Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda

It is the nearest national park to Kampala. It is only 240km away from the city and in comparison to other national parks you can set off, depending on how much time you spend taking pictures of your self at the equator or stuffing up on chicken in Lukaya you can be one with the wild of Lake Mburo in 4 hours. It’s also not too far away from major towns in Lyantonde and Mbarara district

Zebras. Lake Mburo is home to most of Uganda’s Zebras. There is an entire zebra track after the Nshara gate in Lake Mburo National Park. It is like after paying your park entrance fees, herds of them come to welcome you to their territory.  Zebras are beautiful and from their demeanour, they love to have their pictures taken.  Someone joked that the zebras have been trained by UWA to work their angles and show their good side, whenever they see a camera.  You may not come out of Lake Mburo with the answer to whether zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes,  but you will see enough of them to choose a side to this argument and defend it.  For example, I think they are brown with cream stripes.

The Zebra welcoming you to Lake Mburo National Park.
Photo Credit: Pipes | Kreative Adkit

A leopard. Not leopards but one leopard. We did our game drive in the morning and according to Immaculate our guide, we had zero to none chances of seeing a leopard because they are nocturnal. (Just a fancy word for they feed at night). She didn’t lie about that. However later in the evening while we drove out of the park, we saw one. Chilling by itself below an anthill probably aiming for its dinner.

The leopard in the Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda
#KoikoiUG Photo credit: Nze Eve

The bus got excited.  Fingers started being pointed. Yelling at the driver to; stop, reverse a little, go slightly ahead all at once ensued until everyone caught a glimpse of this big cat with spots (If you have no idea what I am talking about, at least you have seen leopard print fabric.) Cameras were aimed at it and all the wows and “did you see it(s)” managed to scare it away, or as I like to think we saved an animal from being dinner.

The Lake. First of all the UWA boat is new. All the life jackets are still intact so are the seats and paint so it gives a false sense of safety like crocodiles give a damn about, seats paint and inflated orange jackets but that’s not the point. The point is we love water or at least most people do. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who stopped going to the beach why they did and I will bet that the answer will be they were too crowded.  Taking pictures on the water with your shades on gives “life eater” bragging rights,  plus the breeze is refreshing.  A welcome change from Kampala’s sewer filled air ( especially if you don’t live or work in Kololo).

The Aerial view of some part of Lake Mburo
Shot by Mu | Mugasha Arnold

On Lake Mburo, you will see hippos and maybe two crocodiles and several birds. You will make jokes about whether falling off the boat will scare the crocodile away or send it running towards you piece of meat.  You will take several pictures while you are posing and others while you stare at the waves. The kind that you will put on Instagram with long “deep” captions about reflecting on life and how it’s like the waves or if you are me,  something about God being a genius. You will hardly hear anything, Rebecca, the guide, and her megaphone will say about the lake unless she is thanking you for being a lovely crowd and telling you to get the hell off her new boat. You will have spent 1 hour and 30 minutes on the lake and that will make you feel things. Good things.

Joanne and Jeddy on the #LiveThe4GExperience plan, next to Lake Mburo.
Photo Credit: Pipes | Kreative Adkit

There is nothing wrong with being a tourist. Maybe if we all gathered some Shell fuel Save and our favorite people every few months and became local tourists the people in charge will stop giving us rates in US Dollars. And when you do, load some Airtel Data Blasta and share your authentic Ugandan story. There are not very many out there.

About the Author:

 

Komusana Fiona | Sunshine – She loves to have an opinion but more than that she loves to give it, so she writes. The idea that she gets to express her opinion without looking any one in the face is motivating.

Why Travel Is The Truest New Years Resolution.

It’s January. The festivities are done, and its back to our realities, whatever those are. And in the tradition of the new year, we are working hard on our new year’s resolutions. We want to be happier, healthier and achieve more. We want to be a better version of ourselves and we have written down strenuous methods we do not find the least bit interesting to carry us to this personal fulfillment we seek. Methods we shall quickly desert a few weeks into the year and get back to mere existence. But maybe there is another way, travel.

