06/4/20

Top 6 East African Adventures

Top 6 Things to Do in East Africa in 2021

The combined East African safari adventure including Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania offer plenty of activities and attractions for a lifetime adventure experience. Safaris to East Africa are basically designed to make your encounter in the region of Africa memorable.

East Africa is part of the African continent which comprises of 5 countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi and each country with different activities and attractions that you can enjoy on your adventure holiday.

East Africa’s destinations offer a variety of safari attractions including wild places, physical features, water bodies, birds, primates like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys and Vervet monkeys among others depending on what the traveller wants to enjoy in East Africa.

6. Climb mountain Rwenzori to Margarita peak

Mountain Rwenzori is the highest block mountain in Uganda and third highest in Africa after Mountain Kilimanjaro and Mountain Kenya. Mountain Rwenzori is located in western Uganda on the Uganda -Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border spanning the districts of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo.

Mountain Rwenzori is a UNESCO heritage protected by mountain Rwenzori National park managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority, it is also known as “the mountains of the moon” due to the 6 mountain ranges on it including mountain Stanley with the highest peak Margarita, mountain Baker, mountain Gessi, mountain Emin, Mountain Speke and mountain Luigi di savoia.

Rwenzori trekking is an ideal safari activity during your adventure safari in East Africa, as you move up to snowcapped margarita peak the highest peak of 5,109 meters above sea level which offers you the ultimate hiking adventure.

Over 7500 travellers each year visit mountain Rwenzori to explore the highest peak margarita, which can be done either in the shortest hiking trip of 4 days mountaineering or longest hiking trip of 7 days mountaineering which can be complemented with gorilla trekking, wildlife tours, birding among others.

Rwenzori Mountain is a world heritage site that heritage that offers the opportunity to see nature at its best. The plants vary from tropical rain forests, bamboo forest, montane vegetation and the scenery is truly fascinating. Snow and glaciers and the special and breathtaking experience when you go higher to the mountain.

Go to the Rwenzori mountaineering services headquarters where you will be briefed about the whole hike, start the hike from Nyakalengija through Bakonzo settlements on mountain Rwenzori National park gate where you get registered before entering the park. You start the trail trek through the thick tropical with dense bushes.

The bush is home to various animals like elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys like L’Hoests, black and white, duiker, three-horned chameleon among other that you watch on your way to climb mountain Rwenzori

5. Go gorilla trekking in Uganda

Uganda is the famous destination in the world for gorilla trekking in Africa and the whole because of the highest population of mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are found only in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic of Congo in the whole world.

In Uganda gorilla trekking is done in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park located in southwestern Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to over 500 mountain gorillas half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas which attracts a big number of travellers each year to Uganda.

Gorilla trekking is done in the 4 sectors in Bwindi impenetrable National park with 18 gorilla families in Buhoma sector in the northern part, Ruhija in the eastern part, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park with 1 gorilla family, making it 19 habituated gorilla families for trekking in Uganda.

Experience the breathtaking and memorable experience of gorilla trekking as you encounter the endangered species physically in their natural habitats. Enjoy 1 hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas for observations and photography then return back.

The gorilla trekking destinations of Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park can be accessed by air transport means from Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip and Kisoro airstrip then drive to the trekking sector. Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks can also be accessed by road transport in 4×4 wheel vehicle with a guide or on a self-drive for 8-9 hours drive and 9-19 hours drive respectively from Entebbe airport via Masaka-Mbarara Ntungamo Kabale to Kanungu and Kisoro.  Due to clear signage on the roads to Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla parks, even travellers on self-drive safaris in Uganda can easily make it to the park without much hustle.

4. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in Volcanoes National park in the north-west of Rwanda in Musanze district formally known as Ruhengeri. It is approximately 2-3 hours drive from Kigali airport to Volcanoes National park.

Volcanoes National park covers an area of 160 square kilometres consisting of a tropical forest, bamboo forest, shrubs and so on that shelters mountain gorillas, many bird species and other wild animals. Volcanoes National park consists of 10 habituated gorilla families that are tracked throughout the year, though the most recommended time for trekking is in the months of January, February, June, July, August and December when there is little rainfall and the roads are less slippery.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda all starts with briefing in the morning by the ranger guides on the rules and regulations of trekking gorillas and group allocation then later head out to the forest to search for the gorillas in their natural habitats. A maximum of 1 hour is allowed in the presence of the mountain gorillas to learn about their characters, physical appearances and takes photos and videos with them.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda currently costs 600 US dollars for foreign nonresidents, 500 US dollars for foreign residents and 250,000 Ugandan shillings for East African residents but starting 1st July gorilla trekking will cost 700 and 600 US dollars for foreign non-residents and foreign residents respectively.

However, you can also check-in at Kigali airport and trek mountain gorillas in Uganda.

3. The great wilderness migration (Masai-Mara and Serengeti National parks)

The great wilderness migration is the largest mass movement of the wild mammals from the plains of Serengeti National park in Tanzania crossing through Mara River to Masai-Mara National park in Kenya. The major animals crossing here are the wildebeests, Zebras, Elands, Gazelle which are always stalked by the lions, crocodiles, hyenas which are ready to eat them.

The great wilderness migration is an amazing adventurous experience which allows you see hundreds and thousands of wildebeests accompanied by herds of zebras, buffaloes, impalas, giraffes to look for food and water during the dry seasons depending on where they are.

