Monday, March 31, 2014

How to book/ buy a 2014 Gorilla Trek/ Tracking permit for Rwanda

Obtaining Rwanda Gorilla Permits for 2014

Booking your Gorilla Permits for Rwanda in a timely manner to have your visit with the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda

How and Where to get Gorilla Permits for 2014 for Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda

wild gorilla tracking in RwandaIn Rwanda, Gorilla tracking is done in Volcanoes National Park (Parc Nationale du Volcanoes) and gorilla trek/ tracking permits booking is managed by the Rwanda Tourism Office (ORTPN). Each gorilla permit costs US$750 in Rwanda. On each particular day, about 56 persons can visit Rwanda gorillas, 8 persons per each gorilla family.

Gorilla permits are in high demand, because of the stiff competition for them, and therefore are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. Book your gorilla permit in advance to avoid disappointment.

To track gorillas you must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance, preferably at least 6  months for the high seasons - June-September and December-February; or latest 1-2 months in advance for the low seasons - October-November and March-May.

In Rwanda Gorilla Permits can only be purchased from ORTPN , either directly or through a tour agent. Contact us for the latest status of availability, even for last-minute bookings.

Gorilla permits are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. Availability of gorilla permits for a required date is not guaranteed. There is a lot of competition for the gorilla permits, which makes it hard to get one for yourself. Any delay in confirmation and/or payment may mean that you will be unable to obtain the permit on your preferred date. 

Once you book and send your money for permits, the date cannot change (changing a tracking date means a cancellation fee is charged). Rwanda (ORTPN) charges $100 for each permit date changed.

Booking Gorilla Permits directly through ORTPN
going-gorilla-tracking-rwandaTo book your gorilla permit (from out of Rwanda) you first have to contact ORTPN’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request ORTPN to let you know of the nearest dates. You then reply to them expressing your intent to book those permits, and requesting them to temporarily hold them as you make payment. At this time, they will advise you of their banking details, so that you can proceed to make an electronic transfer of the money. Please remember to immediately send a copy of the transaction voucher/ receipt by email or fax to ORTPN. 

The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and ORTPN will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct you bank to deduct the bank charges from you. Otherwise is the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked.

Booking Gorilla Permits through a Tour and travel agent

Many intending gorilla trekkers have however found the above procedure tedious and have sought our quicker and less tedious ways of reserving their gorilla permits by working with local Rwanda tour operator. The tour operators will usually charge a fee of US$25-$60 per gorilla permit. Gorillas and wildlife safaris will not charge you for buying gorilla permits if you are getting other tour services (like transfers and tours) through them.
The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster. 

1. Contact us   and let us know of the dates you want to tour Rwanda with the days you want to see the gorilla permits

2. We let you if the days you want for your gorilla tour are available for gorilla tracking and tentatively book them for you (but with no guarantee).

3. We send you our bank details for you to send the money for gorilla permits.

4. It takes about 16 hours for us to receive the money from your bank and pay for your permits. We shall send you acknowledgement for the money and the official Gorilla Permit (by scan and email). Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.
We do not charge any fee for gorilla permits buying/booking if you are booking the rest of the tour (or a part of it) with us. In case we do charge, this is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc we incur to get you the permit.

5. Send us your passport details to register your gorilla permits. Usually, we only need the Full names, passport number, and nationality.

6. We register your names and get the gorilla permits. We send you scanned copies of your gorilla permit.

As soon as the payment has been received, the permits for gorilla tracking be purchased. Getting a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. However, the chances of seeing them are 98%.

Permit Availability for 2014

If you are planning to go Gorilla Tracking in June, July, August, September, also December the time to book your permits and safari is now.

Everyone involved in Tourism wants you to enjoy your time in Rwanda and your visit with the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, plan now and avoid the disappointment of no permit by waiting too long…from the Country of 1000 hills –  Rwanda…ivan

Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda

Related articles that may be of help to you:

How To Book Gorilla tracking & Trek Permits in Uganda

Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, experience, hardness,etc

When is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?

How to do a 1-Day Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking tour ...

Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350 (April May and April)

 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UGANDA MINISTRY ESTABLISHES TOURISM STOPOVERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is setting up tourism stopovers to provide uniform information about the country. The centres will provide washrooms and information board about a particular region and centres of attraction in that region.

The process includes profiling the area and providing all the necessary tourism information to the tourists.Four centres are already running. They are; Muko along the Kabale-Kisoro highway, Kafu in Masindi off Gulu highway, Corner Kamdin in Oyam district and Busitema.

Jimmy Kigozi, a Senior Tourism Officer at the Ministry of Tourism, says the plan so far has four stopovers. He says they have so far profiled Muko and Kafu, and plan to profile Corner Kamdin and Busitema soon. Other sites will be profiled in due course.

