FEATURE: 10 reasons why you should visit Uganda this year!

Why visit Uganda 2023/2024? Uganda is distinct – described by Winston Churchill as “The Pearl of Africa”, and indeed it is!

Tourists view giraffes in Uganda’s Kidepo National Park. Kidepo is a must see when you visit Uganda (PHOTO/Courtesy).

UG STANDARD |  Why visit Uganda 2023/2024? Uganda is distinct – described by Winston Churchill as “The Pearl of Africa”, and indeed it is!

Boasting of its remarkable beauty, abundant wildlife, birdlife, and spectacular landscapes characterized by the tallest mountain ranges with snowcap, the Source of the Nile River, and Africa’s largest freshwater Lake, Lake Victoria, then most importantly, the people of Uganda who are by far the most friendly, always wearing a smile and willing to extend a helping hand to anyone.

Below, we have identified the 10 best reasons why you should visit Uganda;

Abundant floral and faunal species- Uganda

Uganda is a preferred travel destination due to its unique and abundant floral and faunal species. All the big 5 game live in Uganda and diverse primates, reptiles, birdlife, amphibians as well as colorful butterflies. It is a spectacular destination with natural wonders, untouched wilderness, and unique vegetation featuring open wooded savanna, forests, acacia woodlands, montane forests, riparian forests, grasslands, bush thickets, and vast wetlands.

Gorilla trekking is such a thrilling primate experience that any visitor on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss out (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Gorilla trekking is such a thrilling primate experience that any visitor on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss out (PHOTO /Courtesy)

 A face-face encounter with the massive mountain gorillas

About 54% of the world’s mountain gorilla population resides within Uganda making it one of the best places to enjoy the gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla trekking is such a captivating primate adventure and in Uganda, this experience is enjoyable while in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Other than normal gorilla treks, Uganda is also known for its exhilarating mountain gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Where as you are allowed one hour with the mountain gorillas while on the normal gorilla trek, you are allowed 4 hours with the gorillas when doing the gorilla habituation experience.

Trekking with Uganda mountain gorillas is possible in the 5 sectors of which, 4 sectors are located in Bwindi Impentrable National Park and one exists in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park, there are 20 habituated gorilla groups to be visited, and each is assigned a group of 8 tourists per day and treks start from the 4 regions or sectors of; Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma, and Nkuringo. The 5th sector is Ntebeko located in Mgahinga National Park where only one group is open for tourism purposes and that is the Nyakagezi group. Note that the normal gorilla tracking permit costs USD 700 per permit per day which the gorilla habituation experience permit costs USD 1,500 per permit per day. Where as 8 people are allowed to track a habituated gorilla family, only 4 people are allowed to engage in the gorilla habituation experience per day. Some people may ask what about our neighbours in Rwanda, don’t they have gorillas? In case your are interested in a Rwanda gorilla safari, the gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1,500 per permit per day.

Experience the best of chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation

The biggest population of chimpanzees in East Africa lives in Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda. There are about 5,050 chimpanzees living in Uganda and 1500 of them are in Kibale Forest Park. In Kibale NP, chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation experience can be enjoyed by tourists but endeavor to read a Uganda Holiday Guide on what to pack, and expectations. Aside from Kibale Forest, there are other locations in Uganda where you can do chimpanzee tracking namely; Kaniyo Pabidi forest located in Murchison Falls National Park, the beautiful Kyambura Gorge that has a forest in the gorge located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest, and the chimpanzee research at Semliki Wildlife Reserve.

Golden monkey tracking & habituation experience

Uganda offers plenty of primate adventures including golden monkey tracking and habituation experience. The two incredible primate encounters are done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park tht is; the gorilla tracking as mentioned earlier and then the golden monkey tracking or habituation. It should be noted that less than 2,000 to 5,000 golden monkeys still survive on earth. And while in Uganda, you have a chance to experience first hand these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. A permit for the golden monkey trek costs USD 60 while the one for the golden monkey habituation costs USD 100 per permit per day. Note that the cost does not include the park entrance fees which are USD 40 and valid for 24 hours.

Birding tours

A huge profusion of birds reside within Uganda’s diverse habitats and it is important to note that Uganda boasts about 11% of the bird species of the world. Over 1080 species of birds exist in Uganda making it a true bird watchers haven. These bird species include but not limited to; standard-winged nightjars, great blue turacos, guinea fowls, Shelley’s crimson wings, crested cranes, marabou stork, the shoebill, Doherty’s bush shrikes, short-tailed warblers, African green broadbill, Abyssinian ground hornbill, African dwarf kingfishers, African emerald cuckoos, pelicans, Rwenzori turacos and others.

