Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ngamba Chimps fight for Kingship - Who will be the next king of Ngamba?

Plots and counter plots have been taking place following the demise of Mika, who was the king of the 48 chimps living on Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria. Mika died early October out of unknown causes that are still being investigated.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee 

Who will be the next king of Ngamba? Will the king step on the pedestal of power at Ngamba in a bloodless take over?
Innocent Ampeire, a caregiver at Ngamba, said influential individuals in the group have been holding ‘political meetings’ to choose the next leader. “The ranking males like Tumbo, Umutama, Eddie and Robbie do not seem interested in the position, but often meet and seem to discuss whom to back,” says Ampeire.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary  sitted on Lake Victoria
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

He also pointed out that Kalema, Indi, Kisembo and Maisko are contesting for the position of alpha male who is entitled to have sex with the females and also eat first. In return the king is supposed to be a unifier who settles disputes and protects the weak from aggression.

The Island is a chimpanzee sanctuary managed by the Jane Goodall Institute. Ngamba Island consists of approximately 100 acres, 98 of which are forested and separated from the visitors area by an electric fence. Ngamba Island was officially opened to visitors in October 1999 and is currently home to 48 orphaned chimpanzees.
It is interesting to watch the chimps interact with each other and with their keepers. In the relatively short amount of time you are there you will be able to see such different personalities amongst the group, with some whistling for food and others clapping. Obviously the ideal option would be to re-introduce these orphaned chimpanzees to the wild however this is not possible for a number of different reasons and the sanctuary is not bad for second best.


Chimpanzee Tracking Tour and Safari Packages in Uganda

Uganda Wildlife Authority Launches Night Game Drives in National Parks

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has launched night drives in a bid to boost tourism in the country. The drive launched last week is aimed at attracting more tourists to boost the economy. This comes after the authority embarked on massive promotion of tourism in the country.

Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, says the launch of the night drives at the parks is a big achievement for Uganda. He says many animals; particularly the carnivorous ones are active at night hunting for prey. He says this launch will give tourists better opportunities to view the animals hunting. He says the authority has already purchased open roof vehicles for the night drives.

Dr. Seguya says Uganda is expected to reap millions in foreign exchange after the launch.

He has appealed to the Ugandans to take this opportunity to view the wildlife of the country. Seguya says it is a rich experience to drive through the park at night while viewing the beautiful animals in the country.

Simplicious Gessa, the Public Relations Officer at Uganda Wildlife Authority, says the authority is set to introduce more packages for Ugandans.

Gesa says with time if the facilities are in place and the situation stabilizes, the authority may offer one day free visits for the locals to the parks. He says the authority is looking forward to the day when the locals will embrace wildlife as part of them and are ready to protect the animals.

He has appealed to the Ugandans to appreciate what nature has given them and be ready to protect it. Gessa says the authority will do everything to protect the wildlife and ensure that Uganda takes the lead in promoting tourism in the world.


Safaris where you can do night game drives


clip_image0013 Days Lake Mburo National Park:
Uganda’s smallest savannah national parks and it is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, Oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.

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3 Days Murchison Falls Safari:
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall ....

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clip_image0023 Days Queen Elizabeth Tour:
We take you for a magical wildlife experience to Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains

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5 Days Gorilla Trekking And Queen Elizabeth:
In just 5 days, we are good enough to combine your interests of visiting the Gorillas in Bwindi with the best of Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

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clip_image0036 Days Total Wildlife Safari:
Uganda’s most recommended wildlife safari, for wild animal lovers, it is the biggest chance ever to see all the Big Five starting with Rhino down to the Lions.

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10 Days Incredible Tour:
Discover Uganda’s most beautiful parks, from the visitors that have booked our 10 days incredible, they testify as the best Uganda tourist circuit enabling them encounter the rarest of the rare in the Africa

Saturday, November 23, 2013

1100 visit Murchison Falls National Park as eclipse boosts tourism in Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park registered 11,260 visitors during the recent hybrid eclipse excitement and bagged shs100m in entry fees in three days, said the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) tourism warden, Joshua Masereka.

