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Best Sustainable Way to Travel In East Africa

Travelling responsible and sustainable is a shared commitment between travellers and destination management companies aiming at creating a harmonious relationship with the environment and local communities.

The best way to travel sustainably in East Africa is by striking a delicate balance between local communities, tourists and conservation to ensure the wild stays wild as possible.

What is Eco Travel or Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainable Tourism or Eco Travel can be defined as responsible travel to natural areas that help conserve the environment, wildlife and also improve the well-being of the local communities.

Ecotourism is more than just how travel companies manage their resources and the impact they have on the environment, also it is about taking responsibility to help travelers understand the impacts of their actions, both while travelling and when they return home.

If travelers are looking for an environmentally friendly way to travel, traveler companies and tour operators should advise them to first think about what they consider to be good eco-tourism. Once they understand how to travel more sustainably, they are in place to ask their travel agents the hard questions about the products they are suggesting, as well as their own operations.

These questions includes

  • What is your company’s commitment to eco-tourism and how are you making this a reality?
  • Are the suppliers you are commending part of any regional or global eco-tourism initiatives?
  • What are your supplier’s employment and development programs?
  • How does a camp or lodge minimize its use of resources and the impact it has on the immediate environment?
  • Are you or your supplier’s involved in any carbon offsetting programs?
  • Do you or your supplier’s support any environmental or conservation programs.

Why Is Sustainable Travel Important?

The essence of Eco-tourism is to educate travelers about how to travel sustainably, provide funds for ecological conservation programs, and aid the economic development and empowerment of local communities. And to foster respect for different cultures and human rights.

Sustainable travel has become a critical endeavor for wildlife conservation and to ensure that future generations may experience destinations reasonably untouched by human intervention.

How To Travel More Sustainably in East Africa?

As Mantis Africa Safaris, here are our best sustainable travel tips for an East Africa Safari Vacation.

  1. Fly Less, Stay Longer

This way you will not only save money by taking fewer internal flights in East Africa, but you will also help reduce the carbon emissions produced by your trip. Choosing just one safari park or game reserve to spend your entire East Africa safari in is a great way to travel more sustainably and also enjoy an affordable African safari.

  • Use Efficient Means of Transportation

In addition to taking less flights in East Africa, there are other ways to reduce carbon emissions on your East Africa trip. Although all modes of transportation require energy, some are more efficient and cleaner than others.

Safari vehicles are the commonly used mode of transport in East Africa, this affords you the time to soak in East Africa’s most magnificent landscapes and stop along the way for a couple of game drives in search for the legendary Big 5 – lions, leopards, cape buffaloes, rhinos and elephants.

  • Step off The Safari Vehicle

Get a new perspective of East Africa on foot, as the first explorers did. A walking safari is a unique physical, mental and spiritual adventure through nature, fully experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of the bush.

Walking safaris can vary from the gentle, morning stroll to a multi-day journey from camp to camp – especially in Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

Other sustainable travel tips for reducing carbon dioxide emissions on your safari would be to opt for activities like canoeing, launch cruises, horseback riding safaris and cycling. Furthermore, while the standard combustion engine of a safari vehicle does burn fuel, there are lodges and camps in East Africa with electric safari vehicles that offer Carbon dioxide emission-free game drives in Africa,

  • Stay at Sustainable accommodations and support community projects

Staying at eco-friendly accommodation in East Africa (safari lodges and camps that lessen their environmental impact and contribute to the well-being of local communities), is also how to travel sustainably in East Africa.

Do some research about specific practices and polies that you have implemented and ask your tour company or travel agent to guide you in choosing the one that is right for you.

The following are the important questions to ask to show you are looking at how to travel sustainably are

  • Do you have water conservation practices in place?
  • Have they eliminated single – use plastics
  • Do they promote diversity and inclusion?
  • Do they hire local people for management roles?
  • Do they prioritise local suppliers and sustainable producers?
  • Are they solar-powered
  • Do they support zero-waste practices
  • Do they have programs that help mitigate human wildlife conflict and safe guard threatened species.

When thinking about how to travel sustainably in East Africa’s countries – Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, consider staying at eco-friendly lodges including Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Usangu Expedition Camp, Chem Chem Lodge among others.

  • Stay in A Private Conservancy or Reserve

Staying in a private conservancy is one of the best sustainable travel tips for going on a safari in East Africa. A conservancy is a very specific for of land and wildlife conservation, whereby local landowners enter into lease agreements with safari operators. This means that thousands of small scale farmers and residents who own small parcels of land come together, put their properties in a corrective and enter contracts with safari operators in return for monetary compensation and other assistance like educational and healthcare programs, or livestock and grazing management.

By going on safari in a private conservancy, you directly finance conservation and contribute to the well-being of the local communities like the Maasai and Samburu in Kenya and Tanzania, this is a tangible incentive to help protect Africa’s beautiful flora and fauna.

Also, you will enjoy some perks that are not available in national parks, such as

  • Go off road on game drives for more intimate wildlife sightings
  • Go on a night drives to track Africa’s nocturnal animals like aardvark, honey badger and porcupine
  • Go on guided walking safaris
  • Enjoy exclusive crowd-free game viewing
  • Go fly camping – an adventurous, private and unique experience often offered as part of a walking safari
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What One Can Do When in Uganda

Uganda is an enchanting African destination with stunning landscapes, captivating culture and amazing wildlife including the critically endangered mountain gorillas and the Big Five, which is why it was crowned “The Pearl of Africa” by Churchill Winston.

A Uganda Safari can be an adventure packed, soul soothing and memorable experience. From thrilling wildlife encounters to adrenalines – pumping adventures, Uganda offers an array of experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Here is a list of what to do when in Uganda on your Africa safari to make it worthwhile.

  • Gorilla trekking

Venturing into the thick forests of Southern Uganda searching for the famous mountain gorillas and spend an hour watching these majestic creatures feeding their offspring or just going on with their life in the forest is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Africa.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two national parks that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, these misty forested parks host the largest population of mountain gorillas in the world. With habituated gorilla families open for gorilla tourism, giving you the ultimate feel of gorilla trekking adventure.

While in the forest and presence of mountain gorillas, remember to heed to your ranger’s instructions, prepare physically for a considerable amount of walking and participate while in good health or else you will leave the gorillas infected.

Gorilla trekking is an adrenaline stirring experience and worth every minute of your time.

Note: Gorilla trekking is one of the most sought out activity on a Uganda Safari Experience which is why you need to book for your experience in advance. 

For visitors who wish to spend more than one hour with the gorillas, you can do Gorilla Habituation Experience which is only offered in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This experience allows you spend 4 hours with a semi-habituated gorilla family, together with researchers and scientists you will learn how these giants are trained to be less hostile to human presence.

  • Chimpanzee trekking

Uganda is a primate haven with over 13 different primates and the largest population of chimpanzees in the world, chimpanzee trekking is one of the most popular primate experience in Uganda offered in several Uganda primate destinations including Kibale Forest National Park, The Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest, Tooro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Budongo Forest.

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is one of the most popular wildlife activities in Uganda allowing you to step into the world of chimpanzees in the wild, the trek last about three hours and include a maximum of one hour with the chimpanzees. In this one hour expect to see chimpanzees from a safe but intimate distance of 8-10 meters, get up close and personal with the chimpanzees and discover their intelligence, beautify and social structures.

For visitors who wish to spend more hours with the chimpanzees, you can do chimpanzee habituation experience joining the researchers of the habituation team for a half or full day excursion in the forests of Kibale.

For visitors who don’t wish to venture into the forests to see the chimpanzees, visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre to view orphaned rescued chimpanzees.

Enjoy the sight of chimpanzees going about their daily, picking and eating fruits, watching and grooming each other. 

  • Birding Safaris

With over 1,050 bird species recorded, Uganda is a fantastic destination for birding enthusiasts. The tropical rainforests, savannah plains, swamps and lakesides are a home to many beautiful bird species.

These bird species mainly migrate from Lake Victoria’s shores, the source of the Nile and from the Albertine Rift.

The best birding spots in Uganda include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Semuliki National Park and Mabamba Swamps among others.

On a Uganda birding safari, expect to see beautiful bird species including Fox’s Weaver, Blue-headed Sunbird, Short-tailed Warbler, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Turaco, Red-throated Alethe, African Green Broadbill, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Handsome Francolin, Collared Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Dwarf Honeyguide, Grauer’s Warbler, Dusky Crimson wing, Rwenzori Batis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Stripe-breasted Tit, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Kivu Ground Thrush, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Strange Weaver, Chapin’s Flycatcher among others.  

  • Uganda Community and Cultural experiences

Flora and fauna are not to only form of diversity Uganda has to offer, the country has a mixture of traditions and cultures worth exploring. Uganda has many tribes and each tribe and local community will offer you a different recipe, cultural dress and sense of style, language, traditional song and dance.

On a Uganda community and cultural experience try the famous Luwombo from Buganda, Eshabwe from Ankole, Atapa from the land of Teso, Malakwang from Acholi and Maleewa from the Bagisu of the East.

Participate in the Batwa Trail, stop by the museums such as Igongo Cultural Centre, Ndere Centre, the National Theatre and be entertained by local dances and drama by the local people giving you a feel and taste of Uganda’s culture. 

  • White Water Rafting on River Nile

For adrenaline junkies, white water rafting is a perfect activity for you in Uganda, raft down the ferocious rapids of Uganda’s White Nile from the lakeside town of Jinja. This thrilling experience lasts about 6 hours along 25 kilometers of the River Nile.

White water rafting is not for the fainthearted, it is for the wild hearts that crave a spectacular exploration of the Nile one rapid immersion at a time. The options range from the Grade 5 Extreme Rafting, the Raft River Board, Grade 3 Full day rafting or the 2 day water rafting. These routes bypass the most extreme rapids, while still giving enough of a thrill.

After this nerve-wrecking but fulfilling adventure, you will be treated to local music, bonfires, barbeque and dancing on the banks of the Nile. 

  • Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi and Craters

Discover the picture perfect vistas of the Lake Bunyonyi – the deepest lake in Uganda and the second deepest in Africa, the lake has 29 islands surrounded by prissily terraced food gardens.

Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi will allow your eyes to saunter up the hills and as deep down into the waters as your eyes can take you while listening to the traditional tales about the Lake and watching the birds.

Canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi is done in a traditionally dugout canoe will be your transport means around the site while you visit island to island, hike the terraced hillsides and learn traditional crafts.

  • Game viewing on safari

Explore Uganda’s savannah and discover the various wildlife in 4×4 wheel vehicles with open roof, remember to carry a good camera and a pair of binoculars. Treat your eyes to several species of animals and the stunning landscape.

Game viewing is one of the most sought for adventures in Uganda and the most popular activity that many travelers in Uganda ought not to miss. With you’re a ranger guide, you will spot various animals including lions, leopards, cape buffaloes, zebras, gazelles, Rothschild’s giraffe, Uganda Kob, eland, warthogs, waterbucks among others.

Game viewing safari in Uganda is available is savannah national parks including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Semuliki National Park.

Game viewing options available in Uganda are morning, afternoon and night game drives.

  • Mountain Climbing and hiking

Uganda is a land of hills, valleys and Volcano Mountains. To the east of Uganda stands Mount Elgon at 4,321 meters with the largest caldera in the world, Rwenzori Mountains, Mount Rwenzori the third –highest peak in Africa in western Uganda and the mighty Virunga Ranges; Mount Mgahinga, Muhavura and Sabinyo which stand at 3,474 metres, 4,127 metres and 3,645 metres respectively offering the best climbing adventures in the world.

To hike up the Volcanoes is not a merely a rocky climb, rather it is a walk through the dense forests that grow on the fertile slopes of the volcanoes, a peek at the gorillas that tread the bamboo in the Virunga Ranges and the rare birds that have made these highlands a dwelling place.

Hiking these mountains and volcanoes is a test of character, strength and an accomplishment that leaves you prouder of your ability than you were before the hike. 

  • Boat safaris

Uganda offer incredible opportunities to enjoy watching wildlife from a boat, enjoy the stunning views of nature and hear the light waves of nature’s sound track. The country’s water bodies attract a large number of wildlife that come to sip on the life-giving waters and the boat safari is one of the best ways to get up close to these animals.

A Uganda boat safari is also one of the best vantage point for spotting wildlife, and it is a more peaceful experience compared to the bumpy ride in a safari truck which earns it a place on your bucket list for things to do while on a safari in Uganda.

Best destinations for boat safaris in Uganda include Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo in Lake Mburo National Park, Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.

  • Kampala City Tour

Kampala is not only a capital city of Uganda but also a great destination with several incredible attractions, sitting on 22 hills you can choose to explore Kampala on a bike tour, vehicle ride or a walking tour. Top things to do in Kampala City include visiting The Gaddafi Mosque, Kibuli Mosque, The Buganda Parliament, visiting the Kasumbi Tombs and Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo among others.

The greatness of Kampala lies in her architectural and historical sites like the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo, Rubaga Cathedral, Namirembe Cathedral, the Bahai Temple, the Hindu temple and the independence monument, Kasubi tombs.

Remember to get a taste of a Rolex. Reach out and let us tailor make your dream Uganda safari.

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Best Safari Parks in East Africa

East Africa is a popular safari region in Africa with extraordinary cultures, people, stunning landscapes, wildlife and historical significance. This amazing safari region has many safari destinations worth exploring including the untamed wonders of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda which make up this region, featuring stirring scenes of wildlife, fascinating human cultures and incredible landscapes.

East Africa is the birthplace and home of the Africa safari where angulates stampede in their millions across the savannah plains, these amazing destinations offer excellent game viewing experiences, birding safaris, primate trekking experience including the magical encounter with mountain gorillas and golden monkeys among others.

Here is a list of the top adventurous safari destinations in East Africa

Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

Home to the Great Migration and teeming with abundant wildlife and birdlife, Serengeti National Park is a World Heritage Site and one of the adventurous safari destinations in East Africa.

The Serengeti is undoubtedly one of the world’s most celebrated national parks and a perfect piece of true African wilderness, its great rolling grasslands and golden savannah give an awe-inspiring sense of space and support abundant wildlife including zebras, buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, gazelles and antelopes among others.

Serengeti National Park is the oldest park in Africa, the park is home to the Big Five and hosts The Great Annual Migration when millions of wildebeests and zebras migrate through its vast grassland plains and tangled riverine forest to Masai Mara in Kenya and back.

The extensive southern Serengeti plains are the best for watching the wildebeest before they embark on their annual journey, the ungulates congregate in the southern breeding grounds between December and May to feed on the new pastures, give birth and take care of their young before continuing their annual trek to the western corridor. 

Serengeti National Park boasts the largest population of lions in Africa and is the best destination in East Africa to watch the big cats at their best hunting games.

Safari activities to do in Serengeti include game viewing, hot air balloon safaris, guided nature walks, witnessing the Great Migration and cultural safaris to the Masai people.  

Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

Masai Mara is the most iconic wildlife safari destination in Africa offering an “Out of Africa” experience, the “Mara” means “spotted” in the Maa language which is spoken by the area’s ancestral residents referring to how the Mara is dotted with acacia trees and craters.

Masai Mara’s wide plains provide an oasis-like sanctuary for an abundance of wildlife like lions, leopards, buffaloes, zebras, hyenas, giraffes and host the Great Migration – the largest migration land mammal ever witnessed on earth with over 2 million wildebeests accompanied by thousands of zebras and gazelles.

Masai Mara National Reserve is contingent with northern Serengeti and is situated in the southwest of Kenya, the land of the Maasai – a semi nomadic pastoralists who live off their herds of cattle and known to be excellent warriors.

 When the dry period starts in June in the southern Serengeti, large herds of wildebeests traverse the Mara River into the Masai Mara National Reserve to feast on fresh and succulent savannah. The herds stay in Masai Mara devouring on its grasslands until November and then cross back into the Serengeti. 

The Mara River which flows from Kenya through the Masai Mara region and continues across the border into north Serengeti is the greatest obstacle of the migrating, the river is filled with crocodiles which feast on the herds as they attempt to cross. 

Masai Mara National Reserve is home to a year-round concentration of game thus being a photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise. On a safari in the Mara, you can easily spot elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lion, cheetah, migratory wildebeests, zebras, the endangered black rhinos, hippos and enormous crocodiles found in the Mara River.

The reserve is also home to over 450 bird species including African finfoot, African wood owl, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Cinnamon-breasted bunting, Denham’s bustard, Giant kingfisher, Grey-crested helmet-shrike, Grey penduline tit, Hildebrandt’s starling, Jackson’s widowbird, Lazy cisticola, Ostrich, Purple grenadier, Red-throated tit, Ross’s turaco, Rosy-throated longclaw, Rufous-bellied heron, Rufous-throated wryneck, Saddle-billed stork, Schalow’s turaco, Secretary bird, Silverbird, Southern ground hornbill and Swahili sparrow among others.

Safari activities to do in Masai Mara include game drive safaris, birding safaris, witness the great migration, hot air balloon safaris, guided natural works, horseback riding safaris and cultural safaris.

Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda

Spreading out on the base of Five of the 8 Virunga extinct volcano mountains, Volcanoes National Park is a dramatic, misty tropical jungle protecting Rwanda’s side of the misty mountain and some of the last mountain gorillas roaming in the forested mountain slopes.

Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places to see mountain gorillas and is best known for mountain gorilla trekking, in the ancient forest dominating the park is where Diani Fossey established her base dedicated to research to save these gentle giants and is the scene – setting of “Gorillas in The Mist” – a 1998 adaptation of wildlife experience primatologist’s autobiography.

Volcanoes National Park lies about 3 hours from Kigali – the capital city of Rwanda, the park is part of the Virunga Volcanoes which is shared between Uganda, Rwanda and DR.Congo.

Gorilla trekking is undeniably the main reason why thousands of tourists chose to visit Volcanoes National Park, the park has 10 habituated gorilla families open for gorilla trekking. Visitors get a chance to spend 1 hour in the presence of the gorillas on this exhilarating jungle adventure. 

A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs $ 1,500.

Volcanoes National Park is also home to the endangered golden monkeys, there are also over 200 bird species with a number of Albertine rift endemic including Grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double –collared Sunbird, handsome francolin, strange weaver, dusky crimson-wing, collared Apalis, red-faced woodland warbler and Archer’s ground robin among others.

Other safari activities offered in Volcanoes National Park include birding safaris, golden monkey trekking, mountain hiking, cultural tours and Dian Fossey Tomb Tour. 

Ngorongoro Conservation Area – Tanzania 

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World HeritageSite and a spectacular wildlife ecosystem spanning vast expanses of highland plains, savannah woodlands and forests, from the plains of Serengeti National Park in the northwest to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley in Northern Tanzania.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area comprises of Ngorongoro Crater – the largest unfilled caldera in the world listed among the greatest natural wonders on earth, there is also the Olduvai Gorge – a 14 km long deep ravine and one of the most important paleoanthropological sites.

 Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the best safari holiday destinations to watch the famous “Big 5” game (elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos). The northern plains of the conservation area “Ndutu Plains” host the ungulates taking park in the Great Wildebeest Migration for their calving with thousands of calves born every day. 

The Ngorongoro Crater is home to the highest concentration of mammals in the world with a population of more than 25,000 large animals, most ungulates alongside the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa including the densest population of lions ever known. 

The most fascinating part of Ngorongoro Crater is the semi-nomadic Masai Tribe living and grazing their livestock alongside wild animals within Ngorongoro. 

Safari Activities to do in Ngorongoro Conservation Area include game viewing safaris, guided nature walks, photographic safaris, visiting the Maasai and birding safaris.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most famous safari destination in Uganda renowned for being the best place to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to world’s most mountain gorilla individuals making up to over half of the remaining mountain gorilla individuals, the park is dominated by an ancient forest covering an area of 321 km. The forest lies on steep slippery valleys with ridges and hilltops.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its rich diversity different flora and fauna.

