By Gerald Tenywa
Uganda’s Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks have been listed among Africa"s top 50 Safari parks.
Kidepo is ranked 14th best national park in Africa, followed by Queen Elizabeth (34th) and Murchson Falls (39th).
The ranking was conducted by the Netherlands based SafariBooking.com, an online market place for African safaris, after over 3,000 reviews from safari adventurists and industry experts, according to a statement.
The review also considered views of guidebook authors from Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer"s, Bradt and Footprint.
The top of Murchison falls . Photo/Solomon Oleny
A total of 138 parks of the major safari countries were included in the study. Only parks known for classic wildlife viewing safaris were considered.
Parks like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that are mostly known for their scenery or typical gorilla/chimp tracking parks were not included.
Kidepo attracted 4,091 visitors last year while Queen Elizabeth park got 59,000. Muchison, the most visited park in Uganda, got 67,000 visitors.
The three parks are endowed with a variety of habitats such as grassland savanna, forests, wetlands and lakes as well as big herds of buffaloes, elephants, tree climbing lions, buffaloes, and cobs among others.
“This means that Kidepo is being discovered,” said Jossy Muhangi, spokesperson of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). He said Kidepo is generating a lot of interest following the return of stability in the region.
“Kidepo is where chances of seeing the big cats (lions) is highest,” he said, adding that Kidepo is one of the wilderness that have not been touched in the region.
He, however, expressed concern over the poor road network in north eastern Uganda which makes the park rather inaccessible.
Two years ago, Kidepo was ranked the 3rd best park in Africa by CNN. “The number of animals is increasing in Murchison Falls National Park and sport fishing is becoming a popular activity,” said Muhangi.
Uganda was voted as the number one tourist destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet, world"s largest travel guide book. Mt Rwenzori was also recently voted among the top hiking spots in the world.
Tourism contributes about 9% (sh7.29 trillion) of Uganda"s GDP.
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