Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Gorilla Tracking charges lowered

The Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) has slashed fees for Uganda gorilla tracking permits by about 60% to both locals and foreigners.

UWA executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, announced on Tuesday in Kampala that the fee for East Africans – Ugandan trackers inclusive will be Ush.100,000/= from Ush 250,000, US$250 from US$475 for Foreign Residents and US$350 from US$500 for Foreign Non residents.

These promotional rates are applicable only for the low months of March, April, May, October and November. For the peak months rates will remain Ush 250,000, US$475 and US$500 respectively.

This, he explained is meant to attract more tourists to Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other tourism sites in the country. It is now on record that Gorilla trekking provides over 50% of tourism revenue for Uganda.

From a recent census, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park now has a total of about 32 gorilla groups. Of the 32 groups, nine are habituated of which eight are utilized for tourism while one is used for research. The total number of gorillas in Bwindi is about 340 which is almost over half of the estimated 720 Mountain gorillas in the world.

The census found that the percentage proportion of groups with several males (multimale) fell from 45% in the 1997 and 2002 censuses to 23% in the 2006 census.

According to an UWA press statement; this represents a normal fluctuation in the dynamics of gorilla groups. Because of the increase in the gorilla population, UWA has started a habituation process for two more groups in abid to boost Tourism revenue and satisfy the increasing public demand for gorilla tracking.

According to the researchers- “overall, the Uganda gorilla population has been increasing at an approximate annual growth rate of 1%, which is indicative of a healthy and well protected population”.

Reports also indicate that, in 2008, tourism earned Uganda $590m with 84,300 visitors. The tourism sector employs over 70,000 people directly while 300,000 people are employed indirectly in activities like handcraft.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), tourist arrivals continue to increase thus have led to recent increases in forex earnings from $590m in 2008 to about US$650 m in 2010.

Rwanda generates $56million in first quarter of 2011 from Tourism

The tourism industry amassed US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) in revenues in the first quarter of 2011, from US$43 million during the same period last year, indicating a successful start for the year.

During the same period, 201,088 visitors have visited the country representing a 32 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

John Gara, The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), attributed the increase to the diversification of Rwanda’s tourism products. The introduction of new products, particularly the 150 meters high canopy walkway in Nyungwe, is projected to attract at least 13,000 visitors this year.

“Due to the canopy walk, Nyungwe National Park activities almost doubled with an 89 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011,” Gara said, Thursday, during a press conference.

He added that in order to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in national parks, the Parliament and Senate voted in the compensation law to fence Akagera Park and contain wildlife within park boundaries and also compensate evicted families.

Gara said, “There was a 35 % increase in park activities registered in the three national parks,” He also noted that, “park activities in Akagera and Volcanoes parks increased by 20% and 39% respectively.”

He expressed optimism over the forthcoming Kwita Izina function scheduled for 18th June, which is a gorilla naming public event expected to massively boost the tourism sector, as well as attract several international celebrities.

“Kwita Izina will be held under the theme “Community development for sustained conservation” and will see 22 baby gorillas given named in a colorful event at Musanze. This is one of the major events in the tourism calendar, which we are all optimistic about,” Gara added.

As part of the country’s long term tourism master plan, Rwanda Development Board is to launch three birding routes outside the national parks.

Omusinga Charles Mumbere to Trek Mount Rwenzori

THE Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) has organized a seven-day Uganda trip to Rwenzori Mountains so as to increase awareness about Uganda’s tourism potential among Ugandans.

The trip, code-named ‘Trip to the moon,’ will begin on Tuesday, January 18 and end on Wednesday 26th January. The UWA organized trip is arranged at the same time the Rwenzururu cultural leader Omusinga Charles Mumbere will be hiking the Rwenzururu trail. The hike will begin with a cultural ceremony at Ibanda-Bugoye, near nyakalengija in Kasese district.

On 19th January, His Majesty Omusinga Mumbere accompanied by members of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, representatives of several NGOs, associations and media houses will then start hiking to the Mountains of the Moon.

The trekkers will first camp at the Nyabithaba Camp as they proceed with the hike. The team comprises staff from the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, Uganda Tourist Board, members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, representatives of the United States Aid for International Development-Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine Rift, as well as various media houses.

Mumbere will among other things sign a memorandum of understanding with the UWA team, which will officially allow the kingdom to perform cultural activities and related duties at the Bulemba sacred site. This site houses the remains of Rwenzururu’s first king, Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga.

Mumbere will also open the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services building at Nyabithaba camp before continuing with the trek to Margherita peak.

