Nature Walks and Hikes in Uganda
Because Uganda is endowed with magnificent natural wild, nature walks and hikes are some of the most rewarding safari activities on holiday. A nature walk is a self-participatory activity that brings you closer to nature. It involves the real jungle experience unlike any other activity of viewing wildlife. You take the same trails that the wildlife walks through so that you can get close to it within its habitat. Most of the nature walk trails recorded here in this article are found mainly in national parks.
However, other developed nature walk trails within the forests and other private community projects are similarly exciting depending on one’s interests. Such will always be part of your itinerary. Therefore, your options of exploring and experiencing Uganda are not limited when travelling with us.
Nature Walks and Hikes in Murchison Falls National Park
Hiking to the top of falls is one of the park’s most outstanding activities for visitors who explore the Murchison wilderness. It is a moderate 45 minutes’ hike, not very challenging that most people can manage with standard fitness.
On this trail, you will be mesmerized by the mighty Murchison Fallmesmerisedith roaring music played by the waters. Murchison falls national park was gazetted in 1952, covering 5,072 square kilometres making. It is the oldest and largest park in Uganda, lying at the northern end of the Albertine region, hosting over 76 species of mammals and over 451 bird species.
Despite the game drives, this vast wilderness can also be explored on foot using the designed trails within this protected area. The park and its surroundings have varied sceneries, which make walks so fascinating. The 2 hours to 4 hours guided swamp walk by the delta as the Nile enters Lake Albert offers excellent opportunities to sight the shoebill stock in its natural habitat, especially during times of low water levels.
Nature Walks in Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests
Kaniyo Pabidi forest is located within the southern side of Murchison Falls National park near the Kichumbayobo park entrance. And the Rabongo forest sits on 4 square kilometres within the south-eastern side of the conservation area dominated by tropical riverine vegetation. Trekking within these two forests, one can view primates like the chimpanzees, basically in Kaniyo Pabidi, which has a habituated group that can be tracked.
Other primates to view include; the Olive baboons, Grey-cheeked mangabeys, Red and White colobus monkeys, to mention but a few. While mammals include the Warthogs, Buffaloes, Forest elephants, and Duikers, as well as bird viewing due to the presence of the Albertine Rift endemics and other different bird species like the Secretary Birds, the Marabou Stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Black-bellied, Bustards and the Open-billed Storks, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Martial Eagle, Hugli’s Francolin, Denham’s Bustard, Spotted Thick-knee, Black-headed Plover, Senegal Thick-knee, Rock Pratincole, Long-toed Plover, Black-billed Wood-Dove, Veracious Dove, Long Tailed Nightjar, and the Standard-winged Nightjar.
Hiking to the top of the falls is considered to most remarkable trail in the park because it takes you from the bottom to the top of the mighty Murchison falls or vice versa. It can start with a boat cruise from Paraa upstream to the bottom of the falls, where you will disembark and take a 45 minutes’ hike. The hike relatively takes you along the waterfall through the forested hill with great views of the waterfalls, rolling hills and different vegetation types like woodland up to the top of Murchison Falls. This experience brings all the senses into play as you watch the Nile river as it squeezes through an 8 meters wide gorge and drops 45 meters over the remnant rift valley walls, with a roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating the Murchison falls.
Short treks also start from the Mubako Junction or Sambiya River lodge on the southern bank and Paraa on the northern bank, passing the Emmy River. These treks are basically meant for birders and nature lovers, and they last for 1-2 hours.
Nature Walks in Kibale Forest
A nature walk in Kibale is an opportunity to explore the loveliest and most varied tracts of a tropical forest, with 350 tree species in Uganda. Kibale national is located in western Uganda, covering an area of 795 square kilometres, well-known for harbouring the highest density and diversity of primates. In Kibale, the famous 13 of its primate species is the chimpanzee, with over 1450 individuals. The forest is also home to over 71 mammal species and about 370 recorded bird species.
With this diverse endowment, the park has fun-packed nature walks trails for both day and night guided nature walks,
Primate walks (Chimpanzee tracking), this day nature walk provides a chance to observe the Kibale specials “chimpanzees” in their natural habitat, with excellent chances of locating the habituated groups.
