Once in a lifetime Uganda safari tour

John and Jerry are Australians who are planning a 30th anniversary trip for a Uganda safari in April next year.

They have chosen to travel to Uganda (having been on safari in Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia before) for two reasons – they want to do a habituation experience with the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park as well as two gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

This is a once in a lifetime Uganda safari tour for the elderly couple – John is 65 and Jerry is 62! They are healthy and fit given that they are avid hikers.

At this stage, they have finalized everything to do with the itinerary (includes hotel reservations, permits for both chimps and gorillas etc) on the ground in Uganda, their biggest challenge are the flight connections to Uganda.

The shortcomings to travel

All the options they are looking at from Perth to Entebbe include a lot of connecting flights with long lay-overs in airports across the world and they arrive at an un-godly hour in Entebbe – 4.00am aboard Turkish Airways to be exact!

The easier option is to fly to Uganda via South Africa but that does not seem to work because they have to be back home in Australia 9 days later. If they take the South Africa option, they will be back home eleven days later and as such they have chosen the option that connects through Istanbul.

In light of the scenarios above, the presence of an efficient Uganda Airlines with interline agreements with some of the major airlines in John and Jerry’s part of the world would make life easier.

It would mean that Jerry and Linda would probably do one hop from Perth to say Guangzhou and then onto a Uganda Airlines flight direct to Entebbe and vice versa. That way they do not have to take tiring detours and stops in different places not to mention the price of a ticket.

The return of Uganda Airlines

News this week that Uganda Airlines is making a comeback will be a welcome boon for people like Jerry and Linda and a lot more prospective safari goers intending to visit Uganda. No doubt the presence of a Uganda Airlines will be good for safaris to Uganda.

It means that potential travelers choosing between Uganda and other destinations when comparing prices will make safari holidays to Uganda as competitive when compared to destinations like South Africa, Botswana, Kenya etc.

Regionally, the return of Uganda Airlines with a focus on regional travel is also expected to add serious appeal to destination Uganda.

Why? Today, a tourist intending to combine a Tanzania or Kenya safari with an experience to see the primates/great apes of Uganda has to pay a lot of money for a connecting flight from Nairobi or Serengeti/Arusha.

A new hope

At Uzuri Uganda Safaris, we are positive the expensive air ticket from Arusha or Nairobi has put off many a potential traveler who would have loved to add a visit to Uganda and as a result, we have all lost out on that income/revenue.

Currently, we are talking to a potential customer who wants to do a double Gorilla trek in Uganda in April 2019 as an add-on to their safari in Tanzania.

Jim and his family want to fly from the Serengeti to Entebbe International Airport and be in time for their domestic connecting flight to Kihihi in the viscinity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

They do not want to spend a night in Entebbe – they want to arrive in Entebbe and straight away fly to Bwindi! This will mean that they can squeeze the gorilla tracking experience into the time they have available!

While there is a regional airline that will make the connection between Serengeti and Entebbe possible, it is clear that if Uganda Airlines returned and plugged these gaps with cheaper air tickets and many frequencies (with strategic and aggressive marketing by the other tourism stakeholders), destination Uganda would attract more safari goers interested in two or three-country visits.

 

CNN is currently airing a new documentary on how Uganda is deploying digital tools to revolutionize destination Uganda’s appeal to the nature-loving traveler.

Uganda is home to some of Africa’s cherished wild animals – the endangered Mountain Gorilla standing out as the crown in the country’s jewel. However, Uganda is much more – Africa packed into one what with the savannah game parks, mountains, rivers and lakes, prolific birdlife as well as other primates.

Travel journalist Solomon Mario Oleny, who has blogged about destination Uganda as well as used social media platforms Facebook and Twitter is the lens through, which this documentary is shot on location in Murchison Falls National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

Tour operator Amos Wekesa features in the documentary with powerful commentary expected of a veteran who knows destination Uganda like the back of his hand.

This documentary comes on the heels of other positive news and endorsements that are all going a long way in re-establishing Uganda as a top safari destination – a crown that slipped in the 1970s.

Uganda casts her spell wherever safari goers will go – attractions ranging from the jaw-dropping landscapes, the largest fresh-water lake on the African continent – from which the mighty Nile flows, prolific bird and animal life not to mention the people, cuisine and more.

Global media houses like CNN, world-reknowned guide books and big travel resellers that have visited Uganda have waxed lyrical about Uganda non-stop to really add to the genuine appeal of Uganda.

Early in the year, CNN ranked Uganda as the 5th best destination to visit in the world. The news network based its ranking on the country’s beauty – pointing out it’s known as the Pearl of Africa.

Before the shoot for the documentary now airing on its Inside Africa programme, CNN had ranked Kidepo Valley National Park among Africa’s 10 national parks – highlighting the remote park’s “phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity” as the reward for those who make it to the very picturesque park.

In January, Rough Guides, a UK-based travel guide ranked Uganda number 4 among its top 10 destinations for 2017. India topped the list, with Scotland and Canada coming second and third respectively.

Uganda’s appearance on the list has added to the destination’s appeal – fighting it out with safari draws like Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

Rough Guides, a UK-based travel guidebook and reference publisher owned by Penguin Random House, said that one of the reasons Uganda is a must-visit destination in 2017 is that “the small but incredibly diverse nation of Uganda remains a fascinating yet vastly underexplored destination.”

Two weeks ago, Nat Geo Wild added to the growing reputation of Uganda’s uniqueness when they added the Ishasha sector’s famous residents – the tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park as one of Africa’s seven incredible natural wonders.

It is this constant endorsement that is raising the country’s profile as a major safari destination once again. For those that have not yet visited Uganda, it is about time you made that consideration given the uniqueness of the country.

