Major exciting cities in Uganda
Kampala is Uganda’s national and commercial capital city mostly known as the city of seven hills. The name Kampala derives from the Luganda expression ‘Kasozi Kampala’ meaning Hill of Antelope a reference to the domestic impala that cropped the lawns of Mengo during Mutesa’s reign. Kampala was widely regarded to be the showpiece of the East African Community; a spacious garden city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and bustling trade. It was also a cultural and educational centre of note, with Makerere University regarded as the academic heart of East Africa. Kampala enjoys the reputation of a modern city with a buzzing atmosphere and it serves a good base point for exploring and enjoying the surrounding area. If you’re looking for a smart international standard hotel, a splendid choice of cuisine, shopping opportunities, live music and latest movie, you will probably love Kampala.
Tourist attractions in Kampala
The Baha’i Temple
The Baha’i Temple built on Kikaya hill near Gayaza road is the only worshiping place of its kind. Baha’i teaches that heaven and hell are not places but states of being defined by the presence or absence of spirituality. It is a magnificent building sitting on a large piece of land that offers a scenic environment for relaxation and bird watching. The temple grounds are also a favorite place for meditation and are frequented by people from all religious backgrounds. The Baha’i Temple provides great views of Kampala city and the surrounding suburbs. The Baha’i grounds provide a chance of taking memorable pictures though one is expected to give maximum respect to the interior side and no pictures are allowed within the temple. The temple is also a home to various bird species given to the number of trees, flowers that exist in the area and act as habitats to different bird species including the weaver birds, wood peckers, pigeons and ring-necked doves.
In 1885, Mwanga settled on the ultimately overambitious scheme of digging a large lake near his capital and link it with Lake Victoria as well as to act as an escape route during major wars. In spite of the low technological advance at the time, construction of the lake began using rudimentary equipment like hoes and bare hands. From chiefs to his subjects, no one was exempt from this intensive labour which always started from 3:00am till 4:00pm each day and was to last 11 months. The Lake was completed in 1888 but the intended link was abandon when Muslim dissenters drove the kabaka from the capital. Clan leaders of Buganda consider the lake sacred and occasionally gather to clean it. This beautiful lake is now a tourist attraction on its own and offers a perfect atmosphere for relaxation, boat rides or racing and bird watching.
The kasubi ground in Uganda is the site for the burial grounds for the kings of Buganda and other members of the Baganda Royal family. Therefore the site remains an important, political and spiritual site for the Ganda people as well as an important example to the traditional architecture. Some of the most popular buildings were almost completely destroyed by the fire that hit the tombs in 2010 though the cause of the fire is under investigations. The reconstruction began in 2014 funded by the government of Japan. The walls at the main structure are decorated with bark cloth and several mats where visitors can sit. The photos of all the Kings and stuffed leopard skin can also be seen by visitors to the main building. While at the tombs, you can view the large hut holding the tombs, the royal clothing, hunting tools and other monuments of these past kings. The royal guides will share with you stories about each of the kings and the roles they played during their reign and history of the Baganda people. The site is taken care of by descendants of the Kings wives. Some sections of the main tomb are not accessible to everyone.
The Uganda Martyrs shrine
The Uganda Martyrs holy Shrine which makes it a must visit place for anyone touring the pearl of Africa. The shrine is remembered today for the massacre that took place on 3rd June 1886 on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga. The shrine derives its inspiration from the African hut which is eye catching to various travelers and has the capacity to accommodate over 1000 people. In the morning of 3rd June these Christian prisoners were given one final opportunity to denounce their recently adopted faith. Charles Lwanga the leader of the catholic contingent, was hacked apart and burnt alive on the spot. The remaining individuals were bound in reed mats, thrown on the pyre, and roasted alive.
The Uganda Martyrs where killed in different places of Uganda including Gulu where Daudi Okello and Jildo Irwa were executed however were St. Charles Lwanga and his colleagues were killed was chosen as the area where the Martyrs should be celebrated ”Namugongo”. There is an interesting molded sculpture in an area of Charles Lwanga and his friends being burnt and many believers gather here to pray, seek for knowledge, and if you walk in at night, you might think that these are real human beings. There is also a Lake/pond in the area which is believed to be having waters with healing powers and many believers every 3rd June carry this water in their plastic jugs and Jerry cans to get rid of the blessings in it.
