More recently emerged as a tourist destination than its neighbours, Kenya and
Tanzania, Uganda has always been viewed as the ultimate African gem. It was
to Uganda that the early explorers were attracted; and Uganda was the
objective of one of the greatest engineering feats of history, the so-called
‘Lunatic Express', the railway, which in 1899 finally reached the
shores of Lake Victoria, 1,000 kilometres from Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.
Blessed with one of the most delightful climates in the world, Uganda
occupies a serene green plateau, which lies between the eastern and western
branches of the Great Rift Valley. Thought by many to be Africa's finest
birding destination, Uganda boasts over 1,000 species, which in relation to
her relatively compact size (236,580 square kilometres) is a tribute not
only to her fertility, but also to the diversity of her landscape.
25% of Uganda's entire surface is covered by a glittering skein of lakes and
rivers, earning her the title ‘The Land of Lakes'. They include the
mighty Nile, which rises in Jinja, and the world's second-largest freshwater
lake, Lake Victoria.
As to scenery, Uganda has been dubbed ‘The Switzerland of Africa'
thanks to its impressive mountain ranges, which include the legendary
‘Mountains of the Moon', the snow-capped Ruwenzoris, and the enormous
and immeasurably ancient Mount Elgon which, at 4,324 metres is all that
remains of a massive volcano, now extinct, which forms the boundary between
Uganda and Kenya.
The meeting point of the East African savannah and the West African
rainforest, Uganda's vegetation is immensely diverse stretching from
snow-capped peaks and Afro-alpine moorlands to dense rainforests, golden
savannah and semi-arid landscapes. Incredibly fertile, agriculture is the
dominant sector of Uganda's economy, contributing more than 70 per cent of
gross domestic product and providing a livelihood for 90 per cent of the
Although not as plentiful as that of its neighbours, Uganda's wildlife
definitely has the edge on them in terms of diversity. Its pristine
rainforests protect a wealth of wildlife including an astonishing number of
primate species. Indeed, of the few thousand mountain gorillas that remain
on earth, over half of them live in Uganda. Uganda is also one of the top
places in the world to see chimpanzee, which are abundant in the Kibale
Forest National Park, the Budongo Forest, and in Queen Elizabeth National
Park. Murchison Falls National Park, meanwhile, is thought by many to be one
of the most exciting wildlife experiences Africa has to offer and is THE
place to see hippos and crocodiles.
Uganda's cultural history is one of the richest in the world. Today, still
ruled by the Buganda, the Ugandan King, who maintains his glittering royal
court at Bulange, just outside Kampala, the Ugandan people are one of the
most warmly welcoming and gently gracious in the world. Speaking over forty
languages, they can broadly be divided into four major language groups,
Bantu, Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic and Sudanic.