WHAT MAKES UGANDA WORTH VISITING
When Winston Churchill visited Uganda in 1907, he referred to it as the “Pearl of Africa,” giving rise to the nickname “Pearl of Africa” for the country. He was taken aback by the breathtaking landscapes, which stood out from other African locations.
Uganda is a gift from nature, full of amazing sights to see and beautiful scenery, making it a one-stop destination for tourists. Uganda is fortunate to have a wide range of outdoor-based tourist attractions.
FACTS ABOUT UGANDA (REASONS FOR VISITING UGANDA)
Gorilla trekking experience
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla species. This park harbors almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. Meeting these gentle giants is a truly rewarding experience. The mountain gorilla is one of the most endangered primate species and can also be found in Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo.
The park has 17 gorilla families, and these are notably found in the different sectors of the park. So feel free to visit the jungle of Bwindi National Park to encounter these amazing creatures.
However, apart from the gorilla trekking experience, there are a lot of other exciting activities that you can do while on a safari.
- Bird watching
- Golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga
- Batwa community visit (cultural encounter)
Chimpanzee tracking experience
Uganda has various places where you can go for a chimpanzee trekking experience. The most popular areas for trekking are Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest, and Kyambura Gorge. All these areas have habituated chimpanzee groups.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale National Park is one of the remaining tropical forest expanses in East Africa. The park is one of the best places in the world to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat. This park has the highest concentration of primates in the world with 13 different primate species (sometimes referred to as the capital of primates).
The forest is one of the remaining central African rainforests. It has an adjacent 180km wildlife stretch to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s one of the most diverse and varied rainforests in Africa. Several groups of habituated chimpanzees in the Kibale forest can be seen, and groups of up to six people can trek to see them.
The Kyambura gorge is referred to as the “Valley of apes” and is located on the Eastern Front of the Meldly of Wonders (Queen Elizabeth National Park). It’s one of the most spectacular places where chimp tracking can be done. The gorge has an excellent green forest lash drained by the River Kyambura, which attracts other wild animals from the park to this valley.
The gorge consists of many primates, wild animals, and birds. Based on researchers’ reports, only sixteen chimpanzees remain within this impressive valley.
Once you enter this amazing gorge, you will be surprised by the rich tropical rainforest right close to the Equator crossing. The gorge is another world of its own, with the savannah above having a reasonable amount of light from the sun.
Bird watching Experience
Uganda is a haven for bird watchers, containing ten percent of the world’s total bird species, almost the size of Great Britain. For travelers intending to visit Africa, the country has very many destinations where bird watching can be done. Here, birds can be spotted at every point, especially when on a trip to the destination area.
Uganda is a home to 23 Albertine Rift endemic species that can only be found in the Albertine rift valley. The country also harbors some of the central African bio-endemic species that cannot be found elsewhere in East Africa. These include African Piculet, Crested Malimbe, Red-billed dwarf hornbill, White-crowned hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, and Yellow-throated cuckoo are among the birds.
The most sought-after birds in Uganda
- Green-breasted Pitta
- Green Broadbill
- Grate Blue Turaco.
- Shelley’s Crimsoning
- Standard-winged Night Jar
- Short-tailed warbler
- Doherty’s Bush-shrike
- Bar-tailed Trogon
- Black Breasted Barbet
Uganda’s outstanding culture
Uganda is comprised of over 45 tribes, and each of them has a different dialect with a different culture. Over 45 languages are spoken in Uganda today, ranging from different ethnic groups. If you are on a safari to Uganda, you shouldn’t miss out on the two famous cultures, i.e., the Batwa people and the Karamojongo warriors.
The Batwa are short-statured people and are sometimes referred to as “pygmy” people. It was until the gazette of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park that these people left a hunting lifestyle in the forest.
Being the original dwellers of this ancient forest, the Batwa people were known as the keepers of the forest. They have a rich history whereby they survived by hunting small animals using arrows and gathering plant fruits in the tropical forest. They leave their social ways of life under constructed huts made from tree leaves and branches. They also moved frequently in search of fresh supplies of food.
These people have lived in harmony with other forest creatures, including mountain gorillas, for a long time. Research writings state that the Batwa people have existed in the equatorial forests of Africa for over 60,000 years. The Batwa people can now be found in the Bwindi, Mgahinga, and Semuliki National Parks, which are extensions of the great Ituri forest.
These people leave a nomadic way of life behind, and they are more similar to their cousins, the Maasai of Kenya. They are cattle keepers, and they believe that the more animals someone has, the more prestigious he is. They live in traditional huts called Manyattas, and here they are socially organized under the leadership of village elders.
Unlike the rest of Uganda, where most people have adopted a foreign religion, either Christianity or Islam, the Karamojong still follow their traditional religion and believe in a god called “Akuj”.
