With a tapestry of landscapes, excellent wildlife watching and welcoming locals, Uganda packs a lot into one small country. It’s home to Africa’s tallest mountain range (the Ruwenzori’s), the source of the Nile, the world’s longest river and the continent’s largest lake. Rafting the Nile offers a world-class adrenaline adventure, but the country’s most iconic experience is tracking mountain gorillas in their misty habitat. And if you view the Big Five, you’ll see that nature – diverse and resplendent – looms large here.
From mountains to national parks, hot springs, crater lakes, and everything in between, we’ve rounded up 15 attractions you should definitely check out while in Uganda. And if you are traveling to Uganda for the first time, you may be hard-pressed to decide which places are best to explore. To settle your dilemma, we have compiled a list of the most beautiful places to visit in Uganda.
Whether you visit by a boat cruise on the Victoria Nile or a safari tour, you don’t want to miss Murchison Falls in northwest Uganda. Here, you can witness enormous waters bursting through a narrow gorge before crashing in powerful, roaring cascades. While you are visiting this breathtaking sight, you may also want to explore the surrounding protected area that makes up Murchison Falls Conservative Area to spot some of Africa’s icons such as African lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, buffalo and more.
If you really want to experience the heart of Uganda, the story begins with Lake Victoria, which is the birthplace of the Nile River. Not only is it Africa’s largest lake and the world’s largest tropical lake, but Lake Victoria also boasts one of the world’s largest ecosystems.
There is so much natural beauty and wildlife to see here – from scenic mountain views to islands, beaches, fishing boats, and various bird and animal species.
While you are touring Lake Victoria, you may want to check out Jinja, the colonial town that is positioned at the start of the Nile River. The town is regarded as East Africa’s adrenaline capital, so not only can you view where the world’s longest and most historic river begins, but you can also get your blood pumping with activities like whitewater rafting, mountain-biking, quad-biking, and kayaking.
A major tourist attraction in Uganda, the Ssese Islands are a group of about 84 islands dotted along the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria. Each island differs in size, shape, and exotic flora and fauna.
Here, you can relax amid beautiful scenery, see chimpanzees, walk on white-sand beaches, enjoy horseback riding and windsurfing, as well as interact with the Bantu people and learn about their culture.
When visiting places in Uganda, you don’t want to miss checking out the country’s capital city, Kampala. This city is home to a steady expat community and offers plenty of things to see and do.
You can tour beautiful temples, cathedrals, art galleries and museums that include the popular Uganda National Museum. You can also browse various markets for clothing, foods, and crafts. Kampala also offers a good range of restaurants and bars.
There are many gorilla trekking tours you can join here to suit your level of skill or preference that will allow you to experience the sheer beauty of this place and to see mountain gorillas up close in their natural habitat.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is like a sample platter of Africa. You can try a little of everything African here with diverse habitats and exotic wildlife.
Wetlands, forests and savanna grasslands offer ample opportunities to see the likes of elephants, leopards, hippos, chimpanzees, giraffes, and the tree-climbing lion. There are various safaris, lake cruises, and even hot air balloon tours available here for you to explore this amazing area. Don’t forget about the equatorial sun! Here’s how to choose the best sun protection hat for Africa.
Taking a boat cruise on the scenic Kazinga Channel is another way to see amazing wildlife and gorgeous scenery if you are in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. With the boat hugging the banks of the channel, you may see African Cape buffalo, hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, and numerous bird species.
Although there is only one family of gorillas living here, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers great trekking tours for you to experience striking vistas of the Virunga Mountains, bamboo forests, volcanoes, and the endangered golden monkey.
Located north of Kampala in Nakasongola, this sanctuary is home to Uganda’s only population of wild rhinos, but that is not all it offers.
Scenic nature walks, canoe cruises and guided trekking tours award you with sights of hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, and more than 250 different bird species.
A visit to Uganda offers you the unique opportunity to stand on the equator and be in two hemispheres at once. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world where the equator crosses through it.
The best equator landmark in Uganda is found on the Kampala-Masaka Road, where you will find a few restaurants and craft/souvenir shops as well.
Other equator markers in Uganda are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park and near Entebbe.
If you want to experience Uganda’s most extraordinary natural beauty, a visit to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a must-do.
Home to the “Mountains of the Moon,” this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers stunning scenery consisting of waterfalls, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and forests that shelter many bird species and chameleons. Hiking, mountain climbing and culture visits with the Village of Ruboni are just a few of the exciting things you can do here.
Home to the extinct volcano it is named after, Mount Elgon National Park offers diverse landscapes, wildlife, and activities.
You can amble through heath or hike through dense evergreen and bamboo forests to view magnificent waterfalls, stunning peaks, interesting plants, fascinating birds and primates like the blue monkey and colobus monkey. If you are lucky, you might glimpse a hyena, buffalo or even an elusive leopard.
Named after the wild banana plant that grows nearby, Sipi Falls is a popular site located in eastern Uganda on the border of Mount Elgon National Park.
This series of three waterfalls offers spectacular views no matter how you look at them, whether you hike to the top or the bottom. Nearby, you can also check out the coffee farms, explore caves or enjoy a nature walk.
It may be one of Uganda’s newest and smallest national parks, but the Semuliki National Park packs awe-inspiring beauty and plenty of attractions that include its most famous, the Sempaya Hot Springs.
After watching the boiling hot springs blast off into a steamy spray, you can hike through the forest to catch glimpses of its many bird species and exotic animals such as flying squirrels, red-tailed monkeys, pygmy antelope, and the endangered shoebill stork.
The locals call it “place of many birds,” but many tourists call it paradise. With its 29 islands, terraced hillsides, charming shore towns, and attractive resorts, it is no wonder that Lake Bunyonyi allures people from all over the world.
Many safari tourists choose Lake Bunyonyi as a base because the lovely setting is relaxing and peaceful. Additionally, the lake offers water sports and birdwatching while the nearby towns provide colorful markets and cultural experiences with the local villagers.