All About the Mountain Gorillas in Africa

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What is a mountain gorilla?

A mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla- gorilla beringei. Mountain gorillas are listed among the endangered species with an estimated 1004 individuals in two populations as of 2018 census. One population lives in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park and the other in the Virunga mountains- in three adjacent national parks- Mgahinga gorilla national park, Rwanda’s volcanoes national park and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mountain gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a mature male Silverback- who selects places for groups to eat and sleep, and has many privileges including the right to feed first.

Mountain gorillas are gentle species, highly intelligent, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds. They live, walk, feed and do their daily activities in groups.

Did you know these facts about mountain gorillas?

Scientific name: Gorilla beringei

Weight: 135 to 220 kg

Size: 1-2 meters tall (4- 6 feet)

Life span: Generally unknown but data shows up to 40- 50 years

Diet: Generally Herbivorous

Gestation: About 8.5 months

Habitat: Dense forest, rain forest, bamboo forest

Predators: Predominately humans, occasionally leopards

Gorilla Guards in Virunga National Park Congo
Gorilla Guards in Virunga National Park Congo

How do mountain gorillas look like or behave?

Mountain gorillas have muscular arms, a massive chest and broad hands and feet.

The gorillas have longer hair and shorter arms that their low land cousins. Their thick black hair helps insulate them from cold weather.

Behaviorally, they are highly social, live in relatively stable cohesive groups and hold together by long-term bonds between adult males and females.

Do you know why mountain gorillas form groups?

For the longest time, gorillas have been seen to move, live and form groups. Another name for a gorilla group is a ‘troop’ which averagely consists of 10-15 members or more. Each gorilla group/ family is headed by a silverback- a mature male gorilla whose role is to defend the troop at any cost. Among many reasons, gorillas form groups/ families for pro-creation purposes. This can be explained by the great ratio of females to males in a troop.

For the longest time, the mature silverback has been responsible for the protection of the other gorillas in a family. The need to protect the weak ones could also account for gorillas moving in groups.

Living in groups helps youth male gorillas to learn skills needed to be successful leaders after the death of the mature silverback. This is through observing the leadership of the silverback.

How do mountain gorillas sleep?

Gorillas sleep for an average of about 12 hours each night. Gorillas like humans sleep during the night in what is called a ‘nest’ every day. A nest is like a ‘sleeping bag’ though fashioned from herbs, trees, and twigs that are bent to form a cushion of vegetation. During nesting, gorillas use different such as leaves, parts of bushes and branches to form layers of bedding into a circular nest. Nesting (the process of making nests) takes around 5 minutes.

Mountain gorillas make their nests either on the ground or in trees. The young gorillas nest with their mothers and do not construct nests until they are three years old, in close proximity to their mothers. However, it is important to remember that most tree nests are designed to accommodate light gorilla weight thus are common for young gorillas and females because of their relatively lightweight.

Baby Gorilla in Virunga National Park - Rwanda
Baby Gorilla in Virunga National Park – Rwanda

Nests are important to gorillas for day and night use. Day nests are usually made by infants who are close to the age of having their own nests. Day nests serve as resting places for gorillas during while night nests are used as a shelter during the night. Similarly, gorilla nesting helps researchers to determine the size of a gorilla group and overall population of gorillas in the national park. It should also be noted that Gorillas construct new nests every evening and at a close range of the old ones. This helps the rangers, trekkers and researchers to detect their daily location for the smooth running of gorilla safaris in Africa.

Where do you find mountain gorillas in Uganda?

Uganda’s mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park. Bwindi lies in south western Uganda and is part of Bwindi impenetrable forest. The park contains over 500 mountain gorillas roughly half of the world’s total population with 18 habituated mountain gorilla groups/ families available for gorilla trekking experience in Uganda. Habituated groups are those which have been adapted to human presence and have been declared ready for trekking. Below is the list of habituated groups in Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Gorilla Groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi’s habituated groups are named after places the gorillas have first sighted or the silver back that might have led to the breakaway of the initial gorilla group. These include;

  • Mubare gorilla family
  • Habinyanja gorilla group
  • Rushegura gorilla family
  • Bitukura gorilla group
  • Oruzogo gorilla group
  • Nkuringo gorilla family
  • Mishaya gorilla group
  • Kahungye gorilla group
  • Bweza gorilla family
  • Busingye gorilla family
  • Nsongi gorilla group
  • Bikyingi gorilla group
  • Rwigi gorilla group
  • Katwe gorilla family
  • Mucunguzi gorilla group
  • Bushaho gorilla family
  • Mukiza gorilla family
  • Kyaguriro gorilla family for research

There are four main trailheads (sectors) a visitor can use to track the above gorilla families.

Silverback Gorilla in African Jungle
Silverback Gorilla in African Jungle

Gorilla trekking sectors in Bwindi National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park is credited for its four main tracking areas where treks always start in the park. Each sector is different altitude, accessibility and hiking experience. Gorilla trekking sectors come with distinct terrains and hence varying experiences. Here are the four major gorilla sectors in Bwindi impenetrable national park;

  • Buhoma sector

This is situated in the northern side of Bwindi impenetrable national park. It is one of the most famous trailheads in Uganda with mainly three habituated groups. These include Mubare- the oldest and most famous of all groups in the Buhoma area, Habinyanja and Rushengura gorilla family.

