Lemala Wildwaters is a unique holiday spot nestled on an island among the flowing waters of the Nile River. This year, travel website Luxury Travel Advisor named it the world’s second-most Instagrammable hotel. It’s easy to understand why, with its lush foliage, rushing torrents, and picture-perfect thatched houses.
The resort has begun to attract a whole new type of visitor: locals. Ugandans have discovered the beauty that exists inside their own borders while the virus has halted international travel. According to Isaiah Rwanyekiro, CEO of tour company Breathtaking Uganda, it’s a significant shift in the market. Previously, Ugandans did not travel around the country as much as they do now. Many individuals believe they were born and raised here, and that there is nothing exciting to see, “he claims.
But eventually, we started showing them so many of these beautiful places, like Wildwaters, Chobe, Murchison Falls, Kidepo National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park, and everyone kept asking, “Are you sure this is Uganda?” every time we went there with photographers, videographers, and cameramen, and we had these amazing pictures and videos. And we’re like, “Yes, this is Uganda, this is our nation, and this is how lovely it is.” The more we’ve done this, the more we’ve shown people how lovely Uganda is, the more people have enjoyed the country’s beauty, and the more people are moving into and surrounding Uganda. “
From every aspect, this island paradise offers breathtaking views. Gitahi Wangeshi is a world traveler who has visited several countries. She’s bringing a group of friends to Wildwaters for the first time. I’ve visited South Africa, which is a lovely country, but there’s something special about Uganda. It’s green, so you’ll be surrounded by nature; the people are kind; the cuisine is fresh, so you’ll be eating fresh fish-it’s wonderful, “Gitahi explains.
Wildwaters’ General Manager is Dedan Ochele. From before the pandemic, when most visitors were foreigners, to now, he’s noticed a significant change. According to the data we have, 70 to 65 percent of the participants are Ugandans. COVID opened our eyes once more. You can no longer rely on foreign visitors, “he declares. “I’m glad because of social media, since the kinds of guys who come here spread the word to their friends, and we’re absolutely surviving because of the local Ugandan market.“
From the Nile’s source to its ten national parks, this East African region offers a diverse range of tourist attractions, including the so-called “BIG 5” safari species. The government claims it is actively promoting Uganda’s parks and animals in order to encourage Ugandans to spend their vacations in their own nation. For example, over 41,000 individuals visited the national parks in December, says the Hon. Martin Magarra Bahinduka, State Minister for Tourism.
However, Ugandans make up the largest percentage for the first time, which has never happened previously. So it’s really encouraging, and we expect the numbers to rise as we continue to focus on the domestic market. And that is what we are urging Ugandans to do: travel the nation, love their country, and establish a sustainable tourist business as a result. “The cost of visiting such destinations is one of the most significant obstacles for Ugandans. As a result, the government has increased competition in an attempt to lower prices.
“What we have done deliberately as a ministry with our partners in the UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) is to actually give out more concessions for more people to construct accommodations within the protected areas so that we can make accommodation a little bit more competitive and also create availability,” the minister explains. Prices will naturally fall, but I can promise you that there is lodging in the parks starting at 30,000 shillings, 50,000 shillings, and up to 100 shillings. So everyone is catered for; if you want to pay $1,000, we have that accommodation; if you want to pay $300, we also have that accommodation.
The tourism surge is also assisting in lowering unemployment levels, which soared during Uganda’s epidemic lockdowns. Giving jobs to the local population is critical for areas like Wildwaters’ long-term viability.
“We will continue to hire as many local communities as possible, and we will train them,” adds Ochele. “We always look for talent as they work with us, and we spot the talent, teach them, and promote them.” Of course, we are members of the community; we are only doing this for the community and to maintain our standards so that when you visit Africa, Uganda, or Lemala Wildwaters, you will notice the difference. Uganda seeks to keep more of its citizens at home for the holidays by offering adrenaline-pumping activities and breathtaking scenery.