Top things To Do In Uganda

Uganda has, endangered mountain gorillas attract more tourists.

Tourist Attractions And Things To Do In Uganda

Are you looking for tourist attractions and things to do in Uganda? Well; the country is a landlocked and blessed with extraordinary biodiversity and tourist attractions. From loving people, climate, hot springs, national parks, sprawling savannah, dense forests, snow peaked mountains, rivers and lakes. Uganda is one of the most natural amazing countries in Africa. Because of the above reasons Winston Churchill named Uganda as “the pearl of Africa”. Apart from natural beauty, the friendly nature makes Uganda very special. Uganda has so many people who are loving, friendly and caring not like other countries with friendly people but in a selective way.

Most tourists visit Uganda to see wildlife: Of the wildlife life Uganda has, endangered mountain gorillas attract more tourists. Mountain gorillas have more a large of tourists to discover more good things about Uganda which wouldn’t be known had it not been the case of these primates. But this does not mean that Uganda’s wildlife is not attractive. In fact, even if there were no mountain gorillas, Uganda as a country would still be among the best places to go to on a trip to Africa. Below is a list of the top attractions in Uganda.

Things to do in Uganda-Tourist attractions in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla trekking:

This is arguably the most done activity in Uganda that’s why it had to be on the top of the list. Gorilla trekking is the most popular tourism activity in Uganda. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in 2 national parks in Uganda that is Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Bwindi national park a lot harbors a half of the total population of mountain gorillas remaining in the world. Mountain gorillas are endangered but their number is slowly increasing and researchers show that there are 1063 now in the whole world. Bwindi impenetrable national park has 19 habituated gorilla families which are open for tourism and Mgahinga gorilla national park has only Nyakagezi gorilla group which is habituated

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park is exciting and this because it’s the only park in Uganda where you can participated in gorilla habituation experience. Gorilla habituation experience differs from gorilla trekking in a way that gorilla habituation requires you to spend almost a full day with the gorilla while gorilla trekking you only spend an hour with them. Gorilla habituation is more expensive than gorilla trekking because they spend more time with the gorillas and researchers as they learn more about these primates. To total distance from Kampala to Bwindi Uganda is approximately 540km taking you about 9 hours. For those that love nature, the journey from Kampala to Bwindi is very rewarding because of the beautiful scenery along the way. The forests, landscape, water bodies, valleys, lakes, rivers and mountains are all seen along the way and this is why the area is referred to as the “The Switzerland of Africa”. Those who hate travelling long distances can book a flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi

Lion trekking and spotting tree climbing lions in Ishasha:

Uganda is the only place to find tree climbing lions and Lake Manyara in Tanzania. These tree climbing lions are found in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park in south western Uganda. Ishasha has many tree climbing lions and thee are higher chances of seeing them. Queen Elizabeth national park offers you another opportunity of trekking lions in Kasenyi sector with the help of experienced rangers and researchers. Lion trekking in Kishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park involves the use of GPS. Lions have sensors on their bodies which helps rangers to allocate them. Lion trekking is different from lions seen during the game drives. During the game drives the tourists are not allowed to move out of their cars while lion trekking involves trekkers to get closer the lions, drive deep in the park and the visitors assist in collecting samples from the lions after using a tranquilizer.

Visit the main local markets:

The best way to learn about culture of people in new places is by visiting the near markets. Markets give a clear picture of the way of life of how people in everyday live and what their values are. Every town in Uganda has big markets where people go for shopping or to sell their products. In Kampala city, the best markets are Nakasero, Owino and Nakawa. Owino is the most famous market because it has items ranging from foods, second hand clothes and shoes. The market also has shops selling traditional medicine for all kinds of medical issues. There is also Nakasero market is small market specializing in foodstuffs, fruits, vegetables and electronic. Nakawa market is located on Kampala Mukono highway outside the city. The market has clothes, shoes and food items.

Tour Kampala:

Kampala is the main city in Uganda with over 3 million people. Kampala is a good place to know everything good or bad about the country. Kampala people are very welcoming and friendly. Kampala has better security than Nairobi city in Kenya but that won’t stop thieves from taking your phone or bag on the streets on a bad day. There are many things to do while in Kampala. Kampala city has modern bars, shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants. Kampala has many markets, religious centers, cultural sites, Uganda museum and art galleries which display the showcases the work of artists in form of photographs, paintings and scriptures.

