The 7 Most Instagrammable Bits of Uganda

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Have you been following WIT Agent Nancy’s adventures in Uganda on the blog? Africa Wild Explorations has some jaw-dropping itineraries that get you up close to nature, “silverback” mountain gorillas – all at an affordable price.

For our penultimate post on Uganda, here are the most Instagrammable places in the country. See you all in Uganda! What are you waiting for? 😉

  1. Queen Elizabeth National Park

2. Crater Lakes

3. The Equator (where’s your photo Nancy?) 😉

4. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

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5. Kibale Forest National Park

6. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

7. The Tree-Climbing Lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park

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Travel News: 6% More US Citizens Traveled Outside The Country In 2018

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6% More US Citizens Traveled Outside The Country In 2018
Skift reports more Americans traveled outside the United States than ever before last year, spurred by a growing economy, favorable exchange rates, and high consumer confidence. According to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of US citizens traveling outside the country for business and leisure jumped by 6% last year, reaching a total of 93 million. Of those, 45% or 41.8 million flew to overseas destinations, 9% more than in 2018. Europe had the highest numbers and saw the biggest gain, up more than 12%, though the data also includes travelers going through Europe to other destinations. Other big gains came from travelers heading to Oceania, South America, and Asia. 

Isla Bella Beach Resort Opens In Marathon Key
Caribbean News Digital reports the Florida Keys’ highly anticipated Isla Bella Beach Resort officially opened to guests Monday. The five-star oceanfront resort is the first full-service luxury hotel in Marathon and the largest newly built private waterfront hotel in the Keys. Located at the entryway of the iconic Seven Mile Bridge, Isla Bella Beach Resort is two hours from Miami and just an hour from Key West. Highlights include 199 rooms and suites ranging from one to five bedrooms, one mile of private beach, five swimming pools, four dining outlets and more than 24,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Isla Bella Beach Resort also features convenient on-site water sports, a fishing pier and a marina. A full-service spa, fitness center and a marketplace retail and cafe concept will be added in May. The 4,000-square-foot spa will feature a relaxation room along with five dedicated treatment rooms, a lounge, couples massage room, steam room and a spa garden. The Spiaggia Suite will offer guests hair treatments, makeup application and other services while the 1,000-square-foot fitness center will boast state-of-the-art Peloton treadmills and bicycles in addition to free weights and other equipment. Activities and experiences available to guests will include complimentary kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and fishing as well as games such as badminton, bocce, croquet, giant chess, cornhole and volleyball, among others.

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One-hour London-New York Flights Move A Step Closer To Reality
Travelmole reports hypersonic jet travel has become a step closer to reality after UK researchers completed a milestone test in its plan to operate an aircraft capable of flying London-New York in under an hour. Reaction Engines has tested the aircraft at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, three times the speed of sound, using ‘pre-cooler’ technology that allows the aircraft to travel at high speed without causing the engine to melt. The next stage will see the technology tested at Mach 5.5 (4,200 mph). At top speed, it could lead to superfast transatlantic flights, with aircraft traveling at up to Mach 25, or 25 times the speed of sound. That is the equivalent of flying London-New York in under an hour. Reaction Engines, based in Oxfordshire, built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions that the vehicle will experience at hypersonic speeds. The firm hopes to make a reusable vehicle that would combine the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and speed of a rocket. The pre-cooler is designed to lower the temperature of compressed air rushing through an engine from more than 1,000C to room temperature in one-twentieth of a second, according to The Times. The new experimental engine would be called Sabre and would work like an ‘air-breathing rocket engine’. From take-off to Mach 5.5, the Sabre would draw oxygen from the atmosphere where it would be ignited in a rocket combustion chamber alongside stored liquid hydrogen. It would then switch to burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from onboard fuel tanks, allowing it to reach 25 times the speed of sound to enter space. Mark Thomas, the Reaction Engines chief executive, told The Times: “If you can pull it off, it’s a game changer. It kicks conventional rocket engines into touch.”

Aegean Airlines Named ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ 2019
Greece’s Aegean Airlines has been named “‘Best Regional Airline in Europe” for 2019 at the Traveler’s Choice Awards for Airlines, according to travel website TripAdvisor. Aegean Airlines is also named Best Regional Business Class Europe and Best Airline in Greece for 2019. Aegean, the leading airline in Greece and member of the Star Alliance, carried 14 million passengers in 2018. The Greek airline had also received the same award in the 2018 Traveler’s Choice Awards for Airlines. It was also honored with the Skytrax World Airline award, as the best European Regional Airline for 2018.

