‘My journey is at an end and the tale is told. The reader who has followed so faithfully and so far, they have the right to ask, what do I bring back? It can be summed up in three words. Concentrate upon Uganda.’ Winston Churchill, ‘My African Journey’
Thick green forests reverberate with the voices of excited chimpanzees and wondrous turacos. The roots of giant fig trees boom the tunes of drumming chimpanzees across lost valleys and the Nile thunders through the most powerful cataracts in the world. Ptolemy’s ‘Mountains of the Moon’ and their equatorial ice-fields are lost in cloud for most of the year and mountain gorillas hide in the mist of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The veritable inland seas of Lakes Victoria and Albert are beautiful in the grandest possible way where forested islands and Blue mountains dissolve into horizon lines and stunning African sunsets. Elusive leopard hunt the beautiful kob, huge herds of buffalo roam the plains, elephants wander the open plains and lions climb giant fig trees to sleep during the day.
Literally thousands of incredible species of bird call this magical country home. Uganda is a land of lakes and mountains where the sun shines year round and it is everything the rest of Africa is not.
Uganda is a land of smiles and sunshine and it is difficult to say which is warmer. Despite the turmoil of the past which put Uganda on the world map, today Ugandans welcome the outside world with open arms. From the country’s capital Kampala to the upper slopes of the Rwenzoris, Uganda’s colourful inhabitants welcome visitors with open arms.
In over twenty years of travelling throughout the world, I have yet to find a place I feel more privileged to visit. This gorgeous little country straddles the equator and the landscape as a result is a rich mosaic of greens year-round.
Contrasting vividly with the desperate poverty and drought images often broadcast to the world, Uganda is what Winston Churchill called ‘the pearl of Africa’. The country is never subject to the suffocating heat or humidity often associated with the tropics as this is moderated by altitude. Because we are on the equator it is summer every day of the year.
Thousands of children in brightly coloured uniforms flash healthy smiles and playfully call ‘muzungu’ to visitors and piles of the most delicious pineapples line the roadsides. Colourful trucks loaded with ‘matoke’ (green bananas) race between towns and giant Casqued Hornbills dominate the skies where you might expect to see aeroplanes.
Uganda is a country of rivers and lakes, the largest being Lake Victoria which gives rise to the mighty Victoria (White) Nile, the longer of the two tributaries that meet in Khartoum, Sudan and form the worlds longest river.
Uganda is also home to Ptolemy’s ‘Mountains of the Moon’ which appeared on a map of Africa as early as 350AD and led to over 1500 years of speculation as to where exactly the snows of the Nile were located.
Most of the country rests at an altitude of around 1100 metres above the sea level which results in one of the most enviable climates in the world. Temperatures hover between 25°C and 30°C with drops of about 5°C overnight.
There is no winter or summer but most of the country experiences wet seasons in April/May and again in October/November. Weather during wet seasons is generally characterised by clear mornings, brewing clouds during the middle of the day followed by spectacular thunder and lightening storms in the afternoons or at night. It is unusual for clouds or inclement weather to preside all day except in the mountains.
The capital city, Kampala is nestled on ‘seven hills’ on the northern shores of Lake Victoria.
Winston Churchill called Kampala the ‘hidden city’ as the Kingdom of Buganda was mostly hidden beneath banana palms and lush tropical forest.
Kampala is only 80kms west of Jinja and the Victoria Source of the Nile which is the country’ adventure playground. Rafting on the Nile is probably the best whitewater adventure of its kind in the world and year-round visitors can challenge the legendary rapids of the Nile. A bungee jump over the mighty river offers incredible water touches and is the perfect start to an action-packed day on the river.
Other iconic attractions Uganda offers are trekking opportunities for the mighty apes and a wide range of other primates. Mountain gorilla or chimpanzee encounters in Uganda’s incredible tropical forests are experiences of a lifetime.
On the western border of the country is Africa’s highest mountain range. The Rwenzori mountains give rise to the legendary ‘snows of the Nile’ or the highest source of the mighty river. Uganda is also home to an incredible 1200 species of bird or about 10% of the entire number of species to be found on the planet.
Many of the National Parks are also home to East Africa’s famous big game. Huge herds of buffalo, magnificent tree climbing lions, giant forest hog, graceful giraffe and magnificent herds of elephant are just a few of the country’s hidden gems. Before the Amin era, Queen Elisabeth National Park had the highest biomass on the continent (more animals per square kilometre). The proximity to the equator, altitude and regular rainfall mean the parks can support incredible numbers of game.
In the 60’s safaris to Uganda were far more popular than in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. Today, the other members of the East Africa community are far more popular with tourists. Uganda is, by most accounts, a well keep secret. The world’s best whitewater rafting, magical encounters with great apes and incredible game viewing are all on offer.
In Kenya, a lion encounter might be shared with 30-40 other vehicles full of tourists, but here in Uganda it is much more likely to be a solo encounter.
Imagine watching a 450kg lion sleeping in a tree above you or counting over 700 elephant wandering from the shelter of the bush with not another vehicle or person in sight. This is Uganda.