Category: accommodation

Gorilla Forest Camp in Bwindi National Park

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Gorilla Forest Camp; The Top Notch Lodge In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 530 km from Kampala which takes between 8 to 10 hours’ drive to complete the journey. This puts the tourists taking a Uganda safari to see gorillas at a point where they will have to spend an overnight near the park to go gorilla trekking next day morning and then plan the return journey the day that follows. Even if they opt to fly, the gorilla trekking encounter starts at 8am and no flight that arrives in Bwindi before that time. This means that you ares till required to spend a night around the park.

Sanctuary-gorilla-Forest-Camp
Gorilla Forest Camp

Spending an overnight in Bwindi is something the tourists to Uganda for gorilla tracking in Bwindi forest always take key note of. This comes with the lodge selection which is also influenced by the level of travel budget. The Gorilla Sanctuary, also known as Gorilla Forest Camp is located in the Buhoma Area which is the daring region for gorilla trekking activity and it is re-known as the pioneer region of this activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, thus most travellers planning to do a gorilla safari to Uganda tend to opt for it though the competition for gorilla permits tend to leave out the majority.

Located at close distance from the Buhoma Park entrance inside the Impenetrable Forest, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp offers top notch overnight accommodation to upmarket world travelers. Its Accommodation is offered in a range of eight luxury tents which are very spacious and stylish with each tent having two queen sized beds, in supplement to the warm beds, the rooms feature huge bathtub looking into the impenetrable forest ideal for soaking the tired muscles after a daylong gorilla tracking experience.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp has impressive forest views and an ample open place and a lounge in a very calm environment only interrupted by the songs of birds and mountain gorillas that occasional visit to the lodge.

gorilla-forest-camp

Planning a flying Gorilla Safari and stay at Gorilla Sanctuary

You need 3 days and 2 nights to complete a 3 days Uganda gorilla safari with a single gorilla trek. If you need more than one trek, then you need more than 3 days, for example, some tourists want to do 2 gorilla treks, we call it double gorilla tracking, where you visit two different gorilla groups. Below is a typical 3 day flying gorilla safari to see gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and and stay for 2 nights at Gorilla Forest Camp.

Organizing a Gorilla Tracking Tour – Initial States

If you want to see the gorillas in the wild (In their natural habitat), it means you must fly to Africa, the only place one can see the mountain gorillas in the wild. According to the gorilla census 2011, there are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the whole world, and this population is found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, gorilla tourism in DR Congo is less developed due to political instabilities.

aerolink
Aero Link Uganda Plane

As you plan a holiday to see gorillas in the wild in Bwindi forest, start with identifying your intended travel dates. After that, then check for availability of International Flights from your home country to Entebbe International Airport. If the flights available fit your intended travel dates, please go ahead and make tentative booking.

The next step is to check for availability of gorilla trekking permits through local Travel Agents / Tour Operators or you can inquire and book direct through Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala. If you happen to find gorilla permits available on your preferred dates, please go a head and confirm your flights. In case you happen to find no permits, better you find alternative dates. The demand for gorilla permits is very high throughout the year. One is thus advised to book early at least 2 months in advance. Further more, you should get availability of rooms at Gorilla Forest camp in Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

If you find no space, there are other gorilla trekking lodges around Buhoma such as Mahogany Springs Lodge, Buhome Lodge, Gorilla Resort and Bwindi Forest Lodge among others. Then you must book a regional flight in advance from Entebbe Airport to Kihihi Airstrip, and there must be arrangements for transfer by road from Kihihi Airstrip to Gorilla Forest lodge. We have both daily scheduled and private charter flights operating along this route. Scheduled daily flights are offered by Aerolink Uganda Limited, while Private Charters are offered by Kampala Aero Club and Eagle Air. Tour Operators can help you will all arrangements like booking permits, accommodation and flights.gorilla_safari

At this moment, we assume that all bookings are confirmed and it,s time to fly to Entebbe International Airport. If you booked through a local tour company, you will find a representative from that company waiting for you at the airport. Usually they carry a placard bearing your name. To get this, you should inform the Agent about your arrival date, time and flight number. Local based safari companies usually offer free airport transfers to guests, or at a subsidized cost.

If you made private arrangements without involving a tour company, then you need to organize for airport transfer to your pre-booked hotel around Entebbe International Airport. Depending on the flight you booked, get ready to fly from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi Airstrip in Western part of Uganda. It is less than 60 minutes flight. At Kihihi Airstrip, you will find a safari vehicle awaiting for you, and then drive for 90 minutes to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, arrive in time for lunch at Gorilla Sanctuary, relax in our cottages as we wait for evening entertainment from the Batwa people (Local community). Gorilla Forest camp is some times visited by mountain gorillas.