During this great journey, the wild animals walk over 1000 kilometres where they attempt to avoid predation from the lions, cheetahs, hyenas and crocodiles in the rivers, diseases among others but over 250,000 animals die during this yearly circle and thus referred to as the great migration to those that survive during the migration.

However, the movement of the wildebeests is hard to understand because they cover huge areas but you can plan your trip to see them by finding out where they will be at each month of the year. Enjoy the great wildebeest migration that happens all year around and with each circle offering a unique wild life experience.

It is a great spectacular nature safari option to travellers who love nature and wild life that can be done on your adventure holiday in East Africa.

2. White water rafting in Uganda

White water rafting is one of the best things to do in Uganda, it is done on River Nile in Jinja on Kayunga road at Kalagala falls. Jinja is located in the south-east of Uganda approximately 87km from Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria near to the source of the Nile.

White water rafting can also be done on Murchison falls in Murchison falls National park located in the north-west of Uganda.

The powerful volume of water creates horrible rapids that provide unforgettable rafting experience. There are over 4 companies offering day trips and then night camping and meals. White water rafting is done guided by the safety team just in case of an accident.

Each person is given a paddle and the guide keeps instructing you on how best to use it to enjoy the activity and to ensure you are safe. There is different grading of the rapids ranging from 1-5 where you choose to go in the middle of the falls up to the grade of your choice.

1. Ngorongoro crater exploration

The Ngorongoro crater is the world’s largest volcanic caldera with a diameter of about 18km covering an area of 260 square kilometres. Ngorongoro was once a mountain as high as Kilimanjaro Mountain and about many years ago it blew its self to bits covering Serengeti in ash and a crater formed in the mountain forming the Ngorongoro crater.

Ngorongoro crater in the Ngorongoro conservation area in north Tanzania is the most known and visited with the highest concentration of big five game including elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, Rhinos and other wild animals like zebras, wildebeests, cheetahs, flamingos among others which are seen down on the plains of the crater.

There are over 400 bird species that are found here including water birds like storks, herons, cranes, savannah birds like ostrich and kori bustard, forest birds like turacos, hornbills and prey birds like eagles, vultures among others.

You can as well do game drives in the Ngorongoro crater while on your safari in Tanzania because it is allowed unlike walking safaris are not allowed in the crater. At the top of the crater, there is a terrace offering one of the most panoramic and breathtaking views of the Ngorongoro conservation area.

There is no recommended period to visit the crater because the animals do not leave the caldera and can be spotted at any time of the year.

Therefore East Africa safari on your adventure holidays in Uganda, Rwanda Kenya and Tanzania rewards you with breathtaking and memorable experiences.

03/24/20

Explore Uganda in 12 Days

Tips to enjoy 12 Days in Uganda – Guided or Self-Drive Tour

Uganda is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, it receives millions of tourists every year to different national parks for different tour activities.

Because Uganda has over 10 national parks and game reserves, a few days tour package may not allow fully explore what this “Pearl of Africa” has to offer.

A trip of 10 to 12 days is long enough for you to visit all Uganda’s most popular and interesting destinations such as; the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga for gorilla tracking experience, Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls for savannah game viewing experience and birding, Rwenzori mountain hiking, local community and cultural tours among others.

To book a Uganda safari, you must do it early enough for best deals on accommodations, car rentals and airfares. And some activities like gorilla tracking are on high demand throughout the year, you are thus advised to book your gorilla trekking permits in advance before they are sold out. Chimps and gorilla permits can be booked through tour operators or Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Follow the link below for a details plan for a proposed 12 day Uganda safari with recommended hotels, lodges and campsites for budget, mid-range and luxury travellers.

Best Uganda Safari

The tour can be taken at any time of the year.

 

03/22/20

14 Day Uganda Tour, Sample Itinerary

Tips for a successful Two Weeks Safari in Uganda

Uganda is popularly known as the true “Pearl of Africa”, regarded to be one of the best safari destinations in Africa!

To start with, Uganda is a landlocked country, located in East Africa, boarded by Kenya in the East, DR Congo in the West, Tanzania in the south and the South-Sudan Republic in the north. The country is famous for inhabiting half of the world’s last remaining population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Shoebill: Birding Safari in Uganda

Shoebill: Birding Safari in Uganda

Uganda is gifted by nature, with beautiful savannah national parks, game reserves, beautiful mountains, snow-capped Mount Rwenzori, impenetrable forests such as Bwindi and Mgahinga where we find the endangered mountain gorillas.

Planning a safari in Uganda, there are many tourists activities to do as a tourist basing on your interests, time and budget and among the tourist activities in Uganda include the following;

Gorilla Trekking

Uganda is among the safest gorilla safari destinations in Africa. With half of the world’s mountain-gorilla population, Uganda currently has close to 20 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks. Gorilla trekking is one of the most popular tourists activities in Uganda, and almost 90% of the safari packages include gorilla trekking experience besides other tour activities such as game viewing, mountain climbing and cultural encounters.

To go gorilla trekking in Uganda, one is required to book a gorilla permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority or tour operators at US$700 each, and bookings must be done in advance because they are on high demand throughout the year!

