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Newsletter from East Africa May 2006
Kenya and eco-tourism
This year the Kenya Wildlife Service has been actively involved in sensitizing communities that coexist with wildlife to get involved in its management in order to use their sustainable heritage. The organization has realized that, without actively participating with the community, it has affected the direct benefits from wildlife-based tourism for eco-tourism to succeed; the emphasis should be on the rights of communities that coexist with wildlife. In the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve of Kenya’s Coast Province, for example, KWS realized that while it is its duty to conserve rare plant species there, community interests in harvesting certain medicinal species needed to be recognized. KWS allows limited, community-controlled harvesting of these rare plants and trees on site.
Ntungano-Rukungiri road in Uganda completed
A brand new road connecting the two villages has recently opened, cutting the travel time from four hours previously to less than 45 minutes. The road, which branches off the main Kampala – Kabale highway, also allows easier access to the main Bwindi Gorilla National Park and the Southern Sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The road is expected to be extended further to the Congolese border at Ishasha and will then form part of the Trans Africa Highway system, linking the coastal port city of Mombasa with the interior of East and Central Africa.
Located in the heart of Aberdare National Park, this unique game lodge overlooks a sparkling waterhole and salt flat that attracts a host of wildlife – elephant, rhino, leopard, bushbuck and the occasional elusive bongo or boar forest giant. Similar to and named after Noah’s Ark, the Ark consists of three decks from which numerous balconies and lounges provide excellent game viewing vantage points. A bunker at ground level offers excellent photo opportunities and brings you closer to the animals than you would believe possible. The Ark has 60 ‘cabin style’ rooms, consisting of 6 single, 37 double, 10 twin and 7 triple cabins. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers; all are comfortably furnished and enjoy views of the forest waterhole. The Ark has four game viewing areas from which to observe the ever-present wildlife.
Community Tourism in Uganda
The Uganda Community Tourism Association has now created a model homestay product to assist Ugandans in areas conducive to tourism developments that meet the expectations of potential guests. Demands for homestay visits have increased significantly over the last 2 years and the introduction of guidelines and standards will help in the proper development of the product for the benefit of visitors as well as hosts.
Uganda tourism figures drop unexpectedly by 9%
Overall tourism arrivals in Uganda fell by 8.7 percent last year due to a sharp reduction in visitors from Kenya and Tanzania, but tourism officials are optimistic that the outlook for 2006 shows that the country will attract more visitors. Statistics released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics last month show that 467,700 visitors arrived during 2005 compared to 512,378 in 2004. The campaign donated by nature Uganda started on CNN last year and high-profile visits by actors and journalists from travel is expected to bring more figures this year.
Mara Syria luxury tented camp
Mara Syria is a luxury camp specially designed for those travelers who want to experience a real wildlife safari off the beaten track. Mara Siria Camp returns to the original spirit and true meaning of “Safari” by offering individual services and private atmosphere. The camp’s location on top of the Syria Escarpment offers an absolutely unique and stunning view over the Maasai Mara Triangle plains and the Mara River. Eight spacious luxury tents – each with a bathroom and a private veranda – are generously distributed throughout the Syria Escarpment line to provide guests with optimal privacy and recreation.
The railway concessionaire takes office on July 1
The Rift Valley Railways Consortium, which has taken over the concession to run the Kenya and Uganda railways, will officially take over the management of the two former parastatals on July 1 this year, but has already shifted the workforce at both corporations to allow a smooth transition. . It was also learned that the proposed extension of the Uganda railway to South Sudan has made progress and substantial announcements in this regard are expected soon.
Glaciers are disappearing in Africa
Glaciers in Africa’s Ruwenzori-Massive on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo will disappear in the next 20 years. This is what scientists from Great Britain and Uganda say. This means that the tropics will be ice-free, as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are also expected to lose all their ice cover. Global warming is responsible for it.
