Uganda is famously referred to as the ‘Pearl of Africa’ for its breath-taking scenic beauty, rich culture and great experiences it offers tourists. If you are planning a trip to Uganda, here are some few interesting activities you can schedule on your visit.
Mountain gorillas are a rare species with only 800 or so of them still alive today. In fact, gorillas can only be seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and in Uganda. Uganda is the best place to do so owing to its stability and relative cheaper costs (up to $500 – gorilla trekking is naturally a costly affair). The Ugandan government has built protected parks for the gorillas to freely and naturally roam within; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular for gorilla trekking. A permit is required beforehand to see and interact with the mountain gorillas for an hour a day. Being nomadic animals, a hefty deal of trekking is required before you can find the mountain gorillas. However, there are experienced tour guides assigned to assist in tracking these magnificent creatures through the jungle. Additionally, there are porters for hire at a small fee for tourists who cannot withstand the trek. Gorilla trekking is a fun and surreal activity that one must indulge in while in Uganda. This activity is worth every penny, pain or effort incurred during the trip. What’s more? The proceeds from gorilla trekking goes into the protection and conservation of the remaining mountain gorillas.
Chimpanzee watching may not pass as a top tourist activity in Uganda but it is one worth checking out. Chimpanzee watching is largely similar to gorilla trekking but at a much lower cost than the latter. The unpredictable and swift movement of these primates makes their tracking quite daunting but worth the sweat. Incredibly, tourists are allowed up to a day in the forest to view chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Kibale forest in South West Uganda is arguably the top destination when it comes to chimpanzee watching. Moreover, chimpanzee watching can be included with hiking in one’s itinerary. Catching up with the primates means a lot of trekking up and down the mountain depending on their movements. It is interesting to peek into a day in the life of chimpanzees which are extremely nomadic animals. Other animals can also be seen during the hike; elephants, baboons, birds and buffaloes. Chimpanzee watching is a worthwhile and cheap thrill for any visitor of Uganda.
Uganda is arguably one of the most attractive destinations in the world for bird watchers. This is due to the country’s richness and variety of avian species hard to find in any other place. Uganda’s climate that ranges from lowland savannahs arid, semi-arid and mountain rainforests serves to offer habitation for birds of all kinds. Uganda offers bird watchers a unique opportunity to view birds that would not be found anywhere else in the East Africa region. Indeed, Uganda rainforests host birds that are naturally found in Congo and West Africa regions, which do not have the necessary tourism infrastructure. Bird species to be seen in Uganda include herons, pigeons, kingfishers, weavers, cuckoos, honey guides, warblers, ostriches and nightjars among many others. Top bird watching destinations include but are not limited to Semliki, Bwindi Forest, Kibale forest, Kidepo, Entebbe and Murchisson Falls. For bird watchers, Uganda is a country that offers the chance to view birds of all kinds in their natural habitats.
Golden Monkey tracking (endangered species plus giraffes and rhinos)
Uganda boasts a sizeable number of primates in its diverse ecosystem. However, the species that most stands out is the rare and endangered golden monkey. Golden monkey is a descendant of the old world monkey and resides in the bamboo highland forests. In Uganda, Golden monkeys can be found in the Mgahinga National Forest. These primates are rare and largely elusive making their tracking an adventurous and a very interesting activity. Unlike gorilla trekking however, golden monkey tracking is offered at a much cheaper rate of up to $100. Golden monkeys are beautiful animals with striking colour and playful tendencies that vindicate the tracking efforts. This activity can be intertwined with other amazing activities in Uganda like water rafting, mountain climbing and gorilla trekking.
A visit to the Murchison Falls is sure to carry away any individual. Located along the Nile River, Murchison Falls is characterised by a massive fall (about 43 metres) of water that results in an almost musical sound. The fall of water is due to the small rock space of about seven metres coupled with the immense pressure of the White Nile from Lake Victoria. Apart from the scenic viewing, Murchison Falls offers other activities managed by the Murchison Falls National Park. These activities include boat rides to the bottom of the falls, game rides and spot fishing. Several wildlife can be found in Murchison Falls including crocodiles, hippos and various bird species types. Additionally, Murchison Falls National Park offers hiking experiences and mountain treks to find chimpanzees. A safari to Uganda is incomplete if one fails to visit the great Murchison falls.