GFC dinning
GFC Dining

The next day is for gorilla tracking adventure, get up early for heavy breakfast walk to the park headquarters for a briefing about the trek. You will be divided into groups of 8 persons maximum and assigned to a gorilla group. Start a guided walk in accompaniment of armed rangers, trackers and park guides. Depending on the movement of the gorillas in the forest, the trek can take between 1 and 7 hours. Its quiet strenuous and a certain level of fitness is advised. Sight and stay with gorillas is one hour, take photos and videos with gorillas. You will be receiving advise and guidance from the guide in the whole process. After the trek, descend to the base, have lunch and take a forest walk if interested. Dinner and overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp.

This is the 3rd day and your last day in Bwindi Impenetrable forest. Have breakfast and hit the road back to Kihihi Airstrip, then get a plane to Entebbe International Airport for your onward flight or for lunch and dinner at your hotel around Entebbe or Kampala.

Mahogany Springs Lodge in Bwindi Forest – Uganda

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Mahogany springs Lodge ranks luxurious in Bwindi impenetrable national Park – Buhoma community. This unique lodge with a mixture of traditional and international blends has become one of the thought after accommodation by tourists. The lodge has been constructed to make a difference with all details put into consideration.
mahogany-springs-lodgeMahogany Springs provides excellent services to clients’ satisfaction- provided by professional and highly trained staff employed at Mahogany Spring Lodge. Mahogany Springs is one of the perfect lodges to reside in a night before and after your Gorilla trekking experience in the northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Lucky visitors can be visited by the Gorillas at the Lodge.
While at Mahogany Springs Lodge, visitor can track five Gorilla groups like Rushegura, Mubare, Habinyanja, Oruzogo and Bitukura the last two gorilla families requiring a drive to reach the starting point.

The other activities include, forest and nature walks, Buhoma Village walk that takes you around tea and banana plantations, the home of the Batwa who once inhabited the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest but were chased out of the office when this forest was gazetted as a national park.
Mahogany Springs comprises of suites constructed and designed to utilize the surrounding beauty. Each room has large and wide windows to allow for freshening views of the forest and the nearby plantations. All suites/rooms have en suite bathrooms, dressing table and all beds have mosquito nets to protect you from any mosquito bite. Mahogany springs is one of the few lodges that have Hydro Electric power so while at the lodge, you can charge your cameras, phones and what ever else that is there to charge.

3 Day Uganda gorilla safari, 2 Nights at Wagtail Eco Camp

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WagtailEcoCampWagtail Eco safari camp is one of the most affordable Uganda safari camps in southern Bwindi National Park, a home to mountain gorillas in Uganda. Wagtail Eco camp offers accommodation in cottages and tents.

Our cottages and tents are all self-contained with ensuite bathrooms and toilets. We also have hot running water in our showers. The cottages are built using natural fabrics to blend with the environment!

Wagtail eco camp offers a perfect start point for gorilla tracking in Bwindi national park. The camp is located just a few minutes drive (5-10minutes) to the briefing point for all gorilla groups in southern Bwindi national Park. Accommodation at this camp is very affordable at USD90 per night for a single room, and USD120 per night for a double room on full board basis. The rates can change without notice depending on the season.

Below is a day by day itinerary for a 3 day Uganda gorilla safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with 2 nights at Wagtail Eco Camp.

Day 1: Transfer to Bwindi National Park – Wagtail Eco Camp

Breakfast followed by a scenic drive to Bwindi impenetrable National Park. This is an 8 to 10hours journey, going through small villages / trading centers and some big towns such as Masaka town, Lyantonde town, Mbarara town where we normally stop for lunch at Agip Motel and Kabale town. Arrive at Wagtail Eco Camp by late afternoon or early evening, dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Life time event / Community walk

Heavy breakfast at Wagtail Eco camp and drive to the park headquarters for a briefing about mountain gorilla tracking in southern Bwindi national park. The gorilla groups available this side includes Kahungye, Businjye, Mishaya, Nshongi group and others. The trek is quite strenuous and time taken depends on the movement of gorillas. It is unpredictable because these gorillas are on free movement in their natural environment. You will be allowed to stay with gorillas for 60 minutes maximum, take photos and videos, etc. Always keep a distance of 7 meters. However, some times a gorilla may come close to you. Do not shout at them. Silence is very important. Return to your Wagtail Eco camp for lunch, time permiting, you can take a forest walk in the evening to see more birds, or take a community walk through Nkuringo or Rushaga areas, dinner and overnight stay at Wagtail Eco safari camp.

Day 3: Reserved for departure

Heavy breakfast at wagtail Eco camp, followed by transfer to back to Kampala, enroute lunch in Mbarara town at Agip Motel, another stop over at the Equator for photographs, arrive in Kampala by early evening. Depending on your arrangements, we can drop you to your pre-booked hotel around Kampala, or transfer you to Entebbe International Airport for your scheduled departure flight. This marks the end of your 3 days gorilla safari adventure in Uganda to Bwindi national park with 2 nights at Wagtail Eco camp.

To book this tour package, send an email to info@cheapgorillasafaris.com

The price quoted will include a gorilla permit per person, private transport from Kampala and back in a 4WD safari vehicle, enroute meals and bottled mineral water for refreshment, 2 night accommodation at wagtail eco camp on Full board, all tour activities as per the itinerary, services of a professional English speaking driver / tour guide.

