Thursday, January 31, 2013

Common Tourist Visa A Top Priority for East Africa Community for 2013

Dr. Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General has said the introduction of a single tourist Visa to the region, and the revival of an East African Passport across the member states, is one of the main priorities for the trade bloc in 2013 including the removal of non-tariff barriers in the aviation and tourism sectors.

These issues have been causing major disappointments among the tourism industry, which has for long been struggling with the expensive image of East Africa when travelling to several countries, where Visa fees for a family of four can run into 1.000 US Dollars if visiting all 5 member states.

This added cost is seen as an obstacle to promoting cross region safari packages and while Kenya permits the re-entry after obtaining an initial Visa when visiting other countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or Tanzania, none of the other countries in the region is offering the same option to tourists.

Stakeholders have for long blamed bureaucrats of dragging their feet over technical issues like revenue sharing, which in view of the highly advanced immigration technology in place at immigration check points today is now seen as a mere excuse by some member states to slow down integration and prolong the existence of other NTB’s in place.

The idea for a common Visa was first suggested by the Ugandan delegation in 2001 at the East African Community Committee for Tourism and Wildlife that was welcomed and shelved in bureaucracy.

Former Kenyan tourism minister Najib Balala early last year blamed dark forces from within the EAC of obstructing progress in such crucial areas, and for few was there any doubt in which direction his remarks were directed. Time will tell if during the remaining 11 ½ months of 2013 this long overdue task will be completed or dragged into yet another year.

[The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organisation comprising five countries in East Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The geographical region encompassed by the EAC covers an area of 1.8 million square kilometres, with a combined population of about 132 million (July 2009 est.). ]

 

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Indifference among States Puts Single East Africa Community Tourist visa Plans in Balance
Who Needs and How to Apply for Rwanda Visa– Tourist Visa Entry Requirements

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

21-year-old dominant silverback Mountain Gorilla Dies

Gorilla Doctors sadly confirms the death of the 21-year-old dominant silverback Urugamba passed on 25th/Jan. 

urugamba-silverbackHe only fell ill the day before and was to receive a veterinary assessment on the fateful day. The cause of death is yet unclear, but his body was carried down the mountain to the Gorilla Doctors compound  for the vets to perform a necropsy. Urugamba was the leader of one of the Karisoke research groups, and KRC staff hopes that this will allow some time for the other group members to come to terms with their leader’s death.
Dr. Dawn reports that the other gorillas in Urugamba’s group looked well but there is concern for the group as Urugamba was the only silverback. There are several lone silverbacks ranging near the area at the time and could move in to take the group.

As you may be aware, there are only about 840 mountain gorillas remaining in their natural habitat. These habitats are in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Gorillas are found in the high altitude forests surrounding these volcanoes. There are currently 7 habituated gorilla families that can be visited in Rwanda: -

Susa group has 37 individuals (3 silverbacks)
Amahoro group has 16 individuals (1dominant male SB & 1assistant BB)
Sabyinyo group has 8 individuals (1SB)
Group 13 has 19 individuals(1 errant SB)
Umubano-8 (1 very tough SB)
Hirwa- 9 (1 ex-Susa SB) also has week old baby
Kwitonda (from Congo) - 16. (1SB 2BB) lots of fights in this family.
This is a migrant family and is not guaranteed.

SB=Silverback. BB=Blackback,young silverback.

In order to minimize behavioral disturbances to the gorillas, only 8 people are allowed to visit each of the families and for a period not exceeding 1hour. This means that only 40 people are allowed in the park daily. The limits serve to protect gorillas from the risk of exposure to human- borne diseases.

More to come soon...

Visit and Track Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda with these packages

1 day Gorilla trek Rwanda with tour price
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Gorillas trekking Rwanda - 4 days tour

Rwanda looks to Russia, China for new markets of Rich Tourists

Russia and China are increasingly becoming sources of both high-end leisure tourists and also mass tourists because of the increasing wealth among their populations and also their thirsty to explore new destinations like Africa.

Rwanda will this year market its tourist attractions to Russia and China in a new strategy that is expected to woo more leisure tourists to boost the East African country’s tourism revenue.

The move follows the passing of a new tourism marketing strategy last year, which aims at helping the country to target potential markets and consolidate marketing efforts in the existing markets with the view to increase high-end tourists.a juvenile mountain gorilla playing away in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Rica Rwigamba, the Head of Tourism and Conservation Directorate at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which is charged with fast-tracking Rwanda’s economic development says that the country seeks to continue increasing the number of foreign leisure tourists who contribute at least 40% of the country’s revenue collected from the tourism sector.  Mountain gorillas in North West of Rwanda remain the major attraction to most western leisure tourists.

 “This year we passed a new tourism marketing strategy and we have identified the need not only to diversify our products but also approaching new markets. Two main markets that we have identified are Russia and China because there are people who have the capacity to travel more and spend more money,” Rwigamba said in December 2012.

She says that Rwanda will in 2013 have representatives in the two countries who will particularly be dealing with the markets there.

“We are targeting specialised tourism companies into these markets because they will be able to go and target tourists. We expect them to increase the number of tour operators as well,” Rwigamba further explained.

Russia and China are increasingly becoming sources of both high-end leisure tourists and also mass tourists because of the increasing wealth among their populations and also their thirsty to explore new destinations like Africa.

However, Rwigamba added that more efforts will continue to be invested in retaining and developing the existing markets such as the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany to continue boosting the number of high-spenders from these markets.

More specifically, Rwanda is focusing much on exploiting the Germany and UK tourism markets. Germany continues to be the big spender in Europe whereas UK has developed deep interest and connection with Rwanda which provides a huge potential for Rwanda’s tourism sector. But the number of tourists coming from the two countries to Rwanda is still small.

Currently, there are direct flights between Rwanda and some European countries such as Netherlands through KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Belgium through Brussels Airlines and Turkey through the Turkish Airlines.

Rwigamba says that Rwanda will continue to take advantage of these airlines and some European tourists that have developed deep knowledge on the Rwandan tourism market offers as an outstanding advantage for the country to attract more European visitors.

