Exploring Virunga National Park of DR Congo

Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest park established in 1925 as Albert National Park mainly to protect and conserve mountain gorillas when its borders were marked, under Belgian rule to promote sustainable tourism development. The park was later after independence in 1969 renamed Virunga national park to signify the chain of 8 volcanic mountains including the active Mt. Nyiragongo and Mt. Nyamuragira.

Virunga National Park is located in Eastern DRC on the border with Uganda and Rwanda covering an area of 7,800 sq km. it has the richest biological diversity in Africa with a variety of landscapes and ecosystems that create habitat for globally threatened wildlife species on the IUCN Red list including mountain gorillas, Eastern chimpanzees, Okapi and African elephants.

The park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 and protected under the United Nations Ramsar wetland convention.  No wonder why Virunga is today’s popular destination for many Africa safari goers seeking remote and untouched jungle experience.

Despite being a global hot spot for biodiversity conservation, parts of Virunga has for long been under siege due to political tensions and rebel activities. The park’s conservation staff have been dying as well as poaching, habitat loss due to encroachment greatly disrupted tourism and conservation.

Attempts to solve poaching and encroachment as challenges to tourism development had been dealt with earlier by the Belgian government. When the ICCN took over management, Virunga National Park started to receive few visitors for gorilla trekking safaris.

However, challenges to conservation and tourism became more apparent, the political system of president Mubutu lost control and civil wars broke out intensifying poaching and encroachment. This raised concerns from conservationists and the Congolese wildlife authority picked received financial and technical support from major conservation organizations and European Union protect the park’s wildlife.

It’s of recent in 2012 when the park rangers regained full control of the park and it’s now a safe tourism destination especially gorilla trekking safaris as well as birding, nature walks, volcano climbing and game drive safaris.

The park has also attracted foreign and local Investments in infrastructure roads, electricity generation, ranger monitoring stations and tourist centers at Rumangabo, Mikeno including lodges and camps has made the park more popularly and accessible for gorilla trekking.

The diverse landscapes in Virunga National park include 2 active volcanic mountains, tropical and afromontane forests, glaciers and snowfields on the Rwenzori Mountains with savannahs plains in the rift valley floor, wetlands and eroded valleys have become the most admired place of exceptionally natural beauty in Africa. In fact it has been confirmed that most of the migratory bird species from Siberia and Europe such as Osprey hawk are attracted by the varied habitats.

The main tourist attractions in the park are the mountain gorillas. About 200 gorillas are estimated to inhabit the park’s dense forests some of which have been habituated for tourism. About 5 gorilla families have been habituated and most accessible with Congolese wildlife guides and rangers for tourists on their gorilla trekking safaris to the park.

In addition to mountain gorillas, Virunga national park is a habitat for 218 species of mammals. It is also a home to 3 great apes including the Chimpanzee, Gorillas and bonobo and 22 species of primate species have been spotted in the park. The park is also a home to over 700 birds, 109 reptiles’ species and amphibians and many endemic species of plants and trees.

Gorillas are the main tourist attractions and attract many gorilla trekking safaris in the park. Virunga national park has 5 gorilla families habituated for tourism. The park wildlife rangers and guides on a guided tour lead tourists to the gorillas in their natural habitat.

Gorilla trekking itself requires fitness and proper hiking gears; its important thing for tourists planning their gorilla trekking safaris to book a gorilla permit for Virunga with a trusted tour operator www.ugandagorillassafari.com. There are more activities to do in the park such as wildlife viewing, bird watching, chimpanzee tracking, Mt. Nyiragongo hiking and canoeing.

To enter into Democratic Republic of Congo on your gorilla trekking safari to Virunga National Park, you must have DRC visa, passport and yellow fever vaccination card.

DRC is accessible by both air travels with fly in charter planes from Rwanda to Goma airport for those who have limited time but still want to do gorilla trekking in DRC. There are also connecting flights from Entebbe to Goma airport in DRC.

Road trips from Rwanda go through the Gisenyi border post where tourists are verified and registered from and later continue to Goma city. Alternatively, tourists can access Virunga National Park via southwestern Uganda at Bunagana border post.

There are tourist facilities in and outside virunga national park for the high end, mid-range and budget travelers. Those that are found far away from the park have means to transport their clients to Rumangabo the main gorilla trekking trailhead or Bukima patrol post for Mt. Nyiragongo hiking.

Uganda Wildlife Authority Sets New Prices for Gorilla Permits

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has set the new price for gorilla permits from $600 to $700 plus other safari activities. UWA whose headquarters are based in Kampala is an organ that is mandated by laws of Uganda to sustainably manage all the national parks. The fees for gorilla permits were hiked by $100 for both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The two parks account for the 21 gorilla groups that have been designated for tourism and research purposes.

