From April 12-16, over 400 Ugandans were treated to an experience of Uganda’s Western Region under the ‘Explore West’ Campaign.
The West with its marvels, excited a bunch of new travellers but also the long-time ‘dinosaurs’.
This is Part of the Domestic Tourism campaign by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities in partnership with Agencies like the Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority, UWEC, UHHTI, and UWRI, and private sector players.
The campaign is aimed at interesting Ugandans visiting the uniquely prized tourist sites and attractions in the country.
The Explore Western Region domestic tourism promotional adventure comes a few months after the successful Explore Elgon domestic tourism campaign that witnessed hundreds of Ugandans participate as they visited Mbale City, Wanale Hill, and Sipi Falls in December last year.
The campaign led by Hon. Martin Bahinduka Mugarra, the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, along with celebrity influencers spotlighted the key attractions of the region.
Starting from the much-prized Uganda Museum, a stopover was made at the Uganda Equator in Kayabwe for some refreshments and pictures for snaps, social media and archives.
The next destination was Lukaya town for some mouthwatering roasted Nyama Choma, chicken, among others, before travelling to the Mbarara-based Igongo Cultural Centre.
At Igongo, the delegation was received by the local leaders who discussed a wide range of topics concerning tourism.
Later, the team proceeded to explore and experience the beauty of the West.
Some groups reached the Eclipse monument in Biharwe, where the past is said to meet the future.
The eclipse monument at Biharwe represents three Kingdoms, namely; Ankole, Bunyoro and Buganda. It is said the eclipse happened when the then Omukama of Bunyoro was taking his loot from Rwanda, and upon reaching Biharwe Hill, an eclipse happened, he abandoned the loot and this was seen as a blessing by the Then Nkore king and his people.
However, rumour has it that the Bunyoro King had been deserted by the Gods tempting the then Buganda King to attack Bunyoro, unfortunately, the Kabaka of Buganda was overpowered and killed in the battle.
A drive to Lake Mburo was made where many had an opportunity to visit a farm just at the exit of the park, here, many had a chance to gaze at the beautiful Ankole Cattle, also, many enjoyed the sweet natural milk and roasted meat.
At Lake Mburo, we were amazed by the co-existence between the wild and humans, many here even graze their cows with Zebras, among other animals.
If you are looking for a game drive, trust me, Lake Mburo is the place to go. Here, park cycling is among the many services offered.
We also visited the redeveloped Mugaba Palace, where the Ministry, revealed that over UGx 9 billion has been injected into refurbishing and developing the palace.
Later in the evening, travellers happened to experience Mbarara’s nightlife. Trust me it can never be a dull night in Mbarara City, you just need to ask the locals for the trending spot that night.
A trail to Lake Nkugute, Kyambura Gorge viewpoint, Katunguru Bridge, and Rubirizi Crater lakes was another worthwhile experience.
Man is left to wonder if indeed we know the beauty and attractions embedded in Rubirizi district, with over 10 crater lakes, the green belt and beautiful hills, the district as the locals say indeed complete the Pearl of Africa.
Mweya Peninsula and Queen Elizabeth National Park, we’re also other places to visit, from an amazing game drive, that allows gazing at crocodiles, Hippos, and birds among others, is something that shouldn’t miss on your bucket list if you are to visit the west.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, famous for its big cats, including tree-climbing lions and leopards, was another experience that left many glued. The game drives here are some of the activities that wowed the travellers.
The park is home to 618 bird species which is the 6th highest diversity in the world and the highest in Africa making it a perfect destination for Uganda Birding Safaris, in addition to 10 primate species like chimpanzees and 95 mammals including big game.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, include Tree Climbing Lions, The Kazinga Channel, this natural water channel connects Lakes Albert and Gorge and is home to a large number of hippos, Nile Crocodiles, elephants and hippos which can easily be seen on the thrilling Kazinga Boat Ride Kasenyi Plains, chimpanzee tracking experiences at the southeastern corner of the park, The Kyambura Gorge, the forested 100-meter deep valley is home to a large number of primates and popular for Chimpanzee tracking tours in Uganda.
The Mweya Peninsular: this is a stretch of land that protrudes into Lake Edwards and is commonly visited during game drives as it offers perfect game views while exploring the various game tracks.
Part of the travel was visiting Lake Katwe Salt Works, within the alkaline Lake where salt mining works have been ongoing for several years as the main economic activity in the area.
In Kasese, the Kilembe mines ruins, Nyamwamba Valley, Rwenzori Mountain National Park, Mihunga Gate, Tooro Kingdom Palace, Semuliki National Park, Amabeere Ga Nyina Mwiru among others, were the places that were Explored.
As travel bounces back and restrictions are lifted by different countries and airports across the world, several countries have stepped up their destination marketing and promotional strategies in a bid to boost domestic tourism so as to attract foreign travellers and regain trust.
As a result, they have embarked on domestic tourism promotional initiatives as the road to recovery of their tourism sectors and as a way of igniting interest among local and foreign tourists.
Prior to the pandemic, Uganda’s tourism industry was growing at a rapid pace contributing 7.7% of GDP in FY2018–2019 and was the top foreign exchange earner for the previous five years.
In addition to collectively protecting and conserving the country’s abundant natural resources, the sector employed over 677,000 young people.
About Western Uganda Region
The bulk of Uganda’s National Parks, game reserves, waterfalls, crater lakes, rich cultural legacy, amazing wildlife, wonderful birds, charming landscapes, and lush green vegetation are found in the Western region of the country.
Among other remarkable features that render the region a stand-alone ideal tourist destination include the fact that it is home to 54% of the remaining endangered mountain gorilla population.
The Western Uganda region borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west and the northern tip of Rwanda, as well as Tanzania in the south.
The region is divided into 26 Districts including Mbarara, Buhweju, Buliisa, Bundibugyo, Bushenyi, Hoima, Masindi, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabale, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kisoro, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiruhura, Kiryandongo, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Mitooma, Ntoroko, Ntungamo, Rubirizi, Sheema, and Rukungiri et al.
Photos by UTB & MTWA