Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the recognized Important Birding Areas by the Birding International and if you are looking for a place to enjoy numerous avian species, just add this Park to your bucket list and you will never regret it.

This National Park is located within western Uganda, stretches for approximately 1978 square kilometers across a number of districts that include Kasese, Bushenyi, Fortportal, Rukungiri and Kanungu, thus making it the second largest Park in the country and its confluence of forest and savannah link to the extensive forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo thus allowing tourists to sight numerous East and Central African bird species.

There are over 600 species of birds (more than half the country’s bird species) inform of forest, aquatic, woodland and various migratory species with different interesting birding spots such as the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Kyambura gorge, Ishasha sector, Maramagambo forest, Kasenyi Plains, the Explosion Crater Lakes and the Mweya Peninsula among others.

The Park sits at an elevation of 800 meters around Lake Edward until 1845 meters at the Peak of the western Rift Valley’s eastern Escarpment and characterized by different vegetation types and habitats including moist thickets, open grasslands, moist semi-deciduous forests, riverine bushland, permanent swamps, open woodlands and riparian forest that also offer haven to the birds species.

Therefore, the key species you are likely to spot while on Uganda tour to Queen Elizabeth National Park include the Pink backed Pelican, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Wattled Plovers, Shoebill, White-tailed Lark, Wood Sandpiper, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Red-chested sunbirds, Papyrus Gonolek, Martial Eagle, Egyptian Geese, Common Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Water Thick-knee, Water-Thick knee, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Red-capped Larks, Temminck’s courser, Papyrus Canary, African Fish Eagle, Goliath Heron, Knob-billed Ducks, Grey-headed kingfisher, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Black Crake, Corncrake, African Skimmer, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmers, Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, open-billed Stork, Papyrus Canary, African Skimmer, Saddle billed Stork, White-winged Warbler, Pin-tailed Whydah, Long tailed Cormorants, the African Broadbill, Collared Pranticole, Madagascar Bee-eaters, African Mourning Doves, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Blue Breasted Bee-eaters, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, Pink-backed Pelicans, Black Bee-eater, Spur-winged Plovers, Malachite Kingfisher, Greater and Lesser Flamingos Blue breasted Bee eater, Common Squacco Heron, African Spoonbill, Hammerkop, black-ramped buttonquail, African Jacana, papyrus gonolek, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black- rumped Buttonquail, Pied Kingfishers, Marabou Storks, White-winged Terns, Great white Pelicans, Great White Egrets, Black headed Gonolek, Eagle Owls, Yellow backed Weavers, Pied kingfishers, White-winged Warbler, thin-tailed Nightjars,

Hiking down into the lush Kyambura gorge offers opportunity of spotting diversity of forest bird species including the speckled Tinker bird, Green Hylia, Broad-tailed Warbler, Grey Wood pecker, purple-headed starling, Hairy breasted Barbet as well as black and African Emeralds Cuckoos that can also be spotted within the Maramagambo Forest within the Park. Please note, Kyambura gorge is also famous for primates tracking with species like Chimpanzees, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Olive baboons, Black and white colobus monkeys among others.

When to go Birding in Queen Elizabeth National park?

The perfect time for bird watching within Queen Elizabeth National Park is the wet season (March to May and October to November) because it offers high chances of seeing the migrant bird species within the Explosion Crater Lakes such as within Lake Nyamunuka.

What to Carry?

This activity requires birder’s to carry pair of binoculars, camera, backpack, drinking water, long sleeved shirt and long trousers because it involves walking through different habitats and vegetation types.

Where to Stay?

  • Mweya Safari lodge
  • Katara Lodge
  • Mazike safari lodge
  • Kyambura Game Lodge
  • Ihamba safari lodge
  • Simba safari camp
  • Twin Lake Safari Lodge
  • Enganzi Lodge
  • Bush Lodge
  • Park View Safari Lodge

 

Ugalla River Game Reserve

Welcome to Ugalla River Game Reserve 

This flat and low-lying Game Reserve was created in 1965 and covers an area of 5000 square kilometers (1930 square miles) across Tabora region in Central-western Tanzania, on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. It derived its name from River Ugalla that flows through its landscape and is one of the most exceptional Protected Areas in the country because it is the only licensed Reserve for fishermen and honey gatherers (for only 6 months a year)

Climate and Vegetation of Ugalla River Game Reserve

There are two main seasons here-dry and wet season with rains coming from March to May and is the perfect time for bird watchers to visit but majority of the roads become impassable due to heavy rains while the dry season begins from June to September and December to February and is ideal for game viewing. The general temperature of the Reserve ranges from 13 to 41 Celsius degrees depending on the altitude of the area.

