Africa Safari

Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations – Uganda, Rwanda & Congo

Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations – Uganda, Rwanda & Congo

What are the rules and regulations of Gorilla Trekking?

Gorilla trekking rules and regulations play a significant role not only towards the safety of mountain gorillas but also visitors’ safety in the wild. Before embarking on the actual gorilla trek, the park officials or park ranger guide briefs trekkers on the set rules and regulations.

Mountain gorillas are a few most endangered species on the planet and a total of only 1063 of these rare species still thrives in the world. Tours to the mountain gorillas are only done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Baby Gorilla in the Jungle

Below are some of the set rules and regulations to follow while on the actual hike in search for the mountain gorillas in the Jungle;

  • Low Voices

While on a search for mountain gorillas, trekkers are advised to keep their voices low at all times. However, you are free to ask as many questions as you can.

  • Communicable Diseases

Visitors with communicable diseases like TB, cough and flu won’t be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. About 98% of the mountain gorillas’ DNA is similar to that of humans making them very susceptible to human infectious diseases. You should cover your mouth while coughing.

  • Number of Visitors

Each day, only 8 tourists are allowed to trek 1 (one) habituated gorilla family. A group is led by an experienced park ranger guide and tracker. This experience is restricted to 8 visitors because it is one way to ensure their daily behaviour in the wild isn’t destabilized and avoid overcrowding.

  • Don’t litter

Leave the gorilla habitat the way you found or even better. Trekkers are advised not to throw rubbish anyhow and carry back anything they went with on a trek to where there is a rubbish bin. This rule and regulation intend to ensure the jungle is kept clean and the health of mountain gorillas is kept appropriately.

  • Wash your hands prior the trek

Wash your hands prior to setting off on the actual trek. Before you set off to search for gorilla family assigned to you, you need to wash your hand. This measure is essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases to these endangered species.

  • Hiking Time

Trekkers have only one hour with mountain gorillas. The entire trek may cover 2-6 hours, however, you will have only 1 hour to strike for your imaginations, take photos, and explore their behaviours. This measure is aimed at limiting destabilizing the general behaviour of the gorillas while in their natural habitat.

  • Keep Distance

You must keep a distance of seven meters from the Mountain gorillas. This is enough distance for you to observe them, take pictures and photos.

Morning Briefing about gorilla trekking experience

Morning Briefing about gorilla trekking experience

      • Smoking & Eating in the Jungle

No smoking, and eating while on a gorilla trek. This is highly prohibited in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. This rule and regulation aim at preventing the spread of infectious diseases to mountain gorillas. Note, these species shared about 98 per cent of their DNA with humans which makes them very susceptible to human infectious diseases. During the hike, the rangers give you a break where you can eat your packed lunch or snacks.

      • Always stay within your group

When trekking to see mountain gorillas, make sure you keep around your group you came with. This is to avoid cases of getting lost in the rainforest and limiting cases of wildlife harming in the wild.

      • Stand still in case the gorilla charges

In case the gorilla charges, please follow the guide’s instructions, stay calm and don’t run.

      • Flashlight Cameras

No flashlight camera is allowed when taking photos of mountain gorillas. Flashlight cameras tend to irritate gorillas a behaviour which may cause harm to them. To avoid such cases, you are advised to turn off your flashlight camera or come with a camera with no flashlight.

      • Don’t touch Gorillas

Even when mountain gorillas come close to you or rub their bodies on you, don’t be tempted to touch them. This rule is essential in minimizing the spread of human infectious diseases.

      • Gorilla Permit

To trek mountain gorillas, you should have a valid gorilla permit. Each gorilla permit lets you trek one habituated family. This rule is intended to control the number of tourists visiting each gorilla family every day which may destabilize the behaviour of mountain gorillas.

      • Age
With the Gorillas

Gorilla Encounter

Only persons above 15 years are eligible to purchase gorilla permits and visit the gorillas. This is because children usually carry communicable diseases and to reduce any risk of them spreading to mountain gorillas, this rule has to be observed. Also, children can scream in the jungle when scared by the gorillas, thus destabilizing the peace of the gentle giants.