Uganda National Mosque
The Uganda National Mosque (Gadaffi Mosque) is the largest, massive and gigantic mosque located at Kampala Hill which rises gently to the immediate west of the center. It was accomplished in 2006, it is a sitting capacity of about 15,000 worshipers and can hold another 1,100 in the gallery, while the brick outdoor will cater for another 3,500. Colonel Muammar Gadhafi of Libya commissioned the mosque as a gift to Uganda, and for the benefit of the Muslim population. Uganda has many mosques but this one is a high rise mosque. It was renamed “Uganda National Mosque” in 2013 following the death of Colonel Gaddafi as the new Libyan administration was reluctant to rehabilitate the mosque under the previous name. The mosque has two parts; the ground floor which is always open at all times and the first floor which is only open for special occasions like EID and weddings and it is one of the places you can visit while on a Uganda city tour.
Paying a visit to the mosque is an increasingly popular and genuinely worthwhile diversion. Visitors are welcomed and you will find a tent of tourism office just inside the main gate. For ladies shawl to wear is provided and for gents shorts that extend below the knee are put on and they are deemed too short, a kanzu will be provided. The interior design is made in 3 settings that is wood from Congo represents African setting, glasses on Windows from Italy represents European setting and chandeliers from Egypt represents Arab setting and the carpet is designed according to the mosque. Gadhafi mosque has a very tall minaret which has 304 steps though it’s opened upon some one’s request alongside the guide, visitors are free to climb all the stairs up and get the great aerial view (360° view) of the whole city Kampala while on their city tour and starting at 6:30 will enable you to climb the tower and watch the dawn break over the city
Cathedrals in Uganda
Namirembe cathedral is the most impressive colonial era constructions in Kampala, and it also offers a superb view over the city centre and suburbs. This Anglican cathedral is perched at the top of Namirembe Hill, roughly 1.5km west of the city of Natete road. The cemetery contains the grave of Bishop Hannington who was murdered near Jinja in 1885 as well as Sir Albert Cook a pioneering medical doctor whose extensive writings about the early colonial era are quoted. You can try the cathedral for the English service at 6:30 and for the Luganda service at 10:00 to worship and praise the lord
Rubaga Cathedral also known as Saint Mary’s cathedral is major cathedral to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Kampala and the oldest diocese in Uganda of the Roman Catholic believers. The cathedral is located in Lubaga division on Lubaga hill west of Kampala the capital city of Uganda.This cathedral will make your Kampala city adventure memorable living the place alongside blessing and forgiveness from God.
Traditionally “endure“means flute therefore Ndeere Troupe means flute troupe and its major aim and ambition is to restore the dignity and integrity of music dance and drama in Uganda and Africa atlarge. For a blissful safari travelers on Ugandan trips should tryout the centre to encounter African cultural dances and also to get a thrilling adventure that you will live to remember. The centre traps fantastic cultural songs, dances and instrumentals from different tribes, stories and cultures an adventure not to be missed while on a Ugandan trips, bring your family to get memories alongside learning different norms of various cultures. Amazing female dancers dressed in cultural attires serve you soft drinks and beers to give you a fruitful evening at the centre and it’s upon your choice to choose a dance that you would love to watch.
Accommodation in Kampala
- Imperial Royale Hotel
- Kampala Serena
- Kampala Sheraton Hotel
- Hotel Africana
- Speke Hotel
- Hotel Triangle
- Urban by City Blue
- Makerere University Guesthouse
- Hotel Ruch
- Pacific Hotel
Entebbe was of capital of Uganda during the colonial era, the city stands on the Lake Victoria shore a few hundred metres north of the equator and only 40km south of the modern capital Kampala. In 1913, Sir Frederick Treves described Entebbe as “the prettiest and most charming town of the lake”. The name Entebbe derives from the Luganda phrase ‘Entebe za Mugala’ literally meaning the ‘Headquarters’. Entebbe regained its status after technological advances made during World War II enabled non-stop flights from Europe to land there. Entebbe’s bumpy airstrip was upgraded to create Uganda’s first international airport in 1951. Entebbe retains an unusually green feel and today is home to a quiet extraordinary number of hotels and guesthouses, not to mention a excellent selection of eateries, banks, bars and shops. While in Entebbe you can choose to go birding in Entebbe Botanical Gardens, explore the neighbouring Uganda Wildlife Education Centre or relax on the beach.
