Why Visit Uganda
By Carlos Olaaka
Uganda's beauty, history, diversity, and friendly people justify its reputation as the Pearl of Africa.
Segmented from east to west by the equator and from the north to south by forks of the Great Rift Valley, Uganda lies at the very heart of Africa. With the extensive rainforests of the Congo Basin to the west, Lake Victoria to the south, the semi-arid deserts of the Sahel to the north, and the acacia-dotted savannahs of the vast Serengeti ecosystem to the east, Uganda is a microcosm of African wildlife and environments.
Uganda is where we find the Rwenzori, the fabled Mountains of the Moon; Murchison Falls; the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; and the source of the Nile River. From the naturalist's point of view, this tiny nation is one of the most biologically diverse areas of Africa. With more than 1,000 species of birds, many of the characteristics of the central African rainforests, Uganda is a birders paradise, and nowhere else on the continent can one see such a wide variety of primates with so little effort.
It is here that the greatest percentage of Mountain Gorilla habitat remains. Our safari in Uganda provides the traveler with unique opportunities to view this, the largest and most endangered of the great apes in the wild. Chimpanzee, many types of Geunons, and two species of Colobus Monkey abound, giving primate enthusiasts unparalleled opportunities for observation. In addition to primates, Uganda offers a wealth of other wildlife. African Buffalo, Bushbuck, Giant Forest Hog and several species of Duiker thrive in the lush upland forests of Kibale. Lion, Leopard, Uganda Kob and African Elephant are some of the larger mammals that may be found in Queen Elizabeth National Park which also boasts one of the largest concentrations of Hippo in the world.
10 Reasons Why Uganda Is a Must-Visit
- Population: 40 million
- Language: Swahili and English (official), about 56 tribal languages
- Religion: Christian 84%, Muslim 12%, traditional and other sects 1%
- Government: Dominant party system
- Capital: Kampala
- Time Zone: UTC+3
- Currency: Ugandan shilling (UGX)
- Highlights: Lake Victoria, Nile basin, Lake Kyoga, Rwenzori mountainous region, Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake George, tropical forests
Every traveler knows how the attitude of local people can influence the experience when visiting a new country. When going somewhere new, we want to learn about other ways of living, we want contact with new cultures, we want to connect with people whose lives are so different but somehow so similar to ours.
People in Uganda are friendly, open and curious with a great sense of fun.
If you think that everything south of the Sahara is arid, yellow and inhospitable, you are definitely trapped in a cliché! The lush and luxurious jungle which characterizes the rainforest is replaced by banana, tea and coffee plantations around the villages making the long drives exciting and varied. Bwindi impenetrable forest features more than 1,000 flowering plant species and almost 200 different types of trees, many of which are endemic. It is no wonder that this precious ecosystem is home to an incredible variety of birds, butterflies and mammal species including some of the rarest animals on the planet.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to have the feeling of traveling to a remote area, sometimes even in Africa. The often bumpy, rough roads of Uganda and the less developed infrastructure compared to some of the neighboring countries, makes your experience in Uganda truly edgy and fun. Uganda is an African success story and whilst being adventurous and unspoiled, it is now a very safe country to travel to.
Primates are so amazing that we often forget about some of the other incredible wildlife that lives in Uganda. However, many are thrilled to see herds of water buffalo in Queen Elizabeth National Park and watch hippos and elephants playing in the water of the Kazinga Channel. You will take hundreds of photos of colorful birds, lazy crocodiles, and elegant antelopes. If you are luckier than, you could even spot the famous tree-climbing lions in Ishasha and if you are outrageously lucky the even more elusive leopard!
Primate treks are of course a big highlight but there's more to Uganda than this. Kayaking in Bunyonyi, a gentle trek on the slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains, or a walking safari in Lake Mburo are only some of the options. You will love the gentle trek to the waterfalls in Bwindi; spellbound, You will watch hundreds of colorful butterflies on the paths and listened to the multitude of birds singing in the forest as if it was the most beautiful concert I had ever heard.
Lakes, waterfalls, channels; the water element is prevalent in the Ugandan landscape which even features the source of the mighty Nile. Apart from allowing the lush vegetation to survive, this precious element adds to the beauty of the scenery, makes the activities on offer varied and exciting and is the habitat for many species that otherwise wouldn't be able to survive.
Gorillas are endangered creatures and the only way of helping them to survive is to get involved! A gorilla permit is not cheap but the experience is worth every penny. By purchasing one you will be contributing to the survival of these marvelous primates and the conservation of their rainforest home.
Uganda needs support and apart from helping the conservation of its wildlife and ecosystems, it's vital we help the local communities to improve their standard of life. Bwindi Hospital is an important hospital in Uganda specializing in HIV treatments and is one of the projects Steady Safaris supports.
Although the gorilla trek has to be the main highlight, when it comes to outstanding moments, many think the chimp trek is up there with the best of them. Kibale National Park has the biggest population of chimps on earth and is the best place to observe them. Many are impressed with the rangers, who are experienced very able to recognize any odors, sounds, and tracks in the forest.
The chimp trek is a fantastic experience and is quite different from the gorilla trek as it involves being very vigilant and fast to understand where the chimps are and how to find them. As you finally hear them screaming you will be absolutely thrilled when you see them coming towards you. Only a few meters away, they don't seem bothered by your presence. As they slowly merge back into the forest after their brief procession, your day is made!
Wildlife enthusiasts know that a gorilla encounter is the ultimate wildlife experience. Many are waiting for this moment for a very long time. Unlike the chimps, which can be more difficult to spot, you are pretty much guaranteed an encounter with the gorillas. The anticipation and realization that this is actually finally going to happen, keeps you awake almost all night!
First published on ArticleBiz.com 19 April 2020. Carlos Olaaka (email@example.com) runs a safari company in Uganda, Steady Safaris, which offers tailormade holidays to Uganda — perfect if you want us to plan an itinerary to your exact specifications/budget, or you travel on your own itinerary in a private group.
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