Ms. Yvonne Kushemererwa, the former presenter at XFM was crowned the 2017 winner of Miss Uganda North America Beauty Pageant during a colorful event that occurred at Miami Intercontinental Hotel in September last year, during the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) Convention in Miami, Florida.
The 25-year-old is a mental health advocate and model who currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia – a South Western province of Canada.
Kushemererwa landed into the country Sunday night and is looking forward to embarking on an exclusive Uganda tour, nick named the “2018 Miss Uganda North America Cares Tour”.
The two-week tourism, culture and charity effort happens annually and it is Kushemererwa’s gift from the Miss Uganda North America Leadership Programme, run by Miss Uganda North America under the vibrant Uganda North American Association.
“The Cares Tour in Uganda” is an opportunity for the 2017/18 Miss Uganda North America to focus an international spotlight on her mother nation and use her voice and popularity to champion good causes,” Tibba Murungi Kabugu, Miss Uganda North America President who arrived a day before, said.
Ms. Kabugu said Kushemererwa will be travelling alongside other visitors from North America and from other countries all over the world. The tour is going to involve her exploration of Uganda’s nature, wildlife, culture and people, charity work, and women empowerment activities.
“It is very exciting that this year, Miss Uganda North America has lived up to its promise of being a leadership programme. This is the first time that we have done such a thing and it will go a long way to connect Ugandans in North America to their roots while supporting Ugandan tourism and Ugandan businesses,” Kabugu said.
She will also pay visit at Kyaninga Child Development Centre to give out donations such as toys, wheelchairs and scholastic materials from the Ugandan community in North America.
Uganda is a spectacular destination that provides a safe home and habitat to variety of bird life and wildlife species which can be encountered during wildlife safaris in Uganda. Ostrich is the largest living bird species on earth and lays the largest eggs than any other bird. It is distinctive in its appearance with a long neck and legs, and also has the fastest land speed than any other bird. This bird can run as fast as 70 km/ hr.
An ostrich lays up to 15 eggs a month, and each egg is laid after every two days and they lay eggs during dry months of the year, usually in February and June. The male ostrich prepares the ground for laying eggs and will dig a hole of about 1 meter wide and 1 foot deep and later fills it with lake sand on which eggs are laid to generate warmth that would enable hatching.
Ostrich are also so vulnerable to predators and when threatened can run although they have powerful long legs that can be a formidable weapon capable of killing humans and potential predators like lions with a forward kick. Its body size ranges from 1.8-2.75 m and weighs up to 155 kg and mostly found in savannah areas, in the semi-arid and sometimes desert areas.
Ostrich produce giant eggs which is the largest of all living birds which can be 15 cm long and weighing as much as two dozens of chicken eggs. The eggs are incubated by the dominant female in the herd during the day and at night by the male in order to use their coloration to avoid detection of the nest as the drab female blends in with the sand and the dark male is very difficult to detect at night. The male defends the hatchlings (after taking 35-45 days incubation) and teaching them how to feed although both male and female cooperate in the rearing of the chicks.
Ostrich don’t have teeth and therefore swallow pebbles to grind their food and an adult ostrich can carry about 1kg of stones at any one time and can go without drinking for several days surviving on metabolic water and moisture in ingested roots, seeds and insects but enjoy liquid water and frequently take a bath where water is available. They possess very large eyes measuring almost 5 cm across allowing them to spot predators like lions within a long distance.
In some African countries people practice ostrich races where one seats on the back of an ostrich made with a special saddle, reins and bits. Ostrich in Uganda can only be found in Kidepo valley national park in north eastern part of the country and at the Uganda wildlife Education Centre; ostriches are apparently endemic to Africa living in Savannah semi – arid areas.
Lake Mutanda is one of Uganda’s breathtakingly magnificent lakes that is situated in the South Western part of the country. It neighbours the scenic Lake Bunyonyi in a region often described as the “Switzerland of Africa”
Lake Mutanda is located in Kisoro District, 20 km north of the town head quarters. Lake Mutanda is a one of the spots one should include on their bucket list for a Uganda safari holiday especially when planning for gorilla trekking in Bwindi / Mgahinga national park.
Lake Mutanda is approximately 8 hour drive from Kampala city, via Mbarara – Kisoro route. It rests on the foot hillls of the Virunga Massif. While at Lake Mutanda, you have panoramic views of three volcanoes namely; Mt. Muhabura. Mt. Sabinyo and Mt. Gahinga. The reservoir also has crystal clear waters and is dotted with at least 15 islands that are evergreen. The banks are also covered with verdant shrubs and trees with the clouds blanketing the hilltops.