Tourism continues to be Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange earner outpacing other export oriented sectors such as coffee, tea and mining in terms of revenue. This year alone, according to the National Export Strategy (NES), tourism revenue is expected to be US$261 million.

But between Jan. and Sept. 2012, RDB says that tourism revenue rose to US$210.5 million, representing an increase of 14% compared to the same period in 2011. The number of visitors also grew by 28% to 800,122 compared the same period in 2011.

Visitors from member states of the East African Community (EAC) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rose 34% to 639,536 while international visitors rose 4% to 130,586.

However, visitors from what RDB calls key markets such as the U.S. UK. Belgium and Germany are still few in numbers but they are considered big spenders.

RDB’s statistics show that the number of Americans who visited Rwanda was higher than that of other individual countries considered as key markets.

At least 18,459 Americans visited Rwanda followed by 10,126 British, 7,675 Belgians and 7,103 Germans. Overall, leisure attracted 70,383 visitors while business attracted 295,322. Leisure visitors rose 19% while business visitors rose 17%.

 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Uganda Tourism ministry to issue New Guidelines to Counter Emerging Issues

KAMPALA –UGANDA: This will see the 1996 Tourism Act amended to suit the current to trend as well as cater for the emerging issues.

Leopard seen in Queen Elizabeth National ParkThe Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has compiled a new set of guidelines that if adopted, will see the 1996 Tourism Act amended to suit the current to trend as well as cater for the emerging issues.

Top on the list is oil and gas mining activities, which are not catered for in the old Act. Stake holders from the ministry, Uganda Wild Life Authority and other wildlife conservation organisations, are seeking to incorporate policies to legalise oil and gas mining without endangering the natural habitats of in the protected areas.

While 80 per cent of all oil wells are in protected areas, mining in such areas is an illegal activity according to the 1996 Tourism Act.
This review, therefore, seeks to reach a legal binding agreement on the co-existence of wildlife and oil and gas mining activities while minimising harm.

The principle wildlife officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Mr Akankwasa Barirega, said there was need to update the law to resonate with the changes that have happened since the enactment of the current laws.

“Very many things have come since then. There was discovery of oil and gas which have to be exploited,” Mr Barirega said.

Rwanda to Host the Pan-African Dance Festival

Rwanda will host the 8th edition of the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD) event which is expected to attract at least 40 countries from around the world.

The festival is being organized by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MIJESPOC); under the theme "The spirit of expression." The one week and half-long event will begin on February 23 through March 2nd 2013.

The RDB Head of Tourism and Conversation Rica Rwigamba confirmed the developments and told the press, this Wednesday that the festival will create a platform to position Kigali as international events destination while promoting the great aspect of Africa unity through dance.

Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD) is an unrivalled African Dance festival held as a means to promote peace and unity on the African continent.

Dance as an important part of African culture dates as far back as the earliest documentation of African history. The role played by dances in traditional African community went beyond entertainment fostering peace and unity, bringing peoples and communities closer together.

FESPAD was created out of the realization that dance still holds the same importance in the social, political and economic fabric of the continent and continues to promote integration, peace and unity. The theme for the 8th FESPAD 2013The spirit of expression” is apt as it fits into the overall objective of the festival which is to bring together Africa through dance. In Africa, dances teach social patterns and values and help people work, mature and praise members of the community hence FESPAD 2013 will provide a platform for African to express their dance styles, moves while celebrating the spirit of oneness!  

She then added that the festival is expected to promote tourism as well as investment, and promote the good image of the country in general as part of the country's strategy of development. RDB will provide more information to the general public in coming days about the performances of traditional dances and especially the planned dance workshops that will include Salsa, Hip hop and Kinyarwanda dances as it was the case of the 7th edition of the festival which was held in 2010.

She also explained that the 8th Edition of FESPAD was shifted to a February date instead of the common July dates, because the organizers felt the traditional low season experienced in Rwanda could be utilized by artists to showcase their talents and not clash with other high profile festivals.

Rwanda will also host an East African Community (EAC) festival dubbed 'Jam Fest' which will take place between February 11th to 16th, starting in two weeks time already. Both events have been marked as major events in Rwanda and in fact Eastern Africa to promote and create awareness on the many opportunities in Rwanda today, for tourism and other sectors of the economy, in the Land of a Thousand Hills.

Uganda’s 184 Tourism Police Officers Deployed after Graduation

KAMPALA, UGANDA - Tourism, the world's most traded commodity and Uganda's second foreign exchange earner at $662m behind remittances, cannot be left unattended to as an unregulated sector. The unit of 184 police officers was unveiled last week to protect and ensure safety of all tourists in Uganda.

Uganda Police on Friday 25th January graduated 184 officers to serve in the newly instituted Uganda Tourism Police. Grandaunts have been undergoing a 1 month specially intensive course at the National Police School in Masindi which included tourism laws, regulations and policy, customer care and guest relations, understanding hospitality but also specially targeted techniques like security procedures and concepts, hostage rescue procedures, operational planning and weapons training. Staff from the Uganda Tourist Board and the Uganda Wildlife Authority were among those who delivered lectures and interacted with the officers during their month long training to instill a greater understanding to them how the sector works and interacts with the country’s economy and society at large.

Officiating over the pass-out the Inspector General of Police Lt. General Kayihura said: ‘It is important to develop a Tourism Police to counter the threat of terrorists who might target them (tourists) when they are here.

The officers will be deployed immediately to key tourism attractions, places of interest regularly visited by tourists but also to key hotels in the city of Kampala in order to boost existing surveillance and monitoring capacity.

The national police chief also announced on the occasion that a new dedicated anti terrorism training school will be set up in the district of Kanungu, which borders the key Bwindi Gorilla National Park and extends to the border with the Congo DR, where land has been secured for that purpose.

Peter Okoshi Simon, commandant of the new force said that for Uganda to benefit from the industry, tourists both local and international should be protected.

“The Tourism Police must work with the sector to ensure that their work is well regulated,” Okoshi said. He added that the Tourism police are supposed to operate throughout the country in the different tourist destinations like the game parks, game reserves, hotels among others.

