Putting Christ into the Crisis of UGANDA

Tour of Uganda, Part 2

Travelers are drawn to Uganda by the extraordinary diversity of its natural resources. Owing to a variety of habitats with abundant grass, Uganda supports an incredible range of wildlife, including mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. In order to protect these invaluable resources, the Uganda National Parks department was established in 1952. Presently it manages 10 parks. Here are some highlights:

 

Rwenzori Mountains National Park, in western Uganda, comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain range and stretches for sixty miles along the Ugandan-Congo border. The legendary "Mountains of the Moon" were first described by the celebrated 2nd century AD Greek geographer Ptolemy. Mount Stanley, named after the famed explorer who first saw the mountain during his expedition in 1887, is Uganda's highest point and Africa's third highest peak after Mount Kilimanjaro (19,344 feet/5,896 meters) and Mount Kenya (17,057 feet/5,198 meters). Also called Margherita Peak, it was first climbed in 1906 by an Italian expedition, who subsequently named it for Queen Margherita of Italy. After reaching the summit, one Australian climber recently commented: "I am virtually on the equator, I have never been as cold as this before, I have mild frost bite in my toes, and I can see lush steamy jungles below me."

 

The glacial summits of the Rwenzori (meaning "rainmaker") are enshrouded in cloud and midst for much of the year. They were formed when violent tectonic activity forced together two halves of the African continent. Located near the equator, these volcanic mountains form part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. On the eastern border are several extinct volcanoes, including Mount Elgon. The park offers a plentiful habitat to several primate species, including chimpanzee, and other mammals such as elephant, bushbuck, hyrax and leopard.

Below: Almost constant cloud cover hugs the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains, whose snow-capped peaks rise to a height of 16,763 feet (5,109 meters.

 
 
rwenzori mtns

Below: Altitude, high rainfall and almost constant cloud-cover with drenching mists nourish prolific plant life in Rwenzori Mountains National Park

mt rwenzori

Below, Mount Stanley/Margherita Peak, Uganda's highest peak

stanly peak

Kidepo Valley National Park - This spectacular park has unsurpassed scenery. Isolated in the extreme northeastern corner of Uganda, the Kidepo has a great altitude change, with wide climatic conditions supporting diverse plant life. The landscape is studded with small hills and rocky outcrops from which spectacular views are obtained. The park has two major game viewing loops and it is the only park in Uganda where zebra and giraffe can be seen together. Other animals with a very high chance of being viewed include lions, the rare white buffalo, cheetah, kudu, bush baby, baboon, oryx, elephant and much more. The park also boasts 465 species of birds, including ostrich and Kori bustard, which are found nowhere else.

Below: A pair of giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park

Pair of Giraffs

 

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most spectacular in Uganda, and indeed in the whole of Africa. It is also the largest game park in the country with the most intense concentration of animals along the Nile River. Passenger boats steer from shore to shore, where hippos can be counted in the hundreds. Every little bay seems to be occupied with their bubbling and snorting sounds. On sandbanks huge crocodiles bask in the sun, and along the shores one can often spot elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, etc. The major focus of interest, however, is the birds, which can be observed all around in the swampy reeds, the sandy beaches, or the huge trees along the Nile.

 

The Victoria Nile flows out of Lake Victoria into Lake Albert, and from there into the White Nile. Twenty miles east of Lake Albert, its colossal volume of water forces its way through a cleft in the rocks little more than twenty feet (7 meters) wide before dropping 131 feet (40 meters) in a series of three great cascades called Murchison Falls (below). After exploding through this narrow gap, the Nile becomes a placid river whose banks are thronged with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. Other park wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species.

murchison falls

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below, Mother hippo and her baby

Mother hippo and her baby
 
Queen Elizabeth National Park - The second largest national park in Uganda, it lies north and south of the equator in southwest Uganda. Contiguous with Kibale National Park and Parc Nationale des Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Queen Elizabeth Park includes a wetland site and an important bird area, with 568 of Uganda's 1017 species of birds (over a quarter of Africa's bird species), more than any other park in Africa. Here you may see crater lakes filled with huge flocks of flamingos. You can also spot soaring eagles and perching vultures. Here, too, you can view lions, elephants and the giant forest hog. In its lakes you'll see hippos and kingfishers. Any visitor will to be amazed by the enormous diversity of God's creation. It's simply a visual feast.

Below: wandering elephants in Queen Elizabeth NP

elephants

Bwindi National Park - Located in the southwestern tip of Uganda, Bwindi National Park is true African jungle, with dense undergrowth, vines and other vegetation. The lowland rain forest and montane forest vegetation constantly struggles to reach heights that will allow it to receive more light. Huge trees are festooned with creepers and parasitic plants such as mistletoe and orchids. Giant thickets of bamboo thrive in the humid atmosphere and, where sunlight breaks though, the elegant heliconia, or lobster claw, spreads its colorful petals.
 
Amongst the dense vegetation the Colobus Monkey jumps from branch to branch, chattering its warning to its fellows hidden by the foliage. Chimpanzees, in families of 20 or 30, make the rounds, searching for fruit and edible plants. As you walk among the shadows of the leafy canopy, this ages-old rain forest reveals the smells and sounds of Africa. Bwindi also encompasses one of the last remaining habitats of the mountain gorilla, and is home to half the surviving mountain gorillas in the world an estimated 320 individuals.
Without doubt, the first impression of this dense jungle is its almost audible silence. Jungle creatures are very, very shy, but, as you pick your way along the trail, through the dense undergrowth, you'll realize that the jungle is very much alive. Thousands of living organisms are discreetly watching and waiting while you pass through their protective home. From time to time, the complete tranquility will be shattered by a darting forest bird or group of chattering monkeys leaping through the stands of ancient trees, disturbing the secretive residents and setting up a chain reaction. Now, the ever-wary jungle comes to colorful and noisy life for a moment, until silence returns once again.

Below: Gorilla in Bwindi National Park

Gorilla in Bwindi National Park

     

     

     

     

     

  • Uganda has five other National Parks. Together the country's ten parks provide a complete cross section of Uganda's wildlife. In character each is blessed with a diversity of flora and fauna, which gives a totally different feel from the others.

  • HE UGANDAN PEOPLE

  • The contrasts between the various peoples of Uganda reflect the variety of surroundings and are demonstrated in the multiplicity of cultures traditions and lifestyles. Uganda has been created by the union of many peoples with their own traditional lands, customs, languages, dances, dress and ways of life inherited from their ancestors. They now live together as one people, proud to be Ugandans.

  • The largest cultural group are the Baganda people, whose kingdom has always been influential in Ugandan affairs. Amongst the ethnic groups are many others that include those in the the Kingdom of Toro, the Banyankole, the Acholi, Basoga and Lugbara. Religious tolerance is an important part of present-day Uganda. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others all live in harmony, free to practice their own religion.

bundbugjo pygmykaramojong warriorkampala marketsmiling childwoman with baskeroad to fort portal

About 90% of Uganda's inhabitants live in rural areas. Approximately 70% of the people speak one of the Bantu languages. English is the country's official language, but Swahili is widely spoken in commercial centers.

A quick lesson in Swahili, one of the languages of Uganda... Learn some new words.

About two thirds of the people are Christian; the rest either follow traditional religious beliefs or are Muslim.

Below, typical rural kitchen in Uganda

  • rural kitchen