MAJOR CULTURAL TOURISM SITES IN UGANDA
Cultural tourism sites in Uganda; As country rich in history, culture and natural beauty, Uganda has many cultural and historical sites. Visitors coming for a wildlife and gorilla trekking tour in Uganda needs to include a cultural visit on their safari itinerary to feel the taste of Uganda culture as a way to make their journey complete.
Cultural tourism is the act of travelers taking part in cultural activities, visiting cultural sites and learning more about cultural beliefs, norms, traditions and history of the country. Cultural tourism sites in Uganda allows visitors to visit, learn, discover and participate in cultural activities and also learn the history of Uganda.
Uganda, well known as “the Pearl of Africa” is a land locked country blessed with beautiful natural resources, variety of wildlife species and most of all diverse culture. Visitors to Uganda cultural villages get to take part in rituals, cultural ceremonies and festivals in Uganda. The people of Uganda are divided into two ethnic groups the Bantu and Nilotics. More than half of Ugandans are Christian believers, another bigger number are Moslems and the rest believe in African tradition.
Uganda has 56 tribes spread across the country with different languages, norms, beliefs and traditions. There are four major Kingdoms that are active in Uganda, these are; Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro and Toro kingdoms. Some of the tribes in Uganda include; Baganda, Banyankole, Bakiga, Bagisu, Batwa, Basoga, Langi, Karamanjong, Lugbara, Jopadhola and many more. All these different tribes are united by English the official language and Luganda or Kiswahili used sometimes.
Most of the tribes in Uganda have traditional kingdoms and chiefdoms with Buganda kingdom being the biggest and the most active up to date. These kingdoms were abolished in the past by former president obote but were revived by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni after taking power in 1986. These chiefdoms and kingdoms have different cultural practices and norms which can be learnt about when you visit Uganda cultural sites. Culture in Uganda differs in terms of dressing, food, songs and dances, marriage rituals, beliefs and more.
Culture tourism sites in Uganda has continued to grow with many places opening up for tourism and many people learning to appreciate the value of culture. Most safaris to Uganda now include at least one cultural activity be it the most competitive gorilla trekking safaris.
There are a number of cultural sites spread across the country where visitors can go to have a feel of Uganda’s culture either through dances, songs, musical instruments, food and many other ways. While visiting any protected area in Uganda, many travelers get to interact with the local people living around these tourist attractions to learn more about their daily lives and cultures.
A visit to the Batwa people in Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks, a visit to the Ik tribe and Karamajong people while at kidepo valley national park, visit to the Banyankole people while at Lake Mburo national park and more. These visits allow travelers actively participate in the daily activities of a local Ugandan and this has attracted more tourists to Uganda. Try out the local Ugandan dishes including; Luwombo, malewa, matooke, Rolex, kalo, atapa, marakwang, Ugali and more to have the full experience of Uganda culture.
Visit the pearl of Africa, Uganda for cultural tourism and you will live to tell the great experience. You can also buy some art crafts from the local people that show Uganda’s culture like drums, necklaces, kitenge fabric, sandals and more. Cultural tourism has greatly improved lives of the local people and continued to promote the true African culture worldwide.
Uganda is open for tourism all year round given its good location on the equator that leaves it with good climate throughout the year. The best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. Accommodation facilities for travelers are available in all options budget, midrange and luxury.
Most of people who come for cultural tourism sites in Uganda, want to have a true African stay which is provide by these lodges that are mostly built in African tradition style with a touch of modern life. Visitors get to sleep in huts, tents or rooms built of wood and thatched with grass or fibers. Visitors can also choose to camp in the wilderness to feel closer to nature. Some of the top cultural tourism sites in Uganda include;
1. Kasubi Tombs
Kasubi tombs are located about 6km from Kampala city center and these are one of the major treasures of Buganda kingdom. Kasubi tombs (Masiiro) are the burial grounds for the kabakas (kings) of Buganda and four of these kabakas were laid to rest here. The Kasubi tombs are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uganda. Many visitors flock cultural tourism sites in Uganda fore instance Kasubi royal tombs to learn about the Buganda culture.
2. Mengo Kings Palace
Mengo palace was built in 1885 and it is one of the homes of Buganda Kabakas (king). Just opposite this palace is Bulange (Buganda parliament) where all the kingdoms officials sit and have their discussions on the kingdoms issues. This palace has a great history like the political attack by the government on the kingdom.
3. Uganda Museum
The Uganda museum that was built in 1908 houses the different items showcasing the different traditions and cultures of Uganda. The museum has many historical instruments like weapons, musical instruments and more. It was built to preserve the country’s culture.
