Thursday, 16 November 2017

DISCOVERING THE MAGICAL ROCK SHELTERS AND CAVES OF THE EARLY MAN


Are you an archaeologist or anthropologist? Are you planning your safari in Uganda? African safaris are never complete without cultural safaris! Think about the most thrilling cultural experiences or exceptional historical, archaeological, memorial sites and count Uganda a must to visit destination. Uganda offers more than wildlife adventures! A trip to this stunning destination allows you to explore its cultural and archaeological sites that reward the endeavors with lifetime experiences. If you checked about Uganda, the first thing for you to see would the mountain gorillas or the big game and yet also it’s a hotspot for cultural safaris in Africa. Looking at the Southwestern region, there is more for you to explore and you will certainly be thrilled by its abundance beyond just wildlife as seen below;

The Nsongezi caves and rock shelters
If you have ever heard about the story of the Stone Age, then this is the best spot for you to visit. The shelters are situated along the banks of River Kagera and Kikagati trading center. Nsongezi caves and rock shelters are the best archaeological sites, only famous in the entire Uganda for the late Stone Age Microlith and dimple based pottery. The site came to existence way back in 9th century. These shelters feature several excavations of stratified pottery shards of about 1000 AD. Along these rock shelters, you will also find the Kansyore Island next to River Kagera. The Island was occupied by the rulers of Nkore, Ntare of the time and Rwanga as refuge. To date it is used as a holiday resort. Visitors can access the Nsongezi rock shelters and the Kansyore through the Kampala-Kabale route past oruchinga refugees settlement. If you are in Mbarara, they are accessible about 64 kilometers. Alternatively, you can take the Mbarara-Kitagati route and between 24 and 26 kilometers from Mbarara you will also find the Buchunku Stanley memorial and the Bweyorere capital sites. This is where the famous explorer H.M. Stanley made blood brotherhood with Buchunku on 23rd July 1889. Buchunku represented the King of Nkore, Ntare ‘V’ while Bweyorere which is located nearly three quarter kilometers, off Mbarara-Kikagati route was a capital site for two rulers of the Nkore, Kasasira and Karara kingdom. Do not miss to see the low mounds all over the site that might have been the shelter sites and cow dung heaps. There is also pottery widely spread in the site which is Uganda’s only thriving archaeological site.

Do not miss to explore other historical sites and monuments around Mbarara especially the Nkokonjeru tombs at Kakika about 3 and half kilometers west of Mbarara town. The tomb site is where the 2 Kings of Ankole, Kahaya II and Sir Godfrey Gasyonga II are found.

As you head to Kamukuzi, you will find the Ankole capital and the relics of the old palace. The drums house still exists and you will have a chance to visit the stunning monument in the memory of the Late Nuwa Mbaguta the Prime Minister (Enganzi) of Ankole. Within Mbarara town, there is the peace memorial site the parade square just in front of the old police headquarters and the Ntare Stanley memorial site around Mbarara central government prison.

Head to Ibanda trading center about 60 kilometers North of Mbarara and explore the Galt memorial site, a heap of stones arranged in a cone marking the site at which gait one of the colonial assistant commissioner was killed by Rutaraka. This event caused arrests and banishment of Bahinda princes; Igumira and Rwakakaiga.

Visit the Kitagata hot springs just near Kitagata hospital about 40 kilometers form Mbarara-Ishaka route. The place is naturally stunning with papyrus swamp along it and it is a healing site for most locals as most of them flock into the site early in the morning and late in the evening for bathing. As you head to Kabale town besides its stunning and misty hills and terraced gardens, you will also catch a glimpse of 2 natural sites.

Visit Kisiizi falls on River, Rushoma, Kyabamba and Lake Bunyonyi. Traditionally these sites were used as a dumping ground for Bakiga premarital pregnant girls. Girls whose legs and arms were weak would be rolled over the waterfalls of about 15 meters high or thrown into the deep Crater Lake. The practice has however stopped as the church of Uganda was set up the Kisiizi hospital in 1958. Currently, these two sites are magnificent tourist attractions. The waterfalls also inhabit several birdlife and a trip to the area also rewards with spectacular views.
THE KISIIZI FALLS
In conclusion, there are a lot more waiting for you to explore while on safari to Southwestern Uganda. Cultural safaris in Southwestern Uganda can be combined with mountain gorilla trekking adventures in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. There are also other cultural sites for you explore especially the Garama caves, the Kigezi memorial site and many more. Enjoy your cultural safari in Uganda!