      • Clothes

Wear environmentally friendly clothes. Make sure you avoid shouting colours as they may scare off mountain gorillas.

      • Easing your self

In case of need to help yourself while in the forest, please burry your wastes as per the instructions of the guide.

The above rules and regulations must be followed during the gorilla trek in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Congo Republic. All this information and more is available for you to read at all park headquarters in Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga, Virunga, Kahuzi Biega and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Additionally, during the morning briefing about gorilla trekking adventure, the park ranger will tell you about all these and more rules and regulations, do’s and dont’s while on the gorilla trek.

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Akagera: Birders’ Paradise in Rwanda

Akagera: Birders’ Paradise in Rwanda

Bird Watching In Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is found in the extreme north eastern part of Rwanda along the Uganda and Tanzania borders. Most of park is largely in the Mubari-Migongo Sub-region of Rwanda. This park is the second best birding destination in Rwanda after Nyungwe national park.

Akagera national Park is characterized with beautiful landscape that is covered by rolling sandstone hills in the western part, some sides are cut by deep and narrow valleys and the eastern part is flood-plains and swamps. In the south of Buganza it is wetter and to the north of Akagera is dominated by open grasslands.

Due to the diverse vegetation in Akagera national park, numerous birds have inhabited the spot as home. The park is one of the best birding destinations in Rwanda with over 520 bird species of which 100 are only found in Rwanda not anywhere else. These birds are attracted by the national park’s diverse habitat and favorable vegetation.

The park is a birding spot that inhabits various bird species such as the savannah birds, swamp birds and raptors with many other endemic species that are often seen in the park like the red faced barbet.

Birds in Akagera national Park can be best watched in the morning and in evening just along the game tracks. This gives opportunity for the birders a great opportunity to sight a number of bird species that are endemic to the savannah area.

Akagera national Park is a good spot for encountering large numbers of water birds giving an opportunity to see those that are endemic to papyrus areas. A short boat tour on Lake Ihema will take birders close to many swamp birds such as the Africa fish eagle, open billed stork, herons, cormorants, the marabou stork and cattle egrets. For the lucky birders you will definitely encounter the elusive Shoebill Stork.

As the national park is a diverse spot for numerous bird species including the swamp and several migrant species; the best activities that are done to offer chance of seeing are guided nature walks and a boat cruise on Lake Ihema. A nature walk and boat cruise offers opportunity to see water birds like Africa fish eagles, crowned cranes, open-billed storks herons, egrets and cormorants.

Some of the commonly spotted bird species in Akagera national park include; Africa fish Eagle, Black-headed weaver, Lilac-breast Roller, Africa Jacana, Long-crested Eagle, White-browed coucal, Fork-tailed Drongo, Woodland Kingfisher, cattle Egret, Saddle-billed Stork, Africa Grey Hornbill,  White-faced whistling Duck,  Palm-nut Vulture,  Little Bee-eater the grey hornbill, the crested barbet, heuglin’s robin-chat, black headed Gonolek and ross’s Turaco, among others.

Pied Kingfisher

Pied KingFisher

Among these birds, at least 44 are raptor species such as the Balaeniceps rex and several Palearctic migrants, such as Glareola nordmanni, Falco naumanni and the Gallinago media.

Akagera Park is one of the parks that symbolize the maximum distribution of the Zambezi biome species. This makes the park one of the perfect destination for spotting one of the Guinea Congo forest-biome species.

As you plan for your Akagera birding safari in Rwanda, we recommend that you carry the right equipment for the birding experience; some of the items that you must carry along include;

Binoculars: It’s best to carry light weight binoculars and ensure that it’s the right quality to have the best view of water birds. Probably this is so essential for birding expeditions in this park.

Before embarking on the birding safari in Akagera, equip yourself with the bird classification book which can guide you in your adventure. Especially it’s best for knowing the characteristics of the birds and even the seasons of the area. Get the relationships between specific birds with its habitat right in the classification book.

