Cultural Tours in Uganda

They say when you want to understand the people, understand what makes them who you are. This perfectly relates with understanding the culture which comprises of the beliefs, traditions and customs of a certain group of people.

Uganda has 52 different tribes that peacefully live together in the country. Each of these tribes have strong beliefs in their cultures and each unique to a different group of people with a few relations. There are very many ways in which the different cultures represent who they are and cultural tours are the best way of getting to know them. Cultural tours in Uganda can be organized as single activity trips or best tailored into the very many other Uganda safari activities. 

Each part of the country has unique cultures and traditional sites where tourists can learn about the different ethnic groups. To be able to share the beautiful cultural beliefs most of them are expressed through music, dance and drama. However, there are two minority groups in the country where by tourists can visit to learn of the extremely unique yet fading traditions; these are the Batwa, the Karamojong and Ik people. 

  • Batwa pygmies
Batwa pygmies

Batwa pygmies

The batwa pygmies are a group of people who live in the foothills of the virunga ranges, formerly living in the same habitat as mountain gorillas.

The Batwa originally lived in the forest together with the mountain gorillas but later on moved out of the forest by the country conservation groups in a bid to protect the gorillas. Moving the batwa out of their original home was challenged to be unethical but it was the best way to help the mountain gorillas and other species continue to thrive.

There was a lot of hunting before and this contributed to the decrease of the gorilla population. Today, the Batwa proudly take tourists to what they know best, their former home on trips through the trails as they explore how they lived there before. The Batwa also display their traditions like hunting, setting fire, construction through music, dance and drama. 

  • Karamojong and IK people

 In the northeast of Uganda are an exciting group of people known as the karimojong. They occupy mainly moroto, nakapirit and Karamoja districts. They evolved from one of the many Nilotic bands that slowly drifted down from Ethiopia about 500 years ago.

Legend has it that they were too exhausted to continue any further and that’s how they settled in this region, the name ‘karimojong’ is derived from ‘ekarimojong; meaning ‘the old men can walk no farther. 

Settling around mount moroto, they gradually moved into the outlying flatlands in search for pasture. The tall, rangy men are pastoralists who are fiercely possessive of their cattle since it is treated as treasure and measure of wealth in the region.

Karamojong and IK people

Karamojong and IK people

The most interesting part of the karimojong is how they have managed to preserve their culture amidst the challenging modern era of globalization. Encountering their homesteads (locally known as manyatta), cultural norms, the dress codes and traditional dances are some of the attractive moments visitors get when they reach this region. karimojong love to dance but the ‘jumping dance’ is their specialty and probably their favourite.

lt consists of  taking successively higher springs into the air in time with a backing chorus. The effortlessness involved, is what makes the ‘jumping dance’ so thrilling to watch. Facial marking are common, even though a few of the karimojong are beginning to give in to the dictates of modernity. The markings are a means of identification passed down from family to family, members of the some village and generation to generation. In other circumstance, the elaborate  pin-pricks strokes and circles can also be seen as a form of beautification.