It was a memorable day as we participated in the community walks, when I learnt that communities are making paper out of Elephant dung. The breath taking scenery, the rich culture, the delicious organic foods and the very welcoming people were all invaluable and worth experiencing. Our base was Nyanziibiri eco-campsite, In Rubirizi district. The location of our holiday was on the escarpment area neighboring queen Elizabeth National park.

We started our day with a community guide introducing the people and culture of the area. Then we proceeded to the villages where the residents showed us their true way of life. It sounded such a happy  and accommodating neighborhood for the Elephants, bush pigs, baboon and all other wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National park.

These lakes were the gate to our happy day. The walk started by taking our way through the land between the twin lakes, Lake Kamweru and Lake Kyema, traditionally known to be brothers. From the interpretation of our guide, these lakes have a very strong attachment to the local people cherishing the Bunyaruguru culture. Listen to this story first hand when you visit the area and you wont regret the time.

The full day tour with multiple community experiences took us through the homes, farms and breathe taking scenarios over the craters on the escarpment. Other experiences we took include the cave tour, Mukorobozi trail, the paper making tour where the community collects the elephant dunk from their gardens and use it to make paper for sale. The elephant dunk paper was among the many trip highlights and I would encourage everyone to go and see how innovation can turn challenges into profits, as the community which used to cry due the elephants that raid their crops, now smile when the Elephants pay them millions through their dung

Finally, we retired to a well-deserved dinner at the Nyanziibiri Eco campsite. Made from organic foods and vegetables harvested from the campsite gardens and the tilapia fish freshly caught from Lake Kamweru, where our tour started.

Twin lakes

This is how to book community experiences, accommodations and tours when you travel to Uganda. Contact Uganda community tourism association (UCOTA) or the pearls of Uganda through their website, or any Uganda tour operator.

we did our booking and this morning, we are taking the twin lakes tour. In the afternoon, we shall take the cave tour to have coffee in this traditional cave. You go to listen to this story!!!!!

We shall share the experience later today.

What is your fear about visiting Uganda?

Different people have different fears about visiting certain countries or any new places. In most cases, these fears are myths and exist from gossips, due to lack of proper information provided first hand from that particular destination being feared.

I asked someone if she plans to travel to Uganda, two years ago, and she told me she fears being tortured by the soldiers of Iddi Amin!! It is so unbelievable to know that some people, somewhere in the world still fear that Idi Amin is still here in Uganda, Yet he only ruled Uganda long time ago, in the 1970’s and then died in the year 2003 while in exile. Of all the good things to see in Uganda, some people around the world may still find and believe the wrong information about your community or country.

Today, I want to ask if anyone has and can share any fears for a certain country they want to visit. I am a community guide from Uganda’s communities and i will be answering all your fears about my home country Uganda, the pearl of Africa.

The elephant home is offering perfect accommodations near queen Elizabeth national park. it is suited for guests who are travelling on budget but looking for high level of hospitality, delicious meal and sufficient travel information to help them plan their activities. Located opposite the national park, it is accessible by both travelers using public or private transport. The camp offers  self contained guest rooms with private showers and toilets. The guest rooms also comes with furnished beds, sitting/ working furniture, towels and mosquito nets. Each room has a private balcony that gives visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature during their stay. The lodge is owned and run by the local community. The hospitable staff at the Elephant home show everything as required by guests including arranging a long list of tours in and outside the park.

The lodge is powered by solar for lighting and charging guest phones and other gadgets using USB ports. Free WiFi is provided within the restaurant, to staying guests. Grab a pair of binoculars and take our self guided walk to view multitude of birds or spot wildlife grazing in the park.

The elephant home is located 22km on Kasese Mbarara road 1km before Kikorongo junction. for those who want to do the game drive in kasenyi during the stay, the accommodation is situated 10 minutes drive from the park gate which is the starting point of the game drive. The knowledgeable staff here will help you to arrange the local community experiences, the boat cruise on Kazinga channel and other wildlife exploration activities in Queen Elizabeth national park.

What do you know about the rural communities of Uganda? Here is an opportunity for you to be the first to know!!!! The community of Kikorongo has put together an experience packaged in a village guided walk. It is a new village experience for visitors to Queen Elizabeth national park, located at Kikorongo Junction, 22km from Kasese on Mbarara road, next to queens pavilion. It is such an easy experience to consume within about 2-3 hours. This unique community experience showcases a set of beauties, social life and culture of the area adjacent to this park. It has been designed in a way that Queen Elizabeth national park remains in the background of every part of the tour but generally, the trail show cases the local way of life. The tour also demonstrates community coexistence with the Elephants and other wildlife crossing from the park.

