Before Leah Namutebi was interested in taking excursions to Mabira and Fort Portal, the most she had travelled was around Kampala and Mukono.
But now the story is different, the manager of a Kampala-based restaurant is able to tell the story of Uganda with a know-it-all perspective as well as inspire others into understanding their country.
One such person is Simon Wagga, who saw an opportunity after interacting with Namutebi.
“I realised Ugandans don’t travel that much. Most people visit the different areas mainly for burials, introductions, wedding and work but never get to move around,” says Wagga, who runs Almost Famous Entertainment with his friend Jagen Julius.
Almost Famous Entertainment, organises events in form of parties in different parts of the country that feature tourism as one of the main stays.
People who travel for such parties do not only have fun but also get to tour and learn about the country at relatively affordable rates.
Daniel Okwaput is an engineer and he has had an opportunity to travel around with the Almost Famous Entertainment-orgnised tourism parties.
“I have followed them to several places and I will keep doing so because they have opened my eyes to Uganda in ways I never imagined. Their concept of combining music with travel is just mind-blowing,” he says.
For Richard Obonyo, a tour operator, it has been an amazing opportunity as he has used the excursions to photograph the beauty that is Uganda and tell the story of the countryside through the camera.
“I love their theme. It gives people the opportunity to experience what Uganda has to offer, he says, pointing to a memorable visit in Fort Portal, where the excursion visited the Tooro Royal Palace, Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru caves, Mountains of the Moon Hotel and a experiencing Fort Portal night life.
Being on a road trip with music and fun-loving people stirred on Tilda Kakiya and according to the advertising executive, it was a memorable trip that had plenty of music and sightseeing on the platter. “The trips are fun-filled. The traveling, camping and discovering Uganda’s hidden treasures especially features that are not marketed is heart-warming. Generally, you get a refreshed mind,” Kakiya says.
At their excursion, Okwaput and a group of others visited Mabira Forest, where they camped in the middle of a forest and being in the middle of the “tropical forest was just an amazing” experience.
“I have travelled with them to Mabira forest and to Fort Portal and visited places like Kyaninga and the crater lakes that I had never seen or heard about,” says Namutebi.
According to Wagga, the idea of mixing travel with entertainment was just an experiment but it is yielding results and recording good numbers.
“We make it a point to deliver what we advertise. Our target clientele is the Ugandan who thinks touring is expensive,” he says, adding that they want to change the attitude of Ugandans and tourism.
“We get to be children again by doing silly things such as dancing in the rain, which we cannot do in Kampala,” he says.
The excursions are packaged differently ranging from Shs100,000 to Shs250,000 covering costs such transport, tours, silent disco, accommodation and assorted drinks.
According to Wagga, organising an excursion, for instance to Fort Portal requires about Shs6m.
However, they come with a few loses, especially that a number of items such headsets for the silent disco, according to Wagga are spoilt or lost. Each headset, he says, costs about $25 (90,000).
Experience from a traveller
Daniel Okwaput had an excursion with Almost Famous Entertainment, he says, it was such a memorable adventure.
“We met up at Kyaddondo Rugby Club on a Friday at about 2pm. We had a few eats and drinks before getting into a van that set off for Fort Portal at about 4pm.
“Note at this time I only knew one person - Jagen (a deejay) but it took less than 30 minutes for everyone to break out of their shells.”
“Honestly by the time we reached our destination, if the organisers had suggested we go back, I would not feel cheated. We had already had enough fun,” he narrates.
Such excursions are organised in association with a group of partners such as Round Bob, DJ Association of Uganda, Castlelite and Creed Footware. These have supported them in different aspects such providing advertising space, sound and lighting, booking and management services.
Some of the excursions lined up include Mbale in July, Arua, Kabale, Jinja and Gulu.
“We are looking to tap into local market while experiencing first class entertainment,” Wagga says.