Uganda


Truly a jewel in Africa’s crown which the young Winston Churchill aptly described as “the Pearl of Africa” in his book My African Journey published in 1908.

Even though its wildlife was devastated under Idi Amin it has recovered considerably since and today its amazing diversity of wilderness and incredible landscapes makes Uganda a must do destination. Though two decades of civil strife (in the 70s and the 80s) destroyed some of Uganda’s tourist establishments and almost depleted the country’s wildlife, the situation has since President Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement came to power in 1986 turned for the better. The Uganda of the 90s, like the proverbial Phoenix, has risen from the ashes to regain its former glory. The “Cradle of the Nile”, as the country was called long ago, has restored its (tourist) facilities and established many new ones. Wildlife numbers are rapidly increasing as poaching has been curbed and strict conservation measures enforced.

Archaeological findings point to the fact that prehistoric man walked the earth in what is today Uganda. Recorded history has a much shorter tradition, and documentary evidence of Uganda’s past goes back a mere 150 years. However, oral traditions tell stories of several hundred years ago where ancient slave routes traversed the continent many hundreds of years ago. The nation was born out of the unification of ancient kingdoms, as well as many smaller independent chieftains now part of the richness of the modern state. This heritage lives on in the hearts of the people, their traditional dress, languages, dances and customs. The largest ethnic group are the Baganda, whose kingdom has always been influential in Ugandan affairs. Other ethnic groups include the Batoro, Banyankole, Iteso, Acholi, Basoga and Lugbara. Legends abound in local folklore, and storytellers are present in every community. Ask our old people to regale you with tales of the Chwezi.

Above all, the people of Uganda, hospitable and warm as ever, are eager to share their country’s captivating magic with the rest of the world, and make friends.

The wilderness of Uganda like it’s people is diverse to state the obvious and it has the world’s largest range of primates, from the tiny galagos or bushbabies to the rare, and endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) and of course the effervescent and highly intelligent chimpanzees. The concept, “small is beautiful”, is most pronounced in Uganda, with so much diversity packed in the relatively small geographical area. Whatever your interest, be it cultural or archeological matters, wildlife safaris, birdwatching, mountain gorilla treks, mountain climbing, white water rafting, sailing , fishing, Mountain gorilla tracking and trekking, Uganda has something special for you.

In Murchison Falls National Park, Semliki, Kibale and Bwindi, families of chimpanzees (as well many colobus and other monkeys) can be viewed. Only around 600 of the magnificent mountain gorillas are said to exist in the wild, although intense conservation programmes have succeeded in arresting their decline. About 300 are said to live in the Virunga Conservation Area which is made up of linked national parks, including Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Park National des Volcans, and the Parc National des Virunga in Zaire. Some 45 gorillas live in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, although all of the groups have home ranges that extend into all the three countries. The rest of the mountain gorilla population lives in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, about 25 km north of Mgahinga.
The National Parks of Uganda

 

Murchison Falls National Park:
The Murchison Falls Safari, Goragung and Karuma Falls, chimpanzee, nile crocodile, elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, birds, launch cruise safari on the Nile, and chimpanzee trekking.

Queen Elizabeth National Park:
Microcosm of the wildlife of East Africa is world famous for Ishasha Tree-climbing lion, elephant, Uganda Kobs, chimpanzee, birds, topi, crater lakes with flamingoes, breathtaking scenery and natural forest, and launch trip on Kasinga Channel.

Kidepo Valley National Park:
Cheetah, kudu, elephants, zebra, over 200 bird species (the only Ugandan park with ostrich), fishing, and spectacular scenery.

Lake Mburo National Park:
Impala, topi, klipspringer, buffalo, zebra, eland, birds (offers both dry land and water species – crested crane, marabou stork and bronze tailored starlings), close to major towns and encompasses Lake Mburo, canoe and game rides available, and fishing.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park:
Mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, blue-tailed and red-tailed birds, butterflies, reptiles, dense undergrowth contains rare herbs and shrubs, forest walks and trekking.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
Mountain gorilla, birds, giant forest hog, golden monkey, buffallo, bush buck, leopards, caves, mountain climbing, trekking.

Mt. Rwenzori National Park:
Birds, mountain climbing, trekking, wonderful and unique scenery for nature walks, luxuriant vegetation, hyrax, giant forest hog, blue monkey, unique bird species, and Pygmy villages.

Kibale Forest National Park:
Chimpanzee, monkeys, birds, nature walks.