Visit the Uganda martyrs shrine and cathedrals:

If you are on a religious trip to Uganda, you shouldn’t miss checking out Uganda’s famous cathedrals and these are Rubaga cathedral, Namirembe cathedral and Namugongo shrine. Rubaga cathedral is Uganda’s biggest roman cathedral found on Rubaga hill here in the capital Kampala. Rubaga cathedral was constructed in 1914 and this is where most influential Catholics bishops and priests sit. A guide can help you to see the beautiful interior and the impressive artifacts. You shouldn’t miss out visiting the first African catholic bishop at the church and other clerics. For those interested in Anglican, Namirembe cathedral church is a place to do. The cathedral was contracted in 1919 and it’s where you find the offices of the Anglican Church. You should also go and visit Uganda martyrs Namugongo where 20 Christians were burnt and killed under the orders of Kabaka Mwanga 2 who was the king of Buganda in 1886.

Lake Victoria:

Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest fresh water lake found in Uganda. The lake is a shared between three countries that is Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Lake Victoria in Jinja is the Nile starts its journey from and then flows northwards to Egypt. Lake Victoria is a home to about 200 fish species with over 355 species of birds around the lake shores. The biggest fish species in the lake is the Nile perch but there is also silver fish, tilapia, lungfish, catfish, sprat, tiger fish and the Nile tilapia among others. Around Lake Victoria, you find Uganda’s best hotels and lodges such Munyonyo, Serena among others. The lake has beautiful beaches where you can relax or jump on a speed boat to go visit any of the islands. You can visit part of the lake in Jinja and get an opportunity of seeing the source of the Nile or go to Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary for chimpanzee habituation.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park:

Kibale is situated in western Uganda near Queen Elizabeth national park. Kibale was named the capital of primates. It is the one of the best places to trek chimpanzees in the world and this is because the chimpanzees are easily to find after a short time trekking them. Kibale national park has the biggest population of chimpanzees over 1,500 in Uganda. There are 100 chimpanzees habituated in 3 communities in Kibale national park. Kibale is one of the parks where you can go and experience chimpanzee habituation. Chimpanzee habituation is more expensive than chimpanzee trekking because you spend more time with the primates. Visitors in Kibale National Park are led by guides and researchers who tell you any information you want about these Chimpanzees. Apart from chimpanzees, Kibale national park is a habitat to 12 other primates i.e. golden monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue and white colubus monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, baboons, Vervet monkeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, Uganda red colobus, the pottos and Uganda red colobus. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park commences with a briefing from head guides at Kanyanchu visitor center. From there you are led by guides and rangers to the forests, it takes you 3-4 hours to allocated the chimpanzees and once you find them you are given an hour to stay with them as you learn about their habits and behaviors, watch them play, feed, groom , mate and relax. Chimpanzees are mobile they don’t stay in one place. They spend a lot of their time on top of trees and this makes it difficult to take those photos

Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga:

Golden monkeys are very cute endangered primates. They have the thick golden hair which makes them attractive. Golden monkeys are only found in Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda. In Uganda, golden monkeys are only found in Mgahinga national park located in south western Uganda in Kisoro district on the borders with Rwanda and DR Congo. The golden monkeys in Mgahinga national park love feeding on bamboo shoots on the slopes of mountain Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhabura. The population of golden monkeys in the world is reducing not like mountain gorillas.

Stop by equator crossing:

The main equator crossing is at Kayabwe along Kampala Masaka road a main route used by tourists making it one of the most visited landmarks in Uganda. Tourists going to Bwindi impenetrable national park, mountain Rwenzori, Mgahinga, Queen Elizabeth and Kibale national park always get a stopper over at Kayabwe for photos with two legs in different legs in two different hemispheres, lunch and shopping at any of the souvenir shops. What is at the equator anyway? The equator is a line that divides the world into southern and northern hemispheres. There are also points that show the equator lines in other parts of the country but the equator at Kayabwe is the most visited one.

The Ndere Centre:

The word Ndere means a flute: a flute is among the best musical sounding instruments in Africa. Ndere center is one of the most visited cultural places in Kampala. The Centre promotes Uganda’s culture. The people who attend mostly their performances are those that love cultural heritage. On specific days of the week, tourists and expatriates go at the Ndere Centre to enjoy traditional dances and music. There are different groups that perform different cultural dances and they come up with everything new every week making people come again and again. If you are in Kampala the best place to go is Ndere Centre.

