Categories
Experiences

Top 5 Wildlife Safari Experiences in Africa

Planning to go on an African safari? There are lots of safaris on offer from different tour operators. Given that most travelers look for wildlife safaris in Africa? Here are top wildlife safari experiences that you should seek for from Africa;

1. The Great Migration

There’s no safari experience that is quite interesting like the Great Migration. Every year, this unique phenomena happens in Serengeti and Masai Mara National Park where millions of zebras, wildebeests and other antelopes gather up their young to migrate across the plains of East Africa.

These wild animals move from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, in search of better grazing. Waiting for them as they cross the Mara River is one of the world’s spectacle. This migration is a year-round process that never stops. They move from south to north and back again, in a never ending loop. There are updates about the wildebeest migrations!

River crossings are especially dangerous and spectacular to witness. Herds gather in their thousands to forge the waters of the Grumeti River in Tanzania and the Mara River in Kenya – both with strong currents and lurking crocodiles. Crocodile kills and hordes of panicked animals mean that the crossings are not for the faint-heartened however, they undoubtedly offer some of Africa’s most dramatic wildlife encounters.

These migrating herds also attract some of the continent’s most renowned predators, ensuring that if travelers are following the Great Migration, big cats, crocodiles, and hyenas will never be too far behind. The Great Migration is by far the greatest mass movement of land mammals on the entire globe and has been listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

2. Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! This memorable adventure is one of the most thrilling wildlife encounters that you could ever take in the wild. Well regulated by ecotourism, gorilla trekking is an amazing adventure that you can take in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are two most popular national parks for gorilla trekking; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Other destinations for gorilla trekking are Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To meet these great apes, it is very important to book a gorilla permit in time. Gorilla permits cost USD 600 per person in Uganda, USD 1500 per person in Rwanda and USD 400 per person in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

3. The Big Five

The Big 5 are a group of mammals which are endemic to Africa, and are said to be the hardest to hunt on foot. Whilst you won’t be doing this, it’s still fun to try and spot them. They are the lion, cheetah, cape buffalo, elephant and rhino. The latter unfortunately may be the hardest to find due to its decline in numbers.

Spotting the big five is the ultimate goal for many travelers. I would personally recommend not to expect to spot all five, since many travelers haven’t seen them all, and then at least you will be surprised if and when you do see them all.

Plus, there are so many other animals worth spotting! I personally can’t wait to see some giraffe or a hippo!

Categories
Places

5 Top Birding Sites in Uganda

Some of the travelers who annually visit Uganda are more interested in doing the birding activity. For every traveler wishing to go on a birding safari, this article unveils the best birding sites in Uganda that you should consider most:

Semuliki National Park & Reserve

Semuliki, in western Uganda, is arguably the best birding site in Uganda, and it the main reason as to why the Park is referred to as a ‘’True Birders’ Haven’’ – as the Park comprises of almost every unique African bird species. Though the Park’s main attraction is the pair of hot springs – male and female, found near the Park office at Sempaya, it is a unique destination for all birders and the birding highlights include Albertine Rift Endemics such as; the dwarf honey guide and purple-breasted sunbirds; 35 Congo-Guinea biome species found nowhere else in East Africa, including black dwarf hornbill, Congo serpent eagle, Nkulengu rail, Gabon woodpecker; and other species with very limited ranges such as; white-tailed hornbill, capuchin babbler, blue-headed crested flycatcher and the orange weaver.

