As the country slowly opens up after several months under the lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of four tourism enthusiasts has embarked on a trip to highlight the beauty of Uganda.
The Four are travelling under the theme “Visit Uganda Tomorrow”
Team of Ugandans move and share the experiences they have gotten from the destinations they visit on various Social Media platforms.
I recently had a chat with one of the team members, Jonathan Benaiah, who took me through the aims and preparational stages of their trip.
Tell us more about the Trip?
I would describe the trip as really revealing, rewarding but also rigorous. A couple of months earlier we were planning a 14 days road-trip around Uganda.
Today where we stand at the tail end, it is a pleasure to present a new tourism documentary that was released just a few days ago, dubbed “The Best Job Ever”.
Praised as “an excellent documentary… about Uganda’s unique wild places”, the heartrending documentary dubbed The Best Job Ever, weaves together the stirring true story of 4 youthful Ugandans on a discovery odyssey of 14 wild days and 4000 kilometers to experience Uganda in the unprecedented times of COVID-19 lockdown.
I must say the campaign is partly humorous, extremely wild, and carefully human, The Best Job Ever is a story from the people, the lands and wild lands and what makes me happier is that it is told by Ugandans.
What was the motivation of the trip?
It’s a blessing to work in the tourism sector and that’s the opportunity that the four of us have.
This year has however taken the sector along paths that we had never imagined or been briefed about.
From the onset we wanted to have fun, we wanted to discover and rediscover but also taste the many changes in Uganda’s tourism product as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trip took place during the high season months which would often be characterized by tourists flocking attractions, enjoying rich cultural encounters, adrenaline activities, boat cruises, game drives, nature walks, hikes and more.
This year, unfortunately, things were different for both tourists and everyone involved in the tourism business. We wished that our trip would be a message of hope to both tourists (local and foreign), but also tourism industry players.
We almost dubbed it “The Hope Journey”, but because we all are tourism practitioners, “The Best Job Ever” took the day. When the lockdown was relaxed, that was our green light to hit the road!
How did you four come together?
We have quite a lot in common, the biggest of similarities being the fact that we are all very well-travelled and have a deep-rooted love for Uganda’s wildlands.
Brian runs Go Explore Safaris, a luxury DMC leading safari in East Africa, Charles is a Safari consultant who has expertly planned holidays for so long, Brian O.
Jonathan is the Managing Director of Braca Tours and Travel, a holiday company tailoring dream vacations out of Entebbe and I am Jonathan Benaiah, a seasoned nature photographer and travel writer contributing to a number of local and international publications.
This was made perfect by our shared love for cameras. We have been friends for a long time and have traveled together in the past before and get along very well.
14 days are a long time to be with people you do not get along with.
Gender Balance is a great deal in today’s world. Why didn’t you involve a woman?
The big question! Well, this is something we discussed at length in June when everything was still falling into place.
We have a long list of female and male friends and colleagues with whom we would have loved to be on the road but the obvious COVID-19 limitations and the availability of only shared accommodation in most spots had us make the hard decision.
We did work with a team of very supportive ladies behind the scenes in tying things together and promoting the campaign to whom we are indebted.
But we hope that in the future we can have a bit more flexibility and travel limitlessly like we usually did before the COVID pandemic.
What was your aim? Did you hit your target?
I think so far so good. We have received very positive feedback on the documentary from our partners, and from local and international tourists.
We are still getting the word out, discussing distribution on a wider level within the shortest period possible.
The ultimate goal is to have Uganda out there and I don’t think there can be a limit to that. This country is stunning! I’m not sure how many times I’ve said that.
Which places did you visit and why?
So, we deliberately set out to embark on an itinerary that would involve us visiting both popular and unpopular locations.
We hoped to remind people about their favorite places, but also to show them some new and less-known spots.
We intentionally began with the East and Northeast because that’s a region that we believe has not received its well-deserved publicity and is a secret that has been best kept.
We visited Sipi Falls on the edge of Mount. Elgon, the unpopular Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve; Moroto where we enjoyed a whole new, different and rare experience with both the Tepeth and Karamajong people. We continued to Kidepo Valley National Park, on to the famous Murchison Falls National Park and then to Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.
We included Bugoma on the list because of its current plight that’s fortunately been largely reported by the media. We also visited the Kibale Forest area, Tooro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Semliki National Park, Fort Portal Tourism Cityand climaxed everything in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
What was your best destination?
Brian really loved Semliki, Brian O. Jonathan really loved the Moroto cultural experience; while Charles had Kidepo as his biggest highlight.
Well I say this a lot, but Kidepo Valley National Park is my favorite part in the country and it didn’t disappoint this time either, sighting everything apart from the cheetah.
My ultimate highlight was however seeing the readiness of the many destinations and how all this fused together to give us the most complete tourist experience.
3 different leopard sightings including a mother with her cubs, 4 different lion sightings, plenty of bird species some of the most stunning sunsets and landscapes and the many smiles along the way.
How do you feel about the whole project?
I am very happy the biggest half of the puzzles perfectly fell into place.
What was your best time on the trip?
Apart from the many times my heart paced when the guide pointed to a rare sighting, my best times were those intimate chats of hope with so many people along the route.
Some around a campfire, some on a rocky ridge, other times on a boat cruise.
It was just encouraging to listen to how folks had made it through the worst effects of the pandemic but still remained optimistic and ingenious.
And hearing the many positive stories we continued to receive like the mountain gorillas that are on a birth frenzy, the new tourism Experience is going to be a wonderful one.
What was your worst?
Definitely that missed sunset in Pian Upe. In the documentary you’ll see (spoiler haha) on one of the evenings in Pian Upe we missed capturing the sunset because our dedicated camera ran out of battery and the drone crushed into a rock.
It was the most beautiful sunset I have ever experienced so far in my many years of travel. Pian Upe was still gorgeous nevertheless.
Any final thoughts?
I think it’s only right to save the best for the last. And that’s a vote of thanks to all our partners and everyone who enabled this.
Please go watch the documentary, share it, like it, and let’s continue to tell our story.