Uganda – The Pearl of Africa as discovered by Laura Vagners

A gorilla frolics in the jungle, Uganda

Reading any must-travel destination list, you will likely see Uganda and there are many reasons why. I was able to check off a number of items off my bucket list (and items I didn’t realize were on my bucket list) on my recent trip to Uganda.

Uganda encompasses everything you are looking for when travelling to Africa. Safari, culture, history, safety, and of course, gorillas. As you read further you will be amazed at all the wonders this destination has to offer.

First stop was Kidepo Valley National Park. I must admit, even as an Africa Expert I had to google this area. It is considered to be Africa’s most remote National Park and there is absolutely nothing like it. A vast landscape, with not a single vehicle in sight, this is one of the most exclusive experiences you can have on safari.

Ik Tribe village

Even more unique to the area is the Morongule mountain range, where the most remote tribe in all of Africa can be visited. The Ik people (also known as the Mountain People) live nestled in their village communities, far from other human life. An early start to your day will lead you on a 4-6 hour hike into the mountains with the help of a trusted Uganda Wildlife Authority guide. On reaching the village, you feel the cool mountain breeze and meet the local children and elders who welcome you with warm smiles, song, and dance. This tribe sees only a maximum of 30 visitors a year. Such an encounter cannot be compared to other tribe visits in Africa.

Don’t worry. After that long hike up you can opt for a much shorter (1-2 hour) hike back.

Hippos lounging

Onward to Murchison Falls Park, the source of the Nile. This area is home to hundreds of bird species (truly a birder’s paradise), crocs, hippos, and elephants. With chimp trekking, traditional vehicle safaris and boat cruises, this dynamic park has something for everyone to enjoy.

The Nile flows through a six meter gorge that creates a magnificent spray that can be viewed from a boat or for the more adventurous – a hike right to the falls. Imagine enjoying the same view that Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Queen Elizabeth have all enjoyed.

Some would say the best was saved for last and I cannot argue that. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Forest was an experience that changed my perspective on an animal that we share 98% of our DNA with.

There are a number of gorilla families that have been habituated for tourists to visit and depending on your activity level, guides will assess the best family for you to visit. Once you reach the gorilla family you have one out of this world hour to watch how these animals interact with one another, the dynamic between the silverback, the mothers and their babies, and how they live life every day.

Giraffes on the plains

There’s no need to fear these majestic animals. Your professional, highly trained and skilled guide is there to prepare you for your encounter. So long as you respect their home, they are happy for you to visit. AfricaExpert tip? Consider travelling in low season, when gorilla permit prices are lower.

Neighbouring country Rwanda has also just doubled the cost of its gorilla permits, making Uganda a more affordable option as well as a perfect all round safari destination.

Uganda is coined “the Pearl of Africa” with good reason. Stunning unspoiled landscape, no civil issues, welcoming people, one of a kind cultural experiences, incredible wildlife, and the magic of encountering a Mountain Gorilla are just a few reasons you should consider Uganda to be your next trip. Not one person leaves this spectacular country quite the same, and you will be counting down the days until you can visit again.

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