The area of this Game Reserve is made up of two main ecosystems that include the vast floodplains and the immense Miombo woodland that offers shelter to a wide range of wildlife and bird species. There is a flood plain alongside the Wala and Ugalla Rivers offering all year water supply for the elephants and other wildlife species found in the Game Reserve.

Attractions within Ugalla River Game Reserve

Wildlife species inhabiting this Game Reserve include the elusive leopards, Sable antelopes, lions, greater kudus, Dik-diks, common reedbucks, Hyenas, Topis, Crocodiles, African wild dogs, the Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, Oribis, the Roan antelopes, jackals, elands, bush pigs, warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, elephants, buffaloes, yellow baboons, Bohor reedbucks,  lesser kudus, East African bush duikers, elephants and waterbucks among others. Also, there are numerous Hippos and crocodiles within the Ugalla River.

Additionally, bird species such as Ostriches and secretary birds are easily spotted within Ugalla River Game Reserve. Besides the animals and birds, the spectacular Ugalla River that drains through the middle of the Game Reserve is another important attraction to explore within this wonderful Reserve. Some of the activities to enjoy here include game viewing walking safaris, fishing, honey gathering and hunting.

Perfect Time to explore Ugalla River Game Reserve

Much as the Reserve is open all year round, it is a good idea to explore it during the dry season because the wet season is inaccessible due to the extensive floods and muddy or slippery roads leading to and within the Reserve. The dry season is also a perfect time for wildlife viewing much as there are also numerous bird species to see during the wet season.

Access to Ugalla River Game Reserve

Accessibility to this Game Reserve is by road where 4WD Vehicles are used due to the impassable roads during rainy season or air transport where chartered flights are organized from Arusha and Dar es Salaam.

In conclusion, Ugalla River Game Reserve is a wonderful tourist destination within Tanzania and rewards tourists with the views of wildlife species such as common reedbucks, Hyenas, Topis, Crocodiles, African wild dogs, the Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, Oribis, the Roan antelopes, jackals, elands, bush pigs, warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, elephants and many others, thus making nature walks the main activity within the Game Reserve.

Bugungu Wildlife Reserve Uganda

Welcome to Bugungu Wildlife Reserve

Did you know that while on the safari to Murchison Falls National Park, you can also get the chance to visit other beautiful Protected Areas within the popular Murchison Falls Conservation Area, especially Bugungu Wildlife Reserve (MFCA)? Yes it is absolutely possible during Uganda safaris.

Extending for approximately 473 square kilometers (182 square miles), Bugungu Wildlife Reserve is small Protected Area that protects a seasonal wetland and grassland at the base of the magnificent Rift Valley Escarpment to the western side of the vast Murchison falls National Park. Established into a Wildlife Reserve in 1968, it is one of the oldest Reserves in the country and currently sits between Masindi and Buliisa Districts, thus making it one of the must-visit sites while on a safari from or to the Murchison Falls National Park.

A number of wildlife species call the Wildlife Reserve home and these include antelopes such as over 1200 Oribis, Dik-dik, bushbucks, over 600 Uganda Kobs, elands, Topis, Sitatunga, waterbucks, Reedbucks, primates such as Olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and vervet monkeys as well as Warthogs, Oryx, Lions, Leopards, Hippos, Buffaloes, and Giraffes among others.

Additionally, there are over 250 species of birds recorded within the Wildlife Reserve but the common ones include the Saddle billed storks, Shoebill storks, Double-toothed barbets, Giant Kingfishers, Black-headed Batis, Abyssinian ground hornbills, black-headed Gonolek, Black-bellied Bustards, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Black-bellied Barbets, Swamp flycatcher, white-browed sparrow weavers, Speckle-breasted woodpecker, Eastern grey Plantain-eater, Yellow-throated greenbul and black-billed wood doves among others.

Activities You Can Enjoy Within Bugungu Wildlife Reserve

Some of the exhilarating tourist activities any enthusiastic tourist should expect to relish after visiting the small Bugungu Wildlife Reserve include game viewing through some of the well-maintained game tracks, bird watching, nature walks/hiking, picnics and camping as well as community visit to the villages surrounding the Wildlife Reserve.

