Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fascinating Uganda


The land of plenty offering you just a sneak peak of the buck list that you need to indulge in if Africa is to stain lifetime memories. www.safaritoeastafrica.com #DJ #sounds of the jungle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My trip to Nyiragongo volcano and Virunga National Park


I travelled to Virunga National Park on 18th February 2018, after postponing this program for so long due to recurrent insecurity in the area. I was so happy that finally from 2016 the situation has improved. Today Virunga is a safer destination.
            The first surprise is the border post between Gisenyi (Rwanda) and Goma (Congo). A huge, modern building, almost as big as an airport, which makes it bigger than any other border post I saw in Uganda and Rwanda. Arriving in Goma, the capital city of North Kivu, the impression is of an organized town, with a lot of constructions going on, nice gardens and good roads, the sign of a fervid, prosperous season.
           
Dining hall at Kibumba Lodge
My journey continues out of town in the direction of Virunga National Park. Few minutes after the road is already murram, in bad conditions and so I understand the need of using a strong land rover for the transfer. The first destination is Kibumba Lodge, located at 2200 meters, at the foothills of Mikeno volcano. From here you can enjoy the first amazing panorama of the Rift Valley in front of you, just before the Lake Kivu, while behind the Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira volcanoes. The lodge has a number of self contained tents, simple but elegant in the furniture, with veranda. Hot water and electricity are guaranteed by the hydroelectric project of the park. The best part of the lodge is the main hall and dining areas, with two nice fire places - considering that in the night the temperature goes down below 10 degrees. The quality of the food and service is outstanding, really remarkable in terms of variety, fresh vegetables, presentation. The lodge manager was also making sure that everyone was well served and making plans for the following day programs.
Nyakamwe silverback gorilla
            On 19th February was the day of my gorilla trekking. After early morning breakfast, the vehicle came to pick me to proceed to Bukima eco-tourist site, the major “hub” for gorilla activities. Indeed here are found four out of eight gorilla families open for tourism in the Park. With about 300 gorillas living in the park, the total belonging to habituated groups is 120. I trekked the Nyakamwe family of twelve members, named after the silverback now 22 years old. There are two babies of 1 and 2 years of age. After following the electric wire of the boundaries among farmland of maize, beans and bananas for about one hour, we entered in a group of six the tropical forest. We were told in the briefing that these gorillas are very calm and peaceful. Indeed, based on my previous experience in Bwindi, I definitely noticed that the gorillas we encountered were so calm, observing us at every moment and at the same time keeping playing, eating and carrying on with their life. There was a female seating in peace observing all of us one by one with curiosity, which helped us to make videos and photographs.
Internal cottages at Mikeno Lodge
After the trekking, I travelled to Mikeno Lodge. Located amidst thick forest, the lodge enjoys the most amazing panoramic view over the Rift Valley. The grass thatched big restaurant is impressive. The cottages, scattered in the forest, are spacious with an ensuite huge bathroom, with a fire place and sitting area.  I could appreciate the best selection of food, especially fruits and vegetables, which later on I discovered are organically cultivated from the lodge gardens.
Semkwekew Orphanage with the antelope and baby gorilla
In Mikeno you really have the feeling of what is Virunga National Park in terms of organization: a big structure with many departments including vehicles and maintenance, helicopters and pilots, lodge staff, tourism department, security and intelligence personnel, rangers and tour guides, gardening, community based organizations. The park is in fact a very efficient and sophisticated machine that makes most of the local economy and social life in the region. For example, the workshop of the Widows’ Fallen Rangers is a tailoring plant providing items and handicraft for the curio shop but also for the general decoration of the lodges, of course using the best of the typical Congolese fabrics.
Next to the head office, I visited the Semkwekwe gorilla orphanage and the gorilla cemetery where are buried about 15 gorillas, many of them killed by poachers. The orphanage was a surprise with the baby gorilla Muzuka of 3 years playing and sharing food with a young antelope, amazing to see this.
           
