Somewhere between Central and East Africa, bordered by Kenya and the DRC and amongst Africa’s Great Lakes lies Uganda – truly the pearl of Africa.
From Bunagana to Busia, almost 700 kilometres of rough roads run between the two branches of the great African Rift. The traveller who first drives along the bright green tea fields bordering the town of Kisoro at an altitude of more than 2000 metres is filled with wonder by the centuries of work required to build these terraced fields in the Rwandan countryside.
In the background, a chain of volcanoes, one after another, marks the border between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda; perfect shelters for the famous mountain gorillas which can be seen in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The traveller must then pass Lake Bunyonyi: foggy, magical, and dotted with islands. On one of them, says the legend, the unfaithful women of the region are confined, exiled and condemned to live together.
Eastward, and an hour of muddy track away from the main road, lies Lake Mburo. This is the kingdom of zebras: the absence of big cats makes them confident and approachable; an absence that also allows “walking safaris”, bush walks undisturbed by the noise of an engine, where one can get really close to the animals before the bivouac around the fire, just like Hemingway at the time of his collection of stories “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
Walk a bit further through the marshes and reeds and reach Lake Victoria, rich in archipelagos and storms; and spend a few hours on the banks of the largest lake in Africa, second in the world.
Rather bypass Kampala – albeit the chaotic, vibrant, and populous capital – and continue on to Jinja – so gentle and peaceful. Jinja is home to the source of the White Nile, which meets the Blue Nile in Khartoum before continuing to Alexandria. This Nile is the symbolic border with East Africa; the other side stretches back to the foothills of Mount Elgon (4321m asl), and through to the Sipi Falls, spectacular waterfalls best admired from the comfort of Lacam Lodge’s log cabins in front of a fireplace.
This is the last step before entering the Swahili area, passing the rift and heading slowly to the Indian Ocean and Mombasa’s harbour – a window to unknown lands…
Accomodation in Uganda
- Buhoma Lodge (Bwindi NP)
- Arcadia Cottages (Lac Bunyonyi)
- Mihingo Lodge (Lac Mburo NP)
- Hotel le Bougainviller (Bugolobi, Kampala)
- The Haven (Bujagali, Jinja)
- Lacam Lodge (Sipi Falls)
Text & photos : Benoit Barral