Must Do Tour Activities in Virunga National Park

Tourist Activities Within Virunga National Park Congo

When you mention Virunga National Park, many people will associate it with a place where Park rangers are always killed by poachers or rebels but what most people don’t know about it is the fact that it is one of the most biologically diverse Conservation Areas not only in Africa but in the whole World. You will be surprised that more than half of all of the biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa is found within this National Park much as it is also undeniable that it is also severely threatened by armed conflicts.

Established as Africa’s first National Park in 1925, it was originally known as Albert National Park and became a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1979. Virunga National Park currently covers an area of 7800 square kilometers (780,000 hectares/3000 square miles) from the Virunga Mountains in the south to the extreme Rwenzori Mountains in the North but also borders Protected Areas of other countries like Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks in Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.

Virunga’s exceptional biodiversity include several unique mammals especially the critically endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, giraffes, buffaloes, forest elephants and many others as well as bird species to look out for. On top of the flora and fauna, the site is also home to a number of Virunga Volcanoes including Nyamulagira, Karisimbi, Mikeno, Sabinyo and Nyiragongo, The Presence of the extraordinary wildlife and bird species as well as Virunga Volcanoes have made it possible for tourists to enjoy several activities that include;

  • Tracking The Mountain gorillas

It is obvious that mountain gorilla trekking is the main tourist activity undertaken by tourists who visit Virunga National Park. There are so far 6 habituated gorilla families (including Kabirizi, Lulengo, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Munyaga and Humba) within this immense park available for trekking thus over 48 gorilla permits are available daily for tourists. It should be remembered that Virunga National Park is one of the four Parks in the whole World where this activity can be enjoyed. Other gorilla safari destinations in Africa include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, as well as the magnificent Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

  • Climbing/Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the active Volcanoes in Africa (having erupted more than 34 times with the recent ones being in 2002 when the Lava Lake drained and flowed to the surrounding communities) with a vast Lava Lake in the while World and tourists to Virunga National Park can not only see the wildlife species but also climb to the summits to enjoy its beautiful views. Mount Nyiragongo trekking is one of the most popular tourist activities to DR Congo Visitors and requires 2 days and 1 night at  the summit. Virunga management can pick you from Goma town hotel or Goma boarder to the trekking start point, and can arrange everything required to trekking Nyiragongo.

  • Bird watching

Did you know that Virunga National park is actually a home to over 780 species of birds? You will be mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the beautiful bird species when you rise up early in the morning at 5:00am. Some of the notable species not to miss in the Park include the Narrow-tailed Starling, African green broad bill, Yellow-billed Barbet, yellow crested helmet-shrike, Grey-throated Barbet, Congo peafowl, Madagascar Bee-eater and the Double-toothed Barbet among others.

  • Landscape Viewing

With its magnificent montane landscape and phenomenal vegetation, Virunga National Park can be visited for landscape viewing and photography. Notable spot for this activity include the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, the eroded valleys of Sinda and Ishango regions, the Virunga Volcanoes and the Afro-Alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the thick forests. All these outstanding views offer tourists with breathtaking experiences since they don’t need to go to places physically but instead enjoy them from specific places in Virunga National Park.

  • Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Much as this activity is not widely done as it is within Uganda’s Kibale National Park, it is an extremely interesting tourist activity within this National Park and was started in 1987 by a Zoologist named Frankfurt. This is where Chimpanzees are made familiar to the presence of humans and several tourists flock into the Park for this interesting experience.

Uganda recently introduced gorilla habituation experience in southern Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where each permit currently costs US$1500. This allows a maximum of 4 hour’s experience with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat!

  • Nature/Forest walks

This National Park is comprised of a vast Tropical rain forest with thick vegetation that offers shelter to several wildlife species such as chimpanzees, Hippos, monkeys, forest buffaloes, forest elephants, leopards and giraffes that can be encountered by tourists during forest walks. There are different nature walk trails that tourists follow and they lead to different places in the Park.

From the discussion above, it is clear that Virunga National Park is a must visit while on a tour through Africa! For security purposes, you are advised to book your safari in DR Congo through local tour operators and you must first inquire about the political situation at that time. If you are planning a safari in neighboring countries like Ruanda and Uganda, you can add a few days in DR Congo’s Virunga massif for gorilla tracking, chimps habituation, excellent birding, forest walks and Nyiragongo mountain trekking among others.

