Uganda Wildlife Authority starts mountain biking on Mt. Elgon 22 Nov 2012 | By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Thome
Tourism sources have expressed their satisfaction over news that UWA is now permitting the use of mountain bikes at Mt. Elgon National Park, a trans-boundary ecosystem shared with neighbouring Kenya.
The formal launch took place last Friday when a group of Irish mountain bikers took to the trails ordinarily used by hikers visiting this mountain and forest national park. When discussing the new activity with a senior tourism stakeholder, he had this to say: ‘That is a good initiative for Mt. Elgon. That park is underutilized and can do with more visitors. What UWA should now also do is to find an investor to put up zip lines or a canopy walk. I hear the one in Rwanda is doing very well. I don’t think there are zip lines anywhere in East Africa, for sure not in Uganda. That is another adventure activity we could promote. Now we have the parachuting in Eastern Uganda and we could make this another hub for adventure like Jinja. But we need a little initiative here from UWA now that they are finally left alone again by the politicians and can get on with work. But there is nothing like today to get things started or we shall see zip lines in Rwanda before us here. Even I remember that you came up with that idea 10 years ago to have a canopy walk in Mabira. Rwanda made it happen, I guess Rosette took the idea with her, but here we still wait. Imagine how many more people would stop at Rain Forest Lodge in Mabira if they had that high up walkway. I know that is NFA but the principle is the same. We need innovation in our tourism sector and anything to do with adventure sells very well abroad’.
Uganda was for 2012 the destination of the year by Lonely Planet Guides and the 50th anniversary celebrations too brought added interest for the country, even though tourism promotional budget given to the Uganda Tourism Board is the least of all 5 East African Community member states. The upper Nile valley below Jinja has been turned into a hub of adventure activities with bungee jumping, rafting, river boating, quad biking, mountain biking, horseback safaris and lots more, drawing ever larger numbers of tourists seeking that something different after completing a conventional big game safari or gorilla tracking in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks. Watch this space.
By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Thome