Uganda is a landlocked country but with a rich history, tradition and culture. However, the country has had its own share of troubles and rumbles but thank goodness that it has overcome the dark era of its history to in recent years emerged as a thriving tourist destination given the country’s relative stability and prosperity on all fronts.
Historically, the East Africa country was once a colony of Britain and got its independence in 1962 with so much hope in the future. But that future was truncated and visited with all sorts of turns and twists, ranging from a prolonged military era, botched political administration, and guerilla warfare leading finally to the present administration under President Yoweri Museveni.
With Kampala as its capital city as well as well commercial, cultural and social hub and a population that is over 35 million, the country’s landmass spans 241, 038 square kilometres and enjoys multi-cultural backgrounds. English and Swahili are the official languages while it shares borders with Kenya to the north, South Sudan to the west, Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, Rwanda to the west and Tanzania to the south.
Located in Africa’s great lakes region, the southern part of the country habours a bigger part of Lake Victoria alongside Kenya and Tanzania while it also falls within the Nile basin and a modified equatorial climate. Administratively, the country is divided into 112 districts, which are subdivided into counties, sub counties, parishes and villages with western, eastern, central and southern flanks with each boasting unique characteristics and elements that recommend them to the people and visitors.
With a growing and buoyant economy, Uganda holds a lot of attractions for people especially with its thriving tourism industry rising to the occasion. Winston Churchill best described the wholesomeness of the country in his legendary piece when he called the country the ‘Pearl of Africa.’
This is true of the country when you consider how breathtaking and enchanting it is given its legion of tourism offerings, ranging from ecotourism, beaches, culture, cuisines, night life to national monuments and landscapes as well alluring countryside and elegantly built hotels, resorts and guesthouses, all adding to give a tourist a fulfilling and memorable experience of this East Africa country.
Pitching for the soul of Nigerians
Aware of the penchants of Nigerians for travels and their high spending powers, recession regardless, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) last year led a team to Nigeria to participate in Akwaaba African Travel Market, for the first to pitch for Nigerians and others at the annual travel and tourism trade exhibition staged in Lagos.
The country’s Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nelson Ocheger, played out his role as the number one promoter of his country as he on the occasion eloquently made a pitch for the country. He described his country as one of the most naturally endowed countries in the world and that it has become a safe haven for tourists and investors given the relative peace that the country now enjoys.
In terms of tourism, he recommended the country as choice destination, disclosing that Uganda is ranked among the top 20 global tourism destinations. He revealed among others that his country is blessed with beautiful scenery, unique wildlife (Including Mountain gorillas), hospitable people and culture, good and affordable hotels, motels, restaurants as well as with ease of access – seamless airlines connections (Rwanda Air, Ethiopian Airlines, South African and Egypt Air), and friendly visa regime.
The Senior Marketing Officer for Uganda Tourism Board, Safia Ali, further painted the beauty of the country in her presentation, titled, ‘Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa’. She declared that her country has one of the best pristine marine attractions in the world given the presence of four Africa great lakes: Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert and Lake Edward while Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake spanning 68,000 sq kilometres.
On its scenic landscape and outdoors, Ali referred to it as ‘Switzerland of Africa’ because of its alluring scenic beauties and the playground for conservationists because of its rich and enchanting flora and fauna resources with its numerous national parks spread across the country.
‘‘Uganda, the ‘Pearl of Africa’ is a country blessed with beautiful scenery, unique tourist attractions, beautiful national parks, wild life, eco-tourism, and mountains, among others. This is besides beaches where tourists can enjoy water related leisure, sea, sun and sand.
While on the flip side, religious tourism is also a thriving business in the country given that it harbours one of Africa’s unique temples and places of worship in history.
The country is blessed with a litany of tourist attractions in different categories and they all come with rich and unique ambience lending credence to the country being referred to as the Pearl of Africa. Because its bowels really contain rich troves in abundance and colours that a tourist on visit would find real fulfillment exploring this East Africa country that is uniquely blessed and distinct from its neighours in the region that are also equally enchanting to behold.
Waterfalls: Uganda boasts some of the world’s pristine and fascinating waterfalls, which include: Murchison, Karuma, Sipi, Kalagala, Sezibwa, and Itanda. Added to these beautiful enclaves are 12 wetlands of international importance given their rare ecosystem with a number of them designated under the Ramsar Convention (RAMSAR sites).
Leisure/adventurous activities: A tourist can engage in a legion of leisure and adventurous activities in any part of the country to his feel, such as: Bungee jumping, mountain climbing, gorilla tracking, horse riding, wind surfing, Alpine adventure, white water rafting, sport fishing, boat cruise and canoeing as well as swimming in its numerous lakes and beaches.
And of course, you could straddle the equator if you chose to and pander to your imagination as you have the opportunity to stand on the middle of the equator as Uganda, just like Kenya shares borders with the equator. This gives you a lot of bragging right and opportunity for vantage photo shoots.
Ssese Islands, which presents picturesque paradise scenery, is one high end areas to explore for its variety of white sandy beaches, bird life and tropical vegetation.
Also in this category is the exploration of Africa great lakes and other appealing lakes. The list include: Lake Bunyonyi, which is Africa’s second deepest lake and is home to the source of the world’s longest river, the Nile River (Measuring 6695 kilometres – 4184 miles); Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake spanning about 70, 000 square kilometres and the world’s largest tropical lake with the second largest fresh water lake in the world besides North America’s Lake Superior; Lake Alberta – spanning 619 metres above sea level.
One of the most celebrated holiday periods in the country, which attracts both local and international tourists, is the Martyrs Day, which is dedicated to the remembrance of people that were massacred under Kabaka Mwanga (1885 -1887) and is known as the feast day of the Uganda Martyrs, which is celebrated in June.
Ecotourism: Perhaps this is one of the richest areas of the country with avalanche of pristine and richly blessed national parks and other attractions for safari. The endless list contains: Bwindi National Park – renowned for its gorilla sanctuary and a UNSECO World Heritage Site; Murchison Falls National Park – home to 43 metres tall waterfall and rich wildlife such as 76 species of mammals, 451 species of birds, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippopotamus, and Nile crocodiles; Queen Elizabeth National Park; Lake Mburo National Park; Semliki National Park; Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kampala: Is the country’s capital city and for a tourist, it makes for a good start to have a city tour and gauge the pulse of the country and its people. It is a lively and likeable city with life not on the laid back side and is a peaceful and serene place bursting with activities round the clock.
It is Uganda’s commerce and socio-cultural melting pot with a number of leisure spots to explore beside adventure activities. These include: Uganda Museum, Nommo Art Gallery, Uganda National Theatre, Rubaga and Namirembe Cathedrals, Gaddafi National Mosque, Wamala and Kasubi Tombs, Bahai Temple and Parliament of Uganda building while Owino and Nakasero markets are two of the city’s main markets for shoppers’ delight.
Hotels: The country is home to different categories of hotels ranging from budget to five star hotels with up end facilities such as luxury apartments, guesthouses, motels, and chalets as well as park and safari lodges, all offering variety of professionally delivered services.
Access: Accessing the country from Nigeria or any other part of the world is less stressful as there are air connections through its national carrier, RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air and South African Airways among others while the country is visa friendly as well.