Uganda Safari Destinations to Explore this Off Season

There are a number of Uganda safari destinations that nature lovers love to add on their bucket list while planning to Visit the beautiful country. The country is one of the few places in the world where you can experience both primates and savanna wildlife safaris. Uganda is truly gifted by nature with diverse wildlife attractions and it is from this basis that is called the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda has two main seasons the dry and wet season. The dry season stretches from June to September and from Mid December to March. This is also doubles as the high tourist season a time when tourists from various parts of the world Visit Uganda for wildlife adventures. During the dry season, there are minimal rainfall disturbances making it the best time to explore Uganda safari destinations. For wildlife photographers this also doubles as a best time for photography with great light effects from the bright sun received in Uganda throughout the year.

When going for renown safari activities like mountain gorilla trekking, because it is done in the forested mountains, it is easy to Hike much as the trails are often wet in the morning. General activities even game drives and nature walks are very easy to do in the dry season.

The wet season from April to May and November experiences rainfall and it is the low tourist season. Much as there are rains almost every day, the low tourist season is still a good time to explore Uganda and be part of the different safari activities. For birders that is the best time to visit as migratory birds from Europe set in. Let us briefly look at the leading Uganda safari destinations you must not miss visiting this off season.

Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park. Uganda Safari destinations
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park. Courtesy Photo

Bwindi Impenetrable national Park is most famous for mountain gorilla trekking and is home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas whose population is about 1000 individuals. Bwindi is the best place to see the rare mountain gorillas in their most preferred habitants. The park has 3 major sectors each with habituated gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation. It can be accessed by both road and air and gorilla trekking safari adventures are doable even in the wet season.

It is important to book permits for the right sector where you are required to report to the park headquarters by 7:00 am for a briefing. Because rainfall is very unpredictable especially in the wet season, it is advisable to carry a Poncho or rain coat. To easily navigate the wet muddy trails, you are advised to wear water proof pants and gaiters or boots. You are then guided to the forested mountains a hike that takes 1 to 4 hours or more until you meet the mountain gorillas. Here you are given time to take photos, observe and to learn more about the mountain gorillas. Even on a bloody rainy day you will still get to enjoy a gorilla trek in Bwindi.

Bwindi is not only home to mountain gorillas but also other primates including chimpanzees and Many other monkey species. There are also many bird species and other mammals including forest elephants and buffaloes. The park is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and it is undeniably among the top Uganda Safari destinations to Visit this off season.

Lake Mburo national park is the smallest savanna wildlife park in Uganda. It is located in Kiruhura district about 4 hours drive from Kampala Uganda Capital city. Despite its small size, lake Mburo national park is home to various savanna wildlife species. The park is one of the only two places to see zebras in Uganda the other being Kidepo valley national park located in North eastern Uganda. With the long drives involved when going to Kidepo and some roads becoming impassable because of the rains, if you are seeking an exclusive experiences with the zebras then Lake Mburo national park is the place to be.

The park is also home to elands that do not occur in other national park in Uganda. Lands tallest mammals the giraffes also occur here and can only be seen in two other national parks in Uganda that are Murchison falls and Kidepo valley national park plus Pian Upe game reserve.

Other notable wildlife in Lake Mburo national park include the Topi, waterbucks, Oribi, warthogs and various birds. Many of these are seen while on game drives in the park. During the wet season the rains enable the growth of lush vegetation that the major grazers are seen enjoying and can easily be spotted while on game drives and nature walks. Just as per its name the park has a Lake (Mburo) where you can enjoy a boat cruise seeing Hippos and other aquatic wildlife. There is also an ankole community near the park where you can enjoy a community visit participating in local activities like Milking.

Given the accessibility and the activities you get to engage in, lake Mburo should not miss on your top Uganda safari destinations to visit this season.

The primate capital of the world can not fail to make it on this list. Kibale national park home to chimpanzees and 12 other primates species and the best place to see chimpanzees in the wild. Some of the notable primates here include the Black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys among others.

The park has the highest chimpanzee population in the region and chimpanzee trekking is the commonly done adventure activity here. There are two chimpanzee trekking sessions here the morning and afternoon one. The morning session starts with a briefing at the park headquarters and then you set off for a guided trek from 8 am lasting for 3 to 4 hours depending on the movement of the chimpanzees. The afternoon session starts at 2 pm and also last for 3 to 4 hours. Unlike some primates like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees are very mobile and often times they jump over tree canopies.

To allow for experiential adventures and give people more time to get to know about Mans’ closest wild relatives, there is chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale national park. This experience enables you to follow the daily routine of the chimpanzees starting from when they wake up, feed, groom, interact and retire. The chimpanzee habituation experience is best for researchers and those who would like to spend more time in the wild with chimpanzees.

Murchison falls national park is Uganda’s leading savanna national park and the best place to see major savanna wildlife species. The park is situated at the northern edge of the Albertine rift valley near Lake Albert one of the great Rift Valley lakes. Murchison falls National park is crossed by the great River Nile on its journey up north and forms a great waterfalls – Murchison falls from which the park was named.

The Great River Nile at Murchison falls plunges down a 7 meter narrow gorge forming a thunderous sound and often has a rainfall on a sunny day. The waterfalls are very magnificent to watch and are often seen while on a boat cruise to the bottom of the falls. From here one can hike to the top of the falls for a panoramic view of the falls and surrounding area.

