Here is our selection of the top attractions and things to do in Uganda.
We will mention some attractions in the cities, countryside, protected areas and tours. We will also mention some travel bloggers who have visited these areas to give their own opinion.
Gorilla Watching in Bwindi National Park
A main reason to visit Uganda from a nature perspective is to enjoy incredible mountain gorilla trekking tours. The gorillas are only found in this region.
Mountain gorillas differ from their lowland cousins as their fur is thicker and adapted to the colder temperature at high altitude.
Gorillas live in groups of around 10 individuals and are led by the most powerful silverback with the rest of the group comprising females and younger males. The silverback makes important decisions for the group and protects them from danger.
To see these animals, you can enjoy gorilla tours from Kisoro, which is about 460 kilometres (290 mi) from the capital city of Kampala. Kisoro is located in a fantastic area of Uganda and is in the African Great Lakes region.
This is where the African continent is slowly splitting apart revealing the beautiful lake scenery. Because of the incredible landscape, many people refer to this part of the continent as the Switzerland of Africa.
From Kisoro, you have access to the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are comfortable lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which is one of the best places to see the gorillas and was named after the forest’s many stands of bamboo.
Bwindi contains many other animals as well as the gorillas and protects around 90 species of mammals, including 10 different primates. This is the richest area in for mammals in Uganda and there are many other species to see, such as the black and white colobus monkeys, green monkeys, Schmidt’s red-tailed monkeys, and duiker.
There are currently about 400 gorillas in Bwindi and the number has been increasing steadily over the years. Many researchers feel the slow growth of the population can be attributed mainly to visitors wanting to see the gorillas, which helps provide money and global attention for the remarkable animals. Your can learn more about Uganda’s gorillas here.
The gorillas are spread among 15 habituated groups, which you can visit on tour by purchasing a gorilla permit and booking a stay at one of the wonderful gorillas lodges.
One of the most accessible gorillas groups from Kisoro is the Nkuringo group, which you can visit on tours from the highly regarded Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge.
Positioned high on the Nteko Ridge, the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge provides incredible views of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and offers a comfortable base to explore the region.
Activities at the lodge include:
- Visiting Batwa pygmies
- Enjoying a guided village walk
- A guided multi-day trek to/from Kisoro via Lake Mutanda
- Walking through Bwindi Forest to the park headquarters at Buhoma
- Tracking the Nkuringo Gorilla family (assuming you have a tracking permit).
- Tracking the Nshongi Gorilla family at Rushaga (assuming you have a permit).
- Simply enjoy the amazing vistas of the gallery forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Virunga volcanoes
To contact the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, you can use the tour bubble below, which sends you request directly to the lodge to organize your Ugandan experience.
Bird Watching in Bwindi National Park
In addition to the gorillas in Bwindi, the birds here are also incredible and the forest ranks as one of East Africa’s best regions for birdlife and birdwatching.
From some of the Bwindi Lodges, such as the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge or the Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge, you will have some fantastic birdwatching opportunities. Head out with your knowledgeable guide to spot many of the fascinating birds that call this forest home.
The favorite species to find in the forest include the Turner’s eremomela, Chapin’s flycatchers, Shelley’s crimson-wings, African green broadbills, bee-eaters, Grauer’s swamp warbler, and the abundance of butterflies
The drier months, which are June to August (most tourists) and December to February (less tourists) are the favored time to visit Bwindi, but birders may prefer the wetter months for a higher chance of seeing more bird activity. The wetter months are then from March to April and September to November.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest contains some fantastic habitat for a variety of birds and there are around 350 different birds recorded with 23 birds only found in this region. This means the forest is home to 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics.
Other favorites to find in the Bwindi area include the black billed turaco, black bee-eater, blue-headed sunbird, short-tailed warbler, bar-tailed blue trogon, and kivu ground thrush, yellow eyed black flycatcher, Garner’s warbler, Africa blue and white-tailed blue flycatchers and red-headed bluebill.
