Areas and places of interest in Uganda


Budongo Forest Reserve
Budongo Forest covers an area of 793 km² of which only 53% is forest. The remaining 47% is grassland (Forest Department 1996a). The altitudinal range is 700-1270m (Reynolds & Reynolds 1965). This forest type is classified as medium altitude semi deciduous moist forest. Budongo has a high biodiversity with 24 species of small mammals; nine being primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 359 species of birds; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths.

Budongo Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1932. Commercial extraction of timber has been on-going since 1915. It is said that Budongo is in a serious ‘state of degradation’ due to the high levels of illegal pit sawing, hunting and human encroachment. It is for the above reasons that tourism is so essential for the protection of this vulnerable tropical forest, to create work and generate an income for the local inhabitants to contribute to the preservation of these natural resources.

Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala central division; Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.

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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda in East Africa. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley. It comprises 331 Km2 of jungle and forests, containing both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.

The forest is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa and the diversity of species is a feature of the park. The park provides habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and other endangered species. Floristically Bwindi is amongst the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low altitude) sector is rich in species of the Guineo-Congolian flora. These include two species internationally recognised as endangered, Brown mahogany (Lovoa swynnertonii) and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.

The park is a sanctuary for Colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many birds (such as hornbills and Turacos). It is perhaps most notable for the 340 Bwindi gorillas, half the world's population of the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas. There are four habituated Mountain Gorilla groups open to tourism: Mubare; Habinyanja; Rushegura near Buhoma; and the Nkuringo group at Nkuringo.

Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park occupies an estimated 1,978 Km2 distributed through three districts. The park extends from Lake George in the northeast to Lake Edward in the southwest, and includes the Kazinga Channel that connects these two lakes.

Recognised as one of Africa’s bio-diversity hotspots, the park is named after Queen Elizabeth 11 and was established in 1954. QENP is known for its wildlife, including large populations of Hippopotamus, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Chimpanzee; it is home to 95 species of mammal and over 600 ( 605) species of birds, a bird watchers paradise.

The area around Ishasha in Rukungiri District is famous for its tree-climbing lions, whose males sport black manes, a feature unique to the lions in this area. The park is also famous for its volcanic features, comprising volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes such as Lake Katwe, from which salt is extracted. The national park includes the Maramagambo ( Unable to talk) Forest and borders Kigezi Game reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve and Kibale national Park in Uganda, and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park is situated in South Uganda protecting moist evergreen rain forest. It is 766 km2 in extent and is located between 1100 and 1600 meters above Sea level. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes. Kibale is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests. In East Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest.

The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. This park together with Queen Elizabeth National park forms a continuous stretch of conserved forest creating a 180 km protected corridor that forms an important tourism destination, popular for its habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates that occur in these forests.

Kazinga Channel
The Kazinga Channel in the Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda is a wide, 32 km long natural channel that links Lake Edward and Lake George, and a dominant feature of this Nation al park The channel attracts a wide variety of animals and birds, with one of the world’s highest concentration of hippos and numerous Nile crocodiles.

Lake George is a small lake with an average depth of only 2.4 m and which is fed by streams from the Rwenzori mountains. Its outflow is through the Kazinga Channel which drains into Lake Edward, water levels fluctuating very little.

Budongo Forest Reserve
Budongo Forest covers an area of 793 km² of which only 53% is forest. The remaining 47% is grassland. The Forest lies at an altitude from between700-1270 m above sea level. This forest type is classified as medium altitude semi deciduous moist forest. Budongo has a high biodiversity with 24 species of small mammals; nine of them primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 359 species of birds; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths.

Budongo Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1932. Commercial extraction of timber has been on-going since 1915. And because of unrestricted illegal logging the area needs to attract as much Eco-tourism as possible to encourage the protection of this valuable resource and the primates and other creatures that find refuge here.

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The Nile River
The Nile is the major north-flowing river in Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is 6 650 km long and runs through ten countries, South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.

The Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The latter is the source of most of the water and fertile soil. The former is the longer. The White Nile rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan. The Blue Nile starts at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. The northern section of the river flows almost entirely through desert, from Sudan into Egypt, a country whose civilization has depended on the river since ancient times.

Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along its riverbanks. The Nile ends in a large delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

Murchison Falls National Park
Is the largest national park in Uganda and lies in the north western portion of the country spreading inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile. It is named after the Murchison Falls waterfall on the Nile River, which in turn were named after the president of the Royal Geographical Society. The park is known for its wildlife which has recovered well from a massacre by poachers and troops under Idi Amin regime. Together with the adjacent 748 km2 Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720 Km2 Karuma Wildlife Reserve forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area.

Lake Albert
Lake Albert is located in the center of the continent, on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Lake Albert is the northernmost of the chain of lakes in the Great Rift Valley; it is about 160 km long and 30 km wide, with a maximum depth of 51 m and a surface elevation of 619 m above sea level.

Lake Albert is part of the complicated system of the upper Nile. Its main sources are the Victoria Nile, ultimately coming from Lake Victoria to the southeast, and the Semliki River, which issues from Lake Edward to the southwest. The water of the Victoria Nile is much less saline than that of Lake Albert. Its outlet, at the northernmost tip of the lake, is the Albert Nile (which becomes known as the Mountain Nile when it enters South Sudan).

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Rivers and lakes of Uganda

At the southern end of the lake, where the Semliki comes in, there are swamps. Farther south loom the mighty Ruwenzori Range, while a range of hills called the Blue Mountains tower over the northwestern shore.

Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains, previously called the Ruwenzori and sometimes the Mountains of the Moon, is often referred to as Mt. Rwenzori, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with heights of up to 5,109 m. The highest of the Rwenzoris are permanently snow-capped, and along with Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are the only mountains to have a permanent covering of snow and ice on the continent of Africa.
Margherita Peak at a height of 5,109 on Mount Stanley is the highest point in the Rwenzori Mountain range. 

The mountains were formed about three million years ago in the late Pliocene as a result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks such as: gneiss, amphibolite granite and quartzite, "pushed up by tremendous forces originating deep within the earth’s crust". The uplifting divided the large paleolake Obweruka and created three of the present-day African Great Lakes: Albert, Edward and George on the edge of the Albertine (western) Rift of the East African Rift a part of the Great Rift Valley.

The Rwenzori Mountains are about 120 km long and 65 km wide. They consists of six massifs separated by deep gorges: Mount Stanley (5,109m), Mount Speke (4,890m), Mount Baker (4,843m), Mount Emin (4,798m), Mount Gessi (4,715m) and Mount Luigi di Savoia (4,627m) Mount Stanley is the largest and has several subsidiary summits, with Margherita Peak being the highest point. The rock is metamorphic, and the mountains are believed to have been tilted and squeezed upwards by plate movement. They are in an extremely humid area, and frequently enveloped in clouds.

The Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately 6,000 kms in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa. The name continues in some usages, although it is today considered geologically imprecise as it combines features that are today regarded as separate, although related, rift and fault systems. Today, the term is most often used to refer to the valley of the East African Rift, the divergent plate boundary which extends from the Afar Triple Junction southward across eastern Africa, and is in the process of splitting the African Plate into two new separate plates. Geologists generally refer to these incipient plates as the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.


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Graphic of the Great Rift Valley

In eastern Africa, the valley divides into two, the Western Rift Valley and the Eastern Rift Valley.
The Western Rift, also called the Albertine Rift, is edged by some of the highest mountains in Africa, including the Virunga Mountains, Mitumba Mountains, and Ruwenzori Range. It contains the Rift Valley lakes, which include some of the deepest lakes in the world (up to 1,470 metres deep at Lake Tanganyika). Much of this area lies within the boundaries of national parks such as Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwenzori National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Lake Victoria is considered to be part of the rift valley system although it actually lies between the two branches. All of the African Great Lakes were formed as the result of the rift, and most lie within its rift valley. In Kenya, the valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. As the lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow, they have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind. For example, Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda (sodium carbonate) and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline, while the freshwater springs supplying Lake Naivasha are essential to support its current biological diversity.

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