A new Community Development Partnership

Partnerships are integral in Rural development. They enable elevating each other through equitable sharing of natural, cultural, and social resources, the three that tourism rotates around.

Community center:

Rainforest and Community Tours (RFCT) has started yet another partnership. This is the third formal tourism partnership that has been put on the ground to help promote tourism and development in rural communities by sharing opportunities with the local communities and other local stakeholders. Besides the three, there are other informal partnerships that we have, with different community-based tourism enterprises around Uganda.

In this new partnership, RFCT has chosen to invest in a community center after seeing the potential of this initiative to change the local lives, promoting local tourism inclusiveness and enriching the Rwenzori destination. The center is expected to open by Christmas on 24th December 2021. The center is being developed at the Rwenzori gateway at the Nyakalenginjo gate of Rwenzori Mountains National Park. This area is popular for tourism in Kasese district, the Rwenzori region in western Uganda. It is the oldest and most popular gate to this park, which is also a world heritage site and Ramser site. Besides, Rwenzori is the Highest Mountain in Uganda and the highest block mountain in Africa, with snow at the equator.

A community member carrying wood to use at the center

The partnerships

This is the fourth partnership of this kind. Ruboni community tourism project is the oldest RFCT partnership. The general collection of four partnerships is called the “buffer conservation initiative” where we work with communities living next to three National Parks in the Rwenzori region, to enhance their livelihoods and conservation of their natural and cultural resources. Other community development partnerships include; 1). Kikorongo community near Queen Elizabeth National park and 2). Kahondo community near Kibale National park. The activities in this collection of partnerships include conservation, tourism, rural development, women empowerment, child support initiative, and skilling the youth.

Over the years, tourism development needs have changed. To date, Ruboni community needs a hand in developing her tourism in a different way; by empowering the locals and helping them to be more involved in tourism. The community also needs to be helped to develop more tourism activities that will engage visitors that come to the area. In a way, this intervention will increase the value and create the markets for the local goods, increase destination competitiveness and prepare more products that guests can participate in during their stay. As a result, we want guests to stay longer and spend more money in the village when they come to Ruboni community.  However, we want the local people, environment, and culture to continually be respected by the tourist and empressed by the locals during the tourism activities. The resulting income, partnerships, and skills will be used to support other local initiatives such as Production, education, healthcare, employment, and other needs that will arise.

The community center is an open space where both locals and tourists will equally converge to learn and be introduced to the local way of life in the most friendly, hygienic, and safe way. It is from here that tourists will meet the locals; an act that may result in other communal or individual partnerships. Guests with more time will start from here to explore the village opportunities through tours and excursions. The center will also run other programs to facilitate linkages with the community initiatives. These will include the information point, enterprise development support, a volunteer program, and a marketplace for the local goods and services.

Who is involved in this new partnership?

This partnership has been created between Rain Forest and Community Tours, a local family, and the local community members. This initiative was introduced by RCCDP and RFCT picked interest because it supports our goal of empowering communities through enterprise development. Further to the enterprise development concept, we believe that the creation of networking space is a key for knowledge exchange. By the end, these two goals are married in this one initiative.

RCCDP as a key partner is interested in promoting conservation as a tool for tourism and social development. Like most tourism and businesses, Ruboni community has been affected by the impacts of covid19, a situation that has hampered progress. This partnership is aimed to help both RCCDP and the village become more resilient enough to recover from the impact of covid19 if they can use tourism and other local innovations such as enterprise development, promoting local produce, building local markets for local goods, providing skills, especially to the women, youth and young people

The partnership has been contributed to by the family offering the land, the community offering the labor/ participation/ products,  and RFCT offering the finances, expertise, and other resources that are not available to the community. Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA) is a great partner in this. She has provided the technical support to see the center is established. We hope the tour operators will support by bringing guests to experience this effort and the community tourism experiences that will be promoted in the community center.

A local carpenter making furniture for the center

Gaps and what you can do to help:

The key gaps that still exist in this partnership are;

Rain Forest and Community Tours will continue to invest as we look for opportunities and partnerships that will help cover these gaps. Any support is highly welcome to help in these areas.

EIGHT COMMUNITY ACCOMMODATIONS AT EIGHT NATIONAL PARKS OF UGANDA

Community lodges are the opposite of the traditional investor lodges in Uganda tourism market. Traditionally, investors bring external resources to make accommodation investments in the destinations. These investors choose to work with or without the local community members living within the destination.

On the contrary, the community lodges are local investments. In most cases, communities pull together their local resources such as land, labor, time, and finances to build these lodges. In return, the community expects longer-term benefits. The resulting community lodges provide development benefits such as employment, a market for local goods, and a hub for other local development and conservation partnerships

If this idea of community accommodations interests you, then this post is for you. We made a selection of eight such accommodation facilities that you can find near eight of the ten parks in Uganda, during your trip. Your expectations are catered for. We have mentioned one at each National Park. They are;

1-Tinka’s homestay: Located at Kibale National Park

Tinka’s homestay is located in a small village next to Magombe swamp and Kibale Forest. It is an ideal accommodation for guests who want to do chimp tracking or any other wildlife activity in Kibale National park. The homestay is located in the community outside the park, next to Bigodi swamp. The services offered at the lodge include; accommodation in the guest rooms and Bandas, a traditional lunch experience, tourism information about Kibale national park, and other village activities.

2-Ruboni Community Camp: located at the Rwenzori Mountains National park

Ruboni Community Camp is located on the trailhead to the Nyakalengijo park gate of Rwenzori Mountains National park. The lodge offers meals and accommodation to Rwenzori trekkers on the night before and after their trek to the high peaks or the foothills. The accommodation has furnished guestrooms, a restaurant, and a camping ground.  This lodge is owned and run by the local community. it organizes a list of community activities and cultural experiences for guests to participate in during their stay. All their profits go back to the local community.

