Why Ecotourism Has Become Very Popular?

Are you eco-tourist? Have you ever wondered why ecotourism is ever on increase? Ecotourism was originally introduced in the 1990s and it was embraced by most travelers on safari in Africa. It has howev¬er developed and today, there are several kinds of ecotourism sites in Uganda that visitors pay a visit while on African safari. It is estimated that ecotourism will contribute to over 25 percent of revenue in the world by 2020.

Like any sector, the tourism industry equally comes with both positive and negative effects and they shouldn’t be left out. Negatively, it impacts much on the spectacular landscape, wildlife, environmental pollution, and depletion of natural resources. However, several ways can be applied to promote sustainable tourism and reduce its effects. It entirely attracts visitors to nature endowed areas and bridges gaps between visitors and locals.

Ecotourism is aimed at enhancing income levels of locals in specific safari destinations and also develop the visitor sport with the support of locals. Local residents are employed in most tourism organizations as local guides and they earn income for survival by directing visitors to areas of significant interest. And Bwindi National Park in southwestern Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda serves as the best example of ecotourism sites and several locals work in these parks in various fields.

Ecotourism is significant in fact that it helps in enhancing the images of tourism and identify criteria to aid visitors to have a positive effect on local communities. It makes the use of the benefits to local communities, reduces negative social or environmental impacts, and hence aids locals to preserve the fragile cultures and habitats. With ecotourism, visitors are rewarded with authentic experiences.

However, there is a need to give back to the local communities a fact that a few locals benefit or even don’t benefit from tourism as you may think. It is true tourists come but at times they come and leave an impact on their environment. Interestingly, we are a committed travel company that allows you to come to close interactions with local residents which later will enhance their livelihoods. However, there is a need to conserve the environment compared to the previous days a fact that tourism leaves a huge impact behind. If you are planning to have your next vacation in Uganda or any African destination, be mindful of environmental effects and book your safari with Tour Company that minds about conserving natural resources.

While on safari to any ecotourism site, be prepared to enjoy remarkable experiences right from wildlife to cultural activities. We are a responsible tour company in Uganda but we can arrange safaris to even Rwanda for mountain gorilla trekking adventures. Ecotourism is challenging to describe a fact that it isn’t a one kind safari but rather any kind of tourism which focuses on visiting untapped areas while offering you the opportunity to explore more and aid conservation of natural resources. Interestingly, most visitors even book accommodation facilities mostly eco-friendly resorts and while reserving a trip with us, we shall help book for you a better eco-lodge for your stay over at the park.

In conclusion, to promote ecotourism in Uganda and any destination, there is a need for all stakeholders including visitors to be mindful of daily activities that can cause a negative impact. Meaning, we shouldn’t over depend on only benefiting clients alone. Ecotourism attracts mainly those visitors who love eco-related sites to experience the untouched natural resources.

The Magnificent Murchison Falls

Also referred to as the Kabalega Falls, Murchison Falls is probably the main reason why many tourists take tours to Murchison Falls National Park as the number one tourist destination in Uganda. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the World and is found between Lakes Albert and Kyoga on the White Nile River within Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

What makes the Murchison Falls beautiful is the fact that the Nile passes through many miles of rapids before forcing its way through the narrow gorge of only 7 meters (23 feet) wide in the rocks and falls at about 120 meters (400 feet) in a series of three cascades but the first fall of about 40 meters (130 feet) is the one known as Murchison Falls before finally flowing westwards to pour its waters into Lake Albert. Usually, the outlet of Lake Victoria forces over 300 cubic meters of water per second over the waterfalls through the gorge of fewer than 10 meters wide.

It is believed that Sir Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker were the first Europeans to find and explore the waterfalls and eventually named it “Murchison Falls after Sir Roderick Murchison, then President of the Royal Geographical Society and the waterfalls lent the name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest and oldest Protected Area covering 3840 square kilometers and established in 1952 respectively and is undeniably the most spectacular National Park characterized by rolling savannah grasslands. The Murchison Falls lies on the lower Victoria Nile River within the north-western side of Uganda, about 32 kilometers (20 miles) east of Lake Albert.

However, during Idi Amin Dada’s regime, the fall was changed to Kabalega Falls (in the 1970s) after the once-powerful and warrior King of Bunyoro-Omukama Kabalega Chwa much as it was never legally recognized. The waterfalls later regained its original name after the overthrow of his Government but some people have still known the waterfalls by the Kabalega name. One thing that makes this waterfall very interesting and worth exploring is the fact that it is the site where Ernest Hemingway crashed a plane just downriver from Murchison Falls in 1954.

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the top tourist destinations in Uganda offering tourists with opportunities of spotting four of the big five animals (elephants, buffaloes, lions, and leopards), giraffes, warthogs, Uganda Kobs, elands, bushbucks, chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, oribis, topis, hippos, Nile crocodiles, waterbucks and baboons among others as well as bird species including the shoebill storks.