Aloha! Hawaiian Airlines’ Debuts Boston To Honolulu Flights As Longest Route Between States

USA TODAY reports the airline’s Flight 90 made history Friday as the country’s longest interstate route, traveling from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) on Thursday and arriving at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) on Friday morning. Hawaiian Airlines announced the new route in September. Boston was the biggest US market that didn’t have nonstop service to Hawaii before today. Going west, from Boston to Honolulu, the flight runs approximately 11.5 hours, and Honolulu to Boston runs about 10 hours. Travelers will fly 5,095 miles.

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Great Lakes May Be The Next Cruise Ship Hot Spot 

Travel+Leisure reports cruise ship operators on the Great Lakes are adding trips this season, and lines that left the destination are returning. According to the Chicago Tribune, industry experts are predicting that companies who have never traveled the Great Lakes area will be coming on board. Routes on the Great Lakes include an eight-day loop around Lake Michigan that begins and ends in Chicago, a 10-day trip between Toronto and Chicago, and a 16-day trip from Chicago to New York City on Great American Waterways passes through four Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Many of the ships cater to fewer than 100 passengers, keeping the experience intimate. Blount Small Ship Adventures Pearl Seas Cruises, and Victory Cruise Lines are all either expanding their routes or adding new vessels. Ponant, a French luxury cruise line that hasn’t sailed the Great Lakes in a decade, is returning this season alongside the German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. New to the scene is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which will start cruising in early 2020 and has expressed plans to eventually expand its fleet to the area. In addition, there are rumors that cruise giant Viking Cruises is considering the Great Lakes.

TSA’s New 3D Scanners Will Let Travelers Keep Laptops In Carry-On Bags

Open Jaw reports the new machines, with more advanced technology to detect explosives and other threats, will be phased into select airports this summer. New 3D scanners coming to airports across the country will allow travelers to keep laptops, liquids and other materials in their carry-on bags for inspection. The Transportation Security The roll-out will continue into next year. TSA began testing the 3D scanners at airports in Phoenix and Boston in June 2017. Since then, the machines have been expanded to 12 more locations. “These state-of-the-art 3D scanners will enable our screening officers to detect explosives and other threats to commercial aviation with unprecedented precision,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “The nation’s transportation systems are now better off, more secure, as a result of their [Congress’] work on funding this technology.” While the current 2D scanners only provide a few images from certain angles, the new machines use computed tomography (CT) to take hundreds of images per second with a spinning X-ray camera, building an interactive image that can be rotated and analyzed from 360 degrees by screening staff.

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Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Uganda with Africa Wild Explorations

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Mountain Gorilla Tracking: An Overview

The highlight of any wilderness visit to Uganda is obviously the mountain gorillas. Visitors from all over the globe flock to Uganda and Rwanda to see these majestic creatures.

WIT Agent Nancy has been traveling in Queen Elizabeth Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We look forward to her feedback and photos of firsthand tracking!

The images below of the mountain gorillas have been provided by Abiaz Rwamwiri, Managing Director of Africa Wild Explorations!

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Best Time to Go

Tracking gorillas can be conducted year-round, but the damp seasons of spring make the rainforest only pleasant in winter and summer. The high season to catch a glimpse of gorillas are December to February, then June to September.

All about Permits

The Uganda Wildlife Authority sells 96 gorilla permits per day for Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

Africa Wild Explorations organizes gorilla permits to that our guests don’t miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to track them. In some cases, certain permits are purchased upwards of 1-2 years in advance!

What to Wear?

As with any jungle expedition, clothing can make or break your trip! Dress in warm layers. 

Remember to carry a rain jacket, waterproof tracking shoes / walking boots, light outdoor trousers, and long-sleeved shirts.

You’ll need a medium backpack to carry drinking water and lunchbox during gorilla tracking.

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So what are Mountain Gorillas?—the Deets

Endangered Mountain Gorillas native to East Africa are found nowhere else on the planet, not even in zoos. They can’t survive in confined areas, which makes them quite a rare sight to behold! Altogether there are upwards close to 800 mountain gorillas remaining the world. Half of them on in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and many are located in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.

