Covering a Total area of about 240 thousand square kilometers, Uganda is a landlocked country located in East Africa, lying within the Albertine Rift Valley and crossed by the Equator. Famously known as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, as described by Winston Churchill in 1907;for those who have undertaken safaris in Uganda would agree to the fact that the country is an astonishing and breathe taking nation with a wide diversity of Wildlife and plant species; landscape and Cultures. Uganda has the largest bird species population of about 1,040 and the most primate species concentration in Africa of 18 species, which include Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden Monkey, Black and White Colobus monkeys, baboons, mangabey monkeys and others. The presence of a wide variety of species is because of Uganda’s geographical location charaterised by wetlands, woodland, moorland, savaana, lakes, rivers and many more; which spread on a Magnificent landscape . The landscape has its highest elevation at 5,109m altitude on Mt.Rwenzori, Margherita Peak. Mt.Rwenzori is located in the western Region, in Districts of Kasese and Fort Portal, along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying along the Albertine Rift Valley. Such landscapes with higher elevation flank the world’s largest fresh water lake and its river which is primarily the Longest River in the World, Lake Victoria and River Nile respectively. In addition to the water bodies, Uganda has a series of other lakes such as Lake Katwe, a salty lake formed due to volcanic activity and supports extraction of salt; Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kyoga and many others.
Considering its geographical location and the fact that it is crossed by the Equator, Uganda has one of the favoring and suitable climate in the world that supports vegetation growth and Human settlement. There are a number of Tourist attractions in Uganda; ranging from cultural sites, National Parks, Religious centers, communities, landscapes, Forest reserves and many others. However, Uganda’s prime safari destination is the National Parks. Uganda has a total of 10 National Parks, spread in all the regions of the Country. Eastern region has the Mt.Elgon National Park in districts of Mbale and Kapchorwa, along the border with Kenya; NorthEast region has the theKidepo Valley National park in Kaabong District, alongthe border with South Sudan and Kenya;NorthWest region has the Murchison Falls National Park, in the districts of Masindi and Nwoya districts; The western region has parks of Kibale Forest National park in Kabrole and Kamwenge districts; Semuliki National Park in Bundibugyo district; Queen Elizabeth National Park in districts of Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukungiri; South western region has Mgahinga National Park in kisoro district; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Kanungu district and Lake Mburo National Park in Kiruhura district.
|Queen Elizabeth||Bushenyi, Kasese&Rukungiri|
|Mt.Rwenzori||Kasese& Fort Portal|
|Bwindi Impenetrable Forest||Kanungu|
NORTH WESTERN UGANDA ATTRACTIONS
Murchison Falls National Park
This is the oldest and largest national park in Uganda, covering a total area of about 3,480Km², established in 1952. It is a prime destination for Uganda Wildlife safaris due to its rich biodiversity, having the largest Rothschild’s giraffe species population of about 885 individuals, which is almost half of the world’s population of the species at a total of about 2,500; a number of mammals species such as elephants, lions, antelopes and many more. It has a magnificent landscape with one of the most amazing and breathe taking waterfalls in the entire world, Murchison falls. The falls are characterized by roaring waters of River Nile, that cut between rocks, dropping at about 50m. The falls are were after Roderick Murchison, a British who was the president of the Royal geographical society in 1863. River Nile bisects the park into two sections, southern and Nothern. The Nothern section has more wildlife than the southern. However, the park is composed of reserves such as Budongo Forest reserve, home to a number of chimpanzee primate species
Ziwa Rhino Sancuary
The sanctuary offers the only opportunity to view the rare species of the Rhino, in the wild in Uganda. The sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where the species exists.
