Known as ‘the pearl of Africa’, Uganda surprises many first-time visitors with its range of stunning tourist attractions. While increasingly known for its populations of mountain gorillas, visitors can also enjoy an authentic 4×4 safari experience, relax on the shores of Africa’s largest lake, and delve into the ancient traditions of the country’s people. Let us guide you through the top Uganda tourist attractions, and you too can experience the full magic of Uganda!
Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Going in search of mountain gorillas tops many lists of what to do in Uganda for good reason. There are just a handful of destinations in the world where it’s possible to encounter these highly endangered yet incredibly gentle creatures in their natural environment.
One of the best places to encounter them is at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda’s southwest. Protecting one of the most important sectors of primary rainforest in east Africa, the national park is recorded as having 400 different species of plant, alongside 350 species of bird and 120 different types of mammals. That’s in addition to the several hundred mountain gorillas split among several family groups.
Coming face to face with a gorilla group in the wild is a life changing and life enhancing experience, and a Uganda tourist attraction that just a few thousand people are able to undertake in any one year because of the permit system put in place to protect these animals.
Scour the Plains for the Big Five
While Uganda’s far southwest is blanketed in misty mountain forest, not too far away visitors looking to explore the top Uganda tourist attractions will also find typical grassland savannah ideal for undertaking a Uganda safari.
The country’s most visited protected space is Queen Elizabeth National Park, whose rich grasslands mix with stands of trees, wetlands and glinting lakes. Alongside Kidepo Valley National Park in the east of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth is one of the best places in east Africa to see iconic species including elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo. In addition, there’s also the chance to catch sight of chimpanzees.
Hike Amid the Mountains of the Moon
Also known as the Rwenzori Mountains, the otherworldly name of this mountain range comes from the equatorial snows which cover these peaks for much of the year. For walkers and mountain baggers they provide some of the best hiking trails in Africa whatever you call them, including trails to the third-highest point on the continent – Mount Ngaliema (Mount Stanley).
The upper slopes of these mountains provide stark landscapes of rock, ice and snow, while at lower altitudes walkers will pass through forest, moorland and bamboo groves providing a vast range of habitats for the plant and animal species of the region.
Relax on the Beaches of Lake Victoria
From the plush hotels of Entebbe to the relaxed beachside escapes of the Ssese Islands, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the magnificence of Lake Victoria. Almost half the lake officially lies in Ugandan territory, undoubtedly making it one of the top Uganda tourist attractions around.
Birding, fishing and biking is best between June and October of each year, since these months see all manner of birds flock to the lake’s freshwater. Throughout the year it’s also possible to catch sight of Nile crocodile and hippo, though there are plenty of safe spaces where those looking for a little R&R can soak up the sun on crisp white sands too.
Tackle the White Waters of the River Nile
Usually considered the main source of the River Nile, Lake Victoria also plays an important role in guiding the river to its delta on the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt several thousand miles further north.
Head to the small town of Jinja and you can see where the Nile begins its long journey, before tackling some of the river’s first rapids on a white-water rafting adventure between Jinja and Sipi. If this sounds a little too adventurous, the area around Sipi also has plenty of hiking opportunities, while further north Murchison Falls sees the Nile forced through a narrow gorge with spectacular results.
Soak Up the Local Culture in Kampala
Having seen many of the top Uganda tourist attractions nature has bestowed on the country, you’ll want to reserve some time to explore the region’s cultural attractions. As you might expect, the capital city of Kampala is the place to head.
Start your explorations in the Uganda Museum. Founded in 1908, it is east Africa’s oldest cultural institution, providing a home for everything from traditional musical instruments to a Ford Model T dating back to 1925.
Also worth exploring are the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kasubi Tombs, which are the final resting places for the kings of Buganda. Taking the form of a traditional series of structures, the site had been used as the primary palace and residence of King Kabaka Mutesa I in the 1880s until his death and burial at the same site just a couple of years later.
Stand on the Equator
It may be a quirk of the Earth’s geography, but the equator line is a Uganda tourist attraction we just had to mention. There are multiple markers on roads which cross the equator (including within Queen Elizabeth National Park), with the most famous being located roughly an hour from Kampala.
So don’t miss your chance to straddle the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time with a visit to what’s probably the most stylish equator marker anywhere in the world!
The Top Uganda Tourist Attractions
Uganda’s tourist attractions are world beating. Ranging from the chance to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitats to exploring the source of the River Nile, they make for an incredible list of reasons for visiting Uganda. They can also be easily combined together into a single itinerary, such as our 15 Uganda safari, ensuring you experience all the country is famous for in one unforgettable trip!