Tuesday, 30 August 2016

How to host a killer pool party

How to host a killer pool party

Host a killer snack platter this summer

With soaring temperatures in the Lowveld, it’s that time of year again. With winter at its tail end, Lowvelder’ s is starting to look at the previously unused pool with some longing, and starting to gather ideas for the ideal pool party.

While you have been making the rounds to get the best sparkling pool, we went looking for foodie ideas. And we think we have a great one. This year why not host an Aperitivi Party?

And I know what you are thinking: WTF is an aperitivi party? Well, it’s an Italian version of a cocktail party sure to leave your guests wanting more. We spoke to some friends, who we can safely refer to as experts in the field to help you get the best mix to secure success.

Think of the whole thing like you would a sandwich. No, seriously. It’s a sandwich. What do I mean by that? I mean you need to have a little bit of everything, all in balance. Airy bread, fatty meat, rich cheese, briny antipasto, something sweet, something crunchy, plenty of vinegar, oil and herbs…. I don’t know about you, but I’m suddenly really hungry. Let’s get started!

The liquid courage
As with any pool party the drinks make all the difference, we all know some people might never end up in the pool, and the aperitivi party is no different. Have some solid wines on hand, and make sure you have a good mix of reds and whites, and not just in numbers (If you want to stretch the budget, get friends to bring an Italian wine as entry)

You can’t just stop at wine, though. Having a couple cocktails will really help liven things up. And we borrowed some ideas from Dauntless Destinations sundowner list for this year to inspire you.

Our Top 3 summer sundowners 

The New Year’s Resolution Jug

This one is can carry all your best intentions for 2016. 

2 parts Aperol
3 parts KWV Brandy
Wedges of fresh orange
Orange juice

Pour the Aperol and brandy in the bottom of the jug and top up with loads of ice and fresh oranges
Pour over the sodawater and top up with orange juice

White Sangria Cocktail

This one is for Ben Heyns who got everyone excited and possibly addicted to this wonderfully fresh flavour and effervescent colour.

1 bottle of KWV Brut sparkling wine
Half a bottle of KWV Classic Collection Sauvignon Blanc - and 8 shots of Melon Vodka
Handfuls of fresh mint
Sliced cucumber, White grapes, Fresh basil

Combine all the ingredients in a jug and top up with loads of ice

Pimm’s and Cruxland Gin Lemonade

We love this drink for its real old school colonial style.

1 part Gin
2 parts Pimm’s
Mint, cucumber and seasonal fruit

Mix all together with loads of ice and serve immediately

The Salumi (Meats)
Arguably the most important non-liquid part of your party, your meat selection should have something expected and something unexpected. According to our experts, when they host an aperitivi party, the first thing everyone goes for is the prosciutto. And if you don’t have it, people will inevitably ask, “Where’s the prosciutto?” People love it, they want it, and you should give it to them.
Make sure to add some variety, and think of your plating when you plan.

The Cheese

Again, making sure you have some of the usual suspects available is gonna keep people really happy. Fresh mozzarella torn into pieces with a little bit of olive oil and salt on top looks beautiful and will also disappear quickly. Mozzarella is great because it’s more about the texture than an overwhelming flavour, so it takes on the flavours of the things around it to some degree. People also always love a little bit of Parmesan, the king of cheeses, and you know it’s going to go well with any Italian meats and antipasto you have. Finally, something like Fontina can be your unexpected but known and welcome player

The Antipasto
We’re going to just go ahead and lump together all the brined and marinated vegetables. This is where you can go a little bit wild on variety. Going back to the sandwich concept, here you want to have your own microcosm of salt, oil, vinegar, sweetness, and textures. Try not to get anything too big, as those will most likely be left behind. Olives, artichoke hearts, peppers, onions, tomatoes; all the bright little marinated non-meat, non-cheese things.

The Bread
A nice ciabatta or semolina baguette is a great pick. But once you have your standard, uncomplicated choice locked down, feel free to add something else a bit more out of the box. Rosemary-raisin focaccia, anyone?

The bits at the end to delight

The last thing to think about is adding a little bit of texture and sugar into the mix. Fresh fruit is a great addition: figs, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, etc. These help cut through all the salty, rich goodness that’s going on.