In 2017 when the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) hiked the prices for gorilla permits from $750 to $1500, Uganda still maintained the old price of US$600. However, following a high demand for the Uganda gorilla permits, UWA has decided to revise its rates so that gorilla tourism can be sustainably managed. The new rates for gorilla permits will be effective from 1st July, 2020 and this means, you can still secure your gorilla permit at $600 per person per trek for bookings before July 1st.

The move to hike the prices comes after assessing the 2017 RDB decision to increase prices for gorilla permits for all visitors on gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Different conservationists expressed their opinions urging UWA to do increase on conservation tariffs but UWA still issued mountain gorilla permits at $600 per trekker. However, after a consultative meeting with Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and other stakeholders, the decision was reached that fees for gorilla permits be revised.

As per the newly set prices for gorilla permits, trekkers on gorilla safari in Uganda will need $700 to obtain gorilla permit-for all foreign non-residents; $600 for all foreign residents while East African residents will still be issued gorilla permits at UGX 250000 per person. For visitors who are interested in mountain gorilla filming, you will need $4200 for a team of 5. Even when the rates for gorilla permits have been increased, Uganda still remains a pocket friendly gorilla destination.

Reasons why UWA hiked gorilla permit prices

The increment on prices for gorilla permits comes due to need to earn more revenue so as to help fund conservation efforts to save the lives of mountain gorillas in the wild that today account for not more than 1004 on earth and only exist in the jungles of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These large apes have low reproductive rate and if not well protected, they can easily get extinct in the wild. They were listed under IUCN red list as the critically endangered species before their status currently changed to most endangered species. This is attributed to tireless efforts to protect gorillas and their habitat, research and monitoring, set safety measures and gorilla doctors a good reason for the increment of Uganda gorilla trekking permits.

It should be noted that part of the money earned from sale of gorilla permits is invested in various conservation initiatives, paying park rangers, trackers, tourism police, mountain gorilla doctors and others.

Benefits that accrue from the new gorilla tariffs

The newly set price for gorilla permits still make Uganda an affordable destination for you to trek a group of mountain gorillas unlike Rwanda where you need $1500 to trek to view these magnificent creatures. The increment on the price for gorilla permits is of great advantage as this will help support local communities adjacent Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park. 20% of the revenue collection from Uganda gorilla permits goes back to local communities as revenue sharing scheme.

Getting a gorilla permit in Uganda

There are only two options that you can obtain gorilla trekking permits in Uganda; first, you can get in touch with our reservation team or reservation at UWA.

When to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda are perfectly done during the dry months of the year; June, July, August, September and December, January, February. But you can embark on gorilla trip in Uganda at anytime of the year as the rainy season which is usually a low season comes with its own advantage. The wet season in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park occurs from March, April, May and October, November and these months, there is plenty of forage for mountain gorillas to feed on.

This article was sourced from ABC Africa News

The Plight of Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Eastern Congo

Would you like to experience something different this summer? Why not travel to Eastern Congo and meet the Eastern lowland gorillas? Also known as the Grauer’s gorillas, the plight of these great apes has not been well disseminated globally.

It is estimated that about 4000 eastern lowland gorillas remain in the whole world. This is sad given that in the mid 1990s, the population of these great apes was reported to be about 17,000 individuals.

The eastern lowland gorillas are found in the mountainous-forested regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and are protected in two national parks; the Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park.

They are the largest sub species of the Eastern gorilla and in terms of size, they are the largest of all gorillas. Little has been done to protect these apes from extinction. They posess lots of threats and the most serious threat to the their existence is that they live in the mineral rich region of Eastern Congo.

They are distinguished from other gorillas by their stocky body, large hands, short hair, short teeth and short muzzle. Meeting these gentle giants in their natural world is an experience that tourists have classified as “once in a lifetime” and it qualifies to be the best wildlife safari experience you can ever have on the African continent. Unlike their counterparts; the mountain gorillas, the Eastern lowland gorilla has been less visited and there are few safari companies offering gorilla treks to Kahuzi Biega National Park, the only area where gorilla visits are permitted.

Quick Facts About the Eastern Lowland Gorillas

Despite their size, eastern lowland gorillas feed mainly on leaves and other plants but rarely feed on fruits. The male adult gorilla can weigh up to 272 kilograms but females weigh quite less. Like other species, feeding is done in the early morning after then, they rest in the afternoon and in the early evening as they head to the sleeping site.

