Today on the Tour Guide Africa (TGAfrica) series, we have Rukundo Samuel, a local experience creator based in Entebbe, Uganda, where he runs Primate Journeys Africa Ltd and leads fantastic safari adventures. We learnt about his business, his favourite African destinations, the finest places to visit in East Africa, and much more in this episode.
Hello Rukundo. Tell us a little bit about yourself and Primate Journeys Africa.
My name is Samuel Rukundo, born and raised at the edges of Kibale National Park also known as the primate capital of Uganda. I started my journey as a Potter in the Ruwenzori’s (Mountains of the Moon) with one of the prominent mountaineering safari companies in Uganda, then as a research assistant on Chimps & Baboons in Kibale National Park before joining Nkumba University for a diploma in tourism Operations and Management. Later on, I joined professional tour guiding 2009, where I freelanced with various safari companies in Uganda, Rwanda & Tanzania for more exposure and experience in the tour guiding business especially in Bird Watching (Ornithology).
In 2013 I started Primate Journeys and my principal function is to ensure high-quality professionalism at all levels and standards of work, as well as work hand in hand with my teammates to ensure that our customers are offered the best services. My love for nature and wildlife drives me to offer clients an experience second to none. With my travel experience and varsity, I plan to put together complex programs to suit discerning travellers and hence the reason I started my own company.
How big is the Primate Journeys Africa Ltd team and what’s unique about your company?
I work with a nine-person team that includes myself, three permanent employees, and five freelance tour guides that specialize in various aspects of guiding and language. Quick responses to emails/inquiries, listening to and personalizing the quests’ requests to their interests, as well as developing small and authentically, distinguishes us and allows us to spend more time satisfying our guests.
What destinations in Africa do you organize tours and activities to? How many tourists have you organized a vacation for, if you were to give an estimate?
Since 2013, I believe we have directly and indirectly served over 300-500 people. We arrange unique local trips in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
So, tell me about your most memorable experiences since founding Primate Journeys Africa Ltd ?
Yes, my most memorable experience was driving a group of seven guests around East Africa on a road trip for 28 days through Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. It was an incredible experience experiencing different cultures, Mountain Gorillas, Birds, Chimpanzees, and Cats, all of which added to my list of lifers and those of my guests.
When is the ideal time to travel to the destinations where you offer tours and activities?
Safaris in East Africa are best experienced from the middle of December to the beginning of March, as well as from June to the middle of October. The amount of surface water accessible has an impact on wildlife watching. During the rainy season (November to March), wildlife is scattered because there is enough surface water to drink (puddles, perennial rivers). Wildlife congregates around leftover surface water supplies as the rains stop (mid-March) (pools, lakes, and large rivers). Please keep in mind that travelling during southern Africa’s “green season,” which runs from November to April, has some advantages.
Where would you recommend that a tourist visiting Africa for the first time go? What is the reason for this?
Uganda, in my opinion, is the ideal destination to recommend because of the diversity of activities/adventures available. Uganda is known for its vast savannah plains and woodlands, beautiful scenery and wildlife, vibrant cities, and elite and cheap safari resorts. A wonderful single destination that does not need crossing borders will pull you out of your shell and allow you to view the rest of the world. Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzee trekking, Tree climbing lions, Mountain Climbing and many more.
Let’s talk about the pandemic; one of the major casualties has been travel. How has the pandemic affected personally you?
Very bad, and we expect to recover as soon as the travel sector returns to normal. In fact, we are well prepared for the surge in demand that will occur when travel resumes. The pandemic had a significant impact on us, resulting in several cancellations with large refunds and the postponement of the majority of our trips. Seeing our personnel, particularly our tour guides, stationed at home with no work and expenses to pay has also disappointed us. However, we have not stopped marketing or engaging with our guests, which gives us hope that we will be able to resume normal operations shortly due to the few inquiries we have received.
Do you think travel will return soon, and if so, how are you gearing up?
Yes, travel is definitely returning, and I’ve continued marketing and contacting suppliers online and via email, which has kept my head held high.
In the last episode, we interviewed James Denise, an experience creator based in Nairobi, Kenya, where he runs Claudious Tours and Safaris Limited and leads fantastic adventures. Do check it out here
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