Fort Portal - The Town
Situated 320km drive west of Kampala, Fort Portal makes for an ideal base from which to begin discovering this side of Uganda. Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest, and Semiliki are all within easy striking distance and with an altitude of 1480m, the evenings are cool and the views over the nearby Rwenzori Mountains are spectacular.
Fort Portal (pop: 48,000) acts as the cultural centre for the Toro kingdom and as agricultural processing centre for the nearby hinterland, espcially the beautifully verdant tea plantations. The downtown is quite clean and well-maintained allowing for comfortable evenings strolls or a browse in the local markets.
Tooro Botanical Gardens
This wonderful public garden is a unique environment where a variety of flowers, medicinal plants vegetables and fruits are grown. It is a magical place to wander around, taste locally grown fruits and vegetables and get to know the rich biodiversity of the region. Birds find an especially favourable environment here. Only minutes away from the centre of Fort Portal, this makes for a nice relaxing sidetrip.
Crater Lake Hikes
The Bunyaruguru crater lake region is located in Western Uganda, only 26km south of Fort Portal. Many of the verdant hillsides containing rich black volcanic soils are still farmed using traditional methods producing diverse plants and herbs and a bewildering variety of crops from tea and coffee through pineapples, passion fruits, bananas, mangoes, avocado; to millet, sweet potato, cassava, sorghum, peanuts, yams and hot chilies.
Hikes of varying lengths among the crater lakes can be organised. Depending on your interest and fitness level, the experience can include waterfalls, crater rims, coffee terraces and even banana gin brewing in oil drums. There are also plenty to see for those fascinated by birds, butterflies, and primates.
The Local Market
Get to know the friendly local sellers and sharpen your bartering skills. The Fort Portal market is located in the lower part of town between the Mpanga River and the junction of the Mubende Road opposite the Pepsi depot. There is always a large choice of fresh vegetables and a huge selection of second-hand clothes.