Raymond Engena, the Uganda Wild life Authority Ag Director Tourism and Business Development, said the trip is intended to appreciate and market the beauty and opportunities within the Rwenzori Mountains.

It is also aimed at encouraging Uganda mountain climbing as a recreational activity among Ugandans.

Tanzania Tourist Numbers Decline

By TEA Correpondent

Tanzania is likely to miss out on millions of dollars usually expected from the tourism industry following the decline of international tourists’ arrivals which is due to the global financial crisis. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, Tanzania suffered a 10 percent decline in foreign tourist arrivals in its wildlife-rich national parks in the first ten months of 2009.

The WTO’s 2009 comprehensive report shows that the country had received about 576,643 travelers, down from 641,951 international tourists in 2008. The UN body goes on to note that the negative trends in international tourism surfaced in the second half of 2008 and intensified in 2009 due to the global economic downturn.

As a result, Tanzania, East Africa‘s second largest economy after Kenya, is currently struggling to promote domestic tourism in a bid to fill the gap in foreign tourism. Mr. Ibrahim Mussa, Assistant Director Research, Training and Statistics in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism observed that government had opted to concentrate on domestic tourism due to its potential.

“We have decided to increase efforts to woo domestic tourists as a counter to the effects of the global financial crisis because we found that it is paying off,” said Mr. Mussa. He added that findings revealed that an endeavor to pursue local tourists is paying off with a 19.3% increase in activity.

Mr. Donatius Kamamba, Director of Antiquities in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said that a preliminary analysis conducted by his Ministry, shows that the number of visitors coming to the country for leisure had dropped due to the consequences of the financial crisis.

BAKONZO – BAMBA CELEBRATE BIRTH OF RWENZURURU PRINCE

By John B. Nzinjah

A prince has been born to Iremangoma Charles Wesley Mumbere, the cultural head of the Uganda Rwenzururu kingdom.
The news was the talk of Kasese town, with local FM radio stations receiving numerous calls congratulating the Omusinga and the Queen.

The kingdom spokesperson, Godfrey Kabyanga, yesterday said: “The Omusinga was present at Kampala International Hospital when the prince was delivered on Wednesday. The queen, Agnes Ithungo and the baby are in good health.”

Many people said this was a double blessing since it comes ahead of the coronation celebrations on October 19.

The Bamba-Bakonzo king will also mark his 43rd anniversary since he took over the Rwenzururu Kingdom after the death of his farther, Isaya Mukirania Kibanzanga.

Kibanzanga was among the Bamba fighters who led a rebellion against the Toro kingdom, demanding independence in 1962.

The Virgin Rolling Hills of the Eland

By Geoffrey Baluku

Situated in Mbarara district with an area of 370km², Lake Mburo, the smallest of all savannah parks in Uganda is truly a fascinating game park. Established in 1982, the drive to the park takes between three and four hours from Kampala.

I may be a pen pushing wallah but when the wild calls, I will surely be there to remind you of the top tourist hot spots in Uganda. From the virgin rolling hills to traditional game drives, walking safaris, boat trips and hiking all combine to make the park a very special place. It is one of those parks that you will find something for everyone.

The park has a combination of acacia woodland, open grassland and wetland making it the ideal place for many species of wildlife.

Famous for its richness in biodiversity, the park has 357 different species of birds including the crowned crane, the papyrus yellow warbler and the rare shoe bill stork, 68 mammal species including zebras, elands and buffalos making it the ideal gateway for many visitors with a short time to spend in Uganda.

Predators, though rarely seen, are still known to be roaming the virgin rolling hills in the park. These include the camouflaged leopards, hyenas and jackals. The best time to spot one is early in the morning or late evening. As for the lions, they were said to have been hunted out in the 1970′s, though the buzz around the park is that some have recently been spotted again. Lions are well known for the art of camouflage and their curiosity that usually attracts them to campsites due to the smell of dry fish or meat.

Hippos and crocodiles are also easily seen in Lake Mburo with the surrounding papyrus swamps being a hideout for the sitatunga. On some occasions it is also possible to find herds of the famed Ankole long horned cattle freely feeding with zebra and the impala.

Arrangements for game drives on the impala and zebra tracks will help visitors spot zebras, warthogs, topis and waterbucks while hikes on Kazuma hill will enable guests get a better view of the virgin rolling hills and the different lakes in the park. Boat trips and birding can also be arranged through recognized tour operators in Kampala or at Rwonyo park headquarters where ranger guides as well as interpreters are provided.