  • Ruhija sector

Located in the eastern side of Bwindi impenetrable national park, Ruhija has three main gorilla families. These include Bitukura, Oruzogo, Katwe and Kyaguriro which is mainly for research.

  • Rushaga sector

This is the largest and most famous found in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The sector features a number of habituated families and the only one in the region where gorilla habituation is conducted in Bushaho and Bikingi families. Other gorilla groups include Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza and Rwigi Gorilla families.

  • Nkuringo sector

This area lies in the southern side of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The region has one habituated group Nkuringo and rewards trekkers with magical gorilla tracking adventures.

Mgahinga gorilla national park is another place in Uganda where you can find mountain gorillas. The national park is located along the border region of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga gorilla national park is home to about 80 mountain gorillas with one habituated group- Nyakagezi which can be trekked. Its also alleged that one or Rwanda’ Gorilla group Hirwa from Volcanoes National park visited Mgahinga National Park and still on the visit there.

What is required of you to track mountain gorillas in Uganda?

All visitors interested in trekking gorillas are expected to purchase gorilla permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority or Get in touch with a tour operator to help you process one. Gorilla permit allowing you to track one gorilla group costs $600 currently and is a pre-requisite. The price will raise starting from 1st July 2020 to US$700 per Uganda Gorilla trekking permit. These work hand in hand with following the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking.

What regulations govern mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda?

The rules and regulations that govern gorilla trekking can be divided into three sections; before trekking when you are with the gorillas and after you have trekked gorillas.

Before you trek the mountain gorillas

Rule: Trekkers must be 15 years and above if they are to be allowed to track gorillas.

Reason: This is to prevent the spread of diseases especially chicken pox and mumps from gorillas to humans and vice versa.

Rule: Visitors are allowed to spend one hour with a gorilla group except during gorilla habituation which may last for three hours.

Reason: This reduces the risks of disease transmission between humans and gorillas or vice versa.

Rule: Trackers should not exceed a maximum of eight members per gorilla group.

Reason: This minimizes behaviour disturbances with the gorillas are they move freely in their habitat.

Rule: Wash your hands before you go for gorilla tracking.

Reason: This is to reduce the spread of infections and diseases to the gorillas.

Rule: Do not visit gorillas if you have a cold or any infectious illness.

Reason: Gorillas can easily acquire colds and any other related human diseases.

Rule: In cases where you need to have a long call, human waste should be buried 30cm deep.

Reason: This is to reduce the risk of spread of germs and diseases that come along with poor disposal of human waste.

Rule: Trackers are advised to carry a lot of water on this safari.

Reason: Gorillas like other wild animals move from place to place hence tracking them requires trekkers to be fresh and clear of mind. Drinking water refreshes trekkers as they move on the adventure to trek mountain gorillas.

When you are with the mountain gorillas?

Rule: Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorillas.

Reason: Gorillas are wild animals and may charge at any time, thus your safety is important.

Rule: Avoid unnecessary movements when near gorillas. In other words, stay tight together as a group.

Reason: Unnecessary movements make the gorillas feel less free, uneasy and insecure to do their activities.

Rule: Flash light photography is strictly not allowed.

Reason: This may threaten the gorillas or make them unruly and aggressive which may put your life at risk of being attacked by the gorillas.

Rule: Do not look directly into the eyes of the mountain gorillas.

Reason: looking directly into the eyes of the gorillas shows that you are ready for a challenge hence may cause them to charge and fight you.

Rule: When gorillas charge or beat their chests, do not attempt to run. Follow the instructions of the guide.

Reason: Running might increase the risk of the gorilla getting aggressive, thus it’s advisable to follow the instructions of the guide.

Rule: Always keep your voice as quite as possible. Do not scream or run when attacked by an insect.

Reason: Keeping your voice low prevents behavioural changes of the gorillas.

Rule: Cover your face or turn away from the gorillas if you must sneeze or cough.

Reason: This is done to prevent easy transmission of diseases since gorillas share almost 95% DNA with human beings.

Rule: Smoking, eating, and drinking are not permitted on the safari.

Reason: Eating or drinking increases the risk of food, drinks and droplets falling on the ground which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.

Rule: Observe your body language when with the gorillas especially pointing fingers.

Reason: Some body language especially pointing fingers can make the gorillas more aggressive.

Rule: Do not litter the rubbish while in the park with dangerous items such as canisters, hand kerchiefs and small items. They should be wiped out.

Reason: The littered items may choke or even poison the gorillas.

Rule: Trekkers should not clear the vegetation close to the gorillas so that they get a better view of the gorillas.

Reason: Clearing the vegetation destroys the habitat of the gorillas putting them at the risk of moving to places rich with forest cover.Giant Gorilla in Trees - Bwindi National Park Uganda

After you have tracked the mountain gorillas

Rule: After tracking a gorilla group, you are advised to maintain a low voice as you walk back until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

Reason: Keeping your voice low prevents behavioural changes of the gorillas.

Why should you track mountain gorillas in Uganda?

The fact that you will see half or more of the world’s remaining- rare mountain gorilla population is one of the major reasons why you should trek these primates in Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park. Mountain gorillas are rare species found only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This means one stands a chance of being in proximity with these primates and learns about their life while on a magical mountain gorilla safari.

The once in a lifetime experience one gain when he/she takes on the adventure of trekking mountain gorillas in very rewarding. The experiences learnt about gorillas such as feeding, copulating, nesting among others all make your mountain gorilla safari memorable.

