Friday, 9 June 2017

Supporting Community Based tourism initiatives is the way to go !

The Great Trekkers Safaris was started in April 2014 and later registered in March 2016 . As a community based tour company, we realized a genuine need of starting up a social enterprise which would not only benefit company owners but would also benefit and develop the communities. We happen to come from Western Uganda widely regarded as tourism hub with the best cultural, nature and wildlife attractions but we realized that the available tour companies’ only front profit making at the expense of the people in our communities. So we came up with the idea of starting up a community based tour company that fronts Community Based Tourism for sustainable growth and development. We started up by organizing several community camp experiences for young people where we got the opportunity to discuss community related issues in line of tourism, conservation and empowerment as young corporate while promoting such unknown sites.

COMMUNITY BASED PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES RUN BY THE GREAT TREKKERS SAFARIS
As a Social enterprise we realized the need to supporting children education among the most vulnerable families who are staying in the most rural conservation communities of Lake Mburo National Park by taking them to school because we discovered that most of the conservation areas which had the highest number of hunters and poachers were dominated by the highest number of school drop outs who would engage in hunting/poaching activities as a way of raising some income to sustain their lives.

This has not only enabled these children to acquire education but it has also created a safe environment for the animals in Lake Mburo national park which was facing extinction and encroachment from the indigenous pastoral tribes of the Bahiima.  

Planting trees for Eco-Tourism
As a company we have not just stopped at sponsoring these children in school but we have opened up wild life clubs in all the 4 primary schools in the conservation areas of Lake Mburo and Bwindi impenetrable national parks where pupils are being taught the need to conserving our nature and environment. “For conservation to be realized then it must start with the Children and Youth” Reference World Wildlife Day – Main streaming the Youth in Tourism

Official Launch of Wild Life Club at Nyabuham P/S Rwenjeru Community –Lake Mburo National Park 


Establishment of an Eco-friendly Community Camp site- Rwenjeru Community Camp site
Due to the fact that we are the only registered Tour Company located in the Western region which is focusing on community and domestic tourism, The communities of Rwenjeru found it very important to work with us. The owners of the Community land have entrusted us with their land such that we design better strategies on how to promote and develop the site. The 12 hectares of community land is strategically positioned and it borders Lake Mburo National Park with great scenic views good for Camping. And we have so far we organized  12 successful Camps at the Site and also conducted several outreach Community programs to the nearby communities where we sensitized the communities the Role of local tourists in boosting domestic and community Based Tourism.


During the monthly Open Market day at the Camp site
As a social enterprise tour company, we have created an open Craft Village Market on the camp site where every month we invite all the communities in this conservation area to come to the camp site with their locally produced items, crafts, food produce etc where they get to sell and have market for their goods. 

Traditional cultural performers at the camp site
We have also established this community camp site as a regular stop over for all our visitors, clients and volunteers in all the packages we are marketing 

PRIMARY SCHOOL TOUR PACKAGES & STUDY TRIPS
As a community based Tour Company, we found it very vital to design a suitable package for primary & Nursery Schools whereby we get to organize and arrange Study Trips to such schools partnering with us at affordable rates while providing them with cheaper transport and trip guiding options. This package has been highly welcomed by the many schools we have so far visited and it has offered pupils a chance to visit their own national parks, cultural and heritage centres etc thus appreciating the need to cultural, nature and wild life conservation 

Monthly Community Youth Camps
As one way of boosting community and domestic tourism, the company has been conducting monthly Camp trips for young professionals and other corporate bodies and so far the Company has organized and facilitated 4 successful Camp trips with the main aim of instilling a spirit of camping among the Youth who make up 65% of Uganda’s total population. Through the same community camps, we not only stop at sharing community related challenges affecting domestic tourism but we also get to identify the unknown eye catching destinations / sites that need to be promoted which we later visit and get to publish them on our website www.greattrekkers.ug , in our Company Magazine and we still add such places to our itineraries for travelers to know about their location.


Weekly Radio Talk Show on Community Tourism
The western region of Uganda is dominated by remote areas due to the rough topography that makes such areas inaccessible and 75% of the people listen to Radio which is the most effective and affordable channel of communication. And as a Company we found it very difficult to reach out to all people if we were to use any other channel apart from Using Radio Talk Shows to sensitize the communities on issues of Community tourism, Nature & Environmental conservation so that people get to understand that tourism is not only for the government and foreign tourists but it’s for us all.

Rogers Nasasira while on his weekly tourism RadioTalk Show 26th /Feb/2017
Currently we have been conducting our weekly Radio Talk Shows on Radio Rukungiri 96.9 FM and we hope that we can always have continuous shows if we get to have good funds to keep the programs running. 


