Greek adventurer Panos Karakitsos hopes to put the beauty of Uganda on the map with his new travel agency Adroa Travels.
Karakitsos, who is originally from the Greek city of Ioannina, moved to Uganda five years ago after falling in love with the country while doing an internship for his degree in International Tourism Management there.
His experience as an intrepid traveler who is dedicated to seeking out the beautiful and less-trodden paths, as well as his background in tourism, inspired Karakitsos to fulfill his “big dream” by starting his adventure and safari company Adroa Travels.
Speaking to Greek Reporter, Karakitsos expresses his goals for starting the travel company in Uganda:
“The purpose of Adroa is to experience with all your senses. Far from mainstream safaris and expected images of the “beautiful” side of Africa, we created unique routes that reflect authenticity, sustainability, cultural exchange and love for adventure.”
Uganda is home to stunning natural beauty and rich culture
In addition to showcasing the stunning landscapes found in Uganda, referred to as the “Pearl of Africa” due to its natural beauty, Karakitsos also hopes to introduce travelers to a culture that may see completely different from their own, but is actually much “closer than what you may believe.”
These ideas about Ugandan culture stem from distorted perceptions of everyday life in Africa that have little connection to reality, the Greek adventurer argues.
When some people hear the word Africa, which describes an entire diverse continent, they immediately think of “terrorism, criminality and poverty,” he states.
“These words have been propagated for many decades and now the image of a beautiful continent and an amazing country like Uganda have been spoiled. Yes, there are some problems but not in the extremes that we have been bombarded with by the news,” he states.
In reality, Uganda is full of unparalleled biodiversity and a vibrant, welcoming culture, he says.
There is incredible geographic diversity in Uganda, including grassy savannas, rainforests, and even mountains with snow-capped peaks, like Mount Rwenzori, which is the third highest peak in Africa. Uganda is also full of water — it has 165 lakes, the most in all of Africa.
From its stunning Lake Victoria, known as Nalubale in Luganda, one of the country’s major languages, the Nile River begins its long snaking path up through northern Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.
Animals such as giraffes, lions, zebras, rhinoceroses, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards are all native to the country, which is also home to more than half of the surviving Mountain Gorillas, which are in danger of extinction.
Nature lovers can explore the 10 national parks, 12 nature reserves, and 13 wildlife sanctuaries in Uganda, which provide views of natural landscapes unlike those found anywhere else in the world.
Apart from the countless natural wonders in the country, Uganda is also home to wonderful people, as Karakitsos states.
“Above all, Uganda is home to Ugandans, a beautiful nation that, despite the pain older generations felt through colonialism and infamous dictators, they love dancing, laughing and appreciating the day the way it was given to them…With 56 tribes living in Uganda, you can imagine that arts and culture are a big part of the people’s lifestyle, and they are ready to share their magic with you.”
Greeks and Ugandans have much in common
When asked if there are any similarities between Uganda and Greece, the young adventurer stated that, although Greeks use the disparaging phrase “we have become like Uganda” when frustrated with some aspect of their home country they consider to be like the third world, the two people have a great deal in common.
“We both share the essence of Philoxenia. To be a friend to a stranger. To open your home and feed a traveler,” Karakitsos states.
He says that people in Uganda also share the love of the arts and culture that is common amongst Greeks. Ugandans, like Greeks, are particularly fond of dancing:
“From weddings and traditional ceremonies to clubs and bars, Ugandans and Greeks are lovers of good music and dance,” he says, although he concedes that “They can beat us Greeks in the moves.”
One aspect of life in Uganda that was difficult to adjust to for Karakitsos was the food, as he loves Greek cuisine. While Ugandans approach cooking more simply than Greeks, they have some of the best fruits and vegetables in the world “since Uganda is located on the equator and the tropical climate creates the best conditions for farming,” he explains.
In the end, Karakitsos insists we are all humans with a purpose to “connect and interact with each other in order to evolve and reach our highest potential and expand our horizons. This cannot happen if we decide to stay in our homes and observe this evolution from afar.”