Lake Mutanda derives its name from the biggest island on the lake and is home to the “Abagesera” clan of the locals. They are majorly crop cultivators growing crops like bananas, sugarcane and peas. A church is built on top of the island hill and locals sail by canoe from the mainland to the island for church services.
This is a great spot for one to chill out and rest during the journey of adventure after gorilla trekking in Uganda. The epitome of gorilla tourism in Uganda, i.e, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is just south of the lake and Mgahinga National Park is in the west. Here you can encouter the magnificent mountain gorillas that is a one of a kind experience. Like many other places in Uganda, Lake Mutanda has a number of birds including the famous grey crowned crane, kites, among others. Reptiles like the chameleons,lizards, snakes and frogs are among the other animals that can be found here.
Generally, Lake Mutanda offers all year round fishing expeditions, hiking safaris, scenery viewing and mountain biking that can be enjoyed while on a Uganda holiday tour. More interestingly, take a boat ride on the local dug out canoes as you enjoy the spectacular views the Pearl of Africa has to offer.
Hiking is one of the amazing and incredible activities one should engage in while on a Uganda safari tour and the mountains in Mgahinga Gorilla national park dare to offer the best hiking safari experience and a golden chance to be in the 3 countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo at the same time.
Seen from all over Kisoro, as the name describes, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs.
Once at its peak, hikers are rewarded with a view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi impenetrable forest and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering a distance of up to 12 km. You are advised to camp at the Muhabura base camp the night before; but this site has no facilities so travelers are required to carry own tents, water, food and sleeping gears.
Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown. This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to the peak. If you are to continue, the climb to the peak 11 involves walking a ridge with breath-taking views into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda, a dual experience you will achieve here. Finally, the hike up to the peak 111 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty during this climb. Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, what a triple experience this is!!! The journey takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.
On your way to the park, look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such a pile a ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite bigger than the average ‘Gahinga’ but sitting next to Mount Muhabura does make it look small. A hike, which takes about 6 hours round trip, goes through a perfect example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a large Crater lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush wetland.
This is a 5 hours hike which covers total distance of 10 km. It follows first towards Sabyinyo and climbs up the base of Sabyinyo for a while through fine montane forest before turning towards the Congo side. This trail guarantees great views of Mt. Sabyinyo’s gorge and all the peaks. When you get to the Congo side you get back along the international border, you can take a breath at this site to take some photos with your group. The route back to the Park Head Quarters is a great section for birding with a wide range of bird species, a golden opportunity for birders to view and photograph some birds of interest at no extra cost. There are two rest huts along the way that are good places for taking a break while spotting some wildlife like the golden monkeys and forest elephants that roam the place.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary
This dazzling part of nature was gazetted back in October 1998 as a rescue center to provide refuge for the rescued and orphaned chimpanzees that would be discovered by the the ‘Uganda Wildlife Authority.’ Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary is situated 23km in the South East of Entebbe, in the interior of Lake Victoria- Bugombe. Ngamba island has been a support project of the ‘ Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust – NGO (CSWCT) which also had founded its establishment earlier in 1997, apparently the island provides a comfortable home and safe haven for over 40 chimpanzees, which thrive and multiply from here.
Ngamba Island is a vast piece of land covering up to 100 acres, also covered by a dense forest that grew on an island; most of the habituated chimps here are either juveniles, injured or orphaned. Ngamba is diverse in nature, as it possesses several species of trees, the forest mammals and water birds, amazing reptiles inclusive of lizard and snake varieties, a sparkling lake view plus a splendid induced natural scenery, just to give every visitor an exquisite reminisce of a memorable holiday. There is a guaranteed opportunity for incredible closeness to view the chimpanzees while in their natural environment, a chance created by the supplementary feeding program; 11am to 3pm daily and thus you can take photographs excellently.
