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A dip in Lake Kivu – Toes Filled with Sand At the Beach

We all know Rwanda mostly for the gentle and highly sought after mountain Gorillas. And we can all agree that meeting these gentle giants and staring face to face in there deep brown eyes is a humbling and life time experience. However what happens after we have seen the gorillas? Do we just fly back home? Wait a minute not just yet!  A gorgeous strip of water straddles the boarder of Congo and Rwanda and just less than an hour’s drive from the Virunga.

Who said you cannot unwind at a beach after a strenuous trek, because Rwanda is landlocked country. Lake Kivu is the most ideal place for you and your friends, family to unwind and enjoy a perfect tranquil ideal tropical beach holiday. The perfect retreat waits at the rough jagged coasts, tranquilly beautiful Lake Kivu. The lake is edged in by precipitously terraced escarpments containing several peaks of 2,800m or higher, including the smoking outline of volcanic Nyiragongo in the far north. It  is one of the Great Lakes in the Albertine Rift Valley. It is dotted by numerous islands, some of which can be visited on a day boat trip. The largest of the islands is Idjwi.

Enjoy a relaxing beach break here where the country’s western border runs along the entire length of Lake Kivu. The cavernous coast and deep-water bays are as astonishing as they are lovely, and offer some scenic spots to kick back and get some sand between your toes. Sun bathe on the white sand beach some lined with palm trees or simply take a dip in the bilharzia free lake then relax and enjoy the warm tickle of the water on your skin sending a cold chill down your spine – it is truly refreshing.

A boat trip to Napoleon’s Island is recommendable especially for the birders, whereas the colonies of fruit bats may also amaze you. You could also try your lack at the lake side restaurants to taste their catch for the day, and as the once beautiful clear blue sky fade into a dreamy sunset reflecting on the calm waters, enjoy the beauty of nature as you watch the impeccable sunset as well as the singing fishermen heading out into the night to cast their nets for a fresh catch for the next day. Relax to the music of the diurnal birds slowly fading into the night lullabies of the night birds. Do not forget to listen to the wake up tunes of the beautiful birds as the morning sun sips in through the hotel curtains and ohh the sunrise is as beautiful as the sunset. 

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The Amazing Sipi Falls

Arguably one of Uganda’s most beautiful falls, Sipi falls lies about 55km north of Mbale town in the foot hills of mountain Elgon- about an hour’s drive from Mbale. The mountain river thrusts over a sequence colossal basalt precipice of the mountain Elgon sides to form a series of three spectacular falls- sipi falls. The lower falls that gush about 100m along the slopes of Mountain Elgon is the most spectacular. Simba on the other hand pitches 69metres over the gateway of the cave and Ngasire surges over 87metres high ridge.

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The visit to these impressive falls entails a rather thorny 7km loop trek that is packed with steep ascents and descents, feeble ladders, fragile catwalks, lots of farms, and lots of sludge especially in the rainy season- however we could say things could be a little different in the dryer season.

From the nearby lacam lodge it is not too hard to see the focal drop of the sipi falls and also the tallest falls of about 100m. Although I must mention its not just from here where you can have such views, but also from numerous positions around coupled with sights downhill towards the valley below with Mbale in the distance. The amphitheatre like landscape makes it perfect for the views and with the right angles and positioning one can be able to take spectacular pictures of the cascade of falls.

With a well experienced guide, the hike begins with descents through the well ploughed local farms and onto the base of the falls or you can call it the headquarters of the falls. As earlier mentioned during the rainy season the trails get quite grimy, slippery and steep but the hike should get you to the front of the magnificent falls.

Further from the base is a perfect viewing spot, the cave. From inside here visitors can enjoy the back of the bigger falls. Continue through the lush green local farms, following a trail uphill to a feeble small path that lead to the views of the second falls which is about 69metres tall. The falls are made up of upper tumbles which finally make a final thrust. A tiny path leads to another cave right behind the middle falls.

The hike continues to steeper and muddier sections up to the middle falls. Breathe in the beautiful; fertile, volcanic and cultivated slopes of the elgon. Continue through a couple of farms before mounting yet again slithery tracks to the base of the uppermost falls- how stunning!

The rather longer walk to the third of the falls from the second one is deeply rewarding and perhaps well worthwhile. The approximately 80 meters falls is tall and columnar – it height makes it visible from a distance as you close in. and if you persists and follow the path it takes you real close to the falls where you can appreciate it better.
The height and the vitality in its flow as it spews mist that is freshly soothing, the streaming sun light reflects a colorful rainbow in the mist. This is the climax of the hike. When you are done, the guide will help you back to the trading centre later on the lodge returning with stunning memories of the cascading series of falls and the green freshly ploughed local farms.

