River Kafu is one of the treasured water bodies that can be explored by tourists who visit Uganda for safaris extending for a length of 180 kilometers and lies within the western side of the country flowing through several districts that include Masindi, Kibaale, Luwero, Hoima, Nakasongola, Kyankwanzi and Nakaseke Districts.
It is said to start from a swamp that is around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) to the Northeast of Kitoma Village (with coordinates of Latitude:1.1500; Longitude:31.0820) within Kibaale District, western Uganda and drains eastwards before changing its course to the Northwards to pour its waters in the popular Victoria Nile (lying with Latitude:1.1500; Longitude:31.0820) as you will discover during a trip to the Northern side of Uganda.
River Kafu is around 8 kilometers north of Masindi Port within Masindi District and the wetland which the River emerges from is also crossed or drained by River Nkusi much as it is noted to rise from a different location flowing past the swamp and later pouring its waters into Lake Albert with the western border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. While at its source, this River rises at an elevation of around 1100 meters (3608 feet) above sea level whereas at its mouth, it stands an elevation of around 1040 meters (3412 feet) above sea level.
This magnificent River has two main tributaries that include Rivers Mayanja and Lugogo that drain through vast permanent Swamps before finally pouring their water into River Kafu. The dominant vegetation around the River is thick bush thickets and papyrus swamps.
Wildlife and Bird Species around River Kafu
The Basin of River Kafu is a home to a wide range of wildlife species including the rare leopards, bush duikers, bushbucks, Bohor reedbucks, sitatunga, Defassa waterbucks, elands, bush pigs, Oribis and many others. You should not miss to encounter all these animals during your safari in Uganda. Birds species such as the Hadada ibis, Marabou storks, grey crowned cranes, Shoebill storks (rare) and the red-faced barbets can be spotted at the Banks of the River or within the surrounding papyrus swamps.
Accommodation Facilities around River Kafu
Mayanja River Lodge (featuring four private luxury Safari Tents with ensuite bathrooms, restaurant and bar) found within the basin of River Kafu (near Ngoma) is one of the beautiful places to spend nights and offers tourists with the opportunities of seeing the elusive sitatunga or several aquatic bird species.
In conclusion, River Kafu is one of the magnificent attractions whose natural beauty and features cannot be missed during a safari in Uganda. Besides its length, surrounding vegetation and general beauty, it is also a haven to some wildlife species including bush duikers, bush-bucks, Bohor reed-bucks, sitatunga, Defassa water bucks, elands, bush pigs, Oribis and many others.
Are you planning to go for Eastern Lowland gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park but you are not sure which lodge or hotel to spend a night? For any safari to be successful there must be accommodation facilities for visitors to spend a night after or before the actual adventures at the park. Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the most popular safari destinations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the eastern lowland gorillas are inhabited and can easily be tracked. However, there are no safari lodges inside the park but visitors on safari to this park can spend a night in the nearest accommodation facilities that are situated close to Bukavu town. Bukavu is the town in eastern DRC, situated in the extreme southwestern side of Lake Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda and divided by the outlet of the Ruzizi River. The notable accommodation facilities at near Kahuzi Biega National Park range from budget to luxury some of which include;
The L’Orchids Safari Club
This is luxury accommodation facility that is set within the spectacular Lake Kivu and rewards visitors with amazing natural setting of its surrounding areas. L’Orchids Safari Club well decorated and comes with mix of contemporary and traditional African style. This hotel features a fully stocked bar/lounge with all kinds of beers, wines, champagnes and it has a small restaurant, professional chef, staff and beautiful flower garden.
If you are looking for mid-range accommodation to have an overnight stay while on safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park then Coco Lodge shouldn’t miss out in your travel plan. This lodge features eight mid-range / deluxe rooms that also fully equipped with double beds, decorated in the theme of Africa which ideally makes visitors experiences memorable. It has TV, wireless internet network, restaurant, 2 lounges, bar, fireplace and VIP lounge, private bar for visitors. In most cases, they also provide discounted transportation for visitors on safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park and at times help book gorilla permits.