Take a one day tour to Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary, and enjoy a once-in-a lifetime event, spending a day with the chimpanzees. A visitor travels from Kampala covering a distance of only 35 kilometers to Entebbe, through the Uganda wildlife Education Center yet another home of habituated game. On reaching, you will be welcomed by the awesomely hospitable staff and shortly then, they shall usher you into a boat ride that lasts for approximately an hour after which eventually you arrive at the much anticipated Ngamba Island. At the island, a special arrangement that involves visitors in the experience of chimpanzee care taking is organized and the major activity is active participation in two phases; the first-preparation of the chimp’s food and second-is feeding them. There is also opportunity of assisting staff with other activities ranging from feeding chimps, medical, research and monitoring, and even administrative work which may include activities like writing chimp stories plus any other activity that may fit within one’s skills. Other popular tourist activities at Ngamba Island include; fishing, camping, forest walks, chimp trekking, sunset cruises, speed boats and overnight excursion.
The well spacious and serene Ngamba island camp provides quality and standard meals and accommodation facilities to both day and overnight visitors.
The lodge serves the best local and international cousins, gym and spur, steam bath and exceptional room services – all with a touch of excellence. The warm staff will serve you amicably and with a good sense of humor to ensure visitor satisfaction.
With a population of about 400 mountain gorillas (2011 census), Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas and it boasts to be a popular destination for gorilla safaris in Uganda. The park has a total of 12 fully habituated gorilla families that live within the four designated gorilla regions which are easily accessed by visitors looking for gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda.
The smallest of all gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mubare is dominated by 6 members under the leadership of 1 Silverback. The group is conveniently situated near Buhoma, the park headquarters, making it the easiest group to be accessed by trekkers.
Mubare group is the pioneer gorilla family and first to be habituated in Bwindi and Uganda at large. It was discovered within the Mubare hills, in the interior of Bwindi forest. The habituation process of this was completed in 1998. Mubare group started with only 12 members, headed by the dominant silverback “Ruhondeza”. In the past few years, the family has expended to up to 18 individuals.
Since then, the group has lost most of its members including Ruhondeza itself, due to endless fights with other wild gorillas. The group remained with only 5 members for a great deal of years until March 2013 when four other members including a new dominant silverback joined and it’s now an interesting gorilla family to track.
The Rushegura gorilla family was formed early 2002, following disintegration of one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group. The family started with 12 members – including 5 females though recently they grew to a total of 19 members. The group acquired its new name “Rushegura” as derived from a word, “Ebishegura” which refers to specific tree species that were dominant in the area inhabited by this new gorilla family. They are commonly seen within the compound of Gorilla sanctuary Camp near Buhoma village.
Habinyanja family comprises of up to 18 members with 2 silverbacks. The group was officially opened in 1999 when tourists first visited it. The name was derived from a native phrase, “Nyanja” which literally means a “lake / water body”. This group was first seen in a wetland in Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Visitors trekking the Habinyanja group require about 3 – 8 hours and it becomes easier when one stays at a lodge within the Buhoma region of Bwindi. The adult female gorillas are headed by the ambitious alpha female known as Kisho.
Bitukura group is one of the most attractive and well composed families in the region due to its uniqueness; including 4 silverbacks with Ndahura – the 2nd youngest silverback as the dominant.
Bitukura family is composed of 13 individuals: – Ndahura, which is the dominant silverback, Rukara- 4th silverback, Betina – the adult female, Ruhija the adult female, Kamuga the adult female, Karamuzi the 2nd silverback, Rukumu the 3rd silverback, Obia the black back, Mugisha the black back, Twakire a juvenile, Kabandize a juvenile ( came from Kyaguliro), Kadogo an infant and Mubwindi an infant.
Kyaguriro is a habituated gorilla family that is not open for trekking by tourists but a reserved section for research and other studies, related to primates and mountain gorillas. Keeping contact with this group helps conservationists to learn more about the mountain gorillas of Bwindi national park, including remarkable differences with the mountain gorillas that dwell in the neighboring Virunga region.
Nshongi group was the largest ever to be habituated with about 36 gorilla members and was officially launched in September 2009. It was named after river Nshongi, where this family dwells. Although most gorilla families consisting of up to 25 members usually have one or two Silverbacks, this was a strange one with 4 Silverbacks.
However, in July 2010 the group split and remained with only 25 members with the other split section forming the present Mishaya Gorilla Group. In 2013 the family further split and reduced to 18, with the new split forming the present Bweza Gorilla Group with 10 members.
Silverback Mishaya in July 2010 decided to leave Nshongi Gorilla Group with some females and initiated his own family. Being a great fighter, he had the ability to gather more females from other non-habituated groups in the area, reaching a total group size of 12 gorillas, including three infants. Mishaya is the only adult in the group and is known for being a fighter who often starts interactions with other gorilla families.