Attractions in Entebbe
Entebbe Botanical Gardens
The Entebbe Botanical Garden is an attractively laid-out fix of indigenous forest, horticulture and cultivation. It’s highly an attractive destination that bird watchers should encounter. The garden offers an excellent introduction to various species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs, butterflies and other plants regenerated naturally over the years.
The garden is a home of both black and white Colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, tree squirrels as well as Red tailed monkeys. Entebbe Botanical Gardens is one of the best place near Kampala, where you can spot many spider webs and species of birds namely; Palm Nut Vulture, golden baked weaver, red-chested sun bird, slender billed weaver, grey kestrel, throated leaf love, African Grey Parrot, Jackson’s Golden-backed, Black-headed, and Vieillot’s black weavers. The rocky headland along the Lake, making an ideal observation point are resident, whilst Bat Hawk is often seen over the gardens at sunset and is best observed from the Botanical Beach Hotel patio bar. Naturally there are loads of exotic plants and trees around and in the gardens. On the lake and around the shore look for long-tailed Cormorant, Common Squacco and black-headed herons, Hamerkop, African Open-billed Stork, yellow-billed duck, Grey-headed gull, various terns, giant and Pied Kingfishers, and swamp Flycatcher. Black-headed Gonolek occur in the dense scrub covering the headland.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (ZOO)
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center is an exciting place established as a sanctuary for wild animals and it has played a significant role in the protection of rare and threatened animals. While here, you can also have a comprehensive interactive interpretation and briefings on the animals. Here you will come across free ranging Vervet monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys and a family troop of DeBraza monkeys in the jungle of the hillside forest. In addition to a standard visit, there are also a couple of alternative scenarios. The ZOO is filled with animals at close sight as the animal keepers feed them, carry out health checks. Animals such as Black Rhinos, Giraffes, Lions, African rock pythons, kobs, zebras, Warthogs, crocodiles, elephants, buffalo, leopards, Olive Baboons, and Chimpanzees are popular in the area. Visitors get the chance to take part in the food preparation, visit the pharmacy among others.
The Uganda wildlife Education Centre is also a birders paradise where various birds’ species can be viewed such as the famous African fish eagle, shoebill, the Great Blue Turaco, Hammerkops, Giant Kingfisher, Wood pickers and the smallest sun birds including the world’s biggest bird the Ostrich that can only be found in Kidepo National park.
Reptile Village in Entebbe
Reptile village lies on the northwestern edge of Entebbe, 3Km off the main road. The lush green village is not a place for holiday makers, but a destination ideal for excursions. You will find a variety of snakes, chameleons, monitor lizards and a couple of crocodiles in the village, many tourists visit the village with the interest of sighting extremely dangerous animals. They are safely guarded in cages whereas the crocodiles are in huge ponds and therefore visitors on safari trips to Uganda are safe while visiting the village. Visitors are given an opportunity to lift the African rock python under the supervision of the reptile guides. It’s quite a thrilling experience and a moment to put away ones fears and tears. The founders of the village emphasize the purpose of the village as an education Centre about reptiles where people on tours in Uganda go to learn, research and also take part in the habituation of different reptile species. The guides at the village are informative and often share intriguing facts about reptiles and other species in the village.
At the extreme edges of the sites, one can enjoy the sights of the swampy areas which are habitat to different reptiles, monkeys and birds inclusive. Around the swampy areas, tourists in reptile village can as well enjoy adventurous activities such as canoe cruising in the man made river around and sport fishing as well. Today, Uganda reptile’s village is enclosed in a fence and three large concrete structures stand in the middle as the homes for the reptiles.
