TravelThe Pearl of Africa: Our Uganda Bucket-list

Enid KathambiJuly 29, 201834814 min

In 1907, Winston Churchill took a trip to Uganda a visit he pretty much loved and enjoyed. When he wrote about this journey in his book, My African Journey, later in 1908, he penned the phrase “The Pearl of Africa” in regards to Uganda’s beauty. In his book, Winston wrote “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” 

The political environment has not in the recent years painted the country in good light. But Uganda should be in your bucket-list. From the hilly country sides, the bustling capital city​ Kampala to the beautiful scenery of the landscape. Uganda really does live up to its name. A trip through the country will not disappoint your expectations. In our bucket-list are some of the top places to visit while in Uganda, but this list should not limit your exploration.

Kampala

Kampala is the modern version of the Buganda’s Kingdom ancestral capital, and is still the capital city of Uganda. Filled with so much energy, Kampala will treat you to one of its biggest markets​, Owino Market, the Kasubi Tombs as well as the Gaddafi National Mosque.

The Baganda Kingdom was ruled by kings commonly referred to as Kabaka’s. Kasubi Tombs is the burial ground of the four Kabaka’s and members of the royal family from the Baganda Kingdom. This is the place where you can also learn more about the Baganda Kingdom; their culture, and history. The city, however has too many boda boda riders, which makes it a little bit too hectic when moving around.

Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort is one of my favourite places in Uganda. Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, this Five Star Hotel offers you a serene environment and a variety of activities. Take a boat ride across the Lake, stroll through the ever green Resort and be treated to a sight of the waterfalls in the Resort, ride one of their beautiful horses, and if you are hungry pass by their restaurant and treat yourself.

While still in the capital city you can treat yourself at the Cassia Lodge. It is located on one of the highest hills in Kampala, Buziga Hills. This place will give you an opportunity to view the magnificence of the city and Lake Victoria. The environment here is serene and cool.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

It was previously known as Kazinga National Park and is located in the Southwest part of Uganda. The Park is shared amongst districts i.e. Bushenyi, Kases, and Bundibugyo. You can access the Park via the tarmacked road of Mbarara, which will be a 5- 6 hours ride from Kampala. Alternatively, you can use the rough road from Bwindi.

This Park lies on 1,978 square kilometers of land and will treat you to a variety of species and its equatorial climate. You will be treated to a sight of various vegetation such as swamp vegetation, Acacia woodland, and forest grassland just to name a few. Certain wildlife such as lions, hyenas, Cape buffaloes as well as Uganda kob and others.

For sightseeing, Mweya Peninsula is your best bet. Ishasha area within the Park will treat you to a variety of vegetation and the climbing lions as well as other species of wildlife. The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion will giving a site for a photo-shooting; we all need memories of such beautiful places. While still in the Park do not forget to visit Kazinga Channel, which adjoins Lake Gorge to Lake Edward. The channel will also give you a chance to view a variety of wildlife so you can enjoy a game drive here in the early morning hours or late afternoon.

Lake Bunyonyi

I have nothing but love for this place! Located in Kabale in the Western part of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is known as one of the deepest lakes in Africa. The lake is 1,962m above sea level, and is located within the ever green hills of Kabale. It is home to 29 islands. It’s magical and breathtaking to say the least.

While here, you can enjoy a dugout canoe ride or take a motor boat ride. This gives you a chance to enjoy the water and even visit the islands. You can visit the BaTwa people and learn one or two things about their culture. The Echuya Batwa are commonly known as the pygmies, and they are the most marginalized, endangered and vulnerable people. They reside around the Echuya Forest Reserve.

If you are not water-phobic like yours truly, you will enjoy swimming. It is safe to take a deep dive and enjoy the cool water of this lake.

Murchison Falls National Park

Located in the Northwestern part of the country, Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952. The Park is on the shores of Lake Albert and is also the largest park in Uganda. The Murchison waterfall is the main tourist attraction in this Park and the River Nile. You can take a trip up the stream, which gives you a chance to watch the riverbank wildlife as well as the spectacular view of the waterfall itself. Down the stream, treat yourself to a boat ride that takes you down from Paraa all the way to the Papyrus Delta. This is the point where the river makes its way into Lake Albert.

The Park will treat you to a sight of four species out of the Big Five: lions, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards. Apart from these, there are other wildlife species in the park such as hippos, antelopes, giraffes, oribi, and Uganda kob among others.

In the Park, you can track the chimpanzees as well as bird watching in the Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests. If you are into nature walks then enjoy one up to Rabongo forest and enjoy bonding with nature. Buligi area gives you a chance to enjoy a game drive and the view of the savanna.

Other activities that you can enjoy here include bird watching, biking, nature walks, as well as hiking.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Located in the Southwestern part of Uganda, this National Park is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Home to hundreds of mountain gorillas, the Park is also known to have over 300 species of birds, over 200 species of butterflies and over 100 species of mammals.

Being one of the richest ecosystems in the world, it serves as home to a number of endangered species. To protect the endangered gorilla families, there are restricted numbers of viewing permits.

The forest is dense thus leaving you with no other choice than trekking. To enjoy the serene environment of the forest, take a hike through the nature trails set and enjoy mother nature. You can indulge yourself in other activities such as mountain biking, cultural tours as well as nature walks.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Located in the Karamoja region in the Northeast part of the country, Kidepo Valley National Park covers 1,442 square kilometers. It is also located along the border of Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya. It was established as a game reserve by the Colonial government in 1958 as a way of protecting animals from hunters as well as clearing of the bushes for tsetse fly control. This led to the displacement of the pastoralists from the Dodoth and Ik communities from the area. Under the rule of Milton Obote, the reserve was converted to a National Park in 1962.

The Park will treat you to a wide variety of wildlife such as cheetahs, hunting dogs, aard wolf, cape buffaloes, elephants, bush pigs, warthogs, defassa water bucks, and the stripped hyenas  just to name a few. The Park has some of the uncommon ungulates such as the roan antelope, beisa oryx, the greater and lesser kudu as well as klipspringer & bright’s Gazelle.

Apart from the game drives, other activities to indulge in while here include hiking, bird watching, and cultural performances from the locals.

As mentioned earlier, this list is not quite extensive. There are a number of other places you can visit while in Uganda and be treated to the beauty of the country. From the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Ssese Islands to Jinja, which is also the source of the great River Nile. All you need to do is book your flight ticket and enjoy the Pearl of Africa.

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