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.

African Primates Tracking Tips – Uganda and Rwanda

Among the most popular primates visited by tourists in Uganda and Rwanda are the Chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys as well as golden monkeys. Our focus today is on Golden monkey tracking in Uganda and Rwanda. The swift monkeys keep themselves busy by pulling faces, grooming each other and flying between tree branches. Currently, they are only found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Gishwati forest and Nyungwe forests.

It is amazing that Gorillas and golden monkeys freely move between the three countries without visas. This golden monkey trek gives one a chance to see the apes in action, petting and having a siesta. According to researcher Sandra E. Gray, their groups are single male multi-family, meaning there are only one resident male and several adult females, plus young ones of varying ages.

However, for reinforcement, between three and 11 outside males are accepted to join the group temporarily during the breeding season. For monkeys, communication is done fluently by vocal sounds, sign language and facial expressions. Grey says these have not yet been comprehensively studied and only the most obvious gestures are understood to any degree. Monkeys eat 33 record plant species, including fruits and flowers.

Their menu also comprises small invertebrates and bamboo leaves, which make up the bulk of the diet. The habitat of golden monkeys is in the evergreen semi-deciduous and bamboo forests. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) directorate of conservation has now completed the process of habituating a family of golden monkeys for experiential tourism.

This is as a strategy meant to diversify tourism activities. Tacking takes place strictly in the mornings and afternoons within a 23– 50 hectare area to maximize the experience. “The fee is US dollars 50, inclusive of the park entry fees. The maximum number per visiting group per day will be six,” Ingrid Nyonza Nyakabwa, the Uganda Wildlife Authority marketing manager, says. “You will not have any regrets.

Golden monkey tracking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National park, famously known for mountain gorilla tracking adventures. A 3 days tour package is recommended to see Rwanda gorillas and golden monkeys in Volcanoes national park.

The Uhuru falls overshadowed the mighty Murchison Falls

Uhuru falls were formed due to heavy rainfall received in 1962 which flooded the Murchison falls forcing it to form attributary known as Uhuru Falls.

Since then, the falls has created a spectacular view and are often are referred to as twin falls. Henry Buzu, a guide within the park, says the falls have been an attraction since they were formed and maintained their water volume.

Buzu says he cannot explain why the falls were formed in the same year the country gained its independence from Great Britain and little research has been conducted on them. Buzu, however, says the falls is facing destruction because of the power dams being constructed along the Nile.

The guide says four years ago, the Uhuru Falls disappeared during the construction of Bujagali dam.  Unfortunately, the Uhuru falls has been destructed by karuma dam construction, aimed at increase the level of electricity produced in Uganda.

School trips to Historical, culture and art monuments in Kampala and Kigali

As the unique countries in Africa, and one of the cultural countries, Uganda and Rwanda hub with history that can fill the itinerary of school trips focusing on many subjects. And one of the hubs of East African economics and culture.

While exploring the famous cultural sites about the history of the Buganda kingdom, one cannot ignore the city’s wonderful array of museums and collections of art. The Uganda Museum of Arts and crafts, The Kasubi Tombs, Makerere art gallery and more are great places to visit to get a sense of the art and art history of the pearl of Africa.

The Uganda museum has existed for quite long with art collections and exhibits ranging from region to region, the museum currently habit all regions art works. School trips taking in the museum are especially exciting since all information about Uganda’s culture is provided at all these historical sites. So on your cultural tour in Uganda a stopover at these and other cultural site is vital to experience artistic disciplines.

It is also interesting to incorporate the cultural tour with the religious sites in Uganda like the Namugongo shrine the remembrance home for the heroes that were massacred during the regime of the late King Mwanga of Buganda, Baha’i temple, Namirembe and Lubaga cathedrals and much more vital to students from primary to institutions of higher learning. Uganda Cultural and art monuments are not only visited by students but also foreign non residents while on their Uganda safari. These are normally visited at the beginning or at  the end of the Uganda safari package.

Kigali Rwanda on the other hand has a number of genocide memorial sites / museums reserved to show the further generations about the demerits of the genocide.  Many people were massacred and this is a scenario no one would love to see again in the country. Among the genocide sites around Kigali Include Gisozi genocide museum, Camp Kigali, Nyamta church, Ntarama Church, etc. Other historical include the first house, Kigali Museum and Nyanza Kings palace among others. Those are some of the historical, cultural and art monuments to visit before or after your gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda.

Experience Africa and stay at the African safari lodges

A cup of steaming hot African tea (spice with ginger) on arrival is a most welcome start of the stay at the lodge. Check in requires, like everywhere in Rwanda, to fill out forms and have one’s passport copied, but was generally swift and accomplished without any complications.

The rooms, or rather cottages, are spread generously across the sprawling gardens of the lodge and when walking out of the main building the Sabyinyo volcano is the main feature to look at.