You will have an opportunity to learn about and understand the unique culture of the Karamojong people as their roles are quite defined. While men take the animals in search of pastures and water, women remain behind, taking care of the homestead.
Uganda’s vast Wildlife Safari Experience
On several occasions, Uganda offers a unique wildlife safari experience some of its national parks that are favorable for game drives. The moment you happen to visit Uganda, here are some of the national parks you shouldn’t miss out on. These include Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls, and Queen Elizabeth National parks.
Visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park was formed as a national park in 1962 and was named the 3rd best safari park in Africa by CNN in 2017. This park sits on 1442 square kilometers of open Savannah terrain and mountainous landscape.
Recently, Kidepo Valley National Park has been nominated under the category of Africa’s Leading National Park 2022 in the World Travel Awards. Kidepo Valley national park is home to over 80 mammal species, of which 28 species are rare and cannot be found anywhere in Uganda. These include the Elands, Lesser Kudu, Cheaters, Mountain Reed Backs, and Gunther’s dik-dik, which makes the destination interesting to travelers.
The park’s wildlife is a more predominant experience for the traveler who would like to visit Uganda due to its diverse flora and fauna. Relatively, this park boasts over 450 species of birds, with at least 20 of them endemic to the area.
Murchison Falls National Park
This is one of Uganda’s oldest national parks and it was earlier known as Kabalega National Park before being named after the thunder-busting falls of Murchison. It’s one of the unique game parks where you find the big five wildlife species, especially in the northern parts of the park. It is home to over 76 mammal species, including Rothschild giraffes, African elephants, Cape buffaloes, lions, leopards, and Uganda kobs, which can be seen on a game drive. The park has a variety of activities that are vital for travelers to enjoy, including: hot air balloon safari experiences, game drives, boat cruises, and hikes to the top of the falls.
Queen Elizabeth National Park.
It’s one of the oldest parks in Uganda, second after Murchison Falls National Park, and it was named before Queen Elizabeth visited Uganda. The park was gazetted as a national park in 1952. It’s among the largest conservation areas in Uganda as well as known at the global level. The park occupies an area of about 78 sq. km. with unique attractions. Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to 95 mammals and over 605 species of birds, including different species of antelope and butterflies, among many others.
This park is ranked as the second-best birding destination in Africa and stands at number 6th in the world based on its various ecological habitats that make many birds adapt to the environment. The park has the largest concentration of hippos in East Africa, even though the destination area is located in the gratified Western Arm rift valley. Like any other park, Queen Elizabeth National Park has some communities staying around, like the Basongora pastoralists who used this park as an indigenous grazing ground.
Idyllic Adventurous Activities in Uganda
Uganda has various adventurous activities that can be done by any adventurous traveler who would like to visit the country.
The country is blessed with the famous Mountains of the Moon (Rwenzori mountain range) and Mount Elgon. These two mountains offer an exhilarating, idyllic adventure experience for mountain climbing. Also, Uganda has the Nile River, which is the world’s longest river. It’s famous for white water rafting and also offers bungee jumping.
Mt. Rwenzori National Park
Africa’s third-highest peak, the Rwenzori Mountain National park, is home to the famous Rwenzori Mountain. This mountain lies in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border with a snowcapped peak covered with heath and moorland, with bamboo forests. It is home to over 70 mammals and 217 bird species, 19 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. This eventually made it a UNESCO world heritage site.
Activities that can be done while in this pristine area include mountain climbing, nature walking, and bird watching.
The River Nile
The world’s most extended stretch from Jinja is 4,132 miles long (6,560 km), crossing ten countries in Northern Africa, with its mouth in the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile River was officially declared among the 7 wonders of Africa on the 11th of February 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania by votes cast by travel experts around the world. Perhaps this river gives some exciting experiences to adventurous travelers who intend to visit the country. Its sprouting Itanda fall provides an intense white-water rafting experience. You may choose to do bungee jumping and a boat cruise to the source of the Nile.
Friendly, warm welcoming people in Uganda
Ugandans are some of the friendliest people who would welcome you to their country at any point in time. According to the Inter-Nations report, 57% of ex-pats in Uganda gave “general friendliness” the best possible rating (the global average was 26%). Not only that, not a single respondent ranked this factor negatively.
Ugandans are generous, although most people outside have a feeling about the vast African continent in terms of security and safety. Un aware of Uganda’s warm, generous, welcoming, and deeply embedded history of hospitality. This was according to the BBC in 2017 when Uganda was ranked the world’s friendliest country.
However, apart from the above still Uganda holds a lot of attractions that would be more suitable for travelers intending to visit, all of which could not be mentioned, but you can always find them if you get a chance to come to the pearl of Africa.
Here is a number of attractions you can visit such as religious sites like Namugongo martyrs shrine and Munyonyo martyrs shrine, Kasubi royal tombs a UNESCO world heritage site, the Ssese Islands, Ngamba Island chimp sanctuary, Sipi falls.