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Can you play the Xylophone?

Jun 27 • 865 views • 8 Comments Adventure, Africa, African food, birds, expat, experiential tourism, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Road trip, Society and culture, tourism experience, Travel, Uganda

Check out the guys playing the giant xylophone at Kikorongo!

“Community tourism” bundles up a diverse range of activities – and can be great fun! – as a lucky group of us found out on a three-day UCOTA / Pearls of Uganda trip in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park recently.

Community tourism offers you the chance to find out first-hand what it’s like to farm your land (with the constant threat from hungry elephants) or to farm salt as people have done for 10,000 years on a crater lake (not a job for the squeamish).

Harvesting salt in Lake Katwe - and I complain about my job sometimes?

Harvesting salt in Lake Katwe – and I complain about my job sometimes? A full post about this incredibly tough lifestyle to follow …

Watch a clip of the Women’s Dance Group at Kikorongo, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

After the dance display at Kikorongo, I got a chance to try my hand at playing the enormous wooden xylophone. Admittedly, I was pretty rubbish.

Honey never tasted so good!

Honey never tasted so good!

Like bees around the proverbial pot of honey, we couldn’t wait to dive into the fresh honeycomb at the BBC (Bunyangabu Beekeeping Cooperative). We wolfed down big dessertspoons of it, spitting out the waxy residue “like chewing gum.” The BBC is a training centre for would-be beekeepers. They also process and sell the finished products (honey, candles and Propolis).

Community tourism is a learning experience too. Did you know you can wash your clothes with the flesh of a pawpaw? Or that locally grown flowers can produce red, green, yellow, orange, blue, maroon and brown colour dyes?

Rubona Basket Weavers' Association

Cissy poses amongst the multicoloured raffia – used to weave baskets at Rubona Basket Weavers’ Assoc

At the Foundation for Youth Development Agro-Tour in Kichwamba, the very knowledgable Benjamin pointed out the Trees of the Gods and the medicinal uses of the various plants and trees, as he took us all on a walk through the banana plantation.

Did you know that the Neem tree can treat an astounding 135 diseases? (I wish I had one in my compound – they even deter mosquitoes and insects!) Tawny Prinia, Northern Bishop and African Blue Flycatchers were a few of the birds we saw (apparently there are 250 species along Kyambura escarpment).

At the cave of the God of the Hunters, Kichwamba

A serious moment! At the cave of the God of the Hunters, Kichwamba. Note the pile of elephant dung!

Midway on our walk, we paused to pay our respects to the God of the Hunters at the cave, as Benjamin talked about hunting rituals and the importance of totems to conservation.

Time was too short to cut herbs and bathe in the river running through the cave below the wonderful Nyanz’ibiri ‘Between Two Lakes’ Community Eco-campsite  – next time! – and perhaps then Felex, I really will sleep in the beautiful Banyaruguru hut!

A very frumpy-looking Muzungu checking out the traditional accommodation option

A very frumpy-looking Muzungu checking out the traditional accommodation option (hey we’d been on the road 3 days, ok?!)

To find out more about these and many other fascinating days out, visit the UCOTA / Pearls of Uganda web sites or contact the Muzungu for Uganda travel ideas.

Have you visited any of the Pearls of Uganda community tourism projects? Which ones would you recommend?

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8 Responses to Can you play the Xylophone?

  1. Tom Rucker says:

    Charlotte – fascinated by your mention of Neem trees and the uses. See the Wikipedia artical

    Tom Rucker

  2. Nice to read ab getting to grips with real life in Uganda. I have read about the disastrous mud slides on Mt Elgon slopes. Did you travel near there?

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Christine, am I getting to grips with ‘real life’ in Uganda? I don’t have to walk several km a day to collect water so am definitely one of the privileged few! But getting out into the communities is exciting and refreshing. Ugandans are wonderfully welcoming people – and visiting the farms and watching the dance are a delight. The community activities are very affordable too.
      As for Mt Elgon, the area is an environmental and now human disaster – and there will be more mud slides and more deaths; the people aren’t being moved quickly enough. They also have the highest birth rate anywhere in Uganda (Uganda has 3rd highest in the world), so they have removed 1000s of trees and are cultivating on steep slopes. It’s a tragedy, but like many, avoidable.
      A group of us hiked to the summit of Wagagai in 2009 – you might enjoy reading A girl called Kevin: our guide up Mount Elgon

  3. lizziema says:

    Very interesting and educational article and went into you tube and saw several of your videos, particularly liked the one about earth toilets etc.

  4. the muzungu says:

    The earth toilets that feature on the YouTube clip are Ecosan toilets, a healthy and environmentally friendly solution, and part of the PACE Pan African Conservation Education demonstration project at the teacher training college in Ggaba, Kampala.
    You can read more about it here:
    http://ugandacf.org/index.php/projects/paceproject
    It’s a very COOL project!

  5. [...] UCOTA community tourism fam trip was another highlight. We had a lot of fun – can you play the Xylophone? – and got to meet the real people living on the edges of the Park. Theirs is not an easy [...]

  6. [...] series of community-led tourism projects across Uganda. One of my favourites in Queen Elizabeth is Katwe Salt Lake, situated past the Equator [...]

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