If you're looking for an adventure for a group, make sure to contact the guys from Tours & Tickets for some gread adventuarous ideas for an adventure before the celebration begins. They have 150 diffrent activities from more than 50 providers in the Lowveld to suit your needs. 

Follow their updates with this link: 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The "Queen of the Night"

Don’t you love those days when you get a message from a friend on social media, and it changes your morning completely.

Well, that’s just what happened this morning while I was scrolling through my messages with a cup of steaming coffee, still half asleep. 

I noticed a message from Jane, a friend and co-worker in the US. She just arrived home after a late night and due to the time delay between the US and Africa we were both u, but sharing different parts of the day. Upon her arrival at midnight she noticed a surprise waiting on her porch, and what an unusual and delightful one it was indeed.  In full bloom stood a rare midnight bloomer so to speak.

Jane's Queen in full bloom

This flower was unknown to Jane, although she had it for years. It was gifted to her 25 years ago by a neighbor, who originally smuggled it out of Venezuela, actually she only brought a leaf with her ….hidden in her bra. Miryiam Cash (The adventurous neighbor) sadly has moved on, but would have been smiling from ear to ear at Jane’s surprise.

When I noticed the images that Jane uploaded, I was not only intrigued but drawn to it, as there are only a handful of plants that almost never flower and when they do it’s a fleeting moment in time and people might wait a lifetime to witness it.

This beautifully fragrant flower that blooms only one night each year was not only striking but rare, and a sight to behold.  The aptly named “queen of the night” has for ages inspired people with it’s almost dinner plate sized strikingly white flowers that appear at midnight.

Witnessing the miraculous event of its bloom is like watching Cinderella become the bell of the ball. But alas, dawn is "midnight" for this Cinderella, as the flower wilts and the queen of the night becomes just a plain, inconspicuous cactus for yet another year.

In its native habitat, stretching from the sub tropics of Mexico to the rain-forests of South America, it never touches the ground, instead it clings to the branch of a tree forty to sixty feet up where it can grow 20-feet tall, wrapping its’ roots around the tree’s trunk and feeding on sunlight, rain, and air.
Perched in the rainforest canopy, the flower blooms bathed in moonlight amidst the whirl and buzz of nigh time creature life. 

The sent is captivating, not just to us humans, but also to its primary target, bats and moths.  It’s a burst of fragrance intended to lure them to its blooms to ensure pollination. It’s thus no surprise that with only a few hours each year, the performance is overpowering and the sight striking.

I will have to wait like the rest of us to witness this wonder of nature. I’m sure Jane will never look at this particular unassuming plant in the same way, as by know she knows that hidden below those cactus like leafs waits a burst of colour and fragrance as we all wait for the queen to perform again next year.

From Jane - The Dancing Queen - also called the queen of the night. 

Images by Jane Behrend of Emerging Destinations 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

"Donnie" the little engine that could

The little engine that could

Debbie English, who is in her fourth year of veterinary science at Onderstepoort, posted some touching photos this weekend of a little rhino calf who was stranded without its mother. And we followed the story.
In a bizarre incident in South Africa, visitors to Kruger national park encountered a very young lost Rhino that sought out their vehicle for support. It was later confirmed that the young calf of just over a year old was separated from its mother when the mother was killed in yet another poaching incident in the park.

Young rhino imprint on their mothers and it’s probably no coincidence that the vehicle had a similar colouration to that of rhinos. It was incredibly sad to see the little one adopting the greyish vehicle as its mom, and not wanting to leave the vehicle asking for support.  You could not help but think of the terrible circumstances that led to this moment and its journey in search of help, and the luck involved in encountering a tourism road and a familiar grey coloured vehicle.

Imprinting is regularly seen by safari guides in many animal species, when they lose their mother, with some baby wildebeest running for kilometres to keep up with their new “mom” as a safari vehicle drives away.

Debbie’s father Don English, a Regional Ranger for Marula South Region, together with the veterinarian managed to tranquilize the tiny rhino and fly him to a new home.

He was named after the Kruger Park’s regional ranger, Don English, who, along with a veterinarian, came to his aid.

