As 2012 is slowly getting ready to hand over to the next year in line a new tagline will take over from the hype of this year, as The Pearl of Africa turned 50 and when the Lonely Planet Guide had named Uganda as their top destination for the year. While measuring the success in terms of numbers and revenues will take a bit longer, until the relevant data have been correlated and published, the country’s tourism industry is nevertheless setting its sights on the future. With over 1.000 bird species found in Uganda, bird watching has brought in growing numbers of hobby ornithologists from around the world but even within has ‘birding’ found new friends.
The Big Bird Watching Day is now an annual event, supported by the Uganda Wildlife Authority which grants free access to the park, and this annual bird count a few weeks ago has underscored once again the rich diversity of birds found, not just in parks but across the entire country. Organized by Nature Uganda and supported by the conservation and tourism fraternities, the event has now been transformed into naming Uganda being named a preferred bird watching destination, an accolade which will undoubtedly raise even more interest from abroad to come here and explore for instance Bwindi Forest, which the Africa Bird Club earlier this year declared the Number One birding site in Africa or in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to over 600 bird species alone.
Nature Uganda and Birdlife International have mapped out 34 sites across Uganda as important bird watching areas, some inside but many outside the country’s protected areas which makes access possible without any park fees, though such payments of course go to the good use of maintaining park infrastructure.
The Uganda Tourist Board will make bird watching a major promotional activity for 2013 to highlight the country’s rich natural resources beyond being just known as the world’s biggest primate destination or for the adventure tourism attractions Uganda now has to offer.