Friday, 30 March 2012

Child Sex Tourism Blights Mombasa/Kenya

The Kenyan government has been urged to implement the laws on sex tourism. Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission acting chair Tecla Namachanja said lax laws are to blame for sexual exploitation of children in Coast province. "Many young girls in the area are now selling themselves to touristsa making the region lag behind academically," she said.

During the TJRC's hearings in Mombasa yesterday, parents recorded statements on how their children are engaging in sex tourism. Namachanja said: "It appears that all the government does is to enact laws in order to conform to international obligations without the will to enforce them. Otherwise how does one explain the fact that despite the laws it has enacted, thousands of children continue to be defiled and exploited in sex tourism at the Coast?" She said most parents attributed the problem to the high level of poverty in the region and challenged residents to take more interest in education to uplift their living standards.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund, some 30,000 children in Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Ukunda and Kwale are being exploited in the sex tourism industry and this is likely to be an underestimation due to the lack of monitoring and the social stigma that inhibit children from reporting some of the cases. In 2006 a UNICEF report showed that Kenyan citizens topped the list of abusers, accounting for 38% of pedophiles; Italians, Germans and Swiss were the worst culprits among the tourists, representing 18%, 14% and 12%, respectively. British, French, American, Ugandan, Tanzanian, Congolese, Japanese, Indian, Austrian and Arab clients were also recorded.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Turkey tourist gets 2 years for defiling 50 Ugandan pre-teen girls!

The Turk sexually abused the below-10 years girls, videotaped and took photographs of them. Not one or two, but more than 50 girls below 10 years were sexually abused by a tourist, who also took their photographs, recorded them on video and uploaded the image on the internet.

Emin Baro, 53, a teacher from Turkey, was on Monday sentenced to two years in jail or a fine of Shs6 million by the Grade One Magistrate Court in Nakawa.
Baro, who entered the country as a tourist six years ago, pleaded guilty to computer misuse and possessing child pornographic materials.

Grade One Magistrate Rosemary Bareebe in her judgement said: “You have pleaded guilty and for this reason I will be lenient. The activity you involved in is condemned in our society and it is not acceptable.’’ Baro, however, failed to pay the fine and was taken to Luzira Maximum Security Prison to serve his sentence. The convict, who abused girls in Masaka, Kampala and Jinja districts, often paid between Shs2,000 and Shs5,000 to each girl. Taking advantage Baro, it is alleged, was selling the material to different websites but because he was quick to plead guilty, prosecution was not able to get details of his business.
Although human rights activists welcomed the conviction, they were unhappy about the length of the sentence, saying that it is not deterrent enough.
African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect, Uganda Programme Manager Anslem Wandega said the sentence would have extended to at least 10 years. “I am not happy with the sentence but I am glad he was convicted before the child pornography could reach another level,” Mr Wandega said yesterday. After carrying out a study in Jinja District, ANPPCAN found out that there are many tourists engaged in child pornography, especially near beaches.
Police spokesperson Asuman Mugenyi, who also handles the child protection unit, said they wanted to prefer charges of aggravated defilement, but had not arrested the Turk in action. Mr Haruna Mawa, a child rights activist, said many child abusers in the country take advantage of the economic vulnerability of their victims. According to the police file, Baro holds two passports of Macedonia and New Zealand. He admitted to have taken the photographs with plans to post them on his computer

Chinese accused of looting Zimbabwe tortoises

Several arrests have been made in relation to the disappearance and death of young tortoise which is a delicacy in China. An animal welfare organisation in Zimbabwe has accused Chinese nationals of looting baby tortoises at a nature reserve in Harare, raising fears the endangered species will soon become extinct. Tortoises are considered a delicacy in China and reportedly fetch high prices in the Asian country’s restaurants.

Mr William Nduku, the director of Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe, told a recent conservation feedback meeting, that the theft of tortoises at the reserve had become a major cause for concern. “We used to have some Chinese nationals coming here on the pretext of seeing the baby tortoises, but they would put them in their pockets.” Mr Nduku said “We understand they have turned to rural areas where they are paying people huge sums of money for the tortoises.” He said security had been tightened at the conservancy and several suspects were arrested for stealing tortoises. Mr Nduku said Chinese visitors were also now being subjected to tighter screening procedures to curb the thefts.
Security alert
“We had to put our security on high alert and we managed to make several arrests,” Mr Nduku said, adding that the suspects were handed over to the police. “What we now do is provide them with an escort team whenever they come here because we are concerned about the safety of the tortoises around here.”

In February, four Chinese expatriate workers were taken to court over the killing of the rare Bell’s Hinged tortoises. Police and wildlife officials found meat and skeletal remains of 40 tortoises at the workers’ home in Masvingo province. The reptiles had been dropped into boiling water while still alive in order to separate its meat from the shell. A further 13 tortoises were found in steel drums. Thousands of Chinese nationals have settled in Zimbabwe over the last few years after being attracted by the booming mining industry.

Scientists discover intelligent Ugandan chimp

A group of German scientists have hailed a cheeky Ugandan chimpanzee called Natasha as a “genius” who is “intellectually closer to humans than most apes.” Natasha is said to bear outstanding and extraordinary social skills only matched to humans.

According to findings published online by The Sun, a UK-based newspaper yesterday, Natasha, who lives in Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria, can communicate with people and manipulate them. The 22-year-old demands extra food by clapping at caretakers during feeding time. She also gets her fun by playfully beckoning people to fling food her way, then spraying them with water.

