GANDA PLUS U!!!- Article by Gareth Jones
Experience “Ganda Plus U”!
This time of year with the mid-year approaching fast, many families are considering plans to travel to various vacation destinations within Kenya. However, in this article, I wish to highlight the other option right next to Kenya, namely Uganda.
We lived in Uganda for a number of years and really enjoyed seeing some of the flora and fauna and sights whenever possible. The country was given the title the “Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill in 1907, mainly due to the incredibly fertile land and beautiful huge natural diversity. I remember arriving at Entebbe International Airport and being welcomed by a large sign that said “Welcome to Ganda all that is missing is U”. Yes, Uganda has come a long way since the destructive regimes of the past, tourism and in particular wildlife, tourism has much to offer visitors.
Naturally, Kampala, similar to Nairobi, is a hub for tourists and visitors to connect and prepare to travel to various fantastic locations within Uganda. While most reservations can be made online, some people would still prefer to visit the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) regarding information and bookings within National Parks. East African residents enjoy a reduced rate for national parks.
Entebbe has an interesting botanical garden with huge trees and vines laid out in 1898 next to Lake Victoria, with wonderful birdlife that includes a good possibility of sighting species like great blue turacos, Ross’s Turaco, Black & White casqued hornbill plus many others…. Black & White Colobus monkeys also frequent the gardens. It was also interesting to note that the original Tarzan movie starring Jonny Weissmuller was actually filmed in the same botanical gardens in the 1940s.
Irrespective of the choice of venue, in order to really enjoy a family safari it is important to plan well in advance. The thrill of adventure is something that many people can identify with, and Uganda has many places where memories can be made. Some previous highlights for our family include visiting the Murchison Falls where the might of the Nile river effectively almost becomes a massive “water cannon” as millions of litres of water are forced to flow through a narrow 7-meter wide gorge and drop rapidly onto the rapids below and onwards to Lake Albert. The power is so great that the ground actually shakes next to the falls. It is also very much worthwhile taking a boat up the Nile river to see the falls from below, plus there is abundant wildlife like hippos and elephants on the way upstream.
The Kazinga channel linking Lake George & Lake Edward in the Queen Elizabeth National Park is another fantastic venue for those who enjoy a boat ride to see wildlife. Within the same area, chimpanzee hikes are available for those who are physically fit enough to walk the distance. The Ishasha part of the same park is also famous for tree-climbing lions.
A number of tourists continue onwards from Ishasha to also do a mountain gorilla trek safari in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (gorilla permits booked through UWA). It is important to ensure that gorilla permits @ USD $600 per person are correctly booked through the authorities. The Bwindi national park also has much other wildlife including beautiful birds to view.
Another worthwhile place to visit is the Kibali Forest National Park located near Fort Portal with a splendid view of the Rwenzori mountains as well. I clearly remember early one morning, looking up and seeing the glacier-capped peaks of the Rwenzori mountains, while we went on a trek through the forest to find wild Chimpanzees and other wildlife species. For the record, Uganda has over 1,000 species of birds and roughly 25% of the total national area is covered by freshwater lakes and rivers.
For those who enjoy savannah wildlife, the Kidepo Valley National Park has much to offer, including being a remote location. The Sipi falls in the Mount Elgon National Park are also a beautiful sight to see. A visit to Jinja to see where the Nile river flows out of Lake Victoria is also wonderful, especially for those who enjoy adventure outings like white water rafting.
We are all different, therefore the decisions we make will never be the same. However, in my opinion, irrespective of where people spend their holiday time, it is very important the enjoyment starts with the relaxing and restoring that is necessary after hard work. I believe that God also put natural flora and fauna on this planet to help us to recover from the stresses of life, and Uganda has so much to offer in this way.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that many people “recharge their batteries” so that at the end of their holiday they are ready to face the rest of the year 2021 and onwards, revitalized and energized.
The purpose of this article is not to attempt to list the many wonderful venues within Uganda, as it is not very difficult to find accommodation venues nowadays due to internet access and efficient travel agents. Rather the purpose of this article is to attempt to encourage many people to plan their leave with the objective of maximizing their enjoyment. I really believe that Uganda is a venue option that should not be missed at some stage when planning vacations. Why not experience everything Uganda has to offer by doing “ganda plus U”?
My humble prayer is that wherever you all plan to go on holiday, that you all have a joy-filled time of rest and restoration and return home safely.