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An Enjoyment Guide To Uganda For A Tik Tok User

Tik Tok has risen to be one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, especially for the youthful audience. More than half of all Tik Tok users are below the age of 32, with 32.9% of them between the ages of 15-19, according to analytics site omnicoreagency.com. The strength of this app is its reliance on appealing to the visual and audio senses. It allows content creators to capture and manipulate sights and sounds for their audiences, which sights and sounds are offered in large diversity by Uganda’s rich nature basket. So dear Tik Toker, here are a few Uganda Travel Tips for keeping your followers hooked to your account when you travel down to the Pearl Of Africa.

 

Gorilla Trekking

Welcome to Uganda, or the home to the second largest mountain gorilla population in the world, according to WWF. In the Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga National Park found in South-wester Uganda, you get a chance to walk through the thick tropic terrain in search of this gigantic cousins of man. Along the way, you will see various plant and insect species and hear the different voices of nature. Ofcourse you will see the large dominant male gorillas called the Silverbacks and their families. You may even touch them and feed them if your guide allows it. How about a video of you having a conversation with one of these guys? This is one of the Uganda Travel Tips guaranteed to get your audience engaged!

 

Potential TikTokers taking photos of a mountain gorilla, another Uganda Travel Tip

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park

 

Bird Watching

According to nature site Mongabay.com, Uganda ranks 4th in Africa and 16th Worldwide in terms of bird species. With 999 different species available for site with their different colours, sizes and sounds, these inhabitants of the air provide for good subjects for the camera. From the way they find food to how build their nests and the varied melodies they sing by day or night; you will have plenty of content looking out for them. They are easy to see in Southwestern Uganda in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Bird watching is another Uganda Travel Tip to get your TikTok audience engaged

Bird watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park

 

Morning Canoe Rides

On the shores of Lake Albert and George, and also those of Lake Kyoga, you get a chance to sail into the waters as early as 6:30 am with the early rising fishermen. While the sun reflects on the water, all you hear is the swashing as the oars paddle the canoe further into the lake. Along the way, you will pass by families of hippos that will be sleeping off a night of nocturnal activity. You can capture the sleeping hippo families, the early morning catch and the rising sun dazzling the waters.

Uganda Travel Tips - Canoeing on Lake Victoria

Canoe rides on lake Kyoga

 

Mountain and Hill Climbing

There are quite a number of high peaks in Uganda for you to climb. You have the Rwenzori ranges in the SouthWest that cross the snowline, Wanale Hill in Mbale and Mountain Moroto in Karamoja. You can literally give your followers an aerial view of the towns and terrain below, or just be yourself and enjoy the heights.

Mountain climbing on Mountain Rwenzori

 

White water Rafting

Hopefully your phone is water proof because the rapids of river Nile can be unforgiving. You will be well strapped in your floater boats and you will go up and down the rapids, sometimes completely going under the water. Be sure to capture this moment; you are rafting down the Nile, the longest river in the world. Your followers wouldn’t want to miss that

White water rafting on R. Nile

 

Bungee Jumping

Once again, the Nile is the gift that keeps giving. The Nile Bungee jump offers 44 metres of height, with the first jump allowing you to only kiss the Nile and be taken right back up. You can have this moment on camera right from your first jump until the rope is done oscillating and if you are an adrenaline junkie, this will leave you highly satisfied.

Bungee jumping in Jinja

 

For all these activities, we recommend having a guide with you all the time, for maximum experience and safety. If you have that ticked, clean your camera, charge your device and bring your Tik Tok followers to the Pearl of Africa’s crown.

 

Not sure what activities to do when you get to Uganda? No worries, we’ve curated some of the most exciting Uganda Safaris on our Safaris page. Don’t hesitate to check them out 🙂

 

You can also follow us on social media for more Uganda Travel Tips!

covid19 mask -swanair

UPDATED COVID-19 HEALTH MEASURES FOR ENTEBBE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (16/SEP/2021)

The Government of the Republic of Uganda has issued the following directives effective 16th September 2021 until further notice, on COVID-19 health measures at Entebbe International Airport:

1. All travelers whose body temperature is NOT above 37.5°C (99.5°F), do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing or other flu-like symptoms; have negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate carried out within 72 hours from the time of sample collection shall be allowed to enter or depart Uganda in compliance with categorization in 3 below:

i. Entebbe International Airport Port Health shall approve for arrival or departure a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate undertaken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection. This excludes transit time at the terminal building.