4. Namugongo Martyrs Shrine
Namugongo martyrs shrine is a place where over 30 Christians were brutally killed at the command of Kabaka Mwanga in 1886 when they refused to denounce their Christian faith. Every 3rd June Uganda remembers these martyrs and millions of Christians from all over the world flock this place to pay homage to the martyrs. The shrine is one of the most visited religious sites in Uganda and Africa.
5. Baker’s Fort Patiko
Baker’s Fort Patiko was built in 1872 as a base to stop slave trade in Equatorial province by Sir . Samuel Baker. later the fort was expanded in 1879 by colonel Charles Gordon. Initially this place was a collection center for slaves in the region. Fort bakers is found in Gulu district in northern Uganda and it’s a remembrance of Samuel baker who fought hard to end slavery in the area. When Baker left in 1888, the fort was used by Emin Pasha and Charles Gordon as they served the equatorial province of the British in Uganda. Baker’s fort Patiko was gazetted as a national historical monument in 1972. Visitors interested to take a tour of this place can get access by paying a small fee to the local council.
6. Nyero Rock Paintings
Nyero rock paintings are located in Kumi district in Eastern Uganda about 5hours from Kampala and these paintings are believed to have been painted by people who lived many years ago in the iron age. The meanings of these paintings is still unknown though you can see some canoes and animals in these paintings. These paintings on rocks are beautiful and amazing to see. visitors can also the caves around but you need to be careful as the rocks are slippery.
7. Nakayima Tree
Nakayima tree is one of the cultural sites in Uganda that every visitor needs to visit. Nakayima tree is found on a hill overlooking Mubende town along the way to Kibale national park. It’s believed to possess natural powers and spirits so people come to seek for blessings and favor from this tree. People believe that the tree possesses the spirit of Nakayima who was a wife to Ndahura the King of Bachwezi. People come to seek blessings of fertility, good health, prosperity and many from this tree so while visiting this tree expect to meet many people coming to offer their sacrifices to Nakayima tree.
8. Bigo bya Mugyenyi
Bigo bya mugyenyi is a cultural site that shows the great earth works and archeological site of the Bachwezi dynasty dating back to the 13th century. The site is found in Ntusi in Sembabule district. Bigo literally means “city” which is an extensive alignment of ditches and berms that comprise of ancient earthworks. Bigo bya Mugyenyi is a fort of a stranger and it is believed that Bachwezi lived in this area. A visitor going to this area is advised to cleanse themselves before in river Katonga and Kachinga before continuing to the site. The cleansing is aimed at protecting you from anger of the demi gods. People usually visit this place to seek for blessings from the Chwezi gods. It’s believed by the local people that its bad luck when it rains when you are still at the site. The trip to Bigo bya mugyenyi is about 50 km from Sebabule town center of Mawogola county as you take the southwestern route on the southern shore of the Katonga river. The road to this site is usually dusty or muddy when it rains and you are advised to report your visit to the nearby tourism police for guidence
9. Ndere Troupe Cultural Center
Ndere troupe cultural center is one of the best cultural sites where you get to experience a number of Ugandan cultures through dance performances representing many tribes in Uganda. Ndere center is located in Ntinda a Kampala suburb and the place attracts many tourists to enjoy the different foods and performances from many tribes in Uganda.
10. Nagalabi Coronation Site
Nagalabi coronation site is a place where Kabakas(kings) of Buganda are enthroned. This Site is found in Busiro county in Wakiso district. It is believed that the Buganda kingdom started at this place in the 14th century so every king has to be crowned here. Visiting this place allows you to walk through the marks left by the Kabakas of Buganda. This cultural tourism site offers traditional music, dance, drama and fore tells about the kingdom.
11. Amabere ga nyina Mwiru Caves
Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru are caves located 5 km west of Fort portal town and these caves have pillars in form of stalactites and stalagmites which resemble breasts of a woman. The area is located in off Fort portal Bundibugyo road as you head to Nyakasula school, between many trees and beautiful waterfalls. The belief behind these caves is that Nyinamwiru refused to marry the men her father King Bukuku choose for her and decided to marry a man she choose herself. This angered the king that he ordered that her breasts be cut off. So the rocks are believed to be Nyinamwiru’s breasts oozing milk. Amabere ga nyina Mwiru mean breast of Nyinamwiru.
12. Karambi Tombs
Karambi tombs are the royal tombs of the kings of Tooro kingdom and they are found in Fort portal city in south western Uganda. These royal tombs have remains of the kings and their royal regalia. The other royal family members are also buried here. When you visit this cultural site you will be guided and taken around the tombs plus where there are personal items of the kings of Tooro like drums, spears and many others. If you are interested to know more about culture in Uganda, add this site on your Ugand tour itinerary.