Wondering what to do in Uganda? First of all: Uganda is so much more than just a safari destination. Most tour operator itineraries take you from one safari park to the next. Yet there are many other lovely places to visit and things to do in Uganda. To help you get started and make the most of your holiday, here’s our list of 10 best things to do in Uganda. Note: the list is created in random order, it was already challenging enough to comprise our list to 10 tips only..
1. Camp in one of Uganda's national parks
The best way to experience a national park and soak up the wilderness is by camping right in it! It’s much cheaper than staying in a lodge, and you’ll be able to start your safaris early and see more wildlife. Some of our favourite campsites are the UWA Nagusokopire Campsite in Kidepo Valley National Park, the UWA Mweya Public Campsite in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary campsite. The Ziwa Ranch guesthouse isn't the best value for money, but staying at their campsite, next to the sanctuary, is a great experience. Here, you can find more practical tips and inspiration about camping in Uganda. And you can check the camp gear for rent at Roadtrip Uganda.
2. Go gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a real bucket-list experience and an unforgettable adventure. Are you wondering what a day of gorilla trekking is like and whether this is something for you? We have written an entire article about the Gorilla Trekking Experience in Uganda with insights on the different trekking locations, costs and how to obtain your gorilla permits, and minimum age requirements.
3. Do a horseback safari at Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo is the nearest national park to Kampala, making it a good starting point for your safari adventure in Uganda. Since this park has low predator density, it is perfect for engaging in fun and adventurous activities, such as walking safaris, mountain bike rides, and horseback riding. The upmarket Mihingo Lodge offers horseback safaris within Lake Mburo. Their horse stable consists of former racehorses and is beautiful. When horse riding, you get to experience the thrill of getting closer to zebras and other wildlife. They have a limited number of horses and prioritize their guests over visitors. Mihingo Lodge may not always respond to email requests, so it is best to call them if you are looking for a last-minute opportunity.
4. Head out on a rafting trip
Jinja is home to some of the world's finest grade 5 white water rafting. Although the electricity dams have significantly reduced the number of grade 5 rapids, you'll surely be guaranteed your adrenaline shot. The rapids are given names that appeal to the imagination, of which Bad Place is notorious. There are several reputable companies out there to book your rafting experience with, such as Nalubale and Nile River Explorers.
5. Visit Kidepo National Park
If you have enough time during your roadtrip in Uganda, don’t miss out on Kidepo Valley National Park. The park is located in the far northeast, bordering South Sudan. Kidepo is considered one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas and sees fewer visitors than famous parks like the Serengeti. While the game viewing is excellent, it is the thrilling sense of supreme isolation that many roadtrippers enjoy most. For more inspiration on exploring the northeast of Uganda, check out the community tourism tours organised by Kara-Tunga.
6. Wander around Uganda’s vibrant towns
As you drive through Uganda, you’ll have the opportunity to stop in a few towns and immerse yourself in the day-to-day life of Uganda.
Entebbe – is a relaxing town with a tropical vibe, right at Lake Victoria and the International Airport. It’s a great place to get acquainted with Africa, arrange your Simcard, and stock up on groceries and other necessities before you embark on your safari in Uganda. Recommended things to do in Entebbe are swimming at the big pool of Lake Victoria Hotel, taking a stroll through the Botanical gardens and going to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Enjoy lunch at Muti Garden Cafe, a good dinner at the Boma Hotel, and try Goretti's fresh fish or great pizza while viewing Lake Victoria with your bare feet in the white sand.
Masaka – a place where you can step outside the known tourist destinations and take some time to connect with local life. Masaka town is a 3-hour drive from Entebbe and makes a perfect stopover on your first or last day. Stay at the friendly Villa Katwe Guesthouse to settle in and either warm up for your Uganda adventure or wind down after lots of travels. Visit the locally set up Weaverbird Arts Village or one of the many other nonprofit projects in and around Masaka town. Villa Katwe also offers boda tours through the city and nearby villages.
Jinja – if you love outdoor recreation, Jinja will make you feel right at home. In Jinja, you can go white water rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding. Don’t forget to take your photo at the Nile River's source! You’ll find many little restaurants, bars, and craft shops in town. Jinja is the Backpackers hub of Uganda. The Deli is a restaurant located right in the centre of Jinja town and a great place for a lunch stop. If you are planning to set up camp for the night, The Haven offers a beautiful campground with a swimming pool overlooking the river Nile.
Fort Portal – is nestled in lush rolling hills and is a great base to visit Kibale National Park and the Crater Lakes. It’s a popular tourist hub and offers a range of budget accommodation options.
Kampala – is the economic, political, and social hub of the country. Whether you desire sushi, grilled fish, Italian fine dining, or fancy cocktails, Kampala has it all. Kampala is a modern and fun place to wind down. If you dare (traffic is madness in Uganda), then explore the capital of Uganda on the back of a motorbike. It's the best and most fun way to see Uganda. Tours are offered by Walters Boda Boda Tours - their drivers are responsible, experienced, and very informative.
7. Climb Mount Sabinyo in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Okay, this is a personal favourite of Laura and shall not appear on everybody’s top 10 list of things to see and do in Uganda. If you love to soak in your travels at a slower pace or feel like stretching your legs, Uganda has a variety of mountains that make for scenic hikes, with very few other visitors out there.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a great off-the-beaten-track destination. Mount Sabyinyo is an inactive volcano, part of the Virunga Mountains in Mgahinga Park. The hike to the top of the volcano is quite a strenuous one. It takes around 7-10 hours for the return trip. Mt. Sabyinyo has three peaks. The first one is at 3421 meters, and the summit is at 3,669 meters. The top marks the border between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and you have a 360 view of all three countries. Pretty special!
Don’t look down! With several challenging ladder climbs, this hike isn’t recommended for those who fear heights.
Want to know more? We have written a blog about hiking in Uganda, including the best hikes, treks, and even triathlons the country has to offer.
8. Stay at Mutanda Lake Resort in Uganda
There are many lovely places to stay in Uganda, but Mutanda Lake Resort has stolen our hearts. The place is not only a resort but a destination on its own.
We highly recommend incorporating a couple of rest days into your Uganda itinerary and spending a few nights in one location to fully enjoy your lodge and surroundings. Mutanda Lake Resort is a perfect spot for just that. You can sunbathe and swim in the lake, go sailing or Stand Up Paddling boarding, hike the Virunga Volcanoes, go birding or enjoy a cultural village tour.
9. Watch the Nile explode at Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest park located in the North, a day's drive from Kampala. The park is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, where the Nile River explodes violently through a narrow cleft. At the top of the falls, the Nile forces 300 cubic meters per second, squeezed into a gap in the rocks of only 7 metres wide, and tumbles 43 metres, before flowing westward into Lake Albert.
10. Visit the Sipi Falls
Our last to-do in Uganda but certainly not the least! Sipi Falls is the perfect place to stretch your legs and switch your comfortable car seat for hiking boots. The whole area is very scenic, with lush green hills, endless banana and coffee plantations, a waterfall and breathtaking views. Sipi Falls has something to offer for everyone, from bird-watching tours to long and challenging hikes to easier family walks and coffee and cultural tours. Or how about abseiling from the highest of the three waterfalls...? If you're looking for a relaxing break, drop by Endiro Coffee at Lacam Lodge, where you can enjoy good coffee and lunch while taking in stunning waterfall views.
What is your top 10 of the best things to do in Uganda? Let us know!