Great Lakes Safaris actively promotes tourism to Uganda, at home and internationally. Here are a few recent press articles:
“What are our embassies doing to promote Uganda’s tourism?”
Author: Amos Wekesa
Published on: 21st June 2011
I have been asking myself lots of questions over the years about the influence of our representatives abroad. To whom are they accountable? What is the quality of the individual representing us abroad? Do they learn anything from examples, especially from those representing our neighbours?
“Finalist 2011 Conservation Award”
Author: World Travel & Tourism Council
Published on: 7th June 2011
National Geographic Channel interview with Amos Wekesa of the Ugandan Tourism Association – Finalist 2011 Conservation Award.
“Budongo Forest, a place of serenity and wondrous nature”
Author: Edwin Nuwagaba
Published on: 8th May 2011
Budongo is one of the most extensive forests in East Africa, famous for its chimpanzees, which have been studied for several decades.
Budongo Eco lodge has been around for quite some time now, but courtesy of Great Lakes Safaris, it has gone through a couple of facelifts. Most of it is built out of beautiful wood, which together with the green environment makes Budongo so natural. It’s blessed with a very beautiful green cover and is indeed a haven for flora and fauna and abundant fresh air.
ARD GERMAN TV
“Uganda – Gorilla-Berge und ‘African Queen’ “
Author: ADR Mediathek – Weltreisen
Published on: 2nd April 2011
One of the international TV companies that Great Lakes Safaris worked with is ARD German TV. For their series “Weltreisen”, Great Lakes Safaris and Uganda Lodges hosted the crew on a special trip to film different locations for their TV program broadcast in Germany.
“Funny you should ask…: Amos Wekesa”
Author: Edwin Nuwagaba
Published on: 7th March 2011
How does it really feel like owning several cars, lodges in the Parks, a successful business ?
Two things; it creates a lot of fear of the unknown. Even as a Christian I think I could wake up one day and find myself poor. The other thing is that it brings satisfaction seeing that all these people working for me are doing well because I took a risk.
What is the one thing you dislike about your past?
So many things. I was born in abject poverty and I don’t dream of going back there. But it also gives me the opportunity of seeing God’s hand in everything I do.
Which animal in the Park has the exact character like yours?
I think it’s the chimpanzee. They are loving because they spend 40 per cent of their time kissing and romancing but can also be aggressive. They are hard-working too – not as lazy as gorillas!
“PUM supporting private business in development countries”
Author: Diederik Catz
Published on: 13th October 2010
Amos Wekesa is a very successful entrepreneur. He owns one of the first African owned safari companies in Uganda. But running a lodge in the deserted Kibale Forest is something quite different… During my stay I supported Lodge Manager Emanuel in establishing his organisation to meet the standards of today’s demanding tourists. I helped them in transition “from warm beer and cold showers, to cold beer and warm showers” – which is not an easy task in the middle of the bush…
“Uganda urged to take its tourism industry more seriously”
Author: Tiberindwa Zakaria
Published on: 28th July 2010
The Chairman of Uganda Tourism Association, Amos Wekesa, has urged Uganda to take the country’s tourism sector more seriously since tourism is capable of contributing heavily to Uganda’s economic growth.
Wekesa says, for example, Uganda has 0.18% of the world’s mass but 10.2% of the world’s birds’ species with more birds per square kilometer than any other country in Africa, 6.8 of the world’s butterfly species and 7.5% of the world’s mammals. Uganda also has the highest density of primate species like chimpanzees and olive baboons than any other country in the world.
NEW YORK DESTINATIONS EXAMINER
“Uganda lures birders with community tourism and wildlife safaris “
Author: Leslie Koch
Published on: 18th June 2010
Uganda is an exciting destination for birders who want to spot wildlife and experience local culture. Named “one of the world’s best bird watching destinations” by Lonely Planet, this East African nation is home to over 1,000 native bird species.
Community tourism gives birders a chance to meet local people and learn more about village life. Great Lakes Safaris, a Ugandan-owned tour company, also offers cultural tours and overnight stays in rural villages.
Spokesperson Miranda Bekkers has identified community tours of special interest to birders. Birding itineraries are available on the Great Lakes Safaris website.
“Epic Amos – Part III”
Author: Mihar Logar, Samo Acko
Published on: 16th March 2010
Our chat with Amos Wekesa is eventually published in full. Solomon Akugizibwe who transcribed the interview, needed two days to type everything recorded, but at the end he wanted more! Amos simply is an amazing guy.
How do you employ your people?
“On merit, because if I employ you as a relative, it is going to be very hard to fire you when you make a mistake. But if I employ you as a person I don’t know, you mess up, you lose your job and it becomes easier for you to grow the business. (…) My son at 4.5 years has a bird book and can tell you different species. Recently he told me, “Dad, I don’t want to be like you, you work too hard, but my sister is going to be like you.”
