Going into East Africa I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Having been to other parts of the continent, all unique in their own way, I was eager and curious to see what lie ahead. And wow, was I blown away.
My first impression of the area after leaving the airport was one of a developing world, chaotic and dusty. But there was a warmness and a hospitality in the air that I couldn’t quite place my finger on. I first experienced it with our guide and airport transport driver, who, when finding out it was my friend’s first trip to Africa, his eyes lit up with excitement and gratitude. Little did I know this was just a taste of the love and joy Ugandans have to share.
As you drive through the country, you can see their lives from a distance. Hard working people, harvesting the fields and going about their day. But it’s not until you interact with the Ugandans that you really feel the joy that emanates from inside them.
A big part of our trip revolved around the animals in Uganda – the chimpanzees, gorillas, and elephants, among others. Visiting the chimpanzees will make your adrenaline rush as they banter and chase each other between the tall trees surrounding you. Along the way to their habitat you may also encounter baboons like we did! We saw elephants, water buffalo, crocodiles and hippos on our river cruise, which was truly incredible to not only see these animals in large groups, but to see them all together and sharing the same space. Uganda is also a bird-watcher’s paradise!
Visiting the gorillas is the real treat though. While they don’t call it the Impenetrable Forest for nothing, the time spent with the gorillas in their natural environment will leave you speechless and fill you with wonder and amazement. The moment you can see the reflection of the forest and the curiosity in their eyes will take your breath away. The journey to reach them can range from mild to difficult, but it is worth every step. While observing them you won’t be able to help but notice our similarities and the calmness they can embody.
And lastly the people – the people of Uganda will warm your heart and fill your soul. In an ever evolving world filled with technology, stressors, and the need for more – it is with these people that you will find a joy and a simplicity that can’t help but humble you – all from people that have less than you can imagine. Like other places I have visited in Africa, I left humbled, grateful, and something inside me just changed. But Uganda…Uganda took that to a whole new level.