Category: Destination Rwanda

African Primates – L’Hoest and Colobus Monkeys

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L’ Hoest Monkey

They are commonly found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo is a very dark.
L’hoest Monkeys are richly colored animal with a pure white chin ruff framing on the face and white patches under their eyes. L’ hoest Monkeys are also called Mountain Monkey.

Males L’hoest monkeys are larger than the females and have bright mauve testes. The leave and move in troops of about 17 individuals dominated by females under the leadership of two adult males.african-primates

L’hoest Monkeys feed on leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits and insects; occasionally will eat bird eggs, lizards and even small birds.

The number of L’hoest monkeys is declining due to poaching, deforestation especially in Democratic Republic of Congo where they are hunted for meat. Therefore, it is true to argue that the L’hoest monkey is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

In Uganda, L’hoest Monkeys are found in Kibale, Kalinzu and Kalinzu which are medium altitude forest. In Rwanda, L’hoest monkeys are found in Nyungwe forest and Kahuzi Biega National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Black and White Colobus Monkeys

Colobus are large monkeys with a head and body length longer at 78cm. Fur is black with white or greyish whiskers and epaulettes and a white tail. There is no thumb or greatly reduced. Newborn infants are pure white, obtaining their adult markings by 3 – 4 months. Colobus monkeys live in African forests and move in troops of 3 – 15 members, while the red colobus live in larger groups with many males. They rarely come to the ground, but they do it occasionally to pick up fallen fruit.

Black and White Colobus Monkeys in Rwanda
Black and White Colobus Monkeys in Rwanda

Black – and – white colobus monkeys feed on both young and mature leaves, but they also eat fruit, flowers and woody twigs. In Uganda, they are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Semiliki National park, Kibale forest National park and in Rwanda, they are found in Nyungwe Forest National park with a semi-habituated troop of 400 species.

Rwanda Tourism Stakeholders Convey Thanks for Lion Pride

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lionToday, will all the required arrangements placed in Akagera National Pak in the eastern part of Rwanda along the Tanzanian boarder. Next month eight lions from Kenya are going to be introduced to this country to restore the world of lion ‘King of the Jungle’ in the country.

Previously the lion populations inside and in areas surrounding the park where eliminated by cattle keepers attempting to protect their animals together with villagers scared of raids, poaching, frequently using poison and imposing a harsh death on these big cats.

African Parks has improved the electric fence on Akagera National Park through adding on it height and also adding a base element to guarantee that the lions won’t be able to jump over the fence or try to crawl below it.

The return of these lions next month will offer visitors with the extra amazing attraction of being able to see at least 4 of the big 5 in the country with only the Rhino missing from the listing.

Local partners in the Rwanda tourism industry in the Kigali passed on their thanks that the Kenyan Government which has authorized the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to deliver the pride lions into Rwanda. They crediting this to the solid and friendly relationship between these two nations, that alongside Uganda a year prior shaped the “Coalition of the Willing” joined by common objectives to improve infrastructure, support trade, as well as collaborate closely on several other sectors such as security cooperation.

What do Gorillas Eat?

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Items eaten by Gorillas

Gorillas are herbivores – they do not eat meat though some people thing they can eat small animals but this is not true. Gorillas spend most of their day time feeding on vegetation – The type of foods that they will mainly consume really depends in the region in which the gorillas live.

Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National park Rwanda
Mountain Gorillas feeding – Volcanoes National park Rwanda

The following are some of the items on which Gorillas feed

In times of scarcity, gorillas can eat insects like white ants and termites – being intelligent; gorillas are capable of using tools like sticks to scoop termites from the ant hills or the ground.

Gorillas feed on fruits like passion fruits, jack fruits, mangoes, oranges among others. Such fruits contain vitamins which do well in the bodies of Gorillas.

They also feed on plant leaves – green leaves contain chlorophyll which promotes anti bodies hence fighting diseases. Green leaves contain food values that fight against diseases.

Gorillas feed on food stuffs like bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes among others. Such food stuffs are eaten raw – they are nutritious. The gorillas have sharp teeth that splits food into pieces – then swallowed after serious chewing.

Gorillas also feed on flowers – some flowers contain sugar content that attract gorillas chew them. Flowers contain nectar juice containing food values that attract Gorillas to spend time chewing them.

Gorillas also feed on Carrots and other sorted food like water melon, raw cassava among others. Sorted food is applied to Gorillas in the Zoo – in other words, Gorillas under control – not in natural environment.

