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Is Uganda Safe For your Vacation?

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) assures visitors and tourists that the tourism facilities in Kampala and across Uganda are safe.

Media reports have sensationalized but the Government and the Police have assured the general public of safety and security

Uganda Tourism Board emphasizes that tourist visitation and activity in Uganda over the past weeks has been at normal levels due to the prevailing peace nationwide. To ensure and maintain the safety for all tourists, the Tourism Police, which is a unit of the Uganda Police Force, maintains a presence all around the country. The 1200 strong tourism police is the largest such force in the region.

UTB reassures visitors and tourists that all hotels and other tourism facilities in Kampala and around the country are safe and fully operational.

While in Uganda, you could also visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Parking Uganda home of the endangered mountain gorilla, spend a night on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi, the second deepest  lake in Africa, visit Queen Elizabeth National Park where over 640 bird species have been recorded.

Further north, you can go to the Murchison Falls National Park where the mighty Nile squeezes through a narrow gorge, only 7 metres (23ft) wide, before plunging 43 metres (141ft) below. If you are into fishing, the River Nile is a great area for sport fishing. Still north you can enjoy the hidden gem of Kidepo Valley National Park.

Away from the wild, you can enjoy the vibrant life of Kampala– the entertainment city of East Africa that never goes to sleep. Going East, you can travel to Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa where the Nile begins its journey to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The ashes of Gandhi, the great leader of India, were sprinkled at the source of the Nile in Jinja where they too began their journey to the rest of the world.

Not far from the airport, join the party at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre and get the opportunity to feed the animals. Or take a speed boat to Ngamba Island to meet one the chimps of the 100 acre island. Get close up with the chimps at their meal time. If you have time on you before your flight, go fishing (catch and let go) with the Ngamba team before taking your speed boat back and checking in.
Wherever you go in Uganda, you are sure to enjoy the best of the people—with 56 languages and dialects, you will sample as many cultures, foods, lifestyles – all linked by the smile and warmth that defines the people of Uganda. It is a nation that brings together all peoples and probably that is why Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were sent to the world from here at the source of the Nile.

 

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The Best Time To Visit Uganda

The best game viewing months in Uganda are during the dry seasons that are June, July and August as well as December, January and February. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Uganda. The habitat of rainforests is, by default, very wet and one can’t avoid rain completely. However, after heavy rains, the sky usually opens up to bright sunshine.

  • Best time to go: June to August and December to February (All parks)
  • High Season: June to September (It’s rarely crowded, but you’ll need to book your gorilla permits long in advance)
  • Low Season: March, April, May, October, November (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)
  • Best Weather: June-July and January-February (Little rainfall)
  • Worst Weather: March, April and May (Peak of wet season)
  • December to February and June to August – Dry Season

This is the best time to visit all national parks. It’s the good time to track gorillas because these are the drier months. The skies are clear, there is less rain and more sunshine. It’s easier to spot wildlife in the savannah reserves since vegetation is less and animals gather around water sources.

Despite being a high season months, the parks don’t feel crowded. Gorilla permits need to be booked very far in advance.

March up to May and September up to November-Wet Season : The sceneries  of the savannah reserves are greener and its low season, resulting in lower rates. Although wildlife in the savannah reserves is easier to spot in the dry season, you’ll still see plenty, including newborn animals in the wet season.

However some of the roads get very bad and cars often get stuck. Forest trails can become slippery and challenging. If it pours with rain, changes can’t be made in the expensive gorilla permit. Departures go as scheduled.

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Chimpanzee Habituation In Uganda

Chimpanzee habituation experience is for you if interested in learning more about the behavior of chimpanzees and subsequently spend more time in their presence. Please note that this is a scientific experience of getting chimps ‘used’ to humans. It does not mean you will be in the presence of chimps the whole time but you will learn about the chimps all round, collect their droppings, learn about their feeding habits, track them in case you find when they have left their nests. Here are some tips to help you prepare and enjoy your chimpanzee habituation experience.

Just like chimpanzee trekking permits, CHEX permits are booked and purchased prior to your safari especially when you have a particular date you are interested in. This means that once purchased the permits cannot be transferred or reimbursed in case you do not participate in the chimp habituation experience.

You need to wear the right kind of clothing which are comfortable and protective while in the forest. Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers to protect yourself from insect bites and piercings from the vegetation. In addition please carry along an insect repellent for the areas of your skin exposed to insects.

Bring along rain gear because being in the forest the rain patterns are unpredictable especially in the months of April – May and Oct – Nov. Your hiking shoes should be waterproof and comfortable.

