As Winston Churchill put it Uganda is the “Pearl of Africa”
Uganda’s landscape is varied with savanna, lakes, swamps, mountains and forests. This variation gives us a rich animal life with both the lions of the savanna and the primates of the forests. In addition to this you can find an abundance of different birds, with over 1000 species recorded. The people of Uganda are in general friendly and welcoming. You can be sure to have children wave to you along the road in the countryside and will probably not leave the country without being asked “How are you muzungo?”. The word muzungo is used for westerners and means literally “aimless wanderer”. In Uganda 33 different local languages are spoken but you can get by on English since it is the official language and widely known.
Uganda has a rich & diverse culture that can bring something extra to your safari. Possible visits include for example the Karamojong cattle herders in the north or a Batwa culture experience in the south to see how this indigenous people used to live in Uganda’s forests. Along the way a village walk or stop in a market brings a feeling for Ugandan countryside life.
REAd ABOUT Uganda’s NATIONAL PARKS
Bwindi Impenetrable NP – The misty home of our Gorillas
Queen Elizabeth NP – Savanna and Kazinga channel boat cruise
Murchison Falls NP – Majestic waterfall and savanna with Giraffes
Lake Mburo NP – This is the Zebra paradise of Uganda
Kibale Forest NP – Beautiful forest where you can trek chimpanzees
Kidepo Valley NP – Remote park offering one of Africa’s finest wildernesses
Rwenzori Mountains NP – Uganda’s highest peak, offers climbing and hiking
Semuliki NP – East Africa’s only lowland tropical rain-forest, birding opportunities
Mount Elgon NP – Spectacular views for hikers and birders
Mgahinga Gorilla NP – Gorilla & Golden Monkey trekking, hiking volcanoes & birding
ACTIVITIES IN UGANDA BY LOCATION
- Gorilla trekking – in Bwindi Impenetrable NP or Mgahinga Gorilla NP
- Chimps trekking – in Budongo in Murchison Falls NP, Kibale Forest NP, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth NP or Kalinzu forest by Queen Elizabeth NP
- Golden Monkey trekking – in Mgahinga Gorilla NP
- Rhino trekking – at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
- Boat-cruise – on Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth NP and the Nile in Murchison Falls NP
- Game-drives – in Queen Elizabeth NP, Murchison Falls NP, Kidepo Valley NP and Lake Mburo NP
- Mountain hiking – in Rwenzori Mountains NP, Mgahinga Gorilla NP and Mount Elgon NP
- Birding – several recognised birding locations across the country, read more here
- Community tourism – visit a school, take a village walk, see cultural sites, eat local food and more. Batwa people visit by Bwindi or Mgahinga and Karamojong people visit around Kidepo.
- Relaxation – by Lake Bunyonyi or on Ssese islands
- Safari walk – Lake Mburo NP, Ziwa Rhino sanctuary or Kidepo Valley NP
- White water rafting – on the Nile in Jinja
- City tour – experience Kampala
– Magic of nature & culture in Uganda –
The variation Uganda’s nature offers combined with interesting culture makes it a complete African safari destination. When you land at Entebbe airport you are at the shores of Lake Victoria in the Buganda Kingdom, one of five traditional Bantu kingdoms still remaining in Uganda. The other kingdoms are Toro, Busoga, Bunyoro and Rwenzururu.
If we start our journey from Entebbe to the bustling capital city of Kampala. This is a city on hills by Lake Victoria that is busy from early morning to late night. Here a city tour can show you sights of the Buganda kingdom, crafts markets and city life. A bit further north we find Jinja which is the adventure center of Uganda offering a chance to go white water rafting on the mighty river Nile or to visit the source of the Nile. Continuing on to the east we have Pianupe wildlife reserve with scenic nature, Mount Elgon with hiking opportunities and the beautiful Sipi Falls. This part of Uganda is less visited by tourists and offers a great experience for the one wishing to go off the beaten track. Here you can meet the Sebei tribe by Sipi Falls during a village walk with a coffee ceremony where you get to see how they process the coffee they grow on the slopes of the mountain.
In the far north we have a savanna landscape of untouched wilderness in Kidepo Valley National Park. Here you find scenic views and search for wildlife like cheetah, lion, elephant and buffalo. Up here in the north is the home of the Karamojong people who mostly still live in a traditional way as cattle herders. You can make a visit to a village to learn more about their way of life. The journey southwards then goes through remote countryside and a dry landscape not so welcoming to farmers. A bit further down to the west we have Murchison Falls National Park where the Nile is pushed down a magestic water fall. The savanna here is dotted with palm trees and offers sights of giraffes, elephants and the interesting Abesinian Ground Hornbill. Part of the park is covered with jungle that is home to chimpanzees and for birders the well known “Royal Mile” is around here, this is a forestry track rated as one of the premier forest birding sites in Africa.
Game-drive in Kidepo Valley NP
Abesinian Ground Hornbill in Murchison Falls NP
Travelling southwards on a safari in Uganda the landscape gets greener and we have the forests of Semuliki national park and Kibale Forest National Park as well as the crater lakes region. The forests here are popular stops during birding safaris since Semuliki national park has Congo-forest species and Kibale Forest National Park has the sought after Green Breasted Pitta. For visitors not interested in birding the highlight here is the primates of Kibale Forest National Park with chimps trekking and possible sights of other primates like red colobus, red tailed monkey and bush babies. The beautiful green landscape in the crater lakes region invites to a walk exploring the area.
To the west of the forests we have Rwenzori Mountains, home to Uganda’s highest peak. A hike here offers a beautiful nature experience. With the mountains as a backdrop we are then back to a savanna landscape by the Equator in Queen Elizabeth National Park. This park has highlights like the boat-cruise on Kazinga channel where you see hippos and buffaloes along the banks and the tree-climbing lions of the southern Ishasha sector. Climbing trees is a rare behaviour for these big cats and Ishasha is one of only two places in Africa where the lions regularly climb the trees. Around here we also find forests for chimps trekking in Kalinzu forest and Kyambura gorge. As you can see so far in this description about Uganda it is really a country offering varied activities for your safari and we guarantee that there are lovely close to nature lodges in Uganda where you can enjoy your evenings.
Scenery in Rwenzori Mountains
Mist over Bwindi Mountains
Tree-climbing lions in Ishasha
In the south the mountains that are home to Uganda’s mountain gorillas are found, in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. One of our favourite journeys in Uganda is the one from Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southern Ishasha sector up to Bwindi mountains. During this journey of around two hours you travel from savanna, through villages, on to cultivated hills and finally up into the jungle covered misty mountains of Bwindi. Besides the mountain gorillas these mountains in the south offers great birding possibilities at fore example Mubwindi swamp and also Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only place in Uganda where you can trek golden monkey and hike volcanoes. This area is also the traditional home to the indigenous Batwa people who used to live in the forests. A Batwa experience here lets you learn about their culture and how they survived in the forests.
Not far from the mountains is Lake Bunyonyi, where you find gorgeous scenery and the perfect spot for some relaxation during your safari. Travelling back towards Entebbe from here we go through the Banyankole peoples land. These are cattle herders who keep the Ankole cattle with their impressive big horns. Along the way here is also Lake Mburo National Park, a savanna park with zebra, impala, giraffe and leopard as some highlights. Continuing on we meet Lake Victoria with wetlands by the shores. By Mabamba Swamp close to Entebbe the prehistoric looking Shoebill Stork can be seen as a last stop before leaving Uganda’s varied nature behind. When reading about Uganda (and coming to experience it!) you can truly understand why it is called “the Pearl of Africa”.