The distinctive attraction of Uganda as a tourist destination arises out of the variety of its game stock and its unspoiled scenic beauty. Within a relatively limited space of just over 250,000 square kilometres, Uganda offers an interesting contrast ranging from the wide East African plains and expansive savannah grasslands to the impenetrable, mountain rain forests and snow peaked mountains in the south western parts of the country.Uganda offers a wide range of bird species and wild range in addition to numerous opportunities for mountain climbing and water sports such as a white water rafting.Uganda generally has substantial natural resources for tourism with a variety of landscape and ecosystems, climates and cultures. Some of its features are outstanding by international standards such as the sheer variety of bird species, while others are unique. Uganda’s eco-systems and cultural diversity are unaltered and unspoilt by modern commercial influences. Numbers of visitors are small and therefore the Ugandan experience has novelty and rarity values not easily found elsewhere in Africa.Tourist Attractions:
Uganda is an exhilarating place for outdoor orientated people.
Whether you are looking for strenuous activities – sometimes with a real sense of adventure – or for more relaxing pursuits amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Africa; whether you are 8 or 80, then Uganda has something to offer. All activities can be arranged by Ugandan tour operators.
Rafting action on the Nile in Jinja
White water raftingThe thrill of churning rapids is one of the newest adventures in Uganda. As the River Nile flows through On its 6600 km journey to the Mediterranean it alternates between a placid course and swirling white water rapids. White Water rafting is available near the Bujagali-Falls.
More than four thousand miles in length, the mighty Nile is the longest river on earth.
The great waterway has played a monumental role in history. It traverses an incredible variety of landscapes, a colourful medley of cultures and since the beginning of time has enthralled civilisations with its power and mystery. Ancient Egyptian kings sent armies in search of the source of the great river and explorers from Herodotus to Speke have sought to chart its course. Until very recently no one dared challenge the White Nile at its source – some of the most powerful and sustained rapids on earth.
Adrift made an historic first descent of the Victoria Nile in July 1996 and now make regular descents of the White Nile. Up to ten times the volume of the Zambezi thunders between the heavily forested islands and wooden canoes laden with excited locals congregate in the calm waters anxious to see Adrift rafts in action. To the amazement of their audience Adrift clients plunge into the maelstrom and ride the mountainous waves downstream. Adrift rafts explode through huge walls of whitewater and drift through warm pools in the equatorial sunshine. This is whitewater rafting at its very best.
At Murchison Falls National Park numerous pods of hippos raise themselves out of the water to watch Adrift rafts pass by, red-tailed monkeys leap between the jungle canopy and crocodiles aggressively defend their territories.
This is Africa as it once was; a wild, exciting and virtually impenetrable land where man is an infrequent visitor. Retrace the first descent of the Victoria Nile and challenge the most impressive whitewater in the world. The Adrift expedition finishes at the incomparable Murchison Falls in the heart of Uganda’s largest National Park – the most powerful rush of water on the planet. For information contact: Adrift.
Uganda is a walker’s paradise, and the choice is incredible.
Many National Parks have nature trails (in areas where predators are not around) require varying degrees of energy, while several of our lakes have trails that meander around the banks. In the National parks rangers are usually available. In the rural areas local hotels will be happy to tell you about the best walking country, and recommend a guide.
The wide range of ecosystems in Uganda have provided habitats for many unusual plants and flowers. From the high snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori, to Our lush green hills and wetlands and the arid lands of the Karamoja, Uganda is covered with wonderful and colourful flora. A special place to start your exploration is the Botanical Gardens Entebbe, founded in 1898 in a natural forest; it is a microcosm of Ugandan plant life. For further information contact: The Wildlife Clubs of Uganda.
For the more adventurous and those with more energy, several trails require trekking experience, and again the choice is wide. For those that wish to trek for several days and camp on the way, the Karamoja, the foothills of the mountains (the central Circuit trail) and the Sasa River Trail on Mount Elgon are popular treks. For further information contact Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mount Elgon (PI5), the Rwenzoris (P8) and the Virungas (Pl4) are excellent regions for medium and easy climbs. Some routes do not need special equipment, particularly if you don’t attempt their summits, and guides and porters are available locally, but some experience is necessary. For further information contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
PO Box 102 Entebbe
or send e-mail to Uganda Tourist Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boating and Canoeing
Lake Victoria has two thriving sailing clubs, and several members welcome visitors and visiting crew. Rowing boats and local canoes may be hired ( at Gaba resort beach]. Local boats and canoes can often be rented at villages near other lakes.
