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International Bicycle Fund

Travel Guide To Uganda By Bike

Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA)

SELECTED UCOTA SITES

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Situated around the Magombe Swamp, on the edge of Bigodi Trading Centre, at the western edge of Kibale National Park (KNP) in Kabarole District. The swamp is located approximately 39km from Fort Portal on the Fort Portal – Kamwenge – Mbarara road. This is less than an hours drive from Fort Portal, although, in the rainy season, a 4w drive vehicle is advised. Regular matatus (mini -buses) run between Fort Portal and Kamwenge, for those relying on public transport.

The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is managed by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED). KAFRED is a community based environmental organization formed in 1992 with the aim of achieving social and economic development for local communities. KAFRED has generated income to build the Bigodi Secondary School, which saw its first group of ‘O’ level students sit their exams in 1996. KAFRED not only paid for the construction work, but also pays the salaries of the teachers. KAFRED has also established a library, housed in its visitor center. The library is mainly for the use of teachers and school children, but is also open to the whole community.

Visitors are taken on guided walks around the swamp, which is home to approximately 137 bird species, including the Snowy-Headed Robin-Chat, Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill, Emerald Cuckoo, and a variety of weavers, warblers, greenbuls and sunbirds. There is also an abundance of butterflies; a variety of mammals, including otters, mongooses and sitatunga; and most of the 9 primate species recorded in the forest. Needless to say, the swamp is also rich in species of vegetation, such as wild palms, polita figs, water lilies, and the dominant papyrus.

A fee of 6,000/= USh for foreign residents and visitors, and 3,000/= USh for Ugandans and students is set for the guided walk. These fees were set in 1996 and could be revised. It is also possible to hire wellington/gum boots if needed. Guided walks are provided in the morning and late afternoon; ideally visitors should arrive at the KAFRED Visitor Centre between 7am and 8am and 3pm and 4pm. The walk takes approximately 3 hours.

Buhoma Community Restcamp

The Buhoma Community Restcamp was set up in 1993 to enable the community to benefit from gorilla tourism in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The restcamp is run by community members and all profits are shared with the local community through assistance in funding local schools and clinics. There is an associated women’s group, Bwindi Progressive Women’s Group, which makes handicrafts and puts on performances of local music and dance for visitors. Part of the proceeds from the women’s group’s activities is being used to fund a maize mill for the community. Currently, the local people have to travel, often on foot, 25km to get their crops ground.

Accommodation is provided in 4 bandas, two with four beds (2 bunk-beds) and two with six beds. Two of the bandas already have solar electricity lighting, and this is being put into the other bandas and the reception/bar/restaurant building in the very near future. Leveled tent sites, some under tea-shades, are also available. There is a picnic banda in which to sit, socialize, relax and eat; as well as a reception building, which houses a bar and dining room. A variety of foods are available, as well as cold beers and sodas.

Prices:
Upper banda (max 4 people) - US$40 per night or US$12 per person, per night.
Lower banda (max 6 people) - US$48 per per night or US$10 per person, per night.
Camping - US$3 per person, per night.

To reach Buhoma by public transport, take the bus from Kampala to Butogota. The bus arrives in the evening when you can arrange a private hire car to the park for approximately 20,000/= USh. Alternatively, stay in Butogota overnight and walk the 17km to the park in the morning. If arriving through Kabale you should be able to find a public pick-up truck going to Butogota, or you can hire a private vehicle to Buhoma, which should cost approximately 80,000/=USh.

Bushara Island Camps

Situated in Lake Bunyonyi, 8km from Kabale in the south-west of Uganda, Bushara Island Camps is part of a larger project designed to assist the local community with agro forestry and community based orphan care. Tourist revenues pay the salaries of agro forestry extension workers and provides seed money for the orphan care project designed to assist guardians with the care and support of orphans.