The Ziika Forest
Apart from other forests, the Zika forest is also one of the many small forests in Uganda that has got exclusive mature trees and the best for bird watching from Entebbe road. Ziika “overgrown” provides a cheap and convenient taste of the tropical forest. A small trail network explores the forest at ground levels while a high metal tower provides a birds’ and monkeys’ eye view across and at the top of the forest canopy. This forest has numerous forest which is one of the main attractions you need to visit while on your safari to Uganda. Bio diversity of swamps that is full of crocodiles, grasslands as well as forest types which spreads to Lake Victoria. There are over 140 types of woody plants, 60 moth types, leopards, snakes, mosquitoes, monkeys that are found in this forest.
Many of the birders have also said that bird watching here is a great experience with in the forest. Apart from its nature, wildlife and history, this forest has got an educational advantage most especially to students who study classification and the ability to give breakthrough leisure tourists. If you are interested in forest exploration and you are on a Ugandan safari then this is one of the incredible forests that you shouldn’t miss while on a safari.
Mabamba is a natural swamp and one of the convenient places in Uganda. It is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria the largest Lake in Africa and the second the largest in the whole world. The swamp is a birder’s destination to spot various bird species. Wildlife that are in the area include; Antelopes, bird species including the shoebill stork that is rarely found. Butterflies, fish species and other plant species.
Birding at Mabamba is carried out on small canoes run by experienced tour guides with developed skills and having knowledge of special places where the rare shoebill stork can be viewed, the swamp hosts over 260 bird species and a lucky person can encounter over 150 bird species a day including the migrants species from Europe such as the white winged terns that came in August running away from the winter that hit Europe. Bird species in the area include; flycatcher, brown throated weaver, grey headed gulls, malachite kingfisher, lesser jacana, papyrus canary, blue chested bee-eater, goliath herons and much more.
Over 200 butterfly species can be spotted in the area for the butterfly lovers and these include; gossamer winged butterflies, skippers, brush footed butterflies, emperor swallowtail, hairstreaks to mention by the few. Mabamba swamp can be accessed from Entebbe town which is a 1hour drive, and still a ferry from Nakiwogo landing site can be used which takes only 20 minutes to the swamp.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary is an island in Uganda located in south east on Lake Victoria near Koome district, dedicated to take care of orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Ngamba Island was gazetted in October 1998 for 40 chimpanzees rescued from various parts of East Africa. The Island is situated on Lake Victoria approximately 27 kilometres, near the Equator on the largest lake. The island supports a rich diversity of natural wildlife and provides a variety of natural foods for the chimpanzees. The Island is one the places to view chimpanzees alongside Kibale National park, Kalinzu forest, Budongo forest and Kyambura Gorge in Uganda.
Up-close chimpanzee encounter is a thrilling opportunity to have a close-up experience with the chimps. This involves giving vegetables and fruits to the chimps from a raised platform, participate in environmental enrichment and monitoring chimpanzee behaviors. A morning forest walk is another opportunity to the travelers and hooking the Nile perch on the world’s largest fresh water is also another chance which lasts for 4hours. Ngamba provides cultural performances by the bonfire in the night giving a unique cultural experience to travelers through interacting, performing, drumming and storytelling.
The suitable time to visit the Island is 11:00am and also 2:30am (during the feeding time), here the travelers are able to view and explore the Chimpanzee in there habituated area. Care giving and integration offers a golden opportunity to the travelers to interact with the Chimpanzee and during this process, you walk in a small group of young chimpanzees through the forest for 1 hour alongside a well-trained guide for your safety and how to work out with the naughty chimpanzee. Not only the chimps are in the area, the Island also provides diversity of wildlife such as bats, fish eagles, Otters, lizards, spiders and many various bird species.
For those of you who would like to enjoy a swim in the fresh waters, you will have a chance to do so before continuing to the mainland. If interested in swimming, the Equator is the right point and you will be allowed a couple of minutes to enjoy the waters before proceeding with the journey. You will have a stopover at the Uganda-Equator to observe your boat being thrust by forces from both the North Pole and South Pole, making it almost stationary in one place.