Self-guided nature trails and an interpretation centre are available in the park and do help school groups and other visitors to learn more about the wildlife in the park. Visitors to the park may also enjoy a boat ride on Lake Mburo.

A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets in this park. Mihingo Lodge and Mantana Luxury Tented Camp are good options for overnight stay. Budget accommodation can be arranged at Rwonyo or in Mbarara town.

Tourism being one of the fastest growing industries in Uganda, one should therefore not miss the opportunity to invest in the sector. Opportunities for investment in the areas of accommodation do abound.

One could also tap in on the operation of a launch cruise on Lake Mburo and the culture of the pastoralists surrounding the park.

Lake Mburo National Park is truly the perfect stopover enroute to the jungles of Bwindi forest and the legendary Mountains of the Moon.

Kidepo Valley National Park Speaks to the Soul

TEA & Agencies

Tucked into the corner of Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley National Park is truly one of Uganda’s spectacular parks.

It is an area of classic beauty with vast and myriad herds of wildlife roaming freely through untamed nature. Dare go there: it will really astound you! The park can be reached from Kampala either by air or road.

Although the journey can be tough, taking up to two days, the diverse landscape enroute makes the journey worthwhile.

There are three routes that can be used by road and these include the route via Karuma, Lira and Kotido which is approximately 705 kilometres; the route via Mbale, Sironko and Kotido that is around 740km; while the 792km route takes you via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto on to Kidepo. A 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended for any of the routes to Kidepo.

In as much as the drive to Kidepo is exciting, most visitors arrive at the park’s headquarters at Apoka by charter flight.Gazetted in 1962, this 1442 square kilometre park though less frequented does offer a kaleidoscope of memorable images. There is something wild and starkly beautiful the traveler goes to feel in Kidepo.

That something extends beyond the open tree savannah, Acacia Geradi forest, scenic landscapes, vast herds and Karimojong manyattas (huts): it’s something that speaks to the soul.

The best time to visit Kidepo is during the dry season that runs from December to late March. In the rainy season from April to September travel is often not easy and game is not easy to locate as a result of the overgrown grass. Whatever your idea of a real Africa, Kidepo will match it as the park offers a tantalizing glimpse of Uganda’s unique wildlife.

The feel of Kidepo stems from the wide variety of things to do and see. For those interested in wild game, Kidepo Valley National Park provides a wealth of wildlife including 86 species of mammals of which 28 are not found in any other Ugandan park. Some of the wild game includes the dik-dik, cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, zebra, eland, Bright’s gazelle and greater kudu.

Game drive loops through Narus Valley and around Kanangarok hot springs across Kidepo River will most likely enable you get the opportunity of seeing the eland, zebra and giraffe feeding together.

For the ornithologist, over 462 bird species have been recorded among which are the ostrich, kori bustard and the giant ground hornbill.

The trip can also be spiced up by attending either the ekaharo or emuya dance of the Napore and Nyangea ethnic groups. These traditional dances are some of those few experiences that you will surely live to remember.

If you simply want to relax and enjoy your holiday, the luxurious Apoka Lodge provides the perfect setting.

With the ever increasing visitor numbers to Kidepo, there is need for more accommodation facilities to supplement Apoka Lodge.

Opportunities abound for construction of new hotels in Katurum and other areas of the park.

All that can be said of Kidepo is that not only does its terrain alternate between seducing inselbergs and small hills but also from rocky outcrops to open tree savannah.

Mount Rwenzori: Africa’s highest Mountain Range

TEA & Agencies

Awe-inspiring is perhaps an understatement when describing the beauty of this world-class hiking and mountaineering destination: the Rwenzoris. Described by one enthralled visitor as Heaven’s Garden, it is as though the gods had hidden this profusion of colour up in the clouds so that only those who dare might reach up and share its secrets. No wonder the mountain range is described as the Mountains of the Moon, even by ancient Hindu scriptures.

Mount Rwenzori can be reached from Kampala either by air or road. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara or the north passing through Fort Portal. By air the park is served by Kasese airfield.

These legendary snow-capped mountains were declared a forest reserve in 1941. The reserve is a catchment area giving rise to numerous streams that supply water to the surrounding communities as well as maintaining the flow of water to lakes Edward, George and Albert. Rwenzori Forest Reserve was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a world heritage site in 1995.