3-The elephant home: Located at Queen Elizabeth National Park

The elephant home is located in Kikorongo village 20km from Kasese town on Kasese Mbarara road, before Kikorongo junction. This Lodge is one of the closest to the Kasenyi park gate where the game drive starts. Easy to access by any mode of transport, the lodge offers guest rooms, a restaurant, and a gift shop on the site. It is community-owned and runs the property. Guests will find a long list of safari and community activities you can do inside and around Queen Elizabeth national park.

4-Ruhija gorilla friends resort Campsite: located at Bwindi impenetrable forest

Ruhija Gorilla friends resort and campsite is located in Ruhija trading center on Ruhija sector gate. The lodge is a community cooperative offering budget accommodation to visitors who use this gate of Bwindi national park. The lodge has furnished guestrooms, an onsite restaurant and offers village tours. The accommodation is ideal for guests destined to track one of these three gorilla groups; Oruzogo Bitukura, and Kyaguriro Gorilla group.

 5-Mgahinga community campground: located at Mgahinga gorilla national park

This community lodge is located at the main gate of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The location is the starting point for treks inside the park, the Batwa trail, and other village experiences in the area. They offer furnished rooms, a restaurant, and a camping ground.

6-Boomu women’s group campsite: Located at Murchison Falls National park

Located 500 meters before the Kichumbanyumbo gate of Murchison falls National Park. the lodge is accessed on the route that comes from Masindi town through Budongo forest to Murchison. Accommodation at Boomu women campsite is offered in traditional Bandas. The bed plans are; dorm, twin, and double. The site also has a campground and organizes village tours, a handicrafts shop, and delicious meals I the restaurant is on-site offering delicious local meals.

7-Bluestar homestay: – Mount Elgon National Park

This homestay is located in the Sipi area, in the foothills of Mount Elgon. The home sits in a village outside Sipi trading center. The Host offers accommodation in single, double, and dorm kinds of rooms. The prices are inclusive of meals. All meals are shared with the family. All activities in Sipi and Mount Elgon can be organized by Blue star homestay too.  

8-Rwenzori escarpment view guest house: Located at Semuliki National park

Located at Karugutu town council, offering shoestring/ budget accommodation in traditional Bandas, guest rooms, and a camping ground. Home-made local meals can be prepared on order for staying guests. This accommodation is ideal for guests who want to visit the attractions of Semuliki valley, including Semliki national park, Semlike wildlife reserve, and this park of Rwenzori mountains national park. The community activities offered to include; the cocoa farming village tour, trekking to the local foothills, and taking views of Lake Albert, or visiting Ntororko fishing village. 

At rainforest and community tours, we impress this kind of travel because it is one way the grassroots communities are empowered to improve the local lives and support conservation projects in these critical ecosystem areas such as the fringes of national parks and other protected areas.

If you’re interested in any of the lodges or activities mentioned here, please contact us for more information.

THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT ON A TRIP AROUND UGANDA.  (3)

It is a land of varied natural and cultural encounters that you will find nowhere else on earth. Consequently, a tour around Uganda is like a legendary tale of the people and the jungle. The rainforests, indigenous communities, extensive savannah, salt and fresh water lakes, the source of the longest river in the world, Rwenzori mountains with snow at the equator, all levels of accommodation facilities providing memorable overnight experiences, and many other countless attractions on a landscape inspired by all sorts of physical features. In brief, this is a snapshot of what you can expect and probably what you should not miss on the trip to Uganda;

1-The Mountain gorillas:

Uganda’s highlands in the southwestern part are home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. These gorillas are specifically found in Bwindi impenetrable forest and on the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; an extension of the Virunga volcanic ranges. 

Of the estimated total population of 1063 gorillas by 2021, 459 are in Bwindi-Uganda and 604 in the three national parks of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo respectively. Of the Ugandan population, up to 18 habituated gorilla groups are found in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga at the various gates.

A day with the gorillas means up to eight hours of trekking in the jungle as you track a chosen family of these giants. After finding the target family, you spend up to one hour taking one of the most memorable moments in pictures and physically as you learn their hierarchy and behavior. After the gorilla tracking experience, you choose to relax on Lake Bunyonyi in Kigezi highlands, dubbed the Switzerland of Uganda.

A gorilla in Bwindi

2-The big 5 and savannahs safaris:

When you want to relax in one of Uganda’s low-land savannah parks. Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, Kidepo valley are some of such safari destinations in Uganda.  Looking for wild animals is fun everywhere, but looking for the big five in these extensive savannah parks, with a perfect climate and landscape is a highlight of many trippers.

The wildlife wonders in Uganda are unmatched. The tree-climbing lions, the wildlife safari drives, glorious boat cruises with wild animals lined on the edges of the water bodies cooling off, tracking the cats and mongoose with the researchers as they tell you the most fascinating facts about these animals. You have chances of witnessing large herds of large mammals in unspoiled landscapes. The buffalos, elephants, giraffes, eland, hippos are all in their natural habitat.

Each savannah park is gifted with unique landscapes and cultures that make a good blend of these safaris. Kyambura underground forest, The chain of lakes in Lake Mburo below the Kigarama hills, Outstanding mountains, and valleys packed with wildlife in Kidepo, the crater lakes on Bunyaruguru highlands, the Nile delta, a cradle for wild animals. The salt mining experience that has been practiced the same way by hand over centuries, the farming, fishing, food and cuisine, dancing, and crafts production techniques of the local communities living next to the parks will all leave you inspired during the big 5 safaris in the Savannah.  

3-The highest mountain range in Africa:

Rwenzori Mountain is a unique mountain in Africa.  a mountain range formed by earth movement estimated to be 1000 sq km. Rwenzori Mountains overlook Queen Elizabeth National park and influence the climate in these surrounding National Parks; Queen Elizabeth, Kibale, and Semuliki.  

