New hotel developments in Uganda are a sure indication that tourism to this East African nation is on the increase, and UK visitor arrivals grew 26% in 2005. With strikingly beautiful scenery and friendly Ugandans eager to welcome foreigners, the country is opening its arms to travellers seeking the authentic African experience.
The Uganda Safari Company has developed the only safari lodge in Kidepo National Park in northern Uganda - the beautifully appointed Apoka Safari Lodge. Ten tented huts, all with hardwood floors, solar-heated running water and bespoke furniture, are dotted around a dramatic rocky ‘kopje’, with astounding views across the plains to the jagged mountains in the distance. Outdoor bathtubs are carved out of the rock face, as is the stunning granite pool. The restaurant and game viewing areas have oversized armchairs and cushions in cosy corners, and refreshments are served wherever and whenever guests wish. Kidepo National park is the ultimate secluded retreat, untouched by tourism. Game converges in the valley making for a fantastic and varied viewing experience.
“This lodge is an important development as it opens a window on the unique attractions of Uganda’s north eastern circuit to the discerning traveller”, says Tourism Uganda’s General Manager, James Bahinguza. www.safariuganda.com
Following a year of intensive refurbishment and reconstruction, the Kampala Serena Hotel (formerly the Nile Hotel) opened in July 2006, showcasing characteristic Ugandan hospitality and warmth alongside luxurious design inspired by the country’s nature and wildlife. The five-star, 152-room hotel is located in 17 acres of the city’s gardens and boasts four dining options, the two-storey ‘Maisha’ Health Club & Spa and the Uganda International Conference Centre. www.serenahotels.com
Situated just over 40km from Kampala on the road to Jinja, Mabira Forest Lodge, a new luxury tented camp in the heart of the Mabira Forest is set to open in September 2006. The lodge offers 15 spacious and luxurious cabins tucked away within the secluded forest area, all responsibly constructed with the local environment in mind. From here guests have a wonderful opportunity to be at one with the mighty jungle and its inhabitants, and the chance to experience a part of Uganda’s unspoilt beauty. www.mauroo.com
Nile Horseback Safaris has recently launched in Jinja - the adventure capital of East Africa - offering a variety of rides along the beautiful White Nile, with itineraries for any level of riding ability. Popular trips include the two-hour river & village rides and the luxury overnight package, staying at The Haven riverside lodge. The fantastic animal and birdlife on show during the riding expeditions, not to mention the Nile’s impressive rapids, make this experience truly unique. A two-hour ride starts at $40 per person; for further information, see www.nilehorsebacksafaris.com.
The Jane Goodall Institute has recently taken over the management of the Kaniyo-Padibi and Busingiro chimp tracking areas. The aim is to develop the sites for responsible and sustainable ecotourism, ensuring that the chimpanzee communities are not put at risk by human intervention. Guided chimp tracking excursions, forest walks and camping are all available to tourists, as well as the unique opportunity for visitors to accompany expert guides to assist with chimp habituation projects. Bookings can be made through Let’s Go Safari (www.letsgosafari.com).
Uganda has truly established itself as Africa’s top adventure destination, and Nalubale Rafting is the latest enterprise to offer the ultimate in water-based action. Nalubale runs white water rafting expeditions on the Nile, offering everything from adrenalin-charged half-day trips to multi-day excursions, all complemented by Uganda’s spectacular wildlife and diverse scenery.
Packages range from ‘Hydro Mania’ - two days of adventure-packed rafting and camping, covering no less than 45km of the mighty Nile - to the more peaceful ‘Total Tranquillity’, a serene half-day trip along calmer parts of the river, perfect for taking in the dazzling landscapes. Nalubale even offers ‘Family Float’ trips, which children from two years upwards can take part in - a gentle float with wildlife spotting and optional swimming. All trips include transfers from and to Kampala and food & drink. Visit www.nalubalerafting.com for details.
Thousands of delegates, including Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, officials and journalists are set to converge in Uganda as the East African country hosts the prestigious Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala in November 2007. Commonwealth leaders will meet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree collective policies and initiatives. The event has sparked a vast development and refurbishment project in the country’s hotel industry and infrastructure.