There are some different birding trails around the area, including the Ivy river trail, Kashasha river valley, Buhoma waterfall trails, and the Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija. Birders visiting the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge who want to focus on endemics have especially enjoyed visiting a small pocket forest named Nombe.
There are a team of very enthusiastic birding guides at the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge and you can organize some specific birding itineraries.
Hike from Kisoro to Nkuringo and Buhoma
Given the fantastic scenery of the region, there are many different hiking opportunities to see the area.
Local guides who know the region best will show you the most scenic hiking trails, such as between the hamlet of Buhoma on the north side of the Bwindi Forest National Park and the town of Kisoro in south western Uganda.
The classic and much loved walking trail is between Kisoro and Buhoma, which you can also combine with a gorilla trekking adventure. The usual amount of time to do the trek is over two days where you will enjoy fantastic views, including the incredible Virunga Volcanoes.
Spend a night on the shore of Lake Mutanda, which you will then cross in traditional dugout canoe to begin your trek. We will then follow village trails to see fantastic scenery to enjoy rainforest, mountains, the lake, and the form of the land.
While on the walk, you will enjoy some fantastic cultural experiences to see how people live in this part of Africa. In addition to this and the incredible scenery, there is a lot of wildlife to see enroute, such as many different interesting birds, monkeys, and if you choose, you can combine with a memorable gorilla trek to see these gentle giants of the forest.
There are many other trails in the region to make the most of the spectacular mountainous scenery, such as the walks to the different volcanoes of Mt. Margarita (5109m) Mt. Rwenzori, and the Elgon Wagagai Peak (4321m).
This tour can be arranged with the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge.
See Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park
Near Queen Elizabeth National Park in the west of Uganda you can find the Kibale Forest National Park.
Although these forests are connected and chimpanzees are found in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, we recommend seeing our closest relatives in the Kibale area, as it’s a little easier to find the chimpanzees.
In fact, the Kibale Forest is recommended as the best place in the whole of East Africa for seeing chimpanzees.
The most popular trail in the park is the walk from the Kanyanchu Visitor Center, which lasts about three hours to visit the chimps and to see a diversity of wildlife enroute. When we encounter the chimpanzee groups, visitors are allowed to spend a maximum of one hour observing the fascinating animals, as they play, feed, and relax in their group.
As with the gorilla treks, to visit the chimpanzees we recommend booking your chimpanzee visiting permit and tour in advance, as visits per day are tightly controlled for the chimpanzees’ welfare and they quickly book up.
In addition to the chimpanzees in Kibale, you will also encounter some of the other primates inhabiting the area, such as blue & red-tailed monkeys, red-colobus mangabeys, and the grey-cheeked mangabeys swinging in the forest’s canopy. Another of the favorite trails is the Kanyanchu Primate Walk to see some of the park’s thirteen species of primate.
To combine the chimpanzees in Kibale with the gorillas, enjoy the 10-day Primate Tour.
A travel blogger who visited the Kibale Forest is Helen from Notwithoutmypassport.com.
Savanna Wildlife Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Queen Elizabeth National Park region is the most popular tourist destination in Uganda, which is linked to the area’s diversity. The protected area contains many different wildlife-filled habitats, such as forests, wetlands, savanna grasslands, and a number of lakes.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park sits in the western side of Uganda, which is a few hours drive southwest of the country’s capital and largest city, Kampala. There are a few different towns close to the protected area such as Kasese and Bushenyi.
The park contains a lot of wildlife, such as the iconic African safari animals, but is also fortunate to protect a population of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Towards the north and across Lake George, the park connects to the Kibale Forest National Park mentioned above.
You can enjoy game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park to search for the icons of the African plains, such as lions, elephants, antelopes, and buffaloes. There are over 200 km of game tracks throughout the park we can explore.
Being part of African Great Lakes region, there are some fantastic lakes to visit where you can enjoy cruises on the glistening waters to scout for a range of wildlife. There is also a fantastic channel to enjoy between Lake Edward and Lake George to see hippopotamus, Nile crocodiles and birdlife.
