Explore Uganda The Pearl of Africa! Over 480 Tourists Traverse Western Uganda, Marvel At Ankole Heritage

Explore Uganda The Pearl of Africa! Over 480 Tourists Traverse Western Uganda, Marvel At Ankole Heritage

By Spy Uganda

Hundreds of domestic tourists were on Wednesday flagged off by the Minister of State for Tourism Hon. Martin Mugarra for a 5-day tour of Uganda’s Western Region.

The domestic tourism drive dubbed Explore West is the second in the Explore series following the Explore Elgon campaign conducted in December 2022.

Speaking at the flag-off ceremony, Minister Mugarra said the domestic tourism campaigns under the country’s official destination brand ‘Explore Uganda the Pearl of Africa’ are aimed at creating awareness on and highlighting tourist attractions in the various regions of the country.

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The Minister emphasized that to have a sustainable industry, the domestic tourism sector must be reinforced to reduce dependence on foreign tourists.

“Statistics clearly show that our recovery past the Covid-19 pandemic was hugely catalyzed by the domestic tourism initiatives Ugandans embarked on after the lockdowns. The industry suffered shock after shock such as the Ebola outbreak that attracted attention of the international media, further frustrating the recovery,” he said adding;

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”Thanks to some tour operators and travel enthusiasts, the number of people visiting Uganda’s National Parks in 2022 surpassed the numbers ever recorded in Uganda’s history. The Covid-19 pandemic taught every tourism sector player world over that the local travel component must be well established for the industry to keep afloat in the wake of calamities,” Mugarra said.

The campaign drew in social influencers and celebrities such as renowned kickboxer Golola Moses (of Uganda), comedians Madrat and Chiko, Salvado Indringi, the Miss Uganda fraternity, officials from the Ministry, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Wildlife Education Conservation Center (UWEC) among other entities.

Journey To Land Of Milk & Honey 

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Day one of the tours had major highlights like the first stop over at the Equator in Kayabwe where tourists learned about the significance of the Equator mount and its essence as a tourism site.

The journey to Mbarara- the proverbial ‘land of milk and honey’ gained a ‘vibe’ like the millennials would say, after another stoppage at Lukaya, a decades-old roadside market famous for its tasty roasted chicken and a myriad of other meats.

With refreshments loaded and some liquor on speed dial, the 480 people aboard the numerous vehicles were up for an exciting drive to Lake Mburo National Park which is approximately 4 hours from the country’s capital, Kampala.

The drive through the vast woodlands was worthwhile as individuals who had never plied the route to Western Region marveled at the vast stretch along the Masaka-Mbarara highway.

The Long-horned Ankole Cattle 

A couple of kilometres into Lake Mburo National Park, the tourists couldn’t contain their excitement at the sight of the Zebras grazing alongside cows, the impalas and buffaloes among others.

Soon enough, beneath the beautiful skies that were turning to deeper shades of orange and fiery reds on the horizon, we were ushered into a farmhouse kind of establishment- cows mooing, beef roasting at the pit barbecue point, a sight of fresh milk from the kraal and of course, the eye-catching dark hues of the loaded gourds.

Ladies clad in the ‘Busuti’, a traditional attire for ladies in Ankole, sat pretty in the grass-thatched hut where the gourds were being managed.

Tourists thronged the hut to get a taste of the homemade yoghurt, a taste that triggered nostalgia from the days my family kept scores of cattle.

Individuals got the opportunity to have a hands-on herding experience with the cattle at the Kamihingo Agritourism Farm, an establishment focusing on conserving and promoting the long-horned Ankole cattle.

Under Mr. Emmanuel Kamihingo’s guidance, the farm proprietor, individuals joined staff for the milking session as stories of the farm’s operations flowed.

“This is the real milk, not that Kampala thing they serve us as bongo. This is way better, tastes really good, natural and is unique in aroma,” one of the tourists remarked as we sat in the hut, drinking the evening away.

According to Mr. Kamihingo, agrotourism pushes farmers to learn about new farming techniques with an aim of improving their output for a diverse customer base.

Agro farms are also a source of revenue generated through fares levied on visiting tourists.

Most importantly, however, Mr. Kamihingo said that agrotourism is a key strategy in preserving the agricultural practices of the people in a given community as well as promoting cultures and the uniqueness of certain elements in the respective agricultural practices.

This, he added, improves strategies towards the sustainability of the farm.

Impact On Culture & Tourism

Speaking during the tour of the farm, Minister Mugarra noted that such practices are crucial for the maintenance and preservation of culture which in turn draws in tourists yearning to learn about foreign cultures.

“Different countries around the world have cultures that are unique to them. From monuments to culinary aspects, and economic activities among others, tourists visit such places to experience the culture and tradition. This is a tourism opportunity for Western Uganda,” he said.

Kamihingo, the farm proprietor, said that keeping the pure brand of the long-horned Ankole cattle is meant to further its existence in the most pure form.

“We don’t do cross-breeding here simply because our focus is maintaining the real, long-horned breed and preserving them for generations,” he said.

Recycling & Multipurpose Use Of Animal Products 

Many of the tourists were amazed to learn that while milk and beef production are the major reasons for keeping animals, their other products such as hides and horns are absorbed into other sections of the farm.

For example, the hides are used as carpets or decoration pieces in the farmhouses while the cow dung is incorporated in the mixture of manure for crop growing.

The horns are used in craft making.

Here Is The Pictorial  Moments During The Tour

Hon. Martin Mugarra (second left) with tourists at the Lukaya market. 
Tourists pose for a photo at Mugaba Palace where they had a tour of the establishment located in Kamukuzi, Mbarara.
Long-horned Ankole Cattle at the Kamihingo Agritourism Farm
Emmanuel Kamihingo, the proprietor of the Kamihingo agritourism farm addressing tourists during a tour of the farm.
Miss Uganda Sydney Nabulya poses with a milk gourd at the Kamihingo Agrotourism Farm.
– A herd of buffaloes in Queen Elizabeth National Park. 
Minister Mugarra addressing the press aboard a boat cruise on Kazinga channel.

 

This Article Was Compiled By Patience Natukunda

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