Ugandan Culture – Rich and Diverse – Including its Main Cultural Attractions
Be Enriched by the Various Cultures as you visit the Pearl of Africa – Uganda – the People of Uganda.
Ugandan Culture – Rich and Diverse. Culture and Traditions are handed down from generation to generation, not in books, but underneath the Mango Trees by the Village Elders. The Legends and ways of the old are shared again in Proverbs, legends, tales, and stories, keeping them alive in the hearts of the young.
Those Legends, Tales, and Proverbs passed on to younger generations are still practiced in various forms and make up the Culture of Uganda, making up what others call Authentic Africa.
The Ugandan Culture is Rich and Diverse, and it is deeply embedded in the lives of Ugandans. There is more to Uganda than Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Primates, Wildlife, and Scenic Wonders. Another is its People with their Culture, an enriching and unforgettable experience visiting the cultural attractions found in Uganda.
Thousands of visitors per year come to visit Uganda, and most of them miss the rich cultural diversity and history of the Ugandan people. We suggest that you immerse yourself in Uganda and experience Ugandan Cultured in the Pearl of Africa during your time here.
We would love to introduce you to the Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Wildlife, and Scenery of Uganda and the people, Culture, and traditions that are still being passed on from Generation to Generation in villages throughout Uganda. Not only in hamlets and towns but in cities such as Kampala. Those who live there are still connected to their roots and only one bus ride away from their community, clan, family, and friends.
It is all about relationships in Ugandan Culture, the foundation of the various ethnic people groups that make up the Pearl of Africa.
Most Ugandans are of Bantu Background in Uganda’s Central and Western areas. In contrast, north of Lake Kyoga, the various ethnic groups of Nilotic backgrounds and each group can be broken down further. They are all Ugandans making Uganda the most ethnically diverse country globally. Each ethnicity in Uganda has its own rich Culture, but all are Ugandans, no matter their cultural background.
The 21st Century Tourists look for authentic Cultural Experiences and attractions. They do not want stage-managed performances but are looking for Authenticity. What is Authentic is something left to the imagination of both the one offering a Cultural Encounter and the Tourist. The two do not always meet, and the result is a disappointment. We will give you our honest input based on our personal experience and our clients’ experiences.
Authentic Cultural Attractions – Experiences in Uganda
We have compiled a list of Authentic Cultural Attractions and Experiences that you can see and do on a visit to Uganda. Cultural attractions can be included in your Safari and the Primate Trekking, Wildlife experiences that you will be participating in.
Seeing and experiencing the Cultural Attractions most often mean cultural encounters with Ugandans of various ethnic groups found in different parts of Uganda. Unlike in other parts of the world, cultural encounters involve not just places but people, which enrich your time in Africa. Such meetings are not only enhancing you but the Ugandans that you meet.
Uganda’s Cultural Attractions form a deeper connection to Uganda’s friendly, welcoming, and hospitable people. The memorable personal encounters form a bond between visitors and Ugandans from various ethnic groups.
Cultural Attractions are often off-the-beaten tourist paths, bypassed by most where few visitors can be found. Family Safaris with children or teens are often drawn to the cultural experiences. We encourage you to consider some of them, which have listed below. We have listed the cultural attractions that our clients enjoyed the most.
Stay in an Authentic African Village with the Boomu Women’s Group. It is a Cultural Experience in Uganda like no other. You can Africa but never visit Africans – you can visit Uganda but never meet Ugandans while on Safari in Uganda. Here is a clean room, but no running water, no electricity, or a flush toilet.
You will not be staying in an ordinary lodge or hotel room but a Banda. It is a traditional African hut. Experience village life, gather in the garden, prepare, cook, and learn new skills such as basket weaving and unique ways. Most of all, meet Ugandans up close and personal, teaching you how they gather, prepare and live, and this is how many rural Ugandans live.
