Uganda: national customs, climate, holidays
Due to the proximity of the equator, the average temperatures are very constant. The daytime temperatures are between 27-29 °C all year round. At night they drop to 16-17 °C. In Uganda it rains a lot, but there are still two rainy seasons in which the amount of rainfall roughly doubles. The first rainy season lasts from March to early June and the second from early October to late December. Every year around 1,500 mm of precipitation falls. In the north, however, only 750 mm.
National customs, AIDS
AIDS/HIV is also a major problem in Uganda, but the country was one of the first in Africa to openly address the problem. Politicians set up awareness-raising campaigns early on and discussed the disease and its effects quite openly. As a kind of model country for AIDS containment, Uganda receives a lot of donations from abroad. The pressure to succeed the country is under as a result also means that AIDS sufferers are sometimes given preference in view of medical care.
Both Christians and Muslims in Uganda are very conservative. Modest, inconspicuous clothing is therefore recommended for women in particular. You can safely wear trousers in larger cities; in the country, however, (conservatively cut) dresses are more common. Only the capital Kampala allows exceptions in certain establishments. But men are not taken seriously in shorts either, at least not outside the tourist spots or when doing sports. Islam and Christianity are integral parts of daily life. Most people in Uganda go to church or mosque regularly and see religion as a moral authority in their lives. So one should never question religious content or (inappropriately) discuss it.
Shaking hands is the most common form of greeting in Uganda. If your hands are damp or dirty, you can confidently offer your wrist.
One should never live out homosexuality openly in Uganda. Even if you often see men in the country holding hands, this is only true for Ugandan men and as a sign of friendship. Foreigners are rated differently. They are assumed to be gay. One should always remember that homosexuality is forbidden by law in Uganda and can be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment. Since 2009 there has even been serious discussion about the introduction of the death penalty for homosexuals. In 2010 the Ugandan media openly called for the murder of homosexual men and published lists of (allegedly) gay men. The persons concerned were given their names, photos and addresses. A short time later, the famous gay activist David Kato was murdered with two blows of the hammer. The police are very uninterested in solving this crime.
If the current Ugandan government has also signed all the important international agreements, conventions and treaties on the observance of human rights, there have been/still are significant deficits in this area in innumerable cases. Political parties are persecuted in the same way as members of the opposition, child soldiers are recruited. The radical Lord’s Resistance Army in particular is responsible for the enslavement of around 25,000 children and young people.
Holidays in Uganda
|Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice)
|8th of March
|International Women’s Day
|1st of May
|3rd of June
|Day of heroes
|Eid-al-Fitr (end of Lent)
|December 25th and 26
Source: Countryaah – Uganda Holidays
The dates for the Islamic holidays are calculated according to the lunar calendar and therefore shift every year. During the fasting month of Ramadan, which precedes the feast day Eid-al-Fitr, Muslims do not eat during the day, but only after sunset. Many restaurants are therefore closed during the day. The festivals Eid al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr last 2-10 days, depending on the region.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that UG stands for the nation of Uganda as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Tombs of the Buganda kings in Kasubi
The Kasubi Tombs have an area of about 0.3 km². There are the tombs of the kings of Buganda there. They are located on a hill – Kasubi Hill – in Kampala.
In 1882 the palace was built for the King of Buganda, who became his tomb in 1884. The former palace was built from wood and thatch and has a height of 12 m and a diameter of 31 m. Four kings were buried here in one tomb. This former palace and current burial place shows the architecture – merged with the religious belief – of the country.
The protected area is surrounded by a fence. The tombs of the Buganda kings in Kasubi were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001.
The Ruwenzori Mountains are located in East Africa – across the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo – approx. 40 km from the equator in the northern hemisphere. Its area is approx. Km² and the highest mountain, the Margherita Peak, has a height of 5110 m, while the other peaks of the mountain such as the Alexandra Peak among others are not significantly low with 5090 m.
The mountains have beautifully situated glacial lakes and the mountains are rich in animals and plants. In the lowlands there are mainly steppe-like grasslands overgrown with grasses and native acacias. The lowlands are also used for agriculture. In the forest, which borders the grassy landscape and is located up to an altitude of 4000 m, stone slices, tree ferns, bamboo and the koso tree. Climbing plants make the forest difficult to enter. Most often you see lobelia, which almost reach tree height here. It is in these forests that the songbird lobelia nectar bird lives.
Numerous species of monkeys live in the protected area, including chimpanzees and diademed monkeys, okapis, giant wild boars and bushbucks. Leopards and African Buffalo and Elephants. The species diversity of the birds is very large, including vultures and mountain buzzards. which can be found at all altitudes. The park is endangered with its game, as refugees and rebels flee into the park during political unrest and feed on the game. The buffalo have been almost exterminated.
Parts of the mountain range – the Ruwenzori Mountains National Park – are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ruwenzori Mountains were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
Bwindi Primeval Forest
The park is located near the town of Fort Portal in the west of the country in the Kabarole district. The height of the park is approx. 1160 m to 2607 m. About 340 endangered mountain gorillas still live in the Bwindi rainforest. Furthermore, elephants, chimpanzees and various other monkey and small antelope and many other mammal species live in the park. A large number of birds – around 23 endemic (only living here) – nest here. The plants of the dense rainforest are tree ferns, mosses, lichens and also tall trees and the name “Impenetrable Nationaöpark” got the park rightly, it is impenetrable. The Bwindi Primeval Forest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
Entebbe was the capital until 1962 and today has about 63,000 residents. The city is located about 40 km south of Kampala on a peninsula on Lake Victoria. A very special attraction in Entebbe is the botanical garden shown below. Only about 4 km outside the city is the international airport, which was the scene of a dramatic incident in the summer of 1976: eight PLO kidnappers and the two Germans Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann had an Air France plane with the help of the Ugandan government of Idi Amins who was en route from Paris via Athens to Tel Aviv, kidnapped and held passengers at the airport in order to force the freedom of several imprisoned PLO members. In a daring and skilful operation on the night of the 3rd to the 4th July 1976 – seven days after the kidnapping – the soldiers of Idi Amins deceived and overwhelmed and the hostages brought from Entebbe to safety in Israel. Seven of the ten terrorists, including Böse and Kuhlmann, were shot dead. Of the 103 hostages, only three were killed, and Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu, a brother of the current (2009) Israeli Prime Minister, died during the operation of the head of the Israeli command.
Gulu is located in the northwest of Uganda and has a population of around 147,000. The city acts as the capital of the district of the same name and has grown to become the second largest city in Uganda due to the large number of refugees. The city is not interesting for tourists.
Almost 100,000 people live in Jinja, the fourth largest city in the country in southeast Uganda. Jinja spreads along the shores of Lake Victoria and has existed since 1901 when the city was founded as a trading post.
Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is located at an altitude of over 1,000 m – in the immediate vicinity of Lake Victoria. The city has about 1.5 million residents. Kampala is the undisputed center of power, culture and science in the country. The origins of Kampala go back to the 19th century, when the kings of Buganda had their seat on the hills of this region. I expanded it around a fort built by Frederick Lugard in 1890 for the British East Africa Company. The name of the city comes from “Kasozi K’Empala”, which roughly translates as the hill of the antelopes. This is because the Nakasero Hill, when the city was founded, grazed here impala antelopes – which belonged to the King of Buganda. From 1900 to 1905 the place was the capital of the British Protectorate Uganda. Over time, the city grew increasingly and expanded over the seven hills there. In 1962, Kampala became the country’s capital instead of Entebbe.
Lira (also called Lila)
In Uganda’s third largest city, in which around 120,000 people currently live, the militant representatives of the hostile ethnic groups as well as Ugandan government troops and rebels of the fanatical Lord’s Resistance Army increasingly met during the civil war.
In the central region of Uganda, Mukono is the capital of the district of the same name. It has almost 54,000 residents and can be proud of its Uganda Christian University.
Special buildings and markets
Buganda Royal Palaces in Kampala
From around the 18th century to the 20th century, Buganda was an influential kingdom in Central Africa, whose beginnings go back to the year 1300. Today it is only one province of Uganda, in which Entebbe and Kampala are located. By the way, the name Uganda comes from Buganda.
Tombs of the Buganda Kings in Kasubi
The tombs of the Buganda Kings are located on Kasubi Hill in Kampala and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Owino Market in Kampala
The Owino Market is one of the best-known and largest markets in Uganda. In endless rows of turbulent stalls, people and goods are piled up along narrow market streets. Everything that can be sold is offered. It is important to haggle over the coveted goods. Completely destroyed by fire in 2009, the market is located near the center of Kampala.
The facility of the Parliament Building is conveniently located on Parliamentary Avenue. In addition to the parliament, the seat of the President, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior are also located here. The entrance arch is considered to be the symbol of Uganda’s independence.
Pece Stadium in Gulu
The public stadium in Gulu is the largest stadium in northern Uganda. It can accommodate up to 30,000 people. In the recent past, the stadium has been modernized and renovated.
This place of worship of the Baha`i religion is located on the Kikaya hill about 4 km from the city center and is the only one in all of Africa.
Hindu temple in Kampala
In the center of Kampal is the main temple of the Hindu community of Kampala.
Kibuli Mosque in Kampala
This mosque of the ancient Buganda Kingdom is now the seat of the country’s supreme Muslim council and one of the largest mosques in the country. It is located on the hill of the same name a few kilometers south-east of the city center.
Namugongo Martyr`s Shrine near Kampala
This shrine contains the remains of over 20 Christians who were burned alive in 1886. This happened on the instructions of the last Kabaka (king) of Buganda Mwanga II. Basammula Ekkere (1868-1903). The shrine can be found about 12 km northeast of Kampala on the connecting road to Jinja.
Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala
This Catholic church was built in the early 20th century. It is located on the western edge of Kampala on Rubaga Hill. Nearby is the Protestant St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Sikh Temple in Kampala
In the center of Kampal is the main temple of the Sikh community of Kampala.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala
This brick-red Protestant church is located on the western edge of Kampala on the Namirembe Hill. Nearby is the Catholic Rubaga Cathedral.
Museums and theaters
National Museum in Kampala
The museum is located about 4 km from the center of Kampala on Kira Road. Here you can find an overview of the history, geography and culture of Uganda, and the development of the country is also documented. It is the oldest museum of its kind in Africa.
Theater Located on Dewinton Street, this theater opened in 1959. Theater, dance and music events are presented here. Next to the theater is the Craft Village – a kind of souvenir market that has been set up in the style of an African village.
Nommo Gallery in Kampala
This gallery on Victoria Avenue in Kampala offers a good overview of art from the country and a number of neighboring countries.
All Saints University in Lira
The university, established and directed by the Lango Diocese of the Church of Uganda, is located in Lira, a city in northern Uganda. It was founded in 2008 and, despite its name and historical background, trains students from all religions.
Gulu University in Gulu
The University of Gulu is one of five public universities in Uganda that have been established by the state government. It is located in Gulu, the largest city in northern Uganda. The university has existed since 2001 but did not welcome the first students until a year later. Incidentally, today there are around 3,400 students enrolled at the university.
Located in Kampala, this university is the oldest in East Africa. It had an excellent reputation for a very long time, but it had suffered greatly from Idi Amin’s rule and the violent conflicts. Quality and scientific work are only gradually returning. Today’s university was established as a vocational school in 1922 and shortly thereafter named “Uganda Technical University”. In 1949 it became a university in the European sense. It is located on Makerere Hill, approx. 5 km to the northeast from the city center. Currently studying here over 32,000 students.
Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara
Established by law in 1989, the public university of Uganda was the second university to emerge in the country after Makerere University. The university, which initially consisted of only one medical faculty, also received its natural science and development-oriented faculties in 1995 and 1998. Recently, the university can also be proud of an institute for computer science.
Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal
The university named after the Rwenzori Mountains is located in Kabundaire, about one kilometer from the center of the city of Fort Portals. Recently, however, the university received a main campus on Lake Saaka, which extends about 8 kilometers from Fort Portal-
Uganda Christian University in Mukono
Established in 1997 by the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda, the university has its main campus in Mukongo and consists of several colleges.
The approximately 5,347 km² Albertsee lies on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Bujagali waterfalls are located near Jinja, not far from the place where the Nile leaves Lake Victoria.
The lake covers a total area of 2,325 km², its north-eastern part is in Uganda, while the larger other part belongs to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The lake was named after Albert Edward, the then Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII, by its European explorer Henry Morton Stanley. On the north-west bank, the 230 km long Semliki leaves the lake to flow further north into Lake Albert. On the east bank, the Kazinga Canal connects to Lake Georg
The 250 km² large lake is located directly on the equator and was named after the English king George V. It is connected to Lake Albert via the Kazinga Canal. Its maximum depth is around 7 m.
