Uganda is an equatorial country of astonishing contrasts. No other area in Africa can match its amazing diversity of habitats ranging from arid semi-deserts, rich savannahs, lowlands and montane rainforests to vast wetlands, volcanoes and an afro-alpine zone, and covering an altitude from 650 to 5000 meters.
This richness is reflected in the number of birds per square kilometre the highest than any other country in Africa! Given the small size of the country, which is approximately 235,000 square kilometres, Uganda boasts a national bird list of over 1008 species. This represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa.
Uganda has an area contiguous with the Great Guinea / Congo Basin rain forest on its western border. Subsequently, there are several west and central African bird species occurring in Uganda that are not found elsewhere in East Africa.
There are more than 700 forest reserves in Uganda.
One particular region is the Albertine Rift Endemic area (ARE), which has 38 species of birds confined to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo. Of these ARE’s Uganda has 25, mostly confined to the forests of Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks in the southwest.
Uganda has 30,000 square kilometres of wetlands. Not less than 210 species, ranging from the Shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox’s Weaver, are found in these wetlands. More to the above are four Papyrus endemics; the Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow warbler. And a White-winged Black Tern roost of 2-3 million birds in the Entebbe area (Lutembe bay).
In Uganda, savannahs vary from the remote, semi-desert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the northeast, to the richer fertile savannahs of the western rift valley. Queen Elizabeth National Park has a bird list of 604 species, the highest for any protected area in Africa.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
120 species of mammals including 7 diurnal primates and about 30 elephants. There are about 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines, shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.
GORILLA SAFARIS / GORILLA TRACKING
The Mountain Gorillas are undoubtedly Bwindi’s major tourist attraction, where they have been habituated since April 1993. There are now four different groups that can be visited:
- Mubare group (16 gorillas; 1 silverback )
- Habinyanja group (23 gorillas; 2 silverbacks)
- Rushegura group (9 gorillas; 1 silverback)
- Nkuring group (20 gorillas; 2 silverbacks)
Eight permits per day are sold for each of these groups at UWA Headquarters in Kampala. Book at least 4 months (but not more than one year) in advance to ensure that requested dates are available.
Gorilla Tracking can be physically demanding, so go prepared. The Gorilla Rules prepare you for Gorilla Trekking and give guidance on conservation of the Mountain Gorillas. Please read the Gorilla Rules before your trip.
Bwindi is the Bird watchers haven! It holds 348 species of birds and contains 90% of all Albertine rift Endemics such as; the Short-tailed Warbler, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler, Bar-tailed Trogon, Gruer’s Rush Warbler, Wilcock’s Honey-guide, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Kivu Ground Thrush, Dusky Crimson Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch among others, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa.
An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in a day! Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Indicate your interest to the guide so that appropriate early morning departures can be arranged.
For the visitor who has 2 or 3 days in Bwindi the park has 4 fantastic hiking trails. On all these trails, you have opportunities to see and learn about primates, many species of birds, butterflies, trees, and other organisms. Arrange at the reception for a guide. The guide’s company is obligatory and yet affords you an excellent understanding of nature’s system at work in the park.
THE MUNYANGA RIVER TRAIL
Is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge. The popular waterfall trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epithetic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colorful array of butterflies. This trail which leads to 3 delightful crystal clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rain forest.
THE RUSHURRA TRAIL
Commands expansive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s Parc Nationale des Virungas provides a spectacular backdrop, and on clear day Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountain are visible.
THE MUZABAJIRRO TRAIL
Offer breath taking views of Bwindi Forest. Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. On the way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns. The top of this trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.
THE RUIZI RIVER TRAIL
So far the longest in the park will occupy you for a full day. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.
The Trail in YOUR CAR…..
Visitors with their own 4 -wheel drive transport should consider crossing the rugged Centre of the park through Ruhija. This transect affords the visitor with Uganda’s finest vistas of deep undisturbed forests. While on this Uganda safari, watch out for duikers, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. In Ruhija, visitors can take the three-hour scenery packed hike to the Mubwindi swamp. You may also walk to the Bamboo zone (the only such area in the park).
THE BAMBOO TRAIL
The Bamboo trail offers 14 vegetation types and is one of the areas of highest diversity in the park. At the top of this trail, you witness panoramic views encompassing Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga Forest.
In the evenings, participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women’s groups. Proceeds from these go directly to improve the welfare of families around the park.
African Pearl Safaris offers a medium range accommodation homestead.
Abercrombie and Kent has luxury tented accommodation
Mantana also provides fully furnished luxury tented accommodation.
The local community operate a rest camp with clean and simple bandas. A restaurant serving simple traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner is available.
RUHIJA: There is self-catering guest house which is booked in advance through Safaria tours & travel.
KIHIHI: Savanna Resort Hotel is 40 kms to Buhoma and is adjacent to Ishasha sector, of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kampala to Kabale is a distance of 414 kms on bitumen surface and takes 6-7 hours. An additional 120 kms from Kabale to Buhoma Park Headquarters via Kanungu and Kanyantoorogo on Murram surface takes 3-4 hours and may require a 4WD vehicle. Kabale- Ruhija-Buhoma is 95 kilometers and takes about 3 hours. This road is not used much by the public. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Caldera on Mount Elgon
Straddling the Kenyan board east of Mbale town in eastern Uganda, Mount Elgon is the eight highest mountains in Africa and rises from the broadest base of any free-standing mountain in the world.
Elgon’s tallest peaks from a jagged circle around the more –or - less intact caldera, which has a diameter of about 8 kilometers (making it one of the largest in the world). You an also visit the many historical caves with in the park.
Uganda is not only rich in nature and wildlife, but also has an undiscovered, fascinating cultural heritage. Four major kingdoms and well-established chiefdoms are found in Uganda, all with their own different habits and lifestyles.
Our cultural tours give you the chance to explore the real Africa and learn about the wide, fascinating culture of the tribes in Uganda. Visit Kampala for an introduction with some interesting, historical sites. Marvel at the Source of the Nile where Speke discovered the true origin of the river Nile. Follow the green trail to life in the Rwenzori Mountains and explore the culture from the different tribes. Or visit Nshenyi Village for a true cultural immersion…!
NSHENYI VILLAGE – A cultural immersion in the heart of Africa!
Nshenyi Village is the perfect combination of nature and culture. It will give you the chance to get in close contact with the local people and learn about their culture from firsthand. Experience the traditional way of living, taste the simplicity of the Ugandan countryside and explore the rural charm of untouched Africa!
Safaria Tours & Travel is highly conscious of the necessity to protect the nature and to make sure that the local community benefits from tourism as well. By offering different cultural experiences, our aim is not only the pleasure of the guests but also to support community tourism. We carefully see to it that all involved communities will share in the revenues.
Being a supporter of sustainable tourism, we have a collaboration with UCOTA (Uganda Community Tourism Association) in order to improve the livelihood of the communities together. Safaria offers tourists the opportunity to visit the several projects and combine it with a safari to national parks. In addition, our company staff is closely involved in the management of a school project initiated by four Dutch travelers, who are supporting the children of Kitwe to become a better future.
Another partnership that was started, is with the different local communities in the Rwenzori region. We intend to attract more visitors to this beautiful area and introduce them to the yet unknown charm. Guided nature walks and village walks, visits to tea estates and basket weavers, cultural evenings and much more are offered and will contribute to the livelihood of the local communities in the surroundings.
Cultural sites safaris
By promoting the cultural harmony, peace and international understanding of African culture, get to know and learn Uganda people; their traditions, customs and ways of life of each ethnic group. These customs are kept alive by many colorful ceremonies making specific historical events or celebrating the seasons of the year. Spontaneous dancing and music are atypical way of life in Uganda. Visit the Bagisu during the circumcision festivals, the Buganda kingdom, nomadic Karamajong and cultural sites like Kasubi tombs, Sezibwa falls, Nyero rock paintings, Naggalabi coronation sites among other sites.
Entebbe, Ngamba Island tours
Entebbe is Uganda’s gateway by air, here you can visit the wild Education Centre, leisure beaches, botanical gardens, Lutembe and bird sanctuary and Kasenyi fishing village. A bout trip to Ngamba Island allows you to see over 30 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees.
Uganda has many extinct volcanoes known as explosion craters that do the landscape in the west. The craters are concentrated in three areas, the Katwe explosion craters with in Queen Elizabeth, the Bunyaruguru crater filed located near the Kichwamba escarpment and the Ndali – Kasenda crater field located near Kibale National park. Many of the craters are home to fresh waters and in the Katwe area a couple of craters have saline lakes. The explosion craters are very scenic and offers great views for the rain formation in the region.
Game and scenic viewing
The diversity of Uganda’s wildlife and habitats ranging from savannah grasslands, and forests and mountainous ecosystems and diverse species make Uganda the prime destination for game viewing.
Gorilla Safari Information
MOUNTAIN GORILLA SAFARI UGANDA AND RWANDA
No African safari tour is complete without seeing the Mountain Gorillas. Go on gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda! Experience an unforgettable meeting with these gentle apes yourself! A gorilla safari is easy to book and we would be happy to provide you with a suitable itinerary. Please check our sample itineraries to obtain ideas for your safari or contact us to create a tailor-made tour.
For this once in a lifetime gorilla trekking experience, Safaria tours and travel will need to buy your gorilla trekking permit in advance. Only 8 people per group are allowed to trek each day. It is therefore necessary to book permits as early as possible. We strongly advise you book at least 3 months in advance to ensure that you can track on the requested date, especially if you plan to trek during the peak season (school holidays) or you are in a large group.
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda
Uganda gorilla trekking permits cost High season – $700 | Low season – $700 per person, inclusive of park entry fees, and must be paid for in full in advance. Prices may increase in 2013. Uganda gorilla trekking permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda
Rwanda gorilla trekking permits increased to $1500 in June 2018. They include park entry fees and must be paid for in full in advance. Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are issued by the Rwanda Development Board and will be purchased on your behalf by Safaria tours & travel.
Sale conditions of the gorilla permit
Any visitor who shows signs of a communicable illness (such as a cold or flu) will not be allowed to join the gorilla tour. If a visitor is declared unfit to trek due to illness, 50% of the gorilla tracking fee will be refunded, subject to the discretion of the UWA warden-in-charge. The cancellation policy will apply to visitors who fall sick prior to their travel to the parks.
Permits are non-refundable. However, visitors who track the Mountains Gorillas for the whole day and are (in the highly unlucky 2% of visitors who don’t see them), for whatever reason, will be refunded 50% of the gorilla trekking fee.
Purchasing a gorilla permit is not a guarantee that Mountains Gorillas will be clearly seen.
The minimum age limit for visiting the gorillas is 15 years old.
By following these rules and through the purchase of the gorilla trekking permit, YOU too are contributing to the conservation of the mountain gorilla. The wildlife authorities use the funds generated from the sale of your gorilla trekking permit to manage the national parks. Twenty per cent of park entrance fees are invested in local community projects for people living adjacent to the parks – across Uganda. Contributing to these communities’ development helps improve natural resource management and gives local people a direct and positive link to conservation and tourism.
Gorillas in Bwindi
Although Uganda is rich in nature and culture, the country is particular known for the mountain gorilla safaris. It is the largest living primate, world’s most endangered ape and without a doubt the most fascinating creature that speaks to your imagination!
Find out more about these gentle giants and our mountain gorilla safaris!
HABITAT OF THE GREAT APES
The gorilla is the largest of the great apes family, which includes the chimpanzee and orang-utan as well, and can be divided in three subspecies: - Western Lowland Gorilla (gorilla gorilla gorilla); these type of gorillas are mostly seen in zoos. A population of about 50,000 lives in West Central Africa. - Eastern Lowland Gorilla (gorilla gorilla graueri); about 2,500 live in the wild. They can be found in the eastern Congolese rainforest.- Mountain Gorilla (gorilla gorilla beringei); the most endangered of all with only 720 remaining. They are living in the afro montane forests in northwest Rwanda, southwest Uganda and eastern DRC.
Obviously, the mountain gorilla is the most endangered species of the great apes family. And because they can’t survive in captivity, you will never see a mountain gorilla in the zoo.
The mountain gorillas live in the almost impenetrable parts of the tropical forests in East-Africa. The entire world’s population is spread out over only two different places. Approximately 320 individuals inhabit the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes, stretching out from the border area in Congo to Rwanda. The remaining 300 are found in Bwindi National Park in Uganda, covering an area of about 330 sq kms.
LIFESTYLE OF THE GORILLA
Gorillas live in groups consisting of about 25 to 35 members. Usually there is one leading male, accompanied by several females with their young.
When a baby gorilla is born it weighs on average 2.5 kg, which is about half the weight of a human baby. However, this baby develops twice as fast. Within 40 weeks it can walk and reaching 3 years it slowly becomes independent. At 6 years they are about 1.20 meter tall and weigh almost 70 kg. At this age the female gorilla matures, though they continue gaining weight for the next 4 years. Males on the other hand don’t reach maturity till they’re 10 years old. When their black back starts turning into grey it is time for them to leave the parental group. They wander alone or join other males for some time, before attracting females who will join them. In this way they form their own family.
Gorillas reproduce slowly, hence the world population doesn’t increase rapidly. Gestation period is approximately 8.5 months and gorilla mothers give birth to a baby once every 4 years. Unfortunately at least 30% doesn’t survive their first year because of diseases and accidents. Another situation that causes death among the baby gorillas is when their father dies and another silverback takes over. This new male often kills all the babies of his predecessor, securing his own genes in the posterity.
GORILLAS AND PEOPLE
Although the chimpanzee is our closest living relative on the planet, the gorilla resembles us in even more aspects. Their hands and feet are like ours, they spend more time on the ground and consequently gorillas are better able to walk. In fact, they share almost 98% of our DNA!
