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Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

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Kibale Chimpanzee

If you are a primate enthusiast and you wish to spend more time with wild chimpanzees while on safari in Africa then Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) is remarkably the best alternative. To take part in this thrilling primate safari experience, Uganda is one exceptional country you need to consider a must on your bucket list.

While on Uganda safari, the best place for you to visit for this extra-ordinary experience is Kibale Forest National Park which is located in western Uganda. This park is a true capital of primates in the world. It comprises of about 13 primate species including chimpanzees that make up about 1500 individuals out of over 5000 that thrive in Uganda, the black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, Vervet monkeys a mention but a few. Besides, it also inhabits numerous mammal species like elephants and not to forget several bird species including the African green breasted pitta.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is a whole day primate adventure while you look out for semi habituated chimpanzees and you spend 4 solid hours on magical encounter with these creatures while also taking their photos, learning more about their daily behavior. The fact that it is the entire day primate experience, you will need packed lunch and enough drinking water. This experience is usually done by researchers, conservationists, scientists and trackers. To be part of this amazing adventure, you need secure chimpanzee habituation experience permit which costs $220 per person and you spend the entire day with these exceptional primates. The cost covers the researchers, UWA park guide and others. You can obtain one through a recognized, registered ground tour operator or through reservation department at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) whose headquarters are based in Kampala. To habituate chimpanzees, it takes a process and this normally lasts for about 2 or even more years.

The cost of Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

This is a unique experience and it is a bit costly compared to the usual chimpanzee tracking. For chimpanzee tracking, you need $150 to secure yourself a permit and for habituation experience you will need $200. To avoid disappointments, you need to book your permit early enough. This will help you have an organized safari and for any need of assistance, simply contact our reservation. Besides booking permits, we can also reserve for you that accommodation of your choice; arrange transport and all logistics involved in making your safari a lifetime experience.

This is one of the rarest experiences you need not to miss to be part of. Today, Uganda offers refuge to over 5000 chimpanzees and in Kibale Forest National Park more than 1500 of them thrive in its tropical rain forest. There are also other significant sites where you can catch a glimpse at these unique creatures and they include Budongo forest reserve in Murchison Falls National Park and Budongo forest is also an ideal place for chimpanzee habituation experience, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Habituation is entirely getting chimpanzees get used to human presence and this process takes about two years.

When is it best for you to go for Chimpanzee Habituation Experience?

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience can be done at any time of the year but it is ideal in the months of March, April, May, November and this is usually regarded as the low season. During this period, there are fewer people hence less crowds offering you great moment with these amazing creatures.

In conclusion, chimpanzee habituation experience is one of a kind primate adventure that you shouldn’t miss to take part while on Uganda safari. Chimpanzee habituation experience is a process of making wild chimpanzees to get used to human presence. If you heading to Kibale National Park for your vacation count it a must on your bucket list and you won’t regret in life.

Top 5 Amazing Waterfalls in Uganda

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Murchison Falls Uganda

We live in a wonderful world full of beauty, charm and adventure but in Africa, Uganda is outstanding destination with a lot to enjoy and explore all around. The presence of several rivers and waterfalls makes it superb for travelers to engage in most exciting adventures which the entire East African region offers. Apart from wildlife, birds, primates, landscape, mountains, lakes,  waterfalls are one of Uganda’s best-kept nature gems attracting many tourists to just be close. Tourists visiting Uganda for the first time need to have a perfect itinerary in order to get the happiest pleasing experience in every place they visit.

There are many amazing water adventures to explore in this majestic country and one gets the firsthand experience on water as they discover the beautiful scenery with in the waterfall, surrounding lake, rocks and islands. Like a blink of an eye, vegetation’s, and water sound welcome you every time you approach a place with a water fall and getting closer makes you get immersed in nature as the cool exotic winds wave saying thanks for coming. Among the many reasons for visiting Uganda, water adventures is one of them because the country has many lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. Even in terms of other tourist activities, Uganda has a lot to offer including mountain gorilla tracking, chimpanzee trekking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, mountain climbing, cultural excursions etc.

Uganda being a destination that attracts all kinds of travelers in Africa, the country has something for everyone. Visitors to Uganda can enjoy safari experiences in different parts of the country especially Western and Eastern.

1. Murchison Falls

One can go partying with loved ones, enter several forests on different adventures but nothing is better than cruising in the mighty falls of Murchison. Beyond doubt it’s the fall in Uganda where one can explore the country’s beauty on a relaxed safari holiday through a savanna national park. One of the best ways to witness the fascinating Murchison falls is taking on a boat cruise upstream from Paraa and get impressive front view of the falls a must see for every guest to the park.

