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The beauty of being near Mt. Elgon is that you can enjoy the sight of water from the numerous streams that flow from the gigantic eastern Ugandan mountain. As the streams make their way down the mountain slopes, water falls over rocks, creating spectacular scenes and sounds. One of them is Sisiyi Falls, so named because it never runs dry, come rain come shine.
The Sipi Falls Resort is one of the places where you can enjoy your weekend. Located in Sironko district, is such a soothing place. You can spend hours under trees watching the water fall from 103 feet, making it one of the longest water falls in Uganda and cave painting. From miles away, it can be seen as a streak of white against a green hilly background. Where the water falls to the ground, it has formed a natural swimming pool.
Getting to the Sipi is not exactly pleasant, but the beauty compensates for the rough road. Five kilometres along the Sironko-Kapchorwa road, is Buyaga trading centre. From here, visitors turn off onto a murram road and after another six kilometres, you are on site.
Not willing to let such water-falls go unexploited, Dr. Patrick Mutono and his wife Hellen, formerly based in the USA, set up a resort with leisure gardens, surrounded by self-contained cottages.
Holidaymakers come to this spot to set themselves free from the commotion in the city. Moses Wagoli, a Buyaga resident, says tourists frequent the site. They come mostly on weekends and stay till Sunday evening, Wagoli says.
Because the tourists are not shy to treat their bodies to fresh air, the locals have baptised the place the “Garden of Eden” as they provide some cultural attractions especially entertainment.
According to Wagoli, Ugandans also frequent Sipi Falls. The place is lit up at night with solar lanterns. There are no lamp posts anywhere as huge stones do a better job.
Dr. Mutono, the proprietor, says he conceived the idea to develop Sisiyi Falls during a visit to a nearby Church, when the beauty of the area struck him. The locals accepted our offer to buy the land and we started work in 2004 to bring it to this level. We started commercial operations in 2006, he says.
Mutono lists wedding receptions, seminars, retreats and nature walks as some of the activities taking place at the resort. Tourists also climb to the top of the falls and enjoy a panoramic view of Sironko town.
While at the falls, don’t forget to look out for Bagisu beauties, easily mistaken for elderly women as they walk bent forward with merchandise on their backs.
The Uganda President has attacked the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) over failure to market Uganda tourism internationally.
The president attacked the bodies during a conference at Serena hotel arguing that the two only promotes specific animals like Mountain Gorillas leaving the beauty in parks.
He admitted that marketing mountain gorillas is good but they also need to market the beauty of other Uganda national parks. He noted that there is no reason why tourists should only be coming in Uganda for gorilla tracking and go to other neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania to see wildlife as buffaloes, lions, elephants when Uganda has plenty of these in her national parks such as Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park among others.
The President called the general manager of UTB, Mr Cuthbert Baguma, to explain why they only have promotions of mountain gorillas but he was speechless.
He lashed out at UWA for being ruthless while evicting people from national parks.He said people should be told that the revenue from tourism is better than that from farming and link them to park hotels to buy their crafts instead of ordering them off park land like they have no stake in Uganda.
“I need to see these confused UWA people. Telling people to vacate for better revenue does not need much thinking,” he said.
He urged UWA officials to design proper user-friendly methods of ordering people to leave national parks than using a lot of force to evict them.
The Ishasha bridge that fell in a few days may take long to be repaired than expected. This is because of the magnitude of the damage of the bridge compared to the size of the bridge. The bridge, which connects Queen Elizabeth National park and Bwindi National park is a major tourism contributor as the tourists have to do game drives in Ishasha sector where they get opportunity to view tree climbing lions.
The Uganda tour operators have raised this issue to the association chairman to push the matter to the concerned parties to quicken the process of repair as it is hindering the activities immensely.
The tourists connecting from or to Bwindi impenetrable national park for gorilla tracking have to use the the long route to via Rukungiri-Kihiihi, and thus miss the tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector as well as fuel and time consumed is high.
