Uganda is blessed with a fascinating cultural heritage which differs among the kingdoms and chiefdoms that exist in the country. This includes attending and participating in the different cultural events that take place in the communities.
Uganda that is found in the sub Saharan part of Africa that have all seen different cultures that have been experienced especially during the colonial rule to date and all these have been recorded and stored for the generations that did not experience it to see it through the eyes of history.
The cultural sites are some of the few tourist attraction sites that have seen quite a large number of people coming into these countries just to get a glimpse of the wonderful history that was made in the countries. In this article we are going to look at some of the cultural sites that are found in the different countries. We propose itineraries for these tours alongside other tour safaris while in Uganda
CULTURAL SITES IN UGANDA
Uganda as a country is filled with very many cultural sites that depict how far the country has come and where it is at the moment. We won’t be able to look at all the cultural sites in the country but we will discuss a few of them and when you visit Uganda, you will be able to see other cultural sites.
The Royal Kasubi tombs
The Royal Kasubi Tombs is located in Kasubi a few minutes away from the capital city of Uganda Kampala is where the Kings of Buganda are buried. It is a burial ground to four kings of Buganda and is a spiritual place to most of the Baganda people. There are several rituals that are carried out in the place by the different people and it is one of the most visited cultural sites in Uganda.
The first king to be laid at the Kasubi tombs was Mutesa 1 and he was the 35th Kabaka of Buganda. When a Kabaka died, he was laid down in a sanctum where his jawbone that was considered to be holding spiritual powers was kept at a different spot and these sanctums are still well kept and taken care of.
When you are entering the Kasubi tombs, you are required to remove your shoes as a sign of respect to the Kings. There will be a guide who will take you through the tombs showing you the different kings and how they lived their lives. You will also be able to see the different royal regalia that was used by the former kings and when you are moving out of the tombs, you have to do it backwards as you cannot show your back to the kings also known as Kabakas in the local language Luganda.
Namugongo Martyrs shrine
Namugongo shrine is located a few minutes away from the city Centre and it is where several Christian converts were killed because they had refused to denounce their religion. These men were killed by Mukajanga on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga and they were burnt alive. The shrine was separated into two sides that is the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church and when one visits the shrine, you get to know more about Uganda during that era. See Cultural tours in Uganda
Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru
Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru is located in fort portal and it is loosely translated as the Breast of Nyinamwiru. The story behind this is that the king of Toro Bakuku arranged a marriage with a certain chief for his daughter Nyinamwiru but she refuse. Upon her refusal, the king ordered for her breasts to be cut off so that no one else would marry her and that’s how the Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru were formed. Thousands of people travel long distances to come and see stalactites that look like breasts dripping breast milk.
African Village Tours Uganda
Village Tours in Uganda
Most villages in Uganda still hold their traditional way of life and many still follow the way their ancestors lived; it is evidenced by the traditional rituals, music, dance and drama, traditional way of harvesting, food preparation and cooking, among other things. Some of these villages have been mentioned below to guide you on which to visit. The most amazing thing about it, is that all these villages are located in the famous tourist sites such as National Parks, Forests, and Lakes among others.
Boomu Cultural Village
Boomu Cultural village also known as Boomu Women’s Group is an African setting neighboring Murchison Falls National Park. It was formed in 1999 by subsistence farmers from villages of Kigaragara and Kihaguzi, in a time when the northern region of the country was dry, there was less produce to sell and consume hence poverty and malnutrition levels increased.
So these people resorted to making crafts and what began as a small group, today is a beautiful community with gardens, traditional accommodation facilities, exceptional guided tours and a restaurant. In fact to enjoy this village to the fullest, you could spend a night in a real African hut, before getting to bed, sitting at the fire and listening to stories about this place from the elders is unforgettable.
Visiting this village introduces you the way the locals live; how they grow crops, how children get education, how baskets are woven, their traditional dances and cultural performances, and also how food is harvested, prepared, cooked and served in the authentic African way.
At Boomu you truly experience what is termed as an African authentic village setting. There is no solar or hydroelectric lighting, food is harvested directly from the garden and put on a locally made stove, then to your plate, most of the locals eat with their hands, tourists are given forks if it is what they want. There is even no refrigeration since all foods are fresh.
The Batwa Cultural Trail
The Batwa are an indigenous group of people famously known as pygmies. They used to live in unity with other forest inhabitants about 500,000years ago in huts made out of leaves and branches hence were referred to as the “Keepers of the Forest”.
Their stay in the forest never destroyed the forest since even their shelters were eco-friendly. They entirely depended on the forest for shelter, food, firewood, and fruits among others. It is said of them that “the way they love their bodies is how they love the forest”.
The Batwa lived in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, these parks are homes to the remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. Around 1991, the lives of the Batwa totally changed when these parks were permanently established to protect the Rain forest and wildlife especially the Mountain Gorillas hence by 1992 all people living in these National Parks were evicted and were not given any compensation either in form of money or land from the Government.
But in 2011, the Batwa Cultural Trail was started in Mgahinga National Park by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The members of the Pygmy community guide the visitors through the jungle and expose them to their ancient way of living including their old way of gathering fruits, hunting, collecting honey, traditional healing, and also other traditional performances like rituals done in caves and dances.
Today this cultural trail is so famous and every visitor to the park shouldn’t miss out on this great experience, it has helped the Batwa keep their traditions and beliefs. The trails are two; both a long one and a short one, the visitor is at liberty to choose the trail they will go for.
All proceeds from the visit support the community of the Batwa; they help in the development and sustaining of the community projects such as the maize mill, microfinance and the secondary school.