Murchison Falls in North Western Uganda

The 2 hour boat takes you upstream giving you the best view of these mighty falls, probably the most scenic waterfalls along the Nile river, the world’s second longest river. During the cruise, you will see a great range of flora and fauna including the Nile crocodiles basking in the sun, hippos, and other wildlife coming for a drink of the Nile waters. (Citation: Murchison Falls Park Travel Guide)

#Other Cruises
Uganda offers other exciting boat cruise tours in other parks like Queen Elizabeth on the magical Kazinga channel,Itanda falls famous for Uganda white water rafting, lake Mburo boat cruise,source of the Nile boat trips with the outstanding sunset cruise,lake Victoria boat tour etc.

2. Sipi Falls

The Sipi falls in the western side of mountain Elgon are among the most visited in Uganda. These falls are found in Kapchorwa District, Northeast of Sironko and Mbale town. They are composed of a series of three tall waterfalls all plunging their waters over the slopes of Mount Elgon (the fourth highest peaks of Africa).

Sipi Falls in Uganda

3. Sezibwa falls
The Sezibwa Falls are the most interesting! These waterfalls are formed when the River Sezibwa known locally as a “human born river” flows over rocks. The falls are found in present Buikwe District (former part of Mukono District). A day trip to these falls is possible from Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Sezibwa Falls

The falls are revered by the Baganda Community and are managed by the Buganda Kingdom. The Baganda People attach alot of dos and donts to the falls, and this is a great place to learn about the culture of the Baganda People. (Citations: Buganda Tourism)

4. Kyabirwa falls,

5. Aruu Falls

These waterfalls are formed by the River Nile. They are found at Aruu in Pader District in Northern Uganda.

Aruu Falls

Karuma falls

Interested in waterbased attractions? Don’t even miss out visiting Uganda’s beautiful islands of Lake Bunyonyi and Ssese for ample relaxation and fun. Spare 3-7 days minimum to enjoy a safari in Uganda and explore the country’s best parks and adventures during your Africa visit. It doesn’t matter if you looking at visiting multiple destinations across the region find the most fitting itinerary with Uganda inclusive.

The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

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Ishasha Tree Climbing Lion

Never heard of the tree-climbing lions of the Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda? It is high time you visited this magical place!

Located in Western Uganda, the popular Queen Elizabeth national park was gazetted in 1952 as Kazinga channel national park and it was later renamed in 1954 to commemorate the visit by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Famous for Lake Edward formerly known as Rutanzige or Edward Nyanza and Lake George formerly known as Lake Dweru, Queen Elizabeth has over 95 mammal species including elephants, buffaloes, hippos, lions and leopards that are occasionally seen, lots of antelopes and hogs. Kazinga channel—a natural channel that connects two famous rift valley lakes acts as a drinking point for most of the animals in the park giving tourists a chance to view lots of wildlife during the boat cruise along the 32kms long channel.

From a rewarding boat cruise and Kasenyi game drive in the northern sector of the park dominated by savannah grasslands and small patches of savannah woodlands teeming up with lions favorite—the Uganda kobs, Water bucks, wart hogs, giant forest hogs, buffalos, elephants, lions and sometimes leopards, head on to the southern sector of the park Ishasha legendary for tree climbing lions.

The famous tree-climbing lions of the Ishasha sector are found in large fig trees in the remote southern extremity of the park. These tree-dwelling lions prey on the Topi, Uganda Kob, and (if feeling confident!) Cape buffalo which grazes Ishasha’s beautiful acacia studded savanna.

Ishasha is 124kms from Mweya Safari Lodge so the return excursion takes the greater part of a day. It is however ideally placed for a visit on a safari holiday in Uganda that involves tours through the western circuit. The Ishasha is the gateway to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the home to the endangered mountain gorillas.

Personally, I have had of only two places in the world with tree climbing lions including Lake Manyara which is situated in Northern Tanzania and Ishasha Southern sector of Queen Elizabeth NP in Uganda however I have experienced one magical place that I feel proud to say that it is the best place to view these jungle kings. Ishasha has the highest percentage to see tree climbing lions as they can comfortably relax in a single branched fig tree for up to 7 hours.

When visiting Ishasha, look out for the lions in big fig trees which are accessed by small demarcated tracks which increase the luck to find them. Our experienced guides know where the lions have been sighted in their recent trips which help spotting them as well.

