Uganda is about
the size of the UK and lies just north of the equator. It is now
politically quite stable after Yoweri Kaguta Museveni became president
The countries surrounding the southwest corner, The Democratic Republic
of Congo (formally Zaire) and Rwanda, are not so stable though,
so many parts of the country are unsafe. If you are planning to
travel, do get advice from the British Embassy beforehand.
town of Kabale
may well be much cooler than you would expect and the countryside
a lot greener. This is due to the altitude of the southwest corner,
over 10,000ft high in the Ruwenzori mountains, and also due to the
effects of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa.
There are two rainy seasons, one between March and May and the other
from September to December. The amount of rain is greatly affected
by Lake Victoria, making the southwest corner far greener than the
north and central parts of Uganda.
It is best to avoid the rainy season when you travel, other than
that the weather is pretty much constant throughout the year, temperatures
averaging between 22 and 24 degrees, 72 and 75 Fahrenheit. The main
restraint on your planned journey should be safety.
In much of the
southwest the people are fairly self sufficient, banana trees and
tea bushes are abundant. The area is quite sparsely populated, but
those who live there complain about the overpopulated land. Each
generation the land is split between the sons of the family, so
they watch their patch get smaller and smaller.
Right on the
Congo boarder is Bwindi National Park which is home to many different
species of monkeys - chimpanzees, Orangutans and also the ellusive
Gorilla. It is known as the Impenetrable Forest and is where ‘Gorillas
in the Mist’ was filmed.
The number of people allowed to see the gorillas in one day is strictly
monitored, so the waiting list at the park can get quite long. You
could be lucky, but it would be wise to allow a couple of days for
your trip into the forest. You’re not allowed to put your name down
and return in a few days.
north of the mountains, the scenery changes dramatically, from lush
forest to the grasslands of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The grasslands
are still quite green though, and not sun-scorched as you might
imagine African grasslands to be. Elephants, lions, hippos and giraffe
live here, as do an abundance of Ugandan cob (deer), wart hogs and
of the villages in the southwest of Uganda have no running water
or electricity, and never see foreigners. Expect to be stared at
where ever you go, and anticipate to be followed by a group of fascinated
children. You’ll be more of a spectacle to them than Uganda will
be to you.