Gorila de espalda plateada y sus crías

Uganda: Mountains of the Moon, Gorillas and the Nile Springs

As a lover of unique experiences, I have always considered seeing mountain gorillas up close a must on any traveler's bucket list. So Uganda, with its magic, was a destination that had been on my bucket list for many, many years.

But the country proved to me that, beyond the exciting opportunity to observe these majestic primates, it has a lot to offer; while the immensity of the world’s largest river accompanies you for (almost) the whole way.

After almost 15 hours of flight, I landed in Entebbe, where the hustle and bustle characteristic of many African cities could be felt as soon as I stepped off the plane.

Murchison Falls

My first stop in Uganda was the majestic Murchison Falls National Park, the largest in the country. Here, the White Nile, which originates in Lake Victoria, flows through the park dividing it in two, offering breathtaking views of the river filled with hippos and a variety of wildlife including elephants, buffalo and a diversity of antelopes.

An early morning walk brought us close to giraffes and impalas, while silence took over the atmosphere, leaving room for palpable excitement. A beautiful scenery unfolded in front of us, ideal for photographers and documentary filmmakers seeking to capture the essence of nature at its best.

The day ended, or rather began, with a bush lunch in front of a lagoon, surrounded by antelopes and crocodiles. In addition, on a 4×4 tour, I had the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the famous palm grove that stands in the other area of the park, an experience that undoubtedly exceeded my expectations. With the backdrop of palm trees and the vastness of the park, every moment became a unique connection with nature.

After several hours, I boarded a small boat that took us to the impressive Murchison Falls. These waterfalls – formed when the mighty White Nile narrows to a mere 7 meters wide and falls in an impressive 43 meters – create the most powerful natural waterfall in the world, with a velocity of more than 300 meters per second.

Navigating to the nearest area was undoubtedly one of the most special moments of the trip, where the silence, the light and the sound of the water transported me to past times, understanding the amazement that the explorers must have felt when they came across such a natural wonder.

Paseo en barco por las Cataratas Murchiso

Mountains of the Moon

My journey continued along the longest mountain range on the African continent, the Rwenzori Mountains – named the Mountains of the Moon by the Greek geographer Ptolemy. These impressive formations, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, offer a spectacular view with its 5109 meters high, being the third highest peak in Africa.

Driving through tea plantations near the city of Fort Portal was a delight for the senses, and the green landscape that unfolds before the eyes is impressive. Before arriving at the lodge, I had the opportunity to visit picturesque villages, immersing myself in the hospitality of the Ugandans and learning about their daily life, a revealing experience that showed me the resilience of a population that, little by little, is overcoming a tragic past.

Vista panorámica de Fort Portal

Kibale National Park

My next destination was Kibale National Park, a natural sanctuary created in 1993 that is home to one of the most varied expanses of tropical rainforest in the world, being home to approximately 70 species of mammals and 13 species of primates, including chimpanzees.

Here, we go on an exciting chimpanzee tracking through the forest, following well marked trails in search of these incredible specimens. We were lucky enough to come across them, marveling at the sight of a large family of chimpanzees playing in the trees.

Chimpancés en Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The next day took me to the Kazinga Channel – the most spectacular in the country – linking Lakes Albert and Edward for 32 kilometers, offering an unparalleled wildlife spectacle .

This canal is the main attraction of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the largest in Uganda. During the boat ride, I witnessed the majesty of nature with shores teeming with birds, reptiles, and even elephants, as well as the largest concentration of hippos in the world.

A sunset safari, where we were lucky enough to observe the famous tree-climbing lions of the area, culminated with the magic of a gin and tonic by the campfire, under a sky painted in pink and orange, reminding me of the unique magic of African sunsets.

The next day, I crossed the Queen Elizabeth National Park until I reached the Ishasha sector. Along the way, we were lucky enough to spot blue monkeys, baboons, black and white colobus, further enriching the experience.

Safari Parque Nacional Queen Elisabeth
león trepador en Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

But the highlight of my trip was a visit to the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Park, where we went gorilla tracking.

After the briefing, we started the exciting hike to find these great primates. Crossing the lush jungle in silence and escorted by rangers who opened our way, we arrived after several hours to a wonderful gorilla family.

This group of silverbacks, consisting of one male and several females with calves, welcomed us in a forest clearing, giving us a perfect view of their daily life. The thrill of observing them in their habitat is indescribable. Before we arrived, the rangers had provided us with information about their customs and hierarchy, which made the experience even more enriching.

We spent more than an hour marveling at the peace that these majestic animals transmit. Before saying goodbye, the silverback gorilla surprised us by climbing a slender tree with amazing agility, giving us an unforgettable moment before heading back.

In this area, we also had the opportunity to trek for approximately 4 hours through the park, exploring less traveled trails leading to three beautiful waterfalls in a lesser known area. The trail, wild and slightly inclined, was accessible to all those in “normal” physical shape, revealing surprising and unknown landscapes.

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

My accommodation for this stage was the magnificent Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, located on top of a hill. This exclusive boutique retreat offers a personalized experience with a decor that invites you to enjoy the spaces. From large sofas in front of a fireplace to a cozy dining room perfect for sharing experiences from previous days, every corner of the lodge reflected the special essence of nature that surrounds it. The rooms, with large windows offering views of the garden and the majestic Virunga Mountains, provided a sanctuary of comfort and luxury.

Jinja and the Nile Springs

After exploring the Bwindi region, I continued my journey on a light aircraft flight to Jinja to conclude my experience in Uganda.

This city, located a few hours from Kampala, was the place where the famous sources of the Nile, so sought after by the great explorers and whose discovery is attributed to Burton, were found. In the past, these sources were accompanied by waterfalls that, although modest, added solemnity to the source of the Nile.

Vuelo en avioneta Jinja

A short but pleasant boat ride on Lake Victoria, where otters and a variety of birds can be spotted, brought us to a point marked as the historic rendezvous. The White White Nile flows through Uganda and South Sudan before joining the Blue Nile, which rises in Khartoum, Ethiopia, marking the beginning of Africa’s most important river.

In Jinja, I had the opportunity to stay on a private island located between the most dangerous rapids in the world; having from the room a privileged view of the imposing force of the Nile. Here, I was also able to participate in exciting activities such as rafting and a relaxing horseback ride along the riverbank.

Jinja was the culmination of my fascinating trip to Uganda, a country that captivated me with its varied landscapes, rich biodiversity and the hospitality of its people. Every moment, from the majesty of the Mountains of the Moon to the intimacy shared with the gorillas in Bwindi, became a unique experience.

Uganda is a destination that not only meets, but exceeds the expectations of any traveler in search of authenticity and connection with nature.

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Andrea García

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