 For sustainable growth and development to be realized, we must join efforts in supporting these initiatives. Community based tourism is the way the way to go. By traveling and Booking with our tour company  http://www.greattrekkers.ug/you get the assurance that the money paid for your memorable Safari leaves a positive impact to communities as 20% of the company's profit is specifically reserved for community support and empowerment programs. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A Discovery Adventure To The Land of Twin Crater Lakes


Trek with Us to such memorable and eye catching destinations
  • Kalinzu Forest Walk
  • Ankole long horned cattle farm visit 
  • Kichwamba-Kyambura Crater Lakes 
  • Nyore Retreat Hill side
Tourist destinations are often packaged so that everything is a photo opportunity, and tourists are shown only one side of a country, the part that sells well. It is not always easy to get off the tourist trail and see how life is lived every day.
Uganda has not escaped this tendency. It is promoted as a natural paradise, and more than a half million tourists arrive every year to visit its National Parks, Forests, lakes and mountains. However, not many visitors have the chance to get to know the way rural communities live during their stay.
It is hard to express the variety and richness that you can experience with rural community tourism. So the best thing to do is to cross the threshold and start the adventure of getting to know the “Pearl of Africa” in a different way: Come and Trek with us we know where to find the best cultural attractions www.greattrekkers.ug


Kichwamba is in Western Uganda at the edge of the Rift valley, just 2 kms from Kyambura Gorge Game Reserve and 10 minutes drive into Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). It is about 350 km from Kampala on the Mbarara-Kasese road. Set on a very high escarpment, Kichwamba offers you stunning panoramic views of the QENP and the Rwenzori Mountains. Spending some time in these local communities will give you a window into their way of life. The information Office and starting point for the Community/Nature walk is in the vicinity of the lodges located around the Escarpment like Kingfisher, Katara, Enganzi, Kyambura Game Lodge, Jacana and Park View Lodge

When you are visiting Queen Elizabeth Protected Area, include in your program just 2 hours for this lifetime experience with the communities in Kichwamba-Kyambura area. A combination of culture, amazing geographical features and panorama along the Escarpment are well parked in a Community /Nature walk of one to two hours.
For travellers with a sense of adventure, this trekking route along the ridge of the vast, towering Kichwamba Escarpment with steep cliffs provides a truly unforgettable opportunity to explore part of the Albertine Rift stunning scenery and meet the people of the rural highlands, whose lives have changed little in many hundreds of years.
Target:
Small groups of 4 to 6 persons at a time, (not ideal for small children – cliff faces can make people nervous). You will not only enjoy the fascinating scenery but will also get an opportunity for a life-changing experience of rural African life by experimenting with harvesting food and preparing local dishes. All the food crops are organically grown.   Come with us and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

COMMUNITY/NATURE WALK

A Discovery Trek to the Twin Lakes of Bunyaruguru (2 hours)
This walk takes you up to the Katinda Cliff. This time, you descend to the twin lakes of Katinda and Murambi and cross the Ismuth separating the 2 lakes. Here you will try out fishing in the lakes and then climb out of the valley on the South Eastern side of Lake Murambi. You will see and if time allows, participate in the process of making local brew called “tonto” an extract from a type of bananas.
 A Guided Nature Walk to Katinda Cliff (1 hour) This is a fairly short walk in fascinating surroundings with fantastic views of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kyambura Game Reserve. Get a lifetime experience with the local community going about their daily chores, including fishing, gardening and brewing the popular local drink -“tonto”.

Compiled By;

Nasasira Rogers
rogers@greattrekkers.ug

Saturday, 25 June 2016

THE AFRICAN TRADITIONAL HUTS

Who, in Uganda, is not familiar with the mud and wattle hut?
It is the most indigenous house for most, if not all, tribes in the country. Even though modernity has continued to fraze the African Traditional Huts, Most Tribes in Ankole have indeed continued to preserve the Traditional Huts especially in the rural areas – Commonly among the Bahima Pastoralists and the Batwa communities
Vernacular architecture is one that is synonymous with the African society and in this case, As we prepare for the second Edition of The Uganda Live Stock And Heritage Show We take you through the Rich and detailed History about the Traditional Huts of Ankole and What the Cultural heads and historians have to say about their existence and background.

Characteristics
One characteristic that was common to the architecture was the circular shape they took and all the materials were never imported but made locally in every region. The doctor says everything was indigenous and not borrowed from outside. However, during the succession wars, one group would borrow from another and during migration and settlement.
Generally, the huts would be small and simple in nature because they would be occupied by a single person or utmost two. John Bishanga one of the great Elders of Ankole, explains that long ago people used the huts for protection. They would only go to the huts to sleep in the evening just like the other animals.

