Monday, October 26, 2015

How to book/ buy a 2016 Gorilla Trek/ Tracking permit for Rwanda

Obtaining Rwanda Gorilla Permits for 2016

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 2016 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 ORTPNgoing-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 2016
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)


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How To Book 2016 Gorilla tracking and Trek Permits in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi, Uganda
How to book 2016 gorilla tracking and trek permits for for your tour in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Quick step illustration of how you can buy the gorilla permit for your trek this year

  In Uganda, Gorilla tracking is done in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, because of the unreliability of the mountain gorillas of Mgahinga, most of the gorilla permits sold are for Bwindi. Each gorilla permit costs US$600 in Uganda and ( $350 for November 2015,  $450 for the months of April and May 2016.

On each particular day, about 80 persons can visit Bwindi gorillas, 10 persons per each gorilla family.

Gorilla Permits for both Bwindi can only be purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA’s) headquarters in Kampala, either directly or through a tour agent.



Booking 2016 Gorilla Permits directly through UWA
To book your gorilla permit (from out of Uganda) you first have to contact UWA’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. Note that you need to consider a full day of travel from Kampala to Bwindi after you have landed in Kampala. 
If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request UWA 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 UWA.

The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and UWA 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 2016 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 Uganda 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 but if you only would like us to help you acquire the gorilla permit alone, a maximum of $35 applies on each gorilla permit we book. 

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 Uganda 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 Uganda Wildlife Authority Receipt  (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%. 

However, Uganda tour operators through their umbrella association (AUTO) almost buy up to 80% of the available tracking permits at up to 2 years out from the intended month of tracking. Each member may purchase up to 20 permits in any month. A deposit of 30% (US$75-) is payable on each permit booked with the balance needing to be paid 3 months (91 days) from the month of tracking by the first working day of the month Monday-Friday.
Individuals and non members of AUTO can purchase a maximum of 2 permits each in the month 3 months prior to the intended month of trekking when the booking opens on the first working Monday-Friday of the month. Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be 
sold on the following day with no limits put on the number of permits purchased by an individual or tour operator.

Related articles: 

Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda














Call us from overseas in Uganda 256-772-979-425. This is available all the time. For Pricing and itineraries, please use our contact page link just above.



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kalinzu Forest Reserve–A Natural Forest beaming with Chimps, Primates, butterflies, rear birds, etc

Essentially an eastern extension of the Maramagambo Forest, the 137km² Kalinzu Forest Reserve is traversed by a number of scenic trails along the ridges and valleys of the Rift Valley Escarpment, offering views of the Rwenzoris, Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel. kalinzu forest chimpanzee
The Forest is famous for 414 Species of Trees and Shrubs including the Ficus, Prunus Africana, the Stroboia, and Parinari among others.
In addition to an alluring variety of forest birds, Kalinzu protects six diurnal primate species: chimpanzees, olive baboon, black and white Colobus and red-tailed, blue and L’Hoest monkey, as well as the rare pygmy antelope. Nocturnal primates such as potto, and two varieties of galago can be sought on night walks, when you are also likely to hear the eerie shrieking of the tree hyrax.
The 2001 Primate Census put the total number of Chimpanzees in the Reserve at approximately 240. However, only two Groups of about 70 can be accessed by both Researchers and Tourists.
The Forest also harbours 378 Species of Birds such as the Great Blue Turaco, Black and White Casket, Cuckoos and Sunbirds.
Other varieties of Species include 262 Butterflies, 97 Moths, Reptiles and Flowers.
Because of its proximity to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Forest Reserve occasionally provides refuge to Savannah Grassland Species such as the Duikers, Leopards and Wild Pigs.
Tourist Activities in Kalinzu Forest
Tourist activities in the Reserve include
· Chimps tracking allowing 4 visitors per day at US Dollars 50 per person..
· Forest Walks,
· Conservation Education,
· Birding,
· Butterfly Identification,
· and small Mammal viewing.
How to Get to Kalinzu
Kalinzu Forest Reserve is located in Bushenyi District in western Uganda. It is approximately 375 km. (six hours drive) from the Capital City of Kampala. Because of the Albertine Terrain with old logging and winding roads, a four – wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
Accommodation while at Kalinzu
Accommodation in the Reserve is still informal with only a do-it- yourself Camping Site at the Forest Station at Nkombe. Visitors are advised to carry their own Tents. Visitors can also seek modest accommodation in Bushenyi/Ishaka Townships.
For Reservations, please contact the Range Manager on Tel: 256-41-0772 458389