Upemba National Park Congo

Situated within the Katanga Province of south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is the Upemba National Park, one of the best destinations for wildlife watching and birding within this secluded Central African country. It was established on 15th May 1939 covering over 17,730 square kilometers (6850 square miles) making it the largest Park in the African Continent but by 1975, it was reduced to its current size of 11,730 square kilometers (4530 square miles).

This Park is made up of different bio-regions that include the savannah plateau (ranging from 1400 to 1800 meters above sea level) with rocky outcrops separating the tributary of River Lufira that drops down into the Kamalando depression and from there into the marshlands and Lakes of the lush Upemba wetlands. The North-eastern section of the Park is characterized by mainly the Kibara Plateau with its wooded foothills and high altitude savannah plateau while the center is made up of the Lufira basin from Kiobo waterfalls to the marshes at the edge of the Lake and the south is dominated by a straight and long grassy plateau from Kayo to Lufira.

Vegetation and attractions within Upemba National Park

The Park landscape is characterized by Afro-montane grasslands and Forests at the areas of high elevations within the Kibara Mountains, Miombo woodlands, Tropical rainforests as well as the wetlands, marshlands, riparian zones and streams at the lower altitudes. The system of wetlands, lakes, swamps and rivers offer habitat to a wide range of fish species including the Cichlidae, Cyprinidae, Barbus, Mormyridae and Alestidae among others.

While here, you will see small herds of Zebras, Upemba lions, troops of baboons, isolated pairs of oribis, buffaloes, elephants and many others. There are also several Amphibian species with the common one being the Schmidt’s snouted frogs as well as avifauna especially shoebill stork, Chestnut owlet, Angola Lark, Sparrow weavers, Honey guide greenbul,  spotted ground-thrush, Barbets, grey crowned cranes, Seed-eaters, Cisticola, Miombo rock thrush, Racket-tailed rollers, and the wattled cranes among others.

Therefore, activities such as bird watching, fishing (within any of the ten large fishing Lakes), nature walks, game viewing and cultural visits allow tourists to explore all or some of the attractions found within the National Park.

When to Visit Upemba National Park

There is no specific time to visit Upemba National Park because it is an all-year destination. Its location within the Itombwe Plateau makes it one of the best destinations to be explored for wildlife safaris. However, few tourists visit during the rainy season (with an average rainfall of 1200 millimeters of rainfall) from February to March (long and heavy rains) because it brings floods to the Park hence creating temporary wetlands and permanent water ponds/points overflow.

Where to Stay within Upemba National Park

Considering the fact that Upemba National Park is found within Katanga Province (with the Capital being Lubumbashi), there are a number of accommodation facilities (inform of Holiday Inns, Safari Lodges, Campsites and Hotels) within the City and undeniably near the Park.

How to Get to Upemba National Park

The Park is found within Katanga Province, at approximately 400 kilometers from the Zambia and Angola borders and can be reached by both air (flights to Lubumbashi International Airport) and road transport.

However just like most National Parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Upemba National Park has suffered from considerable attacks from local rebel groups and poachers with the notable ones being on 28th May 2004 when the Park Headquarters within Lusinga were attacked and burnt down by MaiMai Militia whereby many rangers and their family members were killed while others were taken hostage.

Bisanadi National Reserve, Kenya Wildlife Safari

Many travelers are familiar with Masai Mara, Buffalo Springs, Shimba Hills and Samburu National Reserves but few know or visit Bisanadi National Reserve, hence the reason it still maintains its authentic appearance and numerous wildlife species.  It is found in Isiolo County within the Meru Conservation Area near Meru National Park (found at the northern edge of the Reserve) yet receives fewer tourists compared to the latter. Other Protected Areas that lie within the Meru Conservation Area include Mwingi National Reserve and Kora National Park.

Bisanadi National Reserve covers an area of 606 square kilometers (234 square miles/60600 hectares) comprising of mainly savannah grasslands, combretum thickets, riverine wetlands with sedge and forests on the banks of River Tana.

Once you discover the interesting attractions Bisanadi National Reserve offers, you will regret not visiting it during your Kenyan safari. Also regarded as a dispersal area for other National Parks especially Meru National Park within the Conservation areas, Bisanadi is a haven to a wide range of wildlife species such as wildebeests, impalas, white rhinos, giraffes, Lions, cheetahs, elands, hartebeests, African buffaloes and African elephants among others as well as more than 400 species of birds including sunbirds, malachite kingfishers, African fish eagles, Pied Kingfishers and others.