When it comes to behaviors, the eastern lowland gorillas live in families ranging from 2-30 individuals. Each family is headed by one silver back that plans and defends for the entire group from any attack as well as females in the family nurse the young ones. The reproductive cycle in the eastern lowland gorilla is quite slow just like other gorilla species. The silver back is the one to mate with all the female adults in the entire family. Each female gives birth to one baby gorilla in about every four years and the baby keeps with the mum for at least 3 to 4 years after which they start moving alone.

Due to increased human activities over the past 50 years, their range has rapidly decreased to 3800 individuals as for 2016 census. This indicates that the rare species are highly endangered, and are at the high risk of extinction. Such a decrease qualifies the gorilla species to be categorized as the critically endangered species and put under the care of the international union conservation of nature (IUCN).

The decrease in the eastern low land gorillas has been due to several factors, which include poaching. This is done by the armed people who fled to seek refuge in the national park due to the civil wars in the democratic republic of Congo. Also local people who entirely depend on the forest for livelihood hunt down the specie for meat and selling.

On top of all, years of civil unrest in the Eastern part of the country have also taken a serious suffering on the gorillas. Throughout the protracted conflicts, gorillas have been vulnerable to poaching. Even Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which is home to the largest population of protected eastern lowland gorillas, could not offer them a safe place. Rebels and poachers invaded the park and people set up illegal mines.

Why Visit the Eastern Lowland Gorillas

There is a great need for lowland gorilla conservation through introduction of properly managed tourism system to aid in the conservation efforts for the critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega national park.

There is need for governments, nongovernmental organizations, park managers, local people and travelers to care for the species so as to ensure sustainability. Kahuzi Biega National Park is managed by the ICCN, a Congolese governmental authority that manages all national parks in Congo.

Visit the Eastern Lowland Gorillas

You can help save the eastern lowland gorillas by visiting these great apes in the Kahuzi Biega National Park. Gorilla permits cost US$400 per person and the permit gives you a one hour experience with the apes in their natural wild. There are 6 gorilla families that have been habituated for lowland gorilla tracking.

The revenue generated from the gorilla visits has been used to protect these apes. The funds raised are used by the ICCN to patrol and manage the parks where these gorillas live.

Part of the revenues collected is also shared with the local communities that live near the parks. This has made the locals appreciate the conservation efforts and today they are part of the team that protects these great apes.

It is also important to book your gorilla safari with a local agency so that your visit can benefit the locals. You can also plan your next trip with a responsible tour operator who embraces ecotourism.

Sample Gorilla Treks in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Here are some of the popular gorilla treks in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Exploring Jinja, the Adventure Capital of Uganda

Last week, we decided to take the eastern route and visit a few places in Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda and rafting the Nile River was one of the main highlights of our safari. We went to the actual source of the Nile, the spot where John Hanning Speke discovered the place where the river flows from (Lake Victoria). After our visit to the Source of the Nile, we visited one of the most scenic falls along the Nile – Kalagala Falls– known to some as grade 3 rapids.

Rafting the Nile was an incredible experience that is memorable and interesting! I personally went down it 5 years ago when I went rafting on the Nile. That was great, but I remember the feeling of falling out of the raft and not popping up till the strong current had carried me a hundred yards or so. And I realized that no matter how tough you feel, how courageous you feel, how unshakable you think you are…whenever water engulfs you and 10, 15, 20 seconds pass without your head finding the top, all panic buttons are pushed inside you, complete and absolute illogical thinking begins, and you consider in those few seconds whether this might be your time …then you pop out and wonder, what the heck? I can hold my breath longer than 20 seconds….no problem, right? So, you get back in the raft and pretend you weren’t panicked at all…and then you face the next rapid, scared senseless and invigorated all the same.

Hence, the understanding I bring to this series of pictures: So, I found a spot by the rapids, ready to watch a few kayaks conquer the same Bujagalli Falls. I like kayaks, and I’d even venture to say I’m pretty good. I learned how to do an eskimo roll once (that’s where you’re totally upside down in the water and you can flip yourself back with your paddle and your hips)…but nope, I can’t imagine having to do grade 3 and 4 rapids in that scary air tight leg prison threatening to drown me.

After the rafting session, we decided to watch kayakers who were riding down the Nile.

Here he goes… You can do it, Buddy!

Uh-oh, is he okay?? Will he pull through????

Ooooooh….that was a dooosey!! Ouch….

By the way, he ended up making it, but I’ve never seen so many attempts at an eskimo roll. I think I counted like 15 or 20 after he’d flipped upside down going down the falls. I kept rooting for him until he popped back up for real. He finally did. Don’t worry….but that was just rapid #1 of his journey.

Ugandan Women Exposes Her Nunu After Drinking Heavily

Most Ugandan women are known to be conservative from their dressing to the way they carry themselves. Well, this particular lady decided to stray away from the norm.
After drinking one too many, the lady went out to the car pack and started displaying her ‘nunu’ to the public. She even went ahead to ask a passer-by to lift her in the air so she can carry out her raunchy show perfectly.If fame is what she was looking for then she certainly go it.

6 Things to Know About Kisii Women

Little is known about Kisii women, who are among the most reserved women in Kenya, perhaps competing with Ugandan women.

Who exactly is a Kisii woman?

1. They are wife materials
Majority of Kisii women love their families. They sacrifice a lot to make their husbands and children happy and even if a man cheats on him forever, she will resist temptations to leave the man. Marrying a Kisii woman is a blessing to any man.

2. They are good cooks
Kisii is a land of plenty, which every community wish they had a portion in the most fertile land in Kenya. People from that region like eating, which makes women perfect in the art of cooking.
A meal prepared by Kisii women is very sweet.

3. They gossip a lot
This is a trait which every Kisii woman is born with. These women like talking and talking; a second will not pass without her opening the mount to say a word or two.

4. They are not so good in bed
Kisii women are considered average when it comes to bedroom matters. To make matters worse, majority have gone through FGM, which reduces the taste.

5. 50 % are not beautiful Though a number of these women are above average in matters to do with beauty, several of them don’t bear appealing figure.
Once a Kisii woman gets married, she will forget about her body. Eventually, you will have a 150 Kg woman in your house.

6. Majority are faithful and submissive
Kenya has changed to a point where women don’t respect their husbands any more, but a Kisii woman, whether employed or not, respects and adores her husband a lot. This woman will always defend and protect her husband no matter the circumstances.

5 Places in Nairobi Where to Get PR0STITUTES Any Time Of The Day

1. Low end estates 
These women are now plying their trade during the day in estates across Nairobi. Some even masquerade as ‘mama wa kuosha nguo’ but then go on to offer more services. The estate ones are among the most affordable. For as little as 100 bob, you could bang a humble looking chic. Shocking indeed.

2. Bars and clubs 
There’s always that one hot skimpily dressed girl sipping on her beer, seated by the counter or on a table alone. Such a girl is always surveying the area, giving suggestive looks and inviting clients to take action. All you have to do is buy her a drink and press a few notes on her palm while talking to her and the tale continues……., she’ll allow you to do anything you like. This includes f!ng3ring her. Your can do in the car or lodging.

3. Red Light Streets 
The kinds of pr0stitutes who roam these streets are also called ‘malaya wa kupigwa na upepo’. Koinange Street used to be the capital street for finding pr0stitut3s but nowadays, the babes are placing themselves all over town. Leave a club at 3 a:m in the night and you will see them negotiating with clients in various streets from Moi Avenue to River-road.

4. Massage Parlours 
Most massage parlors in Nairobi offer s3x services for an extra fee. When you pay the standard fee, you will just get the normal services but inside the room, the masseuse will suggest to you that there are extra services available if you can cough up more notes. You are also at liberty to place an order for the mobile service ladies who can come to your home to give you the ‘massage’

5. Riveroad buildings 
Most buildings in the downtown area of Nairobi have dens for pr0stitut3s.. These are not so easy to spot as only regular clients are aware. It is very much possible to find a shop with many ladies and lodge rooms at the back.

5 Most Popular Safari Locations in Rwanda

If you happen to be a nature lover or a budding photographer then Africa is the ideal destination for you to visit. It is one of the most visited tourist spots in the world. Rwanda tours are a must when you visit Africa for a vacation. According to All About Rwanda, this country has a summer spell during the months of June till august. This area is also famous since it has a large number of beautiful lakes; the landscape of the entire city is absolutely breath taking.

Lake Kivu

I am sure that you will be taken back by its beauty. The largest lake of Africa Lake Kivu is found her as well. There are vast tracks of hills and swamps here. The local essence of Rwanda lies in the simplicity of the place and its people.

Volcanoes National Park

Mountain gorillas are what Rwanda safaris are famous for. The entire belt is known for the large number of gorillas that are found here. There are many treks that follow these gorillas. The volcanoes that are found in the national parks are home to these mountain gorillas. So a trip here will ensure that you go on  Rwanda Gorilla Trek as well.