WESTERN & SOUTHERN UGANDA ATTRACTIONS
It is the most scenic and dramatic region in the whole of Uganda, with a magnificent landscape characterized by crater fields, lakes and rivers, tropical rainforest, savanna and many more. Most of the areas in this region are above 600m altitude and lie along the Albertine Rift valley. The landscape rises from the plains of the semuliki valley in Bundibugyo district up to the 5,109m altitude of the snow caped Mt.Rwenzori in Kasese district. The altitude of the region enables a favorable climate with maximum temperatures at about 28°C and annual rainfall of about 3,000mm.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park:
The park was recently ranked fifth out of the 129 recognized United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage sites in Africa. This is primarily because of its enormous population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas where a minimum of 400 gorillas, almost half of the World’s Mountain Gorilla population that totals to about 880 individuals. The park covers an area of about 331Km² and is the prime Uganda Gorilla Safari destination with 12 habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups which include Kahungye, Mubare, Rushegura, Busingye, Nkuringo, Habinyanja, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza; and Kyaguriro. The habituated social mountain gorilla groups are scattered in areas of Buhoma which is near the northern boundary of the Park; Ruhija near the Eastern Boundary of the Park; Rushaga near the Southern Boundary of the park; and Nkuringo near the South west boundary of the park.
“Bwindi”, which literally means the dark place, is characterized by a Tropical Afro montane forest. The forest has one of the richest eco systems in Africa, lying on an elevation that ranges from about 1,160 to 2,607m altitude; making it a suitable destination for nature walks, birding and other activities during safaris in Uganda. It is an exceptional forest having a wide variety of bamboo stands, which is the main habitant for Mountain Gorillas; intercepted by the highest concentration of large hardwood trees, ferns and other plant species in East Africa such as brown Mahogany, Brazzeialongipedicellata and many others. Besides Mountain gorillas, the National Park has a high diversity of butterfly and bird species, along with a number of mammal species. The Forest is a former home to the famous Batwa tribe who are believed to have occupied the greater parts of East Africa before the coming of the Bantu groups. The Batwa pygmies are also known as the ‘keepers of the Forest” due to the fact that they have fully lived in as far as their existence is concerned. Those who undertake gorilla tracking safaris in Uganda often encounter the tribe which literally has individuals who are not taller than 3ft.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
It is the most visited and popular Uganda safari destination. Located in the districts of Bushenyi, Kasese&Rukungiri; Queen Elizabeth National park is an exceptional National park characterized by a magnificent landscape covered by acacia woodland, tropical rainforest, waterbodies such as lakes and rivers. The park supports wildlife of about 95 mammal species which include the famous tree climbing Lions in the Ishasha sector, Elephants, buffaloes and many other; over 600 bird species, making it the prime birding Uganda Safari destination. Queen Elizabeth National Park is bordered by Kigezi game reserve to the south, Kyambura game reserve to the East, Kibale Forest National park to the North East and Rwenzori National park to the North West. It is intercepted by the Kazinga channel river which links the Lakes of George and Edward. The park is located on the floor of the albertine Rift valley, bounding the escarpments of the Rwenzori Mountains and Lakes Edward and George.The channel attracts large herds of buffaloes, hippos, birds and other wildlife, making it the prime viewing game spot in the park. Just outside the park, lies the crater lake field with lakes such as Lake Katwe, a salty lake with salt extraction activities ongoing; Lake Nyamununka and others.
Mt.Rwenzori National Park
Along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo lies Mt.Rwenzori National Park in districts of Kasese and For Portal. The park is named after its most significant feature, Mt.Rwenzori. The Mountain is the third highest in the whole of Africa with an elevation of about 5,109m, at Margherita peak, which marks the highest point in Uganda. Also known as the ‘mountains of the moon’, due to its snow-capped summits hiding high up in the clouds; Mt.Rwenzori is Africa’s biggest block mountain, formed about 3 million years ago by drifting.
NOTHERN AND EASTERN UGANDA ATTRACTIONS
Eastern Region’s most distinctive attraction is the Mount Elgon National Park, covering a total area of about 1,279Km², Shared by both Uganda and Kenya. However, Uganda is in possession of most of the park, owning up to 1110Km² total area. In the Nothern Region, the most distinctive attraction is the Kidepo valley National park which is at the North eastern tip of Uganda, bordering south Sudan and Kenya. The eastern region is covered by extinct volcanoes which move northwards through the remote Karamoja area towards KidepoVallley National park, with the landscape becoming progressively drier.