This however didn’t go without its hiccups along the route, proving once again that this little guy is not only special but had all its angels on-board.

The pilot had to make an emergency landing after this little Donnie, as he was referred to by now, flat-lined. After 3 minutes of resuscitation and trying everything to save him... everyone involved was amazed (some with tear filled eyes) when he gasped for air and his little heart started up again. After a rough ride he finally made it to his new home where he probably had a good snooze and is now hopefully settled in.

The public don't often hear about successes like these so I would like to share this happy ending with you and ask to support our rangers, veterinarians and all the other special people involved in the fight against rhino poaching!

Thanks Debbie, for this incredible feel good story that highlights not only the plight of our Rhino, but also the amazing people on the ground that work tirelessly to save our endangered “Donnies” out there in the bush! 

Where is he now? 

The story has a somewhat happy ending though, because he is now being looked after by Care for Wild Africa, an organisation that rehabilitates wild animals on a reserve in Mpumalanga.
“He’s doing very well. He drank all his milk and he’s walking around,” the organisation’s Marnelle van der Merwe said on Monday.
If you are interested in sponsoring or donating to Care for Wild Africa, they would so appreciate it, and it would help so many of the little rhinos who end up here. “They do an absolutely incredible job,” says Debbie.
Care for Wild Africa website: http://www.careforwild.co.za/ 
Source and images Debbie English: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.english.1654 

Some more Images 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Keeping Uganda’s Rhino Safe.

Keeping Uganda’s Rhino Safe.

Recently the Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch located in Nakasongola district of Uganda was a hive of activity as the 10 of the 15 rhinos underwent a makeover in order to secure their future. The sanctuary is home to the only rhino in Uganda as part of a project to secure the reintroduced rhinos and reintroduce rhino to Uganda’s national parks as Uganda lost its remaining wild rhinos in 1983.
Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch

 After the first six rhinos were translocated to Uganda in 2004 and 2005, a period of four years elapsed before the first calf was born in March of 2008.  Sadly this calf was stillborn to mother Bella.  In June 2009 the first healthy calf was born and aptly named Obama.  There were two reasons he was named Obama, he made history by being the first rhino born in Uganda in approximately 30 years and his mother hails from the United States and his father from Kenya.

Subsequent to the first rhino’s birth, eight more were born at regular intervals, with the last one on the 2nd of April 2014. This made the sanctuary a true conservation success story for Uganda and opened the road to possible reintroduction of Rhino into the national parks down the line. Of the nine calves, three are male and six are female, making up a total of six males and nine females at the sanctuary.

Mating has been ongoing, promising further additions to the group. One interesting aspect that transpired, was the inter-calving interval which is close to two-years, this very short interval can only be explained as due to a safe environment and excellent grazing throughout the year.
Lots of planning went into the project to ensure a smooth delivery 

The recent work at the sanctuary was conducted by Rhino Fund Uganda staff and rhino ecologist Dr Felix Patton, Uganda Wildlife Authority Vets Atimnedi Patrick and Enyel Eric as well as Kenya Wildlife Services Vet Lokool Isaac, Molecular Biologist Otiende Moses and their team.

Poor Malaika. The first 2 darts did not discharge but all went well in the end

The procedure entailed sedating the rhinos so that microchips could be implanted in both the horns and beneath their skin. Each rice-grain sized chip carries a unique bar code. If a rhino was to get poached and the horn recovered thousands of kilometres away in the Far East for example, the chips could be scanned and matched to those under the skin of the poached carcass to prove it was obtained illegally. This indisputable evidence would then be used to convict the smugglers and traders involved.

Says Rhino Fund Uganda Executive Director Angie Genade, “many poachers and traders of illegal rhino horn have escaped conviction due to a lack of evidence that the courts would accept as beyond reasonable doubt. Microchips help in creating the necessary evidence chain in a timely way as you just need to scan the chip to get an immediate result.”

