Uganda – known as the Pearl of Africa. A beautiful surprise when you’re not expecting it? Well, Uganda is certainly beautiful and unexpected. More than the views, it’s the people that make Uganda what you might expect from Africa through a shy smile, infectious laughter and terrible time keeping.
If there was ever a greater contrast, then Africa is it. From the bustling, busy towns and cities to the peace of the countryside. Although it’s never quiet. The wildlife is bigger, more colourful and definitely louder than at home. I was travelling in south western Uganda where giant cranes are commonplace and fish eagles rule the roost in the National Parks.
Aside from the Parks, the attraction of Africa is just being there. You don’t find so many tourist attractions and it’s a mission and a half to even find a postcard. But sit a while on the corner of the cross-roads in Kasese and you will not be bored. Between the boda-boda and the bicycles there are vehicles of every size and shape carrying not only people, but animals, bananas and even furniture. You won’t be hurried on if you’re lingering over your samosa and krest, but as soon as you look as if you might have finished, the table will be cleared before you know it. The towns have a way of nestling in to the hills. They provide a flash of red and yellow against the dark greens of the hills and mountains.
Whilst you may think that every shop is the same, you have to explore them and find out which supermarket sells the crispy crisps and where they may be a bakery hidden in the back. I spent half an hour on a scavenger hunt for postcards. Each shop I tried had none, but gave me a clue to where to try next. Alas, postcards were finished in Kasese and it was by chance in a hotel two stops on in our trip that I found the only decent postcards in the region.
If you want to get away from it, then Uganda has some perfect hideaways and there are numerous opportunities for hiking – as long as you don’ mind hills. you will be distracted from your usual routine and if you can visit a school, you will end up feeling like a super-hero when you try and leave.