We spent 12 days in Uganda, a country in East-Central Africa, and absolutely loved this up-and-coming travel destination. It’s the best place to experience an African safari, culture and food for a considerably lower budget than its famous neighbours. Here are the best things to do in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, as well as some useful tips to think about before you travel.
Before you travel to Uganda
- Yellow fever vaccination: $ 60 per person (do it at least 1 month prior to departure, but consult in your own country. You must have this when applying for a visa)
- Tourist visa: $ 50 per person (takes max 3 working days, apply on https://visas.immigration.go.ug/. You need passport valid 6 months from departure, passport photo & yellow fever vaccination)
- Malaria pills: $ 25 per person with a prescription cost
- Return flights $ 470 /person
- Uganda Gorilla permit $ 700 /person
- Only during the pandemic: CPR test for corona with a travel certificate: $160 per person
Costs per person before arrival: $1465 USD
The prices above are what we paid to travel to Uganda from Sweden. We did all the above vaccinations and tests in Sweden.
20 Best Things to do in Uganda
1. Gorilla Trekking
A real bucket-list experience and an unforgettable adventure. You’ll get up close and personal with mountain gorillas at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spend 1 hour in the company of a gorilla family. I wrote everything you’ll need to know about this experience in an article on gorilla trekking, here.
2. Lake Mburo National Park
When it comes to seeing a wider variety of animals in a national park, Lake Mburo does not disappoint! We saw a couple of dozen mammal species and lots of interesting birds. Spend a full day or two half-days here.
3. Visit the Entebbe Botanical Garden
Our trip to Entebbe may have been short, but we definitely maximized it! After checking into our hotel, we booked a car to take us to the destinations we wanted to visit in Entebbe. The first one, and the best one, was the Entebbe Botanical Garden. We saw plenty of interesting species of plants, trees and animals there and would definitely recommend a visit here. This was also the place where they filmed the first Tarzan movie!
4. Eat a Rolex
Your trip to Uganda is not complete if you don’t eat a Rolex. That’s right, eat, not wear. A Ugandan Rolex is a street food wrap, consisting of chapati, eggs and veggie toppings. We had it in three different places and can safely confirm what our driver in Entebbe told us. The best Rolex is at the Entebbe market. They were generous with the toppings, added three eggs and only cost $0.50 each. I know, insanely cheap and super filling!
5. Ishasha Sector
If you want to see the tree-climbing lions, then this is the place to be! The Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth NP is specifically known to be the place where most lions gather to rest in the tree-tops. Most active when the temperatures drop, you’re most likely to see them when the sun is shining and they seek the shade of the trees. If you happen to be unlucky with the sightings (it took us 9 hours!), make sure you have communication with the rangers, who can tip you on lion locations in case they saw them that day!
6. Culture Village Visit
Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll often have the chance to visit a local village near your accommodation. We visited a family who provides milk and yoghurt to a lodge we stayed at and really appreciated seeing their way of living. The tour cost us $10 USD per person.
7. Horseback Safari
One of the more over-priced and hard to get activities in Uganda, but if you happen to be lucky to make a booking, then you’ll absolutely love it! Horse riding safaris at Lake Mburo (where there are no predators) are currently only organized by Mihingo Lodge.
They have a limited amount of horses and prioritize their own guests before visitors. We had no luck reaching them before our trip to Uganda but managed to get a booking via our driver’s phone call to them, the night before our drive there. Definitely, the most terrible place when it comes to communication, but the experience, and price, were worth it! We paid $60 per person per hour.
8. Kidepo National Park
If we had more time in Uganda, we would definitely prioritize a trip to Kidepo. Every person we spoke to on our travels said this is their favourite NP. So, while I can’t speak from experience, I will trust the locals on this one! If you go, then let me know how it was!
9. Boda Boda Tour in Kampala
The best and most fun way to see the capital of Uganda, Kampala. We booked the Walters Tours Boda Boda Tour here and it was super fun! Their drivers were responsible, safe and very informative. We took about 4 hours to see the city with them and love that we didn’t have to plan anything or be concerned about where to take photos (locals are quite upset if they see you take pictures).
10. Visit the Equator
If you plan to go towards the South-West part of Uganda, you will definitely pass the Equator. There isn’t much to do there except perhaps buying some souvenirs and taking a picture while standing on each side of the globe, but it’s fun nonetheless!
11. Make ‘Matooke Katogo’
If you plan on camping somewhere or want to try making a Ugandan dish, then this is the easiest and yummiest dish we made during our trip! Go to a local market and buy 2 red onions, 5 tomatoes and 9 matooke (small green bananas). The matooke are like potatoes here, so don’t eat them like bananas!
Peel the matooke and chop all the ingredients however you want. Boil for about 30 min and it’s ready to eat! This makes enough for 4 people.
PS: buy a couple of avocados for guacamole as well. They’re super tasty in Uganda!
12. Self-drive car rental
One of the best ways to travel around Uganda is by doing a self-drive safari. You’ll be in charge of your itinerary and be able to spend any amount of time, anywhere you’ll want. Rent a car from Roadtrip Uganda and they will even help you out with recommendations on what to see when!
13. See Lake Bunyonyi
One of the most breathtaking sights in the whole of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is the deepest crater lake in Africa and definitely a sight for sore eyes! Since drones are forbidden in Uganda (unless you have special approval from the government), the best view will be from Arcadia Lodges. I wish we had a night there as the hotel seemed absolutely stunning, but if you don’t stay over then at least have lunch with a view, this was a 2 hour stop on our road trip.
14. Murchison Falls National Park
When speaking to the locals, besides Kidepo NP, this was their second favorite. Beautiful falls and a national park. Here you’ll be able to see elephants, hippos, chimpanzees, among other species. And of course a stunning waterfall!
15. Camp in a National Park
The best way to experience a national park is definitely by camping right in it! It’s much cheaper than staying in a lodge and you’ll be able to make an early start and see more wildlife. Be a responsible camper and take all your trash with you and do not disturb the wildlife in any way.
16. Queen Elizabeth National Park
We might have been slightly unlucky on this one, but it was the one safari we really didn’t see many animals. I would strongly recommend you to get a driver who is calm here and do a full day in the park. It’s huge and there is a lot of drive to if you want to see more diverse wildlife! We did manage to also see hyenas at the start of the tour. Two leopards also showed up here, but only for a split second and at a very long distance.
17. Stay at Mutanda Lake Resort
We stayed in a few nice lodges during our trip to Uganda, but nothing beats Mutanda Lake Resort. It’s not only a resort, but a destination on its own! Swimming in the lake after a long gorilla trek was definitely what our sore bodies needed! I wrote everything you need to know about staying here in this article.
18. Visit the Reptile Village
This was another point of visit during our stay in Entebbe and while it was quite cool, it was also a little terrifying! We saw many extremely poisonous snakes and lizards here and the guy taking us around was not being cautious at all in handling them! Here you’ll see everything from pythons, vipers, Cobras and mambas. Apart from snakes, they also have a section dedicated to tortoises, crocodiles and one to chameleons.
19. Get an ‘African Massage’
When I first heard this expression, I had no idea what the person meant. But on the road from Ishasha towards QENP, via Kisenyi Village – I knew exactly what it meant to get an African Massage. Get ready for bumps like you’ve never seen before and strap in for the fun.
20. Bandali Rise club and bar scene
While there a few touristy things you can do in Kampala (we did them on the boda boda tour), going to Bandali Rise street on a weekend, is probably the most fun of them all! Experience how the locals party and get ready to dance!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the 20 best things to do in Uganda! If you want to read them at a later point, then make sure to save this post to Pinterest.