In addition to exploring the area on game drives, one of the most spectacular ways to experience these savanna environments is by hot air balloon, which you can book as an add-on experience.
Golden Monkey Trekking
The golden monkeys are a fantastic group of primates to see in the wild and can be encountered on guided treks through the forest. There are a couple of different areas to find the monkeys, but the best place to track the monkeys in Uganda is the Mgahinga National Park at the foot of the Virunga Mountains.
The monkeys enjoy hanging around the stands of bamboo forest within these protected areas and the monkeys are now used to people, which means they’re more easily observed. However, the monkeys move fast so make sure you’re using your fastest lens speed.
The golden monkeys make a fantastic add-on experience to enjoy with the gorillas or the chimpanzees. The trip provides an ideal short stay to experience the Virunga Mountains. This is where you find the monkeys, as there are only a few thousand individuals remaining. On tours to see these fascinating primates, you can visit the habituated groups for an hour at a time.
The golden monkeys are a relatively small primate and are covered in long, golden hair. They are classified as an endangered species and are found in the Virunga’s bamboo forests. Despite protection, their population size is continually decreasing, but because they have been habituated by researchers, finding the monkeys is relatively simple. The monkeys are used to people and don’t run away. The fee paid for the permit helps with their protection.
Visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary protects Uganda’s only wild rhinos and is located just north of Kampala near the famous Murchison Falls.
In total, the sanctuary protects 15 rhinos and is also a fantastic place to see other wildlife.
Enjoy bird watching, nature walks, relaxing, and of course finding and watching the rhinos. The rangers of the sanctuary will guide you around the reserve to find the wildlife, including the rhinos themselves, crocodiles, hippos, antelopes and much more.
Birders often enjoy the reserve and spend time finding some of the 250 different species. You can find some fascinating birds within the sanctuary boundaries, including a number of rare species.
The sanctuary was founded by various wildlife and conservation organizations in an attempt to restore Uganda’s rhinoceros population.
The sanctuary protects rhinos while they breed and grow. They are then re-introduced into Uganda’s protected areas, such as Queen Elizabeth National Park. While awaiting their reintroduction, visitors can enjoy seeing these remarkable animals while helping to spread the importance of rhino conservation in the country.
A total of 80 rangers and guards watch over the sanctuary day and night to maintain the animals’ safety.
The sanctuary covers 7, 000 hectares, which you can explore with your highly trained ranger. You can enjoy different facilities and infrastructure, such as a tourist lodge, camping area, and budget guesthouses to accommodate all types of tourists.
A travel blogger who visited Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is Barbara from Solotravelerblog.com.
Visit Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls is a fantastic natural attraction located in the aptly named Murchison Falls National Park, which with a few other protected areas create the Murchison National Park. The park has been visited by the likes of Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and various royals over the years.
The protected area is home to many different animals, including hippos, crocodiles, lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, chimpanzees, and many different birds.
However, because of intense hunting in the 1900s, the wildlife is not as it once was. Animal populations have been recovering and you’re sure to see some examples, including some of Africa’s icons.
This is the largest national park in Uganda and the Murchison Falls sits as the jewel in the crown of the protected area. The falls was named after a president of the Royal Geographical Society and is the main attraction.
Murchison Falls is a fantastic spectacle with water violently crashing through the narrow, rocky gorge. The falls ejects water from the Victoria Nile River through a 6 meter wide chute, which cascades down 30 meters to the Nile River. Because of the spray of water, you can see a constant rainbow over the falls adding to the spectacle of this must-visit Ugandan attraction.
Kampala is Uganda’s capital city and makes a fascinating stop on your Ugandan adventure. This is a great place to spend a day or two experiencing the country’s most important city. Ugandans in general are very friendly and Kampala offers a more relaxed atmosphere than its neighbor of Nairobi across the Kenyan border.
The city is relatively calm and safe. So much so, Kampala has a stable expat community with many different NGOs running various humanitarian and conservation projects. The city has some modern areas with top of the line restaurants and bars, which is where expats and visitors enjoy spending their time.