“The security force should be able to prevent crimes before they happen,” he said.

Tourism stakeholders were swift to extend praise to the government for providing specialist training for these 184 police officers while expressing hope that more such courses would now be conducted in order to boost numbers and allow deployment across the entire country to all areas and sites of importance to the tourism industry.

Last year, the tourism sector was threatened by political protests-the walk-to-work which left 10 people dead including a two year old and hundreds injured as police and protestors forced ends meet. The protests scared the would be visitors who feared for the lives.

Today, the country’s security can be described as stable although the For God and My Country (4GC formely activists for change (A4C)), the opposition pressure group continues to hold rallies addressing issues about the economy. This time around the rallies are to a greater extent peaceful as Uganda police is trying to ensure that they don’t turn violent like the walk-to-work protests.

Uganda, which was the top tourism destination in East African in the 1960s, lost its glory to Kenya due to the many civil wars it had.
The revamping of the tourism sector which started in the early 1990s hit a snag in 1999 when about eight British tourists were killed in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by suspected Rwandan rebels believed to have come from the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Its revival has been ongoing since then, and this has seen a tremendous growth with Uganda now targeting about 1.2 million tourists this year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

7 Must Sees on Safari tours to Queen Elizabeth National Park

The 1978km2 Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The Park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for over 95 mammal species including classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.  It was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park and renamed 2 years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. 

Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and endless Ishasha Plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.

As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, “Queen” has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet with the local communities and enjoy story telling, dance, music, and more.

1. Big Game

With an astonishing 5000 hippos, 2500 elephants and over 10,000 buffalo thriving in its grasslands and shorelines, Queen  guarantees sightings of some of Africa’s most iconic species. Hearing the elephants’ calls reverberating around Queen’s crater-filled valleys is a magical experience.

Hippos along Kazinga Channel, Queen Elizabeth National Park Elephants along Kazinga Channel, Queen elizabeth National Parkbushbuck in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Other common herbivores include warthogs, waterbucks, Uganda Kob and topi, as wells as the sitatunga antelope.

 A herd of antelopes in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda

 

2. Big Cats Tree climbing Lion in Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park

A leopard seen at Queen Elizabeth National ParkQueen’s most elusive inhabitants are its felines: lions, leopard, civet, genal and serval cats.

Lions are found throughout the park, but the most renowned live in the southern sector of Ishasha, where they rest on the limbs of fig trees. Solitary leopards are norcturnal and fiendishly well camouflaged! The smaller cats are also predominantly norcturnal and best spotted on night game drives.

 

 

 

 

A herd of lions in Kasenyi plains, Queen Elizabeth National Park

3. Birds

Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park is an incredible treat as it contained a variety of habitats that range from savanna to wetlands to lowland forests. This diversity is reflected in the list of over 600 bird species, the biggest of any protected area in East Africa, and phenomenal of such a small area. Queen Elizabeth National Park is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birding International. A majority of birds found in this area are regarded as famous birds of East Africa and are a must see for birdwatchers in Africa!

The park’s confluence of savanna and forest, linking to the expansive forests of the DR Congo allow visitors to spot East as well as Central African species.

 Double toothed barbet agnificent chap with his odd beak is an African Spoon bill and he is with an Egyptian goose (taking a break from Tahir square)Spur winged Lapwing

African Skimmer

Present in the park are numerous water birds, woodland and forest dwellers in the Maramagambo Forest, 54 raptors and various migratory species. Key species include the martial eagle, black-rumped buttonqail, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, pinkbacked pelican, African broadbill, Verreaux’s eagle owl, black bee-eater, white tailed lark, whitewinged warbler, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, corncake, lesser and greater flamingo, shoebill, bar-tailed godwit.

For the best birding in Queen, don’t miss these birding hotspots: Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Pennisular, Maramagambo forest, Ishasha sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge Area and Katwe Area.

4. The Launch Trip along Kazinga Channel

boat ride with elephantsThe Kazinga Channels is an oasis for many of the fascinating species that inhabit the park, and taking a boat tour along it gives visitors the chance to cruose just meters from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline.

An average of 60 bird species can be spotted during the trip. Carrying upto 40 passengers, the boats guuarantee a seat with a view, while expert ranger guides narrate the creatures’ stories

The launch trips last two hour and run 3-4 times a day.

 

 

 175464_493225570696784_1334864289_o
Crocodile along Kazinga Channel

Elephants in Kazinga Channel
Elephants in Kazinga Channel

5. Chimpanzee tracking and Primate Viewing

Ten primates species enjoy the park’s diverse habitats, the most popular of which is undoubtedly the chimpanzee. Vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys are easily spotted in the trees, but the bolds of all are the baboons – be sure to keep car windows closed to avoid food thefts!

Kyambura Game Reserve,clip_image001 also known as Kyambura Gorge, is one of the most popular tourist draw of  Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in Uganda. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including the only primates in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The area is an important water source for many animals and is surrounded by savanna, but is generally noted for its high concentration of primate life located in the gorge.

Here is where you can see habituated chimpanzees and other types of primates including red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys. The park is also known for its variety of avian species including various falcons, the blue-headed bee-eater and the African Finfoot.
The Gorge forms the border between Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, a little visited tract of savannah notable less for its wildlife viewing than the waterbirds – in particular flamingo attracted to its lovely crater lakes.

Trekking the chimps in Kyambura Gorge is more physically challenging and therefore is suitable only for reasonably fit people. But it is a real rainforest experience, and the place is fantastic. In my opinion it is one of the best place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.

 

 

Maramagambo Forest

Buzzing with primates, including chimpazees, baboons and several monkey species, the forest is also alive with numerous birds including the rare forest flycatcher, white-naped pigeon and striking Rwenzori Turaco. One must visit the ‘comorant house’, a large tree that has been turned white by the birds that roost here at night. The shady forest also conceals crater lakes and the “Bat Cave” with a specially constructed viewing room.