Costantino at the edge of Nyiragongo
The last activity of my trip was the Nyiragongo volcano climbing. At the base office, about one hour and half drive from Mikeno Lodge, the organization of the park provides with a choice of porters, the cooks, then the personal hike package in a rucksack including a rain jacket, sleeping bag, worm jacket, sweater, worm hat. With 24 spaces available per day, it is better to book in advance the space especially for large groups. The trekking itself to the peak at 3470 meters is not hard, about five hours walk with at least four stops for refreshment of snacks and with available latrines. On the edge of the volcano, where you walk through stones, there are 12 wooden cabins, basic dormitories equipped with sleeping mat.
The Nyiragongo at night
The night is quite cold there, below zero degrees. So considering that rain is quite common in this area, it is very much advisable to have a full change of clothes in case of getting wet (including shoes and socks), as there is no much opportunity to dry clothes on top. It was incredible to spend the evening then the night watching the continuously changing colors of the lava inside the caldera, from yellow to hot red though the fog. The panoramic view over Lake Kivu, the rift valley, the other Virunga volcanoes in front of you is a lifetime emotion worthy all the hardship. The cook provided us with hot meals both for dinner and breakfast, which was well appreciated in the low temperature.
I went back to Kigali leaving this area of Congo thinking that it is incredible that this could not be for long a top tourist destination, only because of the selfish interest of those causing insecurity in the region. The people here, especially the young people thinking about opportunities for their future, can no longer be deprived of what they deserve, peace and tourism.
Our company Destination Jungle is now organizing this trip to Nyiragongo and Virunga National Park, please enquire: http://www.destinationjungle.com/nos_safaris/nyiragongo-volcan-gorille-trekking.html 
Costantino Tessarin








TRUE AFRICAN WILDNESS

Destination Jungle has brought you closer to the culture and budding wildlife of North Eastern Uganda and the Kidepo Valley National Park all in just 10 days. This is an exclusive cultural tour and the first of its kind here in the tropics and Uganda in particular.

Description: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ok7ySDpGk4g/Um5WnLQ8C_I/AAAAAAAAARo/zQlHXN_remk/s320/Karamoja+elders.JPGCome and witness the exciting indigenous culture and lifestyle of North Eastern Uganda while traversing the Matheniko plateaux and the bizarre but breathtaking geography of the Bokora corridor. In this corridor further north, a relatively small population of wildlife still thrives regardless of the prevailing climate change. 

You will most likely spot a good number of wildlife that may include the dik-dik, Hyenas and buffaloes and few Ostriches as you continue up towards the famous Kidepo Valley National Park. On this cultural tour, visit the remaining nomadic of Karamoja whose lifestyle is alas changing slowly to residential agriculturalists.  

Meet with the rather shy but strikingly hardworking inhabitants down of Mt Moroto- the "Tepez". As you shall find on this cultural tour, their lifestyle defines the typical culture of the Karamajong of Kidepo although the greater population stays in excluded parts and communities further north.
Description: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xnR--sLQD_c/Um5Z9zan-cI/AAAAAAAAAR8/WOFXr8FFI9g/s320/Karamoja+community.JPG
Also, get first hand knowledge of the lifestyle of the "Jie" people whose cultural is relatively similar to that of the Tepez save for their striking bodily marks. As part of the Jie custom, entertainment for their visitors is largely pronounced. Most exciting in this community is their traditional dance also traditionally called "Edonja". 

Pastarolism has since time immemorial been the jewel of the North, on this tour, we try to dig deep into the history of Pastorlism for the "Dodoth" people and what love they attached to their livestock. The neighbouring community, the "Ik" people unlike the Dodoth prefer to supplement their livestock with sorghum and millet growing. 

Destination Jungle is proud to give you an insight into the culture and customs of both the East and North of Uganda. The highlight of this tour is a stop at Kidepo Valley National Park, a much desirable destination in Uganda today with her budding wildlife.
  


Monday, August 21, 2017

Low season Gorilla permits in Uganda - Lastever 2017

Greetings from The sounds of the Jungle Uganda and we hope you continue to live life to the fullest wherever you are reading this. 

The Tourist season kicked off with loads of travel enthusiasm this year in both Uganda and Rwanda. Babies in both Bwindi forest and Parc national de Volcano have been added onto the bidding gorilla families. We even had twins twice in the season! How cool can this get!

