Uganda’s tourist attractions are distinctive; the variety of its game stock and the raw untouched scenic beauty stand out.
The flora and fauna, the friendly climate – all year round, the variety of landscape and not forgetting the Ugandan people and their culture are outstandingly unrivalled and unique and therefore why Uganda has first become one of the hottest tourism destinations in the world.
Named as the number one tourism destination to visit in 2012 by Lonely Planet, there is something intriguing about this amazing country.
For so long this country has had raw natural resources for tourism that have been untapped. The tourism industry has drastically grown in the last 10/15 years and new discoveries keep coming on board.
Bird lovers/watchers will certainly love the sheer variety of bird species that Uganda has to offer. The collection is unique – some of the birds you will not find else where.
Remember Uganda has more bird species than any other country in the world. 10.6% (1,061) of the world’s 10,000 bird species are found in Uganda – that is more than the entire Europe (1,000). Uganda has 46.1% of bird species in Africa (2,300)
There is certainly a lot to choose from and for some of the famous tourist attractions like the Murchison Falls National Park and the Bwindi Impenetrable forest – for the mountain gorillas, I will warn you not to miss when you set out on your trip, but of course what you see will depend on where you plan to be.
The Ugandan regions – each with its own natural characteristic lay out these tourist attractions beautifully.
The Capital, Kampala, where most tourists throng has its landmarks; the museum, the shopping, the pubs and night spots, the hotels and restaurants, will often be your first taste of Ugandan tourism.
…And once you have had a bit of Kampala – You might want to save it for last; you will certainly want to venture further out to experience the authentic Ugandan tourism essence.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park – habitant to over 95 mammals along with 612 bird species, is the epitome of the mysterious beauty of Uganda that will enchant you while inviting you to explore further. You will certainly not miss the lions, the buffalos, elephants and antelopes among others. And the magnificent view of the rift valley escarpments is delightfully amazing.
Another pinnacle of Uganda’s tourist attractions is to be found on top of the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges. For the love of mountain climbing, this is one challenge you will want to take on in your life time – believe you, me, it will truly taste your resolve. Getting to Mahgerita, the peak of the ranges should be your target.
The Murchison Falls National Park – for me, this is the favourite. It’s hard to choose between these parks but certainly this has something unique and a bit of every thing.
It will cast its spell on you. The breath taking beauty of seeing the River Nile plunge down 43 metres, in a narrow 7 metre gap in the rift valley escarpment with ferocity, splashing with steamy wildness will leave you astonished.
The Murchison will offer more and more as you explore further; the giraffes, hippopotamus, elephants, lions, crocodiles, shoe bill-stocks, the Ugandan kob, leopards, are just some of the long list of animals that you will see.
The irresistible experience that could easily be top of Uganda’s tourist attractions is the Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It arguably possesses half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population – and that is for an endangered species by the way.
Track the gorillas and come face to face with these creatures that possess the closest relation to the human race. Bwindi will also offer you over 300 species of birds, over 200 species of butterflies and tree species you will not find else where.
Take a ferry inside Lake Victoria in search for Ssese Islands. The closest you will ever come to white sand beaches in Uganda is here and while you take the guided forest walks and bird watching, you will be absorbed into an incomparable calmness that will take you meditating on all that elegant natural beauty you will have seen in Uganda.
More in Lake Victoria is the Ngamba Island sanctuary for Chimpanzees. The scenery at the island is bravura and the spectacle of getting up-close to the chimpanzees is something you might want to do but also this will give you that life time opportunity to experience the natural feel of a thrilling Ugandan boat ride.
The Mountain Elgon National Park offers more opportunity to the bird lovers/watchers. The extinct volcano has got interesting features; the gorges, ancient caves, the water falls, the hot springs and a good collection of wildlife, that makes this park a must see.
Again depending on where you will be and what you plan to do, there are other National parks that could be any where near top tourist attractions in Uganda that are well worth a visit. I have extensively talked about each here.