Among other necessities for birding include; Tripods, sunscreen, convertible pants, and rain jackets, strong waterproof hiking shoes, hats, a pair of gloves and scarves to manage the morning coldness.

Akagera National Park is a rewarding destination when it comes to all – inclusive birding experiences for encountering both swamp and savannah species. Book a grand birding safari to Rwanda and enjoy the “Land of a thousand hills”.

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Ryamurari, A Hidden Gem In Rwanda

Archaeological sites are one of the treasures in Rwanda and Ryamurari is a must-visit place for tourists interested in exploring some of these breathtaking sites. Situated within Bufunda Village (Bufunda Cell within Mukama sector) in Nyagatare District, Ryamurari is the name of the site and being on the peak of Mukama hill that extends for about 50 hectares, the site is where you will find some of the country’s three largest earthwork structures and a cut stone reservoir.

This site was also the capital of Ndorwa Kingdom (according to oral traditions) before it became part of Rwanda. When investigations were conducted on the area in the 1970s, it was discovered to be occupied in the middle of the 17th Century and was again re-occupied in about 1900 AD. Some of the remains found in the site are cattle bones as well as cow dung that suggest that the occupants of the area were originally cattle keepers. Also, there are several grinding stones that indicate that on top of animal rearing, the indigenous people also engaged in agriculture especially growing millet, sorghum, and beans.

Ryamurari is one of the most interesting archaeological sites found in the Great Lakes region and holds an important oral tradition and history of Rwanda. Ryamurari also has another name “Mu Bitabo bya Gahaya” meaning “clay curved structure that was constructed before the entrance of a traditional hut. It also means that the site was once inhabited by a great person known as “Gahaya”. The name Ryamurari is a honor to the occupation of the site by the great person known as “Murari”.

This Archaeological site is often associated with a swampy depression with salty water on its foot and it is said that the depression was through for the King’s cattle. The structures reportedly served as enclosures and the direction as well as the size of the labor force, vital to accomplish different tasks coupled with the presence of the abundant cattle remains show that the cattle-keeping elite who told people what to do.  What is even more breathtaking about the Ryamurari is its many names that show a correlation between Oral traditions, archaeology, and history.

In the Ankole, Burundi, Ndorwa and Rwanda region, the name Mukama means God, a King or Chief hence the fact that the hill on which this site sits is known as Mukama means it was inhabited by the King or Chief.

Therefore, Ryamurari is one of the popular archaeological sites within the Great Lakes region and also paramount to Rwandan culture. It comprises of three vast earthwork structures and a stone cut reservoir that indicate the early life of original inhabitants of the area but the fact that the Hill on which the site sits is referred as Mukama means the King named Gahaya or Murari occupied the area.

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Ubangi River

This river is pronounced as “Oubangui” and is the widest right-bank headwater of the Congo River in the region of Central Africa and starts at the confluence of the Mbomou as well as the Uele Rivers flowing westwards hence forming the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

This River usually turns to the south-westwards and drains through Bangui, the Capital City of Central African Republic and afterwards changes to flow south thus forming the border between the Republic of Congo and DRC, before finally joining the Congo River at Liranga. Through its course, the River passes through a thick equatorial rainforest and flows through river Islands as well as down rapids and waterfalls before finally emptying into River Congo.

The River is approximately 1060 kilometers (660 miles) long although when combined with River Uele, its longest tributary increases the length to 2270 kilometers (1410 miles). The drainage of the River basin is approximately 772,800 square kilometers (298,400 square miles) while its discharge at Bangui varies from around 800 cubic meters per second to 11,000 cubic meters per second with an average flow of over 4000 cubic meters per second but the mean discharge at Bangui is approximately 4280 cubic meters per second (151,147 cubic feet per second). However, during floods from May to December, the discharge sometimes exceeds 14,000 cubic meters (494,000 cubic feet) whereas during the period of reduced waters (February to April), it drops to 1000 cubic meters (35,300 cubic feet) per second or even less as mentioned above.

River Ubangi is formed by the union (close to Yakoma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the border of the Central African Republic of the Bomu and the Uele Rivers then flows westwards for approximately 560 kilometers (350 miles). Besides being the headwater for Congo River, it has two main tributaries including Kasai and Uele with the latter being the longest, thus the name River Ubangi-Uele.

