17 mar 2007

Uganda Travel: The Pearl Of Africa Reborn

Uganda Travel: The Pearl Of Africa Reborn
by: Robert Muhoho

Uganda is a land of breathtaking contrast. Right from the border with Kenya in the east to that with the giant Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the west, the landscape and vegetation can be described as a kaleidoscope of tantalizing beauty. Winston Churchill, one of the United Kingdom’s great historical figures, summed Uganda in four words: ‘The Pearl of Africa’.

Though it is often easy to look over the country’s shoulder to its not too glamorous past, one thing that Uganda’s hospitality industry has learnt from its troubled history is flexibility. Holidaying in Uganda can be a memorable affair for all categories of regional tourists, be they budget, economy or high spending tourists.

Deciding on a holiday destination

A first time traveler to Uganda is most certainly spoilt for choice, particularly if the tourist is from Kenya. Uganda can be accessed through air (Entebbe International Airport), road via Malaba or Busia border entry points or even through Lake Victoria although it’s mostly regular business people who prefer this route. Entry and exit formalities for East African nationals have been simplified. The decision on holidaying in Uganda is usually motivated by a number of factors prominent among them flexibility of budget, refreshing experience and the warmth of the people.

Uganda excels in all the listed factors. The hospitality industry has evolved rapidly over the last decade, catering for all classes of visitors while offering nothing short of value for money. The Uganda experience is truly refreshing, be it in bird-watching, nature walks or cultural tourism. The communities are welcoming, with both urban and rural folks radiating warmth, although just as in any society there are bound to be some green flies in the visitor’s ointment.

Special Interest Tourism

Uganda has a well-established special interest tourism structure that has attracted tourists from not only Western Europe but also Africa and Asia. The special interest tourism areas are nature walks, gorilla trekking, bird-watching, mountain biking, sport fishing and white water rafting.

Eco-tourism has come of age internationally, for guests who prefer nature ‘as it was’ without the distortions of social economic transformation. Uganda offers new nature trails in virtually all protected areas. Tourists can walk with guides to view at close range some of the many endangered species for which the country is famous. These include the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, the red and white colobus and blue tailed monkeys. The country is filled with birds, butterflies and rare plants that one can sample during nature walks.


The Uganda Wildlife Authority has put in place new bird sanctuaries at strategic sites, including Lake George and Edward. A new survey on Uganda wildlife indicates that there are at least 335 species of birds and more than 144 species of butterflies at Kabale Forest National Park. Among the rare birds are the red-winged francolin, red-chested fluiftail, white-napped pigeon, African pitta, joyful greenbul, grey-winged robin, Abyssinian ground thrush, grey-crested flycatcher and the masked and the black-capped apalises. The Budongo Forest is one of the places where a thriving community eco-tourism takes place.

Mountain biking

Several areas are a haven for mountain bikers. These include Rukungiri, and Kabale districts in the west, Mbale and Kapchorwa districts in the east, local mountain bike trails are mapped out to assist tourists, but they have to bring their own bikes.

Sport fishing and white water rafting

Uganda offers a great opportunity for sports anglers. The ferocious tiger fish is common in Lake Albert, in the west Nile region, while catfish and tilapia abound in the all waters of Uganda. However, the most popular fish is the Nile perch with a record catch of over 100 kilogrammes. The fish species is abundant in Lake Victoria and River Nile. Through efforts of tour and travel firms, white water rafting has become a popular sport, with more than 500 tourists participating every month.

Camp safari

It is prudent to choose a camp safari if you decide to visit some of Uganda’s exotic special interest tourism areas. This will enable you to fully enjoy the flora and fauna of the country. Uganda’s waters teem with fish while over 200 bird species thrive in national parks and protected areas. Uganda’s ‘Pearl of Africa’ tag is best appreciated by visiting some of the country’s tourist site.

Inns of Uganda

For the discerning tourist, a trip to Inns of Uganda would be ideal to discover the Pearl of Africa’s best-kept open secret. Inns of Uganda, with two camps – Nile Safari Camp and Jacana Safari Lodge – offer the ideal setting. The two camps are accessible by road but guests can fly to Pakuba where Inns of Uganda staff will be on hand to receive them. Visitors can view birds as the y move towards the Nile Safari Camp along the banks of river Nile in north-western Uganda. Nile Safari Camp boasts 12 rooms and a swimming pool with impressive, professionally done interior design. The elaborate and environment –friendly design ensures that a holiday package here adds value and quality to the lives of people who visit the camps.

At Jacana Safari Lodge, in the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park, guests can have a lifetime experience of low-impact water activity on boating trips in which they view birds, chimpanzees, monitor lizards and hippos. This camp shows the visitor the essence of visiting Uganda. The cuisine at the camps blends perfectly with the excellent and pleasant nature of the staff.

Jacana is built with materials derived from the immediate environment in line with Inns of Uganda’s ecotourism campaign. The lodge has 15 chalets, swimming pool, sauna, sundowner and dinner pontoon. The surroundings fit well with the structures adopted by the two camps. For instance, the lodge literally grows out of the forest with a tree house-like appearance. The scenery and congeniality of the camps’ staff together with Inns of Uganda’s ability to blend the natural environment with the design of the camps offer guests a memorable safari.

About The Author
Robert Muhoho is a tour consultant in Kenya and has planned business and vacation safaris for over 10,000 tourists in the East African region. He is a tour operation- major and involved in National tourism policy development in Kenya.

For more information please visit:
Landmarks Safaris
East Africa Safari

7 mar 2007

Place Where The Sun Rises - South Africa

Place Where The Sun Rises - South Africa
by: Gerald Crawford

Welcome to Mpumalanga in South Africa.

If you like to visit the worlds most famous game reserve, climb the worlds third-highest canyon, explore the worlds oldest cave and spend the night in the worlds best private game lodges, Mpumalangas the place to come to!

Mpumalanga, which means 'place where the sun rises in the local languages of Siswati and Zulu is one of South Africas tourism hotspots, loved by both local and international visitors for its beauty and diversity. This province is home to The Kruger National Park (big five country), exquisite panoramic views, mountains, rivers, caves, trout fishing and birding opportunities, eco-tourism, adventure holidays and the rich offerings of the local Ndebele and Swazi cultures.

Mpumalanga is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland in the east, and Gauteng in the west. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the northeast, the land rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense escarpment. In some places, this escarpment plunges hundreds of meters down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld. Even though it is one of the smaller provinces (79 490 km2 in surface area), Mpumalanga is home to some three million people.

The Mpumalanga climate is a summer rainfall area with hot summers, especially in the Lowveld regions. Mild in winter, it can become very cold in the Highveld areas.

The tourism possibilities of this province are as diverse as the landscape itself. As the safari capital of the country, the major draw card to the area is the world-famous Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga has a lot more to offer than the big five it is a scenically magnificent province and boasts a rich cultural heartland where visitors can embrace the warm hearted spirit of Africa. Forests, pristine waters and trout fishing opportunities abound and there is no shortage of adventure activities, such as rock-climbing, abseiling and other high-adrenalin activities, on offer.

Major attractions in the area:

The Kruger National Park

One of the major tourist attractions of the country, the Kruger National Park is among South Africas finest assets. Well-equipped to offer big five safaris, the park includes a large number of accommodation options, Ranging from some of the best private game lodges in the world to very affordable rest camps. This famous park boasts over 140 species of mammals and over 500 species of birds, not to mention a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles, flora and fauna. A wildlife wonderland, this enormous sanctuary is a must-see for any and every visitor to South Africa.

Best Game Lodges in the World

A number of private camps and lodges are on offer in the areas surrounding the Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sands is renowned for being home to some of the best African game lodges in the world, bar none. These lodges are known worldwide for their exclusivity and top-of-the-range accommodation. Here, private safaris are simply par for the course, conducted by qualified rangers in open-air vehicles. These lodges are all about attention to detail, personal service and a true Out of Africa experience in unique comfort.

Big Catch Country

The perfect getaway for fly-fishing enthusiasts, Dullstroom and surrounds offer fantastic accommodation including everything from five-star hotels to modest Bed and Breakfast establishments. The spectacular beauty of the area and its many lakes makes Dullstroom the perfect weekend getaway spot. A number of quaint restaurants and pubs dot the area.

Gold-diggers delight

Return to the gold rush days of South Africa. The little town of Pilgrims Rest offers a step backwards into South Africas history, complete with themed museums, and restored buildings and the notorious Victorian-inspired Royal Hotel. The area is a favorite for overseas and local visitors and is well-equipped to handle all of the attention with a good offering of restaurants, bars and reasonably priced accommodation available.

Best Pancakes in Africa

A short drive from Pilgrims Rest lies Graskop, famous for its scenic waterfall and for Harries Pancake Shop, known to serve up the best pancakes this side of the Kruger National Park. It is an established tradition to stop off here for a favorite sweet or savory pancake en route to the Blyde River Canyon. A vibrant artist community exists in and around the area, and curio shopping opportunities abound.

Green Belt

The green belt of Sabie offers a wonderful base to explore Mpumalangas Escarpment. This is the centre of South Africas forestry region and boasts excellent lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments as well as a rather fine backpackers lodge. Although the pace in Sabie is rather laid back, there are a number of activities and day trips for the adventure seeker. Mountain-biking, horse-trails, hiking trails and river rafting are all offer. There are also fabulous bird-watching options. If youre happy to keep a slower pace, simply sit back and let the peaceful forests fortify the soul.

Views from Paradise

One of the most scenic views in South Africa is undoubtedly offered up at the famous Blyde River Canyon this colossal canyon is famous for its dramatic window on the world. Here, camera-touting visitors love to visit the Gods Window ledge, Bourkes Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels all of which offer breathtaking panoramas. The Mac-Mac Falls and Lisbon Falls are also a keen favorite for visitors to Mpumalanga.

Arts and Culture

Explore the local Shangaan culture at the famous Shangana Cultural Village, a short hop away from the town of Hazyview. The user-friendly cultural village offers visitors the opportunity to interact with the local Shangaan people and to enjoy a taste of traditional cuisine. The Nyani Shangaan Cultural Village is also an option, as is Matsulu Village a traditional Ndebele Village.

About The Author
Gerald Crawford was born in South Africa, studied electronics, telecommunication, eco-travel and african travel concepts. He taught responsible tourism in South Africa. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me on. E-mail Address: gerald@12234455.co.za Website Address: http://www.12234455.co.za


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