At the same time as micro-chipping, the team also collected DNA samples from each of the remaining Rhinos in Uganda. “DNA is like a genetic finger printing system as every rhino, much like humans also have a very unique DNA pattern”

Dr Felix Patton, the conservation adviser to RFU explained. “DNA is the same for an individual rhino whether it is extracted from its horns, hair, blood or skin and, in fact, we collected samples from all these for each of the rhinos we darted. The samples will be sent to an expert laboratory in South Africa for DNA analysis and will become part of an Africa-wide database of rhino DNA. Whenever a trader is arrested with rhino horn, the DNA can be extracted and matched to a rhino on the database, similar to the way fingerprints are, to provide further evidence of it being obtained illegally” he said.

The team at work in Uganda 

To avoid breading problems in future the DNA will also be used to determine which male is in fact the sire of those rhinos born at Ziwa to ensure that no male is so dominant that there will be genetic problems in the future.

The team also took the opportunity presented to notch those rhinos caught which had no notches or modify those who’s weren't clearly defined. This helps ensure accurate identification in the field for observation. Most of the data is collected by unobtrusive field observation, and the small V shape cuts in the ear margins of the rhinos greatly improve accurate data collection and identification of the individual rhinos.  This system is common practice in Africa to collect data for dissemination and it’s also very helpful if incidence of poaching occur as it identifies the individual Rhino.
Rhino conservation in Uganda 

Funding for the operation came from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda Small Grants Fund with additional assistance from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Africa Rhino Programme.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a great concerted effort of like minded people and teamwork to secure the future of our rhinos. We applaud the various bodies and team members that combined their efforts to ensure the future of the rhino population in Uganda. 
Many hands that deliver rhino conservation  in Uganda 

Make sure to visit their website to learn more and follow their updates on Facebook. Premier Safaris guest also visit the sanctuary as part of their Murchison falls Itineraries in Uganda. Look out for the new mid-range photographic Safaris in 2016 that will also include a stay at the sanctuary.

Photo credit - JL Uys Photography 

CNN Inside Africa coverage of Uganda’s Rhino project: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/03/world/bringing-rhinos-back-to-uganda/

Some more photos of the Rhino conservation project by JL Uys 
It takes a village to help a Rhino 

Ear Notching 

Sedated Rhino 

Monday, 2 March 2015

The sleeping lion emerges in East Africa

Lion on conservation drive by Corne Schalkwyk as part of Premier Safaris in Uganda 

We are all aware that last year was a very rough year for the East African tour operators as a barrage of negative press hit the East African region. This happened when Africa travel was actually at an all-time high and cough many of us off-guard, as a massive drop-off was the last thing east Africa was expecting. Especially the emerging destination Uganda, seen as the “pearl” of the East Africa offerings.

Uganda in 2012 showed remarkable growth in their tourism industry, even outgrowing major markets in Africa such as South Africa if taken as a percentage growth for the year in 2012. Lonely planet hailed it as the best destination for 2012. This was due to a sustained return in stability, security and a combination of some great marketing by the private sector investors in Uganda such as one of their larger tourism role players Marasa Africa as part of the Madhvani group of companies.  

Uganda Map www.johnstevenssafaris.com/
The country was finally on track and tourism became the single largest income earner for this "Pearl of Africa". This was followed by a great 2013 even throw there were worries about government implementing new taxis on Safari accommodation and how this would affect their forward bookings. In the case of 2013 calmer heads prevailed and government assisted the country and held back on implementing the tax. In many ways this assisted the private sector to invest in marketing and expansion of much needed new product offerings.  

Unfortunately 2014 turned into a bit of a horror show as government realized the potential funds that could be generated by taxing the small yet growing industry in this otherwise poor region and pounced on the fledgling industry when they were in need of funds, in some respects the tourism industry paid the price for the anti-gay bill that was introduced and then scraped in Uganda. Government funding dried up as external forces showed their dismay with the bill, and they made up the difference by taxing this emerging industry. 

Images that emerged as part of the Anti gay bill campaign internationally 
This new vat on accommodation at a hefty 18%, in turn sky-rocketed pricing and heavily impacted on the tour operators who tried to absorb the vat where possible to assist their clients and forward bookings into 2015. In some respects the industry that was most outspoken about the bill and its implications ended up paying the price of resistance.  