Related posts

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Kalinzu Forest Reserve–A Natural Forest beaming with Chimps, Primates, butterflies, rear birds, etc

Special Tours to See chimpanzees, Gorillas and other Primates

3 Days Chimps Tracking tour in Kibale National Park

Rwanda chimpanzees tour- 4 days

5 Days Gorilla Tracking and Chimps Tour in Uganda

5 Days Gorilla Tracking and Chimps Tour in Rwanda

Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife - 7 days

12 Days Primates (chimps, gorillas, monkeys) tour in Uganda

9 days Primates and Wildlife tour in Uganda

1 Day Ngamba Island Chimps tour


Tours to Kalinzu
Contact us if you would like us to include Kalinzu Forest on your tour program, or if you would like any more information about visiting Kalinzu Forest Reserve.
Tours to nearby places
3 days Queen Elizabeth National Park Tour
5 days: Uganda Kibale Forest and Queen Elizabeth N.Park safari with Chimpanzee tracking, primate walks, and Game drives.
Accommodation and Lodging near Kalinzu Forest Reserve
Kyambura Game Lodge
Kyambura Game Lodge Queen Elizabeth National Park
This eco-lodge is perched above the Kyambura Gorge at the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
Learn more >>


Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge
Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge
Located close to as well the chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge as to the prime game viewing areas in the park, it forms an excellent base for your exploration
Learn more >>


Mweya Safari Lodge
Beautifull Photo of Mweya Safari Lodge Uganda
One of the most beautifully situated lodges in Uganda, facing the bank of Kazinga Channel which routinely attracts large herds of buffalo, elephant, and incredible views of the "Mountains of the Moon" - the Rwenzoris. Learn more >>

Jacana Lodge
Beautifull Photo of Jacana Lodge Uganda
in the center of Queen Elizabeth National Park, a fifteen minute drive from the main road, but the scenery is nice. The lodge is on a beautiful lake in the forest. Many monkeys, some hippo-sounds at night. Learn more >>


Katara Lodge
Katara Lodge Queen Elizabeth National Park
Katara lodge is a little way out of Queen Elizabeth National Park and in a small village but with fabulous views from the lodge (about 30mins from the main game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park). Learn more >>
























Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Uganda Wildlife Authority opens up road to King Rwenzururu's burial site

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has embarked on a programme to open a road that leads to the first king of the Rwenzururu Kingdom in the Rwenzori Mountains.
Late Isaya Mukirania Kyibanzanga I, who led the Bakonzo and the Bamba in a rebellion in 1961 against Toro Kingdom died in 1966. He was buried at the peak of the hill- Bulemba in the steep mountains of Rwenzori in Ihandiro sub - county in Kasese District.

"We are working with the local communities to construct a road so that tourists can reach Bulemba and see where the first king of the Bakonzo was buried," Frederick Kiiza, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park chief warden, said.
UWA has so far constructed a modern hut at Bulemba,  about 500m below the Isaya Mukirania Kyibanzanga's grave and a rest camp along the foot path to the tomb.

The Ihandiro sub - county chairperson, Fenhansi Baluku, confirmed that UWA had already released some money for clearing the bush that had grown on the Murushenga-Kibigha road that leads to Bulemba.

Murushenga-Kibigha road was first made between 1959 and 1960 by the Canadians who owned Kirembe Copper mines to extend the mining to Kigombya in the mountains.
Baluku told a gathering who trekked to Bulemba, 30 km from Bwera town in Bukonzo West, that clearing of the bush had already started to pave way for re - excavating the road.

Officiating at the celebrations that were held under the theme, "Exploring and Sustaining tourism potential in the Rwenzori Mountains," the speaker of the Rwenzururu Kingdom, Enock Muhindo called on the youth to respond positively to what had led the Bakonzo and Bamba to wage rebellion.
He reminded the Rwenzururu subjects that after the demise of Kyibanzanga I, his first born son, Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma, took over the kingdom and on August 15, 1981 declared the end of the war of violence.

Muhindo also advised the Rwenzururu youth to cooperate with fellow youth in Toro Kingdom.

