KAMPALA, Uganda: Tomorrow Saturday May 27 2017 will be a memorable day for the communities surrounding the Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks and the entire country at large.
For the first time in history, Government through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has organized the National Park Open Day.
The communities neighboring Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National parks such as Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubiriizi, Rukungiri, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Isingiro and Bushenyi will have a field day as they enter the parks free of charge.
Addressing the media at their headquarters in Kampala, the UWA Business Development Manager Stephen Sanyi Masaba noted that the open day which he said will be annual has been initiated to enhance conservation and join forces with communities neighboring the national parks.
“UWA has declared an annual open day in the areas of Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park on Saturday 27th May 2017. The major objective is to enable stakeholders to come and experience or utilize some of the conserved resources and encourage domestic tourism,” said Masaba on Thursday.
Under the arrangements, all Ugandans will have free access to the park between 7am and 7pm. Masaba said all other activities that Ugandans want to engage in, such as nature walks, game drives, and boat cruise will be paid for.
The Investigator has learnt that on other days, locals or East Africans pay shs15, 000 per person as park entrance as well as shs30, 000 for every vehicle accessing the park. Foreigners are charged USD40 as park entrance. Masaba said that on the Open Day all vehicles will enter the park free of charge.
What is so spectacular about Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem, located some 250 kilometers from Uganda’s capital Kampala, just about two and half hours drive.
This is the smallest of all the country’s 10 savannah parks but also the nearest from the capital Kampala. The park is home to 315 bird species as well as warthogs, buffalos, oribis, Defassa, waterbucks, leopards, Zebras, elands, hippos, topis and reedbucks.
Apart from the above, the park is also home to the impala, and spectacular scenery characterized by beautiful hills, wetlands and the Lake Mburo itself.
Last week the state minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi revealed that government had acquired five buses to transport local tourists (Ugandans) from Kampala to the various parks.
The buses shall serve the Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls National parks among others. Similarly, UWA also purchased boats to help in boat cruise in the Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Park.
“We want to assure Ugandans that they can also enjoy the various lodges within the parks on that day. Food will be available enough to meet the demands of the communities but at a fee,” said Masaba. He said the new boats will be enjoyed by all Ugandans on Saturday.
Recently government launched the Tulambule wild tour as gesture of boosting domestic tourism. The country currently gets over one million tourists annually, a number that Kiwanda said will be increased to 3 million by 2020, now that “Twende Uganda” has also been launched to attract regional tourists from Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.
According to UWA publicist, Gesa Simplicious, Murchison Falls national park currently receives over 30,000 tourists annually with over 50% coming from the East African region. He said Queen Elizabeth national park in Kasese still tops the park of registered tourists annually with over 90,000 recorded each year.