Uganda has been named one of the top travel destinations for 2017 by Rough Guides. This global tourism ranking stems from the rich and diverse wildlife including half of the world’s mountain gorillas and outstanding attractions such as river Nile, Snow capped Rwenzori Mountains, equator line. No doubt the country appeals more than what adventure and leisure seekers look for from their safari in Uganda. And for that reason, there are a few important tidbits you should know before you plan to visit Uganda;
Rolex is Not a Watch
Rolex is a type of dish native to Uganda made of fried eggs and veggies like onions, tomatoes, green paper, and cabbages often rolled in wheat-made chapattis. CNN Travel the world’s leading travel media recently listed Rolex as one of the top African foods.
Ugandans eat Rolex predominantly and consider it delicious. If you’re on a safari to Uganda, you should try this iconic traditional dish for the cultural experience. Rolex is majorly found on the street food stalls but also in popular tourist restaurants, lodges and hotels.
Grasshoppers are a Delicacy
When it is a rainy season in Uganda during the months of April/May and October to early December, grasshoppers are always in plenty. Grasshoppers are consumed because of their high protein content which makes them a delicate and seasonal food. Travelers, who like adventurous eating, grasshoppers are not harmful, try them out. But when you eat them you have got to drink something like beer, soda or alcoholic sprit so they can go down. When their season is ready, people sell them on streets of Kampala and other towns in portions below one US dollars. The edible bush crickets known as Nsenene in local Luganda are fried in oil and have a crisp-like exterior. To have them ready, people use hands or ash to peel of wings and stingy like legs then fry them with oil or cow ghee.
Change and Balance
Change and balance are often highly used in daily business and monetary exchanges. Both are used synonymously depending on the person you’re making transactions with be a safari operator, at bank or shopping at supermarket. “Balance” means any amount of money that remains after you have paid or bought something. For instance you enter a shop with $100 note and buy things worth $80; the remaining amount is what is referred to as balance.
On the other hand, change means the amount money you want to exchange to get bigger or smaller notes equivalent to the exact amount you give in. Assume you received back your $80 note but instead of keeping that a single note, you rather want to have smaller notes such as $10 or $20 notes which equivalent to $80.
The name Uganda came from Buganda, the largest and active traditional kingdom that encompasses the central including Kampala capital city. The Buganda Agreement signed on in March 1900 between Buganda kingdom and British who introduced their colonial administration to rule over Uganda. This was the document that resulted into political change. It reduced the Kingdom’s power, cemented the name Uganda from Buganda and eventually in October 1962 Uganda got its independence officially as the Republic of Uganda.
Uganda is the friendliest people on planet earth
Besides Uganda being ranked globally as the most attractive country in Africa, the country is ranked the 2nd friendliest nation in the world after Taiwan according to Expat Insider index 2016. Majority of foreigners are highly pleased and overwhelmed by the very warm, hospitable and welcoming nature that Ugandans exhibit, be it in business or social life.
Uganda is known worldwide as a “Banana Republic”
This tidbit is true and based on the fact that there are 95 different types of bananas in Uganda and the country is the world’s 2nd largest producer of bananas after India. More than 75% of the local farmers grow bananas as staple food and on average at least one person eats 1 kg of bananas every day.
People don’t sleep at night in Kampala
Kampala city was nicknamed as a sleepless city because of its lively nightlife where people party all night till sunrise. The busiest places at night include Kampala casino and suburbs like Kabaragara and popular bars club governor, Amnesia, silk; where people have fun drinking alcohol, dance as they eat roasted meat and Rolex. With such a strong partying metaphor, visitors on a safari are often left with no option but to follow the locals. You can explore Kampala by night with a guide checking in some of places.
Youngest country in the world
Uganda has a total populating of about 35 million people as per the 2014 population census. What makes Uganda the youngest country is that over 78% of the people are below 30 years of age? No guessing, this is good for the country’s economic development despite the high rates of unemployment.
Uganda is ethnically diverse than the United States of America
Uganda consists of more than 55 indigenous tribes. The largest in numbers are the Baganda of Buganda kingdom followed by Banyankole, Basoga, Bakiga among others. Each of the tribes has unique ethno-cultural events, festivals and traditional ceremonies which travelers on Uganda safari can explore. For instance Empako which is known as naming ceremony in Fort Portal town, Imbalu male circumcision for the Bagisu in Mount Elgon National Park eastern Uganda. The most popular ethno-cultural festival is Kampala City Festival which will take place on 8th October 2017. The carnival brings together all tribes in Uganda who show case their traditions, culture including music, dance performances, gymnastics, art and crafts, local food.