The park has diverse wildlife species and is the best most diverse national park with 4 of the big Five mammals. There are over 76 mammals and 450 birds most of which are seen on game drives while in the park. The northern sector has the highest wildlife concentration and it is where most game drives are done. Notable wildlife species to see here include giraffes, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, hartebeests, warthogs among other.

Apart from the boat cruise to the bottom of the falls, there is another boat cruise to the Nile delta boat that offers yet another exploration of the great River Nile. This is usually done by birders hoping to see a number of birds including the shoebill stork in the marches of Nile Delta. You can also do sport fishing along the River and on a lucky day can catch some of the biggest Nile Perches.

Murchison falls national park is true wildlife gem and a Must visit when exploring leading Uganda safari destinations.

Join Kwita Izina 2022 As More Baby Gorillas are Named

Kwita Izina 2022 is set for 2nd September in Volcanoes national park as more baby gorillas will be named. Kwita Izina is a naming ceremony of baby mountain gorillas that started in 2005. It was started to foster mountain gorilla conservation, give back to the community and recognise individuals who are directly involved in the day to day conservation efforts like the rangers, Veterinary doctors and many wildlife conservation enthusiasts.

The Kwita Izina 2022 will be the 18th edition and so far 354 mountain gorillas have been named so far. The mountain gorilla population had greatly declined because of civil war and poaching but thanks to the conservation efforts the numbers have steadily increased.

A number of delegates are expected to grace the Kwita Izina 2022 as Rwanda celebrate yet another great milestone in mountain gorilla conservation. This will be a great opportunity to get to know more about destination Rwanda. The country has diverse wildlife species including endemics to the region.

Baby Mountain Gorilla. Kwita Izina 2022
Baby Mountain Gorilla. Courtesy Photo

About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They are covered with black fur with a silver lining on the back especially for fully grown mountain gorillas. They live in families ranging from 1 to 20 and sometimes more. Each mountain gorilla family is headed by a dominant male gorilla called Silverback.

These gentle giants are vegetarian with their diet mainly comprising of plant vegetation. They prefer to live in the forested mountains and it is where their name mountain gorillas was derived from.

Mountain gorillas are rare and endemic to the Virunga massif that include Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Being among man’s closest relatives they offer a more personal and relatable experience with a feel of meeting one’s long seen relative.

During this Kwita Izina 2022 ceremony you can be part of the gorilla trekking adventures in volcanoes national park. The park has about 12 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation each offering a unique experience.

A trek to the Virunga mountains in Volcanoes national park for mountain gorillas also offers you an opportunity to see other wildlife species in the park. You can see a number of species, different plant vegetation and if lucky you can spot other mammals like forest elephants.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience

This starts early morning with a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am. Here guests going to the forest mountains are briefed about the gorilla trekking rules and regulations. These include ensuring to stay with colleagues in the group, minimising noise on the course of the trek and in the presence of the mountain gorillas, avoiding flash photography as it could irritate the mountain gorillas.

Once you get to the mountain gorillas you are recommended to stay at least 7 meters away from them. They can charge if they feel threatened and given that they way more powerful than an average human being it is always better not to challenge them.

The hike takes a 1 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the mountain gorillas. It is always recommended to take packed lunch because you can not determine where you will encounter the gorillas. Once you get to them, you will be allowed to be in the presence of the gorillas for an hour. Here you get to know more about the mountain gorillas, take photos while keeping the 7 meters.

Other Park Activities for Kwita Izina 2022

Apart from mountain gorillas, Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkeys. During this Kwita Izina 2022 you can also do a golden monkey trek in the park where you will meet golden monkeys other rare primates in the park. Golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga massif and Volcanoes national park is among the few places where you can see them.

Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur. They also live in families of up to 20 individuals. Tracking golden monkeys is a great complementary primate trek to the gorillas and it works well for those with at least 3 days in the park.

Mountain Hiking is another adventure you can engage in while in Volcanoes national park for the Kwita Izina 2022. Mount Karisimbi the highest of the Virunga massif mountains can be hiked in 2 days spending a night in the mountain. Hiking this mountain offers you a chance to see the wildlife starting from the different vegetation types at the different mountain ranges.

Mount Bisoke is also very magnificent to hike and has a crater on its summit. While on the hike you get to have great views of the Virunga massif. You will also see other wildlife especially birds.

The Dian Fossey hike to Karisoke is also recommended. Here you will hike up to where Dian Fossey was buried near her favourite gorilla digit as you get to know more about her conservation works.

Where to Stay

There are a number of accommodation facilities in Volcanoes national park ranging from budget to high end luxury facilities. Since September is also a peak tourist season, a number of lodges are already fully booked and it is better to cross check and book in advance.

For easy accessibility to the park it is better to book the lodges and hotels in close proximity in the park. Incase you have very limited time in Rwanda you can do a day tour from Kigali with a pick up from your Kigali Hotel at 4:30 am. It takes a 3 hours drive from Kigali to the park to be able to reach in time for briefing before going for gorilla trekking.

Incase you are staying in Gisenyi you would need to be picked up at 5:00 am for a transfer to Volcanoes national park.