Perfect Time to Visit the Wildlife Reserve

If you ask about what the perfect time is to visit Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, I would say anytime of the year because this destination is an all year round site thus you can choose to visit at whatever time you wish to. However, most tourists prefer visiting in the dry season (mid June to September and December to early March) because it offers higher chances to spot the animals that usually converge at water points due to limited access to water.

Besides Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, tourists have the chance to visit Ajai, Pian Upe, Bokora Corridor, Kigezi Mountain, Toro-Semliki, Kabwoya, Katonga, Karuma and Matheniko Wildlife Reserves during Uganda safaris. These offers wildlife species such as giraffes, Hippos, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, antelopes (Uganda Kobs, Topis, bushbucks, waterbucks and elands), warthogs and many others that most tourists always think are only found within the 10 National Parks in the country.

Jozani Forest Reserve

If you ever find yourself within Zanzibar, stop by Jozani Forest Reserve where you will not only explore pristine Beach resorts but also see several endangered wildlife species especially the phenomenal loose-fringed monkeys and the photogenic Kirk’s red colobus, rare and beautiful primate specie whose home range is restricted to the Zanzibar Island. These Primates have been habituated and are easy to spot on top of being approachable but the Forest is not only known for the monkeys but also outstanding bird species. The Kirk’s red colobus monkeys mainly feed on leaves and live on tree branches and bushes.

Also referred as Jozani Chwaka National Park, this Forest Reserve was gazetted in the 1960s at the heart of Zanzibar Island (in the central east of the Island) with an aim of conserving the endangered Kirk’s red colobus monkeys and extends for only 50 square kilometers and is so far the only National Park on this lush Island. Found on the main Island of Zanzibar known as Unguja Island, the forest Reserve also includes a tidal water-washed area between Chwaka and Uzi island bays, characterized by mangrove trees as well as other spectacular marine vegetation.

The large size of the woodland landscape of this verdant forest cover is magical and is nestled within an ancient coral bed that creates a shallow depression with lush coral rag forests as well as dense bushlands that cover the higher ground around it. It is characterized by a wide range of woodland landscape that features tidal water-washed areas between Uzi and Chwaka Island Bays but the mangrove trees are the main marine vegetation type here.

Special attractions to see within Jozani Forest Reserve

Jozani Forest Reserve supports a stunning variety of flora that in turn host a wide range of fauna including mammals like the Suni antelopes, the rare Zanzibar leopard, bush pigs, Sykes monkeys, bushbucks, Ader’s duikers, galago and shrew, more than 100 species of butterflies and reptiles like monitor lizards and chameleons in addition to the Amphibians such as frogs.

When you visit this Forest Reserve, pay a close attention to the beautiful and brightly colored sunbirds as they flit among the nice tropical flowers as they suck nectar from them. Also, beautiful fish species such as crabs and Mollusks can be found within the area.

Tourist activities within Jozani Forest Reserve

  • Nature walks/Hiking

The main activity within Jozani Forest Reserve is the 45-minute walk and the Forest has a wonderful hiking trail as well as trained, experienced and informative guides that take tourists through the jungles to sight the different wildlife, butterflies and tree species such as Mama Mtondoo (also referred as Mother Mahogany, believed to be about 200 years old), the raffia fern trees and twin trees (sycamore and stranger fig that grow together) on the Island. Due to the thick vegetation, tourists are advised to dress comfortably because there is very little or no shade on the walk. There is a boardwalk to take you through the creek mangroves and coastal forest to see the wonders of this Reserve.

Besides the Jozani Forest Reserve, other places to visit on Zanzibar Island include the Zanzibar Butterfly Center and Paje, known for its stunning beaches and breathtaking surroundings.

Must Do Tour Activities in Virunga National Park

Tourist Activities Within Virunga National Park Congo

When you mention Virunga National Park, many people will associate it with a place where Park rangers are always killed by poachers or rebels but what most people don’t know about it is the fact that it is one of the most biologically diverse Conservation Areas not only in Africa but in the whole World. You will be surprised that more than half of all of the biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa is found within this National Park much as it is also undeniable that it is also severely threatened by armed conflicts.

Established as Africa’s first National Park in 1925, it was originally known as Albert National Park and became a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1979. Virunga National Park currently covers an area of 7800 square kilometers (780,000 hectares/3000 square miles) from the Virunga Mountains in the south to the extreme Rwenzori Mountains in the North but also borders Protected Areas of other countries like Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks in Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.