Water helps them quench their thirsty – Gorillas drink water from lakes, rivers, water falls, pond among others – like human beings, Gorillas consume a lot of water in dry season than in wet season.

Gorillas eat stems of plants – the back skin from plants, feed by Gorillas.

The apes also feed on nuts – by the use of sticks to scoop them from the ground and they are more interested in Ground nuts and some other stems.

Gorillas also feed on twigs and shoots of plans – swigs are your tree branches and shoots are the young plant leaves which are have just come out.

Many stray animals returned to Akagera Park-Rwanda

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The installation of electronic fence around Akagera National Park has helped to control animals from escaping.

According to local leaders and Rwanda Development Board, the animals which had initially been left out of the fence have been menacing villages. According to nearby residents, the animals have been threats to the people. A few days ago a stray buffalo killed a peasant on his way to routine farming activities.

The Akagera Management Company Started an operation to send back the escaped animals inside in order to protect people’s crops.

“We sent back 20 buffaloes on Tuesday, totaling to 358 so far…inevitably, hundreds of animals remained behind the fence. There are several Zebras and other small animals that we will continue to push back to the park,” said Mutanga.

He went ahead to warn residents to be careful, while moving along the borders of the park, until all animals are pushed inside the park fence. “The operation may go as far as next year…this is when we can declare the whole stretch along the park safe. Until then, people should be careful and alert authorities whenever they see the animals moving out side the park.”

Leonard Karinganire, a resident of the area, however complained that the operation to rid the population of the animals was too slow.

Akagera national Park hosts a variety of animals and most likely by many tourists. Morning and afternoon game drives are done along side other activities. This wildlife national park protects the largest stock of animals in Rwanda.

You can extend your stay in Rwanda to Volcanoes national park for a 2 days gorilla tour that offers an adventure experience for life time. For details about Rwanda gorilla tours and safaris click here.

A Short Guide to Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda

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Nyungwe National Park is found in south western part of Rwanda, about 5 hours drive from Kigali capital. Though Rwanda is famously known for mountain gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe forest inhabits about 13 primate species and attracts thousands of visitors for chimpanzee tracking, black and white colobus monkey tracking, birding as well as canopy walk adventure among other activities.Hikers on Nyungwe canopy walk

Location: Nyungwe Forest is a high-altitude montane tropical rainforest located in Albertine rift in southern Rwanda and was established as a forest reserve in 1933. Nyungwe’s biodiversity is astonishing by African standards and is one of the most endemic species-rich areas in all of Africa.

Area: Nyungwe National Park covers an are of over 1000 km2. It is the largest montane forest in East and Central Africa, and famous for the highest concentration of primates with about 13 species.

Altitude: 1,600-2,950 meters above sea level

Rainfall: 1800-2500 mm per year.

Access: Road access is 225 Km from Kigali, 90 Km from Butare and 54 Km from Cyangugu. By road, it can take up to 5 hours to drive from Kigali.

Nyungwe national park can also be accessed by air from Kigali International airport to Kamembe airstrip and this is less than an hour flight. From Kamembe, its about 1 hours drive to Nyungwe forest.

Best viewing season: The best times to visit are during the drier seasons from June to September and December to March especially for birding.

Accommodation: Serene and luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge is the ideal home base for exploring the park. Differently, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel lives up to its name. Step out onto your private balcony or sit on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace for mist shrouded views of the national park and Lake Kivu.

Attractions: 13 species in all including humankind closest living relative the chimpanzee, as well as the handsome L’hoest monkey and hundred strong troops of the delightfully acrobatic Angola Colobus. The most important ornithological site in Rwanda, Nyungwe forest harbors almost 300 bird species of which two dozen are restricted to a handful of montane forests on the Albertine Rift.

Fauna: Leopard, Chimpanzee, Golden cat, Ruwenzori Colobus, l’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, Golden monkey, Serval cat, Owl-faced monkey, Side stripped jackal, Red-tailed monkey, Den’t mona monkey, Genet, Vervet monkey, Slender and marsh mongoose, African civet, Olive baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey and three species of bush baby
Viewing Hours: Chimpanzee tracking starts at 06:00 Hrs. However it can be visited daily from 7h00 to 18h00

Particularities: Nyungwe forest has more than 260 species of trees and shrubs, 275 bird species with 24 endemic to the Central African Highlands, Over 140 species of orchids and giant lobelias, a host of colorful orchids, 120 species of butterflies and Reptiles including three species of horned chameleons.