Dr Joshua Rukundo, the sanctuary’s operations director, confirmed that a group of scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Germany was at the sanctuary and carried out a study on selected chimpanzees five years ago. “Natasha is definitely among the most intelligent chimpanzees you will ever find,” said Dr Rukundo, who also doubles as the veterinary doctor at the sanctuary. “But I think it is rather biased to zero down on Natasha when the study was selective. Many other intelligent chimpanzees were left out of the process due to different reasons.”

Chimpanzees, which carry up to 98.7 per cent similar DNA to humans, have near-human levels of intelligence as they are able to pick up behavioural practices from people around them. “We have a couple of clever ones like Africa, Rambo and Pasa, and most of the females,” added Dr Rukundo. “For instance we have an electric fence surrounding their feeding area to ensure no chimp escapes but Pasa always does. She will pick a green branch and throw it at the fence to check if the power is on and will escape as soon as she doesn’t see a spark,” Dr Rukundo said, before adding that Pasa simply refused to be examined by the scientists. He hinted on the possibility that Natasha could be the most intelligent chimp in the world. “She has such advanced social skills that will leave you wondering.”

Natasha was born in the wild and it is thought that she could have been orphaned after her mother was killed by pet traders. But she was rescued from two years of captivity and was among the very first chimps to be accommodated at Ngamba, a sanctuary that was gazetted in October 1998.

Tanzania to Promote Cultural Tourism

cultural tourism, also known as culture tourism, is the subset of tourism concerned with a country or region's culture. It has all got to do, specifically, with the lifestyle of the people in specific geographical areas, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religion(s), and other elements that helped shape their way of life. According to the definition, cultural tourism also includes tourism in urban areas, particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as museums and theatres.

Cultural tourism is practiced all over the world as visitors and tourists are introduced to the cultures and traditions of the indigenous people in their various tribal locations. In South Africa, as an example, tour and travel agents there could conduct visitors on a tour of villages to sample the rural surroundings, including architecture, food and such cultural activities as traditional dances and arts and crafts making. Visitors to that country will probably go back home with stories that would include such events as being exposed to the Zulu warrior dances, reed dances and traditional cuisine that must have included 'apap' mealie meal, kudu meat and soup and the braai (barbeque) experience. Yet visitors to such south and Latin American countries such as Brazil, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago would go home with exciting stories that would most likely include the colourful carnivals, traditional dances and seaside merrymaking. Those who might have chosen, as another example, our own Tanzania for their cultural tourism expeditions must have sampled the traditional African village life, including marriage ceremonies, food, traditional brew and dances, not to forget the rich and diversified cultures of different tribes.

There is no shortage of cultural tourism attractions in Tanzania and that is a fact. The Kilwa ruins in Lindi, Tongoni ruins and Amboni Caves in Tanga and the rock paintings in Kondoa are part of the bigger picture of the country's cultural tourism cake. In Zanzibar we have the annual Mwaka Kogwa festival at Makunduchi in South Unguja region, sort of a carnival that has never ceased to amaze and attract hundreds of revellers, both local and foreign. With proper planning and investment, Tanzania stands to reap a lot from its cultural tourism endowment. Let this undertaking be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Tanzania Establishes First Community Owned World Class Visitors Centre

Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA) has successfully become the first Wildlife Management Area in Tanzania to establish a world class visitor’s centre. The visitors centre will be hosting hundreds of tourists flocking into tented camps operating within the WMA which is situated in Serengeti District, Mara Region. The WMA is located few meters away from the world famous Serengeti National Park and game reserves of Ikoma and Grumeti. It was established several years ago by five villages that were in the past leading to have highest number of poachers in the district in a bid to make them reap conservation fruits and realize the importance of conserving wild animals for the present and future generations.

The villages are Robanda, Park Nyigoti, Makundusi,Natta mbisso and Nyichoka. The villagers have now every reason to simile for possessing the modern visitor’s centre, thanks to the US Department of the Interior (DOI), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for sponsoring the multimillion project. "We are the first WMA to have an amazing visitors centre in Tanzania and for sure I thank God for all those who have made it possible. I have nothing to pay them but God will do something for you", said Ikona WMA chairman. The visitors centre has a capacity of accommodating close to 300 visitors a day and already 12 local staff from the neighbouring villages has been trained by American experts on how to operate and manage the centre. "We have been trained on how to welcome visitors, revenue collection and proper management of the centre", said the first manager of the visitors centre. Among other things, the visitors centre has a curio shop that will be selling variety of local goods from the surrounding communities.

It has been built by Serengeti based Chabhoke Construction Ltd under close supervision from National Construction Council experts (NCC) between 210 and 2011. "This is the first visitors centre to open in Tanzania and it represents tremendous achievement on both conservation and business and it is an example to the rest of Wildlife Management Areas in Tanzania", Mr Timothy Shannon, an official from the US Government Department of Interior International Technical Assistance Programme said.

Mr Shannon is among the three American experts who have just concluded conducting a two- weeks training on operation and management of the centre to the local staff. He described the WMA as incredible resource, calling the trained staff to demonstrate to the world how a good conservation effort and team work between different several organizations and governments can come together and be very successfully. Apart from experiencing the nature of Serengeti ecosystem, tourists will have an opportunity to view the sun rising and setting while at the centre. "This is a fantastic area .The animals are incredible, the people are incredible and the culture is incredible", the US official who was in Serengeti for the first time remarked shortly after the closure of the training late last week.

Speaking at the same occasion Africa Frankfurt Zoological Society Africa Programme Regional Office Manager Mr Gerald Bigurube hailed the training conducted by the American experts and urged beneficiaries to use it for intended purpose. "This training is meant to make a difference and eventual make Ikona WMA a role model in Tanzania", Mr Bigurube said.

