Uganda is known for its beautiful natural setup blessed with a number of flora and fauna, to topple the angelic nature it has an amalgamation of different cultures each of which presents a unique way of doing things from norms, customs, beliefs and traditions. There are four major kingdoms and well organised chiefdoms in the country, cultural experiences give a chance to explore more into the African culture, meet the local communities, interact and share experiences. Tribes present their cultures through traditional songs, dances, and folk telling, most visited tribes include the Batwa, Karamojong’s, Ankole, Buganda, and Acholi. Most of the Ugandans are known for their great hospitality it is one country that is very welcoming and worth a visit just to meet and mingle with the people.
Ugandans is identified of four ethnic group of people the Bantu occupying the largest part of the country, Nilotic, Nilo-hermites, and the Kalenjin. Cultural tours entice your stay especially when seeking to relax and enjoy the moment watching different dances, how these people used to live, telling stories is extremely over whelming. Cultural tours will include visiting the Buganda kingdom, Toro palace, Uganda museum, Batwa cultural experience, Ankole kingdom, The Karamojong people, Religious centres to mention a few.
The Batwa (pygmies) people a group of the last short structured people in Uganda they tend to be the most visited due to their strategic location near the gorilla destinations Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, experiencing this culture is through songs and dances the Batwa lived in the forest together with other great apes of the forest, they were the original keepers of the area hunting and gathering food, however due to conservation purposes, they were evicted to the neighbouring villages were they continued living and entertaining travellers, adding a cultural experience are always toppled up with gorilla safari which makes the whole experience a more exciting experience. The Batwa cultural experience is done on the Batwa trail where you get a chance to interact with the pygmies, dancing and singing to traditional songs, make fires locally, and show you how they used traditional medicine. A day spent with these people gives you a chance to hike the forest through their eyes, they will make you see the forest through their eyes.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is one place to find the three great apes, they used to live together in harmony its hosts half population of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, to find the Batwa one has to move to the north eastern part of the country in the misty Majestic land of gorillas and Golden monkeys.
Nshenyi cultural village is placed in the Ankole region towards Ntungamo district, it is a pastoralist’s area characterised by rolling beautiful hills banana and tea plantations, a stay at the village will make you experience the Banyankole traditional way of living you get to the community through walks, visiting home steads and learn about old farm tools that have been passed on to generations, local markets and schools. Nshenyi village cultural activities are passed through experiencing the traditional dance and music of the western part of Uganda, watch or participate in the milking of the Ankole long horned cows, tree planting among other aspects.
The Igongo cultural centre will give you an insight of the traditional beliefs of the western part of Uganda, experiencing this culture is amazing for you will so much to learn it is in the serene environment of Mbarara town along the way from Greater Masaka, in the centre visitors can find the Eriijuko museum exhibiting the Ankole and Kigezi cultures the tour lasts for an hour of half of it, they will have a chance to see how the old generation lived, showcase homesteads, milk, calabashes, hides and skin grinding stones and how they used to make ghee. To date.
The Karamojong is a tribe in the northern part of Uganda, their villages (manyattas) are situated near the Kidepo valley national park, a visit to the Karamojong’s can be very educative and enlightening as many people don’t know of the tribe, a lot has been preserved over the years they actually live in groups of fenced home stead led by cultural leaders and the reason of the fence is identification and protection from the wilderness, they are among the few cultures that have not been eroded by western civilization, going to the manyattas is a unique experience it gives you a sense of togetherness in the community barely dressed children will welcome you with a brilliant smile, the older people are not dressed that much but covered in traditional marks and beads. The Karamojong cultural visit is done on safari to the northern part of Uganda matched with interesting activities like game drives in Kidepo valley national park, birding tours and guided nature walks.
Buganda is an ancient historical place known for having the richest culture in the country, a tour to the royal kingdom, the Kasubi royal tombs is worth not missing besides the inside Buganda, there are many historical sites and monuments around Kampala, museum, churches and mosques for example the Namirembe cathedral, Bahai temple, Gadhafi mosque, Namugongo church, Idi Amin torture chamber. All this can be experienced on a one-day excursion around Kampala. Within the Buganda kingdom, guided walks and Bodaboda rides, through the busy city canter are a moment to remember while in Buganda. Late evenings one could in fact choose to reach out the Ndere cultural centre for that authentic African Ugandan performance. The Buganda region identifies its self with a unique dress code for ceremonies, women dress up in ‘Gomesi’ while men wear Kanzu’s and coats for respect, traditionally the woman follows the man’s origin of linage and children are named according to their father’s side, traditional wedding ceremonies are performed in order for the man to pay bride price.