Wildlife creates a stiff food challenge for the people around this park as they compete for the crops. on this tour, learn how bananas are equally loved by Elephants and the people, then the farmer will introduce you to the innovative protective measures that save peoples gardens from the Elephants without harming them.

I asked one client who had just done the trail before my group; how was the trail? and this is what she had to say. –I have visited Queen Elizabeth National Park several times but had never got an opportunity to interact with the locals so closely. The trail proves that Queen Elizabeth is more than just animals, birds, game drives or boat cruises. The 3 hours community trail has shown me a new Queen Elizabeth national park through the eye of the community. This client participated in the full activity including the crafts workshop and traditional dance.

During the tour, You will participate in the local life and learn how the people live with the Elephants. Get the cotton growing experience, visiting the village – behind the common scenes, walking the hills while taking the views of the park and go through the banana plantation.

You will then be taken through the business center of the community to learn the local petty trade as you head to the equator. After the equator, taste the delicious pineapples grown at the equator before you head back to your hotel.

Other optional activities one can participate in during this tour include a basket weaving workshop or a traditional dance performance by the locals. Each of these two activities require a small additional payment and takes an additional 30 minutes, but can take longer on request.

This product has been developed jointly with the community and is being promoted by the Elephant Center Campsite. However, it can be taken by visitors from all the surrounding hotels after paying the required fees either to the community center or to elephant center campsite. The trail is currently being promoted at a trial price of 25000/- Uganda shillings. Subject to client feedback, the price will change without prior notice. The trial price will run from June to November 2016.

It is so easy to arrange on arrival or on transit. You can book this community tour through the UCOTA office in Kampala, the elephant center campsite ( or any lodge around Queen Elizabeth national park during your visit.

Which is the most reliable means of public transport in Uganda.

How can you choose the most reliable means of all the public transport options in Uganda? This article will be more useful and relevant to you if you have read my article about “How to use public transport, on your first visit to Uganda.” or if you know how public transport works in this beautiful country. Public transport in Uganda includes Bodabodas (motorcycles), Special hires, Taxis or Matatus, Buses and boats or ferries on the few water routes.

Buses carry around 50-69 people capacity and take long journeys in the country out of the main towns. Normally you pay the money/ fare at the starting point or when you board on the way and a receipt is issued. When using buses, try as much as possible to avoid using buses that are run by “one-Bus Company” because if this bus breaks on the way, you will be stuck until the same bus is repaired.  In most cases, the police will do nothing to quickly help you in that situation. If you’re on hurry, you will have to pay another fee to a different means of transport. It is also advisable to first enter in the bus to have a look before you pay your fare. Some busy can be unhygienic and smelly. Travelling for long journeys in such a condition, may not be the best experience.

Avoid going to Bus Parks un guided. The main bus park is called, Qualicel bus terminal, located downtown in Kampala, opposite the new taxi park between Allen, Namirembe, Nabugabo and Nakivubo roads. Bus parks are packed with un professional people, especially in the ones down town Kampala. Though this can also happen in other bus parks, it is rather common in Qualicell bus terminal. In Qualicell Park, you will find people who want to tear you up fighting to pull you to the wrong buses claiming that they will leave very soon. Caught in this confusion, you will only be shocked to sit in the wrong buses for the whole day waiting for it to start the journey. This park has some good reliable buses as well, but as a general advice, you need local guidance before you attempt to go to any bus park. Ask the local contacts for the most reliable bus company on the route you plan to take.  You will find that every route has at least one to three reliable buses.

Another important point, know the location of your destination. Maybe have the name written down, to show to the conductor. Some names of places may sound the same especially with pronunciation challenges and you may end at a wrong destination. Have the active contact number of your hotel so that you can be able to talk to them or link the driver/ conductor of your bus to talk to them to get a clear direction. Have such important information on hard copy off your phone or other electronic gadgets as some times you may run out of battery or network connection along the way.