The presence of the US Navy on the East African coast could threaten marine life
The use of sonar by the US Navy may have partially caused the deaths of hundreds of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Tanzania’s tourist archipelago of Zanzibar in May this year. Scientists are still pondering the cause of the sudden death of 400 dolphins off East Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, but some have pointed the finger at a US Navy task force unit operating in the East African coastal area on its counter-terrorism mission.
Marine biologists in Tanzania said the dolphins, which are probably not endemic to Zanzibar, may have been pushed into the area by deep sea waters offshore due to high frequencies of US Navy submarines.
The tourist archipelago of Zanzibar is famous for dolphins in its Kizimkazi area where thousands of tourists flock to dive and play among schools of dolphins.
Dolphin safaris form a large part of Zanzibar’s tourism activity and have placed this East African Indian Ocean archipelago among the competitive destinations for beach and marine tourism. Over 115,000 tourists go to the archipelago every year to visit its rich marine resources and enjoy the tropical beaches with warm and soft sand.
Maulidi celebrations, Lamu
This year the Maulidi Festival to mark the Birth of Prophet Muhammad was attended and rated as one of the most attended and most successful of this annual event in the island town of Lamu. Kenya Airways was among the main sponsors of this year’s Festival by sponsoring the cross country and poetry categories. Participants of all ages took part in the celebration. Lamu was established as a Swahili trading post and settlement in the 14th century; it is believed that the island was settled as early as the 7th century. In Lamu, the Maulidi Festival lasts for four days, starting from Tuesday to Friday. People recite one of the four Maulids; Sharaful-Anam, Malid ya Dibei (ya Rama), Baranzanji and Simt-Al Durar (string of pearls).
KTB’s marketing campaign boosts Kenya’s tourism industry
The tourism sector expanded last year due to aggressive marketing by the Kenya Tourism Board and improved security at tourist sites. As a result, sector revenues rose 27 percent to $48.9 billion ($700 million) in 2005 from $38.5 billion ($550 million) in 2004. Of the 1.5 million international arrivals, holiday visitors grew by 20.1 percent, while business ones decreased by 16.4 percent in 2005.
According to the 2006 Economic Survey published by the Government, the increase in arrivals resulted in the number of bed occupancy increasing to 10.8 million in 2005 from 10 million the previous year.
Europe led the way in bed occupancy with a total of 2,456,000 bed nights, underscoring its position as Kenya’s top tourism source market. Great Britain, Germany and France are some of the main countries from where Kenya receives its tourists.
Hippo Point Private Estate and Wildlife Sanctuary on Lake Naivasha
The Tower and Hippo Point House are two exclusive retreats in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by yellow acacia trees, between Lakes Naivasha and Oloidien and home to hippos, giraffe, antelope, buffalo and 300 species of birds. Both retreats are uniquely luxurious. The tower is a fabulous creature built as a personal folly, it lies on the shores of Lake Naivasha, high among the acacia trees. The Dodo Tower is an icon, a personal tribute to the breathtaking beauty of the Rift Valley lakes. Peaceful, beautiful, luxurious, this is a place to go and be one with yourself and nature. Most of the antiques including the living room’s Gothic Revival table came from the English estate of Mary, Lady Delamere. Hippo Point House, the magnificent 1933 Tudor style house remains a relic of the “happy valley” set in a traditional English garden of fragrant roses and lush lawns. Refurbished to the highest standards, the house is furnished with fine antiques imported from the family’s ancestral European homes.
New sport at Turtle Bay Beach Resort, Kenya
There’s a new product for divers at Turtle Bay. Enriched air nitrox is the ultimate tool that supports one’s efforts to stay underwater. Especially in the 18 to 30 meter range, air-enriched nitrox gives you more of what you got in diving for a while underwater. Enriched air does this by replacing some of the nitrogen in the air with oxygen. This means you inhale less nitrogen during a dive, which no longer gives you decompression limits. As an enriched air diver, you’ll blow bubbles underwater instead of watching them pop.
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