Sunday, 19 April 2015

The best gorilla safaris experience in africa

Having the chance to trek through Volcanoes National Park to see the mountain gorillas was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I cannot recommend it enough. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable, and the opportunity to stand only a few feet away from a full-grown silverback gorilla is a breathtaking privilege. Be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy footwear and thick pants to protect against the stinging nettles. Although we could have easily carried our own bags, my family and I chose to each hire a local porter for $10/bag, as they depend on trekkers as a vital source of income. Be sure to take a few minutes away from your camera (easier said than done!) and just watch the gorillas, really soaking in the experience. It truly is a once in a lifetime adventure.

The 1 hour with the gorillas is an amazing experience I will never forgot. We were surrounded by 23 gorillas including a silverback, a few black back males, females, teenagers and babies! There was 7 tourists (max is 8) in our group, 2 guides and 2 rangers so the experience was very intimate!
The $750 permit seemed expensive when planning for this trip but I felt that the money is being put to good use in protecting the gorillas with trackers, rangers, and guides to educate tourists (Gus and Manny our guides were very knowledge and friendly) 10% of the permit fee also goes back to the local community to support schools and services.

We were on a 4 day tour in Rwanda and told our driver we were interested in a medium effort hike and he arranged for us to be placed in the Agasha group 13. The hike was about 45 min through farm fields and 45 min in the bush, relatively easy with only a slight grade to find the group. We lucked out with sunny dry skies. We hired porter for $10 US to carry our daypack, porters can also help you along if needed, but more importantly this gives jobs to local men. Although the porters don't go to see the gorillas, they stay with the backpacks just before see you the gorilla group.

The national park is stunning. This really is the land of a thousand hills. We also hiked Bisoke to the Crater Lake the next day with a group of 8 hikers, a guide and rangers. The permit is $75. The hike goes past the turn off for Dian Fossey tomb where her camp and work took place.

Roads from Kigali to Kinigi are good and traffic and local driving well as well. If I were to do this again I would rent a 4x4 in Kigali and drive myself rather than book a tour, but you really do need a 4x4 and experience driving it for "African massage" roads. Trekked into see one of the gorilla families that Dian Fossey made famous, truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Mountain Gorillas tour and safaris trekking Silverback Mountain Gorilla families, Primate tours to the Mountain Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla families are led and protected by a dominant male known as a “silverback gorilla.” Aptly name for his silver "saddle". Although mountain gorillas are frequently portrayed as aggressive, dangerous killers, perhaps due to Hollywood films, conversely they are social animals that are rather shy, peaceful vegetarians that are active during the day.  This point was originally proven by Dian Fossey when photographs showing the gorilla "Peanuts" touching Fossey's hand depicted the first recorded peaceful
contact between a human being and a wild gorilla.

Male gorillas are much larger than the females, and are almost twice as heavy. Adult male mountain gorillas are called silverbacks because they have a saddle-shaped patch of silver hair on their backs after they have reached about 12 years of age.
Female gorillas carefully nurture their young. Baby gorillas learn to crawl at about 2 months and can walk before they are 9 months old. They can grasp their mother's fur to ride on her back at 4 months.
Baby gorillas are fed mother's milk for the first 2 1/2 years of life. When they are weaned, gorillas begin to build their own sleeping nests out of vegetation (and not use their mother's nest anymore). Young gorillas stay                        with their mother for 3-4 years. Adult male gorillas (silverbacks) will care for weaned orphaned young.
Gorillas are fully grown and able to reproduce at 10-12 years old. Females are pregnant for about 8 to 9.5 months and have about 3 babies in their lifetime. Newborn gorillas weigh only about 3-4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg), about half the weight of a newborn human

Can i do Rwanda and Uganda for gorilla tracking?

The answer is  BIG YES , It is a different experience in both places

Day 1: Arrive at Kigali Airport; make a city tour and transfer to Volcanoes National Park.

Our representative receives you at the airport in Kigali. Time allowing, you will have a city tour going to places like The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre where the remains of over 250,000 Rwandese killed during the 1994 genocide are buried and preserved for remembrance. You will also make a visit to the craft market, have lunch and later leave for Volcanoes National Park, the home of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Take an overnight stay at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (Luxury), Hotel La Palme (Midrange) orMuhabura Hotel (Budget).

Day 2: Mountain Gorilla Tracking in the Volcanoes National Park

Take an early breakfast and head to the park’s briefing centre for a thorough briefing about Mountain Gorillas tracking rules and regulations. The hiking hours when looking for gorillas vary depending on their movements. You are allowed one hour to be with Rwanda Mountain Gorillas as you observe and photograph them as they feed or play around and grumble among themselves. After enjoying gorillas, return to the lodge for a restful evening and later dinner and overnight stay at Muhabura Hotel, La Palme Hotel or Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.