Bwindi Forest is the best place to do gorilla trekking in the world with 20 habituated gorilla families open for gorilla tourism, this experience is done in four different sectors that are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo Sectors.

Gorilla trekking in the main activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offering visitors a chance to have an encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas for one hour.

For visitors who wish to spend more time with mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers the incredible Gorilla Habituation Experience on which tourists spend 4 hours with a semi-habituated gorilla family.

Other safari activities offered in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include bird watching safaris, Nature and waterfalls walks, community walks and cultural experiences.

Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda

Named after the late ruler of Britain Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular wildlife safari destination in Uganda renowned for its wealth of biodiversity. Queen Elizabeth National Park is also the most visited safari destination in Uganda spanning 1,978 square kilometers, the park is strategically located in the Great Rift Valley between Lake Edward and Lake George providing a majestic overview of nature at its finest.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is renowned for its diverse ecosystem which includes savannah grasslands, tropical forests, wetlands and volcanic features. The rich habitat supports an extraordinary variety of wildlife including four of the Africa’s Big Five – lions, elephants, buffaloes and leopards. The park is also home to over 600 bird species including African mourning dove, Swamp flycatcher, Grey headed kingfisher, pin-tailed whydah, slender-tailed nightjar and collared pratincole among others.

Safari activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park include game viewing safaris, birding safaris, Boat safaris on Kazinga channel, chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge and cultural encounters in the local communities.

Kibale National Park – Uganda

Crowned the Primate Capital of the World, Kibale National Park also known as Kibale Forest National Park is an enhancing wonderland beaming with ancient tropical rainforests and woodland.

Kibale Forest National Park is the last stronghold for the highest concentration of primates on their entire African continent with chimpanzees being the most popular of all of them, the forest is home to 13 primate species including chimpanzees, bush babies, L’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, blue monkey, Vervet monkeys and Potto.

Kibale National Park is the premier site for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, the park is located in Western Uganda outside Fort Portal – a colonial Town and approximately 310 kilometers west of Kampala – the capital of Uganda.

Apart from primates, Kibale National Park is home to over 250 species of butterflies, several species of primates and amphibians. There are also over 375 bird species including six endemic species to the Albertine Rift Area, other bird species include Red-chested owlet, Purple breasted sunbird, African Grey Parrot, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Crowned Eagle, little Greenbul, Black Bee eater, White-naped pigeon, andScaly-breasted Illadopsis,Western bronze-napped Pigeon, Nahan’s Francolin, Yellow-throated Nicator, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Red Headed malimbe , Yellow-spotted barbet , Dusky-blue Flycatcher among others.

Safari Activities in Kibale National Park include Chimpanzee trekking, chimpanzee habituation experience, bird watching safaris, nature and hiking walks and community walks and cultural experiences. 

Kidepo Valley National Park – Uganda

Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Africa’s most magnificent wilderness tucked in the northeastern corner of Uganda bordering Kenya and South Sudan, Kidepo is the third-largest national in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.

The park has a remote location in the extreme northeast of Karamoja sub-region, more than 500 km from Kampala, bordering South Sudan to the northwest and only 5 km from the eastern border with Kenya.

Kidepo Valley National Park is notable for its rugged mountain scenery and compelling wilderness atmosphere which makes it one of the top adventurous safari destinations in East Africa.

Kidepo’s thrilling game drives through Kidepo Valley plains offer visitors sightings of exceptional wildlife, here you find rare animals (some of which are not found elsewhere in Uganda like greater and lesser Kudu, eland and cheetah). In Kidepo Valley National Park, it is easy to spot lions, leopards, elephants among others.

 At a size of 556 sq (1,442 sq mi), Kidepo Valley National Park contains diverse landscapes, spanning from lush mountain ranges to vast savannah plains which are home to almost 500 bird species and 77 mammals.

The heart of Kidepo Valley National Park is Narus Valley, a permanent wetland around the Narus Valley that attracts a swarm of wildlife populations from much of the northern Kidepo. In a hidden area of Kidepo Valley National Park is the Kanangorok Hot Springs which are a magnificent attraction.  

Safari Activities to do in Kidepo Valley National Park include game viewing safaris, birding safaris, guided nature walks and hiking safari and cultural encounters. Mantis Africa safaris offers a number of these safari encounters so reach out to us and let us plan with and for you.

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Mountain Gorilla trekking in Africa

Mountain gorilla trekking is a once-in-a lifetime adventure, experienced deep in the heart of lush rain forests of Africa where you have to the opportunity to encounter one of the world’s most fascinating creatures.

Mountain gorilla trekking in Africa offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience that allows tourists to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat forming an indelible connection with nature.

Africa is home to three species of gorillas that is the endangered mountain gorillas. the eastern lowland gorillas and the critically endangered western lowland gorillas

What is Mountain Gorilla Trekking?

Mountain Gorilla Trekking is an extra-ordinary wildlife activity referring to a thrilling activity of venturing into the remote corners of Africa’s dense forests in search of habituated gorilla families, this immersive experience allows you to observe these captivating primates up close, witness their social interactions, behavior and their intricate dynamics of their family groups.

Mountain gorilla trekking is a chance to witness their astounding strength intelligence and striking resemblance to humans, mountain gorillas are the closest relative to humans sharing 97% of the DNA.

Where Can You Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa?

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species and there are only three countries in the world where you can see them and that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Each gorilla destination offers a unique gorilla trekking experience of encountering gorillas in their natural environment.

Uganda

Crowned the Pearl of Africa, 2 of Uganda’s dense forests are home to almost half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas protected in two fragile habitats that have been gazetted as national parks, these are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both situated in South Western Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Southwestern Uganda on the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of the oldest rain forests that date back over 25,000 years. Bwindi forest is a great destination for eco tours given its unique flora and fauna.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 120 mammals including several primate species including baboons, chimpanzees, forest elephants and antelopes.

Uganda is a home to 20 habituated gorilla families that can be visited by tourists each day. On a daily a number of visitors are regulated to a maximum of eight tourists visiting each gorilla family and observing mountain gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.

Also, Uganda offers a privilege of watching the gorillas for longer hours on a gorilla habituation experience which can be done in Rushaga – the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla Habituation Experience can be arranged with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and a gorilla permit costs US$ 1,500 per person, the activity is restricted to only four visitors so that you can maximise your experience with the great apes.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas with the most habituated gorilla families.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the southwest of the country on the border of Uganda with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, situated on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley incorporating 124 square miles of untamed mountainous and lowland forest.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking is the main Uganda safari activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it takes place in four sectors/areas of the park that is Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

Mountain gorilla families open for mountain gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include

  • Rushaga Sector – Nshongi Group, Kutu Gorilla Family, Mucunguzi Gorilla Family, Rwigi Gorilla Family, Bikingi Gorilla Family,  Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye and Mishaya Gorilla Families. 
  • Buhoma Sector –  Mubare Gorilla Family, Habinyanja Gorilla Family, Katwe Gorilla Family,  Muyambi Gorilla Familyand Rushegura Gorilla Family
  • Ruhija Sector – Kyaguriro Gorilla Family, Mukiza Gorilla Family, Bitukura Gorilla Family,  and Oruzogo gorilla family
  • Nkuringo Sector – Nkuringo Gorilla Family, Bushaho Gorilla Family.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the second mountain gorilla trekking destination in Uganda also situated in the Southwestern corner of the country, the park is part of the Great Virunga Conservation Area and straddles the magnificent slopes of the majestic Virunga Volcanoes – the massif mountain ranges that rise at an altitude of 4507 m on the Uganda border with Rwanda and DR.Congo.

Crowned as “a place where gold meets silver”, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to two endangered primate species that is mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to one habituated gorilla family – Nyakagezi gorilla family, this family is famously known for crossing over to Rwanda as well as DR.Congo but for the last years it has settled on the Uganda side in the forested volcanoes of Mgahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura.

How to Travel to Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks

Uganda’s gorilla destinations – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are located in South Western region of the country, most organized tours start from Entebbe or Kampala and you can get their by either road or air.

By road – it is a journey of approximately 8 to 9 hours through the towns of Masaka, Mbarara and Kisoro.

Alternatively, it is possible to get to either Bwindi or Mgahinga from Kigali City. It is a drive of approximately 4 hours with border crossing at either Cyanika or Katuna Border.

By Air – there are charter/domestic flights from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip then transferred to the parks.

Rwanda

Often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, Rwanda is renowned for offering the most accessible gorilla trekking expeditions and commitment to conservation and gorilla tourism. The country jealously protects its mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in the northern region of Rwanda, the park is home to ten habituated gorilla families that can be visited by tourists and each family can be visited by a maximum of 8 tourists.

A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 per person per trek, though Rwanda is a luxury destination, there are also budget and midrange lodges to make your Rwanda gorilla safari more affordable.

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is a great destination for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa known for offering the easiest gorilla trekking, the park is located in northwestern part of Rwanda approximately 3 hours of drive of Kigali City.

Volcanoes National Park is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif – Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with a beautiful crater lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura.

Virunga National Park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families namely Agashya, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Tatus, Susa A, Umubano, Karisimbi, Kirwa, Kwitonda, Bwenge and Ugende which are open and available for gorilla trekking.

How To Travel to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park is situated in Northern region of Rwanda taking approximately 2 hours to get there from Kigali City – the capital of the country.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo is the only destination where you can see both the Eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas, though less known to most tourists, Congo offers off-the usual paths for adventure safari seekers.

Democratic Republic of Congo is renowned for its rich biodiversity and wide range of exciting experiences to do including gorilla trekking and volcano hiking.

Virunga National Park

Part of the Great Virunga Conservation Area, Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heriyage Site listed in 1979 covering 3,000 square miles of land on the edge of the world’s second largest tropical forest.

