Irene Allen Namisango is a strong advocate for female travel because she believes it’s the new pretty. She is one woman you will invite somewhere and be sure will actually show up unless, of course, she has another trip to take. She shares her travel experiences as a proud woman taking on The Pearl, from festivals to beaches. She would rather say hello to food, festivals, mountains and gorillas than sitting in the office to send “kind regards” all day long. For anything that is tourism, she will do, even for free.
What do you love about travel?
I love the fact that Traveling is amazing in so many ways. I get challenged to do things I have never done before, meeting and connecting with new people, tasting different kinds of food and experiencing different cultures. I love ticking destinations off my bucket list.
Which was the last place you’ve travelled to?
I have been in Tororo in the extreme east of Uganda, almost to the border to Kenya to hike the Tororo rock. This is a beautiful volcanic plug. Such a feature is found in South Africa, Nigeria and then Tororo. It feels great standing at the top of the city, one side spotting Tororo and the other side Kenya.
What makes your travel experience tick?
The people I travel with. I could go to the same destination even more than 10 times as long as I go with people who have the travel vibe.
What turns you off while traveling?
A bad driver, the moment I have fake encounters with the driver’s road skills, I won’t be comfortable the whole journey. Another turn off is bad food, if I can’t well on a trip, it’s not worth it
Which are the five last places you’ve visited and would gals return to, and why?
Jinja has always been my favourite place in Uganda, it always has something new to explore every time I am in this adventure city. Murchison falls is another beauty I would behold all day without getting tired of listening to the tigress sounds of the mighty falls, watching the rainbow above the little gorge is another story too
Kidepo national park was another gem for me, though the whole journey was a little confused since we took it as students, but the vast savanna grasslands the endlessly extend to the horizon touched my heart
Sipi falls, going down a steep cliff at Sipi rock by sliding down a rope and pushing against it with your feet, it’s a whole different amazing experience to abseil. Another place was the stone town in Mombasa. The way the ancient architecture is merged with modernity makes you want to walk on the streets all day.
Which places are on your bucket list, and why?
I want to be at Ihamba residence before the year ends, I love the ambience at this place, its simply a little beautiful corner in Uganda that everyone needs to visit. I want to do bungee jumping, every time I see videos of people jumping off to do a free fall, my heart skips with fright that still pushes me to do it. I want to go gorilla trekking, ooh, how I love to gaze at the brown eyes of that mighty silverback, seeing him look back at me as I smile at him will be a dream come true.
Tell me about Uganda Uncovered…
Uganda Uncovered is a destination promoting enterprise managed by a group of young tourism enthusiasts, aiming at the promotion of Uganda’s tourism both domestically and internationally. It is a youth movement envisioned at positioning Uganda as a universally recognised tourism destination
We have done this through different projects like Tourism walks that attracted over 300 tour guides, operators and students, theUganda Uncovered Travel apparel that has crossed borders, Hertime Chat series for the young ladies in tourism and now the Annual travel writing competitions that are aimed at increasing marketing content about tourism destinations and influence at the same time.
What motivated the idea?
Immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s of tourism at Makerere university in 2019, I used to be surrounded by a clique of friends who were just concerned about going to church and home and I felt i had to find a way of enticing them to travel and see what the pearl had, that’s how I started Uganda uncovered as a personal blog to pen my travel experiences hoping I would inspire another to travel.
With time Uganda uncovered has now grown to become a one stop information centre for Uganda’s tourism information. In our quest to market Uganda’s destinations, Uganda Uncovered is shifting the paradigm from just selling Uganda’s tourism products to telling Ugandan travel stories by Ugandans, for Ugandans and those who wish to have a feel of what it is to be Ugandan. So we basically give you a taste of Uganda through stories.
What have you been able to achieve with Uganda Uncovered?
Starting up a travel blog in 2019, my goal was to inspire others to travel with my penned stories, which I have achieved and still achieving. Growing into an information centre about Uganda’s tourism is to make sure that Ugandans or anyone who loves to explore Uganda lacks nothing.
How important is travel writing and documentation?
Marketing has seen a considerable change in the recent years, with a significant change shift to digital platforms. There is no getting around it that tourism businesses need to invest more time in digital marketing strategies, because it’s no longer about just the products we sell, but the stories we tell. And in this game of digital marketing, content creation both visual and written are important.
What mesmerises you about Destination Uganda?
The fact that in Uganda everywhere is beautiful. Every part of the country you go to, you will find something beautiful to the eyes.
What would you like done better in promoting Destination Uganda?
I would love the bodies in charge like Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) and others to also embrace the work that the local content creators do. On several occasions I have seen the Ministry or UTB hiring influencers who are not even in tourism or have passion for travel to do the PR for tourism events. Yet there are people that have invested in exploring Uganda, doing good content that deserve to be contacted.
Who is that one person you celebrate in Uganda’s tourism sector, and why?
I celebrate Mr. Richard Kawere the CEO of Uganda Tourism Association. He has not only loved the country Uganda to do different projects that promote our tourism, but he has also individually held many of our hands to pull us to where we are now.
What makes you proud of your culture?
Everything about our culture is unique, but the hospitality that we are taught right from a young age, how we treat everyone from strangers to family. The fact that when young we are taught that literally everyone who is older than you is an aunt or uncle, has taught us how to live with people, respect all people and handle all kinds of people. No wonder Uganda is listed among the most hospitable countries in the world, a country where you find three people from different cultures seated conversing peacefully.