The distinctive attraction of Uganda as a tourist destination arises out of the variety of its game stock and its unspoilt scenic beauty. Uganda generally has substantial natural resources for tourism with a variety of landscape and ecosystems, climates and cultures. Some of its features are outstanding by international standards such as the sheer variety of bird species, while others are unique. The Ugandan experience has novelty and rarity values not easily found elsewhere in Africa.
The Uganda Tourist Board, with the assistance of the European Union, has identified several tourist products that it is felt can attract visitors to Uganda in their own right. These include:
Most of Uganda's wildlife is concentrated in its protected areas, of which there are three main categories: National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, and Forest Reserves. The conservation and management of these areas falls under two principal agencies, the Uganda Wildlife Authority under the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry and the National Forest Authority under the Ministry of Natural Resources. Uganda has established 10 National Parks, enabling tourists to enjoy the pristine wilderness environment.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe was created by the Government of Uganda with the help of the Wildlife Conservation Centre in New York. The Centre has grown considerably in recent years and hosts a variety of wildlife. UWEC is not a zoo as the centre environment has been designed to be as close as possible to the wild. At the centre, visitors are able to observe many of the indigenous species to be found in Uganda and also to receive comprehensive information on the species, their natural habitats and the complex ecologies of Uganda.
Ugandan society is still predominantly rural with 80% of the population living in rural areas. Traditional customs and lifestyles are still alive in many parts of the country, which adds spice to the tourist experience. Ugandans generally have a reputation for openness, and a friendly attitude to visitors. There are various peoples that make up Uganda and each group have their own traditional customs and ways of life. These customs are kept alive by many colourful ceremonies marking specific historical events or celebrating the seasons of the year. Spontaneous dancing and music are typical of life in Uganda and visitors are often welcome to observe these ceremonies � although as a courtesy, tourists should always seek permission before taking photographs. In addition to the rich cultural experiences, tourists can choose souvenirs from countless local traditional art pieces and handcrafts. These are sold in most villages, along the roadsides, and also at specific tourist curio shops within the capital.
Besides, there are also a number of cultural sites, which tourists will be able to visit. These include the Kasubi Royal Tombs and a host of other historical sites in many different parts of the country.
Lakes and Rivers
Uganda has been called a land of lakes because almost a third of the country is covered by water. Lake Victoria, the largest in Africa, dominates the southern border of the country while Lakes Edward and Albert lie to the west. Linked to Lake Edward is the Kazinga Channel, Lake Mburo, 230 km to the west of Kampala, is the only lake entirely within a National Park. In the centre of Uganda, Lakes Kwania and Kyoga are fed by the waters of the River Nile. Other lakes include Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale and Lake Bisina in the shadow of Mt. Elgon, as well as tiny crater lakes high in the mountains.Uganda's fresh water lakes offer opportunities for water activities and sports. An example is white water rafting, pioneered by Adrift, which has caught on as a popular tourist activity, especially on the River Nile. The country now attracts 500 rafters every month. Lake Victoria is now also being increasingly used for lake cruises. Other popular activities include sport fishing and sailing.
Flora and Fauna
Uganda is a country of exceptional diversity. It lies at the overlap between tropical East African savannah and the West African rainforest zones. Seven of Africa's 18 plant kingdoms are represented in Uganda, which is more than any other country on the continent. The tropical rain forests of Western Uganda have unique flora and fauna, some of which are endangered species. As part of the emphasis on eco-tourism and in response to increasing demand from tourists, new nature trails have been developed in virtually every protected area. These trails offer an unhurried way of exploring the wilderness and getting near to nature.
The birding opportunities in Uganda are impressive. With over 1,000 recorded already, Uganda has almost half the species known on the African continent and over 10% of those on record throughout the entire world. Uganda's equatorial location, combined with the altitude and great variety of terrain types provide an overwhelming array of opportunities for keen birders. The Queen Elizabeth National Park alone has 550 avian species.
The Ssese Islands