The first day of the tour started in the Murchison Falls National Park. Aboard over 20 tour vans, the 216 Israeli tourists combed the demarcated game lanes in search of a particular animal.
“Not to say that the other animals are not of our interest, but when we come to Africa, the lion is one of those animals we expect not to miss. Anyway, if I miss the lion, at least, the ranger has told us that the elephants are many here,” Tomer Shani told UGANDANZ mid-way into the range drive of the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park.
It was mid-day and the scorching sun was already taking a ruthless toll on them. They had travelled 15 kilometres through the park from Pakuba Airfield to the deep end of delta, but only buffaloes, antelopes, warthogs, and a few birds were visible in the savannah. Some had lost hope, until a ranger made a grand announcement.
“Our GPS system has tracked lions,” he said, bringing excitement among the tourists. Within a short time, all the tour vans turned towards the stated direction for the tourists to just catch a glimpse of the shy animals. Tucked away in a thicket, two lions were finally discovered.
However, they were clearly in slumber. To some, after the encounter with the lion, the tour trip seemed to be a great success. `When they crossed Para, it was as if the tour had just started. The boat cruise on River Nile to Murchison Falls and the hiking of the rocky hill to the falls left many exhausted, but at the same time excited. As the water roared across the rocks, the tourists took photographs to capture what they described as a “memorable moment in a beautiful country”.
“My husband wanted me to travel with him and the entire family to Zambia. However, I insisted that for the first time, we should visit Uganda. I had heard a lot about the country’s beauty and hospitality, and so far, I must say, I have experienced both,” Gabriel Aman said.
At the falls, many tourists, who were clearly first-time visitors, spent over an hour watching the powerful falls. Leading the team, Yali Yativa described this tour as “a worthwhile venture” that has left her team yearning for more. The experience at the Murchison Falls and the climbing of the rocky hill to the falls, Yali said, was a thrilling moment for many of the tourists. From Murchison Falls, the tourists who had earlier used boats to sail towards the hiking steps, were treated to another game drive via the dusty murram road, up to the Paara ferry.
When they crossed River Nile on a ferry, a camp fire spiced up with roast beef awaited them. At the camp fire, the tourists got the feel of Ugandan culture, but their night was cut short in order to embark on a night game drive back in the northern part of the park, which ended at 10:00pm. The tourists, who jetted into the country aboard El Al national carrier on Wednesday, concluded their four day visit to Uganda with a tour of the Source of the Nile on Friday. They are expected to return to Israel later today, after a tour of the seven hills of Kampala city.
The over 200 tourists were in the country on the invitation of President Yoweri Museveni who convinced them to come to Uganda in order to promote the tourism sector. The government target is to at least have four million tourists visiting Uganda by 2020. In July 2016, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, visited Uganda, and held bilateral talks with Museveni on a wide range of issues.