You are guaranteed a 99% chance of seeing mountain gorillas when you do mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda. This is because Uganda alone has half the world population of mountain gorillas not to mention habituated mountain gorilla families compared to other countries. You wouldn’t want to miss this spell-binding encounter with the gentle giants.

It is cheaper to track mountain gorillas in Uganda where a gorilla permit costs $600 compared to Rwanda where a gorilla permit costs $1500.

While you trek mountain gorillas, it is inevitable for you not to see the unique vegetation in the parks. From the impenetrable forest of Bwindi, you will get to appreciate the beautiful bamboo trees alongside tall ever green trees in Mgahinga gorilla national park.

Visitors who track mountain gorillas in Uganda are rewarded with an opportunity to see other wild animals and birds which they may view along with with the trekking sectors. These may include Forest elephants, leopards, golden monkeys in Mgahinga and a variety of bird species including the regal sun bird, blue-headed sun bird, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu ground thrush, Red-headed blue bill and many others.

When you track mountain gorillas, you at the same time minimize community destruction of the habitat. This is because you provide the locals with alternative means to make a living other than poaching. You can support the community through cultural tours of the locals living around the park, hiring porters among others.

In conclusion, I would recommend mountain gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda because of it’s a once in a life time adventure.

The breakdown of car hire costs?

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Uganda is so amazing to a point where travelers that visit it, wish to call it home and sometimes they decide to stay behind so that what they wish for comes to pass. When you arrived at the airport, you don’t wish to board a taxi because taxis are always on time like they be wanting to drop you to your destination so that they come back to airport to get other clients and this may not grant you a chance to experience the city to the fullest and sometimes you may want to tour the city after you settle into your hotel room.

Owning your vehicle by hiring it will give you more independence and freedom plus peace during your safari in Uganda because when you’re at the back of the wheel, you get a chance to sightsee the city at our own convenience. Once you Visit Uganda, don’t think of using taxis or buses because you won’t want to stay fixed under the control of the bus’ or taxi schedules.

Even though hiring the vehicle in Uganda is possible it is always wise to know what is included in the payments made for the vehicle. When hiring the vehicle you sign a contract with the rental company and most times the payments made for hiring a vehicle caters for the driver, vehicle, insurance, mechanical breakdown among others. Since the rental company does not know the destination you will visit, the responsibility of fueling the vehicle is on the client.

In case the hired vehicle gets a mechanical problem while on the trip, the rental company is responsible to repair it due to the payment you made. Plus the driver. When you’re not interested in self-driven service, the hired vehicle comes with a driver and it is not you to pay him but the car rental company using the payments you used to hire the vehicle. Don’t get scared of paying the insurance of the hired vehicle. The rental company used pays for insurance.

Nissan Safari for African Safari

All the vehicles hired in Uganda come with radios, Air conditioner, and driver among others depending on your choice. And in case you want something special, it is better to inform your preferred car rental before picking the vehicle.

No matter what is you need for the vehicle or for a business trip or vacation in any destination. Move around in style in your perfect rental vehicle while enjoying your vacation. Don’t worry about the money.

It is affordable to hire a vehicle in Uganda. And once the hired vehicle gets a problem just call the rental company for assistance. Car rental companies in Uganda have all types of vehicles a traveller may wish to hire their fleets are full of all sorts of vehicle.

No matter what is you need for the vehicle or for a business trip or safari in Uganda, just come give us your dates and we know you will get the perfect car of your choice from our fleet of vehicles at any time you want it. Therefore enjoy a unique trip in Uganda using our vehicles.

Bugesera Reconciliation Village In Rwanda

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What About Bugesera Reconciliation Village In Rwanda

Every country has its own history and so is Rwanda. This landlocked country is known for its historic genocide a tragic event that left nearly a million people dead and many homeless. The Bugesera reconciliation village is that one area historic place you need to pay a visit while on safari in Rwanda. This village is situated about an hour’s drive off Kigali capital city center.

It is situated within the southern province and popularly called the village of unity and reconciliation. This is no ordinary name and mainly depicts what is ongoing in the village with survivors of such tragic event that took place in 1994 against the Tutsi living alongside the perpetrators, those who murdered their loved ones.

Not only did this tragic event claimed lots of lives but also destroyed livelihoods of very many families. The victims were in a position to come back to their places. The perpetrators who have been in prison never had where to go so the officials established 6 reconciliation villages that include also Mbyo where over 60 families are living at a moment. Today, you can take an exclusive safari to Mbyo’s treacherous past.

There are well-trained guides to take you through this historic exploration. There is also a prison fellowship Rwanda a nonprofit organization that began with about 15 houses to see if they would stay together and fortunately, it worked successfully and since that time many villagers have been and still being supported. Women also do some art work and they sell at the market.

Besides, dancing chorus of survivors and offenders , as well as cooperative, are also found here. A visit to Mbyo helps you get a clear understanding of this place. Intending visitors on Rwanda safari to this village can spend about a day to explore the dramatic and authenticity of the area while enjoying several activities within the area which have played a significant role in the tourism sector.

At Mbyo, you get a chance to listen to victims and perpetrators to talk about different experiences, expressing how they feel and emotions. While here, you have a great opportunity to acquire a real sense of this place especially by actively taking part in various activities that include farming-related activities as well as take time and interact with locals, acquire cooking and weaving lessons from locals and also have together party with all community members in the reconciliation village.