You will experience the real Uganda, unlike on a regular Safari, since you will be with the people of Uganda. This is an experience to be long remembered. |In some cases, you make lifelong friends.
A Village Stay is also an enriching experience if you are on a Family Safari with pre-teens or teens.
Batwa People – the First People of the African Rain Forest
Tourism assists the maligned – forgotten – the original people of the forest who are returning to their beloved Forest in Uganda. A day with the Batwa Pygmy people will be an informative cultural experience if you visit Uganda.
The Batwa people were the original people of the rain forests of Uganda – they hunted, foraged, and lived in the woods, leaving a small footprint on their existence there. While in Southwest Uganda – do not miss a cultural – interactive encounter with the Batwa People.
In Rwanda, they are called the Twa People. The Batwa have had a better chance at life by making and selling pottery. – Hopefully, that will happen in Uganda through tourism involving the Batwa People is the first step. In 2021 the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled favor of the Batwa People, and this is a leap forward; however, the ruling is being contested in court.
Buhoma Community Walk – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The Buhoma Community Village Walk where you meet the Community beyond Gorilla Tracking while staying in the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. (Please Note: A Village Walk can be included in your Safari if you are staying in the Nkuringo or Rushaga area of the park.)
The three-hour-long Village Walk introduces you to the people and their Culture living near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Buhoma Area. The other choice is to do the guided village walk from the back of a mountain bike, and both are beautiful times of cultural discovery.
On a Village-Walk, you will learn the traditional ways – Locally made crafts – Dances- Traditional cooking-Brewing-Herbal Medicines. The Buhoma Village Walk gives you an insight into the local Culture and people. It is not to be missed at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You can also take a Village Walk in the Nkuringo area of Bwindi, which is in the Southern region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Be sure that you do not miss the Village Walk.
Ruboni Village, off of the beaten Tourist Track, is home to the Bakonzo, the keepers of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon.
Here, you can take a Village Walk and visit a traditional healer, a village elder who will give you his people’s background.
Visit the local blacksmith who uses old methods to produce the people’s tools. Visit a local home and be part of cooking a meal, take dancing and or drumming lessons, and more.
On the second day, you can stay overnight at the Ruboni Community Camp or the upmarket Equator Snow Lodge. You can take hikes of various kinds and even learn how to fish with your hands or plant a tree from the Ruboni Community Nursery.
rRubooni is a gateway into the Rwenzori Mountains.
Visiting Karamojong Manyatta near Kidepo Valley Park
Visiting the Proud Karamojong, Warrior-Pastoralists and their Families in a Manyatta A Karamojong Village (Manyatta).
Visit a Karamojong Manyatta near or on the way to or from Kidepo Valley National Park in Northeastern Uganda.
The Karamojong, a fierce and proud people, lives as semi-nomadic herders in northeastern Uganda’s remote and unvisited Karamoja region. Cattle raids by the Turkanas from Kenya and vice versa, just one other tribe.
Along with some of the other tribal groups in the area, they are the least visited People Groups in Uganda.
Authenticity Rating for this Experience- 5 -this area is not overwhelmed with Tourists.
Several Manyattas can be visited.
Visiting the remote Ik Ethnic Group – The Mountain People
Climbing Mount Morungole to see the Ik People is an out-of-the-ordinary cultural experience. – the Mountain People of Uganda are located in North Eastern Uganda just beyond Kidepo Valley National Park, high up in Morungole Mountains (about 11,000 Ik people)
You will be visiting one of the most remote Tribes in East Africa. The Ik People practiced their ancient ways and were the original people in the area, just like the Batwa People in the Southwest of Uganda.
Before the Karamojong arrived, they lived in the area and moved into the mountains for safety and security.
The small Ik Tribe now has its first representative in the Ugandan Parliament. The hope among the People is that they will see some benefits.
There is no overnight stay here, and hopefully, there will not be one soon. It is off of the beaten track and one of Uganda’s most authentic Cultural Experiences.
