Mabere ganyi namwiru
Blessed with a superb microclimate, this underground cave is the kind of heritage site that leaves you searching for fancy words to capture its exquisiteness—but a simple nungi (lovely) is a start. It is found in Fort Portal, a peace loving District found on the vast rolling ranges of Mountain Rwenzori.
The cave system here offers a great place to see wonders of natural creativity, huge caverns, glittering crystals, shawls, ribbons. It is quite mind boggling to think of the hundreds of years it has taken the stalactites and stalagmites to form, drop by drop. Another dominant feature here is a short waterfall which is fed by one of the tributaries that empties crater lakes atop Rwenzori.
Legend has it that the stalactites and stalagmites chronicles the Chwezi dynasty. It is a heroic tribe of Bantu cattle keepers that lived in Western Ugandauntil their mysterious disappearance before the 19th century. Considering that the stalactites bear the shape of a woman’s breasts, it is believed that they were actual breasts cut off from the chest of a beautiful girl from Tooro kingdom called Nyinamwiru. This followed the orders of her father King Bukuku, a verdict based on a prophecy that she would one day get married and have a son, Ndahura, who would kill the king and take over his throne.
It is thrilling to hearing the guides share such antics of the early settlers of this area as you tour around. They will also explain to you the naming and the natural chemical reactions that led to the formation of the countless stalagmites. The guiding is more scientific and thankfully they don’t overdo giving the various rock formations fanciful names ( “cow’s udder“ , “spears” etc ) , and then challenge you to find them.
Although there are some quite steep terrains, it is a child friendly environment. Kids find it quite easy to get past the obstacles thanks to the availability of handrails along the paths.
The caves are naturally lit up, and thus a plus for photography. Make sure you do at least part of the River Walk. It is very hypnotic.
Wear shoes with good treads, the area is quite slippery inside due to the frequent rains. Luckily, the most steep parts have steps and thus easy to explore.
Night nature walk in Kibale National Park
Thanks to the gently rising terrain of Kibale National Park, this is a nice easy walk for most people, even those with weak knees. It usually starts as soon as darkness strikes at 7pm. In most cases, it unfolds along the same track used for chimpanzee tracking in the morning. As such, you stand double chances of encountering the diurnal monkies of the park including vervets, blue monkies, black & white monkies, L’hoest and mangabey among others. To stand better chances of encountering nocturnal species such as demidov’s dwarf galago, pottos and the eastern needle-clawed bushbaby, observe silence and look out for glittery eyes in the surrounding bush. The further you draw to the heart of the park, the more the wildlife you will encounter. One of the biggest highlights of this bushwalk is witnessing chimpanzees making their nests in the tree branches. The speed with which they intertwine small branches and stuff them with leaves to make them soft is so fascinating to watch. After crossing amarula trees and scrambling up the other side, you will find lots of boardwalks. You can walk upon them if you don’t want to mess up your trouser with mud.
Community tours in villages neighbouring Kibale National Park
What a lovely walk and a beautiful countryside setting to stretch your legs after some hours’ of driving! It unfolds at a village setting that neighbours Africa’s primate kingdom, Kibale National Park.That’s partly why it is a great activity to do before or after your chimpanzee tracking in the park.
This two hour tour offers the true authentic old fashioned life-style of natives from Tooro kingdom and Bakiiga tribe. These Bantu ethnic groups of farmers have lived here for over 5 centuries. They are so welcoming, friendly and proud to show guests their homes!Most of them are surrounded by tea plantations, tropical fruits, blacksmith workshops and huts with pre-historic architecture. During your visit, you will even get to help in harvesting local spices which you will later use in cooking traditional foods under the guidance of a motherly host. This might be your first real taste of Uganda and chances are high that you will love it because it is not only healthy, but a burst of flavours too. It is perfect for the foreigners. As you devour them, the hosts will explain to you the entire dishes one by one and their history.
A tour of the thriving banana plantations will offer you a chance to see where the most eaten species of bananas in Uganda comes from. Matooke is its name.
Kibale National Park’s Crater Lake tour
A trip to Kibale National Park is incomplete without a visit to Lake Nyinambuga, a true miracle of nature!
Formed over 5,000 years ago after an explosive volcanic eruption rocked the Albertine Rift Valley, it is showcases some of water’s most alluring qualities, from hypnotizing ripples and captivating reflections of the clear blue skies to crstyalline clarity.
