The 20 Best Things To Do In Uganda

Welcome to Uganda, a country that beckons with its awe-inspiring landscapes, an abundance of wildlife, and a rich tapestry of cultural heritage. Tucked away in the heart of East Africa, Uganda remains one of the continent’s best-kept secrets, a haven for adventurous souls and curious wanderers alike. From the exhilaration of tracking mountain gorillas through pristine rainforests to the thrill of safari expeditions across the vast savannah, Uganda offers unparalleled opportunities for exploration.

In this blog, we’re going to discuss the 20 best things to do in Uganda, to help you make the most of your trip.

1. Go in search of gorillas

Nestled in the lush southwest of Uganda lies Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas. Here, you’ll have the chance to go on an awe-inspiring trek to get a front-row seat to see these creatures in their natural habitat.

You’ll start with an early morning briefing, where groups are assigned to specific gorilla families. Accompanied by experienced guides and skilled trackers, you’ll set off on a journey through a diverse range of terrains and witness gorilla families going about their daily lives.

If you’re passionate about conversation, you’ll be pleased to know that the fee you pay for this experience contributes to the conservation of these animals and the preservation of their habitat.

kibale national park chimpanzee

2. Hang out with some chimpanzees

Chimpanzee trekking is a must-do experience for wildlife enthusiasts seeking an up-close encounter with these remarkable primates.

Located in western Uganda, Kibale Forest is internationally recognized for its population of chimpanzees and offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe them in their natural environment.

You’ll be accompanied by trained guides through the forest who possess extensive knowledge of the area and the chimpanzee troops’ habits, increasing your chances of a successful sighting. While on your trek, you’ll likely encounter other fascinating wildlife, including various monkey species, colorful birds, and butterflies.

The forest’s main focus is to protect chimpanzees, which is achieved by tourist entrance fees and obtaining permits. These fees are used to fund different projects that ensure the safety of the chimpanzees and the preservation of their homes, which ensures that these endangered animals can continue to live and grow in their natural surroundings.

Black Rhino in African Family friendly safari

3. Visit the Ziwa Wildlife Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Sanctuary in Uganda is a paradise for folks who adore wildlife and are passionate about protecting it. The main goal of this sanctuary is to look after and revive the Southern white rhinos, which were once thought to be extinct in Uganda.

One of the most popular activities here is the Rhino Trekking adventure. You’ll be guided by experts who will lead you to where these majestic rhinos live in their natural habitat. It’s a unique opportunity to watch them up close, learn about their behavior, and see the efforts to keep them safe.

But there’s more.

You can also take guided nature walks to meet diverse animals like antelopes and playful monkeys. If you’re into birdwatching, you’re in for a treat – you can spot over 350 different bird species.

If you’re keen to simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings, why not hop on a boat and cruise along the Lugogo Swamp? This is a great chance to see aquatic birds and, if you’re lucky, even catch a glimpse of the hard-to-find shoebill stork.

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, travel guide

4. Relax around Lake Bunyonyi

Situated just south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Lake Bunyoni is an ideal destination to unwind before or after a challenging trek. The name “Bunyoni,” translating to ‘place of little birds,’ is a haven for birdwatchers, but this serene spot offers so much more for tourists than meets the eye.

Visitors have the option to enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the tranquil waters of the lake or engage with the local community. This engagement often includes discussions about local cultural traditions and ways of life.

For those inclined towards hiking, Lake Bunyoni provides an attractive destination with its network of trails that wind through lush forests. You’ll be treated to picturesque views of the surrounding landscape, so be sure to bring your camera to capture some breathtaking shots!

When visit Mountains Rwenzori

5. Hike the Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains, often referred to as the “Mountains of the Moon,” offer a trekking experience like no other in Africa. They’re not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a place steeped in local legends and culture.

As you ascend through lush rainforests, alpine meadows, and rugged terrain, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views and encounters with unique flora and fauna found nowhere else on the continent. The highlight though, is reaching the glaciers and snow-capped peaks, a rare sight so close to the equator. The highest peak, Margherita Peak, stands at over 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) and presents a challenging but incredibly rewarding goal for seasoned hikers.

Throughout your journey, you’ll be accompanied by experienced guides and porters who will ensure your safety and provide valuable insights into the mountain’s ecology and history.

Queen Elizabeth Park with tee-lion October in Africa

6. See the famous tree-climbing lions

Located in the southwestern part of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park stands out for its rich biodiversity and the peculiar behavior of its tree-climbing lions. These lions exhibit an unusual habit of lounging and occasionally hunting from the branches of large fig trees, a behavior not commonly seen in their species.