Tourism generated $1b (about 2.7 trillion) in 2012, according to a recent World Ban study. This is about 38% of exports, and it generated 56% of GDP, making it the biggest source of income.
The lodges in the park were all booked to capacity and tour operators such as Mpolampola and Jangu Kampala had brisk business,” said Maseruka.
“After the eclipse, the tourists saw the animals, birds and the vegetation is endowed with.”
UWA Executive Director Andrew Seguya said the guest list is expected to increase since the park’s Baker’s Trail was recently voted among the top 20 in the world.
“If it is appealing in a raw form, you should expect many more tourists upon completion,” Seguya said.
Nile Safari Lodge manager Davidson Kinyera said the eclipse gave Uganda exposure in a new perspective.
“Our accommodation, wines and food were on demand in October, which has always been low season,” he noted.
“Other than the eclipse, our guests were awed by the mighty Murchison Falls, the animals and a variety of vegetation:.
Kinyera adds that there is also spot fishing at Murchison Falls National Park with records of catches weighing more than 108kg.
“Spot fishing is a challenge for anglers who prefer to do it right on the banks”, says Kinyera.
“The strong current and highly oxygenates waters help breed huge Nile Perche, which gives the tourists a chance to make a record breaking catch.
A 120km game drive is evidence of the rejuvenation of elephants, bush bucks and antelopes. They compete for space with buffaloes, hippos and hyenas.
“The hunting of wild animals is as old as mankind in Uganda,” says Seguya, but adds that hunting animals for meat and skins has never been a threat to wildlife as poaching today.
The threat stems from the skyrocketing price of ivory and an increase in the number of foreigners. Arrests of foreigners in transit with ivory, scales and birds have been made at Entebbe Airport several times.
“Every effort is being made to protect our wildlife,” Seguya says.
Tours and Safaris to Murchison Falls National Park
  2 days Murchison Falls National Park tour and Game Safari (with Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Communities neighbouring Kibaale National Park in Kabarole district have failed to access the revenue given to them by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
According to the wildlife statute 1996, UWA is expected to pay 20% of the park entry fees collected from wildlife protected areas to the local government of the area surrounding the wildlife protected areas.
The revenue is used to set up income generating projects for the communities, to deter them from exploiting the wildlife resources. The local communities help in fighting poaching, fire outbreaks and other illegal activities in the park which used to be the culprits.
In August, UWA gave Kabarole district local government 400 million shillings from the gate collections of Kibaale National Park. The funds were meant for Busoro Sub County for the parishes of Kaswa and Busoro, which neighbours the park. However, since then the residents in the two parishes have never accessed the funds. The money was supposed to be used to construct three bore holes, buy iron sheets for Busoro Primary School and construct a roadside market.
Roger Magezi, a resident of Busoro parish says the locals have on several occasions written to the district to release the money in vain. Magezi says if the boreholes had been constructed, it would solve the problem of water accessibility. He says the nearest water source in the area is 3 kilometres.
David Kusemererwa, the LCIII chairperson Busoro, claims the district diverted the funds adding that whenever he demands for the money he is ignored. Kusemererwa states that he has written to UWA to intervene in the matter.
But in our exclusive phone interview, Henry Tuhaise, the deputyCAO in-charge Burahya County, denies allegations that the money was diverted. Tuhaise says the communities aren’t accessing the funds because they have refused to provide their work plans and budget to the district.
He says in the past, the communities haven’t put the revenue share to proper use. Tuhaise cites last year when the local authorities in the sub-County diverted the money meant for the construction of Wild animal prevention barriers, and instead renovated a health centre and three schools, which the district were also planning to rehabilitate.
Martin Asiku, the warden Kibale Conservation Area, blames the district authorities for failing to remit the funds to the sub county authorities. He however says the communities should be transparent and put the funds to proper use.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The UWA Executive Director Andrew Seguya has said that oil activities are not interfering with wildlife in the Albertine graben.

