Ker & Downey designer Cherie Tann shares six reasons why Uganda should not be overlooked on an east African safari. As told to Rina Chandarana
It may be small, but Uganda has so much to offer. Friendly people, oodles of wildlife (including gorillas) and a beyond blissful year-round climate make this a destination worth adding to your travel bucket list.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mist-laden mountains and dense forests roll as far as the eye can see in this corner of Uganda. Hidden in the greenery are one of the country’s main attractions: the gorillas. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting up-close to these magnificent creatures. Little babies played on branches and casually crossed my path. Eco-conscious travelers can get hands-on by planting trees to help preserve this landscape or help to contribute to the Gorilla Forest Camp’s philanthropy projects.
After flying into the bustling capital city of Kampala, I headed north to Murchison Falls National Park to stay at Baker’s Lodge, a small boutique property frequently visited by a barrel of monkeys perched in the trees. This is one of my favorite areas because of the incredible game viewing. Rothschild giraffes wander, lions roam and hyenas yip. After a two-hour boat ride to get closer to the crashing falls, I could easily spot loads of lounging hippos. Elephants stopped by the banks for a drink and crocodiles glided along. Hike up to the top of the falls for a spectacular perspective or soar sky-high in a hot air balloon.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
There are several lodges to choose from in this area, but my go-to is the six-tented Ishasha Wilderness Camp, a great place to start a primate trek and to see elephants. The lakes and the Kazinga Channel attract birds, beasts and scores of fishermen prepping their boats for a day out on the water.
Lake Mburo National Park
Activities are plentiful around Lake Mburo. Enjoy a horseback safari or speed things up with a mountain bike ride while zebras race along. The wonderful variety of birds caught my eye the most. Crested cranes—the national bird of Uganda featured on the country’s flag—wade in the waters, while a colorful cast of yellow, blue and green birds chirp in the surrounding trees.
Kibale National Park
This absolutely stunning part of southern Uganda overflows with rolling green hills and deep blue volcanic crater lakes. Chimp trekking is the highlight, headed by trained guides adept at locating the exquisite creatures hanging out in the little clearings and peering down from tree branches. I was able to get up-close to primates during a trek from Ndali Lodge.
But it was my interaction with Ugandans that endeared me to the country. Towns and villages are hives of activity. Ladies carry baskets on their backs, brimming with freshly picked leaves and beans at verdant tea and coffee farms. Happy children run around and play soccer after school. This is a true glimpse into daily Ugandan life.