Lions are not supposed to climb trees, or at least that’s what I had believed until I came across three adult lions; two females and one male up in a tree one sunny afternoon, a few kilometers from Ishasha main gate—Katookye in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. They had clambered up, appearing comfortably resting on fig branches as they spot their surroundings.

In a company of two visitors in my land cruiser safari truck, we decided to spend around two hours watching them to get to know their next program. They seemed comfortably resting in fig than on the ground as they rotated from one branch to another. They eventually doze off, eyes pinched tight in quiet content, oblivious to the attention of humans attracted by their interesting behavior. We had our packed lunches from here and we were only limited by time leaving them resting after 3 hours.

We enjoyed the spectacular views of the extensive savannah on our way out teaming up with large herds of buffalo’s, Uganda Kobs, elephants and Topis. Ishasha sector is strategically located along the road to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which makes it a good place for the enroute game drive when going to catch up with the mountain gorilla tracking the following day.

The Unique African Big Seven Animals of Uganda

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The King of the Jungle

A safari in Africa is one of the best adventure experiences, one should not miss in a lifetime. Amongst the many destinations in Africa, a Uganda safari is one of the top most ranked as per the Lonely Planet. Though Uganda is most known for gorilla trekking, the big five safari is worthy taking while touring this beautiful natural country! The big 5 includes Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Rhinos Plus Africa’s Best in Uganda comprising of the Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees the Forest Elephants and Forest Buffalos

The Big 5 was established by the Big Game Hunters in another time, big 5 was not just the size of the animals but the difficulty of hunting them. Nowadays the term is used by Tourism companies as well as Safari travelers to Africa and usually the only hunting is with a camera.

Uganda tourism offers travelers not only the Big Five, but also two unique primates that you will not find elsewhere in the world. These are the endangered mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees, some of the closest evolution descendants of man! A safari to see these primates and the “traditional big five” is such a unique safari experience that you will only enjoy in the Pearl of Africa.

1. The Lions in Uganda: Known as the King of the Animals is found in several Uganda national parks including, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park home to the tree climbing lions in the Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park and a few found in the remote Kidepo Valley National Park and Semuliki National Park. There have also been sighted in Lake Mburo National Park and the lion is the most sought Big 5.

2. Leopards in Uganda: The leopards are found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Mount Elgon National Park. The leopards are mostly nocturnal, but touriats can take a nocturnal Game Drive at Queen Elizabeth Park and might spot some or during an early game drive in some of the above parks.

3. The Buffalos: Tourists can find the Cape Buffalo and also the smaller more reddish Forest Buffalos here in Uganda. They are quite powerful and can be found in many of Uganda’s national parks such Lake Mburo Park, Murchison Falls Park, Queen Elizabeth Parkand Kidepo Valley Park. The Buffalos are strong animals and no wonder was included on the list of the Bog 5.

4. Elephants of Uganda: Uganda comprises of both the savannah Elephants and the Forest Elephants which look bit smaller and hairier than the savannah cousins and you can find them in many Uganda National Parks and various settings such as the savannahs and in near forests. Elephants of the savannah or Forest variety can be found in all National Parks except Lake Mburo. The best parks to see Elephants includes the Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Parkand Queen Elizabeth National Park.

5. Rhinos

To be able to see Rhinos, they are found in Zziwa Rhino Reserve on the way to Murchison Falls National Park where you can see most of the big 5.

6. The Mountain Gorillas in Uganda: These are normally skipped out of the list of the big 5, the Mountain Gorillas are sought out by thousands each year and its featured attraction since it is the only East African country where you can find not only the Mountain Gorillas but a diversity of other African wildlife such as the Big Five. They are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park.

7. Chimpanzees in Uganda: There are lots of chimpanzees found in Uganda and best park to track them is the Kibale Forest. A dense rainforest and a perfect habitat with more primates than any other place in East Africa. Tourists can also track chimpanzees in Budongo Forest near Murchison Falls, at the Kyambura Gorge at Queen Elizabeth Park and Semiliki Park. You can also partake in a habituation project for chimpanzee that will last all day long.

Another habitat for Chimpanzees is Ngamba Chimpanzee Island where orphaned Chimpanzees can seen close and actual interaction with chimpanzees can be arranged. Don’t miss out on the Chimpanzees of Uganda.

To get more information about Uganda attractions, check out the Uganda Tourist Sites a destination guide to Uganda!