This fascinating experience starts with a briefing at the Kanyanchu visitor centre with different schedules; Morning, Mid-morning and Afternoon, each lasting for approximately 2-5 hours. Along with the chimpanzee trekking, visitors often sight primates like the localised red colobus monkey, L’hoest monkey and the white colobus monkey. However, a habituation experience enables you to accompany researchers to observe chimps leaving their nests, breastfeeding, hunting, feeding, copulating, resting, patrolling and displaying until the time of building new nests in the evening.
Bigodi swamp walk, this trail to the best birding spots, covers a distance of 11km. During this boardwalk trail, rare species which can be spotted include; rear green breasted pitta found only in Kibale, great blue turaco, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Canary, Papyrus Gonolek, the White-collared Olive back, and many others.
Night nature walks, when chimpanzees and other forest inhabitants rest, the nocturnal species become very active. The Night walks start at 7:30 pm and last for 1-2 hours, with the use of powerful torches as you trek through the darkened forest searching for nocturnal animals. Some of the species you are most likely to see include; the Cricket, Bushbaby, Potto, Nightjar and the Tree hyrax with its chilling shriek and the occasional civet.
Nature Walks and Hikes in Semuliki National Park
While in Semuliki, a nature walk or hike is a must-do activity for any visitor who wants to get close to creatures without a game drive. The park lies along with the main Fort portal – Bundibugyo road near the Uganda – Congo border, with its huge part covered by the Ituri forest.
The park is suitable for hikers as several short trails around the Sempaya, Kirumia and the Red monkey track are meant for nature lovers and birders.
Sempaya trail, it’s a 2-4 hours’ hike covering a distance of 8 kilometres, leading to Semuliki’s most beautiful and famous attraction; the “Male (Bitende) and Female (Nyasimbi)” hot springs. During the trek, you can spot several primates like the Red-tailed monkeys, Grey-cheeked mangabeys and Black and white colobus monkeys which are the most common.
Kirumia trail is the best trail for birders and butterfly watchers. It covers a distance of 13 kilometres, approximately 8 hours’ trek passing through the mid of the forest towards river Semuliki. Despite the excellent day experience, this trail is most rewarding with overnight camping.
The red monkey trail, also known as the primate trail, starts from the Sempaya tourism site extending to the park’s eastern border up to the Semuliki River. It covers a distance of 11 kilometres. This trail offers you a chance to view the endangered De Brazzers monkey.
Nature walks and hiking in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
For those who can’t make it to the Margherita peak, this park offers the best options of exclusive nature walks within the central circuit zone. Trails leading to Buraro chimpanzee forest and lake Mahooma while exploring communities of Kichwamba, to the Karangura ridge and Bundibugo area through Bwamba pass. Allows you to go through the isolated mountain villages and the bamboo forest while enjoying the superb rift valley views.
The communities of Ruboni and Turaco View also offer guided forest walks on the lower contours of the Mountain. Hikers can follow River Mubuku and sight views of Baker and Portal Peaks as they hike up to 2,300 meters above sea level. On a clear day, there are higher chances to view the snowcapped Margherita Peak. Along the way, keep an eye out for the Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, Rwenzori batis, the strange weaver, also for three-horned chameleon, squirrels, vervet monkeys, and so much more.
Nature Walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park
A Nature walk in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most active ways to explore this Uganda’s second largest park on foot. The park boasts of the best hiking locations, including the Mweya Peninsular, Maramagambo forest, Kyambura gorge and along the Ishasha River.
Maramagambo Forest is an extensive natural forest extending across the central part from Kichwamba escarpment to Lake Edward.
It is an exciting place for hiking and nature walks as you go through the shady forest sighting primates like; the chimpanzee, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, and the white and black-tailed monkeys. Those who are watchful can spot the restricted-range bird species in this forest, like the forest flycatcher, white-naped pigeon and the striking Rwenzori turaco. In contrast, visits to the bat cave will let you spot bats with a resident bat-gorged python.
Mweya peninsula, located on the northern bank of the Kazinga channel, is composed of savannah and woodland with beautiful views of the mongoose and the bold warthogs. Birdlife with scenic views of the Kazinga channel is what makes the Mweya peninsular stand out.