Birds in Murchison falls national park are easily seen during game drives, nature walks through the savannah grasslands & Budongo forest and on the boat cruise along the Nile.

Birds in Murchison falls national park are easily seen during game drives, nature walks through the savannah grasslands & Budongo forest and on the boat cruise along the Nile.

Everywhere in Uganda is a birding destination however, some birders who have been on a Uganda self drive have noted the most important birding destinations as; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest, Semliki National Park, The Royal Mile in Budongo Forest, Lake Victoria most notbly for the shoebill at Mabamba Swamp.

Museveni made brief stopover at Kazinga fishing village as he toured Rwenzori region. PHOTOS BY PPU

 The hospitable people and their distinct cultures

Uganda is a vibrant cultural safari destination, consisting of 56 tribes with about 70 spoken languages. About 8 indigenous communities are in Uganda and include the Batwa in south western Uganda, IK, Karamojong, Benet, Banyabindi, Maragoli, Basongora, and Bamba. While on Uganda tour, you will meet and interact with the friendly and warm welcoming Ugandans right at the Entebbe International Airport or any land border entry until the day you leave. Amongst the indigenous communities, the most visited include the IK in Mount Mulongole found in the extreme north eastern part of the country, this community has a unique setting and stay in the mountain. They are predominantly farmers and yet their immediate neighbors are pastoralists. The other are the Batwa who are forest dwellers and they are found in Bwindi, Semliki and Mgahinga; they are associated with the term pygmy people.

Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda near the border with Rwanda.

Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda near the border with Rwanda.

On a cultural tour, there are many ways for enthusiastic visitors to experience the best of Uganda’s unique cultures and traditions including visiting sustainable community-based tourism project such as Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development, the Batwa Development Program, IK and Karamojong Communities, etc. In case you happen to visit Uganda in an even year, the Bagishu in the eastern part of the country engage in the Imbalu initiation ceremony throughout the year.

Breathtaking sceneries

Not all countries are gifted by nature as Uganda. Tourists who visit Uganda come not only to encounter wildlife but also to experience the country’s breathtaking sceneries and landscapes. Uganda is characterized by distinct landforms and mostly importantly the home to the Mountains of the Moon also commonly referred to as Rwenzori Mountain ranges, rift valleys, the Nile River and other scenic water bodies including the world’s freshwater Lake that is; Lake Victoria. There is an array of untouched wilderness that can only be experience while you are in the country especially while at Kidepo Valley National Park where sighting this would make you feel previllaged for having chosen to visit the area.

Responsible tourism and conservation

Uganda’s tourism sector largely depends on nature and it is with no doubt, that it is such a lush destination. There are 10 National Parks and 12 Wildlife Reserves plus other protected areas that are well-kept. A large portion of the tourism revenue collection is used for conservation purposes and the main goal is to conserve for future generations. The communities living around the national parks directly benefit from the tourism revenue of these protected areas. A guest who did a Uganda car hire and drove himself around the country mentioned that a hospital was built in Bwindi called the Bwindi Community Hospital with a purpose of extending health facilities to the communities around the area and today, it is one of the most equipped hospitals in the country and yet the service delivery there is top notch.

Albert lake (Albert Nyanza) in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park is Africa's seventh-largest lake and one of the African Great Lakes.

Albert lake (Albert Nyanza) in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is Africa’s seventh-largest lake and one of the African Great Lakes.

Favorable weather and climatic conditions

Uganda lies astride the Equator and enjoys all-year-round weather and climatic conditions. This makes it a favorable destination for nature lovers to enjoy a guided gorilla trekking, mountaineering, or chimpanzee tracking experience. The average daytime temperatures recorded in most parts of Uganda range from 24 to 33 degrees celsius with the hottest months running from January to February. The best months of the year to visit Uganda for a holiday are the dry months -that is June to September or December to February. Note that Uganda is a tropical country and full of mysteries, meaning; you might be surprised on your visit that no rain falls during the wet season and also you might experience the rains during the dry season. That explains the common notion that goes saying Uganda is truly a country gifted by nature. The weather give you every reason to visit Uganda.

Food and dining

A country with over 50 tribes surely calls for a multitude of food options. The food is associated with a particular place visited with almost each region having its very own staple food. You will find matooke (steamed bananas) in most of the central region, potatoes in eastern Uganda, millet, sorghum, Irish potato, cassava in most parts of the country. The most tasted of all is the Luwombo prepared using the banana leaves. Most visitors however enjoy the easy to go meal called the rolex which is a chapatti wrapped in eggs

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