Friday, 10 November 2017

EXPLORING THE GARAMA CAVES AND THE MARGINALIZED BATWA PYGMIES


Located about 342 meters, the Garama caves lie beneath a plateau in the northern side of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, 3 kilometers from Ntebeko. It is established within the former farmland zone but earlier times, the Garama caves were found in the forest when it was occupied by mainly the Batwa pygmies. The Batwa are a few incredible creatures who lived in the forest for more than 500000 years and left it without any damage something unique with the current status. Currently, the Garama caves offer the best site for the Batwa cultural performance at the end of the Batwa trail making the park not only as one of the most exceptional spots for mountain gorilla trekking safaris but also for thrilling cultural encounters in Uganda and the world at large.

As you plan your mountain gorilla trekking safaris to Mgahinga National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, make sure that Garama cave exploration features in the list of activities you wish to enjoy in Uganda. The Batwa trail is available that leads visitors up to the remarkable Garama caves. At the cave, you will be welcomed by darkness and later the most thrilling cultural and musical performance from the Batwa women who will be singing songs of sorrow as “why they were removed from their treasured forest” and pleading to be allowed to go back to their lovely forest. The Garama caves offered refuge to the Batwa during times of trouble like wars especially from the Bantu and also acted as a home to their king at a time. These remarkable caves are 3 kilometers long from the park entrance and the walk through them lasts for 3 to 4 hours.

Your guided walk through the Garama caves allows you to explore lifestyle of these gatherers, hunters who lived harmoniously with the forest without causing any effect. The Garama cave is 342 meters long and 14 meters deep and as you walk through it, do not be surprised to encounter bats. If you are looking for breathtaking cultural safaris, look not further than the Garama cave exploration in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda. The cave is situated 14 kilometers southwards from Kisoro district and leads visitors on rewarding hike towards the base of the great bulk of Mount Muhabura. While on Garama cave exploration, you will be guided by the Batwa who will explain their lifestyle, practices and also lead you to where their cultural performances are done. A face to face encounter with the Batwa pygmies themselves is such thrilling experiences given their unique height that doesn’t exceed 1.5 meters.
THE GARAMA CAVE

In conclusion, Uganda’s history can not be told without mentioning about the Batwa pygmies. The Garama cave is sacred site for the Batwa people who lived in the forest for over 500000 years while hunting and gathering but left without any impact on the environment. For visitors on gorilla safari in Uganda, a visit to the Garama caves is worth for you to add to explore much about these incredible creatures. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

THE FORGOTTEN RESTING SITE FOR OMUKAMA OF BUNYORO


Are you interested in extra-ordinary cultural experiences but you do not know where to go for a cultural safari in Uganda? Situated in Central Uganda, Southeast of Dyango and Lubato-Nambesa and west of Ggambirana comes the Mpumudde hill at altitude 1223 meters. Mpumudde hill is a famous historical and cultural site where the late Omukama of Bunyoro-Kabalega rested from. Kabalega became one of the popular Ugandans to oppose colonialism and it is believed that he died while returning to Bunyoro after serving his exile term in Kenya. He passed on at about 86 years back, a time when Busoga Kingdom was awe stricken and hundreds of locals carried stones to mark the hill where he passed on. The word Mpumudde in Ganda denotes “I have rested!” It is believed that Kabalega when urged to move on, told his friends in local language (Kinyoro) that “Mpumwire”-I have rested. Up to date this exceptional hill is termed as Mpumudde. The hill belongs to the Busoga Kingdom and it is on this same hill that the chiefs of Busoga made a small cairn of stones in to commemorate the British Administrator Mr. F. Spire.

