- CULTURE AND LANGUAGES
- NATURE AND WILDLIFE
- AMREF INSURANCE
- AMAZING FACTS ABOUT AFRICA’S BIG FIVE
- COMMUNITY TOURISM
- IMPORTANT LINKS
- KAMPALA ATTRACTIONS
Let us at Riverine Safaris recommend, book, your Uganda lodges and hotels in Kampala for you because we are on the ground with in.
Uganda has a wide range of accommodation, to suit all pockets and tastes, from five star hotels and first class luxury lodges and camps, to rustic bush camps, guesthouses, campsites and community homesteads. Uganda hotels and lodges all have something common – the hospitality and welcome that a visitor to Uganda is accorded. A smile and genuinely warm welcome runs deep in Uganda’s culture.
Travel to Uganda while staying in Ugandan hotels that will offer you the ultimate vacation Experience while staying at our private lodges in Uganda: a combination of uniquely built facilities and an outstanding service.
Hotels in Kampala and Uganda do not have to be expensive. You can get a reasonably good room in Uganda hotels for as little as $150 a night on BB.
Whatever your budget and taste, you will be able to find something that suits you, from 5-star city hotels in the heart of Kampala to 5-star hotel complexes on the shores of Lake Victoria, or on Muyenga Hill overlooking the city. A small number of ’boutique hotels’ offer a more intimate experience.
Central Kampala has a number of large hotels perfect for business trips and conferences – why not book a Safari after your business conference?
Alternatively ‘downtown’ Kampala has a number of cheaper options for backpackers and those on a budget.
There are hotels of varying standards in all the major towns. All the National Parks and major tourist sites have either hotels, camping sites or both. Although there are few camp sites as such, it’s usually possible to camp in the grounds of the majority of lodges (although it’s best to check before you start your trip). Camping charges are generally between $10 – $20 a night. You can bring your own tent, buy or hire one in Kampala.
Culture & Languages
The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking peoples, who dominate much of east, central and southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes. In the north live the Lango and the Acholi, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language, the Gishu are part of the Bantu and they live mainly on the slops of Mt Elgon speaking Lumasaba, closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. A few Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
Uganda is home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom forms a majority of the population. Around forty different languages are regularly and currently in use in the country. English became the official language of Uganda after independence. Ugandan English is a local variant dialect.
The most widely spoken local language in Uganda is Luganda, spoken predominantly by the Ganda people (Baganda) in the urban concentrations of Kampala, the capital city and in towns and localities in the Buganda region of Uganda which encompasses Kampala. The Lusoga and Runyankore-Rukiga languages follow, spoken predominantly in the southeastern and southwestern parts of Uganda respectively.
Swahili, a widely used language throughout eastern and central East Africa, was approved as the country’s second official national language in 2005.
According to the census of 2002, Christians made up about 84% of Uganda’s population. The Roman Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (41.9%), followed by the Anglican Church of Uganda (35.9%). Evangelical and Pentecostal churches claim the rest of the Christian population. The next most reported religion of Uganda is Islam, with Muslims representing 12% of the population. The Muslim population is primarily Sunni; there is also a minority belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The remainder of the population follow traditional religions (1%), Bahai (0.1%), or other non-Christian religions (0.7%), or have no religious affiliation (0.9%).
Uganda is a home to many tribes that speak different languages. Uganda has 56 tribes and about nine indigenous communities that formally came to be recognized in the 1995 constitution amendment of 2005. English is the official language of Uganda. Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken in most parts of the country. There is also French, Arabic and Germany mainly in institutions where they are taught and at embassies. The following are the indigenous communities in Uganda
Flying to Uganda is simple and affordable. With many direct flights to Entebbe from Europe, Asia and Africa, Uganda can now be easily accessed from any part of the world. Below are the major international airlines that fly to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda:
- KLM / Amsterdam – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
- Brussels Airlines / Brussels – flights to and from Entebbe 3 times a week.
- British Airways / London – flights to and from Entebbe 3 times a week.