Visit the source of the Nile in Jinja:

Uganda is blessed to have the source of the Nile in Jinja town. The word is the longest river in the whole world. The Nile is a lifeblood of many countries more so Egypt. River Nile has its source in Lake Victoria and it flour northwards to Mediterranean Sea. The source of the Nile is found in Jinja and it’s only a 2 hour’s drive to get there by road transport. While on your safari in Jinja, you can combine your trip with other activities such as quad biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, bungee jumping and boat cruise on the Nile.

The Murchison falls:

The falls are one of the attractions that attracts tourists into Murchison falls national park. Murchison falls national park is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda. The park is a home to number of animals such as lions, warthogs, sitatungas, buffaloes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles and over 451 bird species. Despite the wildlife, Murchison falls are the main source of attractions. The falls are formed at a point where the waters squeeze through a narrow gorge in the rocks creating massing waves. Hiking to the top of the water falls makes you see where the water spray creates a constant rainbow throughout the day by adding on the beauty of the falls.

Visit Kasubi tombs:

Kasubi hills are king’s cultural attractions here in Kampala. It’s a burial site for the kings of Buganda and when you go there you find their graves of for last Buganda kings that is Kabaka Mutesa 11, Kabaka Mwanga 11 and Kabaka Suna and other royals. The tombs were built in 1882 by Kabaka Mutesa 1 of Buganda as sites. At Kasubi tombs you find ceremonies and rituals done by the representatives of the royal family to make peace with the spirits of the dead kings. When you visit the site you will see Buganda drums, bark cloths, spears, grass thatched huts and royal regalia. When you visit the tombs you will get to know about the history of Buganda trip. If you have more time and you wish to explore more tombs, you can visit Wamala tombs, Namasole Kyanyange tombs, Karambi royal tombs and Mparo tombs for Omukama of Bunyoro in Hoima.

Tour the Ssese islands:

84 islands make up Ssese islands but the most famous ones are Ngamba islands, Bukasa, Banda and Bugala. Bugala Island is the most visited islands covering an area of 275km. the main activity done on this island is fishing. On weekend, Bugala Island is full of middle class Ugandans and international tourists who are always relaxing and having fun on the beaches. There is also Ngamba Island where you can go and see habituated chimpanzees at fee. You can also take part in activities such as squad biking, bungee jumping, swimming, island hopping, horse riding and canoeing. To go to any of the islands you need to take a boat or a ferry from Nakiwogo in Entebbe

Go for a safari in Lake Mburo national park:

Lake Mburo is Uganda’s smallest savannah national park and the nearest park to Kampala city. The park harbors buffaloes, crocodiles, hippos, hyenas, zebras and a number of antelopes. If you are interested in zebras, Lake Mburo national park has the biggest number of zebras than any other park in Uganda. Going to gets you opportunities of taking part in nature walks, horse riding, quad biking, boat cruise on Lake Mburo and game viewing. Lake Mburo has no lions and its one of the best places to go for fishing because it has less crocodiles. Birders visiting Lake Bunyonyi should expect too as many birds as they can because the park is a home to over 310 bird species.

Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary:

This is located in Nakasongola district on your way to Gulu. The sanctuary was started by wildlife conservation agencies to protect the extinct white rhinos. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is now a home to 34 rhinos. Visitors in Ziwa Rhinos sanctuary have a chance to see these rhinos with a help of a guide and a ranger. There are also activities in the sanctuary such as birding where you get to see the rare shoe bill stork as well as game viewing where you see animals such as crocodiles, antelopes, hippos and monkeys.

Lake Bunyonyi:

The word Bunyonyi means “many small birds” according to the Bakiga group of people. Lake Bunyonyi is a beautiful lake surrounded by rolling hills in the districts of Kabale and Kisoro. The lake us the deepest in Africa with 29 islands. It receives visitors mostly on honeymoons and those who want relaxation after long safaris in Bwindi impenetrable national park or Queen Elizabeth national park. Lake Bunyonyi is beautiful because of its islands and calming nature. It’s a good place for couples who want to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the lake. While at Lake Bunyonyi one can go swimming, canoeing, island, birding and visiting the Batwa people or the Bakiga.

