Uganda is amazing new world on the move with a growing economy, young and educated population. Uganda is home to a plethora of site of natural, historical and geographical interest which is one of Africa’s must see locations. The scenery is different, the vegetation is different, the climate is different and most of all the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa.
- Mountain Gorilla tracking
This is one of Uganda’s major natural attractions and one of it’s biggest draw cards for visitors who would like to get a close encounter and consequent eye contact with mountain gorillas in the wild. These beautiful giant apes are only found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Of the less than 1,000 mountain gorillas existing in Uganda, Rwanda & DR Congo, 50% of these are found in Uganda. About 13 habituated groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are tracked every day for only one hour per group.
These majestic apes live in groups of around 10 individuals which are each led by the most powerful silverback with the rest comprising females and younger males. The silverback makes important decisions for the group and protects them from intruders.
- National park safaris
It’s now 22 years of wildlife conservation in Uganda with over 10 national parks and reserves that are conserved, economically developed and sustainably managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) and between them features all of the big five namely; Leopard, Lion, Elephant,Rhino and Buffalo.
Uniquely Uganda can also add two rare large animals to it’s list – the Chimpanzees found around the country and the gentle mountain gorillas of Bwindi and Mgahinga.
Each of the parks and national reserves are unique and differ from one another in habitat and species. Bwindi a world heritage site is mountainous and cold. This greatly differs from the wild Kidepo Valley National Park situated in the north east. Kidepo Valley National Park is a true wilderness and so un – spoilt that going on safari there is like a solitary drive into the wilderness.
The Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks are all held in particularly high regard on the global travel agenda while on safari from tracking gorillas, walking safaris, boat cruises, sport fishing, wilderness camping safaris, balloon safaris, bird watching and rhino tracking. All that can be experienced in this Pearl of Africa. Truly Uganda is the ultimate safari destination.
- Bird paradise sites
Uganda is home to over 10% of the world’s birds and 50% of Africa’s birds harboring over 1,000 different species including some of the rarest birds like Shoe-bill stork to name a few. This makes the country a premium bird watching destination.
The country’s parks and sites such as Kibale forest, Mabamba, Mabira, Bwindi impenetrable forest, Queen Elizabeth national park and Entebbe Botanical Gardens have the highest concentration of rare bird species in the world.
These sites are easily accessible and tourists to these areas have a number of activities to indulge in with birding sites that make a trip there worthwhile. Some of the bird species that are commonly sighted include White – naped pigeons, Grey – headed Joyful Greenbul, among others.
- Hiking the Rwenzori Mountains
Hiking up these mystic mountains of the moon is a unique and worthwhile experience. As Africa’s highest mountain range straddling the equator, Rwenzori offers beautiful glaciers and a medley of over nine lakes. The variety of fauna and flora is quite vast as one ascends through the different vegetation from savannah to tropical through to Montana forest. The Rwenzori Mountains are a world heritage site and offer one of the most beautiful mountain hikes in the world.
- White sand Beaches of Ssese
This is probably one of Uganda’s greatest secrets and a surprise to many travelers. The white sands, the un – crowded beaches and the tranquility create a perfect never ending honeymoon experience.
Ssese islands are located in Uganda’s portion of Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water lake. Ssese is approximately 60km over the water, south west of Entebbe. The islands’ main attractions are the beaches, beautiful scenery, great nature walks, sport fishing and the gorgeous sunset.
- White water rafting and the source of the Nile.
The longest river in the world starts it’s journey in Jinja which is East Africa’s adventure capital and also home to some of the world’s best and wildest white water rafting. The Nile boosts rapids ranging from class 1 to 6 making rafting an idea activity for all levels namely; first time rafters, families and extreme adrenaline junkies.
The area attracts outdoor tourists as well as those looking for thrill and involvement in all activities while having fun. Here you can get your taste of kayaking, white water rafting, quad biking, mountain bike and horseback riding all in a town with a gorgeous natural setting and some pre – independence architecture.
- Kampala city
This is the capital city of Uganda and the first sight one gets on the Pearl of Africa is a city that never sleeps as it is dynamic and invigorating. This city is filled with several hills, attractions and sites that offer a taste of what ‘s to come from the country’s offerings. Kampala is a mix of cultures from in and out of the country.
Attractions like Kasubi tombs, Uganda Museum, kabaka’s palace and many others keep one with an urge to linger in the capital city. Kampala has a wide range of accommodation facilities to suit tourists with any budget and also offer the best in premium night life adventures in East Africa.
- People and culture
With over 55 indigenous tribes that have all maintained their ethnic heterogeneity. Uganda has also been named as the “world’s most welcoming country to raise family” by the insider. It is without a doubt that Uganda receives tourists with a warm welcome upon arrival.
Home to over 50 indigenous ethnic groups you will immerse yourself in a variety of cultural norms, foods and way of life from Africa to the rest of the world. Recently named as the most ethnically diverse country on earth by the Daily Mail, one should not be surprised that Uganda’s people and their culture are an attraction for many tourists.
- Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Uganda was home to thousands of rhinos in the old days. The 1970 wars along with extreme poaching ran the rhinos extinct by 1983. In 2005 the Rhino Fund Uganda re – introduced the southern white rhinos into Uganda. The rhino sanctuary is 168km via the Masindi – Kampala road.
There is good lodging at the sanctuary with extensive local and intercontinental culinary dishes. The sanctuary has also proven to be a good birding ground where one can freely walk as if on a birding excursion. It also has an abundance of bush bucks and reed bucks that are habituated on the sanctuary. A walking safari in this environment should be added to everyone’s bucketlist.
- Namugongo Uganda Martyr’s Shrine
The Uganda martyrs were among the first converts to Christianity in Uganda. Between 1885 and 1887, 22 catholic and 23 Anglican believers in Uganda were executed after refusing to denounce their faith. The youngest was 16 and a relative of one of the executioners.
Today every 3rd of June over two million faithful people from Uganda and the rest of the world make the pilgrimage to Namugongo just outside Kampala to the site where most of the martyrs were executed.
Three popes including pope Francis have made this personal pilgrimage. A beautiful Basilica and museum at the Catholic and Anglican shrines respectively are a must see for any visitor to Kampala city.
Munyirwa Osman Ganja