Your travel guide this Easter holiday

Sunday March 18 2018

Tourists on a game drive aboard an all-terrain

Tourists on a game drive aboard an all-terrain tourist vehicle. courtesy photo. 

By Eric Ntalumbwa

Ivan Musaala is excited about the long Easter break starting Holy Thursday to Easter Monday. The good news is it coincides with the end of the month when he gets his pay cheque. Unfortunately, he has no idea what to do or where to go with friends and family this Easter weekend.
Just like Musaala, many Ugandans are in search of activities that can enable them relax, rejuvenate and rediscover themselves after the stress-inducing months of January and February. Easter is the perfect time to discover Uganda. However, as you plan, endeavour to book or make prior contact. Here are basic guidelines to get you started.
Forest camping
Forest Camping will mean carrying a mini version of your home to the trees. Campers are encouraged to respect nature and keep it in her true form. Despite Uganda’s forest cover remaining at about 14 per cent of the national land surface, there is nothing as exciting as camping within a picturesque woodland setting. Forests induct campers into forest walks, birding, primate watching, butterfly viewing, picnics and ziplining
Where: Mabira Central Forest Reserve in Mukono, Mpanga Forest Reserve in Mpigi, Kibale Forest in Kamwenge, Kalinzu Forest in Bushenyi, Griffin Falls Camp in Lugazi and Budongo Forest in Masindi
Price Range: Shs5000-Shs200,000 depending on whether a visitor carries own tent or pays ground fee, and activities.
Accommodation: Basic ridge tent, dome tent, Quick-fix tent or large family tent
What to Carry: Utensils, tent, spare pegs, tent repair kit, sleeping bag, pillow, gas, stove, first aid kit, toiletries, torch, lightweight and quick drying cloth materials
Mountain climbing
Mountain climbing in Uganda is more than hiking the snowcapped Rwenzori mountains and solitary volcanic Elgon. During this Easter season, climb your way to the top of the Virunga ranges consisting of Mt Muhabura, Sabinyo, and Gahinga. Far northeast is Mountain Zulia and Morungole, both within Kidepo National Park. South of Karamoja is Mount Moroto, Kadam and Kilak.
Price Range: The minimum is Shs500,000 inclusive of guide fees, equipment and other essentials
Island escape
Everybody deserves a getaway to a tropical serene island that attracts wildlife in perfect harmony with the sun, sand and the water. The picturesque Bulago Islands, dazzling scenery of Bugala island in Kalangala district, forest-covered Ngamba Island, dramatic Samuka Island in Jinja, and 29 Islands of Bunyonyi have adventure offers that comprise of sport fishing, quad biking, ziplining tours, nature walks, horseback riding, swimming, boat tours, cycling, primate viewing, and camping.
Where: Kalangala, Samuka Island Jinja, Ngamba Island from Entebbe, Bunyonyi Islands in Kabale, Bulago Island in Mukono
Price Range: Dependent on the adventure activities and form of accommodation
Accommodation: Campsite, Lodge, Banda,
What to carry: Full accessorised Tent,clothes, flashlight, sunblock, swimsuit, toiletries, camera, medication, hat, sun glasses, sandals, food
Greater northern road trip
Hit the road to northern Uganda, making stopovers, snapping moments away with friends and family. A self-drive is essential, guided by a local map. As a group, you choose where to sleep, what to eat, and who among you are the most reliable drivers who will follow the traffic and road users regulations. While on the road trip embark on a game drive, community tour, culinary experience, and adventure moment of the beautiful northern Uganda.
Drive through Murchison Falls National Park, to Nebbi at Biku hill to view the tiniest church in the world, then connect to Arua town. During the other days, explore Maracha county and see Fort Lugard, alternatively, enjoy the uniqueness of Gulu and later connect to Kidepo Valley for an epic encounter with the Ik and the true wilderness in Northeast Uganda. Recommended is a landcruiser 4X4 or a 4X4 safari van
Where: West Nile to North East Uganda
Price Range: Shs500,000- 900,000 per person. Dependent on the number of people, distance to be covered and accommodation.
Accommodation: Guest house, tent, hotel
What to carry: Camping accessories, clothes, toiletries, camera, food, water, map, extra fuel, comfortable shoes, car spare parts
Outdoor activities
If you desire to be a Ninja warrior, and wish to go for Paint ball, high ropes element course, bungee trampoline, and ziplines, then adventure parks are a must-visit this Easter Sunday and Monday The adventure outdoor menu is a moment to test one’s body, mind, and spirit.
Where: Extreme Adventure Park Busiika, Lakeside Adventure Park Mukono, Supreme Adventure Park Bunyonyi, Griffin Falls Camp Lugazi
Price Range: Shs40,000- 100,000 for day’s activities
Accommodation: Dormitories, tents, Bandas
What to carry: Light clothes, water and food, backpack, sneakers, toiletries
Ankole Cultural Festival
Easter is the best time for family to explore traditional culture and seek indigenous knowledge about the pastoral Ankole people. For those seeking a vacation in Mbarara, Bushenyi, Kiruhura, and Ntungamo districts, there is an opportunity to trace the origin and evolution of the Banyankole in form of dressing, social stratification, customary practices, milk , dance and folklore.
Where: Igongo Cultural Centre
Accommodation: Guest house or hotel in Mbarara town
What to Carry: Traditional wear, extra clothes, camera

