For me, it encapsulates everything that makes Africa so special and its location alone is like something from the lost world. Open, wild savannahs in the shadow of rugged glacial peaks, where the western Congo forest, slowly grows over a rolling landscape scarred by gorges and ravines but softened by dazzling lakes and splashes of colour from traditional villages.
Go wild, find the money and fly into the remote Karamajong region (known locally as the land of the nomad hunters), where fierce herdsmen protect their cattle from other tribes and Kidepo Valley Park is visited by only 5% of those who explore Uganda. A dry, arid, but cinematic landscape, ringed by mountains where you can stand on a kopje and almost see the earth’s curve. The stunning Apoka Lodge offers soothing respite from the wilds.
In complete contrast to this you have the lush forests in Semliki wildlife reserve in the shadow of the Congo Blue Mountains. As Uganda’s oldest reserve and with only 1 permanent lodge in the 534 sq km park, you can take your pick on where to create your adventure. A lazy river safari through the lakes and sparkling waterways, where shoebills hunt amongst the reeds or perhaps a drive to look for forest elephants who move silently through the trees whose canopies shake with frenetic chimps.
Even if you don’t spot chimps in Semliki, you can head out with wildlife rangers in nearby Kibale Forest and search for them again – troops of up to 60 chimps as they hunt, fight and smash their way through the treetops – not for the fainthearted! If this all gets too much however, then slow things down with a leisurely walk around the calming waters of the regions beautiful crater lakes, as wooden pirogues glide across the blue waters, carpeted with lilies.
Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Park are perhaps the most famous wildlife parks, but don’t be put off. It is here you find the highest concentration of game, some of the best birding, the strange tree climbing lions and plenty of boat safaris as thirsty game comes to drink on the shore dotted with fishermen hauling the days catch ashore in the setting sun.
Of course if this hasn’t sated your lust for adventure, then join the photographers, adventurers and trip-of-a-lifetimers by heading deep into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (note the name!) to peer through the thick vegetation, adrenalin racing, heart pounding and breathing hard as you come face-to-face with the unnervingly human mountain gorilla.
The beauty of Uganda is that all this adventure is balanced by welcoming, authentic lodges, where you can chose to live like a King in luxury above the clouds or if prefer your safaris, smaller and more intimate, bush camps in the forest, where distant chimps can be heard as you swap stories around the campfire.
Originally written by Chris Johnson for Steppes Travel