Travel to Mbarara – Cattle Country

An important crossroads for travellers heading between Kampala or Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park or Bwindi and Mgahinga in the far southwest, Mbarara is also the largest town in Western Uganda. Although there is little of interest to see for most travellers, the town is still an important transport hub and has a good choice of shops, banks and general services.

The name ‘Mbarara’ has its roots in the old colonialist mispronunciation of the word ‘Mburara’ a certain type of grass. Mbarara district was formerly part of the region known as Ankore between 1972 and 1973. It was divided into east Ankore and West Ankore. Under the Idi Amin regime the two Ankores were renamed Mbarara and Bushenyi districts. Mbarara is a very agricultural district. The district is the leading producer of local staple, matooke, in Uganda. The main cash crops grown in the district are bananas, coffee, maize, beans, vegetables and Irish potatoes. Bananas are the major staple food, others being sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, beans and maize.

Mbarara district is also Ankole cattle country. With very large, distinctive horns, Ankole are often referred to as the ‘Cattle of Kings’.

With its crossroads location Mbarara makes a logical destination for a lunch stop when travelling through southwest Uganda. Consequently there is a wide choice of places to relax, eat and drink.

Mbarara is 282 km from Kampala, with a journey time of approximately 4 hours.

  • Experience the daily buzz of a typical, hard-working and largely agricultural Ugandan town
  • Stop for lunch or stock up on supplies at this important town – gateway to Uganda’s southern National Parks
  • Take time to appreciate the rather large-horned district symbol – Ankole cattle!


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