You can enjoy many different markets selling a variety of produce, clothing, and crafts. There are also different attractions to see in the city itself, which will keep you entertained over a couple of days. These include temples, cathedrals, markets, galleries, areas of historical significance, and museums.
Despite being an old building in need of a little love, a popular attraction is the old Uganda National Museum. This shows the cultural heritage of the country, including exhibits on Uganda’s cultural and natural history. There are also a few different galleries you can enjoy that display paintings, photography, sculptures, and exhibits from local artists.
A travel blogger who visited Kampala is Anne from Yourlittleblackbook.me.
Visit the Ndere Center
The Ndere Center is a highly recommended attraction to experience the country’s traditional dance and music.
For a few days a week the center has a high energy show of Ugandan culture. Enjoy a dinner and theater performance and see dances from a variety of Uganda’s tribes. The show takes place in a 700-seat amphitheater on Sundays at 6pm, Wednesday at 7pm, and Fridays from 7pm.
The Ndere name is from the word for flute, which is the symbol of the troupe because of its diverse and beautiful sound, but also as it’s one of the only musical instruments found across all cultures and is a metaphor for unity.
The mission of the center and its dancers and musicians is to help rekindle a sense of pride for Ugandan culture while promoting it to the world. A team of dedicated Ugandans carefully research and respectfully present parts of all the cultures that make up the Ugandan people.
Historically, a repeated theme across sub-Saharan Africa is that information didn’t exist in written form. Instead, the information was passed between generations through performances, such as dance, storytelling, poetry, and music.
The Ndere Troupe are a definite must-see attraction in Uganda and the award-winning performers have been practicing their art for nearly 25 years.
A travel blogger who visited the Ndere Centre is Charlotte from Muzungubloguganda.com.
See Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is the world’s largest freshwater tropical lake and sits as the jewel in the crown of Africa’s Great Lakes region.
Sitting across the borders of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, this is where the Nile begins, which is one of the world’s most historically significant rivers.
The lake itself is home to some fascinating features, such as the different islands and reefs. Around 200 species of fish and over 350 different birds call the Lake Victoria region home, which you can spot on some fascinating lake tours.
The peninsulas and islands of Lake Victoria are home to some luxury lodges where you can relax near the glistening waters and take tours around the lake to see some of the unique features and wildlife.
A great place to experience the Lake Victoria region from Uganda is the town of Entebbe. From here, you can feel the breeze from the fantastic lake.
Enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and the botanical gardens, which are visited by many different bird species. You can also meet one of the sources of the great Nile in Jinja to imagine where this river runs and the history linked to this incredible waterway.
The most popular Lake Victoria island to visit from Entebbe is Ngamba Island, which is home to a private chimpanzee sanctuary protecting orphaned chimpanzees.
The sanctuary was set up by the Chimpanzees Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) and funded by a number of organizations, including the Born Free Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Jane Goodall Institute.
A travel blogger who visited Lake Victoria from Uganda is Charlotte from Muzungubloguganda.com.
See Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi is located close to Kisoro and Kabale near the border with neighboring Rwanda.
This is one of the largest of Africa’s lakes by depth and contains 29 different islands. Not just a popular tourist attraction for international visitors, the lake is also a popular relaxation destination for locals. Around the lake, you can find the towns of Muko and Kyevu, and you can enjoy a range of lakeside accommodation.
There are few buildings on the islands, aside from some infrastructure for tourists and a couple of schools. The main community is the Bufuka Village, which is mainly composed of members of the Bakiga and Batwa tribes.
A popular attraction is to see the traditional dances of the Batwa. Another of the favorite things to do here is to take a cruise and go island hopping around Lake Bunyonyi.
The real spectacle of the lake, however, is the incredible scenery. For its beauty alone, the lake is regarded by many visitors as one of their favorite destinations.
Because of its proximity to Bwindi Forest for gorilla trekking, which is the main reason visitors venture to this corner of Africa, the lake makes a fantastic add-on experience to enjoy breathtaking scenery.