Must do activities
• Bird walks
• Primate trekking
• Excursions to Kamiranzovu Marsh
• Excursions to Lake Kivu and Gisakura tea factory
• Photography

More information about Nyungwe National park and other Rwanda tourist attractions, visit tourstorwanda.com.

Rwanda A Great African Safari Destination

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rwanda-gorillaRwanda is known for its rolling farmlands with a vibrant patchwork of colors and lush forested mountains. The country is also referred to as the ‘Country of a Thousand Hills’. In spite of its troubled past Rwanda is also a home to the welcoming and lovely people you may ever encounter.

Keen to move forward calmly tourists are immediately embraced in the warmth of its people and the kids’ happy smiles will brighten your soul. Tour guides take pleasure in clarifying how the country is re-building itself taking after the genocide of 1994 and they welcome tourists to their unique country. Memorials centers including those in Kigali (Gisozi) or Murambi Genocide Museum explains the history of the Genocide and a visit here is an emotional and pitiful experience.

For many tourists the visit to volcanoes National Park to see the wonderful mountain gorillas is a memorable wildlife experience and a short gorilla tour in Rwanda combines well with a safari in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. There are also direct flights from Nairobi to Kigali every day and you can be at your luxury lodge overlooking the Virunga mountain ranges within 3 hours by private road transfer.

Rwanda has a rich history and culture and whether you take a safari through the city and Genocide memorial centers, visit the lakes and waterfalls, soak in the breathtaking beach and shoreline of Lake Kivu, or wonder about the variety of the bird species in the area, you will be delighted to discover that the landscape here is as diverse as its history and a visit to Rwanda will stun you in every aspect.

When to go
Rwanda is located south of the equator and its altitude helps to maintain a temperate climate averaging 22 degrees in most months. This gives the ideal environment to produce the lush and beautiful farmlands and slopes for which it is famous.

Generally the first rains in Rwanda start in March and stretch out to April/May and the second shorter rains occur from October to the end of November. The dry seasons run from June to September and the end of November to the beginning of March.

Whilst there are normally defined “wet seasons” the weather at anytime can be rain one minute and sun-shine the next. Gorilla trekking is a year-round tour activity in Rwanda and in the forest, even in the dry season, it is usually damp foot. Up in the mountains it is cooler and hotels offer fire place and hot water bottles in your rooms to keep you warm during the night times.

Unforgettable gorilla safari in Africa

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Ironically, health risks to the gorillas have increased with the growth of gorilla tourism. Sharing 98% of human DNA, mountain gorillas are very susceptible to contracting human illnesses. Strict ‘gorilla etiquette’ rules apply when tracking, including observing a minimum distance of 7 meters and preventing anyone from tracking if they have a cold or other transmittable disease.

mountain-gorilla-eating-tuberNevertheless, it is not unheard of for gorillas to break the rules themselves, and approach human visitors. Sometimes rangers will advise you to step back, and sometimes there is little you can do to avoid contact. Let’s face it—if a two hundred pound silverback decides he wants to ruffle your hair, there is little you or anyone else can do about it.

It happened to one of our clients, in a chance encounter with a gorilla group passing through the gardens of his lodge. His experience was captured on video and used to promote African Wildlife Foundation, one of the major long term supporters of gorilla conservation, yet the inadvertent close contact seen in the film initially raised a few eyebrows in conservation circles.

The truth is, whilst Gorilla Doctors have identified the cause of death for some gorillas as infections that have originated as human viruses, they have not been able to say whether these came from the local community or visiting tourists.

Equally, gorillas also have their own viruses and bacteria. Currently, the team is collecting samples from the Sabyinyo group in Rwanda, who recently suffered a serious outbreak of respiratory illness. They may never ascertain the origin of this particular family’s problems, but there is an ongoing debate about whether tourists should do surgical masks while on a gorilla trek in Rwanda in order to minimize the chance of passing on any contagious diseases.

Furthermore, it seems there is a surprising correlation between habituated gorillas (gorillas that have learned to accept the presence of humans) and faster rates of population growth. Gorilla Doctors have ascertained that the annual rate of growth for the habituated gorillas in the Virunga is more than five times that of the un-habituated gorillas in the same area.

