Especially if you arrive in Uganda from either Kenya or Tanzania, you’ll immediately be struck by how green this country is after the sunbaked savannah. Bridging East and Central Africa, Uganda’s western boundary is marked by the Great Rift Valley.
Uganda is also a very blue destination, in the sense that it contains significant bodies of water (including a generous slice of Lake Victoria). These two welcome hues give Uganda a cool, refreshing feel and will energize you to try out the many different activities and experiences on offer.
Uganda is incredibly diverse, with mountains, cloud forest, and open plains, in addition to immense lakes. Water really is a recurring theme – from the “Devil’s Cauldron” in Murchison Falls National Park, where an entire river must squeeze through a gap in the rocks just 23 feet wide, to Jinja, the source of the Nile.
Jinja is also a great location for whitewater rafting thrills and spills, but if you prefer your water calmer (and hotter) you can visit one of Uganda’s many lush, green tea and coffee plantations and sample some of the best brews around, straight from the source.
Uganda’s greatest wildlife attraction is undoubtedly the mountain gorillas, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers almost guaranteed incredible close encounters with these great apes. Gorilla tracking permits are noticeably cheaper in Uganda than in Rwanda, although the experience is very similar.
For an altogether more raucous morning, you can track wild chimps in the forests of Kibale National Park. Unlike the more sedate and chilled gorillas, there’s every chance that you will see (and certainly) hear chimps engaged in every conceivable activity, from feeding to breeding.
Uganda’s royal history is worth learning more about, and the many different tribes that make up the population each proudly maintain their traditions and culture. The result is more harmonious than you might expect: Uganda is regularly rated as an extremely safe and secure destination, and you’ll often be greeted more like an old friend than a new arrival. Uganda is known as “the pearl of Africa” and it’s a fitting title. Here in the heart of the continent, there’s a very real danger that you’ll fall in love!
Gateway city: Entebbe (Kampala)
Best time to travel: January through February; May through December
Highlights: Bwindi National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley