Ever found yourself in a difficult situation looking for reasons as to why you must travel to a particular destination? Ever thought so hard why you should recommend that specific country? One doesn’t need a lot of persuasion or think so hard before choosing Uganda as a destination of choice.
Uganda’s based Destination Management Company, Adventure Consults, shares with you 10 reasons why you should visit Uganda.
Christened the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is known for its iconic wildlife that include mountain gorillas, diverse cultures that have make it a melting pot, towering and breathtaking mountains and a lot more. The are many reasons as to why you should visit Uganda – a small yet endowed country.
Walk with the Mountain Gorillas
Uganda is synonymous with the mountain gorillas. The country shelters the highest concentration of Mountain Gorillas. Estimated at approximately 1,060 individuals, over 51% of the living endangered giants are in Uganda.
Gazetted in 1991, Bwindi rose to her peak after Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993, converting Bwindi into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park encompasses the slopes of the three Virunga Volcanoes – Muhavura (4,127 m), Gahinga (3,474 m) and Sabyinyo (3,645 m) – thus protecting the Ugandan part of the Virungas, their huge volcanic cones dominate her entire landscape. Its in the slopes of these volcanoes that Gorilla live.
The Big five
It’s not surprising that some people don’t believe that Uganda has got the Big Five. Out of the 10 National parks of Uganda, five are savannah parks with Big game.
Set in the North-western side of Uganda is Murchison Falls National Park bisected by the Victoria Nile. In addition to the other big game (Giraffes, Antelopes, Hippos, gigantic Nile crocodiles etc). the park has got the buffalo, elephant, lion and the leopard. On the way to Murchison falls, you get an opportunity to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where you get an opportunity to go for a Rhino walk and get close to over thirty (30) Southern white rhinos.
In the Northern part of Uganda is Kidepo Valley National Park which is an oasis in the semi-desert with unsurpassed scenery, dense Acacia geradi forest along Lorupei River. The park’s extremely diverse flora and fauna includes over 500 species of birds and over 80 mammals species including the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, cheetah and leopard, aardwolf, caracal, hunting dogs, elephants, zebra, bush pigs, warthog, rothschild giraffe, buffalo and eland among others.
Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda is home to an incredible array of wildlife including almost 100 species of mammals, from hippos, elephants, leopards, lions, the elusive giant forest hog, the handsome Uganda kob. Unique to this park is are the tree climbing lions in Ishasha sector who spend most of their time high up in the giant sausage trees.
Still in western Uganda is Lake Mburo National Park with unique animals that you may not find anywhere else in Uganda’s other National parks. These include the topi, eland and zebras. The park also has got Giraffes that make the small park a complete jewel.
The totally off the beaten track with breathtaking scenery and fuming 130ºC hot-springs is Semliki Valley National Park. While the Uganda kob is the most animal sighted, there are also forest elephants, buffalo, leopard, sitatunga, pigmy hippos, crocodile, chimps, even the more localized De Brazza’s monkey, and antelopes.
You might have climbed so many mountains around the world, but you haven’t lived if you have never taken on the Rwenzori Mountains.
Stretching for 120 km over an area of 998 km², the range consists of six massifs separated by deep gorges (Mt Stanley – 5,109m, Speke – 4,890m, Baker – 4,843m, Emin 4,798m, Gessi – 4,715m and Luigi di Savoia – 4,627m). They are believed to be the legendary snow-capped ‘Mountains of the Moon’ described by Ptolemy in 150 AD.
A standard 8 to 9 days’ loop will take you through the amazing scenery, glaciers and the challenging climb.
If you are looking for relatively undemanding climb, then Mount Elgon is the ideal option. In prehistoric times, Mt Elgon once towered above Kilimanjaro’ 5,900 meters ASL. Volcanic activity reduced the mountain to 4,321 meters ABL. A good three to four day’s hike takes you to the summits that lie along the jagged rim of the giant Caldera.
Landscapes and Sceneries
Uganda’s incredible natural landscapes and scenery is very outstanding. From the sweeping wilderness to the verdant tropical jungles, from the lowlands of Semuliki valley to the rugged mountains and hills, Uganda is simply magical and phenomenally diverse.
Fort portal area which lies in the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori ranges has got about 50 crater lakes. Formed as a result of volcanic activity about 10,000 years ago, the idyllic crater lakes have got different shapes, color and sizes.
The terraced hills and rolling road networks in south western Uganda, and the semi-arid karamojong grasslands are very fascinating. If you are looking for perfect photography aimed at making the best wallpapers and screensavers, Uganda’s landscapes, waterfalls, the green forests and Lakes are very inviting.
