There’s more to Uganda than mountain gorillas, although it does claim to have some 480 – more than half of the 800 left in the world. Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is slowly ridding itself of the dark cloud that surrounded it during the Idi Amin regime (1971-79), and is luring visitors who come for the photogenic wildlife, the humble and gracious people, the incredible birdlife with more than 1200 species (an incredible 33 per cent of the world’s birds), the spectacular landscape and the sheer romance of it all.
It was here that the romantic classic The African Queen was filmed. You can take a slow boat ride to Murchison Falls, which features in the film (near where Ernest Hemingway had a plane crash). Follow the course of the legendary Nile River from its source in Lake Victoria, flowing north as the White Nile through Uganda, bursting forth through Murchison Falls and wending its way north as the Blue Nile through the Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.
Comfortable lodges are strategically located near natural attractions. These include Silverback Lodge beside the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; Mweya Safari Lodge overlooking the wildlife-filled Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park; and Paraa Safari Lodge and Chobe Safari Lodge, which overlook wide stretches of the Nile.
Having celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence in 2012, the country does still sport a few vestiges of British colonialism with grand mansions, tea plantations and the odd polo field. But for the most part, the country is agriculture-based, with emerald green fields of sugarcane, banana farms and great tracts of dense forests.
The country is vast, so small plane charters are the ideal way to get around and to appreciate the kaleidoscopic landscape below: tangles of red dirt roads lined with simple grass huts or tin-roofed shops stretch over undulating terrain as far as the eye can see. Lakes Albert, George and Edward edge the country’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest, shares its shores with Kenya and Tanzania. Visit: marasa.net