If still in doubt, speak to those that have already made the journey and speak to us and we will be happy to work with you to make your Ugandan safari a reality for that unforgettable experience.

Photo credit: http://www.holidaysbox.com/

Uganda is set to attract more French tourists into the country following an impressive performance that pulled crowds. This set a mark on the French people at a grand exhibition that included cultural presentations during France’s most significant event, Bastille Day. on July 14, Friday last week.

The much sought-after premier event known at the Diplomatic Garden Party, is an annual occasion organized every July 14 – the Bastille Day alongside other celebrations.

This year Uganda was chosen as one of four countries to exhibit at the Diplomatic Garden Party organized by the Uganda Embassy in Paris and facilitated by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).

Uganda exhibited tourism, investment, culture, heritage and cuisine at the most prestigious event of the day, the Diplomatic Garden Party, held at Boise de Boulogne, an upper-middle and high-end western Paris suburb.

french-tourist-holding-France-flag
A French tourist holding the France National Flag

The Uganda Embassy in France, UTB, tourism private sector along with the Uganda Embassy in France hosted over 500 guests who were entertained by a Paris-based Ugandan dance troupe and ensemble.

Uganda was the only country that had a cultural troupe at the extravaganza. The other countries were Croatia, Suriname and Gabon. During the garden exhibition, the guests joined in the crowd-puller Ugandan music and danced and at the finale, chorused “Vive Uganda!”.

After the performance, many visitors came to the Ugandan pavilion to get more information on the countries attractions and it is hoped that the visibility the day gave Uganda will result into additional interest in Uganda as a destination, which should result into tourists choosing Uganda as a holiday destination.

The guests, who were invited mainly consisted of top diplomats accredited to France, influential business, corporate and government officials.

Uganda was one of four countries represented at the event that took place alongside the celebrations taking place at the Champs Elysees, the main celebration venue of the Bastille Day also attended by US president Donald Trump and other world leaders.

Under tourism, UTB showcased wildlife, nature, food, culture and heritage. Uganda’s outgoing ambassador to France, who is the brain-child of Uganda’s participation, was very excited at the performance.

The premier event’s organizer, VFC Group CEO, Mr. Didier Vidal, said Uganda’s performance was “Fantastic!’ He said the Uganda team was very organized and added colour and flavour to Bastille Day. He was glad Uganda participated and added this would pay off eventually.

Ambassador Nimisha Madhvani said Uganda applied to exhibit at the very competitive opportunity and was happy that UTB and the tourism private sector were very quick to embrace the partnership and take up the opportunity.

The UTB CEO, Stephen Asiimwe said France looks promising. He said UTB was looking to make inroads by engaging French tour operators and the media. Further, UTB will train embassy staff on destination marketing and branding the Uganda Embassy.

France is the second largest economy in Europe after Germany with a GDP of about US $2.8 trillion. Per capita income among the French people is estimated at $35,700.

In terms of tourism, France is the most visited country in the world – receiving about 65 million visitors every year. In terms of tourism spend, France is ranked number 4 in Europe but most of this traffic heads to Francophone West Africa.

Overlooking the expansive Narus valley, Nature stands the new Kidepo Savannah Lodge. It was opened at the start of last month (June 2017) as a very welcome addition to Kidepo Valley National Park’s accommodation options. Until its opening, visitors to Kidepo Valley National Park had only three options including the high-end Apoka Safari Lodge, Ngamoru Wilderness Camp ( a mid-range facility ) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) bandas for budget travelers.

What does the new Kidepo Savannah Lodge offer?

Overlooking the distant mountain ranges that form the border between Uganda with South Sudan, the new lodge is a wonderful inclusion for budget and mid-range clients. The ‘budget’ option is a non self-contained tented option – identical to what Nature Lodges offers in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. Don’t be fooled by the look; the tents are comfortably equipped with beds, beddings and make use of one ablution block with showers and flush toilets. The more upgraded or mid-range option comes with the large self-contained safari tents. These tents are placed on platforms, with the guest having access to their own private toilet and shower unit.

The new mid-range Kidepo Savannah lodge while under construction
The new mid-range Kidepo Savannah lodge while under construction

Kidepo Savannah Lodge has a restaurant that is open to patrons for meals and drinks.

Meals and drinks with beautify scenery in the wild

“Should you have any groups in Kidepo National Park, you are welcome. Send them to us for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Or … when thirsty – feel free to pop in for a cold drink.  You’ll be amazed by the view!” joyous retorts the company spokesman. Kidepo Valley National Park, which has been twice featured by CNN Travel – once as the 3rd best park in Africa and as one of Africa’s most remote featured parks. When you close your eyes and think of Africa; the landscape, the jagged hills, the golden grasses, the savannah plains dotted with wildlife and fauna, the soft glowing light and more – that is Kidepo.

What do I do when in Karamoja?

In terms of activities, visitors can expect to visit the Karamojong people who neighbor the park in their nearby Manyattas to learn about their traditional way of life and possibly experience some traits of their culture. Safari goers can also trek up Mount Morungole to meet Uganda’s smallest tribe – the Ik people. The Ik hunted and gathered inside Kidepo Valley National park but were relocated over 50 years ago to create the park. They then migrated to the Morungole Mountains where they can be found today.

A hike up the mountains to meet the Ik, with beautiful scenery is not for the faint-hearted. However, a trail has been developed by the US Forestry Service. When you get to an Ik village, you get to learn  and appreciate their humble cultural traits. On the grassy plains, safari goers will be in for abundant wildlife namely lions, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, zebra, possibly Africa’s largest herds of buffalo, hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog and a lot more. African wild dogs have also been known to cross into the park from South Sudan.

Why won’t you check it out? Book a safari to Kidepo Valley National Park with us to have this experience.