Uganda Safari Activities. 35+ things to do in Uganda

Uganda safari activities are all the things you can do, see and enjoy while visiting Uganda for a safari holiday. As the Uganda Safari Experts, here is our list of 35+ activities that our guests love – and you would too. In more than 15 years of handling Uganda safaris, we have taken thousands of guests to all parts of Uganda for all these activities.

Uganda is regarded as one of the ‘bucket-list tourist destinations’ in the world by major local and international travel experts. With some praises from CNN, BBC and lonely planet among others, it is no wonder that many people are interested in visiting Uganda.

For both the avid traveler and the first-timer, the biggest attraction to Uganda is to see and interact with the endangered mountain gorillas. While seeing gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga is a mind-blowing experience, Uganda has so much more to offer. Otherwise, it would have been a gross exaggeration to call Uganda the Pearl of Africa, wouldn’t it?

Uganda safari activities

Whether your bucket list has gorilla trekking or you want to get away and enjoy authentic African Safari experiences, Uganda will scratch that itch from your travel bug. In the same spirit, we have picked out 37 things (besides gorilla trekking) that you can see, do and experience in Uganda.

The list contains activities that cover interests for cultural tours, family-friendly vacations, classic wildlife adventures, and extremely active activities. This means, that whatever your interests are, there is something for you. And if you want to be more specific about what is available for your interests, feel free to contact us with any of your questions.

Obviously, this list only scratches the surface of what you could do, see and experience in Uganda. This article is intended to ‘get your feet wet’ with ideas of what is possible on a trip to Uganda.

Let us get into the list of things you can see, do and experience in the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda Safari Activities

0. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga.

We are mentioning this, but not counting it.

Gorilla trekking is arguably of the most popular of all Uganda safari activities – for the simple fact that the experience is simply exceptional.

There is a reason why Uganda’s tourism has skyrocketed because of gorilla trekking, and the reason is that this is a wonderful experience. The personal experience of seeing these gentle giants as they go about their daily routine is more than anyone would fully describe.

Mountain gorilla habitat

With more than half of all of the entire world’s Mountain gorillas, Uganda has more habituated gorilla groups (for tracking) than any other place.

Recommended Uganda gorilla trekking Safaris:

1. Chimpanzee tracking.

With more than 5000 chimpanzees in Uganda, chimpanzee tracking is a popular activity that allows visitors to have personal encounters with our closest animal cousins. In Kibale National Park alone, there are an estimated 1500 chimpanzees.

Western Uganda Wildlife Highlights

An encounter with chimpanzees allows one to reflect on how their behaviour – thoughtful, vocal and social – is related to our own ways of life. Learning about their ways of life from the experienced guides is something many more people should be able to experience.

Here is our article that highlights some of the most interesting facts about chimpanzees

2. Track tree climbing lions in Ishasha.

The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions. Almost all visitors to the park undertake the short tracking excursion for these kings of the jungle.

tree climbing lions

Whether they climb the trees to avoid insects, look for shade or spot their prey is hard to tell. One might even think that they like the view of the vast National Park.

You can read more about these tree-climbing lions on our blog for an insight into why they climb trees, and where you can see them.

3. Track rhinos on foot in Ziwa.

rhinos

For some years, Rhinos were extinct in Uganda. This was during the era of political instability that didn’t facilitate their proper conservation. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has however changed that and reintroduced the white Rhinoceros back in Uganda.

At the Sanctuary, Rhinos can be tracked on foot and the guides do share all the information about how they are planning to re-enter them into the national parks of Uganda.

4. See endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.

With less than 1700 individuals left in the whole world, the Rothchild Giraffe is another one of the endangered animals that can be found in Uganda – and in huge numbers.

Best of Uganda Wildlife Gorilla Safari

The Rothschild Giraffe can only be found in Uganda and Kenya. Uganda has the biggest number of these giraffes and recent efforts to reintroduce them in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and lake Mburo National Park have proved successful. This is in a move to reintroduce animals to places where they had once existed.

You can see the Rothschild giraffe in Kidepo Valley National Park and in Murchison Falls National Park. Here are some recommended tours to both parks.

5. Track the shoebill stork.

One of the must-see birds in Uganda for any birder is the elusive shoebill. Seeing the shoebill as it hunts in the swamps for mudfish and other fishes is an incredible sight.