Ubangi River together with the Congo River offers a significant transport route from riverboats between Bangui and Brazzaville. From the source of this River to about 100 kilometers (62 miles) below Bangui, it drains at the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic before eventually forming the border between the Republic of Congo and DRC until it finally pours its water into the Congo River. The confluence of River Ubangi-Uele and Congo is near Lake Tumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In its upper courses, River Ubangi divided into arms divided by verdant elongated Islands whereas in other places confine the rocks to create rapids like those found at Bangui. However, this river changes on reaching the Congo Basin with its vast course being divided by the sandy shoals. Therefore, some of the headwaters are still impeded by rapids while other areas are comprised of flat wetland valleys and low divides descending east and south-eastwards from the western hills to the Congo River.

Conclusively, on top of the extraordinary primates such as mountain gorillas, the eastern lowland gorillas, Bonobos and Lesula, as well as large tropical rainforests, the Democratic Republic of Congo is also home to several rivers including the Ubangi River, one of the headwaters of the Congo River.

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The Rusumo Waterfalls In Rwanda

Your visit to Rwanda should not be just about the mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees but also the captivating Rusumo waterfalls found along the Kagera River, on the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The falls are said to be part of the far headwaters of River Nile and are interestingly popular for the majestic views of the Valley it offers from the Rusumo Bridge as well as the historical significance it holds much as it is not as beautiful and of significant height as the other waterfalls in the country.

Rusumo waterfalls are about 15 meters (49 feet) high and over 40 meters (130 feet) wide and were formed on the Precambrian schists and quartzophyllites, and form the only bridging point on the River within the area. Historically, the site was the scene of the first arrival of Europeans in Rwanda in 1894 when the German Governor and Explorer- Count Gustav Adolf von Götzen (12 May 1866 – 2 December 1910) entered Rwanda from the neighboring Tanzania while proceeding to the Palace of Mwami (King) at Nyanza, onwards to the shores of Lake Kivu.

Therefore, the Belgians also accessed the country through the Rusumo waterfalls when overtaking the country during the First World War in 1916 and it is said that during that time, the Bridge at Rusumo was the sole available way of crossing the river. After taking over the positions within the surrounding Hills, the Belgians were able to displace the guards with mounted artillery while opening the path used in invading the remaining parts of the country.

The waterfalls are said to have hidden all the armor (beneath the site) when the Belgians took over the country in the late 1930s but are thought to be a Memorial Park that gained International recognition because it is where bodies of victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide floated through the area and is also where thousands of refugees lost their lives while attempting to cross the border to Tanzania. It is therefore obvious that the falls and Bridge were one of the first places for mass outflows of the Great Lakes refugee crisis. River Kagera drains water from all parts of Rwanda except the far west and eventually carried the corpses are discarded into the rivers across the country hence leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in places around the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Rusumo waterfalls lies within Akagera National Park, one of the four Protected Areas in Rwanda and is usually explored by tourists interested in encountering big five animals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos), crocodiles, giraffes, antelopes (Topis, elands, waterbucks, bushbucks and oribis), warthogs and hippos among others. It is also from River Kagera that this magnificent National Park derived its name and visiting the waterfalls means you can also get the chance to explore the beauty of this Conservation Area.

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What is Rwanda’s currency?

Normally, majority of travelers on African safari to Rwanda only focus on what tourist attractions to visit or activities to enjoy and they forget to ask themselves what currency is used in that country. Nearly, a few get concerned with this matter but before setting off for your actual trip, it is important that you get to know which currency is accepted in that country otherwise you will end up carrying your home country and when you reach your dream destination it doesn’t serve any purpose. In this era, there is no need for you to be stranded!

As a result, for those of you whose dream is to visit Rwanda for a vacation, it is important to note that this country is largely a cash based country but with wide range of currencies also being used. Compared to developed states in the world, credit cards, visa cards, master cards in Rwanda are accepted but unfortunately, this is limited to certain parts of the country. But many ATM machines are widely distributed in most town areas in Rwanda and you can have access to any of your choice and even those with international visa cards, there banks that accept them.

