About Uganda

About Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country in East African region. Uganda is also known as the “Pearl of Africa” which was praised by the former UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill who was impressed by its magnificence landscape features, greenery vegetation and its waters. The country is located on the East African plateau covering an area of 236,580 sq. km and its capital city Kampala. It lies between latitudes 4*N and 2*S and longitudes 29*W and 35*E. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the North by Southern Sudan, on the west by Democratic Republic of Congo, on the south west by Rwanda and on the South by Tanzania. The southern part of the country is dominated by Lake Victoria which is also bordered by Kenya and Tanzania.

According to 2014 population census the country has a total population of 39,234,256 million people. The country is a home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom forms the majority of the population. Around 40 different languages are regularly and currently in use in the country with the most widely spoken local language Luganda. English became the official language of Uganda after independence.

The climate of Uganda is generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform as the attitude modifies the climate. The southern Uganda is wetter with rain generally spread throughout the year. At Entebbe on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, most rain falls from March to June and November/ December period. Further to the north a dry season gradually emerges at Gulu, November to February is much drier than the rest of the year. The north-eastern Karamoja region has the driest climate and it’s prone to drought for some years. Rwenzori in south-western region receives heavy rain all year round.

CULTURAL TOURS

Gakima Safaris limited is one of the best tour companies in Uganda that provide the best cultural tours and cultural experiences to tourists who are in love with the Ugandan culture.

CITY CULTURAL SITES IN UGANDA.

Kasubi Tombs.

Kasubi tombs is a burial ground for the Kabaka’s (Kings of Buganda) situated on Kasubi hill a few kilometers away from Kampala. The royal shrine is also known as Muzibu Azaala Mpanga. It is cicular in plan and the magnification of the Ganda culture. It was turned into a royal shrine in 1884 when Muteesa 1 the former king of Buganda was buried inside it. The tomb is built on vegetal material, grass, timber, sisal, wattle and backcloth and walls are made of mud and later changed to bricks. On 16 March 2010, some of the major buildings there were almost completely destroyed by a fire, the cause of which is under investigation. The Buganda Kingdom has vowed to rebuild the tombs of their kings and President Museveni said the national government of Uganda would assist in the restoration of the site. Kasubi tomb was made a world heritage site in 2001.for more informationwww.kasubitombs.org.

Naggalabi (Buddo) coronation site.

This is the coronation site for the kings of Buganda kingdom. Is where the Kabaka’s of Buganda have been crowned for the past 700 years. It is said that Buganda accession ceremonies take place on Buddo Hill because it was there that Kintu, the first Kabaka of Buganda, killed his brother Bemba and declared himself King in the 13th Century. It is the most important single site in Ganda culture, and lies at the heart of the Buganda Kingdom

Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.

This Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica/Shrine is a Catholic church dedicated to the Martyrs of Uganda who shed their blood because of the Christian faith. The Shrine is well known for its beautiful and unique interior and exterior, but it is especially notable for its shape and architectural plan: the 22 copper pillars-over 100 feet long that support the shrine built in form of an African hut, its wooden doors that depict the history of the Martyrs and they are being remembered on 3rd June every year.

Bulange Mengo.

Bulange Mengo is the best place to learn the history and culture of Buganda since there also lies the kingdom tourist offices. Inside the building there also lies the Buganda parliament in which its seating is done twice a month only on Monday mornings. The tour guides in Bulange Mengo will provide more information and interesting stories on the 56 tribes in Buganda kingdom.

Wamala Tombs.

Wamala tomb is set on a hilltop with beautiful surroundings, Wamala is the sacred burial place of Kabaka Suuna II (1836-1856), who had 148 wives and 218 children. Suuna was the last King to be buried in his own palace and the last to have his jaw bone removed after death. He was also the first King to admit outside traders into Buganda. A magical but almost forgotten place.

Kabaka’s Lake.

This is the largest man-made lake in Uganda situated at Ndeba, Rubaga Nabunya road about 5 kilometers from Kampala. It was constructed by the 52 clans of Buganda from 1885 -1888 during the reign of Ssekabaka Mwanga 11. The plan of the king was to construct a channel wide enough for him to travel by boat to Lake Victoria for swimming and fishing and staying at another palace he had built at Mulungu hill near Lake Victoria The channel would also serve as an escape waterway in the event of armed conflict with the British. The construction was, however, abruptly disrupted and stopped on 2nd August 1888 before the channel could reach Munypnyo because of the religious war which broke out in the kingdom.