Semliki National Park:
Elephant, buffalo, crocodile, chimpanzee, lion.

Mt. Elgon National Park:
Birds, elephant, primates, mountain climbing, hot springs, caves, and waterfalls.

Apart from the above there are numerous Wildlife Reserves where fascinating wildlife and stunning displays of plants and flowers can be found all over the country, often in the most unexpected areas. Of special interest are Matheniko Wildlife Reserve – Moroto, Bokora Wildlife Reserve – Moroto, Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve – Moroto, Ajai Wildlife Reserve – Nebbi, Asws-Lolin Wildlife Reserve – Gulu, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve – Masindi, Toro Wildlife Reserve – Masindi, Katongo Wildlife Reserve – Kabarole, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve – Bushenyi.

Uganda has also been blessed with spectacular waterfalls set amongst dramatic scenery, and untouched by man. The following are worth a mention: The Sipi Falls – close to Mt. Elgon National Park near Kipchorwa, Mungilo Falls – in the Semliki National Park, Ngite Falls – two spectacular falls also in Semliki National Park. Sabyinyo Gorge – dramatic falls in the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo, Munyana Falls – cascades in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Bujagali Falls – on the Nile 10 km north of Jinja. White water rafting is available, Murchison Falls – breathtaking mighty falls on the Victoria Nile.

One third of Uganda’s land area is under water. From Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and the second largest in the world, to tiny crater lakes high in the mountains, Uganda can truly be called Africa’s land of lakes. Many of Uganda’s lakes provide excellent fishing with the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria reaching weights of 100 kilos. Sailing and other watersports are popular on Lake Victoria, but are not yet well-established elsewhere. The smaller crater lakes in the mountains sparkle in the sunlight, and those in the Rwenzori can be refreshingly cold. For their beauty, their rich birdlife, the islands and the fishing, the lakes are the gems in Uganda’s crown. Some of these lakes are relatively shallow, or have extensive flood plains. Ten per cent of Uganda’s land can be considered ‘wetlands’ with their own distinctive plants and wildlife (particularly birdlife). On Lake Bunyonyi a special trip is made by canoe among its 13 small islands with a picnic on Sharp Island. Uganda’s Main Lakes are Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Edward, Lake Kyoga, Lake Mburo, Lake Nakivali, Lake Bonyonyi, Lake Bisnia, Lake Kwania, Lake Nyasala and Lake Mutanda

The Nile, one of the world’s greatest rivers, starts its 6,600km voyage to the Mediterranean close to Jinja, on Lake Victoria. The mood of the river (first as the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile, then as the Blue Nile) changes regularly – from tranquil pools where fisherman can catch tilapia, to the churning surge of the Murchison Falls. Giant Nile Crocodiles can be seen sunning themselves along its banks, while in other areas herds of hippo wallow in the mud. Nevertheless, the Nile is not the only river. There are many: some are seasonal, while others flow year round. Rivers such as the Semliki, the Kidepo, the Kanyanchu, and many smaller streams, provide water for farming, watering holes for game, riverine habitats for birds and butterflies, sport for fishermen, and dramatic waterfalls and scenery. All this is part of the magic of Uganda.

Uganda’s also has its own share of wetlands with the main wetlands being The Kyoga/Kwania Lake Swamp Complex, Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Edward, The Bonyonyi Lake Swamp Complex, The Kijanebalola Lake Swamp Complex, Lakes Bisnia & Opeta, Lake Wamala, Sango Bay, Rwenzori High Altitude Bogs, Mt. Elgon High Altitude Bogs

The birdlife here is incredible and unique. Look for the following special treats:

  • Crested Francolin Mgahinga/Rwenzoris
  • Rwenzori Turaco Mgahinga/Rwenzoris
  • White-necked Raven Rwenzoris
  • Kori Bustard  Kidepo
  • Kivu Ground Thrush Bwindi
  • Shelley’s Crimson Wing Bwindi
  • Rwenzori Batis Bwindi
  • Red-throated Alethe Bwindi
  • Ross’s Touraco Mt. Elgon
  • Crowned Eagle Mt. Elgon
  • Lammergeyer Mt. Elgon
  • Fish Eagle Mt. Elgon
  • Shoebill Stork Murchison Falls/Lake Mburo Swamp/Bisina
  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill Lake Mburo
  • Crowned Crane Kibale/Queen Elizabeth
  • Sacred Ibis  Semliki/and most parks
  • Blue-breasted Kingfisher Queen Elizabeth/Lake Albert
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