Uganda Tourist Attractions and Top Things to do in 2024
Uganda is worth adding as a travel destination in 2024 because of its diverse nature, beautiful weather and top attractions that one can enjoy and experience. Uganda has so much to offer her visitors from national parks to primate trekking to city tours to beautiful landscape and beautiful weather.
Uganda has beautiful weather and landscape that can be enjoyed right from Entebbe international Airport. As you transfer from the airport you are welcomed by Lake Victoria the largest fresh water body in Uganda and home to aquatic life and water birds. The view of the lake on arrival is refreshing and you will also see the locals in Entebbe town spending time together, talking, laughing, going about their day, some you will notice selling in their shops, others you will see ending their day as they board taxis and “boda bodas” (motorcycles) which are the main modes of transport for ugandans.
Uganda therefore is worth visiting in 2023 and below we list details of the top attractions that would make your visit to Uganda memorable;
More than half of the population of mountain gorillas in the world is found in Uganda making Uganda one of the best places to see the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas can be seen in Bwindi impenetrable national park situated in south western Uganda and Mgahinga Gorilla national park which is a relatively less visited but beautiful national park in Uganda. Visitors to Uganda have an opportunity to do the mountain gorilla trekking adventure that takes them in to the impenetrable forest where you are allowed to spend up to one hour with these amazing primates.
The habituated gorilla families are available for visitors to see and spend time with as the Uganda Wildlife Authority has and is doing a commendable job of conserving the gorillas for the future generations. The gorilla families keep growing in number with new births, this year alone Uganda received good news of the birth of a baby gorilla belonging to the adult female named Rotary of the Mishaya mountain gorilla family in Rushaga in August 2023 and another baby gorilla was born in July 2023 to the Rushegura mountain gorilla group in Bwindi impenetrable national park. With an ever growing gorilla population Uganda is a great destination for the mountain gorilla trekking adventure.
The price of the gorilla trekking permit in Uganda also makes it a great destination to visit as the price is affordable compared to the neighboring country Rwanda. The gorilla trekking permit is USD 700 per person for Foreign Non-residents which is more affordable in comparison to gorilla trekking in Rwanda where the cost for a permit is USD 1500 per person. This means that visitors looking for an affordable option to see the mountain gorillas would consider Uganda as the priority destination for their gorilla trekking adventure.
Visit Uganda’s Savannah parks for wildlife viewing
Uganda has a number of wildlife viewing opportunities making it an ideal destination to spend your time on safari, the chances of seeing the Big Five is relatively high. The best place to see an array of wildlife is Murchison Falls national park and Queen Elizabeth national park. However Uganda offers even much more incredible wildlife sightings in the less visited Kidepo valley national park which offers an experience of the true African wilderness and Lake Mburo national park which is the smallest savannah national park in Uganda but with worthwhile wildlife sightings. There a number of parks that visitors can choose from and tours can be tailored to accommodate two national parks at a time like 5 day wildlife tours and long tours for visitors who have more days and can do a 10 day tour that covers at least two or three parks.
Murchison falls national park is the largest national park in Uganda is known for its thunderous water falls. The park offers excellent game viewing while on a game drive. Murchison falls national park is an experience right from the journey to the park that takes you through the country side of Uganda, then to the park itself that is rich in wildlife and birdlife then to the safari lodge that is usually in the midst of the park with incredible views of River Nile or the expansive landscape of the park. The game drives in the park are one of the top activities while on safari, the game drives start early in the morning after an early breakfast at the lodge. The reason for the early rise is to start off the day early so that you have the opportunity to look out for nocturnal animals with your guide before they crawl back into hiding. In addition the early rises gives you the beautiful sighting of the sunrise in the midst of a national park surrounded by wildlife. With the guidance of your guide the day is spent on famous animal tracks in the park looking out for wildlife such as leopards that are often seen strolling the park or hanging in an acacia tree, lions that can be seen hunting or relaxing in a pride after a great day’s catch. Herds of cape buffaloes can also be seen while on a game drive, you will also notice some cape buffaloes that have been chased from the herd due to old age feeding all alone. The game drive also offers opportunity to look out for vervet monkeys which are very cheeky and active creatures, Uganda kobs that are usually feeding in groups, baboons, and bird life can also be seen and for the expert birder Murchison falls national park offers great bird sightings while on a game drive or bird watching safari.
