Just as described by Sir Winston Church hill in his book “My African Journey”, indeed Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. Its moderate climate, bird species, hospitable people, landscapes ranging from Mountains, to the rolling hills, valleys, forests, and the savannah grasslands. Wildlife including the Big 5 is another thing that catches the attention of most travelers, not forgetting half of the world’s remaining number of Magnificent Gorillas that live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and some in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.
The country hosts over 1,061 bird species found in different areas. The lakes, rivers, water falls are spectacular and Uganda has the source of the second longest river in the world known as the River Nile, also the country shares part of Lake Victoria the third largest lake in the world. Most tourists enjoy sunset cruises, canoeing, and sport fishing on this lake.
Uganda has 10 National Parks, a number of game reserves, wildlife sanctuaries among others where a number of wildlife have found habitation. So these places offer the best to sightseers. In Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Lake Mburo National Parks tourists can enjoy game drives, boat cruises, sport fishing, nature walks, birding, and in some of these parks you can spot the Big 4 if you are lucky. Queen Elizabeth National Park even offers an opportunity to spot the climbing lions in the Ishasha sector.
Another Park is Semuliki, it is a great spot for bird watching. It also has beautiful hot springs and an ancient rain forest. Kidepo Valley National Park is found in the north eastern part of Uganda and amongst all parks has a unique kind of landscape, wildlife, culture and also one can spot a cheetah while there.
Travellers that want to see Chimpanzees also known as closest relatives to human beings can visit Kibale Forest National Park to trek chimps in their natural habitat or take a boat to Ngamaba Island to see some these orphaned gentle creatures in sanctuary where they are being taken care of.
Hikers are also catered, there are a number of Mountains that can be hiked to the top such as the Rwenzori Mountains, Mount Elgon, and Mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga which are part of the mighty Virungas and many more.
Indeed Uganda has a lot to offer and tourists can only be sure to have a remarkable time, the choice is with the traveler who also has to plan his or her trip accordingly and make all the inquiries needed. Below we have also indicated some of the major towns in Uganda where you can enjoy sightseeing.
Sightseeing in Entebbe
It’s inevitable to fly into Uganda and your first town is not Entebbe. Entebbe is found is in Wakiso District on a Lake Victoria peninsular and hosts the country’s International Airport. Entebbe is currently proving to be a great tourism town of Uganda. A sightseeing tour in Entebbe is an unforgettable experience mainly to those tourists that plan to spend a day or two in Entebbe before or after their wildlife safari.
Entebbe town offers many opportunities for half day and full day sightseeing tours, it being a small town, a number of attractions are within hence some can be accessed on foot, by boat or driving there.
There is a popular spot for both international and local tourists called the Uganda Wildlife Education Center or UWEC ZOO as many prefer calling it. It is home to different wild animals kept in a semi-natural environment, there are a number of activities tourists can engage in; Viewing chimpanzees at a closer range, keeper of the day, behind the scenes programs, general wildlife viewing.
A visit to Ngamba Island is remarkable, this Island is a sanctuary to orphaned chimpanzees. It is situated about 23km from the mainland in Entebbe hence it is accessed on either a speed boat or a motorized canoe. You can engage in any of the sessions either morning or afternoon which include being transferred to the island, listening to the care givers, viewing chimpanzees, community visits, nature walks and also birding.
Travellers interested in botanical gardens cannot miss out on the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, which are located 19 minutes away from the International Aiprot. The gardens were founded in 1898 and host over 320 exotic plant species, 115 bird species and abundant mammals. Also since Entebbe is on a peninsular there are a number of sand beaches on the Lake, you can visit any of them to relax from the long safari, be sure of the delicious fish. These beaches include; Spennah beach, Anderita Beach, Imperial Beaches, Lido Beach, Aero Beach and many more.
When a tourist is a birder, his/her trip is not complete without seeing the Shoebill, and Mabamba swamp is home to this bird. There also other bird species like the pallid harrier, papyrus yellow warbler, and the blue swallow. Birding is mainly done on a canoe as you navigate through the waterways to spot various birds. Also a sightseeing city tour in Entebbe can take you to different roadside markets where you can buy some souvenirs or just see how Ugandans conduct trade.
Sightseeing in Kampala
For a long time now, most tourists have been engaging in city tours in Kampala and its outskirts. Kampala is the capital of Uganda and it is the first city to reach when you are coming from Entebbe. It has the busiest markets, shopping mall, arcades among others. Don’t be surprised with the much traffic and roadside vendors who are trying to earn a living by seeing their products to the people in their cars parked in traffic.
Some travellers prefer to walk around Kampala to its popular attractions, others drive along with a tour guide, but many both local and international use the Kampala sightseeing bus. It is a double decker open-roof bus that started to operate in December 2017. Using this bus gives you a unique road tour to visit different attractions while in Kampala. This bus has two daily tips with the first one starting at 9:00am, the journey can take 4 hours depending on the traffic.
This bus accommodates 64 passengers, basing on how much is paid drinks and snacks are inclusive. It begins the journey from BMK House near Hotel Africana. The choice is in your hands to go by the sightseeing bus or walk or by a hired private vehicle with a guide.
Whichever means you use you can visit the best spots in Kampala such as the Kabaka’s Lake, Uganda Museum, Rubaga Cathedral, Nakaseero Market, Namirembe Cathedral, Baha’i Temple, Kabaka (King’s) Royal Palace, the Gadhafi Mosque, Uganda National Theatre, Uganda martyr’s shrine Namugongo the Independence grounds, the Hindu Tempel, Kasubi Tombs, different craft shops and many more other places.
Kampala offers almost everything one would expect to find in a city, above all spending a night in one of Kampala’s hide outs is unforgettable since like many say, “Kampala offers the best night life”. You can’t worry of where to spend a night since hotels are easily accessible such as the high end hotels like Sheraton Hotel, the Kampala Serena Hotel, Hotel Africana and mid-range hotels like the Fat cat backpackers in Kamwokya, SS Hotel Kampala and many more.
Sightseeing in Jinja
Jinja is located in Eastern Uganda about 81km from Kampala. It is a famous Adventure Capital in East Africa for adventurous tourists, it lies on Lake Victoria and the White Nile.
Firstly visit the source of River Nile, the world’s second longest River. It was discovered in 1858 by John Hanning Speke, he was the first European explorer to discover it. Near the river is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and some of his ashes were scattered in the Nile. There are also various craft shops as you slope to the river. In order to experience this fully you can take a boat-ride along the Nile to its source and continue to Lake Victoria. Today this site is one of the most visited in Uganda.
The Itanda falls are found on River Nile and are situated about 27km northwest of Jinja town. These falls define what is called the Whitewater Nile, the sights and sounds in this area just mesmerize you. It is a perfect place for picnic outings, camping and birding. Most tourists prefer visiting it in order to relax and unwind before driving out of Jinja.
Other attractions include; Kyabirwa falls located about 8km form Jinja, beaches on Lake Victoria such as the Tilapia club, Sailing club, islands in Lake Victoria like Samuka, Lwabitooke I & II, Ndaiga. More about these beaches is that apart from Samuka Island the other islands have not been fully exploited for tourism purposes.
Activities that can be done in Jinja include; Bungee jumping, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Whitewater rafting, camping, boat rides, sunset cruises, Quad biking, birding, standup paddling, community market visits and many more.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is something to do for every person in Jinja even many activities for the adventurous traveler, that is why Jinja cannot miss on your safari itinerary to Uganda.