Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” this east African landlocked country is home to gorgeous lakes, incredible wildlife, and lovely people. The warm tropical climate will welcome you, and the lush landscape and rich cultural heritage will keep you enthused and engaged throughout your entire stay. If you’re up for dashing your adrenaline while communing with the natural wonders of the world, Uganda is your place to be. Here are the 15 best activities to do in Uganda, the source of the Nile, and the epicenter of adventure.
Explore Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda’s largest national park of 1,500 square miles, Murchison Falls is located in the northwestern part of the country, about 200 miles from Kampala. Here, the Nile River is forced through a small gap (also called the Devil’s Cauldron), generating a beautiful 140-foot waterfall. Bisected by the Victoria Nile, Murchison falls national park offers both land and water safaris where you can view warthogs, buffalo, storks, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, and many other animals, as well as the awe-inspiring Karuma Falls.
Experience Immense Beauty at Lake Bunyonyi
If great beauty comforts you, a trip to the magical landscape of Lake Bunyonyi, meaning “place of many little birds,” should make your list. Located close to the border of Rwanda in southwestern Uganda between Kabale and Kisoro, Bunyonyi comprises 29 islands dotting the lake, allowing it to be one of the most scenic parts of Uganda. Its depth of 3,000 feet makes Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa. For a romantic adventure, take a canoe ride around the lake and watch the sunset over the terraced hillsides. Interesting fact: One of the islands along the lake is named the Punishment Island, which was used as a place to leave unmarried pregnant girls as punishment for having pre-marital sex. Their only opportunity for return was to swim back.
Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Uganda is home to almost half of the mountain gorillas in the world. After some hiking, bushwhacking, and major sweating through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can choose to spend time seeing gorillas in their natural habitat. Note that it can run pretty pricey, and you'll need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit, which costs around $700. Only eight people are permitted to visit a gorilla family a day, so you’ll want to book your trip well in advance. If you need help deciding who to go with GoExplore Safaris we are here.
Explore Culture at the Uganda Museum
Located on Kira Road in Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda, you’ll find the Uganda museum, the largest and oldest museum in the country. Listen to traditional music (and check out the traditional instruments), see tools from the Stone Age, tour their ethnohistory, paleontology, and ethnography sections, and become more conversant with the building blocks that make up the rich Ugandan culture and heritage.
Hang with Lions and Elephants at Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda’s second biggest but most visited national park, Queen Elizabeth is located in the western region of Uganda about 250 miles southwest of Kampala. Its biodiversity is what makes this park truly unique: savanna, humid forests, gorgeous lakes, and wetlands all blend together to create a dramatic atmosphere fertile for all kinds of flora and fauna. Go on game drives, track chimps, take nature walks and hikes, ride a boat through the Kazinga Channel, visit the Salt Lake, and straddle the equator. You can even go hot air ballooning while admiring the impressive sunsets against the green rolling hills.
Track Wild Chimpanzees at Kibale Forest National Park
While most think of gorilla trekking in Uganda, chimp trekking is an equally magical experience with man’s closest relative, the impressive primates who share 98% of our DNA. In groups of six, hike the Kibale Forest (a 300-square-mile moist evergreen forest in Western Uganda, home to 13 species of chimps) to see black and white Colobus, the grey-cheeked Mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, along with more than 350 species of birds and plants.
Go Whitewater Rafting on the Nile
Attention, all thrill-seekers, and fitness fanatics: A trip to Jinja is an absolute must. Also known as the adventure capital of East Africa, the rafting here is some of the best in the world but also some of the scariest. You can raft up to Class V rapids at the source of the Nile River, and if you get tossed out during your journey, several kayakers are cruising around to help you get back in your boat. Getting there is fairly simple—from Kampala, you can drive about an hour, or take the Uganda Postal Service bus to the Jinja station.
Bungee Jump into the Nile
The Lake Victoria Source of the Nile flows through Uganda and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, a river with deep historical and religious significance. Bungee jump from a platform 150 feet in the air straight down toward the Nile (and splash right into it), for an exhilarating and blood-pumping experience of a lifetime! This is also positioned in Jinja.
Straddle the Equator
Located along the Masaka-Mbarara highway in Kayabwe (about 43 miles from Kampala), you’ll find an actual equator landmark where you can stand with one foot in the Northern and Southern hemispheres at the same time. You can also visit the equator line at Queen Elizabeth National Park, set about five or six hours west of Kampala). Don’t forget to put on a sunscreen!
Discover Crafts at a Traditional Market
Fresh fruits, vegetables, treats, clothes, shoes, jewelry—you name it, you will absolutely find it at an open-air market. Try the Kikuubo Shopping Zone for a truly authentic market experience, buzzing with energy and chaos and variety. For great local produce, try the Nakasero Market positioned in the central business district, or head to the Owino Market, notorious for its secondhand clothing along with home appliances, spices, foods, bags, and more. The prices aren’t fixed, so sharpen your haggling skills, because you’re going to need them!