Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hippos at Lake George

Table Mountain Inaugurated As New Seven Wonder of Nature

The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) was officially inaugurated as a New 7 Wonder of Nature in Pretoria on 3 December. Dr. David Mabunda, SANParks CEO said this initiative has touched the lives of South Africans and is a symbol of hope, unity and transformation, bringing South Africans together for a common goal.
Table Mountain was named an official New 7 Wonder of Nature in May, 2012 and rightfully won the opportunity to take its place in the history books of the world for the true wonder that it is. "We are elated to be part of this gallery of icons and are looking forward to capitalising on the status," said Dr. Mabunda.
SANParks took over the management of TMNP in 1998. "Since we took over we have improved its biodiversity so much so that it gained the world renowned natural heritage status as part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom World Heritage Site and is now a New 7 Wonder of the World."

Diverse Floral Kingdom
This natural world heritage site is a haven of magnificent mountains plunging into crystal seas fringed with bleached white sands of the Cape Peninsula. The mountain chain stretches from Signal Hill in the north, to Cape Point in the south and is also home to the world's smallest, yet most diverse floral kingdom, the Cape Floristic Region.
TMNP also won the Best Park award at the prestigious South African National Parks (SANParks) Kudu Awards held at Gallagher Estate on 30 November 2012. The awards reward SANParks staff members and parks for their exceptional work performance and efforts on customer service.
The African icon is the sixth site to host its inauguration ceremony following the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the Amazon, Jeju Island, Halong Bay and Iguazu Falls. The seventh site, Komodo Island, will host its inauguration ceremony in 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

South Korean Tourists Look to East Africa

Tourists from South Korea are optimistic about visiting Uganda and the rest of East Africa now that direct flights are possible. Speaking during Uganda's National Day at Expo 2012 held in the South western city of Yeosu Korea, Ambassodor Julius Onen welcomed South Koreans to visit Uganda.
"Uganda has one of the highest tourism potentials in the world, with fantastic natural scenery and is home to half of the world's remaining mountain gorilla population," He added that the country also has the highest mountain range in Africa, the Rwenzori Mountains and one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, Murchison Falls and home to more bird species per square kilometer than any other country in Africa", Onen stated.
Hope comes after Kenya Airways started a direct flight from Inchon International Airport in Seoul, Korea to Nairobi, Kenya. "This a clear example of how regional tourism circuits should be enhanced as opposed to one country tourism stops. Tour and Travel agents and Safari companies in the region should network and communicate more in fostering regional circuit trips by tourists from Korea and Asia."
This will bring out the true meaning of the East African Community to all parties in the tourism value chain, from the handicraft producer in the village to the 4 star hotels in the city. Annually, 8.5million South Koreans are outbound for destinations outside their country. South Koreans are the second largest coffee drinkers in Asia after Japan and coffee exports will grow with increased tourist arrivals from the East.
He informed the Korean audience that attended Uganda's National Day cultural event that the people of Uganda have a rich historical and cultural heritage which has enabled her interact with the people of different nations across the two hemispheres. Eco-tourism has enabled the fusion of nature and culture in protecting and preserving the countries unique habitats.

