Uganda is Africa condensed, with the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination. Uganda is home to the highest mountain range in Africa, the Mountains of the Moon in the Rwenzori National Park. It is the source of the mighty Nile, and around Jinja offers the best white-water rafting in the world. It has the highest concentration of primates on earth, including the majestic mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet. Head to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a chance to get close to these great apes.
On top of all this, the scenery is so striking that it looks like an oil painting, the beautiful national parks see far fewer visitors than in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, and the capital, Kampala, is safer and friendlier than most inAfrica. In 1907 pioneering tourist Winston Churchill called it the ‘Pearl of Africa’. He was right.
Mention Uganda to most people today and the first thing they’ll think of is the brutality of Idi Amin. Their naivety is their loss as, thankfully for Uganda, the big man died in exile in 2003. The reality is vastly different. Stability has returned to most parts of the country and tourists are welcomed with open arms (some areas, particularly in the north, remain unsafe for travellers – see more in the Health & Safety section. Despite the trials and tribulations of the past, Ugandans have weathered the storm remarkably well. The people offer heart-warming hospitality up and down the country, their ever-present smile accompanied by ‘Hello Mzungu!’. They are truly some of the finest folk on the continent.
Take the plunge now, before the world wakes up to this magical microcosm of Africa.
Uganda named top tourist destination
Uganda is among the top 20 global tourism destinations in the year 2013, according to the National Geographic. The National Geographic is an international travel channel affiliated to the National Geograpic Society.
Unlike the lonely planet, which named Uganda as the best travel destination for 2012, National Geographic listed Uganda among the top “new year’s 20 must-see places.”
“The pride of Uganda’s tourism lies in the undisturbed green nature that welcomes you the moment you land in Uganda whether by air, water, land or any means of transportation,” stated the National Geographic.
“Getting out of the city will be a rewarding experience with a variety of bird species, wildlife, and the rare mountain gorillas that have been ‘a hot cake’ to Uganda.”
This comes in the wake of tourism accolades being lavished on Uganda and also challenges such as protests under the banner of “walk to work” by opposition leaders.
National Geographic recommends a number of books and documentaries to watch about Uganda including gifted by nature and The Last King of Scotland.
Abiaz Rwamwiri, a tourism expert with Africa Wildlife Foundation said, “We have a lot of potential we are not tapping into and this is what the recommendation by the National Geographic is telling Ugandans.”
He also explained that Uganda has got a beautiful scenery, unique wildlife such as the Mountain gorillas and easy to visit or stay because of the hospitality of the people.”
He added, “We have got much more because there is even Kidepo National Park, which is a unique destination, but is still undiscovered by tourists.”
A lot is known about Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth National Park, according to Rwamwiri, but Kidepo is unique and truly wild yet not many tourist visit northern Uganda. He said this was going to improve with the implementation a new programme funded by USAID and Africa Wildlife Foundation.
Rwamwiri said the international community is continuously pointing out the immense opportunity that remains untapped, which we should harness.
“We need to do much more and streamline the standards, hotels, guides,” advised Rwamwiri. “Who is a tour guide? Some of these cheat people and others offer services that are below standard.”
In a separate interview, Lillian Nsubuga, the Public Relations Manager of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said Uganda’s tourism industry is gaining visibility, but aggressive marketing is needed.
“As UWA there has been a big campaign to participate in the international world travel market. So, many people know about Uganda, but we need more aggressiveness,” said Nsubuga adding that marketing efforts undertaken by private sector should be harmonised with Government initiatives.
Herbert Byaruhanga, the head of Uganda Safari Guides Association told New Vision that Uganda is becoming a preferred destination globally and this means more employment and income is going to come from the tourism destination.