About Uganda

About Uganda- the Pearl of Africa!About Uganda, a boy repairing a pond to make salt on the Bunyampaka salt lake in Queen Elizabeth national park

A hippo running in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth national park

     About Uganda- history, people and wildlife

Without a doubt, Uganda is a country of many interesting activities. The landscapes and crater lakes are unique. The wildlife, especially the mountain gorillas are a gift to Uganda.

Uganda is indeed African. It is a lush green country. Moreover, it is home to the friendliest people in Africa.

About Uganda’s history

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 nation in East Africa. Uganda was named “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill.

When you reach Uganda, it is impressive. Uganda is of rich natural diversity, friendly people and a cultural scene.

     The urban life of Uganda

Much of the urban life occurs in the capital city of Kampala. The city lies a few kilometers from Lake Victoria.

Most foreigners stay in the city center, specifically the leafy areas of Naguru and Kololo. It is worthwhile to go to the bustling bars and clubs of Kabalagala.

Jinja is 80 kms east from 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 take place.

To the west, the national parks and landscapes are wonderful attractions. Furthermore, the numerous lakes, the wildlife and the pygmy people show Uganda’s nature.

     Seeing the wildlife in Uganda

The most popular area for wildlife 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 a separate attraction.

On the other hand, Murchison Falls national park is another famous site for wildlife. This park in the north of the country.  This is because of the mighty falls, the River Nile and awesome wilderness,

Kidepo national park lies in the 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.

The iconic mountain gorilla is definitely the star attraction. The gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

It is also worth taking a tour to the nearby Lake Bunyonyi from Bwindi. This is the area for beautiful landscapes and crayfish.

Everywhere will undoubtedly impress you, regardless of where you go in Uganda.

Uganda’s, languages and cultures
      The Kingdoms in Uganda

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 other kingdoms and chief-doms. This was achieved through superior weaponry and agriculture.

 In 1862, the British explorer John Hanning Speke was the first European to arrive in the kingdom. However, a number of Christian missionaries soon followed him. The then Buganda king, Mutesa 1 welcomed them.. Previously, Arab traders had entered the region from the Indian Ocean 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 and Lango were added on Buganda. Together with Ankole, Tooro and other chief-doms,  they all formed Uganda.

      Post independence governments in Uganda

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. He then 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.

Civil wars in Uganda

Obote then returned to office in 1980. But he found himself fighting guerrilla groups. These included Amin’s army and the National Resistance Army (NRA). The national army then was the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) under Tito Okello.

In July 1985, Obote was once again deposed by the military  headed by Okello. The Okello government lasted only six months. Thereafter, the NRA rebels led by Museveni took control in 1986. They established the National Resistance Council to govern the country.

By the early 1990s, Museveni restored order and some prosperity to most of the country. The first presidential elections organized in 1996, was won by Museveni.

Museveni is still president today. He has been winning all the elections between 1996-2016.

For decades thereafter, areas of northern Uganda especially Gulu and Kitgum, remained in a civil war. This resulted in deaths of many people. The very violent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) an anti-government group, terrorized the area. They deliberately targeted 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 finally joined the rest of the country in a long period of peace.

Did you know?

Winston Churchill named Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” when he visited in 1907.

For one thing, Uganda has overtime 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.

Religion in Uganda

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 in Uganda

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.

Ugandans have a socially conservative culture.  Overall, it is best to avoid expressing emotions in public. Showing anger is also not respected. Hence, one should try to always keep calm.

Drug abuse is illegal and widely condemned. Equally unacceptable is homosexuality.

Homosexuality in Uganda

As a result of Uganda’s approach to homosexuality, there has been publicity in recent years. In 2009 for example, the government proposed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This bill included death penalties for anyone proved to be indulging in same-sex activities. However, the bill provoked strong international condemnation. Therefore, lesbians, gays or transgenders are advised to be extremely cautious.

Photography

Since 1992, photography is allowed in all areas except airports, police and military installations. However, some areas like government buildings are sensitive. 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 between 21 and 25°C (70- 77°F).  In contrast, the mountainous areas are much cooler. For example, the top of the Rwenzori mountains is often covered with snow. Even the regions around Muhavura and Mgahinga mountains are always cold.

The hottest months of the year are December to February. Evenings are chilly after the heat of the day. Temperatures can be around 12 to 16ºC (54-61°F).

The north east is clearly dry. However, 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, most roads can be difficult to navigate.

The best time for gorilla trekking is during the dry seasons. This is between January and February. June to September are also fairly dry and good.

Watching wildlife is best during the dry seasons. This is when animals concentrate around water sources. Nonetheless, there is plenty to eat at the end of the rain season. Therefore, animals do not move far away.

Clothing in Uganda

Light clothes are good. However in the evening, warm clothes are better. It is good to take a pair of good walking shoes. Bring boots for nature walks. Also, long-sleeved tops protect against mosquitoes.

Temperatures drop substantially in mountainous areas. Therefore be sure to take warm clothing,

White clothes won’t stay clean for long. This is because of the dusty 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 and boots.

Geography of Uganda

Uganda lies between the eastern and western sections of the great Rift valley. The country borders Kenya to the east. The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the west. Sudan is to the north,Tanzania and Rwanda are to the south.  Lake Victoria borders to the southeast.

      The landscapes and mountains of Uganda

The mountainous regions include the Rwenzori Mountains. These mountains run along the border with Congo. However, the Virunga mountains are in Kigezi. This is still on the border with Congo and Rwanda.

 On the eastern side, mountain Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border with Kenya.

The landscapes include tropical forests. A semi-desert dominates in the northeast in Karamoja. The hills in central Uganda are quite scenic. The rolling Savannah in the north is beautiful too. On the other hand, Bunyoro and Ankole kingdoms have huge farmland. Tooro has tea plantations.

     Lake Victoria and the River Nile

The capital city Kampala, lies on the shores of Lake Victoria. In fact, this lake is the largest 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 runs through the country from lake Victoria.

At Redrock African safaris, we arrange travel in Uganda packages according to your unique details. Indeed we take care of everything. From the moment you land until the end of your trip. Do you prefer gorilla trekking and a combination of other activities? Or bird watching and photography? All these are possible and you can enjoy them!

Key facts
Area 241,038 sq km (93,065 sq miles)
Population 37.1 million (2015)
Population density 153.9 per sq km
Capital Kampala
Government Republic
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
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