The setup will be jointly monitored by officials from the Tourism Development department of the Tourism Ministry as well as physical planners from the Ministry of Lands.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

RELIEF AS UGANDA GORILLA PERMITS GO ONLINE

All Gorilla permits will now be displayed online, but the viewing, bookings and sale of the online Gorilla permits will only be by locally registered tour operators.

The debate on putting Uganda gorilla permits was back in the media last month in which Uganda wildlife Authority Executive Director Dr Andrew Seguya was cited blaming the Minister of Tourism for causing the delay of operationalization. While addressing Members of the Uganda Parliament in Queen Elizabeth national Park, the executive director blamed the minister for suspending putting gorilla permits online pending investigations. He said that because of this, Uganda Wildlife Authority has lost of 20 billion shillings in unsold gorilla permits. He further mentioned that tourists don’t know where to find gorilla permits and that he wanted to break the monopoly of Uganda Tour Operators who often charge a price more than that of Uganda Wildlife Authority.

In response to this issue at hand , all Gorilla permits will be displayed online, but the viewing,bookings and sale of the online Gorilla permits will only be by locally registered tour operators.
The Minister of Tourism,Hon.Dr. Maria Mutagamba has made this directive in a letter dated 13th,March,2014 and titled “Operationalization of the online gorilla permits” which she has addressed to the UWA E.D, Chairman AUTO and Chairman UTA.


The squabble between the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (Auto) and Uganda Wildlife Authority began at the AUTO AGM in July 2013. Tour operators were concerned that putting gorilla trekking permits online for booking could put them out of business because it exposes them to international competition, where foreign travel companies could directly buy gorilla permits from UWA instead of going through them.
This good news as a result of the tireless efforts of the Executive of AUTO and its entire membership demand that all tour operators in Uganda heave a sigh of relief and pray that there is no turn of events.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How tough is the Rwanda gorilla trek? Which is the hardest/ easiest, best gorilla group to track

Which is the toughest mountain gorilla group to track in Rwanda, which gorilla group is the most popular to track, easiest gorilla family to track, how many hours does the gorilla tracking take in Rwanda? Susa, Kwitonda, Sabinyo, Umahoro?

Which is the toughest mountain gorilla group to track in Rwanda, which gorilla group is the most popular to track, easiest gorilla family to track, how many hours does the gorilla tracking take in Rwanda? Susa, Kwitonda, Sabinyo, Umahoro? This is one of the most frequently asked questions about gorilla tracking in Rwanda. And it is also perhaps the most difficult to answer. So many variables are involved, and if they all conspire against you, you could be in for a genuinely exhausting outing (indeed on rare occasions, the guides have had to carry tourists down). On the other hand, if everything falls your favour, the excursion will be little more demanding than the proverbial stroll in the park.

The trek to see the gorillas has two distinct phases. The first is the hike from the closest car park to the forest and national park boundary, which usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on the speed of the party and the group they are visiting. The second is trek into the forest in search of the gorillas, which will usually have been located by the advance trackers by the time reach the forest edge.

The first part of the trek is predictable, and it is usually quite flat and undemanding unless you are going to the Susa (Susa-A), which involves a longer and steeper ascent. The second part is more difficult to predict, as it will depend on the exact location of the gorillas on the day, and on the steepness of the terrain en route. Other factors in determining how tough it will be include the density of the vegetation (bending, crawling through the jungle can be tiring especially if you have to dodge vicious nettles) and whether it has rained recently, in which case everything will be muddier and quite slippery underfoot.

At risk of stating the obvious, age and fitness levels are key factors in how difficult the hike will feel. Susa Group aside, moderately fit people under the age of 40 seldom feel any significant strain, but a high proportion of trackers are in their 50s or 60s, in which case the hike might be something tougher. As one trekker has previously commented in the Bradt Guide (Rwanda): ‘We think you underestimate how strenuous the gorilla trip is. We are both 61 but fit and well, bicycle to work each day , and still we had to take regular breaks due to problems with breathing’. That said, while many older travellers do find the track quite demanding, it is very unusual that they are so daunted as to turn back.

An important factor in how difficult the hike will be is which group you are allocated. As a rule, the hike to the Susa Group is the most demanding (but also most rewarding, with more than 40 gorillas on show), while the Sabinyo Group is the most reliably straightforward to reach. The hikes to Kwitonda, Hirwa and Group Thirteen are also usually quite undemanding, whereas the hikes to Amahoro Umubano Groups tend to be more difficult, but not as tough as the Susa Group.

Unfortunately, these things aren’t set in stone, and any group might be unusually demanding (or easy) to reach on a bad day. Furthermore, nobody can guarantee which group you will be allocated in advance. However the guides at Kinigi do make a conscious attempt to match individuals to the most suitable group, especially if they are asked to. Generally the party for the Susa (Susa-A) consists of the lean-looking under-30s, while the opposite holds true for Sabinyo party.

