Uganda, the Pearl of Africa

The Pearl of Africa, this is how Winston Churchill named Uganda after his visit in 1907. I quickly understood why after spending a few days in this beautiful, stable and welcoming country. First, the landscape is simply stunning: savannahs, rainforests, mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls, rice fields and of course, the endless green fields of tea, coffee, bananas, pineapples and avocados plantations. I was so mesmerized by the scenery, that I couldn’t keep my eyes off the bus windows. For once, those long driving days were kind of enjoyable. Secondly, the country has a very rich wildlife. Almost all your typical African animals are found in Uganda: lions, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamus, gorillas, chimpanzee, more than 1000 species of birds and the list goes on. Uganda is also the adrenaline center of East Africa. Rafting, bungee, mountain biking, rock climbing…everything is available to make you sweat or scream a little! And on top of that, Ugandan are very hospitable, smiling and warm people. One thing I won’t forget is the company of young Ugandans during my daily runs. Each time I was out on the road, there was always at least one (or many!) child/teenager joining me for a few meters or kilometers. In Masala, a young soccer player asked me if he could run with me (well that’s what I figured he was asking because he didn’t speak a word English!). We ended up running 8km at a pretty fast pace (he was the one leading!) in the hilly Ugandan country roads! I didn’t enjoy the view much, but at least I got a pretty good workout! I definitely don’t have a teenager’s stamina anymore!

Population: 37 millions

Capital: Kampala

Languages: Lugandan, Swahili and English

Traditional dishes: Matoke (mash banana/plantain), Ngege (tilapia served with peanut sauce) and Mandazi (sweet doughnut)

Found in Uganda:

-Rwenzori, the tallest mountain range in Africa

-Victoria Lake, the continent’s largest lake

-Nil River, the world’s longest river (surges out of Lake Victoria)

-Murchison Falls, world’s most powerful waterfalls

-“Go big or go home” should be the country’s motto!

Fun facts:

-They make about everything with their endless bananas: cake, mash, sauce, beer, even wine!

-Uganda has been ranked as one of the biggest alcohol consuming nation in the world! (I must admit that their beer is pretty good!)

-The country has the fifth highest fertility rate in the world, with an average of 6 children born/woman.

-They have a ‘non official’ tree cutting rule: whenever someone cuts a tree, he/she has to replant another one. Apparently this rule is well followed all around the country.

-The most used mode of transportation are bicycles.

Visited places during my trip: Kampala, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Bunyonyi, Masaka and Jinja

My highlight moment: Definitely my rafting trip on the Nil!! Not only did I have the chance to run the world’s longest river in an inflatable boat, but I went through (and survived!) a dozen level 4 and 5 rapids! Yes, we tipped over a few times and yes, even if I’m a good swimmer, I must admit I got a little petrified! Swimming in rapids of this scale was a first for me! But we all made it safe and sound and we can definitely say it was a pretty good bang for your buck! 🙂