Visiting Lake Mutanda.

Lake Mutanda is located in south western part of the country in Kisoro district. Lake Mutanda is found at the foot of Virunga mountains found in Mgahinga national park. Lake Mutanda is amazing because of its natural beauty and location. Visitors who visit Lake Mutanda can go mountain climbing, do nature walks in the forests surrounding the lake as well as trekking mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. You expect to see animals in the forest such as giant frogs, chameleons, and monitor lizard as well as monkey species.

Visit the Baha’i temple:

The only temple in Africa happens to be in Uganda. The temple is located on top of the hill giving you a great view of Kampala city. The Baha’i religion unites all religions and teaches true values of humanity. Every continent has one Baha’i temple and for the case of Africa it’s found in Uganda. By the time the temple was constructed, it was the tallest building in Kampala, Uganda and east Africa in general. The temple can host a maximum number of 400 people. The temple has a stunning compound with flowers and trees. Tourists go to the temple for prayers, photos, relaxation, picnics and taking a close look at the unique architecture. The entrance to the temple is free and those that want to go can go Sunday and engage in prayers.

Visit royal palaces:

Uganda has 54 tribes with most of them having kings and chiefs as their head. You can go and have a visit to any of the palaces to know about culture of a specific tribal group. For the case of Buganda, you can visit and explore the palace of the king in Lubiri. The palace was built in a colonial style, the Kabaka building inside the palace was the center of the battle of king guards and forces of the government in 1960’s. When the king of Buganda was exiled and left the palace empty, the government of Uganda’s dictator Idi Amin and Obote used a number of its rooms to as a torture chamber of those who were suspected of opposing the regime. There is also the palace of the king of Tooro in Fort Portal which is also popular among tourists. The palace is found near the highway going to some of the national parks in Uganda for example Kibale national park which makes tourists have a stopover after or before their lunch in fort portal. The palace is new and built with modern designs.

Birding:

Uganda is among the top best countries for sport fishing.  The country has more than 1066 bird species. The most attractive bird species in Uganda are the rare shoebill stork, African green broadbill, the brown-chest plover, black bee eater, karamoja apalis, purvell’s illadopsis, green breasted pitta, nahan’s francolin and red-fronted antpecker. Uganda has the perfect habitats for birds ranging from forests, swamps to the shores of lakes and rivers. For the best birding experience in Uganda, one needs to go to a national park after which they can combine it with any other activity such as sport fishing, chimpanzee, gorilla or lion trekking or even boat cruise. Birds in Uganda can be spotted anywhere, you begin seeing birds when you arrive at Entebbe international airport.

Sport fishing:

25% of Uganda is covered with water so if you are in Uganda you don’t need to worry about angling. Nile perch the biggest type of fish is the most sought of fish by anglers. The Nile perch weighs up to 120 km with an average one weighing about 60kgs. There are Nile perch is mostly found in Lake Victoria or river Nile. The best places to catch fish are River Nile, Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo and Murchison falls national park. The major fish species caught in Uganda are Nile perch, mud fish, silver fish, Nile tilapia and catfish.

Hiking the Rwenzori Mountains:

Uganda is blessed with so many mountains and volcanoes worth hiking. The famous mountain are Rwenzori, Elgon, Moroto and the three Virunga mountains found in Mgahinga national park namely Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhavura. Rwenzori Mountain is the highest with 5019 meters above sea level followed by Mountain Elgon with 4321 meters. Hiking to the top of Mountain Rwenzori takes you about 9 to 10 days while hiking Mountain Elgon takes you 4 days. Rwenzori Mountains are the most famous and reaching the peaks is considered to be an achievement among the local and international hikers. Rwenzori Mountains are found on the borders of Uganda with DR Congo. Mountain Rwenzori is a world heritage site offering you beautiful scenery, alpine vegetation, tropical glaciers, primates, birds, lakes and rivers.

