Planning a road trip to Uganda? There are a number of car rental Uganda companies who are willing to serve/meet all your self-drive needs in the country. Uganda is a tourist destination in East Africa whose diverse landscapes is made up of mountains, and the great Lake Victoria (Africa’s largest lake). It has abundant wildlife like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees among others as well as several bird species. The country offers rewarding hiking experiences in its different tourist destinations. Below are some of the places you might consider to go hiking while visiting the country or you might ask your tour operator to add it to your Uganda tour package.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Although the park well known for gorilla trekking tours, hiking in this great park is such a rewarding experience and hikers will expect to spot a variety of animals, several bird species, waterfalls, primate encounters as well as mountain views.
There are six nature trails within the park that hikers follow:
Muyanga Waterfall trail. This starts from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and culminates in the sensational sight of the falls plummeting 33 meters.
Rushura Hill Walk. This trail 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. This is a 6km walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virunga massif.
The Ivi River. This hiking trail is 14km and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu where wild pigs can often be found.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo. The trail takes three to four 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. You can leave your luggage with your driver, who will meet you on the other side. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja. This trail takes 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 enjoy 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.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Named after Queen Elizabeth II, the park offers great hiking opportunities both within and around the park borders. Nature treks are one of the more active ways to explore the landscapes and wildlife of Queen Elizabeth. Locations include the shady Maramagambo forest; the Mweya Peninsula with its scenic views; and the 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!
Nature walks are done in the Kyambura gorge which is home to a chimpanzee group. The hike gets you close to nature and you shall expect to sport some of the primates that live in the gorge like chimps, monkeys, and baboons. Expect to also spot several bird species.
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 National Park
Hikers in or around this park will have a chance to be amongst some of the wildlife living in these forests like some primates, birds and also get to spot different tree and plant species. Trails lead past caves, viewpoints, and waterfalls, with the option of camping overnight on the mountain slopes. There are several hiking trails within and around the park, some leading to the top of Mount Elgon, Wagagai peak.
The 7km mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave passes through the tropical and bamboo forest on the lower slopes of this great mountain. Along the trail are many primates, birds, and rare trees such as Elgon teak and Elgon olive. 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.
In Wanale, there is a3-4 hours walk to the Khauka caves. Or maybe you can consider going the viewpoint through the Nabuyoga loop where you can see Jackson’s Summit and Wagagai peak.
Short day hikes are available in Budadiri covering the Mudagi Cliffs, Sasa River Camp, and Drigana lower falls. These are great for bird watching, nature walks, and overnight camping opportunities.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
There are several trails around “the mountains of the moon” which hiking lovers can follow as they tour the area. The trails take you to several destinations within the highlands like; Lake Mahooma and Buraro chimp forest, pass through the Kichwamba local communities to the Karangura ridge, and to Bundibugo area through Bwamba pass.
The communities of Ruboni and Turaco View (accommodation facilities) also offer guided forest walks of various lengths just outside the park. Visitors can follow the River Mubuku, and have glimpse views of Baker and Portal Peaks (if the weather is clear) as they hike up to 2,300m above sea level. On a clear day, it is even possible to view the snowcapped Margherita Peak – such a spectacular sight! As you move, expect to spot the Rwenzori three-horned chameleons, squirrels, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and many birds.
The Kibale forest is within Kibale Forest National Park is commonly known for its large population of chimpanzees. It is a typical tropical forest located in southwest Uganda and offers great and rewarding hiking opportunities. There are also night walks where you get to spot nocturnal wildlife species, isn’t that quite exciting?
When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active. Night walks offer chances of spotting nocturnal species like the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, crickets, and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30 pm and usually take between one and a half and two hours.
There is a day walk to Bigodi swamp. This offers opportunities of spotting the rare shoebill stork as well as other swamp bird species, some monkeys, and beautiful views of the surrounding topography.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
This national park is part of the great Virunga and is commonly known for being a habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. It also hosts 3 of the eight Virunga volcanoes and is all open for hiking by tourists and the tops meet you with great views of the Virunga massif.
Hiking around the park gives visitors the chance to spot forest birds, the Rugezi Swamp, wild vegetation, bamboo forests, and glorious views of the surrounding lakes and agricultural villages.
A hike to the deep Sabinyo Gorge passes through the tropical forests and provides good birding opportunities and the chance to find the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco. This walk takes about four hours and passes through the Rugezi Swamp which is fantastic for birders.
The golden monkey track is a gentle steep but interesting and rewarding 2hour trek through former farmlands to the bamboo forest. On a clear day, you may view the Virunga Volcano range and come across the forest buffalo and duiker.
The walk to the Congo border takes you through different vegetation zones. Hikers can have distant views of the calderas on top of the Gisozi hill, don’t forget to look out for Kisoro and Bunagana towns and be captivated by magnificent Lake Mutanda with its beautiful islands.