Amabere caves

The Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru Caves are a historical site believed to be the birthplace of the founding King of the Bachwezi. Located 5km west of Fort portal, the main cave is small and supported by pillar like formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Standing alongside are the moss-covered rocks behind a small waterfall. Lake Kigere is a Crater Lake located north east of the caves and it will take you 10 to 15 minutes to hike there. The Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru meaning ‘Breasts of Nyinamwiru’ were named after the stalactites that form in the caves.

The local people of the area (Batoro) attach significance to the rocks.

It is believed that the rocks of the Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru, which take the form of human breasts, are of a local King’s daughter who wanted to marry a man of her choice instead of following the King’s orders. When the King’s daughter (Nyina Mwiru) decided to marry the man of her choice, the King ordered the breasts of Nyina Mwiru to be cut off so she can never marry. It is believed to this day among the Batoro that the ‘Amabere Ga Nyinawiru,’ which translates to breasts of Nyina Mwiru, represents the cut off breasts.

There are a total of more than three dozen crater lakes found in Toro scattered across 10 kilometers and they run through up to the western boundary of Kibale. The crater lakes area has fertile soils and is dominated by lush cultivation. Numerous species of birds, monkeys, butterflies and vegetation can be found here. One of the most spectacular craters is Lake Kyaninga located north of Fort portal.

Visiting Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru is an interesting cultural tour because you will be guided through the history of the Bachwezi dynasty that lived here in the 14th Century. After that you can go for a ‘real hike’ to see over 5 crater lakes. This hike can either be done in the morning or afternoon and takes between 3 – 5 hours. The Weather around fort portal sometimes rainy so a certain level of fitness and appropriate dressing code would be very important. This tour is very interesting and informative to anyone coming to Fort portal Uganda. It’s an optional activity that can be included on most Itineraries for a Tour in Uganda.

Hiking & Nature Walks in Murchison Falls National Park

Hiking and Nature Walks are among the top activities in Murchison Falls offering holidaymakers an opportunity to explore this vast wilderness on foot. Located in North-western Uganda covering an area of 3,840 sq km, Murchison falls National Park has varied sceneries and vast landscapes starting from the savannah plains, swamps, forests, the amazing wildlife, awesome culture and lastly the eye-catching magnificent falls on the Victoria Nile. The park harbors a lot of wildlife such as giraffes, buffaloes, antelopes, Jackson’s hartebeests, lions and elephants among others. Plant species like the whistling acacia, sausage trees, over 420 bird species, butterflies, and many more.

Most attractions in the park and around the conservation areas can be explored on foot, and although there are different trails that can be followed; tourists are only permitted to follow particular designated trails such as: to the top of the falls, in Rabongo forest and in Kaniyo Pabidi. hiking and nature walk adventures will be a great reward to Nature lovers and birders as they will reward you with great views of wildlife in Murchison falls National Park, birds and different plant life at a close range as they walk through low hills, gullies and riverine forests.

Hiking to the top of the falls

This is considered to be the most remarkable hiking trail in Murchison Falls National Park. the adventure begins with a boat ride on the Nile to the base of the falls at a point known as the ‘The Baker Point’ where its alleged to be the exact spot that early explore Sir Samuel Baker back in 1864 stood as he admired and appreciated the splendor and might of the waterfalls which he named after the then serving president off the Royal Geographical Societ – RGS which sponsored his expedition in Africa.

he boat leaves you at the base and you head for a 45 minute guided hike that will require some bit of physical fitness, while on this hike you will have a great time watching rolling hills, vegetation types, hear the thunderous roar of the falls and see different birds in Murchison Falls National Park. once you are at the top you will be able to watch the waters of the river Nile make their way through a small gap in the rocks about 8m wide hence forming a 45m fall as it drops down to continue with its course.

Nature Walks in Kaniyo Pabidi

This is an area of Natural forest in the Budongo forest located about 8km from Kichumbanyobo one of the park gates to Murchison Falls National Park along Paraa road in Masindi. It is a great place for hikes and nature walks and perfect to have a Uganda Chimpanzee Tour. Also other things to see are the big ironwood and Mahogany trees, various native medicinal plants and birds such as the Hornbills, Chocolate backed Kingfishers among others can be spotted. There is a camp site equipped with firewood and water found within the park so guest can easily find where to stay.

