Thursday, June 1, 2017

Practical Tipping Advice in Rwanda and Uganda - How, When, Who, Where to Tip?

The question of when and when not to tip can be difficult in a foreign country. In Uganda and Rwanda, it is customary to tip your driver/guide at the end of a safari or hike, as well as a cook or porter that accompanies you. A figure if roughly $5 per day would be a fair benchmark, though check this with your safari company in advance. I see no reason why you shouldn’t give a bigger or smaller tip based on the quality of service. It is not essential to tip the guides who take you around in national parks and other reserves, but it is recommended, and the money will be greatly appreciated by the recipient.
The thing to remember is that whoever you tip in USD will not get the sum of money you intend to give. The exchange of USD is not an exact science, the rate given depends on both the age of the note and the size of the note. The newest and biggest denomination note will attract the best rate. A $1 bill will attract an absolute rubbish rate no matter how many you have. A Rwandan / Ugandan will be happy to receive a tip in whatever currency you want to use but for day to day living they prefer their local currency. If you tip them with dollars the first thing they do is go to the forex to negotiate the best rate available, either that or try and sell them to back to you.
So at the end of the day if all you have is USD or GBP or Euro then use that currency but the best option for the recipient is the local currency (Uganda Shilling or Rwandan franc).
But please please please don't do what some people do, tip using foreign coins, particularly one pound or one euro coins as they have no value at all and yes some people do do it.
It is customary to tip for service in local bars and restaurants, though you may sometimes want to leave a tip (in fact, given the difficulty of finding change in Uganda), you may particularly be forced into doing this in some circumstances. A tip of 5% would be very acceptable and 10% generous. Generally any restaurant that caters primarily for tourists and to wealthy Ugandans/ Rwandese residents will automatically add a service charge to the bill, but since there’s no telling where that service charge ends up, it would be reasonable to reward good service with a cash tip.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How To Book 2017 Gorilla tracking and Trek Permits in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi, Uganda
How to book 2017 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 ( $450 for November 2017.

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 2017 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 2017 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.




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Planning a gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – How to plan your 2017 gorilla tracking program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour.

Planning a perfect 2017 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 2017.
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 Park

To track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (each costs US$600 but are specially discounted in November 2017 to $450) . 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 2017, 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  2017, 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.

3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Rwanda Gorilla Tour - 
2 days Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
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 daysUganda Rwanda Safari 
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife 
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife - 
















Monday, May 22, 2017

How to Get/ Travel to Kibale National Park for Chimps tracking and Bigodi

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover interspersed by patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park ins home to a total of 60 mammal species, most famously the 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee. It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180-km long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, as Sebitoli in the north of Kibale.

How to Get/ Travel to Kibale National Park for Chimps tracking
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 26km southeast of Fort Portal town. Kanyanchu River Camp, the primary center for tourism activities, can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or from the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300km tarmac road running to Fort Portal followed by 36km of gravel to Kanyanchu. From Kampala there are several buses doing daily trips to Fort Portal town. These are however unreliable and frequently breakdown or have accidents along the way. They are therefore not highly recommended.
Kibale Forest National Park is most normally approached from Fort Portal using the Kamwenge road. If your are driving from Fort Portal town centre, follow Lugard Road north for about 1km. immediately before the bridge across the Mpanga River, turn right. You know you’re on the right road when after about 500m you pass a hospital to your right (with signposts reading ‘blood bank’ and ‘canteen’ perched in intriguingly close proximity). About 12km out of Fort Portal, you reach a major junction, where you need to fork left (the right fork, incidentally, leads to Lake Nkurumba and Ndali Lodge in the heart of Kabarole Crater Lake Field). After another 8.5km you pass the signpost for the Rweetera Tourism Society Camping Site and then 2.5km later Crater Valley Resort, from where it is another 12km to Kanyanchu Campsite and a further 5km to Bigodi.
Public transport to Kanyanchu used to be restricted to two or three dangerously overloaded pick-up trucks running daily between Kamwenge and Fort Portal. These have been recently supplemented by more regular mini-bus taxis, which run back and forth between Bigodi and Fort Portal throughout the day and are far more comfortable and safer than the trucks. Tourists are routinely overwhelmed by the taxi touts, so it’s advisable to check what local passengers are paying. There is normally no transport on Sunday.
A little used alternative route to Kibale Forest National Park runs north from Mbarara via Ibanda and Kamwenge. North Ibanda the road is unsurfaced but mostly in pretty good condition, and with a private vehicle it should take about 3 hours. Using public transport you will probably have to change vehicles in Ibanda and Kamwenge and may well have to overnight at one or other town – both posses a few cheap guesthouses. You can easily pick up transport from Kamwenge to Fort Portal via Kanyanchu. If you are heading this way, you might want to investigate the Mpanga Falls and nearby cycad fields between Kamwenge and Ibanda.





