Welcome to Swanair Travel Wallet

Travel can be affordable with the Swanair Travel Wallet

Have you ever dreamed to travel to a specific destination but somehow you left it as just another dream beyond reach? If one of your reasons is that these destinations are way beyond your budget, then all hope is not lost yet.

The reasons why most of these destinations are considered very expensive are because sometimes, we don’t put in enough time and effort to plan for travel. However, there are instances where you plan for travel but somehow, it still never happens. For instance, do you ever feel like you get paid but your money just disappears before ticking any destination off your wish list? Yeah, me too! In most cases, if I don’t keep track of how I am spending my money, it seems to vanish without a trace. By the time I look at everything else I had planned for, I realize that there has been no progress at all.

A lady stressed out by her plans.

There has been a popular myth that travel is an expensive hobby and I don’t agree. The assumption is that people who travel a lot must either have rich parents, lucrative lottery winnings or work high paying jobs. As a result, it’s concluded that normal people can’t afford to travel because it’s far too expensive for the rest of us.

To some extent, I actually understand how that can be so because, I once thought so too. There’s always a time where suddenly everything seems too expensive. And although ordinarily, one needs to save, it becomes very hard, especially saving for a “hobby” like travel. However, travel is such a huge concept that can not be limited to what is beyond our means. There is always an experience within everyone’s budget. All it takes is to have the right amount of information about a destination or experience, save for it and consult a travel advisor on how to make it possible.

Today, as a consequence of the post pandemic, travel is expected to be even more expensive. This is because the number of people traveling again is on the rise. As a result, so are prices. Airfares and hotel rates are climbing as travelers return in the highest numbers (since the pandemic began) hitting beaches, mountains and visiting friends and family after a season of being cooped up.

However, the prices should not discourage you from traveling. There are ways you can get around the situation and travel the world and enjoy a wide range of experiences, at a fair price. Remember, all it takes is discipline and commitment as shown below;

  1. Plan for your Travel.

Planning for a trip can sometimes be a daunting experience. It gets extremely overwhelming especially, if you have never done such a thing before. One of the factors that make it not as exciting as it should be, is the availability of so much information on the internet. There’s plentyful of information on social media platforms and blogs that it is to get confused or spoilt for choice. This, among others, make it an extremely challenging experience. However, it is important to adequately plan for your trips so as to get the most of your experience.

a work table full of plans for travel

Planning for Travel

Planning for a trip entails so many steps and it’s hard to rate them in accordance to importance as they’re all crucial steps. The key steps however are the following;

  • Identify your desired destination(s).
  • Research on the physical, political and financial environment in your desired destination.
  • Decide on how long you’d want to spend at your destination.
  • Decide on the number of people traveling with you.
  • Come up with a list of activities that you are interested in, at your destination.

Notably is that the above are only but a pinch of the many steps required, in no particular order. Furthermore, it is very advisable to consult with a travel consultant, to avoid missing out on important information that might be necessary for your travel.

  1. Save for your trip.

For most people, saving is not something they enjoy doing and much less if saving for travel. With the cost of living going higher every other day, unexpected bills popping up, and responsibilities accumulating every other day, it is easy to get caught up in all that and being unable to save for travel. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are ways to make saving a habit and in return, being in position to achieve all or most of your plans. It is definitely not an easy thing to do as it requires plenty of hard work and sacrifice, but if I could do it, I’m confident you can too.

a picture of savings for travel

Saving for travel

Here’s a few tips that helped me save for my dream destination and finally tick it off my bucket list;

  • Create a savings plan alongside your travel plan.Your savings plan should comprise several goals; both short-term and long-term. List your goals in order of priority and don’t be shy to shoot high. However, ensure not to shoot so high that it kills your enthusiasm for your big trip.
  • Create a budget spreadsheet clearly indicating your income and usual expenses. This will give you a clear picture of what you spend your money on. From your usual expenses, you’ll be able to identify your must haves and have nots and therefore able to decide on what to cut down on.
  • Commit to your dream and make the decision everyday to work towards achieving it. This can be done by putting a picture on your wall, sticky notes with writings of why you’d love to make that trip or a map with pins and strings to mark your dream around the world trip route, for constant revalidation. Saving money is a slog, but anyone can do it if they set their mind to it.
  • Keep your distance from financially irresponsible people or an environment that will likely cause you to spend more than earn. However, remember that you can save for travel, and
  • still let loose every once in a while.
  • Start a dedicated fund by creating a new account where to specifically save for travel. Then choose to feed it monthly, weekly, or daily. Make it easy to transfer money over from another account and every time you go online to check your balance, transfer some money, even if it’s just $5. Make it fun. Make it a habit. Make it natural. Make it painless. Revel in its growth!
  1. Get a trusted partner to motivate you and support your travel goal. There are several options from which to consider but I can only speak of one that helped me achieve my travel goal, Swanair Travel and Safaris. Swanair Travel & Safaris founded in 1993, is one of the oldest Travel Management Companies in Uganda offering a  wide range of services like nternational destinations, corporate travel, safaris, air ticketing, hotel booking and currently, the Swanair travel wallet. The Swanair travel wallet is an exciting and rewarding savings option designed for travel enthusiasts, first time travelers and planners of foreseeable future travel and vacations.
a poster of the Swanair Travel Wallet