A group of travelers doing a hacking in Kapchorwa, Eastern Uganda. #KoikoiUG
Photo credit: Pipes | Kreative Adkit

So you are trying to evaluate your relationships. 2018 is the year of more meaning friendships. Travel. Think about it. All this time you spend together will be particularly revealing. You are out of your routines and your comfort zone. People are their truest selves. You learn what things they are enthusiastic about and what they do things get stressful. You learn how you work together, whether you are a good team or not. It’s an easy, mostly fun, and sure way to make decisions on who should or shouldn’t be in your life.

Or maybe you are looking to be happier. What makes us happy? Above anything else, it’s our Worldview. Most of our life is a bubble. Work, favorite bar, church, home and the cycle goes on for most of 365 days. Living in this bubble, with the same drama, same stresses every day can take its toll. This is where traveling comes in. Uganda is blessed with a diverse culture, over 55 different tribes, most with different philosophies and viewpoints on life. There is no better way to center your priorities quickly bringing you to the realization that the shit you worry about is simply just that, shit. So maybe if January is already overwhelming, pack a bag and join us on one of our #KoiKoiUG trips.

Travel light with everything you need in your backpack.
photo credit: Pipes | Kreative Adkit

So maybe you are saying there is no way travel can work for your fitness goals. But that’s because of how you look at travel. Travel doesn’t have to be too distant, far away lands, it just has to be to unfamiliar places. Most of the times, people drop out of workout routines not because of the pain, but mostly because of the monotony. Switch it up. Combine your enthusiasm to see different parts of your town with the desire to burn that fat and build that muscle. Working out will quickly move from a chore to a pleasant, relaxing experience.

This Heritage Sarafi lodge Packwach and this was Shot by Mu | Mugasha Arnold.

Any way you look at it, a decision to fill up your tank with some Shell Fuel Save travel can only be good for you, and good on the pocket too. Let us encourage you to start with your own backyard, Uganda, the most beautiful place in the world. The Pearl of Africa holding fast to the truth that traveling, beyond ANYTHING else, is a catalyst for personal growth, reflection, and a deeper sense of connection. And isn’t that what we are really looking for.

 

 

CNN’s Inside Africa talks to #KoiKoiUG

It was exciting to receive the call.

23 months ago, we had started #KoikoiUg to change mindsets and break stereotypes about Uganda. Our inspiration was drawn from a fading practice of telling riddles. Someone older, who was also considered wiser by a virtue of how long they had lived, would start a riddle by saying ‘Koyi Koyi.’ What would follow was an intellectual experience intended to make you wiser or pass on an important lesson. more “CNN’s Inside Africa talks to #KoiKoiUG”

WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE NOT TO SEE UGANDA?

Contrary to popular belief the people at #koikoiug do not get paid to travel. We are accountants, doctors, lawyers, mothers and daughters who, out of a passion for Uganda, find nooks of time in our demanding schedule to travel the country and tell the Ugandan story. This reality highlights a couple of things.

That “I am too busy” excuse you have been holding on to not to come along for a #KoikoiUg experience, or to contribute to the Ugandan story will not cut it. We make time for the things we care about. So if you care about breaking stereotypes and changing mindsets about Uganda, maybe the first step should be signing up to the #KoiKoiUg Newsletter so we can let you know how you can get involved.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of budget accommodation options you can use. And if you travel as a group of friends, the bargains you can get increase significantly. Okay, so maybe you say you don’t have the money for national packs and paid attractions ( which would be a surprise since entry to most national parks is 15,000 UGX for Ugandans) there are a lot of things you could do that would cost you nothing. Quick idea, a walk around a new town. As mundane as this might sound, its actually really fun and exciting. Most times, we treat towns as gateways, just passing through to our next destination. You will be surprised what happens when you decide to stop to take in the sights, sounds and culture.

Most time, because your leave is for grandparents and weddings,  travel time is relegated to the weekends. It would be nice if we planned otherwise, but what if all you had is a weekend, 48 hours tops, to travel to and from, and squeeze exciting activities in there. How much can one really do in 48 hours? The answer is A LOT. First thing to do is manage your time. Cut out all the things that will cost you time. Make fewer stops. So its always easier to stop at places where you can achieve more than one thing. We do our potty breaks at Shell stations. That way we can refuel, shop, fix any service hickups that might have arisen, use Airtel money and so much more. That way, you have much more time for the actual travel. Also, its important to note that it is called Travel, not arrival. Purposing to enjoy every moment, including the time on the road is important too, a part of the experience.

