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Magical Uganda

With its expansive landscapes and formidable animal life, Uganda is a county jam-packed with breathtaking scenery, natural wonders, exotic wildlife, and fascinating culture. Below are some of the major tourist attractions Uganda boasts of.

1: Murchiso falls National Park

Named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, which were christened by Sir Samuel Baker; Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is the country’s largest protected wildlife sanctuary.it lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. A wonderful tapestry of natural landscapes awaits visitors to the park.

Here, the mighty Nile River bisects flourishing savannahs, flanked by lush riverine woodlands, before bursting through a chasm in the Rift Valley escarpment to form the raging Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles

Wildlife enthusiasts can expect to see great pods of hippo and immense rafts of crocodile in-and-around the Nile as well as an array of exceptional water birds. Other fascinating wildlife include the rare Rothschild giraffe, lion, various antelope species, buffalo, leopard and spotted hyena

2: Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Surrounded by the peaceful waters of Lake Victoria, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in 1998 to provide travelers with a place to observe these intelligent great apes. The Sanctuary is home to orphaned chimpanzees rescued from across East Africa. On this rainforest island, you’ll also learn about our primate cousins and help support their care in this natural habitat.

All the chimps here have been rescued, some from poachers, others were ill or mistreated -none of them can ever go back to the wilds. However, here at Ngamba Island, they are offered cared and rehabilitation in the safe-haven of Ngamba, a fenced environment whereby they are allowed to roam freely, and provided with medical care and love

Day trips and overnight at Ngamba Eco lodge to the sanctuary are available (at an extra cost) which provides an exceptional opportunity to closely observe these fascinating great apes in our unique setting.

3: Sipi falls

Locate in the Eastern part of Uganda in Kapchorwa district Sipi Falls is one of the many known and visited falls in Uganda. The falls offer breathtaking scenery and it is believed that they were named after a local plant that grows on the banks of the River known as Sep. The Falls are known by locals and foreigners and they have been termed as one of the most romantic places in Uganda

The Sipi Falls are divided into three waterfalls and the first one is the longest with a drop of 100 meters, the second one has a drop of 85 meters with an upper cascade before plunging and the last of the waterfalls has a drop of 75 meters and it is columnar.

When the falls are hit by the morning sun, they create a mini rainbow which is a sight to see and they are also known to flow with a misty form and they are very vigorous and although there are other small waterfalls in the area, they are not as prominent as the Sipi Falls.

The falls are known for their cold temperature and tourists are advised to carry some heavy clothes to curb the coldness. It is also believed that this cool falls are known to be a healing place by the local people.

4: Ssezibwa falls

The Ssezibwa Falls are a small waterfall on the Sezibwa River, found 32km along the Kampala – Jinja highway, in Mukono District. The Sezibwa waterfalls are set in an undisturbed natural and serene environment that is attractive with lots of birds and wildlife.  In recent years, however, the spectacular view of the water falls, rich greenery and abundance of birds has turned it into a favorite tourist attraction and picnic site. 

Sezibwa Falls also act as a cultural heritage site. It is believed to be a spiritual ground where back in the early days, traditional healers used to perform ceremonies for those seeking prosperity, children, love or success in business. Numerous shrines and elements used for traditional rituals can be seen around the waterfalls. The spiritual aspect stems from what traditionalists tell about the supernatural formation of Sezibwa River and the falls. 

Sezibwa is impressively rich with birds and a worthy destination to visit for a day birding excursion from Kampala. With an early start, 4 – 6 hours of birding at Sezibwa can produce close to 50 species. Close to 200 bird species have been recorded here. Water birds such as the Long-tailed Cormorant and occasionally the African Finfoot are spotted in the pool at the base of the waterfalls. On one side of the falls and river is a small rainforest that is habitat to animals such as monkeys and some forest birds, while on the other side is a beautifully mowed ground with big fig trees and fringed by thickets of bamboo trees, shrubs and bushes.

In the company of local site guide, you can experience a quite fulfilling nature and cultural walk. Enjoy the spectacular views of the waterfalls from across a bridge, spot a number of wildlife including monkeys, birds, and butterflies, explore the shrines and learn about the different spirits/gods and their respective roles. The Sezibwa River plunges over 17 meter high rocks into a large pool which is 13 meters deep.