Welcome to Swanair Travel Wallet

 

With the Swanair travel wallet, you’d not only be able to create an account where you can save for travel through regular deposits of any amount you find convenient, but you’d also have access to the best deals and promotions. At the end of the day, you get both a convenient and comfortable payment plan and possible discounts on your travel through earning of points. Creating an account in the Swanair travel wallet is easy, quick and very seemless. Yes, if you are thinking what I think you are, I can assure you that I felt the same too. It’s extremely impressive how easy planning for travel has been made with this initiative. If you’d like to be a part of it like I am, click https://forms.gle/7RibZboft6yemYp79 to get started.

Good luck and we hope to hear from you about your experience at your dream destination. You can reach out through +256776515014 or visit swanairtravel.com.

Simply contact Swanair Travel and Safaris through info@swanairtravel.com, +256776515014 or visit swanairtravel.com for any assistance with planning your dream getaway. With Swanair, comes the option of saving for your travel through regular deposits of your choice, to the Swanair travel wallet. It’s easy, quick and convenient but most importantly, onboarding is at no cost. To onboard for the savings option, simply register via this form. This is your year, make that dream travel experience a reality.

Impala swanair

“Dear Pandemic, I am Visiting Uganda… “

Dear Pandemic, I am Visiting Uganda

For reasons such as study, work or joining family, one may leave Uganda to settle in another country. However, every once in a while, home does call you back and that call can be hard to ignore even though there is a difficulty brought by the pandemic. So, how do you travel back to the refreshing air of a place so familiar when movement has become so stifled?

Andrew Mugasha* left Uganda about 9 years ago to settle in the United States of America. After that lengthy absence, he returned to Uganda in 2021 for a short visit.

“I came back to visit family and to explore parts of the country that I had not seen before” Andrew told us in an interview.

You too may have your own reason for coming to Uganda, but here are a few things you can learn from Andrew to have a smooth, memorable travel and stay here.

Planning

To make that journey, Andrew didn’t just wake up and hop onto a plane the next day. There were a number of considerations to make; the length of the journey, multiple stop overs in other countries, the expenditure on arrival at home and most importantly, the pandemic. This required Andrew to have an intricate plan for everything to be seamless.

“I had to consider the time of the year I wanted to travel, the people available to visit and spend time with and how much time I could get off work. I made a list of places to visit in Uganda after weighing costs like accommodation, food and transport” Andrew adds.

It is also a good idea to consult from friends in Uganda before travelling so that your budget is befitting. Finally, Andrew advises that it is important to check with your physician so that you can align with the medical requirements of your stops as you travel.

Pick an activity that will keep you busy on the journey. This could be a couple of books, or movies, or music on your device. Ensure that you have these ahead of time. Then you can get your plane ticket, pack and wait for take-off.

COVID 19 Guidelines

Andrew had already been vaccinated before his trip, so you too may consider getting vaccinated ahead of time, because you will need the vaccination card on arrival at Entebbe International Airport. On top of that, most of the airlines have strict travel requirements such as a COVID test that was taken less than 72 hours before travel date, and some other security checks like sharing address information for countries like Belgium.

Remember to mask up all through your journey. You can get creative with your mask you know? Add Graffiti, or wear an Ankara-print one. Either way, just have your mask and sanitizer on hand.

Entebbe Airport Checklist

On top of your Visa, Passport and Vaccination card, endeavor to have a yellow fever vaccination card. Andrew says that the time he visited, this wasn’t asked for but he had it nonetheless. It probably was ignored because COVID had the airport security unsettled, but it would be terrible to be asked for it and you don’t have it. So, get the yellow fever vaccine and have your card with you as well.

