Uganda was not accidentally named the pearl of Africa. The person who named her so [Winston Churchill in his 1908 Book entitled “My African Journey”] wasn’t only impressed by Uganda’s wildlife but also he was amazed by her beauty, her natural wonders, and her people.
That goes to show that as a tourist or visitor in Uganda, the adventure starts right where you are: whether in your hotel or apartment. There is more to see and experience than just popularized wildlife.
Uganda is always bustling with activities all throughout the year and with a good and favorable climate, you have an endless option of activities to enjoy in this vibrant welcoming country.
In this post, we give you a list of 13 cultural experiences you can enjoy that are cheap and non- safari. If you are on a tight budget or short of time, you can spare an hour or an entire day and immerse yourself in the unforgettable Uganda cultural experiences below.
Some of the activities are not entirely cultural but they bring you in contact with very many locals and their everyday lifestyle. Giving you an opportunity to experience Uganda as a local at a very low cost.
1. Kampala City Tour
Whether you are traveling to Uganda for a safari or business trip, it is important to learn a thing or two about Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Gain an intimate overview of vibrant Kampala on a walking tour led by a local, ideal for first-time visitors to the Ugandan capital.
This 6 hour Kampala tour offers you an opportunity to see the highlights of Uganda’s Capital city on your tour in Uganda. This Kampala city walk tour gives you a glimpse of Uganda cultural sites, Religious structures, Historical monuments, markets like Nakasero and Owino, administrative buildings, transportation modes, general infrastructural set up, meals, hotels, and academic centers as well as the religious, political and economic history of the pearl of Africa-Uganda.
2. Kampala city tour & Food tasting
Kampala is alive and rich in food! Uganda has about 56 tribes, and each tribe has a special cultural meal that differentiates them from the rest. This tour is for the open-minded and adventurous foodie who has a hearty appetite. It combines a walk on the busy streets of central Kampala where we learn about and taste the traditional foods of Uganda as we learn about the uniqueness of Kampala. Along the way, tourists sample a variety of food, snacks, and drinks as they are guided around the city. Our tour guide will share stories and information about traditional Ugandan foods while taking you around to local restaurants and street food stands to taste a variety of foods. This tour involves some amount of walking along the bustling streets to areas not normally visited by tourists. We will visit crowded places such as the market and take in a view of the organized chaos of the taxi park.
3. Prepare a Ugandan meal
This starts off at an agreed point and together with the guide, you proceed to the local market to buy the fresh produce where you will be able to interact with the local vendors. Then we will head to guide’s home, where you will enjoy a home-cooked authentic Ugandan meal let alone learning how to make it. Experience how the locals eat and entertain every day in the privacy of a home. Enjoy your meal privately with family, friends, and travelers from all over the world in a peaceful, tranquil environment and experience Ugandan hospitality like never before. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as we show you step by step how to cook the food we will love so much. Learn the secrets and techniques of cooking an authentic Ugandan meal.
4. Attend a Ugandan wedding
Ugandan weddings are so popular they were even featured on BBC’s Power and Money program. If you are a tourist interested in the Ugandan experience, step into the shoes of a Ugandan wedding guest. In Uganda, every couple has to carry out two separate wedding ceremonies: Traditional (customary marriage) and the “white” wedding (religious wedding), and for each of the two, the couple can get extremely lavish in the quest to out-do the friend or neighbor or show off their wealth.
However, couples don’t just go an extra mile to only show off their wealth, their other aim is to ensure that their guests are fully entertained and that the experience they get at this couple’s wedding will be unforgettable in their guests’ mind.
Enjoy the pomp, color, and excitement of a Ugandan wedding, with this immersive experience. You will not just be observing the goings-on but will participate by dressing the part, carrying gifts and much more. Enjoy the sumptuous traditional meals that these events are famous for. We provide a local experience guide that also helps translate the local language in which the event is conducted, so you do not miss a thing. With over 52 tribes in Uganda, there is a variety in marriage traditions, customs, and practices. Prepare to get blown away by this extravagant cultural experience that can last up to 10 hours.
5. Uganda Martyrs Shrine
The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo is the place where a total of 32 young Ugandan Christian converts were martyred on denial to condemn the new religion by then (Christianity) which was spreading very fast in Uganda. This annoyed the Kabaka of Buganda by then King (Kabaka Mwanga II,) and he ordered his loyalties to execute the 32 young men who refused to denounce their religion.
It is, therefore, a memorial ground for the Uganda Martyrs who were killed for their belief in Christ, this place has been regarded as the holiest place in Uganda. We highly recommend it. Quite an easy place to locate. The people there are very welcoming and hospitable. You will be marveled by the weather and green cover around this place of history. It’s beautiful. Well preserved memories indeed.
6. Source of the Nile (River Nile)
The Nile is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world (Brazilian government claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile). The Nile’s drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt.
With such status, the source of the Nile ought to be to on your Ugandan trip bucket-list. A day trip to Jinja gives you a fix of adventure and sightseeing without requiring a large time investment. During this trip, you will tour Jinja tour (the town in bordering the source of the Nile), Sezibwa Falls, Mabira Forest, Owen Falls Dam, and more. This tour includes all transportation, a riverboat cruise, lunch, and entrance fees.