So whats your excuse again to not go see this beautiful country. Nothing. So we are looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Share them with us via the hash tag #KoikoiUG on all social media. Or if you have another excuse, leave it in the comments below, and we shall find a creative solution to that too.

 

AIRTEL’S 800KM FIBER AND THE KOIKOIUG STORY.

When we started #KoikoiUg almost 2 years ago,the idea was simple. Use the world’s biggest fire place, the internet, to tell stories that change mindsets and break stereotypes.  Being multimedia based, their was always the problem of connectivity especially for people up country. So you can imagine our excitement when we heard the news that Airtel was partnering with  BCS and Facebook to lay 800KM of fiber in North West Uganda, specifically in Gulu, Adjumani, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini. KoikoiUg is multimedia based. working with top class photographers and videographers to tell stories about Uganda. Sharing and accessing these stories requires a steady, more affordable internet connection, and that’s exactly what we see this opportunity creating.

Now we are empowered to bridge the gap, sharing stories from the South West corner of the country with children in Koboko. Children who ordinarily would have never had the chance to experience the Islands of Bunyonyi or the mysticism of the Kalangala islands. Yonas Maru, managing director BCS put it beautifully, “Imagine a world where the learning in rural areas is not limited by their teachers but by our collective knowledge.” That world we love. Its the kind of world we want to live in. The world where someone in Kamdini is connected to someone in Mbarara, one big fireplace.

Airtel also announced ongoing work with Facebook to introduce facebook cache technology. Simply put, your phone or PC wont have to get information all the way from the states or wherever facebook stores its data because that will be stored locally. An overall improvement in the experience using Facebook.

The future looks very bright. The quality of stories we will be able share, the mindsets we will break if the internet services continue expanding and improving like this. A thumbs up to Airtel. Thank you for being a supporter of the Ugandan story.

4 THINGS TO KNOW WHEN TRAVELLING TO BUNYONYI

IT’S A TRAP:

The beauty of Lake Bunyonyi is enchanting, in the true sense of the word. The lush green islands and the tranquil water will make you forget that by virtue of it being in the valley, everything is a climb up. I think this is what everyone means when they say it’s devastatingly beautiful. Every time you get off a boat, yo u are doing some sort of climbing. So please pack a pair of sturdy shoes just next to your RnR flip flops.


LEAVE YOUR COMFORTS

When you arrive at your lodging, it is tempting to dig in, kick your feet up and slouch in a comfy chair with the view of lake. Don’t. Bunyonyi has a lot to offer. From the rich history of the Batwa people, to the interesting tales of the medicine man, to adrenaline sports. Something for the scholar and the junkie. Of course it goes without mentioning that the most breath-taking views are along unbeaten paths.

TAKE A DRIVE.

This is the stuff of romance. You and bae on the open road, wind in your hair, Shell FuelSave in your tank, driving around the winding roads of Kisoro. The Escarpment rising above you, tarmac unfolding ahead of you, its breath-taking. Intoxicating even.

DO NOT DISCONNECT

Normally, travel advisories will encourage you to disconnect when visiting nooks like Bunyonyi. Think of your social media as a valve. If you do the full Bunyonyi experience, its quite much, and sharing with your family, friends and us here at #koikoiug is a good way not to get overwhelmed. The Airtel network is crisp even on the lake, so you don’t have to wait for that spot under that specific tree to share that selfie.

#KOIKOISW – JANA’S STORY

3 years ago, Jana Jachmanova, a life coach and mentor decided to embark on a journey. She left behind my job, my friends, my family and all what people could call stability in search for something deeper.

That journey brought her to Uganda where she says she is living the life she has always wanted. She coaches women on breaking their limiting beliefs and helping them to create a life they want.