Other phenomenal places to explore within this Game Reserve include the beautiful Adamson Falls in Meru National Park, Rivers Tana and Rojewero that are ideal for fishing adventures, boat rides and many others.

CLIMATE OF BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE AND THE BEST TIME TO VISIT

Bisanadi National Reserve is dry and warm all year round with two rainy seasons-short rains from November to October and long rains from March to May while the dry season is from December to March and June to September with average temperature being 25 Celsius degrees during the day and generally cool temperatures at night.

PERFECT TIME TO VISIT BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

The dry months of June to September as well as December to March. However, visitors can explore this part of Kenya all year round.

ACTIVITIES WITHIN BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

Safaris to this part of Kenya allow tourists to enjoy;

Wildlife viewing

With a place gifted with several game species such as elephants, rhinos, leopards, hartebeests, lions, giraffes, cheetahs and impalas, African buffaloes, wildlife viewing is therefore the number one activity for every tourist to Bisanadi National Reserve.

Boat rides

Boat rides are conducted within Rojewero and Tana Rivers offering tourists with the chance of spotting several aquatic species of birds.

Fishing

Trout fishing tours/adventures are mainly conducted within Tana and Rojewero Rivers.

Cultural tours of the Meru and Boran tribes

These tribes have their boundaries and live in communities marked by Bisanadi Reserve and tourists can enjoy cultural tours to learn more about their lifestyles and unique culture and traditions.

Bird watching

The Banks River Tana are one of the important bird spots in the National Reserve with numerous aquatic bird species. With over 40o species of birds including malachite kingfishers, African fish eagles, Pied Kingfishers and many others, the area shouldn’t miss on your itinerary.

HOW TO GET TO BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

With chartered flights from Korbessa airstrips to Meru National Park, tourists can be able to connect to Bisanadi National Reserve but also by road, this site can be accessed using 4WD Vehicles to enter the Park via Murera gate of Meru National Park.

ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES WITHIN BISANADI NATIONAL RESERVE

There are unfortunately no places of stay within this National Reserve but many options of comfortable overnights and dinner are found within the nearby Meru National Park like Leopard Rock as well as within Samburu and Shaba National Reserves.

 

Best Things To Do In Mount Elgon And Sipi Falls

While Uganda adventures mainly depend on mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest and Mgahinga National park, chimpanzee adventures and other wildlife, if you are planning your trip to this remarkable country, expect a lot more for you to make their dreams come true in Africa. If you are looking for the most outstanding African adventures then Mount Elgon and Sipi waterfalls are a few most exceptional tourist sites that you should consider in your travel plan. A trip to these remarkable destinations is one way for you to get out of the noisy Kampala capital city. Mount Elgon featured among Africa’s towering mountain range but given volcanic effects that occurred many years ago, its height reduced. It stands at altitude 4321 meters above sea level. This remarkable mountain today features the world’s biggest intact mountain caldera. It features as the 4th tallest mountain in East Africa

For adventure enthusiasts on Uganda safari, this is the best spot for you to get thrilled by the most exceptional mountaineering adventures of lifetime. It features among the very few easier mountains to climb even when you are not skilled enough and this means that even an average climber can realize his or her dreams. If you are a hiker, there is no need for you to be worried about hiking adventures given that Mount Elgon doesn’t require one to be experienced. Within this volcano, there are experienced guides and porters to take you through your adventure in and around this incredible mountain.

While you are on safari to Mount Elgon, expect to catch a glimpse at its incredible vegetation cover especially as you climb to the top. Around Mount Elgon’s foothills, you come across thick forests and given that the area experiences heavy amount of rainfall the tree species are in most cases covered by lichen, vine like lianas and epiphytes and the forest floor seemingly looks to be carpeted with ferns and flowering plants like wild orchids. About 2000 meters, bamboo forest thrives and as you climb you will find vast woodland and giant heathers come with incredible grass and flowers. Afro montane zone also comes with its unique lobelias and groundsel. Mount Elgon offers the most exhilarating mountaineering adventures.

As you get down Mount Elgon base, you will come across the most powerful and spectacular Sipi falls which feature among the few most remarkable tourist attractions that Eastern Uganda offers to the world travelers.