The group size is 13 members with 3 silverbacks which are the only ones named. The dominant Silverback is called Rumansi followed by the other two old male gorillas named Rwigi and Ruhamuka respectively. The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 but in less than a year the group split, creating the new Busingye Gorilla Family. Before the separation, the family consisted of 27 individuals including 3 silverbacks.
Bweza Gorilla Family is one of Nshongi Groups that used to be the largest ever habituated in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. However, due to the July 2010 Silverback Mishaya decision to leave the group and start his own family, he left with reasonable number of them including Silverback Bweza. Towards the end of 2012, Bweza walked away with about 6 other members from the Mishaya Gorilla Group and became independent.
Early in 2013, there were speculations by the UWA park management that the Bweza split would return and re-bond with Mishaya but this happened and was later introduced for tracking.
Busingye Gorilla family is another splitter gorilla family having broken away from Kahungye Family back in June 2012. It was Silverback Busingye who decided to split and create his own family. Busingye is one of the newest groups in the park found in the Rushaga region close to Nshongi and Mishaya gorilla groups.
In January 2014, the group had 9 members including 3 infants, 2 adult female and other were youths or young teens.
Nkuringo is a local word meaning “round hill”; it’s a word from the Rukiga language, referring to the hill where the group was first sighted. Nkuringo group was launched in 2004 after 2 years of habituation.
The family was dominated by Silverback Nkuringo who died in April 2008, leaving behind 2 Silverbacks; Safari and Rafiki. Safari took over the leadership and the same year in November, newborn twins, Katungi and Muhozi arrived and expanded the family further. Unfortunately, Katungi died later at the age of 1½ years due to illness.
The Kansiime Backpackers is a newly constructed boutique accommodation facility owned by the prominent and currently the best female comedian in Africa, famously known as the queen of comedy in Africa, Anne Kansiime (the fun factory comedian).
The facility is located in the midst of Lake Bunyonyi on a beautiful island that overlooks inland shores of the 2nd deepest lake in Africa in south western Uganda. The lodge can be accessed by both private and public means of transport from Kampala and Entebbe airport and is an affordable option to visitors, especially the backpackers and budget travelers. It’s a convenient avenue perfect for relaxation, chilling and adventure for travelers, offering them an exquisite gate way spot where they can really appreciate nature and magnificent landscapes with native trees and a soothing environment with beautiful sounds of birds. Kansiime backpackers is a perfect place for vacationers, adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers, honeymooners, the place strives for maximum satisfaction of clients because of its endearing natural setup and peaceful, cool breeze and an awesome scenery of Lake Bunyonyi surrounded by the terraced Kigezi hills that one would never want to miss while on an exploration safari in Uganda.
The beauty of this place is that the facility has positioned itself as a best place to celebrate life and targets travelers interested in eco-friendly activities, including swimming, village / community walks, hiking, interactive visits, birding on the island, island hopping, scenic viewing, or taking a magical boat cruise or canoeing on the lake using the African made dug-out canoes symbolizing the authenticity of Africa’s culture (Ancient fisher men), site viewing can’t be forgotten at Kansiime backpackers enabling a visitor to see the beautiful landscape, the spot is a hub for many bird species for up to 200 species which are unique to this place. Authentically, the Kansiime backpackers portrays the reality of Africa. The facility has an onsite craft shop well stocked with beautiful souvenirs made from local materials and the cool breeze favors tourists who are looking for a complete get away, and a lifetime exploration into the interior of Africa. Therefore, this can be the most recognized lodge to dwell in during an adventure tour in Uganda.
Uganda is expecting a rise in the population of critically endangered mountain gorillas after a “baby boom” in the recent past with in the famous Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Covering a total area of 321 sq.km and an altitude of up to 2607 m above sea level, Bwindi national park which is set to be monitored during this gorilla census is home to almost 50% of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Conservation researchers and Mountain gorilla experts will survey and analyze the status of the population, assess the impact of threats, and evaluate the effectiveness of conservation strategies towards mountain gorillas. Unlike the last census in 2011, the researchers are expecting the number to have increased from the previous 400 gorillas.
A team of rangers, wardens and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff will be gathered to disentangle and smoothen the paths in the forest for evidence of mountain gorillas. The methodology of this survey will include teams moving systematically amidst the undergrowth recording gorilla nests, evidence of movement and feacal samples, which shall be collected for genetic analysis.