Kyambura Gorge, referred to as the valley of apes, extends from the Kichwamba escarpment to the Kazinga channel. Hiking through the mysterious Kyambura gorge to sight chimpanzees and enjoy the giddy viewpoint on the edge of the 100m – deep chasm. Before descending into the depth to track chimps in an underground forest cover. It is one of the rewarding experiences on your visit to the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Ishasha River, located at the southern end, is well known for its tree-climbing lions. When you stroll along the Ishasha – Ntungwe river, you will spot a variety of forest and savannah bird species and mammal species, as well as having a unique opportunity to get close to hippos on foot.
Nature Walks in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is well known for harbouring Uganda’s star attraction, the Mountain Gorilla in southwestern Uganda. These great apes are rare and endangered, living in Virunga transboundary massive, shared between the forests of Bwindi and the nearby Virunga volcano mountain.
This park is not only a place meant for gorilla tracking adventures; it also offers nature walks that involve total immersion into the loveliest tropical rain forest. There are vast trails within the park that are alternating, i.e., moderate, while others are quite challenging. They lead you to scenic waterfalls and other breathtaking views of the Virungas and the Albertine rift valley.
Muyanga waterfall walk proceeds from Buhoma alongside the river Ivi – Nkuringo trail up to the powerful refreshing waterfall. Along this trail, you enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest.
Rushura hill nature walks. The hill is the highest point in the Buhoma sector. The trail starts from Buhoma park headquarters passing through the forest shared by Uganda and D.R. Congo with views of incredible scenic sights. On reaching the top of the hill, on a clear day, you can view lake George and Edward, Rwenzori mountains, as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzubijiro loop, it’s a 6 km trail covered in approximately 3-4 hours where you will come across primates, forest bird species and enjoy the view of the Virunga mountain ranges.
The Ivi river walks. Ivy river nature walk is almost a full day hike covering 14 kilometres. While on the trail, you pass through Mukempunu, a place well known to harbour wild pigs, other species to see include birds and butterflies and the local communities.
The Buhoma – Nkuringo trail is a 3-4 hours’ journey crossing right in the middle of the park linking two villages (Buhoma and Nkuringo). The loop offers impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend towards Nkuringo. This trail can also be covered as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja (Railegh) trail takes around 4-6, passing via River Munyaga, sloping a reasonably steep ascent ridge of Habigorogoro and Riyovi overlooking Buhoma River. Along with the trail, sights of the rock piece depicting the African map “African corner” and the mighty Habinyanja swamp. While some of the birds to spot include; the African black duck, Bee-eaters and Pel’s fishing owl.
Nature Walks in Mgahinga National Park
In Mgahinga gorilla national park, Nature walks go hand in hand with hiking. This park sits high in the clouds at an altitude between 2000 and just over 4000 meters covering three slopes of the Virunga volcanoes; Muhuvura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. The park is located in the Southwestern corner of the country adjoining Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo. This common area protects almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population and other mammals as well as birds.
Hiking around the slopes of these extinct conical volcanoes gives tourists a chance to spot some forest bird species, different montane vegetation types, Rugezi swamp and neighbouring lakes with great views of the agricultural firms.
Sabinyo gorge hike, hiking through the forest to the deep Sabinyo gorge takes approximately 5-6 hours. The trail goes through the huge Mount Sabinyo with waterfalls views, bird species like the beautiful Rwenzori turaco and the Rugezi swamp.
The border trail, the walk along the Congo border trail, takes you to the diverse vegetation zones walking through the lower slopes of Mt. Sabinyo. This gives you great views of the Sabinyo Gorge and Sabinyo peaks. Hikers also get an opportunity to sight the calderas on Gisozi hill and the surrounding Bunagana and Kisoro towns.
The golden monkey track, the park, is home to the endangered mountain gorillas and a stronghold of the golden monkeys. It’s a two hour’s interesting trail despite the gentle slope through the bamboo habitat on the slopes of Mt. Gahinga. On a clear day, you may view the buffaloes, duikers and the Virunga volcano ranges.
Nature Walks in Lake Mburo National Park
The whole of Lake Mburo National park is open to nature walk lovers. On your adventure, you will be escorted by a game ranger and guide. These guided walks take you to the salt lick starting from Rwonyo, the park centre where the taste of the salty rocks attracts wildlife. These can be viewed from a timber observatory platform.
