The attachment to the “Pearl of Africa” started when I first stepped my foot into this beautiful country of Uganda. This was back in May 2009, being a well-travelled freak, I had the country lined up in my bucket list and boom! It was time.
We arrived in Entebbe international airport in the afternoon. The weather was so beautiful not to mention the coolest breeze and an amazing view of Lake Victoria Africa’s largest fresh water lake. On leaving our aircraft, we walked to the arrivals building where Health department mandatorily required us to present a Yellow Fever certificate. (That was then, as later on, there were other health checks depending on which country one is travelling from including Ebola screening and obviously with the current global pandemic it involves passing an automatic thermal imaging stand which screens for abnormally high body temperature indicating fever among other SOP’s in place).
Entebbe International Airport. Credits: New Vision
Immediately we exited the arrivals hall, we saw a crowd of people waiting, holding a sign with names on it. I noticed Ugandans are very friendly people, most speak English and they will help you. I was immediately greeted in a local language “Oli otya Nyabo” (How are you Madam)? I obviously smiled back as by then I did not know the language. Upon realizing I didn’t get what he said, he shifted to English, then asked if we were interested in a taxi service. We unfortunately didn’t as we had a friend coming to pick us. The gentleman(driver) upon realizing that, he never left us but rather offered to carry our luggage and showed us where we can wait for our friend. As if that was not enough, he explained briefly about what we should expect as well as if we needed any assistance. This was not normal to me as I was completely unused to such treatment. Where I was brought up and the several other countries I have lived in would be like “The eye of a needle”. In most cases, people are busy minding their own business especially during work rush hours, rather than to provide hospitality services to strangers! (Trust me, this first impression lived to date).
Our first stop was Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, we had one night stay then proceeded to Pineapple Bay Resort, the early boat was at 9:30am and took us about 45 minutes. The best time to travel as the lake is calm. Beautiful lodge and very close to Ngamba island where one would visit the chimpanzees in 15 minutes by boat.
A stunning view of Pineapple Bay Resort- Bulago island
Just so you know. Uganda is East African landlocked country and a home of gorgeous lakes, incredible wildlife, and lovely people with diverse cultures. The warm tropical climate will welcome you, and the lush landscape and rich cultural heritage will keep you enthused and engaged throughout your entire stay. If you’re up for dashing your adrenaline while communing with the natural wonders of the world, Uganda is your place to visit! The most prominent destinations that I would do many times and advise anyone not to miss on your safari in Uganda, may include but no limited to finest national parks of Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Kibale Forest for thrilling activities and attractions.
Murchison Falls, also known as Kabalega Falls Waterfall, located between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the Victoria Nile in Uganda.
Travelling to Murchison Falls National Park is a teaser that will make one crave for more time in the destination. Given its vast nature of approximately 3,840KMsq stretching from Karuma falls to the shores of Lake Albert in the rift valley. Believed to be the worlds’ strongest falls along river Nile which forms a thunderous roar as the waters squeezes down the rocky banks of the Nile. A boat trip to the bottom of the falls will offer remarkable wildlife experience as well as birds. An early morning boat cruise in search of Shoebill stork also referred to as “King Whale Head” derived from its enormous head size can be spotted easily on floating vegetation while hunting for fish. Usually along the delta offers greater opportunity to see this highly sought bird.
My friend and I during an early morning boat ride in search of a Shoebill.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest covers 321km sq of the park and covered end to end in hilly terrain. The park is illuminated by a tropical blanket glowing high over 1200 metres above sea-level. Driving along the wing roads is just an amazing experience, other option is flying to Bwindi. The park is divided into four zones of Buhoma to the North, Ruhija in the Northwest, Nkuringo and Rushaga in the Southeast. This is home to one of the country’s Unique treasure gorilla and where one can do a trek. The trekking takes between an hour to 6 or more hours depending on the location of the gorilla. This is not for the faint hearted but rather requires one to be fit for a much better experience. During the trek, there are porters who are always prepared to escort and assist in carrying the water and other luggage.
I often recommend visiting Buniga Community before tracking the gorillas. The trail and nature walks in the forest is yet another thrilling experience that gives one a deeper understanding of how the Batwa, also referred to as pygmies, lived and survived in the forest. They are the indigenous group and oldest recorded inhabitants of the Great Lakes Region in central Africa. Originally, the Batwa inhabited the areas around the mountainous forests of Lake Edward. The creation of national parks and economic development, led to the displacement of part of the communities. They eventually became squatters in host communities and gradually learnt new languages and cultures. A guide is usually there to explain and take visitors through their lifestyles whereas the Pygmies loves entertaining guests with dances within their homesteads. I personally felt touched to have met such a unique community.
And now that Uganda’s international travel restrictions have been lifted since October 1, 2020. We are obviously thrilled and looking forward to welcome our clients to feel and see some untold treasures! (I just gave you a pinch, the rest awaits you all) And Yes, gorillas can now be tracked and more great news is that our lucky clients will experience a much more interesting sessions as most families are now having new born babies during Covid period! As Becca Fitzpatrick, said, “Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can”.