With its turbulent past still fresh in many peoples memories, poor infrastructure and relatively new tourism offering, Uganda is often looked over as a destination to visit when compared with its more illustrious East African cousins of Kenya and Tanzania.
This however couldn't be further from the truth as Greg Fox, Mahlatinis director, found out on his recent visit to this beautiful country. Here is a sample of his highlights:
1. Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Having wanted to track gorillas for a long time, I finally got my chance and wasnt disappointed. After a mere 45 minute walk up and over a hill we came to a clearing on the edge of the forest where an entire group of 18 individuals sat peacefully. We spent an enthralling hour with these majestic creatures, captivated by their every move. It is one of the most incredible experiences of my life!
2. Tree climbing lions in the Ishasha District of Queen Elizabeth National Park
One of the highlights of any visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is their famous tree climbing lions. Queen Elizabeth National Park is a big park and it is only the lions in the Ishasha district that climb trees. We were fortunate enough to find a pride of 6 lions resting peacefully in a massive sycamore fig tree on our first afternoon and spent a good 2 hours watching this incredible sight.
3. Seeing the Murchison Falls
We set off early in the morning from Paraa Lodge on a boat cruise which took us upstream along the Victoria Nile through some of the most beautiful countryside. Here the shores teemed with wildlife of every sort. Hippos and crocs lined the river banks with loads of buffalo, waterbuck and the ever present Ugandan Kob and even the odd elephant coming down to drink at regular intervals. The trees were teeming with birdlife from the majestic fish eagle to the energetic pied kingfishers. After about an hour and a half we rounded a corner to one of the most incredible of Ugandas sights, Murchison Falls - the mighty Victoria Nile squeezed through a gap of only 7 meters before tumbling a further 40 meters down a ravine.
4. Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park
Tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Park was one of my personal highlights of my trip. After only about 15 minutes of walking through fairly dense forest we had not seen or heard a thing, however, our guide was adamant that we were on the right track. All of a sudden all hell broke loose and there were chimpanzees everywhere screaming, climbing trees, drumming on the fig tree roots and tearing through the undergrowth. The dynamics of a chimpanzee family were utterly fascinating with the dominant male and his lieutenants ruling things with an iron fist. Their interactions played out in front of us like a grand performance and kept us captivated for the 3 hours as the forest went from silent to bursting with life and noise in the blink of an eye. Our guide was fantastic and really painted the most wonderful picture about what was happening and how to interpret their behaviour which just added to what was the most memorable and wonderful experience.
5. Boat trip down the Kazinga Channel
This is a must do for anybody who visits the Queen Elizabeth National Park and is visiting the area around the Mweya district. The Kazinga Channel is 32km body of water that joins Lake Edward to Lake George. Travelling slowly down the channel by boat is the most wonderful way to see the park and all its wildlife. The shores of the channel are lined with hippos and buffalo wallowing together in the muddy flats at the waters edge. This is the first place I have seen this in such abundance in Africa. We saw a wealth of plains game and birds as well as loads of elephants. One of the unique things about Queen Elizabeth National Park is how humans and wildlife live in such close proximity to each other. Little fishing villages near the shores of Lake Edward mean that humans and animals all cohabit in the same area peacefully.
6. The crater lakes
From Queen Elizabeth to the areas around Fort Portal and Kibale is an area with one of the densest concentrations of crater lakes in the world. The lakes were formed by the immense volcanic activity and geological forces that shaped this area of Western Uganda. The landscape here is pot marked with numerous crater lakes which makes for one of the most unique, interesting and beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The views over the craters from Ndali Lodge and Kynaninga Lodges are absolutely breath taking and make these two lodges so unique.
7. The Batwa Pygmy experience in Bwindi
I have done many cultural experiences throughout Africa, most of which I would like to forget. The Batwa Pygmy experience in Bwindi however was totally different and I can highly recommend it for any stay. The afternoon was spent with the tribal elders in a fascinating glimpse into their culture and workings of their society. It is sad that they have had to resort to this to preserve their dying way of life but it was a privilege to be able to spend an afternoon with these wonderful, kind and generous people and get a glimpse into their lives and how they used to live and survive in the forest.
8. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Sadly the last rhinos in Uganda were wiped out during Edi Amins reign of terror in the late 70s. Thankfully there is now an ambitious project to reintroduce rhinos back into the wilds of Uganda to restore the parks back to their former glory. The park now boasts 12 white rhinos which are kept under surveillance 24 hours a day to protect them against potential poachers. At Ziwa we went on a wonderful tracking experience where we tracked the rhino deep into the bush and eventually found a family of 4, a mother and her 2 calves and a young sub adult. We spent an interesting 45 minutes with them while our guide spoke to us all about the project and was very informative about the rhinos and their habits.
9. Ankole- Watusi Cows
Uganda is famous for its Ankole-Watusi cows. These cows have the most incredible horns which can reach up to 2.4m from tip to tip!
10. Uganda's People
Uganda's wildlife and scenery are not the only draw cards to visit. The people themselves are certainly one of the highlights of my trip. Having travelled extensively around the globe I can honestly say I have been to very few places where the people have been as friendly and welcoming as I experienced in Uganda. No trip to Uganda would be complete without taking the time to experience the wonderful people that live there through the various cultural interactions such the Batwa Pygmy experience or visiting the markets and restaurants in towns and villages and etc.
Ready to explore more?
Our travel experts are ready to start creating your dream African adventure.