The East African Tourism Council estimates that only one in 2,000 citizens of the East African Community have visited national parks in their country.
Of the 23 people in my office, only two have visited a national park in Uganda. Today I asked why. I was told it is too expensive, too far from the city and too boring. Some said it had never crossed their minds.
Okay, let’s deal with the myths:
Too expensive. Not. Entrance fees for all East African adults are now only 5,000 shillings a day, 7,500 shillings for two days and 10,000 shillings for three days. Prices for children are half this amount.
Too far. Not. Murchison Falls National Park is just 213 kilometers (or a three hour drive) from Kampala. Lake Mburo National Park is 282 kilometers from Kampala, Mount Elgon National Park is 228 kilometers from Kampala. The farthest national park from Kampala is Kidepo National Park, which is 743 kilometers from Kampala.
Too boring. Not. Sure, one elephant looks just like the other, but there is more to do that go on game drives. Mount Elgon and Mount Rwenzori National Parks offer mountain climbing, rock climbing, abseiling, forest walks and cliff diving. You can participate in a chimpanzee feeding and treatment program in Kibale Forest National Park. You can visit the Tombs of the Gods and bathe in the Sempaya hot springs in Semliki. There’s bird watching, basket making, pottery classes or just a long lazy snooze at a river side.
There’s a point to this rambling. A point.
Here’s the point: The 2009 Uganda National Park Challenge.
I would like to convince at least 5-10 people to join me in visiting at least two national parks in Uganda this year. It is aimed at budget travelers, backpackers or campers who want to have the most of a national park experience on a shoestring. You certainly don’t need to travel with me. Get at least 5-10 family and friends to join you for your visit.
This is the only mandatory criteria:
You want to visit a national park in Uganda.
That you write, twitter or blog about your experience and kindly inform me about it.
I’m looking for partners for my 2009 Uganda National Park Challenge. Interested?
For a full list of Uganda’s nine national parks, 20 nature reserve and 30 game reserves, click here.
For current tariffs and available park accommodation, visit the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The Eye Magazine has credible reviews on the parks and activities to do there.