Taxis/ Matatu are easier and high in supply on the road but the right one needs to be chosen wisely. Each taxi uses a predetermined route. Use of taxis sounds easier because they are more available on each road. Even roads not used by buses have hundreds of taxis. However, the bigger the number, the higher the competition amongst themselves and hence the more confusion within their operation and management systems. Ten taxis will be loading in the same park to the same destination and you can’t know which one will go first, same as it happens in bus parks. Also, the prices may be influenced by your bargaining power unless the price is displayed on the sign at the stage. Despite the predetermined destination, you can’t be sure where the taxi will end.

You are encouraged to use these taxis only if you must or relay on your local contacts for local advice to make a choice. The taxis and some buses have no problem lying to you about their destination and the time they will be leaving or reaching. Some taxis will abruptly end midway and tell you to board another taxi to your destination. Others will overcharge you or some taxis will trick you and put you on board then drive you around town to look for more passengers while having people pretending to be travelers. The pretending passengers get out one by one as every genuine passenger comes in to replace the fake ones. This way it keeps full as they load but they don’t seem to start the journey.

Bodabodas. There is plenty of supply of boda-bodas both in villages and towns. Boda-bodas will cost higher than the matatu or bus and slightly lower than the special hires.

Yes, you will agree on the price or destination and you can be sure they will get you there to pay on arrival. Besides being the fastest option of public transport it’s also most risky. Just ensure that bodaboda risk can be covered by your insurance policy. When using bodboda, at least have a helmet or use the bodaboda that has an extra helmet for the passenger. Every day, many boda-bodas are involved in road accidents every day and there are so many resulting casualties in hospitals. Some bodabodas can work under influence of drugs and drive badly on the road. Look for the reliable providers, from stages rather than on the road moving. Take advice from the nearest local reliable sources. I normally ask my hotel to send me a number of the best boda-boda or send me one to pick me up. That way, they hotel can be accountable to some level.

Special hires; also called taxi in other countries, are the best pick of public transport. The special hire is the most reliable means of transport, close to private car. You can determine their direction, you agree on the price before departure, they are knowledgeable of the routes so they can dodge the traffic jam in towns or any other place you need to avoid during travels, they are fully updated of the current news of places and they take quality service as their priority. However, you may still be charged a muzungu price if you don’t bargain them down.  Take these special hires from a destined stage to avoid taking anyone pretending to be a special hire on the move. You can’t manage to track this one on the move in case you needed to, during cases such as loss of property or any other reason, after your travel. Also, you can’t trust him well during the travel time since you don’t know their stage, as the key identity of special hires. If not picked from the stage, no one will be knowing this mobile provider. In most cases, every hotel/ accommodation or tourist destination is attached to certain special hires or boda-bodas, on their vendor’s list. You can ask them to identify for you one if you needed transport services.

Nice travel!!! Olugendo olulungi!!!

How to use public transport, on your first visit to Uganda.

Are you about to travel to Uganda for the next holiday and interested in saving on transportation budget by using public transport. For a memorable holiday, you definitely have to ensure that you travel safe or even save on transportation budget. To travel allover Uganda, affordably you must embrace public transport which can be efficient and also cheaper in contrast to private means of transport. But you have to know how it works. Here is some important information you will need;

Public transport in Uganda will include Bodabodas: These are motorcycles that you can catch to take you places for short distances. In some places, locals can share them. Special hires: These are small cabs that you can hire and you go places at your own control of speed and direction. Taxis: These are what you would call Matatus. They go to a specific direction for a specific price per stage. If you use this one, you will have to wait for it to fill up, before it to starts off.  Buses: These are large, 50 and above passengers on board, going for long distances, also in Kampala city. They work like taxis but for them you pay at the beginning and given a receipt and sometimes a specific seat number.

I have travelled most parts of Uganda both by private and or public transport. It is of good advantage, that most upcountry roads have been tarmacked making it so smooth and comfortable to travel. In most parts of the country, you will find very many people able speak English and it will be easy for you to communicate. Uganda is one of the best countries in English speaking across Africa since it has no collective national language. If the people know that you’re new in the area or a tourist, they will in most cases treat you well and make you feel comfortable. You just have to mention your destination to the vessel conductor and as they shout that name of the place when you reach there, you can jumbo out. If you use a big bus, they will normally issue a receipt at the starting point but most taxis won’t do this unless you start from the taxi park. If you use a big bus, please keep your receipt for several rounds of inspection. You will find different staff along the way to inspect as a way to find out if you have paid. If at one time you fail to show this receipt, they will assume you never paid from the starting point and you will be asked to pay again. This is designed this way, to avoid any chances of financial corruption among some staff who may charge passengers and don’t remit the money to the bus company.

