With a wide range of activities at the exposure of the tourist, anyone who visits Uganda can’t help it but to just have a wonderful and memorable experience. Where else in this world can you trek through the dense jungles, meet face to face with the iconic mountain gorillas, climb the snowy mountain peaks, visit interesting cultures, enjoy adventurous activities like bungee jumping, or canoe past crocodiles and hippos, enjoy breathtaking views of different landscapes, sight the three horned chameleons and watch a wide range of bird species in one single country? It is only in Uganda. There is more to Uganda than meets the eye. The spectacular landscapes across the country, wildlife species in the national Parks including an encounter with the awe-inspiring mountain gorillas and the Big five animals among others, water resources with endless adventurous activities, a wide range of compelling cultural values and practices, over 1061 bird species that make the country a true bird watcher’s paradise and other vastly unexplored destinations. The list of attractions is endless. No wonder the country is referred to as “the pearl of Africa”
The country has faced several challenges which include economic crisis, political unrests due to demonstrations from the opposition among other challenges. Never the less, tourism has continued to flourish due to commitment from the conservationists and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. Uganda was ranked the fourth in top 10 “must see” countries globally in 2017 by Rough Guides. This is not a surprise with the variety of natural wonders that the country offers.
If you participate in any of the following activities while on your Uganda safari holiday, you will appreciate the country with a true African beauty and understand why she was referred to as “the pearl of Africa and was also ranked as the 5th best tourism destination in the world in 2017 by CNN. The interesting things include;
1. Life changing gorilla trekking
This riveting activity takes you through the dense jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks and culminates in having a face to face encounter with the phenomenal mountain gorillas. This activity is one of the indispensable reasons as to why tourists visit the country and after spending one hour with these Giant Apes, it still leaves you wanting more. Although the process of trekking is strenuous, the moment you sight these exceptional and captivating creatures you will be exhilarated by their appearance and unique behavior. But as the saying goes “no gain without pain”, you can endure the process of trekking for the greater good. That’s why it is advisable to be physically fit before engaging in this captivating adventure.
2. Encounter with the wide range of engrossing cultures.
With over 56 tribes that have unique cultural practices and values, a tourist has a reason to be excited after being exposed to the interesting practices of the tribes. Their unique traditions, songs, music vary from tribe to tribe. You can choose to visit Uganda for just a ‘cultural safari” which starts with a journey to the Northern-Eastern Uganda to visit the Ik people of Morungule and experience this small tribe with their interesting dance practices, visit the Acholi (in Northern Uganda) and enjoy their dances for example the “Laraka raka” dance and taste their traditional delicacy (Malakwang and kwon kal (millet bread). You can also visit the Alur in West Nile and relish the “Adungu”- a stringed instrument that comes in all sizes, learn how to grind and mingle millet bread, prepare medicinal plants and taste their delicacy (“Angara”).In Central Uganda, take your time to visit the Baganda and be filled with excitement as they entertain you in their traditional dances (for example Bakisimba) where men and women dance as if they have strings in their waists. Also enjoy their traditional recipe luwombo (chicken luwombo, beef luwombo, fish luwombo among others).
The South-western Uganda still has more in abundance for you. When you venture into Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks for gorilla trekking, you will get the opportunity to encounter the Batwa-one of the exceptional people in Uganda. They were originally the people/inhabitants of the forests before being gazatted for tourism. To be able to have a full doze of their interesting practices, a tourism activity called “the Batwa trail” (within Mgahinga Park) was documented to allow tourists explore their traditional hunting skills, ancient fire making skills out of sticks and skills of harvesting honey. Don’t leave out a visit to the Ngarama Sacred Cave (the home of the Batwa King) where the women perform sorrowful songs which reflect eerily about the profundity of the Dark cave and leaves tourists with a conspicuous and heartwarming sense of the richness of their dwindling culture. If you are not able to explore the entire country, a destination in Kampala called “Ndere Cultural Center” offers you an assortment of all the traditional dances, music and costumes from all regions of Uganda.
3. Explore the adventurous tourism activities
The pearl of Africa is endowed with a riveting adrenaline-filled adventure industry. While on this adventure filled safari, you will get the chance to participate in experiential tourism (including lion tracking and hippo counts in Queen Elizabeth National Park), bungee jumping, rafting the Nile/Nalubale, Kayaking the Nile (Jinja), Kampala Boda boda city tours, Mabira Forest Canopy zip-lining and Quad bike safaris. Other activities include boats rides within Lake Victoria, lake Mburo and Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Mountain climbs to the Peaks of Mount Elgon and snow capped Mount Rwenzori are really mind blowing.