Rabongo Forest Walks

It is located in the southeast of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and approximately a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Paraa. It is a great place for hiking and nature walks as well as primate watching tours with primate trekking. This area is encompassed with savannah grasslands and also here you find good forest cottages and a campsite. During your walk you can spot beautiful birds, medicinal plants, primates like vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees among others.

Best time to have a nature walk or hiking tour in Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry season despite the fact that the park can be visited all year round. During the dry season, the trails are generally dry and easy to traverse unlike in the rainy months when they are muddy and slippery

There is also a 2 to 4 hour guided swamp walk to the Nile delta that gives you opportunity to see various ecosystems and also the rare shoebill stork especially if the water table is low.

Cape Buffalos (Syncerus caffer)

The African buffalo is a very robust species. Its shoulder height can range from 1.0 to 1.7 m (3.3 to 5.6 ft) and its head-and-body length can range from 1.7 to 3.4 m (5.6 to 11.2 ft). The tail can range from 70 to 110 cm (28 to 43 in) long. Compared with other large bovids, it has a long but stocky body (the body length can exceed the wild water buffalo, which is heavier and taller) and short but thickset legs, resulting in a relatively short standing height. Savannah-type buffaloes weigh 500 to 1,000 kg (1,100 to 2,200 lb), with males normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. In comparison, forest-type buffaloes, at 250 to 450 kg (600 to 1,000 lb), are only half that size. Its head is carried low; its top is located below the backline. The front hooves of the buffalo are wider than the rear, which is associated with the need to support the weight of the front part of the body, which is heavier and more powerful than the back.

Savannah-type buffaloes have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls often have whitish circles around their eyes and on their face. Females tend to have more-reddish coats. Forest-type buffaloes are 30-40% smaller, reddish brown in colour, with much more hair growth around the ears and with horns that curve back and slightly up. Calves of both types have red coats.

A characteristic feature of the horns of adult male African buffalo (southern and eastern populations) is that the bases come very close together, forming a shield referred to as a “boss”. From the base, the horns diverge downwards, then smoothly curve upwards and outwards and in some cases inwards and or backwards. In large bulls, the distance between the ends of the horns can reach upwards of one metre (the record being 64.5 inches 164 cm). The horns form fully when the animal reaches the age of 5 or 6 years old, but the bosses do not become “hard” until it reaches the age of 8 to 9 years old. In cows, the horns are, on average, 10–20% smaller, and they do not have a boss. Forest-type buffalo horns are smaller than those of the savanna-type buffaloes from Southern and East Africa, usually measuring less than 40 centimetres (16 in), and are almost never fused.


Fun Facts

  1. The horns of the cape buffalo are an excellent indication of age and gender. The females and young males do not have the hard shielding that protects the base of the skull in large adult males.
  2. Cape buffalos are extremely social and live in large, mixed herds of up to 2000 members! Both sexes have a separate hierarchy, with males dominant over females. Members of the same subgroup will stay in direct contact with each other and will often sleep with their heads resting on one another.
  3. The African buffalo, which is often confused with the Asian water buffalo, shares many of the same characteristics but is considered a separate species.
  4. Cape buffalo are always within a day’s walk of a water source. This is especially true in the dry season when they are eating dried grasses.
  5. Cape buffalo have the reputation of being dangerous when they are cornered or injured. There are many tales told by big game hunters earlier this century of injured buffalo turning back and goring or killing the shooter.

Ecology and Conservation

By living in large herds and eating tall coarse grasses, Cape buffalo play a vital role in the ecology of the grasslands. Many of the smaller grazers are unable to digest the tall grasses, and the tall grasses may prevent them from getting to the shorter, more palatable grasses in the absence of buffalo. 

Competition for food sources by non-native species such as goats and cattle have challenged the native African grazers. However, the introduction of foreign diseases from non-native species remains the biggest threat. Currently the national parks of Uganda are taking great steps to protect their native wildlife against Bovine Tuberculosis. While this does not have a serious effect on domestic cattle it can decimate the herds of cape buffalo and their prey species such as lion and hyena.