5: Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru

Ambere ga NyinaMwiru is a cultural site with remarkable history located in western Uganda in Fort portal town. This is a strong cultural heritage site among the Batoro tribe who live in this area.  This is a cave of stalagmites and features. The stalactites are made up of Calcium carbonate and they drip from the top of the cave where they hang from the stalagmites which rise from the floor. 

Ambere ga NyinaMwiru is hidden within a small forest and as you access them you will be welcomed by the waterfalls that tumbles down from the cliff above the caves which give a magnificent scenery when you visit the site. You will need to pass under the falls for you to access the dark caves where the key features of this area are found.

The Batoro have a strong belief attached to these caves with an interesting myth told through the generations about them that is meant to teach you people to respect what the elders instruct them to do.

 Once the Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru Caves guided tour comes to end you can continue the guided walk – and visit the explosion crater lakes that in the light of history came into being not too long ago. This means hiking up a hill and making our way around the 3 crater lakes including Lake Saka. You can have a picnic lunch on top of the hill with views of the crater lakes and the surrounding countrysides. The Crater Lake hike will also take you through villages and hamlets found in the area which adds some cultural interaction that you can have. 

6: Ssesse Islands

The Ssese Islands are perhaps Uganda’s best kept secret. These beautiful islands are a piece of paradise surrounded by water in a landlocked country. The Ssese Islands archipelago is made up of 84 islands that retain their natural spectacular nature located in the Northern Western corner of Lake Victoria. Locals and tourists are able to access the islands by charting a motorized boat from either the cities of Kampala or Entebbe. The Islands were named Ssese because in the past some of them were heavily infested with Tsese flies.

The islands, as mentioned earlier have beautiful sandy beaches, palms, exotic plants and flowers.There are is a tropical forest filled with primates such as monkeys and other species of wildlife such as the Sitatunga Antelopes, and exotic bird species. The Ssese islands are truly a bird watchers paradise.While on the islands you can visit the villages, interact with the locals, and learn something about their cultures and way of life.

There are some exciting activities such as boating and fishing. You can go boating, either paddling yourself on the lake, or with a guide, you could also take a motorboat ride out on the lake, or if you like fishing, you could go fishing and try your hand at catching the huge Nile perch fish or the tilapia, you could even catch fish and cook it yourself.

Because it is Uganda, and Uganda is a fruit republic, there is of course a variety of fruits to be enjoyed on the island. Everything from mangoes to bananas, papaya, watermelons, pineapples and of course jackfruit, which you have probably never tasted before if it’s your first time on the African continent.

The islands a scenic and a very interesting place to visit; even the view of the sun rising or setting over these islands is breathtaking. They are not only a secret for Uganda but also considered one of the world’s best secret islands

7: Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park, is located in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District, in the Western Region of Uganda. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.

Being a relatively stable forest “refugium” during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, this is one of the richest areas for forest birds in Africa. A large number of predominantly Central African species reach the eastern limit of their distribution here and cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa. These include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Nkulengu Rail, Black-wattled Hornbill and Lyre-tailed Honey guide. Although it lies a bumpy drive from Fort Portal, birders who take time to adventure Park will be richly rewarded with some of the very best forest birding in Uganda.

While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.

The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.

Sempaya Hot springs
This is the most popular attraction in Semuliki National Park and a safari to the national park without visiting the hot springs is surely incomplete. A Short guided walking trail from the Sempaya Information Centre lead you to the cluster of two hot springs at Sempaya. This eye-catching site has its largest geyser spouts up to 2m high from a low salt sculpture opening. These two meters jet of hot boiling water (130 degrees Celsius) and a pool (12 m diameter) of oozing boiling water can boil eggs within the shortest time. There is another hot spring, which is more of a broad steaming pool than a geyser; it is located on the far side of the swampy clearing that can be reached by a boardwalk.

8: Lake Bunyonyi National Park

Lake Bunyonyi is one of the smallest Lakes in Uganda. It is found in the South-Western part of Uganda between Kibale district and Kisolo district near the border of Rwanda and Uganda. Lake Bunyonyi is amongst the most beloved destinations to visit in the pearl of Africa. This is due to the lakes natural set up such as the green high terraced gardens and vibrant colors that make it look almost cartoonish, leaves you allured as you are totally immersed into the rural setting of the country side. The most spectacular scenery of this lake is the presence of 29 small islands that are scattered all over the waters of Bunyonyi. 