Baby Gorilla Swinging on Tree in the Jungle

Baby Gorilla Swinging on Tree in the Jungle

Game Viewing

Game viewing safaris are conducted in savannah national parks such as Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Park among others. A 4×4 safari vehicle with a pop-up roof is highly recommended, together with a professional ranger guide obtained from the Park headquarters. The pop-up roof offers you an excellent opportunity for game viewing and photographing.

Pop-up Land cruisers for game viewing

Pop-up Land cruisers for game viewing

Mountain climbing

You can climb Mount Rwenzori, Elgon, Muhabura, Moroto, Molungore in Kidepo, Kaguru rock and many others.

Boat Cruise

Enjoy a fantastic boat cruise along the Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth N.P, Lake Mburo and River Nile while on a safari in Uganda. Its another chance to explore more of aquatic mammals, reptiles and birds.

Karamajongo Cultural Encounters

Karamajongo Cultural Encounters

Cultural encounter

Uganda is endowed with a diversity of cultures, such as the Batwa trail, Batwa experience, Bagishu cultures and Karamajonjs in Norther Uganda among others.

Here is a sample Itinerary for 14 days Uganda safari where you will experience all the tourists’ activities above.

14 Day Gorillas and Wildlife

01/14/20

All About Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

In the whole world, there are over 1000 habituated mountain gorillas and these are found in only three countries in the world, Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has become the most visited country for gorilla trekking and other primate species like golden monkeys.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is carried out in Volcanoes National park in the northwestern part of the country also part of the eight Virunga Mountains. The Virunga Mountains include Karisimbi, Sabinyo, Muhabura, Bisoke, Gahinga, Nyiragongo, Mikeno and Nyamuragira Mountains.

Volcanoes National park is located in Musanze former Ruhengeri, 110 km approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from Kigali airport. The park borders Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga National park in southwestern Uganda.

Volcanoes National park is also well known as the base for the female American conservationist Dian Fossey who played a big role in the protection of mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey had research centred called Karisoke between the mountains of Karisimbi and Bisoke where she was later buried after being killed by angry poachers on 26th December 1985.

Volcanoes National park covers an area of 160 square kilometres with bamboo and rain forest type of vegetation that harbours the endangered mountain gorillas, besides the huge population of mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National park also harbours golden monkeys, primate species, bird species among others.

Gorilla trekking is currently the most captivating activity in Rwanda with currently 10 gorilla families habituated for trekking and 8 gorilla permits allocated to every group making the availability of 80 permits every day. The gorilla groups were 11 in number but the one group called Hirwa migrated to southwestern Uganda in Mgahinga National park.

Each gorilla group is unique in its own way, be it character, size, and each group is led by a huge silverback or silverbacks. Below are the gorilla groups in Rwanda;

  • Susa family

Susa family normally referred to susa A is the oldest and biggest gorilla group in Rwanda with over 29 members, 3 silverbacks and 2 twins. Susa family was the gorilla group that Dian Fossey studied while she was at Karisoke research centre between mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke before she was killed by the angry poachers.

Susa family deprived its name from river susa that flow through where the group inhabits.

Susa group is normally the hardest group to trek because they tend to move high in the mountains making it so hard for the trekkers to reach them.

Susa gorilla group is commonly known for its twins born to impano and byishimo.

  • Kwitonda family

Kwitonda family is the second biggest gorilla group with about 28 members.

Kwitonda stays in the areas between mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga and the most popular group for tourists to visit.

The gorilla group deprived its name from the silverback that came from the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the pressure from others gorilla families and formed a one kwitonda, later was taken over by the young silverback Akarevuro, but later kwitonda was found dead at the age of 40 and was known for his humble character. It leaves in the slopes of Mount Muhabura.

  • Sabinyo family

Sabinyo family currently has 13 members and 2 silverbacks living in the slopes of Mount Sabinyo. The group came into existence after the death of a dominant silverback where the family split from “amavubi” a Kinyarwanda word meaning wasps and formed another gorilla family and changed the name to Sabinyo family.

Sabinyo family was led by the dominant silverback which was the oldest, strongest and biggest compared to other silverbacks.

This group is well known for its giant silverback known as the Guhonda which is the biggest silverback in the park.

  • Karisimbi family

Karisimbi family is initially called Susa B because it separated itself from the Susa family with 15 members with 1 silverback called Nyagakangaga, the group stays in the slopes of Mount Karisimbi the highest mountain in the Virunga ranges.

The Karisimbi family is also a hard group to trek because it stays in the high mountains of karisimbi with 4507 meters above sea level.

For the trekkers who want to test their physical fitness, they are recommended to visit the Karisimbi gorilla family.

  • Amahoro family

Amahoro is a Kinyarwanda word meaning peace, therefore the group is characterized by its humble and peaceful characters. The family stays in the slopes of mountain Bisoke with 17 members including the Ubumwe the head silverback. Ubumwe is a Kinyarwanda word meaning togetherness.

Amahoro family is also a hard to trek group because of the terrain of the land in which they stay which can be so hard to climb.

Trekkers humble and peaceful in character are recommended to visit the Amahoro family.

  • Umubano family

Umubano family was formed from Amahoro family after silverback Charles and Ubumwe had endless battles, Charles was forced to break off and formed his own group and named it Umubano.

