Top 10 things to do in Uganda

The Top 10 Things to Do in Uganda

Top 10 things to do in Uganda

 In his book My African Journey, Winston Churchill wrote, “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.’”

 

Ugandans and eco-travelers in the know tend to concur with Churchill. There is an abundance of natural beauty in the Pearl of Africa. The country boasts exceptional and endemic wildlife to be seen, myriad national parks showcasing the best experiences sustainable tourism has to offer, and opportunities for immersive cultural experiences.

 

Here are our Top 10 picks among the countless things to do in Uganda:

 

Track Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

 Top 10 things to do in Uganda

Established in 1991 to help save the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi is home to a large population of gorillas (estimated at 320), as well as nine other species of primates, endemic bird species, and over 200 butterfly species. Visitors have an opportunity to hike with experienced local guides and trackers to observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Some experienced travelers suggest that spending time with these majestic creatures is the single most rewarding natural history experience in the world.

 

Observe Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest

 

Did you know that humans and Chimpanzees share 98.8% of the same DNA? Located at the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon (a.k.a. Ruwenzori Mountains), Kibale Forest National Park has the highest concentration and diversity of primates in all of East Africa. Hike with experienced local guides to track these threatened Chimpanzees, which number around 1450, and observe them for a while. You'll also see plenty of birds (325 species) and other flora and fauna. You may even spot the rare L'Hoest Monkey or the endangered Red Colobus Monkey, among the other primates that make this forest their home.

 Top 10 things to do in Uganda

Take a Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park

 

Measuring 764 square miles, Queen Elizabeth is Uganda’s most visited National Park. And for good reason: Whether you love birding or mammals, you’ll find plenty to observe during a game drive at the equator-spanning park. It’s known for prolific wildlife, including Leopards in the Mweya Peninsula, Chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge, and Tree-climbing Lions in the Ishasha area. There are over 95 mammal species in all, over 600 bird species, Nile Crocodiles (which can be seen during a  cruise through the Kazinga Channel), and a variety of different ecosystems.

 

See the Splendor of Murchison Falls

 

Located in the country’s northwestern region and measuring around 1,5000 square miles, Murchison Falls is the largest national park in Uganda. The park offers an impressive array of animals, including Lions, Elephants, Chimpanzees, and one of the largest populations of Hippos and Crocodiles in all of Africa. And of course there’s also the waterfall for which the park is named, where the Nile River forces its way through a small gorge and then drops down over 140 feet, creating an extraordinarily picturesque view.

Top 10 things to do in Uganda 

Traverse Lake Albert by Boat

 

While you’re visiting Murchison Falls National Park, take some time to enjoy a boat ride on Lake Albert. Its vast delta offers a chance to observe more wildlife. Look for Hippos, Crocodiles, large game and small, and all kinds of birds (including the rare Shoebill Stork). This is an interesting way to view the wildlife you’ve seen in Murchison Falls National Park from a very different angle, as well as spotting other animals that are best seen from the water.

 

Learn About Uganda’s Animals at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

 

Before or after seeing all this wildlife in Uganda’s national parks, you'll probably be interested in learning more about them. The UWEC focuses primarily on education and conservation, and is located in Entebbe, right on the shores of Lake Victoria. Here, you can learn about and see some of the country’s indigenous wildlife and ecosystems for yourself. It's not a zoo, but rather a chance to view animals on open ranges. In the process of learning about them, you’ll also be supporting animal conservation and species recovery initiatives.

 

Explore the country’s history at the Uganda Museum

 

The largest and oldest museum in East Africa, the Uganda Museum has exhibits on the ethnography, archaeology, natural history, animals, geography, music, and palaeontology of the nation. Founded in 1908 and located in the bustling capitol of Kampala, the museum has a cultural village showcasing the traditional lifestyle of the indigenous natives and the many types of traditional houses. It also has a range of musical instruments that guests are encouraged to play!

 

Delve into History & Culture at the Kasubi Tombs

 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi are also located in Kampala. Here you'll find four royal tombs within a large, circular building. The traditional architecture of the Ganda people is exemplified at this site, as are the building materials, including wood, beautifully-shaped thatch, reed, wattle, and daub. The Tombs were rebuilt after a fire in 2010. This is, according to UNESCO, "the most active religious place in the kingdom, where rituals are frequently performed. The structures and the traditional practices that are associated with the site are one of the exceptional representations of the African culture that depict a continuity of a living tradition." 

 

Visit Indigenous Drum Makers

 Top 10 things to do in Uganda

Wooden drums in a variety shapes and sizes, usually with heads made from the skins of goats or cows, are essential to the music and culture of Uganda. History shows that these carved wooden drums have been used in ceremonies and rituals for centuries. Around Entebbe, you'll find a great concentration of drum makers, including the Royal Drum Makers of Mpambire. This is a unique cultural experience, and you can also purchase a unique souvenir to bring home!

 

Explore the Tea Plantations at Fort Portal

 Top 10 things to do in Uganda

Did you know that tea is grown in Uganda? These are high altitude teas, and Fort Portal is particularly known for its high quality tea. You'll see rolling fields blanketed in tea bushes along the lower slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains. This area has a cool climate, which helps produce the best tea. Local tea plantations to visit include the Kahangi Estate (which also grows coffee). Besides providing an interesting learning experience, you’ll enjoy delicious tea samples at many of the shops in the area. –Jessie Voigts

 

Jessie Voigts has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled all around the world. She’s published 8 books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. Jessie is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding and is passionately sharing the world through her site, Wandering Educators.