Mr Bigurube also appealed for committed leadership that will ensure that surrounding communities benefit from tourist revenue generated by the WMA. "The decision to establish this WMA was right and our work is now to ensure people are seeing the benefits. We expect great changes in the next several years", added Mr Bigurube.

So far the WMA has five investors including Singita Grumeti Reserves(SGR) which is owned by American tycoon Paul Tudor Jones(PTJ) who has set up luxurious travel products that attract highly paying clients from mainly over overseas. The WMA is blessed with various beautiful species and fauna.

Construction of the visitors centre is expected to boost revenue generated tourists visiting tented camps operating within the WMA, according to its chairman Mr Chama. "Aim is also to control revenue generated by investors operating in our WMA. In the past we have been going without knowing the exact number of visitors they get but from today every visitor will now be to passing through the centre's gate before proceeding to tented camps and this will help us to have the exact figures ", Mr Chama said.

But on the other hand Mr Bigurube underscored the importance of not having massive investment that might end up damaging the value of the WMA covering 26180.36 hectares. By so doing he said the WMA will remind intact and continue attracting tourists from different parts of the word as it is the case at the moment. "It is important that investment match with the space of the WMA. Plenty of investments would damage the value of this area and affect tourism activities", Mr Bigurube who served as Tanzania National Park Director General (TANAPA) before moving to FZS emphasized. A party from supporting establishment of the Ikona Wildlife Management Area, FZS is supporting the WMA on capacity building, according to FZS Technical Advisor for Serengeti Community Outreach Programme Dr Dennis Rentsch.

"We have been working hand in hand with the WMA and our role now is to work with other partners including the US Department of Interior to make sure that the WMA is capable of managing the visitors centre because this facility is really belongs to the communities and not the donors or FZS. It is the property of the WMA", Dr Rentsch said. The WMA was first established in 1998 by Robonda village and the surrounding open area and it was expanded 1999 to included the neighbouring villages of Park Nyigoti, Makundusi, Natta mbiso and Nyichoka villages

Mabula Game Lodge in South Africa Hosts Family Easter Activities

Mabula Game Lodge offers a Big Five game viewing experience as well as an array of activities suited for family travel.  Children may immerse themselves in day and night at Mabula Game Lodge with a recent introduction at the lodge of children’s game drives which take place during the school holidays. Parents can relax knowing that their children are well looked after, while children are able to experience the magic of the bush with children their own age. It also allows for game rangers to focus on what children enjoy without the worry of losing the interest of adults.

From 6 - 9 April 2012, a special Easter programme will be available at the games room, which includes arts and crafts, board games as well as bingo around the pool. The games room also includes a Wii and Play station area available to all ages, and a jungle gym and play area is found just outside.

Outdoor activities
Some outdoor activities over the Easter weekend will include treasure hunting, sack racing, egg and spoon racing, hoola hooping and much more. A new activity is the kiddies' spa, which will allow children to experience something different when on holiday. Other Holiday programmes at Mabula Game Lodge also include quizzes, and for those looking to learn more about their surroundings, there are environmental talks about rhinos and other interesting discussions about wildlife and the environment.

Activities for the whole family include open 4X4 safaris twice a day, guided bush walks, horse safaris, quad bike safaris (16 and older), paint ball, volley ball, archery and tennis, all of which are booked at the Wildlife Centre next to the main lodge parking area.

A big attraction is Mabula Game Lodge's recently upgraded Reptile Centre, which accommodates some of Africa's deadliest snakes. Crocodile feeding and snake demonstrations take place daily over weekends. The Mabula Game Lodge Spa, which opened in 2011 offers a full range of relaxing treatments and is ideally located in the hub of activities at Mabula Private Game Reserve.

Monday, 26 March 2012

South African wins Murchison fishing challenge

Every year, fishermen and conservationists from all over the world come together and engage in a number of fun filled activities and a fishing competition. This year’s event saw hundreds of people gather for the three day long 13th Murchison Falls Invitational Fishing Tournament. The theme of the event was “competition and conservation”.

Among the numerous activities was the catch and release fishing tournament that saw 48 anglers from numerous countries take part. The tournament also welcomed newcomers, the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers team, who seemed to enjoy every bit of the fun filled game considering that in the past, they had been left to ensuring the safety of the visitors.

The 48 anglers who went fishing on 17 boats battled tsetse flies, huge volumes of water weed on Lake Kyoga that blocked boat propellers, at some point making navigation impossible and the high humidity levels, the major barrier in the quest for the elusive giant Nile perch that lurks in the river’s depth.

Marc Spriestersbach from South Africa emerged victor with a catch of a 75kg Nile perch. He was awarded with a Yamaha DT175 motorbike courtesy of Toyota Uganda. He however, graciously, donated the motorbike to Uwa to assist in their continued struggle and fight to end poaching activities within the park and other game reserves.

In addition, the Shs15m proceeds from the fishing competition were donated to the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) to help UWA address the very alarming poaching concern.
Speaking at the event, The Sales & Distribution Director of Nile Breweries ltd, who happened to be the main sponsors of the event, Michael Benjamin said his company’s support and contribution to the event is because of their core beliefs in championing sustainable development in the communities.

The thrills and spills of a first time traveler

There is a first time for everything in life and traveling is no exception. Not many would love to admit the drama that one is likely to face but none the less being a first timer is unavoidable; the key is being prepared for any eventualities. Do you remember the first time you travelled by air and all the hype and expectation you had prior to the journey? Such an expectation not to easily forget. To start with, after a long process of acquiring both passport and visa to your destination, your passport book is highly treasured and kept in a safer place than a land title. Some people make the trip a top secret save to a few family friends and trusted friends in the fear of being “bewitched” or the trip itself flopping. For others, travelling by air is a rare achievement and they make sure that every villager or clan member learns of it. They will always wish to have as many people as possible escorting them to the airport and waving them off as they board the plane.

