34 Best Places To Visit In Uganda

Uganda

Uganda, an East African country, offers diverse attractions including lush rainforests, exotic wildlife such as gorillas, elephants, giraffes, lions, antelopes, and cheetahs, as well as vibrant local culture.

The landscape features volcanoes, lakes with white sand and deep blue water, waterfalls, natural hot springs, and accommodations ranging from treehouses to luxurious lodges.

In this article, discover the 34 best places to visit in Uganda. This country’s culture is characterized by creativity, beauty, friendly locals, and fascinating festivals celebrating African heritage.

Kampala

Kampala - Uganda
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Traveling in Kampala is most affordable and convenient via boda-bodas, and bicycle taxis that can take you almost anywhere in the city.

Kampala offers many cultural and historical sites to explore. Notable attractions include the Kasubi Tombs, the first Baha’i house of worship on the African continent, the Uganda National Mosque, Namirembe Cathedral, Rubaga Cathedral, Hindu and Baha’i temples, and the Nakayima Tree, symbolizing religious harmony and peace.

The Uganda Museum, located in green gardens near the British High Commission, showcases the country’s rich and diverse heritage. The Culture Village nearby features local musicians demonstrating their instruments.

Jinja

Jinja - Uganda
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Jinja, a town in southern Uganda on Lake Victoria’s shore, offers several attractions. The Coronation Park marks the source of the Nile and features a monument dedicated to British explorer John Hanning Speke.

Other sites include the Bujagali and Owen Falls Dams, Itanda Falls with whitewater rapids, and Samuka Island for birdwatching, including little egrets.

Jinja provides a range of activities and accommodations for different budgets, along with unique hotels and chic restaurants. Itanda Falls, originally known as Bujagali Falls, is another popular attraction.

Now a power plant site, visitors can still enjoy the waterfalls’ beauty and surrounding wildlife, with options for picnics or camping trips.

The Source of the Nile

The Source of the Nile - Uganda
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To experience nature and culture, visit the Source of the Nile in Uganda, in Jinja. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the source offers craft shops with African pieces that have historical ties to the region.

The Nile starts its journey in Uganda at Ripon Falls near Jinja, flowing north over 130 kilometers to Lake Kyoga. From the lake’s western shores, it turns north towards Masindi, passing through Karuma and Murchison Falls before flowing westward to Lake Albert, forming a significant river delta.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - Uganda
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The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a large primeval forest in southwestern Uganda, is located at 1,160 to 2,607 meters on the Albertine Rift’s edge. The forest offers gorilla tracking as its main attraction, although it can be challenging and energy-consuming.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to nearly half of the world’s Mountain Gorillas, with more gorilla families and tracking permits than other parks.

In May 2017, CNN named it one of the best African destinations. Bwindi hosts around 400 habituated mountain gorillas, making it the world’s premier gorilla trekking location. There are also chimpanzees and other primates.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria - Uganda
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Lake Victoria, one of Africa’s largest lakes, is the world’s largest tropical lake and second-largest freshwater lake. Its natural beauty attracts birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts to the surrounding area.

Nearby attractions include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, and the Entebbe Botanical Garden, established in 1901. Notable wildlife includes the spotted neck otter.

Mfangano Island, located on the Kenyan side of the lake, features ancient rock paintings estimated to be between one thousand and four thousand years old. The paintings, found mainly in the Mawanga cave and a rock shelter further inland, are preserved largely unaltered by locals.

Ssese Islands

Ssese Islands - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The Ssese Islands, a group of 84 islands in Lake Victoria, are located northwest of the mainland. Activities on the Ssese Islands include hiking, bicycle riding, and game fishing, with the Nile perch being a prized catch.

Accommodations cater to various budgets. While Bugala is the most popular island, others offer more privacy and fewer crowds, especially for cycling enthusiasts. The Ssese Islands are ideal for honeymoons, family retreats, and weekend getaways.

Their location allows for combining a Ssese Island vacation with gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, and wildlife viewing in Murchison Falls National Park.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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Semuliki National Park offers various activities, such as visiting the popular Sempaya Hot Springs, with water temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Celsius and steam spurting up to two meters in the air. Historically, locals used the boiling pools for cooking, making it an interesting tourist attraction.