Mt.Elgon National Park
The most distinctive feature of the park is the Mountain, Elgon. The mountain is the world’s largest free standing volcano lying in the districts of Mbale and Kapchorwa. The mountain determines climate of the surrounding areas, with cold temperatures at higher altitude and warm at lower slopes.The national park is home to a number of species; Over 300 bird species such as the Jackson francolin, black collared apalis, the mustached green tinker bird etc; over 144 mammal species such as buffalo, antelope, waterbucks, elephants etc; and primates such as, blue monkey, red tailed, black and white colobus among others
One of the significant features of the park is the Sipi falls which has a series of 3 waterfalls; the highest and most magnificent drops off a cliff at a height of 100m; the second, Simba, dropping at a height of 69m; and Ngasire dropping at a height of 87m, off a ridge.
The local community is composed of the Bagisu and Sebei people in the districts of Mbale and Kapchorwa respectively. The two tribes are famously known for their act of circumcision. However, the Sebei go as far as carrying out the practice on females as well.
Kidepo Valleys National Park
It is the most remote and difficult to access among all the 10 National Parks, however, it is the most rewarding Uganda wildlife safari destination, with a semi-arid climate that has the area dry almost throughout the entire year.Its most distinctive feature is the Naurus valley which is the prime game viewing spot in the park. The valley remains green all year round while the rest of the park has dried out. This is because of the NaurusRiver, which seems dry by the looks, but has water beneath the sand. Wildlife often migrates to the valley during the dry season and dig holes in the sand covered river in order to access the water. The area is surrounded by the one of the famous tribes in Africa, the Karamajongs, who were once part of the Masaai of Kenya. The other community is the Ik people, living at the summitof Morungolemountain.
The district is a retreat destination, lying besides the out flow of Lake Victoria. It has a number of adventure attractions which are all centered on Lake Victoria and its outflow river, River Nile. Lake Victoria is the largest fresh water lake in the World covering total surface area of about 68,800 km2; shared by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The lake is also the source of the Nile, which is literally the longest River in the World, flowing about 6,853Km² Northwards through a number of countries into the Mediterranean Sea. At once, Jinja was the second largest Economic city in the whole of Uganda. In 1954, in order to acquire Hydro Electric Power, the Ripon falls were submerged to construct the Owen Falls Dam. John Hanning Speke, aEuropean Explorer, isbelieved to have been the founder of the source of the Nile in 1862. With a combination of excursion relaxing activities, breath taking scenery and historical significance, Jinja is one of Uganda Safari main attraction, offering relaxing and adventure activities such as Water rafting, Bungee Jumping, kayaking, fishing, quad biking, camping and many more.
Mabira is the longest and largest rainforest in Uganda stretching on an area of about 300Km². It is characterized by a number of tree canopy species which are home to several primates, mammal, butterflies, reptile, birds and many more wildlife species. While in the the forest, take you will realize how Nature is good to Humanity, with the refreshing pure air and cold temperature.
CENTRAL REGION ATTRACTIONS
The most outstanding tourist destination in the region is Kampala district, which is literally the country’s capital. Primarily, it is the largest urban center in Uganda with a population of over 1 million people. Historically, the city is known as ‘city of seven hills’, however, there are other hills that surround the city. The seven hills includeLubaga, Old Kampala, Namirembe, Kololo, Makerere, Mulago and Kibuli. Down the hills lies the streets and suburbs of Kampala, with social communities that live in the 5 divisions of the District. The divisions include Central, Kawempe, Nakawa, Makindye and Rubaga.
Rubaga division has a total residential percentage of about 26.30%; Kawempe 17.90%; Central 23.50%; Makindye 23.50%; and Nakawa 18.90%. According to the population census over the years, the city’s population has increased from about 7 thousand people in 1991 to about 1.6million people in 2015. This is because of infrastructural and economic development, as well as political stability.
