Uganda with its breathtaking equatorial location on the forested shore of Lake Victoria is not just an ordinary safari destination. From expansive golf course leading down to the lakeshore, and a century-old botanical garden alive with the chatter of acrobatic monkeys and colourful tropical birds. Sprawled across seven hills, there is the capital Kampala a bright modern bustling cosmopolitan city reflects the ongoing economic growth and political stability that has characterized Uganda since 1986, and is complemented by the sloping spaciousness and runaway greenery of its garden setting.
Uganda’s amazing topography where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. This lush country a traveller observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippo and crocs before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla? Certainly, Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plains antelope. And this verdant biodiversity is further attested to by Uganda’s status as by far the smallest of the four African countries whose bird checklist tops the 1,000 mark.
Uganda attraction is the endangered mountain gorilla, the bulkiest of living primates, and among the most peaceable. Staring into the pensive brown eyes of these gentle giants, who share 95% of their genes with humans, is as humbling as it is thrilling; no less so when one realises that fewer than 700 individuals survive, divided between Bwindi National Park and the Virunga Mountains. Within Uganda, five habituated gorilla troops – four in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga National Park - can be visited by a total of Silverback30 tourists daily.
Uganda is also home to man’s closest relative, the chimpanzee, a delightful ape whose evocative pant-hoot call is a definitive sound of the African rainforest. Chimpanzee communities have been Kibale Chimp in treehabituated for tourism at Kibale Forest, Budongo Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kyambura Gorge. A community of orphaned chimps, most of which were confiscated from poachers, can be visited on Ngamba Island, which lies on Lake Victoria 45 minutes by motorboat from Entebbe.
Golden Monkeys and other Primates
Monkeys are exceptionally well represented in Uganda. Indeed, Kibale Forest boasts the greatest primate variety and Golden Monkey density in East Africa, with five or six species likely to be observed over the course of one afternoon walk. Elsewhere, Mgahinga National Park hosts habituated troops of the rare golden monkey, while Murchison Falls is one of the few East African strongholds for the spindly, plains-dwelling patas monkey.
The fossilised 20-million-year-old bones of Morotopithecus, the earliest-known ancestor of modern apes and humans, were unearthed in the 1960s near Moroto in Eastern Uganda, and are now housed in the National Museum in Kampala.