Related post
When is the best time, season, month to visit Kibale National Park to track chimps
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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
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4 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









Monday, April 17, 2017

All you need to know about Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Trekking to see the golden monkeys is another highlight of Volcanoes National Park. The Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti) is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey” and is endemic to the high altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park area. The Golden monkeys are rare species is listed as endangered. The monkeys are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping from bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor towards the base of the volcanoes and have overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists.
Golden Monkeys Volcanoes National Park RwandaThere are two habituated groups of Golden Monkey, one group comprises around 80 - 100 members and has its home at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo.
In the same way you track mountain gorillas so will your track the golden monkeys. Treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. Departure for the Golden Monkey trek is from the Park’s Kinigi Headquarters at 07:00am. The number of visitors is not limited and the fee for a Golden Monkey permit is currently USD$100 per person per trek. Permits can either be arranged in advance or booked at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek. Porters can be hired at the entry point of the park.
Golden Monkeys are very sprightly creatures, and leap from tree to tree which is really entertaining, if a little difficult to photograph! We recommend setting your camera to a fast shutter-speed to allow for low light in the dense undergrowth and to better your chances of capturing the golden monkeys on film!
This is a great way to spend an extra day in the Volcanoes National Park and if you're interested in wildlife, this is a rare and delightful experience not to be missed!
If you would like further information or would like help booking your golden monkey permit, or would like to add golden monkey tracking to your tour program, then please either contact us for assistance.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Information on Optional Tourist Activities in Southern Bwindi, Kisoro, Mgahinga, Lake Mutanda, Batwa and Nkuringo

INFORMATION ON ACTIVITIES IN KISORO; BATWA TRAIL, GARAMA CAVE, SABINYO GORGE, LAKE MUTANDA, MT MGAHINGA
Kisoro is home is the main base for gorilla trekking in South Western Uganda and in neighbouring Rwanda. However, Kisoro doesn't only offer gorilla trekking: its beautiful surroundings offer an opportunity to undertake several different interesting activities, either individually or in groups. Below is a description of some of these activities.
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.
NB: 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.
NB: 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.
NB: 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.
NB: bring your binoculars!
Village Walk
Walk with a local guide or on your own through the gardens and villages of the Bufumbira and Bakiga 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.








Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to book/ buy a 2017 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$1500 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 2017
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?

Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $450 (April May and April)


Monday, March 27, 2017

Practical Rwanda Money Tips, MasterCard, Visa in Rwanda, Budgeting, Planning your finances for Rwanda

Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandan franc (RFr). IF you are travelling to Rwanda, it’s best to come to Rwanda with US dollars or euros in cash. The only useful bank branch in the country is Banque de Kigali in the capital, which offers cash advances on credit card and can change travellers cheques, neither of which is possible in the other provinces. There are ATMs in Kigali, but they are not yet wired to an international network. Credit cards can be used in some upmarket hotels and restaurants in Kigali.
Bureaux de change – which are mostly in Kigali – offer slightly better exchange rates than banks. Moneychangers hang around central Kigali and usually give a slightly better rate, but count your money carefully. All banks, and most bureaux de change, are closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
 
