Visit the Karamojong People

Karamojong people are a pastoralist ethnic group located in northeastern Uganda often referred to as Karamoja distinguished and characterized by their nomadic and cattle centric way of life. Cattle are central to the Karamojong way of life because they rely on them for their sustenance, trade and acts as a symbol of wealth and status. 

Cattle raids have been a traditional means in which these people acquire more cattle though the government has worked to discourage this practice in the recent years. Karamojong are semi nomadic that means they move with their cattle in search of grazing land and water sources which has shaped their social organization. 

These people speak a Nilotic language called Karamojong and their culture includes distinctive clothing, jewelry and rituals with very many ceremonies centered around cattle such as the naming ceremony for calves. 

The region has been marginalized and people face challenges like food insecurity, poverty, and lack of facilities like education and health services where different government and international programs have aimed to address these challenges. 

Explore Uganda Safaris

Karamojong food, art and craft and cultural dances.

These people have a diet that primarily consists of milk and dairy products. Milk is a staple within their diet and is often consumed fresh and fermented. They further make products like butter and yogurt which are essential sources of nutrition. Sorghum and millet are the cereals that are grown within the region and they use them to make porridge known as ajon and various dishes which they enjoy for breakfast. 

Karamojong people are cattle herders and consume meat on an occasion, beef is the most common meat source typically roasted over an open flame or prepared in stews and soups. Chicken and goat meat are also part of their diet but not so common.  These people always forage for wild edibles like tubers and leafy greens and these help to provide additional nutrients to their diet and bodies. They also eat bread made from their sorghum commonly known as ekiyungu which is a compliment to their meals. Honey is also consumed and they collect it from wild bee hives and use it as a sweetener for their nutritional values. As they collect honey, they also collect wild fruits and berries like shea nuts which are consumed for their nutritional values. 

The Karamojong have different art and craft and are rich in cultural heritage which makes them have their own unique forms of crafts that reflect their pastoralist ways of life. They are known for bead work where they create beads, necklaces and bracelets as they symbolize special ceremonies and rituals. 

Body painting is another significant part, they use natural pigments to decorate their bodies especially for cultural events like dances and ceremonies. They also weave baskets and mats from materials like grass and reeds, these items are used to carry food staffs and storing grains. They also make a variety of items from leather like bags, clothing and different accessories which are adorned with beadworks and are traditional practical attires. 

ATTRACTIONS IN KARAMOJA

Manyatta cultural tours are guided experiences that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the culture and life styles of the Maasai and other significant communities. Manyatta is a Maasai word that refers to traditional homestead or village. 

Visitors are welcomed by singing, dancing and offering of symbolic gifts like beads, necklaces and bracelets. The guided walks lead through the Manyatta explaining various aspects of life, tradition and culture. 

Visitors get chance to witness and participate in activities like dancing and singing where they acquire knowledge about how the Maasai beadwork and how they are able to start a fire without modern tools or milking cattle. 

Guides share different stories and legends that are central to Maasai culture and these tales offer a dipper insight into their history, beliefs and values. When you visit, you get a chance to taste some of the Maasai dishes like milk, meat and maize based products which allows visitors to experience the local cuisines.

Pian Upe is a wildlife reserve situated in the north eastern region of Uganda near the border with Kenya covering an expansive area that includes parts of karamoja and Teso sub region. 

The wildlife reserve is characterized by diverse landscapes, rocky outcrops and valleys. It is a home to a variety of wildlife species like elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes and numerous bird species. 

Pian Upe is less visited compared to other wildlife reserves which offers a more remote and authentic experience or those seeking it and camping in the reserve. The reserve is accessed by road from several cities like Kampala the capital but it is always important to check road conditions before you head out. 

SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN UGANDA

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

After reading about the mountain gorillas, meet them physically and watch the silverback protect its family, mothers nurse and youngsters play. Half of the total population of the mountain Gorillas call Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park home.

Mountain Gorillas are only found in the pearl of Africa, around the vast Virunga chain of mountains which spans through Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo. All trekkers must be 15 years and above, with a valid Gorilla trekking permit which can only be used once-the date of the activity.

Gorilla trekking permits are purchased from Uganda wildlife Authority, or through a licensed tour agency and costs 700Usd for foreign non-residents, 250,000ugx for East African residents and 600$ for foreign residents. 

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzees trekking is done in Kyambura gorge, Kibale national park, Kalinzu forest and Budongo forest. This is one of the must-do safari activities in Uganda, and thus one of the best for holiday goers. Get to experience the silence of the jungle, know what the forest has, and encounter other forest inhabitants.

The Gorilla trekking experience is done in the morning and afternoon hours, taking about 1-4 hours on foot. It is open for only persons aged 16 years and above in groups of not more than 8 persons. One can combine chimpanzee trekking with other activities like game viewing, boat cruise, hiking, birding and more. At Kibale forest National Park, you will visit Isunga community for the top of world hike and coffee experience.

Game drives and camping safaris

Akagera national park is the only place where game drives are done in Rwanda. The park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, with a wide range of flora and fauna, cool weather, and classic lodging options.

Game viewing in Akagera National Park is rated as one of the best in the continent, and offers high chances of encountering among others; the African elephants, cape Buffaloes, lions, leopards, Rhinoceros, forest genet, zebras, wild dogs and more. There are birds, plants and more to explore during your stay in the park. Game drive is best in the morning and late evening hours.