Rwenzori is a unique landscape in all aspects. The mountain has permanent snow on mount Stanley. The highest point of this mountain is 5109 meters on margarita peak. During this trek, you will be participating in a range of world-standard trekking experiences. In the past, it was one trail on this mountain and trekkers had no choice of trail. Currently, several trails have been developed to cater to different interests. You will choose from trekking for a few hours, a day, or multi-days on this unique landscape. All trails going to the lower peaks don’t require trekking expertise while treks to the high peaks will require prior trekking skills and special equipment.

Even for those not interested in the mountains, Rwenzori has something to offer. The community living in the foothills is an ideal stopover. Here you will learn the local ways of life that show this subsistence farming community has employed traditional skills to survive in the foothills for years. In the communities, you will participate in village cultural walks, cooking tours, homestays, and forest walks looking for chameleons or just staying at the camp taking the beautiful views of the peaks.

Rwenzori Mountains view

4-The world’s largest caldera:

Resting on top of Mount Elgon, next to the border with Kenya, is Uganda’s oldest physical feature which is also the world’s largest volcanic base estimated to be 4,000km². It is the oldest and largest lone volcanic mountain in the region. Currently standing at 4321 meters high. However, Geologists estimate that Mount Elgon was at one time higher than Kilimanjaro many million years ago and is the oldest of the kind in east Africa.

A trek to the top or lower slopes of Mount Elgon is uniquely admired by travelers. There are multiday volcano climbing treks on multiple trails leading up to Wagagai peak at 4321m. These trails include the Sasa trail, Sipi trail, Piswa trail, and alternative hiking Combining several trails or doing the transboundary option between Uganda and Kenya. Other experiences include birding and nature walking. During the visit, you should not miss the magical Sipi falls on river Sipi where you can do rock climbing, abseiling, and the famous coffee experience.

On the way to or from Mount Elgon, you have an opportunity to take an adventure on River Nile, the world’s longest river. The options here include bungy jumping, rafting at different grades, tubing, kayaking, and other adventures such as ziplining over the Nile. This spot is a key highlight of many people when you participate in the local tours which include horseriding, cycling, quad biking, and visiting the source of the Nile, and or taking the Jinja city tour to learn the industrial history of Uganda.

5 – A range of community accommodation options to select from

The introduction of community-owned and run accommodation facilities has brought such an enriched mix of hotels and places to stay while in Uganda. The community-owned accommodations in Uganda are a plus to the true African experience.  And it means people of all budgets can equally experience the pearl of Uganda. In the past, one had to stay in expensive hotels, a factor that prevented a big number from visiting.

You may have heard that Ugandans are such hospitable people, the weather is so good, their culture is unique in every Connor of the country and the food is good too. Staying with the people doesn’t only give you more to see and learn about this country but also will cut your budget to less than half of what you would otherwise plan to spend on the same holiday in hotels. This then makes Uganda a province for budget travelers, cultural lovers, nature lovers as well as luxury lovers.

6 -The primate capital of East Africa:

After the Rwenzori Mountains, is a good time to go to the Chimpanzee and primate capital in Kibale National Park. This is another rainforest that is packed with wildlife wonders. The connection heading here takes you through the crater lakes area, offering great trekking opportunities. These are not just crater lakes. You will be driving through a spot with over 50 crater lakes in one area. Side by side with the craters, you will find lodges, forests, and homes patched on the edges of these beautiful water bodies. In the crater lakes area, you can choose to participate in different community activities including; Fishing, cycling, village exploration, canoeing, or trekking to the top of the world or other trails.

Kibale National Park has the densest population of chimps in east Africa. You can choose to do ordinary chimp tracking to spend an hour with them or Chimp habituation experience where you spend a day with these wild chimps in their natural habitat to learn their behaviors. In both cases, you will be in the jungle with rangers interpreting everything about chimps. Observe the chimps to compare their behavior with humans and prove that they are the closest relatives with 99.8% same DNA as humans.

7-The world’s most powerful waterfalls:

Heading north you will be going to Murchison Falls National Park. It is the oldest and largest national park in Uganda. Covered with a mix of habitats, you will find forests, savannah, wetlands, and the Nile River as the main feature dissecting it. The largest rainforest here is Budongo with chimps, birds, and different sorts of wildlife. You will participate in game drives, game walks, boat cruises on the Nile, and assorted cultural encounters. You will be amazed by the power of the Murchison falls when you view the entire Nile river ramming in the 7-meter curve of the rock.

Murchison falls area also offers an opportunity of visiting the Rhinos in the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary. This sanctuary is the only one of the kind in Uganda after reintroduction to conserve these giants. At ziwa, you have chances to participate in birding tours, canoe tours, Rhino and other wildlife viewing activities, or looking for the shoebill stork.

8-The people of Uganda:

Between or next to the National Parks and other wildlife areas, you will have an opportunity of meeting the communities as you participate in their different local life aspects. Uganda has over 56 tribes and ethnic groups of people. Every tribe has a unique way of life from the food, ways of dressing, dialect, music, and dance, cuisine, and cooking. In all cases, the culture of Uganda is attached to the natural heritage. At every National park, you will be able to combine the local cultures with the wildlife experiences offered by the safaris.

The people of Uganda are probably the most hospitable. In the country, they mainly live in extended family attachments that collectively work for the common good in their society. The dressing code, music, delicious local foods, household lifestyles, and a good social environment will be a key highlight at every destination. If you want to get a close insight into the people and culture, you can choose to stay in the community lodges and homestay where you will be able to share more with them through the trip.

9-The crater lakes area of western Uganda:

Though crater lakes are spread across Uganda, the southwestern region has one unique area with over 50 of them clustered together. This is called the crater lakes area of Uganda. It extends on a short area between Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National parks. The area lays below the Rwenzori Mountains. This area offers great opportunities for scenic tours, camping experiences, trekking, and nature exploration activities. The crater lakes area is located in the same neighborhood as Uganda’s key National Parks. You can never get a better reflection of life in Uganda than the one you get from the crater lakes area.

