Mgahinga Gorilla safari in Uganda – Nyakagezi Group

GO GORILLA TREKKING IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK – NYAKAGEZI GORILLA GROUP IN UGANDA
Nyakagezi Gorilla family is the only one inhabited in Mgahinga National Park – the group is tracked amidst Virunga ranges: Gahinga, Muhavura and Sabinyo Volcanoes. Therefore some level of fitness is highly needed – this is one of the best view points for wonderful photography.
Nyakagezi gorilla family is one of the un reliable group due to its seasonal mobility – it some times cross to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park or Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. If found in the park, Nyakagezi gorilla group is easiest to track given the fact that it prefers a narrow home range for feeding, nesting, relaxing and recreation.
It is unbelievable that Nyakagezi group is composed of three silver backs that stay harmoniously in one group, 2 adult females, 2 black backs and 2 infants.

The family is led by Silverback Mark assisted by Mafia, Ndungutse and Bugingo. Rukundo is the sole Black back, Nshuti an adult female plus two babies namely Nshuti baby and Fred. Fred was named so in 2010 when a veterinary doctor, Fred, attached to Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project worked hard to save it from a life threatening wire snare.

Nyakagzi is the only gorilla group which is habituated for tourism – others are reserved for the researchers. For more information, it is estimated that Mgahinga national park is hosts a total of 80 mountain gorillas. It is unfortunate that the only habituated becomes unreliable. Their recent arrival in the park before the holiday season shows a perfect sense of timing, as it will increase the amount of permits available in the park for this busy period!

Gorilla tracking is only one of the many activities that you can enjoy from Volcanoes’ Mount Gahinga Lodge in Mgahinga National Park. The park, because of its varied habitats, is indeed famous for birding with about 180 birds species recorded. The area is also renowned for tracking the endangered golden monkeys. These striking creatures, endemic to the Albertine Rift, can be found high in the dense bamboo forests on the Gahinga trail. Finally while on a gorilla safari in Africa, guests can meet the Batwa Pygmies, widely regarded to be the oldest surviving peoples of central Africa. For thousands of years they have survived in the dark forests of the African Great Lakes region and over generations built up a symbiotic relationship with their natural home in which skills were passed down throughout their history.

Uganda’s smallest and probably most scenic National Park is situated in the extreme South-Western corner of the Country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to include Parc de Volcanoes in Rwanda and Parc de Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct Volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area.

Herbivores animals in Uganda

Herbivores are animals which feed only on plant materials. They have typically flat teeth and mouthparts that are modified to grinding grasses, tree bark and other tough materials. Uganda contains different types of herbivores animals which attracts safaris to Uganda.

In these national parks, herbivores are the commonest seen by tourists on Uganda safari parks and this includes

Elephants. They are the largest on land mammal in the world. Safaris to Uganda’s National parks offer clients the chance to see this mammal. Uganda safari parks are homes to the African elephant specie and the African bush elephants which can be sighted in Murchison falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National park and Kidepo valley National park. African forest elephants are found in Kibale national park, Rwenzori mountains national Park and Bwindi national Park.

Giraffes are the tallest mammal on land consisting of attractive long neck and colorful skin. Safaris in Uganda offer an opportunity to see the giraffe family. Uganda has the exclusive giraffe species known as Rothschild giraffes only found in Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo National Park

Antelope family in Uganda is the majority wildlife species comprising of 29 species with the eland the world’s largest species. Most Uganda’s national parks are homes to a number of these antelopes. Game drives in both Murchison falls and Kidepo National Park provides clients on Uganda Safari the greatest opportunity to see these animals which includes, African buffaloes, Oribi, Burchell’s zebras, waterbucks, Uganda Kobs, , hartebeest, Topi, Impalas, among others.

Rwanda the Home Of Mighty Mountain Gorillas

Rwanda is blessed with many wildlife diversity and bird species which form its core products. The country has beautiful scenery making it known as the country of a thousand hills and with hospitable people which has attracted a lot of safaris to Rwanda. The glory of this country is seen in her mountain gorillas. Rwanda is a home for one of the unique group of primates (the endangered mountain gorillas) found in only three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo) in the world and as a result as led to many safari visits in Rwanda.

Mountain gorillas are critically endangered animals out listed by IUCN. The primates live in the rainforest Volcanoes National Park, located 90 minutes drive from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda. Volcanoes National park is shared by Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas mostly feed on fresh leaves, shoots, fruits, and piths but they do not take water on daily basis because of the food they eat which contains a lot water and moisture.

