Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa — about twice the size of Pennsylvania — situated at the geographical heart of the African continent: bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by the Sudan, on the west by Congo, and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which is also bordered by Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is divided into three main areas—swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Uganda is known as “Africa’s Friendliest Country,” a reputation that stems partly from the tradition of hospitality common to its culturally diverse populace, and partly from the remarkably low level of crime and hassle directed at tourists.
The star attraction of this breathtaking, impossibly lush country is the endangered mountain gorilla, the bulkiest of living primates, and among the most peaceable. The thrill of witnessing these magnificent creatures is compounded by the fact that fewer than 700 individuals survive, divided between Bwindi National Park and the Virunga Mountains. Within Uganda, five habituated gorilla troops – four in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga National Park — can be visited by a few dozen visitors daily. Uganda is also home to man’s closest relative, the chimpanzee, a delightful ape whose evocative pant-hoot call is a definitive sound of the African rainforest. Chimpanzee communities have been habituated for tourism at Kibale Forest, Budongo Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kyambura Gorge. Murchison Falls National Park serves as the headwaters of the Nile River and is a sight not to miss.
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.
Whether you’re a first time safari-goer or a seasoned African traveler, you will surely find Uganda simply dazzling.