"We must work together to bring peace in the Rwenzori region and live in harmony with other cultural institutions because we cannot develop in isolation, "he stressed.  An American tourist , Lauren Burton, one of those who trekked to Bulemba to attend the celebrations, said: "I have enjoyed being here.  The Rwenzori Mountains are beautiful from every corner. "

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bwindi Habituates 2 more gorilla families for Tourism

Two new groups of mountain gorillas are being habituated for tourism and research in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The groups, named Bushaho and Bikingi, are named for their home ranges and contain some individuals from previously habituated groups. Both groups are led by former Nkuringo group silverbacks, Bahati and Bikingi.

There are 8 babies between these two groups (6 in Bikingi and 2 in Bushaho)! The groups are being habituated for tourism, yes.

Habituation allows veterinarians to visit the groups regularly and closely monitor them for any sign of illness or injury - and intervene to save a life when it is necessary. It also allows the rangers to monitor the group on a daily basis - and for instance, report a gorilla who has become caught in a poacher's snare so that veterinarians can intervene and administer the necessary treatment immediately.

When combined with the estimated 480 gorillas inhabiting the Virunga Volcanoes to the south (the only other location where mountain gorillas exist) , the world’s population of mountain gorilla now stands at 880. The mountain gorillas of Bwindi and the Virungas are the only gorilla populations known to be increasing; all other populations are thought to be in decline due to hunting and habitat loss.

The rise in mountain gorilla populations also indicates the success of a continued collaboration between the Uganda Wildlife Authority with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB); the Virunga Mountains lie on the borders of three countries, requiring the participation of agencies from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda for effective monitoring and enforcement. Bwindi, however, is located in Uganda, but in the spirit of regional collaboration, the ICCN and RDB sent support teams for the 2011 Bwindi census effort.

Although far fewer in number than their western relatives, mountain gorillas have had a profound effect on both the public and the naturalists who have encountered them. While collecting specimens in Africa for the American Museum of Natural History in the early 20th Century, U.S. explorer Carl Akeley became concerned about the future of the mountain gorilla, helping to establish Africa’s first national park—now Virunga National Park—in 1925 to protect the gorillas.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Mountain Gorillas Census set for September 2015

A new census for Mountain Gorillas is set for September 2015 in the Great Virunga Massif is set for September, 2015, the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration- GVTC has said.
The massif includes Uganda's Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

The last mountain gorillas census was conducted in September 2011 and its results indicated a 3.2% increase in gorilla population (to a total of about 880 in the wild) in the Greater Virunga the previous ones  having been conducted in 2006, 2002 and 1997. All other censuses before have taken place in a duration spacing of five years apart.

This census is aimed at estimating the current gorilla numbers of Uganda’s BINP, document information on illegal activities, the gorillas distribution and compile information on other mammals in the ecosystem.

The organizations involved in the planning and eventual implementation of the activity include Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaborative Secretariat (GTVCS), the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, the Rwanda Development Board, local governments and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Conservation Through Public Health, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – International and us, the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation.

James Byamukama, the Programme Manager at GVTC says the exercise, which should have started earlier, was delayed by the insecurity in DR Congo.  He however adds that they are set to conduct the census in September starting in Virunga National Park.
Byamukama says with the census, the collaboration will be able to plan for future conservation efforts and the emerging trends of threats to gorilla population. Periodic censuses of endangered populations of high-profile species including gorillas help conservationists to understand their population dynamics assess the success of conservation programmes aimed at ensuring their survival

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, and to ensure that they receive continued attention from the global conservation community.

The method of use in this census will be the sweep method as well as fecal samples collected for generic analysis.  In the sweep method, teams traverse each marked sector of the park in a zigzag manner. They look for fresh gorilla trails till their nests are found and counted.  The estimates are made based on nests encountered in the due course of the census. The estimates are made based on nests encountered in the due course of the census. In great apes mammals, research has proven that the sweeping has been the most efficient method to date unlike the transect,experts assert.
In a preparatory census meeting of the stakeholders recently in Kabale, UWA’s Senior Monitoring and Research co-coordinator, Mr. Aggrey Rwesiba stated how important this exercise is to Uganda Wildlife Authority. He noted that the census provided vital information for establishing best management strategies that could be applied at both local and global scales to conserve the mountain Gorilla population. He accordingly  stressed that the census was an important index for the different stakeholders on the effectiveness of their work towards conserving the mountain gorillas.