The originality of the Nyero Rock paintings in the eastern region cements the heritage of Uganda. These paintings date back to the iron ages – believed to have been made by the light skinned bushmen. Gazetted as a world heritage site, these rocks are amazing tourist attractions and well worth a visit.
Known locally as the Entebbe zoo, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is an extremely popular venue not just for the keeping of animals as attractions but has fast been transformed into one of the best facilities in African for environmental education and tourism. You will be surprised with the collection of animals and birds here and the exciting programs on offer.
As you enjoy the scenic beauty, in Jinja you will come face to face with the source of the longest river in the world, the River Nile and the mighty Lake Victoria (the second largest fresh water lake in the world). These will probably take you back in time to places you’d only read about in high school history and geography books.
And still in Jinja, just a few miles down the mighty River Nile, is another tourist attraction for those that love adventure and are daring to go. You will enjoy the water rafting and bungee jumping.
Further down the Nile is the Kalagala falls that offers beautiful scenery ideal for holiday and picnic.
Not much is said about Sezibwa falls as an extra ordinary tourist attraction but this is one place that will stunningly take you spell bound. It is a long known attraction that has been rediscovered.
Standing at about 7 metres, with some dense vegetation cover trapped in the middle of the falls – which is habitant to a wide range of birds, these falls are a scene astonishingly amazing. Rock climbing, camping, nature walks and canoeing are some of the activities you will find here.
And then of course the Mabira Forest which is famous among the other equatorial rainforests forests in Uganda for;
1. As a centre of controversy after sugarcane planting had threatened to eat into its share – a government proposal that was out rightly rejected by the public and,
2. as a tourist attraction. This beautiful natural rain forest has such a concentration of greenery that will truly define Uganda. Here you will see some of the rarest trees, over 100 bird species, butterflies and insects and 3 primate species. You might consider camping, forest walks and bird watching in this forest. It is the ideal place.
You might have seen some of it already along the way on your escapade but visit the lesser known Uganda that lives in the quiet little villages and mysterious little Ugandan towns where time takes twice as long to move on.
Back in Kampala, the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo is one place to visit especially if you happen to be in the country by start of June.
It is a venue for the annual pilgrimage every June 3 and Christians from all walks of life gather here to celebrate spirituality and history – remembering the lives of the 32 young men who under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom, were burned to death for their refusal to denounce Christianity in 1886.
Unfortunately it very much comes alive as a tourist attraction round about June 3 and this day is gazetted as one of the Ugandan public holidays
And then, this could be one of the things you do first or last depending on your plan but slot in the Uganda museum – for that narrative and pictorial through Ugandan history
Try the Ugandan Cuisine – lots of restaurants to choose from and if you love partying, do it the Ugandan way. As you choose and sip away your favourite beverage; you will never be the same.
Enjoy the flow of good Ugandan beer – ever tried beer with a straw? Hmmmm! And the barbeque chicken and matooke (kind of plantain-green banana), in your wildest dream, you will love every moment.
You will be please to know that kingdoms still exist – at least in Uganda. Rich in tradition and culture, these clearly show the heritage and roots of Ugandan people and are very much famous tourist attractions. The kingdoms of ;Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and Rwezururu stand out. Come see this rich culture for yourself.
Catch the traditional dances on one of those evenings in Kampala to taste and experience an aspect of Ugandan culture you will want to take away with you. Ndere Centre is the most popular venue but most of the big hotels have live performances usually every Sunday evening depending on their program.
Also grace yourself to the sound of live Ugandan band music – lots to choose from. You ought to have a taste of Afrigo band – at least before you leave ( oh! I love them).
The sound and rich beats of Ugandan music will certainly catch your attention. These Ugandan musician are superstars! Ugandans love western music but they will look no further than their local superstars to enjoy themselves. Take a copy of the music and Uganda will live with you forever!
Uganda is magical and mystical and an increasing number of tourists are visiting each year to experience this wonderland. The tourist attractions are endless and Uganda is all yours, go for it!