The approximately 1,720 km² large Kyogasee lies almost in the middle of the country at an altitude of around 1,000 m. It covers a water volume of approx. 5.2 km³. The lake is known for its papyrus, water lilies and water hyacinths. The maximum depth of the lake is around 10 m. Its inflow and outflow is the Victoria Nile.
Botanical Garden The Entebbe Botanical Garden was built around the shores of Lake Victoria at the beginning of the 19th century. In addition to a mosaic of smaller gardens with numerous tropical plants, the park also has a jungle-like forest of natural origin. It is interesting for fans of adventure films that this was the location of the first Tarzan films with Johnny Weissmüller. A total of 12 Tarzan films were made between 1932 and 1948. Numerous species of birds can be observed here: African fish eagles, herons, gray parrots, hornbills, turacos. but also the black and white colobus monkeys can be seen here.
The highest mountain in the country is Peak Margherita in the Ruwenzori Mountains with a height of 5,110 m. The Ruwenzori Mountains are the “source” for the water of the Victoriass. The moist air coming from the east rains on the mountains almost 300 days a year.
The partially glaciated mountains are not of volcanic origin and are located in the region of the East African Rift Valley – on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and approx. 200 km northwest of Lake Victoria.
Uganda includes the group of 84 Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria, of which only 44 are permanently inhabited. Due to the heavy rainfall of over 2,000 mm per year, the islands are very densely forested. The largest of the Ssese Islands is Bugala with a size of 432 km².
Spring The outflow from Lake Vikcoria into Lake Victoria is considered the source of the Victorianil, but not the actual source of the Nile.
Lake Victoria The largest lake in Uganda is Lake Victoria – which was named in honor of Queen Victoria of England – with an area of 68,870 km². After the Caspian Sea and Lake Superior in America (USA/Canada), it is the third largest lake in the world and the largest lake in Africa.
The northern part of the lake is in Uganda, the southern part in Tanzania and in the east a very small part of the lake belongs to Kenya. The main tributary of the lake is the Kagera Nile, which flows into the lake in the northwest on the border with Tanzania. Tanzania covers 33,746 km², Uganda 30,992 km² and Kenya 4,132 km². The coastline of Tanzani is around 1,750 km, that of Angola 1,150 km and that of Kenya 550 km.
The main outflow – to the north of the lake in Uganda – is the Victoria Nile. The water volume of the lake is around 2,770 km³ – with a maximum depth of 85 m.
Around its center, the lake borders Tanzania in the south of the country for around 250 km. Kenya only takes up a small part of the northeast of the lake.
The Victoriasse has a rather rectangular shape. The largest island in the lake is Ukerewe in Tanzania – with an area of 560 km². Hippos live on or in the lake.
There used to be numerous different species of cichlids here. Since the fish were too small for commercial wholesale marketing, the British had previously released the Nile perch here, which can be up to 2 m long and is easy to market.
However, the fish partly displaced the native species. And there is another special feature at the lake.
Once a month the glass rod larvae rise from the bottom of the lake to the surface, where they develop into the tufted mosquito. The billions of mosquitoes – that do not bite – form towers up to 100 m high, the males inside and the females outside.
During this flight, the mosquitoes mate, only to lay their eggs on the surface of the lake and die after a day. The eggs then fall to the bottom of the lake and after a month everything starts at the front.
The locals usually catch the mosquitoes in order to prepare protein-rich dishes.
Since the lake has around 3,000 smaller and larger islands, it is an ideal territory for pirates who steal boats, goods – such as the coveted Nile perch – or outboard motors. Ship travelers on the lake are also increasingly being robbed.
In 1996, around 1,000 people were killed in a shipwreck on the lake and over 100 people at the end of September 2018.
Uganda: national parks
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
This “impenetrable” park covers an area of around 330 km 2 of rainforest and is located in southwestern Uganda at the end of the western Rift Valley, where it extends at an altitude between 1,160 and 2,610 m. It was established in 1991.
Around 90 different mammal species live in the park – including 11 primates. It is a sanctuary for the rare mountain gorillas, of which around half of the world’s animals live here. The national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.