The shoebill can be spotted in many places of Uganda, most common of which are Mabamba, Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Lake Mburo National Park. While on a tour for the shoebill, you will be able to encounter many birds species like the papyrus Gonolek that shares the same natural habitat.

shoebill

Mabamba Island in Lake Victoria is the most frequently visited place for people who want to spot this prehistoric looking giant bird. Here is the recommended 1-day Itinerary.

6. Track golden monkeys in Mgahinga.

The unique appearance of the golden monkeys due to their outstanding golden-orange colour makes them such a sight. Their playful nature and fast speeds make the experience both enjoyable and hard to capture in a picture – but all the more worth it.

golden monkey

Like gorillas, golden monkeys are also regarded as critically endangered and only found in the same mountains of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo.

Learn more about golden monkeys and their life, social and daily habits.

7. Visit Uganda’s Reptile Village.

The reptile village is one of the lesser-known tourist attractions in Uganda. Hidden off the Entebbe -Kampala highway, the reptile village aims to educate people about reptiles and encourage their conservation as well. The village has snakes, tortoises, chameleons, lizards, crocodiles among others.

A trip of the reptile village will kill all your fear of reptiles, especially snakes. As you learn the little details about all these reptiles, you will become more curious and fascinated – than afraid.

A visit to the reptile village is usually added and either the beginning of the end of a safari to other attractions around the country. If you are visiting some hotspots in Entebbe, a quick dash to the reptile village gives you a close and safe encounter that you would otherwise not have.

8. Wildlife viewing in National parks ( Big 5 & more).

With more than 300 mammals in Uganda’s national parks, one can spot the big five, the all-time favorites like zebra and so many others that most people wouldn’t identify from afar

Murchison lions

Wild life viewing is one of the most popular Uganda safari activities – attracting many visitors all year. Whether it is the massive elephants or the tree-climbing lions, the diversity and abundance of wildlife in Uganda are enormous.

With 10 national parks, you can pick and chose where to go and what to see there. The most popular national parks are Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo Valley, and Murchison Falls.

9. Bird watching.

fish eagles in QENP

With more than 1000 recorded bird species, Every corner of Uganda is rich in birdlife and birders get to enjoy the 1000 bird songs in all the various parts of the country. Most special among birds is the Great Blue Turaco, the Shoebill, the Ibis among many others.

Queen Elizabeth National Park has the most recorder bird species (more than 600). Semuliki, Bwindi and Kidepo are also very famous bird watching destinations because of the many rare species.

10. Hot air ballooning.

Hot air balloon tours allow you to view the parks and their animals from above. The bird-eye view is incredible as it allows for seeing to the widest expanses of these national parks.

Balloon tours are also great for photography. Hot air balloon tours can be enjoyed in all the Savannah parks of Uganda.

Forested and mountainous parks wouldn’t allow any worthy sightings.

11. Quad biking / ATV game viewing

This is not available in all the national parks. In Lake Mburo National park, you can enjoy seeing the wild animals as you ride an ATV. This is possible in lake Mburo because of the very few predators that could put humans at risk.

Animals such as lions and leopards are very few which allows the increasing number of grazers like Uganda kob, zebras, eland, and other antelopes. This brings them to frequented places and they can easily be spotted as you ride on an ATV in safe areas.

12. Game viewing on Mountain Bikes.

bush biking by mihingo lodge

You can also ride a bike through some parts of the national park and enjoy your personal connection with nature and the animals and birds that live in it. This is also Primarily done in Lake Mburo National Park, for the same reasons as above.

You won’t be able to spot a pride of lions or a group of leopards while you ride a bike, but you wouldn’t want that when you are just on a bike.

13. Take a boat cruise to the bottom of the Murchison Falls

Many people wonder why a boat ride to the bottom of Murchison falls is always talked about as a Ugandan Safari spectacle. The reason is because of the experience the whole ride brings.

boat cruise

Yes, the boat goes to the bottom of the powerful falls that result from the Nile squeezing through a narrow 7-meter gap and falling more than 40 meters. The entire boat ride allows sightings of various birds, herds of hippos, Massive Nile crocodiles, and all the other animals that come to drink on the very calm Nile below the falls.

14. White water rafting on the Nile.

Besides being the world’s longest river and a mystery that baffled the Greeks and Egyptians of old times, the river Nile provides one of the best water rafting experiences in Africa. The River’s force creates powerful rapids, which are incredible for the grade 5 white water rafting so many people love.

grade 5 white water rafting on the nile

Doing White water rafting on the mighty Nile is an adrenaline-pumping activity that many people can’t leave Uganda without partaking.

