“ … For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life – insect, reptile, beast – for vast scale, Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa…” ~ Winston Churchill
Celebrating 50 years of Independence on the 9th of October, Uganda is situated in East Africa bordering Sudan to the North, Congo to the east, Kenya to the west, Tanzania to the south with Rwanda to the South East. It has an area of 93,072 Square miles, a population of over 33 million with English, Swahili and Luganda as the major languages. Uganda has had 7 presidents and quite a turbulent political history with the likes of Idi Amin a ruthless dictator and Kony a notorious war lord who sustained rebel activities for over 20 years causing untold pain and suffering to the people of northern Uganda. The current president is H.E Yoweri Musevenifamous for restoring peace and stabilizing the economy in the post Amin days. Like any other country, there’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Uganda. Whatever you choose is a choice you make but just to set the record straight, Uganda isn’t just the bad that is portrayed in Western Media alongside Africa. There’s so much beauty in Uganda that the world doesn’t know and most likely, it won’t show up on International media.
- Best Tourist Attractions ever
The “Pearl of Africa” is “Gifted by Nature” It’s no surprise that Lonely Planet, one of the Worlds’ leading authorities in travel ranked Uganda the No.1 travel destination 2012. Endowed with Natures best fauna and flora, Uganda offers breathtaking scenery, wildlife and adventure
In the Jungles and rainforests, Uganda has half of all the worlds’ mountain Gorillas and the highest concentration of primates in East Africa. So you can go Gorilla or Chimpanzee tracking at the Bwindi impenetrable Forest (a UNESCO heritage site) or try the Kibale rainforestwith 15 primate species.
Mountain Climbing the Snow caped Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the moon) in western Uganda (a UNESCO heritage site) home to 70 mammals and over 217 bird species or the Volcanic Mountains of Mgahinga or Elgon and possibly Bush camping at the foot of the mountain after
With numerous lakes, rivers, water falls, and scenic wonders, you can go white water rafting on the famed River Nile, Fishing on Lake Bunyonyi, Camping at the Sipi or Murchison falls, Hide away at one of the Lake Victoria Islands (The Largest Lake in Africa) or just relax at the beach in perfect weather, the adventure in Uganda never ends
The crazy Night and social life in Kampala and major towns around Uganda is a story that can only be told through experience with events all year round.
The National Parks and the Savannah offering vast expanses of vegetation in all directions and Wildlife you will not find anywhere else. Visit the Lake Mburo National park that connects to 13 other lakes in the area or choose from one of our 10 National parks with a host of activities. Some of the Animals you should expect are gorillas, monkeys, hippos, buffalos, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, lions, leopards, monitor lizards, and cheetahs among a host of others
The abundant bio diversity with over 1040 bird species for all your Bird watching pleasure and all the above make it a destination you need to add on your travel list.
Like most of Africa, We have amazing Music. The multi-cultural environment influences Music creating a diversity of sounds. From the legendary Philly Bongole Lutaya (RIP) to the conscious Tshila, the ethnic Suzan Kerunen, King of Soul and 2010 RFI Winner Maurice Kirya, The Soulful Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa The blossoming Ugandan UK based Michael Kiwanuka, or one of the oldest bands the “Afrigo Band” All of these united and a thousand more craft a sound so unique and definitive of the pearl of Africa
- Culture and People
In the words of Winston Churchill, “…The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa…”
One of the best things about Uganda is the warmth and hospitality of its people. People are generally friendly and kind. Uganda is a multi-ethnic nation with multiple cultures and over 50 tribes. All these have different customs, beliefs, foods, dressing and dances. There is no better way to experience diversity than to visit Uganda and see it for yourself.
