Uganda Archaeology - South Western Region

Nsongezi Rock Shelters

Nsongezi Rock Shelters is the only site known in the whole of Uganda to have extensive Late Stone Age microlith and dimple-based pottery. It is estimated to date around the 9th Century A.D. There is also Kansyoke Island on the Kagera river nearby, which is also a Late Stone Age site. It was used twice by the rulers of the Kingdom of Nkore, Ntare IV (c. 1700) and Rwanga (c. 1800) for refuge. In modem times, it was used as a holiday resort until the 1980ands.

To get to Nsongezi rock shelters and Kansyore Island, one has to take the old Mbarara - Kabale road, past Oruchinga Refugees Settlement. They are approximately 64 kms from Mbarara town.

Also along the Mbarara - Kikagati road and between 24 and 26 kms from Mbarara town are the Buchunku Stanley Memorial and Bweyorere Capital , respectively. The former was the site around which the Explorer H. M. Stanley made blood brotherhood with Buchunku on 23rd July, 1889. Buchunku represented the King of Nkore, Ntare V.

On the other hand Bweyorere about three-quarter km to the left, off the Mbarara - Kikagati Road, was used as a capital site by two rulers of the Kingdom of Nkore, Kasasira (c. 1750) and Karara (c. 1800). There are low mounds all around the site, which might have been settlement sites and cow dung heaps. Pottery scattered within the site is the only surviving archaeological evidence.

There are a number of historical sites and monuments within Mbarara town itself, which are also worth visiting. The first one is Nkokonjeru Tombs at Kakika, about three and half kms west of Mbarara town. At this site are the tombs of the last two Kings of the Kingdom of Ankole, Kahaya II and Sir Godfrey Gasyonga II.

At Kamukuzi, the seat of the capital of the Kingdom of Ankole, are the relics of the old palace. It is in a bad state of disrepair. However, the former drums house still stands. There is also a beautiful monument in the memory of the late Nuwa Mbaguta, who was the Prime Minister (Engauzi) of Ankole.

Peace Memorial

Within Mbarara town itself, one can find the Peace Memorial at the parade square in front of the Old Police Headquarters and the Ntare Stanley Memorial near the Mbarara Central Government Prison. New projects nearby like the Bank of Uganda, Mibarara Branch and the Kagera Basin offices have encroached on the site, which was marked by big and old fig trees, which are arranged in circular form. According to the traditions, it was the capital site of Omugabe Ntare V.

Within Ibanda trading center, 60 kms north of Mbarara, is the Galt Memorial. This is a heap of stones arranged in a cone marking the site at which Galt, a colonial Assistant Commissioner was murdered by a man called Rutaraka. The incident led to the arrest and subsequent panishment of some of the Bahinda princes like Igumira and Rwakakaiga.

Kitagata Hot Spring

Kitagata Hot Spring near Kitagata Hospital about 40 kms on Mbarara-Ishaka Road, are an interesting scenery. Patients of rheumatism and arthritis bathe in the warm sulphurated water to get relief. Coupled with medical treatment from the hospital nearby, patients usually recover more from the psychological belief in the hot spring water than the modern medicine, Moving into Kabale District and apart from the beautiful scenery of cool hills and terraced gardens on the slopes and hilltops, there are two natural sites both of which served the same punitive purpose.

Kisizi Falls

These are the Kisizi Falls on River Kyabamba and Lake Bunyonyi. Both sites, according to tradition, were used for dumping premarital pregnant girls. Girls, whose legs and arms were tied, would be rolled over the falls which was about 15 metres high or thrown into the deep crater lake. Today the two sites are attractive tourist centers. Buwama Leprosy Center is situated on one of the islands in Lake Bunyonyi.

There is a tourist hotel along the lake, which is undergoing rehabilitation. Kisizi Falls, on the other hand, supplies hydro-electric power to the nearby Church of Uganda Kisizi Hospital. Kisoro District or, to be exact, Bufumbira, is known for its expansive caves of Soko, Garama and Ruhengo in the Muhavura Mountains. It is rumored that one of them, Garama, had a tunnel through which people passed to go to Rwanda. The caves are found in the Mgahinga Gorilla Game Park. An archaeologist recently visited them and collected pottery of Later Iron Age, which indicated that the caves were inhabited, possibly by the Batwa.

A few kilometres northeast of Kisoro trading centre is the Kigezi Memorial, This was the site at which Kigezi District was proclaimed after the boundary settlement between the British, the Germans and the Belgians in l9ll.


Uganda is well endowed with cultural, historical, and natural sites, which are of great archaeological and tourist importance.

Visiting Archaeological Places

The best place to begin any exploration of this heritage is at Uganda museum, which specializes in the collection, documentation, conservation, storage and presentation through exhibitions and educational services of Uganda's cultural objects. The biggest of the three museums is the Uganda Museum, located 3 kms from the city center on Kira Road just after Mulago Hospital. Apart from the rich ethnographic displays covering a wide range of the traditional life of the peoples of Uganda, it also boasts of being the best museum in East and Central Africa with a wide variety of music collections. The other two museums are in Kabale and Soroti towns and they provide a home for limited ethnographic collections.

Uganda's cultural and natural sites and monuments can be categorised into royal tombs of the former kings of the Kingdoms of Uganda, earthworks (both historical and archaeological), forts of explorers and colonial agents, rock shelters and rock paintings, caves and memorials.

Last Updated on Monday 23rd November 2009