Uganda, aptly named the ‘Pearl of Africa’, has some of the most stunning African landscapes condensed into a relatively small area. Testament to this are the almost mystical names given to these natural wonders, of which ‘The Mountains of the Moon’, ‘The White Nile’ and ‘Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’ are just a few.
The landlocked terrain is so varied that although an equatorial country, the climate is highly diverse according to altitude and proximity to the many large bodies of water found in a country dominated by Lake Victoria and the Nile basin. Indeed it was the desperate search for the source of the Nile that led to Uganda being colonised by the British towards the end of the 19thcentury. It gained its independence in 1962.
To this day the Nile provides the country with crucial life-blood, enriching the soil for agriculture, and providing ample tourist opportunities, including world class white-water rafting around Jinja. The abundance of water also feeds Uganda’s forests, notably Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is home to hundreds of bird species and the highest concentration of primates on Earth – including half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. Kibale forest is home to a large habituated chimpanzee population that can be seen on a walking safari.
As with many countries in the region, Uganda has suffered a past under tyrannical dictatorship, finally ending with the emergence of democracy in 1979. Multiple crises have left Uganda with a very young population, but one full of energy and looking to the future, a modern Uganda, with the desire to give any visiting tourists the warmest of receptions.
In colonial times Uganda was viewed as the very best place in Africa to ‘safari’. It is unquestionably a stand-alone destination with impenetrable forest, breathtaking and unusual birdlife and challenging trekking; simultaneously it feeds fear, phobia, curiosity and delight – the mighty jungle picture of Africa dreamed of in childhood.