Discover Uganda the Pearl of Africa!
About Uganda- the history, people and wildlife
Uganda is absolutely a country of many interesting activities. The landscapes and crater lakes are unique. The wildlife, especially the mountain gorillas are a beauty to Uganda.
Uganda is indeed African. It is largely a lush green country. Moreover, it is home to the friendliest people on the continent.
Firstly, political instability and secondly the shadow of Idi Amin. These have long hindered tourism in Uganda. However, the situation is now normal and stable.
Therefore the future is bright for this East African nation. Uganda was named “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill.
The moment you arrive in Uganda, the impression is great. It is that of rich natural diversity, friendly people and a cultural scene.
The urban life of Uganda
Much of the urban life takes place in the capital city of Kampala. The city is lies a few kilometres from Lake Victoria.
Most foreigners stay in the city center or specifically the diplomatic areas of Naguru and Kololo. It is worthwhile to venture into the bustling bars and clubs of Kabalagala. This is where expats and locals meet for a beer and chat about football or politics.
Jinja lies east of Kampala and on the banks of the River Nile. It is a favorite place for adventure tourism. Activities such as water rafting, horse riding and bungee Jumping are favoured.
To the west towards the Congo border, the national parks and landscapes are fascinating attractions. Furthermore, the numerous lakes, the wildlife and the pygmy people reveal Uganda’s natural wonders.
Seeing the Wildlife
The most popular spot for wildlife watching is Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park is home to 4 of the Big Five African animals. Flamingos around the salt lakes add color to the park. Meanwhile, the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha are an attraction apart.
On the other hand, Murchison Falls national park is another famous site for wildlife. This park in the north of the country is worth a visit. This is because of the mighty falls, the River Nile and awesome wilderness,
Kidepo national park is in the extreme north east towards the Sudan. It is another gem that people rarely get to see. You are likely to see Cheetahs, lions, leopards and herds of elephants in Kidepo.
The iconic mountain gorilla is definitely the star attraction for most visitors. The gorillas are further south in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Nevertheless, it is also worth taking a tour to the nearby Lake Bunyonyi from the Bwindi forest. This is the area famous for beautiful landscapes and freshwater crayfish.
Everywhere will undoubtedly impress you, regardless of where you go in Uganda.
The history of Uganda, Language and Culture
The Buganda Kingdom was the most powerful dynasty in the region. That was before the arrival of the Europeans in the 19th century. However, the Kingdom had significantly weakened neighboring kingdoms and chief-doms. This was well achieved through better armed forces and agriculture.
In 1862, the British explorer John Hanning Speke became the first European to visit the kingdom. However, he was soon followed by a number of Christian missionaries. The then Buganda king, Mutesa 1 welcomed them. Previously, Arab traders had entered the region from the Indian Ocean coast in the early 1840s.
Uganda officially became a British protectorate in 1894. This was after uniting the different Kingdoms under one country.
Kingdoms such as Bunyoro, Teso, Acholi, Lango, Ankole, Tooro and other smaller chiefdoms were added on Buganda to form Uganda.
Post independence governments
The country gained its independence in 1962. However, its post-independence history became full of violence.
The King of Buganda Edward Mutesa 2 was the first president of Uganda. At this time, Obote was the prime minister. However in 1969, he overthrew the constitution using the army and became the executive president. Hereafter, Obote banned all opposition parties and Kingdoms.
But after just two years, Idi Amin overthrew Obote in January 1971. Amin remained president of Uganda for eight years. Finally on April 11 1979, Amin fled Uganda. He was forced out by the Tanzanian army and Ugandan exiles. Amin died in Saudi Arabia on August 16 2003.
Obote then returned to office in 1980. But he found himself fighting guerrilla groups. These included the remnants of Amin’s army and Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA). The national army was the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) led by Tito Okello.
In July 1985, Obote was once again deposed by the military council headed by Okello. The Okello government lasted only six months. Thereafter, the NRA rebels led by Museveni took control of the capital in 1986. They established the National Resistance Council to govern the country.
By the early 1990s, Museveni succeeded in restoring order and a measure of prosperity to most of the country. The first presidential elections in Uganda organized in 1996, was won by Museveni.
Museveni is still president today after winning all the elections between 1996-2016.
For decades after Museveni came to power, areas of northern Uganda especially Gulu and Kitgum, continued to be in a civil war. This resulted in deaths of many people. The extremely violent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) an anti-government group, terrorized the area by deliberately targeting civilians. They operated in South Sudan. However, they would regularly cross into Uganda to loot and kill people. Eventually, they were pushed into the central African Republic.
Northern Uganda and its people finally joined the rest of the country in a prolonged period of peace.
Did you know?
Winston Churchill named Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” when he visited in 1907.
For one thing, Uganda has repeatedly been ranked as a world leader in alcohol consumption.
In 2016 nearly half of Uganda’s population were under the age of 14. No doubt, this made it the youngest country in the world after Niger.
The Christians are 66% while the Muslims are about 16%. The others are atheist or belong to traditional religions. Nonetheless, there are small minorities that practice Hinduism and Judaism.
Way of life:
Generally visitors to Uganda will find people to be relaxed and friendly. Thus the normal way of greeting is by shaking hands. It should be noted that it is rude not to greet a person properly. Although it is a taboo to rush into asking a question, most people will know ‘Hello’. But the Swahili ‘Jambo’ is also used. Casual dress is usually worn for most occasions in the daytime or evening.
Ugandans have a socially conservative culture. Overall, it is best to avoid expressing emotions or affection in public. Showing anger is also frowned on. Hence one should try to keep calm in annoying situations.
Drug abuse is illegal and widely condemned. Equally unacceptable is homosexuality.
As a result of Uganda’s approach to homosexuality, there has been much publicity in recent years. In 2009 and still debating, the government proposed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This bill would include death penalties for anyone proved to be indulging in same-sex activities. However, the bill has provoked strong international condemnation. Therefore, any lesbian, gay or transgender travelers to the country are advised to be extremely cautious.
Since 1992, photography has been allowed in all areas with the exception of airports, police and military installations. However, some areas like government buildings are still sensitive and it is advisable to take local advice.
Commercial photographers should consult the Ministry of Information for a permit.
Some local people have no problem when you photograph them . But others will get extremely mad. Kindly ask before taking anybody’s photo.
The languages spoken in Uganda
English is the official language. In addition, Luganda and other bantu languages are spoken especially in central, eastern and western Uganda. On the whole, Swahili is spoken throughout the country.
Uganda’s weather, climate and geography
The best time to visit Uganda:
Uganda has a tropical climate. By and large, temperatures range from 21-25°C (70- 77°F) In contrast, the mountainous areas are much cooler. For example the top of Mount Rwenzori is often covered with snow. Whereas the region around Muhavura and Mgahinga mountains are always cold.
The hottest months of the year are December to February. For the most part, evenings can be chilly after the heat of the day. Temperatures can be around 12- 16ºC (54-61°F).
Apart from the dry area in the north east, most regions in Uganda have an annual rainfall of between 1,000mm and 2,000mm.
There is heavy rain between March and May. And between October and November. During these months, roads can be difficult in parts of the country.
The best time for gorilla trekking is during the dry seasons. This is between January and February. June to September too are fairly dry and good.
Wildlife viewing is best during the dry seasons. Ordinarily, this is when animals concentrate more around water sources. Nonetheless at the end of the rains, there is plenty to eat.Therefore animals tend not to move far distances.
Light clothes are good. However for the evenings, a warm cover-up is better. It is even good to take a pair of good walking shoes. Bring boots for nature walks and forest trekking. Also, long-sleeved tops protect against mosquitoes.
Since temperatures drop substantially in mountainous areas, be sure to take warm clothing,
White clothes won’t stay clean for long because of the red dust roads. So go for darker colors.
Travelers can also pick up bargains at second-hand clothes markets in Kampala. Jinja and Fort Portal also sell new and used clothes, jackets and boots.
Uganda lies between the eastern and western sections of the Great Rift Valley. The country shares borders with Kenya to the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. While Sudan is to the north,Tanzania and Rwanda are to the south. Lake Victoria is borders to the southeast.
The Landscapes and Mountains
While the landscape is generally quite flat, most of the country is over 1,000m (3,280ft) in altitude.
The mountainous regions include the Rwenzori Mountains. These mountains of the moon run along the border with Congo. However, the Virunga Mountains are in Kigezi. This is still on the border with the Congo and Rwanda.
An extinct volcano namely Mountain Elgon, lies on the border with Kenya.
The varied landscapes include tropical forest, a semi-desert area in the northeast and the arid plains of the Karamoja. The hills in central Uganda are quite scenic. The rolling savannah in the north is beautiful too. On the other hand, Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole Kingdoms have grand farmland and tea plantations.
Lake Victoria and the River Nile
The capital city, Kampala, lies on the shores of Lake Victoria. In fact, this is the largest lake in Africa. Furthermore, it is the second largest freshwater lake in the world. Jinja town is on the lake. It is the starting point of the River Nile. The river traverses much of the country towards the north.
Do you prefer gorilla tracking and a combination of other activities? Or bird watching and photography? All these are possible and you can as well enjoy them!
At Redrock African safaris, we arrange safaris according to your unique needs and details. Indeed we take care of everything- from the moment you land until the end of your trip.
|Area||241,038 sq km (93,065 sq miles)|
|Population||37.1 million (2015)|
|Population density||153.9 per sq km|
|Head of state||President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni since 1986|
|Head of government Business||Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda since 2014|
|Electricity||240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used|