By Titus Kakembo
Valentine’s Day celebrations have been changing from dress codes, destinations and the way it is perceived. A cross section of adventurous people interviewed at random said they do not mind going on a blind date, or chancing upon a stranger on the streets and buying them a flower.
Pastor Elijah Sebuchu, of Kampala International Church, says the monotony of Valentine’s Day to-do-list gets boring and that human nature treasures surprises and creativity.
“If we had a candlelit dinner last year, why not have a boat ride on Lake Victoria or go for a nature walk in Mabira Forest this year?
“You could stay at home and watch the sunset as a family or take a ride to Mabira Forest. Being happy on this day does not have to mean spending a lot of money in five star hotels. Just do something involving and memorable for both of you or the entire family,” Sebuchu says.
Tourists relaxing by Ntanda Falls on River Nile
The destination list this Valentine’s Day leaves Ugandans spoiled for choice. There is Mabira Forest Lodge on the Kampala-Jinja highway, which is ideal for swimming, lunch and a romantic evening.
There is a range of things to see at the lodge: herbal trees, primates, reptiles, plants, birds and even communities living in the forest. The forest also boasts picnic sites, so if you are interested, you will need a mat, a wrap, insect repellent and jungle boots.
Entebbe, which is a 40-minute drive from Kampala, has the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), where tourists can see various animals, birds and snakes salvaged from poachers.
There are options for boat tours launched from the beach. Entebbe also has entertainment spots by Lake Victoria shores, such as Waterfront, Nakiwogo and Aero Beach.
If you do not want to leave Kampala, the city is awash with hotels serving all sorts of cuisines, from Indian and Chinese, to Thai and Continental. For sh30,000–sh100,000, a couple will be sure to walk home, belching with satisfaction.
You can catch live bands in Kampala like Afrigo at Little Flowers on Bombo Road. Ndere Centre in Kisasi will also give you a treat to remember with their cultural dances, food and drinks. Ggaba Beach has lots of hotels serving fish and chips for between sh8,000 and sh30,000.
In Mukono, Kasenge Beach is a great place to visit. It has enough space and privacy. Also, the nightlife in Mukono has never been the same since Asylum opened a branch there. Patrons guzzle beer and wolf roast beef skewers till the stars shy away.
Mountainous Mbale now has classy hotels like Protea Hotel, Kayegi and Mbale Resort, among others, which serve the tastes of modern diners and winers. Oasis is ideal for a hectic night where waists gyrate as if the Kadodi drums were thundering. A trip to Sipi Falls in Kapchorwa will also be a great experience.
Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda, has various hotels and resorts for sumptuous meals, romantic evenings and restful nights. While there, you could go rafting, bungee jumping or horse riding.
Mbarara is a vibrant town. While there, visit the Itojo Museum in order to learn more about the Nkore culture. There is lots of information about their architecture, lifestyle and a variety of food to whet any sophisticated appetite.
The night life is hot at Vision Empire.
Soroti town has a rock which offers climbers a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood. It is good for a picnic. You need strong boots, baseball caps, sun shades and lots of water. Nightlife revellers have the option of Aipany (Trends), where music plays all night long.
Diners can sample Iteso cuisines at Eneku Village, while Akello Hotel offers the best burgers in eastern Uganda.
A panoramic view of the source of the Nile in Jinja. You can dine in places like this
A list of places to go
Mabira Forest Lodge
Wildlife Education Centre, Entebbe
Little Flowers in Kampala
Itojo museum in Mbarara