Most villages in Uganda still hold their traditional way of life and many still follow the way their ancestors lived; it is evidenced by the traditional rituals, music, dance and drama, traditional way of harvesting, food preparation, and cooking, among other things. Some of these villages have been mentioned below to guide you on which to visit. The most amazing thing about it is that all these villages are located in famous tourist sites such as National Parks, Forests, and Lakes among others.
Boomu Cultural village also known as Boomu Women’s Group is an African setting neighboring Murchison Falls National Park. It was formed in 1999 by subsistence farmers from villages of Kigaragara and Kihaguzi, in a time when the northern region of the country was dry, there was less produce to sell and consume hence poverty and malnutrition levels increased.
So these people resorted to making crafts and what began as a small group, today is a beautiful community with gardens, traditional accommodation facilities, exceptional guided tours, and a restaurant. In fact, to enjoy this village to the fullest, you could spend a night in a real African hut, before getting to bed, sitting at the fire, and listening to stories about this place from the elders is unforgettable.
Visiting this village introduces you to the way the locals live; how they grow crops, how children get an education, how baskets are woven, their traditional dances and cultural performances, and also how food is harvested, prepared, cooked, and served in the authentic African way.
At Boomu you truly experience what is termed as an African authentic village setting. There is no solar or hydroelectric lighting, food is harvested directly from the garden and put on a locally made stove, then to your plate, most of the locals eat with their hands, tourists are given forks if it is what they want. There is even no refrigeration since all foods are fresh.
The Batwa are an indigenous group of people famously known as pygmies. They used to live in unity with other forest inhabitants about 500,000years ago in huts made out of leaves and branches hence were referred to as the “Keepers of the Forest”.
Their stay in the forest never destroyed the forest since even their shelters were eco-friendly. They entirely depended on the forest for shelter, food, firewood, and fruits among others. It is said of them that “the way they love their bodies is how they love the forest”.
The Batwa lived in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, these parks are homes to the remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. Around 1991, the lives of the Batwa totally changed when these parks were permanently established to protect the Rain forest and wildlife especially the Mountain Gorillas hence by 1992 all people living in these National Parks were evicted and were not given any compensation either in form of money or land from the Government.
But in 2011, the Batwa Cultural Trail was started in Mgahinga National Park by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The members of the Pygmy community guide the visitors through the jungle and expose them to their ancient way of living including their old way of gathering fruits, hunting, collecting honey, traditional healing, and also other traditional performances like rituals done in caves and dances.
Today this cultural trail is so famous and every visitor to the park shouldn’t miss out on this great experience, it has helped the Batwa keep their traditions and beliefs. The trails are two; both a long one and a short one, the visitor is at liberty to choose the trail they will go for.
All proceeds from the visit support the community of the Batwa; they help in the development and sustaining of the community projects such as the maize mill, microfinance, and the secondary school.
Entanda village is a unique cultural tourist village that is aimed at preserving the arts and crafts, traditions, culture, and performances of Uganda hence described as a Community Based Tourism Organization. All tourists to this village can be assured to experience and also participate in the old way of life for the Ugandan culture and the natural beauty in the village.
Entanda is a small village situated in the Mityana district among green rolling hills about a 1-hour drive from Kampala. People in Entanda have also ensured to preserve their traditional ways of animal keeping, beekeeping, farming, food harvesting, preparation, serving and cooking, growing of vegetables and fruits plus the traditional playing of games.
Entanda has a great historical background; it is said to have existed thousands of years ago when Kintu “the first man” to live in Buganda met death spirits that wanted to kill Nambi his wife. The death spirits also locally known as Walumbe used to dig very deep pits to hide and kill people. This is proved by the existence of about 240 deep pits and the Nambi rocks which today are used for traditional worship.
Tourists while at Entanda can engage in activities such as traditional dances, hunting, walks through forests, banana and coffee plantations, fruit harvesting, food preparation and cooking, and lessons about the traditionally made musical instruments.
The village is situated in Kasese district at the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The village is close to Katwe Lake, it is a salt lake and one of the economic activities carried out in this area is salt mining. A day in Katwe village is exceptional since visitors get a chance to meet the local people and involve in their day-to-day lives.
Visitors are welcomed in a local homestead where they get to observe how the residents harvest salt from the lake, they can also observe how food is traditionally prepared, cooked, and also be able to taste it.
During the village tour, visitors should always keep in mind that by visiting they are giving back to the people, they can also visit a primary school in this village and see how the children get an education. All proceeds from the visit go towards improving the health sector of this area and provide income to those that can’t mine salt to earn a living especially the elderly.
Nshenyi Village exposes visitors to the Ankole culture and traditions. This cultural village is situated on a farm at the edge of the Ntungamo district in Kitwe Town. It is an hour’s drive if someone is coming from Mbarara town and takes only 30minutes to drive to this village from Ntungamo Town.
Nshenyi is a beautiful area characterized by acacia trees, savannah grass, and lush rolling hills. This environment favors cattle rearing. The people in Nshenyi are pastoralists with agriculture as the main economic activity carried out. This is evidenced by a number of commercial crops and large banana plantations owned by various residents.
This place has activities that are unique for visitors hence it is visited by a number of people on safari in the western part of Uganda.
Activities include; traditional cooking, nature walks, visiting primary schools and local markets, milking the Ankole long-horned cattle, visit local homesteads, engage in tree planting, observe the processing of milk, discover how the homesteads do food processing and cultivation of crops, birders are also sure to spot a number of beautiful bird species, among other activities.
Rubuguri Village is situated at the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable NP a natural habitat to the world’s remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. So it is very easy for the tourist to track Gorillas and wrap up the trip with a walk in the Village of Rubuguri.
Rubuguri village is a small isolated village with friendly inhabitants and can be accessed by a rustic road along the steep hillsides. While here, you can engage in a village walk through small homesteads, where you are able to meet the locals and enjoy their day to day way of life in this area.
Tourists can visit the local schools in the area, and also have a remarkable time watching people perform the Kikiga dance and sing amazing joyful traditional songs.
Apart from sightseeing, a tour to a Karamojong community is defined as a participatory experience, because the tourist gets an opportunity to engage with the locals and learn more about their culture. One can also plan to have an overnight stay in a traditional hut.
A Karamojong Village is also locally called a “Manyatta”. Karamoja Manyattas are traditional homesteads for the Karamojong located near Kidepo National Park. It is where they live in harmony just like their ancestors lived and their culture and traditions have been preserved, so visiting a manyatta you get exposed to this amazing group of people.
The Karamojong live in an unspoiled part of the country; in the North-Eastern part of Uganda. They are described as a tribe of fierce warriors, they are pastoralists who even feed on mainly animal products like milk, meat, blood among others. The women have tried to develop themselves by involving in the making of beads and crafts.
Therefore if one is on safari to Kidepo National Park, you could include visiting a Manyatta on your itinerary.