Explore Uganda – “The pearl of Africa.”
Explore Uganda – “The pearl of Africa.” – Uganda’s tourism attractions and activities. Uganda is one of the countries in Africa with the most beautiful scenery and like Winston Churchill described – Uganda is truly “The Pearl of Africa”
Uganda is endowed with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful destinations, diversity in culture and very friendly, hospitable people.
Top tourist attractions/activities in Uganda
Uganda has 10 national parks all with varied wildlife species and disticnt features. These national parks include the following;
Queen Elizabeth National Park. Located in the Western part of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s second largest, most diverse and popular conservation area with over 95 mammal and 600 bird species, the park prides in varied ecosystems including savannah grasslands, leafy forests, lakes and wetlands which attract the biggest variety of mammals in the country.
The highlight of your safari is taking a scenic boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel whose banks are coated with large schools of hippos, herds of buffaloes and elephants, spectacular game drives in the Kasenyi and Ishasha plains as well as spectacular scenery of multiple craters set into the undulating lush hills.
Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, first gazetted in 1926 and covering an expansive area of about 3,840 square kilometres. The park hosts over 451 bird and 76 mammal species and is bisected by the Victoria Nile to form the Northern and Southern Banks.
The first-flowing Nile squeezes through an 8m narrow gorge and plunges over 45m, creating the thunderous Murchison Falls from which the park derives its name. The highlight of the trip will include sightings of different bird species for example the Greater Blue Turracco and the rare Shoebill stork among other species. Game drives are so rewarding with sighting species such as Lake Chad Buffaloes, African Elephants and Lelwel’s Hartebeests hiking to the top of the falls and a boat cruise do not miss out as well in this beautiful savannah park.
Kidepo Valley National Park. Named Africa’s 3rd best wilderness national park in the 2013 CNN Travel Awards, Kidepo Valley National Park is situated in the jagged dry lands in the valley between Uganda’s frontiers with South Sudan and Kenya. This protected area was gazetted in 1962 and spans over an area of 1,442 square kilometres making it the 3rd largest.
The park is the most isolated protected area in Uganda and boasts of about 75 mammal and 470 bird species, most of which can be seen in the Narus Valley. Other highlights in Kidepo include the cheetahs and the ostriches that can be seen in the Kidepo valley. The park is also inhabited by the Karamojong pastoral communities.
Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Mburo National Park is located in Western Uganda and the closest park to Kampala. It is the smallest savannah park in Uganda under laid by pre-Cambrian granitic rocks and sandy soils. While visiting Lake Mburo National Park, you are likely to see many large mammals and bird species as you advance through the park.
The park is rich in several mammal species including large herds of burchell’s zebras, Defassa waterbuck, Bohor’s reedbuck, Common duiker, topis, Oribi, African cape buffalos, hippos, klipspringer, Savannah baboons, Harnessed Bushbuck with absence of elephants. Aquatic animals like Nile monitor lizards, crocodiles maybe seen on the shores of the lake and for those with great interest in birding, you will spot species like Coqui Francolin, Red-Faced Barbet, Spot-flanked Barbet and Black-bellied Bustard
All these stunning attractions can be explored on a game drive, boat cruise, and horseback ride, on foot and by cycling in the park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in South Western Uganda in the district of Kisoro at the borders of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to several animal species including Black-fronted Duicker, Forest elephants, Side-stripped Jackal, forest buffalo, giant forest hog, black and white colobus monkey, golden monkey, vervet monkey, Red-tailed monkey and the main attraction being the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga is on the list of great birding destinations in Uganda inhabited by various species such as; Rwenzori Turraco, Rwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Double-collared sunbird, Archer’s Francolin, Strange weaver, African Hill Babbler, Crested Mantled Flycatcher, Dusky Crimsonswing, Shelly’s Crimsonswing, Doherty’s Bushrike.
The other attractions include the 3 inactive volcanoes; Gahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura. The Ntebeko visitor centre and cultural visits to the Batwa/Pygmy local communities.