On the other side, on 05th May 2017 the whole Tourism fraternity wake up to the jaw-dropping news that in Rwanda the price of the gorilla permit had double and with immediate effect! While we were still digesting this news, Uganda came out to announce that 2017 was going to be the final year in the history of gorillas to offer the low season - discounted gorilla permit. 2 blows to the tourism fraternity, but we remain very adventurous amidst all these setbacks. 

Destination Jungle is running the final promotion with the discounted gorilla permit group tour November 2017 where 2 of our lodges, one in Ishasha and another one located on the outskirts of Bwindi forest at the beautiful lake Mulehe are offering discounted rates on accommodations during this promotion. 
Special tour price 9 days / 8 nights: 2240 USD per person
The dates:
October 29th 2017, 04th November & 17th November 2017
Trip summary
Day 1 - Entebbe airport - overnight in Kampala at Cassia Lodge
Day 2 - Kampala - Ziwa Rhino sanctuary walk - Murchison falls National Park overnight in Pakuba Lodge
Day 3 - Game drives in the park, water safari on the River Nile, overnight as previous night at Pakuba Lodge
Day 4 - Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest - local community interaction in the community of Boomu - overnight in Hoima Cultural Lodge
Day 5 - Hoima - Queen Elizabeth park, detour to Bugoma central forest reserve for the tree planting activity - overnight in Ihamba Lake Lodge
Day 6 - Game safari in Queen Elizabeth park - boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel - overnight in Ishasha Jungle Lodge
Day 7 - Ishasha - Bwindi Forest National park, overnight at Bwindi Jungle Lodge
Day 8 - Bwindi forest - gorilla tracking, mokoro trip on Lake Mulehe - overnight at Bwindi Jungle Lodge
Day 9 - Bwindi forest - equator stop and lunch break - drive to Entebbe.
You can book space on one of the 3 group set dates by writing directly to our email

As we wind down the Tourist season and begin to build momentum for 2018, and hope for a more adventurous tourist year. Stay well and Thank you
Sounds of the Jungle
 

Friday, May 12, 2017

PRESS RELEASE BY UGANDA JUNGLE LODGES ON INCREASE OF GORILLA PERMITS IN RWANDA

The increase of gorilla permits fees in Rwanda from $750 to $1,500 on the 6th May 2017 by the Rwanda Development Board has left a number of tourists and Tour Operators stranded. We believe that gorilla trekking should not be the privilege of already privileged rich people, but should be an activity accessible to many in the world, as the mountain gorillas are free on Earth for everyone and should not be utilized commercially.
Uganda Jungle Lodges (www.ugandajunglelodges.com ) is here to rescue the stranded tourists and Tour Operators.  We invite tour operators and tourists to trek gorillas in Uganda at only $600 per permit, which is a reasonable conservation fee.
Bwindi Jungle Lodge is a convenient location located about 7km from Kisoro town on Rubuguli road. This will favor tourists tracking from Bwindi National Park in Rushaga sector and from Mgahinga National Park which is the Uganda’s sector of Virunga Conservation Area. This will help especially those packages which are meant to track from Volcanoes National Park.
On top of providing gorilla permits and good accommodation, we can provide the service of transportation from the Cyanica border or from Kigali as well.
Payments can be done from our office in Kigali c/o Birding Rwanda, KG9 Street next to RDB, junction to KG13 Street.

Management

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bakers Lodge in Murchison falls National park is just stunning

If you are still pondering how to maximize your stay while in Murchison falls national park, well this time round think about including some nights in your safari relaxing at this stunning beauty laying out at the banks of Victoria Nile. We took part in the site inspection trip organized by the management of Bakers Lodge to witness and discover a new gen overlooking the great River Nile.

With 10 magnificently set out and environmentally friendly luxurious suites each facing a dramatic display of bush, the Nile and splendid scenic views, one is quickly brought to the realization of sincere serenity and a sharp sense of being at home in the wilderness.