This location offers the best Uganda experience meeting the people to see how they relate to wildlife and landscapes. You will have opportunities to participate in traditional fishing, canoeing, crafts making, and farming livelihoods.

The crater lakes are is located near Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National park. Before and after the crater lakes visit, you can have an opportunity to participate in park activities including chimp and primate tracking, wildlife safaris, boat cruises birding tours in these neighboring national parks.

10). Rainforest and Community tours:

This is the only community-owned and run, tourism business that brings together community experiences and integrates them with wildlife safaris. At Rainforest and Community Tours, we are honored to bring you to the true, pearl of Africa, to witness these beauties through the eyes of the local communities.  For your ultimate safari in Uganda, please contact us today. We have plenty of safari ideas in the background, that our communities live every day. If you can’t find a trip from the ones listed on the website, we will tailor a perfect trip that suits your interests.

A simple budget lodge that makes an impact on the people and the environment

Here is a simple budget lodge making an impact on the people and environment. It is our guests’ favorite, and we believe you may like it.

This is a case where traveling simply, has enhanced community happiness when they have understood the benefit of wild animals. We can now prove that people who have braved traveling cheap have not only got the advantage of meeting the people but also have met the wildlife in the most friendly way, have got the highest hospitality, have spent directly into the community, and have had a more hands-on experience in the true Ugandan life.

This might be the kind of travel you or any of your friends has been looking for all along. The challenge is, these accommodations will not be found on the first page of a fancy magazine or in a famous film show. They don’t have that budget to be placed in those places. The advantage is, they have stayed off the beaten path. When you want to travel in this special way, the best option to start with is to change the way you look for these special holidays.

Guest room

The few hints of looking are; talk to a friend who has just visited the same way you like to; go on Google my business, visit trip advisor, visit booking.com, and any other of the like platforms. You will likely find hands-on valuable feedback. They are most accessible by the low-budget/high-value accommodations. I know it may be challenging when you have to believe, be brave, and trust, especially if you’re a student of your past experience. Luckily enough, with the elephant home, you won’t regret your decision.

The elephant home is one of a kind. It is an accommodation located in the bushes opposite Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is the most accessible yet most hidden lodge, only known to the people who have stayed there. The location of this lodge was formally a cotton garden. The land was converted from farming to tourism by the local community. This was to enhance community coexistence with the elephants and other wildlife that used to ride the local farms.

Owned and run locally, the local community managing it seems to understand beyond the traveler’s expectations. Privacy, hospitality, connection to the people and wildlife, hygiene and cleanliness, delicious food, the location and accessibility, travel and holiday information, hospitable local guides, lots of local activities to participate in, are key areas that are well catered for. Guests may want more, but at least they won’t rule out most of these topics that the elephant home pays close attention to. As you can see from the reviews written about the elephant home, you will find that they rank high on the very important priorities of most travelers.

This is why Rainforest and community tours have always taken the elephant home first priority when it comes to Queen Elizabeth national park Safari. This lodge has accommodated most of our happiest guests at this national park. Without a doubt, the feedback of most guests has pointed at the above key areas.

During the stay at the elephant home, the guest gets a chance to share an intimate story from the people living with wildlife. This gives every guest an opportunity to stand at the feet of the common person living in the village next to Queen Elizabeth. Through this enterprise, we have appreciated the power of simplicity. It kind of brings us close to our guests, the community, and the local environment in the neighborhoods of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Many projects gearing local community empowerment, awareness-raising, and environmental conservation have been supported by the elephant home lodge. Women, men, youth, and children benefit from the operations value chain and community outreach from the lodge. 

Now that you consider staying at the elephant home during your next visit to Queen Elizabeth national park, you have made a good step towards a perfect stay. If you take a step to visit the community during your stay, you will likely be impressed as you learn about the various projects being supported by this lodge.

Gift shop

The range of projects supported includes skills training, production, and marketing support for local goods and services, youth empowerment programs, supporting proper waste management and environmental pollution control, provision of relief and aid to the vulnerable households during the intense need for survival, support on food production to fight excessive hunger, tree planting and buffer conservation support, supporting the creation of local development partnerships, renewable energy for household use and employment through the establishment of local salable products and services.

During your stay at the elephant home, you can be sure that you won’t be bored. This lodge not only provides one of the most hospitable accommodations in the area but also offers the longest list of wildlife safaris integration with community activities, of all budgets and duration. From here, it is possible to visit other communities around the park, engage in volunteer projects, take self-guided walks at the property and share with the households to understand their daily livelihoods that are relevant to the larger habitat. 

TOP TEN COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES AT THE TEN NATIONAL PARKS OF UGANDA. (4)

What are your expectations for a trip to Uganda? You may be coming to Uganda for the impressive wildlife safaris, the landscape, or any other of the many attractions. I would like to share the ten community activities that you can select from if you want to make a unique and memorable experience during your trip. They are;

1). Bigodi swamp walk – Kibale National Park

Walking in a 4.5 km trail through the forest canopy, wetlands, boardwalks, and villages as you explore a list of 200 bird species and 9 primate species. Other wildlife is also found there. The 4 sq km wetland is located next to Kibale National park, surrounded by community gardens. Besides the wild animals, the sanctuary is home to varied plant species, amphibians, batter flies, reptiles, and other micro insects life.

Other community activities nearby: You can also choose from other community activities in the area. These include the Bigodi cultural walk, the traditional lunch at Tinka’s homestay; Turaco trails nature tour, the crater lakes tours, and the Tooro museum.

Activities inside Kibale National Park: Chimp tracking or habituation, forest nature walks, a Primate tour, and a birding trail.