Gorilla trekking and the different park activities can be done throughout the year. Incase you miss this years Kwita Izina you can still visit Rwanda for these adventures when it is more convenient for you.

You can also visit other leading safari destinations in Rwanda like Nyungwe forest and Akagera national parks. Nyungwe forest is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and it is home to chimpanzees and many other primates. Here you can do chimpanzee trekking, colobus monkey trekking, guided nature walks and so much more.

Akagera national park on the other hand is home to the big five mammals. It is Rwanda’s only savanna park where one can enjoy games drives, Rhino tracking, boat cruises, birding among others.

Why You should Track Mountain gorillas In Uganda

Mountain Gorillas are primates species that live in the forested mountains of Eastern Africa. They are among the rarest primates only found in three countries on the entire planet that are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain Gorillas are listed endangered by the IUCN and their total population is estimated at only 1000 individuals in the wild. These live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda and in the Virunga massif a chain of dormant Volcanic mountains along the Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo border.

Mountain Gorillas are covered with thicker fur that enable them endure the cold temperatures of the region that fall below zero degrees. They are pure vegetarian and their diet mainly comprise of plant vegetation. They live in families headed by a dominant male gorilla called silverback. Some of the Mountain gorilla families have up to 20 individuals or more. Just like their name, mountain gorillas live in the mountainous areas. The elevation of Bwindi impenetrable forest for example ranges from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level and that of the Virunga massif ranges from 2,400 to 4,507 meters above sea level.

A hike in the Virunga massif or Bwindi impenetrable forest offers an incredible encounter with the mountain gorillas. This experience has been described by many as a once in a life time experience. There are mainly Four mountain gorilla parks that include Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable Forest national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Let us look at the main reasons why you should track mountain gorillas in Uganda of all the 3 gorilla trekking destinations in East Africa.

Mountain Gorillas Bwindi Uganda
A mountain Gorilla Family in Bwindi. Courtesy Photo.

Diverse Gorilla Trekking Ecosystems

Uganda is blessed with 2 mountain gorilla parks. Mgahinga gorilla park is part of the Virunga massif ecosystem encompassing 3 of the Virunga mountains. These include Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. These mountains are covered with light bamboo forests that transcends into an Albertine rift montane forest with heath and moorlands and an alpine zone at the higher altitudes of the mountains.

The light bamboo forests are homes to the mountain gorillas and many other mammals in the park. There is only one habituated mountain gorilla family in this park called Nyakagezi that offers intimate and exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. A mountain gorilla trek is more like that in the other Virunga massif parks offering a great and unique primate trekking experience.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park on the other hand comprises of a number of hills with altitudes ranging from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level. These are covered with a dense afromontane home a to a variety of wildlife species including mountain gorillas. The vegetation and relief of Bwindi is different from the Virunga massif including Mgahinga gorilla park.

Trekking gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest offers a completely unique gorilla trekking experience from that of the Virunga massif. The forest is a home to many other primates including colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees some of which seen while gorilla trekking. There are many other mammals in the park like forest elephants, buffaloes, a number of birds among others. It is from this animal and plant life diversity that Bwindi was given a status of a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Uganda has the highest of the remaining mountain gorilla population. Over 450 mountain gorillas live in Bwindi impenetrable forest which is half of the entire population on the planet.

Bwindi impenetrable national park has four major sectors with 22 habituated gorilla families. They include Buhoma the northern sector of the park with 6 habituated families namely Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubaare, Katwe, Binyindo and Muyambi familes. Ruhija is the eastern sector with Bitukura, Mukiiza, Kyaguriro and Oruzogo families. The southern sector has Rushaga with Bweza, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Busingye, Kahungye and Bikingi families. Also in the south is Nkuringo with Christmas, Nkuringo, Bushaho and Posho families. All these are open for gorilla trekking offering more chances of gorilla trekking and a unique wildlife experience in the park.

Mgahinga gorilla park’s only one habituated gorilla family also adds on the numbers to Uganda’s grand total. If you are therefore looking for the numbers of high chances then Uganda is the right place to track mountain gorillas.

Other primate experiences

The mountain gorilla parks in Uganda are not only homes to mountain gorillas but other primates. Mgahinga gorilla park for example is also home to the golden monkeys that are endemic to the Virunga massif. Mgahinga gorilla park is one of the few places where you can track both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur and also live in families of up to 20 individuals.  

You can arrange a golden monkey trek after your mountain gorilla trekking expedition. It also starts with an early morning briefing at the park headquarters from where you are led to the forest where you will meet the golden monkeys amidst sighting of other wildlife species especially birds.

 Bwindi impenetrable national park is a sanctuary for chimpanzee and colobus monkeys plus other primates. Much as trails to explore these primates are not fully developed you can spot some of them while on hikes to the gorillas. You can also take guided nature walks in the park where you will get to see a number of the primates.

Tracking gorillas in Uganda generally gives you an opportunity to to see a number of these primates and more wildlife species.

The mountain gorilla parks are surrounded by local communities where you can enjoy authentic community and cultural experiences. The Batwa trail in Mgahinga gorilla park is highly recommended as the Batwa take you back the forest demonstrating their hunting and gathering skills. There are also some Batwa communities near Bwindi impenetrable forest as well as the Bakiga. You can visit any of these communities after the gorilla trek to get to know more about the local people’s ways of life.