The park’s wildlife includes forest elephants, hippos, forest buffaloes, antelopes, black and white colobus monkeys, and numerous bird species. The Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve within the park is ideal for chimpanzee trekking safaris.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary - Uganda
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Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victoria offers chimpanzee observation and interaction opportunities. The sanctuary provides a volunteer program.

Overnight stays, day trips, and guided forest walks are available. Activities include feeding chimps, attending informative talks, and enjoying sunset boat rides, with visitor groups limited to three people.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi - Uganda
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Lake Bunyonyi, a stunning lake near the Uganda-Rwanda border, features 29 small islands and hosts diverse birdlife. It’s a beautiful natural water body surrounded by the green hills of the Kigezi range, which rise to 2,200 to 2,478 meters.

The terraced hillsides create a unique setting, attracting domestic and foreign tourists. Accommodations cater to various budgets, and activities include bird watching, canoe rides, and more.

Nyero Rock Paintings

Nyero Rock Paintings - Uganda
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The Nyero rock paintings are ancient geometric artworks created by early inhabitants of the region. These red pigment paintings depict animals, circles, and canoes, resembling traditional African artwork.

There are six Nyero rock painting sites, with Nyero Rock being the first, consisting of six rock shelters featuring various designs.

At Nyero 1 and Nyero 5, paintings can be found, although those at Nyero 2 are partially covered with mineral salts. Nyero 5’s rock shelter has six concentric circles and a central acacia pod shape.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The Rwenzori Mountains National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, is a spectacular park bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo and Virunga National Park.

Covering 366 square kilometers, the park features lush vegetation, waterfalls, glaciers, and unique flora species. Reaching Margherita Peak is demanding, but shorter hikes are also accessible throughout the park.

The Rwenzori Mountains host endangered wildlife species like the African forest elephant and eastern chimpanzee, as well as black-fronted and red duikers.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park
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Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest protected area spanning 1,503 square miles, is reachable by road or flight from Kampala. The falls, where the Victoria or White Nile drops over a rocky escarpment, house the largest Nile crocodile population.

Once renowned for the “big five” – lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinos, the park now lacks rhinos due to poaching, with the remaining ones visible at the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary, a 2.5-hour journey away. The Buligi circuit is ideal for game viewing.

The park provides birdwatching chances, featuring hundreds of species such as white-thighed hornbills, spotted mourning thrushes, and bluff-bellied warblers. The Verreaux’s eagle owl can be spotted at night.

The Kasubi Tombs

The Kasubi Tombs - Uganda
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The Kasubi Tombs are the burial site for the Baganda royal family. They remain a crucial religious, political, and spiritual location for the Ganda people, exhibiting traditional architecture.

The tombs consist of two courtyards and multiple traditional houses. The first courtyard includes a gatehouse and drumhouse for royal drums, while the second courtyard, located on the hilltop and enclosed by a reed fence, is accessed via a wooden gatehouse.

Four Kabaks, including Muteesa I and Mwanga II, along with Sir Edward Muteesa II, are interred in the tombs. As the tomb houses a sacred forest containing the kings’ spirits, entry is not permitted. Traditional ceremonies, such as welcoming the new moon, occur within the tombs.

Itanda Falls

Itanda Falls - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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Itanda Falls, in Jinja, is a waterfall offering activities like kayaking, rafting, and birdwatching. Located around 100 km east of Kampala and 30 km from Jinja Town, it is accessible by car in 45 minutes. They are also reachable by rafting the Nile River.

Itanda Falls is popular for adventure sports like white-water rafting and kayaking. The waterfall’s roaring waters and stunning sights create a thrilling experience for visitors.

Ssezibwa Falls

Ssezibwa Falls - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The Ssezibwa Falls, 35km east of Kampala, hold a cultural and spiritual significance. It’s believed to bring good fortune, love, happiness, and success.

Visiting during the rainy season is advised. The Buganda people consider the waterfalls sacred, and various wildlife species can be found there.

Access the falls by car from Kampala or Jinja, preferably with a 4WD vehicle due to the Murram route and potentially muddy road during the rainy season.

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls - Uganda
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Sipi Falls, with three waterfalls, the highest at 85 meters, hosts bird species like the African Blue Flycatcher, Sunbird, and Weaver Bird.

The area offers year-round beauty and a tropical climate. Accommodations include campsites and safari lodges, providing a serene environment.