Activities here include; gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, mountain hiking, bird watching and many others.
Kibale Forest National Park. Located in South Western Uganda in the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, Kibale Forest National Park is also referred to as “The Primate Capital of the World” with the largest chimpanzee population in Uganda.
Kibale forest has one of the highest number of primates including the endangered chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, L’hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey, olive baboons, grey-cheeked Mangabey (Ugandan Mangabey) and many others. There are also mammals present in this rainforest and some of these include; elephants, buffalos, giant forest hogs.
Kibale Forest National Park is a significant birding destination with bird species like the Green Breasted Pitta, Pale Breasted Nigrita, Black-billed Turraco, Narrow-tailed Starling, Yellow-billed Barbet, Black Bee-eater, White-spotted Flufftail, Blue-shouldered Robbin-chat, Turner’s Eremomela, Shinning-blue Kingfisher, Tambourine Dove and others.
Other attractions include the craters situated near the park with scenic views and animal sightings including primates, birds and butterfly species.
The rainforest is also inhabited by the Batooro and Bakiga local people communities and these offer an insight on their cultures through different traditional/cultural activities.
Some of the activities to take part in include; chimpanzee tracking, chimpanzee habituation, nature walk, bird watching and Bigodi swamp walk.
Mount Elgon National Park. Mountain Elgon National Park is situated in Eastern Uganda bordering Uganda and Kenya with the largest surface area of any extinct volcano and a caldera that covers 40 square kilometres.
Mountain Elgon National Park is inhabited by wildlife species in the lower slopes and these include; elephants, buffaloes, black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey which are rarely seen.
The bird list in Mount Elgon National Park stands at more than 300 species and some of these include; Ayre’s hawk-eagle, Taccaze sunbird, Montane nightjar, white wagtail, Pearl spotted owlet, Pink-footed puffback, Crested Guinefowl, Crested malimbe, Golden crested wood pecker,
Other attractions in the park include; the caves and Sipi falls.
Activities here include; mountain climbing, nature walk, birding, mountain biking, coffee tour.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Situated in the south western part of Uganda with half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Mountain Gorillas are Uganda’s premier attraction and one of the world’s most exceptional expedition is an encounter with these gentle giants on the secluded slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The park also has 11 other primate species which include: the black-and-white colobus, chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Red-tailed, Greater Potto, Demidoff’s galago, Blue monkeys and baboons to mention a few. Other residents of the park include forest elephants and a variety of other antelope species. The park also boosts of about 200 butterfly and over 400 bird species which include: grauer’s broadbill, Handsome francolin, strange weaver, yellow-eyed flycatcher, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori nightjar, grauer’s rush warbler, Bar-tailed trogon, Jameson’s , Vanga flycatcher, dwarf honey guide, white-tailed crested mantled flycatcher, Newman warbler to mention a few.
Activities here include; gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation, bird watching, nature walk, mountain biking, Batwa cultural experience.
Semuliki National Park. Lying within the Albertine Rift on the western arm of the East African Rift, Semuliki National Park is located on Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C).
Semuliki is one of the oldest and bio-diverse tropical rainforests in Africa and a true birder’s haven with over 415 species, of which 216 are forest birds and two hot springs which attract a number of birds as well as a source of salt licks for many animals. Some of these birds species include…The park is partly occupied by the Ituri forest which extends eastwards into the Congo river, thus a variety of tree species in the park are similar to those found in Congo. The 220 sq. km protected area is also home to about 60 mammal species, some of which include elephants, dwarf antelopes, bush pigs, bush babies, forest buffaloes, and Sitatunga to mention a few. Other than wildlife, Semuliki is inhabited by four ethnic groups which line the park frontiers; the Bamba, Bakonjo, Batuku and Batwa.