Mountain gorilla trekking is the main Africa safari activity to do in Virunga National Park, the park hosts a third of the 1063 mountain gorillas left in the world. The park is has 8 habituated gorilla families open for gorilla trekking namely Kabirizi gorilla group, Humba gorilla group, Rugendo gorilla group, Mapuwa gorilla group, Lulengo gorilla group, Munyaga Gorilla Group, Nyakamwe gorilla group and Bageni gorilla group.

How to Travel to Virunga National Park

Travelers can reach the Virunga National Park either by road or by air, the easiest way to access the Eastern Congo is fly to Kigali International Airport and travel by road to the border at Gisenyi / Goma Town in Rwanda.

Since most international flights land in a bit late and visitors are advised to spend a night in Kigali, then set off early in the morning the following day.

When is the Best time to Do Gorilla Trekking?

All the 4 gorilla trekking destinations are situated in the same region of Equatorial region with two seasons that is wet season which occurs around March to April and October to November, the rest of the year is dry season (July to October and December to March).

The dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking, this season offers great conditions for hiking through the forests as the trails are relatively dry. 

However, since it is a jungle. Rain can be received at any time of the year.

Also, the dry season coincides with peak season in these three countries thus creating a high demand for gorilla permits and safari accommodations. Therefore it is important to book your gorilla safari well in advance so that you can avoid being disappointed and missing out on the gorilla permits.

The advantage of gorilla trekking in the wet season, you can enjoy discounts in the shoulder months of April, May and June since most lodges offer offseason rates for rooms. Also gorilla trekking experience during the wet season is shorter since there is plenty of food and the gorillas do not roam far as compared with the dry months

Is Gorilla Trekking Safe?

Gorillas are very peaceful animals and since they are omnivores, they are very uninterested in humans. Gorillas are safe and are not aggressive towards human presence.

Gorilla families that are open to gorilla trekking are used to human presence since researcher take time to habituate these gentle apes, this process helps gorillas to understand that the visiting humans are friends not enemies.

Visitors on mountain gorilla trekking experience get close encounter with the gorillas and a distance of 20 feet from these animals must be maintained, there are several measures that are addressed to you at the time of briefing and you are expected to adhere to these rules.

What to Pack for Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa

On mountain gorilla trekking experience, packing the right gear is essential and there are important things that should not miss in your back pack.

  • Pair of good walking shoes or boats – these should be comfortable and well fitting for a comfortable gorilla trek
  • A bottle of water – it is recommend to carry at least 3 litres of waters to rehydrate during the gorilla trek
  • Waterproof bag – call a waterproof bag to protect your camera and a rain jacket in case it rains
  • Good Camera – gorilla trekking is a thrilling experience where taking pictures is a must do, make sure that you do not take photos with flash photography.
  • Insect repellent and sun protection
  • Carry-ons – long sleeved shirts or T-Shirts, hats, gloves and sunglasses.

Get to book yourself on a mountain gorilla trekking in Africa at on of our gorilla trekking destinations and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

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The national Parks of Uganda

Crowned the Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill in 1909, the national parks of Uganda are an amazing African destination choice whose natural beauty is beyond any words. Churchill’s sentiments about Uganda are echoed more in the country’s diversity of people, ecosystems and wildlife.

Uganda is strategically situated in a special geographical position where western and eastern Africa come together, the country’s savannah plains are home to several species of wildlife, mountainous forested region is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. It also teems with several primate species including chimpanzees, olive baboons and black and white colobus monkeys and several bird species.

Uganda encompasses a wide range of habitats including woodlands, moorlands, mountains, rivers and lakes, approximately 20% of Uganda is covered by water.  

Uganda is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Africa, it is also one of the most popular birding destinations on the continent with around 1,050 species – 50% of those on the continent and 11% in the world.

Here is a list of Uganda National Parks to explore on an African Safari. 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

     Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular wildlife safari destination in Uganda located in the southern region of the country, at a size of 1,978 square kilometers it is the second-largest national park in Uganda. The park encompasses of savannah, acacia woodlands, tropical forests, fertile wetlands and lakes within its borders.

    Queen Elizabeth National Park was first gazetted as a Kazinga National Park in 1952, later the name was changed two years later in honor the visit of Queen Elizabeth – the then leader of Britain.

    The park’s popularity is attributed to its breathtaking biodiversity, Queen Elizabeth National Park is spread across the Albertine Rift Valley and its savannah plains are habitat to over 60 bird species and 95 mammals include 4 of the Big Five (lions, leopards, buffaloes and elephants) and 10 species of primates. Because of the huge number of bird species recorded in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the park has been recognized as an International Birding Area by Birding International.

    Queen Elizabeth National Park offers amazing safari experiences including game drives safaris, birding safaris, chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge, guided walks through the Maramagambo Forest and cultural encounters with local communities like the salt workers at the Lake Katwe evaporation pans.

    Queen Elizabeth National Park offers visitors a chance to see the rare tree climbing lions found in the Ishasha Sector – Southern region of the park.  

    Murchison Falls National Park

    Spanning 3,840 km², Murchison Falls National Park is the largest protected area in Uganda found approximately 300 kilometers northwest of Kampala. The park is also the oldest protected area in Uganda originally established in 1952.

    Murchison Falls National Park is famous known as the location where Murchison Falls – the world’s most powerful waterfalls where the Nile River squeezes through a sox-meter gap and then plunges 43 meters with a thunderous roar.

    Murchison Falls National Park attracts birders and animal lovers, there are over 450 species of fowl recorded here including the pre-historic and rare shoebill stork and many endemics and 76 mammals including four of the Big Five (lion, leopards, elephants and buffaloes). For travelers interested in a full Uganda Big Five Safari, you can visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking experience. 

    Uganda Safari activities to do in Murchison Falls National Park include game viewing safaris, birding safaris, boat cruise on River Nile, hiking to the top of Murchison Falls and guided nature walks.

    Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best place to see mountain gorillas in the world as it is home to the world’s largest population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, the park hosts about one-third of the 1,060 plus mountain gorillas arrive today with the remainder thriving in the Virunga Conservation Area shared by Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and DR.Congo’s Virunga National Park.

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 18 habituated mountain gorilla families on Uganda gorilla trekking safari.

    At a size of just 321 km², Bwindi Forest is preserved on the edge of the Rift Valley in southwest Uganda. The park was established in 1991 as part of the conservation effort to save the mountain gorillas, three years later the forest “one of Africa’s richest and oldest forests dating back about 25,000 years” was recognized as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

    In addition to gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is full of other life. The park is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa with 120 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 200 tree species, 310 butterfly species, 51 reptile species and 27 frogs, geckos and chameleons.

    The huge list of bird species recorded in Bwindi Forest earned the forest the title of the Best Birding Destination in Africa, humans of Bwindi are notable. The Batwa people used to live in Bwindi Forest until they were forcefully evicted from the forest as a way of protecting mountain gorillas, now they reside in an adjacent buffer zone from which they lead cultural tours that teach visitors about their age-old hunting, hut-building, honey-harvesting, agricultural, sharing traditional music and dance as well as trapping practices.

    Kibale National Park

    Dubbed the Primate Capital of Africa, Kibale Forest National Park is the best place to see the world famous endangered chimpanzees. The park is home to 13 primate species including black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons among others and the largest number of chimpanzees in East Africa.

    At a size of 795², Kibale National Park is a rare expanse containing both lowland and montane forests including the last large tract of pre-montane forest in East Africa and it is contiguous with Queen Elizabeth National Park. Altogether, more than 350 species of primates have been recorded in Kibale‘s lush and variable woodlands.

     Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park are visited on chimpanzee trekking experience, the park has set a side groups of chimpanzees that have been habituated to make them used to the presence of human beings.

    In addition to the chimpanzees, more than 50 other terrestrial mammals and over 350 species of birds thrive in Kibale National Park and take advantage of their freedom of movement along the 180-kilometer-long wildlife corridor which is part of the park.  

    Rwenzori Mountains National Park

     Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a scenic park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in western Uganda stretching on the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains, the park was gazetted in 1991 and later UNESCO gazetted as a heritage site thanks to its mountain flora biodiversity which is the greatest in Africa.

    At a size of 996 square kilometers, the park lies against the border of Uganda with the Democratic Republic of Congo and serve as a stunning backdrop to Queen Elizabeth National Park. 

    The park is dominated by the famous Rwenzori Mountains which are the source of River Nile, because of the Rwenzori Mountains range the park is a world-class destination for hiking and mountaineering. The climbers here move through a mixture of ecosystems that include rainforests, alpine meadows and a wonderland of glacier-carved and lake-filled valleys. These abound with rare montane vegetation and more than 70 mammal species and 217 bird species.

    Kidepo Valley National Park

    Kidepo Valley National Park is the most isolated national park in Uganda set in far north, the park encompasses of semi-arid valleys and is home to some of Africa’s most isolated stunning wilderness.

    At a size of 1,442, Kidepo Valley National Park is divided across two river valleys that is the Kidepo and the Narus. In the dry season, the water turns to seasonal oasis – wetlands and remnant pools near Apoka in the Narus Valley.

    Kidepo Valley National Park is a perfect destination for watching the 475 species of birds and 77 mammal species inhabiting in the park including ostriches and cheetahs.

     Uganda Safari activities to do in Kidepo Valley National Park include game viewing safaris, guided nature walks, birding, hiking mountain Morungule and cultural encounters.

    Lake Mburo National Park

     Covering 370 square kilometers of wetlands and woodlands making the smallest savannah park in Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park is an amazing Uganda Safari destination and the only park in the country situated close to the capital – Kampala. The park is situated in a short distance of about 235 kilometers west of Kampala off the main highway. 

    Lake Mburo National Park encompasses a long chain of 14 lakes with Lake Mburo as the biggest Lake, the park is home to over 350 bird species and 69 wildlife species including zebras, buffalo, leopards and hippos. Lake Mburo National Park is also the only park in Uganda with impalas.

