Uganda Travel Destinations – Popular Sites
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.
From its top to its tail, Uganda is rife with national parks. Chimpanzees play in the shadow of the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, elephants drink from the gushing waterfalls of Murchison Falls National Park, and lions and Ugandan cobb graze on the beautiful savannah grasslands of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
But delve deeper into the country’s southwestern corner, and you will find a different type of creature. Here, in the depths of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, half of the world’s remaining wild mountain gorillas roam free, and you can trek through their disappearing habitat to see them at work, rest and play.
Top Uganda Tour Destinations
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary – Top Choice Wildlife Reserve in Entebbe
Day trips (from US$50 per person) to see the residents here in Lake Victoria are popular. Plan ahead and you can join the overnight experience and a forest-walk with the chimps, who’ll climb all over you.
Mengo Palace – Historic Site in Kampala
Built in 1922 Mengo Palace is the home of the king of Buganda, a grand historical site.
Top Of The Falls – Waterfall in Murchison Falls National Park
Once described as the most spectacular thing to happen to the Nile along its 6700km length, the 50m river is squeezed through a 6m gap in the rock and crashes through this narrow gorge with unbelievable power.
Twa (Batwa) Village – Village in Semuliki National Park
Located outside the park in Bundimusoli, the Twa people were relocated here when the park was established and, with no other choice, have since adopted agriculture, but they’re keeping hold of their traditions.
Mt Elgon National Park – National Park in Eastern Uganda
A good alternative to climbing Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains or Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, trekking in Mt Elgon National Park offers a milder climate, lower elevation and much more reasonable prices.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park – National Park in Southwestern Uganda
The legendary, mist-covered Rwenzori Mountains are presumed to be the Mountains of the Moon, described in AD 350 by Ptolemy, who proclaimed them to be the source of the Nile River
AKA Gallery at Tulifanya – Gallery in Kampala
Formerly known as Tulifanya, this well-established gallery has knowledgeable owners who can inform you about artists who matter. It features a notable Geoffrey Mukasa collection.
Nommo Gallery – Gallery in Kampala
Established by the Ugandan Culture Centre in 1964, Nommo is a reliable spot for quality artwork.
Makerere Art Gallery – Gallery in Kampala
Small, but definitely worth a visit with fascinating monthly exhibitions; check website for events. There are also some cool sculptures on the grounds.
Umoja Art Gallery – Gallery in Kampala
Small contemporary gallery featuring Ugandan paintings and abstract sculptures in monthly shows.
@The Hub Kampala – Gallery in Kampala
A space for artists and freelancers, which features regular shows, film screenings and an outdoor cafe.
Karibu Art Gallery – Gallery in Kampala
Artist-run gallery and studio featuring emerging and established Ugandan abstract artists.
Bulange Royal Building – Notable Building in Kampala
A great place to learn about the history and culture of the Buganda Kingdom, guided tours take you inside the parliament building, providing interesting stories and details about the 56 different clans.
Kasubi Tombs – Mausoleum in Kampala
The Unesco World Heritage–listed Kasubi Tombs is of great significance to the Buganda kingdom as the burial place of its kings and royal family.
Gadaffi National Mosque – MOSQUE IN KAMPALA
One of Kampala’s premier sights, the prominent National Mosque was begun by Idi Amin in 1972 and finished in 2007 by Colonel Gadaffi. The hour-long tour allows you to scale its soaring minaret for the best views of Kampala.
Wamala Tombs – Historic Site in Kampala
A low-key Buganda royal site, Wamala Tombs is 11km north of Kasub.
Tomb of Nnamasole Kanyange – Historic Site in Kampala
Buganda royal tombs located 4km from Wamala tombs.
Uganda Art Gallery – Gallery in Kampala
Just down from Namirembe Cathedral, this small-scale gallery sells quality paintings by local artists at affordable prices.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre – Zoo in Entebbe
While it functions primarily as a zoo, this centre is actually a world-class animal refuge that has benefited from international assistance in recent years. Most of the animals on display were once injured
Entebbe Botanical Gardens – Gardens in Entebbe
Laid out in 1898, these expansive gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll. The highlights are its pockets of thick rainforest, which locals claim some of the original Tarzan films were made in, and excellent bird watching site.
Uganda Reptiles Village – Zoo In Entebbe
Get up close to some of the world’s deadliest snakes, including cobras and vipers, as well as chameleons, crocs and lizards, all which are rescued or injured. It’s around 3km off the Entebbe–Kampala road.
