06/11/18

Ruzizi River in Rwanda

The beauty of Rwanda is not only mountain gorillas, the big five animals, antelopes and bird species but also the numerous water resources including Lakes, Rivers and waterfalls that have remained unexplored because few tourists know about them. If you ask anyone to mention some of the common rivers in Rwanda, you will surprisingly not hear about the Rusizi River yet it’s one of the most beautiful water resources in the country.

This 117-kilometer long River is sometimes spelled “Rusizi” and flows from Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa while descending from about 1500 meters/4900 feet above sea level to only 770 meters/2530 feet above sea level over its length. The river drains across three countries-the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda but its source is in Lake Kivu and mouth in Lake Tanganyika. The most perpendicular bank of the River occurs over the first 40 kilometers (25 miles) where hydroelectric dams were constructed. When getting closer to the mouth, the Ruzizi Plains (the floor of the western Rift Valley are surrounded by gentle hills making the river to flow into Lake Tanganyika through a narrow delta with one or two tinny channels breaking off from the main channel. The Ruzizi River has several tributaries that include Rubyiro, Luvungi, Muhira, Nyakagunda, Ruhwa, Kaburantwa, Nyamagana, Mpanda, Kagunuzi and many others.

Formed about 10,000 years ago through volcanism that led to continental rifting and creating of Virunga Mountains, the Rusizi River is considered a young river. The Virunga Mountains blocked part of Lake Kivu’s outlet to the watershed of River Nile, hence forcing the Lake to overflow southwards down Ruzizi and the watershed of the Congo River. Along its course, the river forms the border between Rwanda on the East with Democratic Republic of Congo on the west but as it continues downstream, it also forms part of the boundary between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo and its lowermost part flows completely within Burundi.

To the west, the magnificent Fizi Baraka Mountains stand over the river while the Bridge of Concord, Burundi’s longest and widest Bridge crosses the River close to its mouth.

Flora and Fauna within and around Ruzizi River

Ruzizi is not just a river as you may see it but an important habitat to the prominent, notorious and widely publicized man-eating crocodile known as “Gustave” that usually wanders around the banks of the river as well as the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika. This giant savage is said to be about 6 meters (20 feet) long and reportedly weighs over 900 kilometers (2000 pounds). In the 1950s, the banks of this River were inhabited by common warthogs, buffaloes and elephants but today, there are only Nile crocodiles and Hippos.

The lower banks of the main river and its tributaries are covered by reed swamps and there are riparian swamps of about 3 kilometers wide are found near the mouth while further from the river, there are grasslands especially in the lower river valley. The general vegetation of the River basin is mostly savannah grassland with scattered acacia, eucalyptus and oil palm. Ruzizi River is only 353 kilometers from Kigali City (Rwanda’s Capital).

06/9/18

What to see and do in Akagera national park?

Situated in the Eastern province of Rwanda, Akagera national park is Rwanda’s hidden jewel, which reward travelers with a huge chance to experience wildlife from very close by. Covered with beautiful green savannah grasses, a safari to Akagera national park is an exceptional experience which reward travelers with the most beautiful and heart-warming experience of meeting and interacting with a variety of wildlife and birdlife. Despite its small size Akageranational park offers it all to meet and exceed every travelers expectations. The national park was named after river Akagera that flow in the heart of the park.  Despite the less visits to Akagera compared to other savannah national parks in the neighboring countries, a safari to Akagera national park is unique is an exceptional experience.

  •  Game viewing

Interestingly, Akagera national park is now a home for the big give game hence the best spot for game viewing. A game drive in the open savannah reward you with spectacular views elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalos, Leopards, giraffes, Topis, bushbucks, Topis, Zebras, Defessa waterbucks, baboons, Vervet monkeys, giraffes, oribis, roan antelopes, sables, reedbucks and kobs among others browsing and hunting before going to rest. The best time for game driving is early morning hors to catch u with early risers and early evening before animals for rest in the night. Interestingly, night game drives are also done in Akagera national parkproviding travelersachance to see nocturnal animals such as bush babies, bat eared fox, wolves among others as well as enjoying nightlife in the wild.

  • Bird watching

Besides wildlife, Akagera national park isa best spot for bird watching. The national park is a home to over 520 bird species some of which are endemic to the area hence a golden opportunity for travelers to see theserare bird species. Expect to see white-collared Oliveback, red faced barbet, Sousa’s shrike, Black headed Gonalek papyrus canary, Serinus koleinsis, saddle-billed stork, Fork railed drangoross’s turaco, African fish eagle, herons, Egrets, Crested barbet, open billed stork Marabou storks, Robinchat, African fish eagle. Birds are mostly seen in the swamps, forest areas and on the shores of lake ihema especially during a boat cruise. Travelers are reminded to come along with binoculars, which help to spot birds even a far distance.