Visit the over 600-year-old Lake Katwe Salt Works:
This unusual Lake is far too salty to support a lot of wildlife. Though, since the 16th Century, it has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers. They spend their days under the equatorial sun, walking the network of paths that crisscross the lake and harvesting salt from its milky waters.
The work here is dangerous since the saline waters damage the body of those who spend all day in the lake harvesting the salt, which was like gold and brought wealth to the area. However, today the salt from Katwe does not bring wealth since times have changed, and salt is readily available from various sources.
Katwe Salt Lake Tour gives a unique insight into the fascinating yet stringent salt mining process. Afterward, take a village tour of Katwe, and this Lake is next to Queen Elizabeth Park.
The Kasubi Tombs – A UNESCO and Buganda Kingdom Heritage Site
The Kasubi Tombs is one of the Buganda Kingdom’s most treasured heritage sites. It is not a relic from the past but a place that is not just visited by tourists but also by the Baganda people and others because of its profound importance to them. Unfortunately, the elephant grass-covered tomb tragically burned down in 1012, and it has been restored, and visitors can enter this most revered site located a short distance from downtown Kampala.
The Kasubi Tombs are the main burial grounds for the Kings (Kabakas) of Buganda. Four Kings of Buganda are buried in the tombs. Including Mutesa II, Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa, and Mutsa.
- Muteesa I (1835–1884)
- Mwanga II (1867–1903) (died in exile on the Seychelles Islands and remains returned in 1910. He ordered the execution of the Christian Martyrs now revered in Uganda)
- Daudi Chwa II (1896–1939)
- Sir Edward Muteesa II (1924–1969) (died in exile in London and remains returned in 1971).
Descendants of these four Kabakas are buried elsewhere on the site. You are given a guided tour by an informative guide who will fill you in on the history of the place, current practices here, and the background of each Kabaka buried here. Notice the extensive use of Barcloth inside the tomb, a craft that goes back centuries.
The Uganda Museum:
The Uganda Museum was built to help preserve Uganda’s history. The Museum is, without doubt, the best place to visit if one is interested in learning about Uganda’s history and cultural heritage.
This history and heritage of Uganda are displayed through a collection of instruments, artifacts, and recordings. The Uganda Museum was first built in 1908 but has undergone a series of renovations in the interior to give it a more modern look.
Several instruments and tools are available to describe or demonstrate what Uganda was and is. They include musical instruments, traditional weapons (spears, arrows, and bows), drums, and archaeological remains to mention but a few.
The Idi Amin Photo Collection of pictures previously never shown has become a hit with both local and international visitors. It raises the question, “Is Idi Amin a Tourist Attraction?” Many believe that Idi Amin could attract tourists as he already does now at various venues in Uganda.
Kabaka Mengo Palace and the Buganda Parliament (Bulange):
Ssezibwa Falls – a place of Culture and legend
Ssezibwa Falls is close to Kampala, just about 40 minutes – this is still an important place for the Baganda People, whose old ways have meaning. Even the present Kabaka Ronald Mutesi has placed a tree here.
Many hundreds of years ago, a woman named Nakangu was from the Fox clan. She was about to give birth to twins, but what was birthed from her were two rivers – two streams.
You can sometimes come across people with sacrifices of local brew beer, barkcloth, chickens, and goats. There is a fertility shrine in an indention in the rocks by the falls.
There is a resort with restaurants above where you can have lunch. You can also take Nature and Birding Walks here. The Anglican Church of Uganda owns the site.
It is on the way from Kampala to Jinja.
Ndere Dance and Musical Troupe Cultural Center:
Ndere Troupe Cultural Center is a living Cultural Attraction. The Ndere Dance Troupe keeps Ugandan Culture alive with its dance, music, and the telling of stories related to the country’s various cultures. Ndere Dance has performed at venues worldwide, telling the stories of Uganda’s multiple cultures.
