By Gerald Tenywa
Visitor numbers to the protected areas has increased by 17.5%, the highest rise ever since the creation of the Uganda Wildlife Authority two decades ago, according to Barbra Ameso, UWA’s marketing and research officer.
Ameso attributed the high increase in the numbers to the solar eclipse, an event that attracted many tourists to Murchison Falls National Park.
“Uganda has unmatched attractions like the Mountain gorillas,” said Ameso, adding and the accolades lavished on Uganda by travel magazines including the Lonely Planet catapulted Uganda into the global spotlight.
Kidepo National Park in the north eastern part of the Uganda was last year listed by CNN among the top 10 parks in Africa.
The windswept Kidepo has large herds of buffaloes and a wide uninterrupted landscape surrounded by Karimojong pastoralists who have a rich culture.
Ameso said the visitor numbers increased from 182,149 in 2012 to 213,949 which amounts to 17.5%. She also said that foreigners contributed 43% of the visitors and the rest included Ugandans and East Africans.
Tourists take photographs of buffaloes at Kidepo. PHOTO/Matthias Mugisha
Antelopes graze at Murchison Falls National Park. PHOTO/Joseph Kariuki
A school of hippopotumes enjoy a moment at Murchinson Falls National Park
Four Topis graze together at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Murchison Falls National Park attracted the highest number of visitors, followed by Queen Elizabeth National Park. Though visitors going to Kidepo have increased, the most pristine park came third after the most popular parks, Murchison and Queen.
Lake Mburo National Park in Mbarara, which is being developed into a suitable product for domestic tourism, was the least visited park.
The top wildlife agency is working with Africa Wildlife Foundation with the support of USAID to increase the visitor numbers at Mburo.
UWA, which was established in 1996 after the merger of the colonial set up Uganda national parks and the Game Department, manages 10 national parks and 12 wildlife reserves located in different parts of the country.