2). Ruboni hill climb trek – Rwenzori mountains national park

In the Ruboni village located in the Rwenzori foothills, you will be climbing one of the tallest hills located outside the park. The trek starts at 1600m to the peak at 2400m above sea level. The trail takes through residential villages with coffee and banana gardens. During the trek, the view is rewarding as you progress on the trail. The mountains and plains appear to get closer over the hills. On a clear day, while at the peak,  you will be able to view Margarita peak, the highest point on Mount Rwenzori at 5019m. Besides, the views of the Mubuku valley are satisfying. It is an opportunity to follow the journey of river Mubuku from Rwenzori Mountains to Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park from one point.

Other community activities nearby: Besides the day hill trek, you can choose from other available activities like; overnight on the top of the hill, participation in the forest walk; the village walks or joining the cultural events conducted every evening in the village (booking essential). 

Activities inside Rwenzori Mountains National Park: Those intending to go inside the park, you can choose from a number of nature activities. They include a one-day nature walk, three days Mahoma trek, or multiday treks that can take you from 2 to 8 days that bring you to margarita peak.

3). Kikorongo Bodaboda safari – Queen Elizabeth national park

Riding on a two-wheeler with the local guide, you will be exploring the local communities, landscapes, and animals around Queen Elizabeth National park. The safari starts from Kikorongo and goes for 69.8km in a loop, part on community land and part through the National park. On this safari, you have a 99.9% chance of seeing wild animals that may include waterbucks, Uganda cobs, buffalos, hippos, warthogs, birds, and sometimes cats.

Other community activities: On the same safari, you can join the traditional salt mining exercise at Lake Katwe, the birding tour on Lake Munyanyange where you can see the lesser flamingos in season, The Katwe village tour, and traditional dance. Other activities that you can select from at Kikorongo include; the hills treks to the mountain lake, the crafts weaving workshop, the traditional dance, the cotton-growing tour, and the Kikorongo village experience.

Activities inside the park: Katunguru boat cruise, wildlife safari on Kasenyi tracks, lion tracking with the carnivore research project, Chimp tracking in Kyambra, night game drive, and others that can be organized at the local lodge.

4). Boomu cooking tour – Murchison Falls National Park

It is an experience of making a local traditional dish out of local ingredients. The process starts from the farm to the table. You will go to the farm with the local Munyoro woman to harvest the full variety of local crops; participate in preparing the food and cooking it, through serving it and enjoying the delicious local meal you made with your own hands. Through the process, you will learn the traditional tricks and lessons on selecting, harvesting, peeling, cooking, and serving the local food.

Other community activities: While at Boom and if you have more time or a different taste, you can also participate in other available community activities. They include; the village walk, the crafts weaving workshop, and visiting the local school.

Activities inside Murchison falls national park: Inside Murchison Falls national park, you will be able to find more natural wonders on additional days of your trip. They include; the wildlife safari in the Nile delta, the boat cruise on the Nile, visiting the top of the falls, and forest exploration activities in Budongo Forest that include chimp trekking, nature walks, and birding experiences.

5). Sipi waterfalls tour – Mount Elgon National Park

On this 7 to 8 km long trail, the tour takes you through the visit to one of the highest waterfalls in Uganda at 100 meters. The other two falls on the upper stage of the river are shorter but as powerful. The trails take guests to the three waterfalls with an option of ending midway if guests choose to. The waterfalls are well placed on a great landscape overlooking Karamoja plains, a view that will likely remain in your mind long after the trek. The tour is entirely outside the park. It goes through the rustic villages and sections of natural vegetation where you can spot unique wildlife such as the birds, Chameleons amongst the forested rocky landscape. At the waterfalls, you find unique picture moments in the scenery under or behind the falls as you explore the unique volcanic rocks.

Other community activities: On a longer stay, guests can participate in other community activities in the area. They include; the coffee experience, rock climbing and abseiling, the village walk with an option of a sundowner, and the cultural experience that includes the beer parties and other cultural demonstrations.

Activities inside Mount Elgon National Park: Other than the waterfalls tour and other community activities, you will find other nature activities inside Mount Elgon National Park. These multiday volcano climbing treks are conducted on different and each one leading up to Wagagai peak, the highest at 4321m. These trails include birding and nature walking, the Sasa trail, Sipitrail, Piswa trail, and alternative hiking Combining several trails or doing the transboundary option between Uganda and Kenya.

6). The Batwa trail experience – Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

As exited from the forest of Bwindi and Mgahinga due to conservation reasons, the Batwa indigenous people still have fresh memories of their forest life. As they hunted, collected water and firewood hunted for the little mammals, honey, and mushrooms, or built their huts. It seems this was a life of abundance they can never forget. The Batwa people lived symbiotically with the gorillas and other wildlife. During this tour, the Batwa people take guests through this experience, to show them the love they have for the forest and the life they once lived there. Allot to learn on the tour. You will be inspired by the small things they did, that matter a lot to them, and how friendly they are to the forest.

Other community activities: Other community activities that you can participate in include; a tour on Lake Mutanda looking for birds and other wildlife such as otters, the Kisoro coffee experience, a cave tour with the Mgahinga community, and the farming experience with the local potato farmers.

Activities inside Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: These include volcano climbing, Forest nature walks, birding tours, Gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, or touring the visitor information center at the entrance gate.

7). The cow watering experience – Lake Mburo National Park

The Bachwezi culture is profound around Lake Mburo National Park. This unique culture rotates around the Ankole long-horned cattle. In this part o the country, a cow is an icon of culture, wealth, and admiration in every household. The cow watering experience showcases one of the cherished times the Munyankole cattle keeper relates with the cow as any one of the family members. The cow watering activity is when the herd of cattle is taken to the watering pool and manually served with water. It is done two times a day. A special vocabulary, music, activities, and signs are used by the cattle keeper. Even the cows understand this special mode of communication. During the experience, you will also hear the stories explaining the relationship of man and the cows, as you participate in this activity with the locals.

