Emerging from the shadows of its dark history, a new dawn of tourism has risen in Uganda, polishing a glint back into the ‘pearl of Africa’. Travellers are streaming in to explore what is basically the best of everything the continent has to offer.
For a relatively small country, there’s a lot that’s big about the place. It’s home to the tallest mountain range in Africa, the world’s longest river and the continent’s largest lake. And with half the remaining mountain gorillas residing here, and the Big Five to be ticked off, wildlife watching is huge.
While anti-gay sentiments have cast a shadow on the otherwise positive tourism picture, and tensions continue to simmer with the Karamojong in the northeast, Uganda remains one of the safest destinations in Africa. Other than watching out for the odd hippo at your campsite, there’s no more to worry about here than in most other countries.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas, the World Heritage-listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Africa’s most famous national parks. Set over 331 sq km of improbably steep mountain rainforest, the park is home to an estimated 360 gorillas: undoubtedly Uganda’s biggest tourist drawcard.
Rwenzori National Park
The legendary, mist-covered Rwenzori Mountains are presumed to be the Mountains of the Moon, described in AD 350 by Ptolemy, who proclaimed them the source of the Nile River. Because of both its beauty and biodiversity, Unesco named the Rwenzoris a World Heritage Site.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale is a lush tropical rainforest, believed to have the highest density of primates in Africa. This 795-sq-km national park is home to 13 primate species, including the rare red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey. The stars of the show are the chimpanzees, three groups of which have been habituated to human contact.
Famous as the source of the Nile River, Jinja has emerged as the adrenaline capital of East Africa. Here you can get your fix of white-water rafting, kayaking, quad biking, mountain biking, horseback riding and bungee jumping. The town has a lush location and is the major market centre for eastern Uganda. It’s a buzzing little place with much Indian-influenced architecture.