Unlike other censuses done before in Bwindi, generic analysis where the fecal samples will be analyzed to minimize error and ascertain more accurate figures of the gorillas. It is estimated that a distance of not less than 600km will be covered by various teams to be involved in the census around the entire. Many staff from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has already committed themselves to be part of this historical event of counting gorillas and preparation are in a high notch. The vegetation and terrain of Bwindi forest make it uniquely different from that Virungas. This makes the census more challenging as well as exciting, something to look forward to. 
The Conservation Area Manager of Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area, Mr. Pontius Ezuma has committed resources such as standby vehicles for the field teams and security all through the census exercise. In his own admission, he expects a rigorous time ahead thus the need to adequately prepare since the exercise has to be accommodated with many routine activities in park.
In the census carried out in Bwindi population in was carried out in 2002,  results showed that the population had increased since the previous census in 1997 by approximately 7%, to 320 individuals according to McNeilage and others 2006 while the Virunga population currently numbers around 380 gorillas . Another census of the Bwindi gorilla population was carried out between April and June 2006 to determine the population's total size and structure, its distribution across Bwindi, and the potential impact of human disturbance on the population.
The results at the time showed show that the 5 habituated groups in Bwindi contained a total of 76 individuals at the time of the census. In addition to these, 25 unhabituated groups were found, containing 227 individuals along with 11 lone silverback males, giving a total uncorrected population count of 314 individuals.

Though gorillas have few natural predators, they are endangered due to the loss of habitat and forest clearing. They also fall victim to hunting for the wildlife trade, and through accidental snaring by poachers who are targeting antelopes for meat. Diseases that affect humans also pose a threat to apes and can spread quickly in such small populations.

Friday, July 24, 2015

British Airways suspends Heathrow–Entebbe route flights

British Airways (BA) final flights to and from Entebbe airport to London Heathrow will be on October 2 and October 3, 2015 respectively as the company suspends all its services.

BA says after a review of its flight schedules, Heathrow-Entebbe route was not considered commercially viable.

british-airways-entebbe-london-heathrow-flights-suspended-2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Planning a gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – How to plan your 2015 gorilla tracking program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour.

Planning a perfect 2015 gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – planning your program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour, booking gorilla permits for 2015.

In Uganda, Gorilla tracking can only either be done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, the mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga (Kahungye group) is very mobile crisscrossing borders into Rwanda and this literary leaves Bwindi to be the only place to reliably track the mountain gorillas in Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla Resting in Bwindi Impenetrable National ParkTo track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (each costs US$600 but are specially discounted in November 2015 to $350) . Since the gorilla parks are located far away from the airport you arrive from you will need transport (4x4 advisable) to reach the park. The drive from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi takes about 9 hours. This means that if you are tracking gorillas in Uganda you will need at least 3 days to the gorilla trek: One day travelling to the park, another day tracking the gorilla, and the third day driving back to Kampala/ Entebbe.

To book your gorilla permit, you will need to either contact the relevant country agency to book the gorilla permit (Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda) or book the permits through a local tour agency like us. Please note that gorilla permits are only confirmed by paying for them in full. So, you will need to send money for the permits in full to get your confirmation ad ensure that you take care of the bank charges involved to avoid disappointment.

If you are hoping to travel in July and August 2015, be aware that most days are actually sold out and you may not be able to get the gorilla permit for the days period you wish to travel. There are however some gorilla permits cancellations. These permits are not at the Uganda Wildlife Authority but with local tour agents. We can assist our clients to get such permits when contacted.

However, for the rest of  2015, there are still plenty of spaces so you can confidently contact us now to book your space there.

If you arrange the gorilla permit on your own, please ensure that you pick it from the booking office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi. You must present your gorilla permit and passport on the gorilla tracking day to be allowed on the gorilla trek. In case your permit is booked through a tour agent and you are taking the tour with them you may not necessarily need to think about getting the permit from them but if you are not taking the full gorilla tour with them, consider getting your permit before travelling to Bwindi.

Planning your Transport to the Gorilla Trek in Rwanda and Uganda:

You will definitely require a 4x4 vehicle to go to the gorilla in Bwindi. You need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate the rough pot-holed roads which often get tourists stuck for hours during rainy seasons. You may be able to hire a vehicle for US$100 per day excluding the fuel but including the driver costs. In Uganda’s case, Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris offers transfers for US$510 for the 3 days (including vehicle, fuel, driver allowances for 3 days tour).
Alternatively you may take public buses to a nearby town but you will definitely have to find a cab (preferably 4x4 and usually costs $100 a day without gas fuel) to ferry you to the gorilla trek trail start an back to your hotel.

