Hiking Destinations in Uganda
Some of the most rewarding hiking destinations in Uganda rank high as global attractions because of the stunning beauty of the hiking trails and the quality of the experiences to the visitors. Most of Uganda’s land is covered in stunning landscapes and vegetation, not to mention the unique animal and birdlife hikers encounter on the trails.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking long walks in the country forests or gunning for multi-day mountain hiking challenges. Uganda has a hiking destination for every type of hiker.
In this simple guide, we take a detailed look at some of the top hiking destinations in Uganda. Let’s get directly into it.
Rwenzori Mountains Natioanal Park
Hiking in the Rwenzori Mountains is one of the most exciting experiences in Uganda. The famous mountains, with the highest peak in the country, protect 996 square kilometers of mystical lakes, vegetation, rocky outcrops, meadows, cliffs, high glaciers, and snow-capped mountains that are a hiker’s dream.
Those out for a multiple-day challenge can take on a trail to the highest peak at 5,109 meters, Mount Stanley’s Margherita Peak. It may be ranked 4th highest peak in Africa, but it is one of the most enchanting mountain hiking destinations in the world. In addition to the stunning vegetation, Rwenzori’s remoteness, location near the equator, favorable weather, and low number offer visitors an intense hiking experience.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, on Uganda’s border with DRC. The congo side of the ranges is protected in Virunga National Park. The park is about 297 kilometers from Kampala, the capital city. You can get there by bus, private car, or domestic flight to Kasese, the nearest city. You can base from Kasese or Kilembe, where you’ll find suitable accommodation for your hiking activities in the Rwenzori.
Of all trails in the hiking destinations in Uganda, Rwenzori’s two routes come out at the most popular with hikers. The trails offer a great selection of single or multi-day hikes, with the longest taking at least 9 days to reach the highest peak on Mout Stanley.
The Central Circuit Trail
The Central Circuit, which starts out of Nyakalengija, is the oldest, simplest, and shortest trail to Margherita peak at 5,109 meters. The trail offers single-day and multi-day hikes of sometimes up to 15 days, and a typical one can take about 7 days to the peak.
The Southern, Kilembe Trail
Managed by Rwenzori Trekking Services, the Southern Trail out of Kilembe town is the toughest of the two. The trail begins in Kilembe, 1,450 meters, hiking through some of the most stunning vegetation on the first day to join the Central Circuit at some point in the following days. It can take about 9 – 15 days to reach the Margherita summit.
Unlike other hiking destinations in the region, the Rwenzori Mountains is a range with many summits, giving visitors many trail options. And, because trails are longer than most, trekking the Rwenzoris gives you enough time to acclimatize before you reach the highest altitudes.
Summits in the Rwenzori Mountains include, Mt. Gessi (15,470 feet/ 4,715 m), Mt. Emin (15, 741 feet/ 4,798 m), Mt. Speke (16,043 feet/ 4,890 m), Mt. Stanley (16,762 feet/ 5,109 m), Mt. Luigi Di Savoia (15, 328 feet/ 4,627 m), and Mount Baker (15,889 feet/ 4,843 m).
We have some of the most informed consultants on hiking the Rwenzoris. Send us an email at email@example.com to help you plan a Rwenzori Hiking safari.
Mount Elgon National Park
Suppose you’re looking for mountain hiking destinations in Uganda that don’t need any experience or trekking gear. In that case, Mount Elgon National Park’s hiking trails are a great choice.
The National Park protects one of the oldest extinct volcanoes in East Africa, Mount Elgon, sitting on the border of Uganda and Kenya, north of Kisumu and west of Kitale. Its highest peak at Wagagai (4,321 meters) is entirely within Uganda.
Hiking from the hot plains near the mountain base, the higher altitudes take you through some of the most breathtaking flora and fauna.
Elgon’s most striking features include one of the largest intact calderas in the world. The warm springs by the Suam River, Ngwarisha, Chepnyalil, Makingeny, and Kitum caves. Kitum Cave is over 300 ft wide and 660 ft inside. The cave walls contain salt deposits, a magnet to wild elephants that come lick gouging the walls with their tusks.
Hiking in Elgon will lead you over several rivers such as the Suam River, the Nzoia, and the Lwakhakha Rivers, which flow downstream to Lake Victoria.
Whether you’re hiking to the summit at Wagagai or taking a walk in of the top hiking destinations in Uganda, Elgon offers three trailheads; Sasa, Sipi, and Piswa trailheads.
Sasa River Trail
Sasa River Trail is the shortest trail with an easy hike to the summits that can take about 4-5 days to the peak and back. Like many hikers, you can simply join the trail from Mbale town, and it’s practically the simplest hike.
You have an excellent chance of seeing Colobus and Blue Monkeys, other exciting wildlife. You can also detour to Sipi waterfalls, hot springs, and other summits along the trail.
The other commonly used hiking route in Mount Elgon National Park is Pisawa Route from the north in Kapwata. It is a bit longer (49 km) and less steep than the Sasa River Route. Visitors hike through the Podocarpus forest, which offers impressive wildlife and bird sightings.
Kapeguria and Nandi peaks from the Kenyan side peak out somewhere on the Piswa, and you can detour to the hot springs for a while.
The longest and most complex of the Elgon trails is Sipi Trail, at 56 km, makes a fine loop with the Sasa River Trail. The trail begins from Kapkwai at a 2050-m elevation. Of course, you detour off to Sipi Falls and Tutum Forest Caves. The trail to the summit and back can take about 4-7 days to complete.
Mgahinga National Park, The Virungas
The three Virunga extinct volcanoes, Mount Muhavura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo, are some of the quality hiking destinations in Uganda. Located in the southwest tip of the Ugandan border with Rwanda and DRC, Mgahinga National Park attracts many visitors coming to trek the endangered mountain gorillas.
Aside from seeing mountain gorillas, Hiking in Mgahinga promises rare sightings of unique mammals, like the very rare golden monkey endemic to the Albertine Rift, black-and-white colobus, buffalo, elephant, bushbuck, and duiker. It is also one of the top birdwatching hiking destinations in Uganda.
Basing out from Kisoro, a 30-minute drive to the visitor center, you can join daily hiking excursions to either the mountain peaks or through the park’s jungles.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Trail
Mgahinga National Park is one of the two places in Uganda to see mountain gorillas, a highlight on Uganda safaris. The excursions start at 8:00 am up the slopes to the Bambo forest and spend at least an hour with the habituated mountain gorillas. The treks are highly regulated to only eight people per day. Getting a gorilla permit ($800) may need some early planning.
You could spend at least half of the day in the jungle, and the terrain is pretty uneven, so check your physical fitness before you join.
Golden Monkey Trekking Trail
Like the mountain gorilla trekking excursion, the golden monkey trail follows almost the same route, takes nearly the same time, and requires the same physical fitness. It is also guided by Uganda Wildlife Personel and leaves daily at 8:00 am.
Mount Muhavura Trail
The Muhavura Trail, beginning from Ntebeko trailhead, takes about 5-7 hours to reach the 4,157-meter summit. Because of its steep scend, it is considered one of the most demanding hiking destinations in Uganda.
Daily guided excursions begin at 6:00, with the first stop is at about 3,117 meters and the second at about 3,860 meters above sea level. Most hikers don’t make it beyond the first stop. However, those who go beyond the first stop are rewarded with the most stunning panoramic views of southwestern Uganda’s mountainous landscape.
Mount Sabinyo Trail
Mount Sabyinyo’s tip, standing at 15,037 feet, forms the tri-border between Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC. Standing here will give you a vast panoramic view across the three countries’ most beautiful landscapes (if the weather is on your side).
The scend takes about 4-5 hours with two summits along to the highest point. The daily trip start at Ntebeko at 6:00 am and makes it back by 7:00 pm.
Sabyinyo gorge trail
On the Sabinyon Gorge Trail, you’ll be hiking 6 kilometers of an amazing mountain stream meandering through that very dense Afro-montane forest to the gorge. It is one of Uganda’s most amazing hiking destinations trail. Even if you don’t make it to the summit, you will see a stunning view of the teeth-like Sabinyo peaks.
This hike takes about 5-6 hours. You may bump into primates like the Golden Monkeys, small antelopes like Duikers, and many other forest mammals. Through the Rugezi swamp, the trail is also famous for bird watchers.
Mount Gahinga Trail
Located right between Muhavura and Sabinyo is Mountain Gahinga (3,474 meters), the smallest and easiest to hike of the three. The trail can literally take away about 5 hours of your day. The Gahinga trail is the one most hikers chose for a simple hiking challenge into one of Uganda’s most beautiful hiking destinations.
The same trail can detour off to the Batwa trail to visit the ancient forest tribe or the ancient caves in the jungle.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
According to CNN travel, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the top hiking destinations in Uganda and worldwide. Although visitors mostly come for gorilla trekking, hiking in this mountainous forest is Uganda’s most rewarding nature experience.
You may bump into some of the forest’s significant natives like the forest elephants, bushpigs, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s, and vervet monkeys on a simple day walk in the forest. Birders will be blown away at how many species they can tick their birding lists. Sightings include mountain masked, red-faced woodland warbler, green tinkerbird, Ruwenzori batis, and about 220 butterfly species. You may encounter some of the 27 frog species, uncountable geckos, and chameleons when you lower your eyes.
Apart from the Gorilla trekking excursions that begin at 07:00 from four trailheads around the park, there are numerous hiking trails you can start at comfortable morning hours.
Kashasha River Trail
The 4-5-hour Kashasha River trail connects two of the most popular sectors of the park, Buhoma in the north and Nkuringo in the south. The trail can begin from either side, following Kashasha River through steep and wet terrain and coming through a junction to meet the Ivy River. The trail up to the crossing of Kashasha River is challenging and may require a bit of your muscle.
The Ivy River Trail
The 14-km Ivy River trail is another one that joins the two sectors, Buhoma and Nkuringo. It’s more challenging than the Kashasha Trail and may take the better part of your day for a slow hiker. However, it has breathtaking viewpoints with rewarding sighting beautiful birds, animals, and community villages on the side of Nkuringo.
Rusizi River Trail
Rusizi is the best hiking trail for birders in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You should spare the whole day to enjoy the best of this trail.
Mubwindi Swamp Trail
The 4-5-hour Mubwindi Swamp Trail is one of Uganda’s most endearing birding trails. Many hikers report encountering unique animals like forest elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas, bushpigs, and bushbucks. The trail starts at the Ruhija visitor center northeast of the park.
The Bamboo trail is a steep ascent to the highest point in Bwindi at a 2,607-meter altitude with spectacular views of the forest canopy and beyond to Lake Bunyonyi and the Virunga Mountains backdrop. Visitors start the hiking trail at Ruhija Eastern Bwindi trailhead.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail
The Muzabajiro Loop trail starts from Buhoma and takes about 3-4 hours, with amazing panoramic views at the top of Rukubira hill. From here, you can marvel at the Virunga massifs, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the Great Rift Valley.
The Habinyanja Trail
The 4-6-hour Habinyanja trail begins at Buhoma and traverses the Munyanga River through the Habigorogoro and Riyoyi meadows overlooking the Buhoma river. This trail is perfect for bird watchers with incredible sightings along the trail.
Booking a Hiking Tour in Uganda
Whether you’re looking for a simple walk in nature or a challenging day-by-day tour to high mountain peaks in Uganda, Encounter Africa Safaris can organize a hiking trip. Our experts will recommend the best route and give you top-notch advice to help you pull off a rewarding experience in Africa.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and a local hiking guide will lead you through the best options for your holiday tour.