Kabale town is located in the southwestern part of Uganda and it’s the main town of Kabale district. Kabale town is not among the tourist cities in the country but it’s one of the biggest towns near some of the famous tourist attractions. Kabale town is located near Lake Bunyonyi which is known to be the deepest lake in Uganda as well as Mgahinga national park and Bwindi gorilla park which are the only gorilla parks in the country.
Travelers staying on Kabale shouldn’t visit the town and leave minus visiting the above places. There are so many tourism activities that can be done in these places but the most important thing to know is that activities done in the park need permits such as gorilla trekking/habituation that needs gorilla permits as well as birding that needs birding permits. We are going to look at some of the activities that travelers can do from Kabale town below.
Tourism places to visit from Kabale town
Lake Bunyonyi: Lake Bunyonyi is located in the southwestern part of Uganda and is shared by Kabale and Rubanda districts. Travelers from Kabale can take a visit to the deepest water lake in the country where they can take part in several activities. The most done activity on Lake Bunyonyi is canoeing and this is done in the morning and evening hours.
There are local canoes and riders at the lake who take you around the different islands of the park with opportunities of exploring most of them while seeing different birds. Bird lovers while canoeing can see more than 150 bird species that live around the lake. The popular islands you need to visit while canoeing include Akampene, Kahunye, Bucuranuka, and Bushara.
Travelers can still visit Lake Bunyonyi for swimming and relaxation. This can be done by honeymooners or those that want to have relaxation after gorilla trekking. You can relax at your lodge while having great views of the surrounding rolling hills or you can go down to the lake for swimming and enjoy the cool breeze.
Mgahinga national park: Mgahinga national park is just a 2 hours’ drive from Kabale town. Travelers in Kabale that would want to encounter mountain gorillas can book gorilla trekking permits for Mgahinga national park and encounter these wonderful apes. Mgahinga can still be visited by those that are interested in birding activities or visiting the Batwa people.
Mgahinga is mostly visited by travelers that are interested in encountering mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is the main activity done here and there is only one mountain gorilla family called Nyakagezi available for trekking in this park. Trekking mountain gorillas start early in the morning and therefore those that sleep in Kabale town must wake up early morning and make it to the briefing point.
The briefing is done to enable trekkers to learn how to behave around mountain gorillas. Only 8 people can trek the mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga national park and they are led by armed ranger guides. The guides take them through different trekking trails and when the mountain gorilla family is spotted, armed ranger guides give 1 hour to trekkers to be around these apes and this gives them an opportunity to learn about their habits, take photos and learn about gorilla habits.
Travelers in Kabale can still visit Mgahinga national park for hiking. There are 3 dormant volcanoes in Mgahinga that can be hiked and these include Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhabura. To hike these mountains, you will move to the park and just buy hiking permits. For those visiting Mgahinga from Kabale for birding, expect to see over 184 birds among which include white-necked raven, black kite, speckled collared sunbird, pin-tailed whydah, and African paradise flycatcher among others.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park: Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is located 68km away from Kabale which is about a 3-4 hours road drive. Travelers from kabala can visit Bwindi for several tourism activities which include gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation, birding, Batwa culture tour or nature walks. The park is home to endangered mountain gorillas, 10 primate species, 120 mammals, and over 350 bird species.
Encountering Bwindi gorillas: Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are the most done activity by travelers visiting Bwindi from Kabale. Gorilla trekking can be done in all four sectors of the park namely Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Rushaga while gorilla habituation can only be done in the southern sector of the park. Travelers from Kabale show make sure they have gorilla permits which are tickets to allow them to be part of the trekking activities.
Trekking mountain gorillas start early in the morning so for travelers in Kabale, it’s better you stay in lodges around the gorilla sectors you are visiting. Early in the morning, you must show up at the briefing center with your gorilla permit and the wardens will brief you about the activity. The armed ranger guides lead you in the jungle and when you meet mountain gorillas, you are given 1 hour or 4 hours to be around them.
Bwindi birding: Bird lovers staying in Kabale can take a visit to Bwindi where they will have an opportunity to encounter over 350 bird species. The best birding regions to visit for birding are Buhoma and Rushaga regions because they have the best birding spots. Good birders can spot most of the birds on a birding tour in Bwindi.
Notable bird species to Bwindi gorilla park include woolly necked stork, palm nut vulture, shikra, little grebe, sacred ibis, hottentot teal, lizzard buzzard, southern pochard, black crake, African jacana, European honey buzzard, grey crowned crane, ross turaco, olive pigeon, yellow bill, scarce swift, narina tragon, olive woodpecker, greater honeyguide, barn swallow, and common house martin among others.
Batwa cultural experience: Batwa are one of the most loved cultures in Uganda and they are found around Bwindi and Mgahinga national park. They used to stay in the park forests but the government evicted them to conserve the environment as well as mountain gorillas so they decided to settle around the park boundaries. Travelers can visit Bwindi from Kabale for gorilla trekking or birding and later add on a visit to Batwa communities. A visit to Batwa will enable you to learn about their culture and way of living.
What is the best time to be in Kabale for tourism.?
Kabale can be visited at any time of the year for tourism activities but the dry months are the best to visit this town. Dry months occur from June to September and December to February and they are characterized by little or no rainfall which keeps the roads connecting to different areas passable, inside the national parks, the trekking trails are dry and the vegetation is short with good views of the mountain gorillas.
Travelers especially budget travelers can visit Kabale town for different tourism activities in the rainy season so they enjoy the discounts on accommodation facilities. The rainy season happens from March to May and October to November so travelers should know that there is plenty of rainfall that makes the roads leading to the park impassable, inside the park the trekking trails are muddy and slippery, and the vegetation inside the park is tall with unclear views of the park animals.
How to get to Kabale town
Travelers that would like to visit Kabale town can access it by air transport or road transport within a single day. The town is located near the borders of Uganda and Rwanda and therefore those coming from Kigali can access it by using Katuna border. Traveler from Kampala can access Kabale town by using the main road from Kampala through Masaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo and finally Kabale.
Luxury travelers or those who hate traveling for long distances can use chartered flights to get to Kabale town. Different airline companies such as Aerolink Uganda, fly Uganda, and Bar Aviation Uganda organize flights from Entebbe international airport and Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro airstrip where you can connect to Kabale town.