On the eve of the trip they will not sleep because they are too excited. Dreams of arriving late at the airport and missing the flight obsess them. Then comes the D-day and they wear nice suits specifically bought for the trip, only to be disappointed on reaching the airport’s departure lounge, you appear to be the odd man out! Most passengers, you meet are dressed casually in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.

Shockers that greet you

The whole drama and maalo starts when passengers are told to board the plane whose inside you eagerly await to see. While on board when everyone is advised to fasten their seat belts, a first time traveller, will look puzzled. During one of my early flights, I heard a fellow passenger requesting a hostess to open a window to his seat, saying he preferred travelling when it’s open in order to get enough fresh air like the case back home when travelling by matatu (Taxi). The hostess and fellow passengers could not help bursting into laughter, making the poor man look even more puzzled. And finally when you reach your destination, you cannot help staring at almost everything meeting your eyes, from skyscrapers, escalators to advanced road networks. You find garbage-free streets and wonder whether the residents are away on holiday or simply broke and starving not to litter anything. More puzzling is the fact that unlike on Kampala streets, abroad no one seems to pay attention to your well-polished shoes or hair style. Here everyone is minding his or her own business and you will hardly meet a group of people gazing at, let say a crane lifting heavy objects at a construction site, like its common in Kampala.

The missed flight
Perhaps among setbacks experienced by a first time traveler can be missing one’s flight. Personally I will never forget one sad moment in 1999 when the Entebbe-bound Sabena flight left me stranded at Brussels Airport. I wanted to make my last stay in Belgium a night to remember, that is the reason I spent the night with friends enjoying Belgian beer at a Grand Place pub only to retire to my hotel room at around 2am. This made me develop a hang-over and woke up a bit late to call a taxi to take me to the airport. By the way, I kept wondering why whereas in Uganda the Mercedes model cars are only a preserve of the rich, in Europe they were mainly being used as taxis!

It was while on the way to the airport, somewhere near the NATO headquarters that I realiSed I could arrive late and possibly miss my flight. So I ordered the taxi driver to increase speed. Instead the mzungu man barked at me, saying this could only be done in Africa and blamed me for calling him when it was already late. I looked around but could not spot any boda boda. For the first time I discovered this was one area where Kampala was far ahead of Brussels. Like expected, I ended up missing my flight and got booked on another one which was due for two days later. This was, however, after paying a fine of $100. That amount of money would make a big party with friends back home upon my return home.

On the other hand, one of my happiest moments of travelling happened at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi when an Amsterdam-bound KLM Airbus hostess mistook my boarding pass to belong to the business class and ordered me to go there. She realized her mistake after takeoff when it was already too late to rectify it. I thus ended up travelling eight hours of the business class comfort with among other offers, special meals designed by KLM master chefs and available at preferred times, extensive selection of award winning wines, beers and spirits readily on offer throughout the flight. Besides, the seats had aisle access and worktable which could convert into a fully flat bed.

While a first time air traveler is bound to meet many challenges, sometimes even a frequent flier can fall victim to travel glitches.

For your travel to Africa contact
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Intrigued by Moroto/Karamoja

The landscape is covered with different hues of brown dry grass, patches of soil, and black from the rocks and the charred remains of burnt vegetation. But there is a haunting beauty in the landscape.

A kind curious appeal in the rocky outcrops and hills that seem to hem in the road just after leaving Mbale, through the grassy expanse of Nakapiripirit, all the way to Moroto. It may not be the landscape one can describe as picturesque or rolling, but for what it lacks in vigour, it makes up in its apparent longevity. The hills are barely disturbed probably since the molten lava that formed them set Sometimes, the countryside looks like the setting of an apocalypse film. And just like all nature, if you look close enough, you will see some surprises you would not ordinarily notice with just an all sweeping glance. A waterfall in the rock face far off in the distance, a rocky hill that looks like an 18th century fort. Wild flowers in full bloom, their bright pink a shock among the dry grass and acacia.

The monotony of the landscape is often broken with an authentic Ikarimojong village, countless dry riverbeds, karamojong grazing their goats or walking, probably from one village to another. Our driver has to hoot repeatedly before the shrouded stick carrying men leaves the middle of the road where they tend to walk. They scamper and stop for a minute or two for the car to pass before resuming walking.
From the window seat, the Karamoja savannah is not much for wildlife, (I only see a lone baboon, a few small deer and some startled guinea fowl) but there is a Pian game reserve, meaning an interested, traveller who isn’t in a hurry might have more luck there.

The trees are dry or blackened from what I later learn is an attempt by the warriors at making sure the cycle of life continues. They burn the dry vegetation so new grass and shrubs can grow for their cattle. It explains all the blackened patches that I had previously assumed were as a result of wildfire and makes me look closer. In some areas, there are signs of new grass while in the more recent burnt areas, you will see a still smoking tree trunk.

Exploring the town

All hopes and expectations are lost in the empty stretches that bear no sign of life let alone human habitation. But the lights of the town clustered at the foot of the dark figure that is Mt Moroto gives one renewed hope. Moroto the town itself is an oasis of modernity as far as Karamoja is concerned. From the tarmac road that starts as abruptly, a few metres before the first shop in the town, to the well finished business premises that line the main street on either side. Everything is a stone’s throw away from each other. The two nightclubs, the guesthouses, the eating places, and shops.