You could also visit the golden monkey, the mountain gorillas form such an intrinsic part of the people’s lives here that every year in the month of June a ceremony is held to give names to the gorillas that live here. I had the chance to go on this particular safari. And let me tell this experience has left me speechless. It was a great feeling being able to interact with these huge animals.

A trip to this continent would be ideal for a week or two.  You could make this vacation either by road or by the sea. Since there are so many water bodies in Africa traveling by a boat is a fabulous way to get to know the place better. You could also hire a plane and explore the dense jungles of Africa with the help of a pilot and a guide. But a Rwanda safari will ensure that you visit places that have been untouched by man so far and have the beauty of Mother Nature still intact.

Africa has a large number of reserves and wildlife parks that have been very popular amongst tourists. People from all different parts of the world visit this gorgeous place in large numbers every year. If you are a nature lover then you would love hiking on different trails to see the mountain gorillas. A regular hiking tour lasts for about a week. It depends on how much you are ready to spend on it.

These tours are inclusive of accommodation, food and transportation. You must ensure to have a gorilla permit if you are thinking of taking meeting the endangered mountain gorillas. When booking an all inclusive Rwanda safari these permits are also included in your fare. Thus it is a smart and a sensible way to explore the jungles and have a great vacation as well.

Top 10 Things to Do in East Africa

A travel specialist will help you scout for the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino). And mountain gorillas. You’ll also see a diverse assortment of exotic birds. Sinister crocodiles. Comical warthogs. And spectacular scenery.

Despite the region’s drama in numerous memorials, the residents are warm and welcoming.

East Africa is blessed with an assortment of wildlife in natural habitats. From the treetops of the Aberdares down to the plains of the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem. The “Spice Islands” have interesting cultures and history.

You can climb the East African string of mountains formed from the Great Rift Valley. From the gorgeous beauty on the ground there are adventurous climbs up Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, Mt Meru, Mt Elgon, the Rwenzoris and a few others.

Savour the tantalizing Nyama Choma. Nyama Choma is charcoal grilled meat. In East Africa, usually grazed African goat meat, hard to chew but with a gamey flavour and a palpable texture. Try Carnivore Restaurant for a variety of meats. Safari Park Hotel has the Nyama Choma ranch.

Get an edge on entertainment in a crammed Nairobi matatu. Experience body thumps, scratchy counterfeit music videos and the latest hip hop and reggae vibes.

Go gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for the 700 or so gorillas.

Relax on the Swahili coast in Kenya or Tanzania. Find tropical beach charm from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam from the little friendlier peoples.

Camp at Hell’s Gate National Park – the canyon, rock climbing and biking are just wow!

The largest Lake Victoria strides across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In addition to an a wildlife ecosystem and scenic views, grilled lake fish is delicious.

Try one of the best coffee chains in Africa at the Nairobi Java House joints. The Kenyan AA blend is aromatic.

Rwanda Launches New Festival ‘NYANZA TWATARAMYE’

Rwanda’s tourism is growing fast thanks to the creative stakeholders in its tourism industry. Renowned mostly for mountain gorillas, Rwanda is not only the best destination for gorilla safaris but also for an amazing cultural encounter with the local African people. If you would like to interact with the locals, learn about the culture of the African people, Rwanda is fast becoming a favorite destination to travelers. After successfully promoting the Kwita Izina, a gorilla naming ceremony held in July, the country is yet to launch another festival on the 26th, December, 2014.

The Nyanza District, home to some of the country’s most impressive historical and cultural sites from the past kingdom, has partnered with the National Institute for Museums and others to launch a culture festival held for the first time this year on Boxing Day, 26th of December. The Rwesero Art Museum has been selected as the venue for the inaugural event which will become part of Rwanda’s annual calendar of festivals.

There are several things that are to be showcased to travelers from traditional songs, poetry, art and crafts, etc. At the centre, tourists will learn about the traditional food preparations, live stock grazing, milking and other daily activities engaged in by the Rwandan people which will form the core of the various activities for the day, aimed to bring closer the country’s rich history to not only tourists but also the present day generation. The festival targets not only foreign tourists but also Rwandans as well as visitors from Eastern Africa. Tourists traversing the country can use this opportunity to stop by and enjoy some of the performances.

Rwanda’s tourism industry and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has in recent years diversified their offerings, from what once was an almost exclusive gorilla tracking destination to include the country’s two other national parks, Akagera and Nyungwe Forest, the 224 kilometre long Congo Nile Trail from Kamembe to Gisenyi, which runs along some of the country’s most scenic sites along Lake Kivu, bird watching areas, the National Museums and of course the annual naming of gorilla babies, Kwita Izina.

For more information about Destination Rwanda click on www.rwandatourism.com