Winston Churchill popularized Uganda as the “Pearl of Africa,” but he was not the first to explore the country and refer to this incredible land in such terms. As one of the most biodiverse countries in Africa, this popular moniker still rings true today. On my February visit to Uganda, Churchill’s words truly took shape, “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”
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Kidepo Valley National Park
Days 1 – 3
After landing in Entebbe, Uganda’s main port of entry, we flew to the northernmost reaches of the country into Kidepo Valley National Park. In this incredibly remote park, it was a pleasure to have the beautiful Apoka Lodge as our home base for amazing game drives and cultural experiences. Its modern and comfortable amenities were appreciated and the food was incredible – they take great care to cook with fresh ingredients that are flown in frequently.
While visiting Kidepo we were treated to both excellent lion sightings as well as general game viewing that included plenty of elephant, giraffe, and Cape buffalo. Watch the video on the left to hop in the game viewing vehicle for a taste of what Kidepo has to offer!
Murchinson Falls National Park
From Kidepo we flew south to Murchison Falls National Park. The Nile River is the park’s main attraction and Murchison Falls is one of the most (deservedly) famous waterfalls in Africa. Home to thousands of hippos and crocodiles, the Nile also serves as a playground for vast herds of elephants that visit the river’s shore to drink and cool down.
A boat safari lets visitors see many different animals up close and from a unique perspective – it’s a whole different ball game seeing hippos when you’re on the water! It is also easier to spot the many gorgeous birds found in Uganda. Cruising is the perfect way to discover the diversity of life that the Nile supports.
At the end of the day, we were lucky to lay our heads at Paraa Safari Lodge, with beautiful views, friendly staff, and all the comforts of a modern hotel. Hit play for a quick trip down the Nile!
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Tourism has been a major reason for the increasing mountain gorilla populations. Tourism brings trekking permit revenue and creates jobs – both in travel and in wildlife conservation. The gorilla’s population is more well protected than in years past, allowing their numbers to grow once again.
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Saving the most anticipated part of our journey for last, we arrived at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest excited about trekking the endangered mountain gorillas. With roughly 880 Mountain Gorillas living in the wild, trekking was clearly the pinnacle of the safari for many of us. We couldn’t wait to get out into the forest!
After trekking for roughly two hours at a steady pace, our guides prepped us for approaching the Habinyanja Gorilla family, but in all actuality, nothing can prepare you for the experience of rounding a jungle thicket and encountering even one mountain gorilla. Having thought about how the experience might go for me personally, I was still breathless as my eyes adjusted and I processed that I was actually in the presence of a family of gorillas who share 98% of our DNA. Their calm, yet powerful demeanor really drives home that you are only feet away from a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
Itinerary Extension: Hiking to meet the Ik Tribe
Contact Africa Adventure Consultants Today! Visiting the most remote tribe in all of Africa is no small feat. While staying in Kidepo Valley, we chose an experience that wasn’t for the faint of heart. We hiked 10 miles on what seemed to be a sheer vertical trail into the Morungole Mountains for an opportunity to visit with the Ik tribe. This humbling cultural experience began with an hour long drive to the Kawalakol village where we began our hike. We were trailed by a group of young boys and girls watching our progress while fetching firewood for their families. This gave them an opportunity to join our hiking party for the better part of 90 minutes, laughing and playing along the trails as we wound our way up the ascent.
BONUS VIDEO: Wandering through the town of Buhoma
Our time in the town of Buhoma, just outside of Bwinidi Impenetrable Forest, was also a wonderful experience. We stayed at the newly built Trackers Safari Lodge, and thankfully built in plenty of time to relax and experience local life.