In addition, have a chance to become a psychotherapist and assist someone to conquer post-traumatic stress disorder during the trip. Together with international alert-an NGO which supports villagers in reconciliation, taste their traditional dishes, drinks and socialize, get a warm welcome from locals and don’t miss the entertainment from local dance troupe which allows you to immerse yourself into their traditional dances, unique styles depicting the beauty of cow and Rwandese.

Rwanda On Track To Become A Conference Hub

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If you searched about events in East Africa at a time, Kenya wouldn’t miss appearing on the top list. But presently things have changed that when you talk about events, Rwanda is ever in lips of many! A number of events were conducted in 2009 alone and more are still to take place and one may wonder what makes this landlocked country a true hub for events.

What is unique about Rwanda’s events is that if one thought of events perhaps what runs first to their mind probably regional or international events but amazingly, you will be surprised to see something unique. If you googled it out, the like events that never miss featuring on the top list include the Kwita Izina sand Miss Rwanda, to a mention but a few.

The Kwita Izina is one of a kind events in the Land of a Thousand Hills. It has been transformed and also accorded international touch and for many years, it attracted international celebrities as well as globally acclaimed conservationists. This event is always conducted every year where newly born baby gorillas are given names.

This is mainly done as a way to aid the monitoring activities of individual gorillas and their families in their natural habitat. It was an initiative that aimed at attracting the attention of locals and the international world to embrace the significance of mountain gorilla conservation and protection not only in the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park but also other gorilla habitats such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Parks; the best destinations for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.

On the other hand, Miss Rwanda has equally received its fair share of backlash although the organizers have done their best to market it in a different way. Around 2009, a handful of players who described themselves as value-driven firms specializing in production and management of events had little to contribute to the sector.

It was the same year that Rwanda was admitted under the Edinburgh Criteria as the second member of the Commonwealth of Nations without any historical ties to the United Kingdom. After like 10 years, the landscape absolutely changed whenever many talk about this magical country.

As per the coming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting due to take place in 2020, Rwanda is to be a host just after a few years when it was admitted to the club of nations of which most of them are former British colonies. This is a small portion of a huge strategy adopted by the government to make Rwanda a meeting and conference hub famously called Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE).

Compared to other years, this year alone a significant difference was registered in the conference tourism. Incredibly, Rwanda hosted some of the major events which attracted thousands of participants that earned the nation a huge amount of dollars. Around May 2018, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranked Rwanda the 3rd most famous destination in Africa for accommodating international meetings and events.

Based on Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB), over 201 events were hosted in 2018 alone. They included among others the Extra-ordinary African Union Summit and the Next Einstein Forum, Mo Ibrahim Good Governance Meeting; SWIFT African Regional Conference; Africa Green Revolution Forum and GSMA Mobile 360 Africa.

Besides, the annual YouthConnekt Africa Summit and the 5th International Conference on Family Planning was also hosted in Rwanda and it attracted several of international delegates. In 2018, over $52 million about Rwf45.5 billion was generated in 2018 and in addition to this, a lot of multiplier effects was also seen in other sectors.

The best example is the involvement of RwandAir the fact that most delegates use it to take flights into Rwanda. The entertainment sector is another best example where conference and major meetings have enabled Rwanda’s show business to grow.

For instance, the big summits which occurred like the Transform Africa Summit, the YouthConnekt and Family Planning summit. About $52 million was collected from the conference tourism which indicates that the government is on the right track to achieve its targeted revenue of $74 million prior end of the financial year 2018/2019.

However, the government still seeks to continue attracting big conferences and meetings and to achieve this, there is need to involve the private sector. According to the CEO, there was growth in the hospitality industry both in terms of infrastructure and high-end service. The Rwanda Convention Bureau, therefore, plans to coordinate with the local institutions and organizations plus embassies abroad in identifying meetings, events, exhibitions that should be attracted into the country.

Rwanda has capitalized on meetings and conferences mainly to provide offers to delegates visiting the country, access to engaging in other tourism activities like mountain gorilla trekking as well as wildlife excursions in national parks. These tourism products have continuously attracted tourists worldwide and as per Akagera National Park-Rwanda’s only savanna grassland protected area, it is believed that it has already exceeded its targets. Sarah Hall-the park’s marketing manager added that about 39490 visitors were registered.

Do I need to contact the police when hiring a self-drive car?

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Exploring Uganda with all its most beautiful corners in Africa would be something difficult to on someone else’s schedule. Flexibility is key in having a very successful Uganda safari, be it a gorilla trekking, primates, wildlife viewing, city tour or a cultural tour.

Unfortunately most travelers book with travel companies that offer fixed itineraries without any chances of even changing the mind about the destination once confirmed. This is why most trotters have resorted to self-drive safaris in Uganda that can enable them have as many detours as they want.

Whether it’s a family, solo or group tour, renting your own car can be more convenient. You get a chance to draft your own itinerary in Uganda, see sights on your own time without pressure from the tour guide. For more wilderness experience in Africa, you can choose bush camping where by; you rent a 4×4 with a rooftop tent or with bush tents and a full camping gear. This saves you more on accommodation and meals sometimes when you can cook.

Yes, it is good that most travelers follow and reach all the requirements needed by the car rental companies, but they be asking themselves whether they need to contact the police when hiring a car, particularly the self-drive vehicles?