Mt Moroto big and imposing looks down on this little town that probably hosts the largest number of NGO’s any single town in Uganda has. The signs of the NGO presence are many, from the large four wheel drive cars parked along the main street to the over a dozen signs scattered around the town announcing various organisations and their locations. Independence Street which runs at the base of the mountain looks like the designated NGO district with as many as a dozen sign posts at its head. A Kanjokya or Bukoto street of sorts. On Kitale road is the bustling ever busy Kamuswahili, where I learn most of the town dwellers live. It also happens to be a better place to have business and as a waiter intimates, if you cannot get an item in the shops, try Kamuswahili. There are pretty decent places to stay just around the town and even if the menu of the two eating places is not wide or varied, the waiters are quite happy to prepare special orders(nothing fancy though) if you pay early and have patience. The little town may be a long way from the city, and the trappings of modernity, but it is not as bad as many would have you believe. For me seeing Karamojong in full regalia, placidly going about their business and the sight of the sun rising over mount Moroto made the trip worth it.

When to Go
Accessible year round. Dry Season, June – August. Wet Season November – December, March – February.

You can experience the fascinating combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage through contacting;
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures

The Water Buffalo in Africa

The African buffalo is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear. Owing to its unpredictable nature which makes it highly dangerous to humans, it has not been domesticated unlike its Asian counterpart the domestic Asian water buffalo. The African buffalo is a very robust species. Savannah type buffaloes weigh 500 to 910 kg, with males, normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. Savannah type buffalo have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls have whitish circles around their eyes. Females tend to have more reddish coats.

The horns of African buffalo are very peculiar. A characteristic feature of them is the fact that the adult bull’s horns have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield referred to as a “boss,” which cannot always be penetrated even by a rifle bullet. From the base the horns diverge, then bend down, and then smoothly curve upwards and outwards. The basic herds consist of related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy. The basic herds are surrounded by sub-herds of subordinate males, high-ranking males and females and old or invalid animals. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognizable by the thickness of his horns.

Where to see the water Buffalo in Uganda

When To Go
Accessible year round. Dry Season, June – August. Wet Season November – December, March – February.

You can experience the fascinating combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage through contacting;
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Mt. Kenya fire out, but consumed 10 pct of forest

Kenyan officials say fires that have been raging across Mount Kenya over the last week consumed 10 percent of the mountain's forest before the flames were extinguished. The Kenya Wildlife Service said Friday that logs are still smoldering on the mountain, but that no fires are active.

Wildlife officials said the fires on Mount Kenya were caused by "arsonists with ill intentions." Officials said previously that fires could have been set intentionally to help poachers escape after an attack. Big mammals that live on the mountain like elephants and buffalos moved away from the flames and were not harmed. But the wildlife service said many smaller animals likely died.

Use Kony Film to Up Tourism Numbers to Uganda

Having watched Kony 2012, Jason Russell and his apologists may yet be absolved for the criticism vented on him. We should reach out to the 80 million plus viewers to promote the country. After all Kony 2012 has made history as the most viral video in history. The targeted list on Kony 2012 website reveals big names in the US.

In 2005, an attempt at promoting tourism in Uganda was made with the one million dollar 'Gifted By Nature' campaign on CNN. It made little impact on awareness or arrival figures. Then 2009 'Friend a Gorilla' campaign had a more viral impact. Views on the to date total 15,942 only. The other promotional attempt was a video sponsored by USAID titled 'Tourism Investment Opportunities in Northern Uganda' following the end of the 20 year insurgency. Once again the views of this video on YouTube are a paltry 1,607, almost a year since the launch in 2011. Within a few years on, hitherto little known Jason Russell made nonsense of our promotions with 'Kony 2012' tipping the 82 million tweets. Notwithstanding Russell's shenanigans, we must use his accomplished mobilisation skills to get at least 10% of the tweets, bloggers and Facebookers to visit Uganda this year. By now this should have inspired visits to actual scenes.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has already 'tweeted 'celebrities with an invitation to visit Uganda. This tour would ideally include a visit to the national parks and the communities surrounding these conservation areas that were adversely affected by the war, 'Invisible Children' projects in Northern Uganda; including a visit to Jacob the former 'child commuter' and abductee portrayed in the movie whose voice has since broken, testimony of its timing since original footage. This should trigger an avalanche of more tweets translated into tourist arrivals. Then the questions regarding the actual situation on the ground may be resolved, finally bringing to rest the ghost of Idd Amin, exorcise the demons 'tweeting' Russell and perhaps vindicate him for his probably well intended but poorly executed attempt at stardom.

Rwanda Development Board, Google Partner to Map Tourism Sites

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in partnership with Google, yesterday, commenced the mapping exercise where all tourism attractions in the country will feature on the web. The two-day event dubbed, Rwanda Tourism MapUp, started with the team's road trip from Kigali where key touristic features were mapped and continued to Musanze and Rubavu districts whose attractions were also added to the Google map list. Google Map is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google; it offers street maps, a route planner for travellers and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the world.

Speaking at the official launch of the exercise, yesterday, the Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said that the initiative is part of the government's strategy to enable the world know all touristic areas in the country. "We are proud to be the first African country to work with google, citizen mappers and tourism operators to systematically map all tourism facilities and attractions to increase discoverability through search engines." "Today, more tourism destinations are chosen through online searches and recommendations by other travellers and this presents a great opportunity for our country to earn revenues from tourists who will be visiting the sites". the technology will boost the tourism industry as many tourists will be able to easily identify Rwanda touristic features on google search engine and consequently come to visit areas of interest.

During the exercise, all the national parks, lakes, Congo Nile Trail and key locations and attractions, islands and trails, villages and towns, restaurants, bars and hotels among others will be cartographed allowing visitors to Rwanda to get a Google Map location of them. About 40 participants, including professional mappers, Geographic Information System (GIS) experts, university students as well as tourism operators are involved in mapping all the major tourism features. According to RDB, the exercise will be held regularly so as to preserve the accuracy of the maps.

