The Igongo cultural centre, situated just four kilometres from Sanga gate of Lake Mburo national park in south Western Uganda is a historical place inhabited by the Banyarakitara of western Uganda this compromise of the Bakiga, Batoro, Banyoro and the Banyankole.
The Igongo cultural centre acts as a museum and is locally known locally as “Eriijukiro”. If you would like to know about the art, history and culture of the Ankole people the Igongo cultural centre is the best place to knowing about their culture.
The centre is built in an African traditional style local food is also available plus mouth-watering roasted goat meat many things about Ankole culture are showcased here including the dressing, about their long-horned cattle, the Mburo gardens also feature sculptures of people and animals of long ago the centre is also set on the former palace of Kings.
You can even spend a half-day, full-day, two days and even three days tour in Igongo Cultural Centre enjoying Traditional dance and drama from the locals, hiking the Biharwe Eclipse hill, visiting the workshops, taking part in milk smoking, touring the farms around the area, milking, ghee processing, millet grinding on stones, touring the museum among others
Why you should visit Igongo Cultural Centre
Igongo cultural Centre still remains one of the top attractions in Uganda thus encouraging anyone heading to western Uganda for a tour to make a stopover at least for a half-day if not two to three days and have a touch of Ankole traditional culture at glance.
The major attractions at Igongo Cultural Centre include the Museum, Nkwanzi crafts, and bookshop, Cultural village, Mpororo court, restaurants, hotels, and bars that are worth a visit, as explained below;
Museum (EriiJukiro): This museum in Igongo cultural Centre is known to be one of the best museums in Uganda and of course, the best in the western part of Uganda put in place to preserve the ancient Ankole culture. There is a whole lot of items preserved within this museum all refereeing to the Ankole kingdom and these include the Long-horned cattle representing that Banyankore are cattle keepers, the milking pots, hides and skins, stools, regalia, the Ankole traditional attire, and many more.
This museum is good for both students on research and also history lovers from all corners of the world since this museum is amongst the best museums after the museum of Zurich and the Uganda national museum.
Nkwanzi crafts and bookshop: Book readers who tour the Igongo Cultural Centre have an opportunity of buying some books that have a detailed history of the Ankole culture for over 500 years. This book has some interesting notes explaining the Eclipse Monument situated on Biharwe hill which was put in place as a memorial site that came in existence very many years ago when the baganda had come to Ankole to invade the Ankole cattle but as soon as they approached on top of Biharwe hill, behold total darkness covered them and they had to run away leaving the cattle behind in fear that the Ankole ancestors were against them which was not the case.
There are also developmental books with some important information about Uganda at large. Apart from books, there are several handmade crafts including the traditional costumes that are used during traditional functions such as omugamba for giveaway ceremonies, beautiful jewellery, and traditional clothes for Ankole, among others. Visitors are free to buy some crafts at a moderate price.
Cultural village: This cultural village is also known as Itaramiro which means “a place of where people gather”. The cultural village is filled with grass-thatched huts made of different designs some for the farmers and others for the cattle keepers.
A tour to this cultural village is very rewarding as visitors encounter the local community and spend some time listening to the stories, riddles and a lot of interesting things about the ancient Ankole lifestyle while enjoying the warmth of fire set in between as they sit in a circular position
Mpororo court: The Mpororo court also known as Kitami palace showcases items that were known to be kept in the Mpororo kingdom in the late 18th century. Inside this palace exists some statues of the women’s council, royal drums, milk pot, spears and other items that makeup regalia.
A tour of this palace will enable you to learn some interesting stories about the leadership of the now-defunct Mpororo kingdom.
Culture / Village Walks/Tours: Reenact tradition by trekking up to the eclipse and visiting other local attractions around Igongo. A tour guide here will give you first-hand experience about the way of life of the region
How to get there
To visit the Igongo Cultural Centre, you may access the facility by road transport from Kampala the capital city of Uganda which is about 4 hours drive along Masaka Mbarara road.
A tour to Igongo Cultural Centre can be easily combined with a visit to the Equator for beautiful photographs which is also situated along Masaka – Mbarara road, a game drive and boat cruise in Lake Mburo national park, gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park, or Mgahinga gorilla national park, canoeing in Lake Bunyonyi and many more since Uganda is blessed with lots of attractions to view.
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