In addition to the Murchison Falls, tourists interested in exploring waterfalls during safaris can visit the Itanda, Ssezibwa, Karuma, Aruu, Sipi, Kisiizi, Sisiyi and Bujagali waterfalls among others. All these waterfalls are exceptionally beautiful and worth exploring hence the reason you have to add them in your itinerary when visiting the National Parks and Wildlife Reserves.

Things to Do in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is so far the only place in Uganda to see the Rhinos in the wild during your tours in Uganda, thus any tourist with the dream of seeing the Big five animals will be able to achieve the dream by visiting this site while the other four animals-Lions, Leopards, Elephants, and Buffaloes are found in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Parks.

This Rhino Sanctuary is situated within Nakasongola District, about 180 kilometers north of Kampala City along the Kampala-Gulu Highway, near Nakitoma Village and offers seclusion and serenity in stunning surroundings but tourists who visit the site can enjoy several activities. The site is about 3 hours’ drive away (about half the journey to Murchison Falls National Park) and is known for several activities including;

On-foot Rhino Tracking

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a haven to over twenty southern white Rhinos, making it the only place to enjoy on-foot Rhino Tracking in the company of experienced ranger guides who will take you through the vast plains to observe them go by their activities such as feeding, mating, and grooming. This on-foot activity takes one to two hours depending on the location of the Rhinos and involves spotting them up-close (at 6-7 meters away) and take as many photos as possible but also learn about their behavior and natural habitat. It is not only the Rhinos but you will be able to encounter other wildlife species such as Hippos and antelopes during the activity.

Therefore tracking the Rhinos within Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary can be well added on your itinerary for visiting Murchison Falls National Park due to the close proximity of the Park to the Sanctuary hence allowing tourists to achieve their dream of seeing the big five animals in an African wilderness.

Day and Night guided Nature Walks

The only way you can explore all or half of the attractions within this Rhino Sanctuary is by undertaking a nature walk where you will get the chance to encounter the wild animals such as ground squirrels, waterbucks, hippos, warthogs, vervet monkeys, grey duikers, reedbucks, bushbucks, black and white colobus monkeys, mongoose and hartebeests as well as reptiles especially Monitor Lizards, tree and butterfly species among others. Nature walks usually last at least 3 hours or more depending on the pace of movement but is done in the company of trained ranger guides who know where all the interesting attractions are found.

Bird watching and shoebill canoe tours

Even when everyone knows the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for the Rhinos, it is also home to over 350 species of birds that can be explored through canoe tours and walks through some of the maintained trails. Some of the fascinating bird species you might see within the Sanctuary include the rare and mysterious shoebill stork, Blue-spotted doves, speckled-breasted woodpeckers, African black crake, giant kingfishers, white-crested turacos, and many others.

Camping

There are several serene and secluded campsites near the Headquarters of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary with amenities such as Hydro-Electricity power as well as backup solar with clean toilets and running water. Camping is one of the ways of having a close encounter with the wilderness since you will be surrounded by trees, wildlife, and singing birds that wake you up.

Therefore, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is one of the top destinations for family or solo travelers and is known for a number of activities that include on-foot rhino tracking, camping, bird watching, and guided nature walks to offer you an unforgettable tour in Uganda.

Birding in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Established in 1997, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is situated within Nakasongola district and is so far the only place in Uganda to see wild rhinos in their natural habitats thus it ensures the protection of these endangered mammals in Uganda in addition to functioning as a Reserve for other wildlife species. Much as the Rhinos are the main attractions within the Sanctuary, it is also a haven to over 300 species of birds thus making it a perfect birding spot during a safari in Uganda.

It boasts of four wonderful bird trails within the Sanctuary that covers the woodlands, savannah and swamp ecosystems. The bird guides are experienced and this adventurous activity is one you can never miss, especially if you are a bird lover. The best time to conduct birding within the area is from 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm mostly lasting 2 hours.