A travel blogger who visited Lake Bunyonyi is Helen from Notwithoutmypassport.com.
Visit Lake Mburo National Park
A relatively small protected area, Lake Mburo National Park is classed as a savanna area containing different wildlife.
You can spot antelopes, hyena, hippo, buffalo, zebra, and many different birds. There is also a lot of woodland because of the lack of elephants. Elephants are ecosystem engineers and usually tame savanna forests.
There are 13 other water bodies in the region, but the star lake is Lake Mburo. Mburo is part of the protected area”s wetland system, which is why it’s such a great place for birdlife. There around 350 different bird species to find and it’s a must-visit birder destination.
There are many different activities to enjoy both on and around Lake Mburo, such as boat cruises on the lake itself to see hippos, crocodiles, and a number of different birds. Around the lake, you can then enjoy game drives in the protected area to spot the different African wildlife. You will easily find zebra and impala, which are the stars of the park.
You can also enjoy guided walks around the lake to see the beautiful scenery or you can chose to explore the park by horse. You can enjoy horse riding from the highly regarded Mihingo Lodge. This helps with wildlife watching as you don’t make as much noise and can move between areas faster than by foot. This is also one of the best ways to observe zebra, which find horses less intimidating.
See the Kasubi Tombs
Another attraction in Kampala, to learn a little of the region’s cultural history we recommend a tour of the Kasubi Tombs. This is a Unesco World Heritage Listed Site and the burial ground of four Ugandan kings.
Originally built in 1882 as the palace of Kabaka Mutesa I, this was converted to his tomb after his death. The site later became the burial place of the three following kings.
The site gives a look at Buganda culture, and not only the care they took over their royalty, but other culturally important artifacts, such as the Buganda drums used to communicate important events over long distances.
The palace is composed of around 35 buildings and around 300 people live on the grounds themselves. A fireplace is in the middle of the area where the fire is kept lit to warm the spirits.
The Buganda Kingdom is the largest of Uganda’s four tribal kingdoms and has a high cultural importance for the country. On tours of the palace, you will learn about the various practices and rituals of the Buganda. A visit gives a fascinating insight into some of Uganda’s traditional ways of life.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Kasubi Tombs are Travis and Erin from Twoyoungtravelers.com.
See Lake Mutanda
A small and beautiful lake in the Kisoro District of south-west Uganda, Lake Mutanda is in an area affectionately known as Little Switzerland.
The lake can be visited from Kisoro and resides in the African Great Lakes area at the foot of the Virunga Mountains. The mountains are across the Ugandan border, which can be seen from the lake. From here, you can see Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga.
The lake contains different islands and is drained by the Rutshuru River. The forests around the lake provides home for a number of fascinating animals and plants, including habitat for the mountain gorillas.
The gorillas and a healthy population of golden monkeys live in a nearby protected area called the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Closer to the lake, you can then find other wildlife, such as many different birds
Enjoy spotting cranes, ibis, weaver birds, and different kingfishers. The forests are also home to different chameleons, monitors, and a variety of frogs. Enjoy tours over the lake to focus on scenery, relaxation, or birdwatching.
You can also enjoy a visit to Kyangushu Island and village trips to see how the locals live their lives. Visit the Mutanda Island, which is the largest of the inhabited islands where you can enjoy views of the Congo border, Bwindi National Park, and Lake Mulehe.
Around Lake Mutunda are a number of trails leading through the forest, including some set up by the Batwa and cultural institutions to teach you about the people who called this forest home.
Visit the Ssesi Islands
The Ssese Islands are an archipelago in Lake Victoria that deserve their own mention. Positioned in the north-west corner of the lake, the largest of these islands is Bugala Island where you can find Kalangala town.
The Sesse Islands are home to the Bantu tribe and is a spiritual location for the local people.
Some of the 84 different islands are only 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres) in size. Bugala Island (the largest) is around 275 square kilometers (67,000 acres). Around half of the archipelago is inhabited. The ecnomoy here is focused on fishing for the Nile perch and tourism.
