Having recently returned from a one-week honeymoon in Uganda (as part of a larger Africa trip), we fell in love with this small, East African country, known as the “Pearl of Africa”. Uganda does not get as much attention as its popular neighbour, Tanzania, but it has so much to offer travellers. Only in Uganda can you whitewater raft (or kayak) down the Nile River, come face to face with mountain gorillas, witness stunning scenery, see the continent’s largest lake, and stay in beautiful, unique lodges. While I didn’t get a chance to see everything, here are my top 5 reasons to visit incredible Uganda.
- Got to See the Gorillas. Most visitors come to Uganda to see the famous and endangered Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are only around 800 in the world, found in the misty forests of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, so seeing them is a pretty amazing experience and worth every cent. The mountain gorilla is impressive for so many reasons: males weigh as much as 400 pounds and they are 98% genetically related to humans. After trekking into the forest (with your guide in a small group of around 10 people) for anywhere from 1-4 hours each way, you are then able to see up close the gorillas in their natural setting. We watched young babies playing together just like typical human toddlers, felt the male silverback brush our legs as he walked through our group and observed the mothers relaxing on their backs with their kids in close sight. This was one of the most incredible travel experiences I have ever had.
- Adventure Awaits. The town of Jinja (approximately a 4-hour drive from Entebbe), is the “adventure” capital of the country, and is the place to get your adrenaline fix. In one day we did a combination of a morning bungee jump, directly over the river, and then went whitewater rafting on grade five rapids down the Nile River, flipping only once! While our nerves were in full force, both activities were extremely professionally run with well trained instructors. The town itself is in a beautiful and peaceful setting surrounded by the mighty river.
- Diverse Scenery. Among the various locations we travelled to, there was so much to see all around us. En route to Bwindi, we embarked on a small chartered plane which seated only a handful of people, and this was an unexpected highlight. We soared over Uganda’s amazing mountainous, green scenery – dotted with lakes, craters, and small villages. It was simply stunning. Later, back on land, we drove through villages and rural countryside, with copper dirt roads and local life happening all around us… it felt like quintessential Africa.
Learn more: Uganda Geography and Maps
- Friendly People. Chatting and getting to know our drivers, guides, people in restaurants, or while shopping in a market, the locals we met in Uganda really made the trip. They were kind, honest, hospitable, and most had a pretty good sense of humour. We enjoyed learning more about their culture and they seemed content to show off their country.
- Safe and Unspoiled. For intrepid travellers who like to explore an uncrowded and unspoiled adventure destination (we couldn’t believe how few tourists there were) you will love Uganda! The infrastructure is less developed than Tanzania and roads can be bumpy, but it is a safe and rewarding travel destination.
Some other cool things about Uganda that I didn’t have enough time to see? You can go chimp tracking in Kibale National Park, see a variety of wildlife (elephants, hippos, water buffalo) in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and go hiking in Mount Elgon National Park. Uganda is also a birder’s paradise and is home to hundreds of species of birds.
4-Day Mountain Gorilla Encounter