Best time to Visit

You can have a mountain gorilla trek in Uganda any time of the year but for best experiences it is better to visit in the dry season. This stretches from June to September and from December to March. During these months there is minimal rainfall disturbances which makes hiking through the different trails a little easy.

During the wet season you can still enjoy your gorilla trek in Uganda. It is also a great time for birding as migratory birds set in from as far as Europe.

Congo the Ultimate Primate Trekking Destination

The Democratic Republic of Congo is no doubt the ultimate primate trekking destination all thanks to the country’s wildlife diversity. Congo remains one of the less explored wildlife destination offering virgin and authentic wildlife experiences. The country is home to East Africa’s leading primates including endemics found in no other place on the planet.

Much as the country is disturbed by security issues, tourism activity is still ongoing in the Kahuzi Biega national park area. Virunga national park is still closed since the Mount Nyiragongo Erupted but we hope it will eventually be opened.

Let us briefly look at Congo’s major primates trekking experiences that make the country an ultimate primate trekking destination.

Chimpanzee at Lwiro Sanctuary. Congo Primate expeditions
Chimpanzee at Lwiro Sanctuary. Courtesy Photo

Democratic Republic of Congo is among the 3 countries on the planet with the remaining populations of mountain gorillas. These rare primate have over 95% DNA similar to humans and their total population is currently estimated at 1100. They in live in the Virunga massif a chain of volcanic mountains along the Uganda, Rwanda and DRC border and in Bwindi impenetrable forest.

The Virunga massif has over 600 mountain gorillas and rest of the population is in Bwindi impenetrable forest. The Virunga massif has 3 major gorilla parks Virunga national park included which is also Africa’s oldest national park.

Virunga national park has a number of habituated mountain gorillas families that are open to tourist visitation. Mountain gorilla trekking here is very enjoyable as you get to meet some of man’s wild relatives. Much the park is currently closed, it will open again with time when it is safe for visitation giving way to the much desired primate trekking expeditions.

Eastern lowland gorillas live in the forest mountains of Kahuzi Biega national park. These are the largest of the all the gorilla subspecies and also live in families headed by a dominant male called Silverback. Just like the mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas are also vegetarian and depend on plant vegetation and wild fruits.

Eastern lowland gorilla offers a great primate trekking experience and an opportunity to see other wildlife species in the park. Kahuzi Biega national park is home other primates including chimpanzees, Colobus monkeys, L’hoest monkeys among others. There are also birding opportunities here as the park is home to over 400 bird species.

There are however lowland gorilla trekking regulations to be followed while in the park. Only tourists are allowed to track a gorilla family staying in their presence for a minimus of 1 hour. This is to limit behavioural change among the mountain gorillas which results from the long hours of human and mountain gorilla exposure. Since they have over 95% DNA similar to human beings they can easily adapt human behaviour.

One is also required to keep a distance of about 7 meters away from them as they can easily charge when they feel threatened. Flash photography is strictly not allowed and one is advised to wear clothes that blend with nature colours.

Lwiro Sanctuary is a rehabilitation centre for chimpanzees but it is also home to other wildlife species. The sanctuary is located just 4 kilometres from Kahuzi Biega national park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite its wildlife diversity and abundance, the country has the highest rates of poaching in the region. Many wildlife species are poached to be sold for food in local markets while others are hunted for medicine.

The Lwiro sanctuary was therefore set up as home to look after primates especially chimpanzees that are rescued from the poachers. There are currently over 107 chimpanzees, various monkey species including red tailed monkeys, Patas monkeys, Blue monkeys among others. Other wildlife at Lwiro include porcupines, parrots that are highly poached in the Congo.

A visit to the Lwiro Sanctuary is highly recommended for more exciting primate expeditions. The sanctuary can be visited after gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park.

Senkwekwe Gorilla Sanctuary Experience

Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Sanctuary is the only facility for orphaned mountain gorillas. It was set up in 2009 and now acts as home to mountain and lowland gorillas rescued from poaching or traps (snares) in the park.

A visit to the centre gives one more insight about mountain gorillas offering exclusive primate experiences. Looking after the gorillas here follows a routine that must be maintained for the safety and well being of the gorillas. They are given early morning breakfast and then left to go out and play. Later in the evening they are lured back into their sleeping area with food where they stay until the next morning.

While seeking for more intimate primate trekking experiences in Virunga national park ensure to add Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Sanctuary to your itinerary.

Golden Monkey trekking experiences

Golden monkeys are other rare primates species endemic to the Virunga massif. Just like their name golden monkeys are covered with golden fur and also live in families like other major primates. Congo is one of the few places where you can experience golden monkey trekking.

Other places with golden monkeys include Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and Uganda’s Maghinga gorilla park. These are all part of the great Virunga massif.

Golden monkey experiences can be enjoyed in Virunga national park as you get to know more about these least explored primate species of the Virungas’.

As the security situation is slowly getting back to normal, many primate adventure travellers would love to Visit the Congo. For now Kahuzi Biega national park is open for those interested in Eastern Lowland gorillas. The Lwiro sanctuary is also currently open for Visitation. Virunga national park the most famous of all the primate parks will eventually open.

