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Sander van Zanten

Sander, the local travel expert in Uganda

Sander came for the first time in Uganda through the ' Back door ': Not as a tourist, but for family visit with his Ugandan wife. Now they run their own travel agency, partly from the Netherlands and partly from Uganda. Contact with locals and community tourism is very important in their travels. "They are the people who make Uganda so special."

In 2001, Sander came for the first time in Uganda, with his Ugandan wife he met in the Netherlands. From the Netherlands they had set up a foundation that was committed to the birth village of Sanders ' mother-in-laws. "In 2007 we moved with our two children to Uganda, to build a school there in half a year," says Sander. "Seven years later, we were still there, as it was not as fast as expected. The school and a clinic came, but it turned out that we did not get enough satisfaction from charitable projects. Local people were in need of jobs and income and we wanted to get involved. This is how we started op tourism activities. It started with hiring a cottage in Kampala and that grew to set up a guesthouse for people who stay for longer periods in Uganda, for example for volunteering or study.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I am specialized in Nothern an d North-East Uganda. Mainly Kidepo valley national park and the Karamoja region. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"Getting to know Uganda
Sander decided to set up tailor-made tours, with the premise that travellers really need to get to know Uganda. "I sometimes talked to tourists who did not visit the local market during their journey or never ate Matoke during their stay, "says Sander. "While it is adding so much as you learn to know the daily life in a country. Contact with local people, that is what it is about. We work together with several homestays, where travellers can stay at people’s home. It's basic, but you always have privacy. We alternate with more luxurious lodges. The homestays are a great way for locals to provide their own livelihoods. I am therefore actively encouraging them to start something. With one of our drivers, David, I have set up a homestay in his mother's village. The money he earns, he stops in his farm. In this way the whole community benefits from tourism. "
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Featured trips & expertise

Murchison Falls
Explore the Nature and Wildlife of Uganda - 8 Days

With just over a week in Uganda, you can see most of the country's highlights. You'll visit incredible national parks like Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, and the primeval Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You'll track rhinos, seek out gorillas and chimpanzees, and take a boat ride to the roaring Murchison Falls — it's all on this exciting itinerary.

Recent trip reviews for Sander

Seyed

Trip to Uganda · Uganda - Jan 6 - Jan 26, 2019

Traveler: Seyed Z. - Local specialist: Sander van Zanten

I planned my very first trip to Africa (specifically Uganda) using kimkim and I could not be happier with the outcome. I was picked up at the Entebbe airport upon my arrival and dropped again at the airport after 3 weeks to fly back, and in between I had quite a few memorable adventures which I will remember for the rest of my life.
Uganda is a wonderful country full of natural parks, lakes, and wild animals, but I should say the most amazing part of my trip was interacting with Ugandan... read more

I planned my very first trip to Africa (specifically Uganda) using kimkim and I could not be happier with the outcome. I was picked up at the Entebbe airport upon my arrival and dropped again at the airport after 3 weeks to fly back, and in between I had quite a few memorable adventures which I will remember for the rest of my life.
Uganda is a wonderful country full of natural parks, lakes, and wild animals, but I should say the most amazing part of my trip was interacting with Ugandan people on different parts of the country. Ugandans are extremely warm and friendly and no matter on which part of the country you see them, they always greet you with warmth and smile and I should emphasize once again that having the opportunity to travel around the country and meeting these wonderful people has been the highlight of my trip.
I had a wonderful and knowledgable guide (Paul Buzinde) who drove me around the country for 21 days. He knew all the roads in the country, the name of all the birds we encountered in the natural parks, and most importantly made utmost effort to make the trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. I want to use this opportunity to thank Paul for making this trip a memorable experience for me.
If you're interested in visiting Uganda, 3 weeks of road trip should take you to most of the places that tourists generally visit, but if you want to plan a shorter trip then there are some places that in my idea you should definitely visit. In no particular order they are:
1) Kidepo Valley National Park - Many visitors don't go to this place since it's in a pretty remote area but I think a trip to Uganda should definitely include visiting this wonderful natural park. I visited some 6 national parks in Uganda and by far Kidepo was the most beautiful of them because it has a very open savannah where you can see miles and miles of grasslands with overwhelming beauty. Most of my wildlife sightings also happened to be in Kidepo. In addition, since not many people travel to this park, you might easily happen to have the whole park to yourself, which was the case with me while doing my safari. Keep in mind that traveling to Kidepo will also take you through the remote northeast region of Uganda which is home to Karamojong tribe. Consider this as an added bonus in traveling to Kidepo.
2) Murchison Falls National Park - You will not see hippos and crocodiles in Kidepo but there are plenty of them in Murchison, the views of Nile river is just breathtaking, and hiking to the top of the Murchison Falls and seeing the drop from the top is just an amazing experience.
3) Gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park - Much have already been said about this elsewhere, but I have to emphasize again that tracking gorillas and spending an hour with them is truly, truly a remarkable experience. If you plan to do only one thing in Uganda, this is it.
4) Lake Bunyonyi - Serene, beautiful lake with plenty of isolated islands scattered on top of it. You will have the opportunity to hike on the hillsides surrounding the lake and interact with local people living on the hillsides.
I would have liked to spend more time visiting the villages on the road but unfortunately this is something which I didn't think about before planning my trip. I suggest for anybody who plans to visit Uganda to consider a couple village walks in different regions of the country, specially in the Karamojong region. It will be a wonderful experience.

Sander van Zanten profile photo
Sander van Zanten, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Seyed, thank you so much for the wonderful review! Indeed Kidepo and Karamoja are one of the hidden gems in Uganda definitely worth visiting.

Warm regards, and we hope to welcome you again one day!
Sander

View Gorillas in Uganda · Uganda - Oct 1 - Oct 7, 2018

Traveler: William G. - Local specialist: Sander van Zanten

The trip was fantastic driving from Rwanda through Uganda the experience seeing the people, small towns was wonderful. The Gorilla Trekking was much harder than we thought at 7,500 ft above sea level. We live at sea level. Our idea was doing the Habitational on the first day and a regular trek the following day...bad idea as we were very sore after a 10 hour up and down hills including 4 hours following the gorilla family. Following day we just bailed out of the trek as we needed the rest,... read more

The trip was fantastic driving from Rwanda through Uganda the experience seeing the people, small towns was wonderful. The Gorilla Trekking was much harder than we thought at 7,500 ft above sea level. We live at sea level. Our idea was doing the Habitational on the first day and a regular trek the following day...bad idea as we were very sore after a 10 hour up and down hills including 4 hours following the gorilla family. Following day we just bailed out of the trek as we needed the rest, yet “What an Experience” I even got false charged by the large Silver Back...a real African adventure!
The food at Nkuringo Bwindi lodge was not up to par and I’m not a picky eater so I suggest you make other arrangements at that location. The staff was very nice but even when we write everything we wanted to eat down on paper, it never was correct.... a communication problem. Even Moses our driver translated but it never worked.
The best lodge was Kyaninga. A beautifully log cabin lodge with great food and wonderful staff.
Now for Kim Kim...a great tour company which allows you to deal with the tour operator in the area your traveling in. My questions about our trip were answered within an hour which gave me a feeling of confidence about the upcoming African adventure. Our driver and guide “Moses”was with us at all times if we needed anything... he was great. Overall trip was a 9 out of 10.
Bill & Sue Gordon

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Sander van Zanten, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Bill and Sue,
thank you so much for the review, it is wonderfull to see you enjoyed the pearl of africa. Thank you for the feedback about the lodge in bwindi. I will follow it up!

I hope you will come back one time to see the rest of the country!
Warm regards,
Sander