The answer is perhaps yes, or no. The fact that the major role of the police to keep law and order, you never know when and where you might need it. Several trotters have had successful self-driven trips without even any disturbance. But that is not a guarantee that you will also have a safe on, it is always important to contact the police when hiring a self-drive vehicle just in case of any uncertainty, the police comes in to help.

The major reason why it is very vital to contact the police when hiring a self-drive vehicle is for emergency in case of an accident. This doesn’t mean that the car hire company can’t help, it will definitely help you at its maximum in case of an accident since even the insurance coverage might have included the accident coverage. But still, the car rental company would only come to rescue you through the police. Besides, God forbid, in case you got an accident very far from where the car hire company offices are, it’s the police that can easily contact other security agencies close to the accident scene.

The police should be contacted when hiring the self-drive vehicle just to confirm and seal the agreement between a car hire company and the client. This becomes very beneficial in case the car rental company decides to change the terms and conditions on return of the vehicle. This is not a common case in Uganda, but prevention is better than cure, it’s safer to be with a third party in your car hire agreement.

Reporting to the police when hiring a car also simplifies the follow up of the new member in the community. It is good manners to always inform the police and the local leaders that you are a new member in the place. They could even help you catch up easily in the place, get you a map to your destination or even recommend you to someone. Besides that, being in a strange land, sometimes with even difficulty in communication, any disorder can occur; who knows? But in such cases, like robbery or kidnapping, the informed police can easily intervene.

There is even know any reason that can justify enough for a traveler not to contact the police when hiring a car for a self-drive. All the reasoning pushes a yes answer forward. So it is so much recommended for all clients planning to hire vehicles on self-drive trips to always involve the police too.

Explore Mutarazi Falls in Zimbabwe

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If you have ever imagined of that one wonderful and powerful waterfall to explore in Africa then this waterfall should be a must for you to include in your travel plan. Just along River Mtarazi lie Mutarazi waterfalls a 762 meters tiered horsetail waterfall within the Honde Valley, the eastern highlands, Manicaland province, Zimbabwe. This waterfall is the highest in Zimbabwe, second in Africa and 17th worldwide. In most cases, this waterfall is also popular as Mtarazi waterfalls and features as the sixth largest in the world. It is located at close proximity to national park hence offering visitors opportunity to spot out most of the wildlife species especially antelope families, reedbucks, hyenas, bushbucks, the rare blue duikers, samango monkeys, baboons, klipspringers, leopards and many more. Besides, you can as well embark on forest walk to catch a glimpse at the spectacular tropical rainforest in this area as you also spot out some of the incredible avifaunal species. Mutarazi waterfalls are located in the north just around the Eastern highlands in the middle of Nyanga National Park. It was once the first park to be established in Zimbabwe and features greener hills and perennial rivers. The other natural feature within this park is Mount Nyangani and this is the highest point in Zimbabwe.

How to reach Mutarazi waterfalls
This spectacular waterfall can be reached from Pungwe drift where you will set off via stunning pathway to the south while maintaining the main route. At about 7 kilometers, you turn left to route marked Mutarazi falls and then drive 11.2 kilometers pass far and wide activity center, 12.25 kilometers turn off to Honde Valley view point, and 14 kilometers to Mutarazi falls car park. The waterfall view point takes about 600 meters for one to walk from the car park.

While returning, it is important that you take on path to Pungwe falls and then use directions at the entry of Pungwe waterfalls. It is just 11.5 kilometers off Pungwe falls and this waterfall lies with 2495 hectare Mutarazi National Park which is near the southern border area with Nyanga National Park in Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the administration is also joint based with Nyanga protected area. Tourists can park at the car park and simply take a walk for about 600 meters to its edge escarpment which rewards travelers with breathtaking views of not only this waterfall but also the Honde Valley about 800 meters below. This area has some rocks and steps to make your walk easier but hikers need to be careful with the sheer cliff edge. This spectacular waterfall originates from a point where Mutarazi River meanders over the edge of eastern escarpment of Zimbabwe highlands and entirely can be spotted by travelers from the top. It is breathtaking waterfall the fact that the River powerfully flows over the cliff face of over 762 meters.

When to visit Mutarazi waterfalls
It can be visited at any time of the year-Monday to Sunday and entry fee includes that of Pungwe waterfalls as well.Travelers can pay a visit to this splendid waterfall at any time of the year the fact that its weather conditions are ideal all year round.
Conclusively, Mutarazi waterfall is ideally one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders that are worth exploring. Due to its strategic location to Mutarazi River and other protected areas, it rewards visitors with exceptional views of not only its stunning water but also most important wildlife species that thrive within this area. With all this diversity, visitors on safari to this site will return with lots of unforgettable and memorable experiences.

Nxai Pan National Park Botswana

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If you are looking forward to visiting an endowed African destination not thronged by tourists, then Nxai Pan National Park of Botswana is your perfect choice for authentic safari experience. The Park comprises of Nxai Salt Pan, one of Makgadikgadi Pan Flats which is so far the largest salt pan in the whole World but this Park is found within the north-eastern side of this South African country, on the northern edge of the Makgadikgadi basin.

Nxai Pan National Park is a haven to a cluster of a thousand year (millennia) old baobab trees, also known as the Baines’ Baobabs named after Thomas Baines, the man who allegedly discovered them and are so far one of the most desired and sought after tree species by tourists in Africa especially to Botswana. Established in 1992, this site is contiguous to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park but extends for an area of 2578 square kilometers with the main tourist feature being the waterhole at the heart of the Park in a vast grassy plain.