The first known European encounter was in 1902, when one German Captain von Berenge was climbing Mount Sabinyo. At around 9,300-ft altitude, his band spotted a group of Mountain Gorillas—much larger than the apes they were accustomed to seeing. They were hunted for sport for a few decades until preservation efforts were established. Gradually tourist infrastructure sprang up to support visitors who wanted to admire these huge beasts up close.

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Male gorillas can grow up to 6 ft tall, with a weight around 350-500 lbs and arm length of around 7 feet. Typically their hair is dark than their lowland counterparts, as they keep to colder climates. As they mature, a strip of hair on their backs turns silver, hence their popular moniker Silverbacks. These majestic creatures can live around 40-50 years, keeping to close-knit, nomadic groups and feeding on seasonal flowers, roots, fruits and shoots. Their tribes range from 2 to 30-40, but mostly found in groups of 10.

Unfortunately, Mountain Gorillas are severely endangered due to human encroachment. Though poachers are no longer a threat, at least in Uganda, diseases and environmental damage still threaten overall health and wellness of these groups.

Did you know


Mountain Gorillas and humans share around 98% of the same genetic makeup?

They can communicate with a series of roars, grunts and shouts. Researchers have documented around 25 distinct sounds.

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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mahogany Lodge

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WIT AGENT NANCY continues her escapades in Uganda this week with Africa Wild Explorations. Last week, it was all about Queen Elizabeth National Park. Read on to learn more about her adventures in Uganda!

Today, Nancy visits Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mahogany Lodge!

The park, also known as BINP, is located in SW Uganda on the edge of the Congo border. Within its 128 sq mi (331 sq km) rests 120 species of mammals, 348 types of birds and 220 kinds of butterflies. Not to mention loads of frogs, chameleons, geckos! It’s also among the most flora diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species.

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Visitors have a chance to spot colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and birds such as hornbills and turacos.

Its most famous inhabitants, however, are the around 400 Bwindi gorillas, half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas! With such a high concentration, you can bet the local guides are excellent trackers. So chances that Nancy will see a gorilla are high!

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MAHOGANY SPRINGS

Located in the northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mahogany Springs is a luxury lodge for visitors coming to see the magnificent gorillas.

Mahogany Springs is one of the perfect lodges to reside in a night before and after your gorilla trek! Some gorilla families even like to swing by the lodge from time to time, so if you’re lucky, you might get a view of these gorillas not too far from your room. 

Other activities you can do from the lodge are forest and nature walks, Buhoma Village walk that takes you around tea and banana plantations, the home of the Batwa People who once inhabited the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest before it was designated as a national park. 

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The Rooms

Mahogany Springs is made up of different suites specially designed around the forest’s beauty. Each room has wide windows to allow for optimal views of the forest and nearby plantations. All suites/rooms have en suite bathrooms, dressing table and all beds have mosquito nets to protect you from any mosquito bite. The luxury hotel is one of the few lodges in the region that have Hydroelectric power, which means you can freely charge your cameras, phone, and laptop!

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Travel News: Eat With The Fishes At Norway’s New Underwater Restaurant

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Eat With The Fishes At Norway’s New Underwater Restaurant
Open Jaw reports a new restaurant with what’s being billed as Europe’s first underwater dining room will soon open on the southern tip of Norway. The semi-submerged, aptly named Under is housed in a 112-foot long rectangular building, one end of which sits on the seabed, 18 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic.
The other, above ground end looks kind of like an intermediate species dragging itself from the sea on an evolution chart or, as The Guardian more picturesquely puts it, a “whale resting its head on the rocky shore.” Diners descend through a steadily darkening interior, decorated with earth-toned wood and metal, pink and coral textiles, and finally rich greens and blues, before reaching the submerged dining room, where 40 guests are seated in front of a 36-foot wide, 11-foot high window looking out on the aquatic goings-on. The menu will showcase locally grown produce and locally caught seafood, such as stone crab, rugose squat lobster, limpets, clams, and sea cucumbers. Try to ignore the horrified looks of the fish swimming by the window as you eat their neighbors. Unusual and underappreciated ingredients will be welcome in the kitchen. A dessert made with two types of algae is promised. Located in southern Norway’s forested, beachy, and often stormy Lindesnes region, Under opens to the public on April 2, but we couldn’t find an available reservation until September, so book well in advance.

