Uganda has once again become an outpost of hope in East Africa. As it makes steady progress toward peace and works to improve its tourist facilities, travelers have returned in ever-increasing numbers to enjoy its stunning landscape—green rolling hills, lush rain forests, snowcapped mountains, majestic rivers and massive lakes—and its fascinating wildlife, including about half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas.
Uganda has some of Africa's major attractions. It is bordered to the west by the Rwenzori Mountains, named a World Heritage site for their eerie, craggy tips and giant vegetation, and the majestic Virunga volcanoes rise along the southwestern border with Rwanda. It is the source of the Nile that empties out of Lake Victoria—the world's second-largest lake—at Jinja. It is home to more than 1,000 species of birds, making Uganda one of the richest birding destinations in Africa, and its richly varied savannah wildlife—large herds of elephant, tree-climbing lions, snorting buffalo and peering giraffe—is complemented by one of the highest concentrations of primates on the continent.
The country's progress as a tourist destination was brutally interrupted in early 1999, when Rwandan rebels murdered eight tourists in Bwindi National Park, the country's premier gorilla-tracking destination. However, Bwindi has since been protected by the military, and nothing similar has occurred since. It may be some time before Uganda achieves its full potential, but the country once known as the pearl of Africa has regained much of its luster for visitors.
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