Gaaga Bus Knocks Elephant Dead

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Eight people have been admitted to hospital in critical condition after a speeding Gaaga bus they were traveling in, knocked dead an elephant in the Murchison Falls National Park in North Eastern Uganda.

This nasty accident occurred on Wednesday night at about 11:40pm in a location called Got Apwoyo Sub-county in Nwoya District, Northern Uganda.

The accident happened a few metres from Pakwach Bridge on the Karuma- Pakwach Highway.

The elephant which was crossing the Karuma-Pakwach highway from Murchison Falls National Park was knocked dead by a speeding bus that belong to Gaga Bus.

Mr. Twaha Karim, the bus driver, was among the people who were injured and rushed to Arua Hospital and Pakwach Hospital.

5 Top Visited National Parks in Uganda

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Backpacking Uganda

Uganda has 10 protected areas that are gazetted as national parks. With an additional 12 game reserves, these protected areas attract a considerable number of tourists who go on Uganda safaris most especially wildlife safaris, gorilla watching expeditions, chimpanzee tracking etc. Of these, here are the top 5 national parks in Uganda.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National park is one of the remote unvisited ordinary places in Uganda and one of the reasons could be that it is very far away from Kampala the capital city. It lies in the semi-arid areas of Karamoja. It is one of Uganda’s prime most remote but spectacular National Parks that harbors scenery not found in any other park in East Africa. Kidepo valley National Park offers breathtaking, savannah landscapes that give off a wide range of climatic conditions that have enabled extremely diverse vegetation. This has enabled the growth of a variety of animal species in the park that are equally abundant including many not found anywhere else in Uganda.

This park is a birders’ paradise with over 475 bird species. It has an open tree savannah grass land which varies much in structure and composition. Kidepo National Park has proven a life time memory to great birders, internationally due to her endless list of unique birds she has to offer.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The Park is composed of woodland, wetland, savannah as well as tropical forest.

The park hosts 76 species of mammals including four of the “Big Five”, with huge herds of buffaloes and elephants, well-camouflaged leopards, a large population of lions and giraffes. Other species viewed regularly along the game tracks include Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other, wildlife is found along the Nile river.

The most spectacular view of watching the waterfall is moving towards the top where the sight and sound of the Nile crashing make a memorable experience. Below the falls, the Nile offers an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife, including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine on a boat launch cruise.

Bwindi impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is unbelievable due to its biodiversity and Relief in south western Uganda. The forest is very significant as a home to almost half of the population of the endangered mountain gorillas. Things you should never miss out while in the park include;

Gorilla tracking, is the major activity carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Many people are interested in tracking the habituated families of the gorillas in the four sectors of Buhoma and Nkuringo being the best interesting gorilla tracking area, Ruhija and Rushaga. A maximum of 8 people are allowed to track each gorilla family at any given time in order to conserve their natural habitat and keep them safe from infections. The duration of the trek depends on the family allocated in each sector.

The park also has a number of community and forest treks. One can trek around on his or her own but security and safety you need to consult guides for clear advise about the route you are about to take. Some treks require hiking especially those to Muyanga water fall that departs from Buhoma, Rushura Hill walk that passes through one forest shared by two countries.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park has a variety of Flora and Fauna and it’s acknowledged to be a habitat for over 95 mammal species with about 612 species of birds. The various species in this park have made it a unique park most liked by tourists. It has five levels of vegetation namely Bushy grassland, Acacia woodland, Swamp vegetation along with Forest grassland. The grasslands of the park inhabit wildlife such as Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, warthlog, lion, leopard, hyena, giant forest hog as well as Elephants. Topis can only be discovered in Ishasha and Forest primates are found in Kyambura gorge in addition to Maramagambo forest.

The park has a variety of flora and fauna and it is acknowledged to be a habitat for over 95 mammal species with over 612 species of birds. More so, the shores of the lake attract a large concentration of mammals as well as reptiles all year around. Animals can be viewed well by the boat cruise that operates from 11:00am – 1:00pm and 3.00pm-5.00pm depending on the demand of the tourists. This creates a chance to view pods of hippos and large numbers of seagulls, cormorants and other water birds.

Kibale forest National park

Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best safari destination in Africa and major tropical rainforest in East Africa. This forest has one of the highest concentrations of primates in Africa, with 13 recorded species. The highlight is outstanding chimpanzee trekking and habituation experiences that provide spectacular sightings. There are almost 1,500 chimpanzees in the forest including the habituated Kanyantale group. The forest is home to around 335 bird species including four species not recorded in any other National parks. The National park has two types of vegetation that is the Grass land and Forest.

