Uganda is a highlights reel of the African landscape. With its dense, misty forests, snow-peaked mountains, glassy lakes and sprawling savannas, it is no wonder Winston Churchill dubbed this the “pearl of Africa”. With a tapestry of landscapes, excellent wildlife watching and welcoming locals, Uganda packs a lot into one small country.
Having stepped out of the shadows of a deep dark past under Idi Amin and the Lord’s Resistance Army, Uganda is no longer a country to be feared; in fact, it is widely regarded as one of Africa’s safer destinations. Whether you are looking for mountain gorillas – the country’s primary allure — wildlife safaris, volcano trekking, whitewater rafting or just kicking back on the beach, Uganda has the best of Africa covered. Yet there is far more to the country than wildlife. There is the mighty Nile River, setting for some of the world’s most thrilling commercial white-water rafting. There are the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori, which challenge even the most dedicated mountaineers, as well as the Virunga Volcanoes. And there are the islands of Lake Victoria and Bunyonyi are idyllic venues, as are the myriad forest-fringed crater lakes that stud the rift valley floor and escarpment around.
The longest river in the world, the Nile, is fed by Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and second largest in the world. The Nile snakes its way 6,000 km (3,750 miles) northward to empty itself into the Mediterranean Sea at the Nile delta in Egypt. You would definitely be forgiven if, at the shores of Lake Victoria, you mistakenly thought you were at the ocean.
The Nile starts its northward bound trip at Ripon Falls in Jinja, a sight that has won Uganda a prestigious accolade for being voted one of the wonders of the world. The Nile offers water sports like rafting, fishing, kayaking, and many great adventures.
The Murchison Falls, Ripon Falls, Sipi Falls, Bujagali Falls, and Owen Falls are just a few of the more than 10 waterfalls to be found throughout Uganda with its many rivers and inland lakes. Other than the mother of all lakes, Lake Victoria, the Pearl of Africa is dotted with many beautiful lakes like jewels on the crown of this beautiful land to include Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Edward, Lake Buhera, Lake Bujuku, Lake Bugondo, Lake Bunyonyi, and Lake Bisina.
The Pearl of Africa is a unique country, indeed. Because of its abundant rains and tropical climate, tracks of land easily can turn into impenetrable forests. Nature in her wisdom decided to give Uganda a healthy dose of the African elephant with its voracious appetite and a huge need for water daily. As the big animals trek the Savannah grasslands looking for foliage, they effectively keep the land from being overgrown with trees and shrubs.
It is here where you will find the king of the jungle lounging in the shade while his cousin, the leopard, will be up to the tree, both waiting for the unsuspecting zebra, antelope, or wildebeest that will be dinner. In the 1970s, the rhino was becoming virtually extinct in Uganda due to indiscriminate poaching. The effort to reintroduce the animal in the country since 2001 has seen the population grow to 20 white rhinos with the most recent addition having been born at the Ziwa Sanctuary in August 2017. The most dangerous of all mammals, the Cape buffalo, is also to be found here where it finds lots of grass to graze on.
With names like The Mountains of The Moon and The Blue Mountains, it just tickles one’s imagination as to what could be in store in such places. Uganda, a wondrous nation, has at least 15 mountains offering different flora and fauna and amazing trekking safaris.
The Rwenzori mountain range, also known as the mountains of the moon, is the longest mountain range in Africa and is found at the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 120 kilometers (75 miles) long range has four other peaks apart from Mount Stanley and Mount Speke – Mount Baker, Mount Emin, Mount Gessi, and Mount Luigi di Savoia. Many people enjoy hiking the mountain range and experiencing the different kinds of vegetation as they go up the icy peaks. They are also a great place for bird-viewing.
Mount Elgon at the border of Uganda and Kenya is an extinct volcano whose highest peak, named “Wagagai,” is on the Uganda side. Mount Elgon, always covered in snow at the top, is famous for climbing, hiking, and mountaineering.
One of the exciting reasons people love to visit Uganda is to go on a mountain gorilla trek. Where zoos around the world have taken animals from different places and kept them under controlled conditions, no zoo in the world has been able to keep a mountain gorilla as they do not do well in captivity. So, if you want to see one, then you have to make a trip to Africa and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest Uganda. This is the main destination for those raring to go on a gorilla trek in Uganda. You will also get a bonus of meeting other members of the primate family added to the 345 mammals found in Uganda forests, over 5,000 plant species, tens of amphibians, more than 1,000 birds, and around 160 reptiles. The rich biodiversity in one place beckons one to visit this great country.