The Holiday Guide editorial team was in Uganda this summer on a Fam Trip and travelled across Uganda to discover some interesting new destinations for travellers from the Middle East. The team landed in Entebbe from Dubai and after an overnight stopover at the City Blue Hotel in Kampala, set off on the 8-hour long drive to the Bwindi National Park in the Southern part of Uganda to meet the elusive and endangered Mountain Gorillas.
The climb up to the natural habitat of the mountain Gorillas was an experience in itself – negotiating through the rugged Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search of the ‘gentle giants’. The world’s remaining 786 mountain gorillas live in three countries spanning four national parks—Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park. The biggest threats to these critically endangered great apes come from deforestation and the region’s growing population.
Meeting mountain gorillas face-to-face in was an incredible experience. Sitting in the middle of the forest among the apes, staring into those searching, intelligent eyes in a face that seems to reflect your own, is a powerful experience.
From the Bwindi mountains we then moved on to the visit what was indeed the highlight of this trip to Uganda. The scenic new destination that we discovered on this trip to Uganda was the beautiful surroundings of Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale town. A little-known tourist destination in the south of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is a perfect getaway for nature lovers wanting a few days of quiet reflection and relaxation – far from madding crowds.
Lake Bunyonyi is framed by lush, green-terraced hills that reach a height of 2,200-2,478 metres, but it’s the 29 islands of various shapes and sizes scattered across the water that make it so magical — we could’ve admired them all day (see picture). It’s a sight that reinvents itself every hour or two with the ever-changing climate and sunlight. In the early morning, the islands weave through cotton candy-like streams of mist and, in the afternoon, they’re bathed in the warm glow of the sun. Later, they’re silhouetted against a dim sky as evening approaches. In the early morning, the islands completely vanished from sight, hidden under a thick blanket of clouds, but it only took an hour to see them emerge once more. Undoubtedly, this place deserves to be on your African travel radar.
After a quick tour of the Ishasha sector of the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park and visiting the tree-climbing lions there, we headed to Fort Portal for a bit of rest and relaxation before finally heading to Jinja to discover the historic Source of the River Nile. Known as the Baḥr Al-Nīl or Nahr Al-Nīl in Arabic, the River Nile is the longest river in the world, traversing across 4,132 miles (6,650 kilometres) from Uganda to to the Mediterranean Sea.
After a refreshing cruise across the Nile, we headed to the shores of Lake Victoria to pamper ourselves with some well-deserved luxury at the upmarket Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa. The hotel is undoubtedly one of the best in Uganda and is styled to look like an Italian palace with a lofty bell towers, glittering mosaics, a rustically arched pool terrace, shaded colonnades, and a Roman coliseum. Clusters of pastel-painted villas house 124 rooms, all of which enjoy panoramic views across the marina to the wide open expanses across Lake Victoria. The resort also offers an inspired selection of dining and social experiences with the option of eating indoors, outdoors, poolside and lakeside. Add to that the PGA-affiliated championship golf course, the state-of-the-art gym and the world-class spa, and you have the perfect place to relax and unwind. Truly, a high point of our trip.
Before taking our flight back to Dubai, we stayed the night at the Speke Resort Munyonyo. Located in an idyllic setting on the shore of Lake Victoria, this resort offers the opulence and grandeur that we travellers from Dubai are well familiar with. Nevertheless, it was a nice experience to stay at this resort as we prepared to leave for Dubai.
As the the plane took off from Entebbe airport, I wanted to reflect on how unbelievable these past two weeks had been. Yes, it was a hectic and tiring trip as we had to visit so many places in such a short period of time, but given the amazing people I was surrounded by and all the beautiful places we visited, those few times of pure exhaustion that made the trip hectic and exhausting faded away.
Indeed, if Africa has a pearl in its basket, it has to be Uganda!