The People and Culture of Uganda

Uganda is also known as the “Pearl of Africa” and is the Eastern African country that is the most central. Its name derives from the Buganda Kingdom which historically stretches over the southern regions of the nation. It’s made up of over a hundred districts and several different regions; each one offering something unique and consists of over 56 tribal communities, featuring a variety of customs and age-old traditions that combine to make cultural tours in Uganda a treasured African experience.

The western region of Uganda is an incredibly beautiful region; a wonderland of golden plains, thick rain forests, snow peaked mountains, and tea plantations. It is here where the rare African gorillas can be found, located in the game reserves, mountain regions and forest reserves. This part of the country is popular to tourists because its covered by the Albertine Rift Valley where all the Uganda national parks are located.

Kampala City Culture, food and peopleLadies in Owino Market (downtown Kampala) having a chat

The central region of Uganda has preserved many cultural sites, making sure that the kingdom’s heritage sites and buildings are preserved for future generations to observe and learn from. Kampala, the nation’s capital is found in the central region, the only International Airport in Entebbe and traveller’s favourite, Jinja the source of the Nile River (Adrenaline capital of East Africa). Around Jinja, you can go bungee jumping and whitewater rafting the Nile rapids.

Travelling towards the Eastern Region of Uganda you’ll come across the Bujagali falls. This region is truly beautiful and continues to attract tourist crowds every year with its majestic mountain ranges while the Nyero rock paintings give tourists and locals an insight into the nation’s past. Lastly, the Northern Region of Uganda offers an enchanting perspective into the nation’s tribes and national parks.

A visit to Uganda will give you an insight into the rich heritage and culture of Eastern Africa. Stay in Uganda accommodation that’ll treat you to the local cuisine (influence by Asian, English, Arab and Indian techniques and flavours) and learn about the history and beauty of one of Africa’s most beautiful nations.

The Nile River has for a long time formed a separation between the northern Nilotic groups and the southern Bantu-speaking communities. But with the increased movements in the contemporary era, the distinct settlement is steadily fading away.

The unique cultural festivities among the Ugandan tribes are profound and some of them have gained international fame such as the Imbalu circumcision ceremony among the Bagisu. These iconic cultural events have become a central focus for Uganda tour organisers.

Uganda still features monarchies such as the Buganda Kingdom, which is the largest, covers the whole central region of Uganda and one of the few that the government of Uganda has allowed restoration. Its heritage includes the Kasubi royal tombs which have been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site – and a popular spot explored on a Kampala day trip.

Most Famous Uganda BeerMost Tourists Preferred Beer – Nile Beer

Food.

All of the diverse Ugandan cultures have unique cuisines that are amazing to explore. Ugandan cuisine is similar to the rest of East Africa, focusing on starch such as ugali (maize) and a bean or meat stew, often flavored with peanut or sim-sim (sesame) and usually served with local leafy greens. During one of your Uganda tour trip, you will have plenty of opportunity to try yams, sweet potato and cassava and rice, which are popular staples.

Dried and fresh fish, as well as pork and chicken, are important proteins for Ugandan people.

Do try some of these Ugandan dishes:

  • Nyama choma: roasted meat, usually goat, mutton, or bushmeat but not eaten on a daily basis.
  • Luwombo: chicken, beef, fish or mushroom stew that has been steamed in banana leaves.
  • Nsenene and nswaa: grasshoppers and white ants – a seasonal delicacy for adventurous gourmands!
  • Malewa: a bamboo shoots dish that is native to eastern Uganda.
  • Ormatoke: boiled and mashed green banana.
  • Kikomando: chapati (Indian flatbread) cut into pieces and served with fried beans
  • Samusa: Indian samosas!
  • Mugati naamaggi: a traditional Arabian fried and thin pancake filled with mince and egg.

The Scenic Trail Ventures safari experts are happy to help plan private and tailor-made Uganda safari. 

 

Formal Uganda DressingFormal Uganda Dressing

Dress.

Another part of the various cultures are the dress and ceremonies. Witnessing a traditional marriage ceremony, with great music and colourful dresses, makes a cultural safari tours in Uganda an incredibly unique experience.

Batwa PygmiesBatwa Pygmy Family Carry Pots

Batwa Pygmies.

In Uganda, there are indigenous tribal groups like the Batwa Pygmies. They are former forest dwellers that now live on the margins of the forests of south-west Uganda, namely in the Uganda gorilla safari destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Meeting these indigenous people will offer you a glimpse into the history and memories of ancient Africa.

From the beautiful long-horned Ankole cattle in western Uganda and the extensive coffee plantations at the foothills of Mount Elgon, to the Bachwezi earth works in Ntusi and the Stone Age Bhimbetka rock shelter in Isingiro, we can all agree that Uganda’s diverse heritage and culture is undoubtedly broad and incomparable!

Embark on a people and culture discovery of Uganda with Scenic Trail Safaris today and live tell the Pearl of Africa tales.

Murchison Falls Safari – Big 5 Game

3 Days, 2 Nights | From $650

Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari

3 Days, 2 Nights | From $590

Uganda Wildlife Safari Adventure

9 Days, 7 Nights | From $3470

Kampala City Tour Boda Boda

Kampala City Tour

While many visitors to Uganda start and end their trip in Entebbe, there is plenty to be seen and experienced in the nation’s bustling capital, Kampala.

For those with additional time in Uganda, a day trip to Kampala can be arranged. You’ll see a mixture of religious sites and important buildings, as well as learning a little more about Idi Amin’s reign of terror.

Highlights of a Kampala city tour include:

  • The Baha’i Temple
  • The Namugonga Martyr’s Shrine
  • Lubiri Palace
  • Idi Ami’s Underground Prison
  • And more!

While Kampala might not be as glamorous or cosmopolitan as Nairobi or Kigali, it is still worth exploring if your itinerary allows.

Batwa Experience

Batwa Experience in Buhoma

The Batwa pygmies once called the mountain forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park home, but the process of gazetting the national park saw them landless and without hope.

In 2001, the work of two American missionaries saw their culture saved and today visitors to Buhoma can experience a little bit of Batwa life before or after their gorilla trekking.

Visitors can spend a full day or half a day with the Batwa. Experiences can include:

  • Guided forest walks
  • Hunting demonstrations
  • Archery lessons
  • See how Batwa cuisine is prepared
  • Traditional medicine
  • Myths and legends
  • Song and dance

Tourist Activities To Do in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking


Gorilla Trekking

This unique experience is available all year round, but due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by the jungles in which these gorillas stay, June to September is the best time.
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Chimpanzee Trekking


Chimpanzee Tracking

Humankind’s closest relative, the chimpanzee, is found in a number of areas of Uganda. There’s no doubt that hanging out with chimps is one of life’s great experiences.
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Classic safari game drive


Safari Game Drive

Uganda’s national parks are a well kept secret. Lusher than their Kenyan or Tanzanian counterparts, they have rivers and lakes for boat rides as well as standard Safari game drives.
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Whitewater rafting on the nile, Jinja


Whitewater Rafting

Uganda is a wonderful place to experience Africa — and rafting is just a piece of it. Take on the Grade III-IV-V rapids as you rush 20km down the Victoria Nile river.
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Private Vacation Holidays


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.

Culture Safari


Culture & Community Tourism

Uganda is bubbling over with culture: 40 languages, countless customs and traditions, superb crafts and uplifting music and dance can be encountered all around the country.
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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.

Know more about when to visit 

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.

More about travelling responsibly in Uganda 

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