Another walk takes place on the western side of Lake Mburo, and it usually begins at 7:00 am running for two hours. There are high chances of meeting hippos on a retreat at the lake and hyenas coming back to their dens.
You may opt to hike through the small tract of woodland forest on the western side of the park, which is home to various forest bird species and mammals. Hikes to the top of the hill expose you to nine park sections crowned with 14 lakes.
A walk through Rubanga forest could be your best option for the keen birders while in Lake Mburo Park. However, it requires an earlier booking for a great experience.
Nature Walks in MT. Elgon National Park
Mountain Elgon national park is one of the ideal destinations for hiking and nature walk experiences in Uganda. Hiking within the park, which sits on an extinct volcano along the Uganda-Kenya border, is an exciting alternative for longer and more active climbs.
On the hike, you traverse through the distinctive vegetation zones found on this one of the highest mountains in East Africa. With the lowest zone having montane, then bamboo followed by cloves of the giant heather, and the mountainside opens into moorland dotted with peculiar forms of giant lobelia and groundsels.
Numerous trails on Mountain Elgon vary in length, exploring the; forest, waterfalls, caves with views of birds and other wildlife species. These trails include;
The bamboo trail is a 4 – 5 hours’ trail covering 7 kilometres leading to Kapkwai cave. The trail passes through a tropical and bamboo forest with primates, birds,s and rare tree species like the Elgon teak and Elgon olive. While the 5 kilometres’ walk to Chebonet falls and 3 kilometres walk to Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail, the 11-kilometre hike to the Tutum cave has an option of overnight camping by the cave.
Khauka cave trail. On your visit to Wanale cliffs, a trail up to the end of the ridge leads you to the Khauka cave, where the locals used to have shelter with their livestock. Alternatively, you can go through the Nabuyoga loop for birding with many other species of fauna and flora. These viewing platforms overlook the Mbale town, Lake Kyoga, Bisina and the Rocky Mountains in the Karamoja region. However, on a clear day, there is a higher chance of viewing the Wagagai peak.
Budadiri short hikes. These are short day hikes covering the Mudagi cliffs, Sasa river camp, and Drigana lower falls. They are great for bird watching and overnight camping.
There is also a 7-kilometre section of the Sipi valley immediately outside the park, where you enjoy the beautiful Sipi falls. The falls occur as the Sipi River plunges over three sets of basalt cliffs during its descent to the plains beneath, along the Kapchorwa road. The lowest of these falls is the most outstanding as its waters flow over a cliff more than 100 meters in height. The second known as Simba, plunges over 69 meters located at the cave entrance. This can be viewed when you are within the cave. And the third Ngasire drops high from a cliff for 87 meters.
Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
The Kidepo valley national park is located in an isolated corner in the northeast of Uganda. The park is designed close to the borders of South Sudan and Kenya in a sparsely populated Karamoja region. It sits at an approximate distance of 700 kilometres from Kampala and is highly ranked among the African finest wildernesses. A nature walk in Kidepo National park gives you a chance to get an authentic and rare wild experience as you get close to the wildlife. It can be a short or long nature walk.
The shorter nature walks usually take place around the Apoka Rest Camp, a great birding spot for the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian ground hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin. These are found in Kidepo National park only, as you go through the Narus valley, rolling with grasslands enclosed by distant mountains. There is permanent water within the Narus valley, allowing for viewing animals that congregate to quench their thirst. like the Zebras, Reedbucks and the Hartebeest.
Whereas the longer nature walks go through the open grasslands of the East Kakine with sightings of Buffaloes, Elephants and on a lucky day, lions at distant anthills. Visitors to this park can also explore the Rionomoe trail, which covers 15 kilometres following the southern part of the Narus valley.
The banks of Kidepo River Valley are also open to nature walk lovers; they support the eye-catching Borassus palm forests. The Namukweny Valley is just an hour’s walk from Apoka. It offers a great sighting to several bird species like; the white-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Eastern Paradise Whydah and many more. The hikers shouldn’t miss out on the adventure to the Morungule Mountains outside the park, home to the indigenous Ik tribe.
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