This is contrary to the information from other UWA officials who say that the activities going on in the Albertine have greatly affected wildlife in the area.

The officials in their presentations at two different foras said that there has been death of animals due to poisonous chemicals used during drilling which have found their way into the ground and into the water drank by the animals.

The officials also said that the ongoing activities have greatly restricted their movements in the national parks adding that the noise and vibrations of machines is greatly affecting them.
But Seguya says that those activities are no different from the other usual activities carried out by the park rangers or the noise made by tourists’ trucks in the protected areas. He said that there were challenges even before commencement of oil activities but what matters is how the challenges are handled.

He says that an oil unit has been set up in the strategic plan running from 2013-2018 to principally devise mitigation measures that need to be taken.
He added that rangers have been trained and deployed where exploration and drilling is taking place. A 24 hour team which is composed of UWA staff, staff from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and staff from the Petroleum Exploration and Exploration Department is responsible.

He said that he is confident that the challenges will be resolved because the oil companies are doing their part responsibly and that he is satisfied with their response.
In their presentations the, officials said that oil companies pay these rangers subsequently making it challenging for them to supervise their bosses.
But Seguya denied that the oil companies pay rangers. He said that what they do is pay UWA for the services it renders to them which he says is a basic principal of conservation called the polluter pays principle.
But the Projects Manager for Energy and Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)Robert Damulira says the impacts are now minimal and can probably be contained. But he doubts UWA’s competence in mitigating the medium term and long term impacts.

Damulira told our correspondent that the government and UWA in particular need to strengthen their policies and put some places in that region strictly off limits. He said for example the Albert-Nile Delta which is important to animals for mainly water need to be demarcated as off limits adding that he hopes that UWA and government will not be deceived by oil money to destroy Uganda’s important sector.
70 percent of the countries Protected Areas are in the Albertine and 50 percent of the oil wells lie with in these Protected Areas.


The proposed Wildlife Act amendments currently before the Uganda cabinet are aimed at streamlining the operations of the oil exploration in line with the wildlife existence and environmental conservation.

The review which has been carried out by Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in consultation with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and environmentalists aims to bridge the loopholes in the current act which among others offered lenient punishment for poachers.

The current act was also enacted before the discovery of oil and did not address the issues of exploration and disturbances to the wildlife, particularly in the Albertine Region.

Barirega Akankwasah, the Principal Wildlife Officer at Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquity since oil plays a big role in the economy of any country, they cannot say exploration must not take place in the protected areas. Though he did not mention any specific proposals, Akankwasah says what the amendment will provide is an environment where the two can mutually exist.

He says the National Environment Act provides for environment impact assessment before engaging in any exploration. He says the there is also provision for the same in the current wildlife act. He says NEMA will come up with a broader impact assessment for oil and other sectors. He says this will ensure that both animals and oil activities can coexist.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has embarked on fencing and digging trenches around the Murchison national parks to contain marauding animals. The affected districts include Nwoya, Amuru, Moyo.
Communities neighboring Murchison national park have for long accused Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA and Ministry of Tourism of negligence and failure to control the animals.

However, the ministry says it has embarked on a comprehensive program to fence off the park to deter animals from crossing into the crop fields. George Owoyesigire, the Acting Principal Wildlife Officer says he has personally been monitoring the digging of trenches in the Murchison National Park and the success rate is between 70-80 percent.
He says with such high success rate, more trenches will be dug to deter the elephants from crossing to the gardens. Owoyesigire says apart from the trenches, the ministry is also experimenting the mixture of red pepper, used oil, chain-link and constructing buffalo walls to tame the animals.
Owoyesigire however says the biggest challenge in Murchison is the high water table and rocky nature that prevents them from constructing the trenches. He says the ministry is devising other means to use where the soils collapse easily because of the high water table.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Uganda among the Top-10 Most Popular destinations for tourists in Sub-Saharan Africa

Uganda is among the 10 destinations that are on course to turn into popular tourists’ destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a World Bank report. The Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods report indicates that Uganda together with Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Seychelles are scaling up tourism and emerging as a tourism destination.

rwanda mountain gorillas

According to Tourism Update the report, titled Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods, stated Sub Saharan Africa’s tourism industry was set to drive economic growth on the continent and directly employ 6.7 million people by 2021.