Jana travelled to Bunyonyi and Kisoro with #KoikoiUg, an initiative by Kafunda Kreative in partnership with Airtel and Shell Fuels and Lubricants that seeks to tell more authentic Ugandan stories through documentation of affordable, more off-the-path possible local adventures. By documenting and highlighting Ugandan sights and sounds, people and culture, the campaign shows Uganda in a different, more positive light which ultimately works to challenge stereotypes and uplift local and international tourism.

Lake Bunyonyi loosely translated to mean “Place of many little birds” is in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale and it is close to the border with Rwanda. The lake is believed to be the 2nd deepest lake in Africa going up to 900m at its deepest point. The lake appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces” but It is more famous for its 29 islands; From the one shaped like a musical note, to the punishment Island where girls who got pregnant out of wedlock would be left to die. Its rich in both myth and history. From the Leprosy Colony of 1921 started by Dr Leonard Sharp on Bwama Island, that currently houses a school, to an island that supposedly was flipped upside down because selfish men refused to share local brew with an enchantress. It is a place of a thousand tales. Maybe a thousand and one, if you add Jana’s story.

See Jana’s breath-taking story here.

 

5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE ABSEILING

One of the biggest attractions in Kapchorwa is abseiling down a 100m waterfall. Its magical. Imagine being suspended from a rope, coming down the distance equivalent to the length of a football field with nothing but the full glory of nature’s wonder underneath you: lush green bushes, flowing streams and an expanse of the natural plains further than the eye can see. Its breath-taking in every sense of the word, both in awe and in fright, in almost equal measure. I recommend that everyone does this at least once before they die. But before you do, here are something’s I think you should know. Must haves before you go abseiling in Kapchorwa, Uganda.

1. Balls: You must have a pair of big ones. The first time I abseiled, the instructor kept saying “Your mind will lie you, don’t let it.” You need to overcome the fear of being supported by a rope barely an inch in diameter, fastened by climbing protection the size of a key ring, in the hands of an instructor who is less than half your size (if you are as ‘small’ as I am), faced with a potential plunge to sudden death with no protective gear. As I said, big ones.

2. Friends: Abseiling is like sex. Although it’s possible to go by yourself, its more fulfilling done with others. Never do it alone, and here is why. The moral support or the fear of online shame, whichever drives you, goes a long way in calming your nerves. And if you let a couple go before you, the cheers coming from the bottom give you the much needed boost to keep going. And then there is the journey back, that’s where you need them, for the morale and the extra hand.

3. Hydration: This is never in the brochure, the hike to and from abseiling is to be revered. This is compounded by the fact that most of us carry a flimsy bottle of water for the entire distance. Pro Tip, carry as much water as you can comfortably carry. You never really imagine it, but you have to climb back up the entire length of the 100m back to the point of pick up, and Kapchorwa does get rather hot so dehydration is a common scenario. A couple of us almost passed out if it wasn’t for the heroic works of a good Samaritan.

4. Fitness: If you have read points 1 to 3, it is obvious that abseiling required you to be in some sort of descent physical shape. You will enjoy your experience much more that way because you won’t have aching muscles and difficulty to breathe robbing you of the ability to appreciate the beauty all around you.

5. An Action Camera: No, your camera phone is not an option here. The likelihood that you will drop it is highest. Between the nerves, the awe, and most likely hanging on tightly to the rope, this is almost inevitable. However, we live in a world of , if it’s not on Instagram, it never happened. So grab an action cam, like a go pro, strap it to yourself or to the rope, and share your scared face with the world.

Abseiling will cost you anything between 60,000 and 100,000 Uganda Shillings depending on season, numbers and your bargaining skills, for Ugandans. Peter Chemonges of Mountain Adventures is a good option, call him via 0750971682 will hook you up, literally. Tell him #KoiKoiUg sent you. So what are you waiting for, fill up your tank with Shell FuelSave (that’s more than sufficient to get you there) and head to the beautiful hills of Kapchorwa for an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to share your experiences with us via the #KoikoiUg tag, and with Airtel you won’t have to wait till you get back.

#KOIKOIEAST IN 60 SECONDS

Kafunda Kreative in the company of 30 photographers, writers, social media influencers and travel enthusiasts competed their second #KoiKoiEast tour in their first excursion of 2017. We did our best to fit it in 60 seconds.