Sustainability Travelers Trip
Go on your next holiday and plant a forest 25,000 trees-strong at no additional cost! Read on…
As our official launch-stage ecotour package, the ‘Sustainability Travelers Trip’ will be a groundbreaking promotional expedition taking eco-minded travelers to Uganda’s little-discovered natural places (in cycles of 6 days between May – Dec 2013), for the purpose of promoting ecotourism in these areas and reflecting on the challenges to local ecosystems—such as forest degradation—which is the turning point for our conservation resolve.
DAY 1: Uganda Wildlife Education Center – UWEC
Our driver will pick you from your hotel at 7am for the first half day exploration of virtually every wild animal you will see in Uganda’s national parks, here at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center.
Though not categorically what we refer to as the ‘little-discovered natural places’, UWEC is a must visit to give anyone a first glimpse of Uganda’s diverse wildlife.
Formerly known as Entebbe Zoo, UWEC was opened in 1952 by the then colonial government, as an animal Orphanage housing young animals abandoned in protected areas due to the death or poaching of their parents. In the 1960s, it became a zoo until 1994 when it was converted into a wildlife education centre.
Located on the shores of Lake Victoria 7km from Entebbe International Airport, UWEC has over 50 different animal species represented by over 200 animals, all housed in large open air enclosures, simulating their natural habitat in the wild. The centre is a bird watchers’ paradise where one can watch over 250 bird species and for photographers, an excellent close-up photo opportunity for wildlife in an environment very similar to the wild.
We will have lunch at the center’s restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria, and then continue for a forest safari in one of Uganda’s greenest natural places: Mabira forest, about 90km from UWEC.
DAY 1: Mabira Forest Reserve
Spend your first night (after departing UWEC) on a retreat in this pristine tropical forest where our local guides will join you on an evening forest walk and birding adventure in the quiet jungle, before settling for your dinner at the luxury Mabira Rainforest Lodge in the green paradise. Discover 312 species of trees; 315 species of birds (such as the Nahan’s Francolin, cassin Hawk Eagle, the forest wood hoope, the purple throated cuckoo, the red headed blue bill—to mention a few), as well as 218 species of butterflies; 97 moth species and 23 small mammal species.
DAY 2: Jinja Visit
After breakfast at your campsite and a final early morning forest trek in Mabira, we will head to Uganda’s second largest city and former industrial capital, best known as home for the Source of the world’s longest river, The Nile—which is a stone’s throw from the city center. Hang out a little for a chance to meet with other travelers during a 30min – 1hour stop for refreshments at the popular international travelers meeting point—the Source Cafe, before your next stop: the Source of the River Nile.
DAY 2: Source of the Nile
A must visit—though also not categorically a new discovery. Mingle with the local culture; explore quality hand-made crafts at the source of the world’s longest river, and enjoy a lifetime experience of the roaring waters and a true gift of Africa. Here, you will take a speed boat ride to the actual source of the Nile in the spiraling water. If you also need white water rafting and/or kayaking, we will be able to make prior bookings for you, at an extra fee (but this will need to fit in half the day, so we can go on with the program). We will have lunch at the Nile River-facing ‘Jinja Nile Resort’, before we continue to one of the remaining great falls on the White Nile river, known as Itanda
DAY 2: Itanda Falls (see picture)
A 20km ride from the popular Bujagali Falls (in Jinja) that have now been submerged with the construction of a new hydroelectric power plant, is the little known Itanda Falls. Very few people have been here or even know how to get there by road, and, the rather potholed muddy path to the falls can only be navigated with frequent consultations of the locals.
It “is one of the longest, biggest and most technical rapids on the White Nile river”—with a beautiful scenic view of waterfalls and hillsides sorrounding it.
The falls is steadily starting to attract kayakers and rafters. We also intend to have our own camping site here. Late that evening, we will ride for about 50km to Kamuli town, where we will spend a night.
DAY 3: A 1-day site visit to one of our ongoing ecoprojects in Kamuli or Buyende
Take the first half of Day 3 to find out a bit about our community ecoprojects and the local farmers’ groups (PEGs) we work with on protecting the earth and its natural places! Note: after each trip, we will use a fraction of your safari fee to set up a new community reforestation center or PEG in our own reforestation project; one center for each traveler on the safari. Each PEG will produce 25,000 trees per season (50,000 a year) and will act as a local extension hub for our activities on sustainable household energy and organic gardening—for the host village. This is how you will come to be a ‘Sustainability Traveler’—at no extra investment. These trees will help local farmers restore their degraded croplands and, when they mature, every 40 trees will be able to sequester 1 tonne of CO2 per year. We will have lunch in Kamuli before leaving for Kagulu Hill.
DAY 3: Kagulu Hill in Buyende district (See picture)
After a project site visit, we will go for a hike at a place where all Ugandans will be camping for two days in May 2013. If your travel with us matches this date, you’ll certainly be part of the camping!
