Northern Uganda is the least developed and least visited part of the country – a region that has been overlooked and felt overlooked ever since colonial times.
Today there are few hotels and good accommodation remains difficult to find. There are one or two properties of a high standard in the regional economic capital, Gulu, and a couple more in Lira, and that is more or less it.
The reason for this lack of tourism is easy to understand. Northern Uganda and northern parts of Western Uganda were off limits for many years as the Ugandan government battled with the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – a low-level war that was to continue well into this century.
Linguistic and cultural differences between the Acholi-speaking and mostly pastoral people of the north and the largely agricultural Bantu in the south have caused friction in Uganda for many years. Exploiting these differences and Northern Uganda’s perceived lack of development, the LRA was able to use the region as a base for its very unpleasant activities.
Thankfully, those hostilities are now history and Northern Uganda is peaceful and ripe for tourism development.
The potential is certainly here. Gulu Airport has the second-longest runway in Uganda but at the present there are few if any regular flights. But the situation will change as Gulu becomes more popular and as Uganda’s own domestic air sector grows to meet demand.