Akagera National Park in Rwanda

Akagera National Park is one the most popular safari destinations in Africa. A wide variety of Rwanda safari packages organized by tour operators to explore this park’s hidden treasures on game drives, boat ride and nature walks. The park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is an archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.

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Akagera is, above all, big game country! Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a spotted hyena or even a stray lion.

Giraffe and zebra amble through the savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque cape eland.

The most common tourist activities in the park include:

Birding trips in Akagera National park

The park hosts over 525 bird species- this is one of the birding sanctuary. Akagera is indisputably the best place in Rwanda to find savannah birds and raptors. It is also well stocked with water loving birds living amongst the swamps.

Game drives in Akagera National Park

These include nights and day game viewing safaris. Night game drives gives opportunities to spot nocturnal like leopards and so on. Day time game drives enables visitors view animals like Elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, waterbucks, common or cape eland, roan antelope, hippopotamuses , sitatunga, burchell’s zebras, orive common baboons, giraffes, crocodiles, little bee eaters, open billed stock, marabou stock   black headed gonolek, robin charts among others.

Fishing on lake ihema and lake Shakani is yet another amazing experience when visit Akagera National park.

Boat tours on Lake Ihema

It is a must experience if you visit Akagera National park. Boat trips are operated by Akagera Safari Lodge and Rwanda Tourism office. While on the boat, expect to see water loving birds and animals like hippos, crocodiles among others.

Who will save the African Endangered species

African elephants roaming, TanzaniaA recent report published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal showed that around 100,000 elephants were killed in the last four years internationally.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that the elephant population over the African continent had dropped from 550,000 in 2006 to 470,000 in 2013. It had been caused by mainly poaching and environmental degradation.

Luckily, statistics from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) shows that elephant population for Queen Elizabeth Protected Area has continuously increased from 400 in 1988 to 2,959 in 2010, while in the same period in Murchison Falls Protected Area, the large mammals have too increased from 201 in 1995, to 904 in the same period.

In the same period, the number Buffaloes has increased from 2,477 to 9,192, that of giraffes from 153 to 930 and Hartebeests from 2,431 to 3,589 because of several factors, incorporating stability in the nation, strict conservation measures and general awareness among the population.

These wildlife crimes not only threaten the presence of different species and the tourism industry, additionally national security as gangs and other terrorist organizations use this as an avenue to get funding to facilitate their activities.
And indeed expected illicit wildlife products worth more than Shs5 billion was seized a year ago, according to the Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities minister, Ms Maria Mutagamba.

Speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in Botswana’s northeastern town of Kasane, Ms Mutagamba said illicit killing of elephants and its trade has derailed the continent’s tourism industry, which of later, is ending up being a backbone of foreign exchange earnings for most African countries.

Uganda’s tourism industry contributed 7.9% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2013 translating into Sh5.5 trillion and created over 500,000 employments. In spite of this contribution, the industry got just near to Sh800 million as its investment in the same Financial Year.

“In only one year, we have seized more than two tons of Ivory [estimated to be worth about Shs2.2 billion], 30 Rhino horns and around two tons of Pangolin scales [worth over Shs2.9 billion] at Entebbe International Airport. We are resolved to make it increasingly hard for wildlife traffickers to use Uganda as a transit nation,” Ms Mutagamba said.

Uganda is not just a transit area for the valuable wildlife products however it has excessively encountered the same crimes.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director Andrew Seguya, who was part of Minister Mutagamba’s contingent, said Uganda has been successful in capturing consignments of wildlife contraband because of surveillance.

“We have created intelligence service of over 80 officers and a plenty of informers” across border points and around game reserves and national parks

However, there is more that needs to be done to stamp out the vice, he said. As indicated by Ms Mutagamba, Uganda has encountered several difficulties in the management of the national ivory stockpile to the extent that around 1.2 tons of ivory was lost in 2014.

A year ago, a review by UWA found that 1,300 kilograms of ivory worth $1.1m (about Shs3b) was missing, hence attracting the attention of President Museveni, who asked the Inspector General of Government to investigate the matter. The IGG’s report is yet to be released.

Early this month, China, the world’s biggest ivory importer, forced a one-year ban on ivory carving imports. Ivory is a highly prized item in markets, for example, Malaysia and China as it is an indication of prestige and riches. From ivory, magnificent sculptures are made. With the increase in incomes by the Chinese, the demand for ivory has increased in the previous years, leading to the killing of many African elephants.

Ms. Mutagambwa said Uganda will keep on using the accredited forensic laboratories in USA and South Africa to focus in ascertaining the origin of seized ivory and rhino horns. She however said “Uganda welcomes the foundation of the new forensic laboratory in Nairobi and we will certainly make use of it,”

At the same meeting, Minister Mutagambwa accepted to join the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), however asked subsidizing that will empower the impllementation of the African Elephant Action Plan. Botswana President, Lt Gen Khama Ian Khama, said wildlife poaching and trafficking had indeed reached unmatched levels all through the world, particularly with endangered species.

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.

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