Uganda Natural Hair blog and resources
Some of you may be more familiar with Uganda being the land of genocide under the dictator Idi Amin. However, Uganda is now rebuilding itself after it’s difficult past and really should not be overlooked by those wanting to experience some of the best Africa has to offer.
I visited Uganda in November 2015 and it fast became one of my favorite countries. Even now I get excited when I cast my mind back to the lush green forests, towering cloud covered mountains and majestic apes. The people were friendly and less inclined to beg as they are in other countries in the region and the fresh food was both tasty and healthy. Although, there is some more indulgent less healthy food for the times you just fancy a burger. Finally, comfortable, affordable Eco friendly accommodation was readily available. I am committed to sustainable, responsible tourism where possible and Uganda offers visitors the chance to experience the peace and tranquility of nature whilst making a positive impact on animals, the environment and local communities.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most visited park in Uganda sitting in the Southwest conveniently close to other areas of interest (by close I mean by African standards, you will still need to spend several hours traveling along rocky roads to reach other destinations!). It was named after the current queen of England just after her coronation although changed its name briefly during the dictatorship. It boasts of tree climbing lions, flamingos, primates and elephants all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Rwenzori mountains. A particular highlight is a boat trip along the Kazinga channel where you can see local fishing communities for which the area is famous as well as an abundance of wildlife including hippos, elephants and bird life.
Lake Mutanda is nestled in the south west of Uganda near the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and is overlooked by the Virunga Mountain Range. The area is known as the Switzerland of Africa and really does live up to its name.
The mountains on one side reflect perfectly in the calm water while children play on the steep green edges on the other side. The lake is free of bilharzia, hippopotamus and crocodiles so is safe to swim in and you will only have the African Clawless Otter and a few birds for company. You can explore not only your spiritual side but that of the locals by visiting their ancestral burial site. Finally, this place is a great base for seeing the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
It had always been a dream of mine to see these majestic creatures up close in their own natural environment and it really is what drew me to Uganda. With very few Mountain Gorillas left in the wild supporting them and the rangers that care for them, it is important to ensure their future. We set off one dry day full of excitement and anticipation. Five minutes in I could already feel that my fitness was letting me down. Four hours in and not a gorilla in site, the novelty of walking in the dense jungle as romantic and idyllic as this, it is got less exciting each time I slipped and fell. However, it was worth it once we saw such large creatures relaxing in our presence. It is difficult to articulate just how magical it is to be just a few meters away from these gentle giants and to watch as their inquisitive babies nervously approach.
So far, these gorillas seem like they will be a conservation success story but it has come at a price. The Batwa are the forest people who have been moved out of the forest in order to protect the gorillas.
They now reside in villages near by but locals told me they struggle to get jobs and have faced difficulties since leaving their forest life behind. Some act as “porters” to assist those who are going to see the gorillas by carrying luggage and for that they receive a small fee. One porter told me that he gets to work about once a month as porters rotate. It is great for tourists to hire porters as in doing so you help the local people and thus make protection of the gorillas valuable to local communities.
Chimpanzees of Kibale
You can experience what it is like to be Jane Goodall for a day by visiting the Kibale Forest and meeting some of the habituated groups of chimpanzees that call this forest home. As you walk through the forest of tall trees wrapped in vines you can see red colobus monkeys playing in the canopy above your head. As you continue you may start to hear the calls of chimpanzees or loud booms as they hit tree trunks which adds to the intrigue of coming up close to one of human’s closest relatives. Once you find a group, you stand just a few meters from these marvelous creatures as they lie and relax or sit and groom one another and you may even see them charge through the forest after one another or while they are hunting. Their human like expression is intriguing and their societal make- up is captivating.
Uganda has so much more than the things I have listed above. Think Lake Victoria, bikes stacked with bananas, exotic bird life, safaris, lakes brilliant primates and women dressed in colorful patterns. I hope to go back to Uganda again one day to continue my adventure.
June 18, 2017