Each Cottage has been set apart from the other but still a sharp sense of oneness dwells and envelopes the whole scenery whether it is in the rainy season or in the dry months.  Water cruise safaris, up the Nile to the bottom of the magnificent water falls and down the Nile delta to try and spot the bizarre and dramatic shoe bill combined with a breathtaking sun downer cruise will give you more than value for your
money. 


The memory is unforgettable and so will your entire safari in Uganda spotting much more wildlife which is usually basking or playing by the water banks. There is so much than you can expected to find.  Don't be lost in the beauty of it all and forget to book a bush breakfast which will be organized by the lodge and later the safari driver will receive you on the other end of the river to continue with you on a scenic viewing game drive. Don't forget to include Bakers Lodge in your Itinerary for a splendid wildlife safari in Uganda.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda in June 2015

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is a “must see” national park which we always include in our program itineraries. Located within the Albertine Rift Valley between Lake Edward and Lake George, just south of the Rwenzori Mountains, it is one of the most amazing areas to explore for its variety of landscapes (savannah, forests, crater lakes, lakes, hills and valleys).
Crater lakes in the North of Queen Elizabeth
Therefore returning to Queen Elizabeth National Park is always interesting. However, from our last visits in this year 2015, we must acknowledge that some changes are taking place in the Northern sector of the park and, in general, are affecting the beauty and the conservation of the area. The Northern sector of the park, between Kasese, Katunguru and Kyambura, is traversed by a public tarmac road. With time, we noticed that more and more buildings, trading centers and infrastructures are developing in this area of the park, clearly affecting and encroaching on the nature and the wildlife. We used to stop over during the safari for a rest at Lake Bunyanpaka, a salt lake near Kasenyi; now all the lake is surrounded by shops, new lodges and many people are moving around, in what is or was the natural habitat of the lions. Along the main road they have been placed huge, monstrous electricity poles, not those a bit nice, but really those huge metallic poles which damage all the beauty of the landscape. Along Kazinga channel you will find fishermen and boats all over, wondering if this is still a protected area. 
There is nothing of the feeling of “remoteness” and “wilderness” in this area. Moreover, viewing wildlife is a becoming a frustrating experience: basically very few animals can be seen, like few Ugandan kobs or buffaloes or elephants. Sometimes you might find the elephants trying to cross from one side to the other of the main tarmac road while trucks and big buses are along their way. On top of this, it is becoming evident the widespread of infesting grass, like the lanterna camara, which is taking over much space, causing a challenge to the survival of animals which cannot live in that habitat. This lanterna camara is so spread that it is the common grass you will find in the gardens of majority of lodges around the Northern sector of Queen Elizabeth.
Ntungwe River Plains in Ishasha
In conclusion, this area of the park is losing fast its appeal and there are many challenges in the conservation which should be addressed if this park has to remain a tourist destination for which tourists pay a certain fee in exchange of services. We hope that the Uganda Wildlife Authority will be able to coordinate efforts with the Local Government and the Uganda Road Authority to reduce the impact of what is happening.
            Fortunately, there is another side of the story. As you proceed South along the so called Ishasha Road, passing through Maramagambo Forest, you will reach a very different region, the Southern Sector, which is still intact in its beauty. Here you will find amazing sceneries of savannah plains near the course of the rivers Ntungwe and Ishasha. Here you can have a real sense of the “african experience”. You can find in this area many animals and birds. The presence of the so called “tree climbing lions” is not a legend, but a reality, as long as you are a bit lucky and patient in looking around the different figs trees along the trails of the sector. There are two main trails in this area, the Southern and Northern or Ntungwe trails. Any of them can be a real surprise and bring you closer to elephants, buffaloes, antelope topis.
Tree climbing lions spotted in June 2015
Even the area just outside the protected reserve is actually becoming a natural continuation of the savannah. In this side, farmers and villages are moving a bit farer from the park and some of the lodges, initially surrounded by farms, are more and more surrounded by natural habitat. This is the case of our Ishasha Jungle Lodge, which is today found in a tract of natural riparian forest and surrounded by natural savannah, becoming more and more area and refuge to wildlife.

In conclusion, the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park in 2015 is still a “must go” tourist attraction of Uganda.