Tourist attractions in Rwanda include Mountain Gorillas, Nyungwe forest canopy walk, national museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, national parks, Congo Nile Trail and culture, among others. It's estimated that around 70 per cent of travel decisions are made using websites to research information and google map is a major source. Google Mapper, Gilbert Mucyo, said that so far they have mapped over 100 tourism features on google map. "One of the outcomes of this exercise is to enable people easily access Rwanda touristic destinations on Google search engine," he noted. "We hope to complete mapping all the features in the next few months".

Kenya Requests UK to Lift Travel Advisory

TOURISM minister wants the United Kingdom to lift a travel advisory on Kenya by its citizens after Judith Tebbutt was released by her abductors on Wednesday. Tebbutt, a Briton, was abducted seven months ago from a beach resort in Lamu and taken to Somalia. Her husband was shot dead in the process.

She was reportedly released after a Sh99 million ransom was paid to a Somali militia, believed to be the al Shaabab, by her family. The British government imposed a travel advisory on Kenya describing the country as "unsafe". The Minister has since then been advocating for the lift of the ban, saying the unfortunate events that led to the abduction of Tebbutt are isolated.

On Wednesday, he said the UK travel advisory is not in line with a poverty eradication programmes put in place by Kenya in partnership with other countries, including the UK. "The British High Commission should lift the travel ban on Lamu. The ban is not helping in the eradication of poverty in Kenya," said Balala at a hotel in Mombasa. He was in the company of Cabinet ministers George Saitoti, Franklin Bett, James Orengo, Musa Sirma and Amos Kiunya who were in Mombasa to seek solutions to the port congestion problems.

The advisory heavily hurt the economy of Lamu which heavily depends on tourism, leading to protests by investors over the loss of revenue and jobs. Balala, who is the chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Executive Council, is on record saying the UK and other countries' advisories forced the government to embark on a costly marketing programme to reassure tourists of their safety when in Kenya.

Kony Film Hurting Uganda Tourism

A film that was made by the Invisible Children with the aim of making on run Lord's Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony famous, is hurting Uganda's tourism sector, the tourism, wildlife and heritage minister said in Kampala. The Minister told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre over the weekend that bringing back memories of Kony, and making him popular, the main aim of the film, is scaring away tourists. Invisible Children is a non profit organization that has been working for 9 years to end Africa's longest-running armed conflict.

Invisible Children's KONY 2012 campaign on their website, defend their act that "they want to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but also to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. "In this case, notoriety translates to public support. If people know about the crimes that Kony has been committing for 26 years, they will unite to stop him. "Secondly, we want Kony to be famous so that when he is stopped, he will be a visible, concrete example of international justice. Then other war criminals will know that their mass atrocities will not go unnoticed or unpunished."

However, the minister is bitter that instead of a positive cause, the film is creating a negative image for Uganda abroad. "We don't intend to sue the film makers. At least I don't know about that. But we're not happy with this film," said Kamuntu when asked whether the government will sue the film makers for tarnishing Uganda's image.

Child Sex Tourism Numbers in Mombasa/Kenya Hyped

The Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association has accused civil societies of blowing the issue of child sex tourism out of proportion. MCTA chairman said though there are some incidents, there is a possibility the civil society has bloated the numbers "to attract funding from donors". "Every year, they keep on recycling the same report," said Hersi, adding that the situation is not that bad at the moment.
He said the Coast receives about 270,000 tourists annually. There have been reports that there are about 3,000 underage girls involved in child sex tourism with tourists. This, the chairman said, wrongly portrays the Coast as a haven for child sex tourism. But he said the reports are full of lies meant to create a crisis that doesn't exist.

He said the NGOs are not involved in solving the problems. "We don't see them solving the problems. If they are honest enough, let them come on the ground and work with us to eradicate the vice. We suspect they are doing this just to get funding. That is our suspicion," said Hersi on the phone. "From the numbers they give, it means out of four tourists, one sleeps with an underage girl everyday. This is ridiculous. We may not be researchers but we have gone to school," said Hersi.
He said the hoteliers at the Coast signed an agreement with the Tourism ministry and Unicef to eradicate child sex tourism in the region. He accused the NGOs of not appreciating this fact. Hersi said underage girls are at far more risk from their step fathers, step brothers and paternal uncles than they are from tourists.

Uganda Team Takes 3rd Place At Berlin Tourism Expo

Uganda recorded its best performance at the ITB Travel Exhibition in Berlin, Germany coming third among African exhibitors, and, for a brief moment, shedding off some of the negative publicity that has come with a video about the Lord's Resistance Army that has gone viral on the web.

"This was a great achievement, as the country has never been ranked at any level before this. This shows that the great efforts that are being done by the team at the new ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage are quickly bearing fruit and putting our country in the international spotlight," said the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage. Uganda beat Rwanda and Kenya, its neighbours and main competitors at the ITB Berlin. Morocco was the overall winner, followed by Burundi. The ITB is one of the biggest travel exhibitions in Uganda's source markets. Organized by Messe Berlin GmbH, the exhibition, in which Uganda has participated since 2000, attracted over 20,000 international travel agencies.

According to the Minister, government is already working on a tourism review study and a tourism master plan, wildlife policy and strengthening of the institutions under its wing, so as to boost tourism to this country which in its current state is already the second biggest forex earner for the country. This all comes as the country prepares to celebrate its 50th independence anniversary. In the last 12 months, Uganda has won several international tourism recognitions. This is on top of beating other countries to hosting international conferences.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

U.S. Supports Ecotourism, Growth in South Sudan

The U.S. government has inaugurated the Boma National Park Headquarters in a pristine wildlife area of South Sudan's Jonglei state, drawing attention to the important role that protected area management and good local government infrastructure can play in the country's development. The park headquarters was built with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Through this and similar efforts, the United States aims to promote security, stability, ecotourism and economic growth in South Sudan, especially in the country's more isolated regions, USAID said March 9.