Credit cards are not used widely and few cash machines take foreign credit cards. Unusually for this part of Africa, MasterCard is far more widely accepted than Visa (the Visa stickers you see outside some hotels refer to cards issued domestically). But even so, the use of MasterCard extends only certain up market hotels in Kigali and a very few places outside the capital. If you are relying on using a card, ten best to check what cards your hotel accepts when you make your booking. Worth noting here too that the ORTPN head office in Kigali also accepts MasterCard but not Visa.
If you have urgent payments to make it would be wise to carry cash instead of relying on the ATMS as they are so fond of failing to release cash when you need it most. 
You can withdraw upto US$2500 per day (or equivalent in Rwanda Francs or any other hard currency to hand) against Visa or MasterCard in the Bancor on Ave de la Piax in Kigali.  This is a remarkably straightforward procedure but be warned that it does depend on the bank having access to a specific website – if the electricity is down, or the computers or the internet server or the website itself, then this service will be unavailable and you may have to wait a day or two for it to comeback online.
As for travellers’ cheques (it is best if they are in euros or US dollars) – again, theoretically they can be cashed up to a value of US$200 daily at the Banque Commercial du Rwanda (BCR) and a few other banks in central Kigali, but in practice this can fall apart, or be quite a slow procedure.  You will get a poorer exchange rate for travellers’ cheque than for cash.  When cashing them, you must generally show the sales advice slip that you got when you obtained them – that is the slip of paper that one is supposed never to keep in proximity to the cheques!
That leaves cash.   The preferred foreign currencies are the dollar or euro, but all main currencies should be exchangeable, whether in banks or in official or private forex bureaux.  The official forex are clearly signed on the street and have standard facilities.  The ‘private’ ones are small offices or rooms where the moneychangers who used to tour their wares on the street now operate since the black market was declared illegal.  They may offer a slightly better exchange rate than in banks.  They generally also give a better rate for larger-denomination notes, which anyway are less bulky for you to carry.  Above all, because there is no paperwork involved, they have the advantage scene.  Conditions regarding credit cards and traveler’s cheques may be different – and better – by the time you travel.  But do have enough cash in case of glitches.  If you don’t want to carry too much, arrange for a friend to send it to you from hoe when necessary, via Western Union – there are offices in Kigali and all the main towns.  It isn’t cheap – the cost depends on the amount being transferred –but it’s quick and secure.  Any Rwandan francs left over at the end of your trip can be changed back into dollars, euros or whenever by banks, forex bureaux or money-changers.
Planning Your spending in Rwanda
Your planned expenditure will largely depend on what you intend to do during your visit, where you want to go, which kind of hotels and services you intend to utilize. Generally speaking though, please inform your travel agent of a rough figure you plan to spend on your visit so that they can draw out the most apporpriate plan for you. Pre-booked packages do vary in terms of what is included in the price, and you are advised to check the exact condition in advance, but generally the price quoted will cover everything but drinks, tips and perhaps some meals.
For budget travellers, Rwanda is not the cheapest country in Africa, but it is damn close to it – and after Ghana it offers the best value for money of any country I have visited in the last couple of years.  Throughout the country, a soft drink will cost you around US$0.40 and a 700ml beer less than US$1 in a local bar, more in a hotel or restaurant that caters primarily to Westerners.  A meal in local restaurant will cost US$1-1 while a meal in a proper restaurant might cost U$4 upwards.  Budget accommodation can average out about US$5 per head, quite often for a self-contained room (two people) with a hot shower or bath.  Public transport is cheap- typically about US$1 per 50km – and distances are relatively small.  Taking the above figures into account I think that budget travellers could scrape by inmost parts of Rwanda on around US$10-15 per day for one-person or US$20 per day for two.
The above calculations don’t allow for more expensive one-off activities, such as gorilla-tracking ( a gorilla permit at at June 1st 2017 is $1500) or visiting the other national parks (not expensive unless you hire a vehicle).  If you want to keep a particular budget and plan on undertaking such activities, you would be well advised to treat your day-to-day budget separately from one –off expenses.
Rwanda is so small, and all parts of it are so easily accessible from Kigali, that you needn’t engage in any complicated planning. 
 TIPPINGTipping is common is Rwandan cities these days due to the large international presence. Rwandan salaries are low and a tip of 10% will be appreciated. Tipping is an important part of a safari – expect to tip drivers, guides and cooks around US$10 per day per group depending on the safari.
 

