African Getaways: Swimming with Whale Sharks

The Coronavirus pandemic has made people re-think globetrotting holidays, and while UAE still remains a popular tourist destination for people of other countries; the citizens and residents here are on the lookout for adventures beyond the UAE.

Eco-tourists can swim alongside the behemoth creatures, natives to the temperate oceans. Beautifully patterned with white spots and stripes, up to 60-feet-long, the Whale Shark is a protected species like that of the tiger, lion and elephant.

Reza Kalamadeen, Director of a Dubai-based company promoting travel destinations, says: “Given the market conditions that have affected the travel and tourism sector, we provide relief by introducing novel destinations to the UAE citizens and residents looking to travel overseas. We believe we can create a long-term positive impact in raising awareness to the smaller, but equally aspirational destinations and experiences.”

Kenya and Uganda awaits

If you wish to encounter the ‘gentle giants’ of the sea, then an experience of swimming with Whale Sharks in Kenya beckons you. You can now swim alongside the largest fish in the sea – the beautifully patterned behemoth with white spots and stripes measuring up to 60-feet and weighing 20 tonnes that have roamed the oceans for more than 70 million years.

A protected species like the tiger, lion, and elephant, the Whale Shark is a slow-moving harmless docile filter-feeder mammal. The species is vulnerable to extinction due to poor fishing habits; hence, Whale Shark Adventure’s overall aim is to raise awareness so that the level of protection afforded to Whale Sharks is increased. The peak Whale Shark season runs until mid-March.

Whale Shark Adventures, Kenya’s top dive operator for Whale Shark encounters, also offers Humpback Whale expeditions in Diani, Africa’s premier beach destination. Tourists from the UAE and several other Gulf countries can travel to Kenya for quarantine-free stays. All they need to present is a Covid-19 negative test certificate, taken within 96 hours, and fill out a travel health form for contact tracing.

Tourists can look forward to memorable holidays in a 1920s-era colonial lodge in the stunning crater region of Western Uganda with views over the dramatic Rwenzori Mountains at the Ndali Lodge located on the rim of an extinct volcano.

If chimpanzees are your thing, then you can spend a memorable holiday in a 1920s-era colonial lodge in the stunning crater region of western Uganda with views over the dramatic Rwenzori Mountains and the opportunity to track chimpanzees of Kibale Forest, home to the largest concentration of chimpanzees in Africa. The Ndali Lodge, located on the rim of an extinct volcano, is lighted by candles and storm lanterns for an old-world feel.

For the first time since the pandemic, Uganda has opened its borders for international tourists under new guidelines that include a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure but no mandatory quarantine.

With Emirates, Etihad, and African Express Airways operating flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the two African destinations are undeniably among the unexplored newer places for people, especially from the UAE, to get away for a fun-filled winter holiday.

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