Lake Katwe salt mining tour is an inspiring community encounter. It is a potential point for leisure, research and adventure. The lake is located in a residential community inside Queen Elizabeth national park. Salt mining in Katwe has been inherited from generations since the 16th century and is till mined the same way in the 21st century. The lake creates employment for thousand or community members who produce the different grades of salt including rock salt, table salt salty silt used in factories and others. During the visit to this lake, guests are taken through the process of mining salt. It is not like mining or processing with machinery as you will imagine before doing the tour. This is salt mining using bare hands and basic tools without any machinery. The success of this social industry entirely depends on the people’s health and weather status. Salt mining activity is hands-on and not stage-managed. You will find women and men mining salt as it has been done many years back. The community of salt miners is made up of a representation of all Uganda’s 56 tribes and those from the neighboring countries. This makes it one of the most diverse communities in Uganda.
The location of lake Katwe makes it a suitable stopover for all visitors to this park, especially those staying around Mweya since it is next to Mweya entrance gate. Katwe is not a farming community due to the hot climate and the location within the national park, with allot of wildlife that can be destructive to crops. This is the reason salt mining is the only key source of income. During your visit to this lake, you will join the local miners to practically interact and learn how the community has adapted to live within the park and manage to meet all their basic needs from the sale of salt.
Katwe community has made it allot easier to arrange your visit the lake Katwe. The salt mining tours are done through Katwe tourism information center (KATIC). KATIC is a local community initiative that is located next to Lake Katwe, in Katwe Kabatoro town council. This community group is mainly made up of local youth, women and some men who are residents of this community and are involved in salt mining as a livelihood. The group has experienced guides who will take you to the Salt Lake and explain everything about salt mining. Through tours to this lake and around the area, the community earns a much needed alternative livelihood that enables them to meet their basic needs, facilitating their coexistence with the wildlife from the neighboring Queen Elizabeth national park
Access to Katwe Salt Lake:
Lake Katwe is accessible to all visitors travelling by public or private transport. your travel plan and access point will depend on where you will be travelling from. Access from Kasese or any other parts of Queen Elizabeth national park is through a 22km Katwe road that turns off Kasese-Mbarara road between Kikorongo and katunguru towns. It is the same road that leads to Mweya gate of Queen Elizabeth national park. On reaching at the Mweya gate, continue straight to the right for another 1-2 km and you will find KATIC office on the right side of the road within the town council. Katwe-Kasese route has few public shared cabs that one can find either in Kasese town or at Kikorongo. Private car hire can be easily arranged from Kyambura stage, Katunguru, Kasese town or from any hotel. For those who want to explore the community and wildlife cheaply on the same journey, the youth at Kikorongo do organize a boda-boda safari that takes guest on a round trip through the villages, to the Salt Lake and then through the national park on Katwe road. This boda-boda safari gives an opportunity to take three experiences of; community encounters, salt mining and the wildlife in the park, on the same journey affordably. Though it passes through the park, Katwe road is a pubic road so guests will not need to pay park entrance fee to reach Katwe.
Timing for the tour:
Katwe salt mining tour is available all day round between 7:00am and 7:00pm. The tour takes up to two hours moving to and around the mining area. Guests can just arrive to do the tour without prior booking. In case you have a tight schedule, it may be necessary to book in advance to avoid any delays. It is important to slot it well in your day to ensure that it doesn’t affect the other safari activities especially the scheduled ones like the boat cruise and chimp tracking) in case you have longer safari day.
The Katwe salt mining experience is paid separately from the transport fees. As of now, the salt mining tour cost 10$ per person and around 30$ for the school group per bus. Payment for the tour is done at the office or to the travel agent and hotel who has done the booking of the tour. The boda-boda safari is booked at paid at the elephant home at a fee of about 16$ per person. This fee covers the boda-boda, fuel and the rider/ guide for travelling on the entire round trip that may take between 2-4 hours depending on the pace and level of interaction. In total, the salt mining experience and the boda-boda safari will cost you a maximum of 26$ in up to 4 hours of experiencing the community and wildlife. For those who travel independently, the payment can be done at the community office (KATIC). There are no any park entrance fees required for entrance or parking of the car.
Other services, activities and attractions on this tour:
Within Katwe town, you can find place to eat where restaurants sale local food and bottled water. At KATIC office, you can buy cold drinks and handicrafts. If you have more time, you can pay a small additional fee and participate in the village tours visiting the local homes, the fishing village on Lake Edward or a birding tour that takes you via Lake Munyanyange; a seasonal home for lesser Flamingos that travel all the way from Kenya during certain months (August to November) every year. Moving around Lake Katwe, you can also spot some wildlife such as elephants, hippos, antelopes, warthogs, birds or buffalos on the shores of Lake Edward, by lake Munyanyange or in the park while on transit to and from Lake Katwe. On a lucky day, you may spot some cats (leopard and lions) as some guests have mentions spotting them. You will also stop by the road to view wildlife in the salty craters such as Nyamunuka and you will listen to the story of why the come to the lake whenever they are solitary, or aged or sick.
If you need any more information or assistance on how to travel or book your Katwe salt mining experience or any of the other experiences, please contact us for current information. We can also arrange other service including transportation, meals, and accommodation or arranged longer tours that include a visit to Lake Katwe.