- Emirates / Dubai – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
- South African Airways / Johannesburg – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
- Kenya Airways / Nairobi – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
- Ethiopian Airways / Addis Ababa – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
- Qatar Airways / Doha – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Riverine Safaris would be delighted to book your scheduled domestic flights or private charters, providing excellent access to most of the national parks within Uganda. Daily domestic flights are available at affordable rates from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, flying to Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Kidepo National Park among others.
Contact Riverine Safaris for more information and prices on charter and scheduled flights to Uganda’s national parks or regional flights within East Africa.
FLYING DOCTOR SERVICES
In addition to international, domestic and regional flights, Riverine Safaris can also provide insurance for emergency air evacuation to supplement your standard travel insurance.
Read more about the AMREF Flying Doctors Tourist Evacuation Scheme and how to register.
Nature and Wildlife in Uganda
Uganda’s equatorial climate is tempered by its elevated altitude.
In most parts of the country, the average maximum temperature is between 20°C and 27°C during the day, and the minimum between 12° C and 18° C. This makes the country a true nature and wildlife paradise, as it guarantees the best conditions for the thriving of both the flora and the fauna that are typical of this region.
Most parts of Uganda receive an annual rainfall between 1000 and 2000 mm (except in the drier north, where in some areas the average annual rainfall is as low as 100 mm), with a wide regional variation in rainfall patterns. As a rough guide, however, the wet seasons are from September to October and April to May. That said, it is possible to travel the whole year round: rain usually means a heavy shower for 1 hour and then the sun takes over again!
Rwanda has a similar climate and is part of the great Rift Valley: its lakes and hills are a result of this geological phenomenon. Rwanda used to be covered with tropical rainforest, but in the last hundred years forest coverage has decreased due to population growth. However, it is still possible to visit the amazing Nyungwe Forest, and the beautiful valley where the Akagera meanders. Here you can still explore and admire the original beauty of the nature of Africa.
African people have long known that gorillas lived in the forests. To the rest of the world, however, gorillas have been mysterious and largely unknown for centuries. All that changed in the early fifties of the previous century.
In 1951, the American zoologist George Schaller was the first to study gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes. His pioneering work revealed for the first time the true nature of the gorilla to the world; a shy, gentle, peace-loving vegetarian. Schaller is the author of the book ‘The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behavior’, published in 1963. In 1988 he wrote ‘The Year of the Gorilla’.
In later years Dr. Dian Fossey and her assistants achieved some amazing results in their studies. Fossey lived among the gorillas from 1963 until her death in 1985. She followed Schaller’s methods of research. Her book ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ was eventually turned into a movie. After she spent some time in Congo she moved to Rwanda, where she started the Karisoke Research Center. She lived there for almost 18 years among the gorillas. She was the first person ever to have voluntary contact with a gorilla, one of them even touching her hand. During her visits to the region, Fossey would often stay at traveler’s Rest Hotel in Kisoro (now under Gorilla Tours’ direct management), which she once defined as her “second home”.
Fossey was killed in 1985 and was buried on the Rwanda side of the Virungas among the 17 gorillas that had been killed by poachers during her studies. Today, her Gorilla Fund continues to prevent the ongoing threats. Fossey’s work has raised the world’s awareness to the dangers that the mountain gorillas face. These animals are now protected by the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and by other international organizations.
Another way of preserving them is spreading the word about what you saw in the parks. It is a great service to the preservation of the endangered mountain gorilla. Therefore, come and visit the gorillas in South West Uganda with Gorilla Tours! It will be an unforgettable experience.
The Pearls of Africa
Uganda and Rwanda have much more to offer besides mountain gorillas!
The region’s national parks are home to an enormous variety of rare wild animals, such as antelopes, elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, zebras and many more. The many lakes and the river Nile are also home to hippos and crocodiles.
Uganda and Rwanda are also a birdwatcher’s paradise. The region is home to more than 1000 species of birds, and on any of our safaris you may easily get to see more than 350 of them.
Depending on your interests in wildlife and nature in the region we can organize any tour to satisfy your curiosity. See our example tours for more information, or create your own tour in collaboration with us!
