Prior to my trip to Uganda, the extent of my knowledge was limited to its global reputation for mountain gorillas. I meticulously planned my journey to encompass as many experiences as possible, driven by the desire to personally understand why Winston Churchill once described Uganda as 'The Pearl of Africa'.

Mountain gorilla tracking holds a unique place in Uganda, as there are approximately 1,063 mountain gorillas worldwide, all residing in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to about 300 of these magnificent creatures. Upon arrival at the outpost, we were greeted with a lively song and dance performance by local women, and had the option to fly in via helicopter. Before embarking on the trek, we received a briefing about the gorilla family we were to visit, led by a silverback named Xmas.

After an hour-long hike, we arrived at the spot where Xmas and his family of ten were resting. The profound experience of observing them from just seven feet away in their natural habitat was truly awe-inspiring, offering a clear reason why people travel from all corners of the globe for this encounter.

Following the gorilla encounter, I had the opportunity to engage with the Batwa pygmies, an indigenous group in Uganda with a population of around 6,000. I visited their community in Kisoro District, which comprises 250 members. Prior to reaching the settlement, my guide mentioned that some Batwa can start a fire using only a stick and dried grass, a claim I initially doubted until witnessing it firsthand. The community's love for music and dance, coupled with their vibrant spirit, was infectious, prompting me to join in despite my lack of understanding of their songs.

A safari in Africa was a must-do for me, and I opted for Lake Mburo National Park due to its rich biodiversity, including 350 bird species. During the game drive, we encountered various birds, zebras, and impalas, but the highlight was spotting giraffes. We were not just passive observers; we had the chance to disembark and walk alongside three giraffes, including a protective mother and her calf, while learning about the local flora.

In the evening, I enjoyed a boat cruise on Lake Mburo, spotting hippos, and later shared stories around a crackling bonfire. The Uganda Equator, located about 45 minutes from Kampala, offered a unique experience where I learned about the water experiment, which demonstrated the straight drainage of water at the Equator, unlike the spiral motion observed at the poles. The area is a popular photo spot, and nearby shops sold a variety of souvenirs.

Kampala's diverse attractions included a food tour where I discovered Ugandan cuisine. The tour began with a local dish called Rolex, a term I initially misunderstood. The culinary journey continued with tastings of G-nut sauce, Matoke, Namungodi, Luwombo stew, and Ugali, providing a deep dive into the country's culinary heritage.

Accommodations included Gorilla Heights Lodge in Nkuringo, Kigambira Safari Lodge at Lake Mburo National Park, and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala, each serving as ideal bases for different activities.

Travel to Uganda from the UAE is facilitated by several airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and EgyptAir, all flying into Entebbe International Airport.