Representing the U.S. government at the headquarters' opening event, U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page said, "It is so important that we continue to work together to preserve this area and its wildlife, which are threatened by hasty and unplanned development, or by wildlife poachers, who would ruin a world treasure for their own short-term benefit." Established in 1986, when South Sudan was part of Sudan, Boma National Park covers 20,000 square kilometers of woodland savanna and grassland in Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states. The park protects one of the largest intact savanna ecosystems in East Africa, hosting significant wildlife populations, including elephants, giraffe, buffalo, numerous antelopes (including common eland, lesser kudu, Bohor reedbuck, gazelles, tiang, Lelwel hartebeest, Beisa oryx and roan) and an impressive diversity of migratory birds.

Boma also hosts major breeding grounds for the 750,000-strong white-eared kob migration and provides key dry-season forage for other migratory antelopes. Jonglei state, particularly the remote regions around the park, has been marked by ongoing instability and insecurity. Rebel militias are in the area, and fighting between ethnic groups is fueled by the prevalence of small arms, lack of a government presence and inaccessibility in the rainy season due to the absence of roads. Protected area management will play a critical role in strengthening local government and improving security, in addition to protecting biodiversity and providing a sustainable foundation for economic growth. USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society are supporting the South Sudan Wildlife Forces in conducting law enforcement and developing security partnerships with other armed forces and local communities.

The United States provides a wide array of assistance to support South Sudan's development. USAID is focused on making the new nation increasingly stable by helping the government deliver basic services to citizens and provide effective, inclusive and accountable governance. It also works to diversify the economy and combat poverty.


Africa has tourism as its main source of foreign exchange although it also true that the women have not been so much involved in the tourism industry management and development and yet if given an opportunity to take part in influential role in the tourism industry, they would do well.
In Tanzania, Mrs. Adventina Matungwa who is the Managing Director for Walkgard Hotels and Tours located in the Bukoba said that involving the women in the tourism work will enable them to improve on their welfare and economic status and it is therefore women empowerment is very necessary.  Kagera has got just two registered tour companies which include the Walkgard Hotels and Tours and Kiroyera Tours and Safaris, among which the latter is managed by a lady who is non other than, Ms Mary Kalikawe.
For the same reason Mrs. Matungwa mentioned that the women should get the necessary training needed if they are to help in the improvement of the tourism industry in the different parts of the nation, it is also good for the ladies to be apart of  the tourism business which is profitable business and  it will also be an opportunity for them to get more jobs and more income to cater for their families at the same time especially  during this time when  so many of them are going single so said the Managing Director.

she added that after her and her husband had invest some cash in this hotel of theirs, the beginning was not an easy one but then they had to work very hard and with perseverance, they have managed to get where they are right now and the moment are getting much more customers than before that she can hardly handle the different activities in the business by her and she refers to herself as an example for all the rest of the women in the country who should try and copy from her.  She also has plans of purchasing a luxury speed boat that can carry about 12 tourists and will be used to transfer tourists to different parts on Lake Victoria.

There are about five game reserves in Kagera with about 5,526 square kilometers and they include Biharamulo (1,300), Burigi (2,200), Kimisi (1,026), Rumanyika (800) and Ibanda (200). there are lots of  different types of wildlife in the  game reserves like the elephants, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus and antelopes and many more others. There are also lots of birds and butterflies species in the game reserves and many of them are not seen any where else in the world.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Adventure of thrill and fear in Africa

In the month of January when most African countries are experiencing dry season faced with a hot windy climatic wave, this is not the case in Dakar. The weather is equally cool with a light drizzle that falls at any time of the day and night. The city is situated at the coast of Atlantic Ocean with majority of the medium income earners engaged in fishing business.

The people are also known for their artistic talent in making different sculptures portraying their traditional values, economic activities and slave trade in West Africa. Dakar’s road network is commendable with wide roads and flyovers in most parts of the city.

The youth in the city interestingly hang around international hotels spotting visitors who jet into the country. Once someone is trying to venture into touring parts of the city, they are more than willing to take them around at no cost. For those who love shopping, these youth will take them to shopping malls where they act as agents I realised that the shop owners will then charge you twice the original price because they need to pay the agents a percentage.

The country is purely an agricultural economy with majority of the farmers engaged in growing rice which is their staple food as well as sweet potatoes. One wonderful site someone would admire is along the shores of the ocean where you see lots of beautiful beach hotels with construction extended inside the lake.

A date with history
However, apart from the beauty of the country, one thing which is traumatizing is the historical events about slave trade business. One of the famous Islands on the ocean, Goree Island was known to be a hot spot for slave trade business in the entire part of West Africa. The slave trade site commonly known as the Maison des Esclaves is a central part of the Goree Island which was named by UNESCO as World Heritage site in 1978. It is a major attraction for foreign tourists. Only 20 minutes by ferry from the city centre of Dakar, many visitors pass through the Museum every year. Many, especially those descended from enslaved Africans, describe highly emotional reactions to the place.

