Exploring the magical wanders of Uganda the Pearl of Africa.

Kenya Great Wildlife Safari

Exploring the magical wanders of Uganda the Pearl of Africa.

As the plane descended from the above the clouds, plunging into the gushing afternoon winds as it descended into the arid thorny savanna of Kidepo Valley National Park, they appeared more like rock outcrops.

At 11,000ft above sea level, they appeared nothing more than a mirage of anthills on the Savannah grassland.

As the plane descended from the above the clouds, plunging into the gushing afternoon winds as it descended into the arid thorny savanna of Kidepo Valley National Park, they appeared more like rock outcrops.
A little closer and the scene took on the shape of a dazzling plateau. Suddenly, behold; the view of the beguiling volcanic Mount Morungole ranges towering majestically 2,750 metres above the plains of the most scenic wilderness in Uganda.

As the plane glided over dry montane forest in a final descent to the airstrip in Kidepo, the mesmerizing view that welcomed them to this; Africa’s most picturesque park and third best on the continent as described by CNN Travel, dominated the visitor’s talk.

The visitors were one half of two teams of over 80 hosted buyers and international travel media from 20 countries that were in Uganda to experience the beauty of Uganda ahead of this year’s annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo at the invitation of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).  They came from as far as Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Italy, the US, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Holland.

In his justification of the expenditure, Stephen Asiimwe, UTB’s chief executive officer told the media Monday; “Hosted buyers are the people who help tourists make travel decisions. It is, therefore, very important to give them an experience of Uganda since they will be promoting it.”

Kidepo Valley National Park is located in far northeastern Uganda, bordering Sudan to the North, the Napore Mountains to the West, and the Morungole Mountains to the South.

Five kilometers from the Park’s eastern boundary is the Kenyan border. At the confluence of these three countries, you find an exhilarating wildlife experience that includes the largest number of buffalo in Africa.

The guests did experience this as they drove in the midmorning sun from the airstrip to the deluxe Apoka Safari Lodge, their abode. The next morning was a game drive through the park’s southern Narus Valley.

This is breathtaking. I have been blown away by the game drive and wildlife in this park. The best part of this whole thing has been hearing the animal sounds at night; so close they lure you to sleep. That’s amazing!” remarked Nkiruka Osuji, a Nigerian travel writer, as we made our way to the airport for Murchison falls National park.

For some though, it was the visit to Lolkol Cultural Village at the outskirts of the park that made their day. After being entertained by the local Dodoth people, Lynne Hooper, a tour operator from Canada, was so touched she donated a bagful of clothes and sandals.
The second team comprising 47 guests and media flew west from Entebbe International Airport on Tuesday February 7 to Kibale Forest National Park where they did chimpanzee tracking in the morning and were later transferred to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here they had a game drive & boat cruise.
They headed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park through the southern side (Buhoma and Ruhija) with a stopover in Ishasha for gorilla tracking.
Meanwhile, while in Murchison Falls National Park, our team was divided into four groups for lodging purposes. After settling in, it was time to head out to the spectacular top of the falls. Here, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only seven metres (23 ft) wide, cascading 43 metres (141 ft) below. It is reported that 300 cubic meters per second (11,000 ft³/s) of water squeezed into a gorge less than 10 metres (30 ft) wide.

This was a scene to behold and the guests seemed most impressed.

The early morning game drive through the sprawling open savannah grassland of Uganda’s largest park was just as invigorating as guests viewed lions, elephants, Uganda Kobs, Jackson’s Hartebeests and bird species like the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill.

But they were not nearly as excited about that as they were tracking chimpanzees in Budongo Central Forest Reserve. After driving over 80km through woodland, we came to Budongo, which at 825sq km (of which 430sq km is continuous forest) is the largest surviving natural forest in Uganda.
In this moist, semi-deciduous tropical rainforest, we were lucky to see about 15 members of the small community of 80 (out of a total of 600) chimps that have been habituated for eco-tourism.
Back in the park, the last activity were involved in the afternoon the waterfall boat cruise safari (launch trip) upstream the River Nile from the  jetty at Paraa on the South bank, affording us a unique opportunity to see marine wildlife like crocodile, hippos and a wide range of birds.
Our northern leg of the trip ended with a visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, a private  non-profit, animal sanctuary in  Nakitoma Village, Nakasongola District, in the Kafu River Basin, off the Kampala-Gulu Highway about 180km north of Kampala.

Home to 19 rhinos, this collaborative effort between the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Rhino Fund Uganda, a Ugandan NGO committed to the restoration of Uganda’s rhinoceros population and Ziwa Ranchers Limited, a private land management company, is giving a chance to creatures that were wiped out from Uganda in 1983, to come back to life.

Next, both parties of guests converged in Kampala and  travelled to Jinja, where did everything from white water rafting, visiting the source of the Nile and  bungee jumping. They also got the opportunity to visit different hospitality and accommodation facilities.

They later headed back to Kampala for an evening at Ndere Centre and concluded their exploration with a site inspection and lunch at Lake Victoria Serena Hotel in Lweza before the tourism expo.

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