Types of huts, according to ethnicities in Uganda

BAHIMA HUT
The hut is made in such a way that it rises from the ground in a straw dome. They use emiganda (strong sticks that are resistant to termite attacks), which are woven in a spiral pattern to create a basketlike skeleton. Then spear grass is used to do the thatching. Bedrooms are separated by woven sticks attached to poles within the hut. The huts are made strong because in the past their skeleton could be moved whenever ancestors shifted to new grazing areas. Another platform called orugyegye is used to keep the milk pots from the ground. A small platform is raised in front of the door way of the bedrooms, on which a small skin is spread. This one is meant for the seat of the wife, where she sits to receive the milk.

NKORE HUT
The huts are built of earthen materials, wood reinforced with wooden poles. The roof is thatched of spear grass (Imperata cylindirca), which is bound onto woodwork of poles in a conical shape. Right outside the entrance, two reed pillars adjoin the roof to the veranda, consequently forming a mild arch-like shape. The exterior is lavished with plain earth colours all through. In the interior, it is separated by an earth partition to form a sitting room and bedroom.

NYORE HUT
the hut is built of straw roof draped to the ground, concealing every bit of the hut, the front fa├žade reveals the reed work. The threshold is carefully trimmed into an arch like a blond haircut. Between the arched roof and the actual entrance is a small veranda that is set off by two reed-laden walls. The interior is divided into two portions using a reed wall. Another distinct feature is fact that there is no mud wall in sight; the roof continues to the ground, creating an impression that the hut is made of fibre materials only. The house takes the shape of a bee hive with an apex at the top known as itunju.
The apex varies in height depending on the status of the owner; in the past, the greatest house in the land was the king’s court’s, which had a spear at the pinnacle. The part of the frame of the roof which was finished that night was raised on the three poles to such a height that goats and dogs could not reach. The house is divided into two almost equal portions by a reed wall, and it is impossible to see through from one room to the other. In the second room is the bed of the owner and his wife.
Peasants had to build their huts themselves, though at times one would call his friends to give a helping hand. His first task was to make materials available by utting poles and making ropes from papyrus stems, locally known as impotore. Alternative materials included palm leaves or banana fibres.

MADI HUT
The architectural design is distinct on two main features: the roof and the details on the wall. Firstly, the walls are characterised by in-built columns, which are spaced out between each other. The rectangular columns form partitions that are meant for decorative detail rather than buttresses.
Karimojong hut
The hut is round with a small passage by the entrance. At the centre of the hut is a dugout fireplace where a permanent fire burns – sometimes for a lifetime! The roof is made of grass with some tier around it. Because Karamoja is windy, there are poles put around the hut on the outside to hold it firmly.


Sunday, 5 June 2016

THE UGANDA EQUATOR

Ever wondered how it feels see 2 halves of the world? Wouldn't it be an adventure to stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot on the southern hemisphere of the world?
You can get this feeling by visiting the Uganda Equator. While Traveling with The Great Trekkers Safaris, Our Driver/ Tour Guide makes sure that you make a memorable Stop over  at such Points to take photos for a life time experience.

The Uganda equator is one of the most and well known landmarks in Uganda.” Equator is defined as the imaginary line that divides the world into two halves. The Equator is an imaginary line that is seen on maps marking the equidistant from the North and South Pole. Along the imaginary line of the equator, a magnetic needle has no dip and stabilizes in perfect horizontal position. You are able to stand with one of your feet in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere at this point; it is such an amazing experience to stand at both sides of the world. The sun rises and falls rather so fast at the equator, with equal days and nights’ length. The people around the equator experience only warm temperatures and tropical climate throughout the year and therefore quite hard to tell the difference between seasons.

Location
The Equator line passes through Uganda and the line has been marked at 72km along the Kampala-Masaka Road and other equator mark is located in Kasese District within the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Kampala-Masaka Road Equator Line.
There are shops including craft shops, art galleries, restaurants and others at the Equator Line.  While at the Equator, the visitor has an opportunity to see an experiment of how water drains straight down at the Equator. But the water will drain clockwise on the northern hemisphere and anti-clockwise on the southern hemisphere.

Monday, 30 May 2016

DISCOVER WITH US THE TWO CRATER LAKES OF RUBIRIZI

Mystery largely surrounds the formation of Rubirizi District’s twin crater lakes Kyema and Kamweru. The pair located in Magambo Sub-county, are part of the 32 crater lakes and one pair of twin lakes, sit on the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley.
Although science attributes the formation of these lakes to volcanic eruption in the 17th Century, folklore tales of interesting stories, a lot of which form the mystery of these lakes.

