Uganda is a country of friendly and warm people, vast natural reserves and stunning wildlife. The vibrant capital city of Kampala bustles with the famous ‘matatus’ clogging its busy streets, ferrying residents from different cultures and religions around the dust filled streets. I spent six fabulous weeks in Uganda and have distilled my numerous highlights down to five must-do experiences.
1. Relax and give in to the ‘free lifestyle’ of Uganda
Leave your watch at home and just take it easy. The Ndere Center in the city of Kampala has regular traditional performances to demonstrate the various dances and music of the diverse areas of Uganda. Ugandan people are earthy and passionate. Their dances and music demonstrate these traits and gives a fun cultural insight for tourists. Don’t be shy and join the dancers for a boogie at the end of the show; even if you think you can’t dance you’ll have great fun! There are also different religious buildings to visit in Kampala, from mosques to Indian temples. My favourite was Baha’i House of Worship situated on Kikaya Hill on the outskirts of Kampala. Named as the Mother Temple of Africa, it is a tranquil place of beauty, surrounded by colourful flowers with great views of the city of Kampala and its surrounding areas.
2. Visit Ishasha Wilderness Camp.
Situated in the unspoilt southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park you will feel very close to nature! The camp itself has some of the most comfortable tents you will ever be in. With wood heated water and gorgeous views. We were lucky enough to see a young elephant across the river in front of the camp, eating and bathing in the afternoon. This part of the park itself is home to the only species of tree-climbing lions! It is also the home of zebras, impalas and other ungulates, monkeys, baboons, elephants and buffalos making it a great place for game rides!
3. Go Gorilla tracking!
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 6 habituated groups of Mountain Gorillas. You can choose which group of gorillas you want to trek for depending on your personal fitness and preferences. We chose the Mubare group as this was the most suitable for us, with a medium level of difficulty and aproximately two hours trekking until we found them. To see mountain gorillas in the flesh, in their natural habitat was an experience hard to put in words. This group is a family of about 16 members. The dad, a magnificent silver back and the mothers with its toddlers and teenagers were a humbling sight. They blend so well with their habitat, at first, one has to concentrate to spot them between the trees and its left perplex at their sight and ability to move so easily between trees and through the jungle.
4. Enjoy a boat ride in Lake Mburo amongst hippos!
The hippos are everything you expect them to be, massive creatures with huge mouths which you appreciate most when they yawn. They also blow bubbles and swim around with only their eyes and ears in show and they reminded me of the hippos in Fangtasia, although they weren’t wearing leotards and broke off on a ballet choreography, their presence was truly majestic! If you watch carefully you might be able to spot other animals like crocodiles, fish eagles and crested cranes. On land you will see warthogs relaxing and grazing.
5. Bird Observatory in Queen Victoria National Park.
This is the most popular national park in Uganda. You will not only see a wealth of animals such as warthogs, hyenas, lions, waterbucks and bushbucks, buffalos and elephants but you can also visit the bird observatory where in February and March you can experience spectacular sightings of migrating birds and the recent discovered bar-tailed godwit.
By Drea Davila