How much?
Double room in a midrange hotel US$35-115
Meal in a midrange restaurant US$5-10
Tracking mountain gorillas US$750
100km bus ride US$2
Internet access per hour US$1-2
1L bottled water US$0.75
Primus beer US$2
Beef brochettes (street snack) US$1
Souvenir T-shirt US$10

Friday, March 10, 2017

Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours In 2017 : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, tracking experience, hardness, etc

Comparison of 2017 Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Uganda – Which is the best place to do a gorilla trek – Uganda or Rwanda? Which is more viable or cheaper: Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park, Which is more easy to access, Is tracking Rwanda better than Uganda?
rwanda mountain gorillas
The exhilaration attached to the first setting eyes on a wild mountain gorilla is difficult to describe. Yet in the same sense, that magical one hour spent with the gorillas does not come cheaply considering that a permit goes for US$1500 in Rwanda and $600 in Uganda – but it is unusual to find someone who regretted the financial outlay.
Mountain gorillas live in families similar to those of humans. Although the current mountain gorilla population is about 848, gorilla tracking can only be done on the habituated mountain gorilla families. 13 of the habituated families live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP, another 14 habituated mountain gorilla families live in Uganda (13 in Bwindi Impenetrable NP, 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) and 1 in D.R.Congo’s Virunga NP.
A maximum of 8 persons can visit a given gorilla family per day.
All else being equal, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has a slight edge over the rest because its gorillas are the most wholly habituated, and they are often found in bamboo than the dense forest which makes photographing easier.

The major challenge with tracking gorillas in Rwanda is certainly the price of the gorilla permit at US$1500 compared to Uganda’s US$600 per permit. However, Rwanda’s pride is in the ability for one to do the gorilla trek even in one day and fly back home which is impossible for Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is located 116 km from Kigali and can be driven in just 2 hours. On the other hand, Bwindi is located 500 km from Kampala/ Entebbe Airport and a drive can take 8 hours plus. In that sense, you will spend at least 3 days for your gorilla trek tour – one travelling to Bwindi, another doing the gorilla trek, and the other driving back to Kampala/Entebbe. If a tour operator is making you a tour package, they shall definitely have to consider this cost and include it in your tour cost.
With the on coming of daily scheduled flights to Bwindi, operators now can have 3 days flying packages to Bwindi.
In real practice though, the one-day gorilla trek tour is not recommended because of the pressure it exerts on the trekker. For those limited on time, we would suggest the 2-days gorillas package.
Tree climbing lions often sighted in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth NP on your way to track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi safari
Tree climbing lions often sighted in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth NP on your way to track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi safari
However, the long drive to Bwindi is quite enchanting with great sceneries all through like the Equator, Lake Mburo National Park ( for some Queen Elizabeth National Park with abundant wildlife), terraced mountains with flowing rivers, and a lot of rural Africa. This is not so really the case for the drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.
You will certainly need spend more on transport and time to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda than it’s for Rwanda although this cost is compensated for by a cheaper gorilla permit.
Besides, some sections of the roads to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are not so comfortable to drive on yet in the case of Rwanda, you drive on smooth tarmac at least up to the Volcanoes National Park head office. Not to mention though, the roads leading from Volcanoes park office to the gorilla trek trail-heads can only be accessed with a raised 4x4 vehicle.

Comparison of The Gorilla Trekking Experience
Of course you can get this in Uganda in evenings (at a fee) from the various traditional cultural groups that are near the park. However, the drive from Kampala to Bwindi is a very fabulous one traversing at least another national park (either Kibale or Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for tree climbing lions and many other big mammals, or Lake Mburo National Park) and not to miss- the Equator. In a way, even before you arrive Bwindi you have had a bit of the ‘Pearl of Africa’ as is fondly known. To many, driving along paved eucalyptus avenues to the gorillas in not the best deal. Indeed many to purchase tour packages combining both Rwanda and Uganda, first doing Gorillas in Rwanda and then crossing to Uganda to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for the BIG 5 safaris and chimpanzee tracking among other tours.
Lets compare the tour costs in general.Because of the long drive one endures from Kampala to Bwindi, the general cost is increased (even when you travel by public buses). It even increases more because you have to travel 2 days (to and from Bwindi). However, the increased cost is countered by the low cost gorilla permit of US$600 ($450 in April and May, November 2017). A low budget 3 days gorilla trek tour in Uganda goes for about $1250 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) for one person on tour. The two days Rwanda gorilla trek costs about $1220 ( with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) and a three days Rwanda gorilla tracking tour costs is about $2030 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) . Costs samples got from Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris website effective Jan 2017.
Other things in addition to the actual gorilla tracking
Lastly, if you are not travelling just to see the mountain gorilla, and you want to include other activities in your visit, Rwanda may not be the best choice. Many tourists have continually had to cross to Uganda after their Rwanda gorilla trek to tour other reserves like Queen Elizabeth National Parks so endowed with abundant wildlife one cannot see in Rwanda. This is why probably folks continue enduring the long drives to Bwindi yet there is an easy way out.
At the end of the day – the ultimate jury are those who are looking as to which country to visit in order to track Gorillas – it is not Rwanda, not Uganda, not the Democratic Republic of Congo but where their pockets and hearts choose. If you precisely want the mountain gorillas and nothing else, go for a one-day gorilla trek but if you are a one who wants it and all of it, go for the long drive – you won’t regret…
Have you been on a gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda? What was your experience? What have you had about tracking gorillas in Rwanda Vs Uganda? Let me hear you views.
from the Rwanda/Uganda border post in Chanika .
Related articles:
My mountain gorilla tracking experience in Bwindi's Oruzogo gorilla family
How To Book Gorilla tracking & Trek Permits in Uganda and Rwanda
Affordable Private Road Transfers to Bwindi
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $450
Mountain Gorillas Aside, Why Does Earth need Bwindi so badly?