Umubano family has 13 members and 2 silverbacks, they stay in the same area with Amahoro family.

  • Agashya family

Agashya family was initially called group family but recently changed its name to Agashya family. Its name was got from the 13 members of the family that it had.

The family was led by the dominant silverback known as Nyakarima who was later overthrown by a silverback called Agashya. The name Agashya means News, and the group was named after the silverback Agashya.

The family has 27 members and 1 silverback also staying in the slopes of Mount Sabinyo.

  • Ugenda family

Ugenda family is made up of 11 members and 2 silverbacks, the name “Ugenda” means mobile which relatively describes the group’s behaviour.

Ugenda family is always moving, they have never settled in one place. The family inhabits in the slopes of mount Bisoke.

  • Bwenge family

Bwenge family comprises of 11 members with 1 silverback. Bwenge literally means wisdom in English, Bwenge left his group and was joined by other female members then later formed its group and was named Bwenge. Bwenge family stays in the slopes of Mount Bisoke

  • Titus family

Titus family was named after the silverback, Titus, was born during times of Dian Fossey when she was still conducting her research at Karisoke Research Centre. The whole of Titus family was killed by poachers and Titus was the only one that managed to survive the poachers. Titus formed his group and named it Titus.

Currently, Titus family resides in the slopes of Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke.

Gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking all starts with travellers arrive at Volcanoes National park’s headquarters at Kinigi in Musanze for briefing at 6:30 am by the ranger guides on the rules and regulations guiding gorilla trekking.

At exactly 7am, the visitor joins other trekkers to search for the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural environment after being allocated the gorilla groups to trek.

Some groups may be near and others may be far which may require some physical fitness to hike to reach them. Some travellers may take hours to find them and others may take a few hours to find them depending on which gorilla group you are allocated to.

There are always higher chances of spotting mountain gorillas, rangers are sent in the forest very early in the morning to find out where they made their nests the previous night and they are able to communicate with the ranger guides that are directing the trekkers so as to find the gorillas easily.

The hiking process passing through the in passable trails of the park and climbing since Volcanoes National park is situated in the Virunga regions, the experience is rewarded when you encounter with the gorillas and you will forget all you went through to reach them.

Travellers are entitled to only one hour in the presence of mountain gorillas and you can leave the forest.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is managed by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and all payments are made from RDB offices in Kigali town.

Gorilla trekking permits

Gorilla trekking permits are acquired from Rwanda Development Board, each permit costs 1500 US dollars for all, foreign nonresidents, foreign residents and East African residents.

The Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are so expensive compared to Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo gorilla permits as a way of conserving the mountain gorillas. Since gorilla trekking permit is expensive, the gorillas are visited by not more than 80 people on a daily basis hence protecting their natural environment.

The permits being on higher demand, visitors are advised to book their permits at least 3 months in advance.

Rules and regulations for gorilla trekking

  • Only 8 members are allowed to visit a certain gorilla group which limits the number of visitors that may transfer diseases to the primates.
  • Always wash hands before heading out to these endangered species.
  • Do not go on a gorilla safari with cough, flu or any contagious disease that may be transferred to the gorillas.
  • Do not leave rubbish in the forests like leftovers, empty water bottles which may cause gorillas to catch diseases.
  • Always keep your voices low when searching for the gorillas and when in their presence to avoid scaring them away.
  • Keep 7 meters away when with the mountain gorillas because when visitors come close to the gorillas they can easily charge.
  • Do not eat and drink in the presences of gorillas.
  • Flash photography is not allowed when taking pictures and videos of the gorilla which may destruct their peace and cause them to charge.
  • Always turn away from the gorillas when you feel the urge to cough or sneeze to avoid spreading diseases to the gorillas.

Gorilla trekking gears

Wear long trousers and long shirts/blouses to protect you from the harsh branches in the forests.

Hiking boots

Gardening gloves

Rain jacket

Wear a hat

Warm sweaters

Insect repellant

06/13/19

Endangered Gorillas

Why The Mountain Gorillas Are Endangered Species In The World

Have you ever imagined why mountain gorillas feature as the most critically endangered species in the world? With fewer than 1000 individuals that are left in the world today, the rare mountain gorillas are listed under IUCN Red book as the critically endangered Apes in the world and their survival on earth is at risk of extinction

They are scientifically known as gorilla beringei beringei, a subspec of Eastern gorilla which is only thriving within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in South-western part of Uganda; the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda, the only destinations for mountain gorilla safaris in the world, and there are a million reasons why these rare apes are listed as the most critically endangered species on today and among many include the following;

  • Habitat loss
Cutting down forests for Timber, Settlement & Agriculture

Cutting down forests for Timber, Settlement & Agriculture

Like most wildlife species that thrive on earth today, the mountain gorillas are also interfaced with habitat loss. Most of the areas where these unique creatures thrive are highly populated and their habitats are often deforested and replaced with agricultural farms, firewood, building materials as well as for human settlements.
The other factor is traditional medicine as most of the body parts of these endangered apes are highly used as charms by most of the traditional healers and this also has become a threat to their survival on earth.
However, many International and region organizations such as International Gorilla Conservation Program, Africa Wildlife Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Friend a Gorilla, Uganda Wildlife Authority and many others are jointly protecting the gorilla habitat through a number of ways such as; sensitizing the local community about the value of gorillas to their community, relocating them from gorilla habitat and compensations for destroyed property by gorillas.

