Uganda has just launched a new tourism campaign, “Explore Uganda – The Pearl of Africa.” When it comes to safaris and more, Uganda is indeed a ‘Pearl’ of a discovery.
While people often think of Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa as likely safari destinations, in my experience as a safari operator, Uganda has everything: all the big mammals and the magnificent silverback gorilla. Neighboring Rwanda offers gorilla treks, but it doesn’t have all the big game.
In Uganda there are no less than 120 mammal species, 10 national parks and 15 game reserves. The country packs in a great deal of African variety into one relatively compact destination. And the climate is not too hot – mostly in the mid to upper 20s degrees celsius all year.
So here are my five compelling reasons, some of which you may find surprising, why Uganda is indeed the ‘Pearl of Africa,’ and your best choice for an African safari:
You Can See the All African ‘Big Game’…
Uganda has a compact and diverse landscape. All the way from snow-capped peaks in Rwenzori Mountains to dense tropical rain forests and savanna grasslands. It is perfect for spotting lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, zebras, hippos, rhinos, buffalo and more. I recommend visits to parks such as Queen Elizabeth National, Bwindi Impenetrable, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, and Kibale to see the ‘big five’. For wild rhinos, visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Visitors can see the famous tree-climbing lions at the Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park. While spotting big game you can base yourself at any of Uganda’s wonderful safari lodges. They range from budget to luxury and are very much part of the surprising Ugandan destination experience.
…..AND Amazing Gorillas and Chimps
It is hiking to see the legendary mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys that really sets Uganda apart from the rest of Africa. In Uganda you can get close to gorillas in their natural habitats and watch them feeding and playing. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are perfect for this. Chimpanzee trekking is mainly done in Kibale National Park. Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park are also places where chimpanzees can be viewed in the wild. Choose a safari operator that has expert primate guides.
Uganda is a ‘Big Water’ Destination
Big water features large in Uganda, not least, the mighty Murchison Falls, the Kazinga Channel, the River Nile, and Lake Bunyonyi (meaning small birds), which has 29 small islands. There are many, many more lakes that visitors can take a boat trip on, including Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. Guests can also view the source of River Nile or join a white water rafting experience on it any time of the year. Water-related activities include ziplining, bungee jumping, tubing, canoeing, boat cruises, sports fishing and kayaking and rafting the on the Nile rapids. Or take a relaxing slow boat out onto Lake Mburo, Lake Mutanda or Lake Bunyonyi. A boat trip on the Mabamba wetlands reveals a variety of birds, as well as hippos and large mammals at the water’s edge.
And It’s a Birders Paradise
Over 1050 bird species have been recorded in Uganda. Spotting the magnificent Shoebill in the Mabamba Swamp near Entebbe is a birder’s delight. Also the Albertine Rift Endemics, the Great Blue Turaco, Denham’s Bustard and various central African species. Some of the best places to enjoy bird spotting include Murchison Falls, Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi Forest and Kibale Forest national parks. Uganda has very good trained bird guides.
There Are Many Authentic Cultural and Community Experiences
The Uganda region is often heralded as the birthplace of mankind. Today, Uganda’s culture is rich in colour, taste, sights and sounds. Each tribe and local community offers different recipes, dress style, language, song and dance. Some of the highlights of Uganda’s human landscape include the Batwa community group at Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks, meeting the Bigodi community at Kibale, or interacting with the Banyoro and Alur people at Murchison Falls, the Baganda in central Uganda, Karamojongs in northern eastern Uganda, and more. Ugandans are known for being friendly and welcoming. The Nyero rock paintings, thought to date back to the 13th Century, are also a cultural highlight.
I haven’t even touched on the amazing mountain hiking to snow-capped peaks, visits to hot springs, and conducting science experiments on the Equator which bisects Uganda.
Taken overall, Uganda is truly a pearl of a destination waiting to be discovered.
For an overview of the destination visit ExploreUganda.com.
For detailed safari options in Uganda visit Ganyana Safaris.