Homosexuality is illegal
In 2015 Ugandan president His Excellency Y.K Museveni signed “Kill the Gay Bill” known as anti-homosexuality bill, declaring same sex relationship or marriage illegal in the country. And any person found guilty of the act regardless of status or age is liable to death or serve 14 years or imprisonment on top of paying hefty amount of money as fine.
Although homosexuality acts are not allowed in Uganda, travelers shouldn’t be so afraid of visiting Uganda for a holiday vacation. None can tell by a mere outlook of a person and determine whether he’s gay or not. However, you don’t have to show that you’re gay and assault someone.
Alcohol consumption is strangely at a high rate
Uganda was ranked number 1 in Africa and 8th in the world for high levels of alcohol drinking by CNN travel study. And the total percentage of alcohol use is 23.7 liters per person. As strange as it sounds, there are many types of alcoholic drinks in all quantities at cheaper prices on the market in bars and clubs throughout the country. This has resulted into alcohol abuse especially by the youth and in men leading to social life and marriage problems. Of course many organizations are reaching out to educate the youth about dangers of alcohol abuse. If you like to experience how Ugandans drink alcohol rather than hearing or reading strange stories, visit Kampala by night tour.
BaTwa, the shortest people on earth live in southwestern Uganda
The indigenous Batwa pygmies were ancient forest hunter gathers who inhabited Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park southwestern Uganda for more than 60,000 years BC. However, in 1991, the parks were gazzetted and Batwa were evicted. BaTwa’s forest life was put to an end and ever since they have been subjected to difficulty social life including discrimination, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and intermarriages with other communities. Their history and culture is rich though threatened to extinction since they are now producing taller people as a result of intermarriages. Travelers to Bwindi or Mgahinga for gorilla trekking safari can visit the Batwa trail in Mgahinga and their homestead in Buhoma on a cultural walk gives you an insight into their past and present.
Uganda has 11% of world’s bird species
In the field of bird watching, Uganda takes the cake with its list of 1,061 species of birds. For serious world bird watching experts, Uganda is a must visit destination. The best birding hotspots recommended include Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with 90% of Ablertine rift endemic birds and was voted Africa’s number one birding destination by lonely planet in 2012. Other parks include Rwenzori mountains national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Semuliki valley national park, kidepo valley national park, Mabamba swamp and Murchison falls national park. Picture the best birding experience you don’t have to image.
Uganda has the highest genetic diversity of humans and wildlife species
Genetic diversity is defined as the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of species which serves as a way for species to highly adapt to changing climate and environment. Uganda for example, has many forests like Bwindi and Semuliki that survived the ice age dating back 25000 years. Ugandans have strong genes, aside from the ancient hunter gathers like BaTwa, most people drink water from rivers and lakes without cooking and none will ever fall sick. Furthermore, Ugandan women look younger with beautiful elegant bodies that any man would want to marry. The most interesting features about them include well organized dental formula and natural hair.
Uganda officially unveiled her own manufactured first car, the Kira Ev in 2011. Kira Ev’s prototypes and design was pioneered by Engineering students at Makerere university whose work continues to make great improvements for the car.
Many foreigners get to know Uganda by Idi Amin, self proclaimed conquer of the British Empire who ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin was a powerful man like none today, he expelled Asians from Uganda, fueled the Israel-Arab conflict when he hijacked a plane at Entebbe with Israeli nationals. But most weirdly about him is that he killed innocent Ugandans who opposed him. As a result foreigners think Uganda was a conflict-stricken third world country until not until president Museveni seized power through a liberation war that ended 1986 bringing total peace and security.
Bark cloth making in Uganda was inscribed on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2005. Uganda has taken great strides to preserve its ancient culture and heritage. And bark cloth is one which is well preserved craftsmanship. Although highly used by many tribes like in Baganda kingdom for spiritual and cultural traditions, bark cloth has been modernized into nice crafts such as curtains; mats and traditional clothing are widely available in craft shops and markets in Kampala.
River Nile which is the longest river in the world measuring 6650 sq km has its source in Jinja town eastern Uganda. Geographically, the Nile starts to flow north words from Lake Victoria, the 2nd largest fresh water in the world. And when John Speke, a British explorer discovered the source of the Nile in 1858, it has been well documented and believed by many geographers. Most especially travelers who visit Speke monument and source of Nile in Jinja town best known for white water rafting, will guess no more other than to appreciate history, geography and adventures that Jinja has to offer.