Hotel Begonias Bukavu
Begonias Hotel is constructed in the spectacularly stunning green courtyard with a huge welcoming red flow of swimming pool, providing the best place for visitors to cool themselves in the course of the day after their lifetime experiences in thejungles of Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Exodus Hotel Bukavu
For budget travelers, Exodus Hotel Bukavu should be a must for you to book for your overnight stay while on tour to Kahuzi Biega National Park. This hotel was set up in 2000 and features as among the oldest budget hotels in Bukavu.
Lake side Hotel Bukavu
Lake Side Hotel is situated in Kabare and has fitness center, free wireless internet, garden, TV, bar and rooms that offer stunning overview of the Lake Kivu. This hotel is situated 4 kilometers away from South Kivu Parliament and six kilometers from the heart of Bukavu city just on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Mont Kahuzi Hotel Bukavu
This is a 2 star hotel in Bukavu town. It features as the first hotel in Bukavu dating 1990 and the first to host the prominent leaders of the world, popular authors and international celebrities.
From the discussion above, Kahuzi Biega National Park is best explored for its rare eastern lowland gorillas and for visitors who are planning for this lifetime primate experience, the above listed accommodation facilities are the best for you to make a choice for your overnight stay at the park. Visitors on safaris to Kahuzi Biega National Park can combined their trips with mountain gorilla safari adventures in the Virunga National Park.
Are you a primate enthusiast and you are planning to visit Uganda this coming holiday? Have you ever thought about tracking the rarest primates in your life? Did you know that the Mangabey monkeys can be tracked in Uganda? For primate lovers who are interested in catching a glimpse at the unique Uganda Mangabey monkey, Mabira Forest Reserve should be one of the spots that you shouldn’t leave out on your bucket list.
The mangabey monkeys are scientifically known as Lophocebus Ugandae and they thrive in Mabira forest approximately 45 minutes drive off Kampala city center. The site is strategically located along Jinja highway so that even tourists on self drive tour in Uganda can easily stop over on their way to or from Jinja. The incredible primates in Mabira forest thrive in other parts like Bugoma forest, Semuliki, Kibale National Park, Lwamunda and Sango bay; however the biggest number thrives within the Mabira Forest Reserve.
These incredible primates are believed to be descendants of the ancient world monkey and previously believed to belong to the grey cheeked mangabey. However, it is a rare species of its own compared to the famous grey cheeked mangabey, they have smaller face, smaller and shorter skull. With these amazing species, Uganda is proud to be a primate world with more than 19 distinct primate species.
There are suggestions that these endangered species should also be included in IUCN Redbook list of endangered species just like most apes like mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
They mostly spend much of their time in the jungles and especially at the forest canopy; they depend much on fruits especially on figs and also shoots, flowers and insects. They stay in troops of five and more to even 30. They are mainly terrestrial although they can even go beyond and for lifetime experiences, Mabira forest features 2 incredible groups that are set for tourism. They are habituated and this means that they are used to human presence while they are exploring them in the wild. Like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, chimpanzees, the Uganda Mangabey monkeys can also be tracked in the similar way.
Other activities that are offered in Mabira forest that you should consider including in your travel plan are forest walks, birding, cultures especially with the local drama group, zip line adventures and butterfly identification and many more.
For visitor stay, Mabira rain forest lodge is luxury facility that you should consider booking and for budget visitors, Griffin Falls Camp is the best choice for you to make.
Mangabey monkey tracking in Uganda is conducted in Mabira forest which is one of the few tropical rainforests that are left in Africa today. This forest offers refuge to the largest number of these unique species for you to spot while on your vacation in Uganda. For primate lovers, this is an incredible site to include in your bucket list and you won’t regret in life. If you are planning to travel to this magical destination, expect more than birds, mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, the big five game, or adrenaline adventures at the source of the Nile and many more as you also have a chance to catch a glimpse at the rare Uganda Mangabey Monkeys while in their natural habitats.