This is a whole days activity so you will need to carry packed lunch and lots of water because of the long walks you will make. You are not allowed to smoke, drink or eat in the presence of chimps. The ranger guides will advise you on the place where you should eat. And the same for those who will need to use the bush toilet.

The chimps are swift especially when they are feeding. You have to walk fast at certain time to keep pace. There will also be moments of slow movements especially when collecting different kinds of data.

Photography is allowed but you are not allowed to use the flash. The chimps are generally swift so adjust to the right settings on your camera before you start to avoid missing out on moments to capture the chimps.

I highly recommend the chimpanzee habituation experience for anyone who want to learn more about chimpanzees and spend quality time with them.

 

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Places You Ought Not To Miss On Your Rwanda Safari

When the name Rwanda is mentioned it evokes the memories of the 1994 horrific genocide that brutalized the country. But today the country is known for its stability and steady growth.  Tourism is now key contributor to the economy. The highlight of a tour to Rwanda is the mountain gorillas that one can track at the Volcanoes national park.

There are lots of other things that can make your visit to Rwanda have everlasting memories for you. Today we look at some of the best places you can visit while on safari in Rwanda.

Kigali Genocide Memorial

The people of Rwanda embrace peace and reconciliation. They are committed to fight against discrimination and build the nation together. The memorials found throughout the country are moving testimonies in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Inaugurated on the 10th anniversary of the Genocide, the Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims. The memorial serves to remember those who were killed and educate about the causes, reality and consequences of the Genocide. Through a series of exhibits, it also examines genocide in the 20th century. The Genocide Archive of Rwanda is also located at the memorial and is open to visitors. The museum takes you through a story that will impact on you and live to tell forever, some episodes are so heartbreaking that definitely you may cry.

Camp Kigali Belgian Monument

A small museum in Kigali City lies at the site of the massacre of 10 Belgian UN Blue Beret. At the onset of Genocide under the command of General Dallaire, they were deployed to guard the house of Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingimana. When the genocide began, Presidential Guard soldiers invaded the home, disarmed the Belgians and transported them to Camp Kigali where they killed them. The ten stone pillars memorialize the ten soldiers killed. Contact Any city guide or tour operator to help you locate this.

Akagera National Park

It is Rwanda’s largest national park. The park is home to lions, leopards, servals, hyenas, jackals and giraffes, large herds of buffaloes, impalas, zebras and several antelope species. Elephants often congregate around the lakes that are inhabited by more than 800 hippos as well as Nile crocodiles. Akagera is also home to around 482 bird species including the endangered shoebill  that you may have chance to see on your lucky day and endemic red-faced barbet.

The Akagera River feeds a complex of a dozen of lakes including Lake Ihema,  Lake Ihema is located in the south of the Akagera National Park in the savannah region of the Eastern province of Rwanda. The sights in this national park are overwhelming, Try out a safari to Rwanda yourself and live to tell God’s magic. 

Nyungwe Forest National Park

It is Africa’s largest protected rainforest. Nyungwe has an impressive selection of activities on offer including the only canopy walk in East Africa, chimpanzee trekking, tea plantations, hiking and biking through the beautiful nature trails and bird watching. Bird watchers will rejoice as they encounter some of the 300 species dwelling within the confines of the forest like the Albertine rift endemics including the Rwenzori Turaco and the yellow eyed black flycatcher.

Volcanoes National Park

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The misty air in the Volcanoes National Park creates the perfect setting to experience Rwanda’s distinct outdoor adventures, world renowned trek of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, the golden monkey trek and a thrilling hike up the volcanoes. It is home to a third of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. The park’s name and majestic landscape is framed by the five volcanoes it houses: Bisoke, Muhabura, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo and Gahinga. An exhilarating trek through the terraced foothills of the Virungas offers stirring views in all directions.

Lake Kivu

Rubavu, hosts a waterfront access to the shores of the majestic Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s greatest bodies of water. Rubavu often referred to by the name of its top destination. At only an hour away from Volcanoes National Park, Gisenyi town in, offers both attractive mountain scenery and sandy beaches. From the serene countryside valleys of Karongi, the radiant charm of the Lake Kivu can be seen in the quaint town of Kibuye.

It has crystal clear water rocky beaches and many islands to discover. Kibuye’s lakeshore is a favorite attraction to many Rwandans as it offers water sports, boat rides to the small islands, and community based tours to the tea plantation.

