My trip to Uganda, Africa, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The people I met, the things I saw, and the memories I returned home with are irreplaceable!
Hi, my name is Emilie, and I would LOVE to share my experience with Travel on Purpose to Uganda!
To begin with, my trip to Uganda was a surprise---well, sort of. I am a recent high school graduate, and my mom thought going on a trip would a great way to celebrate. I was expecting the mountains of Colorado or a beach in Florida; instead, my parents decided to do something very out of the ordinary---signing us up to go to Uganda! To say I was surprised at this turn of events is an understatement. Now skip ahead a couple of months to our first day, or should I say our first night — in Africa.
We spent our first night at a guest house near the airport.
As groggy as I was from the overnight flight, I can remember the feeling of unreality that followed me as we checked into our first overnight hotel-bungalow near the airport. Waking up the following day felt dreamlike as I gazed out through mosquito netting at the lush surroundings outside my window.
Uganda is very green and filled with lush vegetation.
I continued taking in the natural beauty of Uganda on the drive to our first destination. We passed by rolling hills and river valleys filled with palms, sugar cane, maize, papyrus, and neatly growing rows of eucalyptus trees. Roadside stands were loaded with bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and other tropical fruits.
Visiting the fish hatchery, mango grove, and future chicken house.Finally, we arrived in Gulu where we spent two and a half days with Favor International, a non-profit organization. We visited primary and secondary schools, a radio station, a health center, farming projects, vocational programs and more.
My favorite of their ministries was their GIFT program. GIFT stands for God’s Institute For Transformation. In short, the program takes kids literally off the streets and gives them food and the opportunity to be nurtured and discipled. Although most kids choose to participate because of the food, by the time they complete the program, their lives have been transformed. I was amazed at the impact of the GIFT program.
Nile Safari Lodge
Before we knew it, we were off again--this time to Murchison Falls National Park where we checked in at the Nile Safari Lodge. Being on the literal banks of the Nile River and seeing animals in their natural habitats that I had only seen in zoos was terrific!
We saw giraffe, elephants, lions, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, and so much more!
While at the lodge, we were privileged to go on two safari drives and a boat tour. During these excursions, we saw various animals, from lions to giraffes to crocodiles! Besides enjoying the wonder of God’s creatures, the natural beauty of the Nile Safari Lodge was stunning. My favorite memory is watching a lightning storm in the distance while at the same time being aware of the live African music behind the Nile River and me in front---I remember being so awed by just the magnificence of that moment. It was then that I truly realized I was in Uganda.
Crater Safari Lodge
I loved the Crater Safari Lodge perched above a lakeAs we drove to our next destination, the Crater Safari Lodge in Kibale National Park, I remember being stunned that our trip was halfway over! Although the Nile Safari Lodge was grander than the Crater Safari Lodge, I loved the Crater Safari Lodge the most. Since it was the beginning of the wet season, it rained on and off during our stay there. The rain added to the feeling of the location and gave me a sense of other-worldliness. The rain created a mist that added to the mystery in the nearby hills.
I loved this long hike through communities and around the crater lakes.
The next day, we were able to hike through those same hills with two local guides. I loved gazing at the rolling green hills and deep blue crater lakes, which were made more beautiful by the mist.
From here, our group also got to experience chimpanzee trekking. So as not to ruin the experience, and because I’m running out of room, I won’t say too much about it except... you don’t want to miss it!
Kibaale Community Center
Our final stop, the Kibaale Community Center, was also a favorite location of mine. We spent our last five days in Uganda at this school. Unlike Favor International, which has a diverse focus, the Kibaale Community Center focuses on education and the local community. They provide an excellent education to children from the surrounding villages, from pre-K to high school, through sponsorships.
I remember going to watch the kids line up for roll call at the start of the school day. One kid came up to me and gave me a hug, then another, and another. Suddenly they were all hugging me! Pandemonium! I LOVED it, which will be another experience I will never forget.
We spent time with students, went on home visits and helped build a mud hut.
I really enjoyed my time in Uganda! I think I learned a lot, not just about the culture, but the people too. I'm thankful for the many unique experiences we were able to enjoy and know I will keep them with me always.
Thank you Travel on Purpose
for such a terrific trip!
-Emilie (Uganda - June 2022)
Thank you Emilie for sharing your reflections about our time in Uganda. But thank you most of all for coming along on an adventure that I too will keep with me always! What a trip!