    Lake Mburo National Park was protected in 1983 and in 2006, it was declared a Ramsar Wetland in 2006. The wetland system in Lake Mburo dominates only a fifth of the park area, the rest is dominated by savannah and woodlands. 

    Uganda Safari activities to do in Lake Mburo National Park include game viewing safaris, boat cruise safaris on Lake Mburo, horseback safaris, guided nature walks and cultural experiences with local Banyankore community groups.  

    Semuliki National Park

     Semuliki National Park is a great destination to visit for tourists interested in having a taste of Central Africa without leaving Uganda, the park is situated in western Uganda sitting in a wide, flat valley to the west of the Rwenzori Mountains right along the border of Uganda with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Geologically, this is the eastern edge of the Congo Basin’s vast and ancient Ituri Forest which is popular for its biodiversity.

    Semuliki National Park covering an area of 220 km² is home to over 441 recorded bird species and 53 types of mammals and one of the few African forests to have survived the last Ice Age. The park also protects a true lowland tropical forest – the only of its kind in East Africa and savannah grasslands, much of the park is prone to flooding during the wet season.

    Uganda Safari activities to do in Semuliki National Park include game viewing safaris, primate walks, birding safaris and guided walks to the Sempaya hot springs which run hot and it is possible to boil eggs in the waters and the Mumbuga spring geyser.

    Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

     This second gorilla trekking destination and the small national park in Uganda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the incredible national parks in the country located in the far southwest. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Great Conservation Area that spreads for thousands of square kilometers across the Virunga Mountains Chain found in Uganda, DR.Congo and Rwanda.

    Dubbed as a place where Gold meets Silver, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the only two places in the world where the endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys thrive peacefully. The park is home to one habituated gorilla family by the name of Nyakagezi gorilla family.

    Mgahinga Gorilla National Park features a dramatic scenery which includes three extinct volcanoes (Mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo. The Virunga Range is known for its rich biodiversity. 

    Mount Elgon National Park

       Dominated by dormant – Mount Elgon, Mount Elgon National Park is a scenic national park in Uganda located in in Eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya, Mount Elgon is the massively eroded remains of an extinct shield Volcano that was once Africa’s tallest mountain.

      At 4,321 meters, Mount Elgon is now the tallest in Africa with a based that is still the largest in the world. Mount Elgon is also the largest and oldest solitary Volcanic Mountain in East Africa measuring 80 kilometers in diameter, with a caldera of more than 40 square kilometers.

      Mount Elgon National Park covers an area of 1,279 km² across both Uganda and Kenya, though the biggest area (1,121 square kilometers) are in Uganda. This area is home to a wide variety of climates which are greatly influenced by elevation, both small and big mammals and over 300 bird species.

      Check out our Uganda safaris for a variety of options to visit any of these national parks.

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      Where to See Gorillas – Rwanda Vs Uganda

      Which Destination Offers the ideal Mountain Gorilla Encounter?

      Dive into this write up on the adventure through lush rain forests in search of a mountain gorilla in a thrilling showdown between the two East African countries, Uganda and Rwanda. Let us explore which destination offers the best gorilla encounter together.

      Uganda, known as the “Pearl of Africa,” boasts stunning landscapes and a flourishing wildlife population. Its Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. Immerse yourself in the dense forest and witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, an experience that will undoubtedly leave you in awe.

      In Uganda, there is another national park, the Mgahinga gorilla national park that also offers a mountain gorilla trekking opportunity and this park is much closer to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.

      On the other hand, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park provides a mesmerizing backdrop for gorilla trekking. Set against the backdrop of dormant volcanoes and lush bamboo forests, Rwanda offers a more intimate encounter with these majestic creatures.

      Both countries offer unique experiences. While Uganda showcases its diverse wildlife and vast landscapes, Rwanda offers a more exclusive encounter.

      Overview of Uganda and Rwanda as gorilla trekking destinations

      Uganda and Rwanda are two East African countries that have gained worldwide recognition for their incredible gorilla trekking experiences. Both destinations offer unique opportunities to witness these magnificent creatures up close in their natural habitat. However, there are distinct differences that set them apart from each other.

      Uganda, often referred to as the “Pearl of Africa,” is a land of stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. Its Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. The park covers a vast area of dense rainforest, creating an awe-inspiring setting for gorilla trekking. The sheer size of Bwindi allows for a more diverse range of gorilla families to be observed, providing visitors with a greater chance of encountering these gentle giants.

      Rwanda, on the other hand, offers a more intimate encounter with mountain gorillas. Its Volcanoes National Park, located in the Virunga Mountains, provides a mesmerizing backdrop for gorilla trekking. Set against the backdrop of dormant volcanoes and lush bamboo forests, Rwanda’s gorilla encounters are often described as more exclusive and personal. The smaller size of Volcanoes National Park means that there are fewer gorilla families to track, but the chances of having a close encounter with these majestic creatures are higher.

      In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the features that make each country a remarkable choice for a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla encounter.

      Gorilla population and conservation efforts in Uganda and Rwanda

      The mountain gorilla population is critically endangered, making the conservation efforts in Uganda and Rwanda of utmost importance. Both countries have taken significant steps to protect these majestic creatures and ensure their survival for future generations.

      In Uganda, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to around 600 plus mountain gorillas, making it the largest population of these primates in the world. The Ugandan government, in collaboration with various conservation organizations, has implemented strict regulations to protect the gorillas and their habitat. These efforts have resulted in a steady increase in the gorilla population over the years.

      In Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park is home to approximately 420 mountain gorillas. The Rwandan government has made significant investments in gorilla conservation and has implemented a range of measures to protect these endangered species. Strict guidelines are in place to regulate gorilla trekking activities, ensuring that the encounters are conducted in a responsible and sustainable manner.

      The efforts made by both Uganda and Rwanda to conserve and protect the mountain gorillas have been commendable, contributing to the gradual growth of the mountain gorilla populations in both countries.

      Accessibility and logistics of gorilla trekking in Uganda

      Gorilla trekking in Uganda offers a unique adventure, but it’s essential to consider the accessibility and logistics involved in reaching the gorilla trekking sites.

      Uganda has various entry points for gorilla trekking, with the most popular being Entebbe International Airport. From there, visitors can take a domestic flight to either Kisoro or Kihihi, which are the main gateways to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. One can opt to use road however the journey to the park can be long and challenging, often involving several hours of driving on rough roads. The plus side of the daunting long drive is the scenic beauty of the Ugandan countryside and the stopovers one can make.

      Once at the park, visitors must be in possession of the necessary permits to participate in mountain gorilla trekking. These permits are limited in number and need to be booked well in advance. The trekking experience in Bwindi forest or Mgahinga gorilla national park involves hiking through rugged terrain and dense forest, which can be physically demanding. However, the reward of encountering these gentle giants in their natural habitat makes every step worthwhile.

      Accommodation options near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park range from budget-friendly lodges to luxury resorts, providing visitors with a range of choices to suit their preferences and budgets. Overall, while the logistics of gorilla trekking in Uganda may require some planning and effort, the experience is undoubtedly rewarding.

      Accessibility and logistics of gorilla trekking in Rwanda

      Rwanda offers a more convenient and accessible option for gorilla trekking, thanks to its well-developed infrastructure and proximity to Kigali, the capital city where the international airport is situated.

      Visitors to Rwanda can fly into Kigali International Airport, which is well-connected to major cities around the world. From Kigali, it’s a relatively short 2 hour drive to Volcanoes National Park, where gorilla trekking takes place. The journey to the park is smooth and comfortable, allowing visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of Rwanda’s countryside.

      Obtaining permits for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is also a streamlined process. The permits are limited in number and need to be booked in advance, but the process is efficient and well-organized. The trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park involves hiking through bamboo forests and volcanic terrain, offering a unique and memorable encounter with the gorillas.

      Accommodation options near Volcanoes National Park range from luxury lodges to charming guesthouses, ensuring that visitors have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. The accessibility and convenience of gorilla trekking in Rwanda make it an attractive choice for those seeking a hassle-free adventure.

      Cost comparison of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

      Gorilla trekking is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it’s important to consider the costs involved in planning such a trip. Here’s a comparison of the costs of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.

      In Uganda, the cost of a gorilla trekking permit is currently $800 per person for foreign non-residents, $700 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for East African residents as of 2024 June. The permit includes the services of a trained guide and park entry fees and the trek. Accommodation options in Uganda range from budget-friendly lodges to high-end resorts, with prices varying depending on the level of comfort and luxury.

      In Rwanda, the cost of a gorilla trekking permit is currently at $1,500 per person for all visitors. The permit includes park entry fees, the services of a trained guide, and a certificate of participation. Accommodation options in Rwanda are generally more expensive compared to Uganda, with luxury lodges and resorts offering world-class amenities and services.

      While gorilla trekking in Rwanda may be more expensive, the intimate and exclusive encounters with the gorillas, coupled with the convenience of accessibility, make it a worthwhile investment for many travelers. On the other hand, gorilla trekking in Uganda offers a more budget-friendly option without compromising the quality of the experience however if you are looking at experiencing the lux mountain gorilla trekking experience then Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is the destination.

      Mountain Gorilla trekking experiences in Uganda

      Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a thrilling and immersive experience that takes visitors deep into the heart of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or the hills of Mgahinga gorilla national park. The park is divided into different sectors, each offering a unique gorilla tracking experience.

      In the Buhoma sector, visitors can embark on treks that range from easy to moderately challenging, catering to varying fitness levels. The Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors provide more strenuous trekking opportunities, with longer hikes and more rugged terrain. The Ruhija sector offers a mix of easy and challenging treks, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced trekkers.

      During the treks, visitors have the opportunity to observe the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, witnessing their behavior, interactions, and feeding habits. The encounters are carefully managed to ensure the safety and well-being of both visitors and gorillas, with strict guidelines in place to minimize any negative impact on the animals.

      The gorilla trekking experiences in Uganda are often described as awe-inspiring and life-changing, leaving visitors with a deep appreciation for these incredible creatures and their fragile ecosystem.

