By Steven Candia
The Chobe and Paraa safari lodges located in the Murchison Falls National Park have been fully booked, including local hotels in Pakwach, in the run up the solar eclipse.
This is expected to rake in colossal amounts in local revenue.
Officials in the tourism industry this week said the local facilities had already been booked in advance by both local and foreign tourists, eager to view the rare hybrid solar eclipse, lending it a historic dimension.
But the officials said the situation is not only unique to lodges in the national parks and Pakwach, with reports of some hotels in Kampala and Entebbe likely to suffer the same as days go by.
Amos Wekesa, a member of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and proprietor of Great Lakes Safaris, yesterday said the situation had been precipitated by an avalanche of local tourists, coupled with foreign tourists jetting in to get a glimpse of the eclipse, with the best view in Pakwach.
“There are over 2,000 local tourists, who have booked and will be travelling to the north to watch the eclipse. But as we speak, both Paraa and Chobe lodges are overbooked to such an extent that we cannot book all our guests in one hotel,” Wekesa said, adding that Great Lakes Safaris has made bookings for over 100 foreign tourists.
“A part from the eclipse, they will spend 13 days in the country visiting Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi national parks,” he said.
Stella Rugunda, the proprietor Stebar Safaris, said her tour company will be handling about 80 foreign tourists from Britain, Japan and France, expected to begin jetting in on Wednesday.
They are expected to spend the night in the Kampala Sheraton Hotel and three nights in both Paraa and Chobe lodges before proceeding to Pakwach to watch the eclipse on Sunday. They are expected to spend another 10 days in the country sightseeing, translating into more revenue.
Rugunda said the eclipse is a good thing for the local tourism industry.
“They will spend days tracking gorillas in Bwindi and in addition, they have booked hotels in Fort Portal,” Rugunda said.
A team of 40 German astronomers, tourists and “eclipse hunters” are set to come to Uganda to watch the eclipse.
Pakwach in Nebbi district has been identified as the best place to spot the eclipse alongside other towns like Arua, Soroti, Gulu and Masindi. Of all solar eclipses, about 28% are total; 35% are partial; 32% annular and just 5% are hybrids.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the earth and the sun and the moon casts a shadow over earth. The alignment can produce a total solar, partial, solar, annular or hybrid eclipse.