Uganda is blessed with a natural beauty that makes it stand out from other African countries. The stunning natural beauty and wonder are what led Sir Winston Churchill to describe it as the pearl of Africa - after his visit to the country.
Aside from the incredible geography of many water bodies, mountains, and savannah grasslands, Uganda is highly regarded as a very hospitable place with good people to be around. Uganda has enjoyed many years of internal peace and stability, and this has contributed to the increased number of visitors to the country.
In this article, we are going to look at the things to do, see, and enjoy on a visit to Uganda. These are the popular things that a large number of visitors like to take part in - and rate highly afterward.
The best way to enjoy tourist activities when visiting any place is to do the things you are interested in. Those will offer the most satisfaction to your senses. Keep that in mind and know that you don't have to use our list as a complete absolute 'must-do'.
Let us take a look at the things to see, do, and enjoy while visiting Uganda.
What to see & do in Uganda
1. Gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking is the premier tourist activity and experience in Uganda. Mountain gorillas can be seen in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorillas National Park. With these 2 parks, Uganda has over half of the entire gorilla population in the world.
Seeing a family of gorillas go about their day in a very 'human' way is an experience so hard to explain. It is all the words that mean magical and heartwarming.
Related article: Answers to common questions about gorilla trekking.
2. Chimpanzee tracking
Like Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzees attract many people and offer similarly wonderful experiences. Chimp tracking only involves the chimpanzees that live in their natural habitat of the rainforest.
While chimps at the zoo are fascinating, the experience of finding them in their natural home is totally different - in a better way. The best place for this wild visit to our closest animal cousins is in Kibale Forest National Park.
Related article: Interesting facts about Chimpanzees
3. Wildlife game safaris
Game drives are the classic of most African safari tours since the first visitors started coming to Africa. Uganda has 4 savannah national parks and several other game reserves.
All these are good for game drives offer opportunities to see the various wild animals.
The most popular of these game parks are;
i) Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Named after Queen Elizabeth of the UK, it is the most popular savannah park. Queen Elizabeth National Park is rich with popular wildlife such as elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard and tree-climbing lions.
Along the Kazinga Channel, you will be able to encounter a large concentration of hippos.
ii) Murchison Falls National Park.
Named after the Murchison Falls on the Nile, It is the biggest game park in Uganda. Murchison Falls National Park is rich in animals such as hippos, giraffes, elephants, lions, leopards and many others.
iii) Kidepo Valley National Park.
Found in Northeastern Uganda on the border with Kenya and South Sudan. Kidepo Valley National Park is rich with animals such as Zebra, Giraffe, Lions, Cheetah, Elephants, Kudu, Lions, Buffalo, Leopards, and many birds of prey.
iv) Lake Mburo National Park.
Lake Mburo is found along the Kampala Kabale Highway - and is the nearest National Park to Kampala, the Capital city. You will be able to see Zebra, Buffalo, Uganda kob, Eland, Buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles and so much more.
Hiking anywhere is exciting, but having magnificent views of the natural formations around you - and maybe some wild animals, totally enhances the hike.
The best places to go for a hike include Sipi Falls, lake Bunyonyi, Murchison Falls National Parks, Maramagambo forest, Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
5. Mountain Climbing
Mountain climbing is on the rise as one of Uganda's unique travel experiences. All pf Uganda's mountains can be climbed to a certain height or up to the summit.
Mount Rwenzori's peaks are covered in snow and the toughest of climbers enjoy the arduous climb. The most commonly climbed mountains are Mgahinga, Muhavura and Sebinyo which are found near the border shared with DRC Congo and Rwanda.
Mount Elgon is slightly tougher to climb but the ultimate Mountain climbing experience is in Mount Rwenzori. Since Rwenzori is Africa's Tallest Mountain range, climbing it is much tougher and takes longer to reach the peak.
6. White water rafting
White water rafting in Uganda is a full adrenaline adventure for those who can battle it out with grade-5 water rapids. The Nile's huge volumes of water all year round have made this one of Uganda's top exciting activities enjoyed by both domestic and international guests.
Given the place of the river Nile in Human civilization and history, it is cool having such an exciting experience of the world's longest river.
Related article: 12 Facts About River Nile
7. Mountain biking
Mountain biking is not very popular with many visitors, but it is highly rising and very satisfying for those who like to take part in active experiences. While mountain biking can be done in most places, it is great with the company of others.
These are the 4 places that make for great mountain biking experiences.
a) Lake Mburo National Park.
Lake Mburo is the only national park where you can ride a bike. This is because it has very few lions that are far from the biking trails. The trails go through places with herds of Uganda mob, zebra, Elands, and buffalo.
b) Elgon & Sipi Falls.
The Elgon mountains region makes for a great trip. From hiking and coffee tours, you can enhance your experience by moving around the local villages on a mountain bike.
The community has developed good bike paths to make sure that the visitors can enjoy the best experiences.
Even better, most of the activities are run by the local collective community and a big portion of funds goes back to helping their schools and hospitals.
c) Lake Bunyonyi in Kabale.
Lake Bunyonyi is perched in Kabale among fertile hills with incredible weather conditions. You can bike from your hotel to the villages where you will interact with the ever hospitable Bakiga locals.
d) River Nile in Jinja.
While in Jinja, you can ride a bike through all the smaller routes to see the Nile in all the different possible ways. The bike provides you with the opportunity for a more intimate Nile exploration experience.
7. Cultural Tours
Even more diverse than natural beauty is Uganda's culture. Uganda has more than 50 subcultures each with some customs that are different from their neighboring people.
Whether you want to spend a day with the Batwa people who used to live in the rain forests till the 1990s, or Buganda's rich 500-year history there are so many options for culture.
Uganda's food is another thing to try out as well as the Kampala nightlife - especially for those who do drink alcohol.
8. Bird Watching
Uganda is home to more than 1000 different species of birds. That is around 50% of all African bird species.
These birds can be found in the thick natural rainforests, the vast savannahs, and various swamps around the country. One of the interesting birds to see in the shoebill stork, which has a big pre-historic looking beak.
There is so much that can be done and enjoyed in Uganda. With such interesting things to do and see, Uganda's nickname as "The Pearl Of Africa" still holds true.
Ugandans are friendly and hospitable people and that is probably the experience that will surpass all the above.
If you are thinking of going to Uganda for a visit, feel free to ask us any questions you might have. We can also recommend one of the partners who are local Ugandan Tour operators and have a long-standing reputation and experience. Just reach out.