Suggested Uganda Safari CircuitsUganda is proud to share part of its land with the world's largest range of primates, from the tiny galagos or bushbabies to the rare, and endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei). In many parts of the country, and on any day, visitors can enjoy a forest trek to view families of primates. Something rarely available elsewhere in Africa, it is one of Uganda's greatest tour and safari attractions.
Chimpanzees abound in many regions and several national parks have facilities for guided nature walks to meet them in their natural habitat. In Murchison Falls National Park, Semliki, Kibale and Bwindi, families of chimpanzees (as well many colobus and other monkeys) can be encountered. Many conservation programmes ensure their protection, and all local tour operators can include primate trekking in their itineraries. The Isinga Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Isinga Island in Lake Edward is particularly exciting.
Only around 600 of the magnificent mountain gorillas are said to exist in the wild, although intense conservation programmes have succeeded in arresting their decline. About 300 are said to live in the Virunga Conservation Area which is made up of linked national parks, including Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda's Park National des Volcans, and the Parc National des Virunga in Zaire. Here, in the Virunga Mountains, in the southwestern corner of Uganda, there are integrated conservation programmes.
Some 45 of these gorillas live in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, although all of the groups have home ranges that extend into all the three countries.
The rest of the mountain gorilla population lives in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, about 25 km north of Mgahinga, where further international conservation programmes have been instituted.
Deep in the forests, the primates live in family groups that are very protective of their home ranges. Each group usually consists of a dominant male, with several females and their young, and some non-adult males. To watch them in their natural habitat is certainly one of the most inspiring experiences available to the serious safari-goer and tour adventure seekers.
Limited gorilla tracking tour is available daily (in Mgahinga only when the gorillas are in the park), but no guarantee of gorilla sightings is given. Numbers of visitors are restricted to eight, with only one group in each park a day. Advance safari and tour booking is, therefore, essential. In Bwindi there are two groups of habituated gorillas: Mubare (24 animals) and Katengegyere (16 animals). To protect the gorillas from human diseases no children under 15 or sick people (even with just a cold), may go trekking or tracking.
In Mgahinga National Park, be prepared for a 13-km walk or by 4WD vehicle from Kisoro and then strenuous walking and scrambling through thick undergrowth. A good physical condition is vital . In Bwindi conditions are slightly easier, but it is still a strenuous experience. To prevent behavioural disturbances, strict rules are explained to the group by the ranger in charge of the gorilla tracking/trekking expedition.
Strong walking safari shoes are essential, together with light waterproof long trousers to protect the legs.
".... a profusion of brilliant life" ... birds, butterflies and wildlife, Uganda has it all.
For ornithologists, botanists, lepidopterists, or just simple lovers of nature, Uganda has such a wealth of attractions that each visit will yield new discoveries.
Because of the wide range of habitats, from alphine crags to wetlands that attract migratory and as well as indigenous birds, Uganda is blessed with a profusion of birdlife. Some 463 species have been recorded, and more are being identified each year. The Great Rift Valley is one of the world's most important migratory routes, the majority of seasonal visitors having joined the valley from Europe, attracted by the warmer climates and plentiful food supplies. The wetlands around Uganda's lakes, including Lake George wetlands (protected under the Ramsar Convention) and the Rift Valley swamps, are the place to watch shore and waterbirds. The highlands and alpine regions provide opportunities to observe magnificent eagles and other raptors in their natural surrounding. The forests are home to a profusion of woodland birds and clouds of colourful butterflies, while on the broad grasslands vultures compete with tiny sunbirds for the birdwatcher's attention( during bird watching tours and safareis).
Remember to bring a good book on birds.
Birds to look out for
|Kivu Ground Thrush||Bwindi|
|Shelley's Crimson Wing||Bwindi|
|Ross's Touraco||Mt. Elgon|
|Crowned Eagle||Mt. Elgon|
|Fish Eagle||Mt. Elgon|
|Shoebill Stork||Murchison Falls/Lake Mburo Swamp/Bisina|
|Abyssinian Ground Hornbill||Lake Mburo|
|Crowned Crane||Kibale/Queen Elizabeth|
|Sacred Ibis||Semliki/and most parks|
|Blue-breasted Kingfisher||Queen Elizabeth/Lake Albert|
The Varied Cultural Heritage
Uganda is a country of many contrasts. The rugged mountains act as a foil to the softer meadows and broad savannah, while the dry uplands contrast with the wetlands of the lake shores. The contrasts between the various people of Uganda reflect this variety of surroundings, and are demonstrated in the multiplicity of cultures, traditions and lifestyles offering an opportunity for cultural tours and safaris.