The shores and islands of Lake Bunyonyi are mainly occupied by two tribes that is the Bakigwa and the Batwa. The Batwa have changed the area and still practice their culture in the place. On the other hand the Bakiga are the original settlers of Lake Bunyonyi and the people have been cultivating on the hilly terrace of the land. They also have rich traditions that comes with a lot of admirable things such as the cultural dances. 

The lake boast of 29 Islands and the one that mainly stands out include Punishment Island, locally known as Akampene. This Island is sought to be a Centre of attraction because of the ancient practices that came along with the name. It is believed during the early days of the Bakiga people, the area was used as a placed for dumping unmarried pregnant girls from the community as this was against the cultural laws of the Bakiga people. This was done to educate the younger girls against such acts in the community.

The lake is known to be amongst the few lakes that are bilharzia, croc & hippo free so its crystal clear waters are all yours to swim in, you can dive as you wish and enjoy the freshness of this lake.

As the name says,”Bunyonyi” meaning place of many little birds often known as birding paradise. When it comes to bird sightings, this place charming with over 200 bird species that can be found around here. With the help of a guide, you will be lead to exciting places where it is believed to have the best birding experience. 

Many cultural insights can be found along the lake sun as the Bakora caves, the Batwa people along with their traditional customs and the Abaheesi people who are the traditional smiths. Most of the traditional performances happen to be more memorable and exciting to tourist. Learning about the cultural past of these communities is an opportunity you can get when you visit Lake Bunyonyi.

9: Kampala City Tour

Kampala, the capital city of Uganda is located in the central region on the shores of Lake Victoria. The city gets its name From Impala (Aepyceros melampus) a medium-sized African antelope that used to roam the jungles where Kampala seats today. Located just 40 Km from Entebbe International Airport, Kampala will amaze you with its beauty, culture and hospitality before you venture the rest of the country.

The city boasts of many attractions visitors warmly explore everytime they visit Uganda. In this tour you get to visit the unique historial landmark buildings within Kampala including the National Museumthe famous Kasubi tombs, Kabaka’s Lake, Bulange Mengo, Kabaka’s palace (Lubiri, Mengo), the Uganda National Cultural Center, various religious centers like Bahai Temple, Kibuli & Gadaffi Mosques, Namirembe Cathedral, Rubaga Catholics Cathedral, Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrinevarious shopping malls and night clubs

The city has many attractions, destinations and tourists activities ranging from events to prime time venues and hotels, that’s why it’s referred to as the East Africa’s happiest city.

10: Bungee jumping in jinja

Bungee jumping, is an activity that involves a person jumping from a great height while connected to a large elastic cord. Jinja town was built in a strategic location close to Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile but the closure of the industries left the town quieter. The river Nile is arguably Uganda’s most scenic river. The section of the river flowing through Jinja has got several beautiful rapids and forested islands that remain pristine while acting as sanctuaries to primates and over 150 species of birds. The river offers countless opportunities to have fun right from its source to the point where it leaves for other districts of Uganda and eventually to South Sudan. There are various activities one can do along the Nile in Jinja including sport fishingwhitewater rafting, golfing, Quad biking and canoeing. Bungee jumping is just one of the recently introduced adrenaline raising activities in Jinja. Bungee jumping in the Nile River involves jumping from a platform with a bungee cord connected to two tied legs. Although experience is not required before taking part in the activity, one still needs to prepare psychologically before taking part in the activity. Participants are tied in two different ways – There is the ankle tie with your face looking down and the whole body tie allowing you to float like a butterfly.

The activity can be done during the day or night. Night Bungee jumping has its own thrill but may reduce the quality of views and photos taken. What make Bungee jumping special? Diving down a tower and touching the river Nile provides one the most spectacular views imaginable. The main thrill comes from falling freely then rebounding softly over and over before finally touching the waters. It is one of the scariest things but also most adventurous activity one can do in their lifetime.