  • Illegal hunting (poaching)
Poarchers Carrying a Mountain Gorilla in DR Congo

Poachers Carrying a Mountain Gorilla in DR Congo

This is another severe threat to the survival of these rare apes. Since 1902, mountain gorillas have been hunted for various reasons including food up to date. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, most of the people poach these rare species mainly for their meat.

Others poach these Great apes for sport and not to leave out the illegal exotic pet trade poses another threat where babies are captured and sold. Whereas most of the traps are set to catch the small animals like antelopes, in the course of the day the mountain gorillas also get entangled in these wire snares.
However still, through the sensitization of the local communities about their benefits from gorilla tourism, illegal poaching is controlled in “some gorilla parks”.

For example, we ex-poachers employed as Porters, and park rangers. Additionally, there is a percentage of the revenues rewarded to the local communities through infrastructures development such as rural electrification, provision of piped water, medical centers and scholastic materials among others. Through such measures, we have hope for a steady increase in the mountain gorilla population in Africa!

  • Political unrest

Besides habitat loss and poaching, the country’s political insecurity also proves to be a severe threat. Civil wars come with diverse effects which include habitat loss and illegal hunting and all these make the lives of these rare apes hard while in their natural habitat.

  • Oil and gas exploration

This also proves a severe threat to the thriving of these Great apes. The European oil and gas companies have been granted exploration concessions in the Virunga National Park where more than 200 individuals of these large primates thrive in the Democratic Congo Republic. Whereas the habitat isn’t within an oil concession, the development in the protected area could negatively inflict on the wildlife’s security. This is happening in other national parks in Uganda such as Murchison Falls where oil and gas exploration has affected a huge number of animals

  • Human infectious diseases

Mountain gorillas share about 95% of their DNA with humans and this means that they are very susceptible to human infectious diseases. They already have severe disease effects to overcome and the further threat of human diseases especially flue and cold can cost their lives. The first time exposure to these diseases can cost their population in the habitat.

However, we have gorilla doctors in all parks to engage any disease outbreak in the gorilla community!

In conclusion, mountain gorillas have a slow reproduction rate and yet also they are most threatened apes in the world today. There is a need for collaborative effort to conserve these critically endangered primates on earth so as to help increase their number in the wild.

These endangered apes can be saved by selling out gorilla trekking permits to generate more money that can help to support environmental programs like conserving and protection of mountain gorillas, sensitizing the local communities about gorilla tourism, and provide alternative sources of income for local residents around the parks.

06/19/18

How To Access Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park?

There is nothing more stressing than getting lost while on your way to your dream destination. Imagine you are on self drive safari or even guided tour to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and along the way you drive for kilometers off road and only to be told that you got lost. Not only can this be a waste of time but also a waste of money a fact that fuel will be consumed to return to the right route.

Bear in mind that there is no one who is perfect on the road so, if you are planning to spend your next vacation in the splendid Bwindi National Park, there is need for you to be well versed with different routes. This park is located in southwestern Uganda and it is about 8 to 10 hours’ drive from Kampala which also 46 kilometers from Entebbe International Airport that is a major entry point to Uganda. If you are planning to spend a holiday in this park, you will need at least 3 days and more a fact that you will spend an entire day driving from Kampala and the next day will be for you to engage in various activities at the park.

However, if you are from the neighboring Rwanda, 2 days are enough to get to Bwindi and take park in the gorilla safari adventure. This route is from Kigali Airport to Kisoro town through Cyanika boarder or Kabale town through Gatuna boarder.

Bwindi National Park can be reached by road and air. If you opt to drive, you will choose among the many routes that take you up to the park. If you are at Queen Elizabeth National Park for a tour, you can drive from Mweya to Bwindi approximately 160 kilometers’ drive and you will spend at least three to four hours driving. Equally, you can start your safari from Kampala to Kabale via Kanungu to Buhoma area and this is tarmac route and covers over 414 kilometers.

The other route also starts from Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri and then to Buhoma area approximately 390 kilometers’ drive on tarmac and 82 kilometers on murram route. You may as well as set off from Kampala to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma about 95 kilometers and the other begins from Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo sector.

Alternatively, you can use a bus from Kampala to Butogota where you will rent a taxi that will connect you to Buhoma sector. However, you won’t find a public transport means at Nkuringo but there are some cars for you to rent around Kisoro and Kabale towns. But to be on safer side, it is better that you plan your vacation with a recognized travel agent which is well versed with routes and attractions for you to enjoy along the way.

For those of you who have short time in Uganda, then a flight is the best option for you. You can take a flight from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi Airfield and then land in Kisoro or at Kayonza airstrip if you are to track gorillas in Buhoma area.

If you are tracking gorillas in Southern Bwindi National Park (Nkuringo or Rushaga sectors), then you fly to Kisoro airstrip. Aerolink Uganda offers daily scheduled flights from Entebbe International airport to different airstrips in Uganda such as Kihihi, Kisoro, Pakuba, Apoka and Bugungu among others. There are also charter flights offered by Kampala aero club.

