The once famous, pure and totally clean Kitagata Hot Springs in Sheema District are facing extinction due to government’s negligence.
Kitagata Hot Springs were once regarded as the hottest in the country but it has since ceased on having the highest temperature due to floods from the near River stream Sebanga.
The two hot springs namely; Mulago named after Uganda’s biggest Referral Hospital Mulago due to its healing powers and Ekyomugabe which was used by the then King of Ankore known as ‘Omugabe’.
Private individuals from the area have convinced the government to allow them develop the springs but all in vain.
Due to poor management and negligence, the springs are withering away. Forexample, the Mulago hot spring no longer has its natural exit which closed to block water from the nearby stream from entering the springs.
There is a need to get exavators to open the blocked water ways for the stream so that even if when it rains, water won’t be able to flood into the hot springs.
During the 2002 flooding of the stream where hot springs exited its water to, water ways were blocked by the debris brought floods and since then, the hot springs have the never been the same always flooding when it’s rainy season.
The ex. Minister of Tourism Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu is interestingly the area MP and under his regime nothing was done to save the naturally boiling famous water.
Around 20 years ago, tourists especially Europeans used to come and camp at the hot springs for days but nowadays, the place has been eaten up by papyrus swamps.
The water is so dirty and full of algae which wasn’t the case back then.
Due to blocked original exit, the water temperature has slowly reduced from around 98 degrees to at around 60 degrees due to interference of the nearby stream.
And despite earning government millions of money in tourism, the government has openly neglected the most amazing natural wonders in the world.
The two hot springs are now shadows of former self, it is so unfortunate to ignore such tourism potential.
Despite tarmacing of the nearby Highway Kagamba-Ishaka Road nothing has increased on the springs side due to the poor state they are in.
On top of that, there is poor signage indicating location of the hot springs and most people miss out on them and find themselves already past the place.
When contacted, Ms Lilly Ajarova, Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said developing Kitagata hot springs is still on the agenda pending government funding.
Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, the Minister of State for Tourism when contacted declined to comment on the matter.
Background of Kitagata Hot Springs
The springs were first discovered in 1904 by a hunter and they are formed due to water heating from the Earth’s bowels and emerging through the Earth’s crust. This can be termed as an active volcano.
The hot springs are located on the Ishaka–Kagamba Road, in Sheema South County, in Sheema District, Western Uganda.
This location is approximately 2 kilometres (1 mile) by road, southeast of the town of Kitagata, one of the urban centers in the district. This location lies approximately 62 kilometres (39 miles) by road, west of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region.
The coordinates of Kitagata Hot Springs are 0°40’42.0″S, 30°09’38.0″E (Latitude:-0.678346; Longitude:30.160556).
There are two hot springs adjacent to each other. According to the locals, one of the springs was used by the former Omugabe (King of Ankole) and is known as Ekyomugabe. The other spring is believed to have healing powers and is known as Mulago, after Uganda’s largest National Referral Hospital. The water is also used for drinking.
On arrival to the site one will notice semi-nude men and women bathing in the warm waters of the springs, that possess healing powers.
Many area residents bathe in the waters as well as thousands from across the country and as far as outside Uganda.
In days like Saturday and Sunday, you can find as many as 500 people showering the miraculous water.
The water in the springs used to warm up to above 80 °C (176 °F) but of recent it’s going down.
The road to this place is still a marrum and before or after Ngaromwenda bridge depending on which direction you are coming from.