Most culturalists and anthropologists view this extra ordinary site as a potential tourist attraction that would generate Busoga a lot of revenue each year although there are no sign posts to direct anyone to this remarkable cultural spot. On its peak you will find a multi colored dilapidated monument which is constructed with fired blocks and parts of it plastered. Behind the monument there is a heap of stones covered under lantana camara shrubs and a tall mutuba tree stands out. Mpumudde lies about 2 kilometers away from Kamuli Road in Jinja Municipality. Kabalega and Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda fought colonial occupation in the late 19th century. Kabalega had staged an eight year guerilla war but due to their patriotic efforts, the British forces captured them on April 4th 1899 in Dokolo, Northern Uganda in the house owned by Langi chief. Upon their capture, the two were exiled to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean where Mwanga passed on in 1903.

Kabalega remained in captivity for several years till he was allowed to come back. But unfortunately, while on his return journey to Bunyoro in 1923, he became sick in Jinja as a result of Malaria and fatigue. His servants who used to carry him on the shoulders decided to climb what came to be known as “Mpumudde hill to permit the King to rest and resume his safari later. The unfortunate bit of it is that Kabalega’s conditions worsened while on the hill’s top. The bodyguards then carried his body to Namasagali landing site on Lake Kyoga which is approximately 80 kilometers from Jinja. They transported Kabalega’s body by canoe to Masindi from where they again carried the body up to Mparo, Hoima where he was laid to rest.

Mpumudde hill seems to be forgotten especially from the 1970s but some elders and cultural leaders of Busoga still regard it with much reverence due to the spiritual powers attached to it and interestingly the Kyabazinga also originated from Mpumudde. At the time when the government restored monarchies in 1996, the Busoga royals turned the hill into the coronation site for the Kyabazinga Henry. It is on this hill still that the king’s witch doctors cleanse the Kyabazinga during coronation. During such rituals each of the eleven chiefdoms constructs a grass thatched hut on the hill and then slaughter goats, sheep, chicken and many more animals and sprinkle the blood around. Kabalega’s spirits perform miracles. Besides fighting the British, it is also evident that in Busoga Kabalega is viewed as a man of fortunes. It is a healing hill to most residents, and most women have been sighted trekking from far to visit the hill for cleansing and after their prayers are answered, they come back and slaughter chicken and goats for the residents.


In conclusion, when it comes to cultural safaris in Africa, Uganda is exceptionally a boiling pot of cultures. The Mpumudde hill features as one of the most rewarding cultural spots that you shouldn’t miss to visit in Busoga while on your safari to Uganda. 

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

DISCOVER THE HIDDEN GREAT LAKES MUSEUM IN UGANDA


Situated in the spectacular hills and mighty Lakes, the Great Lakes Museum provides a great option to nature lovers on Uganda safaris to its most exceptional remotest areas. It features about 25 well furnished accommodation choices where all the variety of bed configurations and groups including backpackers’ interests are also covered. With its aim primarily based on preservation of culture and history for the future, the new Great Lakes Museum lies along the Ntungamo-Kabale route on Rwahi hill, Southwest of Rushenyi on the main road. It was opened in January 2014 and it continues to develop while maintaining its major aims of preserving and promoting the history and local technology of the Bakiga, Banyakole, Banyarwanda and Baziba people for both future generation and to promote tourism in the area. In the long run, the practice will boost cultural safaris and the tourism sector in the region. The mighty museum comes with several old household items especially cooking utensils, sleeping mats, musical instruments, fighting and hunting equipment gear used in the past battles and also enhanced with modern day bikes. Some items though especially the wooden bike and older hospital stretcher are definitely worth seeing.
THE GREAT LAKES MUSEUM
The Great Lakes Museum also intends to develop a range of other facilities to supplement the ones in the museum, some of which include the traditional dances, drama, guided walks, mountain biking, workshops and camping together with modern Eco friendly cottages for accommodation, camping facilities, children’s play ground, conference centre and a well stocked bar, restaurant and cafĂ© with high speed internet access. For cultural safaris and tours in Western Uganda, visit Great Lakes Museum and the Igongo cultural centre and explore more about the region’s endowed heritage. They offer an incredible insight into the local and regional history together with artifacts from the past.

The site comes with fascinating sculptures which offers breathtaking views, most them can be sighted at the gallery below but they really require to be sighted in person to fully appreciate them in depth. After you can have a taste of the mouthwatering food at the restaurant and well stocked craft shop, friendly and warm welcoming staff all of which makes the general travel experience to be worth it. As with most Uganda tourist attractions there are distinct prices for the entry to the actual museum section of the site-which is effectively one big room for locals and foreign nationals but it is pocket friendly. The Great Lakes Museum is located on the stretch of road in the middle of no where however; it can be accessed within an hour either from Kabale or Ntungamo at a pocket friendly price.
SPECTACULAR SCULPTURES

In conclusion, if you are planning your gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, adding the Great Lakes Museum in your itinerary should be a must do for you. The Great Lakes Museum has a lot more in offer for you to enjoy the amazing cultural safaris in this remarkable country. Whereas it looks small, a visit to this incredible historical and cultural site rewards with the most fascinating experiences of lifetime!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

HITTING ON THE BUSOGA KYABAZINGA ROYAL TRAIL


Looking for exceptional cultural safaris in Africa? Uganda is undoubtedly Africa’s cultural safari paradise! Besides the famous adrenaline adventures in Jinja, the Busoga Kingdom Ministry of Tourism and Heritage also offers tourists with yet exceptional cultural experience along the Kyabazinga Royal Trail. If you are an anthropologist and you wish to enrich yourself with the diverse cultural practices, norms, customs and more about the Basoga or simply you have a great desire to support the development of local tourism attractions in Uganda, look not further than hitting on the Kyabazinga Royal Trail. Jinja is described as a “capital” of breathtaking adventures but it is also a cultural paradise for visitors on Uganda safaris and tours! Wildlife safaris in Uganda are only complete with cultural safaris.

Busoga Kingdom (Obwakyabazinga bwa Busoga) features as one of Uganda’s most respected and organized kingdoms in Africa. The Basoga were organized into chiefdoms and paid allegiance to the Bunyoro Kingdom and later Buganda. After the coming of the British colonialists, the Busoga chiefdoms were combined to make up the Busoga Lukiko that was first headed by Semei Kakungulu a Muganda British Collaborator. After the end of the Kakungulu’s tenure, the Busoga kept the arrangement and the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga was born and eventually the Busoga settled for a centralized monarchy that they enjoy up to date under the Kingship of His Highness William Wilberforce.

A cultural safari to the Kyabazinga Royal Trail exposes you to the royal, historical and cultural sites of the Busoga Kingdom for a deep understanding of the Busoga Kingdom which holds the strong history and cultural significance to Uganda. The Busoga area is rich in cultural and historical sites that are worth exploring while on the Kyabazinga Royal Trail including; the Iganga palace, Bishop Hannington site-which represents the mysterious murder of the legendary Bishop James Hannington in the 1885 by the orders of the Kabaka Mwanga the second while he was carrying out his missionary work in Uganda. Today this area has become a historical sacred site in Busoga area;

Kagulu rock which stands at 3048 meters with a gigantic rocks that provide breathtaking adventures as well as cultural exploration for cultural lovers. This hill is believed to be the first migration and settlement place in Busoga. The area offers opportunity for tourists to trace the history of this rock on a hill. Due to the grey and black gigantic rock with dots of green plus its surrounding areas have a historical attachment to the formation of Busoga. They are undoubtedly endowed with cultural heritage for the Basoga. Prior any journey to the historical site, visitors have to greet the caretakers of the rocks who are believed to be some of the remnants of the Bachwezi.

Explore the source Nile while on Kyabazinga Royal Trail. At this point you will find a plague marking the spot from which the Nile starts its journey via Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. The Source of the River Nile was at the site of the Rippon falls, on the west bank, you will find the John Speke memorial-a monument where Speke stood when he first sighted the source of the Nile on 28 July 1862 and hence the name Rippon falls. You will also explore the Mahatma Ghandi memorial statue which is just at the surrounding of Nile. or visit the Mpumudde hill where the late Omukama of Bunyoro, Kabalega-a Ugandan who resisted colonialism and believed to have met his death while on his way back to Bunyoro after serving his exile term in Kenya. In Ganda word Mpumudde denotes “I have rested!” There is also Bugembe palace for you to explore while on cultural safaris along the Kyabazinga trail. The Bugembe palace was established during the reign of Sir William Wilberforce Nadiope in 1965 which was ransacked by Idi Amin’s soldiers in the mid 1970s. Other areas for cultural enthusiasts to explore while on Kyabazinga trail are Jinja Cultural Center, Wanyange Afro tourism, Nyenga hill and Iyinga landing site.

In conclusion, besides the popular breathtaking adventure safaris at Jinja-the Source of the Nile, Busoga region is also a cultural paradise. If you are a cultural enthusiast, you have a reason to be part of the first people to hit on Kyabazinga Royal Trail for a reward of lifetime cultural experiences.


Friday, 13 October 2017

VISITING THE HIDDEN BIGO BYA MUGENYI HISTORICAL SITE


Also popular as “the Fort of the Stranger,” the Bigo Bya Mugenyi features as an area that is occupied by the Bachwezi who were popular as “Demigods.” The Chwezi have no clear historical background and up to date, their identity still stands as a mystery. Whereas the Bigo Bya Mugenyi is a significant place in Uganda’s history, it remains as a hidden and abandoned treasure. This exceptional archeological place was dug out to offer the Bachwezi Empire protection from intruders especially the Luo from South Sudan. Located in Mawogola county about 50 kilometers from Sembabule town center, Bigo Bya Mugenyi site is one of the exceptional cultural and historical sites for you to explore while in your cultural safaris in Uganda. There are armed guards to ensure visitor safety in the area and well trained guides who will take through the forest full of rugged landscape up to the gate of the site known as Kabeho. At the gate, you will be rewarded with a medley of cultural equipment used by Bachwezi. Some of the tools include the ancient spears that the guards used to camp prior reaching River Katonga and Kachinga. These stunning Rivers feature as the main harbor of holy water and usually, visitors make a stopover at the water to cleanse their bodies before trekking the long distance to the Bigo Bya Mugenyi Forts. At River Katonga and Kachinga, visitors hike via the thicket to catch a glimpse of the spectacular views of the dark and lush vegetation which provides stunning views of the rolling surrounding hills. There is exceptional deep green edge that indicates the path of the green trenches. For many centuries, this hidden treasure has never uncovered its mysterious secretes to the eager inquirers.
THE HIDDEN BIGO BYA MUGENYI 
Visitor rules
History puts it that the dynasty reigned at Bigo Bya Mugenyi between 1000 and 1500 AD. Artifacts of the old sharp pointed spears and huge curved rocks at the entrance make the ruins of the cultural site. Practices like paying a visit to the gods while not compulsory are expected of tourist. Visitors are required to humble themselves to pay respect to the Chwezi ancestral gods. You can even kneel and pray to the spirits for intercession. At the prayer site, there are baskets where people put their monetary offertory to the gods as an appeasement to guarantee safety of the tourists while inside the cultural site is composed of many traditional shrines.

Mysterious sites
This archeological site enclosed in radius of about four square miles piece of land has many caves and very deep ditches and forts which all have different historical importance. The narrow path takes visitors via different forts and caves, into a thick wilderness with various wildlife species including the leopards, bushbucks, waterbucks, snakes and duikers and many more that will be supplement your cultural safaris. Then to a mystical stream named after Kabeho village where soothsayer healer cleanses their patients. Around the sacred site lies a huge hut which is surrounded by Bamboo trees and the interior of the hat is matted with bamboo poles and mats. You will also find many gourds from which the local residents take milk and water. This site receives about 20 to 40 locals who come to pray to the Chwezi gods and also other visitors. This cultural site is strategically located and comprises of Ndahura and Nakayima cultural sites. For interested visitors, you are advised to be on long trousers to guard your legs from stinging insects, long sleeved shirts and strong closed shoes.

About the Bachwezi
Bachwezi are believed to be the founders of the ancient Kitara Empire that covers some areas of Uganda, Northern Tanzania, Western Kenya and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and so they are given status of demigods and worshiped by some local residents at the time. It is not yet clear what happened to the Bachwezi and there are several stories that have been told about their disappearance. There is a famous belief among most scholars that they simply got assimilated into the indigenous tribes and could be the Bahima of Ankole and the Tutsi of Rwanda and Burundi.

In conclusion, the Bigo Bya Mugenyi is one of the biggest archeological and cultural sites that you should add in your bucket list. For the most exceptional and rewarding cultural safaris, visit the hidden Bigo Bya Mugenyi site in Uganda and you won’t regret in life!





Friday, 6 October 2017

EXPLORING THE MPARO ROYAL TOMBS IN BUNYORO REGION


Are you planning your cultural safari but you do not where to visit? Uganda is credited not only for its stunning wildlife species but also as a cultural boiling pot in Africa. Think about the most exciting and thrilling cultural experiences and think not further than visiting the Mparo Royal Tombs, a few most sought after historical sites in Bunyoro Kitara Empire. Situated about three kilometers along the Hoima-Masindi route, Mparo Division, the Mparo Royal Tomb site is a famous burial site for the Great Omukama Kabalega, Bunyoro’s most popular King-Sir Tito Winyi; father of the present Omukama and many other royals. Most people visit this site to carry out rituals and also to pay homage or seek inspiration from the Omukama Kabalega.
THE MPARO ROYAL TOMB SITE
Omukama Kabalega is credited for his resistance against the British colonialists who had allied with Buganda to fight Bunyoro for opposing colonialism. He is a key figure in African history and stands as one of the remembered people for putting on a resilient resistance against imperialism. After being defeated eventually in April 1899, Kabalega was exiled in Seychelles. He later passed on in 1923.

As you head towards the gates to the tombs, there is a cone shaped monument painted in white and black. It was constructed on a site where Sir Emin Pasha first met Kabalega in 1971. Before getting the site, one will have to be thoroughly checked by royal guards at the site. The site was rehabilitated by Uganda People's Defense Force in 2009 before the activities lined up for the Heroes’ Day celebration in that year. The soldiers built a perimeter wall and renovated the traditional huts and tombs inside the site that was previously Kabalega’s palace. Kabalega’s tomb is inside a round grass thatched hut which has a wooden door. A tourist has to make confession to the caretaker of the tomb prior being allowed to enter the site. It is always a taboo for a visitor to access this tomb when he or she had an extramarital affair the last night! It is a requirement and a ritual for any visitors to deposit some money he or she feels in the basket prior getting guided through the tomb site.

As you enter inside the hut, the tomb is covered by a large cowhide pegged down with 9 pieces of traditional hoes. Lion and leopard skins that served as floor coverings in Kabalega’s palace are spread inside the steps of the tombs. You will also find smoking pipes, clay pots, milk and water containers, wooden tools, wooden bowls, sticks, spears, drums and shields and many more. Also, there are coffee berries that are said to have been used by Omukama Kabalega and Omukama Sir Tito. For most visitors with many challenges, they visit this area to find solutions from the spirits of the Kings. You will also find bronze and iron spears handed down from the Chwezi and Babito dynasties as they are well kept in royal tomb. Cone shaped crowns, flutes and necklaces worn by Kings in the Chwezi dynasty have also been kept inside this place. There is the tomb of Sir Tito Winyi father of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa. It is believed that Buyaga hill that is situated in the Kyanaisoke sub county in Kibaale District has been inhabited by the Kingdom’s healers and priests about 1200 years ago. Over 42 royal graves are said to be in this site popular as the Kyanku Kyamihingo. They could cure sickness and mitigate epidemics in the Kingdom. Bunyoro Kingdom consists of many royal sites and each of them is situated on an eight square mile piece of land.

Bunyoro Kingdom is composed of Hoima, Kibaale, Buliisa, Kiryandongo and Masindi districts. The recent King of the Banyoro is Omukama Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, the 27th king under the Babito dynasty. This region lies in East of Lake Albert and features as one of the culturally rich areas where most Uganda’s tribes have found refuge. Bunyoro hearty, Hoima town is situated 225 kilometers Northeast of Kampala and it is where the palace-Karuzika of the Omukama of Bunyoro is located.

In conclusion, a visit to the Mparo royal tombs is the best way for you to explore the history of Bunyoro. If you love cultural safaris, then visit this site and be rewarded with life time cultural experiences.