The other amazing thing in this Park, besides unique bird watching, is the pair of hot springs of which the female hot spring called ‘’Nyansimbi’’, which means; the female ancestors, is a boiling geyser that spurts bubbling water and steam up to two meters high. Visitors can therefore cook eggs and plantains in the boiling pools that surround the central spout.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Nestled in Uganda’s distant north-eastern corner, Kidepo is also referred to as the ‘’True African Wilderness’’ due to its scenic landscape and varied wildlife, and arguably the Park is one of Uganda’s best and mostly explored protected areas. The Park is best known for its natural unrivalled beauty and protecting a varied wildlife, but more fascinating is that the Park is a home to almost 500 bird species, thus making it the second place to hold the largest number of bird species in Uganda, only next to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The experienced and professional ranger guides are available at Apoka to assist you to locate and identify birdlife in the Park’s various habitats. On addition to bird watching, you will also be in a perfect place to enjoy the game viewing activity as the Park inhabits almost every African wildlife species, such as; African lions, Cape buffaloes, African leopards, African elephants, Rothschild’s giraffes, Zebras, Elands, Cheetahs, wild dogs, Jackson’s hartebeest, spotted and stripped hyenas, bat-eared foxes, Oribi, Okapis, Topis, Gazelles, and many others.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Perched in the western parts of Uganda spanning the districts of; Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri, the Park is definitely among the heavily visited ones in Uganda, of which; it is mostly renowned for its amazing tree climbing lions and the spectacular Kazinga channel – home to an abundance of wildlife. The birding activities overlap with the wildlife viewing locations in the Park and the highlights include; easy sightings of resident and migratory water birds on the Kazinga channel; spectacular seasonal congregations of flamingoes on the Kyambura and Katwe soda lakes; careful searches for rare and restricted range forest species in Maramagambo forest; plus the memorable shoebill sightings on the remote Lake Edward flats in Ishasha sector – residence to the tree climbing lions. The Park inhabits the largest population of bird species in Uganda, with over 600 bird species.

Murchison Falls National Park

Residing at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment merges into a vast, palm-dotted savanna, Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda and its existence is basically determined by the majestic Murchison Falls. The Park conducts a variety of activities such as; game viewing, boat cruises, sport fishing, cultural encounters, hot air balloon safaris, chimpanzee tracking, and bird watching. It is an ideal destination for birders – protecting over 451 bird species, hence making it one of the destinations in Uganda with the largest number of bird species, including the water birds such as; the rare shoe-billed stork, dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, white-thighed hornbill and great blue turaco. A journey to or from the MFNP is very scenic and there is an optional visit to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – the only home to the wild rhinos in Uganda, thus being able to view all the Arica’s big five (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos, and Buffaloes), whereby the others will all be spotted from Murchison Falls National Park. For birders to view the many bird species should involve in game drives, launch trips/boat cruises and forest walks to encounter various bird species in abundance – as everything in the Park is there in abundance, especially wildlife species and bird species.

Mabamba Bay Wetland

The wetland is nestled on the edge of Lake Victoria – northwest of the Entebbe peninsular, and it is one of Uganda’s most important birding areas. The major bird species here include; shoebills, the blue swallow and the papyrus gonoleks. More special with bird watching activities at Mabamba is that; a birder can spot 60% of the total population of the bird species there, just within a single day thus being one of the most ideal destinations for bird watching activities in Africa. It is also the only destination in Africa where at any time of the day; a birder can spot the elusive shoebills.

The wetland comprises of a total of 260 bird species and a birder can be able to spot almost 157 bird species within just a single day. Mabamba is definitely one of the strong holds for the migrant Blue Swallow – with over 100 individuals recorded every year. The amazing birding experience in Mabamba in not only at the swamp, but along the way, there are other birding spots with a variety of habitats, and after birding, one can opt to follow a woodland and savanna trail up to the sand mining quarry to increase on chances of other species apart from the wetland birds. The birding excursions in Mabamba are basically done on canoes through the small channels of marsh-filled water and lagoons – birds are best spotted in the morning hours though; they can be spotted throughout the entire day at any hours convenient for you.

Other most recommendable important birding sites;

The other popular birding sites in Uganda include; Budongo forest, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, and Mabira forest, among others.

Categories
Information

Guide to Visiting Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

In Uganda Mountain Gorillas are found in two National parks that is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and are all situated in the southwestern region of Uganda, at rim of western arm of rift valley. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the oldest and the largest park covering an area of 331square kilometer of its low land.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the tropical rain forests that survived in ancient time, is the famous Park that has gorilla trekking as the major tourist attraction in the world. With almost half of the mountain gorillas living in the forest, Bwindi is a favorite destination for gorilla trekking safaris in Africa.

