Zulaika Birungi, the first child in a family of nine, was born in western Uganda, Masindi district. Armed with a degree in Social work, Zulaika devotes her time to exploring the world through her travels and adventures and helps others discover Uganda by offering walking tours of Kampala through her company Lucky Zulaika Tours Ltd. An interesting fact about Zulaika, she corresponds with about 20 pen pals from all over the world and has a knack for sarcasm and funny memes!
On Her First Ever Adventure.
I was 13 years, I had just finished my Primary 7. My aunt, who worked as a ranger at Murchison Falls National Park, had finally conceded and took me to visit the park. This 2 weeks visit to the park was the beginning of many firsts for me and a burgeoning love for nature and its beauty. I saw water falls, crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes (that at first thought were cows), saw one of the most special and rarest of birds, the shoebill and went on a boat for the first time ever, leaving behind my fear of vast bodies of water.
On Her Backpacking Trip From Uganda to Malawi.
Two years ago I promised myself that I would see a new African country every year. You know it is hard to go overseas like Europe or USA, they think you will not return, too much paper work and interviews included and even after all that, the visa application may be denied. So I decided: Why not discover more of Mama Africa? My original plan was to go through Kenya and Tanzania and then spend most of my days in Mozambique. But when I reached Mozambique, I felt I needed more. Malawi was close. With the help of a travel partner that was already in Malawi, off I went! My journey from Uganda to Malawi lasted a month and one week. I boarded by first bus from Kampala on May 4th and returned to Kampala on June 10th.
On Her Most Memorable Experience During Her Backpacking Trip.
Being on this beautiful white sand beach, a place called Ilha de Matemo in Mozambique (an hour by boat from Ibo). It was my first time ever seeing dolphins. Lots of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing on white sands. The north of Mozambique is not very touristic. My stay in Ibo Island proved to be magical: it is far from everything, very quiet, warm people, respectful of people’s privacy, portuguese ruins (I love old architecture) and nightly sunsets. My second night was made special by the multitude of stars illuminating the Mozambican sky and the full moon reflecting its beauty on the Indian Ocean while enjoying the evening cool breeze – it was like a movie scene!
On Her Least Favorite Experience During Her Backpacking Trip.
The transport system in Mozambique and Malawi can be challenging. These two countries are amongst the poorest in Africa and getting around is not easy. Imagine being squeezed into a mini bus meant for 14 people with 30 people? You can’t move your legs or anything and the poor passengers are used to it, they don’t complain about it. Sometimes the money collector has to stand out through the window because he has nowhere to sit. The mini buses stop all the time, like every 10 minutes, if you don’t have enough time, you will end up spending the whole day on the road. Usage of trucks that transport heavy good is common in Mozambique. I once sat on top of a 40 tonne truck after spending about 4 hours on the road with no cars. It was not easy to hitchhike either, but that was the worst drive; bad road, very cold sitting on top of some machines on the truck and very dusty.
On The Lesson(s) Learned On Her Backpacking Trip.
I learnt that I am a go-getter, a focused and committed person. More than I knew! Being out there by myself where I did not know anyone but I was always optimistic that everything was going to work. But also on this trip, I learnt that I should always follow what I want and also learnt to make decisions.
On Her Work With Kampala Walking Tour
Kampala walking tour is an activity under my registered Company Lucky Zulaika Tours Ltd. I founded my company three years ago, after a year and a half of not finding work due to high unemployment rates.
I was walking around Kampala, showing an Austrian friend of mine my city. That is when it dawned on me that “maybe I should do this as my job”. During that same time, I was staying with an Australian friend who motivated me: gave me some websites of walking tours in Europe to look at, advised me to research about all the sites and many other useful information. I have never looked back since then!
It’s been three years and during this time I have trained two others girls to work with me. As an entrepreneur and a Ugandan, I want to showcase the best that my culture has to offer to the world. We are a proud and defiant people, with deep roots in family. We are more than a headline or troubled reminiscences from the past. Our mission is to bring the best that our country offers, our compassion our heritage, our culture, one step at a time. My ultimate plan is to keep growing my business by giving women within the community a role in its expansion
It always makes me happy when during our walking tours, we take our visitors to places they would not even find on their own, sharing stories of our past, our important history which should not be overlooked with time. Taking them through markets, bazaars, places of worships, honoring palaces and sampling local cuisines always leaves them wanting more…