Uganda is a beautiful country with an impressive people. This is one of my favourite countries in all of Africa. The people of Uganda have endured the troubles of 1967-86 period and appeared standing upright and wearing a grin. In that brief period, the country suffered under the caprice of two despicable despots. One was the indisputably insane Idi Amin and the other, the arguably insane Milton Obote.
That is now history -- a testament to the dignity and endurance of the people. The transformation of the country in the period since normalcy returned is nothing short of astounding. And it shows in the faces of the people you meet. The graceful allure of Uganda have not got the recognition they deserve in international beauty pageants is for me incontrovertible evidence that the majority of these events are really fixed.
Travelers to Uganda are drawn by its stunning landscape - green rolling hills, snowcapped mountains, rainforests, majestic rivers and massive lakes. Additionally, there are a number of outstanding national parks for your safari encounter with the wildlife for which Africa is famous. Unfortunately, I must advise you to bypass Kidepo Valley -a well-resourced park at the north, since it isn't considered safe. The nation's advantage as a worthwhile destination is further enhanced by its endowments for white water rafting and sport fishing. Tour operators have on offer an assortment of Uganda safari and tour packages.
It's in Uganda that you discover the maximum number of primate species anywhere in the world. Opportunities for monitoring rare mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are unrivalled elsewhere. The primate conservation efforts the country has followed are bearing fruit. A poll carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Jane Goodall Institute in collaboration with the Uganda government, revealed that there were 4,950 chimpanzees from the nation in 2003. Previously, scientists suppose for this amount was between 3000 and 4000, but nobody knew for certain. The chimp is our closet living relative, sharing 98% of our genes and a lot of our behavior. Uganda is the best country in the world to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
The ideal spot to observe the rare mountain gorilla is in the 331 sq. km Bwindi National Park. This park was formerly known as the Impenetrable Forest with good reason. The trees are thick and the woods thicker with dense undergrowth, creepers, bamboos and parasitic plants such as mistletoe and orchids. This environment is the habitat for mountain gorilla's, chimpanzee, and 8 other species of primate. Less than half the world's population of an estimated 600 mountain gorillas have refuge here, which makes Bwindi the foundation for an important scientific conservation program.
Gorilla tracking is limited to small groups and the permits are issued to ensure minimal disruption to the routine of these critters. Tracking gorillas is an arduous task and you should be ready to get up to 8 hours of hiking. Good physical condition is vital. You're advised to make arrangements 4-12 months before the date of your trip. Bwindi is basically a rain forest and it's required to bring along a raincoat, walking boots and gloves.
As well as its celebrity gorillas, Bwindi is host to bush pig, giant forest hog and over 300 species of birds including birds that are rare. Others who have found a home in this ecosystem include various kinds of bats and rodents, 14 species of snakes, 27 species of frogs and toads, 6 chameleon types, 14 lizards, skinks and geckos and 200 species of butterfly. Bwindi is to the west of the nation and is 560 kilometers from Kampala.
Though less famous for safari as neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda still has some very good game sanctuaries. The 3,840 sq. km Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest and most spectacular of these. Apart from game, it's famous for its scenic beauty. Rolling savannah, tall grasslands and thick bush woodlands form the park. However, you are advised not to overlook the glorious waterfalls and the park is named. The waterfall is formed in which the Nile tapers from 50 metres to hurry through a 7-metre gorge, falling 45 metres at a breath-taking leap. This phenomenon is reported to be the most effective natural stream of water everywhere on Earth.
If you're patient, you can grab some really huge Nile Perch in the foot of the falls. What type of fish can withstand such a force which exists in the foot of the falls? Charles Norman describes his fishing day out with a companion who on seeing the gigantic fish". . .let out a strangled squawk and I found myself staring at the hog-sized back of a massive fish protruding above the water in the stone's edge - a 100kg fish with scales the size of tennis balls. Swimming beside it was a smaller one, a'midget' of a mere 40kg or so". This experience is explained by the prodigiously seasoned Charles Norman as". . .the most exciting morning's fishing I have ever known." Other sport fish found in the Nile include Barbel, electrical Catfish and Tiger fish.