Uganda museum.

The Uganda museum is located in Kampala, the capital. It displays and exhibits ethnological, natural-historical and traditional life collections of Uganda’s cultural heritage. The museum was founded in 1908 by George Wilson. Also among the collections in the Uganda museum are playable musical instruments, hunting equipment, weaponry, entomology and archaeology.

Katereke Prison Ditch.

The Prison ditch tells the story of a violent and brutal episode in Buganda history. It speaks of a king (Kabaka Kalema) who in 1888 imprisoned all his brothers and sisters – save for just one Mwanga – an exiled king he had replaced – and later brutally murdered them for fear that they might dethrone him! Today the prison is a quiet and shaded site, but the surviving earthworks are a vivid reminder of warring times when the fate of the kingdom hung in the balance.

Fort Lugard.

This was built in 1890’s by captain Lugard a British mercenary in the pay of Imperial British East Company. It is located in Old Kampala near the Gaddafi Mosque. This place was used as a military base by Captain Fredrick .J. Lugard hence the name Fort Lugard. It is at this where Captain Lugard raised the British flag the Union Jack and declared Uganda as a British protectorate. It remains a seat of colonial administration standing on 12 acres.

Traditional Craftsmanship

Bark cloth.

Bark cloth making is an ancient craft performed by the Baganda people who live in the Buganda kingdom in south Uganda. The inner bark of the Mutuba tree (ficus natalensis) is harvested during the wet season and then, in a long and strenuous process, beaten with different types of wooden mallets to make its texture soft and fine and give it an even terracotta colour. Craftsmen work in an open shed to protect the bark from drying out too quickly. Bark cloth is worn both by men and women like a toga, with a sash around the waist for women. Nevertheless, bark cloth is still highly recognized among the Baganda community as a marker of their specific political and cultural traditions. Bark cloth can be found in various cultural Centre in Uganda.

Musical Instruments.

The various tribes in Uganda also use stringed instruments, on which there are played improvisational pieces and which may be used for the accompaniment of texts. These strings can be made by spinning or twisting sisal, skin-strips or fiber-tissues. Instruments which have these strings fastened in different ways to different shapes of frames are picked, plucked, strummed, hit or struck. Some of them are so temporary that they are not on our list. All different music instruments can be found in the Uganda museum.

Traditional Dressing.

The people of Uganda use the silk and cotton as the fabric for their clothing and prepare very colorful dresses, as normally the people of other African people wear. The traditional dress of Uganda comprises of many variations, however, the most popular of them in women and men is Gomesi and Kanzu. Although, historically the population is of Uganda, which was consisting of many ethnic groups used to wear the dresses made of the materials like leaves, plants and wildlife skins.

Pottery.

Pottery is known to be one of the oldest arts of mankind Smashing pots, over the whole African continent indigenous production is enormous. However, in Uganda pottery is seen dramatically endangered by being displaced by modern vessels of aluminum, enamelware, plastic or more informal containers from western-style industrial packaging. Feats of Uganda pottery imply beauty, elegance and ingenuity with an aim of gaining wider appreciation from the local population and the world over. The artists have embraced the fact that clay is the one of the most enduring materials and that the contribution of pottery to our general knowledge of the past is second to none.

Woven baskets

These are initially used in Ugandan local communities where large-lidded baskets are used to keep millet breads worm for some good period. These small baskets, crafted bowels are coloured with dye and designed into patterns to display the skill of craftsman are used filed with groundnuts, coffee offered to visitors as a symbol of friendship.

