About Uganda – “The Pearl of Africa”

Uganda is Africa condensed, with the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination. Uganda, famously known as “The Pearl of Africa”.  One of the top African safari destinations with the most thrilling unique attractions that are not yet discovered by mass tourists. A country with astonishing beauty with rolling hills, sparkling crate lakes, a variety of wildlife and indeed with half of the world’s remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas.

The Mountains of the Moon in the Rwenzori National Park. It is the source of the mighty Nile and around Jinja offers the best white-water rafting in the world. It has the highest concentration of primates on earth, including the few remaining endangered famous mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet. Visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a chance to get close to these great apes.

The scenery is so striking that it looks like an oil painting, the beautiful national parks with unique wildlife and birdlife species see far fewer visitors than in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, and the capital, Kampala, is safer and friendlier than most in Africa. In 1907 the great tourist Winston Churchill baptized Uganda the “Pearl of Africa”.

Geographical Location

Uganda lies astride the Equator, located in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya and east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is in the heart of the Great Lakes region, and is surrounded by three of them, Lake Edward, Lake Albert, and Lake Victoria. While much of its border is lakeshore, Uganda is landlocked with no access to the sea.

Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from the lake into Lake Kyoga and thence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into Sudan and  lying mostly between latitudes 4°N and 2°S (a small area is north of 4°), and longitudes 29° and 35°E. It averages about 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) above sea level

Uganda is also well gifted with Mountains that provide great opportunities to Adventure Hiking to take place in the region, Rwenzori Mountain ranges with over 5100m above sea level provides challenging experience to climb up to the peaks of Margherita, the Elgon quiet impressive and incredible for a visitor to take a hike to experience the true escape in the Adventure world

Climate and Weather

Uganda’s weather conditions are ideal, ranging from the warmth of the lowland areas to the coolness of the highlands in the South West Kigezi.

For most of the year, Uganda is sunny with temperatures rarely rising above 29 degrees. The average temperature is about 26 degrees C, with a maximum of 18-31 degrees and minimum of 15-23 degrees depending on the part of the country.

The rain season is March-May. Light rain season is November and December. Wet seasons are March –May and October-November; dry seasons are December to February and June to August.

Rainfall ranges between 500mm to 2500 mm and the relative humidity is 70 – 100%. The rainfall regime allows two planting and harvesting seasons a year in most parts of the country, without the use of irrigation.

About 34% of the country is covered in wetlands with a dense network of rivers, lakes and swamps.

Generally, the country is endowed with fertile soils. Uganda has some of the largest lakes on the continent including Lake Albert and Lake Victoria.

Tourism

Wondering why it is called ‘The Pearl of Africa’? Where else can you see lions prowling across the open savanna as day breaks before white water rafting down the Nile; then the next day set off into the misty mountains in search of the majestic mountain gorillas before settling in to watch a local cultural evening around the camp fire?

Uganda has been ranked the number one destination for tourists for the year 2012 by Lonely Planet which is the largest travel guide and media publisher in the world.

The following week, Qatar Airways, a member of the five star alliance, announced that it would be launching a service to Uganda’s international hub, Entebbe Airport.

Uganda’s Wildlife Biodiversity

Uganda is one of only three countries where it is possible to visit mountain gorillas. Uganda holds much of her wildlife in the National parks including the two that act as homes for the Mountain gorillas that are the number one Uganda’s prime tourist attraction. The vast majority of these are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with a few others in Mgahinga National Park both in southwestern Uganda. Other spectacular parks include Kibale Forest National park famously known for it’s greatest numbers of Chimpanzee and primates, Semiliki for its unique hot spring and wildlife, Kidepo which is ranked the most beautiful parks enriched with wildlife, Murchison falls this offer visitors to spot all the big game, Mburo National park strategically located a few Kilometers from the capital Kampala offers great opportunities to do bird watching trips. Not to forget the most amazing Queen Elizabeth National Park where  one can find the rare tree climbing lions – Ishasha Sector of Uganda

Politics

Uganda is a presidential republic, in which the President of Uganda is both head of State and head of Government; there is a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The system is based on a democratic parliamentary system with universal suffrage for all citizens over 18 years of age.

In a measure ostensibly designed to reduce sectarian violence, political parties were restricted in their activities from 1986. In the non-party “Movement” system instituted by the current president Yoweri Museveni, political parties continued to exist but could not campaign in elections or field candidates directly (although electoral candidates could belong to political parties). A constitutional referendum cancelled this 19-year ban on multi-party politics in July 2005. General elections are held every five years.

Tourists Lodging and Accommodation

Uganda provides a wide selection of the best hotels and accommodation establishments in Uganda’s major towns as well as safari lodges in any part of the country. A number of good hotels are available to choose from to suit every budget. Elsewhere across the country and in the National Parks, hotels and inns are generally available, but quality of service and quantity of rooms vary greatly. We take the utmost care in booking decent Hostels and Lodges for our guests.

Language:

The official language is English though Swahili and Luganda are commonly spoken throughout in Uganda. Teach yourself some basic Luganda and Swahili words

Health Requirements:

Certificates are required for vaccination against yellow fever. Check current medical advice on typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. It is advisable to start anti-malaria medications 10 days prior to arrival and continue with the same until 14 days after leaving East Africa. Our guests are also encouraged to take make their own insurance arrangements for the time they will be in Africa. You need to consult with your local Doctor for advice on Medication

Banking

Several international banks operate in Kampala including Barclay’s bank/ ABSA, Standard Chartered bank, Stanbic bank, Citi Bank. Many local banks and foreign exchange bureaus also operate across the country.

Generally the banking hours are 8.30a.m to 5:00p.m – Monday to Friday, though some institutions are open longer hours and on Saturdays. There are no longer restrictions on foreign exchange transactions and currency is easily convertible.

You can change dollars or pounds into local shillings very easily.

We advise English visitors to take pound sterling, as you will get better value on exchange. Travelers cheque’s are also acceptable but can sometimes take a lot of time to get exchanged.

Credit Cards

AMEX, Visa and Master Card are only accepted at a few choice establishments and in banks in the cities; you can now use your visa card to draw money from your account in Europe or America. We however advise that you bring cash to be on the safe side.

Currency

The Shilling is the currency used in Uganda but some people will take dollars and pounds in cash. The exchange rates vary from time to time but are readily available from banks and Forex bureaus.

TIME

Uganda is GMT +3 hrs