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“There goes my lunch,” the ranger says, laughing, and I feel grateful for the buffet awaiting at my safari lodge. I have always enjoyed marvelling at exotic wildlife and love visiting zoos, but nothing beats seeing animals in their own habitat, and Uganda offers this in spades.


Decades of civil war and dictatorships, most famously the brutal reign of Idi Amin, have kept the country largely off the tourist trail for many years, but it’s emerging as a popular holiday destination, topping the Lonely Planet’s list of places to visit in 2012.


Amin’s troops helped devastate the wildlife at Murchison Falls in the Seventies, but numbers are recovering and most large African animals can be spotted here. Covering nearly 4,000km, the park is home to some 76 species of mammal and more than 450 types of bird, not to mention one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world.


With Uganda due to celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain later this year, there’s no better time to visit the country once known as the Pearl of Africa.


My journey into the park, which lies a five-hour drive from the capital, Kampala, begins with a jeep drive through baboon- strewn woodland before we cross the river to a small clearing on the north bank of the Nile.


Afterwards, we are deposited safely at our accommodation. Decorated with colonial touches, the Paraa Safari Lodge has a charmingly rustic feel without scrimping on comfort. A dip in the curvy pool, complete with pool bar, is a great way to take in the sunset, while the simple but cosy rooms have views out over the river, doing away with the need for a flat-screen TV.


10 Life Begins www.lifebeginsmagazine.com


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