Uganda is among the most beautiful countries in Africa, (and an active member of the East African Community which comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda,Rwanda & Burundi), Uganda with fantastic natural scenery, Half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population is in Uganda. It also offers world-class white-water rafting at the source of Nile and some of the region’s more peaceful National Parks, where wildlife viewing does not involve long waits in line behind a dozen or more vehicles. The natural attractions are among the best in the region, and as tourism is still being re-established, there simply are not the crowds found elsewhere. Take your pick from the highest mountain range in Africa, the Ruwenzori Mountains; one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, Murchison Falls; or perhaps the highest primate density in the world, in Kabale Forest National Park – Uganda has all this and more. It’s a beautiful country with a great deal to offer, and now tourists are re-discovering its delights..
Uganda is situated in eastern Africa, it is mostly a plateau, a compact country occupying an area of 236,580 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain or the state of Oregon in the United States. It lies astride the Equator and has a fine mild climate with copious rainfall that is experienced during the rainy seasons and sunny months.
The country is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). to the west, with the Ruwenzori ranges, which span a length of 60 km, forming an imposing natural border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).. Geographers have now extended the theory that other sources of the Nile could include the distant chilly streams that escape from the icy caps of the Rwenzori ranges as well as the Akagera River from Rwanda which empties its waters into Lake Victoria in Uganda. To the south lies ‘the big country’, Tanzania, also a member state of the East African Community.
Tanzania also shares the massive Lake Victoria waters with Uganda and Kenya. Uganda harnesses about half of this natural resource. To the north is Africa’s largest country Sudan; an arid country that takes in most of the waters of the Nile from Uganda, and then Kenya to the east. Kenya is Uganda’s biggest trading partner in the world and the easiest route to the Indian Ocean. The River Nile, the longest river in the world, snakes through the heart of the country before veering north westwards into the Sudan. The Nile begins its 4,000-mile journey at Jinja, 50 km east of Kampala, right at the headwaters of Lake Victoria, before hurtling in a fit of rapids and falls on its extraordinary journey to the Mediterranean Sea.
It was at Jinja, on the Buganda side of the river, that in 1862 the British explorer, John Hannington Speke, stood in awe looking at the falls after making tortured and frustrated journeys and fruitless arguments with fellow explorers Burton and Grant. The mystery of the source of the Nile had finally been solved. An obelisk now marks the spot from which Speke stood.
North of the Ruwenzoris is Lake Albert a rectangular rift lake through which the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) passes. In addition, right at the tip of this lake in the north the Nile forces its way through a narrow rock crevice barely 20 feet wide before bailing out in a large pool as it hurtles on northwards. A route choked by papyrus which covers most of Lake Kyoga precedes the journey to the falls.
In addition, at the southwestern tip of Uganda are three extinct volcanic mountains: Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo which are part of the Virunga ranges of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).. Muhabura, which is the highest of the three, stands at a majestic height with an impressive single cone which is often shrouded in fog. At the top of this cone is a crater lake. Gahinga is the shortest of the three and it is known worldwide for its troops of about 300 – 600 mountain gorillas -the last in the world- which feed on the luxuriant green found on the mountain. Gorilla tracking is a lucrative tourism business in Uganda that lets a few tourists booked on a first come first served basis enjoy the privilege of coming face to face with the most awesome looking giant apes of the world. Sabyinyo is a double-coned mountain and forms part of a labyrinth that demarcates the border between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A saucer like depression of Lake Victoria dominates Central Uganda. From the headwaters of the lake at Jinja, Uganda harnesses electricity, some of which is exported to neighbouring Kenya. As the Nile flows north, it runs into the palm-shaped Lake Kyoga. The papyrus-congested lake is home to thousands of fisher folk who live on floating islands of papyrus while fishing for a living. North of Kyoga are flat savannah areas which are occupied by wandering cattle keepers. This area can get very hot during the dry season.