List Of New Zealand’s Visa Waiver Countries modified
In October, requirements will change for people from several nations planning to visit New Zealand. An Electronic Travel Authority (ETV) along with an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy will be introduced. The visa waiver applies if visitors intend on staying for three months or less.  Here’s a list of New Zealand visa waiver countries but who will need to get the ETV: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia (citizens only), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, UK, USA, Uruguay, Vatican City.

Cuba Set To Build Over 3,800 Guestrooms In 2019
Open Jaw reports as part of an ambitious Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) development plan through 2030, this year around 3,805 hotel rooms should be completed across Cuba, with another 5,000 to be renovated and improved. Currently, according to JosĂ© R. Daniel Alonso, Mintur’s general director of development, investment by Cuban state enterprises and international companies are geared towards expanding lodging capacity. Alonso said, “We are doing so in important tourist poles like Varadero, where there is investment by the Almest furniture enterprise and Mintur’s real estate company, Inmotur. In this case, we can mention the Oasis and Varadero Internacional hotels. Meanwhile, in this destination, other investment projects are in the preparation stage.” New facilities are being built in the center of the country. For creating diverse range of tourist options across the island and taking advantage of its natural potential, Cuban investments are also being made for new hotels on the RamĂłn Peninsula and in Guardalavaca, HolguĂ­n. Also, the development of a tourist pole on CamagĂŒey’s Cayo Cruz is planned by the Ministry for reaching the capacity projected for 2030. Another issue that needs to be addressed is connectivity. The Ministry of Tourism, along with the Ministry of Communications, is carrying out a national development plan for getting hundred percent Wi-Fi coverage in all tourist facilities.

 

This Is The Best Cruise Destination In The World
Travel+Leisure reports if you’re looking for the ultimate cruise destination, one place just took the top spot in the cruise industry’s Wave Awards: Greece. The U.K.-based awards recognize the best of the cruise industry, from the best locations to the best operators, and winners are decided by a combination of industry judges and public vote. The judges named Greece as the best destination, both as a port and a country, for 2019. Greece has more than 2,000 islands each offering their own charms and attractions, and the country’s ideal climate makes cruising possible for most of the year. Wave Awards representatives highlighted the picturesque seascapes and many cruise options, including smaller ships that visit quieter islands, as a major benefit. Explore lesser-known gems like Giola, a natural pool located on the island of Thassos. Greece’s islands are a longtime favorite, particularly with Travel + Leisure readers. The island of PĂĄros was named the best island to visit in Europe and one of the best islands in the world in the World’s Best Awards. The country’s tourism sector is growing at a record place, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. In the public vote, Greece came in second, just behind Barbados. Barbados also has a lot to offer, from the pristine coastline and 70 miles of beach to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bridgetown.

 

A Wisconsin Cruise Ship Passenger Faces Years In Cayman Islands prison After A Gun Was Found In Her Luggage
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Carol Ann McNeill-Skorupan’s ship had anchored at George Town in the Cayman Islands last month, the first stop on a nine-night Caribbean cruise that departed from Florida. Once in port on Feb. 3, the 68-year-old Madison, Wisconsin, woman got a notice that her third piece of luggage, which hadn’t arrived with her flight from Wisconsin to Fort Lauderdale, had been found and flown down to the George Town airport. But when McNeill-Skorupan went to pick it up, her vacation turned into an expensive lesson in how American gun rights don’t always travel well, and that could land her in a foreign prison. Inside that third bag, X-rays showed, was a .25 caliber handgun and six rounds of ammunition. Despite her claim of a Wisconsin concealed carry permit, in the Caymans, it was considered illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm. Conviction carries a mandatory seven-year prison term upon a guilty plea, 10 years if convicted at trial, unless the court finds “exceptional circumstances.” She’s among dozens of Americans caught up in the Cayman Islands’ strict enforcement of gun laws, but one of only two facing trial and the risk of significant incarceration. According to reports in the Cayman Compass, the Cayman Islands’ main news outlet, McNeill-Skorupan spent three nights in jail before her release on $10,000 bail and the surrender of her passport. She was living in a hotel with an evening curfew while awaiting trial next month. McNeill-Skorupan didn’t ask that Delta forward the bag, her lawyer told the court, and had directed that it should be left with a friend in Florida, Meadors said. A judge later granted her permission to travel, and Meadors said she’s back in Madison. He said he has been tracking her case because it could impact his own and has been in touch with people who have spoken with her. Meadors, 54, who is in Florida awaiting a hearing in May, is in bigger trouble. He has already pleaded guilty to bringing his 9mm handgun to the Caymans, where he was building a multi-million dollar retirement home, but was allowed to return to Florida for medical treatment. It’s unclear if McNeill-Skorupan was planning to bring the gun on her cruise since Celebrity Cruises bans passengers from taking firearms on board. Guns and ammunition are strictly regulated in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, as several other visitors have learned recently.

