Uganda’s tourism industry is overly nature-based with with amazing experiences like gorilla trekking, game viewing, bird watching, chimpanzee tracking and more purely enjoyed in almost virgin jungles. However, the need to diversify the tourist product offers in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic has led to creation of new experiences and destinations in the Pearl of Africa. Those intending to go off the beaten path in Uganda, here are the 6 new tourist experiences that you can explore on your safari;
Tracking chimpanzees in the grasslands
Uganda’s chimpanzee tracking tours take place in tropical forests such as Kibale forest national park, Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu and Budongo forest reserve. However, a new primate walk has been opened to track the primates in the grasslands of Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.
Situated in Ntoroko district, the park is 366km. (6-hour drive) west of Kampala capital city. The park can also be reached by air. It is one of Uganda’s off-the-beaten path destinations located at the northern end of Rwenzori Mountain Range closer to the shores of Lake Albert. You’ll be in a secret place with Semuliki Safari Lodge providing luxury accommodation. Staying there allows you to embark on game drives and boat cruise excursions. Wildlife in Toro-Semuliki include buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards, hippos, Uganda Kobs, giant forest hogs and over 400 species of birds including the Shoebill stork found in the swamps on the shores of Lake Albert.
Being part of the Semuliki National Park, an extension of the Great Ituri Congo forest ecosystem, the wildlife found there is difficult to find in other parts of East Africa. In other words, it provides a central African safari experience without having to leave the borders of Uganda. From the reserve, visitors can visit Sempaya hot springs and take nature walks along the swamps and Semuliki River for chance to spot the Bongo – the largest forest dwelling antelope endemic to central Africa.
Pian Upe Bush Walk
In the semi-arid Karamoja plains of northeast Uganda is the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, which is the second largest conservation area in the country. The flat terrain dotted with rock kopjes and volcanic mountain ranges contrasts sharply with the greenery of the west. It is the opposite of western Uganda both in terms of wildlife and scenery. Most of the mammal species found in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve are hard to find in the west including cheetahs, roan antelopes, white-eared kobs, ostrich, Aard wolf and side-striped jackals.
With such rich biodiversity, in 2019 the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) opened up a new bush walk experience to enable travellers explore the wilderness on foot. Along the walk, visitors pass through tall savanna grass, hot springs and water pools to the top of the rock caves where the view is most spectacular. Going further northward, lies the Kidepo Valley National Park home to 77 mammal species including Tree climbing lions, cheetahs and large herds of buffaloes. Pian Upe and Kidepo combined together offer unique safari experiences; hiking, culture and wildlife. In particular, the volcanic mountain ranges that surround these parks including Mount Moroto and Mount Kadam provide easy hikes that can be done by anyone from even the flattest countries of the world. In particular the hike to the slopes of Mount Morungole provides cultural encounters with the IK – the smallest and most isolated tribe in Uganda.
The Karamojong semi-nomadic pastoralists’ way of living is such a fascinating scene to behold. You can visit the Manyattas to meet the elders of the family in their homesteads and take part in their high jump dance traditions.
Zip lining on Lake Bunyonyi
The coolest place in Uganda – Lake Bunyonyi is situated in Kabale district in the southwest not far from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. After your breathtaking gorilla trekking experience in the park, visit this rift valley lake and relax. If time allows, do the zip lining and swing across a section of the lake for more thrilling encounters. There are several other activities to explore while at the lake including visiting some of Lake Bunyonyi’s 19 islands, exploring the history and culture of the Batwa pygmies (forest people) and Bakiga and Bafumbira.
These people are known to have invented terrace farming which is unique to Kigezi highlands and the canoe a mode of water transport they use to get from one island to another. Take part in activities such as village walk, visit the islands and meet the people to discover their way of life. You will amazed by some Bakiga social customs including prohibiting young girls from getting pregnant before marriag.
Kampala night life experience
Kampala, Uganda’s capital receives about 6 million people during day with most of them coming for business and transit through. Kampala has a fun-filled nighttime in all corners of the city and in its suburbs. Enjoy thrilling Uganda entertainment by visiting some of the city’s night clubs for music, comedy as well general bar and pub services. During day, you can enjoy amazing city tours around Kampala including visiting cultural and historical sites such as the Mengo Palace, Kasubi royal tombs, Uganda national museum, the iconic Gadaffi mosque, among others. Visit local markets around the city such Owino market, Nakasero market for more social experience in the city.
Watching giraffes walk by in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo, which is the smallest of the 5 savanna national parks in Uganda is the only place in the western part of the country to see impalas and zebras. In 2015, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) added 15 Rothschild’s giraffes to the park and the numbers have doubled since. There 68 mammal species in Lake Mburo. With no lions and elephants, the park is relatively safe for guided walking tours that offer opportunity to watch giraffes walk by in the tall grass savanna. In addition, visitors can explore the park on a bike as well as horseback rides which are suitable for those traveling with children. Boat cruises are available on the Lake that provides amazing views for hippos, Nile crocodiles and over 300 species of birds. These include the African whistling duck, African fish eagle, African harrier hawk and the impressive Shoebill stork
Village walks offer travellers an opportunity to experience the different lifestyles in rural Africa where most people depend on agriculture for livelihood. In particular, 70% of the 45 million people in Uganda live in rural areas. Community visits in Uganda are part and parcel of wildlife safaris and they are usually arranged either before or after a wildlife experience like gorilla trekking or game drive. Some of the commonly visited communities in Uganda with amazing cultural experiences include the Karamojong in the northeast, the Batwa pygmies in the southwest, the Bakonzo in the west, and the Baganda in the central.