Category Archives: Community visit

Ngamba Island -Chimp viewing and Birding

Ngamba Island is a chimpanzee sanctuary for 49 orphaned chimps currently. Numbers may continue to grow because of the illicit trade of chimps. Lucky enough there is an organization like the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and wildlife trust (CSWCT) an NGO that has taken it upon themselves with the support of donors to provide exceptional care to the chimps.

The chimps are confiscated and rescued throughout Uganda. They are later handed over to the wildlife authorities who entrust the chimps with the NGO.

Chimp viewing and Birding

A visit to this island is such a wonderful experience. My visits to this place have always been exciting. On my recent trip with friends we extended our trip to neighbouring  Koome Island for bird watching where we were surprised to see the Black bellied Bustard mostly seen at Lake Mburo National Park. Seeing the chimps feed is such a humbling experience. What impresses the onlooker is the time keeping and the gesture requests for food. Indeed they are man’s closet relatives .Chimps are fed four times a day on the Island. Chimp Intelligence is 98.7%.

These chimps are held behind an electric fence so that they do not escape. The NGO has done its best to keep them in the forest habitat alongside caged shelter. This is done to enable the chimps to assimilate to its original environment and also have a chance to closely look after them.

It is humbling to listen to the sanctuary care taker stories about their behavior especially the battle for the Alpha male position, grooming and looking after the young chimps. The rivalry for this position reminds me of the various leadership rivalries at School, Sports arenas and Politics where individuals compete for positions. The chimps are no exception since they are man’s closest relatives.

There are many activities at the Island available to the visitor that includes Chimpanzee feeding, visiting the nearby fishing villages, become a care giver for a day, go for a sunset cruise. If you are bird watching enthusiast, you can go birding at the nearby Koome Island.

Voluntering

Volunteer programs are also available at the Island and other natural habitats in western Uganda. This program gives you a firsthand insight into the conservation activities of these endangered species. This enables you the visitor to further educate yourself and the public about the importance of chimpanzee conservation .Meet Medina the chimp artist and other chimps with interesting stories. You have to be there yourself to capture the real stories.

Any visitor Restrictions: No visitor age restrictions. All are welcome.

Accommodation: Tented accommodation is available with additional camping tents.

A Night visitor will also be able to enjoy an evening camp fire.

Booking: Book directly with the Ngamba reservations office or tour operators like Rafiki Eco Safaris.

How to get there:

Ngamba Island is 23km on Lake Victoria. It can be accessed through Entebbe by boat. The boats cater for various groups and budgets. Traditional motorized canoe takes 90 minutes. Speed boats travel for approximately 45- 50 minutes. Half and day boat trips leave at 9:00am or 12:45pm.

Amabere Caves- Explore history and Crater lakes

This is a popular historical site about 10 km from Fort Portal Municipality. There is a legendary tale that has kept it lively till today. Waterfalls and Caves welcome you. The picturesque crater lakes nearby are breathtaking. This tourist site in Kabarole district.It is preserved by the Rubombora family. They have preserved it for the future generations. The guides at the site are quite knowledgeable about the historical and scientific formation of the breast like formations on the rocks.

The locals explain that these breast like features hanging below the cave are associated with a legendary tale of a daughter who disobeyed her father.She was an attractive beautiful girl.It is told that King Bukuku of the Cwezi dynasty that gave birth to the current Tooro and Bunyoro Kingdoms cut off her breasts for refusing to marry the husband chosen for her. She later fled to this place and disappeared without trace. Therefore it believed that the oozing pillars on the rocks represent her breasts and milk.

Scientists call the hanging pillars that look like breasts, stalagmites and stalactites. The site guide explains that the oozing milk is calcium that rolls over the rocks as a result of the waterfalls over the rocks. He cautions you to avoid touching them, because they take several years to grow to their current size otherwise you risk breaking them thus hindering them from further growth. Stalactites and stalagmites are considered as part of a Country’s natural heritage and are protected by law in some countries.

The largest stalagmite in the world is in the cave of Cueva San Martin Infierno, Cuba. It is 220 feet high (62.2 metres).

Guide explaining the formation of Stalagmites and Stalactites

Guide sharing information on Stalagmites and Stalactites

As you walk down the caves you will enjoy the Nyakasura Waterfalls that pours its waters to the basement of the caves. During the rainy season the paths are slippery so it is advisable to watch your steps.

An extended walk to the surrounding is quite enjoyable and requires physical fitness. You will enjoy the crater lake scenery and have the chance to view them at the top of the hill.

How to get there

Amabere caves can be accessed by private transport. Since it is a short distance you can hire a taxi or tour operator to the site from Fort portal town. If it is part of your itinerary to other destinations, most tour operators will drive you there.

Accomodation

The Rubombora family has B&B accommodation on the site.

More accommodation is available in Fort Portal town that fits your budget.

This site combines well with nature walks, culture and cave exploration.

Other destinations that can be visited alongside the caves include Semuliki National Park, Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Mabira Forest Eco-tour

Mabira forest is a perfect destination out of the City Centre. It is 60km away from Kampala. It is one of the largest forest reserves with over 315 bird species, 312 tree species. It is also home to butterflies and primates that include the Uganda Mangabey monkey, Red tailed monkey. It is a popular birding destination for the birding fraternity. It has accessible trails which can be accessed with the company of a guide who is knowledgeable about the forest.

It is a forest reserve managed by the National Forest Authority which has encouraged the promotion of forest tourism in the recent years. It was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 .Over the years several organizations have campaigned to restore it .Ecotourism opportunities have been advanced and developed thus supporting the communities around the forest.

Other activities include Mountain Biking, Environmental Education and Research, Camping and Picnics, Primate Watching, Butterfly Identification and general Forest Exploration.

Our birding group has continued to explore places to hone our birding skills. Mabira forest was yet another destination we explored away from Kampala city. It is an ideal place for nature lovers.

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Our main objective on this trip was birding, forest walks and tree species identification. Lesser striped swallows welcomed us at our accommodation. They stayed nearby till night fall. The weaver birds too in the neighborhood caught our attention nesting. The Male weavers are known to be family nest builders before a female weaver “fully” accepts to visit. The female will check ‘thoroughly’ the ‘comfort facilities’ in the nest before accepting ‘matrimony’. This behavior is similar to human beings(Male) who are known Bread winners. If a man does not have the required resources and facilities to support the woman, the woman will not visit.

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Lesser striped swallows

 

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Black headed Weaver

During this trip, 45 birds were seen. Among the 45 birds sighted, some the birds included the Brown eared woodpecker, Yellow crowned woodpecker, Blue shouldered Robin chat, Red capped Robin chat, Black throated Apalis, Forest wood Hoopoe, Forest Robin, Jameson’s wattle eye.

Red tailed monkeys and tree squirrels were sighted.We enjoyed the long forest walks too enabling us breathe in fresh air thus boosting our oxygen reserves.

Accommodation: Self catering accommodation and camping facilities are available at the eco-tourism site for budget travellers. Mabira Rain forest lodge is also another eco –friendly within the forest with 12 independent timber cabins, Swimming pool, Sauna and massage and Conference and seminar facilities ideal for the mid –range/luxury  traveler.

Location & Accessibility: Mabira can be accessed by both public and private transport off the main road to Jinja at Najjembe trading Centre at 60km from Kampala City or 24km from Jinja another tourism Haven, home to the Source of the River Nile..

 

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Our safari van

Other ecotourism sites near Mabira that can be visited include the Griffins falls Camp also known as the the Mabira forest camp  located near breath taking falls. This camp was founded by the Mabira Forest Intergrated Community Organisation (MAFICO) to improve the livelihoods and welfare of the community by conserving the environment. The “Star” activity at the site is the Canopy “zip line” that sends you soaring high in between the rainforest trees.

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Group Smiles at the end of our trip

Source of the Nile at Jinja Uganda

The Source of the Nile is the the original place where River Nile starts its maiden journey to Mediterranean sea. It travels 4000miles.It takes  3 months to complete the journey to the Mediterranean sea.

Jinja town is best known as the location of the source of the river Nile and as a famous business hub for Asians in the 1970s. However the Asians have been returning in good numbers to resume their trading. Unlike in the 1970s where they dominated the trade, today even locals have since joined business mainly in the retail shops and supermarkets. Jinja is also attractive to other investments in the hospitality industry.

Jinja is about 84km away from Kampala City. You can travel by public means or private car. Travelling time is about 1hour 30minutes to 2hours.

During my two day trip I was able to visit the Source of the Nile, which is a popular place for both locals and foreign guests. The main attraction is the genuine point of the Source of the Nile where the River Nile starts its maiden journey to Mediterranean sea through Sudan and Egypt. The source of this mighty river is Lake Victoria a lake named after Queen Victoria by Explorer John Speke after an expedition to locate the source of the Nile.A monument has been erected to mark this event on the western side of the river where he stood and identified the source of River Nile in 1862.

It is such an exciting experience to travel by boat to the exact point of the source of the Nile. Not only can someone enjoy the photographic experience but also enjoy the ride on the River Nile and Lake Victoria. You will also see birds hovering above the river trying to spot fish for a day’s meal and fishermen drawing their nets in water to catch fish for an evening meal and trade.