You need to report to the park registration office at 7:30AM. So whatever method you choose, make sure that it is reliable  - if you don’t turn up at the appointed time you risk invalidating your gorilla tracking permit and having to pay again.

The gorilla tracking time is very unpredictable and you may as well take the entire day. So have your accommodation booked for the night after your trek as well. For this same reason also have with you a packed lunch for the day, plenty of drinking water, rainproof clothing (you are trekking through a rainforest and any day it can rain).

Planning Your Accommodation during your Gorilla Trek tour

In Uganda, the accommodation you choose will depend on the gorilla permit you book being that the available 11 gorilla families that tourists visit in Bwindi range over a wide area. Please have a look at the page www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com/Bwindi GorillaTourAccommodationLodgesHotelsCampsitesUganda.htm for more details about which accommodation you will need to book for each different gorilla family in Bwindi.

Hiring Porters and Walking Sticks for the Gorilla Trek

Usually there are porters for hire (at $15 each) at the park offices and walking sticks (at $5). Do not overestimate your strength; you may certainly need either or both of these. So put it in high consideration to hire one. Besides, it’s another way of giving back to the communities.

Joining your gorilla trek with other tours/ excursions

Uganda offers a variety of tours you can join onto your gorilla trek. You can choose to do these safari excursions before or after the gorilla trek. Here are a couple of the many tour options that combine gorilla treks with amazing wildlife and scenery viewing.

Uganda 4 days Gorilla tracking tour with Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda 5 days Gorilla tracking tour with Wildlife Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Park
5 days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps Tour
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas

6 Days Gorilla Trek tour, Kibale Chimps tracking, Wildlife BIG 5 Safaris in Queen Elizabeth National
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari

7 days Uganda tour and holiday to Murchison Falls, mountain gorillas, Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest and Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable
7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife 
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
All Inclusive 12 days Uganda Safari

Thursday, June 11, 2015

2015 Gorilla's families in Rwanda- the 10 Mountain gorilla families for tracking in Volcanoes National Park

As of January 2015, there are 10 habituated gorilla groups which are for tourism purposes, and these are the ones that gorilla trackers visit. At maximum 8 persons can visit each gorilla gorilla group per day spending a maximum one hour each visit. These groups include Susa group, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Group 13 (Agasha group), Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Hirwa, Karinsimbi, Ugenda.
In Rwanda, you can only track mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans), a part of the wider Virunga (mountains). At least 480 mountain gorillas inhabit this (Virunga) complex and live at altitudes ranging from 2,300-4,500 m ranging within the southern part of Virunga National Park (DRC), and the Volcanoes National Park northern Rwanda, while a few use the Mgahinga National Park, southwestern Uganda.
In Rwanda, Gorilla’s families or groups are divided into two those which are for the study/ research purposes and these are only accessed by scientists and researchers. These include: Beetsme, and Pablo’s Shida’s and have the largest number of individuals.
There are then also 10 habituated gorilla groups which are for tourism purposes, and these are the ones that gorilla trackers visit. At maximum 8 persons can visit each gorilla gorilla group per day spending a maximum one hour each visit. These groups include Susa group, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Group 13 (Agasha group), Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Hirwa, Karinsimbi, Ugenda.

1. Susa Group (Susa A Family) - the gorilla group that was famously studied by Dian Fossey.
It derives its name from the Susa River which flows through their home range. This family is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but RDB’s Tourism & Conservation trackers will know well in advance where the group is located the day before in advance for the next trackers. Sometimes tourists have been barred from tracking the group because of its distant location. This group is very impressive with a family size now of 28 gorilla membersSusa gorilla group Rwanda with 3 Silverbacks. It was the largest gorilla group before it split into two. The group had 42 individuals and when one visited it, all you could see where Gorillas all over. The group is well known for the young twins named Byishimo & Impano who are very playful. It also contains one of the oldest known habituated gorillas, Poppy. Born in 1976 Poppy is believed to be from one of Dian Fossey's original gorilla groups.
Typically, a mother abandons one of the twins, as it is almost impossible for her to care for both. As we watched the mother, Nyabitondore, care for the twins, Impano and Byishimo, at times we thought she would go insane from the task. But today you can enjoy the two bouncing around and playing as if nothing ever happened.