ii. For travelers presenting with COVID-19 signs and symptoms or other infectious diseases will be subjected to secondary screening and will be taken for further management. If found to have an infectious disease, they will be taken for further management at the infectious disease hospital.

iii.Travelers without a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate undertaken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection will not be allowed into Uganda.

iv.Travelers departing EIA are required to know, understand, and interpret COVID-19 requirements of the country they are travelling to.

v.Travelers who have had COVID-19 vaccination and hold a certificate must still present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection to boarding aircraft. This is because the vaccine is not 100% protective and it also takes several days/weeks to begin protection.

vi.Individuals who test positive to COVID-19 test shall be treated according to the Ministry of Health protocol for COVID-19

2. All crew who want to enter Uganda shall have a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test after every 14 days.

3.

i. All arriving passengers from category 2 will be subjected to a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Uganda in addition to the negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection to first embarkation.

ii. Affected countries include;

a. Category 1- None

b. Category 2- India, United States of America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan.

c. Category 3 – All countries not in Category 2. These will not be subject to COVID-19 PCR test.

iii. Individuals from Category 2 countries (except India) who have received full COVID-19 vaccination and have no signs of COVID-19 will be exempted from the PCR tests. Travelers from India shall be subjected to mandatory PCR testing upon arrival irrespective of vaccination status.

4. A travelling child 3 years and below, accompanied by parents holding a negative COVID-19 PCR test is exempted from a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate.

5. Passengers travelling out of the country will be required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test Certificate taken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection. They will abide by the travel and health (including COVID-19) related requirements of the destination country.

6. Passengers arriving in the curfew time, and/or from districts beyond Kampala with a valid air ticket and boarding Pass shall be allowed to proceed to their hotels and/or residences.

7. Passengers departing in the curfew time, and or from districts beyond Kampala with a valid air ticket shall be allowed to proceed to their destination airport by presentation of the passenger ticket to the authorities as evidence of going to the airport.

8. Drivers should have evidence that they have come from the airport (such as airport parking ticket or passenger ticket) to drop or pick up passengers.

9. Air transportation of human remains into the country is allowed if the following conditions are fulfilled:

i. Medical Certificate of Cause of Death;

ii. Post-mortem report or Comprehensive Medical Report from the attending doctor/health facility;

iii. Embalming certificate (including embalming certificate for death due to COVID-19);

iv. Copy of passport/identification document of the deceased (The original passport/ travel document/ identification document to be presented to immigration authorities);

v. Import license/ import authorization from the Director General of Health Services;

vi. Appropriate packaging- wrapped in a waterproof body bag then placed in a zinc lined coffin and an outer metal or wooden box;

vii. The document will be verified by port health and the casket on arrival shall be decontaminated by port health;

viii.The burial of bodies of COVID-19 victims will be conducted following the existing procedures for scientific burials.

10. To bring human remains in the country clearance MUST be received from Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs.

11. Violation of human remain transportation procedure herein will attract a penalty as equivalent to that stated in Uganda AIP and COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (Revised Edition)

AIP SUP 18/21 is hereby superseded

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ENGGOMA ENGANDA; A GANDA DANCE SESSION

If you visit Uganda, you may be chanced to witness the performance of one of the multiple cultural dances the pearl has to offer. These are intriguing from costume to choreography, instrument and song. We shall try to paint the picture for so that you know what to expect when your turn to see it finally comes and we shall start with the Buganda cultural dances.

The Baganda have a number of cultural dances, but the most common dance performances are a blend of three different dances; Nankasa, Bakisimba, and Muwoggola. 

Like many names of the Ganda and indeed African culture, the names have a story to them. Baakisimba for example alludes to a moment of royal happiness, According to folklore, a Kabaka was making merry with his subjects after a harvest, drinking tonto, the banana beer. Impressed by the taste of the brew, the king remarked that the farmers who grew the bananas did a better job than the brewers themselves. Had they grown poor-quality bananas, the brew wouldn’t have been as fine. Hence the core of the dance rhythm being “Abakisimba, bebakiwoomya” literally meaning that “Those who planted/grew it are the ones who made it sweet”

THE SETUP

The setup for these dances is quite the intricate process. First, the instrumentalists take position. Amongst them are 4 to 5 drummers, abagoma, each with a drum to attend to. The drums are Namunjoloba, a small drum beaten with sticks to produce a high-pitched sound. Then there is empuunyi, a large round drum that sets the pace of the dance. The mbuutu has a more rounded sound to produce the rhythm. Usually there can be two of these.

