My very first mountain-climbing attempt was Mount Wati, in Arua district, West Nile. Mount Wati stands at approximately 1,250 meters above sea level and it is believed that back in the day, rebels used to hide in the mountain to monitor advancing government soldiers. Today, the mountain makes for a
great hike, a chance to bond with nature, and an opportunity to experience very scenic views from the top.
I arrived on a Friday just before sunset and set camp right next to Miriadua falls. The falls are stunning and the gushing sound made the campsite feel very homey as if to say “welcome, you are not alone.” Miridua falls made for a practical camping spot too as the cascading water created a great shower spot that evening. My trip was during the dry season and our guide, Gerald Iga, insisted that we didn’t even witness half the beauty of the waterfall, as it gushes with even more power and vigor during the rains.
The next morning, and the group I traveled with, began the much-anticipated hike. We drove about one hour from Miriadua falls to Mount Wati and started our hike from the base of the mountain at about 11 am. The climb was a test of perseverance and patience. Trekking through savannah grassland and steep rocks, we felt the hot West Nile sunrays on our backs and stopped occasionally for rest and my personal energy boost of water (mixed with glucose), groundnuts, and biscuits. Our guide was very helpful and he led us as we navigated the rocks, at some points on all fours! It’s hard to describe how thrilling and enjoyable the experience of mountain climbing is. As you climb, all vanity ceases and all dependency relies on your instincts and Mother Nature.
Climbing with a group is a bonding experience like no other. As much as you have yourself, I’d say a first-timer is more likely to summit when climbing with others. As the great African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” One step at a time as you climb and truly live in the present moment, you never quite know when exactly you will reach the top as it all depends on the group pace. We encouraged and supported each other along the way and through dry grass, through bush and thicket, through the rocks, we kept ascending.
The summit was surreal. A sense of accomplishment engulfed me as I overlooked the vast savannah. At that moment, we were standing at the highest point in West Nile! Triumph and jubilation filled the air. I rested, relaxed, took pictures, and gazed at my surroundings. I was proud of myself, and I knew that very moment would be indelibly etched in my memory.
The mountain descent was a shorter expedition though nonetheless challenging. Resisting the pull of gravity, we made our way back through the rocks and eventually onto the mainland. I completed the hike at about 6 pm and headed straight to camp to freshen up, enjoy a bonfire, and indulge my palate with local dishes of the Angara, Enyasa, and Osubi.
On Sunday, we made our way back to Kampala. Both fatigued and excited, nostalgia for Wati and the entire experience immediately sank in as we set off. On our way, we stopped at the market to buy some kitenge (East African cotton printed fabric) which is much more affordable in the West Nile region than in Kampala city. I still haven’t made a dress out of my kitenge, but when I do, I know that I’ll have something to remember my first mountain climbing experience and the glory of the West Nile.Read More
For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals. The report was launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which
opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students and tourists to travel.
This fourth edition of the Index shows that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019. African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisas to make travel more accessible, up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016).
The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism. The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on the free movement of people. Progress is being made but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”
The Visa Openness Index has inspired reforms in more than 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Kenya, unlocking the tremendous potential for the promotion of intra-regional tourism, trade and investments.
Despite the gains shown in the report, there is a need to move further. In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.
Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.
“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfilment of its people’s aspiration to well-being. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.Read More
Are you in Uganda? Then you just can’t miss this awesome dose of adrenaline rush. Many even call it the top adventure to do in Uganda’s adventure capital, Jinja. It entails overriding 8 major rapids of the river that are well spaced over a scenic 24-kilometer stretch. Regardless of whether you chose the
half-day or full-day excursion, you will leave with both physical and emotional rewards.
If you are feeling stressed, the roller coaster-like ride will treat your mind and soul to internal healing and nourishment.
Over 1,000 who don’t know how to swim have successfully and safely rocked it since it began taking place over 20 years back. This is partly because safety is the main concern of the rafting agencies and standards of their equipment are second to none.
To start the day, you will be served breakfast to fill you with sufficient energy ahead of your expedition. You will then be split into groups of six people each with similar appetites for adrenaline. Each will be led by a coach who has been rafting for over 10 years. He will ensure you are comfortable but most of all confident to rock the day. Shortly after boarding the raft boat at a calm stretch of the river, he will give you a safety briefing—purposed to enlighten you on how to have a trip that is free of regret and fear.
Having rafted countless times before, our safety crew knows the river very well and will keep you safe throughout. You will swiftly come to your rescue just in case you fall out of your boat after it has hit a high wave. The rapids you will counter are on the bigger side but prior to confronting each, the raft will be consulted to determine which line to pass take through. This will limit the number of times your boat will flip upside down. The beauty of rafting the Nile unlike an ocean or sea is that its water is not salty, it is fresh. As such, neither your eyes nor skin will be damaged. On the contrary, they will look exquisite and renewed in the end due to the healing effect of the mineral-rich water.
Our photography crew will be stationed at different strategic parts of the river to get highlights of your excursion.
Halfway into your adventure, you will have a lunch stopover at one of the islands surrounded by exhilarating rapids and a rich concentration of beautiful birds.Read More
UWA the body that manages the country’s wildlife recently released 5 Rothschild giraffes into North Eastern Uganda-based Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve. This reintroduction exercise will now bring the total number of giraffes to 15, 10 of which are females.
Presiding over the event, Dr. Panta Kasoma, representing the Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, that the re-introduction of giraffes in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is in line with UWA’s strategic objectives among which is the reintroduction of extinct species.
He maintains that the exercise was looking to uphold conservation and keep the animal populations fairly distributed and high. “Especially the endangered species, we must pay attention to them,” he said. We are happy that we now have giraffes in Pian Upe after very many years, and we hope this will further enhance tourism in the reserve.”
This will not only stop at the giraffe populace, as only last year but impalas were also transferred. “We translocated up to 92 impalas into the reserve areas,” UWA’s Charles Tumwesigye said. “These translocations are good, we have seen an increase in antelopes, zebras, cheetahs…”
This is an ongoing process, one that is expected to yield results, protect the endangered long-legged giraffe but also see it thrive in a place where its population is wanting.Read More