Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial mass tourism.Ecotourism goes beyond just the nature and wildlife aspect of a destination. It also applies to the local people. Ecological impact includes human beings as they too are part of the system that makes up an environment. Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990) Ecotourism basically focuses on environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Ecotourism is a part of environmental conservation, and understanding what the needs of the people are who are local to the area so that you can help to improve their quality of life.

Ecotourism activities are a combination of both luxury and adventure, which includes visits to rich wildlife to experience flora and fauna, visiting volcanoes, hiking, river rafting, bird watching, canopy tours, horse riding, bungee jumping, surfing and snorkeling  to mention but a few.

The major Eco tourism sites in Uganda include:

  • Mabira Forest. …
  • River Ssezibwa. …
  • Ssese Islands. …
  • Kashoya Kitomi Forest Reserve. …
  • Budongo Forest Reserve. …
  • Mpanga Forest Reserve. …
  • Bigodi Wetland. …
  • Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

1. Mabira Forest

This is located on the Kampala – Jinja highway approximately 54 kilometers from Kampala city and about 26 kilometers from Jinja town. Mabira forest is among Uganda’s natural equatorial forests with area coverage of about 316 kilometers squares. This huge forest is a home to over 312 of tree species and other plants that are used as herbs. The forest also has a number of primates especially monkeys, over 300 bird species including the king fishers, hawk eagle, red headed blue bill and many others. The forest also has a number of butterflies and snakes.

2. River Ssezibwa

This river flows in the swamps between Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga. The river also has a waterfall that is about 7 meters high. This waterfall during peak rainy seasons is always full with large volumes of water pouring down the hard rock with an out bursting sound.
The river has supported the growth of a forest around which is home to primates like the black and white monkeys as well as a number of bird species. A visit to Ssezibwa falls gives one an opportunity to listen to the unique sounds of nature especially from the birds in the trees while having great scenic views. Tourists to the area also have a chance of a village walk learning about the local ways of life. This enables easy creation of strong relations among the tourists and the local people and better opportunities for helping the needy and poor local people who greatly need help. Tourists to Ssezibwa can generally go for sight seeing, forest walks, birding, community visits and biking.

3. Ssese Islands

These are 84 islands located in Lake Victoria the 3rd largest in the world. The islands are one of the undiscovered tourism destinations in Uganda with a number of tropical rain forests that are homes to various beautiful bird species and primates especially chimpanzees and monkeys.
For nature lovers, Ssese islands are the best destination in Uganda to be. The islands are not very much visited and therefore provide solitude experiences giving one a chance to discover the pearl of Africa’s true beauty as they listen to the sounds of birds.
Ssese islands have beautiful sand beaches where one can relax while sun bathing after swimming in the lake. The beaches along the islands offer great views of the lake and have standard resorts that offer proper accommodation facilities.
Tourist to Ssese islands can engage in various tourist activities like birding, go for water trips, fishing, sun bathing and relaxing at the lake among others.
The islands can be accessed from the main land through Nakiwoogo in Entebbe or through Bukakata in Masaka using a catamaran and a ferry respectively.

4. Kashoya Kitomi Forest Reserve

This forest reserve is currently located in Buhwezu district in western Uganda. The forest has a land area coverage of 433 kilometers squares and has a number of wildlife attractions that include chimpanzees, bird species, monkeys (vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys can be sighted in the forest reserve).
There are also baboons in the forest and during the dry season, animals move from Queen Elizabeth national park to the major water points in the forest reserves to quench their thirst. Of the animals that can be seen include antelopes, bush pigs, Uganda Kobs and duikers. These are mainly seen around lake Kamunzuku.
Tourists to the Kashoya Kitomi forest reserve can engage in various tourist activities that include birding, boat rides on the lake, primate tracking, sight seeing and community walks.

5. Budongo Forest Reserve

This is the largest natural forest in Uganda with a total land area of 825 kilometers square. Budongo forest is the largest mahogany forest in east Africa with a number of various tree species and other vegetation types.
This natural enormous has 120 chimpanzees, 30 of which were habituated and can therefore be visited by tourists. Other primates in the forest include the black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, baboons and a number of bird species that can be seen in the Kaniyo Pabidi sector located in the northeastern part of the forest.
The Kaniyo Pabidi sector also has a number of wildlife species that include warthogs, bush pigs, waterbucks, and buffaloes.There are well developed forest trails in Budongo and can enable tourists to involve themselves in various tourist activities like birding, forest walks, primate tracking and many others.

6. Mpanga Forest Reserve

This is located about 37 kilometers from Kampala along the Kampala- Masaka highway. This forest reserve also has unique trees with large buttress roots plus a number of bird species including parrots, weaverbirds, owls, hornbills and cuckoos.
Mpanga forest is a home to a number of colorful butterflies plus primates like the red tailed monkeys. The Mpanga forest reserve has well developed trails that include the hornbill trial, the butterfly trail, the family trail and the baseline trail all offering great views of the various wildlife species in the forest. Night trails can also be done in this forest reserve especially to view the bush babies.

7. Bigodi Wetland

This is located in western Uganda and its attached to Kibale forest national park covering a distance of about 8 kilometers long with a width of about a third kilometers. The Bigodi swamps have a number of birds and provide raw materials for making various handcrafts by the local people.
Various eco camps have been constructed here to promote Eco tourism activities. Tourists here can engage in various tourist activities like nature walks, community visits, birding, and primate watching.

8. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

This sanctuary is located in lake Victoria and it’s a home to a number of orphan chimpanzees. The sanctuary was established in 1998 and can be accessed through Entebbe.
A visit to the sanctuary provides a lot of opportunity to learn more about the chimpanzees and a view of various bird species. A monitor lizard can also be sighted along the shores of the lake.
Ngamba island sanctuary has standard tents that offer proper accommodation facilities with great views of lake Victoria.