The brain behind the unique Gorilla Highlands initiative, Miha Logar, has targeted the presence of a large contingent of the international media in Uganda from this weekend ahead of the Africa Travel Association’s annual congress to launch a new media kit for journalists in his relentless drive to put the Southwest of Uganda on the global tourism map. The Gorilla Highlands spans from Kabale to Kisoro and across Bwindi National Park to Kanungu, within which some of Uganda’s most scenic sights can be found in this geographical triangle.
Several lakes invite to be explored with birdlife galore seen at their shores, from Lake Bunyonyi to Lake Kayumbu and Lake Chahafi, Lake Mutanda and Lake Mulehe. Two gorilla national parks, Bwindi and Mgahinga, are home to Uganda’s most famous game – the mountain gorilla – and also many other primate species including the golden monkeys – which can be tracked accompanied by well-trained guides. Recently-developed trails offer some of East Africa’s most spectacular hikes across rural Africa, safe to explore per pedes apostolorum, by dugout canoe across the lakes or by mountain bike cross country.
Few parts of Uganda have been so well documented with trail descriptions, maps, and of late even video maps, the latest tool available for wannabe visitors to this part of Uganda. Accommodation is now available from basic camping over home stays to luxurious lodges.
Wrote Miha about his brainchild when giving some advance notice of the press kit launch early next week:
“The Gorilla Highlands initiative was started in 2011 by Edirisa, a social enterprise based at Lake Bunyonyi. It is open to anybody interested in branding and promoting southwestern Uganda for the sake of rural development. It has established the ‘Gorilla Highlands’ brand as a flag to unify the region, connect local companies of all sizes into a network, and expand tourist expectations of what the area can offer. We are focused on innovative solutions to tell the world an engaging story about our part of Africa. The Gorilla Highlands initiative offer travelers, tour operators, the media, and development organiaations a centralized and consistent service built on extensive local knowledge.
“We are tapping into a world-class web of professionals passionate about this region whose very first product, the Gorilla Highlands Interactive eBook, won a United Nations award in 2013. While the eBook showcases our deep knowledge of our home area, Gorilla Highlands is much more than that. We are about rural development empowered by culture. Our belief is that economic transformation in southwestern Uganda is only possible when we have respect for our cultural heritage, and when we properly utilize tourism as a tool to uplift the poor.
“Our current biggest project is the Gorilla Highlands Video Map. It challenges tourists’ potentially negative preconceptions by giving video tours of places, lodges, and activities, revealing beautiful, comfortable, and safe environments. On the other hand, we don’t just do multimedia products. We tell our story of southwestern Uganda through tourism experiences as well – Gorilla Highlands Trails is a system of guided trips, taking from 5 hours to a week or more, including camping with rural families and with a special stress on the Batwa.
“Our tour itineraries already utilize Kigali as the airport hub; expansion of the Gorilla Highlands concept into Rwanda is planned for 2015.”
Gorilla Highlands has published a pocket guide and last year launched the award winning e-book available from the Apple Store.