Visit East Africa’s other leading primate destinations that include Rwanda and Uganda. In Rwanda Nyungwe forest in the south western part of the country is home to 13 primates including the chimpanzees. For Mountain gorilla trekking then a visit to Volcanoes national park is very ideal. In Uganda, Kibale national park is popularly known as the primate capital of the world because of the parks high chimpanzee population as well as other primates.

Other popular chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda include Budongo forest, Kyambura forest, Kalinzu forest among others. For Mountain gorilla trekking, Uganda has 2 gorilla parks that are Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla park.

Kigali Hosts CHOGM 2022

Rwanda Commonwealth Day. CHOGM 2022
Commonwealth Day Celebrations. Courtesy Photo

Rwanda is the host of the commonwealth heads of government meeting CHOGM scheduled from 20th to 25th June this year. Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries most of which are former colonies of Britain. The commonwealth was instituted in the mid 1900’s when a number of British empires started gaining independence from British Rule. It was formally established in 1949 by the CommonWealth foundation that established the member states free and Equal.

Since 1971, leaders from commonwealth countries meet every two years for CHOGM. Each meeting is held by a different member country on a rotational basis with the last one held in the United Kingdom in 2018.  The one happening in Rwanda was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID pandemic.

Various leaders from all the Commonwealth countries are expected to be in Kigali for CHOGM. They will hold a series of meetings to discuss policy and how to improve the lives of their citizens.

This years theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. This years’ CHOGM was kick started by the Commonwealth Youth Forum that started today and will end on 21st June. This will be followed by the Commonwealth Women’s Forum from 20th to 21st at Kigali Serena Hotel. On Wednesday 22nd June and Thursday there will be ministerial meetings. It will be officially opened on 25th June then followed by executive sessions and the closed on Saturday 26th.

What to do in Rwanda During the CHOGM week

Kigali City tour

Kigali Rwanda’s capital city is very vibrant and the cleanest city on the African continent. The city has a number of attractions ranging from the Art centers, local markets, genocide memorials, Restaurants, craft shops and others. The city can be explored on foot giving one an opportunity to interact with the very hospitable Rwandan citizens.

Kigali city is very green and organized and very safe for a guided walking tour. For those who would like to explore more destinations outside the city center can still do so as there is a lot to see in the land of a thousand hills.

This will be showcasing local Rwandan and international commonwealth fashion. It will feature a number of designers showcasing their works. The fashion week will have a series of activities all aimed at uplifting designers worldwide.

The fashion week will be taking place at different venues and will also feature shop tours plus visiting artisans in the city. This will be one stop center to be as you will get an opportunity to learn about diverse African art and craft industry. With the different art works on display, one will be able to buy some souvenirs.

A visit to Rwanda is not complete without a mountain gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park. The park is located in Northwestern Rwanda just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It has 20 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourism.

Each mountain gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists a day in an awesome primate once in a lifetime experience. Mountain gorillas are special primates with over 95% DNA similar to humans. Just like humans they live in families headed by a dominant male called silverback. They are predominately vegetarian and feed on plant leaves and bamboo shoots and occasionally on small insects.

The gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are briefed about the do’s and don’ts of gorilla trekking. You are then guided in the light bamboo forest amidst sighting of a number of wildlife including birds. You are allowed to stay in the presence of the mountain gorillas for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them. From here you are led back to the park headquarters for your certificates of participation.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time in Kigali a gorilla trekking tour is doable. You can do a 1 day tour with an early morning (4:30 am) pick up from Kigali. You will then take a 3 hours drive to the park arriving in time for the gorilla trek and later be transferred back to Kigali. For those with more time you can do a 2 or 3 days tour that can include golden monkey trekking.

A safari to Akagera national park is another activity you should not miss while attending GHOGM 2022 in Kigali. Akagera national park is located in eastern Rwanda and its the only savanna national park in Rwanda. It is home to the big five mammals that include Elephants, lions, buffaloes, Rhinos and Leopards. Most of these had been extinct but were recently restored in the park all thanks to the great conservation works.

Akagera National park stands out because of its diverse ecosystem and wildlife species. The big five safari experience here is complemented by sighting of other savanna favorites like the giraffes, Topi’s while on game drives. Rhino tracking is among the newly established activities in Akagera National Park giving one an opportunity of a close encounter of one of the big Five.

A tour to Akagera is doable in 1 day with enough time to explore the park. For more chances of wildlife viewing though it is good to visit for 2 or 3 days. A boat cruise a long Lake Ihema is a must do as you will get to see Nile Crocodiles, hippos and a number of bird species. 

As you attend the CHOGM 2022 let’s celebrate our culture, wildlife and heritage and you can a part of the above mentioned experiences. There are many more experiences that Rwanda has to offer. You can also check out Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part. It is home to chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and many other primates. 

Remember June is the start of the peak tourist season. You will therefore have to book your accommodation and activities in advance to avoid missing out. For any other information about your other favorite destination in East Africa, you can check on our blog page. 