A traditional drum setup

Finally, the ngalabi, a long cylindrical drum usually made of python hide that also produces a high pitch. Other instruments are amadinda (xylophone), ensaasi (shakers) and in some cases, omulere (a flute) and endigidi (a type of violin). Depending on the availability, more instruments can be fused into the dance.

Endingidi, a type of violin. Image source: Global Sound Movement
Ngalabi (long drum)

After the instrumentalists is the choir. This group is led by a soloist always has a loud, rounded, shaky and very musical voice which is called eggono. It is usually a small number of people whose music compliments the instruments. The songs revolve around folklore, work, community, war, the Kabaka, alcohol and similar themes. In another universe, say in American sport, the choir serves as the cheerleaders for the dancers.

The soloist. Image source: ndere.com.

Finally, there are the dancers. The Ganda dance is very particular about the combination of footwork and waist wriggling. Trainers always emphasize that while you dance, those are the only parts of you that should move. The costume consists of a shawl called ekitambi and a goat hide. These are held together by folding and strapping around the waist. Then there is endege, an anklet of bells that produce a jingling sound when the dancer moves their feet. The men can remain shirtless or wear a vest, while the women have a top with a tight satin cloth that outlines the tummy to put emphasis on the movement of the waist.

Baganda folk dancers. Image source: The Observer.

THE DANCE

The soloist is like a moderator on a panel. They control everything about the dance. With their melodic voice, they break into song, eliciting a response from the choir. Then they ask the choir to join them in clapping and start calling on the instrumentalists one by one. This is supposed to create a hype within the dancers; the more frenzied they are, the better they’ll dance. At the soloist’s cue, the jumpers spring forward and the dance begins.

Nankasa usually comes first. It is a medium paced dance that the dancers take to when they are still fresh onto the stage. As with all the other Ganda dances, their arms are bent forward at the waist with the palms stretched out.

The long drum “cuts” the dance with a characteristic rapped sound that signifies the time from transition. It is time for Bakisimba, a slower dance that helps the dancers catch their breath. The moves and formations of this dance are clearly for the dancers to catch a rest. After another cut from the long drum, the dance transitions to Muwoggola.

Baganda folk dancers. Image source: The Observer.

Muwoggola is like reggaeton. A super-fast rhythm. Its so fast that the footwork rarely allows the dancers’ feet to fully touch the ground and they dart around the stage on their toes. This dance is so energetic it throws some dancers into a trance. Everyone from instrumentalists, soloist, choir and dancers is super hyper. The whole ensemble reaches the climax with the loudest display from the instruments, rapid movement from the dancers and loud singing from the choir. When the long drum cuts this time, everyone falls silent. The dance is done!

Calabash-carrying-local-brew-from-Uganda

THE JOURNEY OF A TASTE BUD; 7 foods intertwined with Uganda’s cultural diversity

Food is one of the unsung ways in which the culture of a people is preserved. It is the upholding of key culinary procedures like the harvesting and preparation of ingredients, techniques of arranging cooking instruments and masterful estimation of cooking rations that sustains the identity of a dish.

Just like its people, Uganda’s cuisine has generally been welcoming to alterations, entertaining foreign ingredients and cooking processes that has given rise to some spectacular dishes. However, some that have been here since our forefathers still find space on many menus in the country, and today we take you through 7 of these foods that belong way back to our roots.

  1. Molokony

Molokony, or cow hoof, is a special delicacy that acquired its name from Eastern Uganda. It is also known in other local dialects, bearing names such as Kigere and Ekinoono in Luganda and Rukiga respectively. After the slaughtering of a cow, the hooves are sold separately from the meat. Different chefs pick them up, clean them, roast them and then boil them in a large pan with fresh tomatoes, leafy onions, green paper and other vegetables to add spice. Since the hoof meat is tough, they are boiled at high temperatures for 4-6 hours. The result is a creamy thick soup and tender cartilege meat, rich in calcium, a cure to hangovers and a booster for synovial fluid production. It is best served with boiled cassava, sweet and Irish potatoes. Add pepper to taste.