The commonest species of birds to look out for include the Emerald-spotted wood Dove, Africa morning Dove, Egyptian goose, Common waxbills, African open-billed storks, crested francolins, the African Paradise Flycatcher, Augur buzzard, Crowned hornbills, Fork-tailed Drongo, the African pied wagtails, Barred warblers, Curlew Sandpiper, African pygmy kingfisher, Fan-tailed widow cuckoo, the Dark-caped yellow warblers, African Scop’s owls, the double-toothed barbets, Eurasian Hobby, Dusky tit, Bare-faced go-away bird, Black and white Manikin, Eastern grey plantain eater, Barn swallow, Bat Hawk, Black and white shrike flycatcher, the grey-backed fiscal shrike, Blue-napped mouse bird, grey-backed Camaroptera, blue-cheeked bee-eater, Green wood hoopoe, blue-breasted kingfisher, green crombec, white0winhged terns, Black-winged bishop, greater blue-eared starlings, black-shouldered kites, great sparrow hawks, black kites, grey crowned cranes, great reed warblers, great egret, black-headed gonolek, yellow-billed shrike, grassland Pipit, black Cuckoo, Goliath Herons, Black-crowned waxbills, giant kingfishers, yellow-fronted canary, black crowned Tchagra, foxes weaver, the black-bellied Bustard, shoebill storks, Red-headed weavers, Red-knobbed coot, the red-rumped swallow, Red-throated Wryneck, red-winged Doves, Ross’ turaco, Sacred Ibis, Rufus-billed herons, Saddle-billed storks, the Sand Martins, Scaly-throated honey guide, Scarlet-chested sunbirds, sedge warblers, wood sandpiper, semi-colored flycatcher, Senegal Coucal, Soot chat, Speckled Pigeon, speckled mouse bird, speckled weavers, spotted eagle owls, Spur-winged lapwings, Lemon dove, long crested eagles, Eurasian nightjar, For-tailed Drongo, white winged terns, yellow-throated long claws, yellow-billed storks, yellow-breasted Apalis, Fan-tailed widow bird, white-browed coucal, white-browed robin chat, white-crested turaco, white-rumped swift, Steppe eagle, Tawny Eagles, yellow wagtail, lesser kestrel, violet-tipped courser, Tambourine Dove, Spur-winged nightjar, Lesser masked weavers, white-bellied tit and the white-faced whistling duck among others.

What to carry during birding in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Any tourist interested in birding in this area is required to pack closed shoes/ or hiking boots, long trousers/pants, insect repellant, long-sleeved shirt, enough drinking water, a backpack, pair of binoculars, camera, a hat and a bird guidebook among others.

How to Access the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary during your Uganda safari

This Sanctuary is conveniently situated within Nakasongola district (branch off at Nakitoma Trading Center) at approximately 176 kilometers (100 miles) north of Uganda’s Capital on the Kampala-Gulu highway towards the Murchison falls National Park. This means if you have more time, feel free to extend your birding to Murchison falls N.P for more bird species including water birds on River Nile.

Why you Need a Driver/Tour Guide on your Road Trip

Most people love to enjoy the privacy of talking a self-drive trip where you hire a car and they hand the keys to you and explore any destination at your pace. But since you are in a foreign country for the first time there are some reasons why you should hire a vehicle with a driver/guide. You will never be sure and knowledgeable of the destination you visit than the locals, so a local guide or a driver is needed for the best trip and safety.

Guided tours have evolved from simple strolls with locals of the destination you visited more intricate and detailed drives covering expansive areas with specialists on flora and fauna guiding your attention to things you shouldn’t miss. Guided tours can be compared to self-drive tours where you are at the freedom to rent a vehicle for a certain period of time to explore and travel as you want on your own. While a self-drive tour may offer a lot of freedom and privacy during your safari compared to a guided safari, but you can’t be ensured answers to your questions and neither will your interest be extinguished with knowledge of the wildlife promptly.

Regular guided tours incorporate customized or preset itineraries that cover your entire safari from the day of arrival at the airport to your departure and there is also another option where you organize everything yourself and you just hire a car with a guide and to drive and guide you throughout the safari. That way, you know your safari spot and what to look out for prior to setting off. In this post, we intended to discuss the advantages of hiring a vehicle and driver/guide so that when organizing your road to trip to Uganda you choose wisely.

Safety
Since everyone takes his life as a first priority, even on a safari every one wants to be safe and the guides who go with you are not just with you to drive you and point at animals but also guarantee that both you and the animals are safe. Some visitors who take self-drive tours engage conduct which is viewed as dangerous to either the animals or themselves, though accidentally. The guides can advise you on the proper behavior within the sight of the animals since they are supposed to be knowledgeable about animal behaviors.

Route
One of the main points of interest in hiring a vehicle and driver/guide is that you don’t need to carry maps, GPS, or stress over where to take the next turn. You are given a knowledgeable driver who won’t just drive you to and from your desired destinations, but additionally continue informing you about your location and even the time you remaining with to reach your destination. This leaves you with only the task of sitting back and enjoys your trip, watching animals, and drinking in the raw panorama unfolding before you.

Interaction
Somewhere on a safari, you could be interested in the culture or norms of local people. For instance, numerous vacationers who come to Uganda during an even year are excited to witness the Imbalu (circumcision) ceremony held by the Bagishu. Now, in case you were on a self-drive tour your odds of communication would be slim because of issues ranging from dialect barrier to bashfulness of local people. In any case, in case you have hired a car and a guide, your guide can be of help and either translate or take you to places where your interaction with the locals would be made easier and all the more fascinating.

Trained, insightful and knowledgeable guides
It is extremely normal for the undisciplined eye to miss the sight of animals or things that could be a part of intrigue but, for a professional guide, it is very easy to point out a leopard covered in tree branches or to track the location of hard of animals. Local guides always know the areas completely and always know where to which animal at what time. This saves you a lot of time driving around simply hoping to see animals by possibility or luckiness.