Music, dance, and drama are vibrant cultural traditions throughout Uganda. Through engaging performances, Ugandans outfitted in colorful clothing, grass skirts, animal skins, and even masks tell their stories of courtship and romance, spiritual beliefs, and joyful celebration. Songs and dances are accompanied by traditional music and instruments such as ndaras, wooden xylophones played by up to four musicians at a time; hand carved flutes called envamulres; and string instruments called adungus. Dances are performed by all ages, and even the less able are encouraged to join in with the aid of wooden puppets.
Each region has its own style of music and dance – from the rhythmic shuffles of the Batoro in the Rwenzoris to the incredible leaps of the Bakiga people of southwest Uganda. Many lodges and attractions throughout Uganda incorporate on-site cultural performances into their experience, and visitors can feel good knowing that they are supporting local families, villages, and educational institutions through their participation.
The Ike people
In Uganda’s northernmost hills, the Ik tribe makes their home on Mount Morungole. The Ik were displaced from the lower reaches of Kidepo Valley National Park half a century ago and now maintain their way of life on the mountain ridges. Those seeking a true adventure can embark on a day-long hiking excursion to an Ik village. The higher travelers climb, the more breathtaking scenery awaits with views into the Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya, South Sudan, and beyond.
The Batwa experience was created by Uganda’s original forest inhabitants to share the tribe’s amazing heritage and traditions with the world. As of 1992, the tribe no longer lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, their ancestors’ home, but they have not forgotten the old ways. Visitors can step back in time on a rainforest hike with Batwa guides, learning how they lived, hunted, and foraged, while watching for animals and birds. Through a translator, the Batwa tell ancient legends and sing traditional songs, while performing traditional dances and reenacting a hunting party.
Community, nature walks
Community/Nature walks through forest edge villages provide insights into the lives of the locals and encountering Uganda’s stunning array of wildlife is a moving experience for visitors, and meeting the people who spend their lives surrounding by the animals can be just as insightful.
These walks through rural communities offer a rewarding look into daily life, with tours conducted by villagers. Customs in each village reflect the local environment – from the chilly Rwenzori foothills and misty slopes of Bwindi to the parched savanna and tranquil banks of the Nile – and the story of each community is told by the village elders, as it has been from generation to generation. Participants also see community members perform centuries-old trades such as grinding millet, creating machetes, and healing with natural herbs and medicines. Other activities include visiting a traditional homestead to learn how people cook, work, and entertain themselves without electricity or running water, and stopping by the local distillery for a taste of waragi, a potent banana gin.