The other reason is, these buses don’t have automated systems to monitor the payments by seats especially since they can sometimes carry excess people above the number of seats. For the well-established buses going across borders like to Rwanda or Kenya, they will normally give you a seat number, will carry only a limited number of passengers – not allowing in other passengers on the way – and therefore will be able to know that you have paid at the beginning of the journey and may not inspect along the way. However, make sure you stick to your receipt until you reach the destination to avoid inconveniences on the way.

Though public transport is a cheap option for your trip, you need to know a number of jargons used to help you get the best out of it during your trip.

Next, I will write on how to choose the most reliable means of public transport in Uganda or you can comment with the request on this subject.

Death of one Elephant and three travellers in a Ugandan road accident!!!

It was a sad moment in Uganda, when Murchison falls conservation area lost one Elephant to a road accident around Karuma wildlife reserve.  The incident happened during a bus accident at around 2 am. 8th June 2016, on the road stretch between Karuma and Kigumba town in Kiryandongo district. The bus belonging to “KK travelers Bus Company” caused the accident while travelling from west Nile, northern Uganda, to Kampala. The fateful energetic giant Elephant died about 1.5 km away from the accident scene. It is here that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officials found it and extracted the ivory as rescue strategy to prevent ivory trade.

Besides the dead Elephant, three people are also reported to have died in the same accident including the driver, identified as Musa Aliganyira and other two; Geoffrey Ondora, 37, a resident of Ayere village Erute  in Lira district and Denish Dricile, 20, a resident of Pasomo village Madiokolo sub county Arua district. Over ten passengers sustained injuries and were rushed to Kiryandongo hospital in critical condition, where they are getting treatment by reporting time.

The locals were overwhelmed by the elephant size and all other features. You could see everyone doing something either investigating, observing, standing on the carcass or taking pictures with their phones. As opposed to the Uganda wildlife authority, the custodian of all wildlife in Uganda, that they won’t allow the remains of the Elephant to be eaten by the community around but bury the carcass or leave it to decompose in the nearby forest, some social media reports and pictures circulating have shown that the local community shared the meat of the dead Elephant for domestic consumption. The UWA official had been quoted reporting that allowing the local people to eat the meat of this Elephant would tempt the local people to hunt more Elephants or wild meat if the meat was tasty to them. Besides causing increased poaching as commented, wildlife meat could cause threats of transmitting zoonotic diseases to the people and their domestic livestock once they are exposed to meat from the wild.

Most communities near the national parks suffer crop rides from wildlife. “Wildlife knows no boundaries and they get tempted by crops and other palatable pastures in adjacent communities outside the park. They move at night into areas they feel are secure for them such as community gardens or private lands. Besides the rampant poaching of Elephants for ivory in the world. Road accidents is also an additional threat to the large mammals that will continuously need to cross the highways to fill their stomachs. This also proves that wildlife crossing is not only a danger to the communities but also to wildlife when they face none community influenced problems such as road accidents.

Passengers and motorists driving in wild life protected areas need to be cautious about their speed. This will equally save the wildlife, the people and their property, as emphasized by one UWA officials.

Photo credit: The New Vision.

Tomorrow 3rd June, is Uganda Martyrs day, a festival day respected and celebrated by the Christian community in Uganda and in the world to recognize the killing of the Uganda martyrs at Namugongo and on their journey destined for Namugongo  from the different parts of Buganda kingdom. This day is also recognized by the government and all working community as a public holiday in Uganda. So for all Christians, especially those around Kampala, there can be much reason for not going to celebrate your own faith at Namugongo tomorrow.

During King Mwangas rule, a total of 45 catholic and Anglican martyrs were killed by the then Buganda king from 1885 to 1887.  Besides the martyrs, Mwanga also killed other key christian figures such as bishop James Hannington and his colleagues as part of the campaign to abolish Christianity in the Buganda kingdom during his rule, though his Predecessor Mutesa 1 of the same kingdom had tolerated Christianity in the earlier years.

The whole of this week starting Sunday 29th May 2016 has seen pilgrims arriving  Namugongo from different parts of Uganda and the East African region. The multitudes are coming to attend the celebration this Uganda martyrs day that is Commemorated every 3rd June of the year.

we wish all  the pilgrims and Ugandans, a peaceful celebration and safe return back home with abundance of faith filled in your hearts.