Unfortunately this was not the end of the regions problems. The Ebola crises hit the continent, and even throw the problem originated in West Africa thousands of kilometres away from Uganda. It hit the country already crippled by an anti- gay bill looming above its head and new taxes hard.

Combined with the new increased pricing, and an unofficial travel ban due to the gay bill in Uganda, Ebola became a last straw scenario, almost breaking the relatively new industry. Uganda also had to deal with some mostly irresponsible reporting on terrorism and security treats related to possible bomb blasts.....that never took place. We know that internationally there is an ongoing terrorism problem but east Africa didn't have the additional scope to overcome these in 2014. Although there were isolated threats to Uganda security in most part this was over-spill from their neighbour’s Kenya that was battling from serious security treats and bomb blasts that managed to bring its coastal tourism to its knees.
Premier Safaris experiential Lion conservation trip in Uganda 

 Mistakes and crises management from 2014, was harder to leave behind than expected and was clearly coming to the foreground in early 2015 when there was a serious lack of forward bookings due to cancellations and an almost unofficial travel ban to east Africa. Uganda was left with serious concerns related to closure of some tour operators, and downsizing within the industry. But the 2015 reality wasn't unforeseen by the larger investors such as Marasa Africa, that also has properties within Kenya. 
Marasa Africa clients #TravelToUganda campaign 
 By late 2014 larger private tourism investors in Uganda began to address some of the issues in response to the fact that they noticed that tourist sees Africa as one country, this was echoed by feedback from many tour operators. It was clear that people didn't know where Uganda was, especially in relation to West Africa. They also didn't know that in some cases Europe was actually closer to the hot zone than Kenya or Uganda. And unfortunately Uganda was also included with Kenya when it came to risk assessment done by potential tourists as it’s a major add on to Kenya Safaris. Marasa Africa tried to address this with an “Africa is not one continent campaign”, while sending out images of tourists enjoying their lodges without fear of Ebola.
Gorilla Safari experience as part of Uganda Tourism board and Marasa  - Photo by Peter Hogel 

For years Uganda was the Gorilla Safari add on to a Kenya migration trip. Jinja along the Nile, was the adventure and backpacker “White water rafting" section that can be combined with a Kenya Safari. As Uganda started too emerged as a stand-alone destination, it still had to deal with old perceptions and a lack of longstanding quality destination marketing.

This is starting to change and not only did the heavily underfunded country of Uganda make it through some of the worst times East Africa tourism has endured in recent years, it is showing signs of healing and new re-emerging .
Murchison falls in Uganda  
After having discussions with major tourism destination marketers around the world it became clear that it was only a matter of time and some much needed  investment in specialist skills needed to market the country, before this sleeping lion awakes. Hanna, the owner of the internationally renowned PR and tourism marketing company KPRN in Germany mentioned that we would be surprised as to what will happen if the right company gets hold of this lion and wakes such a sleeping lion.

It would seem that there is a nudging at this sleeping lion as last minute enquirers are coming in to the country and companies with good reputations and quality guides are once again coming to life in Uganda. Even the more skittish US market, is returning to Uganda to ensure they get a piece of the biodiversity the country offers.

Nile delta in Uganda close to the Marasa Africa lodge Paraa Safari lodge 

 It’s hard to match Uganda's range of biomes and activities and experiences elsewhere, even in east Africa. It’s long been described as the sample board of Africa, having pieces of almost every country within Africa in one small spot.
View over Guiding mountain from Clouds lodge used by Premier for gorilla trekking 

Uganda is bound to step out, and show Africa its plumage. It is after all the capital of Africa’s birding with a staggering more than 1000 species. This is the highest concentration of birds found in Africa (more than 50% of the total species found on the continent), and is the most accessible place to see the legendary Shoebill.
Kazinga Channel one of Uganda's hot-spots for birding by Corne Schalkwyk 

This abundance of species combined with its already well known primate offering including the largest numbers of the critically endangered mountain gorillas is going to be a force to deal with when it emerges from its sleep.
Remote, bespoke experiences awaits in unspoiled parks teeming with wildlife in Uganda 

 Hopefully we will once again see the old colonial safari destination that combined glaciers treks in the Ruwenzori with great outstretched savannah safaris along the Nile and the Kazinga channel in Uganda.
The sleeping lion is growing up and showing its teeth - Uganda Tourism by Jonothan Hen-Boisen

Kenya is also showing good recovery and it’s definitely “open for business” as usual, 2015 might just be the year of recovery for East Africa. 