They attribute this pattern to the fact habituated gorillas can more easily benefit from ‘extreme conservation’ practices such as medical intervention. Simply put, completely wild gorillas are harder to treat when they develop illnesses, injure each other, or get trapped in snares. So while habituated gorillas may be more vulnerable to human illnesses, the net result of their habituation is having a greater chance of healthy population growth.

Tracking Gorillas and other wildlife in Uganda and Rwanda

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After reading deeply of nature documentaries one summer, my wife and I chose that we wanted to go not to Malaysia or Brazil, as we had been planning, for holiday, but to the wilds of Africa, where we could see the great outdoors populated by animals in relative purity.

gorilla-tours

It was something of a daunting idea: neither of us had been to Africa before, and neither of us knew anyone who had! But we went online and did our research. On the Internet, we found one company that offered excellent Rwanda safaris. So we booked a trip and soon were on our way!

The safari itself was amazing, a smorgasbord of all kinds of animals, from the very small to the very, very large. The places we stayed were comfortable, and we loved the intelligent, kind guides who dealt with all of our annoying requests and questions. Now, we are telling our friends to go!

The highlight for our Rwanda safari was gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park! Though the trek was very strenuous to me and some of our group members, thrill of encountering these gentle giants was worth the effort! It erased all the poor memories we through while searching for them.

Who ever goes for Rwanda safaris especially with gorilla tracking should carry some gloves to cover your from nettles, insect repellent, rain jacket, long sleeves shirts or blouse, long pants and bottled mineral water. You can also carry some snacks because the trekking time is not predictable! It can take the whole day depending to which gorilla group you are tracking. What is most important is the gorilla pass, that gives you permission to take a guided forest walk / hike in search for gorillas. Rwanda gorilla permits cost US dollars 750, while Uganda permits cost US dollars 600 each, and the number of permits available per day is limited. Each gorilla group is visited by a maximum of 8 persons per day.

During our gorilla trek in Rwanda, our park guide shared with us a story about a story of some Germans who went for Susa group and came back at 10pm towards Mid night. Susa gorilla group is biggest and farthest in Rwanda. On that day, Susa group was at very high altitude at 3000 meters above sea level. These Germans were warned by they insisted and went for this group. Helicopters were in place to ensure that the clients are safe until they came back. From our gorilla safari in Rwanda and Uganda, I must say that everyone should go gorilla trekking before you die. It’s a must do adventure activity.

Absolutely Amazing – A must do gorilla safari Africa!

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gorilla-safari-tourWe visited two families on our gorilla tour (on two separate days); the Amahoro family and the Susa family (studied by Dian Fossey). We were fortunate to visit the Amahoro family when they were lounging in a clearing so were able to get up very close and watch the family (including the dominant Silverback) interact with one another. On one occasion, an adolescent gorilla approached my sister curious of her camera. Of course, she had to back away though not for fear of the young gorilla which really just looked like it wanted to play.
The Susa family is one of the larger families’ habituated to human contacts and has many Silverbacks, females, adolescents and young babies. One particular moment of awe for me occurred when a young mother walked within a foot of where I was sitting with a 3 month old baby on her back, pausing briefly to eat. At that moment, the baby looked at me with big round, almost opaque eyes, and I knew I would have to return (indeed, we are planning a trip to Uganda in the next few years).

We saw 17 gorillas in all, including 1dominant silverback, which is the head of the family. We were told only male gorillas become silverbacks. Their backs become silver around 12 to 15 years of age. It is similar to how men get gray hair when they get older.

We also saw many other young adolescents playing in the trees, swinging from branch to branch and spent several minutes observing a young brash male, apparently inebriated from eating too many fermented bamboo shoots, try to impress with the occasional beating on his chest. While, the cost to visit with a gorilla family may be prohibitive for some, the chance to see these amazing animals (that share 97% of our DNA) in their natural habitat and contribute to Rwanda’s larger conservation efforts, well justifies the expense. Highly recommended!

Once we met up with the other two trackers, we had to take discuss more about the trek before we were awarded our gorilla tracking certificates at the headquarters. The certificate has your name and confirms that you successfully participated in a gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. The first tracker we met had me follow directly behind him so I was the first person again to appreciate the group we tracked. The first feeling that swept over me was one of relief that we actually got to see the gorillas. The tracker who guided us to the family took very good care of me. He always positioned me in a great spot to see the gorillas. I was very thankful to him.