Gorillas have high social qualities and relationships within the family are very important. They express their feelings, varying from loving and hating to shame and jealousy, by at least 20 distinct vocalizations, all with a different meaning. Besides, beating on the chests or on the ground is a common form of communication as well. It is mainly the silverback who does this, in order to show his power and to intimidate others. Aggression is rarely seen within gorilla families. Despite their impressive looks, they are extremely gentle and peace loving. In case of danger they stand up for each other and defend the weaker ones. Serious fights only might take place when two leaders of different groups meet each other.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Hierarchy is clear and important within the gorilla family. The dominant silverback enjoys the highest rank and the adult females rule over the younger ones. Like with other species in the animal world, gorilla males achieve the high ranking because of their size. Male mountain gorillas can weigh up to 200 kg and can reach 1.70 meter when they’re standing upright. Besides the strength they also have to prove their experience and abilities. It is their duty to protect their family from danger and intruders.
It is not difficult to figure out where the name silverback comes from. Around the age of 12 years, they develop light grey hair on their back, giving them a ‘silver back’.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE GORILLA
An ordinary day in the life of a mountain gorilla starts at sunrise, around 6 am. They wake up and begin looking for food which covers a great part of the morning. In general, a gorilla spends about 30% of the day with feeding, 30% with travelling and 40% with resting. In contrast to many primates, the gorilla lives mainly on the ground. They travel not more than a kilometer per day within their home range of about 20 square kilometres.
Gorillas are vegetarians, though occasionally they may eat ants and other insects. Their daily meal consists of roots, leaves, stems and pith of herbs, vines and shrub, and some fruits. During certain months of the year bamboo shoots supply a major part in their diet as well. A male adult can even eat up to 20 kg per day! Because the gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely have to drink.
The afternoons are mainly spent with resting and playing. This last activity is very important in the social life, especially for young gorillas, as it determines their integration into the group. They hug each other, bite, hit or wrestle till one is pulled down on the ground.
At the end of the day, just before dusk, the great apes start constructing a nest where they will spend their night. Every single gorilla has its own nest, except for the infants who sleep next to their mothers. Nests are built on the ground or in trees and are carefully constructed by branches of bushes and other plants.
PROTECT THE GORILLA
The existence of the gorilla was ‘discovered’ in 1902 by a German explorer. Nearly 60 years later, the American scientist George Schaller was the first one to study the gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi. Later Dian Fossey continued his research and she became famous because of her movie “Gorillas in the Mist”. She worked with the gorillas in Rwanda from 1967 till 1985 and thanks to her dedication the world began to learn about the mysterious beauty of these apes. To this day, the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda can still be visited.
Even before the research started, an estimated of 450 mountain gorillas were living in the Virungas. Only 20 years later, the population was decreased to 250 individuals. Although the gorilla has just a few enemies, the most dangerous one is the human being. Habitats were destroyed through deforestation, they suffered from wars, diseases were transferred and they were commonly hunted for meat or just as a trophy. The number raised again thanks to the conservation efforts of Dian Fossey.
It may be clear that the mountain gorilla is one of the most endangered species in the world. To make people aware and to protect the gorillas, it has been made possible to visit some gorilla families. In this way visitors will learn about the life of the gorilla and revenues will benefit the conservation.
Before gorillas safaris can be made they need to be habituated to the presence of human beings. This is a long and careful process and can take several years. Special trained rangers approach them carefully and spend increasing periods of time with them. The habituation can be risky for both gorillas and humans. Not only the silverback might feel threatened, but the gorillas can also easily be infected with diseases. Therefore it is important to maintain strict rules when habituating and visiting the gorillas.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale is an extensive National Park, protecting a large block of rainforest that offers some excellent forest for bird watching. It harbours the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa. Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile Uganda safaris destination. Many of the facilities are community based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the area.
The area is mainly occupied by two tribes i.e. Batooro and Bakiga traditionally both tribes utilized the forest for food, fuel, building materials and medicines.
Key Species of Birds
Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycather, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Grey-headed Olive-back.
Kibale has a well-established Chimpanzee-tracking program with a high success rate. Other primates that may be found on these guided walks include Guereza Colobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Gentle ( Blue) and Red-tailed Monkeys is more likely to be found in open areas adjacent to the forest. You may find evidence of Elephant, Bush Pig and Bufallo along the trails, whilst Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duickers are other shy inhabitants of the forest interior. The guided night walks are also rewarding: Potto, Spectacled Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos, Lord Derby’s Anomalure, African Civet and Common Genet are all possible.
Other interesting mammals from the list of over 60 species include Ichneumon, Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Alexander’s Cusimanse, Swamp Otter, Ratel ( Honey Badger ) and African Palm Civet. Although Golden Cat, Serval, Lion, Leopard, Warthog, Giant Hog and Hippopotamus are recorded from the park, they are unlikely to be encountered in the Kanyanchu area. Sitatungas are known from Bigodi Swamp but are infrequently seen. The spectacular and beautiful Rhinoceros Viper is fairly common here but is, unfortunately, less often found alive than as a road-kill.
The best place to spend the night is in Primate Lodge Kibale. Within a short period different types of accommodation will be available, including modern bandas, luxury tents and a comfortable Sky Tree House. The lodge is located in the middle of the forest, exactly where you start the chimp tracking from. A charming restaurant, bar and fire place will make sure you will spend the evenings pleasantly.
Mantana Luxury Tented Camp located in the middle of the forest. Bush type accommodation and quite comfortable.
Ndali Lodge a luxury accomodation with thatched cottages overlooking a crater lake.
The Rwenzori View Guesthouse located in Fort Portal approximately 30 kms from the forest. Comfortable, middle class rooms with or without private bathrooms are available.
The park offers very affordable chimp tracking. Groups (limited to 6 people) leave daily at 8:00 am and 3:00pm; the walks last about 3 hours. The highly recommended night walks depart from Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 7:30 pm (book in advance). Bring your torch!
Facilities at Bigodi include; an observation tower and a boardwalk that traverses the papyrus beds. The path and boardwalk may be flooded and muddy after heavy rain and gumboots are recommended. They can be hired at the visitor Centre. The walk is about 4 km in length, taking 3-4 hours at birding pace. With all proceeds from eco-tourism going back into the community, this is a conservation project well worth supporting.
Take the road from Fort Portal to Kamwenge, which commences near the bridge over the Mpanga River in Fort Portal and is well signposted. Turn left at the junction 12 km from Fort Portal and follow signpost for a further 24 km to Kanyanchu Tourist Centre.
Please note that his is not a Zoo so it is a tropical rainforest and sightings depend on factors such as time of the day fruit availability, weather and how quite the primate group is.
The maximum number of people in a group is 4 visitors per guided walk
The maximum time allowed with the chimps is one hour, however, the time might be shortened under the guides discretion to eliminate stressful situations for the chimps
When trekking you are advised to remain in a tight group and follow the guide’s directions at all times.
Please remain at a distance of 8 meters from the chimps or the distance that your guide recommends
Under no circumstance shall you chase while they descend or to or walk on higher ground.
You are advised not to enter the forest if you are sick as this can put the animals at serious risk
Please refrain from eating near the chimps and other primates
Please do not shout in the forest
It’s advisable to wear long boots that cover your toes and long trousers as there are red ants and slippery trails, also carry along water proof clothing in the rainy season.
Children under 15 years are not allowed to view the chimps for safety reasons.
If you need to urinate please do so off the trail system.
If you need to defecate, please do so off the trail system and bury all in a hole all waste.
Kidepo Valley National Park
Lying in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province on the far northern border with the Sudan, Kidepo Valley is Uganda’s most remote national park. Few undertake the pilgrimage to the park but the spectacular beauty of this pristine wilderness impresses all that make it. For the visiting birder, Kidepo Valley National Park boasts a bird list of over 475 species, a total second only to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Amongst the host of dry, eastern “specials” not found in any other Ugandan national park are some of East Africa’s rarest and most sought after birds such as Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis.
The Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking the swallow, southern Narus Valley is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding. The attractive Silver bird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as do a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. A small permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge.
Key Species of Birds
- African Swallow-tailed Kite
- Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk
- Pygmy Falcon
- Fox Kestrel
- Stone Partridge
- Clapperton’s and Heuglin’s Francolins
- Yellow-necked Spurfowl
- White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards
- Violet-tipped Courser
- Black-headed Plover
- Four-banded Sand Grouse
- Bruce’s Green Pigeon
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- White-crested Turaco
- White-bellied Go-away bird
- White-faced Scoops Owl
- Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars
- Little Green Bee-eater
- Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers
- Abyssinian Ground
- Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills
- Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets
- Brown-backed Woodpecker
- Singing Bush Lark
- Red-winged Lark
- Ethiopian Swallow
- Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin’s Wheaters
- African Grey Flycatcher
- Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas
- Karamoja Apalis
- White-bellied Tit
- Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit
- Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes
- Slate-coloured Boubou
- Fan-tailed Raven
- Superb Starling
- Red billed Oxpecker
- Eastern Violet backed
- Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds
- Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow
- Yellow-spotted Petronia
- White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers
- White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers
- Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers
- Green-winged Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias
- Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbill
- Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs
- Brown-rumped Bunting
Kidepo’s mammal list of over 80 species includes 28 that are found in no other Ugandan National park. Amongst these are such charismatic African animals as Bat-eared Fox, Carcal, Cheetah and Klipspringer. Unfortunately, Kidepo suffered the same fate as many other Ugandan parks during the Amin era and is still recovering from years of poaching that left game herds depleted. Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant’s gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and are presumed to be locally extinct. Other large mammals have shown a remarkable recovery and there are now healthy population of Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbuck and Kongoni. Predators are plentiful and Spotted Hyena, Leopard and Lion are frequently seen. Oribis is abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther’s Dik Dik. Senegal Galago and Sidestriped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. The park also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.
Apoka Rest Camp, run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, offers comfortable bandas within the national park, including bedding, mosquito netting and showers. It is recommended that you bring all your own food although it can be cooked for you if necessary.
A more upmarket option is the exclusive Apoka Lodge. This luxury lodge is located in the middle of Kidepo National Park with spacious rooms and private veranda. Each room has a sitting room and ensuite bathroom. A restaurant and swimming pool are available as well.
It is recommended that a ranger-guide accompany you at all times whilst at Kidepo Valley National park and this can be arranged on arrival at Apoka. Patrick is an excellent ranger who knows many of the birds. Park officials also suggest that all vehicles travelling north into the Kidepo Valley be escorted by multiple armed guards due to the periodic presence of poachers and cattle rustlers in the area.
Kidepo Valley National Park is accessible either by road or by air. The most commonly driven route from Kampala is via Gulu and Kitgum, a 600 km journey taking a minimum of 12 hours and a sturdy 4WD to complete.
Lake Bunyonyi is a place of many small birds and lies in the south western Uganda between Kisoro and kabala districts in Uganda close to the borders of Rwanda. The lake is 1,950m, and it is surrounded by hills that are 2200 to 2478m high and intensely cultivated by the local people along its slopes
Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part. These islands few settlements, they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for a secondary and a primary school
The data on the lakes maximum depth varies from 44m to 900m in parts. In the beginning of the 20th century, fish were introduced to the lake and by 1030’s fishing became profitable.
Lake Mburo National Park
About the Park
It’s a very special place every part of it is alive with; variety, interest and colour contains an extensive area of wetland one of the only two such habitats to be included within a National Park in Uganda.
It harbor’s several species of mammals; Zebras, Impala, Buffaloes, and birds. Comprising bill storks which are found nowhere else in the country. Its sculptured landscape with rolling grassy hills and idyllic lake shore has a varied mosaic of habitats forest galleries, seasonal and permanent swamps and rich acacia wood valleys which all support a wealth of wildlife. With our Uganda safaris and tours you are able to see more of these attractions.
The park is only 260 sq. km being the smallest of the Uganda’s savanna National Parks its mosaic habitat, dry hillside, rocky outcrops, bushes thickets, open and wooded savanna forests, lakes and swamps are home to a surprising diversity of plants and animals.
The park has about 313 different bird species including the rare Shoebill stork and White-winged Warbler. other species to lookout for are; Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away bird, Rednecked Spur, common Quails, Black-billed Barbet, Greenwood Hoopoe, Blue-napped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, African-grey Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola a drive towards Rwonyo camp may reveal; .Coqui Francolin, Rednecked spurfowl, Black Bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, African-wattled Plover Rufous napped and Flappet larks, Rufuos chested Swallow ,Yellow-throated Long claw and Southern Red Bishop.
Forest walk – Rubanga Forest
This forest offer a variety of conducive habitat for birds therefore a very attractive place for bird watchers with over 40 bird species recorded.
The Lake is rich with a diversity of animal and plant species which can only be viewed clearly if you take a boat trip the crocodiles, Hippopotamuses and birds like Pelicans, Black Crake, Heron, Cormorant, Fish Eagle. The duration of each boat cruise is negotiable with the park management.
Offers the visitor a chance to admire nature they have opportunity to walk in the circuit at their pace in company of an armed guide.
About six species of fish are found on Lake Mburo the common one being Tilapia (Oreoclcroomisleacosti) but others include lung fish, mud fish, Haplochromes. Using hooks visitors can spend some time catching fish, a shade is provided at the campsite to ensure maximum relaxation for visitors while at the lake.
The park has accommodation facilities there are tents at Rwonyo park headquarters, there are also three public campsites. A more luxury accommodation is provided at the Mantana Luxury Tented Camp and an upmarket place to stay is Mihingo Lodge.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
GORILLA SAFARIS / GORILLA TRACKING
This is the most thrilling tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The habituated gorilla in this park is called the Nyakagezi, which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. However, due to their constant movement it is advisable to check the current location of the gorillas first.