Below are some of the exciting new products emerging form Uganda about to take the industry by storm. These include Hot air balloon Safaris over the crater lakes of the rift valley from Mweya Safari lodge, Specialist programmes by Premier Safaris that made it to the list of best Bucket list Safaris for CNN travel readers in 2015 and many more experiential travel options being released this year. 
Hot air Balloon Safaris over Queen Elizabeth National park with a bush breakfast from Mweya Safari lodge 

Premier photographic trips led by Albie Venter - These trips include night time searches for nocturnal delights of Uganda 

Intimate Gorilla with Premier and CTPH
Even the gorillas gave Uganda a thumbs up, as their numbers have been steadily increasing with the borders secured. This is an incredible success story for conservation that almost lost one of our most endangered species. The CTPH has even managed to reach the local community surrounding the gorilla sanctuaries and has reported a decrease in the human birth rates by means of an educational campaign to teach about contraception and the benefits of smaller households. 

Some links related to the information used for this blog update: 
Premier Safaris website

Premier Safaris conservation partner in Uganda CTPH - conservation through public health: http://www.ctph.org/

Marasa Africa Lodges: www.marasa.net  
Uganda Tourism: http://www.visituganda.com/

Intimate Gorilla Safaris with Premier Safaris as mentioned by CNN Travel  - Image by Jonothan Hen-Boisen

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

“Tourism may get sick, but it will never die,”

“Tourism may get sick, but it will never die,” commented one of our guides recently. The comment was a response to my comment on our much lower enquiry rate experienced after the start of the Ebola scare. 

This made me think of the resilience that is Uganda. And indeed this country has had its fair share of hardship, and dysfunction and even unfortunate unnecessary negative press.

Africa is not for "sissies' they say, and tourism in Uganda isn't for the faint of heart. Unfortunately Africa is still seen by some as one country, and even those that can find Uganda on a map only remember its ruthless past.And that is a pity! 

Young Topi in Queen Elizabeth National park Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

Its one of the most beautiful countries I have come across, not to mention one of the most diverse. I called it the microcosm of Africa in previous posts, and I stand by that comment. It would be a shame to avoid it, especially since they don't have any cases of Ebola. 
Impala lake mburo national park Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

Lots has been written and spoken about the many failures in the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. From the genuine lack of access to basic health to the fact that in most respects it’s the nongovernmental volunteers including guys from Uganda on the ground fighting for our survival.
But not nearly enough has been said about the impact this is having on other countries in Africa, and in this case the ones that don’t have cases of Ebola.

 Yes, travellers in some respects are geographically challenged and don’t know that Uganda or Kenya isn't rife with Ebola. In some respects, they might not even know that it’s not close to the affected areas in West Africa….it’s Africa after all, and isn't that just one country?

East Africa has seen a significant drop in tourism enquiries, making it very difficult for tour operators and destination managers on the ground to even educate tourists. If they don’t ask, how do you explain that its thousands of kilometres away. It does however highlight the fact that the poorer more undeveloped countries need good PR, they actually need destination marketers that have the background to market a country and ensure its spot on a map.

South Africa has done this very successfully, or is it the name? They have less cancellations related to Ebola, although we know they didn't escape the impact. Should we include east into the name Uganda to make sure tourists know where a county is located.

Cheetah brothers in Sabi Sands in South Africa by Corne Schalkwyk  

Border screening measures make it seem as though something is being done, but are wasteful, inconvenient and pointless, says Dr Richard Dawood. Monrovia, Freetown and Conakry – the capitals of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – are closer to London than they are to Nairobi, Cape Town or Victoria Falls. And if you missed it .... Uganda! 

Yet the evolving Ebola outbreak in West Africa has already devastated travel to unaffected countries far away, cutting tourism to East and Southern Africa by as much as 40 per cent. Industry experts are fearful of downplaying risks – the lingering memory of John Gummer, Minister for Agriculture at the start of the “mad cow” BSE outbreak in 1990, feeding his daughter a hamburger in a much-ridiculed attempt to allay public fears, looms large.

