Five Place off the Beaten Track to Visit in 2021
Semliki Wildlife Reserve: the oldest wildlife reserve in Uganda, it was gazetted in 1926. It is located in the Albertine Rift Valley, with dramatic scenes of the Rwenzori Mountains, and borders Lake Albert, one of Uganda’s Great Lakes. It is also one of the best places in Uganda to see the elusive shoebill. The reserve is home to elephants, buffalos, kobs, monkeys and 440 bird species, making it a bird lover’s paradise!
Fun fact – Idi Amin had a lodge here
Where to stay: Semliki Safari Lodge
Lake Bunyonyi – one of the most scenic views in the country, Lake Bunyonyi is home to 29 islands, surrounded by terraced hillsides. The name means ‘place of many little birds’, and over 200 species can be found there. Take a dhow boat out on to the lake, and spend the day exploring the islands, from the place where unmarried, pregnant women were marooned, to a former leprosy colony.
Fun fact – scenes from the movie Black Panther were filmed here
Where to stay: Arcadia Cottages
Arua – a town in the West Nile region of the country, Arua was designed by the first district commissioner of the West Nile, Arthur Evelyn Weatherhead. The town has a distinct grid style layout, and several colonial era buildings still stand, such as the town library. The market is the place to find colourful kitenge cloth from Congo, and there is an eighteen-hole golf course in the centre of town.
Fun fact – Arua means ‘little prison’ in the local language
Where to stay: Golden Courts Hotel
Bulago Island – a private 500-acre island just 40 minutes from Kampala, Bulago is the perfect retreat from the city. The name means ‘neck’, because of the shape of the island, which boasts 6km of sandy beach and 10km of shore line. Go fishing, enjoy a nature walk, mountain bike around the island, or relax by the pool.
Fun fact – the island is one degree south of the equator
Where to stay: Pineapple Bay
Mabira Forest – a 300 sq.km rainforest just 90 minutes from Kampala, Mabira is home to 312 species of trees, 315 species of birds, 218 species of butterfly and 23 small mammal species. It was gazetted in 1932, and is a popular spot for hiking, birding and some adventure sports, like zip lining. As one of the few remaining rain forests in Uganda, it is well worth a visit.
Fun fact – there is a shrine to the local god, Katonda, in the forest
Where to stay: Rainforest Lodge