|Mbarara City is a city in the Western Region of Uganda and the second largest city in Uganda after Kampala. The city is divided into 6 boroughs of Kakoba Division, Kamukuzi Division, Nyamitanga Division, Biharwe Division, Kakiika Division, Nyakayojo Division.It is the main commercial center of most of southwestern districts of Uganda and the site of the district headquarters. In May 2019, the Uganda’s cabinet granted Mbarara a city status, which started on 1 July 2020.
Mbarara is an important transport hub, lying west of Masaka on the road to Kabale, near Lake Mburo National Park. This is about 270 kilometers (168 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and oldest city. The coordinates of the Mbarara central business district are 00 36 48S, 30 39 30E (Latitude: -0.6132; Longitude:30.6582). The city lies at an average elevation at about 1,147 meters (3,763 ft) above sea level.
Blessed with cool tropical climate, stunning landscapes and enormous water bodies, Mbarara has got a number of interesting tourist attractions in and around the town.
Top Places to Visit in Mbarara
Here is the list of top places to in greater Ankole region.
|1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 400 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Visit the Royal making drum village where you meet and interact with the drum makers. Stopover at the Equator line for photography and refreshments There is birding in the park where you will see different bird species. Your will also enjoy culture encounters mostly performed by the Batwa people.
|2. Queen Elizabeth National Park: Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is in the Western Region of Uganda, spanning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri. The park is approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) by road south-west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The city of Kasese lies to the northeast of the park, while the town of Rubirizi is to the southeast. The park adjoins Kyambura Game Reserve to the east, which itself adjoins the Kigezi Game Reserve (including the Maramagambo Forest) and thus the Kibale National Park to the northeast. The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lies across the border to the west. Together, these protected places completely encircle Lake Edward. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda lies not far to the northwest.Confusingly, during the 1970s and 1980s, Western conservationists usually referred to the park as Rwenzori National Park.
3. Lake Mburo National Park:
Lake Mburo was originally gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and upgraded to a game reserve in 1963. The region was settled by Banyankole Bahima pastoralists who traditionally herd Ankole cattle, and still do. The residents continued to graze their cattle in the reserve, a situation decried by western conservationists, who termed them “invaders” in 1981, but were expelled from their lands after it was upgraded to national park status in 1983, as hoped for by some in the West. The Obote government‘s upgrade decision was intended, in part, to weaken the Banyankole, who supported anti-Obote rebels. It came at the time of the Operation Bonanza massacre of 300,000 people during the Ugandan Bush War. As the evicted pastoralists were not compensated for lost grazing land or assisted with resettling, many remained hostile to the upgrade. The rangeland outside the park was subsequently subdivided into small ranges and subsistence farming plots.
Within the park there are still culturally significant locations, such as Rubanga, where sacrifices were once made to the gods, Ruroko is where the semi-mythical Bachwezi lived, and Kigarama was where the pages (servants) of the king used to stay.
|4. Kibale National Park.
It is located in western Uganda in Kabarole district characterized of lowland, montane and rain forest type of forests. Kibale National Park is the most popular destination for chimpanzee trekking, however their other areas where chimpanzee trekking is done including Budongo forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Toro Semuliki game reserve in the west and Kalinzu forest close to Queen Elizabeth National Park but Kibale National Park is the leading chimpanzee destination with over 1500 chimpanzees that consist of habituated and non-habituated chimpanzees. Besides chimpanzees, Kibale National Park also hosts several wild animals like forest elephants, warthogs, bush pigs, duikers, African buffaloes among others, then monkey species like black and white colobus, olive baboons, blue tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, Red tailed, Lhoist monkeys among others.
Kibale National Park also hosts over 325 bird’s species which include yellow potted nicator, African King Fisher, weaver birds, African grey parrot, pigeons, little greenbul and so on which can be viewed Kibale forest and others in Bigodi swamp sanctuary during nature walks.
|5. Mountain Rwenzori National Park.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located in western Uganda situated within the mountains of the moon in the East African Rift valley bordering Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain Rwenzori is the third highest mountain In Africa with 5,109 meters high and its highest peak Margherita which is snowcapped.
Rwenzori National Park and also a conservation area of the mountain is a UNESCO heritage that covers of 995 square kilometers shared by the districts of Kabarole, Bundibigyo and Kasese. It can be accessed via Fort Portal Kasese road to Rwenzori National Park for 5-6 hours.
Rwenzori National Park consists of several activities like mountaineering which is the major activity that attracts a number of travelers that come from different countries to hike mountain Rwenzori. Over 7500 travelers each year visit mountain Rwenzori especially to the highest peak of Mount Stanley Margherita.
There is also hiking, and nature walks done around Lake Mahooma and Buraro chimpanzee forest, Bundibugyo area through Bwamba pass where you come across wild animals like forest elephants, giant forest hog, duikers, leopards though rarely seen, the three horned chameleon which is only found in Rwenzori because it only stays in places which are 3000 meters above sea level, it is always fascinating on sighting it. Cultural encounters with the Bakonzo people and learn more about their cultures, daily activities, traditional dances, storytelling among others, the visitors also enjoy birding in Rwenzori National Park with over 217 bird species that can be traced in the montane forests on the slopes of mountain Rwenzori.
|6. Semuliki National Park.
Semuliki National Park is located in Bwamba County in Bundibugyo district in western Uganda on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. It is one of Uganda’s newest National Park and second last smallest National Park covering an area of 220 square kilometers.
Semuliki National Park has a variety of plant and animal species with ever green vegetation for game viewing activities, the park has over 40 mammal species and 600 bird species mostly enjoyed by birders.
Semuliki National Park consists of wild animals including leopards, elephants, civets, hippos, forest buffaloes, primate species like chimpanzees, monkey species like olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, de brazzas monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, black and white among others.
Semuliki National Park has variety of activities that travelers enjoy while on your safari to western Uganda including game drives which are done in the savannah grasslands of the park which offers views of wild animals like elephants, leopards, bush pigs, warthogs, birds and so on, then the sempaya hot springs which is the most popular tourist attraction in Semuliki National Park. It is also said a safari to Semuliki National Park with a visit to sempaya hot springs is incomplete, the hot water at sempaya hot spring is more than 100 degrees Celsius that is boil eggs until they are ready. Hiking and trails through the red monkey trail where you spot the monkeys buffaloes, elephants on the river and kirimia trail where you see a variety of bird species.
|7. Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi is located in western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale districts and close to border with Rwanda. It is also referred to as a bird paradise where it derived its name Lake Bunyonyi meaning a lake of small birds in the native language. It is the second deepest Lake in Africa.
Lake Bunyonyi is close to Kabale town in southwestern Uganda, it is about 6-7 hours’ drive from Kampala to Kabale and around more 8km from Kabale to Lake Bunyonyi on your way to Bwindi Forest.
Lake Bunyonyi is also known to be with over 29 islands with 5 major ones that include Bushara island, Akampena (punishment) island, Kahungye island, Bwama and Njuyeera (sharp’s) island and Bucuranuka (upside down) island and each island has its history attached to it for example the punishment island is where the girls who got pregnant before marriage were thrown to die.
There are several activities at Lake Bunyonyi while on your safari to western Uganda and after hectic activities like gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable like canoeing and visit the different islands to see wild animals, birds, swimming since the lake is bilharzia free, relaxing at the beach, visiting the batwa village among others which offers travelers with experience of breath-taking nature of Lake Bunyonyi.