We also have the bush meat trade issue. It’s probably to blunt to inform a client that although we love the idea of embracing local culture we don’t advise you eat the local bat population. The same goes for our primates....Uganda is actually very fond of its Chimps, and its frowned upon to eat them.We also don’t want to impact on the bat population, as it’s already evident that we desperately need them ....so "NO" killing them is not an option. 

M group Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

We should however have a look at the emerging or resurgence of viral pathogens and their links with the previously untouched biomes. We are likely to come across hundreds if not thousands of nasty new viruses we don't even know about during our increased push into these biologically diverse ecosystems.

Bwindi Impenetrable forest Uganda 
And as our guide so creatively stated “Tourism might get sick” or more appropriately there will be a downturn but people will travel. Best we look at the things that will help, and evaluate and work on the less urgent aspects highlighted by the disease at a later date once we have a grip on the disease that plunged the international community into a state of fear.

The important facts to keep in mind concern Ebola’s method of spread. You need to be in contact with bodily fluids or blood, thus keep away from infected people unless you are a medically trained person. From the world Health organisation it’s clear that only symptomatic or unwell cases can spread infection. Contact with symptom-free people carries no risk. Ebola is NOT an airborne disease, and no virus has ever “mutated” to change its mode of transmission.

Advise for travellers: Wash your hands, repeatedly and frequently if it is possible. Use sanitizers where possible. And for now try and avoid unnecessary hand shaking and personal contact.

Some advice from African Trade and tourism medical advisor: Dr Richard Dawood, Atta's Medical Advisor is a specialist in travel medicine at the Fleet Street Clinic

How do I rate the risks?
There’s no room for complacency, and it is essential to follow the latest advice from the WHO and UK public health authorities, but I have no plans to restrict my own travels at present. There could be some attractive bargains on offer in East and Southern Africa this winter, and I see no current prospect of Ebola risk in the splendid isolation of a luxury safari or a beachside villa, thousands of miles from the heart of the crisis.

WHO: The latest update on the Ebola virus disease: West Africa and Democratic Republic of the Congo

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) continues in an upward epidemic trend in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa. The high number of EVD infections in health-care workers continues to be a cause of great concern. The situation in Nigeria and Senegal remains stable with no further cases reported. The recently reported case in the United States has died and follow-up of contacts is ongoing.

On 6 October 2014, the Spanish authorities notified WHO under the International Health Regulations (IHR) that an auxiliary nurse in Spain had been diagnosed with EVD. The health care worker had treated an EVD case infected in Sierra Leone who had been medically evacuated by Spain to Madrid on 22 September 2014, where he died on 25 September.

This is the first documented transmission of Ebola infection in the European Union. Spanish authorities are conducting an intensive investigation of this case, to determine the mode of transmission and to trace those who have been in contact with the health care worker.

A separate outbreak of EVD in Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is not related to the outbreak in West Africa, appears to be under control

Batwa "Pygmy Elders share a comment - The impenetrable forest Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

The fishing village

The Kazinga Channel in Uganda is a wide, 32-kilometre long natural channel that links Lake Edward and Lake George, and a dominant feature of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The channel attracts a large variety of wild animals and birds, with one of the world's largest concentrations of hippos and numerous Nile crocodiles.
Young Hippo that swam up to the boat at Kazinga in Uganda - Corne Schalkwyk 

Crocodile on the Kazinga channel by Corne Schalkwyk 
Unlike the crocodiles that Murchison in Uganda is known for, we were told that these crocodiles only eat fish.

A boat trip down the channel is one of the best ways to explore this oasis that plays host to the fascinating species within the park, and a must for keen birders that visit Uganda.  Nestled on the banks of the Kazinga Channel you will find a small fishing village that has become an integral part not only of Queen Elizabeth national park but also of life on the channel itself.

African Skimmers landing along the Kazinga channel - Photo by Corne Schalkwyk 

 The village known as Katunguru, fishing village is also one of the best examples of sustainable tourism in Uganda.