2. Karisimbi Family (Susa-B)
This is the family that split from the Original Susa (Susa-A) family and now it’s called Susa-B or Karisimbi Group. It contains 15 individuals and it always stays in the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano (4507M). which the highest pick of Rwanda. The Karisimbi Group is better suited to visits for more serious hikers. It appears that they have established their home range high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. Thus, a visit to this group may well end up as a full-days trek. The group sometimes migrates to higher altitude and hence makes tracking difficult. However, RDB tourism and conservation guides know where to find the group a day before. Tracking this gorilla family may sometimes be prohibited because of its distant location.

3. Sabyinyo Gorilla Group
Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. Guhonda, the largest silverback of all the groups, who is well known for his massive physical appearance. Guhonda has kept his main challenger, Ryango, out of his group as a lonely silverback. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are equally impressive as a family.
The group was named after the Sabyinyo volcano which means "old man's teeth". Sabyinyo is one of the groups closest to the park's edge with 8 individuals: 1 Silverback (the biggest in the park); 3 Adult females; 1 Non adult female; 2 Juveniles and 1 Baby.

4. Amahoro Gorilla Group
Meaning "peaceful group", Amahoro, is the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups. The group has 17 individuals: 1 Silverback; 2 Blackbacks; 5 Adult females; 2 Sub adult males; 2 Juveniles and 5 Babies.  However, peace comes at a price. Ubumwe, the group's silverback is so peaceful, easy going and calm, he has lost group members to Charles in the Umubano group.
To reach Amahoro one must endure a fairly steep climb however the climb is well worth it once in contact with this tranquil group.

Amahoro gorilla group

5. Umubano Group

Meaning "neighborliness", Umubano a family of 11 individuals: 1 Silverback; 1 Sub adult male; 3 Adult females and 6 Babies.Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback (Ubumwe) was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano.

As Charles matured into a silverback of the same rank as Ubumwe, he could not stand being given orders and decided to stage a fight and challenge Ubumwe. The fight went on for weeks and then months. Finally, Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few females and formed his own group; thus Umubano was formed. Since then, he has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe. We have observed, on various occasions, interactions between the two silverbacks, but no fighting has been seen since the great battle ended.



6. 13 Group (aka Agasha Group)
When first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members: 1 Silverback; 12 Adult females; 2 Sub adult female; 3 Juvenile and 7 Babies. Formerly this group was commanded by Nyakarima who was challenged by Agashya meaning "the news". Agashya indeed made news by first watching and estimating Nyakarima's strengths and eventually challenging him to a fierce fight by taking off with his whole group. This was a shock to Nyakarima and an unprecedented event in observed gorilla history. Agashya then moved up the volcano to secure his group and make sure Nyakarima did not track them. Agashya has since increased his group's numbers by snatching from other groups and assimilating other lone gorillas, rapidly increasing the group from 12 to 25 individuals.
Agashya is known, at the first sign of trouble, to take his whole group up to the top of the volcano. Once, while we were taking a group of tourists to see Group 13 this exact scenario unfolded. Agashya felt that there was another silverback who was about to challenge him. In response, he took the group up the volcano. Every time we thought we were close to see them, Agashya would move the group further uphill. We did not reach them until the very top, where we finally got a chance to see them. By the time we got back to the car we had walked for 12 hours. While it was an exhausting day, it was magical to see gorillas at the top the world.

13 gorilla group

7. Kwitonda Family
This 18-member group is led by a silverback known as Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one blackback. Having migrated from DRC, this group tends to range far making it a moderately difficult trek. Together with Susa B this is one of the difficult groups to track

Kwitonda gorilla group

8. Hirwa Group (meaning "lucky one")
This group came into the lime light on the 17th of June 2006 when trackers witnessed its formation by the merging of some members from two different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo making a very small group then. As luck would have it, other gorillas joined the group and now Hirwa has 9 individuals: 1 Silverback; 3 Adult females; 2 Sub adult females and 3 Babies.

Despite being the newest group on the block, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups.

Hirwa gorilla group

9. Bwenge Family
The family size of this group is 11 individuals with Silverback. It is mostly found on the Slopes of the Karisoke Volcano. The group is led by a silverback named Bwenge and was formed in 2007 when he left his natal group and was gradually joined by females from other groups. This group has had some hard times; this is because there were some deaths of 6 infants. However now the group is growing strong with 2 successful births in the last few years and a strong capable silverback leader. The trek to see the group is tough and one has to hike up the hill or like 3 hours (gaining approximately 600m in elevation). The trails are sometimes muddy and very steep. Apparently it was also the group that was featured in the movie "Gorillas in the Mist".

