Uganda is a land of contrast – its temperamental landscape ranging from swampy lowlands and fertile plateaus, to arid plains that merge with the horizon – and is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Trek through local villages and canopies of rainforests to relish in the sight of a family of gorillas nesting among the bamboo. Stand at the foot of the continent’s tallest mountain range and see the source of the White Nile.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers 33,100ha of improbably steep mountain rainforest and houses almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Apart from the 350 bird species, the forest is also a sanctuary for bushbuck, chimpanzees, African golden cats, the rare giant forest hog, and the gentle forest elephants. Track chimpanzees in Kibale Forest, or go in search of the Big 5 at the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kampala’s streets are jammed with throngs of shoppers and hawkers, livestock clip-clopping along, and mind-bogglingly packed taxis. Towards Nakasero Hill, the urban core fades into a garden city lined with ritzy bars and restaurants. From here it’s a short trip to Jinja to see the source of the White Nile where it bleeds out of Africa’s largest lake – Lake Victoria.
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers 33,100ha of improbably steep mountain rainforest and houses almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas
- The forest has thrived right through the last Ice Age, with its incredible diversity of flora and fauna intact
- Go chimpanzee trekking in the Kibale Forest, or in search of the Big 5 in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Kampala’s streets are jammed with throngs of shoppers and hawkers, livestock clip-clopping along, and mind-bogglingly packed taxis
- Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake
Facts and Information
Uganda is a charming country known as the Pearl of Africa located in the heart of this vast continent. It forms an East African Community with Kenya and Tanzania, though it is pretty much in the heart of the continent bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Rwanda to the south and Sudan in the north. It is relatively small by African standards so travelling distances are not great and it is possible to get from one side of the country to another in a day. Having said that it is about the size of Great Britain and supports a diversity of habitats, from snowcapped mountains to lakes, winding rivers, forested reserves and jungles.
There are majestic mountain ranges - the Rwenzoris (Mountains of the Moon) in the west and Mount Elgon in the east. There are many forested parks and reserves, the most famous being Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Uganda is a landlocked country but it is exceptionally fertile as 25% of the surface area is water. There are lakes galore, the most well-known being Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. It forms the southern border with Tanzania and there are a number of islands worth visiting, the most renowned being the Ssese Islands. The source of the Nile is in Jinja as the world's longest river emerges out of Lake Victoria and winds its way northwards.
People, Culture and Language
Uganda has a variety of cultural groups speaking over 30 different languages. The people can be classified into these broad categories: Bantu, Nilotics, Madi-Okoru or the Sudanic speaking, and the Pygmoid (who live mainly isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda). One-third of the population is Roman Catholic, one-third is Protestant, 16 percent is Muslim and 18 percent believe in local religions. There is a proliferation of religious discourses centered on spirits, possession and witchcraft.
Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes, with English, Arab, Asian and especially Indian influences. Most tribes have their own speciality dish or delicacy. Many dishes include vegetables and fruit, such as potatoes, yams, bananas and other tropical fruits. Chicken, fish, beef, goat and mutton are commonly eaten, although among the rural poor meats are consumed less than in other areas. Tea and coffee are popular beverages and important cash crops, served English-style or spiced. Coca-cola, Pepsi and Fanta, as well as traditional and Western beers are widely available. Fermented banana wine is popular, as is Waragi (distilled spirits).
Uganda has 364 species of mammals and 1062 species of birds. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to half the world's remaining mountain gorillas. You can also see these primates in the Mgahinga National Park or across the border in Rwanda's famous Volcanoes National Park. And you can meet chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest National Park. The Wildlife Conservation Society does a lot of conservation work in Uganda, to counter the effects of and try prevent the threats to wildlife such as poaching for bushmeat, illegal timber harvesting, charcoal burning and encroachment for farmland.
The Equator runs through the country though the average altitude of 1000m provides some relief from heat and humidity. The average temperature is 26°C and summer peaks from December to February. There is rainfall in the south from April to May and again from October to November therefore we advise against travel during these months as getting around can be difficult. The north is wet from April to October but it is largely off the tourist track.
Vaccinations and Malaria
It is recommended that you get vaccinated against the following before your trip: Diphtheria, Malaria (there is considerablerisk), Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, HIV in Africa, Meningitis and Tetanus, Tuberkulosis, Typhoid and Rabies. Talk to a specialist travel clinic doctor.
Visa requirements are constantly changing and so you should refer to the Uganda Embassy Website or speak to one of our expert consultants for the latest requirements
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