I (Cindy) grew up in a village in France and as soon as I turned 18, I made my way to the UK to make new friends, seek new adventures and become fluent in English. While in London, I met Simon who had travelled from Melbourne, Australia on the traditional Aussie pilgrimage to the UK. When we met there was one thing we instantly had in common – a love of travel.
My family never travelled outside of France but on my first school trip to London, I knew I had the travel bug. Afterwards, all I could think about was travelling somewhere overseas. Simon came from a family of travellers. His mum travelled the world by boat and bus, long before air travel was cheap.
As for photography, I’ve loved it since I was 12 and my uncle bought me my first camera. After that, there were many rolls of film wasted as I focused on improving my skills. Thankfully, digital cameras came out not long after! One place that I visited recently which was a treat to capture was Uganda. We visited for 11 days and it was an unforgettable trip.
11 Incredible Days in Uganda
Uganda was on our bucket list for a few years. We love wildlife and always wanted to trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see mountain gorillas. When we decided to take a trip around the world and spend time in Africa, we knew we couldn’t miss out on that opportunity.
We spent 11 days in total in Uganda, including Murchison Falls National Park (2 days), Kibale National Park (2 days), Queen Elizabeth National Park (2 days), Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (2 days), Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (1 day) and finally we finished our incredible Uganda trip in Entebbe.
Favourite Place in Uganda: Bwindi
Every place we visited was special to us because not only was Uganda the first country we visited in Africa but we also had our first African wildlife safari. But of course, our favourite place was the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild was breathtaking.
Having a silverback walk right past us without a care in the world is an experience we will never forget! It’s experiences like that which make Uganda one of the most underrated places in Africa and the entire world.
Top 10 Things To Do in Uganda
Home to spectacular landscapes, endless wildlife-spotting opportunities and a warm-hearted local population – Uganda really is one of the hottest travel destinations in Africa at the moment. Our top 10 experiences are:
1. Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Gorilla trekking through this lush national park and forest is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Being immersed in nature and seeing huge fern leaves makes for awesome hiking too. And then, of course, getting a chance to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is epic!
2. Lion Tracking in the Queen Elizabeth National Park
I’m a big cat lover and we ended up seeing them very close on our trip into Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is the only national park in Uganda that offers lion tracking. It’s mostly done in the northern region of the park where you have the chance to track down over 250 lions. You will also learn about their habits such as where the lions go and how they feed.
3. Nile River Cruise in the Murchison National Park
You will see incredible amounts of wildlife and be afforded amazing views of the Murchison Falls on a Nile River Cruise. Some of the wildlife includes hippos, crocodiles, waterbirds and more! And you once you reach the falls you will experience the pure majesty of this natural wonder of Uganda.
4. White Rhino Tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Tracking the white rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary gives you the chance to see the only living white rhinos in Uganda. This sanctuary is located in the Nakasongola district – 100 miles north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls. There are currently 22 southern white rhinos to see, plus you can enjoy many more activities in the sanctuary.
5. Bush Lodge at Queen Elizabeth National Park
Spending a night or two in a tent at the Bush Lodge is an amazing time. You can listen to the sound of hippos as you fall asleep! It’s a fantastic place to base yourself for safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park. In addition, you will be staying at a lodge that is built in an eco-friendly way.
6. Chimp Trekking in Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park is home to 13 different types of primates and among them are Chimpanzees. Trekking through this national park not only gives you the opportunity to see many chimps but also a range of mammals and bird species. We spent two days here and loved every minute of it!
7. Boat Safari along the Kazinga Channel
A boat safari along the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park offers you some incredible wildlife and bird sightings. Another interesting aspect about this boat cruise is that you get the chance to pass by local fishing villages. During the afternoon, the fishermen prepare their gear and head out onto the water for feeding time as the fish begin to bite.
8. Local Community of Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is located 6km south of the Kibale National Park visitor centre at Kanyanchu and is maintained by the local community. This place gives you the chance to see primates and to meet the local community, including a village and local businesses.
9. The Top of Murchison Falls for Amazing Views
A walk to the top of Murchison Falls allows you to experience how powerful this wonder of the natural world really is. Look down as the Nile River bursts through a narrow rocky gap and falls down powerfully into a pool known as “The Devil’s Cauldron”. The walk up is relatively easy and leisurely.
10. Golden Monkeys of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Visit the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for a chance to see the incredible Golden Monkeys. Failing that, you can discover some amazing views of nearby volcanoes from the park. A great way to cap off 11 days in Uganda!
Warm-Hearted Locals of Uganda
We had the pleasure of meeting a few locals while visiting Uganda. This was in a village next to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary and we met a few more along the way during our experiences. We found the people of Uganda to be friendly, welcoming and always happy to help out.
They tried hard to make our time in Uganda unforgettable. However, because we stayed in safari lodges every night, we weren’t able to really immerse ourselves in the local culture as much as if we’d stayed with a local family. But we have absolutely no regrets about our trip.
Enjoying the Food of Uganda
We enjoyed the food in Uganda but as we stayed in safari lodges that were full board, we didn’t get to enjoy many restaurants. But we did try street food along the way and the Rolex (a popular Ugandan snack) was delicious! They are chapatis combined with fried eggs, tomatoes and cabbage. We also loved the fresh fruit that was sold everywhere.
Accommodation in Uganda
Our favourite stay in Uganda was at the Bush Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. We stayed in an established tent not far from the water which meant we could hear the sound of the hippos grazing at night.
They make the most hilarious sounds! It was not the best night of sleep we had but it certainly was an incredible experience. We also loved our night at Mount Gahinga Lodge which had fabulous views of the volcanoes.
Cherished Memories Seeing Gorillas
The best memory of our trip was when we first laid eyes on the gorilla family we’d been tracking. They were all up in the trees, including the massive silverback. After a few minutes, they began to climb down slowly.
It was a little nerve wracking as they came closer. First, one of the females walked past us, and then the silverback followed, passing less than a metre away. He was huge and stunning. It was an incredible moment. After two and a half hours of trekking through bush, it was the best reward!
Tips for your Visit to Uganda
My biggest advice would be to take your time exploring the country. Too many people just go to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the gorillas and do not spend enough time exploring the rest of Uganda. To be honest, we didn’t spend enough time and would have happily stayed longer.
There is so much wildlife and scenery in every part of Uganda. Bring a good camera with a big zoom – you will be snapping a lot of photos! Also, make sure you visit a travel doctor before you visit. You will need a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate to enter and Malaria tablets are recommended.
If you plan on trekking to see the gorillas and/or chimps, make sure you secure your trekking permits prior to arrival and as early as you can. They sell out fast and you don’t want to be disappointed. I recommend purchasing your permit through a reputable tour operator that is a member of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Enjoy your trip!