 

Uganda tour firms fights Hotel VAT down to make Uganda Safaris affordable

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The Uganda safari Operators within Uganda’s tourism industry have asked the government to totally abolish the 18% VAT on up country hotels and lodges since the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) will soon implement a tourism levy in 2014.The operators Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association (UHOA) and the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) also want the government to allocate more funds to marketing Uganda as a tourism destination like other countries in the region. This will increase the number of tourists coming for wild Uganda safaris and gorilla tours.

“We’re grateful to the government for having considered our appeal to review charging of VAT on accommodation for upcountry lodges and hotels for at least a year.“But what we’re saying is that the government should abolish the multiple taxation on hotel/lodging facilities and services and instead implement the tourism levy which directly support development in this sector,” Samuel Balagadde the Executive Director of the Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association said in Kampala last week.

Balagadde said the government should continue recognizing the efforts of the private sector in promoting Uganda tourism and maintain the exemption of VAT on accommodation for upcountry lodges.
This he says will protect Uganda’s tourism market and stimulate further development in the sector.

In the reading of the 2013/14 national budget, finance minister Maria Kiwanuka instituted an 18% VAT tax on all hotel and lodge accommodations in upcountry Uganda. However, the parliament budget committee refused to confirm this tax following tough agitation from the tourism private sector.

The tax waiver was later confirmed by the Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Keith Muhakanizi in a letter he wrote to AUTO and UHOA.“I wish to inform you that exemption of VAT on accommodation for hotels and lodges outside Kampala District was reinstated during the passing of the VAT (Amendment Bill 2013/14),” Muhakanizi’s letter read in part.

Bulaimu Kibirige, the Chairman UHOA said it should be noted that tour operators normally sign contracts with foreign tour companies for two to three years based on agreed rates.“Similarly, providers of accommodation like hotels set their prices in brochures and Websites.The abrupt change in prices as a result of the VAT addition on accommodation had resulted into legal actions by clients who had made bookings in advance,” Kibirige said.

Barbra Adoso the Vice President of the Association of Uganda tour Operators said foreign tour operators make expensive brochures and undertake very expensive marketing strategies to market their packages.

“We too spend a lot of money traveling all over the world marketing Uganda as a prime destination at our own expense,” she said.Kibirige said Uganda is still largely an unknown destination and the tourist numbers are still minimal to other East African states.

“We’re committed to partner with the government in strategic marketing of the country’s diverse products to attract leisure travelers,” Balagadde said.

Balagadde said the private sector can work with the government to shape the country image abroad that has been spoilt due to public protests.

Marriott to take over Protea hotels

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Delicious: Protea Hotels is the largest hotel group in Africa with the most extensive footprint; more than 116 hotels throughout South Africa and six other African countries including Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – Marriott International, Inc.  And South Africa’s Protea Hospitality Holdings last week announced a tentative deal in which the US-based chain is to buy Protea’s three brands and management company. 

proteaThe deal is expected to be closed by April 1, 2014.   According to a statement availed to customers signed by Marriot International, Inc. Account Manager, Kirsty Kirsten, under terms of the agreements Marriott will pay approximately about $186 million at current exchange rates, subject to normal closing adjustments.

Protea Hotels is the largest hotel group in Africa with the most extensive footprint; more than 116 hotels throughout South Africa and six other African countries, including Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania. Protea do serve all luxury international travelers that comes to Africa on their safaris and conferences.

The transaction is subject to receipt of certain third party and governmental consents, including exchange control approval from the South African Reserve Bank and competition approval from the South African Competition Commission and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and satisfaction of other customary conditions for transactions of this kind.

According to the statement, Marriott does not expect the transaction will have a material impact on its 2014 results.

Protea has 116 hotels with 10,148 rooms in seven African countries including South Africa.

After April, Marriott will become the largest hotel company in the Middle East and Africa region, nearly doubling its distribution there to more than 23,000 rooms.

The statement said as part of the transaction, Protea Hospitality Holdings will create a property ownership company to retain ownership of the hotels it currently owns, entering into long-term management and lease agreements with Marriott for such hotels.

The property ownership company will also retain a number of minority interests in other Protea-managed hotels.

At closing Marriott will manage approximately 45% of the rooms, franchise approximately 39% of the rooms, and lease approximately 16% of the rooms.

Marriott and Protea announced on November 7, 2013 their intent to enter into this transaction.

Marriott International, Inc. is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with nearly 3,900 properties in 72 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $12 billion in fiscal year 2012.

The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 18 brands. Protea Hotels is the winner of two World Travel Awards for Best Hotel Group in Africa.

About the Author: Mathias, the writer is a senior tour consultant of Gorilla Expeditions Limited, a tour and travel company specialized in organizing Rwanda gorilla trips to Volcanoes national park. They also offer wild game safaris, chimpanzee tours and community walks, visit us on www.rwandagorillatrekking.com for details.