  • Camping

Camping is yet another interesting activity donein Akagera national park and it is one of the unique activities that make the national park exceptional worth visiting. In camping, tents are built in a certain place for travelers to enjoy a night in the middle of the bush providing them with a closer encounter with wild animals and is a best way to explore all that Akagera offers. Presently, three campsites, which are Shakani Akagera campsite on the shores of lake shakani, Mutamba akagera campsite and Muyumba campsite at the ridge.

  • Boat cruising

Done on lake ihema, boat cruising is a not miss on your safari to Akagera national park. The ride at the lake rewardyou with great views of hippos, buffalos, crocodiles on the shores which experience cannot be got else where in Akagera national park. Additionally, expect to see a variety of birds such as shoebill stork, fly egrets and red-billed stork among otters. More still, a boat cruise provide you with a fresh feeling of  fresh airs as well as spectacular views of the neighboring communities. Boat cruising is mostly done in the afternoon hence a best way to relax and chill.

  • Sport fishing

Sport fishing is one of the interesting games done in Akagera national park. Travelers take part in a“catch and release fishinggame’, which is surely enjoyable. Sport fishing is doneon lake shakani and lake ihema at a cost of 20$ for the people who help in fishing. Travelers go along with other fishermen who use different fishingmethods such as hooking, gill nesting, spearing andshooting method, cast net method, scoop net method and lampara method are used to catch fish by different people of different occasions. As part of the experience, travelers are expected to catch a live fish and release it back into the water.

  • Cultural encounters

Since Akagera national park is managed in partnership with the local communities, travelers are blessed to meet andinteract with local people. It’sinteresting that some part of the national parkwas dedicated to local people who do their cattle grazing which feed with other wild animals. Travelers take part in cattle grazing, milking and other local activities such as milk preservation, as well as make milk products such as ghee, butter and yogurt among others. This make the feel as part of the local community providing them with extensive understanding of how community traditions and norms.

Book a safari to Akagera national park, take part in the activities, see all attractions rewarding you with a life changing experience.

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.

04/13/17

First Time Gorilla Trekking Experience in Africa

When my two daughters came back from college with good grades, they decide to have a Sabbath from school life. The young one decided to visit his father in Holland since it has been long without her seeing him. I was happy for her since the two’s relationship was on a rock. I supported her and she travelled to Holland. Then the old daughter told me that she wanted to try out something new in life and we brain stormed about what she wanted to engage in and she found something nature based as the best option.

After, she chose taking a wildlife safari to see animals in the wild in Africa. She decided to go for a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda. She told me it was something she wanted to do for a long time. Many of her colleagues at school were talking about Rwanda as the best gorilla trekking destination in Africa. She really had a good time at this safari as it changed her entire life. She came back with brand new vast ideas and experience of conserving nature. You could really see it in her face that she was euphoric of nature and wildlife. She became a naturalist from that time.

While in Rwanda, she came up close with mountain gorillas and got connected to them. She took fantastic photos of these huge beasts and they look so beautiful when you look at them. She told me Africa is the future of the world since the world is on the campaign to preserve and conserve the environment in its natural state. It is Africa that has maintained its natural state. She told me she had a cultural encounter with the people of Rwanda around volcanoes national park that is the Iby’iwacu cultural village. This was an epic hell of an experience as she engaged in local activities like bricklaying and also preparation of some local food. She also visited the local herb pharmacy in this village and the herbs really worked for these people. The people of the village were so authentic and darling to the people who visited them.

She said Rwanda has a good climate. Every day is a sunny day and if you are sun bathing person, then this would be your dream destination. The people in Kigali city were also full of life and love and she said that it became her second home. She is even looking forward to travel to Rwanda again. I also got envious about her experience, I must go to Rwanda to watch the mountain gorillas in their natural environment. I cannot wait to see these beasts in their wildness.

11/21/16

Rwanda safari – Visit Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is the largest water body in Rwanda. Lake Kivu has the most attractive scenary with fascenating shores. Lake Kivu takes up about half of Rwanda’s western border. There are three main towns along the lakeshore – Cyangugu in the south, Kibuye in the middle and Gisenyi further north.

lake-kivu

There are three towns on the shore like Gisenyi, in the north, was a colonial beach resort of note. Its waterfront area is lined with fading old mansions and a few old hotels plus the international standard Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. All overlooking a lovely sandy beach complete with a laid-back beach bar.