The site curator Eloi Clois while narrating the horrifying story to a group of science journalists from Africa pursuing a mentoring programme on science reporting said the Island was first occupied by the Portuguese in 1444. They were kicked out by the Dutch in 1627 and the British took over in 1756. Between 1756 and 1763 the British kept on fighting over the Island with the French until they finally gave it up to the later in 1816. According to Clois, slave trade intensified in the seventeenth century with the French and British competing mainly on two issues, the Island of Goree and St Louis. When entering into this site, one is able to see the slave cells with very narrow doors. Women, Virgin girls, children and men had separate cells. The Kings who were agents of the slave traders would bargain the price of each slave depending on the category he or she falls. Virgin girls and energetic youth fetched higher price than the rest.

The fate of the slaves

Clois says those captured would be kept in these cells for six months for purposes of attaining the required weight, 60kgs. Once a slave weighed less, he or she would be dragged through the dark corridor and pushed off to the Ocean. The cells are constructed with a corridor leading to the deepest part of the ocean. This was to fulfill one of the methods of punishing slaves who were either sickly or under weighed.He contends that the Africans looked helpless because they would try to resist their captors by using bow and arrow yet the white men possessed guns. However, the African clan leaders used to ensure that every village had drum called Jembe. Once there was spread of news that the captors are within a village, the drum would be played as signal to alert the youth to run away. Slavery was abolished by the National Convention in 1794, and then reinstated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It was abolished in the British Empire in 1833, in France it was abolished in 1848. The Island is just 3 km off the Senegalese coast, and its tiny size made it easy for merchants to control their captives. Today the Island is occupied by some 1,500 inhabitants mostly carrying out art and craft business.
Places to visit in Senegal

•The beach area Petite Côte has variety of beach hotels

•The Cape Skiring, where you can get a different bathing holiday, you can spend some time on your back here on some of the finest beaches in Africa, region

•The fishing town of St Louis, it was one of the first French colonial towns, and spreads out on the mainland and a small island.

When To Go
Accessible  all year round.
You can experience the fascinating combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage through contacting;
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures
Mobile: +256772379339

KARAMOJA: Uganda’s best tourist destinations 2012

On October 27 2011, Lonely Planet voted Uganda the best tourist destination the world over for the year 2012.

•Chater flights can be hired from Entebbe airport
Fauna and Flora
•There are over 460 species of birds.
•The Reserve boasts lions, elephant, buffalos and leopards.
•It is the only park in Uganda with cheetah.
Fun activities
•Community Tours
•Picnics & private Dinners
•Game Drives
•Walking Safaris
•Bird watching
•Karamajong Dance Presentations

Legend has it that after a successful hunting season, Karamajong warriors gathered at a remote place in the Kidepo valley to celebrate and feast. This place was called Apoka, meaning “the place of gathering”.
With time the warriors, especially the lonely, the old and the weak decided to stay. In the 1960s, the Kidepo was gazetted as a national park. It has been classified as semi desert- but this classification can be very misleading. Expansive grassy plains are dotted with big rocky outcrops and flanked by steep jagged mountains. It is located on a picturesque kopje overlooking the Narus river valley in the south-western sector of Kidepo Valley National Park. The Park itself is located in the far North-eastern section of Uganda, bordering Sudan to the North, the Napore Mountains to the West, and the Morungole Mountains to the South. The Kenyan border is just 5 kilometers from the Park’s Eastern boundary. At the crossroads of Kenyan, Sudanese and Ugandan ecosystems, Kidepo provides an amazing wildlife experience in a remote and pristine wilderness.

Home in the wilderness

The Apoka Safari Lodge is found within the Kidepo valley. The lodge is rustic, set naturally among the boulders and valleys of the reserve. From the vantage point of a private veranda, off a wood, grass thatched and canvas cottage room; one can behold a parade of giraffe, elephant, buffalo, antelope, zebra and some 200 bird species.

The rooms have been built with comfort in mind. Everything is handmade by local craftsmen, everything is large and capacious. 10 expansive rooms with natural canvas walls surround a rocky kopje with endless views across the savannah. With inside sitting rooms and private verandas there are plenty of places to relax. Big hand-hewn beds with soft duvets are draped with mosquito nets, hand-woven woolen carpets. Each room is decked and has its own ensuite bathroom with double sink and large tropical shower. Step outside to a sheltered terrace and slip into your own outdoor stone bathtub, big enough to fit the whole family. The Lodge interestingly employs only male staff. Mostly from the Karimojong community, a majority have worked here since the reconstruction of the lodge in 2004.

Adventures to enjoy

A morning game drive leaves by 6.30am to find the nocturnal animals like the hyenas, hartebeest, porcupine and this is the time lions are most likely to be seen as they finish off their catch. Halfway through the game drive, one can sit in the bush for a good coffee as they watch herds of animals as they come out of hiding. These will include buffalos, elephants and giraffes. You can opt for a walking safari where the game viewer will drop off you in the wilderness and leave you for the entire duration of your walk with a qualified guide and UWA ranger. You will normally trace foot prints and you could be lucky to find those animals. For birders, this is also a good trip to take. The park is famous for the rare Karamoja apalis, and the Abyssinian ground hornbill among other species
After morning walk or drive, one can return to the lodge for breakfast and then relax in the pool, or take advantage of the the view tower or the verandah at your room. Better still, watch animals at the watering point wallowing and drinking right at the main lodge. Sometimes you are lucky to see them mating. Lunch is normally served at 1 pm, and afternoon game drives start at 4.30pm. This is when you will have the famous sun downer in the park with cold drinks and nuts. Dinner is ready at 7pm and you can relax in the main lodge until you are ready to retreat to your luxurious, blissfully isolated room underneath the stars, as lions roar in the distance. Apoka safari lodge is a true luxury in a remote and wild place.
When To Go
Accessible year round. Dry Season, June – August. Wet Season November – December, March – February.

You can experience the fascinating combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage through contacting;
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures
Mobile: +256772379339