Uganda is a beautiful country with an impressive number of destinations to visit for your vacation in Africa and with lots of tourist attractions. Though on books, this landlocked country may not be so popular, those that have tried a number of countries in Africa can stand with me that it is a no waste of time to visit Uganda.
Back in 1907 as according to the ‘Pearl of Africa Tv’, Former prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was so besotted by the country that he dubbed Uganda as the “Pearl of Africa”.
“The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairly-tale. You climb up… and at the end there is a wonderful new world. The scenery, vegetation, and climate are all different, and, most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa……. Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa” He said and his observations about Uganda remain true today.
Travelers to Uganda are drawn by its stunning landscape – green rolling hills, snowcapped mountains, rainforests, majestic rivers and massive lakes as well as the game. There are also a number of outstanding national parks for your safari encounter with the wildlife for which Africa is renowned.
When it comes to primates, Uganda has the largest concentration of these species that anywhere else in the world. There are three National parks specifically for primates only and these include Kibale Forest, Mgahinga National Park and the majesty Bwindi Forest.
The 331 sq. km Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is undoubtedly the most popular destination in Uganda to the world as it offers a gorilla safari experience that is better lived than narrated. The best place to see mountain gorillas not only in Uganda, but also in the world. It is termed Impenetrable Forest with a good reason. The trees are thick and the forest thicker with dense undergrowth, creepers, bamboos and parasitic plants such as mistletoe and orchids. This environment is the habitat for mountain gorilla’s, chimpanzee, and 8 other species of primate.
Not less than half the world’s population of an estimated 1050 mountain gorillas have sanctuary here. Gorilla tracking is limited to small groups of 8 people per gorilla family and the licenses are issued to ensure minimum disruption to the routine of the animals. Tracking the gorillas is an arduous task and you should be prepared for up to 3 – 8 hours of hiking.
A gorilla permit costs $700 per person and if you need to spend more time with these humble giants, there is a window for Gorilla habituation experience that costs $1500 per person. Tracking Gorillas in Bwindi is done in four different sectors in the park; Ruhija, Buhoma, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Good physical condition is a must. You are advised to make arrangements 4-12 months prior to the date of your visit. Bwindi is essentially a rain forest and it is necessary to bring along a raincoat, walking boots and gloves.
About Mountain Gorillas
Gorillas like human are curious, they can be bored, bold, annoyed, have pleasure, excited, afraid, can worry, show affection, be thoughtful and they can be hostile. Gorillas like to study people to see if they are friendly. They are classified in the Mountain Gorillas and the Lowland Gorillas that are further classified into the western and Eastern lowland.
Mountain gorillas are threatened primate species in the world with the remaining living in Africa in only 4 National parks of the 3 countries of Uganda (Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga), Rwanda (Volcanoes) and Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga). There are no Mountain Gorillas living outside of their native mountain forest home
Their way of life
Gorillas live in groups / families without territorial boundaries but with family’s range from 2 to 15 square miles. The females decide who they are going to allow into their family. If a gorilla wants to join another group and the females do not want her in, they will scratch her in the face and keep her out. If a female wants to leave a group to find a male she likes better, but the other females like her very much, they will grab her by the legs and not allow her to leave.
Female gorillas weigh approximately 350 pounds and adult male gorillas can weigh approximately 700 pounds. Adult gorillas can be seven feet tall with an arm span of 8 feet.
Gorillas feed on 58 different types of plant species, including stems, roots, leaves, flowers, thistles, ferns, tree wood and bamboo shoots. Gallium vines, fruits and celery are their favorite foods. Gorillas have much larger teeth in the back of their mouth than humans do so that they can grind foliage, bark and bamboo.
Gorillas communicate by stomach rumbling which means they are contented, a pig grunt of harsh staccato grunts used when disciplining or complaining. A roar or scream is given when a gorilla is threatened. A loud hoot or roar is given when silverbacks are interacting. This is done by chest beating and thrashing of trees. When gorillas are afraid they send out a powerful odor from their glands.
In addition to its star gorillas, Bwindi is host to elephant, bush pig, giant forest hog and over 300 species of birds including rare forest birds. Others who have found a home in this ecosystem include many types of bats and rodents, 14 species of snakes, 27 species of frogs and toads, 6 chameleon types, 14 lizards, skinks and geckos and 200 species of butterfly. Bwindi is to the west of the country and is 560 km from Kampala.
If you have more time in the country, you can get more memories onto your Gorilla tracking experience by planning a lengthy Uganda Safari visiting other popular tourist destinations such as Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National parks for game viewing, Kibale Forest for the chimpanzees and the remote Kidepo National park for both untouched game and culture. You can also plan to start or end your vacation to the pearl of Africa with a city tour in Kampala, the country’s capital.