The next time you book your tour to Uganda be request these stunning falls for a delightful experience. A guided tour is the best way you can experience these beauties fully. And the money paid to sometimes includes a contribution to the local land owners. Be sure to support the local people and do not forget to grab yourself fresh mountain elgon coffee a perfect souvenir from the mountains.

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Minimum Age For Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla trekking is such a memorable experiences that everyone out to experience. But everything should be done at the right time and in the right place. People keep wondering the age limit for gorilla tracking and why there is an age limit. Here is why?

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Anyone 15 years of age and above needs not to worry because that is the age that is recommended and allowed to track gorillas in Rwanda. Any persons below that age will not be allowed to track gorillas unless there is a special arrangement that has been organized between the parents of the child the authorities.

Usually your tour operator or travel agent will ask for your passport details and one of the reasons is to establish the age requirement.

It is important to note that gorilla trekking is not an entirely safe process and these are wild animals and so behavior can change depending on the different mood and surrounding. It is believed that may be a child 15 and above can help themselves just in case anything happens and they are mature enough to follow the entire gorilla tracking rules.

The Gorillas are emotional and usually fear and are scared by things like the flash light. They also charge depending on what they feel; sometimes they are overwhelmed and feel challenged so they want to fight back in self-defense.

The forest is thick and has a lot of trails within and so it may be difficult for a child below 15 to cope with the map and may suddenly go off trails as they too playful.

Lastly, kids are naturally playful and might slow the pace of the person responsible for them which indirectly affects the rangers and the group at large despite the limitations on the amount of time you are supposed to spend in the forests. A kid who is at least 15 years of age will easily follow instructions and be less playful whilst on the trek.

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Bird Watching In Rwanda

Rwanda is perhaps most known for its turbulent past and genocide in 1994. Of Recent Rwanda is now known as one of the most peaceful destinations in Africa. Despite it being a small country, it also has over 650 species of birds 44 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley, making it a unique birding destination in Africa.

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Parc National Des Volcans

The coud be more famous for the gorillas but it has much more to offer to the gorillas.  The park contains a variety of habitats and has over 180 species of birds. It is home to many Albertine Rift endemics such as the Handsome Francolin and the Rwenzori Turaco and both the Dusky and Shelley’s Crimsonwings.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

The Nyungwe Forest National Park at 970 square kilometres is the largest in Rwanda and one of the largest protected areas of mountainous rainforests remaining in Africa. It is best known for its many species of primates, but is also a wonderful spot for birding, as many Albertine Rift Endemics can also be seen. The Park is home to 275 species of birds, many of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

 There is a tar road that runs through the park as well as a camping site and several accommodation options.The park is made up of steep mountain slopes and due to the terrain large tracts of the forest remain unexplored, though there is a system of well laid out trails. These hikes are very scenic but can be arduous to complete.

They will reward avid twitchers with sightings of the Rwenzori Turaco, the Mountain Black Boubou and the Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher. You might be lucky enough to see the rare Grauer’s Rush Warbler or the Kungwe Apalos.Many beautiful Sunbirds can be see including the Ruwenzori Double-collared, Purple-Throated, Blue headed and the Regal Sunbird. The Nyungwe Forest is the only site in which the much sought-after Red-collared Mountain Babbler can be seen. Along the roadside you can keep an eye open for Shelley’s Crimsonwing and the Dusky Crimsonwing. One of the prettiest sights is the Great Blue Turaco.

Akagera National Park

Perhaps the best spot in Rwanda for avid birders is the Akagera National Park in the east of the country. The park is mostly made up of savannah and papyrus swamps which are the source of the Nile River. The park is home to over 525 species of birds and is probably the best site in Africa to look for the rare Ring-necked Francolin. One of the most sought after birds in Africa – the Shoebill can also be seen in the papyrus swamps within the reserve.The acacia woodlands are home to the Red-Faced Barbet and Souza’s Shrike. Also commonly seen are Brown parrots, Sooty Chats and White-winged black tits. The beautiful swamp regions are also home to the Swamp Fly-catcher, Carruther’s Cisticola and the Papyrus Gonolek. Along the edge of the swamp, the Brown-chested Lapwing can also be seen. The best time to visit is in the dry season from May to September.