To increase your chances of witnessing these unique lions, it’s advisable to embark on a guided safari within the park. Seasoned guides and expert trackers possess a deep understanding of the lions’ habits and can assist you in locating them safely. Typically, the best times for lion sightings are early mornings and late afternoons when these big cats are most active.

The park is also teeming with a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and a plethora of bird species which you might just catch a glimpse of during your trek.

Crater Lake Uganda

7. Tour the crater lakes

Across various regions of Uganda, you’ll discover a mesmerizing natural phenomenon – crater lakes. These exquisite formations are the result of volcanic activity, leaving behind a captivating series of often interconnected lakes.

One of the most renowned crater lakes is Lake Bunyonyi (as mentioned above), situated in the southwest of Uganda. This serene lake is celebrated for its multitude of islands, making it an ideal destination for leisurely pursuits such as canoeing, swimming, and birdwatching.

Heading north, you’ll encounter the Fort Portal Crater Lakes region. Among them are Lake Nkuruba, Lake Nyabikere, and Lake Saaka, each offering a tranquil environment perfect for nature walks and birdwatching. The lush green surroundings, coupled with the chance to spot primates in the nearby forests draw millions of tourists here every single year.

Katwe region

8. Explore the salt pans of Lake Katwe

Lake Katwe, located in the Queen Elizabeth National Park area, is not your typical body of water. It’s a shallow and highly saline lake that has been used for salt extraction for centuries.

When you visit the salt pans, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the salt mining process firsthand. Local miners, often working in challenging conditions, extract the salt manually from the lake’s surface. It’s a labor-intensive and time-honored practice that has been passed down through generations.

You can take a guided tour of the salt pans to provide a greater insight into the entire salt production process, from the initial collection of brine to the crystallization and harvesting of the salt. While here, you’ll also have the chance to interact with the local community, providing a deeper understanding of their way of life and the cultural significance of salt mining in their history. It’s an opportunity to learn their stories and perhaps even purchase some locally produced salt as a souvenir.

Uganda lake

Explore the town of Entebbe

Located along the picturesque shores of Lake Victoria lies the town of Entebbe in Uganda, which offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture.

Here are some of the best things to do in Entebbe

  • Stroll on the shores of Lake Victoria: Entebbe’s strategic location on the shores of Lake Victoria offers visitors an opportunity for relaxing lakeside strolls. The vast expanse of Africa’s largest lake provides a picturesque backdrop for serene walks. As you wander along the shore, you can witness the daily routines of local fishermen, providing an authentic glimpse into the region’s way of life.
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens: Entebbe’s Botanical Gardens are a natural haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. The diverse range of flora attracts numerous avian species, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching. Beyond birds, the gardens are home to playful monkeys and other wildlife, creating a unique opportunity for nature enthusiasts to observe and appreciate Uganda’s biodiversity.
  • Visit Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC): This conservation center houses a variety of animals, including towering giraffes and intelligent chimpanzees. Engage with knowledgeable guides to learn about these animals, their habitats, and the vital conservation efforts underway.
  • Explore colonial heritage sites: Entebbe’s history is intertwined with its colonial past, and several landmarks reflect this heritage. The Old Entebbe Airport, known for its pivotal role in aviation history, provides a glimpse into the town’s early days. Additionally, the historic State House, once the residence of British colonial governors, showcases the architectural and historical significance of colonial-era buildings in Entebbe.
  • Head to local markets: Entebbe’s bustling markets are vibrant hubs of local culture. Stroll through these markets to witness daily life in action. Engage with friendly locals, sample fresh produce, and explore traditional crafts.
  • Try authentic Ugandan dishes: Entebbe’s culinary scene is a delicious journey into Ugandan cuisine. While visiting, don’t miss the chance to savor local delicacies. Matoke, a dish made from cooked bananas, provides a taste of traditional flavors. Fresh fish from Lake Victoria showcases the region’s reliance on its natural resources. The famous street food known as Rolex offers a delightful culinary adventure with various fillings rolled inside chapati.
Murchison Falls

10. Visit Murchison Falls

Visiting Murchison Falls in Uganda promises an awe-inspiring and exhilarating adventure for nature lovers.

