Winston Churchill called Uganda “the Pearl of Africa.” Now, after decades of civil war and tyranny, it is beginning once again to seem the right phrase for it.
More than 1,000 bird species live in this fertile, beautiful country roughly the size of Great Britain, nestled in east-central Africa—almost half of them in QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK. They range from rare silvery whale-headed storks (aka shoebills), spectacular longcrested eagles, and brilliant iridescent sunbirds to great, lumbering, turkey-sized ground hornbills whose diet includes everything from termites to young eaglets and hares.
More primate species than anyplace else in the world live in BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST, richest faunal community in East Africa. Half the world population of mountain gorillas are there, plus chimpanzees, wide-eyed, wooly, little pottos, handsome, flowing-haired black-andwhite colobus monkeys, and 120 other mammal species along with 202 kinds of butterflies and 346 kinds of birds.
RUWENZORI MOUNTAINS were called “Mountains of the Moon” by geographer Ptolemy in 150 AD, astonished to learn of snow-covered peaks at the equator. Growing here are extraordinary botanicals—towering versions of usually low-growing heathers, crimson and emerald-green mosses, with alpine flowers that literally dwarf humans.
The greatest concentrations of crocodiles in East Africa patrol banks of the Nile River below MURCHISON FALLS’ dramatic 150-foot (45-m) drop into churning rapids.
More mammals than at any other Ugandan park live in KIDEPO VALLEY—28 of them found no place else in the country. Everywhere, wildlife species slaughtered by the murderous dictator Idi Amin are gradually returning.
Best times to visit are dry-season December–February and June–July. Most international travelers fly to Entebbe Airport just south of the capital city, Kampala, where rental cars and accommodations are available and where guides and trips around the country can be arranged.
More about the Reserves in Uganda
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