When you hear the word Uganda, so many things might come to your mind due to the interesting and unique facts about this beautiful African Country. For starters, Uganda is popularly known as the Pearl of Africa and is a landlocked country that is located in East Africa. Furthermore, it is bordered to the East by Kenya, to the North by South Sudan, to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the South west by Rwanda and to the South by Tanzania.
Also, Uganda lies within the Nile Basin and generally has a modified Equatorial climate. That said, the country is endowed with vast vegetation and wildlife as well as bird species, making it an incredible tourist destination.
One could fill a book with facts about Uganda, however, below are 10 interesting ones that could give you a picture of what this paradise is all about.
- The Source of the Nile
Uganda is honoured to host Lake Victoria which is the source of the world’s longest river, River Nile (the word “Nile” is a famous Greek word that means valley). Historically, the source of the Nile was discovered by John Hanning Speke (a European explorer) in 1858.
The Nile river begins its 6,696 kilometre journey to the Mediterranean sea in Egypt from Jinja town (on the shores of Lake Victoria) in the South Eastern region of Uganda. This fascinating water body pours its water to over eleven countries which include South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Sudan, Ethiopia and is more centred to Uganda and Egypt.
Additionally, the Nile has greatly contributed to the development of countries where it passes for instance in Uganda, it is a source of hydroelectricity which is used in homes and industries and the river banks provide well drained fertile soils for agriculture.
With regards to tourism, there are so many activities that can be done on the Nile for instance white water rafting, flat water tubing, sport fishing, kayaking, boat cruises and so on. These activities attract a large number of tourists which generates income to surrounding business owners and the country’s economy at large.
When you travel to Uganda, visiting Jinja town will definitely leave you with life changing memories. Along the way, you may get to experience the beautiful Mabira forest where you will engage in activities such as zip-lining, guided nature walks, bird watching and several others.
- The world’s largest mountain caldera – Mount Elgon
There are so many wonders that one can explore in Uganda, but Mount Elgon, which is located in Mount Elgon National Park, is one of the outstanding ones. Having first erupted around 24 million years ago, this extinct volcano is one of the country’s oldest physical features and the largest solitary volcanic mountain in East Africa.
At 4,000 square kilometres, Mount Elgon possesses the world’s largest volcanic base and is located along the Uganda-Kenya border. More to that, its vast form which has a diameter of 80 kilometres rises more that 3,000 metres above the surrounding plains. This height provides a conducive environment for flora and fauna due to the cool temperatures that are found at higher altitudes. Some of the fauna that you may find there include black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and forest elephants. There are also over 300 bird species including the endangered Lammergeyer.
Climbing Mount Elgon offers you an opportunity to explore the area’s magnificent wilderness. In addition to that, you are able to experience the fulfilling descent into the vast 40 square kilometre caldera, not forgetting the hike to the 4321 metres Wagagai peak (the top of the mountain).
Another amusing fact about Mount Elgon is that there was a time when it was the highest mountain, far exceeding the current height of Mountain Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres). However, due to millennia of erosion, the mountain’s height was reduced to 4,321 metres making its peak the 4th highest in East Africa and the 8th in the whole of Africa.
As you plan for your next safari, visiting Mount Elgon National Park will be definitely be an exciting adventure for you and your loved ones!
- The world’s most powerful waterfalls – Murchison Falls
Situated in Murchison Falls National Park, the largest national park in Uganda, is the famous Murchison Falls (Kabalega falls) which is the most powerful waterfall in the world. This waterfall lies at the apex of Lake Albert (in North Western Uganda) on the Victoria Nile. At the top of the falls, the Nile forces its way through a narrow gap in between the rocks which is only 8 metres wide. Thereafter, the water plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron” which is 45 metres below and then flows westwards into Lake Albert. Usually, this jaw dropping action creates a rainbow which can be such a beautiful sight. It is also interesting to note that 300 cubic metres per second of water are squeezed through the gorge before flowing over.
Besides visiting the top of the falls, there are other exciting activities that one can engage in while on a safari in Murchison Falls National Park. Some of them include game drives, boat cruise on the Nile, sport fishing, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest as well as visiting the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on your way in or out of the park for rhino tracking.
- An endowed primates destination
Uganda was blessed with numerous natural gifts with one of them being a variety of primate species, some of which are endangered in the world. Also, the country is known to have highest concentration of primates in Africa (over 15 species). Some of them include; the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, de brazza’s monkey, black and white colobus monkeys, red colobus monkeys, potto, bushbaby, grey-checked mangabeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, patas monkey, baboons and blue monkeys.
The best places to watch Uganda’s primate species are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the endangered mountain gorillas, Kibale Forest National Park for chimpanzees and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for golden monkeys. Other primate destinations include Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Semuliki National Park and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The pearl of Africa is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population and over 5000 of the chimpanzees’ population (which is a sizeable number). If you are a primate enthusiast, you cannot go wrong with a primate adventure in Uganda.
- Crossed by the Equator
The Equator is defined as a circle of latitude that divides a spheroid such as Earth into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This imaginary line is marked 0 degrees latitude and it lies half way between the North pole and the South pole.
In Uganda, the Equator crossing is an excellent spot for taking memorable photographs and buying souvenirs during your safari to the Western and South Western parts of the country. That said, the best place to explore the Equator is in Kayabwe town which is located in Mpigi district, approximately 72 kilometres from Kampala (a 2 hours’ drive).