The Rwenzori mountains have a range covering an area of 996 square kilometers, lying 4° north of the Equator. The mountain range has six peaks that stretch from Mt. Stanley with Alexandria and Margherita (Africa’s third highest mountain at 5109 metres above sea level), Mt. Speke - Vittorio Emmanuele (4889m), Mt. Baker (4843m), Mt. Gessi (4797m), Mt. Emin (4791m) and Mt. Luigi de Savoia (4626m).

Mt. Rwenzori is renowned for its non-engineered, steep and slippery trails and frequent rain. High altitude, rain, cold temperatures, mud, bogs and steep terrain make it the most challenging range in Africa. Hiking the mountain commences with the hiring of equipment followed by briefing from the guides. At 1,646m departure from the park headquarters starts with a client walking past Bakonzo homesteads. On reaching the Makoma River, you cross via a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut at 2,652m, which is the arrival point for the day. This walk usually takes five to six hours.

The following day involves heading westwards for half a kilometer then dropping north steeply to Kurf Shafer Bridge. One can choose to overnight at Nyamileju or continue to John Matte Hut. From John Matte you cross the Bujuku River from where you will enter the lower two Bigo Bogs and this is the place where your first real experience of jumping from tussock to tussock in a grassy bog begins.

The trail in this area is usually muddy to the south until the Bigo Hut which is an ideal spot for parties climbing Mt. Speke with overnight usually at Bujuku Hut (3,962m). From Bujuku Hut the circuit is continued on new trails, which rise and fall twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss-draped Groundsel Gully towards Scott Eliot Pass (4,372m). The trek continues to Elena Hut (4,372m) which is the camp prior to climbing Margherita Peak (5,109m).

It is advisable that descent towards Kitandara should never be delayed. Here you will find massive rock walls and craters at the base of Mt. Baker. You then proceed via Upper Kitandara Lake through bad mud to the lower lake and Kitandara Hut where you can spend the night.

It is from this point that treks to Mount Baker or Mount Luigi di Savoia and Vittorio Sella can be arranged.

To avoid overheating on the steep long climb from the lake to Fresh Field Pass (4,282m), it is advisable that the descent starts early. From here one can descend through Kabamba onto the park headquarters at Nyakalengija.

Generally the trek is an excellent destination for keen hikers and climbers. The best time of the year for hiking is during the dry seasons from July/August and December to February. However, it is still possible to trek in other months. The fauna of this park is a checklist of 70 mammal species and 182 birds. The Rwenzori Colobus Monkey, L’Hoesti’s Monkey, Chimpanzee, Blue Monkey, Rock Hyrax, Red Forest, Black-fronted Duiker, Elephant, Leopard and the three-horned Chameleon are some of the wildlife that can be spotted.

A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets while in Kasese town and these include Rwenzori Base Camp in Ibanda, Hotel Margherita and Rwenzori International Hotel.

More Tourists in 2008, though a decline is evident in 2009

TEA Agencies,

Kampala, Uganda

 A total of 844,000 foreigners visited Uganda in 2008, representing a 32% increase over 2007. As a key contributor to Uganda’s GDP tourism accounted for 3.7% of the total. Despite this increase, it is clear that Uganda’s tourism industry is now facing difficult times as a result of the financial melt down.

The tourism industry is especially vulnerable to financial slow downs with consumers spending less on travel products and experiences in the short and medium terms. Expenditure on accommodation and

Gorilla Permits, Uganda’s trump card has decreased drastically as visitors choose more affordable safari options.

There was growing optimism that Uganda would soon achieve the 1 million foreign visitor mark by 2012. However, with the current economic melt down experienced globally and domestically, the effect on Uganda’s tourism industry is likely to be worse.

The unstable fuel costs and fluctuating dollar rate means that long-haul tourism is on the decline, particularly for middle income tourists. This has already had an effect on Uganda’s tourism industry.

As long haul travel becomes increasingly unaffordable, the integration of the East African region is now paramount for the region to achieve its tourism targets. However, reasonable controls such as some degree of protection for the Ugandan tour operators should be taken into consideration as we go into the final stages of the East African re integration.

The drop in visitors from all major source markets including UK and USA is now evident. According to research firm Trip Advisor, 58% of UK consumers are likely to or have already been influenced by the economic down town when it comes to choosing a holiday this year.

Tour operators in Uganda must now guard, at all costs, against pricing itself out of the global market as this destination now competes, on affordability levels, with Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

With the deepening of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown, there is a rise of new challenges ranging from safari cancellations to souring inflation rates now believed to have settled at 14.8%.

These challenges thus call for a cash injection so as to help in facilitating tourism research, marketing and work force issues for the better of Uganda’s Tourism industry.