11 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Uganda
This small East African country with a diverse geography, stunning diversity of ecosystems, and a rich and interesting history is a good introduction to East Africa.
Tourist infrastructure is well developed and Uganda's diverse and mostly flat terrain lends itself to a variety of adventure activities. With mountain hikes, crater lake trekking, game viewing, and other outdoor adventures, and exciting cultural experiences such as gorilla trekking, the many great places to visit in Uganda will give you much more than just a glimpse of this beautiful country.
Uganda is an excellent destination for those with a love of adventure and travelers who want to get off the beaten track. Plan your itinerary with our list of the top attractions in Uganda.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Stretching almost 500 miles along the banks of the Nile, Queen Elizabeth National Park (formerly Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) covers an area that contains a rich variety of habitats including moorland, grassland, alder and mahogany forests, swamps and some of the highest tree-covered mountains in the world. Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to many of Uganda's most endangered species including gorillas, antelopes, monkeys, elephants, leopards, buffalos, hippos and Nile crocodiles. In 2009 Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni opened up the park to tourism, allowing for more visitors to experience Uganda's spectacular nature. Visitors can see the gorillas in this area without getting into the park themselves, but are required to visit the park headquarters at Mbogori to get the relevant permits. To get the most out of the park, your time should be spent taking in the sights as Uganda's last true wilderness.
Located in the southwest region of Uganda, the tranquil waters of the Rugeg Valley were home to Murchison Falls until the construction of Lake Albert blocked the flow, creating a new river to form the spectacular falls. Although the falls are today a few miles from the southern edge of the lake, the vast lakeshore provides opportunities for hiking or boating along the nearby Lake Albert National Park, an easily accessible and richly diverse area of wildlife.
Lake Bunyonyi, with a surface area of 82 square miles, is the largest lake in Uganda. It is approximately 100 miles south of the capital city of Kampala. It is also the biggest mountain lake in the world. It is a paradise for recreational fishermen, who enjoy taking advantage of its rich fishing. The hotel, Mansa is located in the villages of Byyumba and Gabianda, within the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains. Mansa offers well-appointed rooms and an old-world charm with the colonial-era ceiling and floors. It is surrounded by mossy vegetation, dense trees and quiet savannah that is just perfect for the visitor to unwind.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest continuous block of tropical rainforest in Africa, covering an area of over 15,000 hectares. The forest's mature height is more than 300 meters and supports an amazing abundance of wildlife. Home to mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, and one of the only places where they live in large, family units, Bwindi forest is a very popular tourist attraction. While most visitors focus on the gorillas, the forest is also home to numerous other wildlife and bird species.
Home to the Republic of Uganda's capital city, Kampala is a vibrant, dynamic city with almost everything you need on your doorstep. The city's diverse cultural attractions are easily accessible from the lively streets of Kampala's central area, which is dominated by Kampala's large and well-maintained National Mosque. The British colonial architecture that dominates the city center has also earned Kampala a strong reputation among European backpackers and travelers. For travelers with an appetite for safari, a visit to the Nkumba Forest Reserve should be at the top of their to-do list, and can be easily visited on a day-trip from Kampala. The modern city of Kampala is also the location of Uganda's largest market. Open daily except for Saturday, the Kampala City Market is packed with buyers and sellers, and can be easily explored, even if you are in a hurry.
The highest mountain in Uganda, Mount Elgon rises 4,271 meters above sea level and reaches a peak of 4,410 meters above sea level. Its northern slopes and cliffs have waterfalls, gullies, and caves. The majority of the 541 kilometer long mountain is covered by rainforest with Mount Elgon's three main peaks being distinguishable by their various colors and shapes. The mountain can be ascended from the town of Moroto on the Western (Tanzanian) side of the mountain. To make the hike, hike the trail from the lower slopes (Moroto) to the summit in less than 10 hours. The rest of the trek requires trekking with experienced guides and porters. The base camps for this walk are in Bulembu and Kagunga (a private lodge). Hiking is an extremely popular activity in Uganda.
Kibale Forest National Park
Considered one of the oldest continuously protected rainforests on the African continent, Kibale Forest National Park is one of Uganda's top natural wonders. This vast park, which straddles the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, is home to the tallest tree in the world, the Kabalega, which is more than 600 meters tall. The park's lush green canopy has a variety of different habitats, and there are a number of species to observe, including monkeys and more than 130 species of birds. The park is crisscrossed with paths suitable for hiking, so it is possible to travel the entire park in a couple of days. There are also many waterfalls, including two by the Buziga River, a clear and clear river in the western part of the park. There are two campsites located inside the park, Rukungiri, which is to the south of the park and Rakai, which is to the north. Both are popular camping destinations.
The Nyabushozi Volcano is a lava dome growing atop a dormant rift. It last erupted 25 million years ago, and despite strong seismic activity recorded in the last decades, no actual volcanic activity has been observed in the past 5,000 years. Located 3 km from the main Nyabushozi town, Fort Portal offers a number of local archaeological sites as well as a 4 km mountain trail which takes you up to the rim of the Nyabushozi caldera, allowing views of the active lava dome. The Fort Portal town itself is also interesting, with a lively market full of locally produced wares and crafts. There are a number of hotels and restaurants to choose from, making this a convenient base for exploring the region. However, for activities, it's best to travel further afield as there is only one climbable active volcano in the region.
Kidepo Valley National Park
One of the most unique experiences is to travel on the Queen Elizabeth National Park by Queen Elizabeth (band-waggon). This five-hour journey on the steep narrow hills of the Rwenzori Mountains is done for tourists by horseback and allows one to see some of the world's most remote and spectacular sights. Travelers are provided with a guide, horses and basic supplies, including malaria pills. On the way back to Bukoba the band-waggon meets the safari vehicle to continue the journey. There are other trips through the park that make travelers appreciate the remoteness of the hills and the close encounter with the native people of the area.
Lake Kyoga is one of the world's most mysterious lakes, surrounded as it is by some of the least accessible wilderness in Africa. Locals say that Kyoga Lake is home to a kind of fish that cannot be caught in any of the streams on the nearby hills, and that its waters contain heavy amounts of oxygen. For its size, the lake is massive, with a maximum capacity of more than 14 billion gallons, and it sits on top of the third highest volcano in the world, the Ruwenzori Mountains. Getting there is extremely difficult. Lake Kyoga is found in the middle of the world's second largest national park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, which contains the sacred Nkisi Forest, home to chimpanzees, elephants, buffalo, baboons, giraffes, and a lot more.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo is a large body of water bordered by the low-lying Virunga Massif. Its steep volcanic walls and deep pools conceal one of the world's few remaining intact populations of mountain gorillas, the largest number of these animals in the world. The lake's northern section contains the Virunga National Park and is known as the Queen Elizabeth National Park, while the southern side is known as the Kidepo Valley National Park. Lake Mburo and the surrounding area are famous for their wonderful landscapes. The vegetation is mixed with trees and palms in the lowlands and tall savannah grass. Uganda has a fascinating historical and cultural heritage, with an incredible array of museums and memorials. But one of the most impressive is the Kingojo Bible Museum, also known as the Museum of Ancient Cultures. Located in Gisenyi, this impressive museum is housed in the former residence of Kingojo I, a former Swahili king who brought in an expert team of archivists from Switzerland in 1898. At this site, you can visit the archive rooms where thousands of texts, diaries, and works of literature from across the centuries have been preserved. These include the archives from colonial times as well as copies of the Bible brought in by Kingojo I. If you're looking for something to do with kids, nearby are the chimps in Bwindi National Park.