Uganda – The Pearl of Africa
Defined as the ‘The Pearl of Africa’ by Winston Churchill, Uganda is an east-central African country sharing borders with Kenya, Tanzania and other African countries making it a landlocked region. The country was found in 1894 and gained its independence in the year 1962 and has a history as colourful as the country itself.
Even though the country is exceptionally famous for its mountain gorilla trekking, it’s safe to say that it has never failed its visitors in providing much more than a scenic view of natural wildlife.
Uganda has been a delight for many African travellers who have defined the country as a true paradise. From boasting wildlife experiences and rafting through the largest lake of Africa to experiencing live cultural museums and mini animal safaris, the country is nothing less than an adventurous rollercoaster.
And if this wasn’t enough to get you hooked to the thought of visiting this exciting African country, the diverse culture and the friendliest locals definitely will lure you in its charming facade and overwhelming aura.
Pro-tip – Get yourself a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, without which it’s almost impossible to get a visa.
Lying next to the river Victoria is the capital and the largest city of Uganda known as Kampala. The city is filled with a lively vibe and surrounded by the famous seven hills. The best way to reach Kampala is by taking a flight to Entebbe, a town 30 miles away from Kampala and the only place in Uganda with an International Airport. From there, a cab is easily available to safely drop you at your desired destination in the city.
Once the traffic of the city is overlooked, you will be amused by the number of things that this place has to offer to its visitors. Kampala is home to several mosques, museums and fun activities.
Being in the city, you can always count on the friendly locals to help you around in case you lose your way.
And while you are visiting this city, it’s good to know a phrase or two in the native language, Luganda. ‘Oli Otya’ means ‘how are you?’ and Gyendi translates to ‘I am fine.’
The city was also home to Idi Amin, a significant person from history and a dictator who changed the lives of many for better or worse. Idi Amin’s famous torture chamber in the Mengo Palace is a must-visit while you are in the city. Oh and don’t forget to take a ride on Boda-boda, the public motorbike taxi which will conveniently help you beat the heavy traffic.
As previously mentioned, Entebbe is 30miles away from Kampala. You can simply take a cab and reach this city which lies on the shores of Lake Victoria. The city is a gleaming place with a laid-back feel and a pleasant atmosphere making it a perfect spot to relax and a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Due to its location, visiting the beach is something that you don’t want to miss out on. A wide range of water activities are available to keep you entertained but it is not recommended to take a dip due to the presence of freshwater parasites.
In addition to that, the famous Entebbe Botanical Garden should be on your to-do list for a timid experience amongst the wildlife. End your day by taking a stroll around the crafty markets of the city and you might end up finding your favourite souvenir. Either way, it is definitely worth seeing the cultural art of the country.
A hotspot of Uganda, Jinja has earned the title of ‘the adrenaline capital of the country’. Being at a prime location, at the source of River Nile, the city beautifully transformed itself from a fishing village to the second busiest commercial city in Uganda.
The few things that make this city the most adventurous of all is the opportunity of rafting and kayaking through the foaming white water of the Nile. Being in Eastern Africa, you most definitely cannot miss out on being in this city’s presence.
Mbale is a city in Uganda located northeast of Jinja and ready to embrace you with its luring coffee aroma. The city is famous for the presence of the second largest mountain in Africa, Mount Elgon.
Apart from the famous hike to Mount Elgon, there are smaller community hikes, tours to coffee plantations, agricultural hikes and other pockets of adventurous joys waiting to keep you occupied on your visit. Not a lot to offer, Mbale makes a perfect one-day stay to give you a relaxed time with a scenic mountain backdrop.
If you fancy a break from the Ugandan heat and a convenient place to stay before heading to Lake Mburo National Park, Mbarara is the perfect stop to make.
The city is rich in the history of the Nkore Kingdom and other historical events which you can find out upon visiting the Igongo Cultural centre. Just like Mbale, the city has very few tourist attractions but there are definitely enough day trips and outdoor activities from here to keep you occupied on this sub-Saharan African trip.
While Uganda might not be anything like your annual Europe trip, the pockets of charms that you find in this country are more than enough to add to your list of once in a lifetime experiences. Give it a chance, and you will marvel at the way that it surprises you.
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