Virunga’s exceptional biodiversity include several unique mammals especially the critically endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, giraffes, buffaloes, forest elephants and many others as well as bird species to look out for. On top of the flora and fauna, the site is also home to a number of Virunga Volcanoes including Nyamulagira, Karisimbi, Mikeno, Sabinyo and Nyiragongo, The Presence of the extraordinary wildlife and bird species as well as Virunga Volcanoes have made it possible for tourists to enjoy several activities that include;

  • Tracking The Mountain gorillas

It is obvious that mountain gorilla trekking is the main tourist activity undertaken by tourists who visit Virunga National Park. There are so far 6 habituated gorilla families (including Kabirizi, Lulengo, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Munyaga and Humba) within this immense park available for trekking thus over 48 gorilla permits are available daily for tourists. It should be remembered that Virunga National Park is one of the four Parks in the whole World where this activity can be enjoyed. Other gorilla safari destinations in Africa include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, as well as the magnificent Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

  • Climbing/Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the active Volcanoes in Africa (having erupted more than 34 times with the recent ones being in 2002 when the Lava Lake drained and flowed to the surrounding communities) with a vast Lava Lake in the while World and tourists to Virunga National Park can not only see the wildlife species but also climb to the summits to enjoy its beautiful views. Mount Nyiragongo trekking is one of the most popular tourist activities to DR Congo Visitors and requires 2 days and 1 night at  the summit. Virunga management can pick you from Goma town hotel or Goma boarder to the trekking start point, and can arrange everything required to trekking Nyiragongo.

  • Bird watching

Did you know that Virunga National park is actually a home to over 780 species of birds? You will be mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the beautiful bird species when you rise up early in the morning at 5:00am. Some of the notable species not to miss in the Park include the Narrow-tailed Starling, African green broad bill, Yellow-billed Barbet, yellow crested helmet-shrike, Grey-throated Barbet, Congo peafowl, Madagascar Bee-eater and the Double-toothed Barbet among others.

  • Landscape Viewing

With its magnificent montane landscape and phenomenal vegetation, Virunga National Park can be visited for landscape viewing and photography. Notable spot for this activity include the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, the eroded valleys of Sinda and Ishango regions, the Virunga Volcanoes and the Afro-Alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the thick forests. All these outstanding views offer tourists with breathtaking experiences since they don’t need to go to places physically but instead enjoy them from specific places in Virunga National Park.

  • Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Much as this activity is not widely done as it is within Uganda’s Kibale National Park, it is an extremely interesting tourist activity within this National Park and was started in 1987 by a Zoologist named Frankfurt. This is where Chimpanzees are made familiar to the presence of humans and several tourists flock into the Park for this interesting experience.

Uganda recently introduced gorilla habituation experience in southern Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where each permit currently costs US$1500. This allows a maximum of 4 hour’s experience with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat!

  • Nature/Forest walks

This National Park is comprised of a vast Tropical rain forest with thick vegetation that offers shelter to several wildlife species such as chimpanzees, Hippos, monkeys, forest buffaloes, forest elephants, leopards and giraffes that can be encountered by tourists during forest walks. There are different nature walk trails that tourists follow and they lead to different places in the Park.

From the discussion above, it is clear that Virunga National Park is a must visit while on a tour through Africa! For security purposes, you are advised to book your safari in DR Congo through local tour operators and you must first inquire about the political situation at that time. If you are planning a safari in neighboring countries like Ruanda and Uganda, you can add a few days in DR Congo’s Virunga massif for gorilla tracking, chimps habituation, excellent birding, forest walks and Nyiragongo mountain trekking among others.

Upemba National Park Congo

Situated within the Katanga Province of south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is the Upemba National Park, one of the best destinations for wildlife watching and birding within this secluded Central African country. It was established on 15th May 1939 covering over 17,730 square kilometers (6850 square miles) making it the largest Park in the African Continent but by 1975, it was reduced to its current size of 11,730 square kilometers (4530 square miles).

This Park is made up of different bio-regions that include the savannah plateau (ranging from 1400 to 1800 meters above sea level) with rocky outcrops separating the tributary of River Lufira that drops down into the Kamalando depression and from there into the marshlands and Lakes of the lush Upemba wetlands. The North-eastern section of the Park is characterized by mainly the Kibara Plateau with its wooded foothills and high altitude savannah plateau while the center is made up of the Lufira basin from Kiobo waterfalls to the marshes at the edge of the Lake and the south is dominated by a straight and long grassy plateau from Kayo to Lufira.

