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Uganda opens doors to tourism, considers airport opening

Already, 260 tourists who had made bookings prior to the country’s lockdown, on Wednesday reported at the Katungulu entry point of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda after the announcement.

TOURISM

Uganda has re-opened its doors to tourism, the Government has announced.

The opening of gates to mainly wildlife and ecotourism has caused excitement among tourists, giving hope to many who had made their bookings prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus and ban on international travel.

Already, 260 tourists who had made bookings prior to the country’s lockdown, on Wednesday reported at the Katungulu entry point of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda after the announcement.

The tourism minister, Tom Butime, said: “Visitors have started coming and tourists are excited at the re-opening of our gates.”

He made the remarks on Thursday evening while welcoming a team of European Union (EU) ambassadors and other delegates who visited Enjojo Lodge at Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kanungu district. Enjojo Lodge is under the Enjojo Wildlife Foundation, which is owned by Krist Debref.

The minister and delegates addressed journalists ahead of the opening of a ranger post and an accommodation facility for the newly trained rangers in the area.

The delegates, led by the EU head of mission, Atillio Pacifici, arrived at the site from Kampala for a four-day visit to the area.

They said the visit was meant to send a clear message to their home countries and to the rest of the world that Uganda had opened its doors to tourists.

Other delegates on the team were Dr Roswitha Kremser, (head of office of the Austrian embassy), Rudi Veestraeten (from Belgium), Jules-Armand Aniambossou (from France), Janos Tereny (charge de affairs of Hungary) and Massimiliano Mazzanti, the Italian Ambassador to Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is endowed with an assortment of wildlife, including tree-climbing lions, hippos, Uganda cobs, elephants, leopards. It is also gifted with a rich ecosystem, ranging from savannah to forests, lakes and wetlands.

Butime said many people in Uganda had planned to visit the park but were stopped by the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Those who had booked and are here in Uganda can now go to the parks. We are working hard to see that the airport is opened so that other tourists who had booked come,” the minister said.

Butime said the country would ensure all tourists follow the health ministry guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“There is already an intervention from the Government to assist the tourism sector, especially the hotel owners, but we shall have to encourage domestic tourism and when the airport is opened, we hope to receive foreigners as well,” he said.

The minister said the country earns about $1.2b (about sh4 trillion) annually from tourism and had anticipated that by 2025, Uganda would be earning $3b (sh10 trillion) annually.

“But COVID-19 shattered our hopes, which we need to rebuild afresh,” he said.

The minister said last week he met EU delegates and agreed on a number of issues, among which was tourism.

Butime said the ranger post will avail accommodation to personnel who protect the park, which he said was facing a lot of pressure from intruders.

“We had to train paramilitary personnel to protect it from poachers,” he said.

The area shares a porous border with conflict-riddled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.;

Ambassador speaks

Pacifici said the EU funded the construction of the ranger post to send a message that they were keen on supporting the tourism sector, a pillar in the national economy.

Ambassador Pacifici

The ranger post, according to Pacifici, was financed to protect the park and Virunga National Park in DR Congo.

Pacifici is optimistic that the country’s economy would recover since Uganda had done well in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the ranger post cost $1.3m (about sh4b), which was a joint venture between the EU, International Fund for Animal Welfare and other stakeholders.

Pacifici questioned the proposed construction of a dam at Murchison Falls.

“Why do we need to build a dam at this site?” he asked. Other concerns were the construction of wide roads and sugar plantations in parks.

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Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Justo Nov 18, 2019

Safaribookings
I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .