If Africa was a movie, Uganda would be its trailer. You can see every bit of Africa by simply visiting Uganda alone. Some tourists know this. Most don’t!
As a result, the number of tourists coming to Uganda is way below compared to other destinations, some which can’t offer a quarter of what Uganda offers in terms of natural endowment.
This is where the tourism debate in Uganda starts. And there is nobody who talks tourism in Uganda like self-made millionaire tour operator AMOS WEKESA.
On Thursday August 9, Wekesa was again at hand to throw some facts our way via his Facebook wall.
We will try to quote him verbatim:
It’s always great thinking and writing about this great nation [country] called Uganda.
A country with a population of 41.5 million people. With over 40 official languages. It has amazing facts and I would like to bring out one or a few more in this column of mine.
Uganda is the source of River Nile, which is the most ancient and mighty river covering a distance of about 6853kms. [We would also like to add that the Nile is the world’s longest river].
Along that Nile, up-to until recently, Uganda boasted of the best water rafting opportunities in the world in terms of two to three days, and the main reason was that most rivers across the globe are seasonal and yet the Nile here is almost constant.
The construction of the dams is killing that opportunity.
The Nile in Uganda has probably the most powerful waterfalls of the world in a place called Murchison Falls National Park, which is also Uganda’s biggest national park. The whole of the Nile struggles to squeeze through a canyon just 7m wide, hence falling over 30m deep – something which gives us a bragging right but aren’t utilizing.
The same Nile in Uganda could probably offer Africa’s biggest opportunity for cruises aiming at the wildlife views at its banks.
The stretch between Murchison Falls National Park and Nimule is about 220kms of calm waters for massive potential of cruises which would give a visitor the opportunity to go through the defunct Aswa Olilim game reserve – degazetted by president Idd Amin – Ajai game reserve. East Madi game reserve isn’t far away either.
The MT. GORILLAS
Uganda boasts of hosting over 53% of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. These giant apes can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda and the Mgahinga National Park which is shared between Uganda, DR Congo and Rwanda.
This is a very special asset to this country because each gorilla permit allows a guest an hour of viewing, not taking away or touching, at USD 600 (about Shs2million), and that doesn’t include accommodations, transport and food en-route.
The BIG SEVEN
Most popular African safari destinations brag about the Big Five (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo).
Well, Uganda has the Big Five and more. Uganda has the Big Seven, after you have thrown the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees into the mix.
The Big Seven make Uganda a unique destination.
It is the only place in the world where you can see this combination of the world’s most iconic animals.
We the tour operators in Uganda are slowly adopting the idea of selling Uganda using the Big Seven idea, and UTB should use similar idea in their marketing campaign.
Uganda, which is the same size as the UK or Oregon state of USA, has about 1078 different species of birds. This means that 50% of Africa’s bird species are in Uganda; and a staggering 73% of East Africa’s bird species.
I have told many Ugandans, that if we branded and marketed Uganda well, we’d make enough money from birding activities to become a donor country.
Those in doubt please google about how much money America makes out of birding as an activity and yet they have less than what Uganda has in terms of species.
Uganda having a diverse environment, water bodies, rivers, forests, savanna areas, swamps, woodland act as habitat for the different bird species.
Uganda is the major migratory route for birds escaping the brutal winter weather in Europe.
The birds tend to come to the Mediterranean, partly follow the Nile and end up mainly on the islands on Lake Victoria.
These birds leave for Europe once the weather gets fine again. Birds use their ‘internal’ clocks and yes, if the birds know that, then we should convince the Europeans to follow the birds as well.
GAME PARKS AT A GLANCE
Uganda has 22 national parks and game reserves. Some of these national parks are unique at a global level.
Kibale forest national park, for example, is known as the Primate Capital of the World. You will not find a place anywhere in the world with as much concentration of primates as this small forest.
Those who have written about Kidepo Valley National Park think that it is the most picturesque on the continent.
The park offers some of the most fascinating safari experiences but what distinguishes it from the rest is its wholesomeness.
Kidepo is surrounded by lots of hills and mountains which offer a photographer a life time opportunity of amazing photography.
Queen Elizabeth national park which is about 1998kms sq in size is believed to have the highest concentration of birds of any protected area in the world.
This park also offers the best opportunity of seeing the tree climbing lions which is very rare. And, of course, we can’t forget to say, it has a very special water channel connecting two major lakes, Edward and George – the Kazinga Channel.
The Kazinga Channel is a birders paradise as it offers tourists the opportunity to see animals at a very close range. You can’t miss the giant hippos as they lazy around during day time.
We can’t mention queen Elizabeth National park without talking about Kyambura gorge, an underground forest, hosting many primate species including chimpanzees.
A visitor to Queen Elizabeth national park will enjoy visiting the communities surrounding the park, especially the salt mining areas. And there is a number of scintillating craters that will blow your mind away here.
Adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National Park are forests like Kalinzu and Maramagamba, which are great in their own rights, as they host birds, tree species and many primate species.
In conclusion, Uganda isn’t just gifted by nature but it’s Africa compressed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: At the risk of boring you, let me remind you that this post hasn’t even touched Rwenzori Mountains, Ssesse Islands, Organic Ugandan Food, Hospitable People, Great Weather Conditions, Hot Springs, and many, many more.
In a nutshell, Uganda is still awaiting unveiling. When it finally does get unveiled, there will be no stopping the Pearl of Africa.