Social behavior

Herd size is highly variable. The core of the herds is made up of related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy. The basic herds are surrounded by subherds of subordinate males, high-ranking males and females, and old or invalid animals. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognizable by the thickness of his horns. During the dry season, males split from the herd and form bachelor groups. Two types of bachelor herds occur: ones made of males aged four to seven years and those of males 12 years or older. During the wet season, the younger bulls rejoin a herd to mate with the females. They stay with them throughout the season to protect the calves. Some older bulls cease to rejoin the herd, as they can no longer compete with the younger, more aggressive males. Males have a linear dominance hierarchy based on age and size. Since a buffalo is safer when a herd is larger, dominant bulls may rely on subordinate bulls and sometimes tolerate their copulation.Bulls in position to spar

Adult bulls spar in play, dominance interactions, or actual fights. A bull approaches another, lowing, with his horns down, and waits for the other bull to do the same thing. When sparring, the bulls twist their horns from side to side. If the sparring is for play, the bull may rub his opponent’s face and body during the sparring session. Actual fights are violent but rare and brief. Calves may also spar in play, but adult females rarely spar at all.

African buffaloes are notable for their apparent altruism. Females appear to exhibit some sort of “voting behavior”. During resting time, the females stand up, shuffle around, and sit back down again. They sit in the direction they think they should move. After an hour of more shuffling, the females travel in the direction they decide. This decision is communal and not based on hierarchy or dominance. When chased by predators, a herd sticks close together and makes it hard for the predators to pick off one member. Calves are gathered in the middle. A buffalo herd responds to the distress call of a captured member and tries to rescue it. A calf’s distress call gets the attention of not only the mother, but also the herd. Buffaloes engage in mobbing behavior when fighting off predators. They have been recorded killing a lion and chasing lions up trees and keeping them there for two hours, after the lions have killed a member of their group. Lion cubs can get trampled and killed

Mpanga forest reserve

Mpanga Central Forest Reserve is located in Impigi District about 35km out of Kampala, covering 453 hectares (1,120 acres). The forest is best known for its 181 species of butterfly, while red-tailed monkeys can be seen during the day and bushbabies during guided night walks that go for 20,000 shillings per person. The forest reserve was gazetted in 1950 and later in 1953. it first served as a scientific research site.

Visit Mpanga Central Forest Reserve — Gorilla tracking safaris
mpanga forest is a home to over 97 butterfly species and 112 moths.

Mpanga is recorded to have over 500 tree species and shrubs, with some trees estimated to be 100-years old. There are over 200 bird species recorded in this reserve. The common birds to watch include, hornbill, spotted greenbul, black and white casqued, African pied hornbills, long tailed cormorant, black headed heron, Egyptian goose, black kite, lizard buzzard, African palm swift, Uganda woodland warbler, great blue turaco and the ross turaco. Mammals found in Mpanga include; bushbuck, red-tailed monkey and flying squirrels. Several butterfly species can also be observed throughout the reserve.

The forest reserve is a home to three monkey species; vervet, red tailed then the black and white colobus monkeys. other mammal species spotted in the forest are banded mangoose, squirrels, pottas and bush babies.

Mpanga forest is another destination for butterfly safaris.

Kabaka’s lake

Kabaka’s lake is situated in Ndeeba in between Nabunya road and Ring Road. It is a few kilometers away from Kampala capital city approximately 5 kilometers.  The lake was constructed in 1880 under the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II who wanted it to act as an “escape corridor” during the British armed conflicts. The kabaka’s lake is the largest man-made lake in Uganda and it is Africa’s excavated lake. The lake was constructed under the cooperation of over 52 clans of Buganda who jointly agreed to construct the Kabaka’s Lake during the Ssekabaka Mwanga’s regime between the 1885 and 1888 and this was a sign of respecting the king’s orders.

Kabaka Mwanga II not only wanted the lake to act as an escape but he had other interests for this lake such as; he wanted the lake to act as a channel connecting to lake victoria where he can travel on boat to access lake victoria so that he can enjoy fishing and swimming, Mwanga II also wanted an easy access to his other built palace in Mulungu hill which is close to lake victoria in Munyonyi built by his father Mutesa before his death

Kabaka Mwanga II was known for his pride, aggressiveness, notorious and a Ruthless holocaust during his reign, despite the Kabaka’s aggressiveness and ambitious plans towards the Kabaka’s lake, the construction of the lake was abruptly interrupted and stopped before it was connected to Munyonyo, the failure to complete the lake was due to the religious wars that arose in  Buganda kingdom.  