Boat cruises

Boat cruise experiences in Murchison falls national park, Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo, Bunyonyi and Kazinga channel are quite unmatched. The best way to explore water, and uncover the aquatic world. Get closer to Nile crocodiles, hippos, kingfisher, water duck, shoebill stock and more, the papyrus swamps, and cool water breeze. This experience takes about 1-3 hours, in either morning or afternoon hours.

Bird watching tours.

Uganda is a host to 10% of total bird species in the world. Birds are found across the country, in the swamps, lake shores, mountains, river shores, and forests. For bird enthusiasts, you get to learn of these birds by name, and character.

Take time to capture numerous photos of the many species notably; Turacos, eagles, Kori bustards, shoe bill stock, cranes, francolins, Albertine owlets, kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori Turacos, regal sunbirds, mountain masked Apalis, Red-billed quale, western nicator eagles, African Jacana, eastern black korhaans, lover birds, guinea fowls and more.

Hiking and Mountaineering activities.

Nature walk and hiking are some of the best safari activities done in your holiday. It is an activity where everything is within your presence, notably; the birds, plants, water and more. It is a much practical way of uncovering Mother Nature and doing physical exercise.

Spend a few nights above the ground, by hiking to the summit of Mount. Rwenzori; one of the tallest mountains in the continent of Africa. Other destinations include; Mountain Elgon which offers a scenic view of the magnificent caldera, coffee plantations and more.

Other activities in Uganda include; City tours, cultural tours, night life, and religious tour.

F.A.Q.

There is no standard price for Uganda, Rwanda or Congo gorilla permit –each country has its rates. In Uganda, the charges vary depending on the visitor category. The foreign non-residents are charged USD 700 to have their gorilla permits booked, USD 600 for foreign residents and Ugandans (East Africa citizens) pay shs. 250,000 per person. To have a gorilla permit secured/booked, you need USD 1500 for Rwanda and this is most ideal for luxury/high-end travelers interested in visiting the endangered mountain gorillas.

When booking a gorilla permit, it is also a good thing to have a destination of your desire in mind. The key places to consider a must-visit on gorilla tour include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park –these are gorilla trekking destinations for tourists on a tour in Uganda. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is where you can locate habituated mountain gorilla families and crossing the D.R. Congo, you can explore Virunga National Park.

It is a good thing to also understand when best to book your gorilla permits to avoid having issues on actual date of gorilla trekking. Considering our experience, we always recommend our clients to have their permits booked early enough at least 2-4 months. This can save you from last minute stress, especially if you plan to travel during the dry season also considered to be the peak season. The peak months of the year fall around June, July, August to September, and December, January to February.

Gorilla permits are among the relevant documents visitors must have to be allowed to track gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not any gorilla permit should be presented on actual gorilla trekking adventure but a valid one. Booking gorilla permits is part of making the entire gorilla trip complete and should be done early enough before the actual visit to see mountain gorillas or eastern lowland gorillas.

To have your gorilla permit booked, there is a process one should undergo through and is generally tedious. Considering your tight schedule back home, you may wonder how easier you can have your permit booked in advance to avoid last minute stress.

The easiest way to secure your gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda is by dealing with a recognized tour operator/company on the ground. This is where our reservation team comes in. As part of your gorilla safari requirement, our team being on ground will ensure that your permit is booked early enough and everything else that is needed for gorilla trekking is put together.

The beauty about dealing with local safari company such as ours is that we have knowledge on the different gorilla groups and surrounding communities plus various accommodation facilities for your night stay. This is in addition to making the entire gorilla permit booking process easier on behalf of our clients.

There is also an option of booking the permit directly through the reservation team of respective park authorities. But the challenge is that you must undergo through the long process to have your permit booked and this may not favor you depending on your schedule. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is an organ in charge not only for conservation of wildlife in the Pearl of Africa but also sets prices for tourism activities in the parks including gorilla permits. In Rwanda, you can contact Rwanda Tourism Board/Rwanda Development Board to have your permit booked.

The East African tourist visa is a joint visa that permits one to travel to specific countries within East Africa, namely Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda only. A joint tourist visa can be used several times for various purposes as long as it’s not overdue. 

Tourists should therefore find it important to always remember that the tourist visa lasts for only 90 days.  Processing the tourist visa takes a maximum period of two working days. It is also important to note that the tourist visa prohibits employment.

The process of applying for a tourist visa has been made easier since it can be done with the help of a tour operator or by the individual themselves online through the Ministry of Internal Affairs immigration portal. Visitors are required to log in to the portal, go ahead and accept the terms and conditions for the tourist visa, select the Visa / permit type, the subcategory and category, complete the application form and upload the required documents. 

A reference number will be generated and sent to you through your email, submit it and proceed to payment. It’s important to note that the payment can be made using Visa cards.  An approval letter will be sent to your email after the above process.

Report at the immigration office or border post for the biometric capture with all the necessary documents, receipt of payment, approval letter and your passport. Visitors should regard it as important to enter through the home country issuing the visa.

The East African tourist visa costs a fee of $100 only, meaning that it can be obtained by all travelers ranging from the budget to luxurious ones.

  • Persons aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek gorillas.
  • Avoid sneezing in the presence of gorillas.
  • Always stay away from gorillas by observing distance
  • Do not try to feed gorillas
  • Do not chew in the presence of gorillas
  • Do not take photos with flash light on.