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Eco-Tourism Sites

Sipi Falls Youth and Women Association (Mount Elgon National Park)

In our program Best of Uganda 15 days we include visiting the Eastern side of Uganda and Sipi Falls down Mount Elgon National Park. Especially this national park in the last few years experienced a lot of conflicts between the national park itself and the surrounding communities encroaching areas of the national park. The degradation of the environment resulted even into natural disasters (landslides), which reached the news agencies of the whole world. The local communities still need to see the benefits from tourism.
Destination Jungle encourages tourism to this area, including the trekking of Mount Elgon and the trekking of the Sipi Falls.

Particularly, we would like to mention the experience of the Sipi Falls Youth and Women Association. This association provides local guides for the trekking of the magnificent waterfalls. The guides can also organize the “coffee production tour”: Mount Elgon is synonymous of the Bugisu Arabica coffee, among the finest coffee in Africa; the guide will take you through the local coffee plantation and see the traditional methods of pounding coffee; the storytellers will also narrates oral stories from the local communities of the Sabiny and the Ndorobu, who inhabit the region surrounding the Mount Elgon National Park. Finally, you can assist the cultural dances in the traditional clothes.

Boomu Women’s Group (Budongo Forest Reserve)

In our program Panorama of Uganda after/before the chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest, from Kanyo-Pabidi site, we include the village walk organized by Boomu Women Group.
This association was formed in 1999 and is made by 40 members between Kihaguzi and Kigaragara villages. Initially was opened the craft shop, where tourists going to Murchison Falls could stop and buy souvenirs. The shop is still there. Today there is also a restaurant where you have the opportunity (very recommended) to taste the local food made in the traditional way. The village walk is an eco-tourism activity through the houses of this farmer’s community, seeing all the typical crops. The storytellers will remind about the past traditional life in the area, but at the same time you will see exactly what the real life is today. On request, visitors can book basket weaving demonstration class and cooking preparation class.

The income generated by the tourist activities are benefiting the community which was able to create a nursery school for the children and also improve in access to health facilities.

Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED – Kibale National Park)

The Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) is an association of more than 120 members and it manages the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary (in Magombe swamp), located just outside Kibale National Park. The association provided experienced and trained guides in birding and to conduct the Bigodi village walk. Before and after the activity, it is also possible to book the traditional lunch, with a variety of local food prepared for the visitors. The craft shop is selling local made handicraft. All benefits from tourism go directly to the community, which also has developed sustainable organic agricultural projects (maize, bee-keeping), sustainable forestry and conservation of the wetland, education and training (though supporting the secondary school) and improved the health facilities (they built a dispensary).

We include the visit to Bigodi in our main itinerary Uganda Nile Adventure 12 days.

What can you do: It is possible to book a special experience with the Kafred, spending time in the homestead and participating in harvesting crops, cooking meals, collecting firewood, grazing animals.

Katwe Tourism Information Center: the salt lake (Queen Elizabeth National Park)

Katwe village and Katwe salt lake are found on the shores of Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, yet this portion of land is a community land and not actually under the national park. The community developed the idea of the “Katwe Salt mining trail” as an eco-tourist activity to show visitors more closely about the main traditional source of income in the community, the salt mining. Local guides take visitors along the paths and huts where hundreds of workers are working along the salt lake. During the tour, visitors can enter local homestead and interact with inhabitants. We support this project because the income generated from tourism helps the life of elders who can no longer work and also help children accessing education and improving the local schools. From the main office of the organization are available local crafts and handmade batik from the Katwe Women’s Group.

Buhoma Community Rest Camp (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Buhoma sector)

Buhoma Community Rest Camp started in 1990s with the objective to help the community around Buhoma (the Northern gate of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) to benefit from gorilla tourism. The members of the organization decided to put in place accommodation to host visitors and today they have a reputation of good budget accommodation and good service. The site is actually favorably located in Bwindi forest just next to the gorilla trekking point of Buhoma.

Later on the organization developed also the activity of village walks around Buhoma, which we always include in our programs / itineraries when staying in Buhoma. The village walk is guided by a local guide and takes you through local small plantations of banana, to see the banana brewing process, the blacksmith, the traditional healer.

Since the Camp opened, it achieved a lot for the community: increasing employment opportunities in the camp and as local guides; starting the community primary and high school; implementation of the vegetable project; the microfinance project and purchase of the maize mill.

Ruhija Community Development Association (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Ruhija sector)

With the development of gorilla tourism in the area of Ruhija in Bwindi National Park in recent years, the local community could get the opportunity to benefit from eco-tourist activities. Ruhija is located in the central-Eastern side of Bwindi forest, at a very high altitude and hilly area inhabited by Bakiga people. The organization, which is made up by community members, offers long nature walks and village walks along the surrounding hills, to meet the inhabitants in their homestead, see the nursery school, the traditional healer and the blacksmith, meeting the storyteller. A special hike can be the walk to Rwizi waterfalls and the source of river Ishasha.

Ruhija area near Bwindi is much affected by deforestation and even biodiversity devastation and loss through the massive introduction of commercial pines tree planting which is deteriorating the soil and the image of the area. Destination Jungle supports the Ruhjija Association because this can help sensitizing the people about respecting the forest environment, it provides new incomes from eco-tourism through guiding and it links gorilla conservation to social benefits.

Igongo Cultural Centre (Mbarara – Lake Mburo National Park)

Igongo Cultural Center was launched in 2011 with the establishment of the Ankole region cultural museum, with the objective to document and preserve the cultural heritage of South-Western Uganda. The museum has several sections including ancient and modern history of South-Western Uganda to present, cultures of the people, traditional skills and handicraft.
More recently, the Centre also organize experiential tourism, with tours to the neighboring farmers’ communities. You will drive to the local farm and the farmers will show you several activities related to the cows keeping, like watering cows, milking cows and cow ghee production. This can take about 2 to three hours starting from Igongo.

Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village (Volcanoes National Park)

In the past local communities around the borders of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Musanze –Ruhengeri town, could not see much benefit from gorilla tourism and poaching and encroachment of the protected forests was common. Today the concept of eco-tourism is much more developed in this area and the perception of the people about gorilla tourism is totally different and positive.

One of the examples of eco-tourist projects is “Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village”. Here local trained guides take visitors through local villages to experience the real life of the people; you can meet the traditional healer and see how he uses his knowledge of herbal medicine; see the preparation of food and grinding millet and sorghum on the grinding stones; you can see the traditional Intore dances, performed by young boys and girls using the traditional clothes and drums; you can see and taste the local production of “banana beer”; you will find a selection of local made traditional handicraft.

All the income from the fees collected from visitors go to the community and they will decide where to invest, from health, to food security, school fees and education, start up of new enterprises.

What can you do: It is possible to book a special experience with the local community and participating in harvesting crops, cooking meals and collecting firewood. This is the best way to interact with the inhabitants of the area.