Chimpanzee tracking is the major activity and it requires one hour viewing the chimps while 3 hours are required when walking in the forest however a chimpanzee permit has to be paid in time before the actual date of tracking. In addition, there are other adventures that can be taken within the park and these include bird watching, nature walks, botanical tours, etc.

5 Popular Animals to See in Queen Elizabeth National Park

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Tree Climbing Lions in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National park in Western Uganda is home to a variety of large animal species. It was first declared a game reserve in 1906, in order to prevent unregulated hunting but was later gazetted as a National Park in 1952. Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to about 2,500 elephants, 5,000 hippos 10,000 buffaloes.  Other common herbivores include warthogs, waterbucks, Uganda kobs and topis, as well as the swamp loving but elusive sitatunga. This is one of the must visit destinations for wildlife safaris in Uganda.

Within Queen Elizabeth National Park, game drives are usually done early morning or during evening hours. Driving in the open savannah grasslands, tourists can spot a variety of animals such as buffaloes, elephants, Uganda kobs, warthogs, bushbucks, Impalas, Lions, leopards, topis, Sitatungas to mention but a few.

Elephant

An elephant deserves more mention for it fears nobody and is the largest of all land mammals. Despite its size which can exceed six tonnes, it can swim for long distances.
Elephants have the largest brains in the animal kingdom and a super memory. It is said that an elephant never forgets. Their brain can weigh as much as 4.7 kilogrammes for an adult.

When it comes to communication, you can’t beat elephants with bare hands and ears. In long distance communication, they use infrasonic sounds, which are sounds emitted below the human hearing range.

An elephant can communicate with another 20 kilometres away using rumbles whose vibrations travel underground. The vibrations in the soil are transferred into the tips of the elephant’s toe bones and then up the leg into the middle ear where the vibrations are read and translated into messages in the brain.

Using their feet, elephants can detect far off tsunamis and earthquakes hours before they strike. And their sense of smell is also mind boggling. Elephants detect water sources up to almost 20 kilometres away.

An elephant’s trunk is a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things. The strength of an elephant’s trunk is capable of lifting weights in excess of 250 kilogrammes.

Elephants do not have sweat glands and use their thin but huge ears for cooling. One ear from a bull African elephant weighs more than 50 kilogrammes. Elephants live in tight social units led by an older matriarch (female). Males leave the herd between the ages of 12 and 15. Elephants give birth every three to four years. Gestation period is almost two years. A baby elephant can weigh up to 125 kilogramme.

Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating and can consume up to 300 kilogrammes of food. They have six sets of molar teeth and when the last set is lost, they are unable to eat and eventually die. They can live up to 70 years.

Leopards

In Queen Elizabeth national park if the target is to spot a leopard there are some special places to look, one being the track called the leopard loop. The beautiful cat is also known to be seen by the adventurous channel track, Kasenyi research track around the crater at Queen’s pavilion and by the old mating ground in Kasenyi. There is as well a resident leopard around Kyambura Gorge. Leopards also roam the Mweya Peninsula, which lies beside Lake Edward. In the Ishasha area, the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, it is to go for the Kigezi game reserve or for Ntungwe mating ground in the morning or late evening if the aim is to see a leopard.

Their survival is partly due to their adaptability to warm and cold climates and ability to climb trees while carrying heavy prey – keeping it safe from other predators such as lions and hyenas. They can run at incredible speeds of up to 58 km (36 miles) per hour, and hunt antelopes and monkeys as well as fish, birds, insects and reptiles.

Hippopotamus

One of the greatest attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park are the hippos. The Kazinga Channel, Lake Edward, Lake George have the highest concentration of hippos in all of Africa. While on the Kazinga Channel boat ride, you will see hundreds of hippos in the water and on the shore.

Buffalo

Kazinga channel has areas like Kasenyi and  North Kazinga. Its acknowledged that the plains of channel are focal points for game viewing. Tracking is the only way that will enable you see all the wildlife in its natural setting for example buffalo, elephants and other animals that dwell in the grassland thickets of the Northern Kazinga close to Mweya. The most favorable time for game drives is during morning and late afternoon hours.

Lion

Tree Climbing Lions can be found in Ishasha, which is over 120Km south of Mweya. They are usually spotted resting on savannah fig trees as they look out for Uganda kobs and buffaloes to feed on.

