 138 bird species might be seen.
There is a 12km trek through the forest and usually done in the dry seasons. The months are mid-November-February, June and September. Hiking helps discover the park’s assorted habitats such as river line forest, swamp, grassland and tropical rainforest.
There is also the bigodi walk which is a birders spot. This trail leads to the bigodi swamp. Along this trail, you will expect to see wildlife like; chimpanzees, red colobus, black and white colobus, red tailed monkey, bushbuck as well as mongoose.
Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is located in Karamoja region in north eastern Uganda. The park covers an area of about 1442 square kilometers with most of the vegetation being savannah. The park is transected by the narus and Kidepo Rivers.
The park is a home to various savannah wildlife; animals and bird species which makes game drive the common activity. Nature walks are also dome in different areas of the park.
Hike to Lomej Mountains: The Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in four hours, the hike starts at 7am. Shorter guided walks of around two hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre. On this walk tourists are accompanies by an armed ranger guide. You will expect to spot some of the animals that live in the park as well as birds. You might as well meet members of the endangered IK tribe and wander the splendid Kidepo River Valley between banks of borassus palm forest.
The walk to Namamkweny valley can be reached in one hour from Apoka.
Queen elizabeth national park nature walks
Nature treks are one of the more active ways to explore the landscapes and wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Locations include the shady Maramagambo forest; Mweya Peninsula with its scenic views; and Ishasha River, where you may spot a variety of forest and savanna species as well as having a unique opportunity to get extremely close to hippos - on foot!
Mweya Peninsula offers savannah and woodland with beautiful views and bold warthogs. At the southern end of the park, visitors can enjoy an easy stroll along the Ishasha River, where they can spot a variety of forest and savanna bird and mammal species as well as having a unique opportunity on this walk to get extremely close to hippos on foot, while remaining perfectly safe on the raised bank above the river.
Mount Elgon treks
Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano located the border of Uganda and Kenya, north of Kisumu and west of Kitale and in Mount Elgon national park. The highest point of the mountain is Wagagai. Hikers to Mount Elgon will expect to spot some of the parks primates, birds, and various tree species. Trails in the park lead past caves, viewpoints and waterfalls, with the option of camping overnight on the mountain slopes.
There is a mountain bamboo trail to kapkwai cave which passes through the tropical rain forests and the bamboo. This trail is about 7km and as you trek, you will expect to spot various primates, and various species. The 5km walk to the Chebonet Falls and 3km walk to the Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail. There is also an 11km hike to the Tutum Cave, with the option of camping overnight beside the cave.
Khauka cave visit takes between 3-4hours. Alternatively you can go to the viewpoint through Nabuyoga loop where you can see Jackson’s Summit and Wagagai peak.
Short day hikes are available in Budadiri and lead to the Mudagi Cliffs, Sasa River Camp and Drigana lower falls. These are great for bird watching, nature walks and overnight camping more so on the lower slopes of the mountain.