This small wetland on the eastern side of the Kampala-Entebbe Road is notable for seasonal Palaearctic and Afro-tropical migrants. Over 108 species of waterbird have been recorded and these include; papyrus yellow warbler, shoebill, Madagascar squacco heron, papyrus gonolek, African skimmer, great snipe and 24 regionally threatened species such as the northern brown-throated weaver, slender-billed gull, greater cormorant and the white winged black terns.
Accommodation in Entebbe
- Protea Hotel
- The Boma Hotel
- Lake Heights Hotel
- Lake Victoria Hotel
- Imperial Resort Beach Hotel
- Airport View Hotel
- Anderita Beach Hotel
- Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel
- Pineapple Guesthouse
- Airport Guesthouse
- Entebbe Flight Motel
- Entebbe Backpackers
- Wildlife Education Centre
Uganda’s second largest settlement for most of the 20th century, Jinja is large and historic town whose main to fame is the source of the Nile; the place where the world’s longest river exits. Jinja referred to in Lusoga as ‘Idindha’ occupies a lush wide peninsula flanked by Lake Victoria to the south and east, and the Nile and now-submerged Ripon Falls to the west. Jinja was the industrial heart of Uganda but its economy collapsed during the Amin years and has never quiet recovered but Jinja retains the spacious and attractive layout of its colonial-era incarnation and its roads are lined with some fine Asian architecture, giving it a sense of place that is further enhanced by the spread of thickly vegetated residential suburbs carved from the jungle between the town centre, the lake and river. For some years now, white water rafting on the rapids upriver of Jinja has vied with gorilla tracking as Uganda’s most popular tourist activity.
Attractions in Jinja
Source of the Nile
The source of the Nile was discovered by a European Explorer Speke and it’s situated in Jinja district. The river flows 130km to Lake Kyoga, the last part of 200km river section starts from the western shores of the lake and flows at first to the west until it reaches south of Masindi Port, where it turns north then it makes a circle to Karuma Falls. For the remaining part it flows merely westerly through the Murchison Falls until it reaches the very northern shores of Lake Albert where it forms a significant river delta. The lake itself is on the border of DR Congo, but the Nile is not a border river at this point. After leaving Lake Albert, the river continues north through Uganda and is known as the Albert Nile. The river covers many countries; Sudan, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya among others. The Nile has two major tributaries; the White Nile considered to be the headwaters and primary stream and the Blue Nile which is the source of the most waters and silt. Along the Nile, there are several exciting activities such as; rafting, boat cruise, bugee jumping, Kayaking that you can enjoy during your Uganda safari;
Kayaking on the Nile is another interesting pounding adventure. It is a great way to experience the Nile and its surrounding areas of communities, local people, and exotic birds feeding on the fish. With kayaking here you get to sit in a small narrow boat wrapped around your waist equipped with a double blade paddle. It is a more testing activity since it provides an opportunity to develop your own skills, rather than just bouncing along the rafts controlled by the professionals’. For the case of the trainees, Courses and expeditions are offered whose instructors are well trained to the UK’s standard. The limited age for Kayaking is 14 years and above, however there is a quit number of activities that tourists below the age of 14 can participate in to enjoy their adventurous trip in Jinja.
White water rafting is traditionally the most popular excursion on the upper Nile and it’s an experience that teaches you to remain calm while under great pressure. White water rafting takes you to the middle of the river under pressurizing rapids. Early morning is the best time to go for rafting adventure and any traveler preparing to go for the activity should leave all the belongings behind, one has to sign a form with all his/her details and those with anemia are restricted from the activity for the wellbeing of their lives.
The young children and adolescents are not allowed to go through the strongest and difficult rapids they instead take the route of smaller rapids to explore the forest. The rafting is safe given to the number of highly trained guides who are experienced in navigating through the rapids and it’s important to follow the instructions of the guides for your safety. Participants are given life jackets and strong helmets to protect them from in case they trip over.
Boat cruise the Nile offers both lunch and sunset cruise an interesting activity that every traveler should encounter. The cruise offers an authentic memorable experience that you would not miss while on a Ugandan trip. Enjoy the sites of the river and the rapids, free flowing calm waters and as you continue with the excursion, you may be able to watch various bird species in the area.
