Lakes, Rivers, Game Reserves, Mountains and Islands you don’t want to miss if you don’t have to.
Lake Natron, Monduli
Africa’s great rift valley is environmentally and visually extreme. Lake Natron is red, the water hot and very caustic, uninhabitable for most species except for alkaline tilapia that live on the edges of the hotsprings and blue-green algae with red pigments that pass this on to the 2.5 million lesser flamingoes that feed on the algae. It is considered to be their only breeding ground.
Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani, Kilwa Masoko
From the 9th to the 19th centuries Kilwa Kisiwani was a Swahili trading port of great importance. According to legend a Persian Prince established an empire here that stretched from Kenya to Mozambique. The Swahili during this empire especially between 13th and 16th centuries flourished by controlling the Indian Ocean trade with Arabia, India and China.. Ivory, tortoise shell, slaves and spices were traded for silver, carnelian, perfume and porcelain.
Selous National Reserve, Liwale
Some 50,000km of remote swamps, hills and grasslands are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Unsettled by humans, this wilderness is well populated with game. Fredrick Selous, British explorer and conservationist who was killed by German troops during World War I, after whom the park is named, is buried here.
Ol Donyo Lengai, Ngorongoro
The sacred mountain of the Maasai is the only one in the world which spews carbonatite lava instead of silicate magma. Oily black when spewed it turns white on cooling almost immediately of it’s raining. Mount Lengai can be climbed up to the peak from where Lake Natron is visible and sometimes into the crater close to the brim of the molten lava flow.
Stone town’s culinary fiesta – the Night Market. At the cross roads of the spice, ivory and slave trades, Arab, Persian, Indonesian, Malay, Indian and Chinese merchants traded and settled amidst the Swahili, mingling their culture with the Swahili and leaving their indelible marks on the cuisine. Tippu Tip’s house – From the outside as it’s occupied. He was the most famous slave trader, governor and clove plantation owner. Freddie Mercury’s house – Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, featured in the recent hit movie Bohemian Rhapsody, was born in Zanzibar. His father worked as a cashier for the British Colonial Office. Mercury left Zanzibar to study in India returning at eighteen. He left again in 1964 for England, when the Sultan was overthrown and thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed. He lived in England for the rest of his life.
Extraordinary birdlife at Murchison Falls
The Nile River – 300 cubic metres per second – explodes explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down ten metres to become a calm flowing river for hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes to enjoy. Riverine forest creatures, birds and leopards, give way to savannah’s lions, giraffes and oribis as well as chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees in Murchison’s Budongo Forest
There are only 21 countries in Africa where you can find chimpanzees in the wild. Uganda is one of them and the best place in east Africa to see chimpanzees. In west and central Africa, human encroachment on chimpanzee habitats, hunting and capturing of chimpanzees as decimated their numbers.
Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
There are 4 locations for tracking gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Trekking permits need to be bought by booking directly with the reservations office at Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters or through a reputable tour agent. Permits can be paid for up to two years in advance. Only 8 visitors over the age of 15, are allowed to view the gorillas for one hour per day accompanied by rangers. Tracking gorillas can last from a few hours to a whole day, depending on how far the group has moved since it was observed nesting the previous day.
In Kampala, the Kasubi Tombs allow you to delve into Uganda’s Royal history. The country’s largest tribal kingdom, the Buganda had a palace and burial grounds for former kings here. View artifacts, learn about traditions and rituals as well as remarkable architecture of vegetational materials.
Unspoiled Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria
In northwest Lake Victoria,, an archipelago of 84 islands of which 43 are inhabited make up the Ssese Islands which get their name from the tsetse fly swarms that can sometimes be seen here. Buggala Island is 40km in length and has plenty of accommodation. Enjoy fishing, watersports, boat cruises, picnics, cultural walks through villages and ancient rock sites. See some wildlife. At night, enjoy a bonfire on the beach. Lake Victoria is the largest Lake in Africa and the second largest in the world. It is shared by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Rhinos in Lewa Conservancy
In the 1960s, Kenya was home to an estimated 20,000 black rhinos, twenty years later, the numbers were down to 300 due largely to poachers. Lewa’s rhino population has grown from an initial 15 rhinos to 169 rhinos today. Here you will also see the endangered Grevy’s Zebra.
Lions in the Mara
The Maasai Mara and surrounding conservancies have the highest density of lions in East Africa. Include a balloon safari either here or in the Serengeti’s open plains which are part of the same eco-system. Watch a Mara River crossing, wildebeest or zebra – it’s always dramatic.
Elephants of Amboseli
Although Tsavo has the most elephants, it’s much easier to see the herds in Amboseli. The dramatic landscape next to Mount Kenya of swamps, lake with flamingos and dust devils spiralling off the salty plains, all to be had here.
The Gedi Ruins
No one knows why it was abandoned, but what is known is that around the 13th century, in the golden age of the Swahili, Gedi was a very advanced city. Buried deep in a lush forest by the Indian Ocean, it had streets, running water and flushing toilets. It was a cosmopolitan urban trading centre – archeaologists have found Ming Chinese vases, Venetian glass and other artifacts from around the world.
A world heritage site which has retained it’s Arab-Swahili culture. There are no cars and donkeys still carry everything in paniers through the old stone town’s narrow streets. Many artists and bohemians have made their base here and there are cultural, painters and yoga festivals every year. Just before sunset, everyone is out on a dhow with their sundowners.
Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria
Rural, unspoilt island where boat rides, sunsets and fishing can be enjoyed amidst the local Luo culture. A birder’s paradise, with sandy beaches and palm trees. The island is also notable as the family home and burial site of Tom Mboya. Access is difficult and therefore it is one of Kenya’s best kept secrets.