Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New Tourist Resort Centre Opens in Mt. Rwenzori National Park

The Rwenzori Mountains best known as the Mountains of the Moon named by Alexandrine who was a geographer Ptolemy about 2,162 years ago.  It is in the western part of Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border. It is an Equatorial Mountain with snow peaks among which is the third highest point in Africa mean while the lower slopes of it are covered with the high altitude moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest. The park was gazzeted as a national park in 1991 but was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and as an international Ramsar wetland site in 2008. Currently the park is a home variety of wildlife species for example; there are over 70 mammals and 217 birds, including 19 species that are endemics to the Albertine Rift and some of the world’s uncommon plants.
For those who love mountain climbing and hiking, the Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination, offering multi-days of between 6-12 days treks around and up to the highest peaks and those who are interested in a less tiresome activity, you can always go for nature walks in the communities close by, enjoy the  cultural performances and hospitality.

Despite this, the number of visitors to the region is limited, due in part to limited tourism activities and facilities offered in the area. And to help bridge this gap, USAID funded Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine Rift program (USAID-STAR) together with the help of the US Forest Service, along side Ecotrust, the Uganda Wildlife Authority as well as Geo lodges worked together to improve the tourism products being offered in and around the mountain in an effort to increase on the number of people who visit this place.

They have worked together and opened up the new Rwenzori Mountains Visitor Information Center which will also be a source of all information that a tourists may need to know about the mountain, there will be restaurants and other services. Geo lodges together with Ecotrust have also just opened a new lodge they named Equator Snow with 4 rooms and it is connected to the Visitor Center, to service visitors to the park and compliment the existing community camps in the region.

In an effort to improve on these facilities, UWA and USAID-STAR with the help of US Forest Service have established a new trail on the mountain called the Mahoma nature to provide the visitors with an opportunity to experience the destination in shorter 1-3 day walks and therefore attract a wider market to the region.The New Rwenzori Mountains Visitor Information Center is a multi-function facility next to the park, providing information and services for visitors to the region, in here you can get all the information about the  history and ecology of the mountains and their people, provides  space for UWA briefings and registration before entering the park, a restaurant and a craft shop. With this visitors will learn more about people around their cultures which might attract more tourists.

Two Pilots, Two Germans Killed in Mara Plane Crash in Kenya

Two pilots and two tourists died on the 22nd August 2012, in a plane crash at the Masai Mara Game Reserve while several passengers were seriously injured.
Sources at the Mara airstrips from where the LET 410 twenty-seater aircraft belonging to Mombasa Air Safari took off said bad weather could have caused the crash. The plane was being piloted by Captain Edward Kithui and Abubakar Sumra. The aircraft was flying from one airstrip to another within the Mara when the accident happened. A Mombasa Air Safari official who answered the phone referred the Star to the Kenya Civil Aviation saying they cannot respond to any inquiry. "Please direct all your questions to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. We cannot answer any of your questions. That is all we can say," the Mombasa Air Safari official said yesterday. Earlier, another company official had given this journalist another telephone number for the administration office. "We are informed that two crew members including the pilot are feared dead while two passengers are said to be critically injured," a source within Mara said.

Tanzanian Government has No Plans to Evict Maasai from Serengeti

The Tanzanian government has no plans to evict 48,000 people belonging to the Maasai tribe from Serengeti to pave way for hunting activities by foreigners.
A press statement issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism signed by the Ministry's Spokesperson, Mr George Matiku, revealed that there won't be evictions. The statement was responding to a campaign by 'Avaaz' website pressurizing the government to stop its plans to evict the Maasai from Serengeti, through a petition.

"The website is still continuing with its campaign as well as writing to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism requesting it to stop the eviction plan," the statement read in part. Mr Matiko said that the ministry has appealed to the international community not to waste time by signing the misleading petition because the government has no plans to evict the Maasai people from the Serengeti. He said hunting activities by tourists are normally conducted in Game Reserves, and not in people's settlements. All those who have signed the petition are invited to visit Tanzania as tourists and take that opportunity to learn the conservation plans in the country as well as prove the 'Avaaz' campaign wrong, the statement noted. More than 800,000 people have signed the 'Stop the Serengeti Sell-Off' petition on the online activism site

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Last Kicks of a Cherished Tradition

Curdled blood has been eaten in many societies in Africa but Karamoja’s experience with cattle marks the region for a wide use in Uganda
The culture of eating raw blood, which was done on a daily basis in Karamoja region, is currently disappearing following the reduction of animals’ population in the region.
Those who know the history of the Karimojong can tell that from the early 1970s up to late 1990, the Karimojong were fully pastoralists by nature and their love for cattle was intense. Cows were regarded as a means of livelihood and for paying bride wealth. The bride wealth ranged from one hundred to two hundred heads of cattle.
In the custom of blood-letting from the cow to eat the curdled blood, the Karimojong came to be known for their love for cows. When it is time for eating, each homestead would go to the cow and draw blood from the animal, treat it to make it solid then eat. The blood is got from the cow and mixed with milk.
The blood was supplemented with meat, millet, sorghum and beans and when the cows or goat died, they would eat the meat but they would never naturally kill them for food. When they are eating those animals that accidentally died, they will eat the whole carcass save for the hides, horns and hooves. Six-months- old babies were given blood when the milk become inadequate from the breast.
How they get blood

This was done by shooting an arrow through the jugular vein of the cow. Blood would gush out and the women would collect it using calabashes. After collecting it from the cow, they would stir it using special sticks until the fibrin separated from the blood. The fibrin given to the dogs during times of plenty but during the dry season, people would cook it and eat it.
The blood liquid, which remained was mixed with an equal amount of milk, and the mixture would make a meal of the family. This mixture was not cooked but was simply drunk, and during the rainy season, where there was enough grass for grazing, this was the only meal eaten twice a week as a diet while millet and maize flour was eaten daily.
However, that is now history with the current generation of Karimojong. The number of animals that were used to get blood have reduced due to the conflicts of cattle rustling.
Currently, a family that used to have 1,000 or 3,000 head of cows now has two and other homesteads have nothing. Simon Lokut, a 69 -year- old elder and a resident of Iriiri sub-County in Napak District, praises the blood as a highly nutritious meal, which could not allow malnutrition to affect the children like is the case today.
“Any meeting without raw blood prepared would not yield good discussion,” he narrates. Mark Lokol, another elder, says the appetite of blood eating is still high among the people of Karamoja but because of the loss of animals, they cannot do anything.

The World Tourism Forum Opens in Zanzibar

There is a group of delegates from over 16 countries who have gathered in Zanzibar to discuss the different major roles that the tourism industry plays as far as ensuring economic growth and development on the in developing countries is concerned.  Zanzibar is among the Tanzania’s independent archipelago as well as the world’s most popular tourist destination in East Africa with various tourist attractions ranging from historical sites, geographical features as well as wildlife.
There were tour operators and policy makers who are attending the Second International Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Developing Countries (ICTS-DS,. their presentations were about the on approaches that are used in the different countries to improve the tourism sector which is the major source of income and also the major drive for economic growth as well as source of foreign currency earning in so many developing countries.

Meanwhile, Said Ali Mbarouk who is Zanzibar’s minister of Information, Tourism and Culture said during the grand opening of the ceremony that for the past two decades strategic plans have been the key to building the sector, which eventually benefit the local residents. He also urged the delegates to use this opportunity to get the different opinions that the people have so that they can set the right direction for the sector and to do this, we should involve the local communities in building a sustainable industry.

The conference will last two days, under the theme “Challenges in Tourism Development and Sustainability” and it was organized by the Department of Marketing of University of Dar es Salaam Business School (UDBS). It was intended to help find emanate from the different researches on matters concerning the tourism industry as well as practical experiences from which we can derive solutions to different problems facing the tourism industry in developing countries. Participants came from Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, America, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, Nigeria, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Sweden United Kingdom, South Korea, Bostwana and India. And more than 45 papers were presented during the conference and its discussions will be publicized through publications of conference minutes and journal in different articles in papers.