05/22/18

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Gorilla Trekking In Uganda

Gorilla trekking is one of the exceptional activities you will enjoy in only three countries in the whole World-Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the adventure has continuously been the main reason for tourists visiting the African continent. However, due to the crime and civil unrest resulting from rebel activities that contribute to death of Park rangers and kidnapping of tourists in Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo, most gorilla tours are made to Uganda and Rwanda but due to high cost of gorilla permits ($1500) for the latter, priority is now directed to the former where permits only cost $600 per person.

Uganda gorilla tours lead tourists to the dense jungles of Mgahinga Gorillas and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, all in the south-western part of the country. In most cases, tourists ask about the advantages and disadvantages of tracking gorillas from Uganda when booking and therefore, provided are the merits of choosing Uganda as your next gorilla trekking destination;

Two wonderful national parks to track mountain gorillas

Unlike other countries with only one National Park with mountain gorillas, Uganda has two places where you can track the Giant Apes. Therefore, you can either track these primates from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, hence you can make a choice between the two places.

Opportunity of enjoying the Gorilla Habituation Experience

Besides Uganda, there is no other place in the World to enjoy the Gorilla Habituation Experience. Unlike gorilla trekking where tourists are allowed only one hour to spend with a gorilla family, tourists on the Gorilla Habituation Experience get the chance to spend up to four hours with a gorilla family still undergoing habituation (to make them used to the presence of humans). With your permit (at $1500), you will get the chance to visit one of the two gorilla families found in Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors of Bwindi National Park.

Highest population of mountain gorillas

With over 480 mountain gorillas out of the recorded 880 Mountains Gorillas, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks undeniably offer shelter to more than half of the World’s population of the Giant Apes. So far, there are 15 habituated gorilla families to be tracked-14 in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga, hence making Uganda the best destination of encountering these extraordinary primates in their natural habitats. The most interesting thing about Bwindi is that the gorilla families are distributed across four sectors-Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo which is not the case with other Parks.

View of Bwindi National Park

More habituated gorilla families

Besides offering high population of mountain gorillas, Uganda has the highest number of habituated gorilla families-15 groups, hence over 100 permits are sold per day, contrary to 10 habituated families (80 gorilla permits available per day) for Rwanda. Having more gorilla permits makes it easy for tourists who make last minute bookings to also get the chance to meet these adorable creatures in their natural habitats.

Affordable cost of gorilla permits

Gorilla permits in Uganda cost only $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and only Shs 250,000 for East African Community residents yet in Rwanda permits cost $1500 per person for all categories of tourists, hence making Uganda a cheaper gorilla trekking destination. This allows tourists to save a lot of money for other expenses and activities.

Easier access from Kigali (Rwanda)

Most intending gorilla trekkers forsake Uganda because of the long distance it takes to drive from Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National parks but did you know that for only four hours, you can be able to drive to the two National Parks? This is possible by connecting from Kigali city, thus making it possible to go on a one-day gorilla tour in Uganda as it is for Rwanda. For instance, if you leave Kigali at 4:3oam, you can reach Bwindi and Mgahinga by 7:00am to track one of the country’s remarkable gorilla families, and return to Kigali the same day.

However, there are also several disadvantages of choosing to track mountain gorillas from Uganda and these include;

Difficulty in tracking

If you have ever tracked mountain gorillas from both Uganda and Rwanda, then you are aware that it is more difficult within the former than it is within the latter because the gorillas in Bwindi (especially Rushaga an Nkuringo sectors) inhabit areas of higher elevations. Also, the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National park are found within the bamboo forests which is not the case with those in Bwindi that inhabit the areas with dense undergrowth.

Longer distances and high costs of transport for accessing the National Parks

Besides the long distance of connecting from Entebbe/Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park (8-10 hours), it is generally more expensive than it is when connecting fr0m Kigali International Airport to Kigali City which is only 2 hours away. Even the domestic flights to air-strips-Kihihi and Kisoro (Uganda) are generally expensive.

Much as gorilla trekking is conducted within three countries-Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, there are a number of advantages in tracking from Uganda including the fact that there are more gorilla families, low cost of gorilla permits and higher population of gorillas but there are also challenges that include the longer distance to connect from Entebbe / Kampala to Bwindi as well as difficulty in tracking.

04/23/18

5 Tips to Plan a Gorilla Trip By Independently

How To Plan A Gorilla Trip By Yourself / Independently

Rwanda and Uganda are one of the three countries in the while World to undertake gorilla safaris (the other is Democratic Republic of Congo) but if you ever make up your mind to undertake the trip from this remarkable country, make sure to plan by yourself / independently because it is cheaper than doing it through the tour operator because most of them charge a commission. Therefore if you plan for Uganda safaris and tours by yourself, you will save a lot of money and yet it is very cumbersome and involves a lot of legwork.

Gorilla trekking within Rwanda is more expensive than it is within the other mentioned countries because permits cost $1500 per person while in Uganda it is $600 yet in the Democratic Republic of Congo it costs $400 but if you plan the safari by yourself, there are high chances that you will save more money if you plan or book for it independently.