Vegetation and attractions within Upemba National Park

The Park landscape is characterized by Afro-montane grasslands and Forests at the areas of high elevations within the Kibara Mountains, Miombo woodlands, Tropical rainforests as well as the wetlands, marshlands, riparian zones and streams at the lower altitudes. The system of wetlands, lakes, swamps and rivers offer habitat to a wide range of fish species including the Cichlidae, Cyprinidae, Barbus, Mormyridae and Alestidae among others.

While here, you will see small herds of Zebras, Upemba lions, troops of baboons, isolated pairs of oribis, buffaloes, elephants and many others. There are also several Amphibian species with the common one being the Schmidt’s snouted frogs as well as avifauna especially shoebill stork, Chestnut owlet, Angola Lark, Sparrow weavers, Honey guide greenbul,  spotted ground-thrush, Barbets, grey crowned cranes, Seed-eaters, Cisticola, Miombo rock thrush, Racket-tailed rollers, and the wattled cranes among others.

Therefore, activities such as bird watching, fishing (within any of the ten large fishing Lakes), nature walks, game viewing and cultural visits allow tourists to explore all or some of the attractions found within the National Park.

When to Visit Upemba National Park

There is no specific time to visit Upemba National Park because it is an all-year destination. Its location within the Itombwe Plateau makes it one of the best destinations to be explored for wildlife safaris. However, few tourists visit during the rainy season (with an average rainfall of 1200 millimeters of rainfall) from February to March (long and heavy rains) because it brings floods to the Park hence creating temporary wetlands and permanent water ponds/points overflow.

Where to Stay within Upemba National Park

Considering the fact that Upemba National Park is found within Katanga Province (with the Capital being Lubumbashi), there are a number of accommodation facilities (inform of Holiday Inns, Safari Lodges, Campsites and Hotels) within the City and undeniably near the Park.

How to Get to Upemba National Park

The Park is found within Katanga Province, at approximately 400 kilometers from the Zambia and Angola borders and can be reached by both air (flights to Lubumbashi International Airport) and road transport.

However just like most National Parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Upemba National Park has suffered from considerable attacks from local rebel groups and poachers with the notable ones being on 28th May 2004 when the Park Headquarters within Lusinga were attacked and burnt down by MaiMai Militia whereby many rangers and their family members were killed while others were taken hostage.

Bisanadi National Reserve, Kenya Wildlife Safari

Many travelers are familiar with Masai Mara, Buffalo Springs, Shimba Hills and Samburu National Reserves but few know or visit Bisanadi National Reserve, hence the reason it still maintains its authentic appearance and numerous wildlife species.  It is found in Isiolo County within the Meru Conservation Area near Meru National Park (found at the northern edge of the Reserve) yet receives fewer tourists compared to the latter. Other Protected Areas that lie within the Meru Conservation Area include Mwingi National Reserve and Kora National Park.

Bisanadi National Reserve covers an area of 606 square kilometers (234 square miles/60600 hectares) comprising of mainly savannah grasslands, combretum thickets, riverine wetlands with sedge and forests on the banks of River Tana.

Once you discover the interesting attractions Bisanadi National Reserve offers, you will regret not visiting it during your Kenyan safari. Also regarded as a dispersal area for other National Parks especially Meru National Park within the Conservation areas, Bisanadi is a haven to a wide range of wildlife species such as wildebeests, impalas, white rhinos, giraffes, Lions, cheetahs, elands, hartebeests, African buffaloes and African elephants among others as well as more than 400 species of birds including sunbirds, malachite kingfishers, African fish eagles, Pied Kingfishers and others.

Other phenomenal places to explore within this Game Reserve include the beautiful Adamson Falls in Meru National Park, Rivers Tana and Rojewero that are ideal for fishing adventures, boat rides and many others.

CLIMATE OF BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE AND THE BEST TIME TO VISIT

Bisanadi National Reserve is dry and warm all year round with two rainy seasons-short rains from November to October and long rains from March to May while the dry season is from December to March and June to September with average temperature being 25 Celsius degrees during the day and generally cool temperatures at night.

PERFECT TIME TO VISIT BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

The dry months of June to September as well as December to March. However, visitors can explore this part of Kenya all year round.