11: Tubing The Nile

Tubing the Nile, Take an adrenaline drifting on a tube for 2.5 – 3 hours long right at the source of the world’s longest river while sunbathing and enjoy beautiful sceneries on both flat/lazy or white water adventure. Our guided tubing trips are great for all ages and make fun for afternoon in Jinja. This is a relaxing and a fun way to enjoy the river Nile even more.

This trip is suitable for those looking for a relaxing experience or groups with younger children while enjoying the bird-life, sunbathing and beautiful sceneries.

Its recommend that children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult..

 12: Quad Biking in Jinja

Quad biking is one of the beautiful ways to explore the African villages that replaces the usual nature walks for those people who don’t fancy walking. Quad biking in Jinja not only exposes you to the surrounding serene grass thatched villages but also so some major attractions in Jinja like the Bujagali falls.

The activity is organized in other parts of Uganda but not as popular as it is in Jinja town. What makes Quad biking special in Jinja, is the opportunity to experience the African countryside and mingle with local people as they go about their daily activities.

The most interesting thing about Quad biking is that no age is limited and that is no minimum number of people to engage into the activity .Free training is provided by the guides prior to start the actual quad biking activity.

Trips are tailored to suit the rider’s ability and give the best possible adventure. Most African safaris occur in the African wilderness, inside a safari vehicle and with limited opportunities to experience the African rural life. Quad biking in Jinja is done mainly in the villages, forests, tea/sugar plantations and the banks of the Nile River.

 13: Mabira Forest Ziplining.

Experiencing the Mabira Forest canopy just makes you behave like monkeys! The first of its kind in Uganda. The Mabira Forest Canopy Super Skyway is a canopy “zip-line” system that sends you soaring between the tallest trees in the rainforest. Located 44kms East of Kampala City, outside of Lugazi town at the griffin falls camp, the skyway makes for you a great day.

The entire system, based on international safety standards, includes a harness with a capacity to carry a person weighing up to 250kg tied to a safety line with a lock.

While up in the canopy, one is able to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the forest layers, mammals like grey-cheeked mangabeys and red-tailed monkeys, birds like palm nut vultures, African fish eagles and great blue turacos as well as the Griffin Falls on River Musamya.

14: Gorilla Tracking

Uganda is a wonderland in all senses from the mighty King Kong that rule the impenetrable forest of Bwindi to chimpanzees that are our closest cousins. Gorilla trekking is such a thrilling primate experience that any visitor on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss out.

With fewer than 1004 mountain gorillas that still exist on earth today, Uganda is a home to half of all these massive creatures making it one of the only three countries in the world where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two national parks. The are 18 gorilla families that have been habituated and already set for tourism purposes, 17 of which are tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and only 1 is found in Mgahinga National Park.

The dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda. It starts in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. During the dry season, the habitat is kept drier and makes it easier for trekkers to hike through dense vegetation and steep slopes to search for mountain gorillas.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

This magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley is home to nearly half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. This ancient rainforest is one of the few forests in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is set in the extreme southwestern side of the country. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura , Mt. Gahinga  and Mt. Sabinyo .

The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this park, tourists can join a 3 day gorilla tour in Mgahinga any time of the year. Within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Nyakagezi gorilla group is the only habituated gorilla family set for visitors to trek.

15: Chipanzee Tracking

Chimpanzee tracking actually is a very fascinating experience its one is one of the things that makes a Uganda safari unique. Not only is it incredibly special to be able to gorilla and chimp trek in one country but Kibale Forest is one of the best places not only in Uganda, but in the world, to see chimpanzees.

Chimpanzees are among our closest relatives, sharing over 98% of our DNA. They typically live in family groups of 15 to 20 (though some may be much larger, up to 100), and each chimpanzee group has a unique personality of its own. Group life is crucial because chimpanzees are highly sociable, intelligent, and communicative animals; their complex social relationships and hierarchies help provide mental and emotional stimulus they need. They communicate largely through body language and hoots, pants, and barks, and are one of the only species to create and use tools. Digging insects out of tight spaces or opening hard nuts or fruits with rocks are common, creative activities chimpanzees are known to engage in. This helps keep their diet varied, ranging from fruits and other plants to insects, eggs, meat, and even carrion. Plus, because most wild chimps live about 40 years, they have plenty of time to pass on their special skills to younger generations.