Mount Elgon: The World’s Largest Caldera

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Mount Elgon

When you visit Eastern Uganda, Mount Elgon is one of the places that you should not miss while on safari in Uganda. This noticeable mountain lies on the border of Uganda and Kenya. The Mount Elgon is a dormant volcano and today it is one of the best places to go hiking in Uganda. This unique treasure is jealously protected together with the neighboring area as a gazetted national park that is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

The Mount Elgon Caldera measures a 50km by 80km area and therefore this is the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world. The Mount Elgon is the 4th highest mountain in East Africa. The Mountain was caused by an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya.

More so, it extends to the Kenyan border but its highest peak Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best ascended from the Uganda side. Elgon also contains the world’s largest collapsed Crater-Calder covering over 40kms at the top and it’s the largest known crater, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks.

Mountain Elgon is a great watershed, with its slopes supporting a rich variety of vegetation zones that range from rush Montana, Mixed Bamboo forest to the fascinating high open Moorland, studded with the other worldly rarest endemic plant species like the giant Lobella and groundsel plants peculiar to Africa. The vegetation of Mount Elgon changes the higher that you go. On the lower slopes you will find dense forest and due to the rainfall in the area the trees are often covered lichen, vine like lians and epiphytes while the forest floor seems to be carpeted with ferns and flowering plants such as wild orchids. The Bamboo forest region is next at about 2,000 plus meter elevation, beyond that is the open woodland, further on up you have giant heather in meadows of grass and flowers, on an upward to the Afro-Montane zone with its giant lobelias an groundsel.

Apart from fauna and flora in Mount Elgon, there are different types of scenery like Waterfalls, Cliffs, Caves, Calderas, Gorges, the Mountain peaks, Mesas and Hot Springs. At the lowest slopes of Mount Elgon, you will find the Buffalo, Elephants, Antelopes, forest monkeys like the Blue monkey and black white colobus. There are about 300 bird species for example the African Goshawk, Lammergeier and Baglafecht Weaver.

Trekking is another activity where by trekkers have up to three main trailheads leading to Elgon Mountain peaks. One may start from Budadiri that is Sasa trailhead, Sipi trailhead, Forest exploration center- Kapkwai or you may use the Kapkwata commonly refered to as the piswa trailhead. Sasa trail passes through the park’s largest area of bamboo forest, it is the most direct route to the peaks through steep with rugged climbs of over 1600m in the start and it’s accessible from Mbale.

The Local people living in Mountain Elgon are the Bagishu and the Sabiny. They grow crops for subsistence purposes and practice annual circumcision ceremonies to initiate young women and men into adulthood.

 

10 Things to Do in Kampala

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Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. There are lots of things to do while on a holiday in Kampala.

Visit the Kasubi Tombs

While in Kampala, visit the Kasubi Tombs to learn a little about recent traditional cultural history of Buganda Kingdom. You will learn about the various practices and rituals of the Buganda and a visit gives a fascinating insight into some of Uganda’s traditional ways of life. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site and the burial grounds of four Ugandan kings and royal family. Originally, it was built in 1882 as the palace of Kabaka Mutesa I and converted to his tomb following his death, the site was then the burial place of the three following kings.

The site gives a look at Buganda culture, and not only the care they took over their royalty, but other culturally important artifacts, such as the Buganda drums used to communicate important events over long distances. A fireplace is in the middle of the area where the fire is kept lit to warm the kings spirits.

Visit the Ndere Centre

The Ndere Centre is a highly recommended attraction to visit while in Kampala and experience the country’s traditional dance and music. A few days of the week, you can enjoy a dinner and theater performance at the center to see a high energy show of Ugandan culture. The dances are from a variety of Uganda’s different tribes and the show takes place in a 700-seat amphitheater on Sundays at 6pm, Wednesday at 7pm and Fridays from 7pm.

The Troupe is built on 9 acres of well- maintained green, beautiful flowered walk ways and shaded by fruit and other African trees. This rare architecture is a combination of artistic creativity with simplicity that takes African forms, materials, colours and construction to unprecedented heights. The Centre is highly recommended as a form of an attraction towards guests so as to experience the country’s traditional dance and music. You can enjoy a local dinner and theater performances at the center to see a high energy show of Ugandan culture. The dances are from different tribes of Uganda.

It is a repeated theme across sub-Saharan Africa where information was not written down as language didn’t exist in written form, instead the information was passed between generations through performances, such as dance, storytelling, poetry, and music. The Ndere Troupe are a definite must-see attraction in Uganda and the award-winning performers have been practicing their art for nearly 26 years spreading the fascinating and enjoyable performances.

