Africa is rich in its diversity of landscape, culture and wildlife. To fully appreciate its variety, you could travel to each of the continent’s 54 states.
But with over 60 protected areas within its borders, you may find that Uganda’s sights and adventures alone give you a lot of bang for your buck. From dense forests to glistening lakes, mountain treks and waterfall explorations, Uganda is more vast and intriguing than the average traveller might realise.
We’ve put together a list of our favourite and unexpected ways to enjoy Uganda.
1. Kayaking Bunyonyi Lake
You may associate most of Africa with safaris across sprawling savannahs, but in east Africa a water adventure is a distinct possibility. Uganda’s freshwater Bunyonyi Lake is the perfect place to paddle and meander. It is speculated to be anywhere between 44m and 900m deep, which could make it the second deepest in the country.
Traversing the beautiful waters by canoe or kayak you can visit the numerous islands dotted inside the lake. Take some some time to learn the unique story of each little chunk of land. The island of Bucuranuka, for instance, according to legend would turn upside down to smite the cruel and unkind visitors as a form of justice.
2. Butterflies of the Impenetrable Forest
No, they’re not just found in conservatories and designated butterfly houses in Europe. The Bwindi National Park’s intriguingly dubbed “Impenetrable Forest” contains at least 220 different species of butterfly.
Some Bwindi researchers estimated in 2012 that there were up to 310 individual species of these colourful creatures. According to their calculations, you can see as many as fifty different species a day! Add to that the many species of frog and rarer creatures such as geckos and chameleons, as well as hundreds of mammals and birds, and you’ll take in more fauna than during a Attenborough special.
3. Karuma Falls
A cascading azure, Karuma Falls certainly deserves to rank among the most impressive attractions in Uganda. Officially named the Murchison Falls, the water spectacle derives its common name from the great spirit Karuma who positioned the stones which break the waters in the river. Don’t go to Uganda without seeing these majestic falls.
4. Bird Watching Water Safari
Once hooked on the spectacle of Murchison Falls, you’ll be tempted to spend a bit more time there and safari along the waterways. Uganda’s Albert Nile corridor is so spectacular that it served as the backdrop for the 1950s film African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
Safaris along these waterways are a bird watcher’s absolute delight. The area surrounding the Murchison Falls is also one of the best places in Uganda to find the prehistoric-looking shoebill stork, along with 450 other species of bird.
5. Narus Valley Wildlife
Nestled between two major river systems, the Kidepo Valley national park is often overlooked because of its remoteness. But taking the journey is well worth it for a chance to see rarer wildlife.
Many species appear only in this area in Uganda, including cheetah, eland and the greater and lesser kudu. Beyond the rare are the magnificent “typical” African creatures including lions, zebras, waterbuck, giraffe and side-striped jackals.
6. Rwenzori Mountains Trek
When you first see these three million year old mountains, frequently encased in clouds, your immediate instinct will probably not be to climb them. But the experience is unique and unmissable. This is one of the few treks in the world where travellers can move through tropical rainforest and alpine meadows, ending at snowy caps.
The Rwenzori mountains are one of only three snow capped mountains in Equatorial Africa and can be trekked with Inspired Escape. The entire journey takes seven days and six nights, beginning in the National Park Nyakalengija, winding its way around Mount Baker.
7. Kasubi Tombs
Incorporating African history into a trip can be a lot more challenging than visiting a European medieval fortress. There are very few African structures or historical sites that survive to modern day. Uganda, however, does offer some glimpses into its heritage.
An important spiritual place to the Buganda Kingdom of Africa, the Kasubi Tombs are the final resting place of four royals or Kabakas of Buganda. Sadly the thatched builds, constructed in 1881, burned down in 2010 after being declared a National Heritage Site in 2001. But the site can still be visited and many relics buried with the royals are on display.
8. Nyero Rock Paintings
A great deal of African history survives in the form of rock paintings. Uganda’s Nyero Rock Paintings are painted onto the stone walls of primitive rock shelters. The sheer age of these murals makes a visit compulsory.
The site is said to date back to the late Iron Age though the exact origins of these rock paintings have never been identified. These mysterious but aesthetically pleasing markings are a unique opportunity to reconnect with a long lost time.
9. Spend some time in a local community project
One of the best ways to get to know a country well and its local culture is to spend time with rural local communities away from main city centres. There you will get to understand the challenges local people face in their everyday lives and witness first hand how they are able to use what little they have to create a social change. However, if you think these communities are spending their time wallowing in their circumstances, you can't be more wrong. Infact, once you are there you will be inspired by the resourcefulness, customs, rituals, and celebrations of the local people. A life enriching experience. Whenever you generously and unconditionally share your knowledge and wealth, you find that you end up gaining more than you give.
The Gorilla Safari is probably the most popular of Uganda’s attractions. The dense forest in the Bwindi National Park allows limited numbers of tourists to journey (with guides) into the Gorillas’ home and observe these massive creatures in their natural habitat.
The sight of these gentle giants and their raw power is understandably a must see when visiting Uganda. It’s why we’ve included a chance to view the gorillas in our charity trek to Uganda.
On an Inspired Escape trek to Uganda, not only will you have the chance to work alongside the local community, to help improve the quality and supply of water, but you may be lucky enough to glimpse some of its rarest inhabitants too.