Poised at the crossroads between the East Africa’s savannah and Central Africa’s rainforest Uganda has gone from being the ‘Pearl of Africa’ (so said a certain Winston Churchill) to something of a diamond in the rough (so said… us). The politics in the 1990’s was ‘turbulent’ (take a bow, Idi Amin) but after a period of stability and some serious investment, Uganda is on the up and quickly proving its pearly credentials once more.
Here are five reasons why Uganda should be your next holiday destination.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest sounds (and looks) very Lord of the Rings, but it is in fact home to half the planet’s mountain gorillas. Gorilla trek permits are less than half the price of neighbouring Rwanda, so you get more silverback for your greenback. The trek is not for the fainthearted but the feeling of awe more than compensates.
The highlight of any trip to Uganda is in fact the Ugandans themselves. Modern Ugandan culture stems from dozens of regional tribal kingdoms each with traditional dress, arts and crafts, and tribal dance. The communities are alive and thriving.
Uganda is technically a Big Five safari destination but doesn’t quite compare to Kenya or Tanzania – yet. Rhino, for example, went extinct just after the Idi-era, and have been reintroduced successfully, but are not yet widespread throughout all the national parks. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls are already amazing parks to explore.
To the west is the glacier-capped Rwenzori mountain range, romantically labelled the ‘Mountains of the Moon’. To the south is Lake Victoria and at 26,500 square miles is the main reservoir of the Nile. The central grasslands are home to huge grazing herds, and dense forest, verdant wetlands and mountain slopes create diverse habitats.
The primate inventory is impressive: 15 species in all and Uganda is one of the few places where you can see chimpanzees in the wild. The chimp treks are outstanding; so well are the chimps habituated and relaxed with people that you can join a full day ‘nest-to-nest’ programme, spending all day in their company.