The two sailing clubs are Entebbe and Jinja Sailing Clubs.
The challenging courses and hospitable golf clubs of Uganda, with their lush greens and attractive fairways, provide golfers with an opportunity to relax after their adventure of a safari. Golf courses are found in Kampala (18 holes), Jinja, Tororo, Mbale. Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Masindi, Fort Portal, Kasese, Kabale, Masaka, Kinyala Sugar Estate and Entebbe (9 holes) Kampala Golf Club (opposite Fairway Hotel) For details contact : P.O. Box 624 Tel: +256-41 236848
Most of Uganda’s wildlife is concentrated in its protected areas, of which there are three main categories: National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, and Forest Reserves. The conservation and management of these areas falls under two principal agencies, the Uganda Wildlife Authority under the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry and the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources. Uganda has established 10 National Parks, enabling tourists to enjoy the pristine wilderness environment.
Murchison Falls National Park:
This is the largest National Park in Uganda – covering 3,480 sq km – and one of the most spectacular in Africa. At the Murchison Falls, the river Nile plunges through a narrow crevice and over a 40-metre drop. In the eastern sector of the park, before the Murchison Falls themselves, are the Karuma Falls, where the Nile cascades over a breathtaking 23 km of rapids, creating some of the most exciting white-water rafting opportunities in Africa. A cruise upstream the Nile to the Falls is an unforgettable experience. On the banks, prolific wildlife including elephant, crocodile, hippopotamus, lion, giraffe, buffalo, and countless antelopes and birds can be observed.
Queen Elizabeth National Park:
The Queen Elizabeth National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO auspices. The park, in the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, covers 1,978 sq. km and includes a remarkable variety of eco-systems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah and swamps. It is the home of the famous tree-climbing lion as well as the Uganda Kob, other antelope species, elephant, baboons, hippos, buffalo and chimpanzees. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded, making the park a magnet for bird watchers. The bird species include the black bee-eater, 11 types of king fisher, and several species of falcons, eagles and other raptors. In the crater lakes to the north, flocks of flamingoes can be found. A favourite way to view the game is by launch trip on the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:
The park with its dense ground cover of vines and shrubs is home to the world famous mountain gorillas, of which they are less than 600 still left in the entire world. Gorilla permits are required for tracking the gorillas and it is, therefore, advisable to make reservations at least three months in advance. Bwindi is one of the richest areas for flora in Eastern Africa. The forest is also sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many bird types including some endangered species.
This is yet another haven for the persecuted mountain gorilla. Located on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, in the extreme southwest corner of Uganda, the park has been set aside to provide a secure habitat for the gorillas. However, besides the gorillas, other wildlife may also be viewed including the leopard, giant forest hog, bushbuck, buffalo, and golden monkey. The summit of Mount Muhavura (4,127 m) has a small crater lake.
Kibale Forest National Park:
The rainforest is situated to the north-east of Queen Elizabeth National Park. In addition to forest, there are also areas of grassland and swamp. The park is noted for its primate population – 11 different species inhabit the park including many families of chimpanzees and several types of colubus monkeys. Bushbuck, waterbuck, duiker and giant forest hog may also be seen. The forests and the grasslands support abundant bird life – almost 300 species have been identified and 144 types of butterfly.
Kidepo National Park:
The Park is located in North East Uganda and covers 1,344 sq. km. It is inhabited by various wildlife including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, various antelope species, baboon, bushbaby and over 200 species of bird. Two game viewing routes connect the rest camp with the prime wildlife areas near the Winwing River and the rock escarpment to the southwest. On the park’s northern borders are the Kananorok Hot Springs.
This is an extinct volcano located on Uganda’s eastern border. The mountain boasts numerous interesting features including gorges, ancient caves, water falls at Sipi and hot springs. Birdlife is abundant on the mountain although various wildlife may also be encountered.
This is the only park in Uganda to be composed primarily of tropical lowland forest. The forest is very dense and quite flat, creating a startling contrast to the rugged Rwenzori Mountains nearby. The Semliki River attracts many animals. The park is home to eight species of primate, 400 birds and 300 butterfly species. Elephant, buffalo, leopard, civet, bushbaby and flying squirrels are also found.
Lake Mburo National Park:
Situated between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara, this comparatively small park (256 sq. km) is Mburo, which together with 14 other lakes, forms part of an extensive wetland area. Animals to be found in the park include the impala, eland, rock hyrax, zebra, waterbuck, buffalo, composed primarily of grassland, wetland and acacia woodland. At the center lies the Lake warthog, leopard, civet, hyena, hippo, and crocodile. There are also over 357 species of birds including the marabou stock and the crowned crane.