 

10. Ugenda Family
This Group is found in Karisimbi area of Rwanda. The Family Size consists of 11 gorillas with 2 silverbacks. Its name means “being on the move” and was named because it was always moving from one area to another. Since it’s not in one place, tracking it may be some how difficult and involves also moving from one place to another to locate them.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

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 snack during 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, June 2, 2015

The Batwa Trail in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Batwa Trail in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park


Batwa Trail is a community based tour product developed by the Batwa community near Bwindi in conjunction with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Pearls of Uganda an NGO:-
Batwa Pygmies Bwindi mgahinga uganda

It starts at the base of Mt Muhavura at 8.00 am and finishes by 3-4 pm. You'll need walking shoes, hat, and raingear, and a packed lunch with sufficient drinks.

The Batwa Trail runs across the lower slopes of the Muhavura and Gahinga volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife but the Batwa Trail is far from being a conventional nature walk. With the help of Batwa guides, you'll see the forest as a larder, pharmacy, builder's yard, tool kit and, above all a home. Along the trail, you'll fire a bow and arrow, check hives for wild honey, help repair a Batwa shelter, harvest plants for medicine and food, light a fire without a matches, listen to legends and learn about Batwa traditions.

The highlight of the trail is a descent into the Garama cave, a 200m-long lava tube beneath Mt. gahinga. The Batwa are famed for their music and dance and their historic, subterranean council chamber in Garama Cave provides the setting for an unforgettable performance.

The Batwa trail is celebration of the forest culture of the "'first people." It is impossible, however, to ignore the fact that Batwa life has greatly changed. The day's events conclude with a discussion about the Batwa's current situation; how it can be improved; and progress to date towards doing so.

To visit the Batwa while tracking the gorillas of Bwindi please visit www.trekgorillatours.com/uganda-4-days-gorilla-tour-batwa-pygmies-visit-bwindi.html

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cheaper Gorilla tracking permits for November 2015 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Don’t miss an experience with the rare mountain gorillas in Mgahinga national park. Permit fees have been cut to Shs 150,000 from Shs 250,000 for domestic tourists (and all East African Community citizens).
Foreign tourists now pay $350 instead of the previous $600.
This promotional offer runs till end of May 2015.
Mgahinga is home of the eight-member ‘Nyakagezi’ mountain gorilla family, which consists of five males (silverbacks), two females and a two-year-old baby named Mutagamba after Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba. 
The current promotion is intended to boost the number of visitors to the park. On average, 130 tourists have been visiting the park every month but officials expect the numbers to increase to at least 200 during the promotion. The months of April to May and November are  thought to have fewer tourists visiting the park. 
Apart from gorilla tracking, Mgahinga’s other tourist activities include viewing of the rare golden monkeys at $90  for foreigners and Shs 30,000  for East Africans. 
The famous Batwa trail, which offers historical and social behaviours of the indigenous Batwa people, who lived in Mgahinga’s tropical forests, costs $80  for foreigners and Shs 50,000 for  East Africans. There’s also mountain climbing, which features hiking the treacherous Mt Muhabura, which peaks at 4,137m.
3 days/ 2nights Uganda Gorilla trek in Mgahinga   

Uganda 4 days Gorilla tracking tour with Hike Sabyinyo volcano/ Muhavura/ Gahinga/ Sabinyo Gorge in Mgahinga