There are only seven Baha’i temples in the world. Uganda is home to one of the temples, the only one in Africa of the Baha’i faith. The temple is located on Kikaya hill, north of Kampala city. The temple has a wonderful nine sided architecture structure which represents Unity, designed by Charles Mason Remey. Building of the temple started in 1958 and ended in 1961. The temple lies on an area of 52acres. It is 130ft high with a diameter of the dome at 44ft. The Baha’i faith is one that brings all religions together, praying and worshiping together in the same environment. The faith was founded in the mid-19thCentury, in 1844 by Baha’u’llah.
The mosque is located on Kibuli hill, 1km from the city center of Kampala, Makindye Division. Kibuli hill rises up to 3973ft above sea level, and is both a residential and commercial area that is dominated by Muslims. Prince BadruKakungulu a Buganda royal who owned most of the land in Kibuli, offered a portion to the Muslims in the 1930’s. A foundation stone was laid in 1936. However
The Kasubitombs is a cultural site in the Buganda Kingdom. Located about 5kms from the city Centre, along the Kampala-Hoima road, the tombs are a burial ground for only the Kabaka’s (kings) of the Kingdom of Buganda. The tombs are locally known as “masiro”. They were built in 1881 out of bamboo sticks and thatch grass. Four of the Buganda kabaka’s have been buried at the site;
- Muteesa I (1884)
- Mwanga II (1903)
- DaudiChwa II (1939)
- Sir Edward Muteesa II (1969)
Uganda Matry’s Namugongo Shrine
The Uganda Marty’s shrine is a religious site located in Namugongo. By the 1870’s, Europeans had spread Christianity within the interior of Uganda. In 1884, the acting Kabaka (King),Mwanga, who was a homosexual, wanted his subjects to practice the act as well. The baganda Christian converts resisted Mwanga’s call for homosexuality. He then ordered the execution of 3 baganda Christians; YusufuRugarama, MakoKakumba and NuwaSerwanga, who were executed at BusegaNatete on January 31, 1885. They are regarded to be the first Uganda martyrs. Later in October of the same year, the Anglican Bishop, James Hannington, was murdered on his way back to Buganda from Busoga.
Mwanga’s traditional healer had convinced him that anyone who approached Buganda from the backdoor had evil intention towards Buganda Kingdom.Mwangathen ordered his soldiers to murder anyone who approached Buganda from the backdoor. Busogawas at the “backdoor” of Buganda; and when Bishop Hanningtondecided to take a shorterroute from the south of lake victoria through Busoga, he was murdered. A senior adviser to Mwanga, Joseph MukasaBalikuddembe who was a catholic convert, criticized Mwanga for having ordered the murder of the Bishop. Mwangadeclared the execution of Balikuddembe by be-heading for questioning his actions on the 15 November 1885. He was be-headed at Nakivubo.
Between the period of December 1885 and May 1886, many other converts were murdered at the order of Mwanga. All the martyrs have from the years been remembered in Uganda with a National day Celebration annually every 3rd June. Those who undertake city tours as part of Uganda safaris get the chance to visit the shrine.
It is the oldest and biggest museum in Uganda, founded in 1908. The Uganda Museum has a remarkable collection of human history of over two million years ago. The Museum is divided into 5 different sections which include:
- Independence pavilion: science and industry with the 7th car in Uganda and model of the first telephone in East Africa
- Archeology: Stone age (1million years ago) and Iron age
- Paleolontology: Species of Mammals
- Ethno History: First Printing press, Ugandan Cultures
- Tradition Music: Traditional music intruments
Old Kampala Mosque
The mosque is located on the oldest hill in the capital Kampala. It is also known as the Gadafi mosque named after the late president of Libya, Muammar Gadafi. The late Libyan President commissioned its construction which was completed in 2006, as a gift to the Uganda Muslim society in particular. The Mosque was officially opened in June 2007 and named Uganda’s Naional mosque in 2013 following the death of Muammar Gadafi. The mosque is on an area of 12acres and has 5domes.It can host a total of about 16,100 people. The Minaret is an outstanding feature on the mosque. It is erected 50.5 meters high and one can be able to view the whole of Kampala city at the top of this minaret.
