It was Winston Churchill, at the beginning of the century, who said “…for magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life – plant, bird, insect, reptile, beast – for the vast scale… Uganda is truly “the pearl of Africa”.
Uganda, in the heart of East Africa, is full of the wonders of nature. With landscapes ranging from snowcapped peaks, through broad savannah and tropical rainforests to arid deserts, as well as significant wetlands, Uganda is undoubtedly a special place.
Nestling in the western arm of the African Rift Valley, Uganda has flora and fauna species found in both East and West Africa, as well as an amazing range of its own endemic species.
In the west, the mountain ranges of the Rwenzoris and the Virunga are dramatic backdrops to some of the most beautiful scenery in Africa. On the eastern border, Mt. Elgonis the last vestige of one of Africa’s oldest, but extinct, volcanoes.
Uganda is a land of shimmering lakes and turbulent rivers, with over a third of the country covered by water. Lake Victoria, on the southern boundary is the largest lake in Africa and the source of the River Nile.
In the north, the arid lands of the Karamoja and Kidepo Valley bordering the Sudan provide an even more spectacular contrast. The dry rugged terrain, with hot north-easterly winds, has bred special types of flora and fauna, as well as the hardy Nilo-Hamitic pastrolist people of this region.
The wildlife is sensational and, because of current conservation programmes, stocks are increasing annually. Ornithologists come from all over the world to see some of the more than 3,463 species of birds. These are complemented by stunning clouds of butterflies and moths. In all areas of the country the flora is impressive: whether it is the high montane forest or grass covered river banks, the beauty of the plants and flowers will overwhelm you.
To discover Uganda is to experience Africa at its most spectacular. With a sizeable part of the country now protected through national parks and conservation areas, visitors have the choice of great Uganda safaris that range from traditional safaris to trekking in the mountains, or just walking by the river banks. Whether you are out to explore or simply to relax, Uganda’s natural attractions will leave you touched by Africa’s magic spell.
The splendour of nature in Uganda is not confined to the national parks. Fascinating wildlife and stunning displays of plants and flowers can be found all over the country, often in the most unexpected areas. However, certain areas are well-known for their natural beauty, or are part of special conservation projects. Of special interest are:
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve, Moroto
Bokora Wildlife Reserve, Moroto
Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve, Moroto
Ajai Wildlife Reserve, Nebbi
Asws-Lolin Wildlife Reserve, Gulu
Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, Masindi
Toro Wildlife Reserve, Masindi
Katongo Wildlife Reserve, Kabarole
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Bushenyi
The Budongo Forest Ecotourism Project has been initiated by the Uganda Forest Department to encourage sustainable conservation and income generation programmes for the local communities. The largest mahogany forest in East Africa located on the banks of Lake Albert, south of Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo is home to huge hard tropical trees. It has plenty beautiful birds such as the Chocolate-backed or Blue-breasted kingfisher, Black-billed Toraco and White-thighed Hornbill. The forest is also home to seven species of primates, including the largest population of chimpanzees. Guided walks and primate tracking take place every morning and afternoon. The two main sites are Kamiyo Pabidi Ecotourist site and Busingiro Ecotourist site.
For further details contact:
Budongo Forest Ecotourism Project
Nyabyeya Forestry College,
Masindi – Uganda.
Fax: 256-41 259536
With so many rivers and mountains, the spectacular waterfalls should not be missed. Often set amongst dramatic scenery, and untouched by man, some of the most splendid are:
The Sipi Falls – close to Mt. Elgon National Park near Kipchorwa
Mungilo Falls – in the Semliki National Park
Ngite Falls – two spectacular falls also in Semliki National Park.
Sabyinyo Gorge – dramatic falls in the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo
Munyana Falls – cascades in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Bujagali Falls – on the Nile 10 km north of Jinja. White water rafting is available.
Murchison Falls – breathtaking mighty falls on the Victoria Nile.
Lakes, Wetlands & Rivers
One third of Uganda’s land area is under water. From Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and the second largest in the world, to tiny crater lakes high in the mountains, Uganda can truly be called Africa’s land of lakes. Twelve major lakes provide Uganda with much of its charm and reflect the infinite variety of the country. The lakes provide different attractions and play an important role in the local economy. Among the lakes are those with papyrus and reed beds, and those with swamp forests (such as at Sango Bay). They offer excellent fishing and provide water for irrigation.
To the visitor, the lakes provide a tranquil backdrop for leisurely activities or exciting adventure. Many of Uganda’s lakes provide excellent fishing with the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria reaching weights of 100 kilos. Sailing and other watersports are popular on Lake Victoria, but are not yet well-established elsewhere. Many of the lakes are great for swimming, but local advice should be sought before diving in. The smaller crater lakes in the mountains sparkle in the sunlight, and those in the Rwenzori can be refreshingly cold.
For their beauty, their rich birdlife, the islands and the fishing, the lakes are the gems in Uganda’s crown.
Some of these lakes are relatively shallow, or have extensive flood plains. Ten per cent of Uganda’s land can be considered ‘wetlands’ with their own distinctive plants and wildlife (particularly birdlife).
Trips can be made on most of the lakes – in particular lakes Victoria, Edward, Mburo, Albert and George. On Lake Bunyonyi a special trip is made by canoe among its 13 small islands with a picnic on Sharp Island.
The Nile, one of the world’s greatest rivers, starts its 6,600km voyage to the Mediterranean close to Jinja, on Lake Victoria. The mood of the river (first as the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile, then as the Blue Nile) changes regularly – from tranquil pools where fisherman can catch tilapia, to the churning surge of the Murchison Falls. Giant Nile Crocodiles can be seen sunning themselves along its banks, while in other areas herds of hippo wallow in the mud.
Nevertheless, the Nile is not the only river. There are many: some are seasonal, while others flow year round. Rivers such as the Semliki, the Kidepo, the Kanyanchu, and many smaller streams, provide water for farming, watering holes for game, riverine habitats for birds and butterflies, sport for fishermen, and dramatic waterfalls and scenery. All this is part of the magic of Uganda.
Uganda’s Main Wetlands
The Kyoga/Kwania Lake Swamp Complex
The Bonyonyi Lake Swamp Complex
The Kijanebalola Lake Swamp Complex
Lakes Bisnia & Opeta
Rwenzori High Altitude Bogs
Mt. Elgon High Altitude Bogs
Uganda’s Main Lakes Lake Victoria