Gorilla tracking can be strenuous and may take the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla’s world, explaining aspects of their ecology and behavior along the way.
We must stress that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success is NOT guaranteed. They are wild creatures with no fixed routine, and finding them requires the skill and experience of your trackers and guides, as well as luck.
The trackers and guides have helped to habituate the gorilla groups and know them intimately. Before you set off on your trek, they may be able to suggest how long the hike might be. While walking, please feel free to ask guides to slow down if they are going too fast and if you need a rest. Take time to stop and enjoy the birds, trees and flowers. The guide will ensure that you don’t get left behind!
Gorilla Tracking can be physically demanding, so go prepared. The Gorilla Rules prepare you for Gorilla Trekking and give guidance on conservation of the Mountain Gorillas. Please read the Gorilla Rules before your trip.
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m) – ‘Old man’s teeth’
Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown. This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to peak. If you are to continue, the climb to the peak 11 involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda, a dual experience you will achieve here. Finally, the hike up to the peak 111 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to peak111! Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, what a triple experience this is!!! The journey takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
On your way to the park, look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such a pile a ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite bigger than the average ‘gahinga’ but sitting next to Mount Muhavura does make it look small. A hike, which takes you about, six hours round trip, goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush swamp. Distance to the swamp is 8km.
Mt. Muhavura (4127m) – ‘The Guide’
Seen from all over Kisoro, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12km.You are advised to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before the site has no facilities so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is blessed with a unique bird fauna; 79 bird species have thus far been recorded within the park, including several species endemic to the East Congo Montane region. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total of known endemic species.
If you wish to go camping there is ample space at the park gate and Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp. Besides that, there is also excellent traditional bandas managed by the local community.
Kisoro town offers a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from basic campsites to luxurious full board hotels, including:
- Virunga Hotel
- Traveler’s Rest
- Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp
- Nkuringo Safari Lodge
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
Kisoro is about 540 km (8-9 hours) from Kampala. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mt. Elgon is an extinct volcano that first erupted more than 24 million years ago. With the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world (50 km by 80 km), Mt. Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in Eastern Africa, with the second-highest peak in Uganda (Wagagai Peak – 4321 metres). Mt. Elgon contains crater covering over 40 kms at the top of the mountain, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks.
The secondary forest and thick scrub along the Chebonet River near camp supports, African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catchers, Chin-spot Batis, Mackinon’s Fiscal, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush-Shrikes and Baglafecht Weaver.
FLORA AND FAUNA
While ascending Mt. Elgon’s enchanting slopes, you will pass through dense montane forest and mixed bamboo belts teeming with birdlife. You will then enter the fascinating heath and moorland zones containing several interesting endemic plant species such as Giant lobelia and groundsels. Wildlife enthusiasts will be pleased to spot primates such as the Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, and hundreds of fascinating bird species, including Golden Winged and Tacazze sunbirds, Ross’s and Hartlaubs Turacos, Black and White Casqued and Crowned Hornbills, the endangered Lammergeier and the Jackson’s Francolin which is found nowhere else in Uganda. If you are particularly observant you can also see buffalo, duiker, hyena or even the elusive leopard.
Visiting Mount Elgon National Park (MENP) presents an exciting setting for extended hikes. In addition to the interesting and unique flora and fauna, you can expect to experience magnificent waterfalls, enormous caves, scenic peaks and gorges, and hot springs which bubble up at 48’C. The best times to visit are during the drier seasons from June to August and December to March. However, even in the wetter months trekking is manageable. No technical climbing equipping or skills are required, and all major peaks are accessible to hikers.
TREKKING TRAILHEADS AND ROUTES
There are two main trailheads (starting points) which lead to the mountain’s peaks. Salsa Trail (Buddukiro trailhead) is the most easily accessible from Mbale and is the most direct route to the peaks. It passes through the Park’s largest area of bamboo forest. However it is also a steep and rugged climb of over 1600m on the first day. For a more gentle climb (660m first day) you may choose to ascend via Pisa trail (Kapkwata trailhead). Along this route you can explore a vast Podocarpus forest, an excellent place for wildlife viewing.
The full trekking circuit to the peaks takes 4-5 days to complete. All visitors are encouraged to discuss options with an Information Clerk at the Male, Budadiri or Kapkwata Visitors’ Centres.
Five basic campsites are located at strategic points along the trekking circuit. Please respect Park regulations by camping only at designated campsites. No camping is allowed within the caldera. MENP camping is primitive, and all necessary camping equipment must be carried with you. Some items such as tents and sleeping bags can be hired through the Park office in Mbale. Make sure not to forget a warm jacket and rain gear, as extreme weather conditions will add to your Mt. Elgon adventure! Also please take a fuel-efficient camp stove if possible to avoid placing additional pressure on MENP firewood resources.
GUIDES PORTERS AND RANGER ESCORTS
Please support local community members and encourage continued conservation of MENP’s valuable resources by hiring local guides and porters. All certified guides have received training in natural/ cultural histories, emergency first aid and communication. Porters will assist you by carrying up to 18 kg of your gear as well as preparing meals, setting up/taking down your camp, and collecting your water. Fees are set at Ush 8,000 (guide) and Ush 7,000 (porter) per stage. The wages cover the guide or porter’s park visitation fee and the cost of sufficient food and supplies. Make sure to ask to see a guide’s license before hiring. For additional safety reasons, a Park ranger escort must be hired when visiting the calderas or ascending the peaks. You will meet your ranger escort at Sasa or Piswa patrol hut where you must present your park receipt before proceeding upwards.
The Forest Exploration Centre has three” day” trails ranging between 3 and 7 km. These trails offer an excellent opportunity to experience Mt. Elgon’s unique plants and wildlife in shorter time period. A fourth trail has recently been opened to reach the enormous Tutum Cave, 11 km from the Centre. This trail also passes through a range of vegetation types and offers opportunities to see wildlife such as Black and White Colobus Monkeys and a variety of birds.
Simple accommodation facilities are available inside the Park at the Kapkwata Rest House and the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwai. Prior arrangements through the MENP Visitors’ office in Mbale are necessary as these facilities do not accommodate large numbers of visitors. Kitchen services are available, but visitors should bring their own food supplies or provide money to buy food on arrival. The Forest Exploration Centre also conducts a four-day environmental program for school groups of up to 30 students which allow children to experience a living forest ecosystem while learning the importance of conservation. It has dormitory – style rooms and bathing facilities with running water.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE THE PARK
The magnificent Sipi Falls are located 66 km from Mbale, en-route to the Forest Exploration Centre and Kapkwata. Several trails in the area allow for intriguing day hikes through friendly local villages and beautiful farming country. Pleasant campsites and lodge facilities, including meal services and hot showers are available at Crow’s Nest located just before the Sipi trading Centre. More expensive accommodation is available at the Sipi Falls Resort. Please enquire about guides to escort you on the gradual 1.5 hour walk to the Forest Exploration Centre. Seven rock-climbing routes are open at Nagudi rock, half-way between Mbale and Budadiri. The routes are bolted, but climbers must bring their own rock-climbing equipment. Each climber pays to the local Parish treasurer. More information and directions are available at the MENP Visitor’s Centre office in Mbale.
WHAT TO BRING
Tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy hiking shoes, flashlight, water bottle, rain gear, first aid kit, cooking equipment, sufficient food supplies.
Mount Moroto Lies in the extreme east of Uganda and is the most accessible place to see some of the dry northeastern “special”, many at the western edge of their ranges here in Karamoja province. One of a chain of volcanoes along the Kenyan border that begins with Mount Elgon in south and includes Mountains Kadam and Morungole, Moroto is a forest reserve protecting a range of habitats from arid thorn savanna to dry montane forest. Although a long hike is required to reach the higher areas, excellent arid thorn savanna and rocky slopes are accessible from the town at the foot of the mountain.
Lake Bisina and Lake Opeta from an eastern extension of Kyoga system and are included as sites for Uganda’s only endemic bird, Fox’s Weaver. Although no facilities are present, the lakes can be covered enroute from Mount Elgon to Moroto or visited for a day from a base in Mbale or Soroti.
Lake Bisina is more accessible of the two and is easily reached on a good dirt road that branches north off the main Mbale-Soroti road at Kapiri, 20km southeast of Soroti. Continue along this road to the lake edge and arrange with a local fisherman to take you across to the northwestern corner where a colony of Fox’s Weavers nest in the waterside vegetation. Numbers peak in March and April but there are at least a few present year-round. Quiet areas of water lilies support African Pygmy Goose and Lesser Jacana and Shoebill is fairly frequently seen at the edge of the extensive papyrus.
The dense thorn savanna around the T-junction with the Mbale road 11 km from town supports White-bellied Go-away Bird, Jackson’s Hornbill, Fawn-colored Lark, African Grey Flycatcher, the handsome Silver bird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Mouse-colored Penduline Tit, Pygmy Batis, Brubru and Eastern Vilet-backed Sunbird. Drive south from the junction for 5 km, watching for Dark Chanting Goshawk, Yellow-necked Spur fowl, Crested Bustard and the smart Black-headed Plover at the roadside. The Plovers and Temminck’s Courser may also be seen on the airstrip closer to town. Pairs of D’Arnaud’s Barbet are frequently seen engaged in their bizarre tail-wagging duets. Listen for the distinctive sound of Pebbles being struck together that may reveal the presence of the Grey Wren Warbler….
OTHER WILD LIFE
Other wildlife is not plentiful in the Moroto area but may include Potos, Monkey or the spectacular Golden Cat.
Moroto can be reached from Mbale either via Soroti (90 km tarmarc, or 170 km 2 WD dirt, drive time required 6 hours) or via the direct eastern route (230 km. 2 WD dirt, drive time required 7 hours). There is good birding along both routes. To reach the Seminary from Moroto, turn right at the first roundabout in town and continue around the base of the mountain for 7.5 km.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
The Moroto Hotel on the edge of town has double rooms for $ 30 person, although there are two more basic yet clean hotels on the main road. Restaurants serve local foods and basic provisions are available from numerous stores.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE THE PARK
The road from Moroto to Soroti crosses the Bokora Game Reserve 50 km from town and dry thorn bush at the roadside supports, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Beautiful Sunbird and Grey-capped Social Weaver. Pink-breasted Lark favours the arid Acacia savanna in this area. Hartlaub’s Bustard has been described as “common on the Bokora Plains” and Red-fronted Warbler, a scarce species in Uganda, is known from arid scrub at the roadside between Kangole and Iriri villages (30 -65km from Moroto).
The direct eastern route from Mbale to Moroto is an excellent birding road although the journey takes longer than via Soroti. The stretch
between Nakapiripit and Moroto is particularly good with Pygmy Falcon, Jackson’s Hornbill and White-headed Buffalo Weaver common at the roadside although a fair selection of dry country “specials” may be found a mere 25km north of the Kapchorwa turnoff.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA) comprises of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves. This is where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river whose banks are thronged with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. The vegetation is characterized by savannah, riverine forest and woodland. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda Kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species.
Species commonly seen between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing are; Blue-napped Mousebird, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Vitelline Masked Weaver, And Green-winged Ptyilia, this is probably the best site for the localized White-rumped Seed-eater.
Nocturnal species common in this area are: Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, and a plethora of spectacular Nightjars, such as Long-tailed and Pennat-winged Nightjar (Especially between March-September), The mind-blowing Standard-winged Nightjar(November-February) if you have a portable spotlight, you may be able to organize a nocturnal boat trip on the Nile in search for White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl.
Other species include: Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Grey-crowned Crane, Long-toed Plover, whilst African Fish Eagle, and African Skimmer. An exciting record was that of a Fox’s Weaver Uganda’s only endemic bird. And many more.
In the cool early morning on the Buligi, Albert and Queen’s tracks north of the river Nile before the sun climbs too high, you will see plenty of game. At Nyamsika Cliffs you can picnic, enjoy the view, and watch elephants and other game on the grassy hillsides and the sand river below. Go well prepared for a four hour drive. Ensure you are accompanied by a guide.
LAUNCH TRIPS ON THE NILE
One of the highlights of a visit to the Conservation Area is the launch trip from Paraa to the foot of Murchison Falls. Hippos and crocodiles are abundant, and you will see elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks and birds like: Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, Bee-eaters, Fish Eagles, Kingfishers, and the rare Shoebill. The trip from Paraa to the fall and back takes about three hours. A boat trip to the Delta where the Victoria Nile engorges into the Lake Albert leads through papyrus swamps. The trips takes about four to five hours and you will see a similar variety of animals and birds.
Nile Perch and tiger-fish provide an exciting challenge to anglers. Fishing is available in the river above and below the fall. Do bring your own fishing equipment.
Murchison Falls Conservation Area offers the opportunity to explore the wild on foot.
A trail at Paraa winds through riverine forest, gullies and low hills. Animals, birds and plants can be closely and quietly observed. Nature walks are offered at Rabongo Forest, Top of the Falls and Kaniyo Pabidi.
TOP OF THE FALLS
Trails around the top of the fall go right up to the water’s edge. You have the opportunity to hike the top of the falls from the boat landing and get close to the narrow gorge through which the river plunges.
Kanio Pabidi is an undisturbed area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve, where you can walk beneath mature Mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzee tracking is the most famous activity. You certainly see many forest birds, including the Chocolate backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill, and Puvell’s Illadopsis found nowhere else in East Africa! Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi – Paraa road, 8 kms from Kichumbanyobo gate. There is a campsite where water and firewood are available. Do bring everything else you may need. Kaniyo Pabidi is privately managed by the Forestry Department.
Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Centre nestles in an island of tropical riverine forest in the south-east of the conservation area. The forest is surrounded by savanna grassland and is one and a half hour drive from Paraa. Guide will help you explore the forest on foot, spotting primates; Black & White Colobus monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Baboons, and occasionally Chimpanzees identifying animals, birds, medicinal plants and trees. You can picnic and camp by the Wairingo River or stay in the well-equipped forest cottages.
Campsites are available at Top of the fall, Rabongo Forest and Paraa, toilets or pit latrines/showers or bathing shelters are provided at these sites. Traditional and self-contained bandas are available at Paraa Rest Camp. Meals and beverages are offered. In addition, cottages are provided at Rabongo Eco-Tourism Centre. More luxurious accommodation is available at Nile Safari Camp, Sambiya River Lodge and Paraa Lodge Safari Lodge.
In most of the conservation areas, network trails have been developed from nature walks. Experience the quietness of the wildness with sweet natural songs from birds and gentle winds in the leaves from tropical forest as you encounter some wildlife, variety of birds and a rich expensive flora.
This is an all-terrain adventure suitable for people of all ages. You don’t have to know how to ride because free training sessions are carried out prior to the safaris. The packages includes 1 hour short, 2 hours explorer, 3 hours overland, twilight and a full day trip
Really get off the braten track and take other visitors see of the area surrounding the source of Nile in Uganda by hitting the mud and dirt on quad bikes. These rough and ready vehicles must make it possible for groups, families and individual to safari along the banks of the Nile through forests, farmsteads and small villaged, all against a backdrop of roaring white water rapids. Most trips begin at Bujagali falls, a few miles downstream of Jinja, the adventure capital of the East Africa, and then plunge into the lives of locals. One stop could be a twilight banquet by a local family in kyabirwa village. Some of the trip payment is put to village community projects.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular game reserve for Uganda safaris and certainly one most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori range in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest. This remarkable diversity is reflected in its bird list of over 550 species, the largest of any protected area in Africa.
African Mourning Dove, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, The beautiful Black-headed Gonolek, Collard Pranticles, Pin-tailed Whyda Martial Eagle, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Common Squaco Heron, Shoebill Stork, African Open-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Great white and Pink-backed Pelicans, White-winged Terns.
BIRD WATCHING TOURS
The main camp at Mweya is attractively positioned with fine views of the Rwenzori Mountains a number of widespread bush species may be seen in the vicinity of the airstrip watch for African Mourning Dove, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, The Beautiful Black-headed Gonolek, Red-chested sunbird, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed and Lesser Masked Weavers, Pin-tailed Whydah, and brimstone Canary, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, are fairly common along the airstrip.
The Kazinga channel is a magnet for water birds a launch cruise reveals species such as; Great-white and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Common Squaco Heron, African open-billed Strok, White-faced Whistling and Knob-billed Ducks, African Fish Eagle, Black Crake, African Jacana, Water Thick-knee, Spur-winged and African Wattled Plovers, Malachite and Pied kingfishers, Swamp flycatchers and Yellow backed Weavers are all common and conspicious. Numbers of migrants peak in February and March and are nothing short of spectacular with hundreds of thousands of White-winged Terns hovering over the water, millions of common sand Martins and Yellow -wagtails roosting in reed-beds and lesser numbers of Palearctic waders such as the Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh, common and Wood sandpipers, Spotted Redshank and common Greenshank feeding along the marshy fringes. A number of national rarities have been recorded from the hippo wallows along the channel including Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Northern Pochard, Mongolian Plover and Jack Snipe. Hundreds of African Skimmers may be seen roosting on sandbars near the entrance to Lake Edward but are migrants from southern tropics and usually present only from December to May. The Kazinga channel may also be viewed from the Katunguru Bridge on the main Mbarara-Kasese road where Pelicans, Terns, Greater Swamp and winged Warblers, Winding and Carruther’s Cisticolas and Papyrus Gonolek may be seen.
The Main Camp and Park HQ at Mweya is a convenient base for exploring the sites in the northern part of the park, whilst the road network running from Ishasha Camp and Ranger Post, 80 km to the south, provides access to the Ishasha area.
Simba Safari Camp
Mweya Safari Lodge – luxury accommodation is an ideal place for relaxation a 5 star lodge with swimming facilities a variety of bird species can be seen in this area.
Jacana Safari Lodge – luxury accommodation is an ideal place for relaxation and refreshment built over the banks of a crater lake you will lose all your worries.
The Institute of Ecology – budget, basic hostel style accommodation.
Camping – can be done at Mweya, Maramagambo Forest and Ishasha sector of the park come with camping facilities or can be provided by the company.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The fabled “Mountains of The Moon” lie in Western Uganda on the Congolese border, with snow-covered, equatorial peaks rising to height of 5110 m and lower slopes blanketed in moorland and rich montane forest. Most of the park is accessible to hikers with magnificent scenery and 19 Albertine Rift endemics, amongst them;
Rwenzori Turaco and Shelley’s Crimson wing, would be ample reward for the intrepid, backpacking birder.
The Rwenzori Mountains have been selected as one of the
World’s Best Hikes by National Geographic!
ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS
Districts: South Western Uganda, on the edge of the western rift valley, shared by Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro Districts.
Size: 996 Km-Sq.
Elevation: 1700 meters to 5109 meters atop Margherita peak on Mount Stanley.
Habitat: Montane forest with bamboo (Arundinaria) on lower slopes, heath and Afro-alpine moorland on higher slopes.
Status: National Park since 1991.
Timing: January – February and July – August are the driest months but rain is possible year round.
Time required: 3 days for the shorter foothill hike and 6-7 days for the usual mountain loop.
Birds Recorded: 195 species.
There are many bird species to lookout for among which include:- Albertine Rift endemics like; Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Montane (Rwenzori) Nightjar, Dwarf Honey guide, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked and Collared Apalises, Stripe-breast Tit, Rwenzori Batis, (Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike ), Blue-headed, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Strange Weaver, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimsonwings.
Others to lookout for are; Lammergeiger, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Long-eared Owl, Western Green Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, Evergreen Forest and Bamboo Warblers, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Montane Sooty Boubou, Golden-winged and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, White-collared Olive-back, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Oriole-Finch.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is accessible from Kasese. All hikes need to be arranged through the Rwenzori Mountain Service ( RMS ), an organization that works in conjunction with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority to control hiking in the area and to maintain trails and huts.
Semliki National park
Semliki National Park is one of Uganda’s newest Parks having been gazetted in 1993 which host 194 sq. km of East Africa’s only lowland tropical rainforest. The national park is located in the far west of Uganda Bwamba County within Bundibugyo district on Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Spreading over a land area of 220 kilometers (85 sq. mi). Semuliki National Park has a high diversity of plant and animal species together with microhabitats being located at the junction of several climatic and ecological zones. Most of the Park’s vegetation is majorly medium altitude moist evergreen to the semi-deciduous forest. For game viewing tours, the park has got over 60 mammal species and more than 400 bird species for bird watching safaris. The park’s dominant mammal species include forest buffaloes, leopards, hippos, Mona monkeys, water chevrotains, bush babies, civets, elephants, and the pygmy flying squirrel. Primate safaris are also done to the presence of eight primate species including red-tailed monkey, Vervet monkey, blue and De Brazza’s monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, black and white colobus, and Chimpanzee together with over 300 butterfly species.
Semuliki valley national park is home to 400 bird species 216 of which including the lyre-tailed honey guide forest ground thrush and sassi’s olive greenbul are true forest birds. There are also other 12 unique bird species, which are extremely limited in East Africa but can be seen by tourists spending a few days in the Park and these include Western bronze-napped pigeon, yellow-throated cuckoo, piping hornbill, red-sided broadbill, xavier’s greenbul, capuchin babbler, yellow longbill, blue-headed flycatcher, red-billed helmet-shrike, crested malimbe, pale fronted antpecker and chestnut-breasted negro-finch among others.
What to See And Do in Semuliki valley national park
Game viewing is excellent in the open savannah grasses of Semuliki Valley national park. Even without entering inside Semuliki National Park, a scenic drive around it brings you closer to the marvelous beauty of the Park’s surrounding. A drive to Sempaya hot springs makes you come across the Rift Valley towards Congo, its also fringed by forest where you can even stop and have a look at the monkeys and birds while no incurring any park fees since its found outside the Park. Swamp greenbul and various forest hornbills are also worthy scanning while at the patch of fig and palm forest about half way between Sempaya and Ntandi.
Sempaya Hot springs
This is the most popular attraction in Semuliki National Park and a safari to the national park without visiting the hot spring is surely incomplete. A Short guided walking trail from the Sempaya Information Centre lead you to the cluster of hot springs at Sempaya. This eye-catching site has its largest geyser spouts up to 2m high from a low salt sculpture opening. Be cautious of the emerging water from the hot spring that has a temperature of more than 100 degrees Celsius with hot surrounding pools. While on the trail to the hot springs through a patch of the forest you can encounter red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and black and white colobus that are very common at this point as well as interesting birds like the forest hornbills, blue-breasted kingfisher, red-rumped and yellow-throated tinker bird, Frasier’s ant-thrush and honey guide greenbul. There is another hot spring, which is more of a broad steaming pool than a geyser; it is located on the far side of the swampy clearing that can be reached by a boardwalk.
Red Monkey Trail
This is a wilderness trail through the Eastern margin of the Park to the Semuliki River. It also offers exposure to a variety of localized birds than the trail to the springs. In addition to the red monkey trail, you can as well see a variety of monkeys, crocodiles, buffalo, and elephant on the River.
Kirimia River Trail
This 15km trail runs North from Kirimia on the main Bundibugyo road to the banks of the Semuliki River, crossing the Kirimia river twice as well as passing a succession of forest-fringed oxbow lakes. The guided day hike covers the first four kilometers up to the first crossing of the Kirimia River and passes through the secondary and riparian forest which is a residence to several monkey species like the African Piculet, long-tailed hawk, red-sided broadbill, black-faced rufous warbler and lemon-bellied crombec. In addition to these, there are other 20-30 bird species associated to oxbow lakes environment but they are unlikely to be seen elsewhere in any other park.
Excellent bird viewing sites at Sempaya and Ntandi enable the viewing of these incredible birds like Spot-breasted Ibis, Hartlaubs’s Duck, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrow hawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Forest Francolin, Nkulengu Rail, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Black-collared Lovebird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Bates’ Nightjar, Chocolate-backed, White-bellied and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crested, Black Dwarf, Red-billed Dwarf, Piping and Black-wattled Hornbills, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Spotted, Lyre-tailed and Zenker’s Honey guides, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Red-sided Broadbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Sassi’s Olive, Xavier’s, Swamp, Simple and Eastern Bearded Greenbuls, Yellow-throated Nicator, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Forest and Grey Ground Thrushes, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Red-billed Helmet -Shrike, Red-eyed Puff-back, Black-winged Starling, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-bellied Malimbes, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Negro finches, Grant’s Bluebill. Water birds can also be tracked during forest walks.
Nocturnal bird watching
The area around the geothermal hot springs at Sempaya is not only very scenic but also offers some great birding. The cliffs behind the ranger post are home to the crepuscular Freckled Nightjar and these can be seen gliding around the clearing with Black-shouldered Nightjars. In the lush rainforest around here listen for the bizarre dawn and dusk duetting of the elusive Nkulengu Rail. Other nocturnal callers include Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Wood Owl. Around the cleaning and through other light gaps in the area, it is possible to glimpse African Goshawk, Red-thighed and Great Sparrows, Ayres Hawk-Eagle and Cassin’s Spinetail.
From the ranger post, head north (right) along the” Boundary Trail”. Crested Guinea fowl skulk in the undergrowth and the hollow hooting of the White-spotted Flufftail is commonly heard near forest creek in this area. Turn left where the trail forks and continue to the ” Female” Hot Springs with boiling hot water squirts and bubbles out of the ground.
53 species of mammal have been recorded from the park, many of which are shy, rare and nocturnal. Conspicuous species include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Mona, Gentle (Blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees may seldom be heard than seen. While nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos. You are also lucky if you glimpse Elephant, Bush pig, Water Chevrotain, Buffalo, Sitatunga, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’s Anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse. You are far more likely to spot the lively and agile squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel. Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat. 30 species of butterflies have been identified, including 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted.
There are also 305 species of trees recorded, of which 125 species are restricted to this park alone.
The Batwa trail is the main cultural encounter at Semuliki National Park. The Batwa had been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine, and tools due to their lifestyle of hunter-gatherers. Due to the decline of this dependence on the forest because of tourism, the Park offers an alternative source of income to the Batwa through allowing them to display their cultural history to tourists through music and dance performances at Ntandi. In addition to this, they also produce beautiful handcrafts for sale.
How to get to Semuliki valley national park
From the capital Kampala to Fort Portal, which is the sub regions biggest city, there are two major roads; Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende and Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese. There are 59km from Fort Portal to Semuliki National Park and further 6km to reach the Park headquarters at Ntandi. The first route via Mubende is shorter from Kampala with 180km driven for about 4-5 hours compared to the second one that has 465km (7-8 hours) though it offers a more adventurous experience even before reaching Semuliki National park as you can have a stop to Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park around Kasese. Both private and public means of transport can be used to Fort Portal and any public transport heading between Fort Portal and Kasese can drop you there. For those who would prefer to use private vehicles to the park, a 4WD vehicle is recommended especially in the wet season.
