Uganda is a beautiful country with impressive people. This is one of my favorite countries in all of Africa. Ugandan people survived the troubles of the 1967-86 period and emerged standing tall and smiling. In this short time, the country was crushed under the whims of two vile despots. One was the undisputed madman Idi Amin and the other the undisputed mad Milton Obote.
This is history now – A testament to the dignity and resilience of these people. The transformation the country has undergone since returning to normal is not surprising. And it shows in the faces of the people you meet. The fact that Uganda’s elegant beauties do not get the recognition they deserve at international beauty pageants is undeniable proof to me that many of these events are indeed stable.
Winston Churchill was so fascinated by the country that he gave it a permanent name: “Pearl of Africa”. His observations about Uganda remain relevant today: “The landscape is different, the vegetation is different, the climate is different, and above all, the people are different from anything else in the whole of Africa”.
Uganda captivates travelers with its stunning scenery such as lush green hills, snow-capped mountains, rainforests, majestic rivers and huge lakes. There are also a number of outstanding national parks for your safari encounter with the wildlife that Africa is famous for. Unfortunately, I must advise you to skip the Kidepo Valley, a well-resourced park in the north, as it is not considered safe. The country’s advantage as a value destination is further enhanced by its donations to whitewater rafting and sport fishing. Tour operators offer a variety of Uganda safari and tour packages.
Where you can find the largest number of primate species anywhere in the world is Uganda. Opportunities to watch rare mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are unrivaled elsewhere. The primary conservation efforts the country is pursuing are bearing fruit. A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Jane Goodall Institute in collaboration with the Ugandan government revealed that in 2003 there were 4,950 chimpanzees in the country. Previously, scientists estimated this number to be between 3000 and 4000, but no one knew. Certainly. The chimpanzee is our secret living relative, sharing 98% of our genes and most of our behavior. Uganda is the best country in the world to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
The best place to see the rare mountain gorilla is 331 square meters. km Bwindi National Park. This park was formerly known as the Impenetrable Forest. The trees are thicker and the forest thicker with dense shrubs, creepers, bamboos and parasitic plants such as mistletoe and orchids. This environment is the habitat of mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and 8 other primate species. Less than half of the world’s population of an estimated 600 mountain gorillas have refuges here, making Bwindi the base of an important scientific conservation program.
Gorilla viewing is limited to small groups and licenses are issued to ensure minimal disruption to the animals’ routine. Tracking gorillas is a challenge and you should be ready to hike for up to 8 hours. Good physical condition is essential. It is recommended to make arrangements 4-12 months before your visit date. Bwindi is essentially a rainforest and you should bring a rain jacket, hiking boots and gloves.
In addition to star gorillas, Bwindi is home to more than 300 bird species, including bush boar, giant forest boar, and rare forest birds. Others that have found a home in this ecosystem include many species of bats and rodents, 14 species of snakes, 27 species of frogs and toads, 6 species of chameleon, 14 lizards, skin and lizards, and 200 species of butterflies. Bwindi is in the west of the country and is 560 km from Kampala.
While not as safari as the famous Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda still has some good hunting shelters. The 3,840-square-mile Murchison Falls National Park is the largest and most spectacular of them all. Besides the game, it is famous for its natural beauty. Rolling savanna, tall grasslands and thick bush forests make up the park. However, it is recommended not to miss the magnificent waterfalls that give the park its name. The waterfall is formed where the Nile thins from 50 meters and passes through a 7-meter valley, falling in a breathtaking leap to 45 meters. This phenomenon is said to be the strongest natural flow of water anywhere on Earth.
If you’re patient, you can catch a really big Nile Perch at the foot of the waterfall. What kind of fish can withstand such a force that exists at the bottom of the waterfall? Charles Norman describes the day he was fishing, with a friend “…who gave a hoarse squeak” when he saw the huge fish, and I found myself above the water staring at the pig-size back of a giant fish protruding from the edge of the rock. 100kg fish with scales the size of a tennis ball. Swimming next to him was smaller, a ‘dwarf’ of around 40kg”. This adventure is by the extraordinarily experienced Charles Norman “… the fishing I’ve ever known.” Other game fish found in the Nile include Barbel, electric Catfish and Tigerfish.