15. Bungee jumping in Jinja.

This is for the adrenaline chasers who want to take the 40 plus meters and plunge down towards the Nile. If you want to pump even more adrenaline and extend your limits for fun, Bungee jumping is the activity for you.

bungee jumping tower
Dropping down 44 meters to touch the Nile waters will have you screaming in fear, joy, bravery and all the other emotions. In the end, you will be happier for it – and probably do it some more. This is done with world-class gear and an experienced team to guarantee your safety.

16. Mabira forest canopy zip lining.

Mabira forest is a natural rain forest that is located a mere 44 kilometres away from Kampala. This makes it a very accessible place to visit for short day/weekend activities.

Ziplining in the Mabira canopy allows you to soar through the tallest trees of this rain forest. Along the way, you will also be able to see many primates and birds.

The network of 5 zip lines stretches across 250 meters and is outfitted with equipment that adheres to strict international safety standards.

17. Hike to Sipi Falls.

Sipi falls is located 270 km from Kampala, in Kapvhorwa district. Sipi river is on the foothill of Mount Elgon and goes down over a distance of 7km, to form 4 waterfalls. The main falls(shown in the picture) drops close to 100 meters over a cliff.

For people who enjoy nature and hiking, Sipi is a perfect little getaway. Hiking Sipi falls is hugely enjoyed by both international visitors and local Ugandans and East Africans. In addition to hiking, you can enjoy more fun activities in Sipi to make your experience even richer.

18. Camp on the Elgon caldera

Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya. It is estimated that Mt Elgon last erupted 24 million years ago.

mt elgon camping

What is better than climbing, this very old mountain? Camping on top of its caldera. Which is believed to be one of the biggest ones in the world.

The Merriam website dictionary perfectly defines that “a caldera forms when the top of a volcanic cone collapses into the space left after magma is ejected during a violent volcanic eruption. Its diameter is many times that of the original vent.”

For those who love camping, the is as best as you can take it with outdoor camping in Uganda.

19. Explore the source of the Nile.

The natural landmark associated with the source of the Nile were submerged in the early 1950s due to the construction of the Owen Falls Dam. The site is still of great interest and plaques on both banks of the river indicate where the former Rippon falls were.

After reaching the source of the Nile, a boat ride on top of the Rippon falls is a thrilling experience of having Lake Victoria on one side and then the start of the Nile on the other.

20. Climb the Rwenzori.

Mount Rwenzori is the highest mountain in Uganda. What makes climbing mount Rwenzori more adventurous is the intensity of the endeavour.

While Both Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro are taller than Rwenzori, Rwenzori is a harder climb than both of them. The simple reason is that Rwenzori is a mountain range, and therefore as you ascend to the top, you climb up and down several times a day. And then do it again the next day until you reach the top. It is more tasking, but equally as rewarding.

rwenzori

You can climb Rwenzori up to the highest peak in at least 9 days, depending on your strength. This is definitely not something for everyone, and caution should be taken before climbing mount Rwenzori.

Here is our sample 9 Day Rwenzori Climbing Adventure, to Margarita Peak to give you an idea of what lies ahead.

21. Visit the Old Kampala Mosque (Gaddafi National Mosque)

The Old Kampala mosque was a project initiated (but not completed) by Uganda’s former president Idi Amin Dada in the 1970s. When he was overthrown, the project stalled for about 25 years.

With the funding from Libya’s former president Col. Gaddafi, the project was kicked off afresh and completed in 2006. For this generous gesture, the mosque was Named Gaddafi National Mosque until he was killed and the new Libyan administration was not keen about keeping the name.

Besides, the mosque’s outstanding architectural beauty, it provides the perfect 360-degree views of all of Kampala. This 360 view can be achieved by climbing up the minaret. After reaching the top, the view is worth the 300 plus stairs you had to climb.

22. Visit Bahai temple.

bahai temple

The Bahai Temple in Kampala is the only temple of the Bahai faith in the whole of Africa. Bahai is an all-inclusive faith that can be called a blended fusion of all the other major faiths.

The Bahai Temple in Uganda was opened in February of 1962 and sits on top of Kikaya Hill. Learning about the Bahai faith is a very interesting activity that we highly recommend for people with an interest in societal norms and religions.

