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Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Big Game & Culture

Uganda has earned a tourism reputation as the “Pearl of Africa.” The country has ten national parks and a dazzling array of landscapes, which range from dry savannas, snowcapped mountains to dense rainforests harboring endangered primates. Visitors can observe lions prowling the grasslands one day, go white-water rafting down the Nile the next, and adventure with mountain gorillas. Ugandans are also famously friendly, and English is widely spoken.

Somewhere in his book, My Africa journey, Winston Churchill describes Uganda as “The Pearl.” Mainstream has taken it a notch higher to call Uganda the “Pearl of Africa,” which remarkably represents the name accurately. The Equator strands across its plains, dividing the country into two climates with the colder south and dryer air as you head further into the northern areas. The southwest, immediately after the equator, raises into jugged highlands blanketed with massive patches of rainforest reserves. Within its rainforest reserves are some of the most precious wildlife jewels on the planet, the mountain gorillas, which attract a healthy flow of tourists into the country.

In the center of two rift valley arms, the geographical position of Uganda and the equator combine to control the weather and create a landscape that has none like it in all the world. It is Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the vital and refined essence of a continent. The Pearl of Africa views are extensive. Everything that you see makes for greatness and freedom and unequaled nobility. When in the highlands, travelers wake up in the morning and think: Here I am, where I ought to be. When you breathe in, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air.

  • Coming face-to-face with four hundred pounds silverback mountain gorilla impenetrable jungle and on the bamboo-clumped slopes of the Virunga mountains.
  • Following a narrow rainforest trail awkwardly with the heart-throbbing pant-hoot chorusing of chimpanzees
  • Cruising the Kazinga Channel in the shadow of the Ruwenzori mountains while elephants drink from the nearby shore
  • Watching a prehistoric shoebill swoop down on a lungfish in the brooding reed-beds of Mabamba Swamp.
  • The roaring, spraying sensory overload that is standing on the tall rocks above Murchison Falls
  • Rafting grade-five rapids on the Nile

Planning an All-inclusive Uganda Safari

Uganda is still low-key with tourist crowds: all-inclusive group tours seldom exceed six in number. Even the most popular wildlife game-viewing circuits retain a relatively unconstrained atmosphere. The Pearl of Africa’s wide selection of forested and game reserves remain highly accessible to independent travelers and relatively affordable to those on a limited budget, such as off-the-beaten-track gems as the Ssese Islands, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Sipi Falls, and Kasenda Crater Lakes.

The Pearl of Africa enjoys one of the healthiest reputations of any African country regarding crime directed at tourists. The level of day-to-day hassle faced by independent travelers is negligible. And Ugandans as a whole — both those working within the tourist industry and the ordinary man or woman on the street — genuinely do come across as the warmest, friendly, and relaxed hosts imaginable.

So here are the hurdles you may have to jump while planning your all-inclusive Uganda safari holiday.

Seeing Mountain Gorillas

In the southwestern corner of the Pearl of Africa are the Virunga mountains and the rugged rift valley slopes where more than half of the last remaining mountain gorillas flourish. One can trek, and within meters, spend at least an hour with the precious gorillas of the mountain. Gorilla trekking is arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter The Pearl of Africa has to offer — though tracking chimps in the Kibale Forest may trample it for some tourists.

THINGS TO DO, SEE, AND PLACES TO VISIT

The rugged rift valley region and the Virunga slopes in the Pearl of Africa’s southwestern corner are where more than half of the last mountain gorillas flourish. One can trek, and within meters, spend at least an hour with the precious gorillas of the mountain. Gorilla trekking is arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter The Pearl of Africa has to offer — through tracking chimps in the Kibale Forest trample it for some tourists. In Uganda’s premier savanna reserves, one can be almost certain of encountering lions, elephants, buffaloes, and many savannah dwellers. There are the Ruwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon, where one can explore East Africa’s bizarre montane vegetation without the goal-oriented approach associated with Mount Kenya or Kilimanjaro’s ascents. And there is Bujagali Falls on the Nile River, which — with its white-water rafting, kayaking, and bungee jump — is revered as East Africa’s ‘Adrenalin capital.’ The Pearl of Africa’s natural attractions far exceeds the trek to see mountain gorillas and the ‘BIG 5’ game drives that are a safari craze. Uganda is the greenest, fertile, and overwhelmingly tropical of all of Africa’s reasonably established safari destinations! The Pearl of Africa is where the eastern savanna meets the west African jungle — and it does offer visitors the best of both these fantastic worlds. In no other African destination can one see a comparable variety of primates with so little effort — not just the great apes, but also more than ten monkey species, as well as the tiny, wide-eyed bushbaby and peculiar potto. If Uganda has primate enthusiasts wandering around with ear-to-ear grins, it will have birdwatchers doing cartwheels. Yet, Uganda is the smallest of the four African counties in which specialists have recorded more than 1,000 bird species. It is particularly rich in western rainforest specialists — in practical terms, undoubtedly the finest birdwatching destination in Africa. And yet, after well representing its position as the Pearl, Uganda does feel like a more intimate, unspoiled, and low-key destination than its safari peers.

Planning a trip to the Pearl of Africa Q&A

Uganda is still low-key with tourist crowds: group tours seldom exceed six in number, and even the most popular wildlife game-viewing circuits retain a relatively unconstrained atmosphere. The pearl’s plethora of forested and game reserves remain highly accessible to independent travelers and relatively affordable to those on a limited budget, such as off-the-beaten-track gems as the Ssese Islands, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Sipi Falls, and Kasenda Crater Lakes. The Pearl of Africa enjoys one of the healthiest reputations of any African country when it comes to crime directed at tourists. The level of day-to-day hassle faced by independent travelers is negligible. And Ugandans as a whole — both those working within the tourist industry and the ordinary man or woman on the street — genuinely do come across as the warmest, friendly, and relaxed hosts imaginable
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