Where to capture the most captivating sunsets in Uganda
Sunsets look fascinating in nature, look captivating in photos, charming in our dreams and gripping in paintings. Uganda boasts of varying landscapes and features which offer unique vantage views of the Sun. Since the start of 2012, our Travel Journalist has been tracking the sun not because it’s a hobby, but rather it is his way of life.
In this edition, we tasked Oleny to randomly pick 9 vantage points around Uganda—where he has taken off his hat and bowed in admiration of the suns gorgeous beauty. Here are his recommendations.
Sunrise at the summit of this mountain is a powerful sensory experience that will leave you. Once tangent to the horizon, the sun pierces the pitch darkness, carrying with it the bright torch of a new day. You will not see it at first. It is nothing but a small, rosy glow. Completely humble! As its rays peak out from behind mountain tops the clouds, it lights up snow with a golden colour-giving it a mouthwatering look like ice cream made of oranges.
To say it is a million dollar view is crappy. Legendary is the word. The other big reward with summiting Rwenzori is it offers a chance to see the first rays before they can penetrate through the clouds to the earth (the summits are past cloud level). While the people at the foot of Rwenzori have to wait till 6:30am before confirming it’s a new day, mountaineers atop awake to it as early as 6:10am-15am, especially in the wet seasons.
Due to their high altitude (over 5,000meters above sea level), summits like Margherita and Stanley are generally cold, sometimes icy if not frosty. As such, the sun here is like pure love, coming out to warm u.
What makes tracking the sun from Bunyonyi unmatched—is not the fact that it is arguably Africa’s second deepest Lake (after Tanganyika) but also, how priced the experience is. The freshwater Lake is located in a hilly region where the weather changes in an instant. One minute it’s a hot a furnace with temperatures shooting all the way to 30 degrees, the next its cooler than a mortuary. This makes it unpredictable telling the time at which the days sunset/ sunset will arise/descend, or if it will surface anyway. However when it does come, you are assured of postcard pictures. Accordingly, over 20 powerhouse icons have flocked the scenic attraction that boasts of over 20 islands— in the last five years. Amongst many, these include Bill gates, Juelz Santana, President Paul Kagame and Alicia Keys.
In the air
As seen above the clouds that hover over Entebbe Airport, sunrise is a breathtaking display of radiant colors. Bright streaks of red, orange, yellow and green slowly blend with the deep blue backdrop of the sky. The result of this combination is a prism of radiant natural colours. As the sun peeks below the skyline, its rays shine brightly and start to warm the air. The views can’t get crazier as the plane descends underneath the cloud to offer views of a glistening reflection of the sun on the surrounding Lake Victoria. It is a charming scene. If you ever wanted to propose to her, this could be just the right moment.
Kidepo National Park
6:15am-7am! As the sun illuminates in this hour of contemplation at Kidepo, a wild savannah park found at the borders of Uganda and Southern Sudan, it causes uncontrolled excitement among prey, especially herbivores. Such include the buffaloes, kobs and antelopes all of which spend their nights in fear of being pounced on by predators with sharp night vision, like the lion. Overjoyed by the disbelief of having lived to see another day, they (prey) trumpet in jubilation. Many can’t help it spring up on their fours in delight. In doing so, they treat tourists to terrific picture opportunities.
On the other hand, watching the sun take leave in the evening is equally a phenomenal experience. It is hard to miss sight of these species as they panic and wander in search for a safe haven for the night.
Being Africa’s biggest freshwater lake, this list would be incomplete without Lake “Victoria” or “Nalubale” as Bantu tribes living at its Ugandan shores prefer to call it. Whatever the name, this lake offers an enchanting view of the sun. Here you’ll find every shade of sunset you craved for. So be sure your memory card has enough space before you set foot here.
Apart from having a refreshing breeze that carries pristine air, the lake offers stunning views of birds with impressive plumages. One such is the Kingfisher, a species skilled at fishing.
The catch here is seeing hypnotizing reflections of the clouds in the water as they paint the skies. They float like pink feathers from a gigantic flamingo birds.
Do not forget to kick back in the evenings as you relax with a cold beer in hand as you watch the sun take leave. Watching it shy away behind the horizons, you might think its pouring gold into the lake. For an extra thrill, you can behold it in an evening boat cruise.
Like a cake plate, the landscape of most parts of Lira is so flat. This makes it effortlessly easy to capture asymmetrical silhouettes of different objects and creatures during sun sets. Even more exciting, most residents hold strong attachments to a simple way of life. As such you are almost guaranteed of walking away with pictures that depict the rich traditional way of life. The indigenous African way of life, to be precise. It could the picture of a woman carrying a baby on back while concurrently balancing a pot on her head. It could be the picture of a herdsman leading his cattle back to their kraal or even, kids dancing by a thatched hut.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
I’ve been to Bwindi more times than I can count since venturing into nature photography in 2010. I’ve got say the place never ceases to amaze. Among the many experiences I can’t get enough of from this park that boasts of over half the population of the worlds remaining gorillas is catching up with the morning sun as it filters through the jungle. As part of the jungle soundtrack, hundreds of birds start to cheer up at its sight (morning sun) as it shyly reaches out to them. I guess the excitement is fueled by the need for warmth.
Bishop Hanington site,
Growing up as a child, I’ve always known light to be symbolic of happiness and darkness to be doom. I might no longer be a child, but I still strongly subscribe to this thought, especially whenever I think of day and night. While most heartwarming things happen at day, heartbreaking tragedies like murder wait for nightfall. What separates the two time zones is sunset. Beholding sunset at the Bishop Hanington Site in Buyende mirrors before me 29th October 1885. On this day, life was sucked out of the poor Anglican Bishop the same way darkness sucks life from day at sunset. A visit here will leave you in awe of nature’s ability to retell the story of how the Bishop was martyred at the orders of Kabaka Mwanga. It recaps it in an artistic way without triggering so much remorse.
Guide to beholding the sun
The best time to see amazing sunsets and sunrises is the dry season. It fall in the months of June, July and August. In the morning and evening hours of these months, sunlight takes a longer path through the atmosphere due to the low angle of the sun. Low angles provide a more colourful spectrum of colours compared to high ones.
To capture a mind blowing picture of the sun, start with a good camera and a powerful lens. Manual settings capture more details of the sun compared to automatic settings.
Like other creations of nature, the appearance and disappearance of sunlight doesn’t have a fixed routine in term of time. However, the most scenic glows in Uganda are usually seen between 6:15-6:53am. On the other hand, Sunset comes through from 6:15-30pm.