Winston Churchill said it back in 1908: “Uganda is really the pearl of Africa“.
Although Winston Churchill put this statement on paper more than a century ago, it is still true. Uganda has a special and unique biodiversity that you will not find anywhere else in Africa.
The green decor, the special animals and birds, the wonderful climate and the friendly people make Uganda a fantastic destination in Africa!
Unfortunately due to a turbulent history, Uganda still resides in the shadow of its popular neighbours: Kenya and Tanzania.
This, however, is slowly changing. A lot has changed in the last 30 years: The infrastructure has been improved, tourist attractions and facilities have been built and the country has now become one of the safest countries in Africa.
Tourists are finally starting to discover how special and spectacular Uganda is and how hospitable and friendly the people are.
Here are 8 reasons why you too should visit Uganda!
More than half of all mountain gorillas in the world live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It is the oldest stretch of jungle in Africa and is located in Uganda. A jungle trek to meet these special, strong giants is one of the most special wildlife experiences on this earth.
Although mountain gorillas are strong and large, they have a gentle and friendly character. During a gorilla tracking you trek through the jungle with a ranger and porters in search of a gorilla family. Once arrived at the gorillas you can see the adult animals lazing and chewing on branches and leaves. The young animals, on the other hand, play games and jump around. It truly is an experience you will not forget.
Since 2008 these friendly giants have been on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. The main threats to the mountain gorilla are loss of habitat, war, hunters, and disease. Due to protection measures, the population is slowly growing again. The number of mountain gorillas was still estimated at 620 in 1989, but that number has since grown to nearly 900 in 2018.
The money earned through tourism makes an important contribution to the protection of mountain gorillas. This money is used for protection projects and to create employment for the local population. An additional reason to travel to Uganda!
Tip: The Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge is one of the most beautiful locations at Bwindi Impenetrable National park. It is a beautiful lodge with super friendly staff. This is definitely the perfect and best base for a mountain gorilla tracking!
To see the enigmatic shoebill
The shoebill is one of the most bizarre animals that walks the earth.
This bird really seems to have run away from Jurassic park. With its razor-sharp bill, it cuts its victims, including baby crocodiles, into pieces.
Moreover, this gigantic bird is able to make a sound with its mouth that sounds like a machine gun.
The best chance to spot this shy bird is during a boat safari in Murchison Falls National Park. You have to be lucky, because the shoebill will be hiding between the reeds and papyrus of the vast swamps.
To climb the Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains are part of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda. The highest peak, the Margherita, stands more than 5000 meters high and is the third highest mountain peak in Africa.
You will find a great number of hiking trails in the park. You can easily book hiking tours through the park. You can choose to hike the park for one day or even up to 12 days!
The 6 highest mountain peaks are permanently covered with snow and can all be climbed. The Rwenzori Mountains are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The park is known for its varying and special vegetation. This combined with glaciers on the mountain tops makes it one of the most beautiful mountain regions in the world. Climbing the highest peaks, however, is only reserved for seasoned mountain climbers.
There are also plenty of options for less experienced climbers and hikers. Spectacular views and beautiful scenery make every trek through the Rwenzori Mountains a fantastic experience!
Tip: If you are not too big into hiking, consider going on a village walk through the remote villages in the Rwenzori Mountains. Rats is a non-profit that looks to help people in these remote mountain village build a new source of sustainable income. Tourists can experience dancing, handicrafts and the traditions of the Bakonjo People.
To search for tree-climbing lions with a jeep safari
Uganda’s most famous park: Queen Elizabeth National Park is known to provide amazing jeep safari experiences.
The park is known to have a great biodiversity for fauna as well as flora. However, the most special animal that you will find here is the tree-climbing lion. Lions that climb trees are particularly unique. There would only be 2 populations of tree-climbing lions in the world. One can be found here, in QENP in Uganda and the other in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania.
It is still unclear why these lions climb trees. It is speculated that it is to avoid stabbing flies on the ground. Other people think it is because it is cooler in the trees.
Whatever the reason, finding a lazy lion in a tree is an exceptional experience! A good reason to visit Uganda.
To make a boat trip on Kazinga channel
The Kazinga channel is a naturally formed channel that runs through the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
This channel runs from east to west and connects Lake George and Lake Edward. It is possible to take a 3-hour boat trip on this channel to spot amazing animals at the banks of the channel.
And this is definitely a highlight during a visit to Uganda! During the trip you will sail along the banks and you will see an enormous amount of animals and (water) birds. What is particularly striking is the large amount of hippos you will see during the trip.
Because of their territorial behavior, there is a big chance that you will see these giant animals fighting with open mouths, splashing around in the water. You might even find a group of elephants drinking along the banks.
To visit the Murchison Falls
The Murchison Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is located in the park of the same name: Murchison Falls National Park.
Here the Nile squeezes itself through a narrow gap and then plunges down nearly 45 meters! It is possible to go on a boat trip to the waterfalls and then take a walk to the top. From the top you have a spectacular view of the gorge and see how the Nile is pressed through with full force. In addition to this spectacular view, you will also see the animals on the banks drinking and hanging around at the banks of the Nile. A varied tour that you don’t want to miss!
To track chimpanzees in Kibale
Kibale Forest National park houses 13 different monkey species and has the highest monkey density in the world.
It’s not surprising that it is one of the best destinations in Africa to track chimpanzees.
There are more than 1450 chimpanzees living in this park! You will also find the rare red colobus monkey and the L’Hoest’s monkey there.
The chimpanzee tracking includes a 12 km walk and takes 2-3 hours.
Chimpanzee tracking is a fascinating experience. You can spend an hour looking at and observing our enchanting close relatives.
There is a whopping 98% similarity in the DNA between chimpanzees and humans.
You will see them swing from branch to branch, hear shrieking and screaming and stamping in trees. This is an experience you cannot miss in Uganda!
To Raft on the Nile
The Nile is often associated with Egypt, but the source of this mighty river can be found near Jinja, the third largest city in Uganda.
Jinja is a true paradise for adventurers. One of the best things you can do here is white water rafting on the Nile.
It is one of the best locations in the world for rafting. During this spectacular activity you brave blood-curdling rapids of varying degrees.
You can even go on a 2-day rafting trip!
I was invited by Aviareps Middle East to attend the Uganda Tourism Board‘s first UAE Seminar to promote tourism to Uganda. I was not asked to write this article but was inspired by the beautiful pictures, the amazing stories and the kind people of Uganda who attended the Experience Uganda 1st seminar.