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Rwanda Gorilla Tour -
2 days Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
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 daysUganda Rwanda Safari
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife -
Bwindi Mountain gorilla with baby gorilla - Uganda
Trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi (Ruhija Sector)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Travel Documents, Visas, Vehicle Crossing in East Africa Countries - Frequently asked questions

Questions about Visa and Travel Document Requirements when travelling between Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi. do I need a visa when crossing from one country to another? How do I cross borders with my own vehicle?

a) Do I need a visa to travel from one EAC country to the next?If you are a citizen of any one of the five EAC Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, you won't need a visa to travel to any of the countries within the EAC bloc. For visitors from without East Africa, please check individual EAC Partner State Immigration/Home Affairs websites for visa information. Otherwise the basic rule is a visa acquired from one country does not apply to another and once you exit one country, you shall need to apply for another visa when re-entering it.
b) Which documents do I need to carry along with me when travelling to any EAC state?
Standard travel documents such as national passports apply for East Africans and non-East Africans alike, although East Africans may use the East African Passport or temporary travel documents in place of either national or East African passports.
c) I would like to use my vehicle in another EAC country; what should I do?East Africans are allowed to drive private cars across borders and across the entire EAC region, free of charge, for visits no longer than seven (7) days.  All you have to do is fill a form, obtainable at border crossing points, which grants you the free access. Generally speaking, you need to have a COMESA Insurance which can be purchased from any major insurance companies or even at most border crossing points, your original driver’s license, and original copies of your vehicles owner’s logbook.
d) Do I need to acquire a local driver's license to drive my car in another EAC state?Citizens of EAC states need not acquire a new license to drive in another EAC country. Driver’s licenses from any of the Partner States apply anywhere in the EAC region. Suffice it to say that your license must be valid.
e) As a resident of East Africa, can I use my current mobile phone number when I travel through the region?Yes. Thanks to a series of inter-operator roaming agreements, East African residents may continue to use their local mobile phone numbers, sometimes without incurring roaming charges. *Please check the availability of this service with your operator.
f) What should I do if I lose my travel documents while visiting another country?
If you lose your travel documents, report to the nearest police station as soon as possible. With the Police's help you should be able to access temporary travel documents from your country's diplomatic mission.
g) I am a citizen of Tanzania living in the United Kingdom, I have UK  right of abode in my United Republic of Tanzania passport, do I need a visa to visit Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda? - Carlos Montana
A citizen of any of the East African Community Partner States (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) does not require a visa to travel to or through East Africa. Also note that East African citizens pay the same rates as locals in a given EAC country to access any tourist or accommodation facilities.

Related posts

Common Tourist Visa A Top Priority for East Africa Community for 2013

Indifference among States Puts Single East Africa Community Tourist visa Plans in Balance

Who Needs and How to Apply for Rwanda Visa– Tourist Visa Entry Requirements




j) My question is not addressed here; what should I do?If your query is not addressed on this page, please send us an email on info@gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com . We will be happy to provide an answer, and your question shall then be added to this page as well.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rwanda working on cable car to Mt.Karisimbi

The government of Rwanda is planning to put a cable car on Mt. Karisimbi to promote Eco-tourism in that part of the country. The cable car system will facilitate hikes to the highest mountain in the country, the Karisimbi volcano, the Rwanda Development Board has said.
The cable will be used as a mode of transport for tourists at the Karisimbi mountain and is expected to improve tourism in the country.