Tour Du Rwanda 2022

Tour du Rwanda
Tour du Rwanda. Courtesy Photo

Tour du Rwanda is a cycling race based in Rwanda and of the most famous sporting activity worldwide. The cycling competition in Rwanda was started around 1988 and has over the years evolved into an internationally recognised competition. Tour du Rwanda is organised by the Rwanda cycling federation and its success saw its inclusion by the Union Cycliste Internationale in their continental circuits.

Since 2009, tour du Rwanda has been part of the Union Cycliste Internationale Africa tour rated as category 2.1. The Union Cycliste Internationale organises a series of road bicycle racing competitions worldwide to expand cycling.

The competition is ongoing in Rwanda having starting on 20th February. It will end on 27th February with the champions being crowned. 19 teams were selected and are participating in this years tournament. Majority of the cycling teams are from the African continent however teams from other continents are part of it. Some of these are from Europe’s famous cycling competitions like Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana, the Giro d’Italia among others.

The routing is a bit challenging given the hilly terrain of the land of a thousand hills. Nevertheless, Rwanda is still a very beautiful country with perfect weather and the participants will still have a great time.

Rwanda has over the years not only become a leading tourist destination but also an international hub for different sporting activities. The country has a number of tourist attractions and one can engage in a number of activities as below.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Rwanda is a leading mountain gorilla trekking destination and 1 of the 3 countries with Mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered apes that live in the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the Virunga massif.

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda live in Volcanoes National park located just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital. The park is home to about 20 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourism visitation.

Gorilla trekking offers a once in a lifetime experiences as people get to meet their wild relatives. The tour du Rwanda routing features Musanze near Volcanoes National park and if in Rwanda for the cycling expedition you can add gorilla trekking on your bucket list adventures.

Rwanda is a primates haven with not only mountain gorillas but chimpanzees as well. The chimpanzees however live in the Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part of the country.

Nyungwe forest is one of Africa’s oldest forests having survived the Ice age and its a home to many other wildlife species. Chimpanzee trekking is the most famous activity here and very rewarding as you meet man’s closest primates.

While on a visit to Nyungwe you can engage in other primate trekking adventures featuring colobus monkey trekking. A canopy walk, guided nature walks, birding adventures are among other wildlife activities to consider while on a visit to Nyungwe.

For Savanna wildlife experiences Akagera national park would be an ideal destination. Here you can engage in a number of activities including game drives, ballon safari, boat cruise among others.

The cycling competition is not only an opportunity to show case potential of the cyclist the beauty of Rwanda.

Must Do Congo Safari Adventures

Congo Safari Adventures have over the recent years featured on adventure lovers bucket lists. Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the World’s less discovered wildlife safari destinations yet with a lot to offer. The country is the second largest country in Africa and with its vast size comes with more diversity and opportunities for wildlife.

Unfortunately Congo has had several insecurities related emanating from rebel attacks that hinder tourism and wildlife conservation. Despite the attacks and insecurity issues in the country, the beauty and tourism potential keeps on attracting a number of tourists from different parts of the world.

Eastern Congo has a number of key attractions including Virunga National Park Africa’s oldest national park. The park team has security protocol it follows to ensure that all visiting tourists are safe. They monitor the park and ensure to inform the public whenever they suspect any insecurity and go ahead to refund payments made by the visitors.

Let’s see the top Must do Congo safari adventures one should be apart of especially while visiting the Eastern part of the country.

Mountain Gorilla trekking

Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the 3 countries with the remaining mountain gorilla population on the entire planet. They live in Virunga national park and are the main tourist attractions. Mountain gorillas are apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans making them among man’s closest primates species.

Mountain gorillas live in families ranging from 2 to 20 or more each family headed by a dominant gorilla called Silverback. Congo safari adventures featuring gorilla trekking are very amazing and offer a once in a lifetime experience. Trek one of the habituated mountain gorilla families in Virunga National Park for of the the ultimate primates adventures.

The gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing early morning at the park headquarters. You are then led to the forested mountains in a 2 to 4 hours trek. Once you get to the mountain gorillas you will be allowed in their presence for an hour and later be brought back to the park headquarters.

Lowland Gorilla Trekking

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed with another gorilla species, the eastern lowland gorillas. These Inhabit the forested mountains of Kahuzi Beiga National park in the Bukavu region.

Eastern lowland gorillas to differ from other gorillas sub species are relatively bigger in size. Just like other gorillas, they are vegetarian and feed to a plant and fruit diet. They also live in families led by a dominant male gorillas.

Lowland gorillas trekking is not as prominent as mountain gorilla trekking but also offers exclusive primate trekking experience. These gorillas are also endemic to Kahuzi Beiga national park and its therefore the only place where you can see Eastern lowland gorillas in the wild.

Lowland Gorilla in Kahuzi Biega National Park. Congo Safari Adventures
Juveline Lowland Gorilla in Kahuzi Biega National Park. Photo by Shannon

Mount Nyiragongo Hike

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the worlds’ active volcanic mountains located in Eastern DRC. The mountain has a lava lake on its summit and last erupted in May 2020 displacing thousands of families as lava spread allover burning people’s homes and gardens.

Since its eruption, tourism was halted temporarily. Hiking will be open again once the park officials are sure that the mountain is safe to hike. The Nyiragongo Hike takes 2 days with the first day ascending the mountain to its summit. The night and early mornings are the best times to see the hot lava Lake. The 2nd day is for descending the mountain an activity that offers great scenic views of the surrounding Great Lakes region and the chains of the Virunga massif mountains.