6. The Explosion Craters, Lake Katwe Salt Works, Rwenzori Mountains

The 72 huge round basins scattered across the equator are evidence of the Albertine Rift’s bubbling volcanic past, and are a must-see with a particular interest in the region’s fascinating geological history. The 27km drive between Kabatoro Gate and the Queen’s Pavilion takes in views of the enormous craters, circular lakes, the Rift Valley escarpment and the Kazinga Channel, all in front of the mighty backdrop of the Rwenzori mountains.

lake katwe
Lake Katwe

One other famous lookout points is the Katwe Salt Lake where traditional salt mining had been practiced since the 16th century. The neighboring Lake Munyanyange is a bird sanctuary, as well as a migratory location for the lesser flamingo from August to November.

7. Caves and Cultural Tourism

Tucked beneath the shady canopy of the Maramagambo Forest is the “Bat Cave”. The cave has a viewing room from where visitors cn observe the bats as well as pythons that live alongside them… did you know that these serpents live amongst their prey?!

For a more cultural cave experience, how about a trip to the historic cave at Nyanz’ibiri community, where a local guide will explain to you how it was once used for offering sacrifices and cleansing misfortunes … and as a hiding place during Uganda’s rule by Idi Amin.

Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is really a Medley of Wonders!


More about Queen Elizabeth National Park

Accommodations, Lodgings in Queen Elizabeth National Park >>

Queen Elizabeth National Park Information

Include Queen Elizabeth National Park on your tailor-made trip around Uganda (and Rwanda) by contacting one of our specialists...

Call a specialist on +256 772 979425 or email info@gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best One-day Tour Options in and around/ near Kampala

1 day Chimps trek in Budongo Forest Kaniyo-Pabidi, Murchison Falls National Park with primates and lots of birdschimp3

Located in Murchison Falls National Park Budongo Forest Reserve is 793 square kilometers of which only 53% is forest and the rest grassland. Budongo Forest boasts of a high biodiversity of 24 species of small animals 9 of which are primates, 465 species of trees and shrubs, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130 species of moths. The forest is renowned for its high number of mahogany trees and chimpanzees. The forest is believed to contain some 600-700 chimpanzees

As a result of this great biodiversity two eco-tourism sites have been set and optimized for tour activities - Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro Eco Tourism Sites. These two sites have chimpanzees that have been habituated for chimpanzee tracking. 

In Kaniyo Pabidi, six groups have been habituated.  In May, June, July and August visitors have over a 90% chance of seeing the chimps. In February, March, April and September this drops to 70%, and in October, November, December and January, when food is scarcer, chances drop to 50%. book

Itinerary

Leave Kampala at 6 am for your 4 hour drive north to Budongo Forest.  Drive through the Ugandan countryside which alone is worth the trip toward Masindi.  There is lots to see and many fabulous picture opportunities.  Arrive at Kaniyo Pabidi at Budongo Forest and have lunch and then embark on the chimpanzee tracking.  After tracking return to Kampala by 7 pm...a full day, but well worth it and a most rewarding experience.  Your best one day Chimpanzee tracking experience while in Uganda.
                                                            More details here >>

1 day Lake Mburo National Park SafariLeopard sigted frequently in lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park habours several species not observed elsewhere in Uganda. It is the only place in Uganda to support a population of impala (from which Kampala city derives its name), and only one of the three protected areas countrywide where Burchell's zebra occurs, the other two being the far less accessible Kidepo and Pian-Upe. Other antelopes easily seen are topi, bushbuck, common duiker, oribi, Defassa waterbuck and Bofor reedbuck, while the lake and booklush fringing vegetaion support  healthy populations of buffalo, warthog, bush-pig and hippopotamus. Large herds of the majestic eland keep roaming the park. The sitatunga confines itself to the swampy areas of the park. Only two diurnal primates occur in Lake Mburo: the vervet monkey and olive baboon. Nocturnal calls of the spotted hyena can be heard through the night.  Leopard, side-striped jackal and various smaller predators are also present, most visibly the white-tailed mongoose and three otter species resident in the lakes.

 

Itinerary

Leave Kampala from your place of stay at 6 am. Drive to Lake Mburo, water provided by us along the way. Check into Park and go on a Drive of the Park viewing the animals and birds along the 3 hour drive with Uganda Wildlife Authority Guide. Fabulous views of Buffaloes, Zebras, Leopards, a variety of antelopes, warthogs, and one of the few places to view zebras in Uganda.

Lunch along the Lake (there are 5 lakes within the Park) and then a boat ride along the shore. View crocodiles and lots of hippos with a variety of birds to see. This is the highlight of your trip there today.

Afterwards, we bid farewell to the park’s friendly staff as we depart for Kampala. We drive through a magnificent hilly country and lush cultivation on an approximately four-hour journey.

En route we will stop at the Equator for photographs and ‘polar-water experiment', then a local community popular for making local drums (Mpabire Village), gardens, crafts shops and fruit markets.

We will be in Kampala in the evening.

                                                                                                                                           More details here >>

Full-day White Water Rafting on River Nile (Grade 5)

rafting-on-river-nile-uganda-grade-5This trip is all about having fun so get ready for the most exhilarating rollercoaster ride of your life. Considered one of the wildest one day white water rafting trips in the world, no safari to Uganda would be complete without truly experiencing the Nile from its source. You too can conquer this wild and untamed river with the pioneers of rafting on the Nile.

Early morning after your breakfast, the driver guide will pick you at your place or hotel of residence ready for a drive to the adventure capital Jinja. Jinja lies in the south east of Uganda, 54 miles (87 km) north east of the capital, Kampala. It is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, near to the source of the White Nile River.
Arriving in time for rafting briefing, here you choose to raft in the paddle-powered boats for one of the wildest raft rides on the planet, or opt to be rowed downstream by our professional guides in the safety raft. After a buffet lunch you will hit a series of more wild rapids and wind the evening with BBQ snacks after rafting.  Return to Kampala in the evening for overnight and dinner at your hotel.

