Why is Uganda an expensive tourist destination?
Uganda has been seen as an expensive tourism destination compared to other African and East African countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania hence the question of why is Uganda an expensive tourist destination?. This has meant that Uganda cannot attract many tourists more especially the back packers whose budget is always low. There many factors that can help to explain this as outlined below.
Uganda is a landlocked Country
It should be noted that Uganda is a land locked country and is boarded by Kenya in the East, Tanzania in the south, Rwanda in the Southwest, Democratic republic of congo in the west and southern Sudan in the North. This therefore means that what ever comes into Uganda has to be taxed through ports such as Mombasa. This therefore makes all services and goods bought in Uganda more expensive compared to other countries mentioned above.
Still has Unpopular National Carrier (Uganda Airlines)
The reintroduction of Uganda Airlines in 2019 introduced Uganda to international skies again. This however was antagonized by the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which saw the closing of all flights worldwide.
As a new baby in the sky, Uganda airlines is facing competition from other flights like LKM, British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airways, Kenya Airways among others. Most clients have airline loyalty, which makes it hard to break through this tight competition.
To keep up the standards and breakeven, the airline has to give flight fares close to what her competitors are giving. Because Uganda Airline is not breaking even, it cannot expand its wings to other countries. This is creating a financial gap and even tourists do not know much about its schedules and its routing.
There is still the big gap in advertising Uganda Airlines so that tourists can have access to its routing.
Uganda Marketed as an ecotourism destination
Uganda is marketed as an ecotourism destination unlike South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, which are mass tourism markets. Uganda is seen as a primate capital of Africa and has fragile environments, which include swamps, tropical rain forests that need protection.
As such very few numbers are expected at any given destination or National parks in Uganda. In order to earn more from ecotourism, Uganda applies profit maximization instead of sales maximization.
For example, only eight people are allowed to trek a given group of mountain gorillas every day and at United states dollars seven hundred per person per trek. If you want to trek chimps in Kibale National Park, you have to part with United States Dollars two hundred dollars per person per trek.
This applies to birding where birding fees have been hiked for some national parks such as Semliki National Park. All these contribute in making Uganda an expensive destination to many tourists all over the world.
Uganda service providers have less competition when it comes to services like accommodation. Uganda does not have many lodges most especially in National Park making it possible for the few lodges that are there to charge high fees. With no competition, standard in most lodges are quite average since owners are comfortable.
It is expected that if more investors join to construct hotels, this will cause enough competition to trigger a reduction in the price.
The Uganda Tourism Board, which is the tourism activity regulating body, has set standards for the sector. No one who is not registered as a destination service provider is to be allowed access to doing business in these parks. This is to reduce on the number of masqueraders that use this opportunity to extort money from innocent tourists.
All this is very great for tourists but ability to implement it is still very low.
Political Instability at the Neighboring Destinations (Countries)
Most of Uganda’s destinations are located in the western region of the country. This area is close to D.R. Congo a politically unstable country since 2003. Some unsuitable occurrences have been reported of people being threatened by the gunfire exchange. The security of the park has to be tightened in order to protect the tourists.
Some of the funds have to be accumulated from park fees, permit fees which is weighed down to the clients.
Access to Some Uganda Tourist destinations Is still challenging
Most Uganda tourist destinations are remotely located and roads are still under construction. This is lead making it challenging to get there especially with self drive. The fuel prices are high too world wide which makes it an expensive cost.
The domestic flights are still very expensive too making it quite costly to afford for some budgets. You need to include a transfer vehicle form airstrips to your destination an example From Kihihi airstrip to Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable National park you need about 2 hours on the road. All these increase on the gross cost of the Uganda Safari package
What To See On Uganda safari
Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga National park area the only gorilla trekking parks in the country.
One needs to book a gorilla trekking permit from the Uganda wildlife Authority. At the moment the cost of the Uganda gorilla permit cost is $700 per person.
You need to check for availability of the gorilla permits first according to your date of safari. You can do gorilla trekking as many times as you wish but each time costs the same amount of money.
When booked to do gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, you must know where your gorilla permit is booked. Bwindi forest being a vast park is divided into four areas that is Buhoma area, Rushaga area, Nkuringo area and Ruhijah area. Each area has different gorilla trekking families to which each day maximum of 8 clients area allowed to visit.
The time of locating the mountain gorillas is not known because of there uncontrolled movement. They are wild animals that must look for there own meal to take them through night and day.
Only one hours is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them.
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Kibale national park is the main home of chimpanzees trekking hosting about 1500 chimpanzees. Two chimpanzee trekking sessions that is the morning and afternoon sessions are in place. Other chimpanzee trekking areas in Uganda include Kyambura gorge in queen Elizabeth National park, Kaniyo Pabidi in Murchison Falls National Park.
