In the Africa tourism and travel industry, Uganda is not often considered among the top holiday destinations. The country is overshadowed by its more famous East African neighbours, Kenya and Tanzania, as well as South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia in the South. However, travel enthusiasts with better information know that a safari in Uganda is an experience incomparable to any you can have in other African countries.
If you have never considered traveling to Uganda before, read this post to discover why you should. Henry Morton Stanley and Sir Winston Churchill were not crazy to refer to Uganda as the pearl of Africa.
1. Gorilla trekking and other primates safaris
Have you ever watched the 1998 movie Mighty Joe Young? Or the Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). Did you find them interesting? Of course, being movies, they have several exaggerations, but they well capture our (human’s) fascination with chimpanzees, gorillas, and other apes, considered our close relatives. What better way could there possibly be to satisfy this fascination, than taking a gorilla tracking safari to see these primates in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking is without doubt the number one tourist attraction in Uganda. The country is home to one of the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas, the biggest of all apes. Every year, thousands of visitors travel to Uganda just to observe these mighty apes in their true home in the wild. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular gorilla trekking destination in Uganda. Generally though, gorillas are also found in the Virunga mountains forest region, which transverses the Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo borders.
Be warned however, gorilla trekking is not an easy exercise. Most often, you will have to trek for two hours or more in dense forest terrain before sighting the first troop of gorillas. You therefore need to be healthy and reasonably fit to undertake this activity. The Uganda government restricts the numbers of people allowed to go tracking gorillas at any one time. As a result, gorilla trekking permits are in very high demand. To stand a good chance therefore, you should purchase your permit from a reputable tour operator at least three months before your intended date of travel.
You can find more information about mountain gorillas at the African Wildlife Foundation website. For some great gorilla trekking packages, visit the real adventures website here
Besides gorillas, other primates you can see in Uganda include chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, mangabeys, baboons, and many more monkey species.
2. Beautiful scenery and stunningly amazing landscape
Scenic Uganda landscape at Kabale area
Scenic Uganda landscape at Kabale area. Image source: Edirisa in Wikimedia Commons
In the book My African journey, Sir Winston Churchill describes Uganda as a scarcely describable beautiful garden. You may think that this has changed much since the time Churchill wrote that in 1908. But even today, Uganda still retains its amazing scenic beauty, one that very few other African countries can rival. Read this first hand experience of an independent traveler in Uganda if you think I’m bluffing.
Some of the beautiful places you must visit in Uganda include the spectacular Murchison falls, Lake Bunyonyi and its many tiny islands, Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria, the Kabale and Kisoro areas, the Kidepo valley national park in the Karamoja region, Mount Elgon near the Kenyan border, the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains – also known as the mountains of the moon, and Queen Elizabeth national park among others. Simply put, Uganda’s majestic rivers, green rolling mountains, and other natural features are the perfect setting for the most exhilarating scenic tours in Africa.
3. Spectacular African wildlife safaris
A tree-climbing lion at Ishasha region in Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda
A tree-climbing lion at Ishasha region in Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda. Image source: Cody Pope at Wikimedia commons..
You have probably heard of the tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara national park in Tanzania. But did you know that you can find the same in Uganda? The Ishasha plains of the Queen Elizabeth national park is the place to be to witness this.
In fact, you can see all of the big five African animals in Uganda. The Murchison Falls, Kidepo valley, and Queen Elizabeth national parks are among the best destinations for wildlife safaris in Uganda. They all have four of the big five, rhinos being the exception, plus an array of several other African animals. Like in other Africa destinations, leopards may be harder to spot in the wild because of their elusive and nocturnal nature.
There was a time when there were plenty of rhinos all over Uganda. However, the poaching menace, plus civil wars, led to their near extinction in the country. Today, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctaury is the only place you are assured of seeing rhinos in Uganda.
Of course, you cannot compare Uganda to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, or South Africa when talking about wildlife safaris. But the country does offer a unique experience that you will not find elsewhere. You will find both the cape buffalo and the smaller forest buffalos, the savanna elephants and the smaller forest elephants, and hundreds of other animal species. You can also go on a chimpanzee tracking safari at the Kibale forest national park.
4. Great Opportunities for adventure sports and travel
The Nile, the longest river in Africa and in the world, has its source in Uganda. If you love extreme sports and adventure, the white Nile presents you some of the most exhilarating adventure opportunities. Popular adventure activities in Uganda include kayaking (from class II to class VI), white water rafting, and bungee jumping, all in the white Nile. You can also go sport fishing in Lake Victoria and at the foot of the Murchison Falls.
Owing to its hilly terrain, Uganda also has many excellent hiking and trekking trails, among them Mt. Elgon. You can even go mountain climbing in the snow-capped Ruwenzori mountains. Compared to the more famous Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Mt Kenya (Kenya), the mountains of the moon are less crowded with other tourists, yet they are just as challenging.
5. Rich African cultural heritage
Like several other African countries, Uganda has a very rich historical and cultural heritage. The most prominent destination for cultural travel in Uganda is the Kabaka trail.
The Kabaka is the king of the Baganda kingdom, a kingdom that dates back to the 14th century. The kingdom is still intact today, and its members practise some of the cultural and traditional rituals that have been passed down several generations. The Kabaka trail is that region in Uganda that preserves the history of the Baganda people. Some of the sites in this trail include the Naggalabi Buddo coronation site, Katereke royal prison, Ssezibwa falls, the Wamala tombs, and the popular tombs at Kasubi, the only UNESCO cultural world heritage site in Uganda.
How To Book Uganda Holiday Packages
Several Uganda tour operators offers some great holiday packages for Uganda. Click here to see and book some of them.