Why go to Uganda

“Uganda is a fairy-tale. You climb up a railway instead of a beanstalk, and at the end there is a wonderful new world.” – Winston Churchill

Nestled in the heart of Africa between Kenya, South Sudan, Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania is Uganda – a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes and Nile basin region. The name ‘Uganda’ comes from the Buganda kingdom, which covers a significant portion of the south of the country.

Roughly the size of Great Britain, the East African country is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups. Situated on the equator, it also boasts an impressive variety of ecosystems, from tall volcanic mountains to rainforests and swamps. The rich, fertile land is famous for its coffee – an agricultural mainstay of the economy.

CAPITAL CITY: KAMPALA

The largest and capital city of Uganda, Kampala has been named the 13th fastest growing city in the world. It’s also rated as the best city to live in East Africa. The area, which was originally comprised of rolling hills and grassy wetland valleys, was once home to scores of impala, and ‘Kampala’ means ‘that is of the impala’ in the Luganda language. The city of Kampala was originally built on seven hills, but has since expanded to cover more due to its rapid growth.

Must-visit Kampala sites include the Uganda Museum, the Ugandan National Theatre, and the Nakasero and St. Balikuddembe Markets. The city is also renowned for its nightlife, which is enjoyed by both its diverse ethnic population and visiting guests.

Bustling Hub: Entebbe

Another major Ugandan town is Entebbe. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria in Central Uganda, Entebbe was once the capital city of Uganda. Today, it’s a colourful town boasting sprawling National Botanical Gardens, the Ngamba Chimpanzee Island, Zika Forest, the Ugandan Wildlife Research Education Centre, the official residence of the President of Uganda, and the oldest golf course in East Africa. With relaxed beaches, bustling markets, friendly people and a host of lake activities, Entebbe is well worth a visit.

Crowning Glory: National Park & Primates

Uganda is fast becoming one of the most vibrant safari destinations in the world, thanks to its remote and unspoilt parks teeming with wildlife. You’ll find the likes of lion, elephant and buffalo, thousands of birds and, of course, the country’s famed primates.

The country is a veritable primate paradise, and home to a variety of species from chimpanzee to golden monkey and mountain gorilla. The Virunga Volcanoes of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo as well as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in south-western Uganda are home to the last of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Together with its neighbour Rwanda, Uganda is responsible for conserving this precious primate population.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park forms part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and is situated along the Congo border, next to the Virunga National park. While not quite impenetrable, it is comprised of montane and lowland forest, and accessible only on foot. A United Nations World Heritage Site, Bwindi Park is home to no fewer than 120 species of mammal, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, and 27 species of frog, chameleons, geckos and a host of endagered species. The flora is of the most diverse in East Africa, boasting over 1000 flowering plant species. Colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and half the world’s population of mountain gorillas have made a home in the lush area.

Murchinson Falls National Park

Another renowned Ugandan park is the Murchinson Falls National Park – a magical place where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river with banks teeming with hippo and crocodile, waterbuck and buffalo. In typical Ugandan style, Murchinson covers an array of ecosystems, from stretching savannah to woodland and riverine forest. Lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeest, oribis, Ugandan kobs, chimpanzees and hundreds of bird species can all be spotted in the area.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

On the national park must-visit list is also Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to the famous tree climbing lions. No more than two populations of lion in the world climb trees as part of their daily behaviour. One of these can be found in the south of the Queen Elizabeth Park, and offers quite the unusual spectacle. While it is generally assumed that these lions climb trees to protect themselves against the biting tsetse flies on the ground, others claim that they do so to escape the heat on the ground and enjoy the cool breeze above. Whatever their motives, they sure know how to put on a good show! Other bucket list activities in the park include watching  elephant, buffalo, lion and a variety of antelope and other wildlife on game drives and, of course, chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge.

Kibala National Park

Another great site for chimpanzee trekking is Kibala National Park in southern Uganda. The Park’s varied altitude means it’s home to habitats ranging from lush troical forest to woodland and dry savannah. A total of 70 mammals call the area home. Most famous amongst these are the 13 species of primate that include the area’s famous chimpanzee. Add over 375 species of birds to the mix and you’ve got a wildlife paradise that’s not to be missed.

Lake Mburo National Park

The smallest but by no means least significant of Uganda’s savannah parks is Lake Mburo National Park. Alive with colour and variety, the park covers an extensive area of wetland, and is home to several species of mammals and birds found nowehere else in Uganda. Its rolling hills, idyllic lake shores, forest galleries, acacia woodlands and grassy valleys are a thing of breathtaking beauty. It’s the only park in Uganda with eland, impala and klipspringer, and is hme to the largest population of zebra in Uganda.

Birthplace of a legend: the start of the river nile

The longest river in the world, the Nile starts in the town of Jinja in Uganda. Visitors can marvel at the source of the mighty river and enjoy a host of activities including bungee jumping, kayaking, fishing and boat rides.

A varied climate

While Uganda lies on the equator, its climate is modified by the altitude of various parts of the country, and is thus not uniform throughout. Southern Uganda is wetter than the rest of the country, with rain typically falling throughout the year. In the Entebbe region, most of the rain falls from March through June, and then in November and December. Heavy rain falls in the southwest (on the Congo border) throughout the year. It’s much drier further north, with a particularly dry season near the Sudanese border between November and February. As for the driest region – the northeastern part of the country is prone to drought.

FAQ Uganda

When is the best time to go?

The best time to visit all the parks of Uganda is from June to August, and then again from December to February. The busiest tourist season is from June to September, so although it’s rarely crowded, you’ll need to book your gorilla permits in advance. The best overall weather can be experienced in January, February, June and July. Low season is in March, April, May, October and November, and some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas actually close down during this time.

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