“Epic Amos – Part II”
Author: Mihar Logar, Samo Acko
Published on: 14th March 2010
In the second part of our epic interview with Amos Wekesa of Great Lakes Safaris/Uganda Lodges we start with the promise made by Sylvia from The World Bank.
“In May (2002) she recommended another group which had come to do research on malaria. I put together a group of six people and took them to Queen Elizabeth National Park. I had a driver and a guide called Martin Okot who now works with Wild Frontiers. He knows about 600 to 700 species of birds in his head.”
“Epic Amos – Part I”
Author: Mihar Logar, Samo Acko
Published on: 13th March 2010
Amos Wekesa is somebody who has built a lot from absolutely nothing. He is now a major player in Ugandan tourism, but how he got there is a remarkable story.
“I was born near the Uganda and Kenya border during the times of Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda, in 1974. It was a very hard time for Uganda as a country…”
“World Economic Storm hits Uganda Safari Tourism”
Published on: 7th May 2009
According to Amos Wekesa, the economic tempest in the developed world has stripped the wallets of would-be safari-goers.
As the sky begins to bruise, an indigo haze descends on Uganda’s “mountains of the moon”, and a solitary lioness limps through the savannah in the valley below. Few foreign tourists see it.
“We are seeing a meltdown,” Wekesa told Reuters. “We may have about 20 percent of operators closing if this trend continues for the next 12 months.” Until recently, Wekesa said Uganda had been experiencing a tourism boom with arrival numbers soaring.
“If you are born next to a national park, you take it for granted … but we are seeing the numbers of local people increase,” Wekesa said. “Many countries are trying to increase domestic tourism to cover up for the numbers they are going to lose because of the credit crunch.”
“More beds for game parks to boost tourism figures”
Author: Dorothy Nakaweesi – travelling to Primate Lodge Kibale
Published on: 4th December 2007
Uganda’s revenue collection from national game parks, a major tourist attraction, is set to increase and create new jobs as the private sector increases investments in accommodation and catering facilities.
Great Lakes Safaris, a leading tour company in Uganda and East Africa recently signed two 10-year concessions to construct new and rehabilitate accommodation facilities in Kibale Forest National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park respectively.
We have earmarked $500,000 (Shs850 million) for the establishment and rehabilitation of these facilities,” the Managing Director of Great Lakes Safaris, Mr Amos Wekesa Masaba said.
Mr Wekesa said $300,000 (Shs510 million) has been spent on construction of Primate Lodge Kibale which has been operational since August. About $200,000 will be spent on the rehabilitation of accommodation facilities at Queen Elizabeth, previously run by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Lack of accommodation continues to be a serious challenge to many of the national game parks and the Uganda Wildlife Authority has embarked on a strategy to partner with private investors to increase the number of rooms at the game parks.
Currently accommodation facilities at the national game parks have a total of 677 beds excluding the various camps set up within these parks to cater for about 124,000 tourists who visit the 10 national game parks annually but more are needed as the numbers are projected to grow.
Uganda currently receives about 600,000 tourists annually. Increasing the number of beds and other facilities could offer Uganda’s tourism industry a much needed momentum to compete with its regional rivals such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Mr Wekesa is optimistic about Great Lakes Safaris’ investment which is currently attracting an average of 70-90 guests every month. Other park managers could take the cue to do the same, partly to offer jobs or local communities surrounding the parks and generate more revenue for the country.
Most of the tourists who visit the park come from USA, Britain, Spain and Germany, amongst other countries.
At Primate Lodge Kibale, four new cottages are being constructed and will be ready soon.
“Our luxury-tented camps, consisting of eight completed deluxe safari tents are supplied with a 24-hour electricity supply and water. All tents are placed on a wooden platform, offering a splendid view at the surrounding forest. The privately situated tents feature a spacious veranda, comfortable twin beds and en-suite bathroom with shower,” Mr Emmanuel Dali the manager of Primate Lodge said. He said as part of the facility there is a new restaurant which provides local and international cuisine.
“Adjacent is a comfortable bar and spacious lounge to spend a pleasant afternoon or evening. Or gather around the unique fireplace where you can think about the adventures of the day,” Mr Dali said.
He said they so far have 15 employees working at the lodge and about 20 temporarily employed on the construction.
“The local community is highly involved in different areas, ranging from the supply of local products and employment, to providing handmade crafts and cultural performances”.
The most important activity adjacent to the lodge is the chimp trekking, offered in the morning and afternoon. The tourists are guided on a nature walk while being educated by experienced ranger guides.
The 795 square kilometer Kibale Forest National Park comprises 77 % forest and 23 % grassland, swamps and some plantations with exotic conifers, and is a home to 13 species of primates.
Dali said the population of Chimpanzees is over 1,420. Other wildlife attractions include an elephant population of 393, 372 bird species, 250 tree species and 100s of butterflie species.
To keep up to date with Uganda travel and tourism news, please sign up to Great Lakes Safaris’ regular free newsletter!