If you consider a pearl as something precious and worth seeing, then Uganda is enthralling and worth visiting.
The East African country nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Africa’ is truly a pearl on the continent if you go by her rare and alluring tourism offerings.
From hosting some of Africa’s highest mountain ranges and plains, home to the source of River Nile and breathtaking waterfalls, being a playground of wildlife including the big five and, especially housing the world’s largest number of gorillas, to an exciting city and nightlife, Uganda is the adventure that awaits you.
The country has also sustained investments in tourism infrastructure, partnering private sector to deliver some of the best resorts and meeting venues in the African MICE sector.
The Pearl Of Africa Expo (POATE), which the country has developed over the years to become a rallying ground for travel and tourism buyers and sellers, governments and other stakeholders, can attest to Uganda’s commitment to becoming number one destination in Africa.
This year’s edition, which held from April 26-29, 2023, attracted participants from across Africa and the world, who networked, sealed many deals, amid lasting exciting experiences across a variety of tourism offerings in the country.
Some Nigerian travel trade members were among the visitors at this year’s POATE and they returned with lots of testimonies.
According to Debbie Egwuogu, CEO, WakaWithDebbie, a travel and tour company that operates from Lagos, the trip to Uganda was exciting and profitable.
“When I heard from my 2020 POATE famtrip group that registration for POATE 2023 is open, I was beyond elated and scurried to the registration portal to sign my interest,” Debbie enthused.
Reminisced on her experience in 2020, she said that it was nothing short of a dream, as Uganda is not a country that she thought had the experience she and her colleagues were privy to on the trip.
Arriving at Kampla early hours on April 25, 2023, Debbie was impressed with Uganda’s seamless e-visa procedure and offering.
From the airport, she was in the safe hands of courteous and hospitable people, especially Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) team, the organiser of POATE and host of the participants.
“POATE 2023 kicked off the very next day and it was a way bigger travel fair than what we had in 2020.
“All I could see was growth! I got into meetings with travel vendors, tourism boards from other countries and catching up with travel colleagues,” she said.
Of course, after the three-day travel fair, she joined other participants on the 4th day for fam trips across major tourism clusters of the country. Her trip was to Jinja, which she described as ‘bucketlist capital of Africa’.
“POATE 2023 was indeed a success. I enjoyed myself, made new friends, ate amazing meals, and drank amazing drinks. “My Jinja highpoint were the ziplining in Mabira, the quad biking, the whitewater rafting, the bungee jumping and the island hopping,” the CEO of WakaWithDebbie concluded, while looking forward to POATE 2024.
On his part, Michael Balogun, another Nigerian travel trade member, who was in Uganda for the first, said that the trip is unbelievably exciting as he has never thought Uganda to be that great in terms of tourism and infrastructure offerings.
Balogun, who is the founder/CEO, Tour2Nigeria, had been trending on LinkedIn since returning from Uganda because of the rich content he has been sharing on the social network platform.
“Truth be told, if anyone had told me that Uganda had this much in terms of tourism, trust me I won’t have believed it, to say the least,” Balogun confessed.
Before the trip, Balogun had just three childhood memories of Uganda; the Hollywood movie titled ” Raid on Entebbe,” the Ugandan giant in wrestling, and another blockbuster Hollywood Movie by Forest Whitaker, also titled ‘The Last King of Scotland’.
“From the moment we landed, I couldn’t wait for the fun and discovery of the Pearl of Africa as Uganda is called. The country is truly a beautiful pearl.
“The first night out was at Ndere Cultural Center. We enjoyed the cultural dancers who delighted the audience with their powerful dance steps and storytelling led by Dr. Stephen Rwangyezi.
“The drum beats vibrated through the grounds and the rhythm of the beats told me I was home. Never have I felt such an awakening and the richness of African heritage”.
Top among Balogun’s highpoints was zip lining at Mabira; the largest forest in Uganda covering an area of 306 km2.
“We set out on a 20-minute walk through the forest till we got to the Griffin Falls Camp for what was going to be a life-changing experience for many of us.
“My phobia of heights made this experience a mind-blowing one for me. My friends made jokes and even had a bet that I wasn’t going to make that climb and to the zip line across the forest. But I did.”
He also enjoyed white water rafting from Tulina Riverside camp and ended at the Riverfront beach.
“For the record, I swam in River Nile, the longest river in Africa and this was quite an emotional rush for me”.
On his quad bike experience, he said, “We had fun riding through local communities and more of the excitement for me came from the kids smiling and waving as we rode past them along the jungle trail”.
Bungee jumping was also exciting for him just that, “it is not for the faint of heart and in this particular experience I had to bow out but it was fun to watch the brave women and men who took up the challenge”.
He concluded saying; “My experience in Uganda and with her friendly people will forever hold a special place in my heart. Truly it is the pearl of Africa. Come visit Uganda with Tour2NIgeria”.
Tongrit, CEO, Orit Travels, an Abuja-based travel and tours company, was more than excited visiting Uganda on a second time for POATE and fam trip.
For her, it was all fun for the 10 memorable days in Uganda.
She was also excited at the improvement on tourism and hospitality infrastructure offerings in the country after her last visit in February 2020, before the pandemic.
On the reasons to add the Pearl of Africa on your bucketlist, Juliana said, “Uganda offers a wide range of activities and experiences for all ages. From gorilla tracking to hiking, white water rafting to boat cruise on the Nile, wildlife tracking in open savannah and thick jungles, mountains hiking, city tours amid well-appointed resorts”.
However, the Nigerian team at POATE 2023 are giving special thanks to the fantastic team of the Uganda Tourism Board for the generous hosting for 10 memorable days and assured on commitment to marketing the Pearl of Africa to the high-spending Nigerian traveling public.
Their take away:
Uganda has various markets where you can buy souvenirs and clothing accessories.
Enthralling wildlife resorts, great hotels and facilities for MICE, good museums and landmarks to visit.
There is a thriving nightlife, security, tasty food like the Rolex and hospitable people.