 

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Nancy in Queen Elizabeth National Park with Africa Wild Explorations

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WIT AGENT NANCY continues her escapades in Uganda this week with Africa Wild Explorations. Last week, it was all about chimpanzee-tracking in Kibale Forest National Park and the ecological initiatives around the Bigodi Community. Read on to learn more about her upcoming adventures in Uganda this April. 

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Next up, it’s a drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. She’ll stop en route at the Equator, before checking in at the Elephant Plains Lodge. In the afternoon, a peaceful cruise on the Kazinga Channel.

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QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

QENP is one of Uganda’s most popular national parks, and with good reason! You have the high Rwenzori mountains to the north and the remote area of Ishasha to the south. The long waterways of Kazinga Channel run west to east, bookmarked on either end by Lake Edward and Lake George respectively.

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This area is a haven for natural beauty: savannah plains with acacia and euphorbia trees, sunken crater lakes, swamps teeming with life. All in all the park is home to more than 90 types of mammals and the highest range of bird species in Africa! Wildlife includes elephants, leopards, hyenas, forest hogs, warthogs, waterbucks, topis, Uganda kobs (a type of antelope) and lions!

Over 600 species of birds flock to the area, drawn to the channel like a magnet: White and Abdim’s Storks, Saddle-billed Storks, Lesser Masked Weavers, Grey-headed Kingfishers, African Mourning Doves, Black-headed Gonoleks, Red-chested Sunbirds, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, African Harrier Hawk, Grey Kestrel, Great White and Pink-backed Pelican, Great Cormorant, African Open-billed Stork, Knob-billed Duck, African Jacana, African Fish Eagle, African Skimmer and Grey-headed Gull.

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  • Elevation: 900-1845 m (2953-6053 ft)
  • Size: 1978 sq km
  • Habitat: Medium altitude moist semi-deciduous forest, moist thicket, riparian forest, riverine bushland, open woodland, open grassland, seasonal and permanent swamps, lakes and rivers.
  • Best time to travel: All year round. Thanks to the location on the equator, Uganda has a tropical climate. Rainfall occurs regularly, with a peak in the months of April-May and November.

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EQUATOR

You can imagine, the Equator is a popular photo op in the park. This memorable line that divides north and south hemispheres is marked by a large circle. Don’t forget your camera to snap a shot!

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KAZINGA CHANNEL

The river runs 32 km through Queen Elizabeth National Park, linking Lake Edward and Lake George. The vibrant water attracts a varied range of animals, elephants to buffalos, baboons to waterbucks, Nile crocodiles and one of the world’s largest concentration of hippos. It’s also teeming with birds, such as pelicans, fish eagles, kingfishers, cormorants, and saddle-billed stork. It’s a fantastic afternoon seeing these creatures live, breathe and move in their natural habitat, as you’re led by a knowledgeable guide.

ELEPHANT PLAINS LODGE

The luxury lodge is a brand-new hotel perched at 941 meters high on the western escarpment of the Albertine rift in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lodgers are rewarded with panoramic views of 80 acres of grassland, and the beautiful lake Kikorongo, a favorite waterhole for elephants.

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From the lodge, guests can enjoy loads of wilderness activities, such as game drives in the Kasenyi Plains, wildlife viewing at Mweya Peninsula and Nyamunuka Crater Lake, chimp tracking in Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Forest Walks in Maramagambo Forest, and tracking tree climbing lions in Ishasha.

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How can Tourism Affect a Village in Uganda?

