Down the toes of Uganda, at the south-western part of the country lives a community of hunters, gatherers and honey harvesters. This is a community of warriors, people who, if you mess with them, can scare the life out of your skin by the mere look on their faces. They are forest people, unscathed by the harshness of their surroundings. They are so close to the ground and have knowledge of old passed down from their ancestors. Their blood is infused with wisdom. They know things. These are the Batwa pygmies. Visit them to have an authentic nature walk experience and learn first-hand from the wisdom of old that they share.
Still in the south-west, there’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Yo’, I’ve seen part of the roof of this forest and it’s a sight to marvel at. That roof provides so much healing from nature that you’ll want to jump on it. Except you shouldn’t. We might not find you if you jump in there. If you love Gorillas, here’s where you can walk a long existing tracks to make friends with these giant mammals.
We’re now driving from the south towards the western part of the country. The skylines are accentuated with mountains and hills and greenery that’ll make you salute the God of creation. The weather is chilly so you’ll need a sweater. We’ve hit a fork.
Oh wait, there’s Lake Bunyonyi, the second deepest lake in Africa. You’ll see this too. It has several islands sitting in it.
Turn to the left end and you’ll head to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This park has the Rwenzori mountain ranges as a backdrop, eye soothing undulating hills and a view that’s decorated with kobs and buffalos, hippos and trees of old that appear in the Bible, the fig trees. Take a game drive and you might find elephants in a line crossing from one end to the other. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll catch the king of the jungle tearing into the flesh of an unsuspecting old buffalo.
If you take the route to the right, you’ll find your way to Lake Mburo National Park. Your eyes won’t get tired of the highlights of water bodies. Birds of all kinds will welcome you. Birds that can sing and those that can only compete with toads. Birds that hunt. Birds that dive into water. Birds with small beaks. Birds with heavy beaks. Birds everywhere.
This is all in the western part of Uganda. You’ll need some bushera and enturire, drinks made from millet and sorghum. Truth is, I don’t know how those drinks are made but all I know is, you’ll like them. I have a doctor friend who says enturire is an aphrodisiac for women. Don’t quote me on that. You can always try it out for yourself. I’ll be here waiting for the results.
When you make it to the central part of the country, there’s a place called Jinja. That’s where the source of the Nile is. River Nile is the longest river in Africa. It should be the longest river in the world too but the Brazilians think otherwise. They’ve put their foot down and said the Amazon river is the longest. Anyway, we aren’t about to start an argument with the Brazilians. Some of our women wear their hair so we can’t spoil things for them.
On a serious note though, you want to know where River Nile starts, don’t you? It’s from Jinja, Uganda and it runs all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
There’s the rolex, our street food that you can survive on for days. Don’t miss out on luwombo, a series of boiled foods (fish, chicken, beef, goat, groundnut source and mushrooms) that’ll have you desiring more. Luwombo will have you wonder why you never discovered such a delight earlier in your life.
If you’re religious, then you’ll need to make a pilgrimage to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo. Or find your way to Africa’s only Bahai temple. Or you can go to the imposing Uganda National Mosque which was gifted to the Muslims in Uganda by Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
There are also the burial grounds of kings of Buganda kingdom that you can visit.
When we head to the eastern part of Uganda, there is Mount Elgon National Park. Mount Elgon is an extinct volcanic mountain so you won’t have to worry about magma erupting and burning you to an unrecognizable creature. You want to backpack and watch birds, here’s your place to be.
And there’s malewa. Yes, food you should ask for when you get here. If you are an adventurous man, join the youth running with faces and bodies painted, dancing from one village to another. And this is in preparation for a cultural ceremony, imbalu. That’s circumcision. At the end of this running, for boys to become men, they’ve got to face the knife. You stand firm and the guy with a knife walks to you and in a split second, with no anaesthesia, slices off your foreskin. Girls we be all over you thereafter. That’s your passage to manhood.
When we head north, there is Murchison Falls National Park. The northern part of Uganda is a flat area with savannah grassland. The sight to behold here is Murchison Falls itself. It’s an eight meter gorge through which all the water of the Nile from its source twists itself and nose-dives down with a crashing sound that, instead of hurting your ears, makes you feel like staying there. And it forms a consistent rainbow that you can touch when you stretch your hands to it.
What else can you find in Northern Uganda? The smallest church in the world which accommodates three people. Here, you’ll be so close to God and if you believe, you might see His face.
Further up, to the north-eastern part of the country is Kidepo Valley National Park which lies in an arid area. It has a landscape that’s so magnificent I imagine God looks at it the whole day and pats Himself on the back for a creation well done.