Murchison Falls National Park – National Park in Northwestern Uganda
Uganda’s largest national park and one of its very best; animals here are in plentiful supply and the raging Murchison Falls a sight to behold.
Source of the Nile River – River in Jinja
The birthplace of the mighty Nile river (or one of them anyway…), here the water spills out of Lake Victoria on its journey to the Mediterranean flowing fast from the get-go.
Igongo Cultural Centre – Museum in Mbarara
Located 12km from Mbarara on the road to Kampala, this new cultural village is worth a look. Set on the grounds of a former palace of the Ankole king, this quality museum explores the peoples of southwestern Uganda.
Lake Mburo National Park – National Park in Southwestern Uganda
The 370-sq-km Lake Mburo National Park is an increasingly common stop on the safari circuit since it’s the only place in southern Uganda to see zebra. It’s also the only park in the country with impala.
Great Lakes Museum – Museum in Mbarara
Along the highway on approach to Kabale, keep an eye out for this museum. It has a varied collection of artefacts and masks, information on clans, and more quirky items such as displays on the evolution of phones an…
Home of Edirisa – Museum in Kabale
Inside the Home of Edirisa hostel, this simple and squashy (but very worthwhile) cultural museum houses a replica traditional homestead, built of sticks and papyrus, showing how the local Bakiga people lived a centuries.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – National Park in Southwestern Uganda
Although it’s the smallest of Uganda’s national parks at just 34 sq km, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park punches well above its weight. Tucked away in the far southwest corner of the country.
Katereke Prison – Historic Site in Kampala
Located on the outskirts of town, royal prisoners were starved in the prison ditch during the upheavals of 1888–89. Kabaka Kalema killed 30 of his brothers and sisters here in 1889 in his quest to keep control of the kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – Southwestern Uganda
Covering 1978 sq km, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most popular in Uganda. With landscape including savannah, bushland, wetlands and lush forests, the park is inhabited by 96 species of mammals.
Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve – Southwestern Uganda
The Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve is the oldest protected natural area in Uganda, having first been set aside in 1926. Once one of the best-stocked and most popular wildlife parks in East
Semuliki National Park – Southwestern Uganda
The Semliki Valley is a little corner of Congo poking into Uganda. The only tropical lowland rainforest in East Africa is a continuation of the huge Ituri Forest in the DRC and forms a link between the heights of Ea…
Parliament House – NOTABLE BUILDING IN KAMPALA
Open to the public, a visit to parliament is an interesting way to spend an hour or two. You can either tour the building, or see the government in action – parliament sits from 2.30pm Tuesday to Thursday
Tooro Botanical Garden – Gardens in Fort Portal
These homegrown botanical gardens have a lot of well-signed indigenous plants and trees, as well as an organic farming project that grows herbs, flowers, trees, natural dyes, vegetables and medicinal plants.
Kibale National Park – Southwestern Uganda
The 795-sq-km Kibale National Park is a lush tropical rainforest, believed to have the highest density of primates in Africa. It’s most famous for being one of the best places in the world to track wild chimpanzees
Tooro Palace – Palace in Fort Portal
Looking down over the town from its highest hill, the palace is worth a visit purely for its 360-degree panoramic views. It’s the residence of King Oyo, who ascended the throne in 1995 at the age of three
Amabeere Cave – limestone site – Fort Portal in Rwenzori Mountains
The water dripping from the roof of this small cave is milky white, hence the name Amabeere (‘Breasts’). Most of the rock formations are broken, but it’s fun to walk behind the waterfall covering it and past the walk
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Southwestern Uganda
Home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas; the World Heritage-listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of East Africa’s most famous national parks. Set over 331 sq km of improbably steep
Karambi Royal Tombs – Fort Portal
These royal tombs 4km south of town make for a peaceful excursion. While from outside it’s not much to look at, if you can find the caretaker he’ll let you in for a look at the tombs, which house drums, spears
Kihingami Wetlands Sanctuary – Nature Reserve in Kihingami Wetlands Sanctuary
This eco-tourism site, set up with the help of Fort Portal’s Kabarole Tours, preserves an attractive 13-sq-km valley that otherwise would have been gobbled up by the surrounding tea plantations.
Kampala Hindu Temple – Kampala
Right in the city centre, this temple has elaborate towers and a swastika-emblazoned gate. Peek inside to see the unexpected dome.