Do not be fooled by the numbers showing the way to your cottage … in my case the number was only found at the cottage itself, but not on the signs along the way, so if in doubt ask one of the staff how to find your bearings.

The rooms were very large, leaving space for some more furniture perhaps but there were easy chairs available as well as a coffee table. The coffee maker needs one to read the instructions carefully and instead of a fancy appliance a simple kettle would perhaps do better.

A small fire place, where a wood fire is lit in the late afternoon, looks good but is woefully inadequate to actually heat up the place, and the nights tend to get cold, so be sure you ask for spare blankets and hot water bottles from the reception.

The equally large sized bathroom was simple in its layout, an open shower area, no curtain, a loo and a basin, hot water yes but entirely over sized or else rather under furnished. Bring indoor slippers on the trip here because the floors are cold and using the available flip flops is not every one’s cup of tea.

The only meal I had at the lodge was breakfast as I skipped dinner in the evening, and that was adequate with cereals, juices, fruits, pastries and a cooking station where eggs were prepared to order.

The staffs were friendly throughout, answered my endless questions, that is after all what scribes do when on location somewhere and were swift to arrange for more teabags in my room, a pot of cold milk included. A nice touch is the cleaning of the hiking boots when returning from the gorilla tracking, at no cost that is, and slippers are at the ready near the entrance to the lobby where one can take the boots off, get into the slippers and then walk to the cottage.

The owners, 3B Hotels, have other properties across Rwanda too, like the flame tree village though their assertion to be the ‘finest chain of hotels in Rwanda’ really puts ambition before reality. Overall not bad, and if had the facility I would give the place 8/10 for a rating because it is better than average but below the ‘very good’ mark. All rooms are in fact cottages, generously spaced apart in the extensive gardens. Visit www.junglesafarisuganda.com for more information about Uganda safaris and gorilla treks in Rwanda as well as different African lodges.

Discover why International Tourists go on Uganda Safaris

uganda gorilla safari
You should go on Uganda safari and see the great things this country has for you. Uganda offers astonishing sights which are available for you to see and experience. What’s more you don’t just see and experience, you can additionally bring them with you in form of film and photographs or picture.

You have the chance to take many photos as you like for purposes of souvenirs in future. You see, you will have such a gorgeous experience, to the point that you will like this chance of keeping such vital proof of your safari.

You will have the opportunity to go out into the wild and see places untouched by human activities and emerging technology. This will unquestionably ensure you learn things you never could have known. You will get an opportunity to see many different wild animals, creatures you’ve just seen in travel magazines and TV. Once you’re down in Uganda, you won’t have enough of the country that you will keep coming and coming!
Take an extraordinary Adventure vacation to Uganda

Is it accurate to say that you are searching for an extraordinary experience that will give you the opportunity to see stunning animals up close and personal? At that point quit searching and book a Uganda safari! With a Uganda safari, you get to go into the jungle and savanna plains to observe and study wild animals.

There are some safari packages you can choose from all of which are exciting and will give you a decent experience, one that is truly extraordinary! You can go for gorillas and chimpanzees tracking, mountain climbing, caving, bird watching, white water rafting, in addition to boat cruise.

You can additionally go into the wilderness and see different games only just of metres away. See animals like; buffalos, gorillas, chimps, white and black colobus monkey, golden monkey, lions, elephants, rhinos, entraps, Zebras, Leopards in the wild and experience something you’ve never imagined. To have an experience that will give you memories to last a lifetime, book yourself a Uganda safari promptly! By Jean

Flying into the Butterfly World – Uganda Safaris

Flying into the Butterfly World

Really shuddering butterflies with their stunning move are part of the menu for nature lovers. With swaggering grace and jerky flights, they decorate the forested Serenade Eco Resort Beach on Lake Victoria. Butterflies are part of the long record that makes Uganda the Pearl of Africa. With 518 recorded species, Uganda is home to about 75% of the African butterfly species.

With testing kisses, they suck nectar from the wild blossoms. Their vibrating wings create merry tunes as their predators slinking in the thick jungle salivate.

In spite of the fact that ravishing and harmless, butterflies have numerous nature foes. They are preyed by birds, reptiles, insects and ants while their eggs are consumed by bugs, hover flies and birds like songbirds. Their hatchlings are gobbled by fowls. Butterflies which make it to adulthood are killed by predators, disease and bad climate. Small butterflies live for three weeks while the life span of bigger ones is double that of small ones.
Feeding habits

Interestingly, butterflies never consume all their lives. Those which don’t need sustenance incubate from pupa, which has a good amount of energy reserves in form of fat. They use the fat all their grown-up lives.