Nonetheless, booking a gorilla safari by yourself depends on the period of time you will be spending within the gorilla destination in that if you have less time (1-3 days), you are advised to use the services of tour operators while if you are spending more days (6-10) days, it is advisable to plan or book for it by yourself. Therefore, the following are the important tips to allow you plan for the gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda independently;

Do some Research (Gather enough Information) on the price of gorilla permits and pay in advance

The first step of undertaking a gorilla safari is by first inquiring on the availability of gorilla permits because this is your ticket to participating in this activity. This information can be accessed from the website of Rwanda Development Board, sending an email to reservation@rwandatourism.com or calling the reservation office on +252 57 65 14. For Uganda permits, information is available at Uganda Wildlife Authority (info@ugandawildlife.org, Telephone: +256 414 355000 and +256 312 355000). After being sure that permits are available for the date you wished to track the gorillas, book by paying 30% and this should be done at least 6 months in advance due to the high demand for the activity. Permits currently cost $1500 per person in Rwanda and US$600 per person in Uganda, paid in Bank or by cash and can be obtained from the RDB / UWA Head offices. The balance for gorilla permits is paid 3 months to the tracking date.

Get convenient transport means to the Gorilla detonations

In Rwanda, there are usually several local bus companies with comfortable buses leaving Kigali City for Ruhengeri and there is particularly a bus station in Nyabugogo where tickets can be booked charging from 2000 to 3000 francs per person and the journey takes at least 2 hours. Because the buses just stop at Ruhengeri, you will need to get private transport means (300 to 500 francs) especially special hire vehicles to Kinigi Park Headquarters lasting 20 to 30 minutes.

In Uganda, there are many bus companies from Kampala to Kisoro where you can easily connect to Mgahinga national park and Southern Bwindi National park. The journey is approximately 10 hours and charges between 25.000 and 35.000 Uganda Shillings. From the bus station, you can connect to your pre-booked hotel or to the gorilla park by private car hire.

Booking for a place of Stay

Intending gorilla trekkers are always advised to book for accommodation within or near the Park Headquarters and not very far away from the gorilla trekking starting point. Just like the gorilla permits, tourists are advised to deposit for the room in advance to avoid disappointment, then complete on the day of checking in. There are many gorilla safari Lodges within all gorilla parks in Rwanda and Uganda. In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Kinigi Guest Guest House is highly recommended because it is opposite the park Headquarters, less than 5 minutes walk to the headquarters.

Pack the right items

Any tourist planning to track the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks needs to be prepared for life in the jungles-extreme coldness, dense vegetation and slippery/muddy ground during the rainy season. Therefore, make sure you don’t leave out the long sleeved shirts, long trousers, rain jacket, snacks, bottled water, waterproof hiking boots, hut, non-flash camera, binoculars, cotton socks, heavy sweater, gardening gloves and a backpack among others.

Self drive Rental and Camping

If you are a family, a group of friends or a couple planning a gorilla trip independently, you can save a lot of money when you rent a car without driver and drive your own adventure. Here, you share the cost of transport, fuel and accommodation. In other words, its cheaper to travel in group than sole. Please note, it must be a 4×4 car, and these are available from US$40 per day, for instance, Toyota Rav4, Land cruiser, Mini-vans, Prado, Suzuki Escudo, Honda CRV and many others.

Additionally, some car rental agencies rent out  cars with a full camping gear, thus saving money on accommodations. A full camping gear is from US$5 per day and it includes a water proof tent (some times roof top tent), sleeping bags, mattress, camper table, chairs, kitchen ware, crockery, cooler box, storage box, jerrycan, lam and torch.

With the tips above, it is very possible to plan for a gorilla trip by yourself with enough information and booking for permits in advance, getting convenient transport means to from the airport to the gorilla parks, booking for a place of Stay and Packing the right items.

02/19/18

Gorilla Tracking: Uganda Vs Rwanda

Uganda and Rwanda feature the three only destinations where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted in the whole world. In Uganda, gorilla trekking is only conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park while in Rwanda it is carried out in the Volcanoes National Park. The two are considerably the best areas when it comes to mountain gorilla safaris in Africa. The other destination is the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, both destinations require a strong 4×4 car with some experience of off-road driving. If you make your own arrangements to the gorillas, you are advised to hire a 4×4 car with driver in Kampala or Kigali for a safe and successfully gorilla safari. Note that, this must be a 4×4 Car such as Land cruiser Prado, Rav4, Nissan safari, Nissan Patrol and others.

Gorillas in Bwindi National Park

A face to face encounter with these apes in the wild is such a magical experience that you can find anywhere in the world, not even in the zoo except only in the thick tropical rain forests of Africa. Whereas gorilla trekking has been described as a lifetime experience, most tourists still wonder or do not know which destination to visit for their safaris. Others ask is gorilla trekking in Uganda better than Rwanda. Depending on what your interests are but you can visit one or even both as each destination comes with unique encounters beyond mountain gorillas. With this, below are some of the factors that can guide you while selecting which destination you want to visit for mountain gorilla trekking.

Considering the cost of gorilla permits, both Uganda and Rwanda a permit is a must to have for this lifetime experience. However, the difference comes on the cost of a permit. In Uganda, gorilla permits are sold at $600 per person for foreign non residents, $500 for foreign residents and shs.250000 for East Africans. While in Rwanda permits are issued out at $1500 per tourist. But the visitor experiences thereafter are equally exhilarating. A permit at hand allows you to track one habituated gorilla family.

