Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda the Pearl of Africa

Posted by on November 3, 2019

Winston Churchill one of Uganda’s early Tourists – 1907

The African Safari of Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda

 Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda – By Ship-Train-Boat-Bicycle-Auto-on Foot to and inside of Uganda. One could say that he was a Tourist with profound insight that put Uganda, the Pearl of Africa on the map for the many that followed.  He popularized Uganda as the Pearl of Africa without seeing one of its Chief Attractions-the Mountain Gorillas found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

His book about his visit to Uganda, “My African Journey” is still available today.  We have it in our Gorilla Reads section for those that want a book about Uganda while on Safari.

Winston Churchill’s visit to Uganda was not to promote Tourism by popularizing “the Pearl of Africa.” The purpose of his trip was to see how England could benefit economically from Uganda. He popularized “the Pearl of Africa.” His intent, when he wrote to “Concentrate on Uganda,” was concerning Uganda’s wealth and resources, raw Materials that could benefit Britain.  Ironically today, the slogan “Pearl of Africa” has been redeemed, instill pride in Ugandans, and raises a curiosity in tourists.

1901 was the year that the long-awaited Uganda Railroad line reached the Port Town of Kisumu along Lake Victoria  on the Kenyan side of the Lake. Now the route from Mombasa to Kisumu- a journey that took months by foot could be done in days by rail.

Winston Churchill was a 33-year-old member of Parliament in 1907 who had been appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Winston Churchill wanted to visit the British Protectorate of Uganda, which was still unfamiliar Territory at that time resulting in Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda.

Upon arriving in Mombasa, he took the train from Mombasa to Kisumu and then crossed Lake Victoria by Steamer. He visited the then colonial capital of Entebbe.

He made a journey to Kampala and Mengo by rickshaw pulled by young men who relieved every eight miles

 At Mengo Churchill paid homage to the Kabaka at his palace at Lubiri and met with the local chiefs in Buganda. The next day, he paid a visit to the young Kabaka Daudi Chwa II for the second time in two days where a Ganda war dance was performed in his honor, and he was presented with two spears and a shield,

From Kampala Churchill and entourage continued to Munyonyo Port, where he took the steamer William McKinnon to the town of Jinja along Lake Victoria and the River Nile.

In those days, there was no Owen’s Dam on the Nile in Jinja. There were the Ripon Falls where he left the modern transport of railway and steamboats, and he and his party trekked on foot for three days. This he did to bypass the Nile Rapids afterward, he and his party continued with Ugandan Canoes to Lake Kyoga, which made it a five-day journey.

From there, he took a bicycle to the town of Masindi in northern Uganda, a trip that took five days. The Journey today by Vehicle from Jinja to Masindi and on to Murchison Falls – today that entire journey from Jinja to Murchison Falls would be a mere 7 hours. Still, then it took Winston Churchill 13 days to reach the most powerful  waterfall in the world.

Of those various means of transport, Winston Churchill wrote about the Bicycle “The best of all methods of progression in Central Africa is the bicycle…Had I known before coming to Uganda, the advantages which this method presents…I should have been able to travel far more widely through the country, instead of merely journeying from one Great Lake to the other. I could, within the same limits of time, have explored the fertile and populous plateau of Toro, descended the beautiful valley of Semliki, and traversed the Albert Lake from to end, and skirted the slopes of Rwenzori. If youth but knew…! W.S. Churchill-My African Journey 1908.

Uganda so impressed Winston Churchill during his 1907 Safari that he wrote a book about it published in 1908, which he called “My African Journey” and a journey (safari) but not extravagant, it was Spartan compared to others before and after him.

The resulting “My African Journey” book was Uganda’s first significant media promotion about the wonders of  Uganda. In it he proclaimed

“For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”

The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.

Uganda is from end to end a ‘beautiful garden’ where ‘staple food’ of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa.

The path along Murchison Falls that Visitors hike up to the top of the falls after disembarking from the Safari Boat. Winston Churchill took down and continued by boat along the Nile through Uganda into Sudan to Khartoum. However, it was Uganda that he fell in love with, and most visitors to Uganda still do…

 “My African Journey” by Winston Churchill – though published in 1908 about Winston Churchill’s journey to Uganda – the Pearl of Africa in 1907 still is excellent reading in the 21st Century.

 Our dream- “The Winston Churchill – Pearl of Africa Trail.”

It has been my dream – “the Winston Churchill-Pearl of AfricaTrail beginning in Entebbe and ending somewhere near Pakwach on the Nile near Murchison Falls National Park.

In 2018 we created a Winston Churchill Pearl of Africa Trail Hiking Safari for twenty women from Toronto Canada. It was a total success that took over one year to plan. It took weeks of testing it for ourselves before we went primetime with twenty women from Canada.

We had everything in place, security, guides, rangers, a nurse. We incorporated rafting, boating, escort vehicle, and it went off without a hitch.

The follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill Safari included time in Entebbe, Kampala. A boat ride to Jinja. He continued hiking along the Nile, across Lake Kyoga to Masindi and Murchison Falls, ten days in all.

The book “Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda” gives you historical insight and background to Uganda and its relationship as a protectorate rather than a colony to Britain, and you can still find it on in the 21st Century.

In the 21st Century, travelers still discover the Pearl of Africa as Winston Churchill did and are amazed by what they find. We create Safaris that include following the Footsteps of Winston Churchill.  Contact us about them.


If you are interested in following the trail of Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda – we can create it for you…let us know.