4. Visit the beautiful National Parks
A safari to Uganda would be incomplete without visiting one of the ten (10) beautiful National Parks in this country. Each one of these National Parks has unique wildlife species and activities that makes it stand out from the crowd. Visiting all the national Parks would be a fantastic idea to be able to experience what each of them offers. It would be costly to visit all the Parks at once. You can visit one at a time to be able to explore all of them. Murchison Falls National Park in Northern Uganda is a home of over 76 mammal species and 451 bird species including the exceptional shoebill stork. Several activities like Launch cruise, game drives and forest walks can be relished from this Park. Queen Elizabeth-A medley of wonders is located in western Uganda and is a home to 95 mammal species and 600 bird species, Kidepo National Park a true African Wilderness is situated in North-eastern Uganda and is where you will sight predators that are nowhere else in other Parks including Cheetahs, the striped hyenas and more than 475 species of birds. Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks are known for the iconic mountain gorillas and Kibale National Park is known for Chimpanzee tracking. Other National Parks worth visiting include Semliki National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Rwenzori National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.
5. Bird watching
With over 1060 species of birds (10% of the total world’s bird species), Uganda is a True Birdwatcher’s Paradise and a place to be. Perfect locations for bird watching include Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Mabira Forest and all the 10 national Parks (including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki and Mount Elgon National Parks) can be visited for bird watching. Other important bird areas include Sango bay, Nyamiriro Swamp, Kyambura Reserve, Lake Opeta and Bisina, Nabugabo Wetland, Echuya Forest Reserve, Budongo Forest Reserve and Mount Moroto Forest Reserve. Some of the bird species you will encounter include the rare Shoebill stork, 17 species of Bitterns, herons and egrets, African Darter, 2 species of Cormorants, 2 species of Pelicans, Hammerkop, 7 species of Ibises and spoonbills among others.
6. Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
If you have a dream of visiting all the big five animals while on Safari in Uganda, endeavor to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary the only place that you will see the Rhinoceros and make your dream come true hence have a memorable safari holiday. You can drop by this destination before proceeding to Murchison Falls Park to see four of the big five animals. This extraordinary Sanctuary is situated in Nakasongola district on the Kampala – Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls National Park .Ziwa sanctuary is about 176 kilometers North of Kampala and is a home to 19 Southern White Rhinos and over 250 species of birds. Activities you are likely to engage in include bird watching, guided nature walks, on-foot Rhino tracking and night walks to be able to see the elusive leopards.
7. Ssesse Islands
Can the Ssesse Islands be left out when a topic about important places in Uganda is brought up? Definitely no. With over 84 Islands in Lake Victoria collectively known as the “Ssesse Islands”, Tourists who prefer quiet authentic destinations have a reason to smile. Visiting the Ssesse islands is a perfect choice for honey mooners because they can also enjoy beach life and watch sunset in the Evening. Several accommodation facilities exist for your comfortable stay. Besides the Ssesse Islands, visiting Ngamba Island (part of the Koome group of Islands on Lake Victoria) is not a bad idea too. The Ngamba Island Sanctuary is a home to 49 orphaned chimpanzees rescued throughout Uganda. Some of the activities at the Ngamba Island Sanctuary include Day trips (Feeding chimpanzees, kayaking, visiting a neighboring fishing village, bird watching and wildlife encounters) and overnight excursions that involve spending nights in an East African Style tented Camp will leave you totally satisfied . Other activities include Caregiver for the day experience, Sport Fishing, Long stay Visitor Programme, Sunset cruises and the Ngamba trail.
8. Exploring the Lakes
Uganda is blessed with crater and fresh water lakes. Some of the important lakes that draw the attention of visitors include Lake Victoria (Africa’s second largest fresh water lake).A voyage on this stunning Lake and several other activities like sport fishing and boat trips will leave you breathless. There are pristine sand beaches on the shores of Lake Victoria that lure tourists and they include Lido Beach, Lutembe beach, Spennah beach and One Love beach among others.
Another engrossing Lake that tourists should not miss to visit is Lake Bunyonyi. This Lake is a natural wonder and of the must see place while in Uganda. It is situated in Southwestern Uganda near the border of Rwanda. The beautiful scenery of this Lake is characterized by lush, green terraced hills that stand from 7218-8130 feet above sea level. The Lake also has a beach “Lost Paradise Beach where tourists can relax or just take a walk on the sand and is a home to over 29 islands of different shapes and sizes that make the Lake magical and outstanding.
Besides the fresh water lakes, the scenic views of the alluring crater lakes such as Katwe crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park are worth visiting because they are also famous for the migratory species of birds for example the Flamingos.
In conclusion, with the variety of interesting tourist activities to do in Uganda including gorilla trekking, visiting the beautiful national Parks, the lakes, exploring the adrenaline-filled activities, relishing the wide range of cultures across the country, visiting the Ssesse Islands and bird watching, Uganda deserves to be ranked the 5th best tourism destination in Uganda by CNN and the 4th must see place in the world in 2017 by Rough Guides.