In eastern Uganda, one interesting geographical feature is Mountain Elgon, an extinct volcano that forms a natural border with Kenya. Elgon is a wonderful but ecologically fragile tourist attraction which has been invaded by Bagishu peasants who are short of land and in need of farming plots. The Bagishu, otherwise known as Bamasaaba people, are a flamboyant tribe known for their rigorously enforced circumcision rite that takes place in even years. Feasting, drumming and dances which verge on the obscene go on for weeks as men with knives circumcise young boys with chalk painted faces in an a ordeal that requires more than painstaking manly courage to endure. For a number of years a number of minerals such as asbestos, talc, vermicule and dolomite have been known to exist although their actual commercial potential has never been established.
There is scant information about Uganda’s pre-colonial history but at least a few oral tales date back to the 1600s when a number of people living around Lake Victoria and along River Nile eked a living off the land and kept cattle. The northern region is a different story of tall people armed with a spear or bow and arrow, hunting and fishing for a living.
People and their culture
Today in Uganda there are 17 tribes belonging to the Bantu and Nilotic groups. Uganda is a country of many cultural contrasts. English is the official language. Many people outside the office also commonly speak it. Luganda is easily the most spoken language in most towns where business is transacted.
The country is known for its fine sunny and rainy weather which often does not require the wearing of warm clothing except on some chilly nights in the mountainous areas in western and eastern Uganda. Uganda is on the sunny side most of the year, especially in the central region. Rainfall comes in torrents when delayed, especially when the expected patterns are delayed for some months.
Wildlife in Uganda
Uganda may not boast of huge and well-developed national parks like neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, but after years of misrule, there is a turnaround in numbers of animals especially elephants and antelopes, once butchered in their thousands by undisciplined soldiers and poachers during the reign of Idi Amin.
When to visit
Uganda is situated astride the Equator, so the country enjoys a tropical climate with very little temperature variation throughout the year. The main factor that determines your visit will be the rainfall patterns. In the southern part of the country, April is the rainiest month. The rains stretch up to May, with another wet season in October to November. And although the dry months are good for birding don’t forget the fact that the wet months are more productive since breeding takes place during those months.
Adventure camping Safaris in Uganda
Uganda is an ideal and friendly place to be; camping can be fun in most areas, especially in the south where there are good sites and interesting flora and fauna. There are some tips which may prove useful to you, especially if you are not the hardy type of visitor.
Gorillas Trekking Safaris
Despite the bad name and scare stories told about gorillas at the beginning of the 1900s, before scientists unraveled the mystery and life behind these gentle giants, gorillas have now become popular tourist attractions and creatures of the wild worth conserving. Latest surveys suggest there is only one mountain gorilla for every ten million people on earth.
Local Dishes…..: yummy banana dishes, stews, pastes and juicy fruits and drinks
Uganda’s culture weaves a thread of variety not only through the manner of dress, language and other characteristics but also in its variety of dishes. Nearly every tribe or region has a delicacy or specialty and when you get to Uganda try out the local restaurants or the homes of residents. They will prepare or treat you to some of the relishes and foods made from the numerous vegetables, yams, potatoes, bananas and fruits that abound here.
Uganda’s healthy climate makes it possible to get on with life with a minimum of fuss. You have to take precaution against malaria by taking anti-malarial two weeks before arrival. All kinds of anti-malarias are available in drug shops and there are white doctors who have been in the country for many years who will treat malaria successfully. Most African doctors are good at treating tropical diseases. Some malaria strains now are resistant to treatments like malaraquine or quinine, so it is recommended to always take precautions such as using mosquito repellents, creams or sleeping under treated bed-nets. You could also put on long sleeved shirts, socks and occasionally use sprays in your room. You are meanwhile advised to drink bottled mineral water, although tap water in most places can be drunk without problems. Some visitors to Uganda find a problem coping with fresh vegetables or fruit salads served in hotels, but the problem is usually not that of parasital infection but a change in climate for visitors. You should be able to drink most fresh juices and salads served in most decent hotels. Otherwise washing vegetables or fruits in a tincture of vinegar or salt is recommended. You might want to swim in most of the lakes or rivers, but a precaution should be taken against Schistomiasis (bilharzias).