There are elephant, hartebeest, leopard, lion, giraffe, buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile and many antelope species in the game that you come across in the park. Upstream of Murchison Falls are Karuma Falls, where the Nile crosses 23 kilometers of streams. Here you have some of the most exciting white waters in Africa. Murchison Falls is 330 km from Kampala.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is another outstanding treasure. It is a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve for Humanity. Recognition is due to the tropical forest, green meadows, savanna and swamps that make up the park. In terms of wildlife, you can find elephants, buffalo, hippos, baboons, chimpanzees and more than 600 species of birds. The park covers an area of 2,000 km2 and is 440 km from Kampala. At the north end of Queen Elizabeth you find Kibale. This park has a unique forest habitat and has an excellent variety of animal and plant life. You can find the largest number of primate species in Uganda and one of the highest primate density and diversity in the world in Kibale.
Most visitors traveling to Queen Elizabeth or Bwindi from Kampala stop at Lake Mburo National Park. The park is on Mbarara road 230 km west of Kampala and is the most accessible park in the country. It is a very attractive park, with hills, open grassy valleys, interspersed with scrub, woodland and rich wetlands. Besides watching games such as zebra, buffalo and eland, you can relax by taking a boat tour on Lake Mburo.
The country’s fairly flat terrain is cut by the Rwenzori Mountains to the west and Mount Elgon to the east. Also known as the “Mountains of the Moon”, Rwenzori has the third highest peak in Africa after Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. Rwenzori is part of the national park of the same name and includes 6 snow-capped peaks. If you don’t want to go to the summits, you can walk the trails of this mountain without any special climbing equipment. The fog-covered mountain range stretches for about 100 km.
Mount Elgon is located on the Kenyan border and is the crust of an ancient volcano. The main attractions here are waterfalls, caves once used by locals, hot springs, mountain vegetation, various peaks, Suam Gorge and the caldera itself. After millions of years of erosion, the oval-shaped caldera now measures roughly 7 by 8 km, one of the largest in the world.
The history-conscious traveler will want to visit the Source of the Nile in Jinja. Jinja is 60 km north-east of Kampala and is easily accessible by road. This is where the White Nile begins its 5,600km journey to the Mediterranean as it emerges from Lake Victoria. The source of the Nile was a millennial mystery that was definitively solved by explorer John Specke in 1862.
If you’re into culture, head to Kabaka’s Trail. This is a unique journey through part of Uganda’s rich heritage that has been shaped over the years by the kings of the region. Kabaka is the ceremonial king of Baganda and his lineage goes back to the 14th century. The trail connects a number of cultural sites, all within easy reach of Kampala. You can easily combine the Kabaka Trail with your Nile Search trip to Jinja. The Trail offers much more than sightseeing, and you’ll learn about Uganda’s hidden and forgotten history. You will also experience an authentic tribal culture with traditional dance, music, craft making, spiritual healing and storytelling.
There are hotels of international standard in Uganda, especially in the main towns of Entebbe, Jinja and Kampala. In small towns the quality is variable and rated accommodation is few. All major national parks offer accommodation in playhouses and tent camps.
If you want to drive in Uganda, you must show an international driver’s license to rent a car. Rental cars in Uganda are available in Entebbe and Kampala. The roads radiate from Kampala and are of varying quality. The security situation and roads in the north of the country are still questionable. It’s a good idea if you’re driving yourself to get local advice on the condition of the roads you intend to use.
Uganda has a tropical climate that softens with altitude. The hottest period of the year is from December to February, when the temperature rises to 29 degrees Celsius. The rest of the year the temperature ranges from 21 to 25°C. The country experiences two rainy seasons: April-May and October-November, with April being the wettest month. The best times to visit are December-March and June-September. Light informal clothing is usually sufficient. But you need warmer wraps and sweaters in the evening and early morning. It is also recommended to carry a rain jacket, just in case.