Wildlife tourism hotspots

Deep in SouthWest Uganda are the districts of Kisoro, Kabale, and Kanungu. The tale of the gentle apes begins around the scenic Bunyonyi,depicted as Wakanda Kingdom in the famous marvel film Black Panther. Gorilla Highlands is a system of guided trips throughout southwestern Uganda that leads visitors to Bwindi and Mgahinga, and then leads them on a memorable journey of cultural celebration among the Batwa, Bakiga, Bafumbira and winds up in hiking experiences that are managed by the local community. Some of the activities along this trail are canoeing, Gorilla tracking , Volcano trekking.
Where: SouthWest Uganda
Price Range : Group activities range from Shs. 54, 000 to Shs. 3,000,000 per person
Accommodation: budget lodges, and mid-range hotels on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi
What to carry: hiking boots, hand luggage, warm clothes, jackets, camera, phone

Safari drive
Embark on a journey to view game such as African buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Rothschild Giraffe in beautiful african plains and varying habitats. Get accompanied by an UWA ranger around the park in an open-air Land Cruiser with amphitheatre-like seats. National Parks offer an opportunity to enjoy other nature based activities such as launch cruises, hikes, nature walks, and camping. The experience is worthwhile when visitors lodge or camp in the park.
Where: Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, Kidepo Valley National Park
Price Range: Safari drive is Shs20,000- 30,000. Other fees include Park entrance per day.
Accommodation: Shoestring, budget, mid-range, Luxury in and around the national parks
What to Carry: Pre-medication, hand luggage, toiletries, camera, phone, binoculars, hat, sunblock, casual clothes.

Adventure on the River Nile

The Nile is a global iconic landmark; It is the longest river in the world estimated at 4,258 Km, and its source in Jinja is where the celebrated Mahatma Gandhi chose his ashes to be scattered, a wish he made before his death. The Basoga who are the natives of the Nile in Jinja confess to the greatness of the river in the second stanza of their anthem. To adventure enthusiasts who yearn for an adrenaline rush, rafting, bungee jumping, boating to the Source of the Nile, Sundowner, are carried out along the Nile in Jinja, hence the town is referred to as the adventure capital of East Africa. For overnight visitors,it is recommendable to experience Jinja at night.

Where: Jinja District
Price Range: Boat ride for a group to the source costs between Shs80,000- 150,000. Rafting for a full day: Shs250,000 per person inclusive of transport to and fro, full breakfast, lunch from Java house, and Barbecue at the end of the activity with beers and sodas.Half day costs Shs.200,000 with above except barbecue. Bungee jumping rate is Shs200,000.

Accommodation: Guest houses and hotels in Jinja
What to Carry: Sunblock, swimsuit, Shorts, extra clothes