These Apes are the largest primate species having about 98% of Human DNA making them the closest relatives of Humans and the Chimpanzees. Thus making them one of the tourism attractions you don’t want to miss seeing while on your gorilla safari in Rwanda. This specie of critically endangered Mountain gorillas live in groups headed by one leader called silverback. Silver back guards the group against any danger and threats from other animals. He protects the group even with his own life which reflects the nature of man. Mountain gorillas offer the best safaris experiences while on your safaris to Rwanda and Uganda as well as other East African Countries. Many writers contend that, a safari in Africa is only complete when you visit mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, in the true African wildderness, deep in the heart of Africa.

Gorilla-tracking-Volcanoes
In Rwanda, gorilla tracking safaris is best done in Volcanoes national park and for Uganda is best done in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Uganda also has another group of mountain gorillas known as “Nyakagezi gorilla group” found in Mgahinga National Park. However, this group is not yet stable as it sometimes crosses the boarder to Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, simply because they do not need visas. Gorilla trekking safaris also offer tourists with the additional opportunity to spot different bird species, other animals and other primates like the golden monkeys and the silver monkeys.

To enjoy gorilla trekking, you are required to assemble at the park headquarters in Kinigi before 7:30am for a briefing about this activity. This means you should sleep in lodges around the park a night before the trek. Among the accommodation options around Volcanoes National Park include Sabyinyo Silverback lodge, Virunga lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Hotel La Palme and Kinigi Guest House among others. However, if you stay in Kigali and interested in tracking gorillas the same day, you need to leave Kigali in the morning at 4:30am, it takes 2 hours drive. However, this is high risk because there is one route  to the park and in case you find it blocked by mud slides or fallen trees, you won’t have any other option and you are likely to miss the trek, yet, no refund for gorilla permits that costs US$750. At the end of the trek, each tourist who participated is rewarded with a certificate to confirm that he / she successfully participated in this life time adventure activity.

Packing List for your Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

Travelers many times don’t understand what it means when we talk of packing list for your gorilla tour in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, however if you are planning a gorilla trek in Rwanda you must dress smartly while on your gorilla trek. The experience of gorilla trekking is so adventurous and as a fact you must prepare the appropriate clothes as well as safari gear for your safari. Most of the time tourists fail to notice the packing list and end ruining their tour. You must note that tracking involve passing through muddy and thick forest and some times meeting gorilla may take a half or full day in jungle as meeting them depends on where they spent the previous day from.

Hiking through the thick vegetation is exhausting and so don’t expect a smooth road, the terrain is rough so a sturdy pair of shoes is recommended. in such a back ground many visitors often dress the way they want, some putting on sandals, shorts, t-shirts, no bags and no water bottle to cool their throats. This kind of dressing is wrong for your trip and you may come out of the forest with a lot of crashes on your body, since it’s not a picnic you are going for; you must take time and think about what is expected on your safari and what not. It must be at the back of your mind that volcanoes National Park is a high attitude and its weather is hard to predict. It is always cold in the morning and in the evening and it can rain at any time therefore appropriate clothes will make your trail comfortable. Gorilla tracking is regarded the number one interesting and memorable activities in the volcanoes national park so you are recommended to do it in the best way possible.

The following are the packing list in the preparation of gorilla safari.
Hiking shoes/ Boots; these are very essential on a gorilla safari and it must be packed first before anything else. Without a good pair of hiking boots/ shoes, your trek may not be exciting as you may not be comfortable in the forest. The ground is rough and sometimes muddy in cases where it rains so without strong shoes it may make tracking very difficult. You will see rangers with rubber boots, gumboots and not sandals. They also want to feel comfortable since they know what it means being in the forest while on a search of these our close relative gorillas. Try also to carry light-weight boots to offer appropriate support for your ankle as well as balance. You are not advised to carry new shoes try to wear it before your trip. A good pair of socks will also be needed. The experience is rewarding when you set your eyes on the great mountain gorillas.

Bag; in order to enjoy your gorilla tracking the most, you must also poses a suitable day pack. As the hike involve moving through the forest and you have accessories like camera, note book, rain jack, bottled water and some times packed lunch and many others, the bag does it the best as you will pack all those in a bag and start the search for gorillas in their natural habitat. Since it’s hard to predict the weather, it would be better if you bought a waterproof day pack.
Jeans, Long-sleeved shirt and Trousers are recommended on a gorilla track: when you’re organizing your gorilla safari pack the best travel wear. Long sleeved shirts/blouses and Jeans or trousers are recommended for a tour in Africa since tracking is in the jungle and on foot. These protect you against vines, nettles branches as well as thorns. Remember to maintain these in natural colors, a long sleeved shirt will be good if it’s in cotton; this will provide warmth and still protect your skin.