Once it’s open again for tourism, Mount Nyiragongo will still offer amazing and exclusive Congo safari adventures.

The Best of A Uganda Safari Adventure

Popularly Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is one of the best East African safari destinations. Having a Uganda Safari Adventure this new year is highly recommended as you would get to explore the country’s major wildlife. As the world is slowly opening up after the COVID 19 lockdowns, tourists numbers are few making it a great time to have intimate safari experiences.

For a successful Uganda Safari adventure, there are some bucket list places and experiences you must be apart of. They include the following

Mountain Gorilla Bwindi Uganda Safari Adventure
Baby Mountain gorilla Bwindi. Courtesy Photo

Gorilla trekking is among the top desired Uganda safari adventure experiences. Mountain gorillas are apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. On the entire planet, mountain gorillas can only be found in 3 countries that are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mountain gorillas are endangered with their total population estimated at around 1000 gorillas. Almost half of that population live in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park. The park is located in southwestern Uganda and has 22 habituated gorilla families that are open to tourism.

While taking a Uganda safari adventure, gorilla trekking should be your number one safari activity to do. The trek enables you enjoy great scenic views as well as seeing other wildlife in the park especially birds.

Batwa Trail Experiences

The Batwa are pygmies and one of the native tribes of the Great Lakes region. They were initially living in the forest and only relied on the forest for food and survival. They were hunter gatherers however their activities were a threat to wildlife because of poaching. With the gazetting of the parks to conserve and protect wildlife, the Batwa were pushed at the edge of the forest and are occasionally allowed to go to the forest again.

The Batwa trail experience is one of the authentic cultural experiences while on a Uganda safari experience. The Batwa on this experience take you through their initial ways of life. They demonstrate their hunting and gathering skills, making fire using stones and perform folks about their culture.

The trails goes through the forest to the Ngarama cave that was once a home for the Batwa King. The Batwa trail is done in Mgahinga gorilla park another home for mountain gorillas.

Chimpanzee Trekking adventures

Uganda’s is one of the leading chimpanzee trekking destination worldwide. The country is home to the largest chimpanzee population in world. These live in the primate capital of the world Kibale forest national park.

Chimpanzee trekking here is exclusive and offers an opportunity to see other primates including red tailed and Colobus monkeys among others. Chimpanzees in Kibale National park can be explored by a normal chimpanzee trek with the first shift starting in the morning till mid day and the afternoon session starting at 2:00 pm. The morning and afternoon chimpanzee trekking sessions take 2 to 4 hours of trekking. Once you get to the chimpanzees you will be allowed in their presence for an hour. 

The chimpanzee habituation experience is the other activity in which chimpanzees in the park can be explored. This is a full day activity that starts in the morning and gives you 4 hours in the presence of the chimpanzees. In the habituation experience you follow the chimpanzee’s days’ routine and activities. The experience is a great opportunity to explore mans’ closest primates.

Uganda has a variety of savanna wildlife and majority of the country’s national parks and game reserves have a savanna ecosystem. Savanna’s big five mammals that include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes can be seen while on a Uganda Safari adventure.

Uganda’s most isolated national park Kidepo Valley National Park offers one of the most exclusive and classic game drives on the African continent. The park is located north east of Uganda near the border with South Sudan. Game drives here are very rewarding with wildlife including cheetahs, lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, zebras among others.

Murchison falls National park is another great place to enjoy a Uganda safari adventure featuring the big cats and big five mammals. Most game drives here are done in the northern sector of the park with the highest concentration of wildlife.

All these can be done throughout the year with best experiences and photography happening in the dry season.

Birding Journeys

Uganda is a birders haven and a Uganda safari adventure is usually incomplete without a birding safari experience. Some of the worlds’ rarest and endemic bird species are found in Uganda.

The country has a number of ramsar sites that are ideal of a birding safari adventure. Major national parks’ ecosystems are also habitats for the various bird species. The Mabamba swamp in Entebbe is among the leading birding destinations in Uganda. It’s home to the rare shoebill stork and many other bird species.

Visit Uganda and be a part of the never ending safari adventures in the Pearl of Africa.

East African Luxury Safari Holidays To Be Apart of This December

East Africa is one of the leading luxury safari holiday destinations on the African continent and the world at large. The regions has various natural wonders and attractions making it among the most desirable and bucket list tourist destinations. The idea of luxury Safari holidays is not new as many people continually seek exclusive high-end safari packages.

In East Africa, there are a number of these exclusive luxury Safari holidays one can be a part of. Now that the festive days are getting closer, let’s look at some of the finest luxury safari holidays to look out for.

East Africa is the only destination with the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are apes and some of the closest primate species to human beings with over a 95% DNA similar to humans. They can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and offer so far one of the best wildlife safari experiences.

Of all the 3 gorilla trekking destinations though Rwanda offers the best luxury gorilla trekking safaris. Mountain gorillas in Rwanda can be trekked in Volcanoes National park located North west of the country. The park has 12 habituated mountain gorilla groups open for tourism.