The legendary story behind the construction of the Kabaka’s lake is extremely interesting. At the beginning of the construction, the parish chiefs plus the prince and princess had refused to take part in the digging of the lake so they were reported the Kabaka, something which annoyed Kabaka Mwanga II who decided to take up the tusk by himself and joined other people who had obeyed to dig. By doing this the parish chiefs, princess and princes got ashamed and they as well joined in the digging along with the kabaka.

Apparently, the kabaka’s lake covers an area of about two square kilometers and approximately 200 feet in depth. It is among the top attraction places to visit on your Kampala city tour and it is a significant conservation site to the kingdom of Buganda. It is one of the birders paradises with numerous bird species such as the little egrets. The kabaka’s lake has got intriguing picture views which backed by awesome surrounding environment. A visit to the kabaka’s lake will offer you a chance to explore Kabaka’s palace which is just adjacent to the lake. You will an see people who occasionally cross the lake on traditional dugout canoes.

In the annual Buganda tourism Expo which takes place around August, the king of Buganda takes courtesy with his subjects to be of the officiate watersports on the lake. The Kabaka is accompanied by his soldiers known as Abambnowa dressed smartly in their traditional attires well-armed with shields and the spears together with the ministers as well as dignitaries and a security convey.

The kabaka’s Lake has no inlet river tributaries which supplies water to this lake; it is instead supplied by underground springs.There are two islands on the lake; one in the middle, with Buganda’s Coat of Arms where Ssekabaka Mwanga II sat while watching boat races, swimming competitions and birding. The second island, found in its left wing, is a birders paradise with water plants which attract over 70 species, the dominant one being white egrets and pied eye kingfishers.

Lake Nkugute

Lake Nkugutte also called lake Rutoto is located in Rutoto Sub-county Rubirizi District. The lake is after a very small urban area only made vibrant by roadside matooke, yellow bananas, and passion fruit vendors.

The lake is tucked between Imaramagamba Forest, Omunkombe and Ryemondo hills. It is belted by Bushenyi-Kasese highway and surrounded by banana, pine and eucalyptus groves. Rutoto area is heavily populated and wooded.

The inhabitants are the Banyaruguru (the emigrants from Buganda), Banyankore, Bakiga and Banyarwanda who grow commercial trees, bananas, coffee and sugarcane.

Centre for tales
The lake has been associated with many myths and spiritual activities. For instance, it is believed the lake is in the shape of the map of Africa, is very deep and that it doesn’t have fish.

Another myth is that the lake has spirits that give wealth and that the water crosses the road thus, rampant road accidents near it. Many people carry out rituals on the lake.

Nyamwonyo who begun fishing on the lake since he was 10 years old has heard all the stories and also witnessed some of the bizarre incidents. In 2002, a bus belonging to SB Coaches collided with a fuel tanker at Kaziko on the southern tip of the lake.

The bus caught fire killing all the 72 people on board. This triggered the belief that the spirits in the water were responsible for the tragedy, that it was an act of sacrifice by the lake spirits.

The lake is a source of water and fish to the local community. There are about 20 boats and you can also find about 10-20 people fishing using hooks. There is tilapia and mudfish but not in big quantities, according to Nyamwonyo.

Though the lake is partly fenced and authorities prohibit any misuse, people directly bathe and wash from it, much as washing and fetching points in form of slabs are provided for.

The lake has also been reducing in size as a result of human activities of cultivation and construction. Nyamwonyo says some points where they used to throw hooks and catch fish years back are now banana plantations.

You can include lake nkugutte on your itinerary to Queen Elizabeth National park.

Habituating the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda

Uganda is home to approximately half of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla population, and gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the most incredible wildlife experiences on the continent.

Standard gorilla treks give you the chance to spend up to one hour in the company of the gorillas in their natural habitat. This has been made possible by gently introducing the gorillas to human presence, a process that takes between 2 and 5 years. This is essential for the continued research, care and conservation of the gorillas. 

For those wishing to take a more active role in the protection and understanding of these gentle giants, you can join the rangers and conservationists in the habituation process of two more gorilla families in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

During a habituation trek, you can spend up to 4 magical hours with these highly intelligent and emotional animals. 

It is an incredibly humbling experience, and the habituation process is fundamental to the continued protection of the gorillas.

LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. It is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.

Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.Explore lake mburo with verdoro safaris uganda