Rain Jacket and Safari Hat; these are a must pack due to the fact that African weather is subjected to change at any time, a rain just is very important as it can rain while in the jungle. In case you forget, it can ruin on you during your safari yet it’s always very good to go on safari and come back when satisfied. A safari hat is a must, it’s the only way you will avoid the boiling sun of Africa. Wearing hat will simply make you a smart tourist and it indicates that really you’re a traveler don’t forget it.

Walking stick, Bottled water and Pack lunch; due to the fact that meeting the gorillas may take quite long it may go to a half or full day in the forest searching for gorillas, meeting them depends on where they spent the last night from, it is always advisable to go with packed lunch and bottled water to get more energy for tracking. Walking stick is given to you at the park headquarters or at the lodge to support you as you hike through the thick vegetation.

Sunglasses and Insect repellent: sunglasses are good especially when on a game drive to spot wildlife and even when in the forest, as this protect you from the sun. Insect repellent is highly needed to be packed as there are a lot of mosquitoes in Africa which may cause fever and this may disorganize your safari. When it gets in the evening, you can spray your clothes or body to avoid them.

Garden Gloves

Garden gloves are also necessary to protect your hands during gorilla trekking, as in the forest it can get slippery and even you can tough or hold some plants, trees. These gloves will therefore protect you from germs and other items that may scratch your hands.

If you follow the packing list you will enjoy your Rwanda adventurous safari in the suitable way

Greenhouses Botanical Garden

What to do in Paris this weekend? Couples, families or solo, I invite you to discover the greenhouses of Paris. At the heart of Garden plants, four large halls are home to a unique plant collection. It’s like, the time of a visit in the middle of the rainforest. A truly magical place that I highly recommend!

Greenhouses Botanical Garden

Already, the architecture alone is worth a look. Metal and glass, these greenhouses were built in the 1830s, at a time when metal architecture takes off. In Paris, it is in this first half of the nineteenth century that also builds the bridge of the arts, the Sainte-Geneviève library or the Halles Baltard. These new greenhouses (the largest in the world then) replace older buildings. In the eighteenth century, it was the royal greenhouses where the plants were kept as naturalists brought back from their travels around the world.

paris

You will always impressed by the green tropical forest canopy and 15 meters high. The atmosphere is warm and wet from bananas, cocoa and palm trees. We are in full jungle! Then change of scenery with amazing green deserts. Very interesting to see the wiles of some species to protect against drought.

Africa Gorilla Trips – Uganda Rwanda Gorilla Tourism

Gorilla tracking is being promoted among all these three countries where gorillas are tracked year in year out. Gorilla trekking become popular in Congo by the late 1960s and by 1978 gorilla tourism was also being promoted in Rwanda with wonderful results on the local economy and by 1980s gorilla tourism become an important source of revenue for Rwanda and gorilla become a symbol of national pride. In 1990s Uganda became the leading popular country for encountering gorillas due to political instabilities countered the neighboring countries that are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla tourism today stands at a turning point especially in Uganda and Rwanda.

On The Trek in Search for Mountain Gorillas

All the three countries where the remaining gorillas live have a history of instability that makes it herd for international conservation organizations to operate with any certainty. However the international gorilla conservation programme (IGCP) and the Dian Fossy Gorilla foundation (DFGF) have tried to promote sustainable agricultural and tourism practices and encourage the active participation of local communities in conservation and this has played a large part in ensuring the gorilla survival during unstable times.

Uganda and Rwanda are ensured safe countries for gorilla tracking, stability is now paramount and gorillas can be tracked at any time depending on the traveler’s interest and time of traveling. Gorilla permits are at a very high demand in both countries and they are issued on first come first served basis so it’s advised to book your permit in advance at least 2-4 month prior to your safari. Gorilla permits in Uganda are issued at a price of US$600 per person per tracking in both Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park and in Rwanda, gorilla permits are issued at a price of US$ 750 per person per tracking.. The rates are for foreign non residents. There is a discount for East African Residents and foreigners leaving in East Africa with work permits.

silverback-gorilla

Tracking begins early in the morning after reporting at the park headquarters for a short briefing about gorilla tracking and also assigned to the ranger guide to lead you to the jungle. Gorilla tracking in both countries is strictly one hour and you are not allowed to use a flash camera in taking photos as this may scare away these giants and they can also charge on you. Gorilla visit is now considered the major highlight of many travelers who make it to these countries and it is considered a breathtaking memorable activity that can’t be missed, In order to let the local communities save these creatures a fee is left to the local communities around the different National Parks where gorilla tourism takes place. In Uganda, mountain gorilla tracking takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park. Rwanda gorilla tours on the other hand are conducted in the magnificent Volcanoes national park, that a French man calls “Parc National des Volcans”. However, gorilla tourism in Virunga National Park in DR Congo is currently hindered by political instabilities and the destination is considered NOT safe to travelers.

