The district of Kasese found in the western part of Uganda is mainly known for Queen Elizabeth and Mt Rwenzori National Parks that attract thousands of tourists annually. However, Kiwa Heritage site is fast catching up as a destination for local and international tourists. The Kiwa Heritage site, which is found along Kasese-Kilembe road in Kitonzi cell in Nyakabingo III ward of Bulembia Division, has become a popular spot in Kasese town for Tourists coming to Uganda.
Kiwa Heritage was Founded as a community based organization in 2013, to provide several products that include a swimming pool at the hot springs, volley ball on the banks of river Nyamwamba, a cultural museum and local brew. The revelers disembark from their vehicles and motorcycles and park them along Kilembe road just a few meters from Kasese’s oldest hotel the Margherita Hotel.
The path towards Kiwa Heritage includes a small path past a hilly area aligned with bamboo trees and rids which is a bushy area. One has to Ugandan Shillings 2000 to access the site at the reception building. However, behind the bushes is a bee hive of activities as several people engage in all kinds of activities, especially over the weekend and they include the natives Kikonzo cultural dance of Ekikebi and traditional folk songs.
Guests swim in the hot springs while others play volley ball at the banks of Nyamwamba River with sand akin to that found on the beach while one can also visit the museum to view cultural items.
Tourists visiting Kiwa Heritage can also enjoy both hard and soft drinks including the real Kasese waragi and Tonto which is fermented locally from bread made out of bananas and cassava commonly referred to as Ebbwanga in the Lhukonzo language and Amatsayidongo prepared from fresh maize.
According to Kiwa Heritage official data the site was established in 2013 to interest the community in environmental conservation and preserve the positive cultural norms and values of the Bakonzo people and the hot springs to be the epicenter of these activities because of the fact that the Bakonzo hold geo-thermal features in high regard since the waters are said to possess medicinal value the communities have appreciated Kiwa Heritage because of the financial and developmental values it has offered them. About sixty people visit Kiwa on each week day while more than 200 people stroll into the area any day of the weekend according to statistics at the site,
The Kiwa Heritage site has also become popular among non-natives of Kasese. The site is now a must reach for students on field study trips in Kasese who would like to learn about geothermal and the Bakonzo culture. In August alone, 650 students visited Kiwa Heritage and during the peak season of tourism in the district, the site hosts about 30 foreign guests per week mainly because of the serenity of the place.
The medicinal value of the water of the hot springs at Kiwa heritage is also another reason why it is sought after because the waters help in healing some ailments including obesity and wounds according to the local residents of that place.
The site is also used to learn about the culture of the Bakonzo people plus is also used for meditation.
Kiwa Heritage has also become a key player in the tourism sector of the district since it holds guests a little longer and hence can stay for a longer period of time.
The lower service rates at Kiwa Heritage make it more attractive hence promoting local tourism among residents.
New activities are also being planned for introduction that includes sport fishing in the not so distant future.