On the other hand, most butterflies do take some salts, sugars and liquids. Some, such as the swallowtails, usually visit blooms to get nectar and others look for urea from animal waste. Some males are sometimes seen on dump grounds near streams extracting salts, particularly, sodium from the drying mud. This sort of conduct is called mud.

With rainbow colours, they reduce a figure of small angle from paradise, however don’t be tooled: some butterflies are natural drunkards. The drunkard family of butterflies hails from the charaxes genus. They like the juice from rotting fruits that is alcoholic. Most times, they take excessively, get smashed and fail to fly and get vulnerable to predators. Luckily, some of them are harmful, while others generate horrible chemicals that keep predators at inlet.

Most toxic butterflies fly gradually with confidence, while those which are not mimic the poisonous ones in their movement. The impostors are usually black and white and orange.

Butterflies, together with moths, are insects that belong to the Lepidoptera order. Butterflies have substantial wings covered by small scales. They are a paramount link in the natural way of life. Some butterfly species are specific in their eating regimen, consuming particular plants. This makes them vital for research and protection studies. Subsequently they are progressively drawing in special voyagers to Uganda, with a big number of them doing research on these beautiful insects.

Butterflies help researchers to study what happens in their territory. The presence of a specific butterfly indicates that their nourishment plant is available.

In Uganda, Mabira Forest has the most astounding number of butterflies with 250 species, 45 charaxes and 55% of the nation’s swallowtails. Most African butterfly species are forest dwellers and Mabira is an old tropical forest, therefore the enormous amounts of these insects. Other protected zones rich in butterflies are Kibale Forest and Bwindi National Parks, which are additionally extraordinarily forested. Outside of national parks, Serenade Eco Resort, with its old forest and exotic flowers, abounds with numerous types of butterflies 12 hours a day.

Ambassador Ibrahim Mukiibi, the proprietor of Serenade, says he has been rationing his 18 acre forest for about 30 years. It is only 35 minutes by boat from Ggaba landing site and is home to primates, giant lizards, medicinal plants and over 130 species of both water and forest birds. The sheer number of butterflies is an indicator of the rich biodiversity in the private forest.

Butterflies are colourful insects and are not bugs to farmers. Their colours and designs contrast relying upon the season. They are darker throughout cool times and lighter throughout hot seasons.

They are cold blooded insects. They have to warm themselves in the sun with wings open before they can fly. Around night time, they sleep underneath leaves frequently in big communities to avoid predators. Some butterflies are transitory and move in substantial numbers over long distances to colonize new territories while abandoning ineffective habitats.

Confronted with such a variety of dangers to their lives, butterflies have acclimates some survival tricks. They fly in jerky patterns, making it hard for predators to hit the target. Some disguise with the encompassing vegetation.

Some butterflies have false eyes on their wings to befuddle birds, giving them a chance to ambush from the wrong end to enable escape, yet with broken wings. Butterflies with punctured or broken wings are survivors of these attacks.

How to have a Successful and an Interesting Uganda Safari

Gorilla Expedition Ltd and African Jungle Adventures Ltd are the leading tour companies in Uganda ready to offers travel services to you. They offers different tour activities like Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safaris, Wildlife tours, cultural safaris and many other activities to all national parks, game reserves and other safari destinations in the country.

My Gorilla Trekking Experince in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Uganda

Waking up early in the morning to go to the park headquarters in Bwindi National Park for gorilla trekking was one of the dreams that I had for many years. I had been saving money for this safari lastly the chance crossed my direction. I was one of the lucky visitors who got a gorilla trekking permit to Rushegura gorilla group one of three gorilla groups in Buhoma region of Bwindi Forest National Park.

Several times, I had been attempting to secure a gorilla permit for myself however since gorilla trekking tours are on high demand, the dates of my excursion were always fully booked or the accommodation was not available for me to stay at. I never lost hope until the time when I at last secured gorilla permit through Gorilla Expeditions Ltd and 2 bed nights at Buhoma Community Rest Camp which was preferred accommodation.

On the day of the arrival at the Airport, I was picked by the tour guide from Gorilla Expeditions Ltd who transferred me to Buhoma Community Rest Camp where I was warmly welcomed by the lodge manager who offered a drink, brief talk about the lodge and its services. I was really impressed. I don’t know whether it was anxiety or excitement that kept me conscious all night long but as I recollect, my dreams were filled with meeting with the mountain gorillas the following day.

Very early in the morning, we woke up for a heavy breakfast which was served at the common lounge area. The waiter gave each of us the trekkers our packed lunch boxes for the day because the time of our return was unpredictable and depends on the movement of mountain gorillas in search for food. We strolled to the park headquarters for a short briefing from the park ranger and later in the company of our ranger 8 of us walked into the think jungle to search for the mountain gorillas. Mr. Mutebire our ranger guide clarified that, mountain gorillas search for food throughout the day so we need to follow their path. He included that despite the fact that gorillas are huge in size, they eat foliage only and bamboo is there delicacy.

