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Why Uganda should be your preferred destination for movie production

In January 2018, film powerhouse Marvel released one of their most popular movies on the African continent named Black Panther.

The movie depicts a hidden magical place, highly advanced in secretive technology that many other countries world over do not have thanks to a pile of the vibraniam mineral they possess.

The beautiful country known in the movie as Wakanda and hidden away from the rest of the world is located in sub-Saharan Africa, and is home to the superhero Black Panther who is its king.

In the movie, its city is superimposed on a lake dotted with several islands giving it a distinct look but in reality this is Uganda’s Lake Bunyonyi located in the country’s Western region.

The Black Panther is just one of the testimonies of successes of movies filmed in several beautiful places that Uganda can offer and it is not the only one; several other movies have had particular scenes filmed in this country.

They include among others Escape from Uganda, Tarzan,  and the award winning Queen of Katwe alongside so many other local films and documentaries.

Uganda is a haven of beauty that creative cinematographers should not ignore and the success of movies partly shot in Uganda like the Queen of Katwe and Black Panther with their record breaking box office performances points to that fact.

It is therefore a destination both local and international film companies should consider.  

Here are some of the places that local, regional and international film makers can consider for movies, films, short films and documentaries.

Mountain Rwenzori

The Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the mountains of the moon are located in Uganda’s south west by the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and are the region’s tallest mountain range with their highest peak Magherita at about 5,109m above sea level.

They are snow-capped and the only place in the country where you could find the snow.

The rainforest at the base of the mountain is home to about 217 species of birds, 17 of which can only be found there. There are also forest elephants, chimpanzees, hyrax, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, duikers, and the Rwenzori turaco.

The vegetation alone in this UNESCO heritage site is one that film producers should die for, from the rain forest to the woodlands and the rare vegetation as one goes up.

On average, climbing the mountains to the peak and back takes about 8 days.

Entebbe

Entebbe is a city in Central Uganda located on a Lake Victoria peninsula. Lake Victoria itself is the largest fresh water body in the region offering vast filming spots.

 The city is approximately 37 kilometres southwest of the capital, Kampala with a rich history since it was once the seat of government for the Protectorate of Uganda prior to independence under British administration.

Entebbe is the location of the country’s only International Airport with a history too.

The Airport is  best known for the dramatic rescue of 100 hostages kidnapped by the militant group of the PFLP-EO and Revolutionary Cells organizations mainly Jews who were rescued by the Israeli military.

Several movies including Escape from EntebbeLast King of ScotlandSeven days at Entebbe among others have been shot here.

Entebbe is also the location of the State House, the official office and residence of the President of Uganda.

Entebbe is also home to some of the country’s most famous beaches all of which are spots for filming.

 Kampala

Known as the city of seven hills, Kampala is the country’s capital and largest city. Regionally, it’s known as the city that never sleeps thanks to its wonderful nightlife.

But that is not all it offers. For Film Makers, Kampala has several spot with a historical attachment and beauty.

It is the seat of the country’s biggest Kingdom, Buganda, with several attractions like the Bulange Palace, Kasubi tombs and the country’s biggest manmade lake.

Kampala also has a lot of sites and monuments that mark the country’s political history like the Independence monument among others.

It is the city of power, housing several government administration offices like the parliament hence offering opportunities of film making from its ever changing skyline to the slums on its outskirts known for harbouring talent.

Some of the country’s top hotel are located here too.

Jinja

This City is the home to the source of the World’s longest River, the Nile famed for water activities like white water rafting, tubing, Bungee Jumping and the renowned source of the Nile.

The City is about 100km from the capital Kampala and it could take about two and a half hours to get there on days with less traffic.

Recently, a new picturesque bridge, the source of the Nile Bridge, was constructed which gives rare view to film makers that cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

It is a hub for tourists both local and international especially adrenaline junkies and has some of the best sunsets especially over the Nile that could give cinematographers wonderful views.

 All this together with several world class accommodation facilities offer film makers not only the views but also affordable spots for short films, movie scenes, plays and all forms of TV series.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park is located in Bwamba a remote part of the Bundibugyo District in Western Uganda.

The Park lies by Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo with several mountain ranges around it giving it a beautiful view.

It has more than 400 bird species and a habitant for over 60 mammal species, including the African buffalo, leopard, hippopotamus, mona monkey, water chevrotain, bush babies, African civet and the African elephant.

One of the biggest attractions of the park however are the twin Sempaya hot springs both male and female.

On several days, throngs of tourists and locals can be found here telling stories about the mystical myths of the area and boiling eggs in the hot waters sprouting from underground. It is a wonderful place to do documentaries.

 

Mbale

Located in the Eastern part of the country, Mbale offers some of the best sites and reasons for film.

Mbale is approximately 225 kilometres by road from Kampala.

The area is home to the Mountain Elgon an extinct volcano and one of Uganda’s oldest physical features and the National park around it.

 The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna and about 300 species of birds.

But that is not all, Mbale offers opportunity for hiking smaller hills like the Wanale.

Cultural tourism is a phenomenon in Mbale. It is inhabited by the local Bagisu tribe that up to this day conduct public circumcision for it teen boys as an initiation ritual.

The people here also organise bull fights in tournaments and for simply entertainment.

Fort portal

This one was recently officially named as a tourism city because of its strategic location between some of the country’s top destination and the attractions it offers itself.

The journey from Kampala takes around four hours and there is a reliable bus service along the well tarmacked road. The town borders Uganda’s equatorial Kibale rainforest and is well known for its breath taking scenery and is within distance of the stunning Rwenzori Mountains.

Amongst things to do in Fort Portal are visits to the Amabere Caves, the Tooro Botanical Gardens, a Royal Palace and tombs as well as guided walks taking in a crater lakes with their its bubbling source and, of course, visiting Fort Portal’s famous tea plantations.

 Kapchorwa

Travelling to Kapchorwa, the feeling of one entering the land of world champions is compounded by the area’s scenic views of hills dotted with small streams of water flowing down the vegetated highlands, occasionally forming small waterfalls.

It is also home to some of Uganda’s top athletic icons like Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo and Steven Kiprotich who have inspired a generation of athletes in the area.

But for film makers, Kapchorwa offers some of the most beautiful sites in the country.

Sipi falls

 

 

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Mr Jonathan Kamoga is a journalist currently working with The EastAfrican Newspaper. He has keen interest in regional Tourism, aviation and conservation.

kamogajonathan50@gmail.com

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