Change of plans: We're dreaming of traditional celebrations in Uganda

Wednesday December 23 2020

Local and foreign tourists share a light moment as they have breakfast in Uganda's Kidepo Valley National Park. PHOTO | EDGAR R BATTE


In past years, Timothy Mugume celebrated Christmas with his extended family in western Uganda. However, he will not be travelling to Mbarara this year.

“We will have a socially-distanced lunch for a limited period of time, and return to our respective homes,” Mugume, the country director of Jumia Uganda said.

He is not the only one considering a different way to mark this year’s festive season.

Anna Grodzki, founder and director of Matoke Tours says that she will not be travelling out of Kampala this Christmas so as not to endanger her parents and other older family members.

“We will celebrate with our closest friends, whom we have been spending time with in the past months, to avoid expanding our social circle,” she added.

The Ministry of Health has asked Ugandans not to visit relatives and friends in the rural are in order to contain the spread of Covid-19.


For the tourism industry, Grodzki says the Christmas season will be different this year. Usually December is high season for tour operators, with dozens of trips starting from before the Christmas holidays.

She’s nostalgic about the activity in her office, which would now be buzzing with tour guides picking up their itineraries and trip information.

“This year, things look very different. We are lucky enough to have received a number of bookings for December this year, but it’s not comparable to the usual madness.”

Rob Davies, the general manager of All Terrain Adventures says business is still quiet so it’s hard to predict how Christmas or the festive season will turn out. “We are getting lots of enquiries but not many confirmed yet. It seems Ugandan families are happier to travel around their own country.”

Davies expects a rush a few days before Christmas, and continuing into the new year.

For Mugume, the season brings good business. Jumia Uganda has seen an increase in orders compared with last year.

“We have registered an estimated growth of about 30 per cent across categories such as electronics and consumables," he said.