The excitement among the visitors feels the air. Travelling on water is fun for the revellers. A boat cruise can be for 30minutes to 2 hours.

Another place visited is the Mahatma Gandhi Monument. This Monument is associated to the ashes that were poured into the Nile to fulfill his wish. Gandhi’s ashes were scattered in selected places across the world including at the source of the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda, and today a memorial plaque is in place to mark the event.

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Gandhi, a Nationalist and renowned advocate for civil liberties led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. A Hindu nationalist, assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.

Another historical place visited is the World War cemetery, where World War One and Two Ugandan casualties were buried. These veterans were part of the colonial regiment,King’s African Rifles.

For an enthusiastic reveler you will also want a variety of activities after a day’s adventure on water. At the source of the Nile, there is a recreation park similar to the Entebbe Zoo that has recently opened to provide an additional travel experience for its guests. It has snakes, a crocodile, donkeys and also a cultural village exhibiting a Basoga tribe (natives of the area) homestead (hut) and its handmade tools used for cooking and hunting.The items are labelled with the English name and its equivalent local name.

Restaurants at the river side can give you a place to relax as you enjoy the fish delicacy, fries and drinks as you view the river and lake activities.

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Accommodation

Jinja accommodation favours the backpacker, midrange and luxury travelers, like Jinja backpackers,2 friends Guest house, The Haven, Gately on the Nile,The Holland park among others.

Other activities availaible in addition to sightseeing is Kayaking,Water rafting, Horse riding and Quad biking along the Nile or through the Ugandan villages.

Women Integrated Empowerment Development Group (WIED)

A Visit to a women community group concluded my trip. These hardworking single mothers and care givers have made progress despite all odds. Its mission is to help women attain self reliance using sustainable livelihood approaches. They have specialized in recycling paper ,banana fibre, Kitenge materials and cow horns to produce handcrafts like ear rings, neckalaces, money purses, shopping bags, Table mats Aprons, Toliet bags, head scarfs, desk organisers, sugar and sauce bowls.

The group was started in 2003 with 17 women. It currently has over 200 members. Business was going on well from 2006.However in 2012 the market was saturated by competition with recycled paper products ,their main business line thus making them redundant from 2012 to 2015.

In late 2015, a lucky member of the group through a friend got the chance to go for training at Uganda Industrial Research Institute. Despite the tough training, the member benefited from the training and network. She was able to make sample products out of cow horns a new raw material to replace horns like earrings. The product was later shown to the members who were excited and later agreed to continue making products. Fortunately a Good Samaritan arrived from the USA who had earlier interacted with them.Samples we given to the Good Samaritan who supported the group find donors to fund the new project. Like the say the rest is history, the group finally secured funding for the new machines that could cut & mould the cow horns in April 2016.Beautiful Handicrafts have been made from the cow horns. The group is very happy about their new innovation, however more funding and market is needed for the products preferably overseas. Plans are underway to seek more funding for project expansion and acquisition of land to establish a new permanent home, with own workshop rooms, conference rooms, offices and also set up other income generating projects to boost their revenue and also act as a demonstration site for the group members.

For any donations, support or visit to the women group Contact: Dorothy Wakabi Email:dorothywakabi6@gmail.com Tel: +256773106728/+256706106728 or Judith Talitwala +256782488996/+256703878593.

 

Why visit Uganda

“Uganda is from end to end a ‘beautiful garden’ where ‘staple food’ of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa.”Winston Churchill

Beautiful Country

Tourists coming to Uganda will meet  its beautiful people, its beautiful culture, the dances, the different tribes and the diversity that cannot be found anywhere else.

Adventurous

Uganda is full of a variety of adventurous activities like Whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, jet boating and river surfing on the Source of the Nile near Bujagali Falls in Jinja. It is an opportunity for the brave ones.

Affordability

Tourists to Uganda will enjoy an affordable holiday be budget, medium range or Luxury and have enough to purchase souvenirs or can always extend their trip.

Good Climate

With two seasons of rain blended with sunny seasons and spectacular vegetation, Uganda’s weather is admirable across the country; you will enjoy the tours and travels.

Culture and heritage diversity

With a varied rich culture, of over 56 tribes, and each one has their own dress, their own language, their own food. We have a very hospitable people, very beautiful country, all year-round summer-like conditions.

A Variety of Wildlife

Uganda is Gifted by Nature .It is a home to the world’s largest concentration of primates. Half of the world population of Gorillas is in Uganda. Other Primates include Chimpanzees, monkeys, baboons.

Memorable experiences

Uganda with an open heart and a good mind gets you far because the people are extremely generous, very friendly, giving you a relaxed stay in Uganda.