Uganda’s Rich Tourism Basket

“I visited Western Uganda-Kasese, Fortportal and Mbarara. There was a lot to see like Mabeere Ga Nyinamwiru, Kazinga Channel and crater lakes. As a Ugandan I was amazed at the progress the country has made and what it has to offer for tourists” Andrew notes.

True to this, Uganda really has a wide range of things to see and experience. From cuisine to culture, historical sites, physical features and infrastructure, your visit will be memorable.

Glaring Criticism

Due to the pandemic, the government of Uganda limited resident Ugandans from moving inter-district. This meant that they couldn’t consume the tourism sector, yet those who traveled from abroad could. Andrew thinks this was largely unfair, because the resident market has a lot of potential for tourism benefit. That limitation caused dullness and negative economic impact as different stakeholders had to rely on foreign customers.

“At Kazinga Channel, the tour guide told us we were the first group he guided in over 2 months, while the visitors’ book at the safari lodge where we slept hadn’t been signed in 3 months” Andrew remarks. This could have been combated by allowing resident Ugandans to tour their country with strict observance of SOPs, so that you don’t create a divide where foreigners enjoy the country more than the residents.

For a non-resident of Uganda, this may not affect you. Andrew advises that once you are here, you “be patient because some people who are key to your visit lack a sense of urgency. Be present, ask questions, account for all sorts of miscellaneous things happening, and enjoy yourself. Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa”

*Names have been altered to keep the source anonymous

Chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura Gorge

A SAFARI AT QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Uganda is richly blessed with stunning tourist attractions adversely spread out throughout the country. Among these tourist attractions are national parks. Queen Elizabeth National park is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in Africa but also the most visited national park in Uganda. It is an ideal destination for all nature and wildlife lovers but has experiences for all its visitors nonetheless. No wonder, it is popularly referred to as the “medley of wonders”.

Queen Elizabeth national park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park and renamed two years later, to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.  This name contributed to its popularity, alongside its stunning beauty and the fact that it is accessible by both those traveling by road or air. It is located in southwestern Uganda and lies astride the Equator with monuments on both sides of the road making latitude 00. It is in the Albertine region along with Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserve, which brings together the most diverse ecosystem in Africa.

Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent views include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kobs. The rich bio-diversity of the crater lakes, forest, savannah, woodland, and acacia and numerous animal, plant, and bird species lying on an area of 1978km2 make Queen Elizabeth National Park a popular tourist destination.

The park is home to over 95 mammal species, which are the main attraction of the visitors to the park. It has four of the ‘Big Five’ namely Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Buffalo. It is home to thousands of hippos that populate the water shores of Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake George to Lake Edward – known to have the largest herd of hippos. The park is an open Savannah spread with acacia and euphorbia trees that provide a habitat for leopards, elephants, lions, Uganda kobs, Topi, hyenas, and big herds of buffaloes, large families of banded mongoose, warthogs, bushbucks and waterbucks.

The wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park supports a wide range of safaris activities like game drives, boat safaris, nature walks and so many other experiences as shown below.

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Early morning or evenings are the best times to go game viewing mainly because the sun is not as hot and the cats prefer to hunt during these periods. The game drives in Queen Elizabeth national park happen mainly in the Kasenyi area, which has the largest Kob mating ground. The area is famous for big cats because of the high population of Uganda Kobs which they prey on. Look out for herds of buffaloes and elephants as they graze through eh Savannah. The game drives are in custom-made vehicles for safari where each occupant has access to a window seat and open roof.

 Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Boat safaris at Kazinga Channel

The Kazinga Channel is a 32-kilometre-long freshwater channel that links Lake Edward to its smaller neighbour, Lake George. The lakes are named after Queen Victoria’s son, King Edward VII, and his own successor, King George V. The wide channel is a key feature of Queen Elizabeth National Park and a popular area for wildlife tourism. The channel is home to a wide range of animals and birds, including one of the world’s largest concentrations of hippos (around 2,000) and countless Nile crocodiles. You can also expect to see elephants, buffaloes, and over 100 species of water bird, including the African Skimmer.

The Kazinga Channel provides travellers with a fantastic game and bird viewing experience because it is an oasis for many of the fascinating species that inhabit the park. And taking a boat tour along it, gives visitors the chance to cruise just meters from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline.

Boat safaris at Kazinga Channel

 

Chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge is situated in the far east of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park hosts the Kyambura gorge which is an ‘underground’ forest 100m below the Kichwaba escarpment. It is home to ten primate species including the famed chimpanzees, olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, etc.  Kyambura Gorge is nicknamed ‘the valley of the apes’.

