From the moment the visitor lands at Entebbe's international airport, located on the forested shore of island-strewn Lake Victoria, it is clear that Uganda is no ordinary safari destination. Winston Churchill called Uganda 'the pearl of Africa', presumably basing his opinion on the country's great natural beauty.
Dominated by a century-old botanical garden alive with the chatter of acrobatic monkeys and colourful tropical birds, Entebbe itself is the least obviously urban of all comparably sized African towns, and provides a gentle introduction to the country and its wildlife.
Just 40km (25 miles) away, sprawled across seven hills, there is the capital Kampala. The bright modern feel of this bustling, cosmopolitan city reflects the ongoing economic growth and political stability that has characterised Uganda since 1986. Since the late 1980s, the nation has managed to move on from the abyss of civil war and the economic catastrophe of the Idi Amin years which ravaged the country, its people and its wildlife.
In a relatively short space of time, Uganda has thankfully recovered to become one of the world's most exciting destinations, offering stunning scenery, unique wildlife encounters, excellent trekking and a plethora of opportunities for adventure. Facilities have improved greatly in the last decade, and there's now no end of great restaurants, hotels and lodges to suit travellers on any budget, from luxury to shoestring.
Yet while tourist numbers are on the up, Uganda has managed to remain untouched and natural, and even the country's better known attractions seem to have avoided the overcrowding and exploitation experienced in some other African countries. On the whole, tours are kept to smaller groups and wildlife encounters in the many national parks and reserves are, thankfully, not the fraught scrum that's so often played out in other safari destinations. Visitors should find spending time here relatively hassle-free and – the country's north-eastern border aside – travelling throughout the region should be an easy and safe experience.
Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle and the country's diverse topography include vast tracts of lush forest, soaring mountain ranges, thundering rivers and waterfalls, and unspoilt islands. Thrillseekers can ride the white waters of the Nile by raft or kayak, while nature lovers can observe lions prowling the open plains, track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth, spot a dazzling array of bird species and navigate tropical channels teeming with hippos and crocodiles, before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla.
Uganda, along with neighbouring Rwanda and DRC, is home to the last remaining populations of these incredible endangered apes, and a trek to see them in their magical natural habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a highlight that shouldn't be missed.
Pair this multitude of must-sees with the genuine warmth and hospitality of the country's friendly people and it's easy to see why Uganda is fast-becoming one of Africa's most popular travel destinations.