Whether it’s the thrill of coming into close proximity of a lion, realizing the true grandeur of an elephant or witnessing the moment a leopard pounces on its prey, African safaris and guided walking tours provide a unique opportunity for travellers to experience wildlife in their natural habitat, reports assistant editor, Ann Ruppenstein in this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier.
From being home to the big five game animals to being one of only three countries in the world where it’s possible to virtually come face-to-face with mountain gorillas, Uganda offers an abundance of bucket list worthy activities for wildlife and adventure enthusiasts alike.
“Uganda was called the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill because of its uniqueness,” says Doreen Katusiime, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, The Republic of Uganda.
Katusiime continued: “Uganda is right at the equator, yet at the same time it has mountains that are snow capped. Uganda has the source of the River Nile, the second longest river in the world, there’s mountain gorillas, it’s quite a lifetime experience to see and interact with them, but it’s not just about the wildlife, but the uniqueness of the culture. We have more than 50 ethnic groups, each one with a unique culture so it is such a unique place to be. You can have experiences of a lifetime that you cannot get anywhere else in the world.”
For a small country – Uganda fits into Canada roughly 44 times – the East African destination boasts 10 national parks and packs a diverse amount of adventure travel activities like white water rafting in the White Nile, trekking for chimpanzees in Budongo Forest Reserve or a thrilling 144-foot bungee jump plunge over the Nile.
“We have 64 language and culture groups. We have lots of mountains, valleys and wildlife. We have the highest concentration of birdlife in the African continent – 1,067 bird species. From 30 minutes of every distance you actually encounter a variety of landscapes and geographical features, hot springs, crater lakes, lush forests,” says Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board.
“We have the largest population of mountain gorillas in the world, 54%, we also have the world’s largest concentration of primates, chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys. We have culture, history, heritage, the weather is great all year around – and the people are fantastic – we’ve been voted the friendliest people on earth,” said Asiimwe.
Although it was already more affordable to trek for mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest than in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, with the recent announcement that gorilla permits in Rwanda were increasing to US$1,500 as part of an initiative to further support conservation efforts, its US$600 price tag now makes it significantly cheaper to get up close and personal with a silverback in Bwindi.
For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier.