When in this South Western point of Uganda, the range of activities available is endless. Exploring the local area and meeting its hospitable residents is key to really understanding Kisoro. Meaning ‘huge animal’ in Luganda (the country’s main language), Kisoro was previously part of Rwanda but for 100 years has now belonged to Uganda.
With Bafumbira the main tribe, many of the indigenous Batwa groups also live here. Help keep their history alive by experiencing an ethical tour, where giving donations of necessary items rather than money shows your appreciation. Hear their passionate accounts of living deep within the forest, enjoy the powerful drum beats from their cultural songs and dance and channel your inner adventurer by making fire the traditional way.
From here, join the hive of activity and practice your bargaining skills at one of the local markets in town or across the border in Congo. With every blink you will see items that slope in scale from beautiful to utterly confusing. If left feeling inspired, why not try your hand at traditional weaving with a local women’s craft group or help make tools with the resident blacksmith.
To really appreciate life here, spend a day with a local family and help them in all aspects of their daily routine. Village walks can also be arranged as can school visits, where the focus is on sharing information as part of a cultural exchange. Having worked up quite a thirst, walking coffee and beer brewing tours provide a fascinating way to see the landscape and can give you that much needed burst of energy!
It is always essential to have a doctor around and you could be just that, after learning the insightful skills and ancient rules of local medicine, by using natural ingredients and herbal juices to combat aliments such as malaria and stomach pains.
Put your hiking boots to the test by taking on the Virunga Volcanoes. With three to choose from, Muhabura’s summit offers a magnificent crater lake, Mghinga a crater swamp with an abundance of native flowers and Sabinyo, where you stand simultaneously in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. For something a little less steep, the numerous hills surrounding the town make for a great afternoon of hiking. Seeing the vast agriculture of farms, tea and coffee plantations and natural soda water wells, gives a fantastic oversight of all this area has to offer. Mountain bike tours are also available. Marshland, bamboo and rainforest can be tackled when walking through the Bamboo Forest.
After spotting L'Hoest's monkeys, a viewpoint is accessible which showcases six lakes and volcanoes spread between Rwanda and Uganda. If sunlight is not your thing, join the bats for a day of caving and travel 20 metres deep inside to see what hidden stories await. After, take to the water in a traditional dug out canoe and explore the four main lakes of Mutanda, Cyahafi, Mulehe and Kayumbu. Visit their islands and listen to the captivating tales of the past.
When having a break from paddling, try to spot the fish otters that make the lake their home and are best seen in the early morning or late evening. Don’t forget to look up and see the array of feathered friends that make this area a bird watching paradise. With over 300 different types, Kisoro is the only place to host certain species of the Leather Jacana, Rwenzori Turaccos, Crested Eagle, Narinah Tragon, Black Headed Heron and Black Craks.
Reptile enthusiasts should remember to pull over on Snake Island, where in sunny weather Black and Green Mambas, Spitting Cobras and Rock Pythons can be seen in papyrus and elephant grass. For safety reason 6 metres is the limit on how close you can get. Back on solid ground, chameleon spotting is a worthwhile outing to see the rare Triple Horned Chameleon as well as insect identification of Goliath and Ugandesis beetles, only found within Kisoro District.
Have you ever thought about how the good Arabica coffee is made? Here is your chance to get the knowledge and make your own cup of coffee! Visit a local organic coffee farm! The farmers show you the process from planting until enjoying your self-made own cups of good Arabica coffee.. You have a chance to try the traditional way of making coffee and experience for yourself every step of production – this tour is not only for Baristas. Who hasn't fallen in love with coffee, you can enjoy the amazing view of lake Mutanda and the Volcanoes on your tour to the farm. Let’s get to know a bit more about the history of Kisoro, the local tribes and of course the history of the huge Volcanoes which are a direction point for all the region around.
Do you know how African chicken tastes? Have you ever thought about how many ways you can prepare potatoes? Did you know what the 3 stones symbolize at the African fireplace? Do not miss your chance to try “Rhiboghouyou” the traditional meal of the region. This is the real Africa! Our chef welcomes you at Mucha Bistro.
And finally, no trip to Uganda is complete without seeing the most famous of them all, the Mountain Gorilla. With five habituated groups to trek and see, the experience of closely observing the behaviour of these rare and endangered animals can most definitely be named as something you only experience once in a lifetime. To learn more about the activities in this region, please also visit the webpage www.gorillahighlands.com