(BPT) - What gets your heart racing when you imagine traveling? Challenging yourself physically in a beautiful landscape, or catching a glimpse of magnificent wildlife and rare birds? Soaring above it all while admiring spectacular scenery from on high, or soaking in the environment from the water? Fortunately, there is one destination in Africa where you can experience the adventure of a lifetime — no matter what thrills you. Coined the "Pearl of Africa" by none other than Winston Churchill, Uganda has the perfect safari for every type of adventurous traveler.
1. It’s a jungle out there
... And a savanna, plus forests and wetlands. Uganda boasts 10 amazing national parks along with numerous nature reserves where you can enjoy guided safaris to locate big game like lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants and buffalo — not to mention giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees, hippopotamuses and crocodiles. Uganda's extraordinary natural attractions include the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, the expansive Lake Victoria and the stunning Murchison Falls.
2. A walk on the wild side
Prefer to take in natural beauty at a slower pace? You can enjoy walking safaris and nature walks at a number of locations throughout Uganda, led by experienced rangers who provide insight on the abundant wildlife and striking landscapes. Uganda is the home of over half the globe’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. Trekking to observe these gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a top “bucket list” activity for wildlife enthusiasts.
3. Whatever floats your boat
Outdoor lovers can choose from a variety of activities on the mighty Nile River ranging from relaxing to adrenaline inducing. Sport fishing expeditions, whitewater rafting experiences and safaris by boat are some of the most popular options, with qualified tour operators offering packages ranging from budget to luxury. A visit to Murchison Falls National Park lets you observe wildlife from a variety of vantage points. A traditional game drive can be paired with a Nile River safari for the ultimate adventure. The three-hour boat trip yields sightings of everything from hippos and crocodiles to elephants, giraffes, buffalo and plenty of birds. Avid fishermen visit the park in search of the Nile Perch, Africa’s largest freshwater fish. Weighing anywhere from 20-180 pounds, these impressive creatures provide a challenging catch.
4. The sky’s the limit
If your bucket list includes going up, up and away in a beautiful balloon, you will love the experience of viewing Uganda’s unique topography on a hot air balloon safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Your trip may last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, weather permitting, and will also include a delicious bush breakfast.
5. These safaris are for the birds
Amateur to expert birders can add some of the rarest birds in the world to their checklist, as over half of Africa's bird species are found in Uganda. A birding safari led by an expert guide can help travelers identify as many as 200 species in a single day. Of the 1,072 bird species in the country, the top sought-after species include the shoebill, a prehistoric-looking creature known for its enormous bill; Shelley's Crimsonwing, Africa's rarest finch; and the crested crane, Uganda's national bird.
6. A breakaway adventure
For true adventurers, getting to know the beauty of Uganda by bicycle is an experience like no other. Mountain biking in Uganda can be leisurely or challenging, with excursions ranging from a few hours to several days or more. No matter the location, bicycle tours are a great way to take in some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery.
7. Get on your horse and ride
Whether at a walk or a gallop, visitors seeking a different vantage point can explore Uganda on guided horseback tours along the banks of the Nile River near Jinga — Uganda's adventure capital. Plenty of options exist on horseback, from hour-long excursions and sunset rides to overnight adventures and even weeklong explorations of rural Uganda.