Mpanga Forest Reserve – Wildlife Reserve in Uganda
About 35km out of Kampala, the 453-hectare Mpanga Forest Reserve is a decent option if you want to escape the chaos of Kampala for a day or two. It’s best known for its 181 species of butterfly, while red-tailed monkeys
Budongo Forest Reserve – Murchison Falls National Park
The Budongo Forest Reserve is a large (825 sq km) tract of virgin tropical forest on the southern fringes of Murchison Falls National Park. Its main attractions are chimpanzees and birds (366 species)
Kidepo Valley National Park – Northeastern Uganda
Offering some of the most stunning scenery of any protected area in Uganda Kidepo Valley National Park is hidden away in this lost valley in the extreme northeast of Uganda. The rolling, short-grass savannah of the …
Afriart Gallery – Kampala
Just off Kira Rd, this classy little gallery features works by serious local artists. Downstairs has changing monthly exhibits, while upstairs is a permanent collection, but everything is for sale.
Uganda Museum – Kampala
There’s plenty to interest you here with a varied and well-captioned ethnographic collection covering clothing, hunting, agriculture, medicine, religion and recreation (get the low-down on banana beer
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary – Entebbe
Located 23km southeast of Entebbe in Lake Victoria, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, or ‘Chimp Island’, is home to over 40 orphaned or rescued chimpanzees who are unable to return to the wild.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – Northeastern Uganda
The Big Five are back. In 2005, Rhino Fund Uganda opened this private 70-sq-km reserve, 170km northwest of Kampala, about 30 years after poachers shot the nation’s last wild rhino in Murchison in 1983.
Source of the Nile Gardens – Jinja
On the western bank of the river you’ll find the pleasant Source of the Nile Gardens and Speke Monument – a pillar commemorating where the British explorer first laid claim to the historic source of the Nile in 1858
Kibuli Mosque – Kampala
Less overwhelming in terms of size but more attractive, the gleaming white Kibuli Mosque, dominating Kibuli Hill southeast of the centre was the previous principal mosque in Kampala.
Mabira Forest Reserve – On The Way to Jinja – Eastern Uganda
Bujagali Falls – Jinja
Situated about 10km from central Jinja, Bujagali is not an actual waterfall, but rather a widespread series of large rapids, and was once one of Uganda’s outstanding natural beauty spots.
Mise Cave – Sipi Falls – Mount Elgon National Park
There’s not much to see at this cave, next to the little waterfall at the bend in the road just above the village, but the caretaker will tell you a few tales about how the Sabiny people used to live.
32° East Ugandan Arts Trust – Cultural Centre in Kampala
A centre for Ugandan contemporary artists is in the process of setting up an exhibition space; keep an eye out for upcoming events on their website, including its biannual Kampala Contemporary Art Festival.
Taks Centre – Cultural Centre in Gulu
It’s worth popping into this happening community arts centre to see what’s on, whether it be an art exhibition or cultural perfomance, or just stopping by for a meal. There’s also banda accommodation for USh50,000
Moses Synagogue – Mbale
An unexpected find in this neck of the woods, the Jewish Abayudaya community in the outskirts of Mbale on Nabugoye Hill dates back to the early 20th century. The synagogue is a simple, yet appealing, rustic red brick walls.
Kyahugye Island – Wildlife Reserve in Lake Bunyonyi
Run by Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, this 35-acre island is worth a visit if you want to see to wildlife such as zebra, waterbuck, ipala and kob up close. All were brought here from Lake Mburo National Park.
Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine – Historic Site in Kampala
Located in Namugongo, this shrine marks the spot where Kabaka Mwanga II ordered the execution of 14 Catholics who refused to denounce their faith, including church leader Charles Lwanga who was burnt alive on or aro…
Rubaga Cathedral – Church in Kampala
This twin-towered Roman Catholic cathedral has a memorial to the Uganda Martyrs, with 22 Catholic victims (later declared saints) enshrined in the stained-glass windows. They were among other Ugandan Christians burn…
Top of the World – Viewpoint in Crater Lakes
On the highest hill behind Lake Nyamirima, from this viewpoint you can see up to five lakes (depending on the air clarity).
Mugusu Market – Fort Portal
The Wednesday market, 11km south of Fort Portal, is the largest market in the west and attracts traders from all over, including many from the DRC selling fresh produce, clothing and bric a brac.
Equator – Landmark in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The equator crosses the northern sector of the park near Kasenyi and is marked with a circular monument on either side of the road, which is predictably popular with passerbys stopping for that quintessential holiday
Bwama & Njuyeera (Sharp’s) Islands – Historic Site in Lake Bunyonyi
Many boat drivers will take you to these islands, where British missionary Dr Leonard Sharp founded a leper colony and settled in 1921, but the story is more interesting than the sights.
