British PM and author Winston Churchill called Uganda “The Pearl of Africa” when he travelled through it in 1907. Many still believe him to be correct – with mountains, wildlife, lakes, rainforest, friendly people and the source of the Nile, there are many reasons to visit Uganda.
To get to the primate population of Uganda, you will have to travel through deep and incredibly dense jungle (The Bwindi forest, where many of the gorillas live, means “impenetrable” for a good reason). These primates are tracked due to small numbers – and when you do it is a rare and precious experience.
Overland safaris are generally undertaken in the form of small group departures or tailor-made private safaris – private safaris are designed around your interests, availability and budget. As Uganda offers many opportunities for big game viewing and side activities, arranging a tour guide with plenty of experience and local knowledge will be invaluable asset to your trip.
For adventure seekers, Jinja is one of the greatest white water rafting experiences available anywhere in the world. It happens to be at the source of the Nile – there is rarely a more exhilarating destination (it’s said to be on a par with the better-known Zambezi rafting experience).
For those searching for a less daredevil water experience, there is also Lake Bunyoni and the surrounding terraced mountains, called the Swiss Alps of Africa because of its peaceful setting. It’s free of dangerous animals too, so swimming is permitted.
Uganda is also an incredible birding destination, with well over 1000 species found across the country, including the rare shoebill and many Albertine Rift endemics, so bring your binoculars!
Uganda can boast some of the friendliest people in the world. Warm and welcoming, you can expect the people you meet to be willing to assist and happy to show off their beautiful nation.
Uganda has had some bad press in the past, but as a nation it is moving towards a stronger economy, more stable politics and better quality of life for all its citizens. Making a journey and assisting this country by spending time there and helping support the industry that employs Ugandans and helps create sustainable income that’s not reliant on funding from the developed world is one of the best ways to establish a better life for locals.
Tourism also supports wildlife protection efforts and will ensure that the gorilla population and other endangered species will continue to thrive in their natural habitats.
Vivienne Egan writes for Safari Consultants