Located in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Virunga National Park is one of the important UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you should visit while on safari in Africa. The park features as the oldest protected area in Africa and it is famous as one of the most spectacular and diverse conservation areas in the world. It comes with savanna, swamps, Lava plains, erosion valleys, tropical forests, powerful volcanoes and ice fields of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Virunga National Park covers an area of about 7800 square kilometers and it was designated as the world heritage site purposely to offer refuge to the rare mountain. Out of 900 individuals of mountain gorillas that thrive in the world, 200 of them are found in the jungles of Virunga National Park. Whereas the political instability barred most visitors from realizing their dreams in the Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo is recovering from the insecurities and Virunga National Park is open for tourism. The park is famous to offer refuge to not the mountain gorillas but also the powerful Nyiragongo volcano with the world’s largest Lava Lake and hiking through it comes with incredible snow capped Rwenzori Mountains.
Historically, Virunga National Park has been affected by the political situation in the country. It has tried to withstand the most of political unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Appreciation goes to some politicians, conservationists, park rangers and wardens that the park has not only thrived but also currently experienced some growth in its tourism sector. Virunga National Park was established in 1925 by King Albert 1 of Belgium and initially was called Albert National Park, which featured as the first protected area in Africa.
It was established mainly to offer refuge to the rare mountain gorillas that thrive within its tropical rain forest. With time, the park was extended up to the Bwindi plains, Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains in the north. Around the first 35 years, the park boundary gained its shape, poaching was kept off and sustainable tourism continued as a result of the big body that picked interest in conserving the critically endangered apes. Land remuneration and use of park resources like fishing and illegal hunting by the local residents turned to be a continuous challenge and efforts to save these endangered species was established.
Later, the park was renamed as the Virunga National Park and the first Congolese Wildlife Authority was founded and today it is called ICCN. Around 1979 the park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Congolese Wildlife Authority drastically lost control of Virunga and the UNESCO turned its World Heritage Site status as endangered. About 25 years, the Virunga National Park withstood the instabilities from Rwandan genocide which led to deep destruction of protected area’s forest. Currently the Virunga is under the management of ICCN. Tourism in the park has kept improving right from zero in 2008 to 2000 in 2010. This came with new activities like habituation of chimpanzees around the Tongo and several luxurious lodges around the major tourist attractions in the southern regions, north of Goma.
The rare mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park largely thrive around the Mikeno region, the park portion with forest that lies within the Nyiragongo Mountain. For lifetime experiences with Great apes, Virunga National Park features eight (8) habituated gorilla groups that have been set for tourism purposes. Gorilla permits are sold at $400 per visitor. Visitors on safari to Virunga equally have a chance to strike their imagination with these spectacular species within the one hour. Like any destination, visitors are advised to keep a distance of 7 to 8 meters away from the gorillas at all times and before setting off do not forget to put on your masks.
Only eight visitors are allowed to track one group of gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Virunga start from one of the 3 patrol stations Bukima where most park rangers and trackers will accompany visitors to the forest. Bukima station is famous with visitors and it is near Goma town and it also comes with tented camp for visitor stays. Treks in the Virunga national park range from 30 minutes to 3 hours but this depends on the visitor speed, location of gorilla family and nature habitat. The whole adventure needs you to be physically well as it involves hiking through the strenuous altitudes and the thick forests. For lifetime encounters, the park is best visited from June to September and December to February.
Accommodation options in Virunga National Park
There are several exceptional lodges and accommodation facilities for visitor stay in the park some of which include Mikeno Lodge which features as the first lodge to be opened in 2011 in the Virunga National Park. It is strategically located at the heat of Virunga’s tourist attractions (Mount Nyiragongo, mountain gorillas and chimpanzees). A stay in this lodge gives you a chance to visit the orphan gorillas at Senkwekwe centre.
The other lodges include the Bukima Tented Camp which lies within the main starting point for gorilla trekking. The lodge accommodates about 16 visitors. There is also Lake Kivu Lodge, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters and Tchegera Island Camp.
While planning for this adventure make sure that you have packed appropriately starting with waterproof hiking boots, camera, insect repellent, long sleeved shirts/T-shirts, bottle of water, sun screen, hats and many more.
The Virunga National Park can be reached by air and road From Kigali International Airport where you will spend about 3 hours. It is advisable to book through tour operators or rent 4×4 car with driver in Kigali because self drive is not recommended in DR Congo.