White water rafting, bungee jumping, quad biking and horseback riding in Jinja:

Jinja town is offering the newest and fastest rising activities in Uganda. The city has River Nile with several rapids and waterfalls. Even after the destruction of some of the waterfalls and rapids to construct hydroelectricity dam, whitewater rafting is among the most done activities in Jinja. The Nile has rapids of grade 5 and four, families having kids can opt for grade 3 rapids. As one vanquishes the rapids.  There are several islands one can relax having great views of the beautiful scenery, spot birds, primates and drink some water. The other fastest growing activity on the Nile is tubing the Nile, bungee jumping, horse riding as well as quad biking. Quad biking and horse riding trails are along River Nile and rural areas this is done so to allow visitors explore the Nile at the same time experiencing how local people live their lives in the countryside. While doing this activity, you will pass through villages and see local people in their gardens, local markets and children wave for you on the road side. There is always free training for those who want to participate in certain activities so it does not need one to be experienced.

Sipi falls:

Sipi falls are Uganda’s famous and most visited falls in Uganda. The falls are located in eastern Uganda on the slopes of Mountain Elgon in a town called Kapchorwa. The name Sipi is got from a wild banana plant which is endemic to the area. The walk to Sipi falls giving you opportunities to visit the vast caves and coffee plantations.  The Sipi falls are found the starting point of climbing mountain Elgon. While at Sipi falls, you will have clear views of Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga and mountain Elgon.

Visit the Sempaya hot springs and Semuliki national park:

Sempaya hot springs are found in Semuliki national park which is one of the newest national parks in Uganda. The park has a forest which is an extension of Ituri and Congo forest in DR Congo. Because it’s an extension, there are many wild animals in the park that are not found anywhere in Uganda. Semuliki national park comes in the top three best places to go for birds.  Sempaya hot springs are the key attractions in the Semuliki national park. The water at the hot springs boil at a temperature of up to 103 degrees Celsius. The hot springs are the best places for relaxing and cooling off after bird watching, nature water or game viewing. In fact if you are hungry you can cook your eggs and banana in the waters and eat.

Ssezibwa falls:

This among the most beautiful and visited falls in Uganda. The falls are located in Lugazi in Mukono district. Going to the falls from Kampala might take you about 45 minutes. Most tourists pay a visit to the falls on their way to or from Jinja, Sipi falls or mountain Elgon. The baganda say many years ago a woman gave birth to twins in form of water. One of the twin water was named Ssezibwa hence the name Ssezibwa falls. Around the falls there is a shrine where people go to seek blessings and favors from river gods.  While at Ssezibwa falls you can have a nature walk in the forest, bird watching, camping, primate viewing and play games from beautiful gardens.

Visit Nyero rock paintings:

Nyero rock paintings are well preserved and located in 3 separate rock shelters.  Most of the paintings in Nyero are about humans, canoes and wild animals which roamed the plains at the time. The rocks are habitats of lizards, birds and primates.

Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary:

Ngamba Island is located on Ssese islands. The island was gazzetted for chimpanzees rescued from poachers.  The sanctuary was formed by Jane Goodall foundation and other wildlife conservation agencies. The chimpanzees here are habituated and some are taken back to the wild after a certain period of time. Ngamba Island is a home to 50 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees which are habituated with the help of well-trained caregivers. Volunteers are allowed in the sanctuary for a long period of time under a special arrangement. Apart from chimpanzees you can go for bird watching, kayaking, swimming and nature walk at the sanctuary.

Eat some of the local food:

When you visit a new place, the first thing that comes into your mind is food. Uganda having 54 tribes makes it have a variety of tasty local dishes with every tribe having its own dish.  There is fish which is almost on every menu in every part of the country. The Baganda people lover matoke/banana with peanut sauce or silver fish, the Banyankore love kalo/millet with beans while the people from north like cassava flour with cassava leaves. Other local dishes in Uganda with the most famous one being Rolex which is chapatti and an egg, others include pork and cassava or posho, Irish and ground nuts, matoke and chicken, potatoes and beans among others. The hotels in Uganda have international food for visitors who are experimental.

Others: you can go visit Entebbe botanical gardens located a few minutes’ drive from Entebbe international airport. Here you can go for bird watching, picnic as well as discovering the tranquility in the forest. The Tarzan jungle movie was shot from these gardens so you can look out for insects, monkeys, squirrels and butterflies. You can also visit Uganda wildlife education center formerly known as the zoo to see birds and animals of Uganda. There is also Uganda reptile village in Entebbe so you can go and see reptiles such as crocodiles, vipers, lizards, cobras, mambas and puff adders.

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