Art, Culture, Books and Travel

Lonely Planet’s names Uganda as Best Destination to visit in 2012

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If you go to a travel agency in the West – it is most likely that you will not be offered any informational material about Uganda – gorillas might be an exception.  The truth is that Uganda has not been seriously considered by most travel and tour companies except as an add-on or extension to a safari in Kenya or Tanzania. And when it comes to mountain gorillas – Rwanda is often more promoted by travel agents as the place to visit these beautiful animals, rather than Uganda.

In truth, Uganda has not actively promoted itself  as a prime tourist destination. This is evident when one looks at the money allocated for such promotion. Uganda has relied on ‘accidental tourism’ (those who discover Uganda on their own) and on Ugandan tour operators doing their best to promote Uganda as a choice African safari destination. In comparison, nearby countries run circles around Uganda when it comes to promoting tourism for their countries.

In spite of the above, more and more travelers have discovered that Uganda is not just a mere gorilla and chimpanzee trekking add-on to their Tanzania or Kenya Safari, but is an African country travel destination that stands on its own.  Uganda is a ‘big-5 plus’ destination – the plus being the best mountain gorilla and chimpanzee destination in Africa. It stands also for having over 1040 species of birds, a true bird- watchers’ paradise.  The plus stands also for volcano hiking and climbing, such as Mount Sabinyo and Mount Elgon amongst others, and also for climbing the tallest Mountain range – the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains. The historic River Nile, offers also the best white water rafting, kayaking, river surfing and more.  In addition, Uganda is the best place to see tree-climbing lions in Ishasha and also Kidepo Valley Park. Visitors will also be delighted with the  golden monkeys of Mgahinga National Gorilla Park, the jungles of Kibale Forest and Semliki.  Lastly, the ‘plus’ stands for a discovery of authentic African culture – lived out daily,  not just as a tourist-orientated presentation.

Uganda was picked by Lonely Planet for good reasons, as the best country to visit  and as far as I am concerned – not just for 2012 but anytime.  Uganda is Africa as you imagine it to be – only better! It has ten fabulous national parks plus wildlife reserves including one of the most remote parks in all of Africa – the Kidepo Valley Park.  It is a safe place to visit in spite of erroneous reports by ill-informed reporters who are based in Nairobi or Johannesburg. Lonely Planet called Kampala as one of the safest capitals in Africa – a place where you can safely take a walk, unlike other places in East Africa.

Is Uganda the best African country to visit?  International Airlines seem to think so, as more and more are adding Entebbe to their routes – some, as British Airways have dramatically increased their weekly flight numbers. So why not make Uganda your destination of choice for 2012?

by Jon Blanc.

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