Visiting Uganda for a big game safari to see the big five or to track primates like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and the other 12 species of primates found across The Pearl of Africa sounds just like the only thing one can do, considering the special honors mounted upon the country in recent years by Lonely Planet, CNN and others who visited the country.
But one can come to Uganda to see cattle, Milk and have the experience of feeding cattle even.
In Uganda we are no longer shy or selfish you may say but showcase our culture and those things most valuable to us, and cattle rearing for example, in particular, the exquisite breed unique to the country, the Ankole longhorns, is very much part of the daily economic and cultural activity, in particular in the south and southwest of the country.
Of course, no one would just come to see those herds on the on the range graze the land, but increasingly one has the option of adding such added attractions to their itineraries when travelling across the country in search of adventure.
Cultural safaris are a great way to really get to know our beautiful region. If you find yourself with days to spare before a flight or you just want to break up a birding or primate safari with a few alternative activities then this is what you need.
One of these ways is a visit to the Nshenyi Cultural Village; Located approximately two hours from Mbarara.
Nshenyi is traditionally a pastoralist area. Cattle are deeply ingrained on the lives and culture of the people of Nshenyi when one accumulates 100 heads of Ankole longhorn cattle, a bell is put around the neck of one of the most prized cows to express one’s achievement. The sound of the bell not only pleases the owner of the herd but also guides the herdsmen towards the herd if they stray. It also guards them against theft because the herdsmen are always listening out for the sound of the bell.
It is hard to believe but every cow has a name and will respond to their name when called. The names relate to their behaviour, character, skin patterns, size, the shape of horns and their position in the herd.
Nshenyi village is your perfect gateway into the Ankole culture. You will learn how to milk cows with your bare hands; you may join the pastors to learn the skill of setting out cows to graze (Oksetura) plus all the sophistication involved. You can also spend some time in the field while grazing the cows where you also get to water the cows (Okweshera). Or enjoy the process of turning milk into ghee (Okuchunda) while sitting within a charming traditional hut.
Come and experience the traditional way of living, the ease of the Ugandan countryside and the sanctity of silence. Relax in the rare comforts of nature and discover the rural charm of untouched Africa.
Besides the Nshenyi Cultural village, there are several other cultural safaris that you can join such as:
Hoima Cultural Safaris
One of the places you shouldn’t fail to visit is Hoima; Hoima is not only the district where oil exploration and drilling is taking place but it’s also where you will find the palace of the King for Bunyoro Kitara. You will be able to visit the Mparo Tombs, Emin Pasha Monument (the point where Kabalega met Emin Pasha), visit the Kabalega cave and tunnels and also get a chance to play mweso (board game) on the same grounds as the Bachwezi.
Buhoma Village Walk
Overlooking the imposing hillsides of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, with the mist swirling over the summits, this is one of the most dramatic settings for your cultural tour! Among others, meet a traditional healer, who not only treats the sick, but uses his knowledge to conserve and educate about the various medicinal plants.
Kikorongo Cultural Performance
Kikorongo means “Too Much Sunshine” in the local language of Lukonzo – but the intense heat of the African plains has done nothing to diminish the energy of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural Performers! This vibrant performance is a wonderful glimpse of life in Kikorongo, with dance, drama, songs and even a fire-making competition.
Kikorongo African Art Workshop
Traditional crafts hold a special significance in Ugandan villages. Small baskets of groundnuts as a sign of friendship; a calabash on top of a house to ward off evil spirits or a traditional healer´s woven purse filled with natural remedies. Kikorongo Women Community invites you to learn their traditional skills during this fascinating workshop.
Nkuringo Cultural Centre
Why not learn a new skill during your trip to Uganda? Here in the remote village of Rubuguri, tucked away in the steep hillsides bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the welcoming residents love to share their expertise with visitors. Choose from African cooking, traditional weaving, or – for those who are feeling a little more energetic – a dancing and drumming workshop is available.
Known as one of Africa’s greatest adventure destinations and home to many of the remaining mountain gorillas and chimp populations, as well as other primates, is Uganda now also aiming at religious tourism through pilgrimages and of course, as described, the wider spread of adding cultural and historical elements in the tours and safaris visitors take. Why not be part of these adventures???