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the world economy, and tourism in Africa is ripe for development, the report notes.

For example, the number of tourists arriving in SSA has grown over 300% since 1990, with 2012 marking a high of 33.8 million tourists who visited the region.

Income generated from tourism has also climbed: Receipts from hotels, tours and other attractions in 2012 amounted to over US$36bn and directly contributed just over 2.8% to the region’s GDP, according to the report.

The report said these countries had simplified their tourism policies, liberalised air transport and diversified tourism while protecting their communities and environments, which created a positive investment climate for tourism development.

The World Bank has urged SSA governments to form alliances with the private sector-and the private sector to partner with government at local, regional and national levels.

Together they can plan and develop tourism infrastructure, increase transparency in land ownership and create a business-friendly environment for tour operators and other companies. When sustainably managed, tourism fuels economic transformation, accelerates reform, triggers infrastructure improvements, and empowers women and minorities in countries throughout Africa.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


murchison ferry
The Murchison Falls Ferry is undergoing repairs to enhance Visitor safety. It was grounded on the 22nd October in order to install New ferry Pontoons. The ferry is expected to resume its routes on the 1st of November 2013. Tour Operators are advised to use the Karuma route for activities on the Northern Bank .
According to UWA, the contractor has been briefed to expedite the works so that it doesn't interfere with the preparations for the eclipse events.

UWA regrets all inconveniences it may have caused!!!

For any unusual challenges, contact the Conservation Area Manager, for Murchison Falls National Park, Mr. Tom Okello on 0772 550 294 and Tourism Warden , Joshua Masereka on 0783 482 298.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nyungwe National Park nominated for Global Award

NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK has made the cut of seven from the continent shortlisted for the 2013 World Travel Awards. The accolade follows last year’s British Guild of Travel Writers’ Global Award that the park received for its effort to harmonize tourism, wildlife and the agricultural community in one of Africa’s last surviving rainforests.

Nyungwe has been nominated alongside with Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana), Etosha National Park (Namibia), Kruger National Park (South Africa), Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya), Serengeti National Park (Tanzania), and Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda.

Speaking to us yesterday, Clare Akamazi, the acting Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board, expressed optimism that Nyungwe would win the prestigious International Award.“It’s not the first time Nyungwe is recognized for its rich biodiversity; last year the park work the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Globe Award. It’s because the park focuses on conserving the environment and at the same time promoting tourism,” she said.

“Nyungwe Nziza” (beautiful Nyungwe) Project was created to strengthen sustainable eco-tourism in and around Nyungwe National Park.

The rainforest national park is one of the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystems and home to 25% of all Africa’s primates and is home to a quarter of Africa’s species of primates, 300 species of birds, and constitutes one of the oldest and rarest high altitude habitats in the central and eastern Africa.

The Awards

The World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across sectors of the tourism industry.
The winners are voted by individual professionals and consumers worldwide. According to the World Travel Awards website, last year’s winners were voted by peoples from over 170 countries.
Each year, World Travel Awards cover the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to celebrate individual and collective success with each key geographical region.
All regional winners then compete in a final round of voting to decide who walks away with the ultimate accolade in the tourism and travel industry.

The continental ceremonies will take place in Nairobi October 16, while the grand finale is set for November 30, in Doha Qatar.

Last year Rwanda’s tourism industry generated $281m compared to $251M in the previous year, an increase of 17 per cent, according to the Rwanda Development Board.