The less known Mgahinga Gorilla National park is the smallest Park in Uganda with high altitude ranging between 2227meter and 4127meter bordered with Rwanda and Congo. It was formed to protect the rare Mountain Gorillas that inhabits it’s dense forest  Mountain Gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking is one of most interesting and experiencing activity that everyone wishes to engage in, which involves walking in the wilderness of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in search of this great apes. Though it is enjoyable activity it requires someone to be reasonably fit before under taken to venture in the activity, Gorilla trekking can be done with maximum of 8 tourist booked per group per day.

Apart from the mountain gorillas, there are many others things to see on a Uganda safari through Bwindi Forest. Tourists tracking the mountain gorillas can be able to view waterfalls, swamps, rivers and high level of wild life conservation. Elephants can be sometimes be sighted and this why you are escorted by armed rangers for your safety in case they charge at you. They scare shoot so that they do not get closer.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 16 habituated Gorilla families which are found in its four different sectors. The Buhoma in the of the Park with four Gorilla families, Ruhija which is found in the eastern part of the park with four groups of Gorilla families, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south with five and three Gorilla families respectively. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has one Gorilla family  for Gorilla trekking.

How to Book Gorilla Permits

In Uganda, gorilla permits can only be sold at Uganda Wildlife Authority at a cost of $600 per person per trek for non-foreigners and East African Residents with a valid work permit at USD450 per person per trek. Contact Great Adventures Uganda to book for  you a Gorilla  permit in advance as they tend to sell out quickly especially in the high season months.

Gorilla permits needs someone to book them at least three months in advance. Uganda wild life Authority allows advanced booking of up to two years as long as you pay deposit of 30% and the balance can be paid within 91days of trekking date.

Beyond 91 days of clearing the balance of 70% is not allowed, you will have to pay 20% as surcharge beyond which deposit is made but without refund 80% of Gorilla permits. Tour operators can book Gorilla permits for that particular month on the day the booking opens.

Booking of Gorilla permits can be done only on weekly days from Monday to Friday the first working days of the month and are not sold on the day the booking opens will be and it also limits on each tour operator will buy.

If visitors fail to trek Gorillas due to weakness in the body will be advised by the warden who is in charge, they make refund of 50% tracking fee from Uganda Wild Life Authority, and this applies to only tourists who have ever experienced Gorilla trekking at least in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahiga Gorilla National Park.

Uganda Wildlife Authority has decided that a tourist who fails to trek Gorillas due to the result of their movements   to the neighboring countries they will refund back his or her money in full amount of USD600.

Tourist who have tracked the whole day and have failed to view or to track Gorillas for one reason will be refunded 75% of the tracking fee, and it can be done only at the Uganda Wild Life Authority headquarter through the reservation office.

Uganda wild life Authority has retained the cancellation percentages to the visitors that’s to say ,0-8day of tracking no refund will be give,1-45day to tracking date will be 75% but refund of 25% to the client ,46-90 days of tracking it will be 50% and 91days and above to tracking date will be 25% and refund of 75% to the client.

Gorilla permits must be paid currencies; Uganda shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros.

The note must be $100 should be 2009 and above, those who can use  bank transfers with pay net of the bank charges, then those who will travelers cheques will have to present receipt of purchase of sales 81% charges.

Categories
Things to Do

5 Top-Rated Adventure Trips in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the best destinations in Africa for Tourists. It’s has three National Parks including Volcanoes National park,  Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Park on addition to other destinations like Kibuye town, Gisenyi Town, Kigali city, water bodies, forests and so on.