Other community activities: Other community activities to select from, when at Lake Mburo national park include; Igongo cultural museum, the eclipse monument, a traditional dance performance at Rwabarata drama actors, Rubale fishing village, cattle milking, milk churning, and cooking experience.

Activities inside Lake Mburo National Park: The park has a good selection of activities including the launch trip, trekking on the Kigarama hills and Kazuma lookout point, game drives and night drives, walking, cycling and horseback riding looking for unique wildlife in the different parts of the park, spot fishing at Mazinga fishing point, visiting the salt lick to look for wild animals in action, birding to explore a list of the 310 bird species in this park and ending the day with a memorable sundowner in the evening.

8). Buhoma villge walk – Bwindi National park. ( the impenetrable forest)

A village likes none in Uganda, is naturally placed at the most popular gorilla destination of Uganda. This community has assimilated to build relationships with the mountain gorilla habitat and tourism activities in every way. You will prove how the people and gorillas share the same natural resources, during the Buhoma village walk. Whether by bike or walking it with a local guide, you will participate in the different livelihoods and local ways of life to fully understand how,  at the beer brewing point, the local school, the tea plantation, in the forest, on River Munyaga washing and water collection point. You will conclude the journey at the Batwa indigenous people to share their story in music, dance, and crafts about their former life in the forest with the gorillas before they were forcefully kicked out, at the creation of Bwindi Forest National Park.

Other community activities: Bicycle tours on the hilly community roads, the Batwa experience, handicrafts shopping, traditional dance performance, Craft making workshops at Ride 4 a woman

Activities inside Bwindi National Park: Birding tours, Forest nature walks, Gorilla tracking,

9). The people of Karamoja and their culture:  –  Kidepo Valley National Park

The Karamojong is a unique tribe in northwestern Uganda. The majority of Ugandans don’t know a thing about this tribe but just the blurry myths about their culture. The Karamojong are closer to the foreign tribes than they are to the Ugandan tribes. This is why their culture is unique. They share some components of their culture with the Masai, Toposa, and Turkana, and Kalenjin in Sudan and Kenya respectively.

The lifestyle in Karamoja is outstanding and worth exploring. The settlements, cattle, the craal, crafts making, dances and music, dressing code food, and diet are the interesting parts of their culture that visitors can participate in. You will visit the Ik tribe’s men on Munt Murogole.

The unique cultures in Karamoja may blow your mind; Choosing a marriage partner by wrestling, drinking cow blood and urine fresh as part of their diet, life with the cattle amidst cow riding as part of their culture, and many other aspects. Living in collective villages (Manyata), you may choose to visit the one in Kotido which is the largest African village in east Africa where about 50 families live collectively in one large enclosure with all their cattle property and family members, each one doing their social roles perfectly.

Specific Community activities: A visit to Lorukul Cultural Group, visiting the Ik tribe on mount Murogole, a visit to the largest Manayta in Kotido, a visit to the handicrafts markets and displays, cycling experience in Karamoja

Activities inside Kidepo valley National park: A wildlife safari, a visit to the hot springs, popular game drives such as Narus valley game drive and Kidepo valley drive, great opportunities for birding experiences looking fr over 470 bird species. Hiking to unique trails such as on Lomej Mountains, along Kidepo River, Namamkweny valley, and Murogole mountains outside the park 

10). Batwa livelihood cultural experience: – Semliki National Park

The Batwa “pigmies” is an indigenous tribe in western Uganda, on the borders of Congo. Specifically, they live aound Mgahinga, bwindi, Bunyonyi and semluki national park. The sect near Semliki national park lives alongside other three indigenous ethnic groups; Bakonzo, Batuku, and Bamba. Of the four, Batwa are the forest people whose livelihood depended on hunting and gathering until they were evicted from the park for conservation reasons.

The Batwa in Semliki stands out from other Batwa sects in Uganda. They have a unique click language, their social structure with a royal hierarchy; originate from the congo basin and their diet is mainly made up of leaves, fruits, roots, and meat. During the time you spend with them, they demonstrate this kind of life in the songs, dances, crafts, and lifestyle. On the Batwa cultural trail, you will be able to visit the sacred area where Batwa cultural functions are held from. You can also attend the cultural performances where the Batwa share their fate and story of life.

Other community activities: Visiting several communities to participate in their lifestyles. these communities include 1). Ntoroko fishing community,  2). Rwebisengo community,  3). Karugutu kyabandara community, 4).Visiting the crafts market of the Batwa, 5).Kasesenge kyakabaseke community

Activities inside Semliki National Park: Visiting the hot springs at Sempaya, birding tour, forest walk, primate trekking, a boat tour along with Lake Albert,

If you want to add any of the above ten cultural encounters to your trip during your safari in Uganda please contact us and we will tailor it on your trip. You can also explore our list of eight community tourism accommodations in Uganda (2).

Many people always wonder why Uganda appears new on every visit. The country is such a rich pool of beauty, offering a lot more than one can see on one trip. This makes Uganda a true secrete paradise with beauty packed in every corner of the country.

If you’re not aware, Uganda is home to one of the biggest variety of wild animals in Africa. 350 mammal species can be found in Uganda. These animals live in the 10 National Parks, 12 wildlife reserves, 5 community wildlife management areas, 13 wildlife sanctuaries that the country boasts of. Besides, the Ugandan culture cocktail is incomparable to any in Africa. With over 52 tribes, you will find engaging cultural encounters that will give you the most memorable holiday.  

No wonder, Uganda was described as the pearl of Africa by Churchill, the two-time British prime minister, during his visit in the year 1907. This beautiful country is truly undiscovered. Here are a few of what you’re set to explore on your trip to Uganda.