For visitors who wish to travel by air, there are international flights and the notable airlines to use are the Ethiopian airlines and many domestic airlines that set off and land into Goma airport.
Basing on the above discussion, gorilla tracking is exceptionally one of the most strenuous experiences that require you to be physically well. You have to be prepared before traveling for the actual trek. However, a face to face encounter with the rare mountain gorillas is such a magical experience that comes once in a lifetime.
Located about 40 kilometers from Bukavu Town Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Kivu province next to Lake Kivu, Kahuzi Biega National Park is credited for its fascinating Eastern Lowland gorillas. The park covers an area of about 6000 square kilometers which makes it one of the largest protected areas in the DRC.
The park was gazetted in 1970’s primarily to offer refuge to the Great apes-Grauer’s gorillas. The Lowland gorillas are the largest sub-species of gorillas in Africa. About 284 Grauer’s gorillas are known to thrive in Kahuzi Biega National Park out of the total of population of 5000. When it comes to gorilla trekking safaris, visitors do not only look out for a group of these fascinating apes but also other wildlife.
About 135 species of mammal, 336 bird life and 12 other primate species including the Eastern chimpanzees, L’Hoests, the Blue monkeys, the black and white colobus many more can be sighted while on a gorilla safari in this spectacular protected area. Kahuzi Biega National Park is incredibly the best spot for you to catch a glimpse of the lowland gorillas while in their natural habitat.
Additionally, Kahuzi Biega National Park is a home to 2(two)Volcanoes; Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega from which the park derived its name. Kahuzi Biega is strategically located at the mountainous and low-lying area making it one of the diverse protected areas with several Albertine Rift endemic species and 69 reptile species and 44 amphibian species. With countless biodiversity that is inhabited in its jungles, the park is one of the popular UNESCO world heritage sites that you can visit if you are planning to take a safari to DRC. However, guided safaris are highly recommended to this park other than self drive. If you can’t not afford a guided safari offered by tour operators, at least you can cheaply hire a car with driver to act as a local guide and drive you through DR Congo.
The Congolese Institute for Wildlife and Nature Conservation together with other conservation bodies amidst the civil wars, have tirelessly conserved not just the Eastern Lowland gorillas at Kahuzi Biega National Park alone but also several wildlife species within its habitat. With these collective efforts, Eastern Lowland gorilla tourism and conservation at Kahuzi Biega National Park has stood for years as it generates revenue not only to the government of Congo but also the local communities.
Regardless of political insecurity in DRC, Kahuzi Biega National Park still remains safe and secure for lowland gorilla trekking as the political unrest impact is primarily experienced in some parts of the Virunga National Park particularly in the Eastern part and Northern Kivu Province. Although the 1990’s civil wars caused much impact on the Eastern Lowland gorillas and other wildlife species as well as their habitat due to poaching, the current safety around the Park has led to increasing number of tourists have been and still visiting the park mainly for Eastern Lowland gorillas and other wildlife species as well as paying a visit to adjacent local communities.
The Grauer’s gorilla conservation in the DR Congo has been boosted by continuous efforts and initiatives on habituation of new gorilla groups, establishing a visitor center and accommodation facilities, introduction of more exciting tourism activities especially birding, volcano hiking experiences, empowering the local community members, training and equipping the park rangers so as to ensure longer visitor stay in the park. Like mountain gorilla trekking, Eastern Lowland trekking also allows visitors to spend only one hour with the apes. Permits for this lifetime experience cost $ 400 per person.
With about 12 groups that in Kahuzi Biega National Park, only two habituated gorilla families have been set for gorilla trekking while more two are also still under going habituation process and they will add the number to 4 (four) troops. The more habituated gorilla families, the more opportunities for trekkers to achieve their time dreams! Gorilla treks at Kahuzi Biega National Park start at Tschivanga visitor centre and the trek normally takes around 1 to 6 hours depending on location of their group, speed of the visitors, and nature of the habitat.
Trekking habituated gorilla families is advantageous as they come with many gorillas and this is of great benefit to trekkers as they are able to catch a glimpse of the silverback gorillas, female gorillas, infants, juveniles and sub silverback gorillas. Equally, tracking the Eastern Lowland gorillas also allows only 8 (eight) visitors per gorilla group.