The Ministry of Tourism has launched a campaign to promote the tourism sector online.
The tourism minister who launched the social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, ‘dubbed My Uganda’, noted that this will give Ugandans and international visitors an opportunity to share their experiences of the country.
Through this forum, tourists will be able to share impressions, experiences and memories of the country, its people, wildlife, Gorilla tracking adventure, scenery and culture online through the social media channels.
Uganda was ranked number one tourist destination center for the year 2012 by lonely planet, a thing that has seen increased number of tourists in the country. There are many attractions in Uganda like mountaineering experiences, Gorilla trekking experiences, wildlife, cultural experiences, nature. Tourism is the second foreign exchange earner of the country, though has been long been neglected through less budgetary allocations. However, the government has since come up to support and improve the industry by allocating it with increased budget which will see roads in the parks improved and marketing strategy improved. In two years time, Uganda will be the leading tourist country in Africa.
There has been interruption of tourists following the breaking on Ntungwe bridge that connects Queen Elizabeth National park and Bwindi national park.
The bridge collapse has been as a result of heavy trucks which use that road on the way to DR Congo or Kihiihi. National roads authority is working down the clock to ensure they put back the bridge, but it has been a really big problem to the tourism business.
Currently, the tourists have to use a long route via Rukungiri to connect between Bwindi impenetrable national park and Queen Elizabeth National park. Ishasha sector is the main and easy road that tourists who are going or coming from gorilla trekking in Bwindi NP use to connect to Queen Elizabeth national park for wildlife safaris.
The recently released video highlighting the activities of the Lord’s resistance army warlord Joseph Kony has been welcomed with mixed feelings especially in the tourism sector.
A largely misleading video, which depicts Kony as if he is still committing terror activities in Uganda has scared many tourists into the country fearing to meet the same threats as the video indicates. Uganda was ranked number one tourism destination center by lonely planet for the year 2012.
Uganda is blessed with many attractions, ranging from mountains, which are attract mountaineering safaris, Mountain gorillas, that attracts gorilla tracking safaris, various wildlife parks, which attract wildlife tours, many lakes, rivers, which attract sightseeing tours, various cultural settings, which makes cultural tours more interesting.
With the misleading Kony video, many tourists have had to cancel their bookings with most Uganda tour operators.
The ministry of tourism plans to develop potential tourist sites upcountry. The plan, according to the tourism state minister, Serapio Rukundo, involves establishing world-class facilities for visitors.
The minister, who was inspecting prospective sites in the countryside, told Arua district local leaders on Wednesday that he was waiting for approval from the finance ministry to start implementing the project.
He explained that the plan would be supported by the government’s increased funding to the road sector to link major tourism sites across the country.
“While the Government is working on the roads, we have asked them to work on what we have prescribed as tourism roads. So that when a tourist leaves Kampala, they can traverse the country without necessarily going back to the capital,” Rukundo said.
He announced that the ministry had set aside funds to establish at least 10 five-star hotels in different regions and also procure 100 tourism vehicles under a private-public partnership arrangement.
Rukundo said they were also in talks with the finance ministry to waive taxes on cars, which will be bought and given to private tour operators under a hire-purchase system.
Rukundo added on that the Government would ask established hotels such as Serena and Sheraton to open more facilities upcountry. He noted that the country had been divided into tourism zones, the first being Kigezi, with scenic sites at Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi forests for gorilla tracking and Ishasha, with its tree-climbing lions.
The second zone, dubbed the Rift Valley Zone, covers part of Queen Elizabeth national park and the Semiliki reserves. The third zone stretches from Murchison Falls national park through the West Nile region.
The other zone covers the eastern region, with Mt Elgon as one of the main attractions.
Kampala is being developed into a short haul base. Tourists based in Kampala will be able to visit the rhinos and hippos in Nakasongola district or the Ssese Islands and return to Kampala the same day, the minister explained.
Rukundo said that there are also plans that are underway to reintroduce rhinos in the 164 square-kilometer Ajai game reserve.