THE PEARL OF AFRICA
The Pearl of Africa is the perfect nickname for Uganda. Just like pearls are rare treasures hidden away on the ocean bed, so is Uganda a hidden gem on the African continent.
It does not receive nearly as much recognition as the Kruger National Park, the Serengeti nor the Maasai Mara but that is not because it is lacking in what it has to offer. In fact, Uganda is arguably one of Africa’s best kept secrets. If you’re looking for a truly memorable trip to Africa, it might easily be your dream destination.
Here’s why Uganda should be the next place on your travel bucket list.
1. The Safari Experience
With 10 national parks, small and large game reserves, there is no shortage of wildlife in Uganda. The country is home to the Big Five featuring as well as over 330 mammal species. However, unlike the famous Maasai Mara or Serengeti, there are no crowds. This results in a much more intimate safari experience. The extreme diversity of the landscape, from tropical forests to savannahs, also means a wide array of wildlife and bird species. A trip to the country’s largest park, Murchison Falls, means you can follow your game drive with a scenic cruise down the Nile. A visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park may end in a sighting of the unusual tree-climbing lions or the elusive leopard.
2. The Gorillas and Chimpanzees
Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking has to be one of the most special things Africa has to offer. Those who are lucky enough to have seen these wonderful creatures in the wild can easily understand why Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall became so enamoured. These are two of Uganda’s quintessential attractions. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the country’s smallest park but it is home to the Silverback Gorilla. A guided walk through the lush vegetation offers the opportunity to observe these gentle creatures in their natural habitat. Several of the national parks offer chimpanzee tracking. This is also a fascinating and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3. The Landscape
Uganda itself is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s hard to believe that a single country can be home to rushing rivers and waterfalls, tropical rainforests, snow-capped mountains, extinct volcanoes, luscious terraced hillsides and island-dotted lakes with white-sand beaches, but Uganda is. In fact, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one of the rare places on the planet that encompasses every ecological habitat – savannah, rainforest, grassland, heath, alpine and permanent snow and ice. It is a magical place guaranteed to take your breath away wherever you may find yourself.
4. The Culture
One of the best ways to experience a new country is through the local cultures. Uganda has a strong cultural heritage and over 50 different indigenous languages. Because of this, it is rich and diverse in music, art, dance, clothing and cuisine. There are numerous cultural and historical sites worth visiting. Some of these include the Karambi Royal Tombs and the Mparo Tombs, the Kitagata hot springs, the Igongo Cultural Centre, and the Amabere Caves.
5. The Adventure
Uganda ticks the boxes in terms of safari, scenery and culture, and it does for adventure as well. There is whitewater rafting down the Grade-5 rapids of the Nile. Or if you’re looking for something more relaxed, there is tubing down the river or canoeing on Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake. For those who love a different kind of rush, there is bungee jumping at Bujagali Falls. Often referred to as the Mountains of the Moon, the Rwenzori Mountains will give you a challenging but incredible hiking experience.