Whenever Uganda is mentioned, the next statement is the Pearl of Africa. Uganda is a beautiful country of so many shades that a visit to all its 10 major national parks is just a small potion with so much left unseen. Uganda is a true description of the real Africa with beautiful landscapes, variety of savannah parks, over 1057 bird species, thriving and abundant wildlife, diverse authentic cultures, home to the longest river in the world – the river Nile, tropical rain forests and most of all home to the highest number of mountain gorillas in the world with over 15 gorilla families in two different gorilla national parks and a capital for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa.
The list of Uganda’s attractions is endless with so much more to experience and see. Discussed below are unmissable attractions while visiting Uganda, the key features that make the Perl of Africa a unique safari destination:
Uganda gorillas are the most sought after attraction drawing thousands of travellers to the country. A gorilla safari in Uganda taking visitors hiking through dense rain forests in search for the assigned gorilla groups/family/troop is the best wildlife experience that comes along with a cost of driving roughly 8-10 hours to Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park. The two tropical rain forests are situated in southwestern Uganda sheltering roughly 400 out of 880 mountain gorillas surviving in the whole world. This means that Uganda is a home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas, which surely make it a distinct safari destination of its own kind.
There are 13 gorilla families available for trekking in Uganda each family allocated a group of eight people maximum per day. This therefore guarantees 104 gorillas permits available everyday giving many travelers great opportunities take part in the famous gorilla trekking. Interestingly, gorilla trekking in Uganda is cheap at only USD600 but rewarding travelers with a once in lifetime experience. Besides trekking, Uganda offers the famous gorilla habituation experience providing travelers with a half-day encounter with gorillas in the wild. Gorilla habituation experience costs 1500usd for a permit but the experience is surely worth it.
Sheltering over 10,50 bird species, Uganda is a stop center for birders. The Birds of Uganda live in forests, savannahs, lakes, and swamps giving birders optional birding spots in different parts of the country. The popular birding sites in Uganda include Mabamba bay wetland at lake victoria, kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth national park, Semuliki valley national park, Bigodi wetland sanctuary in Kibale forest national park, Budongo forest, and the Nile delta in Murchison falls national park. Among the most spotted birds include shoebill, malachite kingfisher, black headed heron, flycatcher, African jacana, black-headed weaver, lesser jacana, veilllot’s, African open-billed stork, black kite, lesser flamingoes, greater flamingoes, grosbeak weaver, purple-breasted sunbird, Fraser’s eagle, handsome francolin, black billed Turaco, western bronze-napped pigeon, regal sunbirds, northern red bishop, African quail finch, giant kingfisher and yellow billed stork among others.
Tree climbing lions
Whereas lions can be seen in most savannah national parks, a look at tree climbing lions hanging in the fig trees resting, chilling and enjoying their prey is an extra ordinary experience. Tree climbing lions live in ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park and not anywhere else in the whole of Uganda. Tree climbing lions are well seen during game drives mostly in the early morning and evening hours as they hunt down their preys. The country is also blessed with many other lions in Murchison falls national park and kidepo valley national park which make wildlife safaris surely beautiful.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park is yet another interesting thing do in Uganda. With over 1450 chimpanzees, Uganda shelters the highest population of chimpanzees in the whole of Africa making it a first stop center for chimpanzee trekkers. Having shred approximately 99.8% of human DNA, chimpanzees are closest relatives to people, which make a stay with them so interesting. Besides chimpanzees, kibale forest national park is a home to a variety of primates, which include Rare L’Hoests’ monkey, Guereza colubus, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed monkeys and Red Colubus monkeys among others.
Not only does Uganda offer wildlife and bird experiences but goes far beyond to mountaineering experiences. Uganda is a home to the snow caped mountains of the moon (Mt Rwenzori) along with Mt Elgon and the Virunga volcanoes of Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Climbing to the summit any mountain is surely interesting but challenging. Travelers are therefore required to be physically fit and highly determined to take art in this adventure. Upon reaching the summit, travelers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding communities, wildlife and the adjacent countries.
Interestingly, Mt Rwenzori is a home to a three-horned chameleon also known as Johnston’s chameleon distinguished by three horns on the fore head used for defense.
Hospital people and unique culture
Coming down to local people, Ugandans are the most hospitable and friendly people you will meet around the world. The native Batwa are the most visited people who were the traditional occupants of the tropical rain forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national park. A visit to the Batwa is a remarkable experience, which introduces travelers to the traditional forest life of the Batwa. These people are known to have lived in the forest for thousands of years gathering fruits and hunting as their daily activities. They lived peacefully with wild animals and depended fully on the forest for a livelihood.
However with the introduction of conservation and tourism, the Batwa were evicted from the forest and now live at the edge of the forest.