In most cases, Credit Cards are restricted due to cases of where some employees want to take advantage of some visitors to exploit them in one way or another. Due to this, cash becomes a major priority for visitors on Rwanda safari and in most cases most tour operators or tour companies, hotels, lodges, airlines may ask for US dollars. Besides, most items are usually priced using dollars even when you visit some of the restaurants, lodges and other touristic areas. It is however important to budget for your vacation adequately to avoid any kind of shortages.

Whether your plans are to go trek mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys or go for wildlife viewing, you will need have a US dollar to secure your permit. Gorilla permits in Rwanda costs $1500 per person. Visitors are always advised to at least get a dollar bill which ranges at least 2006 the fact that those with current bills have an upper hand and besides, check and make sure that the dollar bills do not have any kind of tear or marks. However take note of duplicated dollars to avoid challenges while exchanging it to local currency to help you purchase something along the way. The other international currencies that are accepted in this country include the Euros and UK Pound.

If you are exchanging your currency to local currency, it is important that you look for any nearby forex bureau and most importantly, they are widely distributed in and around Kigali capital city. Well one may ask what about if I used banks, yes they do it too but this may require you to be a little bit patient due to long lines. Even hotels offer this service and the challenge here is that most of them offer less exchange rates compared to if you visited a forex bureau outside that hotel facility or those within Kigali International Airport. At the bureau, the denominations should range at least between 50 or 100 dollars and should still be new without any marks.

A part from this, Rwanda Francs is also widely used and largely accepted for most transactions and isn’t in most of the market exchange rate. This usually comes with sign ‘RF’ or RWF and it is subdivided into a hundred centimes. The franc featured as Rwanda’s currency in 1916 at a time when the Belgium took over the German colony and the Belgian Congo franc then replaced the German East African rupie rupee. The RWF was officially issued out in 1964. However, there are plans to introduce a common currency for the East African member states. The franc coins were also introduced ranging from 1 to 100 francs in addition to the banknotes that are used as legal tender in this country and Banque Nationale du Rwanda is responsible of issuing the RWF. Notes on other hand come in various designs and colors with denominations of 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 francs. As for 2018, the current exchange rate in Rwanda is 1 US dollar=881.3 RWF.

Conclusively, other than using the Rwanda Francs, visitors on Rwanda safari can also use other currencies. And the local and dollar are equally the best to ease your stay in this country.

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Alibaba Founder Jack Ma To Visit Rwanda

Of recent, the Rwanda Development Board entered into a partnership deal with the Rwanda Embassy in China a move that was intended to showcase the country’s available investment and tourism opportunities. The dumbed ‘Rwanda Week’ in China mainly targeted the potential investors who would make the best of country’s available investment opportunities. Due to this, one of the most famous business and investors ‘Jack Ma’ is soon expected to pay a visit to this remarkable country.

He is set to be in this landlocked country at the end of October on 30th where he will interact with most of the local investors to identify more available investment opportunities in different sectors. The major sectors of interest include tourism, electronic payment and education between China and Rwanda.

Jack Ma is a founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Additionally, this group also deals in retails, internet, and technology. It was founded in 1999 with aim of offering consumer to consumer, business to consumer and business to business sales services through web portals and also electronic payment services, shopping search engines and not to forget cloud computing services. It deals in a number of businesses that are widely distributed worldwide and cover different sectors making it one of the most treasured companies in the world.

His visit will mark the second time he is visiting Rwanda after the last trip he made when he came to be part of Youth Connekt Africa summit that took place in July 2017. Over 2500 participants across Africa are engaged in the Youth-Connekt Summit and they are mainly engaged in motivational talks as well as get first hand guidance on how they can be empowered to change this forgotten continent.

Just the previous year alone Jack Ma in addition to sharing the hidden secretes of his success, he also disclosed to them the $10 million fund that was mainly targeted to aid the young African entrepreneurs explore the business world. This summit attracts various heads of state, world business leaders, AU commissioners, multilateral organizations, Ministers of Youth, development partners, young men and women entrepreneurs, civil society and academia, youth led organizations, venture capitalists, business angels and many others.

