Inspired by the Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA), I started a homestay. Combined with my travel experience to other parts of the world and my special interest in sharing culture and interpretation, it was an easy task for UCOTA to accomplish; we together have set up an enthralling traditional Tooro home-stay.
My idea of a home-stay is a homestay in its reality. I do not stage-manage my home; it remains what it is. The family shares both meals and roof with the visitors. Depending on the time and interest, visitors can engage in as many chores ranging from fetching water; harvesting crop from the garden, home cleaning, preparing and serving food; sharing all meals; and evening stories, songs and dances by the family children. Our home has scenic views of the Rwenzori Mountains and Kibale Forest. On a clear morning, visitors are treated to the snow glaciers on the Rwenzori Mountains. At the onset of the rain seasons interested visitors at a fee have an opportunity to plant a small plot of a crop of their choice and the family will take charge of it as they share photos of growth progress and eventually those of the harvest as they share it among vulnerable families.
The homestay yard is littered with indigenous tree species which host a variety of bird species putting nature and culture in harmony. Bird lovers record over 10 bird species from the compound only. I highly recommend this activity because it gives the visitor a deeper insight of the culture. Story telling by children and dancing have been highlights.
We host to 4 pax at a cost of Ugx. 50,000 ($20) per pax per night.
Andy's quote, one of our visitors:
"My next destination was Fort Portal. This is relatively high altitude and thereby it feels quite chilly. From Fort Portal, I took a shared car to the small village of Bigodi. On a map, one probably will not find this village, as there are just a few hundred people living there.
However, nearby there is Kibale Forest National park and there I absolutely wanted to go.
But first, however, to Bigodi and my lodging there: I lived there with the family of John Tinka. Tinka has done a lot for his village which was as poor as most Ugandan villages till 10 years back. However, things changed, when Tinka had the idea about taking advantage out of a swamp just next to the village.
The villagers converted the swamp into a small park with footbridges for visitors, they qualified guides who know a lot about fauna and flora and it worked. Today, there are quite a few tourists visiting the area and pay entry for it. The calculation rose – since some years income comes regularly by the visitors to the local community. Besides, in the meantime, a women's co-operative has formed which pursue a small store with art craft beside the park entrance, a peanut butter factory was founded, a secondary school was built and various homestays accommodate visitors now. The latter means, that tourists can directly live with families and pay for it.
I stayed with Tinka, the co-founder of the project. This was definitive with family connection, because here you live beside him and his wife still the granny and 9 children between 8 months and 22 years....
During daytime, usually everybody was occupied with various works like laundry washing and ironing, washing dishes, preparing and cooking food or Tinka working in the office...
When it comes to food, because this is asked quite often: In Uganda people eat mainly banana. These can be the sweet bananas as we know them from home, or, however, cooking bananas. They come to almost every food as an addition, the whole is called Matoke and tastes a little like mashed potatoes with light banana mark. Otherwise there is often Posho, maize mash, and beans or cooked beef or chicken.
However, with Tinka and his family I had a lot of fun. In the evening there was singing, dancing or stories were told."
An additional activity at Tinka homestay is the Traditional meals mainly lunch offered to non-residents. A variety of freshly prepared organic foods are traditionally prepared and served under a grass thatched hut. Guests are required to fulfill a ritual of taking off their shoes as they enter the hut. Sitting is mainly on mats on the floor and or rattan cane stools (on request). A traditional buffet is served with a variety of dishes to make sure that each visitor will find enough choices. The food is interpreted; the host goes through how each crop is grown, harvested and prepared. By the end of this session visitors are more than ready to try out the food. Note: Boiled water is served from a traditional pot and we encourage those interested in taking bottled to come along with it.
The activity takes 1 – 2 hours and costs UGX15,000 or $7.00 per person.
I look forward to hosting you.