You need a chimpanzee trekking permit for each of the destinations to allow you access to the closest human relatives in the animals kingdom. Chimpanzees have about 98% human DNA. The cost of the chimpanzee trekking permits in Uganda vary with the destination you wish to do it.
For the case of catching human infections, chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human infections like flu, cholera, covid 19, Ebola and others. Volunteer to stay behind in case you catch any of the communicable infections so that it’s not spread to the chimpanzees.
Game Drives In Uganda National Parks
Uganda is endowed with a number of game parks. You need to hire a safari vehicle to enjoy the entire experience. Within the game parks are lovely sceneries which ad to the beauty of the entire experience.
Some of the Uganda game parks include Murchison Falls National park, Kidepo Valley National park, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National park and others.
With the early morning game drive or Evening game drive, you may have the chance to see animals like giraffes, lions, cheetahs, jackals, leopards, waterbucks, bushbucks, reedbucks, hartebeests, and others.
In some parks are activities like launch trips, which gives you more opportunities to watch animals get down quenching thirst.
Murchison Falls National Park launch trip takes you to the strongest falls in the world the Murchison Falls. Along the way, you may enjoy a number of animals that love feeding from the shores. Some of the animals you may get to see include giraffes, cape buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks, lions, Nile Crocodiles, Hippos and others.
The power of River Nile as it squeezes through a 6 meters wide bend to vigorously burst out and catch up with its course is amazing. The water cascades down a 44 meters high cliff to continue with the rest of the course. Each time water touches down the bottom of the falls, the turbulence of the boat changes in a soothing way.
Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park is absolutely amazing with great views of the rift Valley floor. A number of crater lakes are dotted on the rift valley flow both dry and wet craters.
As you sail on the boat, look over to the banks where numerous animals like lions, elephants, leopards, bushbuck, hyenas, cape buffaloes and so many others. Numerous birds flock the shores including both local and foreign birds. The Kazinga channel is crowded by schools of hippos, crocodiles and others.
White water Rafting On River Nile
River Nile is the longest River in Africa but you can do white water rafting on Itanda Falls. You do not need to have any experience to participate in white water rafting. A number of instructors are in place to take you through all sessions.
You sail on the tube but remember to securely buckle your safety gears to go through the tides. Different level of tides are on the course so choose which one is comfortable for you.
You need to make advance booking for white water rafting in Uganda so that arrangements can be made to transport you to Kayunga where Itanda falls are found.
Visit To The source of River Nile
Uganda hosts the source of River Nile which is the longest River in the world. lake Victoria water separates from River Nile by a point only defined by a wavy appearance. The drama at this point leaves you wondering what may be happening beneath the waters.
Watch out for numerous birds that flock the shores of River Nile and the evergreen lash vegetation around, watch fishermen cast their nets.
Birding in Uganda
Uganda is Africa’s birding haven hosting over 1000 bird species including those on the red list of IUCN. Keen birder usually spend over 7 days in Uganda destinations because of the overwhelming numbers of birds that they encounter.
A well-tailored Uganda birding itinerary makes Uganda an interesting Africa safari destination.
Some of the renowned birding destinations in Uganda include Mabamba swamp, Mpanga forest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and many others.
A few of the birds you may get to see in uganda include papyrus yellow warbler, black collared barbets, brown chested plover, Southern Ground Hornbill, African Moustache Warbler, Blue-breasted Bee-Eater to mention but a few.
Cultural Tour In Uganda
Uganda is one of the multicultural destinations in Africa. before the colonial era, a number of kingdoms and chiefdoms dominated the Uganda political space.
After the traditional leaders were abolished in 1966 by then H.E Militon Obote, there rein remained silence till after 1986. Some of the still existing kingdoms include Busoga Kingdom in Bugembe Jinja. Tooro kingdom with Omukama Oyo Kabamba Iguru as its reigning king, Buganda Kingdom with Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi II as its reigning King. Bunyoro Kingdom with Omukama Gafabusa as its reigning King.
Each of the Kingdoms and chiefdoms has its cultural beliefs different and similar to the other kingdom.
Despite the cultural differences amongst Ugandans, they are hospitable people and welcoming too.
Religious Tour in Uganda
Freedom of worship in Uganda has led to increasing number of religions in the country. The major religious dominions are known to the country hat is Islam, Protestants and the Catholics. Each has a different a headquarter with Muslims at Kibuli Mosque, Rubaga cathedral for Catholics and Namirembe cathedra for the protestants
The Uganda martyr’s shrine is one of the most visited Uganda religious destination because of the brutal death of young men at the hands of Mukajanga the then Kabaka Mwanga’s hand man. They were burnt to ashes by fire.