The project was launched in 2012 by the Rwandan government in conjunction with One UN Rwanda. The main objective of this initiative was to unite different youths so as to help them showcase the potential of Africa’s youth and the available opportunities. As this is part of this program, Jack Ma-a renowned Chinese Billionaire has disclosed more about the 4 (four) groundbreaking projects that include inviting about 200 young African entrepreneurs to work at Alibaba headquarters.

This is aimed at making the youths gain experience in the fields like the e-commerce, internet and artificial intelligence. The other initiative is mainly to work with universities in Africa and government to provide training in particular courses that still cover areas of artificial intelligence, e-commerce and internet. The 3rd(third) program is mainly to partner between Alibaba and Paradise Foundation of China.

The project will mainly focus on promoting and supporting environmental conservation efforts in African continent mostly elephant and other wildlife species. Elephants are among the very few most endangered species in the world and despite this fact, they are also the most looked for among the big game in Africa. Their existence plays a significant role in the tourism sector. In Africa, they come in different species including the forest elephants-these mainly dwell in most of the tropical rain-forests of Africa and the African bush-the savanna grassland dwellers.

With Alibaba partnership deal, Rwanda continues to leave the world wondering after it again struck a deal with Arsenal Football Club in a ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign. By marketing it via Alibaba websites will further attract not only a large population of Chinese visitors but also other visitors across the world. What is amazing is that the upcoming Alibaba electronic payment system in Rwanda is of a great value the fact that the Alipay connects more than half a billion users and it is on an increase. Besides, about 8 (eight) African states have already adopted this system and due to this, the Rwanda Alibaba partnership deal perhaps will see Rwanda’s tourism and ICT sector on a lead in the near future.

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Rwanda Climate

Usually, before you embark on actual tour to any destination, climatic condition of that country is one major factor that determines whether you will travel or not. And Rwanda like most countries in Africa feature a particular climatic type that in most cases impacts on visitors travel experiences. Rwanda is also among the very few most strategic tourist destinations in Africa, straddling just at close proximity to the Equator about 2 (two) degrees in the south. Regardless of this, and given its high altitudinal range, it mainly experiences temperate kind of climate with average annual temperature range of not above 25 degrees Celsius. Kigali on other hand has an average temperature range of about 21 degrees. Whereas Rwanda is regarded as an all year round safari destination, understanding its climatic conditions prior your actual tour is of great significance as this can help guide you while plan for your next holiday and at the end of it all, you will have the most enjoyable vacation.

This Landlocked African state straddles within Central Africa and experiences its long dry spell from June to September and each year, it also experiences 2 (two) wet seasons with the first one staring from mid-March  to early June and little amount of rainfall is received from Mid-September to December. Depending on what your interests are while on African safari in Rwanda, for primate enthusiasts, gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is ideal during the dry season and also for those of you who are interested in wildlife viewing in Akagera National Park-the only savanna wildlife park in this country. Note that each season comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The dry season for this case is of great significance the fact that the ground remains relatively drier than when it is a wet season making it easier for you to for instance trek to see the rare mountain gorillas while in the wild.

The rainy season in this beautiful African nation is usually realized from January-April and the second one is experienced from October-Mid-December. March to Mid-May is usually the longest wet season and mostly realized in mountainous areas and if you are interested in mountain gorilla tracking, this period isn’t that ideal but for those of you who are interested in chimpanzee trekking, this is normally an optimum period the fact that most figs and fruits are available and ripen thus attracting most of the chimpanzees to feed on them and at the end, you catch a glimpse at them without necessarily walking for long distances searching for them like it is always the case for the dry season which is characterized by less forage.

