Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.
The ancestral capital of the Buganda kingdom is modern day Uganda’s capital too.
And for an African first city, it’s got real charm and panache.
You can still see some of the thatched relics of the former glory years at the Kasubi Tombs, or you can taste the frenetic energy of day-to-day Ugandan life between the sun-cracked streets of Central Kampala; a place of throbbing markets (the city’s Owino market is said to be the largest in Central-east Africa) and echoing mosque minarets (that soaring Gaddafi National Mosque is a must!). On the edge of town is the more straight-laced area of Nakasero Hill, where well-to-do villas house the country’s elite and expats chatter in the ramshackle bars.
2. Kibale National Park
Pierce into the dense jungles and wetland forests of the great Kibale National Park and you won’t be disappointed! What awaits is one of the world’s most awesome arrays of wild chimpanzee packs, and you can see these majestic simians of Central Africa trawling through the undergrowth and commanding the canopies on game drives and safari excursions of all different types.
There’s a kaleidoscope of other curious little monkeys to spot too, like the rare L’Hoest’s and the Ugandan red colobus.
It’s also possible to wonder up at ancient fig trees, and see some more recent efforts to create sustainable coffee plantations in the area.
3. Ssese Islands
A cocktail of golden sands worthy of Latin America, sun-kissed beaches and lapping waves, the archipelago of the Ssese Islands is Uganda’s answer to the tropical gems of the East African coast on the Indian Ocean.
Peppering the waters of Lake Victoria, they are considered the country’s premier rest and relaxation spot, with the popular Buggala Island and Bulago coming up top of the menu.
You can either kick-back in one of the lakeside resorts, or wax up the walking boots and make for the hills, where hippo-dotted swamps hide between the ridges.
Kayaks and other watersports are also available on Buggala.
4. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park really does live up to its name! A land of rocky peaks and endless green, it’s covered in some of Africa’s oldest primeval forestry.
The biodiversity – think geckos next to gorillas next to a multitude of curious insects – garnered the spot a UNESCO World Heritage tag, while most safari goers head this way in search of colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
The breathtaking landscapes are typical of the Albertine Rift.
They rise and fall to untrodden valleys and summits, with quartzite massifs here and teak-shrouded riverways there.
It’s definitely one to write home about!
5. Murchison Falls National Park
Named for the roaring cataracts that carve right through their middle, the wilds of the Murchison Falls National Park are unquestionably some of the most amazing in north-western Uganda.
The protected area is actually the largest national park in the country, with a whopping count of nearly 4,000 square kilometers between its borders.
The biggest attraction is – of course – the point where the Victoria Nile crashes through a tight-knit gorge and over an escarpment of more than 40 meters in height.
However, travelers can also look forward to stalking lions and giraffes and elephants and more!
Entebbe, for most international visitors at least, will be the entrance point to Uganda.
It’s here that the nation’s Entebbe International Airport makes its home; its runways butting up against the waters of Lake Victoria.
Most will also leave promptly, on their way to Kampala or the country’s other far-flung safari destinations.
Those who linger can enjoy a laid-back place that still trundles to the tune of the old British Protectorate – for it’s here that the English colonists made their base in earlier decades.
One of the relics of that age is the beautiful National Botanical Gardens, while there are also charming churches, and the official residence of the president: the Ugandan State House.
7. Queen Elizabeth National Park
Handily named just QENP for short, this huge dash of wilderness that lies close to the banks of Lake Edward and the DRC border in the west is Uganda’s most famous national park.
It’s visited by thousands of tourists each year, who come in search of the lazy Congo lions and the swinging chimps that can be seen mingling between the Maramagambo Forest and the grassy savannah.
The whole area is also scarred by countless volcanic features, going from the awesome Katwe craters to great rifts in the earth, making it an interesting and eye-catching place to go on safari drives and game seeking journeys.