Your safari in Uganda is without a doubt an experience of a lifetime, a journey that you may have been looking forward to and planning for years.
Understandably you don’t want to think of anything that can go wrong, but very occasionally it does, which is why we always recommend our clients take out travel insurance.
In the unfortunate case that you require urgent medical assistance during your Uganda safari, you need to make sure that your medical care is well arranged and fully covered.
In conjunction with AMREF Flying Doctors, Safaria offers you the opportunity to register for the medevac insurance Tourist Evacuation Scheme. This emergency medical insurance gives you access to emergency air evacuation, whenever it’s required and wherever you are, with all emergency evacuation costs completely covered.
Why register with the Flying Doctor Services?
- 24 hour access to medical care:
Signing up for the Flying Doctor Services guarantees you access to medevac medical assistance 24 hours a day, no matter how remote your location in Uganda.
- Full coverage:
A medevac emergency air evacuation is very costly and your expenses can easily cost thousands of dollars. Registration with the medevac insurance AMREF Tourist Evacuation Scheme gives you full coverage of costs of the air ambulance, transport from the airstrip to the hospital and the first 24 hours in hospital.
- Easy and hassle-free:
No dealing with third parties. All you need to do is contact Safaria to sign you up to AMREF’s Flying Doctor Services and you will receive proof of your registration. In case of any emergency, AMREF will deal with the paperwork and your insurance company directly.
- Minimal costs:
The cost for the insurance is minimal – only USD $15 per person for your entire safari (max. 30 days), whether you are travelling in Uganda, Rwanda or any other East African country.
- Supporting a Charity:
If you have been registered for the Tourist Evacuation Scheme but do not need any evacuation after all, your money will automatically fund the AMREF Outreach Program and Charity Evacuation Flights.
Your Tourist Evacuation Scheme insurance helps AMREF give medical assistance to local communities in East Africa
These special programs support the local communities in East Africa that require urgent and immediate care, but do not have access to medical assistance, nor have the money to pay for such expenses. AMREF’s planes take specialist surgeons to areas where there are no communications, limited medical services and little or no surgical services. They travel to inaccessible areas that can only be reached by plane, where health clinics and hospitals try to support hundreds of people staying in outlying villages, and where the only health facility may be a man selling paracetamol in a roadside kiosk.
Thanks to your contribution, people can be safely delivered into expert medical care and more lives can be saved.
The Big Five of Africa – the often mentioned, relentlessly searched for and much-loved five large African mammals.
These five wild animals were originally termed ‘the Big Five’ by big game hunters who found them to be the most difficult and dangerous African animals to hunt on foot. These days the term ‘Big Five’ is frequently (if not excessively) used in the African safari industry, where sightings, encounters and photo opportunities of these heavyweights are highly sought-after.
What are Africa’s Big Five animals?
You’ve probably heard the term, but do you know who the Big Five are? In no particular order of importance, the Big Five are: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.
Big Five game reserves have an edge over the wildlife areas missing one or more of these iconic species, because safari-goers from across the planet are eager to spot the famous rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant combination. Given that these formidable five are constantly in the spotlight, here are some interesting facts about each of Africa’s Big Five stars.
- African Lions (Panthera Leo)
Africa’s apex predator and the second largest big cat in the world. Lions are found roaming in grasslands and open plains, not in jungles.
Seven Interesting Facts about Lions:
They are the most social felines on earth. Lions are the only cats that live in groups (prides) and need a lot of contact with each other. Females share particularly strong bonds as they remain in the same pride for life and raise their cubs together, with cubs suckling from any of the lactating females.
- These cats are loud: a lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8km) away enabling them to communicate with each other over large distances. The males roar more loudly and frequently, usually to declare territory, call stray members of the pride and ward off rivals. Females call their cubs with quiet roars and also roar for backup when under threat.
- Lions greet each other by rubbing their heads against each other, exchanging scents that convey information about their intentions, moods and recent activities. This tactile form of greeting also serves to form and strengthen the bonds between lions.
- African lions are now only found in 8% of their historic range. Wild lions are still found in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of southern and eastern Africa. Lions once inhabited Northern Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe and India, but of these areas they are now only found in the Gir Forest National Park in of northwestern India.