Two further factors are uneven underfoot conditions and high altitude. Most visitors to Africa live in towns and cities where roads and sidewalks are paved, and parks are serviced by neatly footpaths, so they are unused to walking on the more irregular and seasonally slippery surfaces typical of the ascent paths and forest floor. It will help enormously in this regard to wear strong waterproof shoes or hiking boots with a good tread and solid ankle support. Furthermore, if you think you might struggle in these conditions, there is a lot to be said for avoiding the rainy seasons, in particular March-May, when conditions can be dauntingly muddy.

Don’t underestimate the tiring effect of altitude. The trekking takes place at elevations of 2.500-3,000m above sea level, not high enough for altitude sickness to be a concern but sufficient to knock the breath out of anybody – no matter how fit – who has just flown in from a low altitude. For this reason, visitors who are spending a while in Rwanda might think seriously about leaving their gorilla tracking until they’ve been in the country a week or so, and are better acclimatised. Most of Rwanda lies above 1,500m, and much of the country is higher – a couple of days at Nyungwe, which lies above 2,000m, would be good preparation for the Virungas. Likewise if you are coming from elsewhere in Africa, try to plan your itinerary so that you spend your pre-Rwanda days at medium to high altitude: for example, were you flying in from Kenya, a few days in Nairobi (2,300m) or even the Maasai Mara (1,600m) would be far better preparation than time at the coast.

Guides will generally offer you a walking stick at the start of the hike, and, even if you normally shun such props, it is worth taking up the offer to help support you on those slippery mountain paths. If you have luggage, hire a porter too. Once on the trail, take it easy, and don’t be afraid to ask to stop for a few minutes whenever you feel tired. Drink plenty of water and carry some quick calories – biscuits and chocolate can both be bought at supermarkets in Ruhengeri. The good news is that most people who track gorillas find the hike to be far less demanding than they expect, and 99% of cases, whatever exhaustion you might feel on the way up will vanish with the adrenalin charge that follows the first sighting of the silverback gorilla!

Rwanda Gorilla Trek Tours

Monday, February 10, 2014

What to wear and take when trekking to see the gorillas?

What to wear and take when trekking to see the gorillas; what should I wear for gorilla tracking; what is the dress code for gorilla tracking; what should I pack for gorilla tracking; how should I prepare for gorilla tracking/ trekking?

Put on your sturdiest walking shoes, and thick trousers and a long-sleeved top as protection against vicious stinging nettles. It’s often cold when you set out, so start off with a sweatshirt or jersey (which also help protect against nettles). The gorillas are thoroughly used to people, so it makes little difference whether you wear bright or muted colours. rwanda mountain gorillas

Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking are likely to get very dirty as you slip and slither in the mud, so if you have pre-muddied clothes, you might as well wear them. When you are grabbing handloads of thorny vegetation, a pair of old gardening gloves are helpful. If you feel safer with a walking-stick, you will be offered a wooden one at the start of the ascent.

Carry as little as possible, ideally in a waterproof bag of some sort. During the rainy season,a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to your daypack, while sunglasses and a hat are a good idea at any time of the year. You may well feel like a snackduring the long hike, and should certainly carry enough drinking water - at least one litre, more to visit the Susa Group. Bottled water is sold in Ruhengeri town. Especially during the rainy season, make sure your camera gear is well protected – if your bag isn’t waterproof, seal your camera gear in a plastic bag.

Binoculars are not necessary to see the gorillas. In theory, birdwatchers want to carry binoculars, though in practice only the dedicated are likely to make use of them – the trek up to the gorillas is normally very directed, and walking up the steep slopes and through the thick vegetation tends to occupy one’s eyes and mind.

If you are carrying much gear and food/water, it is advisable to hire one of the porters who hang about at the car park in the hope of work. This costs Rfr5,000 per porter. Locals have asked us to emphasize that it is not demeaning or exploitative to hire a porter to carry your daypack; on the contrary, tourists who refuse a porter for ‘ethical reasons’ are simply denying income to poor locals and making it harder for them to gain any benefit from tourism.

You may need to show your passport or some other form of identification when you check-in; find out about this from ORTPN beforehand.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

6 Things you must not miss on Lake Mburo National Park Safari

is a compact gem, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda (about 4 hours driving from Kampala). It is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. This 260km2 park’s precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated several times: firstly in the various attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies, then to make way for ranches, and finally as a result of subsistence poaching. 20% of the park’s areas is a wetland.

1. Wildlife

The park’s varied habitants support 68 mammal species. Rarities include impala, which in Uganda only lives in Lake Mburo , and Burchell’s zebra and eland which are only found here and in Kidepo.
Other species include warthog, buffalo, oribi, Defessa waterbuck and reedbuck. Leopard and hyena are also present while the crocodile and over 300 hippos are found in the lake.
Previously extinct in the park, lions have been recently sighted.