Adventure Travel activities.
If you are looking for adrenaline rush kind of safari, then Uganda is the right place! Adventure travel lovers have quite often had a difficult time selecting ideal activities among the numerous available options in the Pearl of Africa.
It’s in Uganda’s Adventure Capital – Jinja that you can get wet and wild with rafting in the legendary river Nile.
The longest river in the world starts from Jinja (source of the Nile) and is where you can do kayaking, Nile High bungee jumping, jetting, tubing, floating, horseback rides and Quad biking by the Nile riverbanks.
Uganda has been described as “an unrivaled cultural melting pot” because of her people with over 54 tribes and each with its own language. Despite the different tribes and languages, Ugandans are so united!
When you cross to North Eastern Uganda (Karamoja region as you head to Kidepo Valley National Park), you will be treated by the multi-colored and checkered attire which is not any different from that worn by the Maasai and Pokot in neighboring Kenya. Here the majority of the people – children, adults and elders alike – wear the cloths of many colors, locally called nakatukok. The traditional wear depicts gender roles and social status.
In the central Uganda and some other parts of the country, a gomesi or busuuti is the traditional wear for women and the male’s attire is the kanzu.
The dances, the meals, history and cultural practices are relatively different and interesting after every 200 to 250 kilometers out of each region.
If you don’t have enough time to traverse the country, Kampala has fascinating history and some very impressive cultural tours.
The talented award winning traditional dancers at Ndere Center (Kampala) captures the amazing cultural songs, dances and unique instruments from the 56 nationalities (tribes), weaves them with humorously informative stories and presents them in an authentic but artistically developed spectacle.
The secret that makes a visit to any new place exciting and warm are the friendly and welcoming people. Right from meeting you at Entebbe airport, hotel, National Park ranger or your safari guide, a Ugandan will always greet you with friendly smile and helping hand.
Ugandans are known to be a few of the friendliest, most welcoming and politest people in the World. Whereas language might be a problem especially in the countryside, sign language is always an option. When you ask a Ugandan for directions, he will not hesitate to direct you, but will also offer to sacrifice his or her time and take you there at no cost.
Whereas your trip can be planned to last a week or two, stand warned that you might be intrigued to extend your stay for some more time or possibly plan to return and stay permanently.
The most commonly asked question when planning a holiday is; Is it safe to travel to Uganda? The brief answer to this question is Yes! Uganda is generally safe and the country hasn’t had any serious cases of insurgency for the last thirty years plus. Travel to all National parks and other attractions has been ongoing well without any serious cases on record.
Whereas there might be isolated cases, record has it that Uganda is one of the safest countries on the African Continent. Just like any other country, there might be petty crime like pick-pocketing especially in the busy cities, so always be alert and take your safari consultants’ advice seriously.
Variety of Fresh Foods
Uganda’s food variety and abundance can’t go unmentioned. Every corner of Uganda has got its own traditional delicacy, so remember to ask for something special every time you cross between regions for different culinary experiences.
Kampala and Entebbe being the major cities of Uganda, are a collection of all tribes and ‘peoples’ of Uganda, so every day or night you can chose to have a meal from different parts of the country.
Central Uganda will serve you Luwombo, a traditional Ugandan dish cooked within a banana leaf. Luwombo is not just cooked, but prepared careful with proficiency. The proceed involves cooking a sauce using a variety of ingredients and then carefully wrapping the mixture in a banana leaf pouch.
Eastern Uganda is known for Malewa (prepared from bamboo shoot), Northern Uganda for Malakwang, western Uganda Eshabwe and Akaro (millet bread served with special source made out of roasted meat and small mushrooms).
You may also want to try out the famous Ugandan street giant snack – the “Rolex” (not the watch) which typically eggs, vegetables wrapped in a Chapatti. The rolex has become so popular in Uganda and its served in all hotel categories. If you are the sensitive type, don’t try it on the street but ask your 5* chef to prepare it for you.
A Birder’s Paradise
Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity (over 1,060 Bird species is attributed to its geographical positioning in the great rift Valley. Diverse habitats such as the open savannah, Equatorial Rain forest, rivers, marshlands and fresh water and crater lakes, combine to give Uganda an enviable bird list. It is on record that “The pearl of Africa” is home to 50% of Africa’s and 11% of the word’s Bird population.
Whereas the are 33 Important Bird Areas scattered across the country, birding starts right on your veranda or through your bathroom window, so keep that Birds’ checklist and camera close.
The notable Birding sites are Kibale Forest National Park, Mabamba swamp, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Budongo Forest, Lake Bunyonyi, Semiliki Valley National Park and almost all Ugandan lakes and National parks.