 

Uganda safari Experience with my Parents

If you’ve not yet traveled the world there is some thing you’re missing. This time my parents took me for a real safari as they promised me. All along they’ve been taking me to zoos but this time round I got that chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat. I went on a safari with my parents and I do believe that this is the best vacation I have ever taken in my life time. Sure, I have a whole lifetime of vacations ahead of me but I cannot even imagine something comparing to the experiences I had on this one. We got a plane which took us to Entebbe international airport where I was surprised by the hospitable people right from the time we landed on the Ugandan soil up to the park. We latter received by our tour guide who welcomed us and briefed us a bout the whole safari, he latter transferred us to our accommodation which we booked for the night; we enjoyed both local and international food.

The following day we started the real safari when the guide took us to the southwestern part of the country to Queen Elizabeth national park with a fantastic view throughout. The park is gifted by a wide biodiversity of animal species ranging from the big five to small mammals have never seen in my life grazing just meters from me like the herds elephants, giant forest hog, buffaloes, warthogs, bush buck, lion, leopard and chimpanzee up close in thick forest, indeed this was a grate moment seeing all these species in their national environment in a tourist vehicle was a breathtaking moment in life I will never forget. We also went to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda all I saw was just amazing.

The parks were so nice with a variety of wildlife. I never would have thought that I would get to see African wildlife so up close in a close distance. In fact it was thrilling and owe- inspiring to see the land and the animals that live there. I am a child and a teenager. Like other kids of my age I thought my summer would be wasted hanging around my parents in a foreign country. I figured I would make the best of the vacation, but my dad was right. This was simply spectacular! I had so much to tell my friends when I got back and there were no good words to truly describe the experiences I had in Africa. Certainly it will remain the best safari for ever I have to go back to Uganda safari vacation for more experience and this time I won’t miss out gorilla tracking.

 

Climbing Mount Elgon – Uganda Safari

wagagai summitMount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano located on the border of Uganda and Kenya, north of Kisumu and west of Kitale in Mbale district, mountain Elgon is among the most interesting and amazing tourist destinations in the country where visitors can enjoy a breathtaking moments. The mountain has various caves each with its own historical background and it also gives the best environment for finding about the real cultural background of the Bagisu people who stay around and on its slops.

With mountain climbing safaris to Uganda getting to be more popular nowadays compared to the past, you can’t talk about the best destinations in Uganda for the activity and you forget mountain Elgon. Actually, many travelers prefer this mountain to others as a result of the additional tourism activity one enjoy after an interesting hike like cultural walk in the Basoga community, nature walk, bird watching among others. Sipi Falls on the mountain are amazing which are definitely worth to view.

Mount Elgon has the biggest base in Africa and this dormant volcano has become one of the best tourist destinations in Uganda. A climb to Wagagi (the highest peak) is a memorable experience and one gets at the top, he/she can have an excellent wide view the Uganda and the neighboring Kenya. Because Mount Elgon is located on the border of Uganda and Kenya, a tourist can have a great opportunity of having a view of Kenya’s eye-catching green-covered highlands and vegetations. With little known about this adventurous mountain, the local Bagisu people who stay around it say that there is more than tourism about it and according to them the mountain is attached to their culture as their ancestors used it as a weapon in times of war. They constructed caves which were used as hiding places away from the enemies during the war times. Some even stayed in the caves as their permanent home. This is why the Bagisu ancestors decided to name it “Mt. Masaba”.

Depending on the tourists’ wish, mountain climbing on Mount Elgon can be adjusted and more interesting and adventurous tourist activity can be included. It can also be extended to Kenya and really some tourists find it better to first have a hike at the mountain before continuing to their Kenya wildlife watching safaris or Uganda gorilla tours in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Success Of Rwanda Gorilla Tourism – How It Started?

The mountain gorillas of the Virungas are highly endangered African ape subspecies, with a total estimated population of 880 existing only in the Virunga Conservation Area shared amongst the 3 Africa countries of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

African mountain gorillas distribution in the Virunga Volcanic mountain ranges is limited to an approximate area of 447 km2, which encompasses the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south western Uganda, the Parc National des Volcans of Rwanda and the Mikeno sector of the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 Map Showing the Distribution of Mountain Gorillas in Africa

mountain-gorilla-distribution-map

Volcanoes National Park comprises of about 160 km2 of montane forest which, until Rwanda’s independence in 1962, was part of Africa’s first national park (the Parc National Albert). This was created in 1925 with an intention of protecting the great apes.

