What to do when traveling to Uganda

Uganda offers a wide diverse menu of adventure activities suiting every category of traveler. Whether it is the adrenaline shading activities like white water rafting and bungee jumping, or the mind blowing expedition to look into the eyes of the mountain gorilla, Uganda will surely reward you. From the captivating wildlife viewing in her savanna national parks, to the scenic views on some of its fascinating sceneries at the top of the Murchison falls, bird watching, mountain hiking and cultural explorations, Uganda is a destination where every holiday maker is taken care of.

Primates tracking
Primate watching / gorilla tracking in uganda is increasingly one of the most famous and sought after activities in Africa today. Uganda has over 14 primate species inclusive of man’s closest relative; the chimpanzee and one of the most endangered ape species; the Mountain gorilla.

Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga harbor more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas while Kibale forest has been referred to as the primate capital of the world for its overwhelming number of 13 primate species; the highest of any single destination on the continent.

Moving up and down slippery hills with dense under growth in search for any of the species is very strenuous yet quite an adventure worth taking. Looking straight into the eyes of the mountain gorilla, is one of the must see things before one leaves planet earth.

Bird watching
Uganda has been regarded as the birders’ haven due to its burgeoning list of bird species. The country boasts of over 1037 bird recorded species, about 60 % of the total bird species on the African Continent.

These include both tropical and savanna species with the former reaching their eastern limit of their territory. Some of these species are migratory only coming to Uganda to breed and then go back later after breeding, a case in point of the grey headed gull.

Do not forget your camera and binoculars if you are a serious birder and you will rest assured to even get new species to add on your birds’ list since the country still has a variety of species that are not yet recorded due to limited research. Some of the most exciting bird spots include Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth national park with the highest number of birds for any single destination on the continent; about 607 recorded bird species.

Others include Kibale forest, Mabira forest, Mabamba swamp, Botanical gardens in Entebbe, Kasenge forest and many other places across the country. Almost every part of Uganda is a birding spot and can be able to spot a bird either flying or patching.

Wildlife Viewing
The wildlife variety in Uganda is quite amazing with about 7% of the world’s total mammal species, several reptiles and amphibians, hundreds of butterflies and moths among others. The most captivating wildlife viewing is the game viewing in national parks where travelers are driven in pop 4×4 cars through the park as they enjoys fascinating views of different animal species.

The most common sightings in most of the parks are the elephants, buffalos, kobs, and several other antelope species. Cats like lions and leopards are also present but are normally seen in early mornings and late evenings

Whereas each park shelters a particular wildlife species, Kidepo’s 28 endemic species stand out of all. The bat-eared fox, the aard wolf, the cheetah, and ostrich are some of those animals you will not find elsewhere in Uganda. Despite its distance from Kampala, Kidepo remains one of the best national parks in East Africa and the African continent at large for game viewing. No wonder, it was voted by CNN as the 3rd best park in Africa for 2014 and is still recognized as a true African wilderness. It is also known to have the largest single herd of Buffalos on the continent.

Bwindi national park is the most visited national park in the country, home to 12 habituated gorilla families namely; Rushegura, Habinyanja and Mubare situated at the Buhoma region of he park, the Oruzogo and Bitukura groups are to be found at Ruhija and other 5 groups – Nshongi, Kahunge, Busingye, Mishaya and Bweza are found at Rushaga and lastly is the Nkuringo group in the Nkuringo region. Each region offers a different gorilla safari experience and would advise visitors planning for to go gorilla trekking twice, to track from different sections of the bwindi forest.

The smaller L. Mburo national park is yet another gem for wildlife viewing with species like the impala which is not found elsewhere in the country as well as the zebra only found in Kidepo. The park is the only one in the country that offers visitors an opportunity to view wildlife on the horse backs.

Nature and Community walks
Uganda also offers opportunities to appreciate nature at close range by taking a walk to some of the most stunning features the country has. A nature walk to the top of the falls will leave you captivated and stunned by the force of the river through a narrow gorge as it plunges several meters deep, while a walk to the hot springs in Semuliki will leave you in awe as you marvel at God’s might power and art in creation

Nature walks are also taken in the forests to view primates and birds like in Mabira, Kibale and Kasenge forest among others. Specific tracks / trails / board walks are followed in order to control environmental effects of trampling.

Community walks are also available for those who would like to discover more beyond wildlife into the culture and life style of the people around. A guide is available to take you through the community as you interact and with the locals and find out their way of life. Some communities are already organized to receive tourists and have a well selected package of things to showcase to the visitors like traditional dance and drama, storytelling, merry making and many more activities that vary from one society to another.

More scintillating and refreshing is a visit to the remotest and more authentic societies which have strong cultural ties like the Batwa and Karamajong. Their activities are quite amazing and will leave you with unfading memories.

Water based activities
The range of water based activities in Uganda is quite long. Ranging from the calm and chilling spot fishing on the tranquil water of L. Victoria, to speed boating, jet boating, quad biking and to the adrenaline shading white water rafting, Uganda is an adventure capital.

The country offers one of the best white water rafting opportunities in the world along the Nile River as well as the thrilling bungee jumping where only the strong hearted can participate. Check out your adrenaline levels as you sail through different grades of rapids as the rescue team sails by your side on kayaks to offer a hand in case the rapids over power you.

Mountain Hiking in Uganda
Uganda offers some of the most challenging and thrilling hiking adventures in the world. Taste your fitness and stamina as you try out on Mt. Rwenzori to reach its snow cape (summit). It is a great opportunity to view a snow covered summit near the equator but you must have good fitness and health.

For the beginners, a number of challenging hills across the country are enough to taste your hiking skills. The Kyeganywa hill in Fort portal and Kagulu hill in Kamuli are some of the popular challenging hills for hiking. The south western part of the country has volcanoes like Mgahinga which are also good for hiking. Mt. Elgon in the east is yet another interesting and less challenging hiking spot.

Cultural and Community Visits
Uganda has a number of cultural spots which have been gazzeted to exhibit different cultures of over 60 different ethnic groups. In Buganda, Kasubi tombs which is also a world heritage site and Wamara tombs are some of the special places in Buganda kingdom, sheltering the remains of the former kings of Buganda. The Nagalabi coronation site is yet another important cultural site in Buganda where the kings are coroneted.

Several other sites like Bugembe coronation site for Busoga, Mtoto hill for the Imbalu cerebrations of the Bamasaba and Nkokonjeru tombs for the Ankole former kings are all significant sites for cultural enthusiasts. During such visits, you will learn a lot about the norms and customs of the respective cultures.