The nation was born out of the unification of ancient kingdoms, as well as many smaller independent chieftains now part of the richness of the modern state. This heritage lives on in the hearts of the people, their traditional dress, languages, dances and customs.
The largest ethnic group are the Baganda, whose kingdom has always been influential in Ugandan affairs. Other ethnic groups include the Batoro, Banyankole, Iteso, Acholi, Basoga and Lugbara.
Today, all Ugandans live together, proud to be one people, but cherish the memory of their history and keep alive the traditions of their ancestors.
Many historical sites are settings of events from when Uganda was a land of many different peoples, and the local residents will be happy to explain their the traditions.
Religious tolerance is an important part of present-day Uganda. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others all live in harmony, free to practise their own religions. Ugandan temples and churches are buildings of great splendour, and venues for impressive festivals and celebrations as well as religious tours and safaris. Of special interest is the Lake Mburo Cultural Village which the Banyankole have created to highlight the customs and history of their kingdom.
Legends abound in local folklore, and storytellers are present in every community. Ask our old people to regale you with tales of the Chwezi.
Music and dance are an important part of the culture. The Imbalu dances of the Bagisu, on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, are particularly exciting, while the Runyege dances near Masindi are an unforgettable experience during any cultural tour and safari.
Some of Uganda's People
The Banyankole have developed a cultural centre close to the Sanga gate to Mburo National Park, just a few kilometres from Mbarara where visitors can learn more about the local culture and way of life. Typical village houses can be visited, and Ankole guides will explain their people's history and lifestyle. Distinctive Ankole handicrafts can be purchased as souvenirs.
Handicrafts & Souvenirs
A souvenir is an essential purchase to bring back memories when you return home. Some wonderful handicrafts can be found all over Uganda.
In every village, local people are skilled in creating colourful arts and crafts, both traditional and modern, which are handworked to a very high standard. Individual tribes, craftsmen and women make a wide range of articles - many of which are useful because they are used in our daily lives - but all are objects of great beauty, with patterns and colours that reflect the local culture.
Among the fine handicrafts are colourful mats in traditional patterns from Buganda, raffia bowls and baskets from Toro and Ankole, musical instruments from West Nile and Busoga, and the famous drums of Buganda. Most of the components and raw materials are found naturally in Uganda - local grasses and papyrus, banana fibre and palm leaves, gemstones, seeds, horn and woods, as well as skins and local leathers. Bark cloth from the Omutuba tree is particularly enchanting, and is widely used for mats, cushions and hats. Jewellery can be hand made from a broad range of materials, and provides distinctive decoration for both ladies and gentlemen. In the Karamoja region, traditional wood carvings will make characteristic souvenirs.
While handicrafts can be found in most village markets and in roadside stalls, shops in the main towns stock a wide range. In Kampala visit the Crafts Village behind the National Theatre, where there is a wide selection from all regions of Uganda.
If you have something special that you want, many of our craftsmen will be happy to design and create a special item just for you.
For further information, please consult:
The Uganda National Arts and Crafts Association
National Theatre Cultural Village
P.O. Box ,Kampala
Tel: +256-41 236543
Fax: +256-41 256374
A Glimpse into History
Archaeological findings point to the fact that prehistoric man walked the earth in what is today Uganda. Many sites have been excavated that show habitation over the centuries. One of the more recent excavations is at Kiboro near Lake Albert, where there are traces of village life going back a thousand years.
Recorded history has a much shorter tradition, and documentary evidence of Uganda's past goes back only 150 years. However, oral traditions tell stories of several hundred years ago.
The 19th century was a period of great change and great strife in Uganda. Many of the most famous sites are associated with this period.
Important sites that relate to people and events in Uganda's rich past are now popular places for tourists to visit.
Kasubi Tombs - Kampala
Five kilometres north-west of Kampala on the Hoima road, is the burial place of the late Kabakas Mutesa I, Mwanga, Daudi Chwa, and Mutesa II. This historical site was once the palace of the Kabaka of Buganda. Muzibuazaala-Mpanga the magnificent round thatched building, 14 metres in diameter, houses the tombs of the kings.
