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Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda has plenty to offer international travelers, including majestic mountains, native wildlife, national parks and world-famous lakes and rivers.
It’s a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos. The country’s most iconic experience is undoubtedly tracking mountain gorillas in their misty habitat, and if that wasn’t enough of an experience, you can also embark on a safari to view the Big Five.
From eco tourism to cultural immersion, Uganda packs a lot into one small country.
If culture is more your thing, Uganda has over 30 tribes, each boasting a wonderful way of life, arts and crafts, foods and rituals. Add to that the friendly welcoming locals, and great coffee – instead of sending its best beans abroad, Uganda has slowly turned its coffee from an export into local coffee connoisseur paradise, especially in the capital Kampala. From eco tourism to cultural immersion, Uganda packs a lot into one small country.
As with any destination, do your research on local customs and culture before heading to the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Here are a few words of wisdom for a first-time traveler to Uganda from our friends at Ultimate Wild Safaris:
Key notes on Ugandan culture
Uganda is among the few countries in world that is blessed with both breathtaking nature and complex culture. The beautiful traditions and history are all around you. To make the most of it and truly immerse yourself, it is advisable to seek guidance from a travel guide or agency.
While English is spoken, it is advisable to learn a few common phrases of the local language i.e. hello, please, thank you, good day etc. This will impress the locals who will welcome you with a big smile and make you feel like you’re one of them.
Uganda is among the few countries in world that is blessed with both breathtaking nature and complex culture.
While traveling to Uganda be sensitive to the local culture by wearing clothing that is accepted by local people and sites in the country. In Uganda women in urban centers wear pants compared to those in rural areas, while in villages women typically wear dresses that cover the knees.
On your trip to Uganda we ask you to be aware of the difference in cultural values, other visitors and those of the local Ugandans. This may include different concepts of time, personal space, communication etc.
In case you’re interested in offering gifts to a local person or a community, you should seek advice on what is needed specifically beforehand. As in most countries, giving to street beggars is highly discouraged as it entices them to continue living on the streets. Your safari tour guide will brief you before visiting specific sites.
Key notes on responsible eco-tourism in Uganda
It’s advisable to learn the basics about critical Ugandan ecosystems and always feel free to ask your guide about their established environmental guidelines for limiting and improving tourist impact on the environment and local culture. Two key points involve staying on trails i.e. no off-track driving and always maintaining set safe distances away from wildlife.
Demonstrate responsible behavior to other travelers who are less informed than you are by acting as an example: use local transportation, local Ugandan guides and deal directly with local tour and travel providers, inns, restaurants and local Ugandan markets to benefit the local economy.
Buying any animal- or plant-origin products and souvenirs is strictly prohibited, as is their removal from their environment – resist picking those rocks and plants.
Use local transportation, local Ugandan guides and deal directly with local tour and travel providers, inns, restaurants and local Ugandan markets to benefit the local economy.
You should always endeavor to participate in natural and cultural conservation or preservation projects and learn how you can minimize impact on the Uganda ecosystem as well as how you can contribute to the protection of these ecosystems. This can be done by attending eco-tourism lectures, community gatherings, or simply pre-activity mini briefings with your guide.
Lastly, return home with increased awareness and concern for environmental and social issues in Uganda, continue to behave in an environmentally sustainable manner, and spread the word about your Uganda experience among your friends, family and on social media. The Beauty of the Pearl of Africa needs to be seen and experienced by many – Uganda welcomes visitors with open arms and many warm smiles!
Contact Musa from Ultimate Wild Safaris by email for details of all eco-tours on offer, such as the exhilarating 15 Day Cycling Experience, Kampala city tours, the once-in-a-lifetime Gorilla Tracking experience, or the unique opportunity to visit Northern Uganda territory. This region is cut off due to longtime war experience of about 20 years, which has inevitably affected the development of the area, and in great need of tourism dollars. Musa will enable you to meet the extraordinary Karamoja tribe and will guide you on a visit through the rugged savannah of the Kidepo National Park.eco toursim, gorillas, responsible travel, safari, uganda