While here and within the Mopane woodland is where animals such as bat-eared foxes, giraffes, jackals, zebras, Cape wild dogs, greater and lesser kudus, Aardwolf, Springbok, impalas, elephants, impalas, wildebeests, Aardvarks, lions and other smaller animals in addition to beautiful bird species such as Ostriches can be spotted.

Most interestingly, this National park is a significant area where large herds of migrating herbivores that attract predators especially leopards, cheetahs, lions, African wild dogs and hyenas can be experienced. As much as most National Parks are perfect for game viewing during the dry winter months (from June to September) when the short grasses make game viewing easier but that is not the case with Nxai Pan National Park where the first summer rains starting from November to December offer a perfect Garden of Eden for tourists visiting the Park.

The rainy season is the home to the seasonal zebra migration where large herds of zebras accompanied by some predators can be seen within the vast open grasslands amidst the shade of Acacia trees while the dry season is when the other wildlife species can be spotted within Nxai Pan National Park.

This National Park offers wonderful birding opportunities during the wet months where numerous species of raptors, red-necked falcons and Kori Bustards among others can be spotted. When the salt pans are filled with water after rains, there is definitely a heavy influx of flamingos.

Some of the adventures offered by the Nxai Pan National Park include nature walks, game drives, Quad biking, bird watching and cultural encounters with the local San Bushmen (and enjoy traditional activities such as trap setting, fire making and hunting).

  • Best Time of the year to visit Nxai Pan National Park

This Park is open for visitors from January to January but wildlife species are abundant from December to April much as the rains are heavy during this time and the roads may be difficult to pass through. However the Park is more accessible in the dry season from June to September but is also the time when wildlife converge around the permanent water sources that suddenly become a beehive of activities with predators such as leopards and lions choosing these places for hunting their prey-zebras, springbok and gemsbok among others.

  • Where to Stay?

There is currently only one Safari Lodge and two Campsites within this National Park but there are many others within borders of the Park or the neighboring Makgadikgadi Park that undeniably has easier access to Nxai Pan National Park.

  • How to Get There?

It is obvious that the National Park is remotely situated thus easily accessed by air from Maun Airport lasting 25 minutes followed by a short drive (15 minutes) to the Park. The main entrance to the Park is 136 kilometers out from Maun on the Maun-Nata road or only 65 kilometers from Gweta turnoff if traveling from the east.

Exploring Lake Mburo National Park

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Lake Mburo National Park is located in western Uganda and it covers an area of about 260 square kilometers. The park largely features acacia woodland and compared to most of the protected areas in Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park offers refuge to distinct faunal species. This is the best safari destination for one to spot out gigantic eland antelopes, topis, leopards,  jackals, hyenas, zebras, buffaloes, Bohor reed-buck, warthogs, otters, bush pigs, Defassa waterbuck, African golden cat, Oribi, Bushbuck, duikers, snakes,  as well as acacia bird species like the shoebill stork and its sculptured landscape that come with the rolling grassy hills and stunning Lake shores feature forest galleries, acacia tree valley, seasonal and permanent swamps and all these feature variety of wildlife species.

Zebras in Lake Mburo National Park Uganda

About 5 Lakes are also confined within Lake Mburo National Park offering refuge to most of the hippos and crocodiles and aquatic birds and its fringing swamp area offers refuge to sitatunga antelope, red or black and yellow papyrus gonolek. The park features the mosaic habitat that includes the rocky outcrops, bushes, thickets, vast and wooded savannas, forests, dry hillsides and many more. About 350 bird species call Lake Mburo National Park their home and the notable ones include the red faced barbet, yellow warbler, saddle billed stork, brown chested lapwing, shoebill stork, African wattled lapwing, carruther’s Cisticola, Tabora Cisticola, Abyssinian ground hornbill, white winged warbler, African scops owl and many others.

The park is accessible within 3 to 4 hours’ drive off Kampala capital city. You can take the Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara route and turn left to Nshara gate that links to Sanga gate.

Tourist activities in Lake Mburo National Park

  • Game drives

This is one of the leading tourist activities in Lake Mburo National Park. It offers visitors a chance to explore the park’s wildlife and birds. While on wildlife safari, you will have a chance to spot out most of the elands, impalas, giraffes, zebra, leopards and many more.

  • Night game drives

Night game drives offer opportunity to visitors to spot out most of the park’s nocturnal wildlife species like leopards and at times lions, bush babies, porcupines and many others. The experience takes around two hours.

  • Boat cruise

A boat cruise along Lake Mburo offers amazing opportunity to visitors to catch a glimpse at the park’s unique floral and faunal species on Lakeside like hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, otters and others as well as bird species like the African fish eagles, Rufous long tailed starlings, blue headed weavers, green necked doves, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, Hammerkops, pelicans, herons, cormorants and shoebill stork.

  • Bird watching

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the perfect safari destinations in Uganda for you to embark on birding adventures. About 350 different bird species call the park their home. The notable birding spots include the swampy valleys of Miriti and Warukiri and the roadside between Rwonyo camps. The prime birds to catch a glimpse at these areas include the black bellied bustard, brown chested lapwing, bateleur, Rufous bellied heron, coqui francolin, grey crowned crane, white headed barbet, red faced barbet, Nubian woodpecker, Ross’s Turaco, red shouldered cuckoo shrike, long tailed Cisticola, brown parrot and others.