Here are some of the best things to do in the surrounding area

  • Murchison Falls National Park: Your journey begins at Murchison Falls National Park, the largest protected area in Uganda. The park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of antelope species. Game drives offer a chance to encounter these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable safari experiences.
  • The Nile River: Murchison Falls is situated along the mighty Nile River. This iconic river provides ample opportunities for boat safaris and cruises. You can explore the riverbanks, spot basking crocodiles, lazing hippos, and a wealth of birdlife, including the remarkable shoebill stork.
  • The Murchison Falls: The highlight of your visit is, of course, the breathtaking Murchison Falls themselves. Witness the Nile River, the longest in the world, dramatically narrowing through a seven-meter-wide gorge before plunging 43 meters down. The resulting waterfall creates a thunderous roar and a mesmerizing spectacle of powerful cascades and mist.
  • Hike to the top: For the adventurous spirits, a hike to the top of Murchison Falls offers a closer look at this natural wonder. The challenging but rewarding trek allows you to stand at the precipice and feel the incredible force of the rushing waters.
  • Birdwatching: Murchison Falls National Park is a haven for birdwatchers. With over 450 bird species, including the rare and elusive shoebill stork, it’s a paradise for ornithology enthusiasts.
Uganda Equator

11. Stand on the equator

Standing on the equator in Uganda is a truly unique and memorable experience, offering you the chance to straddle the line that separates Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres. Situated approximately 72 kilometers south of Uganda’s bustling capital, Kampala, you’ll come across the renowned Equator Marker.

During your visit, knowledgeable guides will engage you in captivating demonstrations of how water behaves differently on each side of the equator due to the Coriolis effect. It’s a fascinating lesson that showcases the intriguing forces at play in our planet’s geography.

Be sure to capture the moment with a photograph of one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere!

Craft Kampala

12. Head to the bustling city of Kampala

Kampala, the vibrant and bustling capital city of Uganda, is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of modern urban living and rich cultural heritage.

Nestled on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, Kampala is a city of contrasts, where historic landmarks stand alongside contemporary skyscrapers, and traditional markets hum with activity amid the city’s energetic streets.

Here are some of the best things to do in Kampala

  • Historical sites: Visit the Kasubi Tombs and Uganda Museum to delve into the city’s history.
  • Religious diversity: Explore various places of worship, including the Bahá’í House of Worship, cathedrals, and mosques.
  • Craft markets: Shop for vibrant textiles, handcrafted jewelry, and local art at bustling markets.
  • Cultural riches: Experience local culture through music, dance performances, and the Ndere Cultural Center.
  • Local cuisine: Savor Ugandan dishes like matoke and Rolex, and explore the street food scene.
  • Nightlife: Enjoy live music, dance clubs, and bars in areas like Kololo and Kabalagala.
  • Craft breweries: Sample locally brewed beers at Kampala’s craft breweries.
giraffe Mgahinga National Park

13. Meet the rare Rothchild’s giraffes

Meeting Rothschild’s giraffes in Uganda is a rare and enchanting wildlife experience that brings you remarkably close to one of the world’s most endangered giraffe subspecies. You’ll find them in Murchison Falls National Park, thanks to conversation efforts to preserve them for future generations.

There are several ways you can get up, close and personal with these amazing creatures, including:

Game drives

Join a guided safari or game drive within the park, where expert trackers will lead you to spots where Rothschild’s giraffes are commonly found. These giraffes are known for their distinctive coat patterns and graceful presence.

Boat safaries

Consider taking a boat safari along the Nile River within the park. This offers a unique perspective to spot these giraffes as they come to the riverbanks to drink and feed.

boat-trip

14. Take a boat ride along the Kanzinga Channel

While exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park, taking a boat trip along the Kazinga Channel is a must for your itinerary -—a tranquil, 20-mile-long river connecting Lake George and Lake Edward. This waterway is a natural haven for wildlife, attracting animals of all sizes who gather at its banks to drink and bathe. On any given day, you’re virtually guaranteed sightings of elephants, hippos, buffalos, and if luck is on your side, even a pride of lions.

Remarkably, the animals seem undisturbed by the presence of the boat, so you may even get a closer encounter than you might experience from a car.

Boat trips typically last two hours and cost approximately $30 per person.

Here’s a top tip

If possible, choose a seat on the left-hand side of the boat, as it offers closer views of the shoreline and wildlife.

SIPI FALLS UGANDA

15. Go hiking in Sipi Falls

Nestled in the eastern part of Uganda, at a whopping 1,775 meters above sea level, you’ll discover the peaceful hill town of Sipi Falls. It’s a hidden gem tucked away in the foothills of Mount Elgon, near the Kenyan border. If you’re looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Kampala, Sipi Falls offers the perfect mountain retreat. Here, you’ll find nothing but rolling hills and rugged cliffs.

Sipi Falls is renowned for being a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, especially those who love hiking, climbing, and hill running. The town gets its name from three stunning waterfalls. The main attraction here is a captivating day-long hike that takes you to these magnificent waterfalls, allowing you to witness their beauty up close.