ACTIVITIES WITHIN BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

Safaris to this part of Kenya allow tourists to enjoy;

Wildlife viewing

With a place gifted with several game species such as elephants, rhinos, leopards, hartebeests, lions, giraffes, cheetahs and impalas, African buffaloes, wildlife viewing is therefore the number one activity for every tourist to Bisanadi National Reserve.

Boat rides

Boat rides are conducted within Rojewero and Tana Rivers offering tourists with the chance of spotting several aquatic species of birds.

Fishing

Trout fishing tours/adventures are mainly conducted within Tana and Rojewero Rivers.

Cultural tours of the Meru and Boran tribes

These tribes have their boundaries and live in communities marked by Bisanadi Reserve and tourists can enjoy cultural tours to learn more about their lifestyles and unique culture and traditions.

Bird watching

The Banks River Tana are one of the important bird spots in the National Reserve with numerous aquatic bird species. With over 40o species of birds including malachite kingfishers, African fish eagles, Pied Kingfishers and many others, the area shouldn’t miss on your itinerary.

HOW TO GET TO BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

With chartered flights from Korbessa airstrips to Meru National Park, tourists can be able to connect to Bisanadi National Reserve but also by road, this site can be accessed using 4WD Vehicles to enter the Park via Murera gate of Meru National Park.

ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES WITHIN BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

There are unfortunately no places of stay within this National Reserve but many options of comfortable overnights and dinner are found within the nearby Meru National Park like Leopard Rock as well as within Samburu and Shaba National Reserves.

 

Best Things To Do In Mount Elgon And Sipi Falls

While Uganda adventures mainly depend on mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest and Mgahinga National park, chimpanzee adventures and other wildlife, if you are planning your trip to this remarkable country, expect a lot more for you to make their dreams come true in Africa. If you are looking for the most outstanding African adventures then Mount Elgon and Sipi waterfalls are a few most exceptional tourist sites that you should consider in your travel plan. A trip to these remarkable destinations is one way for you to get out of the noisy Kampala capital city. Mount Elgon featured among Africa’s towering mountain range but given volcanic effects that occurred many years ago, its height reduced. It stands at altitude 4321 meters above sea level. This remarkable mountain today features the world’s biggest intact mountain caldera. It features as the 4th tallest mountain in East Africa

For adventure enthusiasts on Uganda safari, this is the best spot for you to get thrilled by the most exceptional mountaineering adventures of lifetime. It features among the very few easier mountains to climb even when you are not skilled enough and this means that even an average climber can realize his or her dreams. If you are a hiker, there is no need for you to be worried about hiking adventures given that Mount Elgon doesn’t require one to be experienced. Within this volcano, there are experienced guides and porters to take you through your adventure in and around this incredible mountain.

While you are on safari to Mount Elgon, expect to catch a glimpse at its incredible vegetation cover especially as you climb to the top. Around Mount Elgon’s foothills, you come across thick forests and given that the area experiences heavy amount of rainfall the tree species are in most cases covered by lichen, vine like lianas and epiphytes and the forest floor seemingly looks to be carpeted with ferns and flowering plants like wild orchids. About 2000 meters, bamboo forest thrives and as you climb you will find vast woodland and giant heathers come with incredible grass and flowers. Afro montane zone also comes with its unique lobelias and groundsel. Mount Elgon offers the most exhilarating mountaineering adventures.

As you get down Mount Elgon base, you will come across the most powerful and spectacular Sipi falls which feature among the few most remarkable tourist attractions that Eastern Uganda offers to the world travelers.

Spending your vacation around Mount Elgon National Park rewards you with not only climbing adventures but also exceptional wildlife encounters, birdlife, nature walks, cave exploration and cultural experiences of Bamasaba people who call this area their home. Alternatively, you can also engage in mountain biking. Travelers can pay a visit to forest exploration center and several trails that are found around the baseline of Mount Elgon. The forest center lies next to Sipi town and first acted as educational center and later it turned to be a trail head for travelers who come for mountaineering in the park.

The site is the best for one to kick start cave exploration and it comes with incredible waterfalls, valleys and escarpments. For bird lovers, this is the best area for you to spot out unique birds like Hartlaub’s Turaco; Eastern Bronze napped pigeon, Lemon Dove, African hill babbler, black throated wattle eye, thick billed honey guide, mountain yellow warbler, Grey cuckoo shrike, Alpine chat, Dusky Turtle Dove and many more.

