If there are places to consider a must-visit on Uganda safaris, then it is Fort Portal Town/City. From the breathtaking view of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges, beautiful sceneries to humble people, Fort Portal Town is a unique tourism destination and business centre of its own. Officially recognized as Tourism City in Uganda, Fort Portal is without doubt a complete Uganda safari destination boasting of its wide spread hotels, restaurants and unique attractions.
Fort Portal is a major town in western Uganda, It has a refreshingly cool climate and offers the traveler many exciting, interesting, and relaxing options. These include access to three national parks and two wildlife reserves.
The areas that surround Fort Portal contain an amazing amount of biological diversity, even for a country with as much diversity as Uganda (which, despite its small size, has one of the highest for any African country). Thus, the town provides access to afro-montane habitat, high tropical forest, savannas, woodlands, papyrus marshes, lakes both large and small, and the only true lowland tropical rain forest in all of East Africa.
Because of this many different types of mammals can be found and the number and variety of bird species is incredible.
On the human side of things, Fort Portal is still the capital of the Toro Kingdom, one of the four major kingdoms in Uganda. Besides the Batoro, the other main tribes in the area include the Bakonzo of the Rwenzoris, the Bwamba of Bundibugyo District, and the Mbuti of the Semuliki Forest. Each tribe has its own language, culture and traditions, making a rich if sometimes confusing human tapestry.
Despite the overblown accounts in the world media of insecurity affecting western Uganda, the problems are highly localized and easily avoided. In fact, most of the people are surprisingly friendly, laid-back, and helpful to the extreme, which makes casual strolls and short walks of exploration a popular pastime with residents and tourists. So the Fort Portal area offers safe options for several travel styles including adventuring, bird/mammal watching, and complete relaxation.
Fort Portal Town is a tourism city in Kabarole district, Western Uganda. From Kampala capital city to Fort Portal Town, it is about 290kms, from Kasese 50kms and Mbarara 180kms. It is strategically located in Western Uganda and surrounded by Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo districts.
Fort Portal Town/City is a heart of Toro Kingdom and Karuzika Palace where a King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV calls a home. The palace is set right on Kabarole hill just in the heart of Fort Portal Town.
Attractions in and around Fort Portal Town/City
Fort Portal is recognized as a Tourism City for a good reason. Fort Portal is amazingly a main gateway to different tourism destinations or attractions in Western Uganda including Kibale National Park a home to 13 primate species- 1500 chimpanzees and a major chimpanzee trekking safari destination.
It is a major stopover point for tourists on Uganda safari to Kibale 26kms away and while setting off from Kampala via Mubende-Fort Portal Town or Murchison Falls National Park via Hoima to Fort Portal or from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kibale Forest National Park. The other main areas of interest include Semuliki National Park/Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve a home to one of the world’s hot springs- The Sempaya Hot Springs.
Over 52 beautiful Crater Lakes are also found in Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts, and they are accessible while at Fort Portal Town or city. In surrounding, Fort Portal comes with scenic view of extensive tea plantations, Amabere Caves with scenic waterfalls etc. Its strategic location to Toro Kingdom also makes it the best cultural safari spot to explore in-depth about the history, cultures unique traditions, practices of the Batooro people, the warm welcoming people, etc.
The Batooro are interesting people to interact with and what is amazing about them is that they love pet names. Pet names (also famous as Empaako names) are often given to children and while at Fort Portal Town, you will often hear names such as Akiiki, Araali, Acaali, Abwooli, Abbala, Atwooki, Ateenyi, Adyeeri, Apuli, Amooti and Okaali (this is reserved only for the Omukama/King.
Okaali name is a special name of its own in Toro Kingdom and often not used to greet the King but it is normally used on some occasions for instance when tradition elevates the King to the rank. Besides the Batooro, Fort Portal is also a home to Bakiga people.
For enthusiastic hikers, it is easier to connect up to the Rwenzori Mountain ranges to enjoy the exhilarating mountaineering adventures or experiences. Mount Rwenzori is located in Rwenzori Mountains National Park and a trek to its summits is a great opportunity to conquer the snow-capped Margherita peak 5109m.
Fort Portal is famous as the only town Uganda with an English name. It was established in the 1960s taking its name after Sir Gerald Portal- The British Consul General of Zanzibar who visited Uganda in the 1890s to establish if it can be formalized as a British Protectorate.
Markets- for freshly harvested fruits, a Fort Portal Town/City has you covered. This town boasts of its 2 markets- Mpanga Market which is found in the central division and Kabundaire Food Market.
Accommodation in and around Fort Portal Town/City
Fort Portal Town or Tourism City has a range of budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation facilities for Uganda safari travelers to consider for overnight stay. They include Nyaika Hotel, Fort Fun City Hotel, Fort Motel, Koi Koi Cultural Village Hotel, Sunrise Apartments Hotel, Relief Motel, Tooro Fairway Hotel, Mountains of the Moon Hotel, Ataco Country Resort, Reinah Tourist Hotel (Moderate or mid-range).
Budget hotels in and around Fort Portal include Ruwenzori View Guesthouse, New Fortview Hotel, Dika Apartments, Fort Heights Homestay, Fort Breeze Hotel, Raja Excelsior Hotel, Cityview Hotel, etc.