The two habituated gorilla groups in Kahuzi Biega National Park include the following;
Chimanuka gorilla group:
The Chimanuka family was named after the silverback gorilla-Chimanuka. This is the largest troop that you shouldn’t miss to track while on safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park. It is composed of about 37 gorillas, 17 female gorillas, 19 infants of about six months and nine years. The group is credited for its four sets of twins some thing very unique with the Eastern gorilla populations.
Mugaruka Gorilla Group:
Mugaruka a dominant silverback gorilla that lost one of his hands to poachers’ trap and currently he is the dominant silverback gorilla in Mugaruka family just after losing his female gorilla and many infants during the fight with Chimanuka. The Mugaruka troop is popularly called the last born of the sons of the late patriarch, Mushamuka. This silverback was born in 1987 and at the age of 3 (three) he got trapped in poachers’ snares which made him to lose his right hand. When he turned 10 years, he took over his father’s gorilla family-Mushamuka. Between 1999 and 2007, Mugaruka encountered many challenges from Chimanuka that led to loss of most of the members to Chimanuka. By 2007, Mugaruka also lost his last female gorilla known as Lushasha and his first born Cubaka which explains why he is the only gorilla in the group.
The other groups that are still under going habituation include the Mankoto and Mpungwe
When it comes to where to stay while on gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park, there are no safari lodges within the park but there are some near by accommodations like Exodus Hotel, Horizon Hotel, Coco Lodge, Hotel Begonias, Ruby Guest House, Orchids Safari Club or alternatively you can go for camping offers.
In conclusion, Kahuzi Biega National Park offers visitors yet another exciting gorilla adventure of lifetime. If you are planning your mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park, do not forget to visit Kahuzi Biega National Park for lowland gorilla trekking experiences.
With regards to climatic conditions in Uganda, the nation has a tropical climate and its degrees of temperature extend from around 22 to 25 degrees Celsius aside from that the mountainous areas are way cooler due to elevation. For instance, the isolated well-known snow capped Mountain Elgon. Just like other countries the Uganda has both dry and rainy seasons. The driest of the season is the traverse from December to February.
Uganda sometimes is extremely rainy in some months particularly in the middle of March and May then amidst October and November. In these months, the temperature is not only cold but it’s difficult to explore some parts of the country due to the roads getting muddy and vehicles frequently stuck on muddy road and its recommended that you use a 4×4 safari vehicle in case you to visit the country during these rainy seasons.
So which season is best for safaris to Uganda? The best time to visit Uganda on a safari is between the dry seasons of the year which include the months of January and February then June to September. Amid this time the parks are dry, wildlife become more visible during these months and you can see them in plenty under the good weather condition. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is also best done in these months because there is less chances of rain and the vegetation is not much think in the jungle.
What kind of garments would it be a good for you to park while on your safari to Uganda? Carrying flimsy clothes is the best idea in case you are to have a safari to Uganda in the dry season obviously not overlooking a warm cloth for the evening. Solid leather shows are better for gorilla trekking and similar activities like Chimpanzee tracking alongside tops that are long sleeved to protect you from the mosquitoes and other insects in the parks. Like said already, Mountainous regions are always cold ensnaring you require extra warm clothes if you are organizing a trip to these areas. The color of the clothes you pack also matter, white and cream clothes will get dirty easily due to the dust on the roads. Try and pack dull colored clothes.
Where is Uganda found? The country is found in the eastern part of Africa. It lies on the top of Rwanda and Tanzania, left of Kenya, right of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and bottom of South Sudan. Uganda is found right in the center of the Great Lakes region, and is surrounded by the three of them, Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, and Lake Edward. In spite of most of Uganda’s borders being lake-shore, Uganda is a landlocked nation and has no ingress to the sea.
The vast majority trust that tourism in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is just about the mountain gorillas. I used to believe that as well, owing to a severe advertising and reputation these primates have gotten, especially in Rwanda and the Virunga in general. But being with hope of starting a tour company this year, I had to find out everything by myself and my trip to DRC opened my eyes to some of the hidden gem DRC offers.
