Mbale is located around 230 kilometers northeast of Kampala in Eastern Uganda. The town of Mbale lies at the bottom of Mount Elgon – Uganda’s second-tallest mountain.
Mbale town’s history dates back to Uganda’s colonial days and some of the old buildings are still in active use in the town.
Mbale’s idyllic location near Mount Elgon National Park, Sipi Falls, and the Pian Upe Wildlife reserve have made it an interesting tourist attraction worth visiting.
In this article, we’ll take a look at all the things you can do to enjoy your visit and stay in and around Mbale in Eastern Uganda.
Things to do in Mbale City
One of the top tourist activities to do around Mbale is hiking. You can visit the popular Sipi Falls, and Wanale cliff, or hike inside Mount Elgon National Park.
There are many routes and you get to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding areas.
2. Visit Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is Uganda’s 2nd tallest mountain and its summit encloses the world’s largest mountain caldera. Mount Elgon is a dormant volcano that was at one time taller than Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s tallest mountain.
In Mount Elgon National Park, you will be able to see many animals and birds as well as the changing mountain climate which is simply stunning.
3. Visit Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls is a series of 3 beautiful waterfalls in Kapchorwa just a short drive out of Mbale Town. Sipi Falls tours are very popular with both local Ugandans and visitors from other countries. Here is a full article exploring all the things to do in Sipi Falls.
4. Bird watching
Uganda is home to more than 1000 different bird species and the areas around Mbale are good for bird watching. You can visit the various forested areas as well as wetlands for large numbers of birds.
The Kapkwai forest exploration center offers excellent opportunities for birders since it has most of the bird species found in the Elgon national park. Common species include cinnamon chested bee-eater, golden-winged sunbird, and Doherty’s bush strike. Most of the birds recorded here are forest birds and Afro-montane moorland endemics.
5. City Walk in Mbale
Mbale, like other Ugandan towns, has a calmer feel when compared to the fast pace of Kampala. This makes it a good place to walk on foot and see the various old building, interact with locals, and really connect with the place.
As a town with a deep culture of coffee, you can stop at any of the local restaurants for a cup of coffee that is prepared the way locals often take their coffee.
6. Nyero Rock Paintings
The Nyero rock paintings are located around 60 km north of Mbale town. The Nyero rock paintings are one of the finest rock art signs in the region and Uganda as a whole.
7. Attend the Imbalu Ceremony
The Imbalu (male circumcision) is a legendary ceremony among the Bagisu ethnic group that marks the initiation of boys into manhood. The ritual brings a festive atmosphere to the Elgon region and the Music blares, the dance is engrossing, and food is in plenty. The opening ceremony is usually around the Month of August of every even-numbered year.
This is a great cultural experience that you can only enjoy in Mbale. Since the Imbale ceremony has a schedule, you should first know the schedule and plan your Mbale visit properly.
Visiting Mbale and the areas around presents incredible opportunities for photography. From the ‘small town with history’ vibes to the countless waterfalls, stunning views, culture, and more, you will be using your camera at every turn.
Take a look at this photography on safari guide to help you to understand all the ins and outs of taking photos while on your Uganda safari holiday.
For many years, Mbale’s tourist attractions seemed to run under the rudder but that has quickly changed and now Mbale and the entire Elgon region is a hot tourism spot. Visits to Mbale are best combined with Hiking the Sipi Falls, Climbing Mount Elgon, or even doing a longer Eastern Uganda safari that includes a visit to Kidepo Valley National Park.