  • Nature walks

The park also offers the excellent experiences for visitors on guided nature walk. Early in the morning while on nature walk, you will have a chance to spot hyenas as they come back from their dens after night of being on the prowl, hippos, zebras, giraffes, eland, topis, butterflies, buffaloes and many antelope families. You may also embark on a trail to the top of the hills and view Lake Mburo and beyond, from here, you have a chance to view all the nine regional Lakes. You may also take a guided walk to the salt lick where you will spot out most of the wildlife species as they lick the salty soil.

  • Igongo cultural centre

Situated approximately four (4) kilometers off Sanga gate, Igongo cultural center is one of the most tremendous historical sites that Uganda offers the world. The center allows you to explore more on Banyakitara that lived in western Uganda and comprises of Bakiga, Batooro, Banyoro and Banyakole. Igongo cultural center features numerous traditional grass huts that depict the way of life in the west. You can also have a taste of traditional food in the Igongo cultural center’s restaurant.

  • Rubanga forest exploration

If you are interested in exploring this forest,  there are many Uganda tours and safari packages with this package but you must book in advance! The forest is an incredible birding spot and more than 40 distinct birds thrive within it, five of which are forest specialists. The prominent birds around this area include harrier hawk, green pigeon, narina trogon, grey backed camaroptera, double toothed barbet, shoebill stork and others. The forest features trees like acacia, palms, figs, markhamia, platycaluz and many more.

  • Fishing

Lake Mburo National Park features about 5 most stunning Lakes out of the 12 famous Lakes that are found in and around the protected area. Lake Mburo features as the biggest out of all the Lakes that are found in the park and several fishermen flock into the fish to fish and travelers to Lake Mburo National Park can also embark on fishing themselves and later arrange to have the fish prepared at the lodge where they are living. About 6 fish species thrive within the Lake including tilapia which is the most sought after specie for sport fishing adventure lovers. For visitors who are interested in this breathtaking adventure, the best spot for you is the Mazinga on Lake Mburo.

  • Horseback riding

Lake Mburo National Park features as Uganda’s only protected area where visitors can view wildlife safaris while on horseback. There are well trained experts at Mihingo Lodge to take you through the Lake Mburo. This adventure lasts for about 1 to 3 hours.

  • Bicycling

Lake Mburo National Park also offers the most exciting and exhilarating guided bike rides in and around the protected area. You will have a chance to spot out most of zebras, buffaloes, antelopes and others. For visitors who are interested in more challenging mountain biking adventures then Lake Mburo is the best place for you. Come and experience nature while on your bike!

Besides, you can also visit the Equator while on Uganda safari to Lake Mburo National Park or during your return journey to Kampala or Entebbe.

Accommodation in Lake Mburo National Park

The best accommodation facilities in Lake Mburo National Park include Mihingo Safari Lodge, Mantana Tented Camp, Mburo Safari Lodge, Rwonyo Rest Camp, Eagles Nest and others.

In conclusion, Lake Mburo National Park is one of Uganda’s most stunning safari destinations that you consider in your travel itinerary. It is the nearest park from Kampala capital city.

Moremi Game Reserve Botswana

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Moremi Game Reserve is found on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta in Botswana and covers an area of 5000 square kilometers (1900 square miles) which makes it very surprisingly large and diverse for a Reserve.

This Reserve was named after Chief Moremi of the popular Ba Tawana tribe and now consists of lagoons, salt pans, grasslands, the thick Mopane woodlands, acacia forests, floodplains and savannahs. This exceptional ecosystem offers habitat to a wide range of wildlife species like never seen in other places in the African continent and it is for this reason that this Reserve was voted the “best game Reserve in Africa” by the Prestigious African Travel and Tourism Association during Indaba, South Africa’s prime tourism fair.

Declared a Game Reserve on the 15th March 1963, Moremi was surprisingly the first Game Reserve to be created by local residents (BaTawana people) but that also meant that the local people-BaSarwa or popularly known as Bushmen that lived within the area lost their original home. These people under the leadership of the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife-Mrs. Moremi were so concerned about the rise of hunting and cattle encroachment within the Okavango Delta and was initially managed by the Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland after creation but after its extension to include the Chief’s Island in 1979, this Reserve was taken over by the Department of Wildlife and National parks.

  • Flora and Fauna within Moremi Game Reserve

This Reserve covers much of the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and combines drier and permanent water areas but some of the most interesting attractions within the site are the Chiefs Island and the Moremi Tongue. While here, tourists are guaranteed of experiencing unsurpassed views of the savannah game as well as bird watching within the lagoons.

Also, there are dense woodlands that offer shelter to leopards and Cape Wild dogs while to the north-eastern side of the Reserve lies the famous Chobe National Park that is contiguous to the Moremi Game Reserve.  Much as it is only 5000 square kilometers in size, Moremi Game Reserve is surprisingly biologically diverse with its landscape comprising of mainly Acacia forests, Mopane woodlands, lagoons and floodplains but only 30% of the Reserve is mainland with the largest part lying within the Okavango Delta. Although it is not one of the largest Protected Areas in the country, it rewards tourists with fantastic views that cannot be experienced in other places.