Jacob our guide waves as we steer the boat closer to shore. A myriad of young children make their way down the banks to great us. You can’t but be reminded of the candelabra trees within the park on seeing a grouping of kids all of a similar age grouped together as they rush down to the water’s edge to great Jacob.

Jacob from Premier Safaris teaching us how to work the fishing boats in Kazinga 

Jacob himself is one of the success stories of the village, having grown up along the channel he now works for Premier Safaris known for their innovation, and providing intimate experiential experiences in Uganda. And you can’t get more intimate then being guided home by Jacob. He is taking us to meet the family, friends and fisherman that live in his village as part of our Uganda meander tour of Uganda.

Premier Safaris guide sharing some knowledge on how they approach fishing in the channel 

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we feel as if we are returning one of their own. Smiling faces and loud greetings are exchanged as we disembark to explore the village and its people.

Smiling faces of the children of the fishing village by Corne Schalkwyk
Marasa Africa who owns the luxury Mweya Safari lodge nestled on the peninsula with views that stretch over the lazing channel, has a keen interest in the village. It’s their sustainable tourism partner and part of their $1 for the future project. The lodge includes $1 for every guest staying at the lodge and these funds goes towards community projects, such as the fishing village school project.

Mweya Safari lodge overlooking the Lakes as well as the channel 

Having seen the updates on their school project, I was keen to see the completed school at the village. And we were amazed at what they were able to achieve. What was initially a renovation project, became a rescue project as the school resembled a crumbling ruin. It now resembled a newly built school with gleaming boards and newly painted walls the school looked almost out of place in Uganda.

One of the Children running along the waters edge to great us - Photo by Corne Schalkwyk 

Having travelled through Uganda on our way to Queen Elizabeth, one can only be proud to have played a small part in this upgrade. We passed many a community that would be envious of this new school at the village. Proudly the inhabitants ask us what we think… its nice…. You like it? Are some of the questions falling around us as I try and pin out where the questions are coming from, as by now we have managed to gather a big crowd of people.

The School before they started the project 
The school after the renovations. 
We meet Jacob’s mother as she shows us her humble home, and it fills us with a sense of pride to know that Jacob our guide has come a long way, and now directly impacts on his village. 

He is able to bring tourism and tourism dollars to his isolated village. Marasa “Mweya” also buys their fish from the village creating a great partnership with the locals. 

Not only do the guest have locally sought fish on their plates but it provides and income from tourism for the village that helps not only sustain them but impacts indirectly on conservation, as they don’t need to poach the wildlife in the park to feed themselves. 

The lodge also trains and provide employment opportunities to the local people, this helps strengthen the link between tourism and conservation in the park.

 Premier as in the case of Jacob, looks for guides with years of experience and local knowledge working within the national parks in Uganda and it provides a goal for field guides in Uganda, as even our boat guide and birding expert explains that he wants to work for Premier one day.

The nature of humanity is that it actually thrives on community, starting with our families, our villages, our country and then our engagement with wider communities all structured in the same way, from grass roots upwards.

Wildlife and the community share the same space in Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda - Photo: Corne Schalkwyk 

We often disregard the significant individual contribution we can bring to our own communities and the support that we can provide with our tourism dollars. Enhancing and supporting local schools and businesses, volunteering at football clubs or scouts, being mindful of our neighbours, helping improve local amenities, celebrating local customs and local cuisine.

All these help protect and improve our cultural heritage and the place we call home, making them better places to live in and better places to visit.Tourism has an incredible ability to touch the daily lives of people all around the world as we learn from one another and support sustainable practices.

Tourism is simply an extension of this community philosophy, reducing distances between people but at the same time enhancing cultural understanding across borders.

And yes they were right when they said they believe that unique encounters always begin off the beaten track...

With around 600 bird species the channel is a drawing card for International birders - Reed or long tailed cormorant by Corne Schalkwyk 

For more information on Premier Safaris and the Uganda meander visit www.premiersafaris.com or use the links below. 

Premier: www.premiersafaris.com  (They offer some of the best Safaris in Uganda) 

As if to say goodbye a fish-eagle flew over us as we returned to the lodge

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