Beads and wood

Beads are used as a source of income for women in poor households across the country. Vibrant strings of paper beads crafted into necklaces, bracelets and earrings that are used as cultural jewelry. Wood is used to create elegant ornaments particularly from native animals and figurines which are sometimes produced of ebony. These may be of bowls and spoons, stools, plagues and musical instruments such as drums, adungu

NATIONAL PARKS

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The stunning lushness of Uganda’s national parks combined with spectacular landscapes, provides the settings of some the Africa’s most memorable visitor experiences. Mountain Gorilla tracking in the Bwindi impenetrable national park offers the best viewing opportunity in the world for these rare primates, and is the highlight for any trip to Uganda. Unforgettable encounters with chimpanzees during walks in the tranquil forests and around Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth and Kibale national parks are part of the reasons to why visitor numbers to Uganda’s protected areas are once again on the rise. Kidepo’s breathe taking sceneries with Buffalo herds and its unique, beautiful and virgin angulated hills offer a wonderful experience while the Rwenzori’s with their chain canopy of sticking glacier offers a mystical challenge littered with majestic sceneries across the entire mountain spectrum.

Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison falls national park “the world’s most powerful waterfalls” the park lies at the northern end of the Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escapement tumbles in to vast palm-dotted savannah vegetation its Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area hosting over 76 species of mammals (giraffes, elephants and buffaloes, while hippos, Nile crocodiles) and over 451 aquatic birds are permanent residents birds. The park bisects the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison fall the centerpieces of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cased drains the last of the rivers energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. At Murchison falls the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into “Devils Cauldron”, and this creates a trademark rainbow.

Kibale National Park.

Kibale National park “the primate capital of the world” the park is the most magnificent of Uganda’s tropical rain forests and it’s one of the most rewarding area to explore Kibale boasts of 13 species of primates including the localized Red Colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys and endemic Uganda’s Mangabay. Kibale’s major attraction is the chimpanzees, the delightful Apes which are the closest living creatures to humans these can be seen swinging in the tree branches as one treks through the forest trails, while enjoying your tour in this sunny side of nature one has an opportunity of seeing over 300 bird species. The park also habits 70 species of mammals like the elusive buffaloes elephants, giant forest Hogs and half dozen antelope species.

Kidepo Valley National Park

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Kidepo valley national park “True African Wilderness”, the wilderness is a dry, hot and isolated dominated by the 2,750m mount Morungole and transected by the Kidepo and great Narus rivers. The park is located in northern Uganda “Kalamoja region” it covers 1,442 square kilometers the park boarders Sudan in the North West and Kenya in the north east Perennial rains may make kidepo an oasis in the semi-desert, but its tract of rugged savannah is home to 77 mammal species including, Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Lion, Hyena, Cheetah and almost 500 birds including Ostrich. Bird watching and Game viewing is exiting all year round,

Mt Elgon National Park.

Mt Elgon National park, “the world’s largest Mountain Caldera”. Mount Elgon at 4000 sq. km has the largest volcanic base in the world and is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the boarder of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. It’s vast from, 80km in diameter, rises 3000m above the surrounding plains. Its mountainous regional landscape and cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and higher altitudes provides refuge for flora and fauna. The park is home to 300 species of birds, including the endangered lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, Elephants and Buffaloes also live o mountain side. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, this created an extensive trans- boundary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Revere. A climb on Mt Elgon’s deserted moorland unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains;

Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Queen Elizabeth national park “A medley of Wonders”. The park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park diverse ecosystem, which includes sprawling savanna, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it ideal habitat for the big five game, the park boasts of 10 primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 bird species. The park being set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the parks magnificent vistas includes of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic view of the Kazinga channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffaloes, elephants, climbing lions and endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hid lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Kobs. Queen Elizabeth NP has a fascinating cultural history. Visitors get many opportunities to interact with local communities and enjoy storytelling, traditional dances and music. The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National park and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

Semuliki National Park

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Semiliki national park “the true birders haven” the park is located on the western side of mount Rwenzori, the park sprawls across the floor of Semiliki valley, the park is dominated by the eastern most extension of the great Ituri forest of the Congo Basin. This is an exceptionally exciting destination for bird and primate watchers. It has over 441 recorded bird species include 216 forest birds and 80 central African species found in few, if any, other forests in east Africa. Black dwarf Hornbill, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Nkulengue Rail and yellow-throated Nicator are just a few random highlites cited by the parks experienced guides. In addition, an astonishing 5 species of primate can be found within 6km of the primeval hot springs that bubbles out the rift valley floor at Sempaya.

Rwenzori Mountain National Park.