Natron Flamingos for Population Boom

It is estimated that more than 2.5 million flamingos live in Eastern Africa. All of them were hatched at Tanzania's Lake Natron.  Tanzania will, this year, experience the most significant breeding of flamingos in more than five years, according to scientists.
Up to one million flamingos migrate to Lake Natron in the Enkaresero Ward of Ngorongoro District in Arusha region where they lay their eggs each year. "If this year's breeding is successful it will be a good boost for the flamingo population. But with so many hurdles to overcome we will have to wait and hope for good conditions," said Dr Sarah Ward from the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), who is currently studying the pink birds.
"Large breeding events involving over one million lesser flamingos are not unusual if conditions at Lake Natron are suitable and if the flamingos are in good health," explained Ms Ward. Dr Ward is a PhD research student studying the relationship between East African lakes and lesser flamingo populations at the university's Institute of Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) and geography departments.
Lake Natron is, however, not gazetted yet as an official tourism site and recently it became an epicentre of controversy due to the proposed soda-ash extracting factory planned for its Longido shores. It is estimated that more than three-quarters of the world population of lesser flamingos lives in East Africa and uses the Northern-Tanzania's shallow lake as its nesting site.
It is estimated that more than 2.5 million lesser flamingos are currently living in Eastern Africa, from Djibouti down through Tanzania to Malawi. All of them were hatched at Lake Natron. The lake has islands where the birds raise their young away from predators like hyenas but if the water level is too low the birds usually abandon their nests. Lesser flamingos are the smallest, but most common, species of flamingo.
The birds fly in huge migratory groups from other parts of the African continent to Lake Natron. Dry weather caused drought in recent years which meant the birds did not have very successful breeding seasons but with ongoing rains, this year, conditions look better.
On the other hand, the other flamingo habitat Lake Manyara which lies within the National Park of the same name, is back to its usual form following recent rains that have rescued the water body which was reported diminishing two months ago.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Uganda a Birding Hub

Uganda has been declared a preferred bird watching destination 2013/14 a development expected to promote birding and uphold the country as a major tourist destination.

The declaration by the government was made after Birdlife International, a global programme on conservation and protection of birds and their habitats, and Nature Uganda announced that there were 34 important bird watching areas in Uganda, with diverse bird species.

“Allow me to declare Uganda a preferred bird watching destination as we begin our journey through the next 50 years as we mark the country’s independence jubilee celebrations,” the Minister for Tourism, Ms Maria Mutagamba, said during the launch of the birding campaign that attracted various birders and guides at Kasenge Forest Resort Beach in Mukono District at the weekend.

Ms Mutagamba said they had been priding in the recent accolades by Lonely Planet, which voted Uganda as the best tourism destination for 2012 and Africa Bird Club, which voted Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Africa’s number one birding site.

The minister said the accolades provide an important avenue for showcasing Uganda’s rich bird diversity, accounting for 10 per cent of the world’s total bird species and 50 per cent of Africa’s bird species population.

Tourism boost
The executive director of Uganda Tourism Board, Mr Cuthbert Baguma, said as the year closes in, it was important to start promoting the country as a major bird destination.
Mr Baguma said they were forming a crisis management committee to respond to all negative publicity on either social media as well as other media outlets.

Rwanda Named Among Top Tourist Destinations

Rwanda has been ranked among top 10 world adventurous places for 2013, according to Globe Spots, an international travel guide for tourists. The travel guide on Monday released a list of 10 countries in the world that are of classic travel for great sights and convenient travel, adventurous places for those who are going above and beyond, seeking out the best travel and hardcore places for those who are willing to travel anywhere just for the buzz.

According to the web portal, Rwanda was ranked sixth globally. Portugal comes number one on the list, followed by Mozambique, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, Armenia, Cuba, Ukraine, Malawi and Canada in that order. Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Rica Rwigamba, head of tourism and conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said that the ranking provides confidence to tourists.
"In Rwanda we have much more to offer to tourists beyond the mountain gorillas. And we are proud of that. We are committed to showcase Rwanda's beauty to the world," she said.

According to Globe Spots website, there is more to visit in Rwanda than gorillas and Genocide sites, such as stunning ubiquitous mountains, national parks, excellent lake beaches, great culture, and a dynamic capital city.
"The country has a lot to offer its visitors and is working really hard to convince them to forget about its dreadful past. And with its incredibly well-paved roads, clean and safe streets, and friendly helpful people, Rwanda makes a perfectly smooth introduction to Africa," it says.

For the fifth year, the travel guide magazine has captured what's happening on the travel scene. As usual, they focused on destinations they think will be hot - or at least should be.

Since the beginning of 2012, the country hosted about 493,744 visitors, representing an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same period in 2011.
It recorded a remarkable 16 per cent increase in leisure visitors as well as an eight per cent increase in business visitors.

Last year, the tourism industry generated $252 million in revenues. Tourist sites in Rwanda include mountain gorillas, canopy walk, national museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, Congo Nile trail, Akagera and Nyungwe National parks, culture, among others.