Friday, March 13, 2020

Results of the gorilla census results for the period 2017/2018


On 16th December 2019 the result of the new gorilla survey for 2018 was released after having been conducted under the framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration initiative.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in 2018 launched a new census of the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi impenetrable National Park to assess their numbers, assess the conservation efforts, estimate the population of other mammals like bush pigs, elephants, and monkeys and human activities in the park for planning and conservation purposes.
The census was funded by the International Gorilla Conservation Program, a global agency of the United Nations dedicated to protecting gorillas and their habitat, to the tune of $100,000 (about sh280m). The team, comprising of Ugandans, Rwandese and DR Congolese wildlife experts traversed the entire 331sq.km forest in this remarkable counting of the great apes.

The final result shows that as of December 2018, Uganda has up to 459 mountain gorillas in 50 groups and 13 solitary individuals in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This number indicates an increase from previous count of 400 gorillas with 36 groups and 16 solitary individuals in 2011.

The survey in Bwindi was preceded by the survey done in the Virunga Massif in 2016, to cover Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga National Park and Virunga National Park. The number of mountain gorillas was established at 604 in total.
Therefore, the global population of mountain gorillas now stands at 1,063 in total between Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
This once more shows that Uganda shares 51% of the total population of mountain gorillas on the planet and the future of these great apes is brighter because the numbers have risen since 2011.

As per March 2020, the access to gorilla eco-tourism in Uganda is as following: Mgahinga National Park with 2 gorilla groups open to public and Bwindi National Park with 4 entry points, respectively Buhoma (with 3 gorilla groups), Ruhija (with 4 gorilla groups), Rushaga (with 7 gorilla groups) and Nkuringo (with 3 gorilla groups).

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Akagera National Park is the new pearl of East Africa


I visited Akagera NationalPark in Rwanda in February 2019, after almost ten years from my previous visit. In my memory I could recall a kind of run down park with little wildlife and limited infrastructure if any, basically a secondary game reserve option. However I have been following the progress and the success of the new management, the NGO African Parks, which started an incredible work since 2010, including fencing off the park, constructing the Rusizi Tented Camp, opening trails and repopulating animals.
After only 3 hours’ drive from Kigali, as I entered through the Southern gate of Kiyonza, I immediately found a well-organized recently built info point, with annex souvenir shop, bar, restaurant and toilets, definitely a good first impression. My first activity was the boat excursion on Lake Ihema, a guided activity done in small covered speedy boats mostly in the afternoon but also at different scheduled time. From the boat you have immediately the feeling of how immense is the lake with it horizon and how rich of wildlife is this water. During the 2 hours trip on Lake Ihema I spotted plenty of hippos, Nile crocodiles and expecially water birds found on the shores inside the papyrus swamps. Among the common birds I saw I can recall the whisltling duck, African openbill stork, African jacana, squacco heron, goliath heron, grey heron, African darter, great cormorant, African Fish Eagle, pied kingfisher, little bee eater, scarlet chested sunbird.

In the morning we went for a long photographic safari following the well demarcated trails, from the Southern sector of the Rwisirabo Trail (along Lake Ihema, Lake Birengero and Lake Shakani), continuing to the central area of Lake Hago and Lake Kivumba to Kitabili. The trail proceeds for more than 80 km North, as you stop over along open grass savannah or on the wetland on the shores of the Lakes to spot birds. The far North is the area of the Mohana plains and Lake Rwanyakazinga. Here is found the Northern entrance of Nyungwe Gate. It might take the whole day out to complete the circuit, however it is a continuation of game viewing, bird watching and photograph of breathtaking nature and colourful sceneries. I didn’t expect to encounter such a number of maasai giraffes, elephants, zebras, buffaloes, impalas, topi. There is also a big number of a more unique specie of antelope, the beautiful roan antelope. We were finally able to see a family of lions. I learnt that currently in the park there is a small population of 19 lions. I didn’t spot the black rhinos, yet they were reintroduced in recent years and they are said to be about 15 in the park.
In my conclusion, I was very surprised to find that the park is currently a high quality game reserve, not only for the unique sceneries, but also for the increased number of wildlife. In fact Akagera National Park has an outstanding landscape, probably the most various I saw in East Africa, where a total of twelve lakes makes a big portion of the Eastern wetland of the reserve (all fed and connected by the Akagera river that indicates the boundary with Tanzania), while the Western mountains delimit the western boundary and the rest is an alternating of dense and forest like vegetation on one side and extensive plain savannah on the other side. I would like to compliment the management for the good work done in making Akagera a “must” game park, actually Akagera is the new pearl of East Africa.



Accommodation in Akagera National Park
Currently accommodation is limited to the Southern sector of the park, however new investments are expected to be covering also the Northern sector.

Akagera Game Lodge.
This lodge is located on Lake Ihema about 3 km from Kiyonza Entrance Gate. By mid 2019 the ongoing renovation is expected to be completed with upgrading of rooms setting. This is a perfect middle range hotel – style tourist facility that can accommodate most of the expectations. With 60 en suite guest rooms and spacious restaurant, this is by far the biggest hotel in the park. Among the services it provides: swimming pool, wifi and satellite television in the rooms, breakfast open at 5.30 in the morning.

Ruzizi Tented Lodge.
This is the facility of African Parks. With nine tents, a luxurious restaurant and bar area, all built in harmony with the surrounding nature on top of raised wooden platforms and walkways, this is the upmarket retreat choice in the Akagera National Park. Some trees were incorporated into the structure and this gives a touch of uniqueness to the lodge. Each tent offers a verandah, en-suite bathroom with hot solar heater water and solar power, spacious beds.

Trips to Akagera National Park
I recommend visiting Akagera National Park as a 3 days 2 nights extension out from Kigali. See our website for the details. Also it works well as an extension to other trips, for example as a 2 days 1 night extension of the itinerary Thousand Hills Uganda & Rwanda.


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