- Accommodation and Food
From budget hotels, B&B’s, hostels to five star accommodation, you can have it all whether in Kampala the capital or at a national park lodge, there are hotels, lodges with all facilities you require; Restaurants, Gym, Sauna, Steam, Swimming pool, Security, you name it. Better still, they are affordable and can suit whatever budget you may have
When it comes to food, we are looking at one of the most fertile lands in Africa producing numerous foods. Whatever food you eat, we would most likely have it. Uganda doesn’t have a McDonalds, KFC or a Starbucks but we have all sorts of Restaurants, Coffee shops, Hotels with all kinds of cuisine. Be it American, Indian, Thai, French, Italian, Chinese, Lebanese, Korean, Ethiopian and the local cuisine. Uganda also boasts of a range of tropical fruits like Bananas, Pineapples, Oranges, Mangoes, Passion fruits, Jack Fruit, Guava’s, sugar cane, Paw paws among many others
- Thriving Business and Investment Climate
Uganda is virgin land when it comes to investment. With agriculture currently forming the backbone of the economy, it’s said that Uganda could feed Africa if properly farmed. Uganda has fertile land, regular rains and lots of minerals. Oil was recently discovered and is expected to be a major contributor to the economy as well. From small businesses, medium sized companies to huge franchises and with a population of 33 million and the East African community in the pipeline, Uganda will soon become a large market to tap into. The ease of starting business is made simpler by the Uganda Investment Authority. Companies such as MTN in a span of 13 years made it to become one of the country’s top tax payers. Whether it’s Agriculture, Industry, technology, energy, Uganda has proved to be a profitable investment destination so whatever your Investment is; Uganda and East Africa are a viable investment destination for many investors seeking to partner with Africa.
- The Truth about Kony, Terrorism, Homophobia, and Security
There have been isolated incidents where tourists have been attacked, mugged and robbed but these could have happened to anyone anywhere in any other country in the world and can’t be the reason as to why a country should be declared unsafe for travel on the contrary, Uganda is one of the safest countries to travel to.
Kony: The LRA war lord Joseph Kony is history and is no longer active in Uganda. He was driven out of Northern Uganda 6 years ago. Life is back to normal and the people are working hard to restore lost years and make progress. Kony is currently in the Central African Republic and is being pursued by the Ugandan Army so do not be misinformed by “Travel Experts” and Advisors who even still believe Idi Amin is the president of Uganda.
Terrorism: Uganda was attacked by terrorists on 11 July 2010 killing 74 people inclusive of foreign nationals. The attack was claimed by the Al shabab of Somalia. Many speculate that this is most probably because Uganda sent peace keeping troops to Somalia. The Country continues to be on alert and peace and calm have returned the country since then
Homophobia: Many perceive Uganda as a country where Homosexuals are hanged and killed. This is a fallacy perpetrated by International Media. Homophobia is a global phenomenon present and experienced by homosexuals worldwide only less reported elsewhere and made the center of focus in Uganda. Homosexuals exist in Uganda and live normally like anyone else. Nonetheless based on our history, cultures and laws, societal perceptions and opinions on the practice are strong and restrictive. The Uganda Tourism Board issued a statement saying “The Uganda Tourist Board welcomes all intending visitors to Uganda regardless of their sexual or cultural orientation and will continue to work with the Ugandan police and other agencies to ensure that their stay is peaceful and enjoyable”
Security: Without downplaying any past incidents, Uganda is a safe place and just like anywhere else in the world, we all need a little bit of caution, vigilance and common sense in denying opportunity to those that seek to permanently borrow our property or harm us. All that one needs to do is to avoid risky or dangerous situations.
- Climate and Weather
The Country’s elevation and location on the equator give it a near perfect weather with Holiday weather all year round. Have you ever been woken up by either a rooster, a call to prayer by a mosque or the beautiful sunrise and then lay to rest with a magnificent sunset or a thriving night life? The sun Rise and the sunset are so beautifulUganda has two main seasons that is the dry and wet seasons. The Wet has less sun and the dry has less rain with moderate temperatures across seasons. During the Rainy seasons, it rains often for a short while and the sun comes out shortly after and in the Dry season, there is less rain and the temperatures go a little bit higher to maximums of 25 – 30 degrees celsius. Some experienced travelers suggest that the best times for travel to Uganda are between December and February then June to September depending on your purpose of visit.
- I will stop at 7 just because I can.
I dare you to visit Uganda and experience the beauty and people that Winston Churchill so vividly describes and who knows, it just might change your life forever.
Photos credit- Edward Echwalu- Ugandan photographer and 2012 CNN photojournalist Nominee http://echwaluphotography.wordpress.com/
Onyait Odeke is a, Writer/Blogger| Debater/Debate Trainer | Social Activist | Creative Thinker |CIM & Photography Student| Loves Life & the Arts and lives in Uganda · http://coloredzebra.wordpress.com