According to locals of Magambo Sub-county, Lake Kamweru was a crater which later got filled up with water from a nearby lake Nzuguto, that is now a wetland.
Separated by a small portion of land, Lake Kyema spots clear water while Kamweru’s water is green. It is said the green colour of water is due to fish droppings known as omuboyo in the local Runyakitara language.


 "We Are The Great Trekkers We Discover the unknown History beyond Oceans"







Sunday, 29 May 2016

A DISCOVERY TREK TO KITAGATA HOT SPRINGS WITH THE GREAT TREKKERS

It's our core Principle to Discover, Spot and Identify Special destinations in any corner within the Pearl of Africa, Today was yet another great Discovery Travel we made. While traveling to Bwindi via the newly constructed tarmac road of Kitagata, we made a memorable stop over at Kitagata Hot Springs.
Like any Great Trekker would say... It was a once in a life time experience not only for us but also for our great Research Tourist Micheal Daniels and his team from Canada... The attractive Hot waters of the Springs left our guests with No option But to only join the rest of the travelers in the Spring.
Special Credit goes to the Tour Guides of the Day Kiiza Herbert and Makoma Nation.
"We Are The Great Trekkers Safaris and We Know Where to find the best Attractions in the Wilderness"
FACTS ABOUT THE HOT SPRINGS
..............................................................................................................
Location
The Kitagata Hot Springs are located in Sheema District, Western Uganda. They are approximately 1.5 kilometres by road, east of Kitagata urban center in Sheema District.
The springs are also about 72 kilometres west of Mbarara Town. They are two hot springs adjacent to each Ekyomugabe and Mulago. The springs are 350 km from Kampala City.
The hot springs are commonly known as ‘Mulago Hot Spring’ as they are believed by local people to have healing powers.’ Mulago’ means hospital. On a daily basis, so many people with different ailments flock to the springs to bathe in the warm water. The water in the springs can warm up to 80 °C (176 °F). It is estimated that about 800 people visit the springs per week.

Vegetation and scenery
The scenery around the springs includes conical hills and beautiful green vegetation of trees and grass.
Source of water
River Ngaromwenda supplies water to the springs.
Rules
In order to ensure orderliness and hygiene at site of the spring the following rules have been put in place by the local leaders:
No fighting, no making noise, no smoking and no use soap;
Children have to be dipped in dressed in their nappies.
Minerals
The water from springs has been found to contain varying amounts of minerals and chemicals which are known to have medicinal values in them. The minerals and chemicals include sodium chloride, potassium chloride, lithium sulphate, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate and magnesium chloride among others.
Compiled By Rogers Nasasira

Saturday, 21 May 2016

What You Need To Know About Rwenjeru Community Camping Site


Rwenjeru hill is named after the white traditional cow of the Bachwezi, “enjeru” meaning white in Runyankole language. This white cow was treasured for special milk used on traditional duties in the families. Your visit to Rwenjeru hill will expose you to the traditional culture that rotates around the Banyankole long horned cattle inherited from the Bachwezi of in 1520 AD. Rwenjeru village is on great location in fertile farmland that is next to the park on the grazing land made up of gentle hills with the valleys for farming and drinking places for their treasured long horned cattle.
For the cow watering “Okweshera” in the local language means giving water to the animals, a routine done several times a day of the cattle keeper. Follow your guide, dressed in the true Bachwezi grazing attire carrying the walking stick, “Enkoni” and wooden bucket, “Eicuba” in the local language, with hoe and other tools for mining the anthill soil that has the salts for mixing in the animal drinking water. 

You will proceed to the water place and participate in the construction or maintenance of the existing clay trough that is used to serve the water to the animals. You will participate in the setting of the side fire by the drinking place, fill the trough with water until you will hear one of the herdsmen call the animals to come and drink.  It is a very rich experience. Everything on this trip has a purpose for the culture the cattle keepers and the welfare or safety of the well treasured animals as you will hear from your guide.


Besides, Rwenjeru camp site has a camping ground, organic gardens, a beekeeping project, bike hire, women tailoring projects and a youth carpentry project.
The village is strategically located on the road heading to Katengyeto gate of Lake Mburo national park. Also, it is located opposite Igongo museum for a perfect lunch and museum tour after the cow watering experience.

Activities:

• Camping
• Cow watering experience “Okweshera”
• Organic juices making
• Bike tours.
• Cow watering: 1 hour Highlights:
• Herdsman calling the cows for water
• Building a clay trough
• Dressing in the herdsman attire
• Fetching the water from the pond with wooden trough
• Scenic walk to the watering area
• Listening to the traditional stories of the Bachwezi
• Insights of the cattle related living styles
• A relaxed lunch at Igongo cultural centre.