    6 days gorilla trek and Chimps in Nyungwe
 9 days Rwanda Gorillas, all other primates safari 
 9 days Gorillas and cultural tour
 10 Days Uganda Rwanda Tour 
 11 Days Uganda Rwanda gorillas wildlife Safari  tour 
 12 Days Uganda Rwanda gorillas 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Uganda Offers Discounted Gorilla Permits For November 2013 and Promotional Gorilla Tours

We have reliably learnt and would like to share the news with you – the Uganda Wildlife Authority in conjunction will be offering discounts on gorilla permits for November 2013!


The current standard gorilla permit price USD500.00 but for November 2013, it will be at USD350.00 for non-resident foreigners. In addition to this, Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris will be offering a USD50.00 per person discount off all Uganda gorilla trek safaris booked for November 2013. Some of the safari packages you can book to enjoy this promotion gorilla safari discounts include:
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
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
5 days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps Tour
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 
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
All Inclusive 12 days Uganda Safari

So please book your gorilla trekking safari for November now to enjoy this discount. This idea is a welcome one as Uganda Looks to improve her tourist inflows.

Uganda was voted the best tourist destination by lonely planet and has recorded the highest tourism growth in the whole of Africa in 2012. Tourism has been sighted by the President of Uganda as a sector that will drive the country out of poverty in the next coming years. With this discount on gorilla permits especially in low seasons will not only increase on tourists inflow but will create awareness, tourism earnings for the betterment of the sector.

Is November a Good Month to Track the Mountain Gorillas?
Discounted gorilla permits will always be announced every year for the months of November, April and May to enable tourists travel during low season in Uganda. Tourists are encouraged to take advantage of these months as accommodation rates also tend to go down lowering the general price of a gorilla safari. Some tourists have been influenced to think that this discount is only in months when it is raining highly making gorilla trekking a bit tough. This is not wholly true as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in a high altitude area with tropical rain forests and thus its climate is influenced by a number of factors including even westeries (winds) from the Congo. This therefore means that Bwindi Impenetrable National Park receives rainfall throughout the whole year and it can rain every after 30 minutes irrespective of whether it is a dry or rainy season.
How to book your November 2013 Discounted Gorilla permits?
Please contact us for your discounted gorilla permits (Once announced) and we will pre purchase it for you and organize a gorilla tour that fits your budget, interest and time. All we need from you is the exact date when you intend to trek and we will check availability of gorilla permits at Uganda Wildlife Authority which is a body mandate to sell gorilla permits on behalf of Uganda Government and the ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. Once we find out that UWA has permits, you will need to send us your names as they appear on your passport, your nationality so that we forward them to Uganda Wildlife Authority to issue your gorilla permit.
How do I pay for my November 2013 Discounted gorilla permit?
Once you have decided on the dates, we will send you an invoice with our bank account details to enable you effect your payments. We usually require full payment of gorilla permits.

How do I know that my permit has been pre purchased?
Once your money show on our account, our office staff will check-in at Uganda Wildlife Authority with all your passport details and once your permit is issued, then we will scan it and send you a copy.

To claim you cut off the gorilla tour price please send an email to info@gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com or visit the website  (http://www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com ) and ask for reduction in gorilla tour price to reflect this discount.
See you on trek!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hiking Mt Visoke, Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Mount Visoke (also Bisoke) is an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. It straddles the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the summit is located in Rwanda. It is located approximately 35 km northeast of the town of Goma and adjacent Lake Kivu.

The mountain is located within Rwandan Volcanoes National Park and Congolese Virunga National Park. The steep slopes of the peak are densely covered with equatorial rainforest and alpine meadows. The summit does not gather snow, but is often shrouded in fog. Bisoke is one of the mountains considered a habitat for the Endangered mountain gorilla, and the Karisoke Research Center founded by Dian Fossey is located in the valley to the west.

Mt Visoke stands at 3700m, it has the typical conic shape of a “perfect” volcano and in its crater lies a deep crater lake. For those interested in climbing Mt Visoke the volcano does not present an exceptionally demanding climb but it is nevertheless still a tough hike. The high elevation demands extra strength of climbers and the whole excursion can take between 5 hours and the whole day depending on the speed of the walk and the frequency of stops. The ascent typically takes around 3 hours.