Accommodation/ Where To Stay
There are not many accommodation facilities in and around Semuliki National Park however, there are several lodges and hotels in Bundibugyo and Fort Portal which are both budget and luxury/up market. Semuliki safari lodge in Semuliki valley is one of the luxury lodges and Ntoroko game lodge at the shores of lake Albert that can accommodate both luxury and budget guests. Others include Kirumia guesthouse located 10km from Sempaya gate along the Bundibugyo highway and Bamuga campsite approximately 3km from the Sempaya gate
Semuliki National Park with its unique primate species, big and small wild game numerous bird species, eye-catching hot springs at Sempaya, swampy, montane and lowland vegetation species plus the unique culture of the Batwa make your tour activity package in the park complete. These enable you to enjoy hiking and nature walk, game drives and game viewing, bird watching, monkey trails, hot spring tour, River trails and cultural encounters with the Batwa.
This park is 250km from Nairobi. This south east of Nairobi towards the Kenya and Tanzania border. The People around here are the Masaai people, one of Kenya’s most colorful people. They have held on their culture living in mud manyatta huts, pastoralists and rigid beautiful culture where on has to kill a lion to qualify to be a mature warrior who can be allowed to marry.
This Park is located at the bottom and in the shadow of the snowcapped Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. And has a canopy of giant yellow acacia trees and gently flowing natural springs and swamps -home to many herds of Elephants. With Mt Kilimanjaro’s 6,000- meter- high snowcapped peaks presiding over the landscape, the setting is unrivaled. All around the park roams the big game that has made East Africa Kenya safari legendary -the elephant, lion, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, baboon, gazelle, hippo, and wildebeest. Almost nowhere else in the continent can more wild elephant be seen at very close proximity than in Amboseli National Park. Here you will inspect a grand parade of in big numbers of elephants as they majestically move past your Safari lodge in a single file past the lodge heading for the swamp to drink water and have an afternoon bath.
There is plenty of wildlife to view. When you go for a game drive watch out for leopard, cheetah, buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, Oryx, eland and other plains game as well as other small mammals like mongoose, hyrax, dik dik, the laughing hyenas and the nocturnal porcupine. There are over 600 species of birdlife in this national park, which are attracted by the spring waters and swamps.
LOCATION: 300 km from the capital city of Nairobi.
This is the jewel of Kenya’s game parks – Masai Mara located in the northern section of the great Serengeti plains. This is where a million wildebeests and zebra make their perilous annual migration of crossing from Serengeti, Tanzania to Masai Mara Kenya.
They can actually be seen as they cross the Mara River every July and august and this is one of the greatest spectacle, and the biggest wildlife show on earth. The animal’s transverse the landscape to feed on the rich new grass and to give birth to their young. This Game reserve is home to the “Big Five”– elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino, as well as many other species including the cheetah, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, hippo, impala, gazelle. And numerous other wildlife including hundreds of species of birds.
In the morning, you will be awakened before dawn by birds singing, hyenas laughing. The Mara is magical in the morning: the birds are singing, the morning air smells fresh and cool, and the wildlife are just waking up to greet the day. Zebra’s frolic and greet each other, a pair of jackals prance through the grass in search of mice or a rabbit, baboons chatter noisily while curious giraffe watch you as they nibble on their breakfast of acacia leaves. You may even come upon a family of Lions feeding together on last night’s kill, or a leopard snoozing in a tree in search for the “Big Five”. Don’t forget to look for the “little five” – Thompson’s gazelle, jackal, African hare’, monkeys, and banded mongoose. These little animals can be just as exciting and more fun to watch than the more popular larger animals.
Take an early morning hot air balloon ride to watch sunrise and game from the clouds up. And arrive from the air to a champagne breakfast in the bush.
The Park is located in the land of the Maasai people. They have a rich culture full of grace. They have undergone very little change and they still live their rich culture. There are stories of a Moran (an unmarried young man) killing a lion as the initiation to manhood, as well as their love for their cattle. To the Maasai, all the cows in this world belong to them. This people have resisted the test and the tide of time and a visit to the Maasai village for a lecture or and evening dance will be inspiring, and is highly recommended.
There are all weather Airstrips in the lodges at Masai Mara, and daily flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara. There are plenty of lodges to choose from and the range is far and wide from Luxury tented camps, up market lodges and tented camps, to budget lodges and camp sites for the budget travelers.
You will have a wide variety to choose from. Everyone is catered for at Masai Mara. And below we present some of the best places one can stay on a Safari to Masai Mara.
This is one of the best places where you can go for trekking safari, Camel safaris, and walking safaris. This is up in the desert and it’s extremely hot. It is in this town where the only camel Derby in the world for both amateur and professionals is held. This is an annual event which takes place in the summer, attracting not only the parctipants but also spectators from all the corners of the earth. Here you will bump into real characters. In the evening everyone retires to Yare safaris club and campsite for a long hard party sure enough to last till down. The event is open to everyone.
Size: Approximately 250 sq kms
Province: Rift Valley
Geographical Location: Set amidst the majestic Ol Doinyo Lenkiyo Mountains in north-central Kenya around the Samburu town of Maralal.
Altitude: 1,490 m
Vegetation: Rocky and dry terrain.
Fauna: Mammals of the dry zone include impala, eland, buffalo, baboon, warthog, leopard, hyena, giraffe and zebra.
Visitor Facilities: One lodge and campsite.
The Maralal National Reserve is one of Kenya’s little known treasures. Tucked away in the centre of the country amidst the Ol Doinyo Lenkiyo mountains, Maralal completely surrounds the Samburu town of the same name. Within the Reserve’s boundaries, eland, impala buffalo and zebra keep a watchful eye on predators such as the leopard and hyena. Seasonally, elephant pass through the Reserve descending from the forested hills to the north.
The best viewing of wildlife in the Reserve is from the terrace at the Maralal Safari Lodge. Game viewing is both by day and floodlight by night. At the lodge, leopard are baited from a small forest nearby and can be viewed from a specially constructed blind.
In all directions from Maralal, the scenery is beautiful and the processions of wildlife sharing land with Samburu herders is spectacular. Related to the Maasai futher south, the Samburu warriors of Maralal, dressed in their traditional clothing, live in symbiosis with the environment and wildlife around them.
Despite its beautiful landscape and wide assortment of wildlife, Maralal National Reserve receives relatively few visitors in relation to the Samburu reserves to the east. This helps makes Maralal a truly enjoyable destination.
Maralal town is 150 kms north of Nyahururu, on the northern edge of the Mount Kenya highlands. The Reserve can be accessed from Nyahururu along the C77 road which is paved as far as the town of Rumuruti. Alternatively, Maralal can be reached from Isiolo along the A2, C79 and C78. Access is also possible from the south-west at Lake Baringo along the eastbound C78.
There is usually one bus a day in either direction between Nyahuru and Maralal and between Isiolo and Maralal. Vehicle traffic is very scarce north of Nyahururu and west of Isiolo, that very few other options exist.
Tours to Maralal are possible to find, though not as popular as those offered to the reserves further to the east (Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs).
Best remembered as the setting where Elsa, Joy Adamson’s lioness, was returned to the wild. Meru provides a stunning combination of diverse habitats. On the lower slopes of Mt. Kenya, it remains an unspoilt wilderness. Dense riverine forests attract Leopards, and a full complement of ‘the big five’ including Black Rhino, in a dramatic setting adorned with doum palms. Over 300 species of birdlife have also been recorded. Wooded thorn bush and grasslands in volcanic rock, give way to open red soil grasslands over in the east. Highlights include Mulika Swamp, and the noisy Adamson’s fall where the Rojweru and Tana rivers converge.
Meru is untamed expanse, for many years the kept secret amongst travelers passionate about beauty, peace, and true wilderness. Landing there you feel part of the landscape, vibrating with hidden sights and unfamiliar sounds. You become aware of underground dwellers…. amazing insect life with sophisticated rites and rituals. You will follow the fresh tracks of animals….then suddenly your standing stark still, watching a lesser kudu watching you or giraffe testing the air only yards away from you and your guide.
Here you will encounter many species than in any other park in East Africa. Meru is famous for its birdlife with forest and riverine as well as the arid species. Regular sightings include elephant, white rhino, eland, Beisa, Oryx, Gerenuk, grevy’s Zebra, reticulated Giraffe, grants gazelle and their predators lion, leopard, cheetah and the hyena.
Guided nature walks, exploring the park on foot, bush breakfasts on the plains, sundowners at the hippo pools, line fishing, and swimming in the horizontal pool cleft in the rocks.
Mount Kenya & Aberdare National Park
Aqua fresh mountain air, the glorious views, peace and tranquility. This is the country’s highest Mountain with several places of interest….Sweet Waters Game Sanctuary and Tented Camp, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Naro Moro River Lodge and Serena Mountain Lodge. At 5,199 m. high, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain. It offers easy or challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty.
To the Kikuyu tribes people it is the home of the Supreme Being: Ngai, a name also used by the Maasai and Kamba tribes. In traditional prayers and sacrifices, Ngai is addressed by the Kikuyu as Mwene Nyaga: the Professor of Brightness. The name comes from Kere Nyaga, the Kikuyu name for Mount Kenya, meaning Mountain of Brightness – Ngai’s official home.
Part of the mountain’s fascination is the variation in flora and fauna as the altitude changes. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest, the true montane forest begins at 2,000 m. is mainly cedar and podo. At 2,500 m. begins a dense belt of bamboo forest which merges into the upper forest of smaller trees, interspesed with glades. In this area the trees are festooned with high altitude moss.
These forest belts are host to many different animals and plants with at least 11 unique species. Game to view includes: Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant and lower down Olive Baboon, waterbuck, black rhino, black fronted duiker, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cat, bush pig and hyena. More elusive is the bongo, a rare type of forest antelope.
A number of other rare or endangered species can be found here: Sunni Buck, Mt Kenya Mole Shrew, skinks (lizard), and a variety of owls. Occasional sightings have been recorded of albino zebra.
The high altitude heath at the top (3,000 – 3,500 m.) is generally open, dotted with shrubs: African Sage, protea and helicrysum. The peak (above 3,500 m.) is moorland, with little game other than high altitude zebra and eland common in the northern moorland.
There is only one lodge inside the Park, seven climbers’ huts and three self-help banda sites. Just outside the Park there are three lodges and another self-help banda site.
ABERDARES NATIONAL PARK
The Aberdares National Park is part of the Aberdares mountain ranges; the mountain range slopes on the western side of the wall, adjacent to the Rift Valley, are steep compared to the eastern slopes. The eastern slopes, due to its contour and altitude make it favorable to the wildlife habitat. The Aberdares Mountain ranges peak at a height of 4000 meters above sea level. Aberdares mountain ranges are part of Kenya’s well-known mountains. Some others are Mount Kenya, Mount Meru, Mount Longonot, and Mount Elgon.
Although African Mecca, Inc. refers to Aberdares National Parks ranges as Aberdares, it has actually been renamed to The Nyandarua(s). In 1884, Joseph Thomson, a British explorer, christened the Aberdares after Lord Aberdare.
Aberdares was confirmed a national park in 1950, two years after Amboseli National Park. The vegetation of the reserve is separated between the high moorland and the “Treetops and The Ark” Salient, where there is an abundance of wildlife. The mountainous moorlands have three peaks namely: The highest, Ol Doinyo Satima located on the northern edge, Kinangop in the south and Kipipiri near the “happy valley” in the west.
The Aberdares Park can be accessed via four gates: Wanderis, Kiandongoro, Shamata, and the Rhino gate.
Because this region of the country is blessed with good rainfall, many tourists also opt for a one day fishing safari on the Karura and Chania Rivers. The controlled swollen rivers put forth a challenge to skilled trout seeking anglers.
The Aberdares also has three falls, the Chania, Gura and Karura Falls created by the above-mentioned rivers. Viewing of the falls can be done, if accompanied by an armed guide. The Karura Falls has the deepest drop, plunging more than 300 meters, and has two viewing stations on either side.
There is a wide variety of animals seen at the Aberdares National Park. Some of the most commonly see are: bongos, buffalos, elephants, lions, serval cat, warthogs, bush pigs, eland, bushbucks, reedbucks, Sykes monkey, and rhinoceros. A note about rhinos: the Aberdares National Park contains one of the fewest surviving population of black rhinos as opposed to the white rhinos. The Rhinoceros are mostly “looked after” by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Your safari vehicle driver normally drives you to the location of these wonderful creatures, where they were last seen.
Finally, the Aberdares National Park also holds a place in history. It was a hideout location for the Mau-Mau rebels in their struggle for an independent Kenya from their colonial rulers.
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city is the first port of call for many of the country’s visitors. With GREAT LAKES SAFARIS Kenya origins, our local knowledge is unrivalled, and we are best placed to provide our clients with their ideal holiday. Safaris cover the full range of Kenya’s most famous national parks and game reserves in combinations that meet the requirements of most visitors. However, for those who require something a little bit different, is it walking tour or camel trek, a camping safari, flying safari or trekking route, our wealth of local knowledge and infrastructure can assist in putting together the perfect tailor-made itinerary.
Selected this spot, the last totally flat ground before the steep climb up west to the Rift. Spacious exotic tree lined avenues, superb parks and the finest hotels now adorn this important African nerve Centre. Outstanding facilities include the immense Kenyatta Conference Centre which seats 4,000, and recreational facilities include: Racecourse, Sports Stadiums, Cinemas, Theatres, Museums and many Golf clubs.
WINDSOR GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Location: On the highlands of Kenya – just 20 minutes from the City Centre.
Facilities: 18 hole international course in an exotic setting of beautiful wood and parklands, Club and elegant Conference facilities, 2 Tennis and 2 Squash Courts, Croquet Green, Health Club, a variety of Restaurant offering a’la carte and table d’hote menus. Facilities include Pool, an Arcade of Shops, Art Gallery and Boutique.
Accommodation : 80 Superior Double Rooms, 20 Super Suites and a sweep of 15 Cottages
Opinion: Period piece accommodation, offering excellent service and cuisine.
Location: A five minute walk from the City Centre. Shops, Theatres and Restaurants – Twenty minutes from the airport.