The Cultural Heritage Corridor

Located in Rwanda’s southern province, the corridor showcases a number of Rwanda’s important cultural and historical sites. The Royal Palace located in Nyanza district is the former home of King Mutara III Rudahigwa dating in 1931. It was turned into a museum where guests can explore traditional royal living. Also in Nyanza, is the Rwesero Art Museum, an art gallery where contemporary Rwandan artwork is displayed. In the neighboring district of Huye, lies the Ethnographic Museum, an impressive exhibit of Africa’s finest collections of pre and post-colonial ethnographic, artistic and archaeological pieces.

King’s Palace Museum-Rukari

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Based in Nyanza, 88 km south of Kigali City, this was the residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa and the Royal Palace that was traditionally built. This Palace offers a detailed look into Rwandan traditional seat of their monarchy, it is an impressive museum, restored to its 19th century state and made entirely with traditional materials. Recently the Long horned Traditional cows, known in Kinyarwanda as “Inyambo” were also introduced because of the fact that cows form an integral part of Rwandan Culture . On the neighboring hill of Mwima, one can also visit the burial grounds of King Mutara III and his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda.

Presidential Palace

Another historical landmark in Rwanda is the former Presidential Palace, located near the Kigali International Airport. It is the former state house of late President Habyarimana turned into a museum where the wreckage of the presidential jet shot down on April 6th, 1994 can be seen.

These are some of the many attractions that you can explore on your safari to Rwanda. Be sure to enjoy you stay in this heart of Africa country and see you soon.

Cost Of Gorilla Trekking

Cost Of Gorilla Trekking In Uganda-Rwanda

Every client would like to know the cost of corolla tracking; it’s on all forums like trip adviser and lonely planet. Below is our take on the estimation of a gorilla tracking safari in Rwanda. You may need just one day I Rwanda depending on what other interests you have.

Price and Cost of Gorilla Permits

A normal gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1500. I call it normal because there are other categories of permits you can buy. You can have a specialized gorilla tracking permit at USD15000, then USD30000 for three consecutive days for three people.

Gorilla permits to track can be easily purchased through you travel agent or you local tour operator. You can also contact RDB directly reservation@rwandatourism.com and they will take you through the process.

A gorilla permit In Uganda cost $600 and $450 in the months of April, May and November. You can also do gorilla habituation at $1500. Here you get to spend about 6 hours with the gorillas. You can book your permit for your Gorilla Safari through your tour operator or travel agent. You can also book directly though the Uganda wildlife authority Website.

Price and Cost of Transport

It’s about 3 hours from Kigali international airport to Volcanoes national park. You can get a cab with the recommendation of your hotel at a cost less than USD50. You can also take public means but this means you may be late for tracking as you are not certain of the time management since it’s never in your control. Public means is also inconveniencing as taxis stop at the entry point of Kinigi yet its 14 km from here to the park head quarters. You can also have pre-arranged safari vans with you agent or tour operator at a negotiable cost usually about USD 100 or even less depending on the vehicle.

Unlike Rwanda, it takes about 7-9 hours from the capital Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga. But you can Use Kigali Airport as it’s about 3 hours from Kigali to Bwindi. One would ask why do I use Kigali and not track in Rwanda. The Gorilla Tracking Permit in Rwanda is $1500 which is a three day gorilla safari  in Uganda. Being a bigger country compared to Rwanda, it is advised that you use a tour operator who will organize for you accommodation and transport. It will be cheaper than if you organized for yourself as tour operators have a lot of subsides in Uganda compared to walk in Clients.

Cost and Price of Accommodation

There are lots of accommodation options around the park but since it’s not far from Kigali you may also opt to sleep in Kigali. You can arrive in the morning at the airport and track that very morning then have a rest and go back the next day or later that same day. You can also get accommodation in the range of USD100

Some Of The Accommodation In Bwindi

Some Of The Accommodation In Bwindi

Uganda having a lot of gorilla tracking Points of course has a lot of accommodation options compared to Rwanda. There is even an option of sleeping at one end of the park and track the gorillas in another area of the park. For example get accommodation in Buhoma and track in Ruhija. You can also sleep in Kisoro town and track the mgahinga gorillas since the accommodation is expensive around the park.

Cost of Porters and Tips

The porters are just to enhance your viewing of the and experience and it’s not mandatory that you have them but in case you choose to, they go for about USD10.

As for tips, it’s a sign of appreciation and you choose to tip according to the way you feel about the service they have offered you. In most cases places like hotels have a tip box that is general and the tips are later shared between the staff. But you can still choose to tip an individual.