Chimpanzees are found almost exclusively in the dense forests of Central and West Africa, making Uganda prime real estate for trekking. Most male chimps stand just under 4 feet tall and weighs between 90-130lbs. Female chimps tend to be a little smaller, usually weighing between 60-100lbs.

16: Entebe Zoo

Entebbe is a small but very interesting town to stay in while in Uganda. What sets Entebbe apart is the serenity, historical role as an administrative center and other remarkable tourist attractions. One the most important tourist attractions in Entebbe is the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) or more popularly knowns as Entebbe Zoo offers a perfect introduction to Uganda’s incredible biodiversity and given its proximity to the capital Kampala, is one of the most visited and popular tourist sites in Uganda. The Centre is a successful mix of a zoo and a safari park because most of the animals live in large and spacious enclosures that are similar to their natural habitats.

The Entebbe zoo sits on land that is about 72 acres in size with a network of walkways to the different animal enclosures and to a large natural forest. The zoo stands out from similar establishments in other countries because of its ideal location along the shores of Lake Victoria. The Centre also has an animal breeding programme in place for endangered species and an animal veterinary hospital. UWEC contributes to wildlife research and educating the public about the importance of wildlife conservation. The Centre has grown in size and given its ideal location, is considered one of the best places for showcasing Africa’s wildlife.

 Visiting the Entebbe zoo is not only less expensive but offers incredible opportunities to get close to the animals – especially if one chooses to go for the special “Behind the Scenes tour” under the guidance of a caretaker.

Entebbe zoo is very popular because of its rich biodiversity and location within Uganda’s main metropolitan centers. It is home to giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, chimpanzees, baboons, ostriches, hyenas, zebras, lions, and donkeys, the Uganda Kob, camels, waterbucks, egrets, the famous Shoebill Stork, snakes, pythons and tortoises. Over 120 species of birds and 23 of primates can be seen at the facility. The Centre also has red-tailed monkeys, cattle, crocodiles, peacocks, crested cranes, parrots, goats, elephants, chicken, warthogs, cobras, impala, topis, forest hogs and eland among many others. Apart from animals, there is also an incredible plant life (flowers, shrubs, trees and herbs) and butterfly species. Unfortunately, there are no mountain gorillas in the zoo. To see them, you need to read about gorilla trekking in Bwindi.

Visiting the Entebbe zoo or Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is also one way of contributing to wildlife conservation. The money collected is used to feed the animals, pay the caretakers, breeding wildlife and picking rescued animals from remote locations within Uganda.

17: Tree climbing lions of Ishasha

Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is the second-largest national park in Uganda (after Murchison Falls), located on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley. The park offers vast scenes and incredible volcanic features such as cones and crater lakes where salt is farmed from the pans. Furthermore, you can experience a whole array of safari experiences, from game drives & boat safaris to chimp trekking.

More than just dramatic scenery, QENP is home to a wide variety of wildlife and is one of the best locations in Uganda to see large herds of buffalo and Ugandan Kob, and of course the famous tree climbing Lions in Ishasha. 

Located in the remote regions of Ishasha, in QENP’s southern most part, these unique lions have made their home.Seeing these magnificent lions ascending up the trees is a brilliant addition to any itinerary. This rare activity is only found in only one other park in East Africa, Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

Seeing lions climbing trees in Ishasha means that you won’t head out scanning the grasslands – your eyes will be drawn to the large Sycamore Fig Trees dotting the landscapes.

No-one is particularly sure why these lions have taken to the trees, however, the Sycamore Figs do provide excellent shelter during the rains. The local people say it is part of the lions’ culture whilst others say they prefer the cool breeze up in the branches and being away from the pests on the ground.

It is also highly likely you will see these unique lions lounging in the trees – as the cubs jump and play in the branches above, you’ll enjoy this amazing site. 

Additionally, others allude to the large amounts of Tsetse (tzetze) flies. These flies roam on the ground level and continuously bite the lions. Thus, as a way of protecting themselves, the lions climb up the trees, where the number of flies dramatically decrease. Other animals in the region, such as leopards, buffalos and antelopes also climb trees