Uganda, aptly nicknamed “The Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill, is a land of many faces. The country, bordered by the jungles of Congo, by the arid lands of South Sudan, and by Kenya and Lake Victoria, hosts flora and fauna as diverse as its landscape.
It is in the footsteps of the explorer John Speke, at the source of the Nile, that our Out of Africa journey begins. From Jinja on the shores of Lake Victoria, we drive along the Nile for 35 km before reaching Kangulumira, where we embark by canoe to reach the island of the Wildwaters Lodge. This lodge, built among the rapids, was created in conjunction with the local communities to protect the ecosystem as well as the wildlife resident on the hundreds of islands in this part of the river.
After enjoying the spectacle of the longest river in Africa, we head further east to the cliffs of Sipi, a few hours away, and stay at the Sipi River Lodge – home to one of three Sipi waterfalls. It’s a paradise where you can find peace and tranquility in a green and somewhat mystical atmosphere, and where whisky-lovers can enjoy the well-stocked bar.
The next day we head toward our ultimate destination: Kidepo Valley. While heading towards the north we meet the tribe of Karamojangs, which means “the old man who could not walk away,” referring to their migration from Ethiopia in the 16th century, before reaching Kidepo National Park. The park spreads over 1,500 km2 between the borders of Sudan and Kenya. The savannah is surrounded by a mountain range dominated by the 2750 metre-high Mount Morungole. A national park since 1962, this sanctuary is home to nearly eighty species of mammals and an amazing five hundred species of birds. Kidepo’s magic is that your car will most often be the only one in sight, alone in the kingdom of the animals.
Kidepo is situated 740 km from the capital Kampala. By spending a night at Wildwaters Lodge and the Sipi River Lodge, you will discover beautiful places and take time to breathe. The road to Kidepo is one of the most scenic in Uganda.
Where to stay
Best time to visit
December-January and July-August. Mild climate in Jinja and Sipi but warmer in Kidepo. Long-sleeved clothing should be sufficient.
Text and photos Alexander Van Enst