The game you encounter in the park includes elephant, hartebeest, leopard, lion, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodiles and several species of antelopes. Upstream of the Murchison Falls are the Karuma Falls, where the Nile cascades over 23 kilometres of rapids. Here you have some of the most exciting white water in Africa. Murchison Falls is located 330 km from Kampala.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is another treasure that is outstanding. It's a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve for Humanity. The recognition originates from the tropical forest, green meadows, savannah and swamps that constitute the playground. Concerning wildlife, you find elephant, buffalo, hippos, baboons, chimpanzees and more than 600 species of birds. The park occupies 2,000 sq km and is located 440 km from Kampala. In the northern end of the Queen Elizabeth, you find Kibale. This park has a special forest habitat and has an fantastic diversity of plant and animal life. It's at Kibale that you discover the maximum number of primate species in Uganda, and among the greatest primate densities and diversities in the world.
Traveling from Kampala to the Queen Elizabeth or Bwindi, most traffic break at Lake Mburo National Park. The park is 230 km west of Kampala across the Mbarara road and is the most accessible in the nation. It's a really attractive park of rolling hills, open grassy valleys, interspersed with thickets, woodlands and rich wetlands. Besides watching game such as zebra, cape buffalo and eland, you can relax by taking a boat trip on Lake Mburo.
The fairly flat terrain of the country is interrupted to the west from the Rwenzori Mountains and to the east by Mount Elgon. Rwenzori, otherwise known as "Mountains of the Moon" has the third highest peak in Africa after Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The Rwenzori is a part of this national park of the same name and contains 6 snow-capped peaks. You can hike the trails of the mountain with no special climbing equipment if you don't would like to go for the peaks. The mist covered mountain range stretches for around 100 km.
Mount Elgon sits from the Kenyan border and is the shell of an ancient volcano. The main attractions here are the waterfalls, caves which were used by indigenous people, hot springs, the mountains vegetation, the several peaks, the Suam Gorge and the caldera itself. After millions of years of erosion, the oval shaped caldera now measures approximately 7 by 8 kms, among the greatest in the world.
The traveler with a sense of history will want to visit the Source of the Nile in Jinja. Jinja is 60 km to the north east of Kampala and is easily accessible by road. This is where the White Nile begins, as it exits Lake Victoria on its 5,600 km journey to the Mediterranean. The origin of the Nile was a thousand year old puzzle that was settled by the explorer John Speke in 1862.
If you're excited about civilization, go for the The Kabaka's Trail. This is a special journey through a part of Uganda's rich legacy that's been formed by the region's kings through the years. The Kabaka is the ceremonial king of the Baganda and his lineage goes far back into the 14th century. The Trail combines a collection of cultural sites, all within easy reach of Kampala. You can easily join the Kabaka Trail with your Search of the Nile trip to Jinja. The Trail provides much more than sightseeing and you'll learn about the hidden and forgotten history of Uganda. You'll also encounter an authentic tribal culture - with traditional dancing, music, craft making, spiritual healing and storytelling.
There are international standard hotels in Uganda, especially in the main towns of Entebbe, Jinja and Kampala. The quality is variable in the smaller cities and rated accommodation is rare. All the significant national parks provide accommodation in game lodges and tented camps.
If you would like to drive around Uganda, then you want to demonstrate an international drivers license to hire a car or truck. Rental cars in Uganda can be found in Entebbe and Kampala. Roads radiate from Kampala and are of varying quality. At the north of the country the security situation remains doubtful and so are the streets. Its is a great idea if you're on self drive to acquire local counsel about the condition the roads you would like to use.
Uganda enjoys a tropical climate tempered by altitude. The hottest period of the year is from December to February when temperature increase to 29 degrees Celsius. For the remainder of the year, temperatures range between 21 to 25°C. The nation experiences two rainy seasons: April to May and October to November, with April being the wettest month. The best times to visit are December-March and June-September. Light informal clothing is usually adequate. However, you need warmer wraps and sweaters for the evenings and early mornings. You're also advised to carry some rainwear, just in case.