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How the youth are taking on tourism development in the Rwenzori gateway through mapping.

A team of youth guides from Ruboni village have recently taken a fact-finding tour on tourism product development. They toured the entire Rwenzori gateway for two days. This tour was on the 21st and 22nd of October 2022. It was to visit the existing and potential tourist attractions in the area.

Up and down the valleys of the scenic Rwenzori foothills, the team found a list of up to 25 potential tourist attractions. They were guided by the local leaders and residents. These newly found attractions will be added to supplement the traditional tourism activities of the area. The aim is to enrich the attractions and tourism potential of the Rwenzori Destination.

The Mapping initiative

The just-concluded tour was part of the Ruboni community’s involvement in the tourist attraction mapping activities. The mapping activity will see Ruboni village tourism attractions featured on the Open street map. This mapping activity is being supported by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).

Mapping lesson

Under this mapping initiative, a team of local youth and tourism stakeholders have participated in a series of activities. The acrtivities include; collecting data, engaging stakeholders, and preparing the local tourist attractions of the Rwenzori gateway area. The attractions to be mapped include;

  • Lodges and accommodation places,
  • Visitor centres,
  • Roads and trails,
  • Household stopovers,
  • Homestays, and
  • Other tourism service centres.

Besides actual mapping, the project has trained a number of youths and other tourism stakeholders how to map and/or edit data on the open street map.

Rwenzori Mountains destination

The Rwenzori Mountains are popular for the experience of trekking high mountains. However, as the industry grows, majority of the tourists seem to not able to make it to the mountains. Majority of the travelers don’t have the time, energy or budget to trek the high peaks. This leads to low destination visitation. Besides Trekking the Rwenzori Mountains, Ruboni community has started offering three village guided tours. these are; Ruboni hill climb trek, Ruboni forest walk and Ruboni village walk. These tours are mainly promoted to none climbers visiting the villages in the foothills.

Indeed many guests have found the Ruboni village guided tours interesting and a highlight of their Uganda tour. Only one challenge, these three tours can be done in only two days. As a result, guests have failed to stay longer when they fail what to do with more days during their stay. This is especially if they don’t want to go to the high peaks of Rwenzori. This is the reason for exploring more activities to offer to the tourists willing to stay longer in Ruboni village.

Great scenery of the foothills

After this initiative of the youth, guests will now be able to stay longer in Ruboni village. During their stay, they will have the opportunity to explore these newly established cultural activities. In a few months, this map will be available online to guide all guest. It will be on the website of Ruboni community camp and other stakeholder platforms. The map will also be available in hard copies in the local shops within the village and around Uganda. An online APP will be created to supplement the map, for guests who will be using mobile gadgets during travel.

How a variety of tourism attractions will enhance stopovers and destination competitiveness

The establishment of more cultural encounters will definitely push the Ruboni community higher on the list of undiscovered destinations. The new attractions include;

  • A unique tour of the giant bats’ village,
  • Beekeeping experiences,
  • Visiting the local markets to learn the local culture and economies in one place through a food shopping experience,
  • Traditional healing encounters,
  • The waterfalls and rapids that have never been visited by any tourists before, and many more.

The youth want guests to stay longer in Ruboni village. This is so that they can learn more about the local nature and culture of Rwenzori. When they stay long, they possibly spend more money into the local businesses. This will boost the local economy, create employment and reduce rural urban migration among the youth.

The location of Ruboni village gives it a plus in tourism potential. The location on the only tourist route (Kasese-Fortportal road) makes it is easy to reach Ruboni village destination, Their route runs through the Albertine rift linking over five national parks including;

  • The famous Bwindi gorilla forest
  • Mgahinga gorilla national park, Murchison falls National park,
  • Kibale National park,
  • Semuliki ntional park
  • Queen elizabeth national park
  • Rwenzpro mountains national park and
  • A variety of wildlife reserves.

Creation of tourism mapping partnerships

This fact-finding tour was a follow-up visit after several individual meetings with local government officials. The earlier visits were aimed at sensitizing the leaders about mapping the tourist attractions in the gateway. In those earlier meetings, Ruboni community discussed this tourism mapping initiative with a selection of officers. These said officers include the chairpersons LCIII, town agents, community development officers and other members of the councils, who overwhelmingly appreciated the idea and promised to cooperate.

Stakeholder meeting

During the meeting earlier before this visit, each council identified one representative to be the contact person in charge of the mapping project. It is with these representatives that our youth guides met and toured the areas of focus visiting the said tourist attraction. During the visit, the guides were impressed to find a wealth of attractions in the area.

Formally, Ruboni village has only marketed the Rwenzori trekking experience along the few village guided tours. Besides the trekking, the area has got a few lodges that provide accommodation to the staying guest. The main lodges, including Ruboni community camp the pioneer and leader in hospitality services. other lodges include, Equator snow lodge, Rwenzori turaco view camp, Tours holiday Inn, and Rwenzori Homestay

Rwenzori gateway and Ruboni tourism village

If you’re wondering what is the difference between the Rwenzori gateway and Ruboni tourism village, I will explain a little. The Rwenzori gateway is a bigger area where the Ruboni community village is located. The gateway is a consolidation of five local governments in a beautiful hilly landscape. The area includes three town councils and two sub-counties.

Guests going to Ruboni community drive through the Rwenzori gateway to the end where Ruboni community is located at the park gate. The gateway is a must-visit area for people who want to explore unique nature and culture in a rural setting. Being serviced by good marram roads, electricity and running water, it is an ideal holiday spot. The local community has put this area into one community tourism block called Ruboni tourism village. This way, all people going to the Rwenzori gateway, will be visiting Ruboni tourism village.

Sky at the Bat village

Tourism potential of Ruboni village

The name Ruboni means clean water. It comes from a local river that drains into river Mubuku next to the Nyakalengijo gate of Rwenzori Mountains National Park. This river was always believed to be clean and village members used to keep it clean and reserved it for drinking water before the taps and springs were constructed by the government. River Ruboni is located 1km before Nyakalengijo central circuit gate of Rwenzori Mountains National park; the oldest and most popular trail of this national park gives easier access to the high peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains including margarita peak. This makes Ruboni village the ideal starting point for every trek to the high peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Ruboni tourism village is popular for agriculture due to the fertile soils on these hills and valleys supplemented by plenty of water sources. During your stay, you can be assured of local organic food ingredients. The mouthwatering delicious meals prepared by the local chefs will leave you puzzled when you stay at Ruboni community camp. Being inhabited by five tribes makes this gateway area a cultural hub where guests can experience different cultural encounters in one destination. The tribes that live here include;  Bakonzo, Bakiga, Batoro, Bafumbira and Banyarwanda.

The best tourism village upgrade program of UNWTO

The tour and mapping activity will make Ruboni tourism village more prepared for the UNWTO tourism development intervention. Mapping is a best practice that has been identified in other tourism villages globally. With the map both in hard and soft copy, it will be easy for the guests to plan and explore their trips in the village. The increased activities will allow the visitors to stay longer, just like the increased room/ bed capacity will increase choice and confidence in the availability of accommodation at all times.

Guests to Ruboni Community Camp

Besides mapping, the village will be branded and all attractions signposted. A series of local site training will follow this to the service providers through the local partnerships that will be established during and after this collective mapping project.

To know more about this youth tourism development initiative, the mapping activity and how to visit Ruboni tourism village during your safari in Uganda, please contact us at Ruboni community camp via email or WhatsApp: +256752503445

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