But due to its proximity at the equator and nature of habitats where most of the wildlife species live in this country, you have to expect it to rain at any time of the day. The 2 wet seasons also come with short dry spell and this usually comes with some sunshine and light clouds. From December to February, this is usually the peak season and most tourists are attracted to canoeing experiences, hiking adventures and many more.To be on safer side while on your vacation in Rwanda, you have to pack approximately for your trip starting with essentials first. You will need lightweight clothing, rain jacket or poncho, waterproof hiking boots a mention but a few.Generally, Rwanda experiences 3 (three) varied kinds of climate and they include tropical savanna climate, subtropical highland and Oceanic climate. Unlike most African states, Rwanda tends to remain not very hot or even very cold thus provides conducive climatic conditions which makes it an ideal destination to visit while on safari in Africa.

Rwanda is a small hilly African nation within central region and it is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kigali is its vibrant capital city and comes with colorful flowering trees and shrubs from different areas along its ridges. Due to its strategic location, visitors on Rwanda safari enjoy dramatic views of varied cultivated and terraced countryside. It receives plenty of rainfall that has always kept this country ever stunning with its lush vegetation. In average, this beautiful city receives about 1028 mm of rainfall each year approximately 86 mm each month. During the dry season especially in July, about 9 mm of rainfall is received and 183 mm during wet season in April.Rwanda is separated by peaks that stretch up to 3000 meters and they extend from the north to the south. The Virunga Massifs stand steeply from Lake Kivu in the west and covers the mountainous central plateau and in the further eastwards to Marshy Lakes in the Akagera River-where Akagera National Park is located.

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Bird Watching On The Shores Of Lake Kivu

Bird Watching On The Shores Of Lake Kivu

Situated in the western corner of Rwanda, Lake Kivu forms the physical boundary between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Lake is one of the magnificent African Great Lakes with three main sections including Cyangugu (Southern side), Kibuye (central) and Gisenyi (Northern side) and a haven to wide range of bird species, especially the aquatic and wetland species hence making it one of the bird lover’s Paradise. Rwanda is a small landlocked country known for mainly the critically endangered mountain gorillas that live within the Volcanoes National Park in north-western part of the country. However, there are also over 750 species of birds in Rwanda with the highlights being the Albertine Rift endemics.

Among the country’s most remarkable birding spots is Lake Kivu, especially the shores of the Lake in areas such as Kibuye and Gisenyi among others. This Lake lies at an elevation of 1460 meters above sea level with a minimum depth of 480 meters. Lake Kivu is also popular for being one of the few Lakes in the World that experience limnic eruptions which always take place when gases in the water body especially Carbon monoxide and methane  are eventually released into the atmosphere thus leading to instant death of humans and animals.

If you explore Kibuye area, you will be excited to encounter extraordinary bird species including the common kestrel, African Pied Wagtail, Tropical Boubou, Common Waxbill, spotted Yellow-throated Greenbul, Speckled Pigeons, Chin-spot Batis, Ashy Flycatcher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Bronzed Sunbirds, African Pied Wagtail, White tailed Blue Flycatcher and many others.

Also, the shores of Lake Kivu offer opportunities of spotting the colorful Southern Red Bishop, Red-chested sunbirds, Hadada Ibis, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Scarlet-chested, Spectacled Weaver, Striated Heron, Common Waxbill, Black-headed Heron, Red-billed Firefinch, Little bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Canary, Sacred Ibis, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Variable Sunbird, Bronzed Manakin, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-bellied Waxbill and many others.

If you visit the Gisenyi area, you will come across the Bronze Sunbird, White-browed Robin-chat, Long-tailed Cormorant, Speckled Mousebirds, Grassland Pipit, Olive Pigeons, African Black Swift, Angola Swallow, Mosque Swallow, the Black Crake, Common (Rock) Kestrels, swifts, African fish eagles, Yellow-throated Greenbuls, Pin-tailed Whydah, Grey-rumped Swallow , Common Bulbul, Spot-flanked Barbet, Red-rumped Swallow, Black Saw-wing, Lesser-striped Swallow, Black-crowned Waxbills, Holub’s Golden Weaver and many others.