There are less, if any, more fulfilling experiences than white water rafting in the River Nile in Uganda. White water rafting takes place in Jinja, a city 100 km east of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Jinja is popular for water rafting due to the start of River Nile from Lake Victoria. The rafting is an exhilarating and pulsating experience, even for experienced rafters. At Jinja, the Nile is fast and wide but altogether scenic making it perfect for white water rafting. There are countless rapids both big and small that allow for a fluctuating and even scary experience. Some sections are quite calm but others are rough. However, there are safety kayaks and extremely competent guides to assist tourists during their visit. As such, the whole Jinja rafting activity is relatively safe. White water rafting is also pretty cheap, at just over $100 per person. Other activities like fishing and kayaking can be included to make for a more wholesome experience. The experience of white water rafting on the Nile is certainly an unforgettable one.
Party in Kampala
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda in more ways than one. The nightlife is epic in this city and it can be argued that it is one of the wildest in the region. During the day, Kampala gives off a serene and quiet vibe that could not be more misleading. Kampala is a different proposition in the night time with bustling activity and large youthful masses looking to party. Popular party sites in Kampala include; The Industrial Avenue, Acacia Avenue, Ntinda and Centenary Park. Glitzy and glamorous clubs include Casablanca, Big Mike’s, Cayenne, Koko bar and Club Silk among others. The good thing with Kampala is that there is something for everyone; from laid back relaxing spots, vibrant joints with great parties to musical and dance-themed spots. In addition, Ugandan people are super friendly and sociable to tourists so safety is not a major concern. Kampala is definitely one of the best when it comes to partying and nightlife, but there is only one way to find out.
The majestic Nile River begins its long meandering journey into the Mediterranean from Lake Victoria in Uganda. Specifically, the White Nile begins at Jinja, a popular tourist destination. Most people visit Jinja to witness the start of this historic river and to learn more of its history and impact. The Nile is a source of livelihood for Ugandans and many other countries providing power, water and food on a daily basis. It is also a tourist destination with activities such as rafting, bungee jumping and kayaking providing thrill to visitors. Taking a Nile cruise is the best way to learn about the river and its story. Hydroelectric dams have been constructed in Uganda along the Nile to take advantage of its waters and to regulate its flow. Therefore, a visit to the Nile is not much influenced by seasons.
The Batwa pygmies are an endangered human species found in Uganda. Also known as Echuya Batwa, they are located in South Western Uganda in the forest reserve of Echuya in Kisoro and Kibale. The Batwa are one of the indigenous people in Uganda but were pushed out of their land by the government in the 1990’s. The Batwa are the original inhabitants of the rainforests in Uganda and Rwanda which they considered to be their livelihoods. In the forests they once called home, the Batwa people have been replaced by with conservation parks, with little or no compensation forthcoming. This has reduced the community to a shadow of its former self with the Batwa people segregated, shunned and cut off both from the rainforests and the outside modern world. Visiting the Batwa pygmies contributes to their preservation and survival. Extinction is a real possibility with only around 3000 of them remaining today. A visit to the Batwa people entails a foray into the rainforest where they guide and illustrate their ways of life and culture to the visitor.
Ndere cultural centre in Kampala is a spot filled with nightlife and activities. Music, drama, festival and poetry are headline features at the centre. The activities are aimed to promote and showcase African culture which is exactly what they do. Ndere centre is very popular with tourists who seek to have a taste of true African culture. The nine-acre centre is located in Kisasi area with well-kept botanical gardens filled with monkeys, birds and small animals. Unique and wondrous are some of the words that would best describe Ndere Centre. African colours, themes and cultures have been artistically blended to produce a superb experience. A variety of African dances, cuisines and languages are offered at Ndere Centre. Oral literature is a common act at the centre that wows and often takes away the breath of visitors. Colourful costumes, great food and vigorous dance moves are just some of the treats to be found at Ndere. Ndere Centre represents all that is good about Uganda and Africa in general; it is a must see for any tourist visiting Uganda.