msafiri 60 UGANDA A coat of many colours Uganda is a land of tolerance and cooperation. In a country where the number of tribes is almost too numerous to count and the local dialects could make a linguist shudder, there is a tremendous sense of forbearance. In other parts of the world, wars are raging over ethnicity, but in Uganda, people live and work side by side – regardless of tribe, clan or religion. Kampala is a testament to this sense of acceptance. Built on a series of hills, the capital city has a number of houses of worship crowning the peaks: the Kibuli mosque with its ornate minarets, the honey- bricked dome of Namirembe Cathedral, the solid pillars of Rubaga Cathedral, the crenellated rooftop of the Hindu temple, the gloriously simple circular Bah'ai temple – the only one in Africa – and now, the new mosque on the edge of Old Kampala, glinting gold at sunset, its vaulted roof an architectural triumph. But not only do the Ugandan people live harmoniously together, their warmth and tolerance extends to their visitors – to the tourists that pass through and to the people who make Uganda their temporary home – the expats. A large community of these, a transient society, has been passing through this country for decades. They are American, British, Thai, Danish, Dutch, Canadian, Bolivian, Chinese, Indian, Australian, South African, Nigerian. They have lived abroad for many years, in many different countries and yet when they leave Uganda for a new posting, they are sad to go; reluctant to leave. Uganda is a beautiful country. And the people here are beautifully warm.
msafiri 61 The Queen Like a little mini- Africa wrapped up in a tidy parcel, Queen Elizabeth has it all: tracts of forest, full of primates; open, golden savannah dotted with elephant, buffalo, warthog, antelope and lion. The shimmering Kazinga channel which joins lakes Edward and George teems with pods of hippo grumbling in the shallows and crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, jaws open. Up in the Kyambura sector, chimps roam wild in the gorge and the soda lakes are flecked with pink flamingos, while down in the Ishasha sector the lion is king. Queen Elizabeth, in the heart of the Western Rift Valley is flanked by geographic rises: the Rwenzoris loom large in the west, and the escarpment juts up in the east. Go south and you find yourself on the edge of Bwindi – volcano country. Go north and into the highlands and you will find the Kibale Forest, thick with ancient trees, before dropping down again into the Semliki Valley. Green, green and more green Try to count the endless shades of green found in this country: the dark brooding green of the Impenetrable Forest; the rich emerald of a highland tea plantation as the sun breaks through cloud cover; the lurid retro- green of the ubiquitous matooke, Uganda's main staple food, piled high on the back of a Tata lorry. Papyrus- fringed marshlands, lush and timeless, in constant motion, shimmering. Palm trees bending; dormant volcanoes rising brightly out of the mist; sugar cane swaying in the breeze. Pale translucent nocturnal geckoes on the walls; the vibrant savannah at the onset of the rains; deep crater lakes reflecting the rich, surrounding hills… Who's watching who? Way up north on the Sudan border, where the light is ethereal and the scenery stops the conversation dead, you'll find the Kidepo Valley National Park. A stay here is an experience for all the senses – a breathtaking flight to the park takes you extraordinarily close to the mountains, and a stay at the blissfully isolated Apoka Lodge will guarantee you intimate and memorable wildlife encounters – without even leaving your room! Listen to the rush of water pouring down the throat of the resident elephant drinking at the waterhole; gaze at zebra as they stroll by your verandah; survey buffalo as they roam beneath your cabin, scratching their backs on the stilts; and ogle lion as they perch on the rocks above your outdoor bath. Gorilla tourism As more gorilla groups are habituated for Coffee comes from Uganda. Warriors used to chew the raw robusta bean before going into battle. Now a major export, the coffee bushes still grow wild all over the country. did YOU know? francisco gonzalez/ photolibrary. com Bahai Temple ( known as the Mother Temple of Africa, 1958- 1961), Kampala Right: Sipi Falls, near Mt Elgon, Uganda