You will find several trails for visitors who love nature walks. You can embark on a half day nature walk with a tour guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority and spot out most of the park’s incredible floral and faunal species as well as explore more about the Sipi falls. The waterfalls come with its unique sceneries and amazing roar. A visit to Sipi falls will amaze you with its outstanding aerial views. For unforgettable adventures in Mount Elgon and Sipi falls, you will need to come along with good hiking books but should be light weight and waterproof, jeans, long sleeved shirts/t-shirt, light rain jacket, bottle water, wide brimmed hat, back pack, packed lunch and many more.

Other things to do in Mount Elgon and Sipi fall Area include rock climbing which takes you through the park and the Sipi falls. This adventure is safe and it is mainly guided and supervised and it can equally be enjoyed by visitors on safari to Murchison Falls National Park, Sipi Falls, Kidepo Valley National Park and many more.

Trout fishing

Mount Elgon and Sipi falls feature as the only area in the pearl of Africa where visitors can catch Mountain Trout. This is conducted in the Sipi falls on River Sipi. This adventure is a catch and release experience.

Cultural experiences

You can also explore Abayudaya Jews of Uganda while on safari to Mount Elgon and Sipi Falls. This community has thrived in the area for over 100 years. There is also Budadiri community walk and Imbalu circumcision.

In conclusion, Mount Elgon and the Sipi falls feature among the very few amazing tourist sites that are worth visiting while on safari to Eastern side of Uganda. Besides hiking adventures, this features numerous tourist activities that are worth adding in bucket list.

Kerio Valley National Reserve

Established in 1983, Kerio Valley National Reserve is situated within the Kerio Valley, Kenya a branch of the Mighty Rift Valley. It covers an area of about 66 square kilometers and it is run by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The Kerio Valley is situated between the stunning Cherangani and Elgeyo hills. The Elgeyo escarpment stands at altitude of about 1830 meters and the valley at 1200 meters. It features mostly the semi tropical vegetation on the slopes while the floor of the valley consists of dry thorn bush. Kerio Valley in Kenya is situated in Iten, about 30 kilometers away from Eldoret town about six hours’ drive from Nairobi. This valley is 80 kilometers wide and 10 kilometers wide at its broadest. Kerio Valley National Reserve is located in west of the crocodile infested Kerio River in Kenya. It features variety of bird species and amazing sceneries. Its establishment led to increase in the number of wildlife species especially elephants, leopards, buffaloes, bush bucks, lion, rhinos, waterbucks, warthogs and many more. The best time of the year is from July to August when the area is dry and temperatures are not that much.

Kerio Valley National Reserve is a natural wonder of its own and most visitors who pay a visit to the Great Rift Valley find themselves in exploring this area. It provides remarkable views of the Kerio Valley. While on safari to this reserve, you will also have opportunity to catch the view of the Torok Falls and Chebloch gorge. Visitors also have a chance to experience the elephant migration through the Rimoi Reserve. For a few of you who will be lucky and keen enough, you will be amazed by this lifetime experience. There is a museum next to Kerio Valley National Reserve in Eldoret which refuges most of the artifacts and other cultural exhibits. This museum in Eldoret is situated on the steep drop from where you can easily view the mighty rift valley and Lake Baringo. This reserve is credited for its incredible landscape and culture.

How to get to Kerio Valley National Reserve

There is a nearby airport at Eldoret which connects up to Nairobi. The other alternative is by using bus from Nairobi where you will spend about 4 hours to Eldoret. From Eldoret you can get a taxi for to drive off for yet another 50 kilometers.

Best time to visit Kerio Valley National Reserve

Like most protected areas, Kerio Valley National Reserve is an all year round safari destination. However, this reserve can be visited from December to February. During this period, most parts of the reserve remain dry making it an ideal season for visitors to engage in most of the safaris.

Where to stay in Kerio Valley National Reserve

The perfect areas for your stay at Kerio Valley National Reserve include the Kerio View Hotel however; you are encouraged to make your booking as early as possible at least from January or February. There are basic accommodation options around Iten one of which includes the high altitude training center. Other accommodation options include Sega Safari Lodge. This lodge is located within the depths of the mighty rift valley about 320 kilometers from Nairobi in the beautiful Kerio Valley, just next to Rimoi Game Reserve and 32 kilometers from Kabarnet and 76 kilometers along Eldoret-Nyaru road through Fluor spar. It provides the most tranquil atmosphere for a few of you who wish to get out of the noisy urban centers.