Wamala Tombs - Mpigi
The shrines of Kabaka Suna II were built at Mpigi in 1856. He was the son of Kabaka Kamanya, and was the first Kabaka to receive Arab traders.
Kabalega's Tombs - Mparo near Hoima
Kabalega was the ruler of Bunyoro from 1869 until he was sent into exile by the British in 1899. He returned to Uganda in 1923 and died at Jinja.
Karambi Tombs, Kabarole
These are the tombs of Daudi Kyebambe (Kasagama) and George Kamurasi Rukidi II. The kingdom of Toro arose in the early 19th century when Prince Kaboyo, son of Kyebambe, the ruler of Bunyoro rebelled against his father.
Kalema's Prison Ditch (Tambiro) - Mpigi
The site is 16 km west of Kampala. Kabaka Kalema (1888-90) was a Muslim who reigned at a time of religious strife. He had succeeded his brother, Kiwewa (1888), who had himself succeeded his younger brother, the deposed Kabaka Mwanga. Kabaka Kalema had 30 close relatives killed in this ditch.
Mugauzilwazza's Earthworks, Kyebando - Kampala
The earthworks were built to serve as a prison by Kabaka Mutesa I, but were never used.
Baker's Fort, Patiko - Gulu
Built by Sir Samuel Baker in 1872 to suppress the slave trade and in an attempt to annex Bunyoro.
Nyero Rock Paintings - Kumi
The impressive rock paintings are on a granite hill known as Moru Ikara near the village of Nyero. The rock face is decorated with ornate designs, canoes and zebra.
Bweyore Capital site - Mbarara
Ankole traditions tell us that Bweyore was chosen on several occasions to be the Omugabe's capital. The first occupation was by Omugabe Kasasira in about 1650. It was also used by Karara, son of the Macwa at the end of the 18th century. The last time the site was used as the capital was under Rwebishengye, a contemporary of Kabaka Kamanya.
Nkokonjeru Tomb - Mbarara
This is the tomb site of Kahaya II, Gasyonga II, and other members of the Kingdom of Ankole.
Fort Lugard - Kampala
This is the British Fort established by Captain Lugard in 1890. The existing building was built between 1908 and 1910, and was the seat of British government for many years. The ramparts were destroyed during the Amin period.
Kiwewa's Tomb, Masanafu - Mpigi
Kiwewa's period of 1888 is referred to as the year of the three kings, namely Mwanga, Kiwewa and Kalema, and was a period of religious strife. Kiwewa was put to death on the orders of his brother, Kalema.
Katasiha Port and Cave - Hoima
This fort was established in 1894 by the British to subjugate Omukama Cwa II Kabalega, and is 2 km northwest of Hoima. Kabalega had used the cave as a hideout.
Kigezi Memorial - Kisoro
This memorial, four kilometres from Kisoro, marks the agreements in 1912 between Britain, Belgium and Germany that settled colonial boundaries, and established the District of Kigezi.
Namungongo Martyr's Shrine
This shrine, 12km from Kampala on the Jinja road, commemorates the 20 Uganda Christians burnt alive by Kabaka Mwanga in 1886.
The Slave Route
A new Africa-wide project identifies ancient slave routes that traversed the continent, and indicates some important sites within Uganda, revealing both the historical as well as social legacies of this era. A Slave Route map can be obtained from the National Museum.
3 Day Gorilla Trek safari
This Gorilla safari takes to Bwindi Gorilla park
3 Day Queen Elizabeth Tour
The three day tour allows you to see wildlife and chimpanzee tracking in kyambura gorge.
7 Day Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla trekking safari
The gorilla trek in both bwindi and parc de volcanoes and wildlife safaris in Uganda parks
12 Day the best of Uganda and rwanda including gorilla trek
The gorilla trek in uganda and rwanda with wildlife safari tours takes you to the best tour spots in these two countries.
For Other safaris for gorilla trek and chimpanzee tracking tours visit the tour operators page of the Uganda Travel guide
Uganda's recognised safaris websites include
| Safari Profile | Natural Attractions | Main Urban Centres | Accommodation |
| Tour Operators | Useful Addresses | References | Kenya safaris
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