In the eastern part of DRC on the western bank of Lake Kivu situated the Kahuzi Biega National Park one of those hidden treasure of this unstable country. This is a tourist destination that has been less visited, mostly inferable from DRC’s notoriety for being a conflict ridden nation. In any case, the national park offers an amazing adventure experience in a peaceful environment to sightseers and travelers alike as I as of late discovered.
I traveled with more 2 friends and when we reached at the headquarters of the park, we got a guide told us Kahuzi Biega National Park was set up in 1970. It covers a total land area of 600,000 square kilometers, and is found in the eastern part of DRC in Bukavu Town on the Rwandan border.
The national park vegetation cover is swamps, marshlands, lowlands, bogs and tropical rainforests. These support an assorted variety of wildlife and bird species in the national park. We enjoyed all these when we travelled to this park. Booking for a safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park can be made in advance through any reputable tour company orperating in the country like African Jungle Adventures Ltd, Virunga Community Programs or some other companies operating in DRC.
Locals in DRC were friendly and welcoming, particularly when you address them in Swahili.
Lowland gorilla trekking
Kahuzi Biega National Park harbors the biggest species of the eastern lowland gorillas in the entire world. It has thus turn into a best tourist destination for lowland gorilla safaris. Gorilla trekking normally involves hiking in the tropical rainforest and tracking different trails, depending on where the gorilla group spent their previous night.
The tracking time before you meet the gorillas may go from 30 minutes to 8 hours in the thick jungle. Nonetheless, you are allowed a maximum of one hour to interact with the gorillas after reaching them; taking in their behaviors, observing them as they do their daily activities . This hour will spend in the presence of these amazing animals will provide you with a lifetime experience to tell.
The national park being home to around 342 different bird species and 42 of them are endemic to the national park. This is a good reason why the park is a destination for bird lovers. Among the feathered creatures you are probably going to spot here incorporate Yellow Crested Helmet-Shrike, African Green Broad Bill and the Congo Peafowl and many others.
Your trip to this park may get more interesting since Kahuzi Biega isn’t just about the lowland gorilla trekking. Climbing is a most loved activities to numerous as I discovered here. There are pair of dormant volcanic mountains found within the park you can climb. Mount Kahuzi is the most elevated at 3,308m above sea level while Mount Biega, the smaller of the two stands at 2,790m over the sea level.
The summits of these two mountains give a bird eye’s view of the whole national park, the wildlife, the neighboring communities and nations. Besides, bamboo and subalpine vegetation that is home to different cover these two volcanoes. This gives the tourists an opportunity to encounter diverse animals like owl-faced monkeys in addition to an assortment of birds.
Tourists here can follow various trails in this tropical rainforest to different tourism sites. The trails prompt different destinations, for example, the Chibati waterfalls and three different waterfalls found in the national park. Experienced guides will lead you in spotting different types of vegetation and wildlife in this national park. Nature here is at its flawless with tourists able to hear the sounds of singing birds up the trees and the cool air to freshen the brain of the tired visitor. When you leave from the park, you’ll have a clear mind and more knowledge about wildlife in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and a tour to this stunning park is a memorable one to enjoy.
Visiting Rhinos by foot in Uganda is one of the compelling “added to the list” rhino tracking en-route the most bio-diverse and largest national park in Uganda – The Murchison Falls National Park. Rhinos in the country were wiped out in 1991 when the only surviving Black Rhino was poached up-north of Uganda in a remote wildlife reserve of Kidepo Valley National Park.
Right now Rhinos can only be found in the Uganda Wildlife Education Center UWEC) found in Entebbe and too at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongora as it were. The sanctuary being located on the highway to the Murchison falls National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park, has give the satisfactory stop and chance for tourists to Kidepo Valley National Park or Murchison Falls National Park to en-route track the rhinos before they proceed. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is found 7kms off the Kampala-Gulu Highway to the sanctuary headquarters and gives an awesome chance to tourists to encounter one of the Big 5.
The sanctuary is found in around 180 kilometer by road north of Kampala the capital of Uganda, its located in Nakasongola district in Kafu River Basin it is possible to use a rental car from Kampala. In spite of the fact that most tourists visit the sanctuary in guided tours, it can also be visit by self driver tourists by hiring a car in Kampala. In case you are on self drive tour or road trip in Uganda, you can hire a vehicle in Kampala from one of the many car rental agencies in the country and head north to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking.