Molokony  (picture by Sherman food adventure )
  • Nswa

The tropical white ants are such a delicacy among the Baganda and are one of the oldest dishes known to the central tribe. Rich in protein, the ants usually fly out of their anthills in the rainy seasons of January and October. In traditional Buganda, they were picked by identifying the ‘eye’ of the anthill (the opening from whence the insects flew) and crowding around it, grabbing each insect, removing its wings and storing in a container. They can be prepared by okukalanga (pan frying without cooking oil) or cooked in Groundnut paste, served with Matooke or Sweet potatoes. They are also good to eat as a snack on their own. The most delicious type is the Nnaka, usually from Bulemeezi county, present day Nakaseke district.

 Nswa – tropical White ants 
  • Amacunda

From Western Uganda, this local yoghurt makes an entry onto this list. Using the most delicate Ankole/Hima customs, Amacunde is churned from a local pot called Ekyanzi, given to a woman on her kuhingira(traditional wedding) as part of Omugamba (a package from her family with things she will use in her new home). It is a highly nutritious and revitalizing drink, with multiple benefits for the skin. It is usually taken plain, but you can add sugar/honey to taste.

 Amacunda -Local yogurt (picture by rural sprout
  • Odii

Odii is akin to peanut butter in appearance and bears a little semblance in taste, but differs in the ingredients. Many times, a mix of groundnuts or sim-sim is used to create a thick paste that is often utilized as a serving suggestion when eating beans or meat. It can also be used to prepare pasted meat, fish or chicken. It is a common delicacy hailing from Eastern and Northern Uganda.

Odii – Gnut paste 
  • Akatiko

Akatiko, or the Ugandan Oyster mushrooms, are a type of edible fungi. It is another food almost venerated by the Baganda, who even have the “Obutiko” clan, whose palace duty was to ensure happiness of the Kabaka (king) back in the day. Given the importance of the clan, it is clear to see the importance of the food. The Katiko grows near the ground and so has a lot of soil to it. This requires comprehensive washing, hence soaking in water for about 30-40 minutes. They can then be steamed or added to groundnuts/beans. They make for a good source of Vitamin C.

 Akatiko -Oyster mushrooms
  • Eshabwe

Another dairy product from the skillful Ankole people. Having no English equivalent for name, one can address it as a form of mayonnaise due to its texture, taste and purpose. Eshabwe is made by whisking ghee, warm water and rock salt (ekihonde) to result into a smooth and thick cream. For some people, small pieces of dry meat (omukalo) are added as it has culturally been done for ages. It can be eaten as sauce for Matooke and Millet (akalo) or used as a serving suggestion.

 Eshabwe -A form of mayonnaise
  • Tonto

This traditional brew is one of those drinks still prepared in the traditional method. Also known as “mwenge bigere” due to the stamping procedure with which it is made, Tonto is a product of fermentation of a type of banana called Ndiizi. The bananas are peeled and stored in a container akin to a canoe, covered with dry banana leaves and left to ferment. The stamping is then done and the brew is left to mature in the wood of the canoe, producing an extremely sweet and wood flavoured refreshing drink. Of course it has less potency than most imported alcohol, but too much of it does get you drunk. It is common in the East, Central and Western Uganda.

There are more unique foods, such as Malewa among the Bagishu and Firinda from Tooro. Which ones have you tried that this article may not have mentioned? Drop yours in the comments.

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PARAA-NORMAL

Before you read my story, I really hope you are above 18. 

I’m Vicky, by the way. I could say that over time I have had an active, if not exciting dating life. It has taught me that if there’s anything amazing about a partner, it should be a level of spontaneity to their character. An attractive randomness about them that may have you doing things that have probably never crossed your mind. 

I found that in Noni, this South African dude I met while we were at the University. He kept telling me much about travelling to Africa and this little country called Uganda. Apparently, it is the pearl of the whole continent and I have come to believe that after we travelled there 3 years ago. If you have grown up in the US like me and you have a chance to travel to Africa, please go to Uganda. Lush waterfalls, calm lakes, the longest river in the world and fresh green covering all over. A bustling city in Kampala, friendly people in other towns and dangerously delicious cuisines. It is like a melting point of everything a traveller would want. I dare say so myself and I am not even that passionate about travel. 

Aerial view of Kampala City

Anyway, in the summer of 2018, Noni drags me to Africa (I did mention that travel isn’t really my thing, right?) He said we would go to so many countries but we would start with Uganda. He had spent his high school there and had a couple of friends, who treated us to one of the wildest nights out in Kampala before we would proceed to a Safari Lodge called Paraa, on the banks of River Nile. One of Noni’s more talkative friends was busy raving on about its close proximity with Murchison falls which tempted me to quickly check their website. It read boldly that “The earth literally trembles at Murchison Falls-one of the world’s most powerful flows of natural water” and that is all I needed to know. I was very excited because it is one thing being in a new city and totally another going to the wild. 

