Gorillas in Uganda, the colorful heart of Africa is written by Mary Meier
How to Meet Gorillas in Uganda
Most people probably immediately think of the famous mountain gorillas when they mention Uganda. You can get really close to them and experience how they live, play and eat in their familiar surroundings. If you are lucky, you will also meet the really beautiful 'silverback', who is the hangorilla who controls the herd.
It is a very special experience to be allowed to see the mountain gorillas up close in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest in southwestern Uganda. Today, it costs about $ 600 to get a gorilla permit for one day. It is cheaper than in Rwanda and more expensive than in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But this is also where most mountain gorillas live. It is an experience not to be missed if you are nearby and have the opportunity to go to the jungle.
But Uganda also offers much more. There are things to see all over the country, so if you want to make the most of your time here, it may be advisable to opt for a round trip.
The country's capital is home to just over 1,5 million people. There is one main road that runs across the city. Once blocked, it can take several hours to get from A to B. Therefore, it is not recommended to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the capital. If you still choose, for example, to take a city tour, you must be prepared for a lot of traffic and a lot of people on the street. Just make sure you have a local guide to show you around.
If you have some days off either before or after going out to experience the country, the Marriott hotel in Entebbe can definitely be recommended for some relaxing days. Located right on Lake Victoria, the hotel has a swimming pool, gym, great service and delicious food. Here you also get a little away from the big city dirt, and you can instead enjoy a little cleaner and quieter surroundings.
Murchinson Falls is one of my favorite places in Uganda.
It is located in the north of the country and is Uganda's first national park. This is where the Nile starts, and you have the opportunity to see a giant waterfall of 43 meters by either going on a boat trip or driving up to the top of the waterfall while eating your lunch in the shade. The upper river is the northern part of the Albertine River, and the lower part is where the Victoria Nile starts. Here you can see animals such as giraffes, hippos, elephants, crocodiles and many different bird species.
They are proud to mention that famous people like Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway have visited the national park.
white water rafting
If you go to Jinja a little east of Kampala, you can get on white water rafting on the Nile. The trip takes 4-5 hours and has a distance of 25 km. You can choose different levels of difficulty depending on how experienced you are. And that is one of the wildest and most fun things to do on this trip. Here you can rafting all year round, as the river is not affected by the different seasons or the rain.
There are crocodiles, but for the last 20 years there have been no accidents related to white water rafting. There are no hippos in this area, so you are absolutely safe there.
Chimpanzees and gorillas in Uganda
In addition to the mountain gorillas, you can also go out into the jungle to see chimpanzees. They are a little easier to find and you do not have to go up and down the mountain wall to find them. The chimpanzees can be found in Kibale Forest National Park in Western Uganda. You have a guide with you, and the walk takes 1-2 hours depending on how easy it is to find the chimpanzees.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
In Uganda, there is a farm that helps protect the various rhinos in the country. It is the only place in Uganda where one can be allowed to see rhinos. The only thing they ask for is that you turn off your GPS when taking pictures. The place is called Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and is located between the cities of Kampala and Misindi.
Equator in Uganda
One can probably not avoid crossing the equator while in Uganda. A special stop on the way to the mountain gorillas provides ample opportunity to take pictures of the equator. Besides that, they also do the famous 'water experiment' to prove that you have crossed the border.
You can experience this at the town of Kayabwe right next to the main road. There is also a good souvenir shop and 'coffee shop' which is worth visiting.
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Attractions near where you can see gorillas in Uganda: Lake Bunyonyi and Pygmy Village
Near the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest is an incredibly beautiful lake called Bunyonyi.
In the lake there are 29 small islands. On one of the islands you can visit the village of Pygmy, which lives in complete isolation from civilization and is a refugee from Rwanda. They have built their own school and are happy to show all that they have learned. You get to the island by boat.
Seeing gorillas in Uganda is a huge experience
The absolute 'must see' in Uganda is a gorilla.
It is a very special experience to be allowed to see them up close. They are wild animals, yet it is possible to make eye contact with them while eating and playing and get a very special connection to them. You must be at least 15 years old to get a permit, and there are a lot of rules that must be followed when going out and looking for gorillas in Uganda. Once you have found them, you have an hour where you can take as many pictures as you want. Then you go back again so they can be allowed to be in nature all to themselves without being disturbed by humans.
So there is a lot to see in the relatively small country. Nature is varied and completely unique. You can both experience the dry African air that you typically expect from Africa. But it is not very far to the jungle, where temperature and humidity are completely different. In Uganda, they have two seasons. There are two rainy seasons that you should preferably avoid if you are going trekking. The dry periods are in February and July, when it is high season.
You often meet other travelers in Uganda. But luckily there is not as much over-touristy as one sees in some other African countries as Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa. But tourists have discovered the pearl of Africa, and it will probably not be long before prices in the country rise even more - especially on the permission to see the mountain gorillas.
Good luck finding a gorilla and good luck Uganda!
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