The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Uganda

Uganda is one of the world’s most beautiful countries. There are landscapes that look almost too gorgeous to be real, as well as one of Africa’s most impressive collections of wildlife. No visitor to Uganda should miss these, but there are also cities, villages and hospitable people.

Here are five ways to get to know the real Uganda, both the spectacular and the everyday aspects of the country.

1. Feast Your Eyes on Wildlife

Whether it’s a gorilla trekking tour, a guided safari or a hike through amazing scenery, you can’t say you’ve seen Uganda if you haven’t seen some wild animals. There are lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, gorillas in western Uganda and elephants, buffalo, lions and giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park. Safaris of all sorts are available, including eco-friendly tours, customized treks for your party and car-hire safari tours.

2. Spend Time on the Water

Uganda boasts five large lakes, including the massive Lake Victoria, and it shares part of the Nile River. Tour companies offer cruises and canoeing on the lakes. There is rafting as well as less adventurous cruises on the river.

You can fish in Lake Victoria: it’s home to more than 500 species. The lake is also blessed with islands and beaches that are worthy of a visitor’s time and attention.

3. Shop a Kampala Craft Market

In the capital city, you’ll find the Ugandan Parliament, several famous museums and over three million people. Additionally, you’ll find craft markets, also called craft villages. Some inhabit permanent locations and others appear on a weekly or monthly basis. You can meet the artisans, and sometimes they will create custom orders. Choose from baskets, pottery, paintings, jewelry and other Ugandan handiwork.

4. Take a Village Tour

If you’re wondering what traditional life in a Ugandan village is like, a village tour is a great way to find out. Most of these villages are located on or near tourist sites and are readily accessible. As an example, there’s Boomu, a lovely community with gardens and tour amenities including a restaurant. You can sit around the campfire and listen to the elders spin their tales before retiring to sleep in a genuine African hut. This is just one of many available village tours.

5. Come in April

June, July and August are the most popular months for tourists, but not as many foreigners come in April. It’s the wettest month of the year, which has its pros and cons. Some accommodations will be closed and some park roads might be impassible.

However, many people find it the most beautiful season, with mists settling onto treetop canopies. Gorillas linger in lower regions, and the treks to see them are shorter (though muddier). Even in April, Murchinson Falls National Park in the north is drier. Best of all, you’ll see a less commercial Uganda without crowds of tourists.