The mist-shrouded peaks of the Mountains of the Moon provide a stunning backdrop to this magnificent park, located on Uganda’s western border. In the center of the range, some of the peaks are permanently covered in snow and glaciers, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forests. Here is the third highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Magherita, which rises to 5,100 metres above sea level. Walking tours in the foothills are a feature, although only the experienced and fit should attempt an ascent on the peaks, which rival the Alps in difficulty. Some of the wildlife to be found in the mountains include the chimpanzees, along with the blue monkey, hyrax, giant forest hog and many unique bird species such as the Rwenzori touraco, the francolin and the olive pigeon.
The Ssese Islands:
Consisting of 84 islands in the north-western section of Lake Victoria, the Ssese Islands have, for a long time, only been visited by local people and campers because of lack of tourist facilities. Now three campsites have been opened which can be booked through local tour operators. Nevertheless, many of the islands are uninhabited except for a few fishermen so their forests and swamps are ideal habitats for birds. The wildlife on the islands includes hippos, crocodile, waterbuck, sitatunga antelope, chimpanzees and monkeys. The islands can be reached by a nine-hour steamer trip from Port Bell or a 45-minute ferry trip from Bukakata.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center:(UWEC)
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe was created by the Government of Uganda with the help of the Wildlife Conservation Center in New York. The Center has grown considerably in recent years and hosts a variety of wildlife. UWEC is not a zoo as the center environment has been designed to be as close as possible to the wild. At the center, visitors are able to observe many of the indigenous species to be found in Uganda and also to receive comprehensive information on the species, their natural habitats and the complex ecologies of Uganda.
Birding in Uganda
Uganda is the birders’ultimate destination
The Crowned Crane
Uganda has more bird species per square kilometre than any other country in Africa. Uganda, roughly the same size as the UK, can boast a national list of 1008 species! This figure represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa.
The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m.
Situated on the equator Uganda has an area contiguous with the great Guinea / Congo Basin Rainforest on its Western border. Subsequently there are a number of west and central African bird species occurring in Uganda that are not found elsewhere in East Africa. There are more than 700 forest reserves in Uganda. One particular region is the Albertine Rift Endemic area (ARE), which has 38 species of birds confined to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo. Of these ARE’s Uganda has 25, mostly confined to the forests of Magahinga and Bwindi National Parks in the Southwest.
Uganda has 30,000 square kilometers of wetland.
210 species from the Shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox’s Weaver.
4 Papyrus endemics; Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow Warbler.
A White-winged Black Tern roost of 2-3 million birds in the Entebbe area.
Savannahs vary from the remote, semi-dessert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the Northeast, to the richer fertile savannahs of the western Rift valley. Queen Elizabeth National Park has a bird list of 604 species the highest for any protected area in Africa.
Some of the dry thorn-scrub birds:
Lichtenstein’s and Four-banded Sandgrouse
Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards
White-bellied Go-away bird
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Kampala and Entebbe
Over 550 species for the region.
A suburban garden list of 206 species.
212 species listed in 12hrs by 3 people.
One of the largest urban breeding colony of Marabou Storks.
Great Blue and Ross’s Turacos are common city birds.
Within The Kampala region are two major forest reserves less than an hours drive from the city which hold a variety of very special birds including;
Cassin’s Hawk Eagle
Blue-breasted and White-bellied Kingfishers
Grey-rumped and Blue Swallows
Emerald, Red-chested and Black Cuckoos
Some common urban birds
Black and White Casqued, Crowned and Pied Hornbills
White-faced Scops Owl
African Grey and Brown Parrots
Uganda’s 10 most commonly sought after Birds.
– African Green Broadbill
– Green-breasted Pitta
– Nahan’s Francolin
– Brown-chested Plover
– Karamoja Apalis
– Black Bee-eater
– Ruwenzori Turaco
– Red-fronted Antpecker
– Purvell’s Illadopsis
– The African Jacana
The African Jacana
Uganda is situated in a major flyway between the Albertine and Great rift Valleys.
Of Uganda’s 1008 species, 137 are Palearctic migrants.
At times of peak Spring passage, Waders congregate at all the muddy lagoons around the Entebbe peninsular with mixed flocks of thousands of birds.
Thousands of Steppe Buzzards and migrant Black Kites head south with smaller numbers of Honey Buzzard, Steppe and Booted Eagles each October.
