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Explore Gulu – Tourism Attractions & Activities About Uganda – Geography – Location – Visa and Passports – Safety & Security

Gulu town

Location : Gulu District is located in Northern Uganda and borders
Sudan in the strategic cross-border transit area of the great North road through Nimule to Northern Africa. Besides Sudan, the District borders Moyo, Kitgum, Apac, Masindi, Arua and Nebbi. The Victoria Nile separates Gulu from the District of Masindi in the South, the Albert Nile separates it from the Districts of Nebbi, Arua and Moyo in the West and River Achwa separates it from Kitgum District to the East.

Population : The District has a population of about 468,500 people.

Main Town : Gulu is the main town of the district and has a population
of 113,200 people. The town is the largest town in northern Uganda, with reasonable basic infrastructure dating back to colonial and early post colonial period when it served as the regional centre for northern Uganda.

Area : 11715.7 Km2

Land and vegetation : 0.83 percent of the district area is open water, 0.63percent
is Wetland and 30,162 hectares is forest.

Most of Gulu district has relatively flat terrain covered by thick savannah grassland vegetation and 2.5 percent of the district area comprises central and local forest reserves. The terrain is characterised by forested valleys found along rivers flowing from the district interior highlands toward the Victoria Nile, the Albert Nile and the Achwa rivers. The rivers from the highlands include River Tochi, River Unyama, River Ayugi, River Ayago, River Apar, River Eruzi and River Aswa. The forests include Opaka, Abera and Kaladima.

The terrain, rivers and vegetation of the district create a conducive habitat for a variety of wildlife and a significant part of the Murchison Falls National Park lies in Gulu district.

The key tourist attractions of the district are given below.

1. Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is one the most important national parks of the country. Established in 1952, the park is home to large varieties of wildlife. In addition, the park’s attractiveness to tourists is enhanced by its very natural and scenic green landscapes.

The park’s attractions include game drives, bird watching and the scenic boat rides. In particular, the park offers game viewing of indigenous wildlife including African forest elephants, lions, giraffes, African buffalos, bushbucks, kobs, crocodiles, waterbucks, kongonis, oribis, bohor reedbucks, baboons, warthogs and a variety of monkey species. Murchison falls is also one of the most important attractions in the park.

The park’s infrastructure includes Sarova Paraa Lodge, Nile Safari Camp, Sambiya River Lodge, Paraa Rest Camp and Rabongo Camp.

2. Sir Samuel Baker’s Fort at Patiko

The Fort is located 30 kilometers from Gulu town in Ajulu parish, Patiko sub-county, Aswa county. Constructed as a slave collection centre, the Fort was taken over by Sir Smuel Baker in 1872 to 1888, before it became headquarters for Emin Pasha and Gordon, the respective Governors of the then Equatorial Province of the British Protectorate.

Exploitation of the Fort for tourism purposes was disrupted by the insurgency in northern Uganda. The previously existing infrastructure was destroyed. The layout of the Fort is as follows:
- Guides Office
- Communication Trench
- Entrance Gate
- Millet Store
- Simsim Store
- Court Yard
- Marks of executions by axe
- Chair of Judge (seat curved out of high rock)
- Cell for women captives
- Cell for men captives
- Execution area
- Area for depositing bodies (skulls exist at rock bottom)
- Firing squad area
- Mark of cross left by Baker’s wife where she used to pray from every morning
- Armery store
- Observatory point
- Baber’s slip (breath taking deep gap in rock where Baker used to hope repeatedly every morning)
- Grinding stone
- Oyaro’s passage (point at the deep communication trench named after a slave who managed to escape by jumping over the trench).
- Guest reception centre
- Two huts depicting Acholi traditional huts.

3. Amoro Hot spring

The Hot spring is located about 35 kilometres from Gulu town, in Paga parish, Amoro sub-county, Kilak county. The hot spring covers an area of about 100 square metres and is the largest found in northern Uganda. Although undeveloped, the hot spring has a lot of potential for tourism exploitation. The surrounding landscape is suitable for developing campsites and excursion grounds.

4. Karuma Falls

The western part of Karuma falls is located in Gulu district and the eastern part in Apac while the southern part is in Masindi. The designs of the proposed underground electricity dam to be built there indicate minimal disruption with the visible nature of the falls. Thus the falls which already have tourist campsites on the southern bank in Masindi district have large potential for tourism exploitation.

5. Tochi Resort Beach

Located about 20 kilometres south of Gulu town, Tochi beach is a low lying sandy bank of River Tochi. The beach has potential for development into an important tourist attraction for excursions, camping and bandas.

6. Guruguru caves

The caves are located about 25 kilometres north of Gulu town. The are said to have been used as safe haven during the Lamogi rebellion and historical inter-clan wars among the Luo. The Guruguru caves offer opportunity for further diversification of tourism products when developed.

7. Hill Climbing

There are a number of isolated hills in the district that offer opportunity for hill climbing. These are: Kilak, Ato, Patiko and Moro hills.

8. Atiak Colobus Monkeys

A large concentration of colobus monkeys exists in the Atiak forest reserve near the Albert Nile. The fairly rare mammals, wide variety of bird species and the savannah short forest canopies combine to give a potential attraction that may be enhanced by tourist trails and camp/excursion sites to offer a perfect product.

9. Cultural Performances and Antiquities

The Acholi dance and antiquities have not yet been fully developed to tap the potential benefits from tourism. There are plans by the local authorities to establish a cultural centre in Gulu town for crafts, souvenirs and cultural ornaments and regalia.

10. Hotel and Catering

Gulu district had 26 accommodation establishments at the time of the survey. A number of accommodation establishments are new and appear to be resulting from increased demand for accommodation by relief agencies operating in the district. The district had a total capacity of 535 beds. The outstanding hotels in the district include Paraa Safari lodge, found in Murchison Falls, and Hotel Pearl Afrique in Gulu town. The sector employed 419 people in the district.

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