An eruption in 1957 formed two small cones on the north flank, 11 km from the summit. The walk around the crater rim is highly recommended. Allow seven hours for the entire trip. Lake Ngezi (9,843 ft./3,000 m), a small, shallow crater lake, is the easiest hike in the park; it takes only three to four hours round-trip from the Visoke departure point.Mount-Visoke-bisoke-rwanda-hike

During the climb, you will cross a series of different vegetation habitats starting with bamboo forests, then moving into Hagenia - Hypericum forest and finally moving through Senecio - Lobelia bush near the summit.

Current park fees for the climb are USD$ 75 per person, this includes the park’s guide and can be purchased on the day of the trek from the parks headquarters, no advance booking is necessary. The trek starts at 07:00am from the Park’s headquarters in Kinigi from where visitors will drive / be driven to the start point of the trek. Porters can also be hired from the park headquarters.

Related Articles:

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

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

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

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

All you need to know about Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Rwanda Gorilla Tour  -
1 day Gorilla trek Rwanda with tour price
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

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Tax (Value Added Tax) on Tourism Lodges Gives Uganda Tour Operators Headache

Up on reading the 2013/14 annual Uganda government budget, new taxes were introduced on all accommodation facilities (18% Value Added Tax) with effect from July 2013.

 And we have been receiving numerous emails from the lodges with credit notes and revised invoices for all the bookings. Of course this puts us in a very awkward position with our already confirmed clients' bookings but the government won't just give up to relent on their decision. We have been trying all ways to absorb the increase but it's just to big for us.

Future safaris booked  will have the new 18% Value Added Tax included in the price quote to our clients – since the present increase was a surprise move and caught the hospitality industry and tourism sector off-guard and since there was no preparing for it we will have to add a surcharge covering the amount of the 18% Value Added Tax. Sadly there is no extra value for the Tourist – however there is for the cash-strapped Ugandan government.

This will mean significant higher costs to visitors of up-country park lodges – and certainly there is not going to be a free lunch for anyone – not only will tourists pay more, convention, conference attendees will also incur the new charges.

Taxes exist in every country including Uganda – some countries allow mechanisms for a refund of taxes paid as visitors leave the country – sorry, your taxes are going to stay in Uganda and hopefully will be put to good use improving the infrastructure and other needed areas of the Pearl of Africa.

Leading stakeholders have in recent days gone on rare record in the media over these actions, accusing government of not just mere lipservice towards the sector but of creating a work environment radically opposed to the often talked about an "enabling environment," a phrase often used to self glorify economic advances even if glaringly absent.

"What they have done is create a disabling environment for the tourism industry. The tourist board which is supposed to promote the country, got a paltry 250 million Uganda shillings. What the hell are they thinking that can do other than pay rent and utilities and maybe staff?" ranted another regular source, for obvious reasons wishing to remain anonymous.

"This will lead to job losses in the sector and will only make an already tough situation more difficult. Others of our neighbors treat tourism as a priority sector, and here it is almost as if we are punished. Maybe they want to reduce tourism so that oil exploration can go ahead without us raising issues like in Murchison, where they want to pump oil in a wildlife park. We are completely at a loss to understand how a sector with the biggest potential for immediate job creation, FDI and forex earnings can be treated so badly. This is unacceptable, completely unacceptable," said yet a third source met on Friday, all expressing their utter frustration with the turn of events.

Leading lodge operator in the country claimed, also on condition of anonymity, that their occupancies will suffer as a result of the tariff increases. It could not be immediately ascertained how the new VAT addition will affect conference participants now heading to Uganda for the Routes Africa meeting and other conferences, as their accommodation cost is also bound to increase by 18 percent.

For any inquires please consult your sales consultant.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What should I pack on Visit, tour or safari to Uganda?

What should I bring with me on my visit /tour/safari/holiday to Uganda, what essentials should I pack as I plan to visit Uganda?
·         Daypack
·         High SPF sunscreen (Uganda is located on the equator!)
·         Flashlight
·         Insect  repellent.
·         Spare or rechargeable batteries (these are difficult to find once you are in the Parks).
·         Waterproof bags to protect equipment
·         Electric plug adaptors for 240 volts AC 50 HZ. UK style square-pin plugs are used.
·         Some people find contact lens uncomfortable in Uganda because of the dust – you may find it more comfortable to were glasses while on the road.
·         Antiseptic handwash.
·         An International Driving License if you are thinking of hiring a vehicle.
·         Good walking boots/ shoes
·         Sandals or other light shoes
·         Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
·         Lighter clothing for Kampala and the savannah, with layers for cooler evenings,
·         Warm clothing for mountainous regions, including thermal layers and a fleece.
·         Sun hat/cap
·         Uganda is a conservative country, and visitors should dress respectfully. Avoid the very short skirts and very short shorts.
Should I Bring any Specialist Equipment?
This depends on your interest – for photography, birding and wildlife enthusiasts we recommend the following:
Binoculars: The better ones start at about $250: you get what you pay for! Waterproof binoculars are great in Uganda as they are also dustproof.
For most travelers stick with 8-10 magnification and 32 objectives which are heavy to carry all day.
Cameras: Choose something you know can handle  - a heavy camera with many settings will be off-putting for some people to use. For good wildlife shots, 8et at least 8x optical zoom. Six to eight megapixel is fine unless you want poster-size photos. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeable – not all sites have power points) and take several 1GB memory cards instead of one large one to avoid losing all your photos in case something goes wrong.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I have previously written about how you can conduct an excursion to the Musanze Caves near Volcanoes National Park – home of gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Now, after great re-invention by the RDB – Rwanda’s Tourism Body, the site is set to be officially launched for tourism activity in a space of a few weeks from now according to information received from the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department.

Located north of the country in Musanze District, the site has had a major facelift with establishment of tourist walkways and trails, stairs and other safety measures for tourists.

Apart from tracking the mountain gorillas, visitors to this region have previously been restricted only to fewer options for the extra days they would spend in the area like hiking the Kariosoke, Hiking to the Diana Fossey Grave and mountain gorilla graveyard, golden monkey tracking, a visit to Lake Bulera, Cultural village visits and visits to Gisenyi (Lake Kivu).

In fact scores of tourists have managed to spend only a day in the area and departed immediately after their one-day gorilla tracking activity. In some way this obviously has led to loss of potential revenue as these visitors have the potential to spend more in the local community if they had the choice tourist activities to engage them. Certainly they would even spend at least a night or more in order to engage in these activities.

Related articles:

Trek to Dian Fossey Tomb (Grave) Hike
Climbing Mount Karisimbi (Rwanda)
All you need to know about Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Climbing Mount Karisimbi (Rwanda)

by Ivan Wassaaka 

Mount karisimbi, 4507 m ASLMount Karisimbi is the highest of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains. It is a huge dome, now dormant, that dominates the range, more in girth than in height. Its name in Kinyaruanda means white shell, which refers to its often white-capped summit. Interestingly, this cap results not from snow but from hail and sleet which accumulate in the higher elevations from its frequent storms. It is located within the Parc National Des Volcans, and many of the volcanoes are connected by good trails.

The going is quite steep and good navigation is required not only through the lower slopes, but also on the mountain itself. It consists of secondary jungle and in the most gives an aerie appearance. It is close the the jungle HQ of Dianne Fossey the renowned gorrila expert.

The ascent of Karisimbi (at 4,507m the sixth-highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Ruwenzori, Mount Meru (Tanzania) and Ras Dashen in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains) is a two-day excursion; ORTPN will provide guides but trekkers should have suitable clothing and equipment. This activity needs to be arranged at least 2 days in advance. Cost is $400 and includes the guide but you may need to pay an extra $10 for tent hire.

The drive from the park office to the trailhead is 16 km and takes about 30 minutes to the car park where the road ends. Here you shall meet your porters (who you hire at Rfr5,000 per day and this’ not included in the cost). The climbing starts from about 2,600m ASL.

At about 2,067m ASL, you reach close to the Dian Fossey tomb and gorilla graveyards (but visiting would require you pay an extra fee). Your will then traverse different vegetation zones: bamboo and wild celery on the lower slopes, ideal food for gorillas. Then hagenia forest, with old man’s beard moss on the branches. Then above 3,000m, the marvelous giand groundsel and giant lobelia. Your first camp is at 3,700, a similar altitude to Bisoke, clearly visible behind the camp.

The next day you wake as early as 5:30AM for your breakfast and early departure. The trail gets steeper, much as the fog closes in and ground gets muddy. The terrain gets more tougher here. At about 4,000m, you are above the tree line, the slopes become more exposed and here you need to wear your gloves and hat. After about 2 hours ascent, you start on you last hundreds meters of climbing, walking on volcanic scree (more like grey gravel but not loose). The wind starts getting harder and visibility drops to 25m. Suddenly, you realize you cannot climb the anymore – you are at the summit! The Congolese border is just within a few feet from here. The descent back to the car park takes about 6 hours (including breaks at the camp and the others).


Other Vital Facts:

Best months for climbing :    Jan, Feb, Mar, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct
Volcanic status:   Dormant
Year first climbed: 1903
Latitude: -1.5
Longitude: 29.45
Difficulty: Scramble
Elevation (feet): 14787 
Elevation (meters): 4507

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Trek to Dian Fossey Tomb (Grave) Hike

by Ivan Wassaaka

What exactly is at the grave and Research Center? How does one get there, how long is the hike, how much does the  trek cost, how do I arrange the trek?  What do you see besides her grave and what sounds to be a small museum? What is the center like?

Trek to Dian Fossey Tomb (Grave) Hike

One popular hike while near the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the one to Dian Fossey’s Tomb and the adjacent gorilla cemetery in the former Karisoke Research Camp. The Karisoke scientific base was established by Dian Fossey in the saddle area between two volcanoes; Mt Visoke and Mt Karisimbi (from which the name Karisoke is derived).  The camp site stands at an altitude of around 3000m (over 9000 ft) and was abandoned during the unrest of the 1990’s.

The trek involves a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters to the trailhead then a 10-minute stroll to the park boundary. From here, the ascent through the forest takes anything from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on your fitness and how often you stop to enjoy the scenery while the descent takes 1-2 hours. Fossey’s old living quarters – which she nicknamed the mausoleum – are now in ruins, and several other landmarks in the camp are signposted. The hike offers a good opportunity to see birds and other creatures typical of the Virungas en route.

dian fossey grave post

At the site you will find the house from where Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered in 1985 but the more peaceful is the place where she was buried just next to her favourite gorilla, Digit and about 20 other mountain gorillas either killed by poachers or suffered death for other reasons.


The tomb’s headstone reads:

No one loved gorillas more

Rest in peace, dear friend

Eternally protected

In this sacred ground

For you are home

Where you belong


In her journal, Dian Fossey’s final words were, “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.”


Today, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund monitors ten gorilla groups (out of 15 total) in Rwanda and have so many other projects to help conserve the gorillas and other animals in the region.


This hike is an incredible experience physically, emotionally and intellectually. It is so inspiring to learn about someone who was so dedicated and left a legacy that exists even today. If you find yourself in Rwanda and you’re up for a challenge, I highly recommend the hike.


The Park fee for this Karisoke Trek is currently USD$ 75 per person, which includes the fee for the guide. The trek starts at 07:00am from the Park Headquarters in Kinigi, from where visitors will have to drive / be driven to the start point for the trek. Permits can be purchased on the day of the trek at the Park headquarters and porters can be hired from here.


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