      Mountain gorilla trekking experiences in Rwanda

      Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers a more intimate and exclusive encounter with the mountain gorillas. The park is home to about 11 habituated gorilla families, each offering a unique experience.

      The treks in Volcanoes National Park are generally shorter and less challenging compared to Uganda, making them accessible to a wider range of fitness levels. The lush bamboo forests and volcanic terrain provide a picturesque backdrop for the treks, creating a truly immersive experience.

      During the treks, visitors have the opportunity to spend a precious hour with the gorillas, observing their behavior and getting up close to these gentle giants. The encounters are carefully managed to ensure the safety and well-being of both visitors and gorillas, with trained guides providing valuable insights into the gorillas’ habits and social structures.

      The gorilla tracking experiences in Rwanda are often described as intimate and emotional, leaving visitors with a deep connection to these incredible creatures and a lasting impression of their conservation efforts.

      Other attractions and activities in Uganda and Rwanda

      While gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Uganda or Rwanda, both countries offer a range of other attractions and activities that add to the overall experience.

      In Uganda, visitors can explore the diverse landscapes of Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and hippos. The Murchison Falls National Park offers breathtaking views of the Nile River and the powerful Murchison Falls. For those interested in cultural experiences, a visit to the vibrant city of Kampala or a tour of the traditional villages in the Karamoja region can provide valuable insights into the local way of life.

      In Rwanda, a visit to the vibrant capital city of Kigali is a must. The city offers a fascinating blend of modernity and tradition, with its bustling markets, vibrant arts scene, and poignant genocide memorials. The Nyungwe Forest National Park, known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” is another must-visit destination, offering opportunities for chimpanzee tracking, canopy walks, and birdwatching. Lake Kivu, with its stunning scenery and tranquil beaches, provides the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

      Choosing the best gorilla trekking destination

      Choosing between Uganda and Rwanda for a gorilla trekking adventure ultimately depends on personal preferences and priorities. If you seek a diverse range of wildlife, vast landscapes, and a budget-friendly option, Uganda may be the ideal choice for you. On the other hand, if you value exclusivity, convenience, and a more intimate encounter, Rwanda offers a compelling option.

      Both destinations have their unique features and experiences that make them remarkable choices for a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla encounter. Whichever country you choose, a mountain gorilla trekking adventure is sure to leave you in awe of these magnificent creatures and their extraordinary habitat.

      Embark on this exhilarating journey and witness the ultimate gorilla trekking showdown between Uganda and Rwanda. The choice is yours – which destination will you choose for your unforgettable gorilla encounter or even better, opt to visit both for the personal view.

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      A Guide to a Mountain Gorilla Trek

      Embark on a journey like no other as we delve into the captivating world of mountain gorilla trekking. Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping adventure as you come face to face with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

      In this comprehensive guide, we reveal the secrets to an unforgettable gorilla trekking experience. From the best destinations to the essential gear, we leave no stone unturned in helping you prepare for this awe-inspiring adventure.

      Imagine the thrill of venturing deep into mist-covered mountains, listening to the echoes of the gorillas’ calls as you traverse through dense foliage. Witness their mesmerizing interactions, from playful juveniles to majestic silverbacks leading the troop. Learn about their social structure, their gentle nature, and the conservation efforts in place to protect these endangered species.

      Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or a wildlife enthusiast, this guide equips you with all the information you need to make the most of your gorilla trekking expedition. Uncover the wonders of these extraordinary creatures and create memories that will last a lifetime. Prepare to be captivated by the magic of mountain gorilla trekking.

      The allure of mountain gorillas

      Mountain gorillas are one of the rarest and most awe-inspiring species on the planet. With only a few hundred individuals remaining in the wild, encountering these gentle giants is a truly remarkable experience. The allure of mountain gorillas lies in their sheer size and strength, as well as their complex social structure. From their expressive eyes to their majestic silverbacks, every aspect of these creatures will leave you in awe.

      Where to find mountain gorillas

      Mountain gorillas can only be found in a few select locations in Africa. The two main destinations for gorilla trekking are Uganda and Rwanda. In Uganda, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the primary habitats for these incredible animals. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the go-to destination for gorilla trekking. Each park offers a unique experience, with different gorilla families to encounter and varying landscapes to explore.

      Planning your mountain gorilla trek

      Planning a mountain gorilla trek requires careful consideration and preparation. The first step is to decide on the destination and park you wish to visit. Once you have chosen your destination, it is essential to secure the necessary permits well in advance, as they are limited and in high demand. It is also important to plan your trip during the dry season, as trekking in the rain can make the experience more challenging.

      Permits and regulations for gorilla trekking

      Obtaining a permit is a crucial part of planning your gorilla trekking adventure. Permits are issued by the respective national parks and are required for each day of trekking. The revenue generated from these permits goes towards conservation efforts and protecting the gorilla population. It is important to adhere to the regulations set by the park authorities, such as maintaining a safe distance from the gorillas and following the guidance of your experienced guides.

      What to expect during a gorilla trek

      A gorilla trek is an exhilarating experience that takes you deep into the heart of the gorillas’ natural habitat. The trek can range from a few hours to a full day, depending on the location of the gorilla family you are visiting. As you hike through dense forests and steep terrain, your guides will keep you informed about the gorillas’ movements and behaviors. Once you encounter the gorilla family, you will have a limited amount of time to observe and photograph them before returning to the starting point.

      Tips for a successful gorilla trekking experience

      To make the most of your gorilla trekking experience, it is essential to come prepared. Firstly, ensure that you are physically fit and able to endure the challenging trek. Comfortable hiking boots, lightweight clothing, and a sturdy backpack are essential items to pack. It is also advisable to bring a good camera with a zoom lens to capture the gorillas’ intricate details. Lastly, don’t forget to bring plenty of water, snacks, and insect repellent to stay hydrated and protected throughout the trek.

      Safety precautions and etiquette during gorilla trekking

      Gorilla trekking is a unique and sensitive experience that requires strict adherence to safety precautions and etiquette. It is crucial to follow the instructions of your guides at all times to ensure your safety and the well-being of the gorillas. Maintaining a safe distance, refraining from making sudden movements or loud noises, and not touching the gorillas are some of the key rules to follow. Respecting their natural habitat and minimizing your impact on the environment is also essential.

      Responsible tourism and conservation efforts

      Responsible tourism plays a vital role in the conservation of mountain gorillas. The revenue generated from gorilla trekking permits directly contributes to protecting their habitat and supporting local communities. By choosing reputable tour operators and practicing responsible travel habits, you can make a positive impact on the conservation efforts in place. It is important to be mindful of the delicate balance between tourism and the well-being of the gorillas, ensuring their long-term survival.

      The unforgettable experience of gorilla trekking

      A mountain gorilla trekking experience is like no other. It allows you to connect with nature in its purest form and witness the wonders of these magnificent creatures up close. From the anticipation of the trek to the breathtaking encounter with the gorillas, every moment is filled with awe and wonder. By following the guidelines, respecting the gorillas and their habitat, and supporting responsible tourism practices, you can contribute to the conservation of these endangered species. Prepare to be captivated by the magic of mountain gorilla trekking and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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      An Enthralling Mountain Gorilla Trek

      Embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the lush mountain forests with our thrilling mountain gorilla trekking experience. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of nature as you encounter these magnificent creatures up close and personal. Your journey begins as you delve into the misty landscapes, guided by our expert trackers, ever watchful for signs of the elusive gorilla families that call these mountains home.

      Drawn by their gentle and intelligent nature, you’ll be captivated as you observe gorilla troops going about their daily routines, from playful antics to nurturing interactions. This unique encounter allows you to witness their raw power and peek into their complex social structures. As you hike through the dense foliage, accompanied by the soundtrack of exotic birdcalls and rustling leaves, you’ll feel a deep connection to the natural world.

      Not only will this adventure leave an indelible mark on your soul, but it also contributes to the conservation efforts of these endangered species. Come and join us on a mountain gorilla trekking experience that will take your breath away and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

      The best destinations for mountain gorilla trekking

      When it comes to mountain gorilla trekking, certain destinations stand out as prime locations for this unforgettable experience. One such destination is the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and The Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites are home to approximately half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. The dense forest and steep hills provide the perfect habitat for these majestic creatures.

      Another incredible destination for gorilla trekking is Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. This park is part of the larger Virunga Mountains conservation area and offers breathtaking views of volcanic peaks and lush valleys. With experienced guides leading the way, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter gorilla families in their natural habitat.

      Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is also a top choice for gorilla trekking enthusiasts. This park is not only home to gorillas but also boasts other unique wildlife and stunning landscapes. Trekking through the dense forests of Virunga is like stepping into a lost world, where adventure awaits at every turn.

      Planning your mountain gorilla trekking adventure

      Before embarking on your mountain gorilla trekking adventure, careful planning is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Firstly, it’s important to book your trekking permit well in advance, as availability is limited. The permits not only secure your spot but also contribute to the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these endangered species.

      Next, consider the time of year for your trek. The dry seasons, which typically fall between June to September and December to February, offer better trekking conditions with less rainfall and more stable hiking trails. However, it’s important to note that gorilla sightings are possible throughout the year, so you can plan your trek based on your preferences and availability.

      Additionally, it’s crucial to be physically prepared for the trek. Gorilla trekking can involve hiking through challenging terrain for several hours, so maintaining a good level of fitness is important. Regular exercise and cardiovascular training will help you navigate the steep slopes and dense vegetation with ease.

      What to expect during a mountain gorilla trek

      A mountain gorilla trekking adventure is an immersive experience that offers unique opportunities to observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. On the day of your trek, you’ll meet your expert guides and receive a briefing about the rules and regulations in place to protect both the gorillas and trekkers.

      As you venture into the forest, the anticipation builds. The trek can vary in duration, ranging from a few hours to a full day, depending on the location of the gorilla families. The expert trackers will lead the way, using their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and movements to guide you to their whereabouts.

