Uganda named a top travel destination for 2016

A curious gorilla assesses photographer Petra Kilian-Gehring, who took this picture in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.
A curious gorilla assesses photographer Petra Kilian-Gehring, who took this picture in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.

CNN has named Uganda as one of the top 16 up-and-coming travel destinations for 2016. CNN travel reporter Anisha Shah writes:

Rich in nature, it’s an outdoor sanctuary of crater lakes, white-sand beaches on lake islands, thundering waterfalls and national parks.

A top highlight is Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary, where rescued and orphaned chimpanzees live out their days on an island in Lake Victoria. Visitors can cross the equator by boat there, slicing through Africa’s largest lake.

It also noted that Uganda is one of the few places in the world to see mountain gorillas in their native environment, along with Rwanda and Congo. Seeing these close cousins of humans up close is truly the experience of a lifetime. Ujuzi traveler El Nault calls it “a profound spiritual engagement.”

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Taking Kids on Safari

Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.
Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

In 2016 and 2017, Kenya is waiving visa fees for children. What a great time to introduce your kids or grandkids to the joys of exploration! The country offers a range of fun safari activities for kids of all ages, a few of which include:

  • Feeding endangered Rothschild giraffes by hand at the Giraffe Centre in Karen
  • Petting baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Visiting  chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  This sanctuary offers a safe haven for abused and orphaned chimpanzees from West  and Central Africa. (Chimpanzees are not native to Kenya.) After being nursed back to health, chimpanzees spend their days exploring, climbing, socializing, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again. This is an amazing project supported by the Jane Goodall Institute.

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Featured Lodge: Azura Benguerra, Mozambique

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Mozambique is an incredible destination,  with miles of pristine  beaches and coastal islands that offer access to ocean explorations as well as land safaris. Azura Benguerra is a boutique hotel that represents many of its wonders – the people, history, culture, food, hospitality all wrapped up in the stunning villas dotted along the edge of the Indian Ocean.

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Environmental Successes on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

The Namaqua chameleon is found only in the Namibian desert and in southern Angola. Photo by Terry Feuerborn. Used through a Creative Commons license.
The Namaqua chameleon is found only in the Namibian desert and in southern Angola. Photo by Terry Feuerborn. Used through a Creative Commons license.

The Skeleton Coast is still one of Namibia’s lesser-traveled gems, despite recent global attention for its stark beauty. Australia’s Daily Telegraph recently ran a story about viewing the amazing desert-adapted lions and elephants who survive in the inhospitable habitat of this raw, windswept coast. Dr. Flip Strander and his Desert Lion Conservation project have helped to increase the desert-adapted lion population from 20 animals to over 150 in the last 17 years, in part due to the role of tourism.

Namibia is a land with many environmental success stories. It was the first country in Africa to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution and now almost 45% of Namibia’s land is protected by the government and local communities.

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Adenium boehmianum flower in Kaokoland, Namibia. Photo by Petr Kosina. Used through a Creative Commons license.

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Meet Habibu Muhereza, one of Ujuzi’s Ugandan guides

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Habibu Muhereza was born in the Bushenyi district of Uganda, which borders Queen Elizabeth National Park. After working as a teacher, he started his conservation career as a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger and interpretive tourist guide. This work gave him the opportunity to get to know all  the parks in Uganda. Impressed with his excellent work and dedication, the UWA appointed him as its head guide for Queen Elizabeth National Park, where he managed wildlife and educated his local community about living alongside the many important species in the park.

Habibu has completed the Uganda Safari Guide Association tourist and guiding course, as well as guiding and birding courses in Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest National Parks. He consistently gets rave reviews from travelers, such as this one from a safari-goer in 2011:

“Habibu Muhereza was the best guide Iʹve ever had on any safari, ever — and this was my fifth trip to the African continent! There arenʹt enough superlatives — he was exceptional!!!!”

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