Birds in the forest kept us entertained due to the fact that the park hosts over 350 species of birds the guide told us and monkey hopped from one branch to another. As we walked, our guide stopped us and reminded us to lower our voices because we were getting closer to the gorillas. They are very sensitive to intruders explained Mutebire. At this time, I felt a quick ice running through my body to the feet but I was still eager to see the gorillas. We had them grumbling and finally got into and open space where they had been feed the entire day. I have traveled to Africa for several safaris but to be honest, this was an excellent encounter that I wished to share with all readers.

Birds kept us entertained and monkey jumped from one tree another. As we walked, our ranger guide stopped us and reminded us to bring down our voices because we were getting closer to the mountain gorillas. They are very sensitive to intruders clarified Mutebire. At this time, I felt a quick ice going through my body to the feet but I was still anxious to see the gorillas. We had them grumbling lastly got into and open space where they had been feed the whole day. I have traveled to Africa for a number of tours but to be frankly, this was a memorable experience that I wished to share to all readers.

The gorilla group we tracked was well organized with the females taking care of the babies, the young playing form the vines and as we kept gaping, the male silverback emerged from its hiding. He was tall, huge, and dark and looked defensive. He continued watching his family and pouncing at the young ones. We took various photographs and after an hour, we needed to leave there presence but all of us were still in need of watching them. For sure I will push and save for another gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.

Paraa Safari Lodge in Uganda – Murchison Falls National Park

Paraa safari Lodge is situated in Murchison Falls National Park and it is among the 5 stars lodge found in the area. The lodge is located in the north west of Uganda over looking one of nature’s best kept secrets, the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert – here it is suddenly channeled into a gorge only six meters wide, and cascades 43 meters below. The earth literally trembles at Murchison Falls – one of the world’s most powerful flows of natural water. Paraa Safari Lodge provides a unique blend of comfort, relaxation and adventure. Each of the rooms is a haven of style and serenity, complete with balcony and private bathroom.

paraa-lodge-ugandaThe luxurious pool overlooks the winding River Nile below, which was the setting for the classic Hollywood movie “The African Queen” (starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart). Enjoy a variety of excursions and activities; from exhilarating Safari drives to boat trips along the River Nile, ending at the foot of Murchison Falls. For the more adventurous, one can trek up to the top of the falls and marvel at the views through the mist. A variety of ecosystems and an impressive 451 species of birds awaits you here.

Activities while at Paraa safari Lodge:

Game drives safaris:

In the park, early morning game drives rewards visitors with the view of the early raisers like predetors and so on while returning into their hiding places. Along side moring game drives, there is also afternoon and night game drives through the park which rewards visitors view the African wildlife like elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribi. With luck, lion and perhaps even a leopard may be sighted.

paraa-restaurantChimpanzee trekking:

Kaniyo Pabidi forest (8 kms from Kicumbanyobo Gate on Masindi Paraa road or 56kms from Paraa Safari Lodge) is a beautiful natural forest dominated by giant mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzees can be tracked from Kaniyo Pabidi tourism site, which is run by the Jane Goodall Institute. Bird-life here is abundant including; the Chocolate-Backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill; and Puvel’s Illaposis, which is found nowhere else in East Africa.

Birding:

Murchison Falls National Park supports more than 451 species of birds. This gives serious birders a happiest moment! Birds like rare yet famous Shoebill stalk, Martial Eagle, the African Fish Eagle, Papyrus Gonolek, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Lark and Verraux’s Eagle Owl among others are viewed in and out side the murchison park.

Boat cruise on River Nile

A highlight of any visit to Murchison Falls Conservation Area is the launch cruise to view the magnificent Murchison Falls along side water loving birds and animals floating at the banks of the Nile. Launch tours normaly begin at 9.00am and 2.00pm. Both morning and afternoon cruises takes amaximum of three hours of enjoyment.

Drive to the Falls

The most rewarding times for game drives are the early morning and late afternoon/early evening.

A drive through the scenic Buligi area west of Paraa to the Delta Point (where the Victoria Nile passes through the northern tip of Lake Albert to become the Albert Nile) takes around three hours. Expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribi. With luck, lion and perhaps even a leopard may be sighted. Morning game drives start at 7am. Breakfast can be taken beforehand at 6.30am or afterwards at around 10am. Evening game drives start at 4pm. With prior notice, the lodge will book a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger guide to accompany visitors to help them spot games and for safety.

The highlight for any Uganda safari package is mountain gorilla tracking in Bwindi impenetrable national park. In this case, you can extend your Uganda wildlife tour package with a 3 day gorilla safari in Uganda‘s Bwindi impenetrable forest. For details about such trips, send an email to info@gorillatoursafari.com