Spending your vacation around Mount Elgon National Park rewards you with not only climbing adventures but also exceptional wildlife encounters, birdlife, nature walks, cave exploration and cultural experiences of Bamasaba people who call this area their home. Alternatively, you can also engage in mountain biking. Travelers can pay a visit to forest exploration center and several trails that are found around the baseline of Mount Elgon. The forest center lies next to Sipi town and first acted as educational center and later it turned to be a trail head for travelers who come for mountaineering in the park.

The site is the best for one to kick start cave exploration and it comes with incredible waterfalls, valleys and escarpments. For bird lovers, this is the best area for you to spot out unique birds like Hartlaub’s Turaco; Eastern Bronze napped pigeon, Lemon Dove, African hill babbler, black throated wattle eye, thick billed honey guide, mountain yellow warbler, Grey cuckoo shrike, Alpine chat, Dusky Turtle Dove and many more.

You will find several trails for visitors who love nature walks. You can embark on a half day nature walk with a tour guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority and spot out most of the park’s incredible floral and faunal species as well as explore more about the Sipi falls. The waterfalls come with its unique sceneries and amazing roar. A visit to Sipi falls will amaze you with its outstanding aerial views. For unforgettable adventures in Mount Elgon and Sipi falls, you will need to come along with good hiking books but should be light weight and waterproof, jeans, long sleeved shirts/t-shirt, light rain jacket, bottle water, wide brimmed hat, back pack, packed lunch and many more.

Other things to do in Mount Elgon and Sipi fall Area include rock climbing which takes you through the park and the Sipi falls. This adventure is safe and it is mainly guided and supervised and it can equally be enjoyed by visitors on safari to Murchison Falls National Park, Sipi Falls, Kidepo Valley National Park and many more.

Trout fishing

Mount Elgon and Sipi falls feature as the only area in the pearl of Africa where visitors can catch Mountain Trout. This is conducted in the Sipi falls on River Sipi. This adventure is a catch and release experience.

Cultural experiences

You can also explore Abayudaya Jews of Uganda while on safari to Mount Elgon and Sipi Falls. This community has thrived in the area for over 100 years. There is also Budadiri community walk and Imbalu circumcision.

In conclusion, Mount Elgon and the Sipi falls feature among the very few amazing tourist sites that are worth visiting while on safari to Eastern side of Uganda. Besides hiking adventures, this features numerous tourist activities that are worth adding in bucket list.

Kerio Valley National Reserve

Established in 1983, Kerio Valley National Reserve is situated within the Kerio Valley, Kenya a branch of the Mighty Rift Valley. It covers an area of about 66 square kilometers and it is run by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The Kerio Valley is situated between the stunning Cherangani and Elgeyo hills. The Elgeyo escarpment stands at altitude of about 1830 meters and the valley at 1200 meters. It features mostly the semi tropical vegetation on the slopes while the floor of the valley consists of dry thorn bush. Kerio Valley in Kenya is situated in Iten, about 30 kilometers away from Eldoret town about six hours’ drive from Nairobi. This valley is 80 kilometers wide and 10 kilometers wide at its broadest. Kerio Valley National Reserve is located in west of the crocodile infested Kerio River in Kenya. It features variety of bird species and amazing sceneries. Its establishment led to increase in the number of wildlife species especially elephants, leopards, buffaloes, bush bucks, lion, rhinos, waterbucks, warthogs and many more. The best time of the year is from July to August when the area is dry and temperatures are not that much.

Kerio Valley National Reserve is a natural wonder of its own and most visitors who pay a visit to the Great Rift Valley find themselves in exploring this area. It provides remarkable views of the Kerio Valley. While on safari to this reserve, you will also have opportunity to catch the view of the Torok Falls and Chebloch gorge. Visitors also have a chance to experience the elephant migration through the Rimoi Reserve. For a few of you who will be lucky and keen enough, you will be amazed by this lifetime experience. There is a museum next to Kerio Valley National Reserve in Eldoret which refuges most of the artifacts and other cultural exhibits. This museum in Eldoret is situated on the steep drop from where you can easily view the mighty rift valley and Lake Baringo. This reserve is credited for its incredible landscape and culture.

How to get to Kerio Valley National Reserve

There is a nearby airport at Eldoret which connects up to Nairobi. The other alternative is by using bus from Nairobi where you will spend about 4 hours to Eldoret. From Eldoret you can get a taxi for to drive off for yet another 50 kilometers.

Best time to visit Kerio Valley National Reserve

Like most protected areas, Kerio Valley National Reserve is an all year round safari destination. However, this reserve can be visited from December to February. During this period, most parts of the reserve remain dry making it an ideal season for visitors to engage in most of the safaris.

Where to stay in Kerio Valley National Reserve

The perfect areas for your stay at Kerio Valley National Reserve include the Kerio View Hotel however; you are encouraged to make your booking as early as possible at least from January or February. There are basic accommodation options around Iten one of which includes the high altitude training center. Other accommodation options include Sega Safari Lodge. This lodge is located within the depths of the mighty rift valley about 320 kilometers from Nairobi in the beautiful Kerio Valley, just next to Rimoi Game Reserve and 32 kilometers from Kabarnet and 76 kilometers along Eldoret-Nyaru road through Fluor spar. It provides the most tranquil atmosphere for a few of you who wish to get out of the noisy urban centers.

Lastly, Kerio Valley National Reserve is equally an amazing safari destination in Kenya that shouldn’t miss out in your bucket list. It is famous for its birdlife, cultural experiences and mammal species.

Explore The Lutembe Bay Wetland

When Lutembe Bay wetland is mentioned, what comes in the minds of any regular tourist to Uganda is bird watching because this site is a real Paradise when it comes to bird species.

Extending for only 3.1 square miles (8 square kilometers/800 hectares), this Important Bird Area and Ramsar wetland of International Importance (since 2006) is found on the Northern shores of Lake Victoria, the Africa’s largest Lake by area and World’s largest Tropical Lake.

If you ever visit Uganda and wish to participate in birding, the Lutembe Bay wetland (one of the 33 Important Birding Areas in Uganda) should not miss on your Itinerary because as rare as it seems, it is popular for offering shelter to over 200 species of birds including 26 migrants, making it the main migration stop for many Palearctic migrants from North Africa, Russia, Scandinavia as well as the main land of Europe and these birds include more than 1.5 million (52%) white-winged terns encountered during birding tours in Uganda, gull-billed terns, black-headed gulls, Holub’s golden weaver as well as several Grey-headed Gulls. Majority of the Migratory species of birds normally begin arriving within the Lutembe Bay wetland in the rainy season especially September to November and leave in the middle of February of early March.

Other bird species of interest found within the area include the African green Pigeon, Great knot, Sooty Chat, Hottentot Teal, Brown-backed scrub robins, Tropical Boubou, Broad-billed Sandpiper, African pygmy kingfishers, Whiskered Terns, the Caspian Tern, road-billed rollers, Lead-colored flycatcher and Temminck’s Stint among others. Additionally, there are also about 7 globally threatened species of birds like the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrouros), African skimmer (Rhynchops flavirostris), Papyrus Yellow warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris), the Madagascar Squacco Heron (Ardeola idea), the Shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex), Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri) and the Great Snipe.

This wetland is part of the extensive Murchison bay that is known for abundant counts of flora and fauna species but this area offers materials for building as well as craft products to the local community members, fresh drinking water, fish, energy products and medicine among others. It is also a wonderful breeding ground for several fish species and several species can be found in the wetland. For instance, the endangered Cichlid fish, Clarius fish and Lung Fish are found within this wetland area.

This site is also a haven to a wide range of butterfly species (over 100 species have been recorded) including three extraordinary species that are not found in any other Important Bird Area of Uganda and they include Cacyreus virilis, Acraea Pharsalus and Belenois solilucis thus making it an ideal butterfly watching destination in Uganda.

Lutembe Bay wetland is also a haven to the rare Sitatunga antelopes, Otters (especially the African-Clawless otter and African spot-necked otters), Rodents and Shrews. Therefore, bird watching, nature walks and butterfly watching are some of the important tourist activities that can be enjoyed within this endowed tourist destination. This site is close to Kampala City and Entebbe International Airport hence making it easier accessible by tourists on Uganda tours.

Besides being a home to the wildlife, birds and butterflies, Lutembe Bay wetland naturally plays a role of filtering water that goes through it. Normally, it filters things like sediments, silt and excess nutrients in the running water as well as the dirty wastewater that comes from the nearby factories in addition to the sewage from all over Kampala.