The forth coming gorilla census in Uganda shall be divided into two phases – the first will begin in March (2018), and the second will be carried out later in October 2018. The genetic analysis will provide an accurate population figure soon after the data capture is completed. This is aimed at setting better strategies for the development of mountain gorilla conservation and protection in a near future. Whilst the official global population was since recorded as 900 individuals, this is significantly up on the 600 low-point registered in mid-1990s.
Mountain gorillas have survived in Uganda and other neighboring countries mainly because of strong efforts dedicated to conservation. Protection of their habitat has been maintained and managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to increase revenue got from gorilla safaris in Uganda, hence supporting indigenous communities dwelling in the neighborhood through providing better education, healthcare and sanitation and employment opportunities for the youth through tourism and conservation.
When we talk of the remarkable Rwanda destination, we can’t help but mention the Rwandan genocide and the way the young nation has coped and turned over a new leaf. The Rwandan genocide can be described as the preposterous organized slaughter of about 800,000 Rwandans mostly Tutsi’s in a period of just 100 days. At the epicenter of this, is the Kigali Genocide Memorial site that stands tall to commemorate the 1994 great ordeal that befell this young nation.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial was opened on 7th April 2004 during the commemoration of a decade of Rwandan Genocide. It serves as a spot to turn back time and remember the lost loved ones as well as the resting place for over 250,000 victims of the genocide. The centre was established with funding from the Aegis Trust that raised over $2 million in conjunction with the Rwanda national Commission for the fight against Genocide. The memorial is just ten minutes away from the main centre of capital Kigali and 20 km from the Kigali International Airport by road.
The centre is a deeply compelling and gripping experience that induces tears to anyone that embarks on a Rwanda safari at the solemn museum. The Kigali memorial includes three exhibitions with the largest exhibiting the 1994 genocide. The other two feature a children’s room dedicated to the little ones killed and the “wasted lives” exhibition that shows genocidal violence around the world. It has examined atrocities like in Namibia, Armenia, Cambodia, among other holocausts around the world. The huge walls of the centre display archives, photos, video footage and weapons used in the genocide and its origins right from the pre-colonial era. The room filed with skulls will give you the chills but it’s not as daunting as the children’s room as it tells you all about their life including their favorite food and activities.
After the indoor encounter of the Kigali Genocide memorial site one needs the clear daylight and fresh air. The memorial has serene and peaceful gardens for hushed reflections to recoup after a bewildering encounter. The tombs covered by concrete are a spot to honour the over 250,000 Rwandese who lost their lives on this same spot. Last on your Rwanda tour to the memorial, the black marble wall that is etched with the names of all those that succumbed to death as you try to understand what really went wrong.
Whoever plans or wants to visit the Rwanda in the heart of Africa needs to include the Kigali Genocide Memorial site to their itinerary. This place matters, it’s a reminder on the international community to keep a keen eye so as to stop such atrocities. It a destination to definitely leave you humbled and enlighten the need for love and peace in the world.
For their refusal to renounce Christianity, 45 young converts of the Catholic and Anglican faiths were on the fateful day of June 3, 1886 burned to death by Kabaka Mwanga II’s orders, the then king of Buganda –at Namugongo. As a tribute to them, a shrine designed by Swiss architect Justus Dahinden was built in 1973 at the site the martyrs were murdered.
The Uganda Martyrs shrine Namugongo is situated about 14km from the city centre of Kampala, and it has hosted prominent people like the catholic top leaders and many significant political leaders. Before his visit to Uganda in 1993, Pope Paul VI had canonized the 22 catholic martyrs and considered them as saints in the Catholic Church. The current Pope, Pope Francis visited Uganda recently and as well paid a visit to this popular site, Namugongo shrine. According to the written history, only 45 people are known to have been persecuted but it is possible that many other Christians were killed by Mwanga II for the same reason but not much data is available concerning their deaths.
Namugongo martyrs shrine is a worthy tribute, an architectural land mark, with rich historical touch and a sound religious monument. The shrine has become a popular tourist attract as it pulls thousands of visitors to tour Kampala city and short Uganda safaris from all over the world, to come and pay tribute to the youthful men who died for faith. A multitude of pilgrims throng this place from all walks of life on 3rd June every year to memorize and pray for the martyrs, and this is a day to pray, repent and memorize the benevolence from the almighty.