Lastly, Kerio Valley National Reserve is equally an amazing safari destination in Kenya that shouldn’t miss out in your bucket list. It is famous for its birdlife, cultural experiences and mammal species.

Explore The Lutembe Bay Wetland

When Lutembe Bay wetland is mentioned, what comes in the minds of any regular tourist to Uganda is bird watching because this site is a real Paradise when it comes to bird species.

Extending for only 3.1 square miles (8 square kilometers/800 hectares), this Important Bird Area and Ramsar wetland of International Importance (since 2006) is found on the Northern shores of Lake Victoria, the Africa’s largest Lake by area and World’s largest Tropical Lake.

If you ever visit Uganda and wish to participate in birding, the Lutembe Bay wetland (one of the 33 Important Birding Areas in Uganda) should not miss on your Itinerary because as rare as it seems, it is popular for offering shelter to over 200 species of birds including 26 migrants, making it the main migration stop for many Palearctic migrants from North Africa, Russia, Scandinavia as well as the main land of Europe and these birds include more than 1.5 million (52%) white-winged terns encountered during birding tours in Uganda, gull-billed terns, black-headed gulls, Holub’s golden weaver as well as several Grey-headed Gulls. Majority of the Migratory species of birds normally begin arriving within the Lutembe Bay wetland in the rainy season especially September to November and leave in the middle of February of early March.

Other bird species of interest found within the area include the African green Pigeon, Great knot, Sooty Chat, Hottentot Teal, Brown-backed scrub robins, Tropical Boubou, Broad-billed Sandpiper, African pygmy kingfishers, Whiskered Terns, the Caspian Tern, road-billed rollers, Lead-colored flycatcher and Temminck’s Stint among others. Additionally, there are also about 7 globally threatened species of birds like the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrouros), African skimmer (Rhynchops flavirostris), Papyrus Yellow warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris), the Madagascar Squacco Heron (Ardeola idea), the Shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex), Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri) and the Great Snipe.

This wetland is part of the extensive Murchison bay that is known for abundant counts of flora and fauna species but this area offers materials for building as well as craft products to the local community members, fresh drinking water, fish, energy products and medicine among others. It is also a wonderful breeding ground for several fish species and several species can be found in the wetland. For instance, the endangered Cichlid fish, Clarius fish and Lung Fish are found within this wetland area.

This site is also a haven to a wide range of butterfly species (over 100 species have been recorded) including three extraordinary species that are not found in any other Important Bird Area of Uganda and they include Cacyreus virilis, Acraea Pharsalus and Belenois solilucis thus making it an ideal butterfly watching destination in Uganda.

Lutembe Bay wetland is also a haven to the rare Sitatunga antelopes, Otters (especially the African-Clawless otter and African spot-necked otters), Rodents and Shrews. Therefore, bird watching, nature walks and butterfly watching are some of the important tourist activities that can be enjoyed within this endowed tourist destination. This site is close to Kampala City and Entebbe International Airport hence making it easier accessible by tourists on Uganda tours.

Besides being a home to the wildlife, birds and butterflies, Lutembe Bay wetland naturally plays a role of filtering water that goes through it. Normally, it filters things like sediments, silt and excess nutrients in the running water as well as the dirty wastewater that comes from the nearby factories in addition to the sewage from all over Kampala.

List Important Bird Areas in Uganda

1) Echuya Forest Reserve
2) Mgahinga Gorilla national park
3) Bwindi Impenetrable national park
4) Nyamuriro Swamp
5) Queen Elizabeth National Park
6) Rwenzori Mountains National Park
7) Semliki Reserves
8) Lake Mburo National Park
9) Semliki National park
10) Kibale National Park
11) Kyambura wildlife reserve
12) Sango Bay Area
13) Mabira Forest
14) Bugoma Forest Reserve
15) Nabajjuzi wetland
16) Kidepo valley National Park
17) Kasyoha – Kitomi Forest reserve
18) Mount Moroto forest reserve
19) Lake Bisina
20) Mount Elgon National Park
21) Lake Opeta
22) Lake Nakuwa
23) Mount Otzi Forest Reserve
24) Doho Rice scheme
25) Mount Kei Forest reserve
26) Murchison Falls National Park
27) Lutembe Bay
28) Ajai wildlife reserve
29) Budongo Forest Reserve
30) Musambwa Island
31) Mabamba Bay
32) Lutoboka Paint
33) Nabugabo Wetland

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