Undoubtedly, the southwest of Uganda is the heart of Uganda’s tourism. Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park is one of the major tourist activity that generates much revenue to the country’s treasury. Some of the major places you can never miss include cultural sites, national parks and beautiful sceneries that make your journey more fun. Some of the places include the following;
Igongo Cultural Center
This cultural center is found in the western part of Uganda along Kampala–Masaka road in the Mbarara district. This is an awesome spot for travelers to have a stopover for lunch or even for overnight stay. It is the ultimate destination for lovers of history, culture, art, and comfort. It is a staple of ultimate African luxury, relaxation, and recreation. Igongo cultural center is an attraction to a variety of people and cultures both local and international.
This place has a museum that showcases at least most of the traditional aspects of the Ankole people (Banyankole). Visitors have a taste of the Ankole culture through the traditional foods that are served in the restaurant and the displays. It also has a hotel and restaurant beside the museum to give a traveler the best comfort. Make the Igongo Cultural center your stopover on your western self drive Uganda road trip for a great culture experience.
Lake Mburo National Park
Mburo National Park is one of the smallest savannah parks in Uganda inspired by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks that date back more than 500 million years. Five lakes lie within the park’s borders. Lake Mburo National Park contains much woodland since there are no elephants to tame the vegetation.
This national park covers only 260 sq.km and being a savannah park it is home to several mammals like Buffaloes, Impalas, Zebras and over 350 bird species including the shoebill stork which cannot be sighted in any other part of the country.
Travelers during a road trip can explore the park through different activities like birding encounters to watch about 350 bird species, including the rear ones, the shoebill, grey crowned cranes and the white-winged Warbler.
A forest walk in the Rubanga forest is sparkling with beautiful sounds of over 40 bird species. Boat trips in Lake Mburo are remarkable to see diverse water animals and marine species like crocodiles, hippos and the birds. Fishing and nature trails are also some of the best alternative activities in Lake Mburo National Park. The park has accommodation for night stays like Mantana luxury tented camp, Rwakobo Rock and Mihingo lodge.
Queen Elizabeth National park
The popular Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the southwest of Uganda and is the best next destination after Lake Mburo national park during a road trip in Uganda. This park offers the best game viewing safaris due to its diversity with wildlife. Safari activities like game viewing for animals including, large herds of elephants, buffaloes, Uganda Kobs and the rare tree-climbing lions among others in the Ishasha sector.
The launch cruise at the famous Kazinga channel allows travelers to float along the 40-kilo meter water channel watching the abundance of bird species flying over and several animals like the crocodiles, hippos, and monitor lizards, Buffaloe’s cooling off the hot weather.
The most amazing secrets of this park are the multiple crater lakes like Lake Katwe where salt is mined traditionally. The park has varieties of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budgets like Mweya safari lodge, make safari lodge, Ihamba lodge, Kyambura game lodge, Katara lodge, Bush Lodge, Simba Safari Camp and various campsites at Mweya peninsular.
Fort portal is located on the western side of Uganda, greatly famous for its cultural inheritance. Fort portal is the right place to explore while encountering sites like the crater fields, namely the Ndali- Kasenda crater in the northwest of Fort portal town. These crater fields are impressive with beautiful scenery and also offer rewarding hiking experiences for a road trip to Uganda. To look out for is the cultural and heritage sites like the Karambi tombs where the Tooro kings are buried, Tooro Royal palace with its magnificent building and the Amabere g’ Nnyinamwiru caves showing the ‘Chwezi’ era to make the road trip culturally rewarding.
Tea cycling is another great experience to indulge in during your road trip, you will ride in the famous Mpanga tea plantation while viewing the beautiful lush tea estates. One can even enjoy the festivities and ceremonies like the name-giving ceremony, the Empango ritual and the king’s coronation to add value to the experience of a Ugandan safari. After the fort portal tour, the visitor can proceed to Kibale forest national park.
Kibale forest national park
Kibale is one of the most attractive national parks of Uganda in the borders of Fort Portal. This park is the capital of primates in the entire world with up to 13 species of primates including the Chimpanzees, Black and white Colobus Monkeys, Red Colobus and L’Hoest monkeys. The major attractions in Kibale forest are the high numbers of chimpanzees and over 300 bird species that can be explored on foot. The park is best for activities like chimp trekking, day and night nature walks and birding in the Bigodi wetlands with a variety of bird species.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This is a home to more than half of the world’s last remaining population of the endangered mountain gorillas. The park has over 20 habituated gorilla families available for tracking for the visitors. Gorilla Tracking and habituation experience is the main tourist activities in this park. Other tourist attractions in this area include bird watching, Batwa community tour and Forest walks.
Gorilla tracking permits are on high demand throughout the year, and each costs US$600(but will be increased to $700 starting July 1st, 2020), and US$1500 for gorilla habituation experience. You must book and secure your permit in advance through a credible travel agency or directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Bwindi accommodation is perfect and the popular safari lodges and campsites in Bwindi Forest include; Clouds Mountain gorilla lodge, Nkuringo gorilla camp, Lake Mutanda resort, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Havens Gorilla Lodge and many others.
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National park is also known as the place where the silver meets Gold. This park is home to one gorilla family known as Nyakagezi which is one of the 20 family members in Uganda. The shelters Uganda’s endangered Golden monkeys that have also been habituated for tracking. Gorilla tracking in this park can be complemented by golden monkeys to make your travel experience more satisfying. A self-drive safari to the southwest of Uganda would never miss this scenic area in the Virunga mountains in Kisoro district.
Southwestern Uganda is the backbone of Uganda’s tourism sector and is the best place for both guided and self-drive travelers that love to explore the beauty of the pearl of Africa. The scenic views of the Kigezi region and the terraced hills can only be well explored on a self-drive than with a guide that would not stop at some point because of pf the travel schedule. Self-drive allows you to make stopovers to all the interesting areas by your choice and this makes your road trip more pleasurable.