The Murchison Falls

I would really be glad to tell you every detail of the journey to Paraa, but maybe I will do so on a later date. Everything stood out like a mercurial highlight and I was looking around excitedly like a rural child coming to the city for the first time. However, even then my sense of caution still found time to seep through my excitement and I asked Noni why we were in his friend’s car and not a tour company. 

“You worry too much Vicky” he said in a clearly spiked tone. We had reached a place called Wobulenzi and Noni had been drinking since we set off from Kampala. 

“Our driver is non-alcoholic and this country is really free. We are going to have a great time with or without a tour company” he added. Somehow, Noni’s reassurances always worked. Typical of a spontaneous person. 

We finally reached Paraa, a few minutes to 6pm. Maybe it was the alcohol or just the character of Noni and his friends, but we all came to a universal decision that maybe camping out there in the wild wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Noni’s friend (the driver) said he could find a nice guide who would see to it that we enjoy the rest of the evening and secure us a nice safe place with tents at a cheaper cost. 

“I mean, this is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Imagine spending it in the same warm shower rooms like you do in the States! Sleeping outside is better to write home about, don’t you think?” He added quite convincingly and off we were to find the guide. 

It didn’t take us long to locate Okot, the guide who hurriedly showed us an open ground and found us tents. He secured us a spot under a big tree that I had never seen in my life. He said it is called Musizi,

and was home to a leopard for the last 8 years. I was scared for our safety but Okot quickly added that the creature never harmed anyone. My gut almost agreed that the whole leopard thing was nothing but mere folklore.

Tree climbing leopards in Murchison falls National Park

“Now hurry up and set up. We need to go and see the sunset at the falls. It would be sad if you miss it” Okot mentioned. 

I have seen a number of beautiful things in my life and in my dreams, but I could swear that none matches that sunset. First, the sky and clouds turned a golden yellow over the falls. The falls were rumbling violently while the sky was calm and composed. A few minutes later, the sun started creeping down behind the shrubs that shored the Nile. With the sun’s travel, the sky started to redden. Its warm rays glowed upon the falls, which gave them a dancing little effect off the water. Then the sun blazoned red, before following its trail to the other side home. The sky too lost its redness and maintained a casual blue. The water looked whiter than ever and I could swear it was the most calming sight. No wonder we all watched in silence, sipping on our drinks and when the whole show was over, the only intervention was the exclamation “wow”. You guessed right; it came from me. 

Sunsets in Uganda

You could think that all had gone well. You are wrong. In the night, in the arms of my Noni who was snoring like a generator, I heard a grunt from outside. Then another and a third. I peeped through the transparent drape that covered the tent entrance and there, in flesh, were three hippos grazing right outside the tent. One was agonizingly close I could touch it. I felt the irresistible urge to wake Noni up but before I could, I felt the tent shake. That shake woke Noni up for me and in his half-drunk-half asleep stupor he asked me what was happening. The answer was the most unexpected; our tent came flying right off its hooks! The hippos, probably intrigued by the shape of the thing, kept knocking at it until they toppled it over! 

Wildlife Safaris – The Hippopotamus

In falling off, a sharp stick ripped through it and lo-we were exposed! Noni stood sharply, grabbed my hand and butt naked as we were, started running towards the Musizi tree. There was no time to look for Okot or to call on his friends. It was time to secure safety. 

He shot up the tree with lightning speed and perched up on a branch. Then he held out his hand and beckoned to me to climb too. Never in my life have I climbed anything, let alone a tree that had such a large plain trunk. But when Noni shouted “Vickyyy!” and I looked back only to entertain the horrifying sight of a charging hippo, I knew my options were limited. I was up the tree in seconds. I don’t know how and please don’t ask me. 

I choose not to remember that there was no leopard up that tree. I choose to ignore the memory of spending an uncomfortable night up a tree. The only memories I keep are of the breathtaking sunset, the night out in Kampala, Noni’s wild friends and the unparalleled beauty Uganda has to offer. 

Noni and I will be getting married next year. We have a lifetime to do so many crazy things, but I am never letting him take me to see any place without contracting a reputed Safari company. 

The above piece is a work of fiction, to show the unmissable importance of travelling with SwanAir Travel & Tours. However, the names of places and references to the scenic beauty of Uganda are real.