Facilities: Five Restaurants, the Delamere and Ibis. The Delamere Bar & Terrace, a wide choice of Public Rooms, Beauty Salon, Swimming Pool and Gift Shop, with Golf on request.
Opinion: Nairobi’s first hotel, an Edwardian classic set in peaceful grounds with aviaries, capturing the atmosphere of the turn of the century.
NAIROBI SAFARI CLUB
Location: Close to the Centre of town.
Facilities: 2 Restaurants, 2 Bars, Swimming Pool
Accommodation: 146 air-conditioned suites.
Opinion: A modern hotel providing a high standard of accommodation and service.
INTER CONTINENTAL HOTEL
Location: Centre, close by the Government buildings
Facilities: 2 Restaurants, Swimming Pool with 2 Poolside Bars, Health Centre
Accommodation: There are 385 air-conditioned en-suite rooms.
Opinion: A first class hotel in a convenient location.
Location: At the heart of Nairobi
Facilities: 3 Restaurants, choice of Bars, Thorn Tree Café, Swimming Pool.
Accommodation: The Stanley has 217 rooms including suites.
Location: 20 minutes out of town set within 64 acres of tropical gardens.
Facilities: Include 7 Restaurants and a choice of 3 Bars, Night Club, Swimming Pool and Sports facilities.
Accommodation: The Safari Park has 204 rooms including suites.
Location: In a traditional setting conveniently located near Westland’s just north of the City Centre – 40 minutes from the airport.
Facilities: There are 2 Swimming Pools. Breakfast is enjoyed in the airy White Mischief Restaurant, which offers international table d’hote cuisine at economic prices.
Accommodation: Twin bedded rooms, each with en-suite Bathroom, TV and Telephone Rooms are located on three levels, with a block of Superior Rooms to the rear surrounding a peaceful garden atmosphere.
Opinion: A medium hotel offering friendly service
NAIROBI SERENA HOTEL
Location: Five minutes from the City Centre – twenty minutes from the airport in Nairobi’s facing famous Uhuru Park.
Facilities: Include a Health Club, Boutiques and Swimming Pool with its comfortable Coffee Shop. The tented ceiling Restaurant also offers a’la carte.
Accommodation: Totally refurbished 190 rooms are air-conditioned with en-suite bathroom, TV and Video, Mini Bar and Telephone.
Opinion: Peacefully set in landscaped, tropical gardens, this hotel enjoys the distinction of being included in ‘Leading Hotels of the World’.
Location: The Hilton is located in the heart of Nairobi City shopping area, about 20 minutes from the airport.
Facilities: You can dine at the Amboseli Grill, the Mara or Watamu Restaurants or enjoy a Bar-B-Que at the Poolside Bar. Also there is the Jockey Bar and the Pizzeria. There is a heated swimming pool and fully equipped health Centre with sauna and steam bath. The Hilton has its own arcade of shops.
Accommodation: Bedrooms are well appointed with a fully stocked minibar, personal safe and many have a panoramic view of the City Park.
Opinion: The hotel offers international famed Hilton service: luxurious accommodation and q wide choice of cuisine.
LOCATION: This game reserve is situated in the Northern Province of Kenya. It is rugged and a semi- desert. To get here you will cross the equator at Nanyuki and go to the northern hemisphere by passing the snowcapped Mt Kenya lying astrand the equator line and huge blue mountains serve as a back drop to this game reserve. The environment is enchanting. The river Uaso Nyiro is the lifeline and the nerve center of this Reserve and is bustling with a huge population of crocodiles. The game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals that can only be found in this park, like –the long necked gerenuk, gravy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and the Beisa onyx. The leopard is a frequent visitor in this park and most evenings it pays a courtesy call to the lodge’s guests as it feeds on some bite on a tree across the river. The Samburu Park has an abundant species of birds and can turn even the most reluctant guest in to an avid bird watcher. It is considered by Ornithologists a paradise for bird viewing. In the evenings, you can watch gigantic crocodiles fight over big chunks of meat as they are fed by the lodge staff at the riverbanks or as they get out of the river to relax. This is a great photo session opportunity as you sip cocktails and watch the African sunset in orange flame sky.
CULTURE AND THE PEOPLE
The Samburu people occupy this area and they are pastorists and nomads. They have resisted the tide and test of time and a rugged environment by clinging to their culture, very colorful with beads and hair dyed with ocre plus the whole body to be beautiful. Interesting ceremonies to a like initiation in adulthood.
This game reserve is accessible by Air and there are daily flights from Nairobi, which take approximately 45minutes.
LOCATION: This Park is 314 kms from Nairobi. To get there by air is 45 minutes and by road 5 hours. Shaba game reserve is a semi desert with a rugged hilly terrain, with great rocky kopjes (small isolated hills) and lots of springs supporting the abundant wildlife.
This place is replent with klipspringer and hyrax who love the hills. The specialties that can only be found in this part of the world are the gravy zebra, the Somali ostrich, generuk and the reticulated giraffe and gazelles the lesser kudu leopard and plenty of lion and herds of elephants and plenty of bird life and other small game.
Shaba Game Reserve was made famous by the late Joy Adamson and her lioness Elsa which and is often referred to as the Born free country.
Accommodation here is at the Sarova Shaba lodge. This property is up market with beautiful deluxe rooms in suites, and presidential suite complete with a private Jacuzzi. This lodge offers a luxury seldom found in the African bush.
Shaba lodge has a picturesque scenery, outdoor swimming pool and viewing decks along the river. The tranquil flow of the sparkling spring water throughout the lodge creates an atmosphere of peace and tranquility as it collects and cascades down.
The Nairobi / Mombasa Road divides Tsavo from north to south into Tsavo East and Tsavo West. In the most part of Tsavo West the game live in an almost undisturbed existence and in quiet seclusion- herein lays the challenge today. At the Tsavo West you also have the Chulu hills, which is home to many bird species.
TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK
This part of the park is dry, and rugged with rolling hilly scrubs. It is remote and laid back and very private. It is the place to experience the real African Savannah grasslands where you can listen to the winds blowing some African tune and talk to your inner self. The river Galana pass through this park on its long journey to the Indian Ocean. This park is only 100km from Malindi giving one the easy access of combining a beach safari at Malindi and catching up with the animals. All in one location.
The views at Tsavo East are out of this world….that of the Yatta plateau, the world’s largest lava flow stretching for miles and miles. These beautiful rocks have given rich to a waterfall the Lugard falls on the river Galana.
At Tsavo one will see red elephants; this is the only place one can see the few remaining hirola antelope.
This park has had encroachment problems by the local people competing with the animals for sustainance and existence.
This park set up sanctuary to protect the rhino from being decimated by poachers.
The elephant has not been spared either but this war is all most over with community involvement to protect the Eco system for sustainable development that is beneficial to all made possible by ploughing some of the benefits back to the surrounding communities.
TSAVO WEST NATIONAL PARK
KAMPI YA SIMBA—famous for the Man-eaters of Tsavo and a large elephant and lion population before the poachers came. But the park is now under constant surveillance of the Kenya Wildlife service Security.
Tsavo West the largest national parks in Kenya covering about 28,800 square kilometers. It is situated near the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro on the southern part and it is neighboring Amboseli National Park. It takes approximately 01 Hour to cross from one to the other through a beautiful rugged terrain and scenery and through a few Maasai villages. This Park is known for its infamous “man eating lions of Tsavo” whom preyed upon linesmen building the Great Uganda Railway at the turn of the century. This National Park is famed for its ”red” elephants, lions, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, plain game (including the lesser kudu) hippos and crocodiles swim side by side at huge pools of pure mineral water from the springs of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Tsavo is an evocative location if ever there was one. This has been a classic hunting ground for the renowned big game hunters and few so famous as Denys Finch Hatton. Why? What was the attraction? Tsavo is home to the Traditional home for the African elephant.
Tsavo is wild, diverse, and enormous. Its terrain switches from rich gold savannahs watered by riverine forest lined streams which are fed by springs of melted snow from Mt Kilimanjaro culminating at Mzima springs to Savanna bush land. The Mzima springs are the source of water for the coastal famous town of Mombasa. There are forested volcanic hills and mountains offering spectacular panoramas, including the striking lava outcrop of ‘shetani’ meaning the devils lava. This Lava outcrop stretches for miles and it is awe inspiring… kind of giving you a feeling of hell.
Western part of Kenya has many attractions; the countryside is beautiful with rolling hills, green bushes of vast tea plantations.
In the far west is Lake Victoria with the city of Kisumu on its shores with tempting possibilities of many activities. To the south are the islands of Rusinga and Mfangano, and a short distance gets to the North lies the Kakamega Forest with is lush vegetation and abundant wild life. Close to the regional town of Kitale are the National parks of Mt Elgon and Saiwa swamp, and further north are the Cherangani hills, which drop dramatically to the Kerio Valley.
Busia and Malaba are the gateways to Uganda and Isebania sits on the Tanzanian Border. This makes this place ideal for combining trips to our neighboring countries.
Kenya safari highlights
Exploring the tiny island of rusinga and mfangano on lake Victoria
Staying at rodo treat and exploring the birdlife, flora and fauna.
Trekking through the cherangani hills and down kerio valley.
Discovering the caves at Mount Elgon.
Camping in Ruma National Park.
The city of Kisumu is accessible many flights landing and taking off to and from Nairobi. This new city has an easy town life with plenty of vibrate entertainment life. The lake is a big link for the 3 East African countries; a small harbor and one get ferry services to Uganda and Tanzania. A tour of the city will give show you what a typical African life can be.
Ndere Island National Park
Ruma National Park
Here you will see the last of Kenya’s Roan antelope, go for trekking, climbing, safaris and fishing. Camping sites available.
RUSINGA, MFANGANO & TALAWIRI ISLANDS.
These islands are rugged, beautiful and a must to explore, visit the Mt Kwitutu and the mausoleum of Tom Mboya in Rusinga.
KAKAMEGA FOREST RESERVE
Kakamega forest is a superb slab of virgin tropical rainforest the heart of an intensely cultivated agricultural area. It is the home to a huge variety of birds and animals and it is real a must see. Here you will find exotic species like the rare De Brazza’s monkey, other forest primates include the red-tailed monkey the colobus and blue monkey. In the night you will see the hammer-headed fruit bat or a flying squirrel.
The biggest attraction to this reserve is the abundant bird life the best months being June, August and October when many migrate species arrive. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded, you are most likely to see black and white casqued horn bill, Ross’s Turaco, greater Turaco. Wild flowers and butterflies are wonderful in October.
This is an excellent place for walking trails the best way to appreciate the forest and there are established trails.
MT ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Mt Elgon sits astride the Kenya –Uganda borders 169 sq km. It has excellent terrain for trekking due to the lower altitude the conditions are not extreme. This Mountain is an extinct volcano and with a peak and a crater and there are hot springs in the crater itself the floor of which is around 3500m above the sea level.
The biggest attraction here are the elephants, renowned the world over for their predilection for digging salt, the major source of which is in the caves. Stories abound that the elephants have dug all the cave in Mt Elgin. There are four many caves open to visitors, Kitum this is the place to see the elephants if you get there before dawn, Chepnyalil, Mackingeny has a cascading across the entrance.
The mountain” fauna and flora are also a great attraction, a rain forest at the base, the vegetation changes as you ascend to the Bamboo jungle and finally alpine moorland with bizarre giant groundsel and giant lobelia
Is home to the blavckand white colombus, crowned crane, queen of the marsh, cape clawless and spot-throat otters. This park is only accessible on foot on walking trials.
There no lodges at Mt Elgon, people stay at a campsite or some simple.
Arusha National Park
Lying at an altitude of 1,380m, west of Mt. Kilimanjaro and at the foot of Mt. Meru, Arusha is ideally located as our Tanzanian base. All of the highlights of the northern circuits are easily accessed including Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and the world famous Serengeti.
Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam translates to ‘haven of peace’ in English and is a natural sheltered harbor located right on the Indian Ocean coast, at the head of the Kizinga River. The city was named and initially laid out by Zanzibar Sultan Majid from 1865 but it is the German East African Company’s substantial development since 1891, of principal buildings, a railway and the botanical gardens that survive. It is the commercial, cultural and administrative center for the country and has a good selection of hotels with shopping malls and bars for the visitor.
Africa’s highest mountain stands a proud 5,896m and is surrounded by a national park of 756 sq. km. All routes lead to the summit circuit and twin peaks Kibo and Mawenzi (5,149 m), which are connected by an 11 km saddle. The collapsed peak Shira (3,962 m) has become a crater. Many attempt the climb but only 20-50% completes the top.
Lake Manyara National Park
Close to Tarangire, 130 km W of Arusha, Manyara offers 325 sq km of incredible beauty set in diverse terrain, which includes open grasslands, forests and the dominant red western rift escarpment that provides a stunning backdrop to the Lake itself. In Manyara can be found resident Baboons, also Elephants, Hippo and ‘PlainsGame’. This wonderland includes something unique – The tree climbing Lions. The lake wonderland includes something unique – The tree climbing Lions. The lake attracts migratory Flamingos and over 300 different species of birdlife.
Part of a far larger migratory ecosystem (that includes Lake Manyara) and dependant on the Tarangire River that flows through its centre, this National Park covers an area of 2,600 sq km and is about 120 km from Arusha.
Larger mammals vacate Tarangire in a mass exodus during the annual October from the Masai Mara.
Lake Manyara National Park has a wonderful mosaic of different habitats, which attracts a whole host of animals including a high density of elephants. Look out for monkeys, antelopes, zebras and hippos too. There are also lions and some have developed the unusual behavior of climbing trees for their afternoon snooze. However, they have not mastered the art of dragging their kill high into the branches, as the leopard is so adept at doing.