Reach Sipi Falls by car in 5 hours from Kampala via Jinja and Mbale, or by taxi/minibus in just over an hour. The region offers excellent hiking and multi-day trekking.

Nearby Mount Elgon National Park, Uganda’s richest birding region, has more bird species than Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks combined. Birding tours are available in the Sipi area.

Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park - Uganda
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Mount Elgon National Park, near the Kenyan border, features an extinct shield volcano (4,321m). Its diverse habitats support around 400 plant species, 143 bird species, half of Uganda’s butterfly species, and wildlife like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, buffaloes, and elephants.

Three hiking trails are available, with trailheads at Budadiri and Kapkwata’s forest exploration center. The Sasa trail, the original route to Wagagai, takes two hours and offers stunning views of the Sebei and Karamajong regions.

Mount Elgon’s trails are less crowded than other East African trails, providing a serene hiking experience.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park - Uganda (2)
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Lake Mburo is one of the few Ugandan locations to spot impalas, along with other mammals like buffalo, defassa waterbuck, elands, zebras, African leopards, and hippopotami. It also hosts a lion conservation unit.

The lake is part of a wetland system containing five lakes. Despite its smaller size, Lake Mburo features diverse habitats and many bird species.

Activities include cultural experiences, hiking, horse riding, night game drives, horseback safaris, boat cruises, and sport fishing.

The Uganda Museum

The Uganda Museum - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The museum, established in 1908 in Kampala, showcases Uganda’s cultural heritage through ancient art, music, archaeology, and artifacts.

The cultural village exhibits traditional lifestyles, including beadwork, baskets, pottery, horn work, and leather crafts.

Serving as an educational and research archive, the museum offers insights into various eras, such as the Stone Age, and traditional life, including clothing, musical instruments, and flint knapping. It is a popular destination for school tours.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary - Uganda
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The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda, established in 2005, is ideal for observing endangered Southern White Rhinos in their natural habitat. It spans a 70-km square area.

Currently hosting around 20 rhinos, the sanctuary’s breeding program aims to reintroduce rhinos into Uganda’s national parks, with visitor fees contributing directly to the conservation effort.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary offers close encounters with animals guided by knowledgeable staff and is home to various bird species, reptiles, mammals, and nocturnal creatures.

Lake Mutanda

Lake Mutanda - Uganda
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Lake Mutanda, a small freshwater lake in western Uganda, offers beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife, making it an ideal day trip destination.

Surrounded by rainforests, the lake is home to various bird species, including the grey-crowned crane, pin-tailed whydahs, and sunbirds. Chameleons and monitor lizards can also be spotted on the shores.

Activities include hiking, canoeing, island hopping, canoe rides, and nature walks through coffee plantations.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park - source wikipedia - Uganda
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Mount Gahinga, a dormant volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the Rwanda border, is one of the best places globally to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

It’s the only park with gorillas and golden monkeys. It hosts 180 bird species, including 24 Albertine Rift endemics, and over 76 mammal species.

Guided treks allow visitors to observe gorillas, other primates, birds, and trees in the rainforest. Habituated golden monkeys can also be tracked with a local guide.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park - Uganda
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Queen Elizabeth National Park has over 600 species of birds and 95 mammal species, chimpanzees, and black and white colobus monkeys across grassland, woodland, moist tropical forest, wetlands, freshwater rivers, and saline lakes.

The park also features large areas of medium-altitude semi-deciduous forest. It’s accessible by road or charter flight, the park is approximately 389 km from Kampala.

Kazinga Channel

Kazinga Channel - Uganda
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The Kazinga Channel, a major natural feature in Queen Elizabeth National Park, is a narrow, 32-kilometer-long waterway connecting Lake George and Lake Edward.

Surrounded by lush greenery, the channel is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the world’s largest concentration of hippos and numerous Nile crocodiles.

The best time to visit the Kazinga Channel is during the dry season, from June to August. Accessible by road or air, the most popular route is a 309-kilometer drive through Masaka, Marara, and Bushenyi.

Boat tours along the Kazinga Channel, departing from Mweya Safari Lodge, offer stunning views and cost $30 per person.

Explosion Crater Drive

Explosion Crater Drive - Uganda
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The Explosion Craters in Western Uganda offer stunning landscapes, climbing opportunities, and picturesque views.

Formed by ancient volcanic activity around 8000 to 10,000 years ago, these craters created lakes with sulfur odors, which are now popular for swimming and exploring the surrounding nature.

