Our team loves to travel... and we love to go to the places that make you feel alive.
Now that the pandemic is over, we have been really excited to start seeing the world again. This year we decided to take a trip to Uganda to explore the best places to see, and use local knowledge to find the hidden gems that cannot be found on most of the top ten articles online.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 best places to visit in Uganda that we have been to.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
If there is anything to set some time aside for is visiting the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the South Western Region of Uganda. The huge national park is 321 square miles of montane and lowland forest that is only accessible by foot.
The UN has designated the forest a World Heritage Site and is one of the most ecologically dense habitats on earth.
You should expect to see 120 species of mammal, 220 of butterflies, 348 species of birds, and 27 of frogs, geckos, chameleon lizards and almost a book worth of endangered species.
Most travel to the Impenetrable Forest to meet our closest relative; the Bwindi Gorilla. there are only 400 known in the forest, which makes up almost half of the worlds known population. The surrounding trees is also populated with Chimps and colombus monkies, and endangered birds such as the hornbill and turacos.
This was a genuinely enriching experience that words can hardly describe.
2. The Baha'i Temple
The Baha'i Temple in Uganda is one of the country's unique jewles. The Baha'i is a secular Christian religion which has grown in the country since 1951. The Baha'i believe that God reveals his will through a divine messenger whose purpose is to transform humankind.
The biggest and most impressive temple in Uganda is the Baha'i House of Worship and is found on Kikaya Hill on the outskirts f Kampala. The first stone of the Baha'i temple in Uganda was laid in 1958. Very interestingly, the design and inspiration came from Europe; the green dome is from Italy, the stained glass from Germany and the lower roof tiles from Belgium.
The huge fifty-acre estate contains a house of Worship, beautiful gardens, a guest house and an administrative centre. The place has so much history and importance that is a must-see when travelling to Kamala.
3. Entebbe Botanic Gardens
Entebbe is home to one of the biggest airports in Uganda, so if you're travelling into Uganda, why not take a day out to explore the amazing city?
The Entebbe Botanical Gardens - also known as the Ugandan National Gardens were a highlight of our trip there. The gardens were first established in 1898 and situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria - almost perfectly along the Equator.
The gardens have a huge collection of biodiverse vegetation - roughly 200 are indigenous to Uganda, 130 with medical value and another 110 are considered exotic.
Like us, you will be one of the 40,000 visitors the gardens see every year. You can find the entrance close to the Botanical Beach Hotel, but any Bajaj/ tuktuk driver will know exactly where to find it.
4. Speke Monument and 'The Source of the Nile'
If you know anything about the first European African explorers, they have left behind a complicated patchwork of claimed finds, and epic infighting.
The reason why we have put quotation marks around 'the source of the Nile' is simply due to the fact that the source of the Nile has been argued about long and hard over the years. Did John Speke really find the source of the Nile, or did he put his flag down and just try to claim it first? Or was it a ploy to control the mighty river that gave life to the then troublesome Egypt? That is another topic, for another day.
Regardless, Speke is an interesting character and one of the premier African explorers of his day. He is remembered at Rippon falls in Uganda which he proclaimed as the source of the mighty Nile river.
Alongside learning the colourful and complicated history of the old European explorers, the monument is the tallest in Uganda and is surrounded by beautiful lush river rapids. It is possible to take a short trip on a boat there too. No wonder Speke stopped here.
5. Kabalega Falls (AKA Murchison Falls)
The Murchison / Kabalega Falls are something to behold. It is a gateway that funnels the whole mighty Nile river into a gully just 7m wide, and down 43m in elevation. It is
The falls were named by Samuel and Florance Baker, the first Europeans to find the falls. They named it the President of the Royal Geographical Society, Roderick Murchison, who is also the namesake of the surrounding national park.
Idi Amin had other ideas and changed the name in the 1970's to Kabalega Falls after Omukama (meaning king of kings) Kabalega of Bunyoro. After Amin fell, the name reverted back; so it is referred to by both names.
There is also a belief that Nero sent Roman legionaries into Africa, and they may have made it as far as the falls in 61AD. whether they did is up for debate.
In other news, Ernest Hemingway crashed a plane near and the falls were preserved by the rejection of plans to build a hydro-power dam.
6. Lake Victoria
Named after Queen Victoria, by Speke in 1858 (He loved naming things), Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake and borders Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, and has been attributed as the 'source of the Nile - which has been disputed.
The Ugandan side of the Lake is the only major body of water in the country and is home to a huge population of birds, fish and reptiles; including the Ugandan Crocodile.
The shores are not only beautiful but it is possible to head to the west of the lake for bird-watching and wildlife adventures, enjoy a sunset tour, watersports (including white water rapids and jet skiing), hike in the surrounding bushland and visit the 'source of the Nile'.
The most popular destination is the Ssese Islands which deserve their own inclusion.
7. Ssese Islands
The Ssese Islands are a collection (or archipelago) of 84 small islands just off the north/western shore of Lake Victoria.
Before going there, I had seen that the islands were one of the world's 'hidden treasures' and was considered to be a 'must see' in Uganda.
You can reach the islands by boat\ ferry or plane (be very careful about the ferry company you use).
The islands are a complete surprise - they are like walking out onto the Indian ocean. Wonderful sandy beaches and unforgettable places for a swim. It is also possible to fish, quad-biking, hike on a volcano and treks to see the wildlife.
The famous Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also a must-see.
8. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Within the Ssese Archipelago is Nagamba Island, also known as 'Chimp Island'. Ngamba Island is made up of 100 acres of lush rainforest and can be accessed from Entebbe by boat.
The island is home to over 50 rescued who cannot be put back into the wild. This is a joint venture between:
- Born Free Foundation
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Jane Goodall Institute
- Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
- Environmental Conservation Trust of
- Uganda (ECOTRUST)
- Uganda Wildlife Society
It is possible to go to the island and partake in walking tours and game drives to see the wildlife - particularly the chimps. You can stay the night there too in tented accommodation.
9. Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National park is situated on Uganda's Eastern border with Kenya. The entire park is split in two: Uganda (430sq miles) and Kenya (65sq miles).
Park was gazetted in 1968 (Kenya) and 1992 (Uganda) and is home to Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano.
The dramatic, rocky jungle highlands is littered with amazing scenery and natural wonders, including waterfalls pouring down from the highest of the extinct caldera, salt & volcanic caves (Cheworei family caves, Chebui caves, Kebenob-Teretit caves and Konchonget) and canyons. There are elephants and buffaloes which come to lick the salt from the cave walls.
The volcanic surroundings have caused numerous hot springs at the old crater and fascinating volcanic activity.
It is possible to get a panoramic view of the area from Endebess Bluff.
A wonderful place to be is Jackson's pool which is overshadowed by Jackson's peak. Named after Frederick Jackson who was the first European to climb Mount Elgon in 1889.