The trip includes:book

- Award-winning Adrift river crew, by far the most experienced on the continent
- Safety rafts and kayakers, photographer and video-kayaker
- High-flotation life jackets, helmets, spray jackets and custom-made rafting equipment
- ‘Famous’ Adrift lunch on our private mid-river island, complimentary beer/sodas after the trip
- Vehicle shuttle from Kampala to Jinja
- BBQ snack after the trip

Excludes: Any other activities not mentioned in the program

For Jinja Excursion, you can choose to do half day rafting and spare the afternoon to visit the Source of the river Nile and discover John Speke Monument having believed to have discovered the source of the Nile, this can be done combined with a sunset cruise on the Nile before return to Kampala


1 Day Jinja, Mabira, Source of Nile Tour

Meet with our driver/ Tour guide at your hotel and transfer to Jinja via Mukono District. Make a stopover at Mabira forest. Proceed to Jinja reaching the source of the Nile. Take a boat trip to the source of the Mighty Nile River. The spot where the River starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.  While at the source get a chance to view different species of birds especially the kingfisher.  This tour can be done any time of the year. It can also be done at the start or at the end of any of our other safari packages.

Itinerary

Meet with our driver/ Tour guide at your hotel and transfer to Jinja via Mukono District. Make a stopover at Mabira forest. Proceed to Jinja reaching the source of the Nile. Take a boat trip to the source of the Mighty Nile River. The spot where the River starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.  While at the source get a chance to view different species of birds especially the kingfisher.  Go for lunch at Nile Resort Hotel/ Hotel Triangle and in the afternoon go for a half day rafting trip at the Bujjagali falls. Return in the evening and immediately transfer back to Kampala. This tour can be done any time of the year. It can also be done at the start or at the end of any of our other safari packages.

More details here >>

1 Day Chimpanzee visit to Ngamba Island Chimps Sanctuary on Lake Victoria

Chimpanzees on Ngamba Island Chimps Sanctuary on lake Victoria, EntebbeThis amazing one day tour to Ngamba Chimps Sanctuary. The Island is a chimpanzee sanctuary managed by the Jane Goodall Institute. Ngamba Island consists of approximately 100 acres, 98 of which are forested and separated from the visitors area by an electric fence. Ngamba Island was officially opened to visitors in October 1999 and is currently home to 40 orphaned chimpanzees.

You are transferred to the pier in Entebbe. from where we take a pleasant (45 minutes) boat ride on Lake Victoria to Ngamba Island. On arrival at the Island, home to 39 chimpanzees, you will be given a short introduction and briefing on the sanctuary like why it was established and the back ground as well.

You will reach in time for feeding the Chimpanzee and you will watch them feed. Spend about 1 hour with the chimps and later in the afterbooknoon take a rest at the pool side or the lake shores as you wait for the next feeding of the chimps to watch them feed. It’s astounding! You will then transfer back to Entebbe After which, its feeding time!

It is interesting to watch the chimps interact with each other and with their keepers. In the relatively short amount of time you are there you will be able to see such different personalities amongst the group, with some whistling for food and others clapping. Obviously the ideal option would be to re-introduce these orphaned chimpanzees to the wild however this is not possible for a number of different reasons and the sanctuary is not bad for second best.

 More details here >>

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tracking Oruzogo Gorilla Family in Bwindi–Information, Accommodations, Transport

Oruzogo gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in Ruhija together with Bitukura,and Kyaguriro (which is the gorilla family dedicated purely for research). Gorilla trek safari at only $730 at www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.comThis gorilla family can be trekked from Buhoma or Ruhija. The group consists of 16 individuals including 1 dominant silverback (named Tibirikwata) and two babies that were recently born. Although the sex of the two babies is yet to be established, the proud mothers are the cute adult females Birungi and Mutesi. The new babies join the posse of other infants Buchura and Kanywani who is Kakobe’s baby.

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Naming all the 16 individuals save for the three infants who are currently known by their mothers’ identities like Mutesi baby or Birungi baby was completed before it was availed for tracking in 2012.
Other individuals in the group include Busungu(Meaning short tampered),Kashundwe, Nyakiina,Kaganga (the giant one),Otaka,Bwoba(the coward) Karimi (tongue) Kiromba, KLatooto (the small one) Kanywani(meaning friendly,Kakobe who looks like a monkey and Buchura referring to the youngest or last born before the two newest babies came forth.

Tracking Oruzogo Gorilla Group

If you intend to track this gorilla family, it is advisable you plan a night before in either Kabale town, Ruhija or in Buhoma (Bwindi’s park headquarters). It takes about 2 hours driving from either Kabale or Buhoma. Since there gorilla tracking starts at 7:00 AM, you should plan to depart either of these places latest 5AM. If you are spending the night before tracking in Ruhija, it is muc easier because it’s in Ruhija that the gorilla tracking trailhead is located. In all cases, ensure you are at the UWA offices in Ruhija at 7:00AM for the pre-trek briefing.

Read about my experience tracking Oruzogo gorilla family here >>

 

Getting to Ruhija

Ruhija is about 456 kilometers from Kampala city and about 52 kilometers from Kabale town, it is about 52 kilometers from Buhoma-Bwindi impenetrable National park`s HQ. When traveling from 4WDneed_thumb11Kabale after about 26 kms, you will branch off Kisoro road by signpost of UWA- Ruhija.

IMG_3149_thumb9If you will be travelling from Kampala, you can take advantage of cheap private transfers from http://www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com/transfers_to_Bwindi_transport_to_Gorilla_trek_Uganda.htm and negotiate your deal. You can also take a public bus to Kabale (preferably Jaguar or Kampala coach). These buses are quite unreliable as they often breakdown along the way and many of them have been involved in fatal accidents. From Kabale to Ruhija public transport is by pick-up tracks which are not recommended at all. You may therefore need to hire a private taxi to Ruhija at about $90 one way including fuel and driver. The section of the road from the turn-off from the main road to Ruhija requires a 4x4, especially during the rainy season (although there’s no marked dry spell for Ruhija).

 

 

 

 

Along the Way to Ruhija

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Views of the Virunga Ranges

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Troupes of Olive baboons are a common site along the way

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Golden cat, quite rare but may be encountered along the way to Ruhija

Accommodation in Ruhija

Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge - Bwindi Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge Bwindi

This is probably the nicest option in the Ruhija area and the best option when trekking to Oruzogo Gorilla Family. On clear days the view of the Virunga volcanoes, is breath taking.