- The females do the hunting, yet the males get the first helping, even when there are cubs in the pride.
- They can see in the dark and most of the hunting is done at night, but they are not completely nocturnal. Lions are said to be crepuscular, which means that they are most active at twilight (just before sunrise or just after sunset). They are however opportunistic feeders that will hunt at any time.
- Lions spend most of their time sleeping – these big cats sleep up to 20 hours a day!
- African Leopards (Panthera pardus)
The leopard may not be the biggest, but it is the strongest climber of the big cats in Africa. Known for their power and grace leopards are stealthy nocturnal predators with excellent night vision.
Interesting Leopard Facts:
- Unlike lions, leopards are anti-social loners. These solitary cats avoid interacting with each other beyond mating and raising young cubs.
- The largest cat species to climb trees regularly. Leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall and they can hunt from trees. Leopards even nap in trees!
- These adaptable felines are found in the most diverse habitats of all the big cats, inhabiting both deserts and forests. Their ability to survive across a range of habitats has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world, including India, China, Central Asia and Africa.
- Leopards don’t roar, they bark and snarl. When happy they even purr.
- The leopard preys on a wide variety of species, from insects, rodents and reptiles, to birds and mammals, including antelopes as large as elands, and even giraffes.
- Leopards are not only comfortable in water, they are in fact strong swimmers that sometimes eat fish and even crabs.
A leopard’s spots are called rosettes as the clusters of dark spots resemble roses. Their light coats pathed with dark rosettes provide excellent camouflage for these elusive hunters, especially in the dappled shade of trees
- African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)
The largest terrestrial animal on the planet and a vegetarian to boot, elephants are known for their intelligence.
Interesting Elephant Facts
- Elephants can get sunburnt! Elephants throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin.
- They have the longest gestation period of all land mammals at 22 months!
- Elephant cows give birth standing up with members of the herd forming a protective circle around her as her calf is born.
- Elephants have very sensitive pads under their feet, making it possible for them to walk quietly despite their enormous weight.
- Baby elephants are born almost blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs.
- African Rhinos (black rhino – Diceros bicornis& white rhino – Ceratotherium simum)
Interesting Rhino Facts
- All rhinos have three toes per foot making them “three-toed ungulates” and black rhinos run on their toes.
- Black rhinos can pick up small objects and even open gates and vehicle doors with their prehensile upper lips.
- African Buffalos or Cape Buffalos (Syncerus caffer)
Interesting Buffalo Facts
- Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other wild animal. Buffalos have good memories and are known to ambush hunters that have harmed them in the past.
- The only wild cattle species, female’s buffalos have strong bonds and if one individual is attacked the entire herd will defend the victim.
TOURISM BEYOND WILDLIFE… a community-based tourism experience!
Riverine Safaris with UCOTA have joined hands in order to promote community-based tourism and support community development, in partnership with tourists.
Where UCOTA develops the rural communities and creates projects, Riverine offers you the opportunity to actually visit the community of your choice and see how the project supports their way of living. Cultural tourism safaris in Uganda will not only give you an experience of a lifetime, but will make sure that the local people benefit from tourism as well!
AND YOU CAN HELP TOO!
Visitors on safaris in Uganda can help support the communities by visiting one of the projects directly, by volunteering or by making a donation. To ensure that the money is well spent, donations should be made at one of the offices.
Don’t watch the world from a distance, but get involved and experience the real Africa!
UCOTA Uganda Community Tourism Association
UCOTA exists to help local communities improve their lives through: the sale of handcrafts, the provision of accommodation, cultural performances and tour guiding. This form of community-based tourism assures that the benefits stay as much as possible in the community. The community projects operate small enterprises such as craft making, music, dance and drama. Thanks to the revenues from these activities, many important rural communities are supported. Community projects include clinics, schools, water supply and literacy programs.
And every time you buy a UCOTA product, you help the community to help themselves.