Kibale National Park
The approximately 705 km² park is located in the west of the country not far from Fort Portal.
Many chimpanzees live here and forest elephants can also be found here. There are observation tours for observing the chimpanzees. A total of 13 different primate species live in the park. You can find buffalos, forest elephants, giant forest pigs and over six species of antelope. Bird lovers can enjoy around 335 species. The park has variously priced accommodations, including tented camps. The park can be visited all year round.
Kidepo Valley National Park
The national park covers an area of around 1,442 km2 and is located in northeastern Uganda in the triangle of Uganda-Kenya-Sudan in a savannah that is not very rough. The park is dominated by the m high Mount Norungule and the Kidepo and Narus flow through it. Due to the year-round rainfall, the region is an oasis in the surrounding semi-desert. There are 86 different species of mammals in the park, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, spoonhounds and aardwolves. Numerous antelopes also live here. including the great kudu. About 500 species of birds cavort in the park. The park has not yet been discovered by mass tourism. There are a number of accommodations.
Mburo Lake National Park
The Mburo Lake National Park covers an area of 371 km² and is located in the south of Uganda. The park is
criss-crossed by extensive acacia forests. In the park you will find buffalo, eland antelopes, impala antelopes, leopards, hyenas, jackals, topi antelopes, warthogs and zebras.
The name of the capital Kampala is derived from the impala antelopes (Kasozi K’Empala = hill of the antelopes). In the five larger lakes, including the eponymous Lake Mburo, numerous hippos, crocodiles and marsh antelopes cavort, and numerous water birds live here. Ospreys, herons, pelicans, cormorants and shoebills fly in the park, which are not found anywhere else in Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The main attraction of this only 38.6 km² large park are the rare and protected mountain gorillas, which can be observed here on guided tours. The national park includes the part of the nine Virunga volcanoes located in Uganda, where the tri-border region between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is located. The 4,507 m high Karisimbi, which belongs to Rwanda, is also located here. In the park you can find the golden monkey, elephants, leopards and buffalo
Mount Elgon National Park
The national park covers an area of around 1,145 km2 and is located in eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya, to which a part belongs. In the park is the extinct volcano Mount Elgon with the highest of its five peaks – the 4,321 m high Wagagai. The volcano was extinct about 10 million years ago. There are impressive cave paintings in the mountain, as well as spectacular caves and hot springs.
Murchison Falls National Park
The national park covers an area of around 3,840 km2, making it the largest national park in Uganda. It lies in the northeast of Uganda on the shores of Lake Albert and is traversed by the Nile over a length of over 100 km. It also contains the Murchison waterfalls, where the Nile shoots with great force through a relatively narrow gap in the rift slope and then falls from a height of 43 m into the depths. The park’s savannah is almost divided into two by the Nile. A number of different species of antelope, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, chimpanzee and lion can be found in the park. Numerous hippos and crocodiles live in and around the Nill. In addition to two exclusive lodges, there are other accommodations.
Queen Elisabeth National Park
The national park covers an area of around 2,000 km2 and is located at the lower end of the Rift Valley between Lake Edward and Lake Georg. You can find an open savannah, rainforest, papyrus swamps and crater lakes. Almost 100 different species of mammals and around 600 species of birds live in the park. Among the mammals are elephants, giant boars, hippos. The local lions have become famous for climbing trees. Chimpanzees live in the Kyambura Gorge and the Maramagambo Forest beckons with its forest monkeys
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The national park covers an area of around 996 km2 and is located in the western Rift Valley on the border with the Republic of Congo. In the park lies the Margherita Peak with a height of 5,119 m. The national park was established in 1994.
Up to a height of around 3,000 m, the mountains are dominated by dense, tropical wet or rainforest. Further up there is a tree heather zone. Giant lobelias and giant scenes, some of which are located on open moorland, grow between 3,800 m and 4,500 m. There is a thick carpet of moss and lichen everywhere. The park is less known and loved for its animals than for the indescribably beautiful landscape.
The national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.
Semuliki National Park
The approximately 220 km2 park is located at the northern foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains – on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Semuliki Valley of the same name with the hot Sempaya springs. The park consists of tropical lowland forests with grassland savannas and floodplains. Elephants, chimpanzees, zergspringers and de Brazza monkeys live here. The best travel times are June and July and December to February.