Chimpanzee tracking is a popular wildlife activity in Uganda which allows you to step into the world of the chimps. The treks last for around three hours and include a maximum of one hour with the chimps in their natural habitat. You can expect to see them from a safe distance of 8-10 metres. Only a few chimps inhabit the gorge and therefore chances of seeing them are about 60%. The sights and sounds of the forest however, generate suspense and make a sighting even more rewarding. Therefore, in order to enjoy the experience of chimpanzee tracking, one has to book in advance from the park headquarters. Important to note is that though the chances of sighting the chimpanzees are not high, the experience of tracking through the forest is amazing as you have many other sightings of beautiful birds and other primates.

Chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura Gorge

Bird watching in Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth national park is a birdwatchers haven with over 600 bird species and is an important Birding Area (IBA) according to Birding International. It has the highest number of birds found in any protected area in East Africa. The park has diverse habitat for birds from Savannah, numerous crater lakes, forests and woodland. For the best birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, some of the best birding hot spots include Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area. Generally, every corner of the park is a great bird watching area. The bird species to look out for include, African mourning dove, Swamp flycatcher, Grey headed kingfisher, pin-tailed whydah, slender-tailed nightjar and collared pratincole. Look out for the flamingos at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka. And since the birds are relatively easy to spot, you can expect great photo shots as you explore the park and its environment.

Other activities that offer spectacular safaris experiences are nature and forest walks alongside community walks and cultural experiences. Nature and forest walks are often done with a ranger guide for purposes of safety. They are available at the Mweya peninsular where you have a great birding and views across Kazinga channel and Lake Edward. In Ishasha, you have an opportunity to walk along Ishasha River where you have an opportunity to get close to the Hippos with your ranger guide. Maramagambo forest is another site with the famous bat cave and several bird species.

In addition to the amazing wildlife, Queen Elizabeth has a rich cultural history with a lot of fishing villages adjacent to the park. Visitors have opportunities engaging with local communities and enjoying the stories, music and dance Or engage in the daily activities of the locals like harvesting and cooking a quick vegetable meal and making crafts. Kikorongo Women’s Community Project offers cultural performances of dance, drama, music and fire-making, basket weaving, paper beads. However, one needs to book before visiting because the women are not at this project daily but many will be in their farms where they spend most of their time.

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a wide range of exciting safaris experiences that leave every visitor refreshed and rejuvenated. It is undoubtedly an ideal tourist destination when one visits Uganda.

For an amazing safaris experience at Queen Elizabeth NP, contact us on info@swanairtravel.com or +256776515014 or visit swanairtravel.com

Skydiving in Diani

DIANI, THE ULTIMATE PARADISE

Diani beach is located along the Kenyan coast, about 19 kilometers south of Mombasa. The stunning beach is about 10 kilometers long, with a beautiful 12 mile stretch of sand and shallow waters near the shore. It is bordered by the stunning Indian Ocean, delicate silky white sands, warm turquoise waters, lavish greenery with palm-lined streets, and the shinning emerald blue that emerges from the crystal-clear waters. Diani Beach is undoubtedly stunning and therefore one of the most prominent tourist destinations in Kenya. It is known for its coral reefs, black and white colobus monkeys, and for the closely located Shimba Hills National Reserve, which looks out over the Indian ocean. In addition, Diani has an airstrip that makes it easily accessible using direct flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport in Nairobi. It is also a little more than an hour’s drive from Mombasa and a 4 – 5hour train ride on the recently operational Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway making road and railway transport possible alternatives. Noteworthy is the fact that Diani beach has for five consecutive years been awarded as Africa’s leading beach destination!                                          

Fasten your seatbelt and let’s explore Diani Beach–everything that comes to mind when you think of a tropical paradise. In this article, we will look at some of the activities and experiences, that make Diani the ultimate paradise.

 

1. Skydiving in Diani

Skydiving is one of the most fun and enjoyable activities to do on the planet. While skydiving, endorphins, adrenaline, and serotonin, known as the feel-good chemicals, are produced by the brain essentially making people feel very happy. Skydiving at Diani is a popular attraction for people all over the world and the ever-clear skies make the sport extremely enjoyable.

Every March and November, Skydive Diani organizes the weekly boogies festivals during which, tourists get a chance to enjoy advanced skydiving antiques and an exclusive training session. To make your experience even more exhilarating, Skydive Diani offers the off-planes package, where divers jump from an airplane, of course with the help of a guide.