In the south, there are Kibuye is yet another probably the prettiest of the towns. If you’re visiting in August, you may catch thousands of kites here on their annual migration. The Bethanie Guesthouse and the Moriah Hill Resort both have beautifully locations on overlooking the lake. From here you can take boat trips on Lake Kivu to nearby islands: Napoleon’ Island with its’ colony of fruit bats and Amahoro Island (aptly known as one bar island as all it has on it is one bar.

At the southern end of the lake, Cyangugu (pronounced ‘Shangugu’) is an old border town whose fading façades tell of its past as a vital trading gateway. Here the Hotel du Lac is a delightfully old, reliable-but-slightly-shady institution, with a bar/restaurant where you’re guaranteed to find some offbeat characters. A more savory option is the Peace Guesthouse.

The real joy of this area is driving between the towns. The unpaved road gently curves back and forth as it weaves through hills and mountains beside the lake from Gisenyi to Cyangugu. Eucalyptus trees line the road, while every corner of the hills is terraced with bananas. Villagers smile and wave; you’ll end up with hands tired from waving, and feel like royalty at the end of the trip! Because of that, a wide variety of Rwanda holiday packages include at least one night in Gisenyi on the shores of Lake Kivu to experience the beauty of the place.

01/24/15

5 Day Rwanda Chimps and Gorilla Safari

5 Day (4 Nights) Gorillas and Chimp Trekking Tour in Rwanda
Safari Overview
The 5 day Rwanda gorillas and chimpanzee tour offers a great opportunity to see the mountain gorillas in the wild bamboos of Volcanoes National Park and chimpanzees in the mountainous Nyungwe National Park. The 5 day Rwanda gorilla tour package further offers a great opportunity to track 2 different gorilla families on different days, in other words, you will enjoy 2 gorilla treks. Other tour activities include genocide memorial tours, community walks and canopy walk or colobus monkey tracking. Transport will be provided in a comfortable 4×4 safari vehicle, wit a professional / experienced tour guide. Accommodation will be offered in 3 levels namely; budget / basic lodges, Mid range / deluxe lodges and Luxury / High-End Lodges. Below is the detailed day by Itinerary;

Day 1: Arrival – Transfer to Nyungwe Forest (Home of Chimpanzees and other primates)

Upon arrival at Kigali Airport, your driver / guide will be waiting for you, lunch in Kigali and then transfer you to Nyungwe forest National Park which is made up of a variety of habitats including montane forests, bamboos, grasslands, and swamps. This is a home to 13 primate species such as Chimpanzees, endangered Golden monkeys, Blue Monkeys, colobus, red tailed monkeys and grey checked mangabeys. There are also about 300 bird species. Relax in the evening as we wait for dinner and Overnight at dinner and overnight at Gisakura Guest House, Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Peace Guest House OR Nyungwe Hill Top View Hotel

Day 2: Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest

Breakfast and go for chimpanzee briefing and thereafter, enter Nyungwe forest in the company of ranger guides in search for colonies of Chimpanzees and many monkey species plus beautiful forest birds among others. Return to your lodge as on previous day.

Day 3: Drive to Volcanoes National Park (home of Mountain gorillas)

After breakfast, we shall transfer to Parc National des Volcans; the home to Mountain Gorillas. The journey will take us via Lake Kivu where we shall be rewarded with the beautiful scenic view. We shall have lunch en route and then proceed with the journey to Volcanoes National park for dinner and overnight at Kinigi guest House, Muhabura Hotel, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge OR Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge.

Day 4: First Gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park

Have an early morning breakfast and get ready for today’s life time event of gorilla tracking. You will assemble at the park headquarters with packed lunch, have a briefing about the Dos and Don’ts while with gorillas. Depending on the level of fitness, you may be asked to choose the group you wish to trek and the closest being about 2 hours or even a couple of minutes from the park boundary. The trek is quite strenuous, so you should be able to hike for 2-8 hours on steep and slippery mountain trails. Descend to the lodge for relaxation as you wait for dinner and overnight at your lodge as on day three.

Day 5: Second Gorilla trek, Kigali city trip – Late departure

Like the previous day, we shall assemble at the briefing point and then proceed to track Gorillas. On this day, we may decide to track the same gorilla group like yesterday or choose to visit another gorilla family. This will help us make comparison between the Gorilla groups. We shall enjoy the view, take photos or films and then return to the Lodge for late lunch and there after, transfer to Kigali to visit the Gisozi genocide memorial site, Local art and craft shops, do last minute shopping and then, transfer to Kigali Airport for your flight back home. This marks the end of the 5 day Rwanda gorilla safari and primates tour.

End of the trip