Rwenzori National Park “the mystical challenge” the park is located near Kasese, western Uganda, and bordering Virunga National park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It’s the Africa’s highest mountain range, the 5100m Rwenzori- Mountain of the moon- it’s the snow source of the Nile referred to by the early geographers, 17centuries before European explores marked it on the map. The high Rwenzori is montane wonderland, the trails to the snow peaks following glacier covered valleys lied with fantastically coloured mosses and rare afro-alpine plants that include giant forms of lobelias, heathers and groundsels. Expeditions use a chain basic huts and campsites to ascend the mountain from Kilembe and Nyakalengija.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Bwindi impenetrable national park “the ultimate gorilla experience”. The park is located in south western Uganda about 530km from Kampala, the capital city. The park covers 331sq km and it’s a home to the world’s mountain gorillas, whose encounter and consequent eye contact is the most exciting and poignant world life encounter in the whole of Africa. With mist-covered hillsides, this impenetrable forest is the oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest with over 400 species of plants. It lies on the edge of the rift valley in south western Uganda and it protects at least 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos among many endangered species. It is a UNESCO designated world heritage site popular for mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, the two great African apes listed as endangered animals in the IUCN Red Data Book.

Lake Mburo National Park.

Lake Mburo national park “whispers of the world”. It is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and located in Kiruhura district in western Uganda. This beautiful jewel of the park is found en-route to the Albertine Rift and offers a great way to view the Impala, Buffalo, Topi and the largest herd of Zebra the country has to offer, together with a vast variety of 332 bird species including shoebill, papyrus, yellow warbler, African fin foot, saddle billed stork.

Mgahinga National Park.

Mgahinga national park “where gold meets silver”. This is the small park covering just 38 sq. km, enjoys a magnificent setting on the northern slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. Two rare primates, mountain Gorillas and Golden monkeys can be tracked and one can climb the dormant volcanoes to stand simultaneously on the border of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. This park offers a unique Batwa forest experience, including discovery of the cave and traditional home of the Batwa king.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Entebbe Zoo)

Uganda wildlife education located on shores of Lake Victoria (Entebbe), UWEC is recognized as the best Zoo in Africa by advanced activities. The zoo is responsible for offering conservation education to the people of Uganda, at this place one can get an opportunity to interact with variety of wildlife animals, bird species, feed them, learn about them by our experienced guides and closely observe them.

Mabira Forest.

Mabira forest is a rain forest area covering about 360 square kilometers located between Buikwe Lugazi and Jinja district and it has been conserved since 1932 and it’s a home for many ecological species and primates. Mabira has variety of bird species such as paradise fly and northern Francolin which are viewed by the clients who are interested in birding. Mabira forest has over 50% of the total number of butterflies in Uganda. Most of the butterfly species found in this forest include charaxes and swallow tails. There is Botanical research in Mabira since many researchers get involved the study of the ecological life style of plants and wild life species living the forest these include study over butterfly and small animals. There is also riding the bikes following the trails with in the path in Mabira forest Mabira forest camp is a community eco-tourism located in wasswa village in Nagatte Sub County currently managed by the local community. It’s funded by UNDP and the Nile basin. Also known as criffter fall camp site which was started in 2006 and officially opened in 2009 for visitation by the clients.

Lakes and Rivers.

Uganda is endowed with many fresh waters like the Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert which is in the rift valley region, salt Lake Katwe. Lake Victoria is the Africa’s largest water and the world’s second fresh waters that is located in east central Africa along the equator and boarders countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania with unique interesting attractions.

Lake Bunyonyi

This was formed 10,000 years age when a river was dammed by lava. This “the place of little birds” it’s one of the safest lakes in Africa with a great number of island over 29 such as Akampene Island and Njuyeera “Sharp Island’

Source of the mighty River Nile

The source was was discovered by John Hanning Speke on 3rd August 1858. The world’s longest river with two main branches- the White Nile that flows 4230 miles to Mediterranean Sea and the Blue Nile, which rises high up on the Ethiopian plateau and it flows 1450 miles. Exploring the Nile with a river boat cruise at Bujagari, adventure white rafting, jet boating and bang jumping while viewing aquatic life and natural environment.

Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary is a home to 48 orphaned chimps rescued throughout Uganda, the island is surrounded by fresh peaceful waters of Lake Victoria. Once at the island one can have an exceptional opportunity to closely observe, interact with great apes and chimps.