A Step Off the Beaten Track: Uganda
By Samantha Fergusson
Uganda, ‘The Pearl of Africa’ has to be one of the most lush and beautiful countries on the African continent. Rainforests tumble down mountainsides, bursting with brightly coloured birds and echoing with the calls of Mountain Gorillas. Lakes are vast like small fresh-water seas or perfectly circular as the result of ancient volcanic activity. The people are welcoming and as culturally varied as their other African neighbours, ancient art decorating the rocks within their lands.
Uganda has lots of well-known attractions for the bucket list – a trip to Lake Victoria, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world; encounters with the mountain gorillas; an open-mouthed stare at the spectacular Murchison Falls; and admiring Chimpanzees in their natural habitat. That’s to name just a few…
We thought we’d introduce you to some of the more off the beaten track experiences to add to your list that you may not already know about.
Kanangorok Hot Springs in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, but arguably one of the more magnificent. It is well-known for its abundance of flora and fauna, but perhaps slightly less renowned for its hot springs. Uganda is riddled with evidence of volcanic activity, extinct, dormant and active - the country itself is spread across an enormous plateau where a section of the earth’s crust has been pushed towards the heavens – and these hot springs are a perfect example of this. The hot mineral-water that bubbles to the surface is claimed by locals to have healing properties, and it is well worth a wander off the beaten track and down the overgrown paths to reach them.
Ndali Kasenda Crater Lakes
Continuing on a volcanic theme, another lesser-known area that is well worth adding to your itinerary is Ndali Kasenda and its almost perfectly circular crater lakes. Hike around their fringes, taking in Uganda’s fabulous wildlife, and all the while imagine how on earth such a place of peace and tranquillity could have been the result of something so catastrophically explosive all those years ago…
Nyero Rock Art
Believed to be the work of an ancient people dating as far back as the Stone Age, the rock art on the Nyero Rocks is not to be missed! A few theories are thrown around about who the artists could have been. Many suggest that the paintings are the work of a tribe now long-extinct, similar to the Batwa – Uganda’s “Pygmy people”. You can arrange for a local guide on site, who will be ready and willing to show you these incredible geometric patterns.
Finally, we come to the Sipi Falls in the foothills of Mount Elgon. While they are perhaps the most well-known in this collection of experiences, this trio of cascading waters still doesn’t have quite the same footfall as Murchison Falls National Park, but they are well worth a visit – the highest waterfall is an extraordinary sight, plummeting a full hundred metres from the lip of a forest-strewn cliff. The people that live in the surrounding area grow some of the world’s finest coffee beans, and you can arrange to have a tour around the farms if you’re a bit of a caffeine fan. The Uganda Bugisu coffee beans can only be grown at between altitudes of 1,600m and 1,900m, making Sipi Falls the perfect location.
Our local experts at Kombi Tours can put together your perfect itinerary to take you off the beaten path in Uganda, and they already have a number of sample itineraries to inspire you. The driest months in Uganda are June to August, with December to February close behind, and these are the most popular times to visit. Uganda's tourism by no means grinds to a halt during the rainy season, but April is generally the wettest month and best avoided. To talk to someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 325 7898.
Discover more about Uganda with our Ultimate Guide.