Uganda is known to offer refuge to the largest number of mountain gorillas compared to the rest of destinations. About 480 individuals thrive within Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. These also feature over 16 habituated gorilla groups that have been set for visitor experiences and in Rwanda there only ten groups that have been set for gorilla trekking. More gorilla families mean more permits for visitors. Uganda today issues about 128 permits for visitors to track mountain gorillas compared to 80 in Rwanda.

Another difference can also arise especially when it comes to the general gorilla safari plan. For Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park is situated about 125 kilometers away from Kigali city centre and this makes it one of the most accessible gorilla destinations by road. Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are located far away from Kampala city centre at approximately 527 and 519 kilometers respectively requiring about 9 to 10 hours’ drive.

However, the distances have been reduced by use of direct flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip where visitors can easily connect to the park or their choice. This also means that you need at least 3 days to have a gorilla safari in Uganda and yet Rwanda Volcanoes National Park can be visited within one or two days. The long distant drives to Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park come with spectacular scenery especially at the Equator area at Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park which also come with stunning wildlife species, magnificent terraced mountains with Rivers and much of remoteness.

And this may not be in Rwanda if you are starting your safari from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. A stopover at Queen Elizabeth National Park for instance allows you to explore its big game which includes the African lions and not to forget the rare tree climbing lions, African elephants, Buffaloes and Leopards as well as several wildlife species that will come your while on wildlife viewing or boat cruise along the Kazinga channel. While a stopover at Lake Mburo National Park comes with views of Rothschild giraffes, topis, buffaloes, impalas, Burchell’s zebras, warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, leopards and many more or alternatively visit Igongo cultural centre for cultural museum which comes with collective tribes of southwestern Uganda, traditional restaurant, cultural village and stunning gardens and many more. And after gorilla trekking, visitors usually complete their safaris at Lake Bunyonyi which features as the second deepest Lake in Africa with all 29 distinct islands that are confined in it. The Lake offers spectacular views of the area as well as distinct birdlife.

Mountain gorilla treks in Rwanda and Uganda begin with morning briefing from park official who takes visitors through how they are supposed to behave while in the forest with gorillas. The difference comes where the morning briefing in Volcanoes National Park is accompanied with a cup of coffee or entertainment from local dances and performances by local people. For Uganda, you have to go for cultural encounter as a different activity to visit the Batwa community. Batwa encounters are exceptionally dramatic experiences one should go for while on gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga National Park.

In conclusion, mountain gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is exceptionally the most thrilling experiences that come once in lifetime. While on safari, you can visit one or both and destination to help you make your own comparison in terms of experiences.

01/18/18

Interesting Facts About Eastern Lowland Gorillas

A trek to see a group of Eastern Lowland gorillas in the jungles of Democratic Republic of Congo is remarkably one of the most thrilling adventures that come once in lifetime. The Eastern Lowland apes belong to one of the 2 (two) sub species of the eastern gorilla which lives within a few remaining tropical rain forests in Africa. It is common compared to other species and it features as one of the largest apes on earth.

Eastern Low Land Gorilla

These remarkable apes thrive mainly around the tropical rain forests of eastern and central Africa together with lowland swamps and secondary forests. They tend to spend much of their time on trees and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are mainly found in the dense jungles of Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. They are known to be the 2 (two) distinct sub species of Eastern gorilla that makes up the Eastern Lowland (scientifically known as ‘Grauer’) and the rare mountain gorillas. The only slight difference lies in their physical appearance, the two species are also distinct from each other in terms of population.

The Eastern Lowland gorillas feature among the large primates, a family that comprises of gorillas, orang utans, humans and chimpanzees. They come with unique characteristics that make their survival in the forest a bit simpler including their opposable thumbs that come in handy when they are peeling fruits.

The Eastern Lowland gorillas are herbivorous. They depend on leaves, plants, stems, nuts and berries plus termites, ants, insects and at times small wildlife species like lizards and rodents. These rare species also tend to use basic tools in the natural habitat especially when it comes to gathering food stuff. Given their huge sizes, these primates have few real predators in the wild except the large cat family especially the leopards and the crocodiles. Habitat loss features as the major threat to the survival of these primates in the wild due to continued deforestation as well as hunting by humans. Most of the areas around their habitat territories have also been characterized by insecurities that in most cases come together with poaching.

They live in families of about 5 to 30 or beyond with a silverback gorilla or an alpha male being their dominant leader whose responsibilities are largely dependent on protecting the rest of the members in the family and also mate with females. Given habitat loss and continued poaching, these unique apes have become the endangered species with less than 5000 that are left on earth today.

They make new nests each day just like mountain gorillas and the babies can share with their mothers till they reach 3 years and above. The males weigh up to 250 kilograms and they can stand up to 2 meters tall.
Like mountain gorilla trekking, visitors on lowland gorilla trekking are also given only an hour to be with the apes, explore them while they feed and play with their babies. To track these primates, you can visit Kahuzi Biega National Park which is situated around Kivu province in the north or through the Ruzizi 1 border to the southwestern side of Rwanda.

In conclusion, for absolute great ape experiences never miss to pay a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo where you explore more about the eastern lowland and mountain gorillas. The country is located in central Africa with many UNESCO world Heritage sites such as Virunga National Park, Salonga National Park and Okapi Wildlife reserve among others. You can combine other adventures within Congo or even Uganda and Rwanda with gorilla safaris and you will have the most wonderful experiences of lifetime.