However, Sipi Falls has more to offer than just hiking. Visitors can engage in various outdoor activities, from guided tours of local coffee plantations to leisurely birdwatching adventures. For the more daring souls, there’s even the option to try abseiling down the sheer face of the main 100-meter waterfall, promising an adrenaline rush like no other!

birdwatching at lake mburo national park in uganda

16. Cycle through Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park invites you to embark on guided cycling safaris that offer a unique opportunity to explore its diverse landscapes and encounter resident wildlife. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, you’ll traverse the park while gaining valuable insights into the flora and fauna that grace your path.

As you pedal through the park’s expanse, keep your eyes peeled for zebras, impalas, warthogs, buffalos, and an array of bird species inhabiting their natural environment.

The park boasts a network of well-maintained trails and roads that wind their way through acacia woodlands, savannah grasslands, and the picturesque surroundings of Lake Mburo itself. As you cycle along the park’s trails, you may also have the chance to encounter local communities and their traditional homesteads.

For those always up for an adventure, consider a night cycling safari. Exploring the park after dark unveils a world of nocturnal wildlife, including bushbabies, owls, and hyenas.

Tour of Uganda - Game viewing

17. Game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park

A game drive in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park offers a thrilling safari adventure in one of Africa’s untouched wilderness areas. This remote park boasts diverse wildlife, including lions, elephants, and rare bird species. Its rugged landscapes and dramatic scenery make for exceptional photography.

With knowledgeable guides, you’ll discover the park’s secrets and may even spot nocturnal animals on night drives. Kidepo Valley’s remoteness ensures a unique and exclusive safari experience away from the crowds, and it’s a chance to appreciate both nature and local culture.

White water rafting in jinja

18. Try adrenaline-rushing activities in Jinja

Jinja, known as the “Adventure Capital of East Africa,” offers an exciting array of adrenaline-pumping activities set against the stunning backdrop of the Nile River.

Here are some of the top adventure activities you can enjoy in Jinja:

  • White-water rafting
  • Bungee jumping
  • Kayaking
  • Quad biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Zip-lining
  • Mountain biking
  • Sunset cruise
  • Cultural tours
  • Fishing
Christmas Safari in Africa

19. Visit the Batwa people

When you venture to the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks, seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the Batwa people. These remarkable individuals, once a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe, possess a captivating history that spans centuries within the lush forests of Western Uganda.

Unfortunately, their ancestral lands were ripped away from them back in 1991, when they were designated as national parks, resulting in the Batwa’s forced eviction from the forests they had called home for generations. Today, they reside in makeshift camps on the outskirts of the forest, sustaining themselves through subsistence farming while generously sharing their rich cultural heritage with curious visitors.

A visit to the Batwa community unveils enthralling displays of their music and dance, offering a window into their unique customs and traditions.

It is always recommended to arrange tours through reputable organizations such as the Uganda Wildlife Authority or the Batwa Development Programme. This not only contributes to the preservation of their unique heritage but also extends vital support to the Batwa community.

Culture experience in Queen Elizabeth Park

20. Visit the Ndere Cultural Centre

  • Cultural performances: Immerse yourself in the heart of Ugandan culture with lively performances that showcase traditional music, dance, and storytelling. These vibrant displays provide a captivating glimpse into the nation’s diverse ethnic groups, each with its unique traditions and rhythms.
  • Art and craft exhibitions: Explore the rich artistic tapestry of Uganda through exhibitions featuring local artwork and crafts. You can admire intricate sculptures, vibrant paintings, and finely crafted jewelry.
  • Cultural workshops: Delve deeper into Uganda’s cultural mosaic by participating in interactive workshops. These sessions offer hands-on experiences in traditional dance, drumming, and craft-making.

Experience the Best Things to Do in Uganda for Yourself

  • Cultural performances: Immerse yourself in the heart of Ugandan culture with lively performances that showcase traditional music, dance, and storytelling. These vibrant displays provide a captivating glimpse into the nation’s diverse ethnic groups, each with its unique traditions and rhythms.
  • Art and craft exhibitions: Explore the rich artistic tapestry of Uganda through exhibitions featuring local artwork and crafts. You can admire intricate sculptures, vibrant paintings, and finely crafted jewelry.
  • Cultural workshops: Delve deeper into Uganda’s cultural mosaic by participating in interactive workshops. These sessions offer hands-on experiences in traditional dance, drumming, and craft-making.

Experience the Best Things to Do in Uganda for Yourself

Uganda has something for everyone, whether you’re passionate about wildlife, eager to explore diverse somewhere entirely new, or simply a nature enthusiast.

We hope this blog has given you some inspiration on what to do in Uganda when you come to plan your itinerary. Don’t hesitate—book your trip today and embark on a journey that promises unique experiences and a profound connection to this extraordinary East African destination.

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