“Maybe not too many people know that, other than those who live here, but [the] Cyanika border between Uganda and Rwanda connects two major tourism areas in Eastern Africa. On our side in Uganda, it is the nearby town of Kisoro which is the hub of tourism activities. From here you reach Lake Mutanda and Nteko, the southern side of Bwindi National Park. You also reach Mgahinga National Park and, of course, the Congo border is near. The airfield in Kisoro is all tarmac, and there are daily flights by Aerolink from Entebbe for tourists.
“Of course, there are also buses and tour vehicles which can bring the visitors here. Crossing the border with our Ugandan vehicles to Rwanda is not a problem, nothing like between Kenya and Tanzania. They [Rwandan regulations] need to have some more equipment like fire extinguishers and need a[n] insurance certificate, but otherwise, no problem. And when you are cross the new border post, they say it will only take 15 minutes’ clearance time, [and] you are already at the Volcanoes National Park. Further on is Musanze with the caves and the coronation sites. And one more hour[‘s] drive takes you to Lake Kivu. Now tourists who hold the common tourist visa will go across the border even faster, because they do not need to pay the visa fee into Rwanda. It is a very good development for us,” commented a regular tourism source from Kampala when discussing the new development.
It was reported here some time ago that the new common one-stop border post was being built, and it will indeed be good news for tourists and traders to cross the borders with less and less hassle.
This is, of course, in stark contrast with fellow East African Community member state, Burundi, which has just slammed the door into the face of tourists already in the region and wanting to cross for instance from Rwanda into Burundi, as new rules require a visa to be obtained before coming to Burundi.
“I am not bothered about them,” added another regular commentator before adding, “They are not playing by our rules anyway. The CoW countries [short for Coalition of the Willing, aka Northern Corridor Integration Projects members] have set standards for cross-border tourism. It works for us, and those who think they do not need these logistics can just stay away. Instead of spreading business beyond our three countries, we just keep it to ourselves.”
Rwandan and Ugandan authorities and tourism stakeholders are working closely together to enhance cross-border tourism, and the number of air connections has risen between Rwanda and Uganda to as many as four a day, just over half an hour’s flight by Uganda’s adopted home airline RwandAir from Entebbe to Kigali.
However, as many tourists set out on road safaris across Uganda, first the new one stop border crossing at Cyanika will make a big difference for tourists whose itinerary also includes a visit from The Pearl of Africa to the Land of a Thousand Hills. After visiting either Bwindi or Mgahinga and perhaps staying in one of the scenic lodges on Lake Mutanda, come April, the border crossing will be a walk in the proverbial park, a phrase used with intent as one leaves Mt. Mgahinga National Park in Uganda behind only to immediately find oneself in the foothills of the Rwandan Parc de Volcanoes. Gorilla tracking, as well as tracking for Golden Monkeys, is possible on both sides of the border and during the peak season, when gorilla tracking permits are literally sold out, it is often the case that one can get a ticket on the other side of the border, an option now increasingly often used by safari operators from both countries.
For more details on both countries tourism attractions click on www.visituganda.com and www.rwandatourism.com or else visit www.ugandawildlife.org for information about Uganda’s 10 national parks and many more game, bird, forest, nature, and community reserves.