Bungee jumping bungee jumping gives an opportunity to the traveler to fly like birds in the air. The jump involves jumping from a raised platform with a bungee cord connected to two tied legs. To participate in the activity one doesn’t require experience but instead determination. It’s upon ones decision to choose when to do the activity but there is both day and night Bungee but for the night Bungee you are limited from viewing various interesting environment in the area and you will not get a clear view of the pictures.
The 306km Mabira forest reserve whose southern extremities are skirted by the main Kampala-Jinja road as it runs between Lugazi and Njeru, ranks the largest remaining block of the moist semi-deciduous forest in Central and Eastern Uganda. The Forest is a rain forest area covering about 300 square kilometres in Uganda located in Buikwe District, between Lugazi and Jinja. The forest is the best place to go for nature walk, biking, bird watching, zip lining among others. The forest is a home of over 315 bird species; the forest wood hoope, purple throated cuckoo, shinning blue king fisher, red headed blue bill and much more. Other unique features exist in the area such as over 218 butterfly species and small mammals like monkeys. The forest has more than 312 tree species with medicinal importance and known to cure various diseases, papyrus swamps extra.
What to do in Mabira forest
Zip lining is an adventurous activity that gives you a golden opportunity to share the sky with the birds. An incredible moment that you would live to remember with great chances and possibilities to eye and touch the tallest tree branches. The activity can be done at Griffin falls found at the most famous Mabira forest. One is able to enjoy forest layers, mammal the grey checked mangapeys, red tailed monkeys and various bird species like the great blue Turaco, African fish eagle, and the Palm nut vultures. The Zip lining activity gives a tourist a unique perspective and experience in Mabira Forest.
Birding in Mabira is a must do activity for the birders, the forest houses over 315 bird species such as the forest wood hoope, Blue Headed Crested Mornarc, purple throated cuckoo, shinning blue king fisher, red headed blue bill, Cassin Hawk Eagle, the Black Bellied Seed Cracker, White-bellied Kingfisher, Grey Parrot, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cassin’s Honey guide, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Red-tailed Bristlebil and much more thus making it a good destination for birding. Various animal species exist in the area such as grey cheeked mangapeys, red tailed monkeys extra.
Nature walk: this will help you discover various tree species in the area which are over 312 like Mililia Exclesa and some trees in the area can cure terrible diseases that’s why many tourist in Uganda reach Mabira forest.
The waterfall which lies on Ssezibwa River was a favorite spot of Kabaka Mwanga and Kabaka Muteesa II both of whom planted their trees and they still flourish. According to the legend, Ssezibwa was a progeny of a woman called Nakangu who was expected to give birth to twin children but instead what poured from her womb was a twin river. Apart from praising the nature of the falls there other interesting activities in the area that you would love to enjoy and explore such as rock climbing, community visit, camping, guided nature walks, hiking, Bird watching and many others.
Activities at Ssezibwa falls
Birding watching is among the most fantastic and popular activity at Ssezibwa and there over 200 bird species as short listed; kingfishers, black & white hornbills, snake birds, cormorants, red chested cuckoo, red eyed dove, warblers, olive birds, parrots among others. Primates are also residents in the area such as the white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys and much more.
Hiking: there are various tree species in the area that are used traditionalists for medical purposes of healing different diseases that exist in Uganda. Hiking through the rocks is also interesting and some to engage in the activity has to be physically fit and those with health hazards you’re restricted from hiking because it’s very tiresome though thrilling and interesting on the other hand.
Community visits can be done to encounter different cultures in Uganda and around the area. Visiting Ssezibwa is not seasonal since the falls can be visited all year round according to someone’s program.
Accommodation in Jinja
- Source of the Smile Guesthouse
- Gately on Nile
- Living water’s Resort
- Nile Anchor Palace
- Nile Village Hotel
- Source of the Nile Hotel
- Crested Crane Hotel
- Bilkon Hotel
- Kabalega Guesthouse
- Brisk Recreation Hotel