The Ndere Troupe provides the perfect introduction to Uganda’s rich and diverse Culture. Be prepared for some breathtaking dances accompanied by traditional music on handmade instruments. The troupe is internationally renowned for its immersing cultural performances. You do not want to miss out on the cultural entertainment offered here, and it will be one of the highlights of your stay in Uganda.
Not only do you see Cultural Performances at their best, but it is also a foodie adventure where you can get a bite of Uganda’s local cuisines such as Luwombo meat, or chicken, vegetables wrapped in banana leaves. At the same time, cooked provides a mouthwatering dish most often served during the year’s festive season.
The Center also provides lodging for visitors where you can learn some dance routines, drumming, or other instruments yourself.
Nakayima Witch’s Tree:
The Nakayima tree is where traditional cultural practices still occur 3 hours from Kampala on the Way to Kibale Forest and Fort Portal.
You learn the ancient ways practiced under a tree over 500 years old. A guide will tell you about the oral traditions of this spot, the first Nakayima, and how the spirit world and the lives of Ugandans are still intertwined in the present. Be sure to hear the legend of old.
Visitors that come here find the legends and tales most fascinating, and the scenery from this plateau is beautiful.
President Museveni and his wife have recently visited here, and he even took a nature walk here on the plateau.
A great couple of hours to stretch your legs on a long journey.
Traditional Belief still influences many Ugandans. When everything else does not seem to work, there is a return to it.
.The Bagisu Male Public Circumcision Ceremonies:
The Bagisu of Eastern Uganda around Mbale, Sipi Falls, perform a public Imbalu Circumcision Ceremony during even years when boys turn into men.
Thousands gather from Uganda and nearby Kenya. More and more visitors to Uganda also attend this critical time of change in the lives of young boys.
The ceremonies occur in August and now to as long as December of the even year.
This rite of passage is an important time for the Bagisu People. Tourists have seen it as a time of cultural learning while visiting diverse Uganda – the pearl of Africa.
An actual stadium is being built to facilitate the event.
Fort Patik-Traces of the Arab Slave Trade
Fort Patiko also called Baker’s Fort is near the town of Gulu in northern Uganda. It was first established by the Arabs. There they stored ivory, guns, ammunition, food and slaves. It was a sorting station for slaves that were brought here from as far away as the now South Sudan, the now DR Congo, and other places including Uganda itself.
Sir Samuel Baker and his troops captured the known Fort Patiko in 1872. About 250 Arab Traders were driven off, many killed in the process and the slaves freed. Samuel Baker discovered that the fort had been a place of execution for those slaves that were too weak to make the journey to Egypt where they were to be sold.
Fort Patiko was occupied by Baker and then Charles Gordon and Emin Pasha who was a German Jew, a doctor by profession, who converted to Islam.
Emin Pasha and his loyal troops were in danger of being attacked by elements of the then Mahdi Rebellion against the British in neighboring Sudan. Henry Morton Stanley was sent on a rescue mission to Fort Patiko to bring him to safer place. The reluctant Emin Pasha finally agreed to go with Henry Morton Stanley’s party.
Today, Fort Patiko is an off-the-beaten-tourist path destination set in breathtaking scenic surroundings. It is well worth the time and effort to visit it.
The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda are not Jews by heritage but by choice. They suffered a lot under the times, Idi Amin.
Today they are a small, thriving, religious community with a clinic and a dental clinic that plants coffee along with Muslims and Jews. They, as a faith community, contribute to the community at large.
Visitors are welcome, but we have to make an appointment for your time here with the Jews, the people of Judah in Uganda. If you are Jewish, you do not want to miss Shabbat with the Abayudaya.
Today, the Chief Rabbi is a member of parliament elected by all the area’s people and not just the Abayudaya.
There is a guesthouse that is available to those wanting to stay overnight.
A visit here is the most exciting experience, like no other community in Uganda.
The Amabeere Ga Nyina Mwiru Caves
A place of legends and natural wonder close to Fort Portal and Kibale – you can easily access the cave on the way to Queen Elizabeth Park.