The re-introduction of Rhinos in Uganda is now in 3 phases to later have these endangered animals fully in the Uganda wildlife parks. Managed by NGO – The Rhino Fund Uganda is a non-profit organization that initially introduces two Rhinos in the UWEC and later extended by obtaining a 70squar kilometers land in Nakasongola district 180kms from Kampala.
Right now the organization is on second phase of breeding rhinos and is pleased to have 11 new born in the sanctuary after 25 years. The first Rhino was introduced from The United States and later got another from Kenya and guess what? The off spring was named after the president of America with a Kenyan background OBAMA. The other groups were obtained from South Africa and Kenya again which right now make 14 rhinos in this sanctuary and have lost only one young rhino since the breeding season. The Last stage will be the re-introduction of these rhinoceros into their natural habitats which are Uganda’s National Parks like Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls Nation Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and others.
In spite of the fact that the loss of natural habitats still remains an issue and viewed as a threat, poaching is the main threat of these animals conservation in most African nations and East Asia. Rhino poaching is fueled by the high demand of rhino horn in china and Vietnam as a traditional medicine and consequently the Locals are utilized and paid much money to get hold of these Rhino horn. It is not a surprise that the rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary are monitored 24-7 with armed guards around them.
A day visit at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary starts with payment of the $45 at the headquarters and later doled out a ranger guide who will brief you about all the history of the sanctuary and even the rules you have to fallow when you with the rhinos and later take you into the jungle to track rhinos. You advised to carry water proof boots goes with a reason that the sanctuary lies in an extension of a swamp and sometimes these rhinos are close water sources. And always you are required to drive two or three kilometers within the sanctuary before you start tracking on foot.
Rhino tracking activity always take from 40minutes to 1hour and takes you through the rich green canopies and acacia dotted trees that would expect you to carry Insect repellents and sunglasses. In case you to spend a more days here, there are other activities you can enjoy in the sanctuary including, night nature walk with a chance to spotting leopards, the shoebill canoe ride and also bird watching with the sanctuary.
To put it clear most of the money paid is for the protection of the Rhinos and community development projects.
Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls the district of Kapchorwa, northeast of Sironko and Mbale in the eastern part of the country. The waterfalls are found on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park close to the Kenyan border.
In most cases the falls is the starting point of most hikes up Mt. Elgon. The most famous route begins in Budadiri and takes after the Sasa trail to the summit and afterward dives down the Sipi trail again into the Sipi Falls. Climbs around the falls offer amazing views of Lake Kyoga, the Karamoja plains and the slops of Mt. Elgon.
This trip to Sipi Falls you will need a long weekend. You’ll see absolutely new human and physical geography, and it really gets cold at night! You will have to book your accommodation in advance before you travel. My best budget accommodation in the area is The Crow’s Nest. Be that as it may, I generally remain at Lacam Lodge, the strong mid-range option. Its calm, has perfect multi-course meals, and sits ideal over the main water fall.
On Friday you will have to leave Kampala at around midday in case you’re on self drive trip and in case you going to use public transport, you will need to put in Bus Park at around mid morning and board YY coaches, they leave Kampala almost every hour to all places of the country. The buses are comfortable and they have Wi-Fi. They park in Qualicel Bus Terminal in Kampala city center. The drive from Kampala to Mbale is approximately. Once you will reach in Mbale town you board a Taxi to Kapchorwa and from there it’s about 1 hour drive, Sipi Falls. All lodgings are signposted of the main road and are easy to find. There’s hardly any going ahead in Sipi, so you’ll likely have dinner and drinks at your lodge. In case you reach in the afternoon, it’s absolutely worth a walk.
Saturday: Ask the reception at any lodge where you spent the night and they organize a half or full day climb through the falls. Nor are more than a scramble, and you don’t need to be fit, yet you do need to organize a packed lunch in case you choose a full day option. Need somewhat more thrill? Get some information about the abseiling. Appreciate an evening with drinks and astonishing sunset over the valley below.