Kabaka’s palace. (Lubiri)
The Kabaka’s palace is located in Bulange Mengo, built in 1922. However the current kabaka, Muwenda Mutebi doesn’t live in the palace. This is because of the bloodshed that occurred during the attacks med on the palace by Obote’s Military troops, led by Idi Amin Dada in 1966. Obote, who had merged his Political Party (Uganda People’s Congress) with that of the Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda, KabakYeeka(KY); had gone into talks with the opposition party, Democratic party led by BenedictoKiwanuka, requesting it to join with the already merged UPC and KY. Mutesa II opposed the referendum and sent Baganda soldiers to dis-organise the talks. Obote decided to abolish Kingdoms in Uganda and introduced central power, along with a new constitution that abolished the Kingdom’s Federal system. The Baganda Protested, forcing the Kabaka toorderObote’s to exit off Buganda land. He also appealed to the United Nations Secretary General, U Thant. Obote accused Mutesa II of treason and sent his troops, led by Idi Amin, with orders to capture Kabaka Mutesa II, dead or alive. There was a heavy gun fire between the Kabaka’s subjects and Obote’s troops. However, the kabaka managed to flee out of the palace during a heavy rain downfall that had slowed down Obote’s troops. The palace was then captured by Obote’s troops and turned into a military ground.
Later in 1971 on the 25th January, Amin over threw Obote through a coup d’état, declaring himself President of Uganda. Obote was away on international duty at the commonwealth conference in Singapore, when Amin over threw him as the Ugandan President. Due to high suspicion of possible existence of Obote’s rebels in the country; an Arsenal was built at the palace, which was later turned into a torture Chamber. Anyone that opposed or was suspected to Oppose Amin’s rule was taken to the chambers and tortured to death. The chambers had 6 rooms, each containing about 500 people. Most of them died from starvation and others died from electric shocking. Below the prison cells, there was water that was electrified with electric wires.
Originally known as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Anglican main center of worship is Uganda’s oldest cathedral. It was first built in 1890 and later completed in 1919. The church also has the Remains of Bishop Hannington, who was murdered by Kabaka Mwanga in October 1885 for approaching Buganda using the backdoor. Mwanaga believed that anyone who used the backdoor as an entry to Buganda was a rival. Bishop Hannington became a martyr. The cathedral is located on Namirembe hill, 2km from the city Centre in Kampala. The hill has an elevation of 4130ft. The height gives you a clear view of the rest of Kampala.
It is originally known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral. It is the main and oldest cathedral for the Catholic religion. It was first built in 1914 by the White Fathers from the French Catholic missionary society. The land where the church is built was donated by the Kabaka of Buganda in 1889, Kabaka Mwanga II. It was completed in 1925. It is located on Lubaga hill, a hill with a 4000ft elevation, Lubaga Division. Lubaga comes from a luganda word “okubaga” which means planning. The hill served as a location for the palace for two of the Kings of Buganda. In the 18thCentuary, Kabaka NdawulaNsobya, the 19th Kabaka of Buganda; and Kabaka Mutesa I from 1856 to 1884. Hoever, the palace was burnt by lightning and he moved it to mengo hill. Lubaga hill was used to plan military expeditions by the Buganda generals. However, the missionaries had trouble with pronouncing the word Lubaga. Instead, they called it Rubaga.
Apart from amenities, the city offers relaxing treats, with most of Uganda’s beaches situated along the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe. The city lies along the shores of Lake Victoria, in Wakiso district, which en-circles Kampala. It is in Entebbe that the nations International Airport is situated, Entebbe International Airport; The Uganda Wildlife Education Center, formerly Known as the Entebbe zoo, whose aim is to promote conservation education awareness of Wildlife species to the community.