Uganda Attractions And Landmarks Guide
The “Switzerland of Africa,” as it’s sometimes known for its wealth of mountains and lakes and overall scenic beauty, suffered terribly under the regime of Idi Amin back in the 1970s and subsequent civil unrest after he was deposed. (The film The Last King of Scotland, starring Forrest Whitaker, paints a searing portrait of the unhinged dictator.) As a result, Uganda largely fell off the tourist map — with a stigma that continues to this day.
Yet Uganda’s wildlife, decimated by poaching and neglect under Amin, is now re-emerging in sizeable numbers. An attractive safari destination once again, it is probably the best choice for seeing great apes, our closest genetic cousins – gorillas and chimpanzees – in the wild. (Other choices are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but Uganda has the densest population of them and Congo may still have outbreaks of civil unrest.)
More Than Wildlife
There’s a lot more to see and do in this compact East African nation than meeting and mingling with its wide variety of resident wildlife, as memorable as that experience is. One attraction is the land itself, with incredible diversity squeezed into an area about the size of Michigan.
Even more rewarding are cultural encounters with the people of Uganda – who comprise more than 40 ethnic groups..Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Ugandans are known as among the world’s most friendly people. That’s true whether they’re women toiling on steep hillside farm fields, men walking long distances balancing heavy bundles on their heads, or giggling children waving at passing vehicles filled with tourists.
In Uganda you’re sure to get a friendly hello wherever you go. Smile back at passersby and if offered something to eat or drink — even from a family that may have little of it — be sure to accept; it’s considered impolite not to. When entering a village, your group may be greeted with song and dance.
Home to Africa’s highest mountain range, the source of the Nile and the planet’s highest concentration of primates, Uganda has plenty to boast about. Get your bearings in the welcoming capital of Kampala and watch free outdoor performances at the National Theatre. Lace up your walking boots and hike with elephants in the Rwenzori mountains, or head to Jinja for every activity under the African sun, from quad biking and horse riding to the world’s best rafting. For a truly unforgettable experience, take a gruelling trek through the rainforest of Bwindi National Park and reap the rewards of a seeing a rare mountain gorilla.