Located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Katwe explosion craters span 3 km across and 100 m deep, resulting from a series of violent volcanic eruptions over the past million years Some craters host monkeys and tropical birds.

The Katwe-Korongo explosion craters cover an area of 210 km2 and are part of the Uganda Volcanic Craters. The Mweya peninsula is also within the park.

The Equator Line

The Equator Line - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The equator, an imaginary line dividing the world into northern and southern halves, is a unique landmark in Uganda. Due to the Earth’s slow rotation at the equator, objects thrown straight appear to land to the right.

To visitr, plan a day trip to Kayabwe in Mpigi District, approximately 72 km from Kampala. There are three main equator crossing points in Uganda, with Kampala and Kayabwe being the closest two.

Owino Market

Owino Market - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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Owino Market, a popular destination in Uganda, offers a unique glimpse into local shopping culture. Frequented by Ugandans and some foreigners, the market sells secondhand clothes, jewelry, and other items.

Bargaining is common, allowing visitors to secure great deals. This condensed information highlights the key features and attractions of Owino Market in Uganda.

The Ndere Centre

The Ndere Centre is a cultural and artistic hub featuring the Ndere Dance Troupe, art exhibitions, and restaurants.

The center offers spacious accommodations for up to 3000 people, with prices at UGX50,000 for non-Ugandan adults and UGX30,000 for Ugandans.

The Town of Kabale

The Town of Kabale - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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Kabale, located 420 kilometers from Kampala, is the administrative center of Kabale District in the Kigezi sub-region.

This market town is known for its attractions, such as Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for mountain gorilla trekking, and the nearby Ihimba Hot Springs, known for curing joint pains and illnesses.

Entebbe

Entebbe - Uganda
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Entebbe, located on Lake Victoria’s shores, is a tropical city with beautiful beaches, parks, and gardens. The nearby Botanical Garden hosts various birds, plants, and monkeys.

The area offers attractions like the Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre, which protects native animals and promotes conservation through education.

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Entebbe Botanical Gardens - source wikipedia - Uganda
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Entebbe Botanical Gardens feature a medicinal garden with over 100 plant species used for medicinal purposes and nurseries selling Hoerscassia and ornamental plants.

Common bird species in the gardens include the African Fish-eagle, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Palmnut and Hooded Vultures, Angola swallow, and scarlet-chested sunbird.

Located near the entrance to Kampala, Entebbe Botanical Gardens is open Monday through Sunday, with some restrictions and hours of operation.

Visitors can also spot black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys. The gardens are free and open to the public.

Gaddafi National Mosque

Gaddafi National Mosque - Source wikipedia - Uganda
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The Gaddafi National Mosque, one of East Africa’s largest mosques, is situated on Kampala Hill in the Old Kampala area. The mosque, featuring a grand dome, is a prominent landmark in Kampala.

Open to tourists for a small entrance fee, guests receive an English-speaking guide and are advised to dress appropriately. It is a popular destination, attracting many visitors annually.

Bahai Temple

Bahai Temple - Uganda
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The Bahai Temple in Kampala, Uganda, is one of seven Bahai temples worldwide and serves as the mother temple of the Bahai faith in Africa.

This architectural masterpiece features a 38-meter-high dome adorned with mosaic tiles from Italy and Belgium, walls and roof made of local pre-cast stones, and woolen carpets from Turkey.

An all-inclusive tour package is available, and guests can also enjoy nearby activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, bird watching, and visiting Murchison Falls National Park.

Rubaga Cathedral

Rubaga Cathedral - Uganda
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Rubaga Cathedral, also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral, is the parent cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. It is Uganda’s oldest diocese and the seat of the Archbishop of Kampala.

The cathedral is surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers and houses the ashes of the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanka, the first African Catholic Bishop and the first Archbishop of the Kampala Diocese.

Nearby, visitors can also explore the Kasubi Tombs, where the four kabakas of Buganda are buried.

Wrap-Up

Uganda is a destination that offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking natural beauty, cultural immersion, and wildlife encounters.

From exploring the historical and cultural sites of Kampala to witnessing the majestic mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda provides a diverse range of attractions that cater to various interests.

The natural beauty of its landscapes, including lush rainforests, volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls, and hot springs, is complemented by a rich cultural heritage.

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