Entanda Cultural Village
Entanda village is a unique cultural tourist village that is aimed at preserving arts and crafts, traditions, culture, and performances of Uganda hence described as a Community Based Tourism Organization. All tourists to this village can be assured to experience and also participate in the old way of life for the Ugandan culture and the natural beauty in the village.
Entanda is a small village situated in Mityana district among green rolling hills about 1 hour drive from Kampala. People in Entanda have also ensured to preserve their traditional ways of animal keeping, bee keeping, farming, food harvesting, preparation, serving and cooking, growing of vegetables and fruits plus the traditional playing of games.
Entanda has a great historical background; it is said to have existed thousands of years ago when Kintu “the first man” to live in Buganda met death spirits that wanted to kill Nambi his wife. The death spirits also locally known as Walumbe used to dig very deep pits to hide and kill people. This is proved by the existence of about 240 deep pits and the Nambi rocks which today are used for traditional worship.
Tourists while at Entanda can engage in activities such as traditional dances, hunting, walks through forests, banana and coffee plantations, fruit harvesting, food preparation and cooking, and lessons about the traditionally made musical instruments.
Katwe Village Tour
The village is situated in Kasese district at the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The village is close to Katwe Lake, it is a salt lake and one of the economic activities carried out in this area is salt mining. A day in Katwe village is exceptional since visitors get a chance to meet the local people and involve in their day-to-day lives.
Visitors are welcomed in a local homestead where they get to observe how the residents harvest salt from the lake, they can also observe how food is traditionally prepared, cooked and also be able to taste it.
During the village tour, visitors should always keep in mind that by visiting they are giving back to the people, they can also visit a primary school in this village and see how the children get education. All proceeds from the visit go towards improving the health sector of this area and provide income to those that can’t mine salt to earn a living especially the elderly.
Nshenyi Village Tour
Nshenyi Village exposes visitors to the Ankole culture and traditions. This cultural village is situated on a farm at the edge of Ntungamo district in Kitwe Town. It is an hour’s drive if someone is coming from Mbarara town and takes only 30minutes to drive to this village from Ntungamo Town.
Nshenyi is a beautiful areas characterized with acacia trees, savannah grass, and lush rolling hills. This environment favors cattle rearing. The people in Nshenyi are pastoralists with agriculture as the main economic activity carried out. This is evidenced by a number of commercial crops and large banana plantations owned by various residents.
This place has activities that are unique for visitors hence it is visited by a number of people on safari in the western part of Uganda.
Activities include; traditional cooking, nature walks, visiting primary schools and local markets, milking the Ankole long-horned cattle, visit local homesteads, engage in tree planting, observe the processing of milk, discover how the homesteads do food processing and cultivation of crops, birders are also sure to spot a number of beautiful bird species, among other activities.
Rubuguri Village Tour
Rubuguri Village is situated at the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable NP a natural habitat to the world’s remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. So it is very easy for the tourist to track Gorillas and wrap up the trip with a walk in the Village of Rubuguri.
Rubuguri village is a small isolated village with friendly inhabitants and can be accessed by a rustic road along the steep hillsides. While here, you can engage in a village walk through small homesteads, where you are able to meet the locals and enjoy their day to day way of life in this area.
Tourists can visit the local schools in the area, and also have a remarkable time watching people perform the Kikiga dance and sing amazing joyful traditional songs.
Karamoja Village Tour
Apart from sightseeing, a tour to a Karamojong community is defined as a participatory experience, because the tourist gets an opportunity to engage with the locals and learn more about their culture. One can also plan to have an overnight stay in a traditional hut.
A Karamojong Village is also locally called a “Manyatta”. Karamoja Manyattas are traditional homesteads for the Karamojong located near Kidepo National Park. It is where they live in harmony just like their ancestors lived and their culture and traditions have been preserved, so visiting a manyatta you get exposed to this amazing group of people.
The Karamojong live in an unspoiled part of the country; in the North Eastern part of Uganda. They are described as a tribe of fierce warriors, they are pastoralists who even feed on mainly animal products like milk, meat, blood among others. The women have tried to develop themselves by involving in the making of beads and crafts.
Therefore if one is on safari to Kidepo National Park, you could include visit a Manyatta on your itinerary.
Ruboni cultural hill climb in Mt Rwenzori
Day 1: Arrival in Park
Choose to stay at one of the lodging options in Rwenzori National Park. Enjoy the cold breeze of Rwenzori spiced by the roar of the boulder filled River Mubuku
Day 2: Ruboni Hill Walk
Depart early in the morning to hike up Ruboni Hill. Enjoy scenic views of the River Mubuku as well as Baker and Portal Peaks as you ascend. Reaching the top of the 2300 meter hill, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Mountains of the Moon and the glorious snow-capped Margherita Peak. Return to your accommodation for dinner and relaxation.
Day 3: Cultural Hike or Village Walk
After an early breakfast set off on the Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail for impressive views and an exploration of the local Bakonzo culture. This 6-7 hours hike to a hilltop cultural museum passes through the “Bat Valley” – a holy place for the Bakonzo, and crosses the River Kamusonge. There is also a visit to the traditional healer who explains how he uses his “Muhima” or powers, to cure the sick.
Or you may decide to visit the neighboring villages of Ruboni (with Ruboni Community Camp) or Mihunga (with Rwenzori Turaco View) for a cultural tour including dance performances and the chance to buy local handcrafts.
Day 4: Onward Travel
Proceed to Queen Elizabeth National Park or return to Kampala.
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