List Important Bird Areas in Uganda

1) Echuya Forest Reserve
2) Mgahinga Gorilla national park
3) Bwindi Impenetrable national park
4) Nyamuriro Swamp
5) Queen Elizabeth National Park
6) Rwenzori Mountains National Park
7) Semliki Reserves
8) Lake Mburo National Park
9) Semliki National park
10) Kibale National Park
11) Kyambura wildlife reserve
12) Sango Bay Area
13) Mabira Forest
14) Bugoma Forest Reserve
15) Nabajjuzi wetland
16) Kidepo valley National Park
17) Kasyoha – Kitomi Forest reserve
18) Mount Moroto forest reserve
19) Lake Bisina
20) Mount Elgon National Park
21) Lake Opeta
22) Lake Nakuwa
23) Mount Otzi Forest Reserve
24) Doho Rice scheme
25) Mount Kei Forest reserve
26) Murchison Falls National Park
27) Lutembe Bay
28) Ajai wildlife reserve
29) Budongo Forest Reserve
30) Musambwa Island
31) Mabamba Bay
32) Lutoboka Paint
33) Nabugabo Wetland

How to organize a perfect safari to Serengeti National Park

safari-serengetiThis amazing destination is encompassed with game rich sanctuaries that make for an unparallel safari experience. In other words don’t rush your safari, take it step by step or you will miss out on out.

Serengeti National park is the kingdom of predators, while the colossal groups of the Migration thunder over the plain in various numbers. The park has a lot to offer that the worlds last continuing to be great migration. Be that as it may, this migration is so magnificent it is scarcely unexpected most guests to the Serengeti National Park try to time there itinerary to go with the migration.

It is a great idea to try to get all over the place when on Safari. While it ought to be said that it is not continually practical nor is a good idea to leave your vehicle on some events it motivated. Kayaking on Lake Manyara or nature walk around the Tarangire Wilderness Area are great ways to stretch the legs and see, odor and feel the African wilderness far from the boundaries of the 4×4.

This is the one time it is allowed to drive in the Serengeti National Park in the pre-down. At times, ascend to 1000 meters or more to see the enormity and breathtaking panorama of the Serengeti. From time to time the pilot ought to put more heat into the balloon with the intense whisper burners.

A critical thought for the majority of people is the expense. The Serengeti is not generally reasonable – with park charges alone multiplying in 2014 to US $60 per individual daily. There are some lodges that take care for budget safaris and in case you also travel in low season then lodge costs are lowered considerably.

How long should a safari to Serengeti be? The Serengeti alone is so big months could be spent exploring the park. A main guideline would be to spend 5 days in the main and southern Serengeti or the main and northern Serengeti depending on the season of year is the minimum time to acquire any genuine feel or pleasure for the area.

When the best time to visit Serengeti? The dry season is July to December and is the ideal time for a photographic tour. The short rains are in November and the long rains from March to mid June. Be that as it may, the weather does not always act naturally. A few years we have had more rain in January and February than the whole of the rainy season. It may be perfect to start the downpours are from November to June with a drier period from December to mid March. Keep in mind that low season is both much cheaper and receives fewer visitors.

What season to book a tour to this park depends on precisely what you need and to work carefully with your excursion operator will help you choose. I would aim to avoid late July to the end of September for the sole reason the parks and set number of lodges are just excessively hectic.

If you are an experienced voyager, there is no reason why you should not touch arrive in Arusha and organize your safari with a local travel company. I have worked as a tour operator in Arusha in northern Tanzania and planned itineraries for tourists who have really had up to three travel agents in a chain all including commission onto the rate of the safari.

A tour for one or two people is expensive. One method to reduce this expense is to join with a group. Joining a group tour will be less expensive; this being the only advantage if cost is an issue. To impart a safari vehicle to regularly requiring new people might case problem once the safari starts.

The more concerns you ask the more viable will be your safari. The quality of the answers you get to your worries will also show how interested your tour operator in Tanzania is on the success of your safari verses simply making a profit.

One final comment will be to unwind whilst on safari- remove you view as it simply won’t be required. There is not the very same reality on an Africa safari.

Uganda Rwanda Safari Tipping Guide

What is a tip?
It is a token given after service delivery. It is a sign of appreciating the service given – Tips are mainly given to waiters, waitresses, and driver – guides, fuel attendant, Lodges or Hotel attendants, consultants, park rangers, Park guides/destination guides, Teachers and  many more. Tipping is done willingly – not a must but in developed states like United States of America, Japan, Chaina and so on, tipping is a culture every after service.

tipping-guide-africa

In East Africa, the culture of tipping is just developing by the tourist on holidays for leisure, Wildlife viewing, Gorilla treks, chimp tracks, Mountain climbing among others. To many tourists from developed countries, find it a must to tip but the question are; how to tip? When to tip? Who should tip? And to whom?