There is no better way of taking in its full beauty than by pursuing a two hour hike around its rim. The trails leads you up and down, along the shores, occasionally steep, at times more flat. A low to moderate fitness level is required if you wish to pursue the longer hike. The good news is that it is less touristy. Along the way, you will come across an elevated vantage point that offers priceless views of Mountain Rwenzori’s ranges. You will be blown away by the diversity of bird species and peacefulness of the area.
Rejuvenating nature walks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
There’s some mighty stiff competition in tropical Africa when it comes to the most beautiful ancient forest. Congo’s Ituri and Rwanda’s Nyungwe each could easily have taken the crown—but what makes Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park so enchanting for nature walks is its rich biodiversity. Lying at 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level, this 321Km2 forest is home to about 400 species of plants, 120 mammals types, together with several primate species like baboons, gorillas and chimpanzees, as well as forest elephants and antelopes. The bird-life is simply mind-blowing too, featuring 350 species of which 23 are Albertine Rift endemics.
For postcard-perfect views, be sure to pursue a half day nature walk in any of its four wings, especially Buhoma, a verdant paradise with majestically jagged background mountains.
As you follow its network of well maintained trails, you might not meet any one else on the route, but rather plenty of wildlife. There is a lookout point where you can see a mix of both active and dormant volcanoes of Virunga region—before you descend down some narrow trails to the lower reaches. This is followed by a stiff climb to a wider track. At some point, you will walk across boardwalks (over marshy stretches), before going down to see trees that are as high as a building with five floors, and others as old as 320 years.
You can wrap up your guided walk in the forest by heading out for a swimming experience in one of the cool ponds with crystalline water. Along the way, you will find Muyanga, a big, spectacular waterfall with an impressive volume of water.
What to wear
We strongly suggest you wear proper hiking shoes and jackets as Bwindi experiences sudden rains.
Home-stay experience at Nshenyi Cultural village
Situated between Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, this destination offers a fun, relaxing, attention-grabbing and a delightful cultural experience for both adults and children. Nshenyi is a vast countryside ranch that has been developed into a fully-fledged cultural village, boasting of over 200 herds of an indigenous species of cattle with long horns. During your stay here, you will feel a strong connection with the local people and learn so much about their 600 year old kingdom, Ankole. Its people inclusive the family that will host you are called Banyankole, and the language they speak is called Runyankole.
Among the exciting experiences you can’t miss out on is the traditional culinary treat. There are endless delicious and local foods prepared to each person’s taste using farm fresh supplies. The meat has the lovely smoky taste usually associated with foods of African royals.
Under the guidance of the herdsman, you will milk cows using your hands, and later look after them as they graze on a free range basis.
At night, you will stay in an eco-friendly hut that has a perfect balance of a native architectural style and modern conveniences. The doors are lockable, and the place feels safe and secure.
The hosts are kind and friendly! But, the best part is getting to walk and bike around the surrounding village. You will meet locals who will engage you in pottery, craft making and farming. You will mingle with elderly woman who will fascinate you with the DOs and DON’Ts of traditional wedding ceremonies.
Horseback riding in Lake Mburo National Park
This experience offers an incredible way to encounter the 350 bird and mammal species of Lake Mburo National Park, inclusive but not limited to zebras, giraffes, elands, defassa waterbucks, impalas, buffaloes, hyenas, topis, buffalo and reedbuck among others. Fast forward, Lake Mburo is a 370km2fairyland in Western Uganda with 50km-long wetland expanse. Its dominant vegetation cover is a Savannah that is interspersed with patches of forest, woodland and rocky outcrops. Even on a cloudy day, these astonishing contrasts look beautiful, and yes, the pleasure is yours to explore them from the 10+ horses of Mihingo Lodge.
The horses here are very robust and have their own character. You don’t need prior hiking experience to able to have a fun, there are suitable options for beginners. If you are not a confident rider, the hosts will choose the right horse for you and adjust to your riding experience. Before the start of your ride, you are encouraged create rapport between you and your horse by saddling and brushing them. Worry not. The guides have an incredible patience and will explain everything for you. The ride goes up and downhill, but luckily, the horses know their way and can go through every terrain. You are allowed to have as many stopovers as you wish to take upclose pictures of wildlife. Given this background, we recommend everybody to try out this experience. However, if you plan to visit in the peak tourism season from June-August, book your place well in advance as they are very much in demand that time.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Located in central Uganda, along the highway leading to Murchison Falls NP, Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is home to roughly 27 Southern white rhinos. Its one of the few wildplaces in East Africa where you stand a 90% chance of seeing this second biggest mammal species in the world. The adventure to see them starts with a briefing on excellent safety procedures by friendly and knowledgeable ranger guides.
