Uganda and Rwanda are no ordinary safari destinations. Ecologically, Uganda and Rwanda are where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else but in these verdant lands can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon; then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippo and crocodile before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a Mountain Gorilla?
Rwanda once evoked images of gorillas and breathtaking mountain views, until being devastated by the attempted genocide of the Tutsi tribe in 1994. These days, much of the country is rebuilt, the economy resurrected, and travellers can move around much more safely. The gorilla experience combined with cultural trips to visit the genocide museums will sear into the memory and soul forever.
Uganda is probably the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its range of plains antelope. It is also one of only four countries whose bird checklist tops the 1,000 mark! Yet there is more to the country than wildlife – far more! There is the mighty Nile, punctuated by the spectacular Murchison Falls, and the setting for some of the world’s most thrilling commercial white-water rafting.
There are the snow-capped peaks of the Ruwenzori, which provide a tantalising challenge to dedicated mountaineers, as well as the Virunga Volcanoes and Mount Elgon, both of which offer highly rewarding hiking opportunities through scintillating scenery. More sedately, the myriad islands of Lake Victoria and Bunyonyi are idyllic venues, as are the myriad forest-fringed crater lakes that stud the Rift Valley floor and escarpment around Fort Portal.
Whether you’re a first time safari-goer or a seasoned African traveller, Uganda & Rwanda – with their unique blend of savannah and forest creatures, their rare wealth of mountain and lake habitats – are simply dazzling.