How to tip?
As discussed above, tipping is done willingly by the client (s), he or she can decide to tip or not. However if you decide to tip, feel free to give any amount basing on your budget and satisfaction. Tipping creates confidence and friendship between the staff and the client. In East Africa, a client can tip in Uganda shillings, Kenya Shillings, Tanzania Shillings, Rwanda Francs or in major International currencies like US dollars, Euro and Australian Dollars.

When to tip?
According to Mathias Mukasa from Rwanda safari company known as Gorilla Expeditions Limited, tipping is always done after service delivery – it is a sign of appreciating the services rendered to the client (s). The amount of the tip depends on the clients’ satisfaction delivered from the utilization of commodity. Mathias gave an example of tourists on their safaris in Rwanda who tip guides at the end of the trip (At the airport or hotel), and park rangers tipped at the end of gorilla trekking, same as hoteliers given tips on check-out, or after order delivery.

Who should tip?
The clients/ visitors are the ones supposed to tip but it is done willingly – not forced.

Why tip?
Visitors/ clients tip to show their appreciation for the service delivered to them.
They also tip to create or strengthen friendship between the service deliverer and the service.

Whom should be tipped?
The service deliverer is the one supposed to be tipped, they include waiters, waitresses, drivers, guides, consultant among others. On other words, each person should be tipped in his / her place of work depending on the kind of service delivered. For instance, if you went out for a game drive in Akagera National Park with a ranger guide, he deserves a tip depending on the service delivered, that is, if you are satisfied. If you went on gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park in accompany of a armed rangers, park guides and porters, those people deserve a tip, however small it may be. Above all, your driver / Guide also deserves a tip as he contributes a lot to your holiday.

Gorilla Trekking Code of Conduct

About Gorilla Trekking

Mountain gorilla trekking is ranked amongst the world’s top adventurous activities, only done in East and Central Africa. This is the only place in the world where one can travel to and see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla Census report of 2011 showed that, there are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the whole world, found in the Virunga volcanic mountain ranges shared among Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Out of 880, Uganda has about 440, which is almost half of it. This means that, like cross river gorillas (250 – 300 remaining), mountain gorillas are also critically endangered. And the number of visitors par day is limited to 8 people visiting each gorilla group. The limit aims at protecting these gentle giants through conserving their environment. You need a gorilla permit that acts as permission to participate in a guided forest to search for gorillas. A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs US dollars 750 each, US dollars 600 in Uganda and US dollars 500 in DR Congo. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National Park with currently over 10 gorilla groups, and in Uganda, gorilla tracking takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with currently 12 gorilla groups and 1 gorilla group in Mgahnga National Park. Gorilla Trekking in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park is not well developed due to some political unrests in the region but its one of the perfect destinations to see gorillas in the wild with big gorilla groups and silverbacks and babies.

How to behave on the way to trek Gorillas:

Always follow the instructions from the ranger guides while on the way to search for mountain Gorillas. Rangers may instruct you to follow a certain route, keeping quiet, keep close and so on, and please obey.

If you have any transmitted or contiguous disease like cold, dysentery, skin disease, cough and so on. Please remain behind and wait for you’re refunded according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority refund regulations or you can decide to reschedule the tracking date to meet gorillas after recovery.

Only 8 visitors or trackers are allowed to visit each gorilla group since a large group can stress the gorillas. In a Small group, the gorillas are comfortable and relaxed with there visitors’ presence.

It is advisable to wash your hands with detergent so that you do not carry any germs to the field which may spread diseases to the gorillas. They are highly susceptible to human diseases.

Avoid dumping any rubbish on the way because the gorillas can easily pick it and eat it. This also spoils the environment.

Since gorillas are mobile in their nature environment, you are expected to endure the difficulties in trying to meet them. The ranger guide will guide you following the trails to the area they were last seen the previous day. In case they moved, you are requested to be patient as you search since these are free animals in there natural habitat.

Set your cameras in advance – avoid flash cameras to avoid stressing the Gorillas. You need to be patient and wait to take out your cameras until advised to do so. He has to first observe there mood before you can take any action.

Don’t forget extra batteries and insect repellent while going on a gorilla trek in Africa.

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.

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