23. Got to the Uganda museum.

The Uganda Museum is the oldest museum in the whole of East Africa. It first exhibited in 1905 in its former location on Kampala hill, before moving to its current location in 1954.

The museum is great for a very informative and in-depth look at Africa’s pre-colonial history as well as specific histories related to the Ugandan people. With various collections from all over Africa, the Uganda museum provides a wide variety of options for the history enthusiast who is keen to know more about Africa’s past.

A visit to the museum gives you great grounding in understanding Uganda’s different regions, people and history.

24. Do local shopping in Owino market or downtown Kampala.

Most people who have lived in Kampala had the ‘Owino market experience’ and it is one we recommend you undertake. Owino is more than the opposite of comfortable shopping malls, but the experience is as ‘Ugandan’ as you can get. It is chaotic, loud, tiresome and by the time you leave the market, all your senses will be exhausted.

In Owino, you will need to move with fewer valuables and hold them close.

Don’t miss out on the haggling and bargaining for things you might want to buy and don’t relent easily. It is also a great chance to practice those few Ugandan words that you will have learned.

25. Sport fishing.

Sport fishing is one of the wonderful but less known Uganda safari activities. With so many lakes in Uganda, the people who love fish should enjoy catching some of the many fish species in Uganda.

Uganda has around 90 fish species in its lakes and rivers. Being able to catch the large Nile Perch from Lake Victoria is a very satisfying feeling.

Here is our article about sport fishing that tells you all the details and where you can actually do sport fishing in Uganda.

26. Straddle the Equator

Straddling the Equator is a fun way for you to be in both hemispheres at the same time with equal parts of yourself on each side. The photo opportunities with visiting the equator are amazing and it is your chance to challenge all the previous ones that have been taken before.

27. Visit the Nyero rock paintings

Nyero rock paintings are among the most important rock art in Uganda. They are believed to date prior to 1250 CE. Nyero rock painting is located in Kumi district of Eastern Uganda, about 250 km from Kampala.

The paintings have been related to the Batwa culture, who currently lives near the rain forests of Western and Southwestern Uganda. The most prominent Batwa tribes are found in areas near Bwindi impenetrable, and they used to live in caves and the forests until the early 1990s when most of these areas were gazetted as national parks.

Visiting Nyero is very interesting for someone who is very interested in history and the ways of life of the centuries past.

28. Try traditional Ugandan food.

The food of any place is the most common way to experience the place. While there are lots of international (global) dishes available in Uganda, from all parts of the world, the local Ugandan food is also very varied and enjoyable.

village cooking in bwindi

The most popular dishes include delicacies like Luwombo, Matoke, millet bread, Malewa and Nsenene among others. There are many different subcultures, and each has great food prepared in their own unique way.

Whether you are a foodie or not, Uganda’s food is something to try out. Here are the top 10 Ugandan foods to try. And these are the tropical fruits of Uganda you must not miss out on as well. We promise you’ll love the food.

It goes without saying that you should consider your dietary restrictions first and foremost.

29. Try Uganda’s street food.

For the foodies and those who are lucky to have tolerant stomachs, street food is part of any country’s culture. Street foods manage to combine the traditional foods, the newer experimented one and the popular foods from all the other places – and add in the uniqueness of the place. It is chaotic sweetness and a really authentic dive into the daily life of the people.
In Uganda, the most common and popular street food is the Rolex and unless your diet stops you, it should be on your bucket list.

30. Go out in Kampala’s night party scene

It is very easy to skip over Kampala nightlife, and that is unfair. Because to fully immerse yourself in the life of a place, seeing how the people live their night plays a big role. Obviously, this is not for everyone as not all people like the nightlife experience.

For someone who likes music, dancing or taking a few drinks, the Kampala that never sleeps would be a whole other experience. An experience worth checking out.

31. Experience the true culture of the Batwa – the people of the forest.

The Batwa are commonly referred to as the people of the forest. This is because they have lived in the Impenetrable rain forests of Bwindi, Mgahinga and the neighboring forests of D.R.Congo for as long as they can be traced.

batwa cave visit

A true cultural experience of the Batwa involves learning about their ways of life that enabled them to sustainably stay in the forests for hundreds of years without harming the biodiversity. The Batwa officially left the forests in 1994 when Bwindi was declared a National Park, but still, stay near the outskirts. They still rely on the forest for things such as medicine.