Visiting The Mother Temple (Bahai Temple)

The Baha’i Temple that is located on the Kikaya Hill 7 kilometers from the city center along Kampala Gayaza road. It is the only Bahai Temple found in Africa. The 52-acre site includes extensive gardens that attract people from far and wide. Usually it opens daily between 9:00am morning to 5:30pm in the evening with a Sunday service at 10:30am. The Temple has owed and amazed many visitors not only because of its architectural design but also the beautiful natural environment in which it majestically stands.

The beautiful grounds offer a wide range of photographic opportunities although one is asked to respect the temple interior and not to take photos within. While the grounds have various spots to sit, relax and meditate.

Craft Village On Buganda Road

A craft village is located along Buganda Road, 1 kilometer away from Buganda road Primary school. This is one of the better places in Kampala to buy colorful cloths such as kitenge, sculptures, paintings and other souvenirs to take back home as soon as you depart from Uganda. The village is enclosed and safe to browse around, but it is advisable to keep your bag safely. Many items that symbolize different cultures and items that define Uganda at large are on display. Among these may include; the clay pot, sandals, various drums, flutes or milk carriers. It is impossible and difficult to know exactly what will catch your mind not until you actually go there.

Mare stories from friends about the shop will not satisfy you unless you visit the place in person and feel the satisfaction.

Swimming

Spending the day relaxing by a pool is one of the favorite pastimes of the people who know Kampala and with its prime spot on the equator and ever increasing number of fancy hotels Kampala has good weather and pools on offer. These places generally are highly loaded on weekends so if you are planning to go swimming in a day make sure to get their early to claim the prime lounger spots. There are a number of swimming places that Kampala has for example Speke Resort Munyonyo, Sheraton Hotel, Kabira Country club to mention but a few. In other words, there is no need for you to travel to Ugandan beaches which are located in Entebbe in order to have a relaxation when Kampala is surrounded with Hotels accompanied with swimming pools.

Visit the Uganda Museum

This is located at plot 54 Kiira road. The Uganda Museum is the largest collection of ethnographic materials in the whole of Africa. A tour of Uganda Museum on your Kampala city tour will help you get expose to other departments like The Natural History of Uganda, Ethnography, Musicology, and archeology and stone age sites in Uganda. It requires three hours for someone to tour this place. It’s one of the sites that should be included on someone’s wish list while planning a Kampala city tour. If you are interested in tracing its history, there is a trail starting from Old Kampala where the first Museum was established before moving it to Makerere University and then to its current location just before Uganda Wildlife Authority offices along Kiira road.

Outside the Museum is the Living museum (Cultural village) that exhibits the ways of lives of Ugandans as it represents the whole of Uganda.

Visiting the 3 Religious places

The early explorers and missionaries settled in Uganda to share and spread their beliefs. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants (Anglicans) were welcomed by the Kabaka and given land for settlement to establish ‘headquarters’ for their beliefs. Namirembe Cathedral is Anglican and Rubaga Cathedral is Catholic. These are the oldest cathedrals in Uganda with great views over Kampala.

More so, there is the Gadhafi Mosque. This is the national mosque in Uganda and it was built with support from the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadhafi. It has a rich history with its location on the original colonial capital and one of the original ‘seven hills’ of Kampala. Climb up the many steps of the mosque to see Kampala through a bird’s eye view.

5 Top Things to See in Eastern Uganda

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Mount Elgon

Looking to travel off the beaten trail? Why not travel to Eastern Uganda, a less visited destination in Uganda. Always referred to as an Eastern Trail, there are lots of things to see on a route through the region;

1. The River Nile

While you are in the Eastern region, it’s worth to visit Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda and see the source of  Nile River. For long explorers looked for the Source of the Nile. You will take a boat cruise to learn about the mystical river that pours its waters into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is the second longest river in the world and some claim that it is the longest river in the world. You will see the incredible waterway of the Nile River emerging out of the Lake Victoria you can see the start of the Nile at Jinja, which is about a two hours drive from Kampala through the Mabira Forest.

You can enjoy some boat trips around the lake and visit to the hydroelectric power plant at Bujagali Falls. The area around Jinja is also known as the adventure capital of East Africa. You can enjoy mountain biking, horse riding, and other adrenaline activities. The town itself is also worth a visit to see some examples of colonial architecture. While in Jinja, there are many different accommodation options to choose from to make your stay comfortable.

