Uganda is sometimes overlooked by those searching for a safari experience. But Ker & Downey travel designer Cherie Tann says it’s an east African country worth exploring for its spectacular landscapes, gorilla and chimp treks, and friendly people. She shares the top spots to visit on a journey to Uganda.
As told to Rina Chandarana.
After flying into the bustling capital city of Kampala, I headed north to Murchison Falls National Park to stay at Baker’s Lodge, a small boutique property frequently visited by a parade of monkeys perched in the trees. Murchison Falls National Park is one of my favorite parts of Uganda because of the incredible game viewing. Rothschild giraffes wander, lions roam, and hyenas yip. Take a two-hour boat ride to get closer to the crashing falls and to easily spot the loads of lounging hippos. Elephants stop by the banks for a drink and grinning crocodiles glide along. Hike up to the top of the falls for a spectacular perspective, or soar sky high in a hot air balloon.
This absolutely stunning corner of Uganda is overflowing with rolling, green hills, and deep blue volcanic crater lakes. Chimp trekking is the highlight, headed by trained guides adept at locating the exquisite creatures hanging out in the little clearings and peering down from tree branches. I was able to get up-close to the primates after a trek starting near the Ndali Lodge. Perched on the edge of a lake, the lodge offers beautiful mountain views.
The surrounding area is full of towns and villages. I saw locals working in the tea and coffee farms and happy kids running around and playing soccer after school. This is a true glimpse into the beauty of daily Ugandan life.
There are several lodges to choose from in this area, but my go-to is the six tented Ishasha Wilderness Camp, a great place to start a primate trek. It was here that I not only experienced the wilds of the country, including majestic elephants, but also saw the day-to-day lives of fishermen preparing their boats for a day on the lake.
Mist-laden mountains and dense forests roll along as far as the eye can see in this corner of Uganda. Hidden in the greenery are the country’s main wildlife draw, the gorillas. I’ll never forget the opportunity to get up-close to these magnificent creatures. Little babies swung and played on branches and casually passed along my path. Eco-conscious travelers can get hands-on by planting trees to help preserve this beautiful landscape or help to contribute to the Gorilla Forest Camp‘s philanthropy projects.
Activities are plentiful around Lake Mburo. Enjoy a horseback safari or speed things up with a mountain bike ride while zebras race along. It’s the wonderful variety of birds that caught my eye the most. Crested cranes—the national bird of Uganda that is featured on the country’s flag—wade in the waters, while a colorful cast of yellow, blue, and green birds chirp and sing in the surrounding trees.
River rafting, fishing, and canoe rides along the source of the Nile are all activities to choose from in Jinja. There is a lot to do here to end your trip on an adventurous note. For me, I relaxed at the end of my full and fulfilling journey to Uganda.
To start planning your journey to Uganda, contact your Ker & Downey travel designer.