Skydiving in Diani

A group skydiving in Diani

2.  Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, and Boat Trips in Diani Beach

Boat trips, Snorkeling, and scuba diving are all exciting ways to enjoy the richness and diversity of marine life hosted in the Indian Ocean. The key difference between scuba diving and snorkeling is how deep you go into the water. While scuba diving and snorkeling, you get the opportunity to explore the world underwater and therefore, stand a chance to interact with marine animals like green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, killer whales, humpback whales, and many more. 

Scuba diving in Diani

A scuba diver in Diana

3. Visiting Chale Island

Right at the heart of Msambweni bay, 12 km south of Diani Beach, lies Chale Island. It has a spectacular white sand beach and is beautifully fringed by coral reefs, making it a haven for tourists seeking a more romantic treat. From its adequately equipped water sports center to fascinating boat excursions, Chale Island ultimately has something to offer to everyone. While on your visit to Chale Island, you can participate in activities like boat snorkeling, beach snorkeling, kayaking, local catamaran sailing, game fishing and so much more.  

In the middle of the Island, lies Maisha Poa spa and you can agree with me that nothing beats a professional massage over some soothing music, after a long day on the beach. Here, all the energies of the tidal lake, coral caves, ancient mangroves and gentle breeze cumulate, offering you the right atmosphere to facilitate relaxation. 

About 20km south of the Island, lies Wasini Marine reserve which is endowed with several marine animals. And on the western side of Chale Island, lies Gazi, a local village that is most popular for fishing. Here, you can sample some of the authentically cooked fish and other marine animals as you enjoy the view of the big coconut plantation and mangrove swamps. An excursion to this village is enough to feel the traditional setting of the Kenyan society. 

Chale Island

4. Relax at the Spas in Diani

Diani Beach is the home to award-winning spas that offer the most relaxing spa and massage experience. Some also provide henna paintings, which is the traditional way of enhancing beauty in women among the locals. A perfect example of a world-class spa at Diani Beach is the Uzuri SPA Diani, which offers treatments with both European and African products to suit both men and women. Uzuri Spa and Fitness is located at the Leopard Beach resort. Just like its name suggests, uzuri (goodness), this spa is a sanctuary for people who want to enjoy tranquillity and experience body, mind and soul rejuvenation at its best. 

Some of the facilities at the spa include the Afya Gym ( a state of the art) a fully equipped workout facility alongside an aerobics and yoga pavilion, as part of their workout department. If you need a break from the ordinary salty water, you can unwind on their steam bath, sauna, and outdoor Jacuzzi. There is also a health bar, which is close to the pool and offers different fresh juices, healthy salads, light meals, and smoothies. What a way to end your day!

Diani Spas 

5. A Visit to Shimba Hills National Reserve

Diani is home to East Africa’s second-largest coastal forest, Shimba hills. The National reserve is only 45 minutes from Diani Beach, making it worth the visit during your stay in Diani. It presents a different kind of experience with a beautiful view of local villages, wildlife and so much more, hence a much needed break from all the water activities at Diani Beach. Shimba Hills National Reserve is famous for being a home to animals such as elephants, sable antelopes, Genets, leopards, civet cats, waterbucks, hyenas, buffalos, bush pigs, bushbuks, white Columbus and coastal black, bush duiker and so many others. It harbors reptiles such as Pythons, Lizards, Cobras, and Geckos and is also home to more than 111 bird species including the African Hawk, Ostrich Eagle, Quail, Sunbird, Crowned, Hornbill, Honey Guide, and Uluguru.

Shimba Hills National Reserve

Elephants in Shimba Hills National Reserve

 

There are several other activities, including but not limited to: playing golf, visiting forty thieves beach bar and bistro, visiting the Diani Beach art gallery, touring the Kongo mosque and touring fort jesus, a combination of which makes Diani the ultimate paradise. It is perfect for both relaxation and adventure, making it an ideal tourism destination for all in need of a beautiful escape or get away. 

In case you’re wondering where to travel to next, Diani beach is definitely ideal and worth the consideration. Book your trip to Diani Beach with Swanair Travel and Safaris, to experience all the above and more, by simply visiting www.swanairtravel.com or reaching out through info@swanairtravel.com and +256776515014. With Swanair Travel and Safaris, planning your travel will not only be easy and quick, but also, in accordance with your personal wishes. You will undoubtedly be able to experience your most deserved memorable get away, at a subsidized cost and without breaking a sweat. Let’s travel and explore Kenya together!

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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!

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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!