The Nile offers interesting several water sports that can be experienced while in Jinja. Go for white water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, jet cruises etc. Other interesting things to do in Jinja are quad biking, horseback riding among others.

2. Nyero Rock Paintings

The Nyero Rock Paintings site is a three level rock cave shelters with some of the oldest paintings in Uganda that were painted during the Iron Age. These unique rock paintings are found in the Iteso land in Kumi district of Uganda. On a guided safari in Eastern Uganda, it is so possible to have a stopover to these mighty caves that confirm the existence of the iron age people in Uganda. Once you visit the place, the paintings demonstrated a high degree of appreciation of their beautiful values although the painters miss out their identification.

There are some folk tales of old people who have little information about the original inhabitants. The paintings are generally attributed to Batwa people who are hunters and gathers from the pygmy origin and they are thought to have immigrated because of the arrival of the Luo, Nilotic and Bantu groups. Till up to date, the meaning of the three phase paintings is not known although they still look gorgeously at the site. The Batwa people who settled in the area before the Iteso People, lived in the area and drew the pictures. They left the place long ago and there is no record of them.

Currently, the Etesots live in this region but are not the original group of people believed to have drawn the pictures that make up the Nyero Rock Paintings. The paintings offer a unique motivation, decorative piece of art on natural lonely inselbergs in landscapes with beautiful scenery for visitors to enjoy. The rock art is Uganda’s precious treasure which she holds to protect from destruction.

You can climb up on top of the shelter for great views of the surrounding area and will find monkeys birds and at times even reptiles sunbathing. Take care on rainy days since the rocks can become a bit slippery. It is about 5hrs’s drive from Kampala to Kumi and about 8km from Kumi to the Nyero rocks.

3. Mount Elgon

Mountain Elgon is an extinct volcano about 250 kilometers in the Eastern region on the border between Uganda and Kenya. The National park has much to offer to visitors including attractions Elephants and Buffalos especially on the lower slopes of the mountain. Other wildlife includes; Antelopes and monkeys. At 4000 square kilometers, Mountain Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world. There are over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer can also be seen in the thick forests that circle the peak. Climbing this mountain is not difficult at all but hikers can also check out the big caves, waterfalls, cliffs, caves and gorges. During the night, animals frequently come to lick up salt from the cave walls. The volcanic soils allow the Elgon region to produce the finest Uganda’s Arabica coffee.

Mount Elgon and the surrounding area has activities that most visitors will enjoy and one needs to stress that Mount Elgon is more than a mountain to be conquered but to be enjoyed by most any visitor and since not every visitor is a climber there are lots of nature trails, caves, waterfalls, various vegetation zones, birds, wildlife to be enjoyed on guided walks without the need for any equipment but a light backpack, hiking boots, a wide-brimmed hat, Jeans, long-sleeved shirts and a light rain-jacket, bottled water and a packed lunch on all day nature walk or the newly commissioned mountain bike trails.

Mountain Elgon is home to two tribes that is to say; the Bagisu and the Sabiny, with the marginalized Ndorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet. The Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba and refer to the mountain by this name.

Though many visitors to Mount Elgon come to climb Mount Elgon there are however many activities in and near Mount Elgon for those who want to simply explore and discover this great region in the Pearl of Africa Uganda.

4. The Sipi Falls

The Sipi falls is the most beautiful water fall found in the Eastern part of Uganda in Kapchorwa district about km north of Mbale. The falls is a set of three water fall located at the foothills of mountain Elgon. Many times Sipi falls is associated with only one of the 3 falls which is the tallest at about 100m and is the main water fall. The other two are thought to be about 7 and 8 meters high. This water fall is one of the best attractions in the Eastern Uganda. Not only the falls but also the view of Mount Elgon from up and the distant Karamoja plains disappearing from below is quite spectacular.

The atmosphere at Sipi is very conducive and favorable given the fact that the weather is much cooler than the rest of Uganda. It is a great place to escape away from the hustle and bustle of the stressful towns to chill and relax. It is worth spending a night in this serene and peaceful place. There are a number of lodges and campsites in the area offering a range of accommodation for all budgets.

Trekking to the water fall is fierce-ful but one of the most fulfilling adventures you can do. The rain bow cutting through the falls, the breeze and the cool drops of water brushing on your skin feels like heaven. There is a network of well-maintained local train through a pleasant country side and offering great views of the scenery in each direction. The Sipi falls area is known for growing of African Coffee thus leading to the development of Agriculture the back bone of Uganda.

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