Tourist attractions in Uganda are concentrated in five travel regions, the urban central region, southwest, west, north, and the east. The southwest has the most popular national parks, including Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, and Lake Mburo National Parks.
A tourist visiting Uganda for the first time will most probably head southwest to see the mountain gorillas, the country’s biggest attraction, and also add a few days in the west watching big game animals, tracking the wild chimpanzees, or climbing the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.
Nevertheless, Uganda’s four travel regions have something for every kind of traveler looking for an exciting and life-fulfilling vacation trip.
From the small cities overflowing with myriad indigenous and world cultures to the remote countryside unexplored or untouched by modern cultures, from the savannah plains that loom with rare wildlife to the rainforest jungles that protect the highest concentration of primates in the world and the iconic mountain gorilla giants. Every corner, every region in Uganda is hungry for you to explore.
The urban central region
The urban central travel region is where you’ll find the sprawling capital, Kampala, and the unavoidable peninsular city, Entebbe. The two cities are buzzing and bustling with city life and are an excellent introduction to African modern living. They are the perfect size for exploring on foot.
Stroll around the Upper regions of Kampala or lower parts of Entebbe, and enjoy the Old World ambiance of medieval buildings and chunky cobblestoned streets. Or do like the locals: park yourself at an outdoor café and nurse a cup of coffee or a glass of wine for a couple of hours. One of the best places to do that is on the long pedestrianized Nakasero Road, Bugolobi Village Mall, or a table-packed plaza in Upper Kololo.
The western region
The western travel region features the outstanding Rwenzori Mountains, the royal city of Fort Portal, and the primate capital Kibale Forest National Park. The region has the most outstanding landscapes with stunning rolling hills, ever-green tea plantations, and spanning farmlands.
A typical Africa safari in Uganda heads west from Kampala (or from Entebbe International Airport near Kampala) to the scenic Fort Portal area.
Near Fort Portal town is the main attraction of chimpanzee trekking in the forested Kibale National Park—followed by a 2-3 night visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains.
The popular southwestern region
The popular southwestern travel region and the west are usually identified as the western safari circuit for their simplicity to connect a single Ugandan trip between the attractions. A western safari circuit drives down from Kibale Forest, down to Queen Elizabeth, and south of QENP to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
It’s a long haul from Bwindi back to Kampala/Entebbe, and many tour operators now offer their clients an overnight break at the lovely, if slightly low-key, Lake Mburo National Park.
It is possible to cover this Africa safari itinerary in seven days (ten days itinerary would be better), and many people do. However, those with time and flexibility to delay and detour will discover many more places to visit and go hiking and explore the country. Days can be spent exploring the Fort Portal and Rwenzori area, while Lake Bunyonyi and the Virunga volcanoes are worthwhile diversions near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The northern region is pure wilderness
Visitors intent on reaching true East African wilderness (a rare commodity in the densely populated south of Uganda) will want to go north to the Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley national parks. These experiences do, however, incur a cost of increased travel time and expenditure. For a luxury Uganda trip, local domestic scheduled and chartered flights to the region are available.
The East offers adrenaline adventures
Nationals frequent the east for its adrenaline and exhilarating experiences like rafting the Nile rapids, hiking to Sipi Falls on Mount Elgon, and experiencing the active city-nightlife of Jinja. The region’s easy access from the capital also makes it a popular choice with locals.
The eastern travel region is where to go for single-day tours and adventures. Visitors with time for a day trip at the end of their visit to Uganda invariably head east from Kampala to visit the famed Source of the Nile at Jinja.
The menu of adventure sports offered along the Nile corridor north of the town is outstanding. Activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, and quad biking attract a young and young heart traveler’s steady flow. Jinja is commonly referred to as the Adrenaline capital of East Africa; go there to jumpstart your adventure adrenaline.
The best time to explore Uganda’s five travel regions
Uganda is fortunate to be geographically located at the equator, which gives it a warm climate all year round, making seasonal temperature variations insignificant in choosing which travel regions you should visit.
The main factor you should consider for where to travel for your holiday vacation in Uganda is the rainfall pattern, especially if you plan on hiking in the Rwenzori Mountains or trekking the mountain gorillas in the Rift Valley mountainous region.
The wettest months are April, May, October, and November. During these months, camping isn’t convenient in most of the five travel regions (you’ll be packing up your tent in the rain as often as not), hiking can be an endurance test, and some unsurfaced roads may be impassable.