Murchison Falls NP

Great landscapes: The green adulating hills and valleys of the Kabarole region with a paradise of over 52 sparkling crater lakes that lie below the Rwenzori Mountains.

Integration of culture and nature: The volcanoes and terraces and people in the mountain gorilla country of southwestern Uganda set the best example of how the people coexist with wildlife. This part of the country is home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.

Africa’s highest mountain range: Trekking the Rwenzori Mountains with permanent snow at the equator. Rwenzori is also the highest mountain range in Africa at 5109m.

World largest caldera: Trekking to the world’s largest caldera on Mount Elgon, the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa.

Murchison falls The world’s powerful waterfall on river Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.

The big five and other large Wild animals: The equatorial endless savannah spanking with multitudes of wild animals including the big 5 in their natural habitat.

Untouched jungles: Kidepo Valley National Park, the true wild of Africa. Wild animals in the most unspoiled landscape.

Chimpanzees and primates: Kibale forest with the largest chimp populations in East Africa is beyond everyone’s imagination.

Home to the world’s longest river: The source of River Nile, the world’s longest, and Africa’s largest freshwater Lake Victoria all lie in central Uganda.

Unique regional landscapes: A taste of the Virunga Mountain ranges when you visit Mgahinga volcanoes. It is home to great scenery, golden monkeys, gorillas, and other unique wildlife and culture including Batwa people

Semliki National Park

Worlds oldest forests: The extension of the prehistoric forests from the Congo basin in Semuliki National Park.

Diverse cultures: The over 56 tribes of Uganda showcase distinct cultures dependent on the diverse natural heritage. many have also confirmed that Uganda has the most welcoming people in Africa. this leaves so many people wanting to stay longer or come back on follow-up trips. if you’re planning a trip to Uganda, this could happen to you too.

Birders paradise: Birders will find a fair game in Uganda as they look for the longest bird list of over 1060 birds found across Africa. It is an opportunity to explore the indigenous, endemics, and migratory bird species that come from as far as Europe.

The yummy cuisine: The attractive fresh fruit and a big variety of food locally grown food in Uganda are outstanding. You will have an opportunity to taste hundreds of dishes both cooked in traditional and modern recipes. Follow your meals with the dessert of the sweetest equatorial fruits, juices, and wines.

For every reason, it is worth immersing yourself in this paradise, during your next holiday. An experienced team that is knowledgeable of every part of Uganda is willing to introduce you to Uganda, at Rainforest and community tours. We give you the key trips, itineraries, and price estimates for an Uganda holiday. Our carefully designed tailored and scheduled trips will bring you to every corner of the country based on your holiday interest in the pearl of Africa.

Please view our tours and contact us about your trip plans.  Our team will be happy to tailor a trip to suit your interests.

You’re welcome to Uganda, any time!

This is a facility that is set to provide affordable and flexible tailored training or support to the community-based tourism enterprises across Uganda. Most of the support is provided remotely and digitally, where the Community Based Tourism Enterprises Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs), are reached through social media and other internet platforms.

The Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) share their challenges and the experts, who may be another Community-Based Tourism Enterprise (CBTE) member or a non-community member, provide a response in a way to guide the CBTE to address the challenge. This response is posted on the platform for the particular Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) and all other members of the community to access.

Soon or later, when resources allow, the tourism enterprise clinic will explore opportunities for community skills empowerment and capacity building outside the digital avenues, by holding physical meetings, training sessions on appointments.

The tourism enterprise clinic comprises the following two Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTE) support programs;

The tourism initiatives register
The Community-based tourism initiative register is a section of the tourism clinic that deals with the statistics and profiles of community-based tourism enterprises according to regions, destinations, or attractions. It is the entry point to the tourism enterprise clinic.

This register is currently being piloted in the Rwenzori region by early 2021, this is a collection of operational Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) of all ages and categories. Their data has been submitted and profiled to show the level of development, membership, beneficiaries, target community, activities and services(tourism products) being offered, the community development/ conservation services, and the associated challenges.

The purpose of the register is to have a record of these enterprises so that they can be easily vetted for any partnerships, development, and support opportunities. In the future, an interactive digital version of this register will be created to make it easy for the Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) to check and update their information and the partners to be able to swim into a pool of CBTE partnership opportunities digitally.

Training, mentorship, and coaching
After Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) have their information profiled in the register, they are better placed for support. They can therefore be vetted or accepted for support from the tourism enterprise clinic. This is an arrangement of training and support on demand. Communities assess their needs and apply for training. This can also be delivered through the timely updated knowledge exchange database that is based on the needs assessment done by the tourism enterprise clinic.

At different moments, the training and coaching section of the tourism enterprise clinic will solicit partners in CBTE capacity building and training. This will be based on the needs assessment and the profiled information in the tourism initiative register. It is under this section that the Tourism enterprise register will partner with the learning institutions, students and researchers to be placed at the registered Community-Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs).

The website
Marketing space has been provided on this website. This is targeting community-based tourism products that are ready to sell. This space is open to all CBTES that have market potential, including the beneficiaries and none beneficiaries of the tourism clinic.

Through this component, we provide the most diverse mix of community-based tourism enterprises in Uganda, represented in all National Parks in the country. we will provide innovative marketing strategies that will enable community-based tourism enterprises to stand out from the crowd of tourism holiday options in Uganda. This will massively enhance the integration of community experiences in all safaris and trips conducted by RFCT, the independent travelers, and other tour operators. As a sustainability strategy of the RFCT support to CBTEs, this section has two options of paid and free listings. you can see more information about the listing options in our pricing structure

Local communities’ effort is an integral part of environment conservation and local economic development. These local communities need to be empowered with skills and other capacities to be able to do this important work. This is why, RFCT has looked at tourism beyond receiving and taking visitors around Uganda, to supporting local communities with skills and capacity building that enable them to initiate and develop sound community-based tourism enterprises that offer a credible experience to the visitors who choose Uganda as their holiday destination.