Day 3: Climb to the Dian Fossey Grave.
After breakfast, transfer to the park offices for some briefing before ascending to Karisoke Research Centre, where the celebrated mountain gorilla lover and conservationist, Dian Fossey was laid to rest. This American primatologist spent close to two decades in Rwanda learning and researching about Mountain Gorillas and working hard for their conservation. After this hiking, descend and start your journey to cross over to Uganda. Take an overnight stay atBird Nest or Arcadia Cottages (Midrange) or BunyonyiOverland Resort (Budget).
Day 4: Relaxation at Lake Bunyonyi plus Optional activities
This day is mainly for relaxations. Lake Bunyonyi has fantastic waters and hilly views plus lake breezes that are very for ideal holiday makers. You may optionally go for a canoe ride on the lake, do some bird watching or a nature walk. Have your overnight stay atBird Nest or Arcadia Cottages (Midrange) or Bunyonyi Overland Resort (Budget).

Day 5: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Take breakfast and then set of for Queen Elizabeth National Park. Arrive at the park in the afternoon; check in at the lodge for your overnight. Take overnight atMweya Safari Lodge (Luxury), Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge (Midrange) or Kyambura Safari Cottages(Budget).

Day 6: Do a morning Game Drive and afternoon Boat Cruise.

Take an early morning tea and set off for a morning game drive in the park plains and you will likely spot elephants, spotted hyenas, lions, leopards, stripped jackals, bushbucks, water bucks and warthogs and many wild animals. Over 95 species of mammals and 600 species of birds have been recorded at this vast park. After the game drive, you will return to the lodge for a heavy breakfast and some resting.
Later after lunch, you will go for an evening boat cruise on Kazinga Channel. This is a water channel that joins Lakes George and Edward. Many tourists to this park are always impressed by the Channel’s amazing animal and bird diversities. It is a water spot where buffalos time-out in the water whereas big herds of elephants and several species of bird are seen relishing themselves sideways of the channel. Visitors who take part in the 2 hour cruise along the channel repute it as the climax of their African safari. In short, this water cruise gives an exceptional podium for clear photography, all-encompassing bird-watching and a comprehensive game viewing. Retire in the evening to the lodge. Overnight atMweya Safari Lodge (Luxury), Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge (Midrange) orKyambura Safari Cottages (Budget).

Day 7: Proceed to Kibale National Park, the home of Chimpanzees
Wake up late, have breakfast and start your drive to Kibale National Park, Uganda’s rain forest with a highest concentration of chimpanzees in Uganda. Enjoy your overnight at Mountains of the Moon, Chimps Nest or Kibale Forest Camp.

Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking and Bigodi Nature walk
Enjoy breakfast and transfer to the park headquarters for briefing followed by a walk to the forest to pursue chimpanzees. Besides the chimps, you will likely spot other primates like the red tailed and colobus monkeys plus birds among others plus. After lunch at the lodge, you will go for a nature walk at Bigodi wetland, a paradise for birders. About 138 bird species have been identified in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. You will also see a wide range of biodiversity including many species of primates such as red colobusmonkey, black and white L'Hoest monkey, colobus monkey, grey cheeked, vervet monkey, mangabey, red tailed monkey, blue monkey and baboon. Mammals like Sitatunga, bush pigs, bush bucks, otters, mongooses and chimpanzees similarly visit the swamp from Kibale National Park. In the evening, return to the lodge for overnight. You will stay at Mountains of the Moon, Chimps Nest or Kibale Forest Camp.

Day 9: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park.

Today is only reserved for driving to Murchison falls national park, have lunch enroute. Arrive in the evening. Overnight stay Paraa Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge or Murchison River Lodge.

Day 10: Morning Game Drive and afternoon/evening Launch Cruise
Have an early-morning tea and some snacks and go for a morning game drive in the park. Most likely animals to be seen include hartebeests, jackals, oribi, bushbucks, bohor reed bucks, hyenas, giraffes, lions, antelopes, elephants and the Uganda kobamong others. Return to the lodge for a late morning breakfast and take some restful hours before lunch.
After lunch, you will enjoy an open launch cruise on the calm Nile.  And you will see animals like the buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles, elephants and plenty of water birds like the herons, cormorants, ducks, bee-eaters, kingfishers, skimmers, fish eagles, the rare shoebills, to mention. Overnight stay Paraa Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge or Murchison River Lodge.

Day 11: Visit the Top of the Falls, drive to Kampala and Track Rhinos enroute.

After breakfast, start your trip to Kampala. Briefly visit the fascinating Top of The Falls. The top of the falls is an implausible scene as it’s where the Nile, Africa’s the longest river verves through a narrow gap in the 7 meters wide rock to aggressively plummet down 43 meters, incredible!!!. After here, drive towards Kampala, Uganda,s Capital City. Along the way, you will visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for Rhino tracking for between 2-3 hours and also enjoy lunch here before continuing with journey Kampala where you will arrive in the evening. Have an overnight stay at Sheraton Hotel Kampala, Hotel Africana, Mamba Point or Kampala Lodge.

Day 12: Entebbe Airport Transfer
You will be transferred to the airport 3 hours to your departure flight. 

End of the Trip

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