Following the political turmoil of the 80's, the tourism industry in Uganda has shed its unsafe reputation and is now strongly placed on the world's travel network.
With the return of peace, travelers have started flocking to this incredibly beautiful country, which is home to some pristine unexplored attractions and an array of rare flora and fauna which won’t be found elsewhere.
Here are some compelling reasons to make this country of stunning landscapes and diverse habitats your next safari vacation destination.
If you plan your safari properly, you can get a multiple entry tourist visa to Uganda, also known as the East African Tourist Visa, which will get you entry into Kenya and Rwanda as well. The visa is valid for 90 days and lets you explore three popular safari destinations for the price of one. A very attractive proposition for those who are looking to spend a long time in the jungle and save valuable time at the border crossings as well.
A reputable travel agency like Safarigo can tackle your wildlife wish list, answer all your questions pertaining to visas and provide you with various options for wildlife viewing.
Eyeing a 200kg silverback from close quarters is considered to be the ultimate wildlife experience in the safari world. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is home to almost half the population of mountain gorillas on the planet and is the best place to get close to these majestic creatures. Gorilla trekking is only done on foot and through unforgiving terrain, which is not everyone's cup of tea, but your rewards far outweigh the aches and pains of the long trek.
Lions, buffalo, rhino, leopard and elephant are the Big 5 of the African wild which attract large crowds of tourists to South Africa and Kenya every year. That said, you can see them in Uganda also, in more picturesque surroundings and without the hordes of tourist-filled vehicles vying with each other to give their guests a better view. The best place to see 4 of these animals is at the Murchison National Park, while your greatest chance of seeing the rhino will be at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is a short 2-hour drive from Murchison.
An early morning trek commencing at 8am in Uganda's Kibale National Park will give you the opportunity of a lifetime to track down one of the three surviving African chimpanzee populations. There are three other places namely, Budongo, Semliki and Kyambura Gorge national parks as well, where you can watch these primates frolicking from a safe distance. Once you have located the chimpanzees, you are permitted to spend just one hour with them observing their daily routine of feeding, nursing and grooming.
The Nile is said to originate from Lake Victoria near Jinja, and cruising along the Kazinga Channel to spot diverse wildlife and birds is a life-altering experience. First travel to Murchison Falls to see the river gushing from a narrow cleft into the Devil's Cauldron far below. As the boat glides silently through the water, you might spot different wild animals coming to quench their thirst at the water's edge. In addition, you will come across spectacular bird life and large pods of hippos basking in the sunshine, as you enjoy your sundowner in the fading light.
Mount Elgon, located on the border with Kenya, enjoys a pristine setting with five other major peaks all of which are considered to be ideal for mountaineering. The routes are well-marked and you don't have to be a seasoned climber to sign up for the trip. Moreover, the routes pass through some stunning vistas and offer plenty of opportunities to see some special birds and the region's diverse wildlife. In fact, apart from elephants and rhinos, the chances of spotting the remaining big three are very good.
Another popular mountain range to climb, which is better suited to professional climbers, is the Rwenzori Mountains, which have been formed by the rocks from the western part of the Rift Valley.
Uganda is home to as many as 65 different tribes, including the last of the Pygmy Batwa and Bakonza people, to name a few. After you have spent your time in the cities and the national parks, interacting with these tribes will give you valuable insight on their ancient heritage and the old kingdoms which were a stronghold of the mighty Buganda Kings.
A cultural safari tour will take you to some of the well-preserved but active villages to learn about their daily life and the ancient rites and ceremonies they still practice. You can combine your safari at Bwindi with a visit to the Pygmy Batwa village or with the Bakonzo people at the Rwenzori Mountains.
While Uganda's national parks are on your main agenda, it will be a shame if you leave the country without taking time out to explore some of its great urban locations. Most African countries were under colonial rule at some time or the other, and this is reflected in the distinct architecture dating back to that time in history. For example, the capital city of Kampala is located on the site which served as a center for the great Buganda Kings.
The town of Entebbe, located on the shores of Lake Victoria, will be your main entry and exit point on your Ugandan safari. Spending time in the cool and tranquil environment is a good way to unwind and relax before you hit the wildlife reserves.
Safari goers are often taken aback when their tour consultant speaks about a beach gateway in a country that is land-locked. After all, who has heard of a beach vacation in the heart of Africa? This is however very much a reality in Lake Victoria's Ssese Archipelago and its 84 islands. This second largest water body in the world is dotted with islets, both large and small. These locations are home to a chimpanzee conservation centre, butterflies, reptiles and hundreds of bird species.
When on a safari to Uganda, you can enjoy a short stay at some lakeside resorts before venturing out to the parks. Alternatively, you can spend a few days in tranquillity, after the safari, before heading home from Entebbe International airport.
In time to come, Uganda is destined to become a leading destination for safari enthusiasts from all over the globe. With friendly and welcoming locals and a staggering range of flora and endemic fauna, this incredibly beautiful country is poised to rise to the top of the world tourism scene.
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