Uganda Travel Destinations – Popular Sites

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)

High Season
June to September (Gorilla permits need to be booked long in advance at any time of the year)

Low Season
March, April, May, October, November (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)

Best Weather
June-July and January-February (Little rainfall)

Worst Weather
March, April and May (Peak of Wet season)

Animals & Wildlife in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking the most popular Uganda Safari Tour
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

Hiking Mgahinga Gorilla national park, gorilla safari, gorilla trekking
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.

Visas
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

Uganda 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
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.

Safety
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.