The islands are home a variety of animals and you can spot several different monkeys on guided tours. To relax, you can also visit the beautiful white-sand beaches.
Although not full of activities, the archipelago offers attractive scenery and makes an excellent relaxation spot for a few nights, as there are a number of accommodation options. There are also areas where you can hire a canoe and have a paddle around.
The most easily accessible is the largest island of Buggala, but you can also visit a number of others, such as Banda Island and Bukasa. Each island has its own charm with Banda Island being an old backpacker destination and the isolated Bukasa Island home to some fantastic beaches.
Visit a Local Market
Markets in Uganda offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of the local people and make an interesting experience for visitors.
There are a few different markets to visit in and around Kampala, such as the famed Owino and Nakasero markets. Owino is known for its hustle and bustle with chaotic looking stalls, whereas Nakasero is a little more relaxed and a preferred first choice.
Owino market is understandably chaotic, as this is one the largest in this area of Africa. The most abundant product sold is second hand clothing, but you can really find most things in the market, such as traditional medicine and electronics.
Offering a more relaxed environment, Nakasero Market is more easily found and reached from Entebbe Road. Nakasero is a much smaller market and because of this can be more enjoyable. You can find many different things with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, but also clothes, textiles, shoes and some electronics. Although nowhere near as big as Owino, Nakasero is the largest market in the Kampala central area.
Stand at the Equator
A popular attraction is to visit the equator, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the country.
The mark represents the section of Earth that receives more sunlight than any other. Because of this, it’s where you find the world’s most wildlife-rich forests. Tropical rainforests cover just 7% of the world’s surface, but contain 50% of all the Earth’s animals and plants.
The equator passes straight through Uganda. The main equator landmark is about 70 km from Kampala towards the south west of the district. This takes about one hour to reach from the city. However, there are also markers in other areas. You can find other markers in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is Uganda’s largest national park.
With the different equatorial landmarks, you can enjoy some great photographs. Document the moment and imagine where you actually are in the world. You can buy a little souvenir to remember the area, enjoy internet facilities to send an email from the equator, and relax with a coffee thanks to the renovations made by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007.
See the Start of the Nile
While you’re in this region of Africa, it’s worth seeing the start of the Nile River. Imagine the important events in history and the countries this great river has touched before gushing into the Mediterranean Sea.
This all starts in this region and you can visit one of the Nile’s sources.
The Nile is one of the longest rivers in the world and ranks as the world’s largest alongside the Amazon River in South America. You can see one of the sources of this incredible waterway at Jinja, which is about a two hour drive from Kampala through the Mabira forest.
You can enjoy some boat trips around the lake and visit the hydroelectric power plant at Bujagali Falls. The area around Jinja is also known as the adventure capital of East Africa. You can enjoy mountain biking, horse riding, and other adrenaline activities. The town itself is also worth a visit to see some examples of colonial architecture.
While here, there are many different accommodation options to choose from to make your stay comfortable. The lodges can often arrange your tours and cruises in the region to help maximize your experience at the start of the Nile.
A travel blogger who visited Jinja is Helen from Heleninwonderlust.co.uk.
Try the Food
It’s always one of the best attractions to sample the local cuisine and Uganda is no exception to the rule. Enjoy a variety of tasty dishes to learn more about Ugandan culture.
Fish features prominently on the menu due to the number of lakes and rivers in the country, such as tilapia with a peanut sauce. In addition to fish, meat stews are a popular food. The influences for flavor include Arabian, Asian, and English dishes. Indian spices and food were popular in Uganda, which have been incorporated into a number of dishes.
Many of the different tribes in Uganda have their own traditional dishes. Traditional cuisine revolves around potatoes, vegetables, chicken, pork, fish, bananas, and yams. Peanuts and sesame seeds feature a lot in Ugandan cuisine and add a delicious flavor when combined with some of the other ingredients.
A travel blogger who tried the food in Uganda is Charlotte from Muzungubloguganda.com