7. Lubiri Palace and Kasubi royal tombs
Lubiri Palace is the official home of the King of Buganda (Uganda’s largest tribal group and the region from which the country gets its name). Learn the history of this proud culture and how it is intertwined with Uganda’s colonial past as well as Uganda’s first few years as a nation. Thereafter tour Kasubi tombs, where Buganda’s kings are buried.
8. Uganda Museum
The Uganda Museum is one if not the only Museum in Uganda. At the museum, you can not miss seeing books on the history of leadership in Uganda, the culture, rich heritage and history of Uganda and East Africa. It is perhaps one of the sites you need to visit`
9. Gaddafi National Mosque
Famously known as the “Gaddafi Mosque” The Colorful structure with its magnificent features of Art was built and designed based on a mixture of Cultures of Arab, European, and an African Touch. Built on Old Kampala Hill, which is One of Kampala City’s Seven Hills. It can also be viewed from all Corners of Kampala and one cannot go without a glimpse of it. The Mosque is open to all people regardless of their Creeds, Political affiliations, Ethnic backgrounds, Cultures, and Nationalities. Gaddafi mosque also houses the Headquarters of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council which is the National Faith-Based Umbrella Organization for all Muslims, their Organizations and Institutions in Uganda.
The Mosque Complex consists of a Large Mosque Hall that can accommodate over 35,000 People. This makes it one of the biggest Mosque in East, Central, and Sub-Saharan Africa. On arrival, report to the Tourism Information Office desk. Where you are required to pay your Entrance Fees, Ladies will be veiled as per the Islamic custom. This is a Guided Tour; hence you will be introduced to your guide who will take you around and Inside the Mosque to enjoy an Ambience of its exterior and interior. On entering the Mosque Main hall, enjoy its Architectural designs. Climbing the Tower / Minaret gives you the best view of Kampala City at 360 degrees with its original surrounding Seven Hills. The Mosque also stands on the Original Spot where British first hoisted their Flag which signified Uganda as British Colony.
Learn the history of Islam in Uganda and gaze on the architectural marvel that is East Africa’s biggest mosque. Hear the theories why the ex Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi donated the funds to build this mosque.
10. Baha’i Temple
The Ugandan Baha’i temple is the only one found in Africa and Uganda is among the only 8 countries housing a Bahai Temple. Built in 1962, this temple is a true masterpiece of architecture: The Bahai faith is a phenomenon of its own. Founded over a century and a half ago, the Bahai faith is one of the fastest-growing beliefs/ religions of the world. With more than five million believers residing in over 124,000 localities, the Bahá’í Faith is established in 204 countries across the planet.
11. Roast, drink and Learn everything about coffee
Uganda is one of the world’s major Robusta producers. Some Arabica is also grown in different highland areas of the country, most notably on the slopes of Mount Elgon on the border with Kenya and on the slopes of the Mount Rwenzori, popularly known as the ‘mountains of the moon’ on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Coffee is Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner generating millions of dollars every year.
Come and discover what it takes to make a cup of coffee as you journey through the scenic coffee life cycle the coffee farm has to offer. From the seedling bed to the fermentation tanks, drying beds, the mill, the roasting of the coffee beans, until you take a sip, we will provide all the intricate details on how to produce a cup of coffee and all that it entails.
12. Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre
If you are low on budget for a safari or are not the adventure type but still want to see wild animals, this is the best option for you. Located just 15 minutes from Entebbe International Airport and 36 kilometers from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, this is the option for someone with time or energy constraints. The centre cares for rescued animals, often victims of the bushmeat trade, habitat destruction, or illegal trade. Individuals that can make it in the wild, are released back. This is an effort to help save and maintain those in the wild. At UWEC keepers and guides who cater to the animals will educate you on various things about each animal. You can even sign up as an animal surrogate mother for a day, participate in behind the scene experiences or simply spend a night at their hostel or African cottages as you await your flight or meeting! Their facilities are ideal for both short and long stay/ visits, whilst in Uganda.
13. Experience the Kampala Nightlife
Kampala is East Africa’s most lively city and is one of the safest places to move in the night (except for a few unfortunate incidences that have recently happened). Almost every corner of the street is a club, pub or an entertainment center to enjoy the night. In fact, some clubs and bars operate 24/7. Every club has its distinctive vibe with some playing western music while others play entirely Ugandan music or a fusion of both.
4:30pm-6:30pm: Happy Hour Cocktails at Kampala’s finest Lounge right in the heart of the CBD. We’ll relax & enjoy sundowners on a beautiful balcony overlooking Kampala’s rush hour bustle as our guide satisfies your curious appetite about everything you’ve ever wondered about Uganda.
6:30pm-8:30pm: Experience eating a savory Kenyan dish at a local restaurant while listening to an Afro DJ/live band. Our professional guide will introduce you to the local Uganda beer & staple delicacy – Nyama Choma & Kachumbari.
8:30pm-12:30am: Finally we get to see Kampala By Night. Depending on the vibe, your music preference and what night it is – be ready for the time of your life!