Rainforest and Community Tours is providing CBTEs development support through the creation and management of marketing and promotion, advisory, coaching, networking, and knowledge exchange avenues such as;

It is known that the multiplier effect of tourism income is very high. Community involvement further helps the tourist cash to stay longer in the economy as it is spent locally on basic needs. With a high rate of unemployment in Uganda’s youngest population that is dominated by youth and women, community-based employment opportunities are set to be a perfect solution. There is no way we will rule out the involvement of communities especially the women and youth in tourism if Uganda is to offer a competitive tourism destination in the region.

When communities are empowered to be involved in tourism they help to diversify the attractions of Uganda. When the visitor numbers and spending increased the communities will be able to sustainably earn their living hence less pressure will be impacted on the local environment for subsistence survival. On the other hand, unskilled communality’s involvement in tourism service delivery can be detrimental to the destination image and reputation in the market. 

Partnerships are the lifeline of the buffer conservation project. It is the main way communities are able to acquire and consolidate local resources to build a firm ground for conservation and community development initiatives. Community partnerships range from putting together land, contributing labor through communal work, increasing the community voice and influence. This leads to winning the interest of foreign partners and joint result ownership.

Successful community private sector partnerships have been evident in all three sites of the buffer zone conservation initiative projects. Originally initiated in Ruboni Community by the Ruboni Community Conservation and Development Program (RCCDP), the recent of the kind is the one in Kahondo village neighboring Kibale National Park, where land was created and put aside for conservation. Ruboni community was implemented on a raw ground of try and error while Kahondo community has been implemented on a well-informed ground after it has evolved well.

The best of the kind to demonstrate the partnerships in communities is the Kikorongo community near Queen Elizabeth national park. of the three sites, it comes one generation after Rwenzori and one generation before the Kahondo community project.

Kikorongo community conservation and tourism initiative is one of the three parts of the Buffer zone conservation initiative. It is tripartite in nature. It started with the mobilization and self-motivation of the community to start conservation.

The challenge that rose was, the community didn’t have land. Most of the community members in this village live as squatters and tenants on private land. During mobilization, one farmer offered his land and was then followed by five other farmers over time creating a collective plot totaling 17 acres. After the land was available, Rainforest and community tours sponsored the construction of a lodge on the land. This lodge is the elephant home.

The project is driven by the three partners whereby the landowner and Rainforest and Community Tours run the lodge that generated benefits to the entire community in form of jobs, markets for local goods and services, financial support, partnerships generation, and an economic nucleus that empowers the whole village. The three parties have formed three institutions that oversee the project. These are; (1). Youth United against Pollution and Poverty (YUPPO), (2). The landowner as private household and (3) the elephant home, lodge. All the three are brought together by the elephant home, group, registered as a CBO that is run collectively by representatives from the three partners.  

Rainforest and community tours directly support conservation initiatives in three communities within the Rwenzori region. The purpose of this engagement is to set a practical example of how communities can be empowered to address the challenges of climate change within the local land tenure system and culture setup. Obviously, tourism is the largest and most sustainable accelerator of conservation, by providing the financial resources that help to intensify community effort by marching the land and labor locally contributed by the community. Besides the financial boost that comes from tourism, communities get the motivation from the open partnership opportunities with the visitors and other conservation lovers who give a hand.

Under the buffer conservation initiative, our projects are strategically located, neighboring; Rwenzori Mountains, Kibale Forest, and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Our conservation projects are three-dimensional. We engage in tree planting and conservation, skills empowerment for the women and youth, and investment in tourism as a way to sustainably improve the economic status of the local communities. In each of the three work sites, we develop local partnerships and attract external partnerships to enrich the cause with external knowledge, financial support, networking, and tourism development. Currently, we run the following projects in the buffer areas of three National Parks;

Rwenzori Mountains National Park: Local target is the Ruboni community. We carry out tree planting, natural forest regeneration, women and youth empowerment through handicrafts making, tourism training, evening cultural performances, climate-smart agriculture, agro produce value addition,

Queen Elizabeth National Park: Local target is the Kikorongo community. We carry out waste management activities, Renewable energy production, handicrafts development, tourism development, sustainable consumption and production, youth and women skilling, and tree planting through promoting community-run tree planting projects.

Kibale National Park: Local target is the Kahondo community. This is the youngest of the three projects. currently, we carry out tree planting and community mobilization. The project is growing indigenous trees on the land bordering the park. Kahondo community is replicating and customizing the achievements already attained in Ruboni and Kikorongo communities.

In all cases, the community offers part of their land neighboring the park; we amalgamate it and create a buffer zone land reserve within the community. It is on this land where we implement conservation and sustainable tourism projects. The tree planting and sustainable tourism projects are piloted on the collective community reserve then expanded to the household lands as agroforestry and community tourism initiatives. Every one of the communities is unique in culture, landscape, climate, location, and geographical background. They all learn from each other and customize the solutions that are used in each of the communities during the replication process.

So far, a total of 127 acres of land has been put aside as community-owned reserves in the three project sites. On these plots, an estimate of 20000 trees has been planted to restore the degraded landscapes as well as create a cushion for the already existing indigenous forests which touch the external layers of the National Parks. Besides the 20000 thousand trees planted, we have mobilized the community to plant trees in their household lands as household woodlots in the agricultural plots. An estimate of 365,000 trees has been planted in the household plots around Rwenzori mountains national park, resorting to an estimated 1825 acres of household land.

Tree planting in the Rwenzori Mountains is yet to be replicated to the other two communities near Queen Elizabeth and Kibale National Parks. The work had started in 2019 through arranging annual tree planting events, only to be hindered by the emergence of covid-19. Besides the tree-planting events, we also organize other conservation events in these communities. These include; waste collection events, composting events, energy briquette making events, training, awareness-raising, and other conservation public rallies.