Safari packages are organized to see wild mountain gorilla groups since 1955 with the first attempts at habituation for this purpose occurring as early as 1966. Today, gorilla tourism is Rwanda’s number one foreign exchange earner, and very many tour and travel companies in Kampala and Kigali are organizing different gorilla safaris in Rwanda and Uganda. However, gorilla tourism in DRC is hindered by some political unrest, but sometimes tourists go there and enjoy the trek in DR Congo.

The number of visitors per gorilla group is limited to 8 persons per day as a way to conserve their habitat.

Virunga’s first official mountain gorilla tourism program was launched in 1979 by Bill Webber and

Amy Vedder. This was funded by conservation organizations such as African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), World Wide Fund for Nature and Fauna among others.

This Mountain Gorilla Project aimed at enforcing anti-poaching and education programs as well as providing the Rwandan government and park authorities an incentive to conserve the mountain gorilla habitat, promoting sustainable tourism and generating local employment in tourism industry.

This program later-on evolved into today’s International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), responsible to protecting this endangered specie and its habitat.

Two wild gorilla families were at first habituated for tourism purposes (gorilla tracking), and the number of visitors per day was limited to 8 persons (in a group) per day, and the length of stay was limited to 60 minutes (Maximum). The combination of quality control and international interest in Dian Fossey’s highly publicized mountain gorilla studies resulted increased number of tourists to Rwanda to see gorillas in the wild throughout the 1980s, peaking close to 70.000 in 1989.

The presence of mountain gorilla tourism attracted almost 22.000 tourists into Rwanda to its 3 national parks of Nyungwe forest, Akagera and Volcanoes National Park in 1990.

This trend was encouraging as the world was seriously picking interest in gorilla tours in Rwanda. However in 1994, Rwanda gorilla tourism collapsed because of the genocide. The parks were closed until 1999. Tourist arrivals have rebounded from 417 park visit that year 1999 to almost 20.000 tourists in the year 2008, of which 17.000 came purposely to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National park.

The high seasons for Rwanda gorilla tourism are between June and September, Mid December to Mid march. The demand for gorilla permits is high in such seasons and they are sold out quickly most of the time. Low seasons are from Mid March to May, October up to Mid December.

Tanzania to deploy army to save African wildlife

President Jakaya Kikwete has announced stern measure, including deployment of the army, to redress the killing of elephants and rhino coupled with illegal export of logs which have now reached an alarming level.

Speaking at a sideline meeting for Heads of State and Government organized by President Ondimba Omar Bongo of Gabon and the Government of Germany at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday evening, President Kikwete said the army will have to be deployed to spearhead control measures to save the wildlife and forests.

Among other issues on the agenda, the meeting focused on ways to stop serious interference with the wildlife and control the destruction of forests for conservation of the environment.

“The Tourism sector which contributes 17 per cent to the National Gross Product (NGP) hiring more than 300,000 people has been targeted by ill-intentioned people. Additional protective measures must be put in place to avert the threat,” the president said.

Clarifying on the seriousness of the matter, President Kikwete said in 1960, for example, Tanzania had 350,000 elephants but the number decreased to 110,000 by 2009.

According to the statement issued by the Directorate of Communication at the State House, the country registered about 700 rhinos in 1974 but the number has declined to below 100 due to poaching.

“Between 1980 and 1990 we (Tanzania) had deployed the army to help stop poaching along the animal corridors. The situation improved dramatically but in the last four years the situation has worsened. For example, between 2010 and July 2013, more than 1,386 elephants were killed in Tanzania,” he explained.

Additional measures taken to control poaching, said the president, included review of policies, legislations and regulations guiding the wildlife. Also the country ratified various international treaties related to protection of the wildlife and natural vegetation.

Commenting on confiscation of weapons from poachers, Mr. Kikwete said some arrests had also been made such that between 2010 and 2013, a total of 5,189 poachers were arrested in addition to 1,952 guns impounded.

“A total of 3,788 tusks weighing at 10,756 kilogrammes were impounded. I have issued instructions to the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) to take action and we will see the difference soon,” he said.

It was explained that the sector required more labour force at least 4,800 new employees at the moment to help intensify control measures, even if it means hiring 500 people annually. More funds will also be secured for the purpose.

At least more than US Dollar 19.4 million will be needed for the purpose, in addition to US Dollar 30 million for purchase of the necessary work equipment and construction of headquarters.