Lake Mburo National Park is not just a sanctuary for wildlife; it’s also a place where you can delve into the rich local traditions and cultures of the Bahima people. A particular lodge near the park is deeply committed to conserving these customs and has forged a partnership with a local family residing close by. This family has opened its doors to provide guests staying at the lodge or in its vicinity with a glimpse into the Bahima way of life.
During these enlightening community walks, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn how to make local ghee, a traditional dairy product. As you walk through the community, you’ll engage with local women who will share their customs, traditions, and cultural insights with you. Depending on the timing of your tour, you might even have the chance to try your hand at milking some of the Ankole cows, an experience that truly connects you with the local way of life.
Moreover, you can opt to drive to the nearby Igongo Cultural Museum for a deeper exploration of the Ankole culture, known for its commitment to preserving its heritage.
Situated a short distance north of Mbarara along the Masaka to Mbarara road, the Igongo Cultural Centre has been a beacon of South-Western Uganda’s cultural heritage since its inauguration at Christmas in 2011, with Ugandan President Museveni gracing the occasion. The centre embodies the essence of the region’s culture, encapsulated in its motto, “Wisdom is rooted in the Past.”
Within the cultural center, visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating Eriijukiro museum, offering an enriching tour that spans about half an hour. The Eitaramiro cultural village showcases the evolution of typical Nyankore and Kigezi households, providing a fascinating insight into their traditional ways of life. For accommodation, the center offers twenty-two comfortable beds, ensuring a restful stay for guests.
The on-site restaurant is a culinary treasure trove where you can savor locally sourced traditional dishes like millet bread, matooke, and ghee. You can also enjoy a taste of a local drink made from millet or sorghum, adding an authentic touch to your dining experience.
The Nkwanzi craft and book shop within the center provides an opportunity to acquire unique local crafts and books, making for great souvenirs. As you explore the Mbuuro gardens, you’ll encounter historical sculptures depicting animals and people, adding an artistic dimension to your cultural journey.
The Igongo Cultural Centre allows visitors to step back in time, providing a vivid portrayal of how their grandparents lived through a collection of historical artifacts, which are brought to life with clay models and engaging presentations. The cultural village recreates a traditional homestead, complete with authentic milk gourds, calabashes, hides, and skins, as well as a fireplace accompanied by grinding stones, millet, flour, and farming tools. Furthermore, the center offers valuable insights into the ancient tribes and clans of Uganda, enriching your understanding of the nation’s diverse heritage.