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Ruhija Community Rest Camp
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The camp is located just a few meters from the UWA Office of Ruhija where all gorilla tracking in this area is done. Ruhija Community Rest Camp (RCRC) is a community based enterprise, initiated and managed by some community members. Most likely it is the cheapest lodging option you can get in Ruhija Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Learn more >>


Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort and Campsite

IMG_6676_thumb1Safari tents with AMAZING views, nice staff, very close to the gorilla trekking start. It is located about 600m from the Ruhija Gorilla tracking trail-head. An ideal budget lodging in Ruhija accommodation during your trip for you to track Kyanguriro, Bitukura and Oruzongo Gorilla Groups.

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Cuckooland Lodge (Moderate $$):

CuckooLand Lodge Bwindi UgandaA new mid-range tented lodge set in a spectacular location on the eastern edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, with superb views overlooking Bwindi ForeCuckooLand Lodge Bwindi Ugandast. Cukooland Lodge occupies 10 acres of land facing directly Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on the way from Ruhija to Buhoma. Lodging consists of 4 self-contained, spacious, comfortably furnished double tents, built on wooden platforms and with a thatched roof and large verandah. Learn more >>


Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp This is a small camp with 4 thatched roof cottages with balconies overlooking the valley, forest and volcanoes. Located about 5 minutes from Bwindi/ Ruhija park offices from where gorilla IMG_6685_thumb1tracking for either of the three families Oruzogo, Bitukula, and Kyaguliro starts.

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Are you planning to track the mountain gorillas and need assistance from a local tour operator based in Uganda and Rwanda? Please contact us or see some suggested packages below for a fast and efficient service.

1 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trek
2 Days Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Tour
3 Days Rwanda Gorilla Tracking
3 Days Uganda Gorilla Trek

6 Days Gorilla and Wildlife Safari Uganda

7 Days Uganda Wildife and Gorilla Safari

Budget, Luxury Car hire Uganda, Kampala
More tours here >>>


Thursday, January 17, 2013

How safe is Uganda for Tourists?

 How safe is Uganda for Tourists?
Uganda is generally considered to be a safe, stable country with low crime rates. The Sudan border region and the Karamoja in the north should be avoided (with exception of Kidepo Valley National Park).
Use common sense in the cities – do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables, and keep money and credit cards in an inside pocket.

All you need to know about Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Trekking to see the golden monkeys is another highlight of Volcanoes National Park. The Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti) is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey” and is endemic to the high altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park area. The Golden monkeys are rare species is listed as endangered. The monkeys are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping from bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor towards the base of the volcanoes and have overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists.

Golden Monkeys Volcanoes National Park RwandaThere are two habituated groups of Golden Monkey, one group comprises around 80 - 100 members and has its home at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo.

In the same way you track mountain gorillas so will your track the golden monkeys. Treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. Departure for the Golden Monkey trek is from the Park’s Kinigi Headquarters at 07:00am. The number of visitors is not limited and the fee for a Golden Monkey permit is currently USD$100 per person per trek. Permits can either be arranged in advance or booked at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek. Porters can be hired at the entry point of the park.

Golden Monkeys are very sprightly creatures, and leap from tree to tree which is really entertaining, if a little difficult to photograph! We recommend setting your camera to a fast shutter-speed to allow for low light in the dense undergrowth and to better your chances of capturing the golden monkeys on film!

This is a great way to spend an extra day in the Volcanoes National Park and if you're interested in wildlife, this is a rare and delightful experience not to be missed!

If you would like further information or would like help booking your golden monkey permit, or would like to add golden monkey tracking to your tour program, then please either contact us for assistance.

Friday, January 11, 2013

NGO Sues Uganda Government over National Museum Demolition

Representing many others, a Kampala based NGO called Pro-Biodiversity Conservationist in Uganda (PROBICOU) has sued the government of Uganda for its refusal to release details concerning the shopping mall project supposedly meant to be constructed at the current location of the Uganda’s only national museum. It intends to lease out the land to investors to develop a shopping mall at the site.

The case is in Magistrate’s Court Mengo anduganda museum it is registered as No. 185 of 2012 and it is different from Ellady Muyambi HRCI which filed its case earlier seeking a permanent injunction against the controversial project.

PROBICOU argues that government’s refusal to release information is contrary to article 41 and 50 of the constitution besides breaching sections 2,5,6,37,41 &42 of the access to information Act among other laws. The NGO also accuses the minister of trade Amelia Kyambadde for failing to compel technocrats at her ministry to release information regarding the proposed construction of the East African Trade Center, its architectural plans and certified copies of the plot’s land title.

They are also demanding access to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment report, cultural heritage impact assessment report, geological surveyors report, and bid documents showing the number of companies that bided for the project as required by the PPDA. The petition shows that the NGO has been asking for this information since March 2012 to no avail.

Through its lawyers of Pearl Advocates and Solicitors, the NGO claims it’s demanding to access that information in good faith and public interest. The NGO’s Executive Director Paul Twebaze is among those swearing affidavits supporting the petition.

The National museum is a major tourist attraction in Kampala, typically included on every Kampala City tour itinerary for visitors. The museum was founded in 1908 after George Wilson called for "all articles of interest" on Uganda to be procured. Also among the collections in the Uganda Museum are playable musical instruments, hunting equipment, weaponry, archaeology and entomology.

The Uganda museum is currently under the threat of demolition as the Uganda Government is planning to build in its place an "East African Trade Centre". Four civil society organizations vis - the Historic Resources Conservation Initiatives (HRCI), Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU), Historical Buildings Conservation Trust (HBCT) and Jenga Afrika have taken the government of the Republic of Uganda to court to stop the government's plans.

In April 2011 when the campaign had gathered momentum, Francesco Bandarin, the Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO, wrote to Kahinda Otafiire, the then minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry at the time, urging the government to abandon the move and find alternative land elsewhere.

