Uganda is the hidden Pearl of Africa, it is located in the heart of East Africa neighboring countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Uganda is probably the least well-known East African country but it has lots of fun, adventurous things that can make anyone’s stay truly unforgettable.
One thing that stands out to me every time I go to Uganda is the energy of the people. Kampala, the capital city, is full of diverse, welcoming people with an incredible sense of humor. The city is so charming and has a very unique atmosphere that lingers even after you leave. I’ve visited Uganda multiple times and lived there for a few years so you’ll get a combination of touristy tips and learn about places that only locals would know about.
Let’s dive in!
- Take a road trip to Jinja
When I first left the United States, my favorite thing to do in Uganda was to take a road trip to Jinja. This is a city that attracts millions of tourists per year because you can visit the equator, stunning waterfalls, and participate in wildlife safaris on the course of the infamous River Nile.
But all that aside, the journey to Jinja is a moment to remember. The stunning Mabira forest welcomes you as you drive to Jinja. On the way, you’ll most likely find large gorillas casually crossing the street or making uncomfortable eye-contact with you. It was always so stunning to look out the window and watch the monkeys and gorillas stroll by without a care in the world.
Pro tip: Don’t keep your windows wide open! But try to slightly open the windows at the top so that you can breathe in the unbelievably fresh air that the forest has to offer. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever breathed in air as fresh as the air in Mabira forest. The road trip itself is so exciting and relaxing at the same time. Whenever I go through a life crisis, I like to go on a road trip to Jinja to realign my chakras and boy, it works wonders!
- Meditate in a hut overlooking the River Nile
If you’re spiritual and introspective, then this is an activity that you’ll deeply enjoy! I took this picture sitting in a two-story hut on a steep hill that gave me this stunning view of the River Nile. The air was so fresh, the birds were chirping beautifully, and it was the most relaxing evening of my life.
There are many different resorts in Jinja that can give you this kind of view and allow you to unwind and meditate. After being used to modern buildings it’s really fun and interesting to sit in a two-story hut and enjoy a different kind of aesthetic. The huts are well insulated and have a full front opening that ensures that you don’t have an obstructed view of the stunning landscape. The grass-thatched roof is iconic and also great for inviting the cool breeze while protecting you from the unforgiving rays of the sun.
If you’re traveling with a loved one, this is a great place to have deep conversation. If you’re alone, it’s an ideal spot to get in tune with your inner emotions and press pause on life’s rat race.
- Watch the hippos in Murchison Falls National Park
I know…hippos are dangerous, but hear me out! Murchison Falls National Park and Chobe Safari Lodge created a gorgeous atmosphere for you to watch the hippos and be at a safe distance from them. Watching them interact with each other over a cold margarita is such an underrated thing to experience! Sometimes guided tours can feel exhausting and you just want to find a cozy spot near the animals and watch them on your own terms. Chobe resort is a great place to do this because they’re not far from your hotel room.
In fact, you can watch them from a favorable distance while you’re enjoying your lunch.
- Volunteer in a school in Kampala
One thing that brings me incredible fulfillment in life is giving back and participating in volunteer programs that have a lasting impact on communities. In Kampala, there’s a great need for skilled volunteers who want to teach in schools to impart useful knowledge on young minds. The iServe volunteer programs are inexpensive to participate in because the team covers your accommodation and meals while you’re in the city. It’s a really cheap way to participate in something so impactful.
The kids are so great! They are all multilingual and made the experience so memorable for me. When you get to immerse yourself in the culture and the community, the travel experience is exponentially more fulfilling.
- Explore Kampala’s Diverse Restaurants
Whether you love Asian cuisine, Mexican, Italian, or you want to experiment with African foods, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for in Kampala. The city is full of expatriates that influenced the growth of new restaurants that are great for foodies.
Regardless of what your personal taste is, you’re likely to find a cuisine that suits your pallets. Every first and last Sunday of the month, fine dining restaurants offer bottomless brunches with unlimited cocktails and buffets with the most diverse cuisines. It’s a great way to get in touch with Kampala’s fun side and meet like-minded people who love food and great experiences. Check out Stonehaven and Izumi for an unforgettable dining experience!
Uganda is a great country to visit if you want to immerse yourself in a place full of rich culture and friendly people. Whether you are looking for volunteer opportunities, exciting adventures, or a relaxing trip away from home, there are places in Uganda that can give you exactly what you need.