With a swathe of activities in Uganda, it is no surprise that Lonely Planet has ranked this African destination as the #1 country to visit in 2012. This distinguished ranking is strongly related to the growing stability in the country as evidenced by the capital, Kampala, being one of Africa’s safest capitals. Safety and security aside, Uganda is a veritable paradise for a variety of tourists with activities that range from bird watching and safaris to cultural attractions and ecotourism.

Uganda’s scenery and wildlife is amazing and draws in many visitors. The country is home to more than 1,000 bird species, which make up over half of the birds in Africa. Some of these are globally threatened, endemic and near endemic, forest/papyrus/woodland rarities, and vulnerable bird species. For these reasons and others, Uganda is one of the best bird watching sights in Africa. Visitors can expect to spot birds like the African Green Broadbill, Shoebill, Grant’s Bluebill, Archer’s Robin-Chat, and Dwarf Honeyguide. In addition to birds, travelers might happen upon tree-climbing lions, rhinos, elephants, and chimpanzees. For more information about the birding opportunities in Uganda, please visit Collection member Birding Uganda.

While wildlife and safaris are a huge draw for visitors, the rich culture of Uganda provides endless opportunities for exploration. The Bawta people, an indigenous group of fierce hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors native to the dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes, offer a glimpse into their culture and former home on the Batwa Trail. This nature walk shows visitors where the Batwa used to reside with its rich culture and diverse wildlife inside the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The Batwa tour includes demonstrations of the local hunting techniques, honey gathering skills, and a view of the various plants that can be used for medicinal purposes.

For another glimpse at local life, Katwe Salt Lakes offers visitors the opportunity to watch locals participate in traditional salt-mining activities. The Mubako perform vibrant songs and dances around the campfires at local lodges bordering Murchison Falls National Park. Additionally, visitors can find exceptional handmade carved wooden sculptures and hand-woven items created exclusively by these local community members. More cultural community attractions and experiences can be found on the Pearls of Uganda website

While visitors are in Uganda, they have many opportunities to partake in various give back programs that help out the local community. For example, money generated during the Katwe Salt Lake tours and sales of handcrafted wares are used to help improve the educational facilities and send children to school.

These are a few of the many reasons why people should visit Uganda in 2012. Additionally, this is why Lonely Planet has ranked Uganda as the #1 destination in 2012 and why Uganda is a very important member of the Undiscovered Travel Collection. We hope you will discover Uganda soon!

Uganda’s Sustainable Tourism Media Awards Gala took place on September 16, 2011 to much fanfare. The Awards Gala honored journalists from various local newspapers, television and radio stations for their responsible coverage of tourism and conservation related issues in Uganda. The awards recognized three categories: print, radio, and television broadcast. Awards were presented to the winner and two runner-ups in each category. Our partner STAR highlights various organizations who were involved in making this evening a success.

The journalists and media outfits submitted over 160 articles that highlighted Uganda’s tourism treasures through the promotion of responsible travel and coverage. Many articles showcase tourist attractions and cultural experiences that Uganda has to offer. A collection of community based tourism enterprises, the Pearls of Uganda offers authentic cultural encounters and experiences throughout Uganda; some which are located in or near key destinations or attractions.

Another hotspot mentioned in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Parks is one of most popular and scenic National Parks in Uganda. The park has a variety of accommodations that will appeal to all audiences and their budgets. Visitors to the park can participate in chimp tacking, game drive, or boat cruise expeditions. Communities surrounding the park share awareness of their local culture through music, dance, drama and crafts. Additionally, there are ample opportunities for bird watching in this location and throughout Uganda.

We hope that you too will soon discover Uganda.

When someone asks me where I am from, I cannot really say one place. I rattle off a list of countries and states, it is almost easier just say that I am from D.C. I have lived abroad for over a quarter of my life. In a sense, I have spent my life traveling and it drives a major part of me today.

I live to explore international destinations and learn about the various cultures (that is me in Vietnam pictured below). I seek out those exclusive offerings I can only experience onsite.  Recently, I have been interested in returning to various destinations that I have not visited in approximately 10 years.  By doing so, I can see how much that country has changed and been influenced by Westernization and globalization.

These experiences have permitted me to bolster my skills to interact with people from various cultures and have fueled my passion for the greater tourism industry. There are so many amazing tourism destinations, many of which are still undiscovered to me, that will lead me to the discovery of a new part of myself and the world.

I hope you find something Undiscovered in The Collection as I plan to share these unique experiences with enthusiastic travelers like me and you.

-Michelle Rasper

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