“As you are aware, the Uganda National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in the country. Its exhibitions on traditional culture, archeology, history, science and natural history are among the most important in East Africa… In light of the above considerations, we would appreciate it if  you could inform us of the official position of your government regarding the fate of the Uganda National Museum,” Bandarin wrote on April 15, 2011.

Similarly, last year, Merrick Posnansky, who was curator of the museum between 1958 and 1962, wrote in The Independent, a Ugandan weekly news magazine, that it would not be ideal to transfer the contents of the museum safely.
“I have seen museums restricted to floors of a multi-storey building. They do not work. A museum needs different rooms for different exhibitions, two floors would restrict some movement,” Posnansky wrote.

The museum was founded in 1908 and has exhibits and artifacts of traditional culture, archeology, history and science. It has various interesting sections riddled with artifacts that bring to life the different historical aspects of our society. For instance, in the Stone Age section, one is able to observe physical tools used by Stone Age people. These tools include stones, bones and wood used for cutting, scrapping and chipping, and how they evolved into the modern tools that Ugandans use today, or used in the recent past.

One is also able to see how we evolved from our ancestors, from the pre-historic period through the history of apes and how they evolved into humans. The story is told by the displayed pictures, as well as real tools and bones or skulls that make the history we learn in school seem more real.

Uganda’s multicultural and colourful past comes alive as one tours the History and Iron Age displays depicting the traditional ways of life in different kingdoms, tribes and communities of Uganda. Here one finds striking displays of traditional clothing (mostly bark cloth and animal skin), headdress, hairdressing, as well as hunting, the history of transportation, fishing, agriculture, war, religion, and how our ancestors spent their free time (traditional recreation).

Also of interest is the display that describes how justice was dispensed in Uganda many years ago. With no penal code, police force or criminal investigations department as they exist today, how did people in earlier days know/prove who had committed which crime and what punishment fitted him/her? One would be able to learn that the Madi and Lugbara used divine pots to assess the innocence of the accused.

However, despite this rich cultural heritage value, government believes that the museum has become a liability, having failed to generate any meaningful revenue. A trade centre in the same place, government feels, would perform much better. Yet government must also take part of the blame, having continually underfunded the museum. For instance, for the 2011/2012 financial year, it was allocated a mere Shs 50 million, money that certainly is not enough to meet its needs.

Over the years, the management of the museum has tried to come up with innovative ways to circumvent the funding crisis. It has, for instance, leased part of its land to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which has established offices and to private developers like Ibamba restaurant. However, sources told us that the museum has no direct control over the resources generated from these ventures.

 

Thousands of Ugandas and foreign visitors visit the site every month thus making it a major source of foreign exchange for the country. The museum currently employs slightly over 100 staff directly.

what is going to happen, will government give in? Watch this space for government’s response to the petition.

A Thrilling Experience Climbing Mount Elgon

When lovesick youth proclaim things like ‘I will climb any mountain for you’, they have no idea what they are saying. For Titus Kakembo, Mount Elgon looked like an attractive challenge, until he started the actual climb.

Establishing Gloria summit near Wagagai in Elgon2
Wagagai summitin Elgon


As we set out to climb Mount Elgon, we were treated to the semierotic Kadodi dance as jubilant residents performed the ritual jog and dance to the beat. Kadodi is a traditional dance to celebrate the Bugisu rite of imbalu (circumcision), the initiation of boys into manhood.
Friends, relatives and in-laws to be of the circumcised boys are in carnival mood. They tell tales of the brave candidates rubbing hot pepper or salt in the raw wound. This is done by initiates, just to impress the opposite sex or be elevated a rung above their peers.


Imbalu country
On a Friday morning, I joined some members of the revived Uganda Mountain Climbers Club on a mission to scale the landslide-prone volcanic ranges in eastern Uganda. After a bumpy ride to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) offi ce in
Budadiri, we were ambushed by the imbalu group gyrating to the kadodi beat as if they were possessed.
The band was led by an ochrepainted lad, whose body glistened with beads of sweat under the noon sunshine. He was decorously dressed in intricate strings of beads. Motorists had to pay sh2,000 or more, for the crowd to give way like the Red Sea when the Biblical Moses slapped it with his walking stick.
Besides that, Budadiri is visibly suffering from retarded development. What used to be a tourist hotspot, Wagaigai Hotel, is overgrown with bush. It was named after the highest peak of Mount Elgon. Once plush and comfy, the hotel has since closed down. Today, tourists ride from Mbale on boda boda or rickety mini buses, which are in the habit of breaking down.
The main mosque in Budadiri struggles to stay on its feet as the bricks fall apart. All the mountain climbers can get before embarking on the adventure are chapati for sh300, boiled maize for sh200-sh500 and soda for sh1,000. At Muzafari’s nameless eating place, a plate of katogo is sh2,500 and tea served in a hot steel mug costs sh800.
Residents complain about the banana wilt disease that has destroyed their banana plantations, while coffee is no longer profitable as was the case in the 1960s. Elders prefer the coffee smuggling days of the 1970- 1980s, when they exchanged their produce with essential commodities. They also speak of the menacing landslides costing their lives and property.

In the wild
“Seeing us armed and dressed in army uniforms should not scare anybody,” the assistant UWA warden, Steven Nyandra, interrupts my train of thought. I was worried about my maiden Mount Elgon expedition. “It is strictly to ensure your safety. In our paths are wild animals ranging from sitatungas, tree hyrax, duiker, elephants, bush pigs, leopards and many others that need scaring away as we trespass their territory.”
Besides the wild animals on this trail, there is plenty of birdlife, including the handsome Ross’ Turaco, hornbills, and the Crowned Eagle. We signed our individual credentials in a UWA book and were fl agged off. Nyandra steered clear of mentioning the fact that, due to the Al Shabaab threats to Kenya, Uganda’s security forces beefed up security at popular tourist attractions.

