Uganda Tourist Attractions
Safe, small and with a perpetually springlike climate, Uganda is a real treat when it comes to African travel. But it packs a lot in for its size. Ten national parks protect over half of the world’s mountain gorillas, along with chimpanzees, rare golden monkeys and a classic safari checklist including leopards, lions, elephants and hippos. Over 1,000 species of birds – more than 10 percent of all the world’s species – inhabit its mountains, forests, wetlands and the shores of Lake Victoria, the long-sought source of the Nile. The rugged ‘Mountains of the Moon’ include Africa’s third highest peak, complete with equatorial snow.
Uganda remains very much a tribal nation, and as you travel round this compact country, the music, dance and dress change almost by the hour – there are over 40 recognised languages. But one word you’ll hear wherever you are – from guides, waiters, drivers and roadside corn sellers – is “Welcome!” – along with “mzungu!” – a friendly term for “foreigner”.
The mist-covered hillsides of Bwindi’s ‘impenetrable’ forest is home to almost 400 species of plants. More famously, the forest also protects an estimated 440 mountain gorillas—roughly more than half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked and seen on foot.
Uganda’s largest national park famous for it’s Big 5 game safari trail, over 460 Species f birds and of course the raging Murchison Falls, where the Victoria Nile crashes through the rock and descends dramatically towards Lake Albert, is an unforgettable sight.
Offering some of the most stunning scenery of any protected area in Uganda, Kidepo is hidden away in a lost valley in the extreme northeast of Uganda. Kidepo is most notable for harbouring a number of animals found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes and aardwolves.
A few hours drive southwest of the country’s capital, you find Uganda’s most famous National Park Queen Elizabeth National Park. Most popular for its Ishasha tree climbing lions and the 200 km of safari game tracks that lead you to some of the big game animals.
The legendary, mist-covered Rwenzori Mountains were named a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1994 because of both their beauty and biodiversity. It’s the tallest mountain range in Africa and several of the peaks are permanently covered by ice and glaciers.
The 795-sq-km Kibale National Park is a lush tropical rainforest, believed to have the highest density of primates in Africa. It’s most famous for being one of the best places in the world to track wild chimpanzees, with five groups habituated to human contact.
It’s just a short drive along the highways east to the river town of Jinja, which juts out into the waters where the Victoria Nile emerges from its eponymous lake. Sleepy, sun-cracked and relaxed, Jinja is the perfect antidote to the energy of life in the capital.
The 370-sq-km Lake Mburo National Park is an increasingly common stop on the safari circuit. It’s the only place in southern Uganda to see zebra and giraffe. It’s also the only park in the country with impala, slender mongoose and giant bush rat.
Mount Elgon has five major peaks with the highest, Wagagai (4321m), rising on the Ugandan side. Spread out over the slopes of a massive extinct volcano, Mt Elgon National Park is a good place to spot various primates and lots of birds, including the rare Jackson’s Francolin and white-starred forest robin.
Semliki is a veritable mecca for birders, with around 450-recorded species in the area including a number of endemics and rarities like the Yellow Throated Nicator, the Spotted Honey guide or the White Crested Hornbill (bearing an uncanny resemblance to a dancer in Ziegfeld Follies).
This Tropical rainforest cloaks three dramatic extinct volcanoes and, along with the contiguous Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga in the DRC, is the home of half the world’s mountain-gorilla population. Here are challenging but rewarding treks and golden-monkey tracking.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
This sanctuary in Lake Victoria is home to around 50 orphaned chimps that have been rescued from elsewhere in Uganda and are being rehabilitated as much as possible on this thickly forested island. Day trips to see the residents are superb.
You can still see some of the thatched relics of the former glory years at the Kasubi Tombs, or you can taste the frenetic energy of day-to-day Ugandan life between the sun-cracked streets of Central Kampala; a place of throbbing markets and echoing mosque minarets.
Tourist Activities To Do in Uganda
Private Vacation Holidays
Combine a beach holiday in Zanzibar with a jungle gorilla trekking safari and scenic Savannah game drive in one of Uganda’s beautiful safari parks to make a perfect Private Vacation Holiday.
Best Time to Visit Uganda
Equatorial Uganda has a blissful springlike climate – a 25oC with cooling night time breezes perfect for an African Safari night.
Uganda sits squarely on the equator with an average altitude of around 1,000m, which tempers the heat and means this really is a year-round African safari destination. March-May and Oct-Nov see the highest rainfall, but gorillas are still lurking in the mist – although trekking to find them will be slippery and slower. However, accommodation can be much cheaper at this time. The best time to visit Uganda is June-Sep, which is the peak season – but Uganda remains happily oblivious to mass tourism and you won’t need to worry about crowds.
Responsible Travel in Uganda
Surrounded by phenomenal volcanic landscapes, wildlife that many of you grew up dreaming of seeing with your own eyes, and some of the continent’s most friendly, welcoming people making you feel like a VIP wherever you go – being in Uganda can feel like such a privilege. Uganda really gives visitors all it can, and as guests we really should try to repay this kindness in some way.
Most tourism in Uganda takes place in its national parks with official guides – which shuts local residents and businesses out. But by looking beyond the parks, even for just a couple of days of your holiday, your money will go much further, and you’ll completely shift your opinion of Uganda as a place to see wildlife. Uganda’s people are every bit as fascinating.