It is no wonder that Uganda is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of Africa”. Just like the precious object is only truly appreciated when discovered, this East African wildlife wonderland is a treasure to behold for those looking for a memorable safari experience. With a concerted effort by the government and renewed investment in the tourism industry, more and more visitors are venturing to the varied landscape of Uganda. Top attractions include unique national parks and game reserves, dense tropical forests and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into a colourful history.
The southern part of the country is flooded with natural wonders with the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and its mountain gorillas the cornerstone of the incredible range of national parks. Lake Victoria and its many islands are also in the area, while further north the 43-meter Murchison Falls make for spectacular viewing. The snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori mountains, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, glisten in the sun all year round.
Regarded as one of the friendliest countries on the African continent, Uganda welcomes visitors with open arms to experience its rich and diverse traditional culture. International tourists enter the country through the Entebbe Airport, which is approximately 45 minutes from the capital Kampala, with regular chartered flights to other regions worth visiting also departing from this airport.
Even though gorilla trekking takes the top spot when an itinerary to Uganda is planned, the country offers a plethora of options for those seeking anything from a wildlife safari to thrilling adventures to understanding the local culture. Apart from following in the footsteps of the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or looking up instead of down for lions in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, visitors can visit the Semliki Valley to trek chimpanzees or taste the water from the hot springs. At the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary walks are offered where an experienced guide will inform the curious about the fight for the survival of the white rhino. These parks, together with Kidepo National Park, provide ample opportunity for serious birders to scan the skies for more than a thousand species existing in the country.
Adrenaline junkies are spoilt for choice with either climbing Mount Elgon—an extinct volcano with one of the world’s largest calderas— whitewater rafting down the Nile River with rapids from Grade I to Grade V, or bungee jumping in Jinja and zip-lining in the Mabira Forest. A visit to the Batwa community, pygmy people making a living on the outskirts of the Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks, will provide travellers with a better understanding of the local culture. For a unique experience, visitors can head to the Uganda Equator, where they’ll be able to stand with one foot in the southern and the other in the northern hemisphere.
To enter Uganda, travellers must have a passport valid for at least six months, as well as at least three blank pages. Visitors to Uganda can obtain a visa upon arrival or from a Ugandan diplomatic mission or embassy in the country of origin. Travellers are required to check visa requirements before travelling.
It is always important to take into consideration the possible health risks when travelling to Africa. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations, as well as check with their local Travel Clinic before leaving for Uganda. Recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, malaria, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR),
Uganda is a great destination for family-friendly safaris in general. However, it is important to note that some experiences may have age restrictions attached to them. This may include primate trekking in the jungle, which can be intense and exhausting and might not suit younger travellers.
Depending on the type of safari you opt for you, will depend on the level of fitness you’ll need. Walking safaris require a certain level of fitness, while guided game drives are perfect for any discerning traveller. Those that opt for a primate trekking experience require a higher level of fitness, as travellers will need to endure a three to six-hour hike in the jungle.
Most tour operators and travel agents will recommend purchasing travel insurance before arriving in Uganda. Most travellers include emergency air evacuation if they are travelling to remote areas of the country. We advise that you talk to your travel consultant before leaving your country of origin.
International travellers require an international driving permit if they want to drive in Uganda. Most cars are right-hand drive cars and drive on the left side of the road. Some car rental companies make reference to endorsing a driver’s license by the Uganda Road Traffic authority before renting a car, while others do not.
Uganda is relatively conservative, so travellers should dress appropriately. Furthermore, other things to note include greeting people with a handshake, public displays of affection are uncommon and unacceptable, and people generally enjoy sparking up a conversation with foreigners, so it’s important to engage in a friendly manner.