Strong porters
We were joined by spindly-limbed, but energetic porters. They know the mountain so well, they could climb it with their eyes closed. The checklist comprises of food, tents, cameras and luggage for climbers. For a wage of sh50,000 a trip, the porters trek up and down at a fast pace, like a cursor criss-crosses a computer screen as it is controlled by the mouse.
Unlike their sophisticated clients, the porters need no mountain boots, insect repellents or climbing gear. Excitement is written all over their faces as they shuffle about to share the luggage. I overheard careless whispers about “weak urban dwellers” who take several days to do what they are capable of accomplishing in five hours. “I hope nobody has any sickness like a cold, headache, malaria or is under medication,” cautioned Nyandra as we prepared to set off at Bumasika village. He then announced that the climb would take two to five days.
He was confi dent that two days would do, considering the energy displayed by the members in our group — CharlieLangan, UBC’s Dennis Sigowa, Carolyn Mcpherson, Andy Wunder and Jenny Farmer, beside myself. The cook, Zeveriyo Gibaba, armed with tomatoes, onions, spaghetti, tinned beans, biscuits and maize fl our, assured us that he would take care of us.
“Just take along a huge appetite because you need tones of energy to get up there,” he said. He added that he has been cooking for mountain climbers for four years and was born here, so we didn’t have to worry. I wondered whether I had heard the mention of malewa, a local delicacy made from bamboo, nyamachoma and cans of tinned beer or was it my wild imagination? Earlier on, at the planning stage, there was mention of beef. But it was cancelled as one of the climbers was allergic to meat.

The higher you go...
On our way up, we met locals going down with loads of potatoes, malewa and firewood. Either way, movement was in single fi le, like soldiers on patrol. Within three hours, we were audibly gasping for breath. The higher we went, the more conversation dropped from the regular banter to monologues.
My breath became laboured; the knees were aching like I had walked from Moroto to the Martyr’s shrine in Namugongo. This was at a height of 2000m above sea level. When I answered to nature’s call, my urine was mysteriously yellow. I developed a pounding headache. The leather mountain boots were feeling heavy and making me move in moonwalk style.
I felt so thirsty and spent. Nyandra noted that it was a red flag. He told me that I did not have to walk at the same pace as the others, but at my own pace. However, I still found breathing harder in spite of having reduced my pace. We took another break and then I was told to take the lead so as not to be discouraged by the others’ speed. Nyandra noticed I was struggling. He told me not to push my limits because it would only get worse as we went higher.

Giving up
After two breaks, I painfully gave up the climb as the rest continued up. I sat down on a stone and Daniel Owiny, one ranger, stayed with me to lead me back down. I had really wanted to reach Wagagai and the cliff described as ‘the wall of death’, but my body was screaming for relief. I knew then the meaning of ‘the spirit is willing, but the fl esh is weak’. To my surprise, descending was no easy task either. We met a thread of safari ants crossing the paths.
They were ready to bite any flesh. Snuggling through my corduroy trouser, one was destined upstairs, another
dug its teeth in my arm through the overcoat and roamed my rucksack. I contemplated stripping myself naked for relief — after all it was just me and Owiny.
Later, Owiny, who was behind me, lost his footing and landed with a thud on his backside. How he controlled his fall without letting the AK47 go puzzled me. I never investigated whether one safari ant had not ventured up his camouflaged army trousers and caused the upset.

Broken bridge
At Bumasifwa trading centre, we parted ways. The wooden bridge on River Machapa that we had used some hours earlier was partly broken and cars could not cross over. A lorry loaded with maize had done the damage to most of the wooden slats. Owiny got me a boda boda that could somehow balance on what was left of the bridge to cross the river. I said a prayer for God to save me from a landslide as I balanced on the motor bike.
By now, my breathing was normal, the headache had disappeared without taking any pain killer and the dizziness was no more! The boda boda left me sh5,000 poorer, for a 15-minute ride, down a slope, in free gear! “I hear before we (Bagisu) settled here, there was a tribe called Elgonyi, who used to occupy this land.
They migrated, but the name was corrupted into what we now call Mount Elgon, ” the boda boda rider narrated. I went to my lodge in Mbale town and the next day I met Denis Sigowa and Peter who had also given up the climb and beaten a hasty retreat back to sanity. They were staggering as if they had been wrestling an elephant.
We had a sumptuous lunch at a boarding house called Last Chance. I was updated on what I missed when I dropped out before reaching Mudde Camp for a night.

What I missed
Apparently, the team had gone on in silence, only listening to each other panting for breath. Drama reportedly unfolded when they reached the precarious escarpment called the Wall of Death. That night, when they slept, one of the climbers screamed his head off as he dreamt he had missed a step and was falling down a bottomless pit.
Contrary to expectations, by the time they got to the rest place, Sigowa failed to eat, yet he was very hungry. As usual, the swift porters had already made a fi re and prepared meals — porridge, tea and coffee. The bath water was already steaming hot. There were lots of biscuits and juice.The members of the Mountain
Climbing Club wanted to sample the malewa, but the guides could not let them do that before reaching the peak. That was the end for Sigowa who begun staggering back the next day.
The climbers helped residents in the mountain slopes in roasting a dough mix, which is a raw material for brewing beer. Charlie Langan, a tourist from the UK, went right up to the peak. He says on reaching there, after a 45-minute rest, the first thunder rumbled through the expansive crater.
They quickly started their way down for fear of lightning striking them up there. A minute later, it started raining stones in their faces. The enormous thunder took them off their feet. It happened in a fl ash. They were left completely soaked. The thunder seemed to be below and above. “The guide showed me the Kenya side of Mount Elgon,” Langan recounted. “I remain blown away by what I saw at the tip of Mount Elgon.
There are the Wagagai hot springs, the caldera, Mude Caves and the kind of vegetation you will not see elsewhere in Uganda.” He lamented about the wild life that has been depleted by poachers “We never saw a single mammal mentioned in the writings of the Mountain Climbing Club members of the 1950s. But the bamboo forest and the blue sky is like a piece of canvas. And Sipi Falls on the return route is spectacular,” he observed.
According to him, Mount Elgon is easy and cheap to climb. It needs no special skills. The altitude sickness is mild compared to Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya. It can be climbed at any time of the year. Hikers have to supply their own tents because there are no huts. Just bring along enough warm clothing.
First published in Discovery Magazine (Sunday Vision) July 8, 2012:
Vision Group Resource Centre