Our founder ‘Anthony Kalulu’ was born and raised barely 100 meters from the foot of Kagulu Hill—and this is where his childhood family, mother and siblings still live. Every aspect of life here—from using small water sources on the rocks for drinking and cooking water, to locals mounting a village-wide hunt for hyenas and baboons invading them from caves on the hill, or children being assigned to chase the animals from crop fields—was part of Anthony’s childhood.
Until recently, the place was little known to interested medium-level mountaineers, and almost less than 20 non-natives visited every year. This is begining to change, particularly in 2013, both through our own program and a coincidental 2013 initiative dubbed “Kagulu Hill Climbing Challenge”. The latter is a countrywide tourism promotion campaign (co-organized by the Ministry of Tourism and other unions) that will bring mountain climbers (both locals and internationals) to a competition on this Hill for 2 days during the month of May 2013.
The cultural hill raising 10,000ft above sea level provides a beautiful view of the entire eastern Uganda and the confluence of River Nile and Lake Kyoga, as well as the entire landscape beyond the great lakes region. Perhaps worth mentioning is that, typical to a mountain range, the hill stretches over a wide area, with roads and settlements in-between, and different cultural attachments to each branch-off.
The region hosting the hill has arguably been one of the leading charcoal producers in the entire Buyende district in the last 20 – 30 years and, Buyende itself (together with its twin district Kamuli) is classified by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development among the 10 leading charcoal producers (most deforested regions) out of 112 districts countrywide. A not-seen before sharp decline in fuelwood (the sole source of household energy for cooking and heating for local people), long droughts and degraded soils are increasingly taking a pinch on smallholder farmers here. They are very desperate for innovation, but not a single civil society organization is working with them to address these challenges. These are the folks our community projects are for.
DAY 3: Iyingo Royal Cultural Landing Site
After the hike at Kagulu hill, we will escape a little for a freshwater lakeside moment on the shores of Lake Kyoga.
Located about 12km from Kagulu Hill, Iyingo is one of the biggest fishing grounds, gifted with raised rocks facing the water, holding significant cultural importance and leadership for natives. Interact with locals and catch a firsthand experience of life in a countryside beach atmosphere, or take a short water ride with a local fisherman as they collect drinking water and fish from the lake. With its waterfront location and pristine flora, the site is a proposed location of a second camping site for EcoTours & Travel Uganda, intended to promote green tourism in the region by attracting eco-minded travelers here.
We will then drive back to Kamuli town that evening, for a night stay.
DAY 4: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
After breakfast at around 6am in Kamuli, get ready to conclude your trip with an early morning trek to Uganda’s largest national park, Murchison Falls. But before we get there, we will first stop at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary 5 – 6 hours into the drive (that’s, 225km from Kamuli) for your sole rhino tracking opportunity of its kind in Uganda. See rhinos in their wild, catch up with over 250 bird species (including the Shoebill Stork and Nubian Woodpecker) and a short guided nature walk. Our lunch will be arranged here.
DAY 4 – 6: Murchison Falls National Park (3 days, 2 nights)
We will continue 70km away (from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary) to Murchison Falls national park for our first night stay. Wake up (Day 5) for an early morning ferry crossing to the north bank for a 4 – 5 hour game drive to see lions, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, buffalos, warthogs, lions, hippos & over 450 bird species. We will come back for our lunch at our safari lodge in the afternoon. At this time, (at around 2pm), we will depart for a boat ride to the bottom of the falls, where the world’s longest river is forced into a narrow 7meter gorge before plunging 43m below. We will then take a hike to the top of the falls to see crocodiles, hippos, elephant, water buffalo etc, before returning to your lodge for dinner.
Prepare for a final early morning game drive for chimpanzee tracking (on Day 6) in the ‘Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests’ in the park. The area contains black-and-white colobus and blue monkeys, olive baboons, elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards. Many forest birds can also be viewed here, including the chocolate-backed kingfisher, white-thighed hornbill and Puvel’s illadopsis which is found nowhere else in East Africa. Return to Kampala, stopping in Masindi for lunch. In Kampala, our driver will take you back to your hotel/residence.
1 person : $2,200
2 people : $2,000 pp
3 people : $1,800 pp
4 people : $1,600pp
5 people : $1,400pp
6 people : $1,200pp
7 people + : $1,000pp
Full board on the whole itinerary
Accommodation (usually mid-range to luxury, as budget options may not often be available); may be twin share for 2+ people.
Boat ride (Murchison Falls)
Speed boat ride (at the Source of the Nile)
Rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Bottled water, refreshments and soft drinks
Transport and fuel in 4x4s
Airport transfer (including roundtrip airport transfer, if departing after the trip)
English speaking tour guide for each destination
All entrances fees
Ferry crossing fees
Camera usage (at UWEC)
** and for each traveler, a community reforestation center from a fraction of your fee
Additional boat rides (e.g. white water rafting on the Nile)
Items that are personal in nature
Visas and airfares
Hotel stays before and after the trip