Birdlife is fascinating at Lake Manyara and numbers are at their peak during the rainy season when seed-eaters, insect-eaters and water birds thrive. Nomadic quelea (finch-like birds), gather in breeding flocks of many thousands and fly across Lake Manyara National Park in vast twittering clouds. Pelicans, storks, geese, herons and cormorants share their water world with migrant flamingoes, who come and feed on the algae rich water and turn the crystalline edges of the soda lake a vibrant pink.
Waterfalls spill over the escarpment wall and fill rivers, some of which can be canoed down for a great safari adventure. In the south of the park hot springs bubble to the surface but are too hot for a dip.
The mixture of different habitats, animals and birdlife in Lake Manyara National Park, is unlike anything else you are likely to see. Another bonus is that Lake Manyara is only a 2-hour drive or half an hour light aircraft flight, west of Arusha – the gateway to the Northern Safari Circuit
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Climbing the magnificent Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak is a prize sought after by many, and we can organize climbs of various duration. Over the years entrants have even included people disabled in different ways, whose charities have sponsored climbs. For the able-bodied however it remains a challenge, only 20% make the peak. Full details on request.
Africa’s highest mountain stands a proud 5,896m and is surrounded by a national park of 756 sq. km. All routes lead to the summit circuit and twin peaks Kibo and Mawenzi (5,149 m), which are connected by an 11 km saddle. The collapsed peak Shira (3,962 m) has become a crater. Many attempt the climb but only 20-50% completes the top.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located at the north/eastern tip of Tanzania. For the adventurous, a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro is a must taking you through the mists of equatorial jungle to reach the snows and breath-taking views from the summit.
The upward track wends through forests that vary constantly with the altitude and finally opens out into open moorland below rocky, snow covered Kibo plateau. It has 3 volcanic centres, Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi. 5, 7 & 8 day climbs are easily arranged from Moshi or Arusha, and is the perfect start to your trip in Tanzania.
When to Climb
It can be climbed at any time during the year. However, Christmas and New Year are usually fully booked and April, May and November is the rainy season.
Please check with your doctor to ensure you are fully aware of the dangers of climbing at this high altitude.
Ngorongoro lies just 60 kms NW of Lake Manyara, 190 km W of Arusha and 145 km SE of The Serengeti. At the heart of this huge and diverse conservation area (8,288 sq km) lies the incomparable crater, once a young volcano that eventually collapsed leaving a perfect Calder 18 kms across and 1 km deep – the largest in the world.
At the craters edge is a fantastic panorama. You enter by descending the thickly wooded rim, a mixture of Strangler Fig, Red Thorn Acacias and Rub Vines, attracting a variety of birdlife, on to the crater floor with its prominent soda lake, Magadi. The stage is set which includes Seneto Springs, Gorigor Swaps, Terai Forest and the Gol Mountains. This microcosm supports some 30,000 large mammals, including Plains Game, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. Clambering in the trees are Olive Baboons, Blue Monkeys and Bush babies. Olduvai is famed for its fossil finds – about 150 species of prehistoric mammals including the Leakey’s discovery of 400 fragments of a skull. Discovery here began by accident back in 1911. Olduvai gains its name from the Masai word for the wild sisal that is prolific here.
The Ngorongoro Crater stands 7,600 feet high at the rim with a floor some 2,000 feet below. This magnificent spectacle has long been regarded as the original Garden of Eden. Whilst the high ground around the rim lies under a thick canopy of lichen-draped tropical forest—often shrouded in the mist—the floor of Ngorongoro teems with all kinds of Africa’s best known wildlife.
At the heart of the crater’s ten mile wide grassland plain lies a soda lake that often attracts vast numbers of flamingo and other water birds. Visitors to Ngorongoro will seldom leave without seeing rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, zebra and many species of antelope and even an occasional leopard. The roads in and out of the crater are an adventure in themselves and require four-wheel drive vehicles. Lodges are on the crater rim only. This was once the home of the Masai tribe and they still take their herds of cattle into the crater at certain times.
The Ngorongoro Crater Trek
Once you are in need of this wonderful trekking trail in Tanzania, one must travel to Ngorongoro conservation area through Loduare Gate, up to heroes point and then turn right while scaling to Ngorongoro. The road will lead
you to a Sopa Lodge junction, drive straight up to North – East crater out let – Drive straight following Nainokanoka village where the ranger post is situated.
Oliver’s Camp Ruaha
LOCATION: 300 km from the capital city.
Remote Ruaha, covering some 12,950 sq km, 625 kms from Dar es Salaam, derives its name from the mighty Ruaha River that forms part of its South-eastern boundary. Ruaha can only be visited in the dry season July-December. The park’s altitude (750m – 1,900m) creates four different flora zones: river valleys, savannahs, moimba woodland and undulating bus country. Over 400 species of birdlife have been sighted and its proliferation of large mammals includes Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo, Zebra, numerous ‘Plains Gam’ Antelope, the occasional Leopard and Cheetah. The river is rich in Hippo and Crocodile. Since the only lodge is unfenced, game roams freely there at night.
Oliver’s Camp is situated on the border to Tarangire National Park, about a two hour drive from the park’s main gate. The design has been kept as environmentally friendly as possible and the tents have been sited amongst the natural features of this landscape. The Base Camp stays in this area for up to six-month as it is very comfortable. Large twin-bedded tents are individually sited and furnished with wooden beds, coffee tables, chairs, camp-style wardrobes, wash basins and a toilet-shower extension all under a twenty six by twelve foot spread of canvas which includes two covered verandahs. Freshly prepared food is served in the dining tent and cold drinks are available. Camp lighting is subtle, electric twelve volt inside and hurricane lamps outside.
Selous Game Reserve
LOCATION 300 km from the capital city of Dar-es-Salaam.
At twice the size of Denmark, Selous (55,000 sq km) is the second largest ‘park’ in the world, said to be home to over one million mammals. Of this vast wilderness only the Beho Beho region, north of the Rufiji River is open to tourists. The best time is July-October, though precaution needs to be taken since the area is infested with the Tsetse.
Selous is known for its large numbers of Elephant and Rhino, which declined drastically in the 1980’s as a result of poaching, yet now herds of Elephants are again on the increase. Some 400 species of birdlife have been recorded including the elusive Eleonora’s Falcon. The real showpiece of the park has to be the Rufiji which flows through its heart and offers (time and again) the spectacle of large numbers of Hippo’s gallivanting about, whilst Crocodiles bask like disguarded rough boulders on its banks.
The Rufiji and its defendant’s create the largest river catchment in East Africa. Highlights include Stiegler’s Gorge about 100 m high, providing a dramatic river bottleneck and 20 km downstream the 5 swampy Lakes that this river system feeds before leaving the reserve. Here a variety of ‘Plains Game’ including the rare Sable Antelope, Greater Kudu and Waterbuck refresh themselves. Hot Sulphur Springs bubble up at Maji Moto, near Beho Beho – some just cool enough to swim in! Walking safaris are organized in this reserve, but expect the wildlife to be shy. Hunting Dog, Spotted Hyena, Lion and Leopard have been sighted along with Buffalo and Elephant.
The largest game reserve in Africa – 4 times the size of the Serengeti. It possesses a diverse landscape from hot volcanic springs, sporadic lakes, channels from the Great Rhaha and Rufiji rivers. Walking is permitted (with an armed ranger) which with over 350 species of bird and 2,000 species of plants to see makes this the most heavenly sanctuary to explore.
Activites and Special Interests
Take a cable car across Stieglers Gorge (100 metres deep and 100 metres wide); bird watching; photography; walking safaris; and fishing Tiger Fish and Vandu (in the rivers of the Kilombero Game Controlled Area to the west of the reserve).
Selous is famous for its elephant, hippopotamus and rhino (although now few remain). The park has a broad range of game: buffalo – the largest population in Africa; Nyasaland gnu; brindled gnu; hartebeest; Greater Kudu; sable antelope; eland; reedbuck; bushbuck; waterbuck; warthog; zebras; giraffe; and wildebeest. Also: lion, leopard, the spotted hyeana and hunting dog are in abundance; cheetah are rare; there are over 350 species of bird and reptiles such as crocodiles and various snakes and lizards.
Mainly based in the north of the reserve. Stay in the either the Island Mbuyini luxury tented camp, Richard Bonhams, the Sand River Selous, the Mbuyu camp, or the Rufiji River Camp. Game drives by vehicle, boat trips, and long and short walking safaris into the reserve may be made from these camps and lodges.
Serengeti National Park
The ‘endless plains’ named Siringet by the wandering Masai, is a fitting title for these 14,763 sq km, that support 3 million mammals, upwards of 2 million of whom annually migrate in concentrated herds north across the Mara River. This ‘the last great spectacle of nature’ has a cast that includes around 1.3M Wildebeest, 0.3M Thompson’s Gazelle and 0.2M Zebra. It begins in June with the return leg in October/November. The Serengeti centres on acacia savannah, with dry grasslands to the south, western corridor of wooded highland that fronts Lake Victoria and north, the wooded grasslands along the Grumeti and Mara Rivers. Around 3,000 Lions and upwards of 500 Cheetah inhabits this enormous sanctuary.
The park covers 14,763 sq km of endless rolling plains, which reach up to the Kenyan border and extends almost to Lake Victoria. The park is teaming with stunning wildlife – it is thought that over 3 million large mammals roam the plains. In May or early June you can witness the annual migration of millions of zebra and wildebeest in search of water and forage as the seasons change.
Activites and Special Interests
Bird watching, photography, walking safaris, and ballooning with Serengeti Balloon Safaris.
Large herds of antelope of all sorts including: Patterson’s eland, Klipspringer, Dikdik, impala, Zebra, gazelles, water, bush and reed buck, topi, kongoni, cotton’s oribi, grey bush duiker, roan antelope buffalo, and wildebeest. Plus: lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, bat eared fox, hunting dog and jackal. Smaller mammals: spring hare, porcupine, warthog, hyraxes, baboon, vervet monkey, colobus monkey, patas monkey, and mongooses. Larger mammals: giraffe, rhino, elephant, hippopotamus. Nearly 500 species of bird, including vultures, storks, flamingoes, martial and fish eagles, ostrich. Reptiles: crocodiles, a number of species of snakes and lizards
There are a number of lodges and camps to stay at in the Serengeti. Lodges: Seronera Wildlife Lodge, Lobo Wildlife Lodge, Ndutu Safari Lodge (near Olduvai Gorge) Serengeti Serena Lodge, and Serengeti Sopa Lodge. Camps: Kijesereshi Tented lodge just outside the camp south of Nsabaaka Gate (North West of the Park) and Migration camp around the Lobo area. There are public camp sites (very basic some without even water), 6 special camp sites and 12 wilderness camp sites.
Most prominent of the Spice Islands, Zanzibar has a potent mix of history, legends and unique cultures. Visually stunning with exceptional natural beaches and the haunting architecture of Zanzibar town, the island has lured travelers to its shores for centuries. Its past was dominated by merchants, rulers, explorers, scholars – today tourism is playing a key role. Zanzibar provides the perfect compliment to an East African safari.
Famous for being a major producer of cloves, and infamous as being a slave market and entry-port, the old stone town of Zanzibar has a fascinating labyrinth of narrow winding streets lined with whitewashed, coral-rag houses with overhanging balconies and magnificently carved brass studded doors, shops, bazaars, mosques, courtyards, squares etc.
Outside town there are more ruined palaces, Shirazi remains, Persian baths, and magnificent palm fringed beaches with warm clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Also known as the Spice Island for its 200 years of clove production, hilly Pemba lies 40 km north of Zanzibar. Its capital Chake Chake is strategically located on a hill overlooking a creek.
_Spice production from some 3 million clove tees pervades both the economy and atmosphere as cloves are laid out to dry in the sun and its characteristic aroma hangs in the air.
There are two historical monuments to its past. About 20 km to the west is the 8th century ruins of Ras Mkumbuu, with its Persian influence. The second lies 10 km to the south east of Chake Chake, the 15th century settlement of Pujini, destroyed later by the Portuguese along with the palace of Mkame Ndume the settlement builder.
Mafia Island lies 140 km to the south of Zanzibar, at the mouth of the Rufiji River. Mafia Island used to be an important settlement from the 12th to 14th centuries, but these days is better known for its excellent diving and also deep-sea fishing.
In addition Mafia is an important breeding ground for giant turtles which come up onto the white coral sands to lay their eggs.
Zanzibar City Centre – Half Day
The half-day city tour visits Zanzibar’s colorful market, which exudes a heady smell of herbs and spices. Other sites visited include the Anglican Cathedral, which stands in silent testimony on the site of one of the last open slave markets in the world, the residence of the late Sultan of Zanzibar; ‘Tip Tip House’.
The Old Fort and the House of Wonders – all locations rich in antiquity and full of intrigue from the days of long ago. The tour ends with a romantic stroll along the narrow lanes of the Old Stone Town.
Spice Tour – 4 Hours
The spice tour is guaranteed to sharpen your senses. Drive through the countryside to visit spice plantations – with an opportunity to pick, smell and savour exotic fruits and spices.
Prison Island – Full Day
Changuu Island is a historical island once used for the detention of recalcitrant salves. Today Giant Tortoises, some over 100 years old, act as unlikely vigilantes over the island. The beach is superb and the crystal clear sea excellent for swimming, snorkeling, fishing and diving. This trip is perfect to while away a complete day.
Jozani Forest – 4 Hours
_Jozani is the only remaining natural forest on Ungunja Island. Covering an area of 10 sq km it consists of high forest, swamp forest and evergreen forest. It provides an important refuge for the remaining Ungula fauna such as the rare Red Colobus Monkeys, small Zanzibar Leopard and two antelope species – the Zanzibar Duicker and Sunni.