It is not ordinary for a country to be crossed by the Equator given the fact that only 13 countries in the world have that privilege. These countries include Uganda, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Sao Tome and Principe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Somalia, Maldives, Indonesia, Kiribati and the Republic of the Congo.
- Second largest fresh water lake in the world
Shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania is one of the African Great Lakes known as Lake Victoria. Having a surface area of approximately 59, 947 square kilometres, this is Africa’s largest lake in terms of area, the world’s largest tropical lake and the second largest fresh water lake on the planet by surface area following Lake Superior which is found in North America.
Furthermore, Lake Victoria originally had various local names such as Nnalubaale (a Luganda name) and Nyanza (a Kinyarwanda name). However, in 1858, the lake was renamed after Queen Victoria by a British explorer called John Hanning Speke during an expedition with his partner, Richard Francis Burton.
Speaking of why Lake Victoria is so famous, it is the chief reservoir of the Nile and supports the largest freshwater fishery in the world with a production of over one million tons of fish annually. Additionally over 200, 000 people have employment opportunities due to the lake and are therefore able to support the livelihoods of about 4 million people.
In Uganda, particularly, Lake Victoria and its resources fuel the country’s economy through production of hydroelectricity, tourism, food and water supply, agriculture, transportation and so on.
Some of the tourist activities that may take part in while visiting Lake Victoria include; visiting the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Entebbe zoo), Mabamba swamp for bird watching (don’t miss out on the Shoebill), relaxation at the Ssese Islands, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary experience, to mention but a few.
- The 10 incredible national parks and vast wildlife
Uganda is blessed to have 10 incredible and magical national parks and they include; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Semuliki National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, which is under the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, manages all these national parks together with 12 Wildlife reserves, 5 Community Wildlife Management areas and 13 Wildlife sanctuaries.
Generally speaking, Uganda is endowed with 345 mammal species, more than 140 reptile species, over 1,060 bird species, 1,249 butterfly species and half of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla population – many of which you will find in the various national parks that have been mentioned above. Additionally, Uganda hosts some of the endangered animal species in the world such as the Northern White Rhinos, the golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, African elephants, the Shoebill and several others. Surely, a wildlife safari in the Pearl of Africa cannot leave you the same especially because of the big 5 animals which include the African lion, the Cape buffalo, the Southern White rhino, the African leopard as well as the African elephant!
- Uganda’s ethnic diversity
Did you know that Uganda is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world? The ethnic groups that are found within the country include the Bantu, the Nilotics, the Nilo Hamites and the Hamites, with the largest being the Bantu. More to that, 56 tribes inhabit various parts of the country and some of them include; the Baganda (the largest tribe), the Teso people, the Banyankole, the Lugbara, the Samia tribe, the Karamojong people and so on. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the official language is English, all these tribes speak their traditional languages. Visiting various parts of the country can be very exciting given the fact that one is able to explore various cultures and languages. Many regions in Uganda have kingdoms such as Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and Busoga which continues to affirm the country’s strong cultural heritage. Also, besides the ethnic groups, there is a small population of Asians, Arabs and Europeans that live within the country.
- The delicious and unique dishes
One of the interesting facts about Uganda is the wide range of local dishes that you can choose from. Apart from the wide variety, these dishes/cuisines are very tasty due to the exceptional flavors and the skilled chefs. You will get an opportunity to taste these delightful meals either at your lodge/hotel or a restaurant in the city or even during your cultural encounters in the local communities. Some of these dishes include Luwombo, Katogo, Muchomo (roasted meat), Matooke, Rolex, Chapati, Kikalayi (fried pork), roasted maize and so many others. While you eat any of these foods, watch out for your fingers as you might bite them of due to the heavenly experience.
- Uganda’s mind blowing history
When you select Uganda as one of your safari destinations, be prepared to experience some amazing historical encounters due to the country’s rich history. Starting from the history of the people who inhabited the territory of present-day Uganda before the establishment of the Republic of Uganda to the history of the country after it was established, you will get an opportunity to learn all about during your stay.
There are various historical sites that can provide a wonderful educational experience during your safari and they include the Kasubi tombs, Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru, Nyero Rock Paintings, Kabaka’s Palace and several others.
Speaking of Uganda’s leadership over the years, there is a lot to say but one outstanding president was known as Idi Amin Dada Oumee. He was a Ugandan military officer and politician who served as the third president from 1971 to 1979. What made him famous was the fact that he was a military dictator and is considered to be one of the most brutal despots in modern world history! To find out more about Uganda’s political, cultural and religious history, make a booking for your Uganda safari today.
COVID 19 and Ebola travel guidelines
Ensure to follow all the necessary COVID 19 and Ebola travel guidelines to ensure that you are in a safe and healthy condition during your safari with us. One of our major priority is to provide the best possible safety and comfort during your tour, so please rest assured that you will be in safe hands.
Some of the travel guidelines include wearing and carrying a sufficient number of surgical masks, moving with an alcohol based hand sanitizer, vaccination against COVID 19 or taking a PCR test and several others.
Place your booking for your upcoming safari with us today and allow us to transform your safari dream into a beautiful reality. The facts about Uganda that have been talked about are just a glimpse of what to expect when you come to the Pearl of Africa. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We are looking forward to giving you an exceptional and memorable safari experience!