UGANDA

Welcome to Uganda 

map-uganda

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A wonderful example of an East African country and a very significant country as far as the Nile River. Uganda is a land locked country yet 25% of the land is water. It is home to the “African great lakes” with Lake Victoria one of the largest lakes in the world. The national bird is a crested came and can be seen throughout the country. The country comprises of 5 traditional Bantu Kingdoms and Independence from Britain was gained in 1962.

We like to take you from the bustling capital city of Kampala and then drive around the country in an anti-clockwise direction, spending time alongside (and in!) the Nile River at Jinja, relaxing in Mbale, game driving and experiencing the wonder of Murchison Falls, relaxing in Fort Portal near a crater lake and then tracking chimpanzees, game viewing and possibly tracking gorillas to end a nature filled experience of this beautiful country.

However, Uganda is not fully appreciated unless you spend time with local people; not only your driver but the people who will cook a meal with you and talk about cultural practices, guides who will thrill you through several Nile rapids, local restaurants that will satisfy your appetite and experienced nature guides that track chimpanzees and gorillas.

Understand and Experience:
  • Ugandan food in a local home prepared with and for you
  • wild rafting or just gently cruising on (and in!) the Nile River
  • a Nile River game cruise in the late afternoon, very likely to see big game and many beautiful birds
  • track chimps and gorillas and be in awe of these engaging intelligent creatures.

Kampala – bustling capital city

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Kampala is the word for Antelope; a city of 7 hills was known as the “Hills of the antelope”.

In the 1970’s, post independence, this city was the pride of East Africa.

When the dictator, Idi Amin came to power, there was a swift deterioration to the city and indeed the entire country, which by 1986, at the end of the civil war, found the nation in chaos.

Today the city is much improved and in the 200 sq.kms live several million people.

Kampala is the heart of the Kingdom of Buganda, the largest of the tribal Kingdoms and is also the economic and social heart of the nation.

Understand and Experience:
  • be involved in preparing ad eating a typical local meal (goat meat cooked in banana leaf, sweet potato, beans, rice)
  • visit the museum, making sure you see the kings palace and kings gate on the way

Jinja – crazy source of the Nile River

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This is the 2nd largest town in Uganda. The name Jinja is derived from the word “Ejjinja” meaning stones, sacrificial stones.

This city is well known for the explorer of old, SPEKE. He was the first one to make the geographical connection between water moving out from Lake Victoria to the water flowing into the Mediterranean sea from the Nile in Egypt. Although this specific headwater (Ripon Falls) is no-longer visible due to the Owens Dam (hydro-power) flooding the area, it is still a significant spot to remember one of the sources of the Nile.

During the construction of the railway, many indentured workers from India had been brought across to Uganda by the British. Many of them refused to return to India once their time of indenture was completed. Idi Amin chased all of them out during his reign, but gradually they returned and now once again are traders and businessmen in many cities and towns in Uganda. In Jinja you will find restaurants, shops and businesses run by people of Indian origin.

Also of interest here is the rafting. Although the building of the Owens dam drowned out the original rapid areas, several others have been found a bit further downstream, and there is a thriving attraction for all adrenaline-seeking travelers!

Understand and Experience:
  • go to the source of the Nile. You will find 2 commemorative monuments: on one bank you will see Speke’s pillar, commemorating the spot where he stood in awe as he looked for the first time at the Ripon falls. On the other bank, you will find a statue commemorating Ghandi, as a portion of his ashes were scattered here.
  • go rafting:  there are many rapids in this area, and white river rafting has become a major pull for tourism to Uganda. People from many countries (and a variety of ages) come to take part in this adrenaline-igniting activity OR just relax on the river, avoiding the worst rapids.

Mbale – a place to rest

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This peaceful town was known as a busy centre for trade, and would see traders of Greek, Arabic, Indian and Swahili origin. It was until recently the 3rd largest town in Uganda and is at an altitude of around 1,200m. It is a beautiful town to stop in, breathe and enjoy the beauty as it is at the foot of the volcanic mountain called Mount Elgon (4,321m). There are many places to stay here that are well placed, with excellent service, verdant lawns and clean swimming pools: a good time to sit and reflect.

Understand and Experience:
  • walk out to toward the mountains: get a lovely feel for village life, and get a great view
  • sit at the pool and enjoy the well kept lawns and gardens of the hotel, and rest from the rapids!

Murchison Falls – a wonderful National Park

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The Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest protected area and it is within this park that the magnificent Murchison Falls are found. This game reserve first formed when the human population in the area left in 1910 due to an epidemic of sleeping sickness (carried by the tsetse fly).

The falls themselves are profound: the gentle meandering water of the Nile is suddenly pressured into a small funnel (8 m wide) causing a high pressure, loud noise, and much frothing and churning of the water…. until it thunders down the 45m waterfall. It is said to be the most impressive waterfall in East Africa.

Along the river there is prolific game as well as incredible bird life.

Understand and Experience:
  • take a boat ride to view animals and birds, and head to the foot of the mighty Murchison falls
  • take a walk to the viewing site of the Murchison falls and get one of the Park guides to take you on an informative walk around the site

Fort Portal – crater lakes and chimpanzees

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You will have passed several tea plantations and hopefully spotted the beautiful Ruwenzori mountain peaks. There are some splendid crater lakes around this town and well worth a walk around or indeed a little swim.

It is in this area that many people will do some Chimpanzee tracking: as this is the beginning of the forested areas that are home to a wide range of primates (chimps, monkeys, baboons and gorillas who are further south).

Understand and Experience:
  • take a walk around one of the crater lakes and stop to take in the crystal clear waters and lovely scenery
  • sit and have a drink at sunset, and don’t move until you have heard the cry of the African fish eagle

Queen Elizabeth Park   &   Gorillas nearby

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This is probably the most popular park in Uganda, and is home to more than 600 species of bird and the unique tree-climbing lion population. It is a great place to do a “game-drive” by boat, especially along the Kazinga channel, between the lakes of George and Albert. You will find the classic African savannah fields, with the acacia trees, as well as the unique Ugandan Kobb (and many other antelope species.)

Wake up at sunrise to hear the rich chorus of the birds, as they greet the morning sun….. find a hippo grazing right next to your tent in the camp site at night, and enjoy a cold, cold drink at sunset after a long hot day viewing game: the lasting sights and sounds of Uganda to take home with you.

This park is also a few hours from Bwindi National Park where you can track gorillas.

Understand and Experience:
  • do a 2 – 3 hour excursion with a Park guide and tracker to go and see if you can find a chimpanzee or 2 in the wild Kyambura Gorge
  • go on a game drive to try and spot the amazing tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha area of the QE Park
  • a unique chance to track gorillas can be found at Bwindi National Park, a few hours south of QE Park. You will need to give yourself 2 nights near the gorillas to fully appreciate the experience.

HOST :  Daniel

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 Daniel is a very friendly and knowledgable man and has his own company that we partner with. He also has vehicles and drivers that we use for our tours. Uganda cannot be fully appreciated without meeting people like Daniel and his drivers.