If it is big game you are looking for, Akagera will not disappoint. Located on the border with Tanzania, Akagera is comprised of swamps, lakes, savannah, woodland and open grassland. The lakes draw out herds of elephant and buffalo, while the savannah typically attracts giraffe and zebra. That is just the beginning! The park hosts, leopard, hyena, lions and more than a dozen types of antelope. Also found in and near the lake are large pods of hippopotami as well as ominous crocodiles basking in the sun.
For the bird-lover, you can be entertained by majestic fish eagles and the large concentration of water birds. In the marshes, keep an eye out for the papyrus gonolek and the often sought-after shoebill stork.
Akagera National Park is located in the east of Rwanda. Kibungu is the city that is nearest to the park and the best starting point.
The park covers over 2500 sq km of savannah west of the Kagera River, which denotes the frontier with Tanzania. The park has a variety of wildlife and is a habitat for over 500 different species of birds. There are accommodation facilities on the edge of the park at Gabiro, 100km (60 miles) to the north. It is best not to visit the park in the rainy season (December, March and April) since many of the routes become impassable.
“Akagera, with its complex mix of terrains, vegetation and animal life… is a very special place on earth, a place to preserve at all costs for future generations.”
– Jean Pierre Vande, writing in the award-winning conservation magazine Africa Environment & Wildlife.
Akagera comes as an exciting surprise after the steep cultivated hills and breezy climate that characterizes the rest of the country. Set at a relatively low altitude along the Tanzanian border, this beautiful game reserve protects an archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia and brachystegia bush, interspersed with patches of open grassland and a dozen swamp-fringed lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River.
Set at a relatively low altitude on the border with Tanzania, Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda.
Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.
Akagera is, above all, big game country. Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a leopard, a spotted hyena or even a stray lion. Giraffe and zebra haunt the Savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque Cape eland.
Camping alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical introduction to the wonders of the African bush. Pods of 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape.
Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high duetting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways.
Lining the lakes are some of the continent densest concentrations of water birds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork – the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.
Gorilla Families in Rwanda
Habituated gorilla families in Rwanda
There are seven gorilla families available for tourists to visit in Rwanda, with 8 tourists allowed per group. Let us introduce you to Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas!
Susa – this group of 41 gorillas is Rwanda’s largest. This family is the hardest to trek as they tend to range high into the mountains.
Sabyinyo – led by the powerful silverback Guhonda, this group is easily accessible.
Amahoro – meaning ‘peaceful is a family of 17 members. There is a fairly steep climb to reach Amahoro.
Group 13 – when first habituated this group had only 13 members; they are now approximately 25.
Kwitonda – this 18-member group migrated from DRC and tend to range far, making it a moderately difficult trek.
Umubano – Umubano (a family of 11) broke off from the Amahoro group after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano.
Hirwa – this recent group was formed from different families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo.
After the exciting but perhaps also tiring mountain gorilla trekking safari, chimpanzee trekking and extensive game driving in Akagera National Park, Lake Kivu provides the ideal place for rest and recuperation. For sunbathing, swimming and water sports, the Rwanda Riviera town of Gisenyi is the place to be. If you prefer complete seclusion for mental and physical relaxation, we recommend the Kibuye Guest House, in the south of Lake Kivu. If you love speed boats, canoe sailing, or just mountain walks and picnics, Kibuye will provide these facilities to your satisfaction.
There are lovely villas along the tree-lined shore… a beautiful white sandy beach… the lake is crystal clear. This is a spot that deserves a longer stay.”
– Daniel Stiles, writing about Gisenyi on Lake Kivu in Swara magazine
Lake Kivu is an extraordinarily beautiful inland sea enclosed by steep, green terraced hills along the Congolese border three resort towns, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu stand on the littoral, connected by a wild roller-coaster road that tumbles through lush plantain fields and relic patches of misty rainforest to offer sweeping views over the blue water.
It is one of the classic road journeys in all of Africa there is also charter boat service on the lake connecting the 3 towns.
Gisenyi, the most developed of these resorts, lies less than an hour’s drive from the Parc des Volcans, and is set on a sandy beach lined with swaying palms and colonial-era hotels that exude an atmosphere of tropical languor. At Kibuye, to its south, Rwanda Safari tourist activities are centered on a modem lakeshore guesthouse overlooking pine-covered hills seemingly transplanted from the Alps. Different again is Cyangugu, close to Nyungwe Forest, whose more subdued tourist development is compensated for by a stirring setting of curving inlets winding into narrow valleys.
Lake Kivu is the largest of numerous freshwater bodies that shimmer in the valleys of Rwanda. Lakes Burera and Ruhondo, close to the gorilla-tracking Centre of Ruhengeri, are oft-neglected gem, deep blue waters ringed by steep hills and tall waterfalls, with the nearby Virunga Volcanoes providing a spectacular backdrop.
Away from the main resorts, Rwanda’s lakes offer visitors rewarding glimpses into ancient African lifestyles. Here, fishermen ply the water in dugout canoes unchanged in design for centuries, while colorfully dressed ladies smoke traditional wooden pipes and troubadours strum sweetly on stringed iningire (traditional ‘guitars’) And. the birdlife is fantastic; flotillas of pelicans sail ponderously across the open water majestic crowned cranes preen their golden crests in the surrounding swamps, while jewel-like malachite kingfishers hawk silently above the shore.
Those especially looking for primates or birds will want to be sure to spend time in Nyungwe National Park. The forest is teeming with a vast array of flora and fauna throughout the park’s 1,000 square kilometres.
Nyungwe’s primates are just one reward for a walk through the forest with its viewing points and waterfalls. There are 13 species, including the chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s monkey and Angola colobus.
Bird enthusiasts can imagine the delight of seeing the great blue Turaco, as well as many of the other almost 300 bird species found in the park.
Nyungwe forest is an Albertine rift montane rainforest. The Albertine rift forms the epicenter of Africa’s montane rainforest circle. It is dominated by a series of mountain chains, originating on the Lendu Plateau in northern Uganda and Congo, running south through the Rwenzori mountains, western Rwanda and Burundi, to some isolated massifs on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The Albertine rift eco-region is one of Africa’s most endemic rich regions.
Nyungwe forest received only recently the status of National Park and became the largest protected high-altitude rainforest of East Africa. It was particularly important to protect the forest reserve when you know that the highest population pressures in Africa are to be found within the Albertine rift and that the forest is the biggest water reservoir for the country.
The highland forest covers 970 km² and has a unique habitat. It’s the only place where we have seen troops of more than 300 colobus monkeys travelling in the trees. The park has 25 % of the primates of Africa with its 13 recorded primate species. It’s a primate nirvana!
The forest has 300 species of birds with 27 Albertine rift endemics and 121 forest species. The flora is particularly rich with 200 species of trees and more than 100 species of orchids! The park has an extensive network of walking trails that leads you through various waterfalls and viewing points. Nyungwe offers scenic views over the forest, Lake Kivu and sometimes also the Virunga.
The primate fauna includes: chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes), Rwenzori colobus (colobus angolensis), and l’Hoest’s monkey (C.l’hoesti), silver monkey (c.mitis doggetti), golden monkey (C.mitis kandti), owl-faced monkey (C.hamlyni), red-tailed monkey (C.ascanius), Den’t Mona monkey (C.mona denti), vervet monkey (C.aetiops), olive baboon (papio anubis), grey-cheeked mangabey (Cercocebus albigena) and three species of bush baby.
The mountains are Africa’s Galapagos Islands – islands encircled by golden monkeys, gorillas and iridescent sun birds, by giant labelias, everlasting flowers, Ruwenzori turacos and all the questions they raise. They deserve greater recognition, protection and study than they have received so far.”
– Jonathan Kingdon, renowned biologist, in his award-winning book Inside Africa.
Nyungwe National Park, extending for almost 1 ,000km2 across the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda, is the largest ‘island’ of montane forest remaining in East or Central Africa: a rich and ancient Centre of unparalleled bio diversity and natural wonders. Transected by the surfaced road between Butare and Lake Kivu, Nyungwe and its array of forest inhabitants are also uniquely accessible to casual visitors.
Recently accorded national park status, Nyungwe is rightly celebrated for the rich variety of its flora and fauna.
At least 200 different types of tree are found in the forest, along with hundreds of different flowering plants, including wild begonia, more than 100 species of orchid, and sensational giant Lobelias. Of the large mammals, primates are the most visible, with 13 recorded species representing 25% of the African primate checklist.
Of particular interest are the Angola colobus – delightfully acrobatic arboreal monkeys which move in troops of several hundred – and an estimated 500 chimpanzee, often seen from the forest trails
Recently accorded national park status, Nyungwe is rightly celebrated for the rich variety of its flora and fauna. At least 200 different types of tree are found in the forest, along with hundreds of different flowering plants, including wild begonia, more than 100 species of orchid, and sensational giant Lobelias. Of the large mammals, primates are the most visible, with 13 recorded species representing 25% of the African primate checklist. Of particular interest are the Angola colobus – delightfully acrobatic arboreal monkeys which move in troops of several hundred – and an estimated 500 chimpanzee, often seen from the forest trails during the rainy season. Other primates likely to be encountered over the course of a visit are L’Hoests monkey, silver monkey, velvet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey, and red-tailed monkey.
Nyungwe is most alluring for its primates: 13 species in all, including humankind’s closest living relative the chimpanzee, as well as the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and hundred-strong troops of the delightfully acrobatic Angola colobus. The most important ornithological site in Rwanda, Nyungwe harbor’s almost 300 bird species of which two dozen are restricted to a handful of montane forests on the Albertine Rift.
The avian highlight of Nyungwe is the great blue turaco – an outlandish blue, red and green bird which streams from tree to tree like a procession of streamlined psychedelic turkeys.
An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. A comfortably rustic rest house and perfectly situated campsite lie alongside the main road, and the reserve can readily be visited as a day trip from the towns of Butare and Cyangugu. Nyungwe does, however deserve more time: anybody who wants to track chimps and see several varieties of smaller primate will need two days there – and dedicated birdwatchers might never want to leave!
Volcanoes National Park
Perhaps best known as the home of the rare mountain gorilla, the Virungas are that and so much more. Trekking through the park in far northwest Rwanda, one will find a tapestry of sensory delights. The visitor in the rainforest can hear the calls of birds and monkeys, and through the forest see the peaks of the ancient volcanoes. In addition to the rainforest, the park offers evergreen and bamboo forest, grassland, swamp and heath.
Rwanda also known as the land of “Gorillas in the Mist” has its star tourist attraction in the Mountain Gorillas. The giant but gentle primates were the subject of the late Dian Fossey who dedicated her life to their protection and conservation. Her detailed work is best seen in the international acclaimed film “Gorillas in the Mist”, which was shot in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
The Parc National des Volcans (PNV) is part of the Virunga Conservation Area and covers more than 125 km². PNV is home of five Virunga volcanoes: Sabinyo (3.674 m), Gahinga (3.474 m), Bisoke (3711 m), Muhabura (4.127 m), and the Karisimbi, the highest volcano with an altitude of 4.507 m. All five volcanoes are extinct, the active ones are located in Congo. Two of them erupted recently; the Nyiragongo erupted in January 2002 and Nyamulagira in July 2002.
The Virunga ecosystem is composed of 4 major vegetation zones: bamboo (base altitude), Hagenia and Hypericum forest (2600-3300m), Sub-alpine (3300-4000m), and Afro-alpine (4000m+).
The mountain gorillas spend most of their time in the hagenia woodlands and bamboo forests. During the raing season when new bamboo shoots are growing, the gorillas spend more time foraging in the bamboo forests (base altitude). The climb to the natural habitat of bamboo forest and Hagenia woodlands offers fantastic views.
The PNV was Dian Fossey’s base a long time ago (She died on the 26th of December 1985), and it is at the Karisoke Research Center that during 18 years she carried out her study on mountain gorillas.
The park was closed for tourism in 1991 when the war broke out and was reopened again in July 1999. The numbers of visitors are increasing every day and the PNV regains its former reputation as the best organized and most popular mountain gorilla sanctuary.
There are 4 gorilla groups habituated for tourism, the Sabinyo group has been divided up in two:
Susa group has 35 individuals
Amahoro group has 11 individuals
Sabyinyo A – group has 13 individuals
Sabyinyo B – group has 4 individuals (break away group)
Group 13 has 7 individuals
The lake circuit to the lakes Bulera and Ruhondo offers breathe taking sceneries. Unfortunately the dirt road needs to be repaired and its actual state is quite dangerous due to the incredible steep hills.
Gorilla viewing, a day excursion up to the top of the Mt Sabinyo or a visit to the grave of Dian Fossey on the edges of Mt Sabinyo. The Rwanda Tourism Office (ORTPN) is thinking to reopen the Mt Karisimbi again to hikers and mountaineers.
Distance (travelling time):
Access to the area starts with Ruhengeri a town about 1h30 drive from Kigali and afterwards to Kinigi (14 km from Ruhengeri) where the park headquarters are located.
The Kinigi guesthouse (Asoferwa) is situated only 200 meters from the park headquarters and provides comfortable and clean accommodation with breathtaking scenery at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo.
Due to the altitude it is generally quite cold, especially during the evenings. Gorilla viewing is possible all the year round.
The area is well protected and there is no need for concern about personal security. The rangers are very kind and motivated, and they will do everything possible to make it a pleasant trip. It is still a wonderful place to see the mountain gorilla, and it normally offers excellent opportunities for photos. The gorilla trekking is less strenuous than in Bwindi Impenetrable NP however the altitude may cause difficulties for some visitors and gorillas tend to climb higher during dry season. A good physical condition is also here recommended.