Uganda is so different to life in the UK that visiting for a Brit is a magical adventure unlike any other. At The Insurance Emporium, we ran a competition to win a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for two in the country. We caught up with Vanessa, our winner, and Sallie, her companion, after they returned from their trip to find out about life in Uganda and to hear about their exciting experiences…

Up in the air!

After landing in Uganda, Vanessa and Sallie flew to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They travelled in a 12-seater plane called a Cessna Caravan, which acts as a shuttle between airstrips in South West Uganda. Vanessa said: “The landscape around one of the airstrips was very beautiful, so the whole outward journey was an extra treat.” Before stepping onto the plane, Sallie was apprehensive about the flight. She said: “One of my worries about this trip was flying in a small plane, something I have never done before… ‘Never mind’, I thought, ‘it’s just one take-off and landing’. The pilot, Oscar, turned and smiled and said he hoped we wouldn’t mind but he had to fly to another airstrip first to pick someone else up on the way. Oh no!” These fears were soon forgotten after a smooth take-off led to stunning views of Lake Victoria, extinct volcanoes, plantations, local communities and the rainforest itself.

The road to Sanctuary Spa

Once they were out of the Cessna Caravan, Vanessa and Sallie had an hour-long drive ahead of them to Sanctuary Spa in Bwindi. Vanessa said: “It gave us an opportunity to see the communities as we passed through them. We saw a lot of schools and places of worship. The roads were hardened, unfinished tracks, which must present a very challenging drive after heavy rain.” Sallie said: “Rogers, our driver, told us many things about Ugandans and rural life. We saw coffee beans drying on cloths outside houses, small brickmakers making individual bricks by hand, lots of children who were out of school for the two-month Christmas holiday looking after beautiful African cattle. Rogers told us how tourism has changed the lives of many people in the rural communities and how there are more hospitals and more schools than there used to be.”

Life in Uganda

Vanessa explained that she and Sallie learned a lot from Ugandans they met and people that they trekked and socialised with. She said: “I learned that motorbikes are used as taxis in rural Uganda, that 80% of Ugandans earn their living by growing and selling things and that they live on around $1.50 a day. There is nothing like the NHS, all students have to fund themselves in higher education and once crops ripen it is an uphill battle to prevent birds and animals eating them all. People sit up on raised platforms in the fields and ring bells attached to long strings to scare birds away.” Sallie said: “We met Sheila, an administrator at the local hospital who was originally from Seattle. She told us of the difficulties faced by people with so little money, particularly women who have traditionally had few rights. We visited the Ride 4 a Woman project [where local women learn vocational skills], which gives support to women who have suffered domestic abuse. I was impressed by the positive atmosphere in the sewing room as well as their beautiful produce.”

How Uganda compares to the UK

Vanessa noticed that the lifestyle in Uganda is very different to that of the UK. Meanwhile, Sallie noticed some parallels with Great Britain from days gone by. She said: “I am in my sixties and still remember life in the 1950s in the UK. Although life was hard, there was an attitude that manners were more important than wealth. That attitude is still there in Uganda. They seemed to be happy even though they had very little in material terms. They smiled more than we do and they walked tall and straight. Speaking to Ugandans, they seem to believe that their lives will get better and that ecotourism will help their country develop. I think they’re right.” Vanessa also noted: “The countryside itself was stunning – big skies giving way to huge views and all so very green and fertile. It’s a very, very special place and I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to visit.”

Congratulations to Vanessa and Sallie for winning our competition to visit Uganda. We’re so pleased they had such a great time!

If you’re planning your own once-in-a-lifetime trip then you might choose to buy travel insurance. The Insurance Emporium* has a range of levels of travel insurance cover, with a number of Standard Benefits included. For example, their Black single-trip policy includes cover for Personal Effects & Baggage for up to £2,500. Think this could come in handy? Fly on over to The Insurance Emporium today!


*The Insurance Emporium Travel Insurance is provided by Insure & Go Insurance Services Ltd. and underwritten by MAPFRE ASISTENCIA COMPAÑÍA INTERNACIONAL DE SEGUROS Y REASEGUROS, SOCIEDAD ANONIMA.

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