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Burchell’s zebra

several antelopes species inhabit Lake Mburo National Park Leopard sighting in Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda

2. Birding

crested crane
The Crested Crane, Uganda’s national symbol

Lake Mburo National Park is home to 315 bird species. These include the red-face barbet, only seen in , Africa finfoot, the rarely seen shoebill stork, Papyrus yellow warbler, Saddle-billed stork, brown-chested lapwing, African-wattled lapwing, Carruther’s Cisticola, Tabora (long-tailed) Cisticola, African ScopsOwl, Abyssinian Ground Horbill, and White-winged Warbler.

Acacia woodland bird species are especially well represented, while forest species may be found in rubanga Forest. These include Blue-breasted kingfisher, Hairly-breasted Barbet and Yellow-rumped tinkerbird, among others.

The best birding spots in are the swampy valley of Warukiri; the road between the camp and Rwonyo jetty; and the viewing platform which overlooks the salt lick. Rubanga forest can be visited on foot by prior arrangement with the warden – this is a real draw for keen birders. Rare species such as the African Finfoot and Red-faced Barbet -  only seen in Lake Mburo National Park – are two of the forest’s featured species.

3. The launch trip on Lake Mburo

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Hippos

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Nile crocodile

The wildlife-rich eastern banks of Lake Mburo can be explored during tranquil two-hour noat voyage. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, buffalo, and hippos as well as colorfull kingfishers, magnificent fish eagles, hammerkops and their enormous nests and even bizarre-looking shoebill.

4. Hiking and Nature Walks

Unusually, the whole park is open to walkers as long as they are accompanied by a ranger guide. At Rwonyo, a guided walk leads to the salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks. Walks on the western side of the lake and take two hours. At this time of the day, you may encounter hyenas returning to their dens and hippos retreating to the lakes.

5. Horseback safaris

Horseback safaris are an exciting way to view wildlife including elland and buffalo. Also commonly sighted are warthog, topi, impala, dukier, bushback, waterbuck and zebra. The four-hour hacks take visitors up to the hilltop viewpoints with the option of bush breakfasts or sundowners.

6. Sport Fishing

Lake Mburo contains around six species of fish, with tilapia being the the most common. The designated fishing spot is at Mazinga. Visitors planning to fish here should carry their own equipment and obtain a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Aside fro  the abundance of wildlife, the best thing about this little park is the peace by the lake. For the entire stay in the park, you will experience numerous uninterrupted sightings of wildlife and yet have the opportunity to relax by the calm lakes.

 

Safari Packages to Lake Mburo National Park

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?

When is the best time to visit/ track or trek the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda? Which months should one try to avoid, which months are the best for gorilla trekking?
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While tracking or trekking mountain gorillas can be done any time of the year in either countries where (mountain gorillas are found i.e Rwanda and Uganda), because of the relatively wetter/ rainy seasons in the mountain gorilla inhabited national parks, many tourists often prefer the months from June to September and then December, January and February.
In Rwanda, the first rains start coming in late February through March, April and May and so many tourists try to avoid these months for fear of getting muddy and all wet while tracking the gorillas. However, during these months, because of the rains there's plenty of gorilla food down slope and it's much colder on the upper slopes. So the mountain gorillas keep on the lower slopes where they find it warmer and get food easily. So if you track the gorillas during these months, most likely your trek won't be a long one - many trackers find the gorillas after 2 hours hike and by 2PM are back.
The same applies to Uganda although the rains there come in March, April and May. Of course the  Undeniably the rains (not always heavy though) make it rather harder to trek the steep terrains. Even then, the rain only comes for like 1-2 hours in like every 2-3 days and the sun comes out. We have noticed that even in the so-called drier months, the rain will often come in.

This seasonality of gorilla trackers can also be attributed to the weather seasons in the visitors’ home country and the nature of their jobs. When it summer for example in Europe, numbers of gorilla trek visitors increase and the gorilla trackers numbers dip when it’s winter.
However, there are other gorilla trekkers who often take advantage of the seasonal discounts on mountain gorilla tracking permits. Recently for example, the Uganda Wildlife Authority discounted the gorilla permits by 30% for non-resident foreigners. A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $350 for the months of  April  and May 2014. The rest of time it is at 600$ (beginning January 2014). Several accommodation and lodging facilities in mountain gorilla inhabited areas will also make discounts on their rates during these same months.


Whatsoever the case and explanation may be, experience shows that mountain gorilla trekking can be done any time of the year and you will most likely get the same the same experience.
 

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Chimps and Gorilla Tour  -
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
5 days Uganda Gorillas and Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
 
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas
 
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari
14 days Uganda Rwanda Safari
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife -


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