There is an organised cultural experience in Mityana district at Entanda, traditional performers entertain guest’s African fruits like jack fruit, mangoes, are served on platter, later which you will hit the bush as Buganda say, they will teach you how the tribe does its finding traditionally, teach women on how to behave in homes while hiking through the area around Entanda.
Circumcision culture in Uganda is practised by a Bantu speaking group of people the Bagisu and Kalenjin’s, on very even year they perform traditional dances as a way of initiating young boys into adult hood, there is a lot of entertainment as they get to drum, sing and dance to traditional music. It’s advisable to visit in the particular year to witness how they perform. Both tribes live along the foot hills of mountain Elgon national park, the circumsion is performed using a blunt knife or a sharp one depending on what the circumsion candidate walks, after this you are a fully grown man in the society, the drumming is called ‘KADODI’ each of the clans have a different way of how these drums sound while the Kalenjin’s use only weasels and shakers they move all around the district sometimes it takes up to 4 days depending on their ancestral background and place of stay, experiencing this culture is one amazing thing to do, chances of reaching mountain Elgon national park to do activities like climbing the mountain, guided nature walks, abseiling Sipi falls.
Toro-kingdom located in fort portal town in western Uganda, it is one of those strong kingdoms in the country, the Batoro have a rich culture of oral tradition and patriotism, you can visit the following places to experience the authentic tradition while in fort portal the royal palace of Toro is a great place of history and culture. The palace was formed in 1822, the history of the palace can be best told when you visit, the palace has beautiful views of the Rwenzori mountains and fort portal town, one of the cleanest and best tourism towns of Uganda. The Toro people use ‘EMPAKO’ traditional way of identification to find themselves, according to clans, it sends a strong message on identity, social networking and reconciliation among the natives, the special unique name is according to cultural composition like the “Akiki Abwoli, Amooti among other names of the clans. Batooro practice blood brother hoods.
Cultural experience in Murchison falls national park, the conservation area is the largest of Uganda’s conservation areas, it is bisected into two by the Victoria Nile, it was gazette first and is top selling in all of the Ugandan destinations, the locals perform for travellers in communities like the Mubaku village, north of the falls, sing folk songs to travellers, using local instruments like Adungu and drums, some of the performers are invited to Para safari lodge just as you cross the Nile to entertain travellers, Murchison does not only stop at entertainment of the travellers but also offers game viewing like warthogs, Rothschild’s giraffes, waterbucks, antelopes like impala, Uganda kobs and oribi are very much present in the national park, there are several activities that can be cheered with cultural experiences for instance the game drives along the northern bank of the park, birding in Murchison falls national park with rare sightings of the shoe bill stock on a lucky day, hikes to the top of the falls give the best views of the Nile falling into the plunge pool of 40meters height. Traditionally one of Uganda’s presidents Idi Amin Dada named it the Kabalega national park after they great Bunyoro Kitara king, this was a simple way of showing a cultural heritage of the park, however following his down fall, the park regained its name to Murchison falls national park upon which it gets from the main feature of the conservation area.
Cultural experiences can in Uganda take place all over the country, although there are a few particular identified places for tourism activity, right from the beginning of your African safari, one can witness the humbleness of Ugandans the hospitality, in fact while in Uganda there are no chances of getting lost anywhere because even strangers can locate you where you want to reach correctly. Uganda has a variety of people speaking more than one language however the most official language spoken is English, which was gained right from the British colonial rule, second of it is an east African language known in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania- Kiswahili, it is an endeavour in the country to peak at least one language of the two for easy communications around the country. The least of the population speak French, depending on their personal like and professionalism.
The capital city or Uganda Kampala is dotted with so many cultural art crafts inform of clothes, shoes, bags, baby carriers, portraits which one can take home as souvenir, these are also in the local communities around the conservation areas for example the BOMU women’s group in Murchison falls national park make crafts for sale, to support the community, inside Lake Mburo national park is craft shop with so much of African Jewry and also around the equator while you enjoy having views of where the world divides its self into two, you can as well fix sometime and get yourself the finest art piece.
Cultural experiences take place all throughout the year but best during the dry seasons of December-February, June to Mid-September a time with less rains and best to visit. This time is very convenient for both the travellers and performers, Uganda cultural tours can be organised depending on how many days one would love to spend with these hospitable people, cultural safaris can be combined alongside gorilla trekking adventure safaris, mountain biking, climbing among other activities, it is advisable to come along with insect repellents, boots, hiking shoes, cameras, and any other items of personal nature, it should be noted that Uganda receives an equatorial type of climate with an unpredictable weather it rains anytime so bring raingears, while experiencing culture there is always a place to rest or spend a night accommodation all around Uganda is amazing.