Bushara Island Camps offers high standard tented accommodation, camping facilities, an excellent restaurant (including a variety of fresh crayfish dishes), campfires, astounding views and recreational activities – bird watching, cultural and natural history walks, local tours, traditional dance and music performances, swimming (the lake is Bilharzia free), sailing and windsurfing, volleyball, badminton, dugout canoe trips, etc.

Accommodation is provided in seven furnished safari tents, ranging from 20,000/= - 30,000/= USh for double occupancy, per night (single occupancy 5,000/= less). The top price tents have 2 double beds in each. Camping with your own equipment costs 3,000/= USh per person, per night. Transport from the lakeshore to the island is available via motor boat or dugout canoe.

For bookings telephone Mobile: 077 464585 or Tel/Fax: 0486 22447. E-mail [email protected] .

Busingiro Ecotourist Site

Busingiro is part of the Budongo Forest Ecotourism Project, which was started in 1992 by the Uganda Forest Department and aims to conserve the forest by working closely with the forest edge communities. The project provides local employment; encourages sustainable income generation from the forest for local communities; and runs a Conservation Education Programme.

Busingiro, located in the north-west, 40km west of Masindi on the road to Butiaba and where the road to Lake Albert and the Rift Valley winds through the forest, is a mosaic of tropical high forest and grassland. A small lake attracts water birds and the Royal Mile, a forest road lined with spectacular trees, is an ideal site for forest bird watching. Close by is a historic Polish church and chimpanzee habituation began in this area in 1993.

The tourist site provides:
Ø      Guided forest walks.
Ø      Primate tracking, including chimpanzees.
Ø      Two bandas, one with a double bed and one with 3 single beds.
Ø      Campsite
Ø      Borehole water, toilets, hot overhead showers and firewood.
Ø      Picnic shelter.
Ø      Bird and butterfly watching.

Prices:
Camping            3,000/= per person, per night
Bandas              8,000/= per person, per night

Drinks only are available at Busingiro, so visitors need to bring food with them, as well as all cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery.  The attendants at the site will prepare a fire in a cooking shelter.

The Crow’s Nest

The Crow’s Nest is beautifully situated at 2000 meters on the slopes of Mount Elgon. The site offers spectacular views of all three waterfalls, the peaks of Mount Elgon and the plains far below. It strives to link tourism to conservation through environmentally sensitive designs, conservation awareness, appropriate technology, local employment and cultural exchange.

Sleep well in a private cabin or cozy dormitory and wake up to complimentary coffee or tea. You can also camp on secluded campsites nestled within lush terraces. Rent our camping gear or bring your own. Delicious meals are prepared fresh on order daily from the kitchen. Packed lunches are available for guided walks. Share stories and one of the best views in Sipi while enjoying refreshments at the bar. Trails, travel information, book exchange, and games are available, as well as hot showers and lamps at no extra cost.

Learn about the natural and cultural attractions in the area on 4 exciting walks with trained local guides. Explore the depths of Sipi Falls, bat filled caves, and traditional homesteads. Taste local beer, take a dip in a natural pool, and learn about the Sabiny culture. The Crow’s Nest is also ideally located for access to Mount Elgon National Park, and is accessible by both private and public transport. For directions contact the UCOTA office.

Prices: per night, USh
Cabin (1 decker bed)                          16,000/=
          (double bed, avail June 2000)    20,000/=
Dormitory (4 decker beds)                  7,000/= per person
Camping                                             3,500/= per person
Tent rental                                           3,000/=
Sleeping bag rental                               1,000/=

Guided walks:
Sipi short walk (1-2 hrs)                       2,000/= per person
Falls circuit trail (3-4 hrs)                      3,000/= per person
Cultural walk (3-4 hrs)                          3,000/= per person
Forest exploration center (6-8 hrs)        4,000/= per person

For reservations e-mail or write to:
The Crow’s Nest, P.O. Box 867, Mbale
E-mail: [email protected] (these are checked once a week.)

Mabira Forest

Mabira Forest Tourism Project was set up in 1995 under the Uganda Forest Department’s Natural Forest Management and Conservation Project. The objective is to enable sustainable income generation from the forest through the creation of a recreational and educational resource for citizens, foreign residents and visitors in Central Uganda. Local communities benefit from this initiative through employment and revenue sharing.