A cultural experience of the Batwa is usually added as an optional activity to do after you have done gorilla trekking, in either Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks.

32. Exotic Ssese Islands of L. Victoria.

Ssese Islands are a collection of more than 80 small islands in the northwestern part of Lake Victoria. All the islands form what is called Kalangala district.

In Ssese, you can partake in sport fishing, canoeing or ATV rides. The sandy white beaches are great for relaxing after an active day.  A visit to the Islands is nice for short getaways and very popular for honeymoons and anniversary stays.

Ssese is among out top honeymoon destinations in Uganda and its popularity only keeps growing to new heights.

33. Visit Lubiri Mengo – the Kabaka’s Palace.

Olubiri – in Mengo is the official residence of the Kabaka (king) of Buganda Kingdom. The palace was built in 1885 by Kabaka Mwanga II. Mengo hill is the administrative capital of Buganda kingdom and holds great importance not only to the Baganda tribe but all Ugandans.

A visit to the Lubiri is a great way to learn about Uganda (and Buganda’s) historical journey since the coming of the British colonialists, missionaries, and through the various post-independence periods. A visit to the palace is always undertaken as part of a Kampala city tour of the top spots.

34. Visit the Kasubi Royal Tombs of Buganda kingdom.

The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala is the burial grounds for four Kabakas (Buganda Kings) and other members of the royal family. This is a place of great spiritual and political significance for the Baganda people and is a great example of traditional architecture.

In 2001, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and described as “One of the most remarkable buildings using purely vegetal materials in the entire region of sub-Saharan Africa”.  The tombs were later included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in July on 2010, following a fire that broke out in one of the major building in march of 2010.

A visit to Kasubi Tombs, like the visit to Lubiri is a delve into Buganda’s history. This is usually part of the city highlights tour of Kampala and its surroundings.

35. Take a Boda Boda ride.

Boda-boda motorcycles are the most popular form of transport in Uganda. They are especially the easiest way of getting around Kampala in the peak traffic periods.

Using a trusted boda-boda is highly recommended – and easily done through the many ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Safeboda, and Bolt.

safeboda

Taking a boda-boda at the traffic peak hours is not for the light-hearted as the motorcycle will be zipping through the maze of cars and really bending some traffic rules just to get you to your destination. It is another one of ‘those Kampala’ experiences that you get to share with Ugandans.

36. Try a traditional cultural dance.

Uganda’s different subcultures have distinct ways of life, among which is entertainment. The various groups of people respond differently to the beat of the drum.

kjong cultural dances

While on a cultural visit, it is always fun to try and learn the traditional dance moves and what they mean. It is a good way to create lasting memories of your visit to any given community and learn some new dance moves too.

Here is an extensive article we made about the popular traditional dances of Uganda – that represent the culture and norms of the people.

37. Visit Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo.

On June 3rd in 1886, Kabaka of Buganda Mwanga II burned to death 32 young men for refusing to renounce their Christian faith. The martyrs we both of the Roman Catholic and Anglican faith Christian faith groups.

Every year, people from all parts of East Africa and Uganda come in large numbers for pilgrimage. The 22 Martyrs of the catholic faith we canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964, and are now regarded as saints.

While June 3rd is the most important day for remembering Uganda martyrs, The shrine is open to visitors any other time of the year. A city tour of Kampala usually includes visiting the Uganda martyrs shrine, and the history is very interesting regardless of one’s religious/spiritual preferences.

Conclusion

We have to stop our selves because this could honestly go on for much longer. Follow up articles with more detail about all these and more should be very helpful.

We have tried to link to some relevant articles and safari itineraries so that you can find all the information we can give you. We are always updating our blog with new and well-researched articles and insights. Visit our blog and we promise you will find something new, interesting and worth your time.

While we try to offer as much helpful information as possible, we are humble enough to know that there is so much more you would like to know. We only ask that you don’t feel bad about asking us to assist with any sort of related information. In fact, we encourage you to reach out.

Lastly (and obviously), we would love it if you were to visit Uganda and do so with us. Our expertise and commitment are tried and true. We have handled Uganda safaris for thousands of people from all parts of the world in our 15+ years, and we want to go with you next.

Whether you are choosing an already created safari program, or a custom one made to suit your interests, we welcome your request and promise to go the extra mile in offering the most exceptional safari experience in Uganda.

Follow this link to request a tailor-made Safari program that we shall design based on your schedule, budget and interests.

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