Queen Elizabeth national park is also a park worth visiting while on your Uganda safari. Queen Elizabeth national park is a large park not only in terms of size but also in terms of things to do while in the park. A safari to Queen Elizabeth national park offers a visitor to Uganda game drives in the savannah park and a visit to Ishasha sector to see the infamous tree-climbing lions. A visit to Queen Elizabeth park will have you spoilt for choice as you can visit the Katwe salt lakes, go on a nature walks in Kalinzu forest, do a night game drive in search of nocturnal animals, go on the Kazinga channel boat ride and relax on water as you look out for crocodiles, water birds on the shores and elephants and hippos that are usually seen chilling in the water or drinking water on the shores on a sunny day. In addition to all this you can visit Kyambura gorge for extensive views of Queen Elizabeth national park or visit a homestead for an experience of Ugandan culture and cuisine.
Kidepo Valley national park is a remote national park in Uganda that offers an experience of the true African wilderness. Kidepo Valley national park is a perfect destination for a visitor looking to experience extensive wildlife viewing while enjoying the beauty of a true African savannah park. The park is located in the far north eastern part of Uganda so the journey to the park is an experience on its own. The journey to the park can either be by road where you overnight in Gulu town or by chartered flight from Entebbe International Park to Apoka Airstrip in Kidepo. The chartered flight offers you aerial views of the beautiful landscape of Uganda and the River Nile which is a breath-taking view from the top. The journey by road takes you through eastern and Northern Uganda with incredible views of the landscape, also brings you closer to the locals as lunch can be had at a local restaurant and stop overs to capture photos. Northern Uganda is made up of rolling hills that connect to beautiful valleys and clear blue skies. The mix of the green vegetation and blue skies is a beautiful sight to behold.
Lake Mburo national park being the smallest savannah park offers great wildlife viewings with the present animal tracks in the park. The national park is just a three hour drive from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda making it ideal for visitors looking for short tours in Uganda. A 3 day tour to Lake Mburo national park offers the visitor an opportunity to look out for wildlife such as zebras, giraffes, impalas, topis, oribi, crocodiles, hippos, elands and cape buffaloes. While on safari in Lake Mburo national park we recommend to visitors to go on a boat ride on Lake Mburo which is a great experience to look out for water birds, crocodiles, hippos and other park animals that gather on the lake shores to quench their thirst. Lake Mburo national park also offers a unique horseback safari where you stroll the park on a horse as you view animals in the park and return later to the lodge to a camp fire while sipping on a glass of wine.
A chimpanzee trek brings you closer to the chimpanzees that are active primates and jumpy creatures that can be seen hopping among tree branches. Uganda has a number of areas where you can do chimpanzee trekking in Uganda but Kibale forest national park remains the best place to see chimpanzees in Uganda. Kibale forest national park is located in western Uganda and the forest consists of dense vegetation, flora and fauna, large trees and green foliage, the park is also known for being home to the African elephants which are a rare sighting and very few visitors have been lucky to spot them. Aside from chimpanzee trekking visitors can engage in additional activities like the Bigodi wetland swamp walk which explores the swamp and offers opportunities to look out for birds like the Great Blue Turaco. The Bigodi swamp hosts 8 primate species that visitors with the guidance of the local tour guide can look out for and these include the black and white colobus monkey, Red Tailed monkey, Red Colobus monkey, Grey Cheeked mangabey, Vervet monkey, Olive baboon, L’hoest monkey and the blue monkey. The swamp walk can go on for about 2 hours or even more depending on the visitor’s interests and takes you through the muddy swamp terrain as you listen to the sounds of birds chirping.
Chimpanzee trekking can also be done in other areas in Uganda and those include Budongo Forest reserve which is part of the Murchison Falls national park conservation area and in addition to being known for chimpanzees is a bird haven for bird watchers. Chimpanzees can also be seen in Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest in western Uganda.
Golden Monkey Trekking
Golden monkey trekking is not a commonly talked about activity but we highly recommend it for visitors coming to Uganda and is worth adding to your travel itinerary in 2023. Golden monkeys are very active primates that can be trekked in Mgahinga Gorilla national park. These active monkeys are cute with distinct features and are often seen feeding on bamboo shoots and fruits while in the forest. Golden monkeys are endangered species and have been listed red on the IUCN list therefore their conservation is very important to Uganda Wildlife Authority and other key conservationists. Mgahinga gorilla national park is the only place to see golden monkeys in Uganda and the park is located in south western Uganda bordering with Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kampala City Tour
Kampala is a vibrant city with key attractions that one can visit and Kampala can be explored on foot, in a car or on a “boda boda” motorcycle, one of Kampala’s key mode of transport. The Kampala City Tour brings you closer to the locals of Uganda, the business activities and touristic places and monumental buildings. The city tour takes you to areas such as;
The Baha’I Temple in Africa which sits on Kikaya hill in Kikaya, a suburb on the outskirts of Kampala city. The temple constructed in 1958 has a state of the art building that depicts a house of worship surrounded by a lush green compound. The lush green compound features trees, bushes, and colourful bird species.