Sunday: Coffee tour. Still you can ask at the reception how to can enjoy a coffee tour, Sipi Falls area is the main coffee producing area in the country. Starbucks sells it. Here you will get a chance to go through the whole process of making coffee from garden to cup. You even get the opportunity to grind your own beans toward the end. In case you’re a coffee drinker, don’t leave this place without buying espresso beans. After you return to the lodge for lunch and then hit the road back to Kampala.
Many of us have seen gorillas before caged in the zoos but we have never seen them in their natural setting all free to do and move in which every location they may want to. It is an epic experience to see gorilla up close in their natural environment. This is only made possible if you visit Africa. Africa is the only continent on earth with the gorillas in their natural setting and this makes an outstanding place to enjoy the gorillas at their best behavior while in the jungle. Gorillas are not spread all over Africa; they are found in a few places of Africa that is across the tropical rain forest region of west, central and East Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species of western gorilla and eastern gorillas, and later subdivided into four species where the western gorillas have the western lowland and the cross river gorillas, and the eastern gorillas have the eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas. These gorillas are classified by the location and physical nature of their habitats.
We shall not go into details of each and every species of gorillas, lets emphases on the experience of visiting the mountain gorillas because with them we can make a tourist/visitor watch them in their natural setting. Mountain gorillas are only found in Rwanda, Uganda and the Dr. Congo. The first 2 destinations are most popular for gorilla trekking tours, while the later is experiencing some political instabilities that hinder the development of gorilla tourism in the country. Most travelers prefer to track gorillas in both destinations, and there are many gorilla tour packages with such arrangements such as the 5 day gorilla trek Uganda package, takes you to both Volcanoes National Park Rwanda and Mgahinga or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas are endangered species under the red list of international union of conversation for nature (IUCN). This implies that mountain gorillas can get extinct if conservation efforts are not made. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas in the world. The population also validates the mountain gorillas being endangered species.
We shall not keep on mourning on the damaged caused by the past generation of decreasing the mountain gorillas let’s focus on the future. Seeing the gorillas up close is one of conserving the gorillas since the money paid to meet the mountain gorillas goes to the conservation efforts and work. Gorillas can be seen up close mostly in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in the southwest of Uganda and the volcanoes national park in the northeast of Rwanda and Virunga national park in DR. Congo is not a popular destination due to the past insecurity that was taking place but now it is in progress to be a perfect place to watch these gentle giants.
The experience of tracking gorillas in the African jungle in these wonderful national parks is an exhilarating one. It takes the tourists 2-6 hours to find the mountain gorillas in their natural environment as they have to walk through the forest of Virunga or Bwindi to see the gorillas and these creatures are nomadic animals that move from one place to another looking for food and shelter. But the challenge the gorilla trackers go through is forgotten when come up close with the gorillas. Gorillas are huge creatures that weigh around 160 kgs and stand 150 cms in height but very peaceful and interesting animals to watch and interact with. Gorillas have special social characters that are displayed among themselves that leave very many visitors mesmerized; that is, the way they take care of their young ones, their communications, their ability to use tools like branches of trees for protection and also gather food and also the respect their give to their head of the family the silverback. Apart from watching, the gorillas do their social magic, the trackers are also able to take beautiful photos and record videos.
The experience of seeing the gorilla up close is a lifetime one, so plan for your gorilla vacation and come visit the mountain gorillas in their natural setting. There are very many online tour operators that organize gorillas safari trips in Uganda and Rwanda. Book your gorilla permit before they are sold out since they are always on high demand.
In Uganda, each gorilla permit costs US$600 for Foreign Non residents, US$475 for East African Foreign Residents and 250.000 Uganda shillings for Ugandans. Further more, Uganda has promotional permits in Low seasons every year (April, May and November), where each gorilla permit costs US$450 for foreign non-residents. However, you should contact your Travel agent or Uganda Wildlife Authority for validity every year.
In Rwanda, a gorilla trekking permit costs US$750 for foreign non-residents, US$450 for foreigners living/working in all East African countries excluding Rwanda, US$375 for foreigners working / living in Rwanda and 30.000 Rwanda Francs for Rwandan residents.