Flocks of European Hobbies moving through join their African counterparts to feed at dusk in flocks of upto 30 or more around the hills of Kampala.
Barn Swallow and Sandmartins congregate in the millions feeding on the even larger swarms of Lake Flies.
The Yellow Wagtail overwinters with an estimated 1 million birds roosting in the reedbeds along the Kazinga Channel in QENP.
For a 10-14 day trip in Uganda a birder could probably see in the region of 400-500 species and have had the experience of birded in some of the most exciting and beautiful scenery in Africa.
Travel by road:
Driving in Uganda is enjoyable and is really the best way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, vegetation and wildlife.
Ordinance maps that are good and updated can be got from the Department of the Surveyor General in Entebbe and the Uganda Tourist Board in Kampala. Finding your way around the country is no problem at all.
You can obtain country, regional, and street maps of major cities and towns.
Uganda Motorists association also provides excellent maps detailing all the major roads and distances between major centres.
Uganda boasts some of the longest tarmacked roads in East Africa about 6,230 kms (3870miles).
The 22,100kms (13,730miles) of the secondary and dirt roads are very motorable, although they become muddy and slippery during the rainy seasons (March-April and October-November). Only four-wheel vehicles can be trusted to make the journey with some ease.
Driving is on the left hand side like in the United Kingdom.
The Service Providers:
Is operated by Uganda Post Ltd. It delivers mail and passengers. It is a scheduled service departing from Kampala Main post office daily at 8.00.am for major towns nationwide. Comparatively reliable service.
Country Buses “Coaches”
These are privately owned buses which connect Kampala with major towns and criss-cross the country. They operate from downtown Kampala. There are at least 4 buses on the major routes on a daily basis. The fares range from shs 10,000 to 20,000 depending on the destination.
These are 14 seater mini-buses locally called “Kamunye”. They are marked with a blue checkered band and the letter “T” on both front doors.
They dominate the entire transport system in Kampala and countrywide. They normally operate from the two main taxi terminals, the old and new taxi parks. They are non-scheduled and depart when filled up. Fares in and around Kampala city range from sh300 -500 for a one-way trip but the operators hike the fares at peak hours regardless of distance.
For city services, it is advisable to tender the exact fee whenever possible to avoid inconveniences. Destinations are displayed on the front windscreens but the bystanders, conductors and guides dressed in overcoats can be useful. Otherwise touts shout out various destinations. For long distance or country travel, medium size buses are recommended on account of reasonable speed.
Motorcycle Taxis “Bodaboda”
These motorcycle taxis locally known as “Bodaboda” have gained importance in rural and urban travel. They are mostly common in areas where taxis do not operate. Their fares range between shillings 500-1000.
These in Uganda are generally called special hire taxis, special in short. In towns they are marked with black or white checkered bands with letter S on both front doors. In Kampala the fares range from sh3000 to 5000 depending on the distance, negotiating skill and waiting time. Wealthy, foreign appearances and women are usually charged higher fares. Trying out other taxis will help you establish a reasonable fare. Airport taxis with yellow bands charge
sh25,000 for a one-way trip from Entebbe airport to Kampala.
Car Rental Services:
These are available from specialised travel agents and international car rental firms like Hertz and Avis.
Mweya Safari Lodge:
Mweya Safari management offers direct transport from Kampala to Queen Elizabeth National Park for US$50 return trip for those who want to explore Uganda’s scenic beauty and wildlife.
Uganda Railways suspended passenger services on its network including the marine service that once went to Mwanza in Tanzania and Kisumu in Kenya.
Air Travel Links: (International, Regional and Domestic)
International Air Travel:
A number of international scheduled airlines call at Entebbe International Airport easing communication with Europe, Middle East and the regional markets.
Weekly flights direct to Europe, Asia and other destinations are also available through Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Abu Dhabi and Cairo.
There are also daily scheduled domestic flights by local airlines like United Airlines and Eagle Air Uganda.
Accommodation is not that expensive in Uganda. You can get a reasonably good hotel room for as little as $35 a night. Whatever your budget and taste, you will be able to find something that suits you, from the 5-star Sheraton in the centre of Kampala to Speke Resort Munyonyo on the shores of Lake Victoria and Hotel Diplamate on Muyenga Hill overlooking the city. There are hotels of varying standards in all the major town. All the national parks and major tourist sites have either hotels or camping sites or both. Camping charges can be as low as $5 a night. You can bring your own tent, buy or hire one Kampala.
Hotels in Uganda by town