The main activities in this park include; Batwa cultural experience, hot springs visit, nature walks and hiking, birding.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is situated in south-western Uganda on the east side of the Albertine Rift Valley, along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo where it borders Virunga National Park and runs for about 120km South of Lake Albert and North of Lake Edward. The park was gazetted in 1991 and later designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 to protect its varied vegetation zones and wildlife. Spanning over 996 sq. km, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is Uganda’s most captivating hiking destination with two major six to nine-day trail circuits traversing it.
Rwenzori is characterized by varied vegetation covers of bamboo forest, tree heath, montane forest, hagenia-rapanea scrub and afro-alpine moorland which harbour about 18 mammal species, 217 bird species, 9 reptile species and 6 amphibian species.
The main activities here include; birding, wildlife viewing, mountaineering and cultural experience.
Other tourist attractions in Uganda include;
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in Nakasongola district and it is the only place in Uganda where you get an opportunity to see rhinos in the wild. Besides rhino tracking, one can also take part in activities like; canoe ride, bird watching and nature walk.
Birding. Uganda remains one of the key birding destinations in the whole world with about 1085 bird species. One true endemic called a Fox’s weaver, 35 different Semuliki specials shared within the Congo basin range. Uganda still boasts 24 out of 26 Albertine endemic species. Some of the best birding destinations include; Botanical gardens Entebbe, Mabamba swamp famously known for the shoebill, Mpanga forest, Mabira forest, Mount Elgon, River Mpologoma, Pian-upe game reserve, Matheniko and Bokora game reserve, Mount Moroto, Kidepo valley national park, Murchison falls national park, Royal mile in Budongo ,Ziwa rhino sanctuary and many other places.
Sipi Falls. Located in Eastern Uganda, sipi falls is a series of 3 waterfalls at the edge of mountain Elgon National Park. Hiking to the top of the falls provides you with amazing views of the surrounding areas. There are several activities to take part in while visiting sipi falls including abseiling, mountain biking, coffee tour and community visits.
Sezibwa Falls. Sezibwa falls is situates along the Kampala – Jinja highway. A Sezibwa falls tour is best done while on a tour to Jinja. The area offers beautiful views with a number of other activities to engage in like bird watching, hiking, nature guide, community walks and camping.
Jinja town tour. Jinja is located on the shore of Lake Victoria and it is one of the best places to visit for relaxation while in Uganda “The Pearl of Africa”. There are numerous attractions in Jinja, River Nile being the key attraction with fun activities like bungee jumping, white water rafting, horse riding, quad biking, kayaking and many more others.
Kampala city tour. Kampala is the capital city and largest city in Uganda. The vibrant city offers a wide range of activities. While on a city tour, visiting different places, you will get an insight on the history of the country, the culture and the way of life of the people.
Some of the places to visit include local markets like owino, cathedrals (Rubaga and Namirembe cathedrals), cultural sites/centres like Kasumbi tombs, Ndere cultural centre. Other places to visit while on a city tour include; Namugongo martyrs shrine, National mosque, Bahai temple, National museum not forgetting the fun night life in the city.
Lake Bunyonyi. Lake Bunyonyi is the deepest lake in Uganda and the 2nd deepest in Africa with several islands. It is situated in south western Uganda between Kabale and Kisoro. Lake Bunyonyi is surrounded by the Kigezi beautiful highlands and breathtaking scenery also known as the “Switzerland of Africa”.
The main activity done at Lake Bunyonyi is the dugout canoe ride that is taken around the lake visiting the different several islands with scenic views. Besides visiting the different islands, you can also engage in several other activities like zip lining, a visit to the local pygmy communities, bird watching and swimming since the lake is bilharzia and crocodile free.
Lake Mutanda. Lake Mutanda is situated in the South West close to Kisoro and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and it is one of the lakes in Uganda with the best scenic views. A visit to Lake Mutanda can be added onto your gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi or Mgahinga.
Some of the activities to engage in while visiting Lake Mutanda include; a canoe ride while exploring the islands on the lake, mountain biking and hiking around Lake Mutanda, fishing and several other activities.
Besides the above mentioned attractions and activities, there are more attractions to visit while in Uganda and some of these include; Nyero Rock painting, Ssese Islands.
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