      Once the gorilla family is located, you’ll have the privilege of spending up to one hour in their presence. This hour is carefully managed to ensure minimal disruption to the gorillas’ daily routines. You’ll have the opportunity to observe their behavior, interactions, and even witness their feeding habits. It’s important to maintain a safe distance and follow the guidelines provided by your guides to ensure the safety of both humans and gorillas.

      Essential gear and clothing for mountain gorilla trekking

      To make the most of your mountain gorilla trekking adventure, it’s crucial to come prepared with the right gear and clothing. Here are some essentials to consider:

      • Sturdy hiking boots: The terrain can be challenging, so comfortable and waterproof hiking boots are a must.
      • Long-sleeved shirts and pants: These will protect you from scratches, insect bites, and thorny vegetation.
      • Rain jacket: The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so a lightweight, waterproof rain jacket is essential.
      • Backpack: A small backpack will come in handy for carrying essentials like water, snacks, and camera equipment.
      • Insect repellent: The forest is home to various insects, so a good quality insect repellent will help keep them at bay.
      • Hat and sunglasses: These will protect you from the sun and provide shade during breaks.
      • Camera with extra batteries: Capture the unforgettable moments with a good quality camera and ensure you have enough battery power.

      Safety precautions and guidelines for gorilla trekking

      Gorilla trekking is an incredible adventure, but it’s important to prioritize safety, both for the gorillas and the trekkers. Here are some safety precautions and guidelines to follow during your trek:

      • Maintain a distance of at least 7 meters from the gorillas to minimize the risk of disease transmission.
      • Follow the instructions of your guides at all times, as they are experienced in gorilla behavior and know how to keep you safe.
      • Avoid direct eye contact with the gorillas, as it can be perceived as a threat.
      • Keep your voice low and avoid sudden movements to avoid agitating the gorillas.
      • Do not eat or drink in the presence of gorillas, as it can create an unnatural association between humans and food.
      • If you need to cough or sneeze, turn away from the gorillas and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow.
      • Respect the environment by not littering and following the designated trails to minimize disturbance to the gorillas’ habitat.

      Responsible tourism and gorilla conservation efforts

      Mountain gorilla trekking not only provides an unforgettable experience for visitors but also plays a vital role in the conservation of these endangered species. The revenue generated from permits and tourism activities directly contributes to gorilla conservation efforts, including habitat protection, anti-poaching measures, and community development projects.

      Responsible tourism practices are crucial to ensure the long-term survival of mountain gorillas. By following the guidelines set by the national park authorities and local communities, visitors can minimize their impact on the gorillas and their habitat. It’s important to choose reputable tour operators that prioritize sustainable and ethical practices.

      Other wildlife experiences to complement your gorilla trekking adventure

      While mountain gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the highlight of any trip, there are other incredible wildlife experiences to complement your adventure. Many of the gorilla trekking destinations are also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including chimpanzees, golden monkeys, and a plethora of bird species.

      Consider adding a visit to the chimpanzee sanctuaries in Uganda or Rwanda, where you can observe these intelligent primates up close and learn about conservation efforts aimed at protecting them. Alternatively, take a guided nature walk to discover the diverse birdlife that inhabits the lush forests surrounding the gorilla habitats.

      A once-in-a-lifetime experience with mountain gorillas

      Embarking on a mountain gorilla trekking adventure is a truly unforgettable experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul. The awe-inspiring beauty of the mountain forests, the raw power of the gorillas, and the deep connection to nature make this journey a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

      As you observe the gorilla families in their natural habitat, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for these incredible creatures and the urgent need to protect them. By choosing responsible tourism practices and supporting gorilla conservation efforts, you not only contribute to their survival but also ensure future generations can have the same awe-inspiring encounters.

      Join us on a mountain gorilla trekking experience that will take your breath away and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. Book your adventure today and embark on a journey of discovery and wonder in the heart of the mountains.

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      Things to see and Do in East Africa

      The top 10 things to see and do in East Africa according to safari experts are wildebeest migration, spotting the Big Five, watching wildlife on from the boat cruise, Masai tribe tour, gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking and walking safari, village walk, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro and hot air ballooning.

      Both of these travel experiences encompass nature, wildlife, adventure and culture of the East African region. Ticking them off your bucket list means gain of lifetime memories. That could be achieved by taking the best of East African safari. This includes visiting Uganda or Rwanda gorillas and chimpanzees trekking safaris then Kenya and Tanzania for migration and Big Five safari. This means undertaking both road-based 4×4 game drives and fly-in safaris.

      With this in mind, lets take a look at the top 10 things to do and see in East Africa according to safari experts.

      The great Wildebeest migration safari

      The first of the top 10 things to do in East Africa is witnessing migration of the wildebeests in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve. The great migration is the movement of 1.5 million wildebeests along with 200,000 zebras, 500,000 Thompson’s gazelles, 18000 elands. These animals follow their traditional routes in the Serengeti ecosystem in search of water and green pastures. Likely, there’s a high chance of seeing the great wildebeest either in Mara Triangle, Seronera Central and southern Serengeti National Park. However, given that the animals follow seasons, timing for the right season such as seeing the wildebeest at Mara River crossing is important. In addition, there’s need to book a specific type of tour such as Serengeti under canvas mobile camping safari, hot air ballooning and traditional 4×4 game drive safari. Either way, you stand a chance of witnessing the wildebeest migration.

      When it comes timing for migration safari, the events of the wildebeests such as Mara and Grumeti river crossings and wildebeest calving season should be your guide. In addition to areas and safari lodges and camps for staying for wildebeest migration and when to travel. Getting all this right requires a carefully tailor-made east African safari either to Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve or Serengeti National Park.

      Mountain gorilla trekking

      The second of the top 10 things to do in East Africa is going for gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. these are the only places in Africa where the world’s mountain gorilla population of 1063 individuals live. In particular, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is famous for harboring 459 gorillas which is almost half the world’s gorilla population. Also, it has 22 gorilla families offering both gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experiences at four different regions. The Bwindi gorilla trekking sectors are Buhoma the headquarters with 6 gorilla families, Ruhija with 4, Rushaga with 9 and Nkuringo 4. In addition to Bwindi, gorilla trekking in Uganda is also available in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This park forms part of Virunga Mountain range best for solo travelers intending to do volcano hiking. Uganda gorilla permit cost is $700 per person for foreign non-residents available for booking through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or registered tour operator. Uganda gorilla safaris take place in western region which has 8 of 10 national parks in the country. So, when your trip is meticulously tailored, there’s a lot of other wildlife and cultural activities you can add to your gorilla safari. For example, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest, Murchison falls boat cruise, Lake Mburo walking safari and spotting the tree climbing of Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

      On the other hand, gorilla trekking in Rwanda is conducted in Volcanoes National Park. With 12 gorilla families, easy accessibility from Kigali city and high-end lodges, Parc National des Volcans provides the best of East Africa luxury gorilla trekking safaris. Rwanda gorilla permit cost is $1,500 per person available for booking through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or tour operator.

      Generally, in both of these countries, the best time for gorilla trekking is dry season. That is from June to September and December to February. But gorillas can be visited anytime of the year. The low / rainy season in particular offers a chance to do gorilla trekking safaris on discounts. For example, the gorilla permit cost for Virunga National Park DR Congo in the low season is $200 compared to $450 during the high season. DR Congo gorilla safari also includes Nyiragongo hiking with Lake Kivu beach vacation.

      Spotting the Big five mammals

      The African Big 5 mammals are lion (the king of the jungle), leopard, Cape buffalo, rhinos and Elephants the largest of the land animals. Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park offer the best chances of spotting all the big five animals in East Africa. Usually, they can be seen with a full day game drive experience.

       On the other hand, Masai Mara wildlife reserve is known for having high number of East Africa’s big cats such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, African wild dogs and hyenas. Besides the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and conservancies such as Ol Pejeta, Schardrack wildlife sanctuary in Kenya and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda provide more intimate interaction with elephants and rhinos as well as giraffes. These sanctuaries support both wildlife conservation and economic development which is a good thing for responsible travel in East Africa.

      Furthermore, spotting big five mammals in Uganda is not straight forward as in Kenya or Tanzania. Instead, it involves visiting several savanna protected and doing both day and night game drive in places such as Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley National Parks.

      Walking safaris

      Vehicle based 4×4 game drive safari is great for spotting large mammals without worrying about your safety. But, experiencing the African bush on foot by guided walking safari is magical. Find some of the best walking safaris in East Africa. This is especially in areas with less predators such as walking safari in Uganda’s Lake Mburo National Park and Narus valley in Kidepo National Park north-east. Here, it involves watching impalas, giraffes, zebras and antelopes walk by in the African bush. The best Tanzania walking safari are done in Tarangire National Park. Known for large herds of elephants, Tarangire is in the northern circuit and combines well with safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. In addition, there are bush walks in Tarangire also include visiting the Masai villages and hiking Oldonyo Sambu Mountain.

      Further, walking safari are available in private game reserves and concessions in Kenya and Tanzania. These provide exclusive and personalized experience. For example, Alex Walker’s original camp in central Serengeti National Park. Masai Mara walking safari is available in Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Elewana Ol Donyo lodge and Ol Kinyei conservancy.

      Masai tribe cultural tour

      The Masai people live only Kenya and Tanzania therefore visiting them is one of the top 10 things to do and see in East Africa. These people speak the masai language and cattle is central to their lifestyles. They are closely related to the Karamojong and Kelenjin of north-east Uganda. In particular, the Masai have distinctive cultural traditions including music, high jump dance and colored dress called Kikoy. As nomadic warriors, the Masai traditionally co-existed with wildlife. But, due to conservation, the government of Kenya and Tanzania has encouraged them to move away from their ancestral lands. As a result most of them now speak English and Swahili due to education. Nevertheless, they remain true to their culture which is now attracting visitors. So, a masai tribe cultural tour takes place in villages outside Masai Mara wildlife reserve. that is where you meet the Masai village elders at their homestead. The cultural experience involves a guided community walk and learning about their lifestyles.

      Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

      With an elevation of 5895 meters (19340 feet), Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa. It’s also unique for being a free-standing strato-volcano situated in northern Tanzania within the Great East African Rift Valley.

       Climbing Kilimanjaro all the 7 routes begin in Tanzania Arusha town. However, its in Amboseli National Park Kenya where the view is most spectacular often with opportunity to capture elephants. Climbing Kilimanjaro requires prior experience in high altitude hiking. However, each route is unique including those that are easier for inexperienced hikers.

      By the way, Kilimanjaro, contrary to Rwenzori Mountain Range, is easiest to climb given that there’s 75% success rate of the 30,000 people who annually climb Kili. For example, the north circuit has the highest success rate and is the most spectacular in regard to scenery.

      Marangu route is best for inexperienced hikers who don’t like camping. Lemoshi route is off-the-beaten path. Longai has high and low treks often with snow caps along the way. Shira, the most difficult route can be used by experienced high-altitude hikers.

      Hot air balloon safaris

      Hot air balloon involves flying above the tree tops in hydrogen-powered balloon for a full hour. It happens preferably in the early morning in order to experience the sunrise which is good for keen landscape photographers. Flying above different habitats such as Masai Mara River and the savanna wilderness below. There’s always a chance to spot mammals such as tall giraffes and wildebeest migration hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve. Though pricy, it includes champagne style breakfast in the African bush plus guided game drive safaris.

      Watching wildlife from the boat cruise

      Contrary to traditional game drives, boat cruise safaris offer wildlife viewing on water bodies. For example, Murchison Falls Nile River boat cruise in Uganda is east Africa’s best water-based safari. Given that boat cruises aren’t available in Serengeti or Masai Mara, Uganda provides the best. In addition to Murchison falls, there are cruises in Lake Mburo, Kazinga channel and Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve on Lake Albert. Boat cruise safaris in Uganda are done in morning, afternoon and sundowner. There are double-decker and medium-sized boats used for different wildlife experiences such as birding especially searching for shoebill stork in Murchison falls and Lake Albert.

      East Africa perhaps has much more to see and do than the list of things mentioned here. Getting a tailor-made East Africa safari package is the best thing to do to have a personal safari experience.

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      Top 8 things to see and do in Rwanda

      Known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is associated with death and tragedy which occurred during the genocide against Tutsi in 1994. More than 800000 lost their lives in a civil that lasted 100 days and the economy was destroyed. But, the country has rebuilt itself for the last 29 years and much more realistic about becoming a technology hub in East Africa. Technology and innovation is almost applicable in every area especially environmental conservation and travel and transportation which has made life simple, safe and hustle free for people. Whether you want to visit Kigali capital city for business or go on safari to the national parks, Rwanda is a great emerging destination to add to your travel list whilst visiting Africa. For a moment to help you plan a safari, here are the top 8 things you should see and do in Rwanda.

      Kigali Genocide Memorial                                        

      The resting place for 250000 victims of the genocide, Kigali genocide memorial also known as Gisozi is the largest of the 10 Rwandan genocide sites including churches and schools. Touring the cemetery can be done with a guide or on your own with the aid of audible sounds of the survivors as they discuss how the tricks the murderers used to attack, torture and kill people.  The visual displays feature images and profiles of those buried which allows people to visit mourn and pay respect to their fallen friends and relatives. Rwandans are open and willing to share if you ask you will learn a lot about the genocide including how some of the refugees survived as they sought shelter at the Hotel des Milles Collines. The story of what happened there was put into a movie titled Hotel Rwanda. Though shot in South Africa, the movie gives a detailed account of the carnage that went unnoticed for 100 days in Rwanda. Some of the scenes include how people survived on drinking swimming pool water.

      Visit mountain gorillas

      Visiting gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is one of the top 8 things to see and do in Rwanda. Because gorillas are endangered species that don’t survive in captive zoos, visiting them therefore contributes revenue that’s necessary for their conservation. Rwanda gorilla trekking permit cost is $1500 per person available for booking through Mantis Africa Safaris or Rwandan Development Board (RDB). The permit offers opportunity to spend 1 hour with one of the 12 gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. This park is part of the Virunga massif covered in bamboo and tropical forests. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda due to the nature of terrain isn’t difficult therefore suitable for people that come from the flattest countries of the world. In addition, you get breathtaking views of the Virungas which you can hike including Mount Karimbi (4507m) the tallest of all, Mount Gahinga (3474m) and Mount Bisoke (3711m).

      Rwanda is so keen at conserving gorillas and their habitat. Therefore, you should take part in activities that support the local communities especially the ex-poachers at the Gorilla Guardian’s Village located outside the park. There you will meet and interact with the local people and get to experience Rwandan culture through traditional Intore dance performances. The center offers several activities suitable for those traveling with children. For instance learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, dressing as king and queen in a marriage ceremony, walking tour through the crop fields as well as preparing traditional cuisine. The village also offers accommodation in huts with en-suit amenities. Besides, there are several ways to support rural communities. In fact, most of the lodges around volcanoes offer tree planting in their package.

      Hiking and mountain biking

      Places to look out for hiking or biking trip in Rwanda are Virunga volcanoes, Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, the Congo-Nile Divide trail, Lake Kivu and Nyunwe Forest National Park. Depending on the kind of adventure you intend to have and the number of days at hand, GoExplore Safaris will help you to choose the best place to visit. If you want to bike where there are no cars, go for the Congo-Nile trail. There are short and multiday cycling trips that start in Gisenyi and Karongi resort towns on the shores of Lake Kivu. Hiking trips in Rwanda is available in Volcanoes National Park with a full day Bisoke volcano hike. Climbing Mount Karisimbi takes 2 days with camping on the volcano. Both of these hikes start at Kinigi the headquarters of the park and visitors must have a guide. Alternatively, the Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo located outside Musanze town offer several activities such as hiking, canoeing and boat rides. Those intending to spot wildlife or go birding whilst hiking in Rwanda should go to Nyungwe Forest National Park. There are over 13 hiking trails that give access to the interior of the forest. Mount Bigugu trail the highest point of the park takes 3-6 hours roundtrip. Along this trail you might spot some of the Albertine Rift valley endemics such as the stripe breasted tit, the red collared mountain babbler and the strange weaver.

      Lake Kivu

      One of the 7 African Great Lakes, Lake Kivu is situated 187 sq.km (3-hours drive) of Kigali city. The lake has beautiful islands which are accessible by boat ride from the resort towns of Gisenyi and Karongi with a wide range of accommodations. Day trips from both of these towns include boat cruise excursion, biking along the shores and visiting the fruit bat islands. At night the chanting local fishermen gather around the lake for their fish catch.

      Chimpanzee trekking and Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk

      Another great thing to see and do in Rwanda is to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park for chimpanzee trekking and canopy walk. Spanning 1019 sq.km, Nyungwe is an afro-montane tropical forest located 328 sq.km (about 5-hou drive) south-west of Kigali city. The park can also be reached by air through the Kamembe airport in Rusizi town near Lake Kivu. The forest protects rich biodiversity for wildlife enthusiasts to explore including 12 primate species including chimpanzees and troops of over 400 black and white colobus monkeys known to be the largest in East and central Africa. Guided primate walks offer visitors opportunity to track both primates. The Nyungwe forest canopy walk tour is a nice activity for keen photographers with breathtaking views of the entire forest.  Additionally, bird watching in Nyungwe is excellent with over 300 species of birds of which 16 are Albertine Rift Endemics (AREs) such as the dusky crimson wing, stripe breasted tit, strange weaver and the great blue turaco. Surrounding the park are the green tea plantations in Gisakura you can visit for community experience. The Kitabi eco center and camping site offers midrange accommodation as well as restaurant and unique tea and coffee tours.

      Big Five safari in Akagera National Park

      For classic game drive safaris in Rwanda go to Akagera National Park. The River Akagera meanders through the savanna plains creating several swamps and lakes beneath the rolling hills. A rich diversity of wildlife thrives in the park including over 20 lions and 40 black rhinos which were restored in 2015 following their extinction during the genocide of 1994. Along with buffaloes and elephants Akagera guided game drives offers opportunity to spot the Big Five mammals as well as Masai giraffes, zebras and several antelope species such as impala, waterbucks, bushbucks, topi and oribi. There are over 500 species of birds and birding in Akagera National Park can be done by boat safaris on Lake Ihema. You might spot hippos, Nile crocodiles, Sitatunga and species of water birds such as shoebill stork and the

      King’s Palace Museum Nyanza

      Most people say that the influence of foreign aid to a larger extent is replacing the rural Africa way of living in Rwanda. This is mostly in Kigali capital city and Musanze town where modern housing is predominant. However, not all things traditional are lost and Rwanda has been keen at preserving its ancient monarch system. The King’s Palace is a replica of Rwanda’s last king Kigeli V Ndahindurwa (1936 – 2016) and how life was in an African society before colonialism. A tour of King’s Palace museum will give you a feeling of rural Africa despite the fact that it’s gradually diminishing in Rwanda. The museum is situated in Nyanza about 89 sq.km (1-hour drive) south of Kigali city and easy to reach by day trip.

      The Ellen DeGeneres Campus

      The Ellen DeGeneres Campus was built in honor of Dian Fossey who established Karisoke research center in 1967 and introduced active conservation methods to protect mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The practice was later approved in the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) to protect mountain gorillas and their habitat. Now its called ranger monitoring through which researchers, gorilla doctors, wildlife rangers and trackers monitor gorilla families both habituated and wild on a daily basis. To ensure continuous research on the ecology and behavior of gorillas amidst ever increasing threats such as emergency of diseases including Covid-19, the Ellen Campus was set up for that reason. The campus features state-of-the-art facilities including living laboratories, libraries, and interactive exhibits. It tells the story of a courageous Dian Fossey who sacrificed her life to save gorillas. Visitors can walk in her footsteps through the hike to her tomb in Volcanoes National Park.

       

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