Five months into the semi-lockdown, we had to rethink our Tourism strategies. We are tourism enthusiasts whose love for travel is not only a hobby, but also a darling job.
When local TVs had just ‘invented’ the weekend dance parties during the lockdown, we were solaced. I vividly recall my friend Olivia Komugisha tweeting a hundred times about the best TV with a good team of DJs. Having danced and sweat out all plasma for the first months, we developed an urge to travel again.
Mobilising from all corners of our contacts, 20 of our fellow ‘bazunzi,’ agreed to jump on the Wagon to Lake Bunyonyi. There was not much debate about which destination, as long as we could leave respective houses to a more airy place.
Early morning of August 14, we embarked on our later-to-be long journey to Kabale in Western Uganda. In a group of 20 ‘Bazunzi’ (read travelers) with more females than males, took Masaka route through Mpigi and making the first stop-over at Kayabwe. At this point, several tourists and travelers usually amp out of their vehicles for photo moments at the equator. No matter how many times I have been to this place, it always demands that I take selfies from this spot. So were others.
Taking our seats in a bombastic coaster, we later resumed with the journey. With the urge of promoting local tourism, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL) the producers of Uganda’s finest beer, had sponsored the trip with over 10 crates of beer. Yes, Beer!
Everyone can imagine the fan in a loud Van, when a few drunken men are seated amidst many nice-looking ladies! It was from this moment that my memory concentrated more on what was inside the coaster than the beautiful scenery outside.
Not mentioning the number of times we engaged the driver to stop, so that we make ‘susu,’ we later made another stop-over at Rolex booth in Mbarara for lunch, before continuing with the journey.
I can’t recall the exact time we made it to Hawk’s Eye Lodge in Kabale (thanks to the Beer), but I can recollect most of the lies and vague stories narrated by colleagues around the Campfire that night.
As a treatment for our hangover, a heavy breakfast had been prepared, after which, we each got hold of Club and Nile Special beers as we went about nature walk and community tour.
We were back at the hotel in time, for lunch. Served with all sorts of dishes and Cuisines, there was no room left for complaining.
After we had all served to full, we took to different boats paddling across Uganda’s deepest natural water body, to several other islands that call Lake Bunyonyi a home.
At Shs50,000=, we were each treated to another experience of swinging on top of the calm waters of Lake Bunyonyi. High ropes are connected between trees on the opposite shores of the lake and travelers swing from one point to the other over the waters. The experience offers travelers with a fresh feeling of cold water breezes and excellent views of local communities, islands and rolling hills of Kigezi region.
It’s generally inevitable for one to make a loud scream while crossing either the high or lower elevation of Zip lining. It was another worthwhile experience!
Dance party into the Woods
Rowing our boats back to Hawk’s Eye lodge, we had nothing left than shaking our bodies. Tonny Droneshots had won himself an ‘accolade’ of the best DJ of the trip. Overlooking lake Bunyonyi from the high end, with all its cool breeze; then was time to ‘Parte.’ The beautiful part of being drunk, you all dance like nobody is watching. Bottle after bottle; we danced and danced and danced until I could remember nothing.
Salvaging domestic tourism
As Uganda opens up for domestic tourism following several months of lock-down, there has been an advent of people hungry to travel the country in some sort of revenge tourism, but many are hindered by the high costs of such adventures. According to Pamela Amia, the Karibu Travel Magazine finance head; the tourism sector which (until Covid19 outbreak), has been the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner bringing in about US$1.6b as of last financial year, and employing about 600,000 people. I t thus remains key in the growth of our economy and therefore should be taken seriously.
“As Karibu, we believe that rejuvenating the mood for local tourists while giving them subsidised rates, will help feed into the industry’s whole value chain from logistics, hotels and lodges, activities and destinations. It is our mission to be part of the many groups of young Ugandans working hard to create a culture of traveling around the country,” stated Amia, giving appreciation to Lilly Ajarova the Chief Executive Officer for Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), NBL among other Tourism Sponsors.