Where or what is Teso?

Teso is a region in north-eastern Uganda which is bordered to the north and east by the region of Karamoja.

Uganda is about the same size as the UK – and Teso is about the same size (15,630 sq.km = 5,300 sq.miles) as the East Midlands (that is, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire combined).  It has a population of between about 2 and 2.5 million.

The people of Teso are Nilo-Hamitic and are thought to have originated from Egypt. They are related to other East African cattle people such as the Karimojong (Uganda), Turkana (Kenya) and Masai (Kenya and Tanzania). The majority are Iteso who speak Ateso, although there is another small tribal group also living in Teso, the Kumam who speak Kumam. They all get on well and inter-marry, but the Kumam appear always to have been marginalised; for instance, there is very little literature in Kumam and it is only very recently that the Bible has been translated into Kumam.

The Iteso are very welcoming and hospitable, as well as being peaceable and forgiving. They suffered so much from the mid-1980s for about twenty years – see the RECENT HISTORY OF TESO. However, there has been peace throughout the region since the infamous LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) left Teso in 2004 (and completely left Uganda in 2006), but they are amongst the poorest people in Uganda – and the level of poverty is actually increasing. This is largely due now to serious climate changes (droughts and floods) as well as lack of tourism, and being marginalised and under-funded.

Tourists only think about visiting southern and western Uganda for viewing animals and birds. We hope this website will give you a glimpse of all the wonderful things you can see and experience by travelling eastwards from Entebbe and Kampala, then north to Teso and westwards to Murchison Falls (and so many other places) – as well as getting away from thousands of other tourists!

Why visit Teso?

Teso is an obvious stopping place on an eastern-northern round tour in Uganda. The National Parks and Reserves (Murchison Falls, Kidepo, Pian Upe, Budongo Forest, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary) have been open again for many years and offer a wider variety of animals and birds than the other better known Parks of Uganda. The only animal you can’t see in the north is the Mountain Gorilla!

But Teso offers so much more than just a stopping place on the way to National Parks. The people are warm and generous and longing to welcome visitors. International tourists can once again experience and enjoy all that this part of Uganda has to offer – as well as much more besides, such as community, cultural and volunteering experiences. Although the scenery in Teso is not as spectacular as some parts of Uganda, it has a wonderful open beauty with wide views of beautiful skies, undulating plains, enormous rocky hills and outcrops, grassy swamps and lakes, cultivation dotted with traditional homesteads – and distant views of mountains in Karamoja and Mt Elgon.

Teso is recognised internationally as having significant wetland birding habitats. Lake Opeta and Lake Bisina have been listed as RAMSAR sites since 2006 and  IBAs (Important Birding Areas).

You will be visiting the following sites

Welcome to Lake Opeta – Bisina wetland system

Lake Opeta – Bisina wetland system is the last remaining wetland system uniquely placed between the drier regions of Karamoja in the North and the wetter areas in the South. It is unique with species of birds especially the endemic Fox’s Weaver and other rare waterbirds such as the Shoebill and the White-backed Duck.

Kapir Community Eco-tourism site

  • Waterfowl rich site
  • Canoeing and fishing
  • Nyeru Rock paintings
  • Cultural village (on Palisa road)
  • A canoe ride to Tisai Island
  • Shoebill trekking
  • Village Tourism (at Atutur)

Magoro Community Eco-tourism site

  • Traditional fishing
  • A visit to Ostrich farm
  • Teso cultural sites
  • Traditional cultural dances
  • A canoe ride to Tisai Island
  • Shoebill trekking

Unique experiences

  • Visit the Tisai Island about 2 hours on a slow boat ride with challenging rides through the dense corridor of the Bisina and Opeta lakes locally known as “the Gate of the two lakes”. A place with ancient Teso traditional huts still existing.
  • Explore the various tourism interests in Kumi region that includes boat rides, swimming, birding, fishing and shoebill trekking. There is also a cultural village and Nyeru rock painting that may easily be accessed.
  • Experience the spectacle of Pian Upe wildlife Reserve with animal movements from the North coming down to the Southern shores of Opeta wetland system. Major attractions include Buffaloes, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Zebras and Roan Antelopes.
  • Being an Important Bird Area and a Ramsar Site, the system boasts of a variety of speciesof birds, fish, plants and amphibians among others.
For bookings email Joel at ugandavolunteersfoundation@gmail.com