Uganda, the best place for horseback holidays

Matias Carrillat

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The most famous river in the world and its vegetation are enough reasons to embark on a journey full of green and diversity, including sighting of primates, meeting  with local cultures, and visiting delightful forests, such as the Mabira forest.

Why Uganda?

The Republic of Uganda is one of the 10 countries with greatest diversity of the world, given that here is where the western savannah meets with African eastern jungles. It is a country located in Central Africa, in the heart of the region of great lakes, no wonder it is known as the “pearl of Africa”, or as some call it, the “emerald” of the continent, due to the shades of green in its landscape, which stand out more than any other colour. Additionally, given its large and deep aquifer reserves, Uganda represents one great spring in Africa.

 

In Uganda everything is possible: we can sight lions that impose themselves by going around the plains with a magnificent pace, track primates in the tropical jungle, navigate amid hippos and crocodiles in its vast waters, go deep in its jungles full of exuberant vegetation, and sleep each night accompanied by the sounds of nature, sounds that foretell the adventure that awaits us at dawn. There is no other country that combines these beautiful landscapes that well. Here, we described the most important points you can visit with our horseback rides through Uganda.

Horseback holidays in Uganda – Landscapes and geography

Uganda has everything but sea. However, it can easily stand alongside any coastal region since it houses one of the main sources of the Nile River: Lake Victoria. It is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. With an area greater than 70,000 square meters, Uganda has almost the same size as Ireland, and shares the border with Tanzania and Kenya. It has numerous islands, the environmental conditions of which are quite particular. It is surrounded by forests, mountains, and numerous settlements of local tribes, which provide great biodiversity both inside and around it, making Uganda an ideal environment to explore on horseback in our experience Uganda, Jungle and Nile.

 

To the north of this lake, we will find one of the largest tropical forests of the region: the Mabira. This dense jungle is endowed with lush trees and herbaceous plants that grow over an undulating terrain, between numerous flat-topped hills separated by stream valleys that flow into the Nile. The areas surrounding it are mostly agricultural plantations, which is why we will enjoy panoramic views of dense greens in every corner of the forest. Besides, it is home to many endangered species, such as primates and some birds that live on its trees. An oasis of exotic and natural beauty.

 

Additionally, the Nile represents one of its biggest attractions. Surrounded by jungles, farms and forests, we will be able to submerge in its white and vibrant waters while the warmth of its shores gives us an unmatching sunset. If we ride north, we will witness a great spectacle: the Murchison waterfall, a majestic natural event created by this great river hurling its waters on Lake Alberto. Once we get to these lands, we can raft there, achieving the most exciting experience, and then be drenched by its warm waters to calmly end an afternoon of adventure. This solitary and wild treasure gives us an idyllic phenomenon that fully connects us with nature, amid water rising its foam and the aroma of jasmine and wild bluebells brought by the wind.

Horseback holidays in Uganda – Fauna and flora.

We may seem a little redundant in this aspect, but it will never be possible to understand it until you see it with your own eyes: in Uganda, green is the predominant colour. Its mountains have an endemic thickness, made up of a greatly diverse flora. More than a thousand species of vascular plants have been recorded, among which there are 110 species of ferns. This variety is the result of its strategic location between a tropical jungle, the Ethiopian plateau, and the mountains of the east, which make us speculate that “monotony” is not a word of African origin. On the plains we will find lush forests, open fields with herbaceous plants and bamboo areas. Whereas, if go east or southeast, we will be mesmerized by the contrast these territories pose, which for being at the shadows of the mountains, offer lands of arid pastures and bushes.

 

As regards its fauna, we will find rare forest primates, the most revered and exclusive animals in Uganda. There we will find a subspecies of grey cheeked Mangabeys that only inhabit the Mabira forest. Meeting this family of primates is an unforgettable experience. In turn, we will sight the Shelley’s crimsonwing and the African green beak, spectacular birds which are considered threatened species worldwide. In addition, the wildest areas of the country are a refuge for elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, antelopes and, of course, those precious cats that nobody wants to miss on a trip to Africa: lions and leopards. We should point out that in the forests of this country, there is the possibility of sighting lions climbing trees, an incomparable phenomenon that occurs only in two parts of the world –  Uganda being one of them.

 

Regarding aquatic animals, its wide rivers and lakes are known for being the habitat of more than two hundred species of fish. Together with them, we will find otters, mongooses, crabs, amphibians, and other small inhabitants. And for those who are willing to bet on facing larger and more dangerous creatures, there are areas along the Nile River that houses hippos and wild crocodiles that can measure up to six meters.

Horseback holidays in Uganda – Culture and history.

As far as history is concerned, the greatest interest for this land is triggered by the pursuit of the origins of the Nile River: the biggest myth in Africa. Where does such a large, wide and extraordinary river begin? It was in 1858 when a group of British explorers under the charge of John Speke found an answer to this question posed by so many books. The river received its name in honour of Queen Victoria. That is why, riding by the streambed of this river up to its origin is, without a doubt, a journey guided by the tracks left by these ambitious explorers.

 

Currently, several ethnic peoples live at the beds of the Victoria lake, mostly the prehistoric Bantu, who live mainly on fishing, agriculture, and commerce. Therefore, we will find coffee, tea, cotton, and banana tree plantations on its surroundings. The natural experience that this site provides is complemented by immersing ourselves in its culture and connecting with its inhabitants. In its markets, we can confirm that with creativity and imagination, anything can become useful and beautiful. The kindness, humility, and joy of these people teach us that wealth is not stored in what we touch.

Uganda is a land of animals, culture, history, and landscapes. Amid its diverse territories, we will obtain a panoramic view that never runs out. But, beyond everything, being there is perceived as an unexpected wonder. In his book, The African Dream, Javier Reverte writes: “Only one question can justify a great journey, and the journey is made for those who do not know very well where they are going to or know exactly what they are looking for.” Uganda is inviting us to meet its diversity on a horseback ride. The only remaining fact is deciding which is the question that will incite us to undertake the adventure …

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