The Gadaffi mosque also known as the Uganda national mosque has an expansive view of the beautiful Kampala city. The view at the top of the mosque is a highlight after touring the inside of the building almost like a refreshing way to end your 40 minute tour with a breath-taking view! The mosque sits on 12 acres of land and features an amazing interior inspired by European and Arab architectural designs.
Nakasero Market is also a top place to visit while on the kampala city tour for an experience of a Ugandan local market. Uganda is known for its food production and is predominantly an agricultural country so the market features fresh food and colourful fruits. The guide takes you through the market and you have an opportunity to participate in peeling matooke Uganda’s staple food which is quite an experience and you can also indulge in making “rolex” which is a common Ugandan street food delicacy made up of a flour like tortilla locally known as “chapatti” and fried eggs.
The National Museum of Uganda is also a top site to visit while on the Kampala city tour. The national museum gives you a detailed history of Uganda and an opportunity to see historical artifacts of Uganda. The history at the museum dates back to the ancient times of Kingdoms in Uganda and the way of living of Ugandans at the time. The artifacts include the King’s royal regalia, the cultural wear of the people and the King’s subjects, the materials they used for hunting like spears, knives and axes, the geographical stones and rocks of Uganda’s land and a section dedicated to Uganda’s wildlife. The city tour also involves visiting Ndere centre for traditional dance performances and usually this happens at the end of the day, the Xenson Art gallery for some pieces by Ugandan artists and the African village craft making centre where you can grab a souvenir.
Hiking and Mountaineering
For the hiking and adventure enthusiast Uganda is the perfect destination as it is home to some of the best mountains in Africa. You have an opportunity to either chose to hike the glaciated and snow-capped Mountain Rwenzori or Mountain Elgon situated in the eastern part of Uganda. Hiking in Uganda is rewarding for the hiking enthusiast as both Mt.Rwenzori national park and Mt. Elgon national park has beautiful trails and hiking paths with giant lobelia and groundsel, natural pools of water,forest birds, bamboo forests and comfortable camping sites where you experience the feeling of spending the night under the stars.
Mount Rwenzori is one of the best mountain climbing destination in the world and the mountain has hiking trails that span from one day treks to nine day treks. The hiking trail that we highly recommend for the adventurous visitor is the Central Circuit Trail which is a 7 day challenging but yet rewarding climb. The highlight of this trail is definitely hiking to Margherita (5,109m) peak.
Mount Elgon is a less strenuous climb making it ideal for visitors who are interested in a less challenging hike. Mount Elgon can be climbed in 3 days from Budadiri to Wagagai the tallest peak. Mount Elgon is usually not on most tourist’s list of places to see in Uganda but offers incredible opportunities to hike as you look out for wildlife such as monkeys and a variety of species of birds while taking in spectacular expansive views from the highest peaks. The major peaks of Mount Elgon include Wagagai (4,321m), Kiongo (4,303m), Jackson’s Summit (4,160m) and Mubiyi (4,210m).
Kampala Night Life
Kampala is a vibrant city by day but even more active at night. The Kampala night life is praised by many visitors as Ugandan people are very hospitable and also like to hang out at night for leisure purposes. Kampala city has modern bars which usually have different sections and also small bars that are usually in the city suburbs. For a traveler who wants to get a full experience of Kampala, the night scene should definitely be added to their itinerary.
The top bars in 2024 that draw numbers and have interesting DJs include Molecule Lounge, Cielo Lounge, La Terraza Rooftop bar, Kush Lounge, Cask Lounge and The Villa Bukoto. The prime areas to hangout include Kololo and Bukoto which are busy areas at night for the Kampala night experience. Kampala night life in 2023 has been dominated by live bands like Abeeka band, Afrigo band and D’Maestroz band which play live music at different bars throughout the week and they mostly sing local music by Ugandan and African musicians.
Uganda is worth adding to your destination to visit in 2024 as it offers diverse and unique ways to spend your time while on safari. Your safari is destined to be a memorable one!