It is a haven to almost 500 species of birds including forest, savannah and aquatic species of birds such as Pel’s fishing owls, Arnot’s chat, woodpeckers, African fish eagles, wattled cranes, kingfishers and barbets among others in addition to the wide range of wildlife species such as South African cheetahs, elephants, Angolan giraffes, Zebras, Southwest African lions, large herds of Cape buffaloes, Jackals, Black rhinoceros, impalas, Red lechwe, hyenas and Cape wild dogs among others.

  • Activities within Moremi Game Reserve

There are several adventures to enjoy within the Reserve and they include nature walks, game drives in 4WD Vehicles with the peaks being from July to October when seasonal pans dry up and the animals concentrate on the permanent water, Dug-out canoe rides and bird watching.

  • Accommodation facilities within the Reserve

There are few Safari lodges within this Reserve and only four places (namely Khwai, South Gate, Xakanaxa Camp and Third Bridge) set aside for Camping. However, there are several Lodges and Hotels within the outskirts of the Reserve where guests visit on game drives and other fascinating activities.

  • How to Access Moremi Game Reserve

This site can either be reached by air (through chartered flights to the airstrips that service the Lodges) or by road transport through Maun. A self-drive through the Game Reserve is recommended for experienced 4X4 drivers and usually in the dry season. The rainy season makes most of the Park’s areas inaccessible and some Lodges even close from December to February.

Mountaineering safaris in the virunga massif

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Hiking safaris on the Virunga massif grants travelers stunning experiences. Virunga volcanoes are a chain of 8 volcanic mountains of which 2 are active and the rest are dormant. The virunga massif is shared by three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and others are found on the borders of either countries

They are a branch of Albertine Rift valley in the eastern border of East African rift valley. And all these Virunga volcanoes are located in the hearts of parks that host the rare mountain gorillas, which include; the Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virunga massif slopes provide shelter to the endangered mountain gorillas giving visitors an opportunity to meet and interact with these great apes. The summit of every volcano rewards visitors with spectacular views of wildlife, national parks and the neighboring communities, which is an added advantage to the entire experience.

Mount. Karisimbi is the highest of all the Virunga volcanoes and it reaches up to 4507m above sea level. To hike this mountain doesn’t require any experience but you have to be in good health and physical conditions. It requires two days to finish the entire hiking adventure on Mountain. Karisimbi. The 1st day you hike and set up a camp for an overnight and the last day hike to the top of the mountain and sight the open view of the bubbling Mountain Nyiragongo. And descend on the same day.

Hiking Karisimbi can be enjoyed during the dry season when there is less rain fall and this make it simpler to hike the mountain. The temperatures in the morning and at night freeze to 0 degrees and hikers are advised to carry warm sweaters that can overcome the coldness.

Mount Mikeno is a dormant mountain and found in D. R. Congo, in the fringes of Virunga national park. It is known to be the most challenging volcano to climb. Mount. Mikeno is the second highest volcano in the Virunga massif reaching up to 4437 meters. Its slopes are covered with a forest that provide shelter to the rare mountain gorillas and other wildlife species plus different birds. To hike this stunning volcano, you have to be physically fit.

The third highest volcano in the Virunga massif is Mount. Muhabura and it is found on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Climbing to the top of mount. Muhabura rewards travelers with amazing views of the twin lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo and other Virunga mountains. Some of the attractions on mountain Muhabura include the Crater Lake that is close to its summit, rare vegetation cover and mountain gorillas in the nearby Mgahinga gorilla national park.

Hiking this volcano is a bit tough due to its steep slopes and the experience starts at 7am and lasts for the whole day to complete.

Bisoke Mountain is another magnificent mountain that is worthy climbing. Also known as Visoke in D.R. Congo, this volcano is famous for having a crater lake on top. It has the most montane vegetation at varied levels and comes with bamboo forest, bushes among others. It also requires some one to be physically fit in order to hike through it.

Mountain Sabinyo is the only volcano that is found in three countries. It is located at the border of Uganda, Rwanda and D. R. Congo. It has indented summit structure which describes its name. It also provides shelter to the mountain gorillas in the nearby Mgahinga gorilla and Volcanoes national parks, one of the gorilla families in Volcanoes national park was named Sabyinyo and it is one of the simplest gorilla groups to track.

Despite Mountain Gahinga being the smallest of all the volcanoes, it provides extra ordinary hiking adventures. One day is enough to hike to the top of Mount. Gahinga and hiking it rewards travelers with life changing experiences like its scenic views. The volcano has caves that one should not miss to explore while hiking. It is dormant and it is found in Uganda.

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the active volcanoes in the Virunga massif, in the outskirts of Virunga national park. It is found in D. R. Congo and it is popular for its powerful lava lake. Hiking this volcano gives travelers a chance to experience its powerful bubbling lava lake. Hiking Mount. Nyiragongo starts around Kibati patrol station in Democratic Republic of Congo accessing it depends on your speed and physical wellness, and the experience takes up to 2 days.

Mountain Nyamuragira is the most active volcano in the Virunga massif. And its active state discourage travelers from hiking it. It is believed that the volcano erupted over 40 times since 1885 when it first erupted. It reaches up to 3,058 meters above sea level. And its slopes are covered by forests which house different wildlife and bird life.

All the guests taking part in hiking the Virunga massif should be physically fit and dedicated. And they should remember to carry enough drinking water,wear light hiking boots for easy movement on the lose stones, hand gloves,energy giving snacks, long pants, among others

Take a hiking safari to the Virunga massif in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and get a memorable experience.