You can also make it a day trip – take a packed lunch and take a guided nature walk visiting three crater Lakes.
Legends tell us that a King cut off his daughter’s breasts as a punishment for her ill behavior. The water dripping made to look milky by the calcium carbonate is called “breast milk” by the local people who live near the Amabeere Caves.
In reality, the scientific explanation is that they are, in fact, stalactites and are calcium carbonate. When blended with water, drip down and form the stalactites that you will find here.
Visitors often have a different expectation of what they see; in reality, it is more of an overhang than a cave but well worth a visit.
Nyero Rock Paintings
The Nyero Rock Paintings is located near the town of Kumi in the Kumi District, and it is near the tiny village of Nyero. You will discover 3 Rock Cave Shelters, where you can view some of the oldest rock paintings in Uganda, dating back to the Iron Age.
If you are interested in archeology, then the Nyero Rock Paintings are a site to be visited if you are driving by or from Kidepo Valley Park. We include the Nyero Rock Paintings Shelters Caves on some of our Safari Itineraries.
These three caves can be accessed on your journey to Kidepo Valley, from Sipi Falls and or the town of Mbale.
Some guides can guide you through the caves – there is only speculation as to who drew them during the Iron Age, but there is substantial evidence.
There are other Rock paintings in the Eastern area of Uganda, and the Nyero Rock Paintings are the most famous.
Mpambire cradle of Drum Making in Uganda The Drum Makers of Mpambire carry on the ancient tradition of Drum Making. They do not want only drum makers; and they are the Royal Drum Makers for the Kabaka (King) of the Buganda kingdom.
Suppose you are heading for Western Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Queen Elizabeth Park. In that case, you will pass Mpambire, and if you are not looking up, you could easily miss it. Still, we will stop for you to visit the Royal Drum Makers of Mpambire.
Take home a drum and drive your neighbors crazy with sounds from Uganda’s Royal Drum Makers.
Please note: The Ugandan drums made here are authentic; however, West African Drums are also made here and sold due to popularity. The size of the drums can be a problem taking home on a plane.
There are West African Drums sold here due to their popularity. Ask for genuine Ugandan drums.
Igongo Cultural Center and Museum
Igongo Cultural Center is about preserving the Natural & Cultural Heritage of South-Western Uganda Cultural Center – Museum – Restaurant –Village Visits.
Suppose you travel to or from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, or Lake Mburo Park. In that case, you will pass by Igongo Cultural Center and c6/Museum. We would love to include a stop there while you are on a safari with us.
The Igongo Cultural Center is the perfect stop-over on your route to or from your destination in Western Uganda. Lunch can easily be had here, and you can enjoy the local Culture and history.
Overnight stays and cultural home visits can be arranged.
Locally this is hailed as the best Museum, a collection of items from the local area.
The Martyrs of Uganda – Namugongo
June 3 is Martyr’s Day, where the Catholic Church and the Church of Uganda honor the Martyrs that gave their lives for their Faith. 22 Catholics and 23 Church of Uganda (Anglican) were executed for their Faith and refusal to renounce it by Kabaka Mwanga. Many were cruelly executed on June 3, 1886.
The Martyrs Shrine Museum:
You can visit the Martyr’s Shrine at any time throughout the year.
We also offer Catholics a Pilgrimage Safari that takes in a visit to “Our Lady of Kibeho on May 27 each year and Namugongo on June 3 each year.
Pope Francis visited the Shrine, the Museum, and exhibits in November 2015. He was the third pope to visit Uganda.
The Museum there is informative and one of the best in Uganda. It gives you insight into the history of the Buganda Kingdom, which is still functioning, and its Kabaka – revered.
Discover and Explore the Ugandan Culture – Rich and Diverse – Including its Main Cultural Attractions. Please let us know if you would like to visit any cultural sites on Safari with us.