OTHER TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES NEAR OR IN MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Viewpoint
Just above Ntebeko Gate is a small platform offering a magnificent view of Magahinga National Park and the surrounding area. To the south the three volcanoes, to the north miles of small gardens, Lake Mutanda and the hills of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. To the west a great view of the Western Rift valley in Congo.
Difficulty: easy; walking time: 30 min; distance 1km
Garama Cave
Almost 100 years ago there was a conflict between the Batwa (pygmies) and the Bantu population. The Batwa lived in the forests and the Bantu had their gardens and villages. The Batwa raided the Bantu in their villages and disappeared in the forests. The Bantu had no idea that there was a very large cave in the forest where the Batwa were hiding. Garama cave is 342 meters long and today it is only home to bats. During the visit the guide will tell you more about Garama Cave and the history and the life of the Batwa.
Difficulty: easy; walking time: 3 hrs; distance 4 km. NB: bring a torch!
Mount Magahinga
Around 58% of Magahinga National Park is covered with bamboo forest, a delicacy for the Gorillas and the Golden Monkeys. The walk to the top of the Mgahinga Volcano takes us through a very nice example of pure natural bamboo forest. This walk offers a good chance to see the rare Golden Monkey and Bushbucks. At the top (3474m) you will find a good view and a lush swamp in the crater.
Difficulty: moderate; walking time: 6 hrs; distance 6 km; elevation gain: 1100 m.
Sabinyo Gorge
This walk takes us through the lush vegetation in the gorge of the Sabinyo. It is moist with a dense vegetation. A small river at the bottom of the gorge is responsible for creating this paradise over time. At the end of the walk is a small but nice waterfall and a very good view of all the peaks. A good place for lunch! The gorge is a good place for seeing birds, especially the Ruwenzori Turacoo. Golden Monkeys and Duikers can also be spotted.
Difficulty: moderate; walking time: 4 hrs; distance 6 km; elevation gain: very little.
: bring good walking shoes!
Mount Sabinyo
Mount Sabinyo is the oldest of the three volcanoes, quite eroded and that is why it has its name, which means: "teeth of the old man"! This volcano has three challenging peaks. The trail takes you up a ridge along the eastern side to Peak 1. If you wish to continue, the climb to Peak 2 involves walking a ridge with breathtaking drops into the gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Finally, the hike up to Peak 3 is steep with several ladders and much scrambling. On top of peak 3 (3669m) you will be in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo at the same time! The Sabinyo hike takes you through all different vegetation belts, and you have good chances of seeing Golden Monkeys, Duiker, Rwenzori Turacos and Sunbirds.
Difficulty: you have to be fit! walking time: 8 hrs; distance 14 km; elevation gain: 1300 m.
: bring good walking shoes!
Border Trail
This hike takes you first toward Sabinyo. The trail climbs up the base of Sabinyo for a while through fine montane forest before turning towards Congo. Along the way you will get a great view of Sabinyo's gorge and peaks. Upon reaching Congo you cut back along the international border. The return leg to park head quarters is a great section for birding. The two rest huts along the way are good places for a break. Look closely for the Golden Monkeys and signs of elephants.
Difficulty: moderate; walking time: 8 hrs; distance 10 km; elevation gain: very little.
: bring good walking shoes!
Free Birding
Yes, free birding along the edge of the park is now available on request. The guides are very happy to take you out from 5-6 pm if you book by 10 am that morning. Birds that can be seen: Ibis, Whydah, Speckled Moosebird, Fire Finch, Stonechat, Grey Capped Warbler, Waxbills and Yellow-Vented Bulbul.
: bring your binoculars!
Village Walk
Walk with a local guide or on your own through the gardens and villages of the Bufumbira and Bachiga tribes. On your way you will learn a lot about how the people live and work. Often there is the possibility to eat at a local place or sometimes with a family. Other walks take us over the hills to Lake Mutanda and there you can go with a dugout canoe to Python Island and see birds near a swamp.
Difficulty: moderate; walking time: 3-5 hrs; distance 3-8 km; elevation gain: very little.
Batwa Trail
Batwa Trail is a community based tour product developed by the Batwa community near Bwindi in conjunction with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Pearls of Uganda an NGO:-
It starts at the base of Mt Muhavura at 8.00 am and finishes by 3-4 pm. You'll need walking shoes, hat, and raingear, and a packed lunch with sufficient drinks.
The Batwa Trail runs across the lower slopes of the Muhavura and Gahinga volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife but the Batwa Trail is far from being a conventional nature walk. With the help of Batwa guides, you'll see the forest as a larder, pharmacy, builder's yard, tool kit and, above all a home. Along the trail, you'll fire a bow and arrow, check hives for wild honey, help repair a Batwa shelter, harvest plants for medicine and food, light a fire without a matches, listen to legends and learn about Batwa traditions.
The highlight of the trail is a descent into the Garama cave, a 200m-long lava tube beneath Mt. gahinga. The Batwa are famed for their music and dance and their historic, subterranean council chamber in Garama Cave provides the setting for an unforgettable performance.
The Batwa trail is celebration of the forest culture of the "'first people." It is impossible, however, to ignore the fact that Batwa life has greatly changed. The day's events conclude with a discussion about the Batwa's current situation; how it can be improved; and progress to date towards doing so.
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