Namirembe Cathedral – Church in Kampala
This huge domed Anglican cathedral, finished in 1919, has a distinct Mediterranean feel. In years past the congregation was called to worship by the beating of enormous drums, which can still be seen in a little hut…
Jinja Central Market – Landmark in Jinja
This commercial market is across from the bus stand with vendors selling fruit and vegetables among other produce and clothing.
Akampeine Island – Historic Site in Lake Bunyonyi
Translating to Punishment Island, this tiny island was so named because it was once the place where unmarried pregnant women were dumped to die. Their only rescue from drowning or starvation was if a man who was too…
Katonga Wildlife Reserve – Wildlife Reserve in Southwestern Uganda
The small, seldom-visited Katonga Wildlife Reserve is certainly one of the best places to spy the elusive sitatunga antelope, known for its curious webbed
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Best time to go
June to August and December to February (Drier trails make for easy mountain gorilla tracking)
June to September (Gorilla permits need to be booked long in advance at any time of the year)
March, April, May, October, November (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)
June-July and January-February (Little rainfall)
March, April and May (Peak of Wet season)
Popular Safari Packages
Select from a list of our recommended tours and safaris by our expert travel advisors and Africa safari guides. Gorilla Tracking should be top of the bucket list
- 3 Days Uganda Gorilla Tracking Safari
- 3 Days Murchison Falls Safaris
- 3 Days Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari
- 5 Day Kidepo Valley Safari
- 4 Days Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Safari
- 6 Days Uganda Primates Safari
- 7 Days Uganda Wildlife Safari
- 10 Days Uganda Community & Culture Safari
- 12 Days Class Uganda Safari, Magical Kenya, Zanzibar Holiday
- 14 Days Classic Africa Safari
- 21 Days Wildlife & Community Safari Experience
Animals & Wildlife in Uganda
Uganda is a unique destination offering a wonderful mix of savannah and forest parks. Gorilla and chimp tracking are highlights, but many smaller primates can be seen as well. Uganda also offers great savannah safaris, but not all of the Big Five are present. Black rhino is extinct and the status of the white rhino was the same until they were reintroduced in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in 2005. Cheetah is very rarely seen. Lion is quite common in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks. They can often be found hunting Uganda kob, which give them away with their alarm calls. Giraffe can only be found in Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley national parks, while zebra exists only in Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo. Uganda is also a prime birding destination.
Best time for wildlife viewing
The best time for wildlife viewing is in the Dry season (December-February and June-September). Some of the roads are impassable in the rainy season (September-November and March- May). Gorillas can be tracked year round, but the experience can be spoiled- to some extent – by heavy rain in the Wet season.
Most non-African passport holders visiting Uganda require visas, including Americans, Australians, Canadians and almost all Europeans. Single-entry tourist visas valid for up to 90 days cost US$50 and can be applied for online (Link to online Visa). Be sure to ask for a 90-day visa, or you’ll probably be given 30 or 60 days. It’s easiest just to rock up at the airport or border and arrange one there; no photos needed. A yellow fever certificate is required if arriving from an affected area, but is rarely requested. Multiple-entry visas aren’t available on arrival, but it is possible for embassies abroad to issue them (US$100 for six months). Students should also enquire about student visas, which (if applicable) are US$20; bring your card.
Uganda is one of the countries covered by the new East Africa Tourist Visa, and for those also visiting Kenya and Rwanda on the same trip it is a cheaper alternative. The visa costs US$100, is valid for 90 days and is multiple entry – it is available upon arrival or from embassies abroad. If acquiring the visa before travel, your first port-of-call must be the country through which you applied for the visa.
Money and Costs
The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency that floats freely on international markets. Most tour operators and upscale hotels quote in US dollars (a few in euros) but you can always pay with shillings.
Notes in circulation are USh1000, USh5000, USh10,000, USh20,000 and USh50,000, and commonly used coins are USh50, USh100, USh200 and USh500.
Tipping isn’t expected in Uganda but, as wages are very low by Western standards, it will always be appreciated. The size of a given tip is up to the individual, but as a guideline USh1000 to USh1500 is enough in ordinary restaurants, while USh5000 to USh10,000 is reasonable for ranger-guides in national parks.
Fortunately most of Uganda’s tourism highlights are located in safe areas, and the risk-zones are easily avoided without compromising your safari. When taking normal safety precautions, Uganda can be considered safe as a safari destination and for most general tourism.