There are a number of high-end luxury accommodation options around Volcanoes National Park where one can stay. These include Bisate Lodge, One and Only Gorilla Nest Lodge, Kwitonda Lodge, Bishops House and many others. This December if looking for one of the best luxury safari holidays then Volcanoes National Park would be a great option.

Mountain Gorilla. Luxury Safari Holidays. Photo by Eric Manzi
Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Eric Manzi

Kenya’s Masai mara national reserve is one of the best safari destinations for Big Five safaris. The reserve is home to Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffaloes. There are many private reserves surrounding the Mara Triangle where one can have game drives seeing the major big five.

Apart from game drives, you can do nature walks, ballon safaris among others all which that give you an opportunity to see the big five. There are a number of luxury safari lodges in the Masai Mara reserve offering all inclusive services.

End this year relaxing in the jungle enjoying high-end exclusive services with great views of endless plains of Masai Mara.

Lions in Masai Mara. Luxury Safari Holidays
Lions in Masai Mara Reserve

The wildebeest migration is a natural phenomena that involves a mass movement of wildebeest, gazelles, zebras over the Masai mara and Serengeti eco systems. This mass movement attracts a number of predators that are often ready to take on their prey. These includes the jungles most feared predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas among others.

The great wildebeest migration can be enjoyed in Masai Mara national reserve Kenya and Serengeti National Park Tanzania. The year 2021 has also been stressing because of the corona virus and it would be great to end it enjoying typical African luxury safari holidays featuring the wildebeest migration.

While on the wildebeest migration you will get to enjoy other classic safari experiences featuring the big five and a number of bird species.

Wildebeest Migration Safari. African Safaris
Wildebeest Migration. Courtesy Photo

Chimpanzees are other primates that offer great safari experiences and would be a great option for luxury safari holidays. East Africa has many chimpanzee trekking destinations but Uganda’s Kibale National Park offers the best experiences. The park is the primate capital of the world and is a home to chimpanzees and many other primate species.

The park is located in Western Uganda about a 6 to 7 hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s Capital City. It can be accessed by road and air transport but road transport is more enjoyable through the Ugandan countryside.

There are a number of high-end luxury safari lodges around the lodge including Kyaninga Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Primate Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge among others. All these are a few minutes drive to the park and can be the best options to stay at while heading for chimpanzee trekking.

Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park Uganda by Lionel Egger
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park by Lionel Egger

Best Wildlife Safari Experiences On A Visit Rwanda Expedition

Rwanda is one of the leading safari destinations offering some of the best wildlife safari experiences. The country has over the years heavily invested in tourism branding and marketing. It signed a marketing deal with international football teams like Arsenal and PSG that have a visit Rwanda tag on their jerseys. These campaigns aim at uncovering top wildlife tour destinations in Rwanda featuring the country’s best wildlife safari experiences.

Lets explore some of the best wildlife Safari experiences Rwanda has to offer and a Must do while on a safari in the country.

Rwanda Mountain gorilla. Wildlife Safari Experiences
Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes NP Rwanda. Photo by Klaas Jan Jonkman

Gorilla Trekking Safari Experiences

This is the most famous in the land of a thousand hills. Mountain gorillas in Rwanda live in Volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of the country. The Park is part of the greater Virunga area that extends stretches along the border with Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo and home to the remaining mountain gorillas population.

Mountain gorillas are amazing apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in families ranging from 2 to 20 or more often headed by the dormant male gorilla called Silverback. These gorilla families are open to tourist visitation offering adventurous wildlife experience that many describe as once in a life time.

The gorilla trekking safari experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am. Here you are told about the gorilla trekking regulations and brief summary about these rare apes. You are then guided to the forested mountains amidst sighting of other wildlife species. The trek takes 2 to 4 hours or more and once you get to the gorillas you will be allowed to stay in their presence for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them.

While planning a visit Rwanda expedition, ensure to add a mountain gorilla trekking safari for unforgettable primate safari experiences.

Big Five Safari Experiences

Rwanda’s Akagera national park is home to the big five mammals that include Lions, Rhinos, Leopards, buffaloes and Elephants. These are seen while on game drives in the only savanna national park in Rwanda. Akagera national park is located in the north eastern part of the country and best place for classic safari experiences.

The big five safari experiences are more amazing with the viewing of other big names in african safari wildlife. These include giraffes, antelopes including waterbucks, Topi, Oribi among others, hippos, birds and so much more.

The northern sector of Akagera national park has the highest wildlife concentration and its where most game drives are done. A boat cruise a long lake Ihema is a must do and Equally offers unique wildlife safari experiences. Here you view a number of hippos, Nile crocodiles, a number of birds among others. Its most enjoyable in the evening as you can wind it with remarkable views of the African sunset.

Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris

Rwanda is a ultimate primate trekking safari destination with major primates including the chimpanzees. These live in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest located in the southwestern part of the country.

Nyungwe forest is one of the oldest forests in East and Central Africa and its not only home to chimpanzees but other primates including blues monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, colobus monkeys among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe is the top most and must do primate trekking adventure while visiting the park.

To supplement on a chimp tour in Nyungwe, you can also do other primate treks as well as nature walks long the different trails in the park.

Visit Rwanda today and be part of the never ending wildlife safari experiences. The country is fully open for tourism and it follows strict standard operating procedures amidst the Corona Virus pandemic crisis.