At 4705m the summit of Mt Karisimbi is the highest peak in the Virunga Range, the highest point in Rwanda and one of the highest summits in Africa. Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a fantastic experience but at the moment can only be attempted by experienced and fit hikers. The normal climb does not involve any mountaineering skills and will typically take two days.
The final ascent of Mt Karisimbi is physically very demanding given the very high altitudes. Temperatures can be well below freezing at the summit in the early hours of the day.

The $38 million (Rwf25billion) project involves installing a cable car to facilitate people especially tourists to access the summit. The cable car ride will provide a unique tourist product for the region, and help make Rwanda a tourist destination of choice.
The project will involve establishing a 260sq kilometer area to promote ecotourism and make Rwanda the premier ecotourism destination in Central and East Africa.
The Karisimbi cable car projects will be the second of its kind on the continent, the other being the one in Cape Town, South Africa. It is expected to offer crater surfing via zip lines, according to RDB.

Currently Karisimbi hikers climb from the edge of Volcanoes National Park to the ridge of the huge caldera that extends at the base of the actual cone of Mt Karisimbi, crossing first the bamboo forests and then the Hagenia - Hypericum forests. The hike then continues through the caldera, across a bush of giant Lobelia. Another route begins at the foot of Mt Visoke, takes climbers across the saddle and up Mt Karisimbi.
At the end of the first day a very basic mountain camp is set up which will be climbers base for the night. Early the following morning the climb begins again for the summit, where climbers can enjoy beautiful morning light and astonishing scenery. On a clear day the view from the summit is spectacular both on the Rwandan and Congolese sides with views of the Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira active volcanoes in the distance. The return hike then takes the rest of the second day to complete.

Rwanda’s tourism sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners in the country. Current fees for the hiking Mt. Karisimbi stand at USD$ 175 per person which includes the Park guide. The trek starts at 09:00am from the park headquarters at Kinigi from where visitors will have to drive to the entry point in the forest (this is usually reached by about 10:00 - 11:00am). The hike normally ends in the afternoon of the second day. Permits can be purchased from the park headquarters of the day of the trek but advanced warning is necessary to allow the park’s authorities time to prepare. Porters can be hired at a cost of USD$ 30 for the trek.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris to showcase Uganda and Rwanda at ITB Berlin 2017

Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris is set to showcase Uganda’s tourism and heritage during the 51st Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB) exhibition in Germany from March 8 – 12, 2017.
ITB - Berlin is known to be the world’s leading travel trade show attracting over 50,000 people.

Together with Uganda Tourism Board, Gorillas will be exhibiting in Hall 21.a Booth 121, sharing the stand with Kenya and Rwanda.

Uganda will market its diverse natural endowments including; birds, wildlife, culture, history, tradition, food and weather among others.

This 5th time Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris is exhibiting at ITB in addition to several other International travel exhibitions and expos.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How To Book 2017 Gorilla tracking/ Trek Permits in Uganda

Quick and Easy Procedure to Booking Mountain Gorilla Permits in Uganda Bwindi
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi, Uganda

**_How to book 2017 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](http://safariadviceuganda.blogspot.com/2012/10/importanceofconservingtheWorldHeritagesitebwindibiodiversitygorillas.html) 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** [**$450 for the months of 2017 April, May and November**](http://safariadviceuganda.blogspot.ug/2012/10/uganda-cuts-gorilla-trek-permit-prices.html)**.**

On each particular day, up to about 96 persons can visit Bwindi gorillas, 8 persons per each gorilla family.

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

Booking 2017 Gorilla Permits directly through UWA To book your gorilla permit (from out of Uganda) you first have to contact UWAs 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.

<img src="http://www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com/img/BwindiAccommodation-Gorilla-Forest-Camp.jpg" alt="Recommended Gorilla Trek Accommodation in Beindi. Uganda booking gorilla permits" title=" "Recommended Gorilla Trek Accommodation in Beindi. Uganda"" class="alignright">
Recommended Lodging for Gorilla Tracking >>

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 2017 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. Gorillasand 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.What to wear and take when trekking to see the gorillas?

Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, experience, hardness,etcWhen is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?My mountain gorilla tracking experience in Bwindi's Oruzogo gorilla familyHow To Book Gorilla tracking & Trek Permits in Uganda and RwandaAffordable Private Road Transfers to Bwindi

Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $450

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