Taking a boat trip to Akeza Island rewards bird enthusiasts with the views of the great cormorants, the Water Thick-knees, Grey-capped Warbler, Common Fiscal, Green-headed Sunbird, Common Waxbill, Red-chested Sunbird, Common (Rock) Kestrels, Pin-tailed Whydah, Bronze Sunbird and Baglafecht Weaver among others.

Therefore in addition to the common birding areas; Akagera National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest as well as the wetland like Akanyaru, Lake Kivu is also an important Birding Area with a diversity of aquatic and wetland bird species that wander around the shores of the Lake.

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2018 Gorilla Naming Ceremony in Rwanda

2018 Gorilla Naming Ceremony in Rwanda

The ceremony of naming newborn baby gorillas, commonly known as ‘Kwita Izina’ happens in Kinigi, a native town adjacent to Volcanoes national park and has been part of Rwandan conservation culture for over a decade.
Naming infant gorillas has become a significant annual nationwide tradition in Rwanda organized by the Rwanda Development Board with support from various regional and international partners. The event is based on a historic norm for naming newborns in Rwanda and Africa at large, and has been adapted to recognize and celebrate Rwanda’s efforts in successful gorilla protection and conservation.

Kwita Izina ceremony is Rwanda’s popular gorilla event since its inception in 2005 and it has turned out to be a household term not only in Rwanda but also globally. Up to 216 baby gorillas have so far received names for the last 11 years this event has been in existence.

Each year, the gorilla naming ceremony pulls over 20,000 conservationists, local and international tourism stake holders together with the local communities who live close and conserve these endangered apes.
The name attributed to each baby gorilla plays a vital role in the day to day monitoring activities for every gorilla in their individual families and habitats. During this year’s event, 18 baby gorillas born after September last year are expected to receive names.

This year’s Kwita Izina includes a number of buildup events leading up to the ceremony, including launching community projects, familiarization trips, a gala fundraising dinner, a conservation and tourism exhibition and a two-day “Conversation on Conservation” conference in Kigali with delegates attending from all over the world. The “Kwita Izina conservation exhibition” is a 2 day event that intends to showcase Rwanda’s remarkable work in conservation of wildlife and culture, while the two-day conference will bring delegates from around the world to discuss Africa’s common conservation challenges and devise lasting solutions for preserving critical ecosystems for generations.

The “Kwita Izina” event ends with a remarkable “Igitaramo cultural dinner” – a Cultural Celebratory dinner whose objective is to raise funds for supporting Rwanda’s ongoing conservation activities particularly the ‘Expansion of the mountain gorilla habitat’.

This unique dinner is a great cultural celebration with amazing entertainment from the famous Rwandese cultural groups and locally fashioned cuisine to be hosted on the banks of idyllic Lake Kivu in Rubavu.

This week long event in Rwanda will include a variety of conservation-awareness activities, with park staff, local groups, government leaders, international community, celebrities,students and native communities all coming in to help choose names for the baby gorillas born from the past year and also participating in buildup events throughout the week.

Through forming a unified force and coherent participation and commitment of government authorities, tourism bodies, research, protection and community initiatives Rwanda is bound to witness vital successes in conservation efforts, and now with inclusion of Kwita Izina is an important national celebration.

Kwita Izina has grown to become an important event more than just giving names to young gorillas, and it is now a global event during which the international community and Rwandans join together to celebrate and recognize milestone achievements of the country’s rich bio diverse ecology as well as inclusive growth of the economy and wellbeing of its citizens.

It’s also a day to recognize the value of partnerships and also show appreciation to specific individuals who have dedicated their lives to the cause of conservation.

Some important persons to attend this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony include but not limited to;- President Paul Kagame, Dr. Allan Karlsson – senior conservation advisor at the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), manager of Phinda Reserve that donated lions to Akagera National Park – Simon Naylor, Amy Vedder – a pioneer of conservation work with mountain gorillas and Yale University Professor, Dr. Hans J. Heuer – managing director of Best Western Plus Lusaka Grand Hotel, Dr. Janaki Alavalapati – Senior fellow for Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas at the U.S. Department of State, Fred Swaniker – Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group andFrank Keesling- the son of the founder of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda, among other notable dignitaries and celebrities.

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