You will have a leisurely walk through long grass following the trail left by the rhinoceros family you have been allocated. It is not an express walk, rather, it is as interactive as a nature walk should be. The guides will make stopovers at different points to show you plants and explain their use to wildlife, or indicate leftovers of wildfruits that were eaten by rhinos the previous days. They will listen to your questions with interest and answer them using their vast exposure in conservation. The best time of the day to come for the walk is early morning when rhinos are in their most active state. One thing though, carry with you rubber boots. The bush is quite damp at this time. That aside, as you follow the trails taken by rhinos, your trousers are likely to get muddy because the rhinos mark their territory by leaving a trail of mud clinging to the surrounding grass.
To understand the elements that constitute the diet of these mammals, you will examine their dung heaps. The guides will show you the dung beetles and their contribution to the environment.
Batwa community experience in Semuliki Game Reserve & Mgahinga National Park
Traveling doesn’t count without interacting with locals. If you believe in understanding a country through its history and people, this half day tour with natives from the Batwa tribe will fill you with happiness.They are one of the only two indigenous tribes of Uganda. Until around 1994, Semuliki was home to this forest tribe. However following its gazzating, they were evicted and moved to the neighbouring village. Despite this shift, the forest is still dear in their hearts. Day in day out, they exhibit how they used to co-exist with wildlife in it, how they used to hunt, build tree houses, harvest wild fruits, and make herbal medicines out of roots.
You will love every minute feeling part of the welcoming community. Absolutely phenomenal!
The guide who will lead the tour is so passionate about storytelling and the village itself. He was born and raised in the park before their eviction following its gazatting. He will show you their process of making love portions, locally processing herbs, making baskets and local brew for the wedding. You will have a walk around the beautiful serene landscape of the village surrounded by rolling mountain ranges. Its mind blowing!
You can expect the same experience of the Batwa community around Mgahinga National Park. Unlike the former, all their recreations unfold inside the park, right at the different arenas where they used to live. On such is Ngarama caves which used to shelter their royal family. It is still amazing, well looked after and full of interesting history. During you tour here, you will find giant caverns, columns, fossils, crystals, few stalactites and stalagmites. The best part is that the guides add to the experience, with their hilarious jokes and vast knowledge of how volcanic eruptions form caves.
It is a great cave to see, don’t forget your camera, there are plenty of photos to be taken.
Hikining Mountain Muhavura, mountain Sabinyo & Mount Mgahinga
If you love mountaineering, Mghahinga’s three mountains will WOW you off your feet. They soar at 2,227-4,127m above sea level. Each mountain offers different experiences and there can never be a better way to find out more than by hiking them all. If you want an adventurous way to shade off some weight, Muhavura is a perfect “gym”. Due to its steep gradient, it offers a tough hike that will melt excess fats off your body through sweating. At its top is a crater lake with a scenic beauty that revitalizes the inner most being. In contrast, Sabinyo offers an encounter that effortlessly relaxes the mind and stretches the muscles. It takes the average hiker five hours to climb it and 2-3 to descend it. If you want to get a mix of what both of these mountains offer, you can’t go wrong with Mgahinga. It offers an experience that won’t push you to limits but also not a walkover.
The hike to the summit of each of these mountains is a must if you have time and the energy. They all accessible through easy and well-marked trails, a bit exposed in the upper reaches and the round trip should not take more than 10 hours if you don’t make so many stopovers. From atop, you will be rewarded with astonishing views of the entire rift valley system and its features like crater lakes.
It is better to visit in the dry season from December-February when the paths are not so slippery. In the rainy season, you might end up bushwhacking to re-connect to the walking track, getting our feet wet in the process. It is quite a scramble in places, but you eventually arrive at the viewpoint from where you can see rain falling on the western slope end up in the lakes along the valley. It is impressive, with sweeping views all around you.
On your way to and fro the summit, you might not find many useful, informative signs regarding the flora, fauna and history of the special place. However, the guides will do a great job in telling you everything you want to know.