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Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about what kind of footprints tourism leave behind. Mindful travel is all about understanding your place in the greater environment. It’s about sharing the world we live in, making connections between yourself and the world halfway across the globe.

If done mindfully, and with the right local connections, travel can have a lasting, mutual effect both on you and the land you step into. 

WIT Agent in Uganda

This April, WIT Agent Nancy is embarking on an incredible trip to Uganda with Africa Wild Explorations. Uganda is THE destination for mountain gorillas–and her first major stop, Kibale Forest National Park, is one of the best safari destinations in Africa for chimpanzee tracking. 

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After the fantastic Kibale Forest National Park, WIT Agent Nancy will be heading out to Bigodi village. Resting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountain Range in western Uganda, Bigodi borders Kibale National Park. After lunch with one of the community leaders — a founding member of Bigodi Community Tourism  — then it’s time for a nature walk in the swamp.

In 1992, Bigodi Community Tourism established the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED). As an official Community Based Organization of Uganda, its main mission is to facilitate projects to stimulate health, education and economic growth while protecting the local environment, the rainforest, and the wetlands. The group’s emblem is the great blue turaco, a majestic bird found in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary.

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KAFRED PROJECTS

Tourism in the area creates revenues that KAFRED then used to stimulate community development projects and initiatives, such as:

Community development projects have been funded with income from tourism. The best examples are the secondary school, the wetlands boardwalk, safe water and the wetlands visitor center with bylaws. This has helped to increase awareness and appreciation within the community of the importance of conservation.

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The Bigodi Women’s Group, also a member of UCOTA, is involved in the making and selling of handicrafts. Most of the materials and dyes used are natural and this was an environmental issue. KAFRED has through UCOTA organized training workshops in sustainable harvesting methods.

Music, dance and drama by local groups such as Enyange Dramactors and Study Tours are used to increase the understanding and interpretation of natural and cultural values in the community, particularly in schools. Enyange Dramactors received training from Kibale and Semliki Conservation and Development Program in the 1990s. On the other hand, interpretation signs, write-ups, guided walks, and presentations are used for conservation awareness building for both domestic and foreign visitors. Walks around and across the swamp are guided, visitors are encouraged to keep on the trail and all the garbage is carried back to the visitor’s center and properly binned. KAFRED does not provide catering services and this limits the levels of pollution.

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How has Tourism changed Bigodi?

  • Employment of teachers, guides, cooks, security guards, and cleaners

  • Teachers and guides receive special training

  • The Women’s Groups are provided with space to sell handicrafts and peanut butter at the Wetlands visitor center.

  • There is a market for local foodstuffs that can be consumed by visitors and tourists, for example, bananas, tomatoes, onions, eggs, and chicken.
  • Local people have adapted to eating the above-mentioned foodstuffs, leading to improved nutrition.
  • The number of permanent houses has grown from 2 in 1992 to 7 in 1995 to more than 30 today.

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  • In the late 1990s, KAFRED hosted an average of 1000 visitors annually for an income of about 6 million Uganda Shillings (6m UGS). By 2008 the visitor count had risen to 3,500 with annual revenues of nearly 100m UGS. During the last financial year, we received over 4,000 visitors and an income of about 150m UGS.
  • About 75% of the net profits is spent on community projects. KAFRED began construction and management of Bigodi Secondary School starting in 1993. The school now has some 350 children. Because of tourism revenue, parents pay about 50% less for fees compared to other private or community schools.
  • About 95% of wetlands visitors are non-Ugandans. This has led to other business opportunities such as hotels and lodges, which are in turn run by local people and which employ local staff.
  • KAFRED has funded a community safe water project. Community water kiosks have been set up to serve at least 300 people. This has reduced the cost of water prices from UGS 800 to UGS 200 per 20-liter can.
  • Building a house for midwives so that they can stay at the local health unit and support mothers whenever they need maternity services. In the recent past, women had to hold it until office hours or the family would have to hire a private car to Fort Portal town, 40 km away on a bumpy road!

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SWAMP WALK

Later that Afternoon, Nancy will enjoy a signature swamp walk in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. The local guide will introduce her to more than 100 species of birds and primates! The region is thick in biodiversity, home to chimpanzees, mongooses, bush pigs, and loads of monkeys!

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