KAMPALA CITY TOUR
The city tour includes excursions to Uganda Museum, Kasubi Tombs, Local markets – Owino Market & Nakasero Market, Rubaga Hill, Namirembe Hill, the Kings Lake to mention but a few. After breakfast we will pick you up from a hotel of your choice in either Kampala or Entebbe, explore the seven hills of Kampala (popularly known as Rome of Uganda) plus the rest of Kampala.
Here below is a brief information on some of the places we will be visiting:
The Uganda Museum
A display of Uganda’s cultural heritage where one can see ethnological and natural-historical exhibitions. It is a vivid reminder of the country’s colorful past. The Uganda Museum (founded in 1908) in Kampala has exhibits of traditional culture, archeology, history, science, and natural history. It regularly presents performances of traditional music.
The place where fallen kings of Buganda Kingdom are buried. The Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi constitute a site embracing almost 30 hectares of hillside within Kampala district. At its core on the hilltop is the former palace of the Kabakas of Buganda, built in 1882 and converted into the royal burial ground in 1884. Four royal tombs now lie within the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main building, which is circular and surmounted by a dome. It is a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials, principally wood, thatch, reed, wattle and daub. The site’s main significance lies, however, in its intangible values of belief, spirituality, continuity and identity.
At the noon of Saturday, January, 1895, the right Reverand Mckay advised the then Kabaka of Buganda to establish the first market in the Lubiri (palace). In 1905 the market moved to Kabugube and this was a temporary structure. Here you can find a variety of huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, mostly indigenous to Uganda. Across the street is a lower market, full of spices, legumes, grains, and hand-made house hold items. This market is surrounded by a number of shops or dukas, where you find everything for the home. Hardware, sanitary ware and electrical shops surround the area.
One of the largest markets in this region of Africa. The endless booths that line the chaotic alleys of Owino offer a mind-boggling array everything from homemade irons, to American hand-me- down-clothes with the goodwill price tags still on then, to an amazing array of African foods, to any and everything else under the sun. Everything at Owinio starts cheap and gets cheaper with bargaining.
Another market option is the craft market on Buganda Road or the slightly larger crafts market behind the national theatre near the Garden City complex. Also on Buganda Rd.
Rubaga Hill taken-up by the Roman Catholics (and the first Roman Catholic church here); Rubaga Hill was the location of the main palace of Kabaka Muteesa I who ruled Buganda between 1856 and 1884. The palace was struck by lightning and was rebuilt on neighboring Mengo Hill. The first Roman Catholic missionaries to arrive in Buganda were Frenchmen, Father Pierre Lourdel Monpel and Brother Amans, who settled near the hill in 1879.
As the Catholic Church took root in the country, the missionaries were allocated land on Lubaga Hill. The construction of St. Mary’s Cathedral on Lubaga Hill took place between 1914 and 1925, with the assistance of monetary contributions from Roman Catholic congregations abroad. Later, the missionaries also built a hospital and a nursing school on the hill.
Today, Lubaga remains the seat of the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Uganda. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. The remains of the first African Catholic bishop in Uganda, Bishop Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka and those of the first African Catholic Cardinal, Cardinal Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga are kept in the Catholic Mission on the hill.
The Anglican Christians’ oldest church here; Mengo Hill which has the headquarters of the traditional (the largest of Uganda’s traditional monarchies). The hill rises 4,134 feet (1,260 m) above sea level. It stands adjacent to Mengo Hill, the seat of the Buganda Government. The history of the two hills is intertwined, geographically, politically and religiously. Namirembe is the location of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the main place of worship of the Anglican Church in Uganda, from the time of its construction (1915 to 1919), until the 1960’s when the Cathedral became the seat of the Diocese of Namirembe.
Visit the Kabaka’s Lake (Kayanja Ka Kabaka), the largest man-made lake here, dug up on orders of the tyrant Sekkabaka Mwanga (also a former King), who needed it as an escape route besides being a place for water sport just adjacent to his kingdom headquarters – Mengo.
After drive to Kampala central visiting Nakasero Market and a curio shop for some craft shops. This tour can be done any time of the year. It can also be done at the start or at the end of any of our other safari packages.