Gorilla Trekking

Among the top safaris in Rwanda include gorilla watching safaris that are done in Volcanoes National Park situated in northern part of Rwanda. Its takes approximately 1-2 hours drive from Kigali to the park making it one of the most accessible national parks in Rwanda. Within the Volcanoes National Park, gorilla trekking is conducted every day and the cost of gorilla trekking goes up to US$ 1500 per person. On the other hand, gorilla tourism earns Rwanda the largest foreign exchange. Currently, Volcanoes National Park hosts ten habituated Gorilla groups capable of receiving eighty visitors every day.

Chimpanzee Tracking

Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe National Park is the second sought-after adventure trip after gorilla trekking. Nyungwe National Park is the furthest of all Rwanda’s national parks. It takes about 8 hours to drive from Kigali to reach the forested park. Despite the distance it is worth visiting given the rich treasures. Nyungwe National Park also protects twelve other primate species including Vervet monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, Mona monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys and so on.

Canopy Walk

Nyungwe Canopy Walk is approximately a two km walk to and from. The actual canopy walk is around 170 meters. Canopy walk starts with briefing by one of the guides at the park headquarters and then you proceed to the forest. There is a lot to see on this walk which includes several primates and birds plus many tree species. When you eventually reach the real starting point, you then start your hike on a trail hanging and connecting one hill to another. It is true that on canopy walk tour, you get to see several birds and other attractions like tree canopies, primates and so on.

Walking on ropes and aluminum bars way high up there is so challenging that when clients complete this walk, they cerebrate so much. While on this canopy walk, you are advised not to look down as you may instead become scared. All you need to do is concentrate, look forward and remain focused to complete the walk. Nyungwe canopy walk is such an experience so unique and is next to trekking gorillas if you have the guts to do it.

Kigali City Tour

Visit Kigali Museum and learn the history of city and country’s pre-colonial and colonial period as well as the colonial masters in Rwanda.

Visit the Genocide Memorial site, a grim reminder of a senseless massacre of innocent’s lives in 1994. Learn about Rwanda’s history from pre-colonial times to 1994 genocide and how Rwanda has dealt with that past. We continue with our tour and see the new developments in Rwanda; the recovery has been incredible, a testament to humankind’s resilience.

Visit the Kimoronko Giant Market, the hand art and craft market of CAPLAKI and later we drop you on your destination in Kigali.

Akagera Wildlife Safari

The Akagera National Park is situated north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. The game drive here are like opening a present and each game drive holds a full new surprise as nature reveals its treasures in form of wonders that are so scenic, the wildlife like buffalos, antelopes including; the elands, topis, Maasai girafffes, monkeys, savannah birds, civets, leopards, the hyenas, as well as the serval cats among others.

Categories
Accommodation

Reviews: Lake Kivu Serena Hotel

Situated on the shores of the vast Lake Kivu, the 6th largest freshwater lake in Africa bordered by magnificent verdant Tropical gardens with breathtaking views is the exquisite Lake Kivu Serena Hotel that provides a riveting Resort suitable for tourists on Luxury safaris in Rwanda.

This Up-market Hotel is situated at about 160 Kilometers/5 hours drive from Kigali City, approximately 110 kilometers/2 hours drive from the Volcanoes National Park, home to the critically endangered Mountain gorillas and over 294 kilometers/about 7-8 hours drive from Nyungwe Forest National Park-largest forest National Park and home to over 13 species of primates, makes Serena Hotel Lake Kivu a perfect spot for relaxation after your gorilla trekking or Chimpanzee tracking safaris in Rwanda. This fascinating facility overlooks a privately owned beach and boasts of 66 spacious rooms including family suites and executive suites among others.

The Serena Hotel Lake Kivu features a state of art restaurant known as the Kiyaga restaurant that serves mouth-watering local and International dishes, a spectacular swimming pool, the luxury Maisha Health Center that allows guests to participate in a number of games such as volley ball, boating, tennis and a luxury swimming, an indoor beachside bar and Lake view terrace that is stocked with spirits, wines, beers and other non-alcoholic drinks and allows guests to sip their drinks while chilling at the beach and a classic Conference Center for business tourists. There is also free Wifi, satellite TV in the rooms, air conditioning in some of the selected rooms and suites.

The rooms in this fascinating Hotel feature a private electronic safe, in-room satellite TV that allows you to be updated with what is happening around the World, a concierge, 24 hour room service, tea and coffee making facilities so that you make your own tea or coffee whenever you please and hair dryers among others. Much as smoking is not allowed within the premises of the Hotel, there are designated smoking rooms that can be arranged for you if you inform the Hotel Management on time.

There are 6 luxury suites at this Up-market Hotel and feature a spacious King sized room, cozy en-suite bathroom furnished with a bathtub and a shower, a reading (working) place, a private balcony, an exquisite seating area and a wide veranda that provides tourists with the beautiful views of Lake kivu. Interestingly, the luxury suites also have a private Mini-bar.

Not only that, there are also 66 standard rooms that stretch for 25 meters with each featuring one queen size bed and a double beds or 2 double beds. There is also an exquisite bathroom and very accessibility to the disabled tourists.  Regardless of the type of rooms you book for in Serene Hotel Lake Kivu, you will receive the comfort that will make you want to come back to the place again. Besides the comfort that you are expected to enjoy, the spectacular views of the nearby Lake Kivu.

In conclusion, Serena Hotel Lake Kivu is a perfect accommodation facility for tourists interesting in relaxing and chilling near Lake Kivu because it features state of art rooms, cozy bathrooms and restaurant facilities to make your stay memorable. Check out the listing of other Rwanda Hotels here.

Categories
Blog

Top 5 Places to Visit in Kampala

With all the information shared in this brief, sightseeing in Kampala is made easy. If you are visiting this beautiful city, then I can guarantee you that there are several places to visit and countless things to do here. Just take a ride along Kampala and you will have an unforgettable sightseeing adventure. Here are some of the places you can go for sightseeing in Kampala. If you want to get more information on this, then you can visit IN Kampala.

Mengo Palace

This is the first place that you can go sightseeing in Kampala. The palace was built in 1952 and it housed the former king of Buganda. Besides the fact that this place has been empty since 1966 but it’s a good place to visit. The place was left when Prime Minister Milton Obote ordered a dramatic attack. He wanted to eliminate Kabaka Mutesa II who was then a president.

Independence monument

Just take a ride in the city and you will at least see six monuments with the most prominent being the Independence monument. The monument was constructed to mark the day that Uganda got independence from British in 1962. It was set up almost the same time. If you are planning to come direct to this place, then it’s very easy. The monument is just located at the center of the city and hence easily accessible. You can just visit here and take pictures.

Uganda Museum

If you are that kind of a person that likes to experience everything in terms of history, culture, technology and much more, pay a visit to the Uganda Museum. The museum has a rich history that almost every visitor wants to experience. It was set up in 1908 when the then Governor George Wilson called for all the articles of interest on Uganda to be procured. As a matter of fact, the museum is among the oldest museums in East Africa and also features a very detailed collection of playable musical instruments, hunting equipment, weapons and books among many others.

Bulange Royal Building

Here is another great place to learn about the culture and the history of the Buganda Kingdom. Spare some time to visit this place and get a taste of the Buganda History. However, the best thing to do in this case is to get guided tours inside the parliament building. This way, you get some stories and details about all the clans of the Buganda Kingdom.

National Mosque

Uganda is not well known as a Muslim country but there are some of the most beautiful places you can visit to get more about the Muslim community. This is one of the country’s premier sights which were built in 1972. It is widely known as the Gadaffi Mosque. The mosque was constructed by Idi Amin but since then the mosque was completed in 2007. Just get a hour long tour in this place and you will get all.

Rubaga Cathedral

This is a twin-towered Roman Catholic Cathedral which serves as a memorial to the Ugandan Martyrs. It is marked with over 22 Catholic victims who were later declared saints. This place serves as the best place to visit in case you want to get some Christian history in the city.