Enjoy spectacular forest trees with beautiful birds, butterflies and monkeys, within one hour of Kampala. There are walks for all time schedules and abilities ranging from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours, with both way marked (self-guided) and guided trails. Explore further afield by bicycle. There is also a community handicrafts group, and a dance and drama group in the area. Dance performances can be arranged through the Forest Center.

The Forest Centre stands at the head of the trail network and comprises the Project Office, classroom/display room and dining/birdwatching platform. The camp site is provided with hot showers, latrines, borehole water, camp shelter, askaris and bandas. Meals can be cooked to order. Firewood is available and fresh produce may be bought from the roadside market.

The Forest Centre is located next to Najjembe village, 500m off the Jinja Road. Matatus pass regularly, travelling between Kampala’s Old Taxi Park and Jinja.

Prices (USh):      Ugandan           Resident           Foreign Visitor
Camping             1,000/=            2,300/=            2,300/=
Banda:
Single                  7,000/=            10,000/=          10,000/=
Double                10,000/=          15,000/=          15,000/=
Quadruple           14,000/=          20,000/=           20,000/=

Entry permit         1000/=             5,000/=            6,000/=
2-day permit        1,500/=            8,000/=            10,000/=

Cycle hire                                     8,000/=            8,000/=

Entry permit includes guide if required.  Children half price, under 6 year free.

Mgahinga Community Campground (Amajambere Iwacu)

The campground is located at the starting point for trekking the mountain gorilla at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park! It is approximately 12km from Kisoro. Kisoro can be reached by bus, direct from Kampala, or via Kabale. Transport can be arranged from Kisoro to the campground, or enthusiastic trekkers can walk it. The walk takes approximately 21/2 hours.

The campground offers:
Ø      Magnificent views of the famous Virunga Volcanoes and crater lakes of the Great Rift Valley.
Ø      Two bandas with two bed accommodation – 6,000/= USh per person, per night.
Ø      Two bandas with four bed accommodation – 6,000/= USh per person, per night.
Ø      Extensive campsite area for camping – 3,000/= USh per person, per night.
Ø      Spacious gathering shelter with indoor or outdoor dining, on the verandah.
Ø      Well stocked canteen serving beers, sodas, snacks and basic essentials.
Ø      Kitchen serving hot meals in generous portions.
Ø      Guided walks outside the park, including a community walk and visits to a nearby crater lake, larva tubes and caves.
Ø      Cultural dance performances from the local women’s group and the Batwa people.

The campground has provided some significant benefits to the local community. Part of the proceeds are set aside for community development. So far the association has provided funds to two local schools; one used the funds to roof its main building; and the other used it for the construction of the main buildings themselves. The community also came together to establish a stretcher club, so that, when needed, the funds are available to get someone to hospital. The campground provides marketing and a venue for the Batwa people to sing and dance for visitors, thus supplying this displaced community with a means of earning money to buy food. It also works with a group of about 30 local children, providing English lessons, and environmental and tourism awareness. Finally, one of the most significant benefits the development of the community campground has provided is the road itself, which the community built themselves, by hand. This allows for ease of transport and communication, which, although beneficial on a day-to-day basis, is of paramount importance in emergencies.

Visit our campground and make a positive contribution to the local community!

All prices quoted are subject to change.

For further details on these sites and more, call into the UCOTA office/shop, where you will also find a wide selection of Ugandan handicrafts for sale, made by community groups throughout the country:

UCOTA, PO Box 27159, Kampala, UGANDA, East Africa
Tel: +256-(0)41-501866 or (0) 77-657700.  Email: [email protected]
Opening hours:  Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 1pm.  The office is in Kabalagala, off Gaba Rd, behind Uganda Electricity Board.

For more information on Uganda see the publication Bicycle Touring In Malawi/Tanzania/Uganda.

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