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National Parks Bushdrums.com - Striving To Protect Wildlife and Encourage Responsible Tourism Practices http://bushdrums.com Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:13:41 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Mgahinga Gorilla Visitor Center http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/346-mgahinga-gorilla-visitor-center http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/346-mgahinga-gorilla-visitor-center

Mgahinga Visitor Center: Open Doors to a Brighter Future in Uganda

On July 7, 2006, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Visitor Center was officially opened, welcoming tourists who come to southern Uganda to trek the endangered mountain gorillas. The opening of the visitor center marks an important milestone for ecotourism in the park. The visitor center will enhance tourism services and facilities, thereby contributing to increased revenues. It will also help educate both international tourists and Ugandan visitors about the park’s endangered inhabitants.

The new Mgahinga Visitor CenterAWF’s Virunga Heartland – a vast region in central Africa which includes Mgahinga Park – is home to all of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas. Yet their habitat is surrounded by a large and growing human population – a population that is still very poor. AWF believes that unless the park is managed as part of a larger landscape, outside pressures will eventually overwhelm the park’s resources and increase the threat to the mountain gorilla population.

The Mgahinga Visitor Center consists of an exhibit hall which focuses on mountain gorilla ecology, the geology of the Virunga Mountains, and the history and current conservation strategies of the park. Information related to local Ugandan culture is also a part of the exhibition. The visitor center also includes an education and training center to hold workshops and meetings that will allow local communities to address conservation issues, and an elevated platform where visitors can take in the sweeping views of the rich surrounding landscape.

The visitor center was developed by the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), of which AWF is a founder, with funding from USAID and other donors including the Prince of Denmark through WWF, Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Jane Goodall Institute, Africare (Uganda), and Hima Cement Factory.

An opening ceremony took place at the visitor center, with an address by Ugandan Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Serapio Rokundo. The event was attended by AWF and IGCP staff and their partners, including the USAID Uganda Mission Director, local politicians, park officials and local communities.

 More about the Mountain Gorilla

 

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National Parks Fri, 18 Aug 2006 16:44:00 +0000
Semliki Wildlife Reserve http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/332-semliki-wildlife-reserve http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/332-semliki-wildlife-reserve

Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Formerly called the Toro Game Reserve, this large reserve abutting Lake Albert and the northern base of the Rwenzoris is a rich mosaic of grassland, savannah, forest and wetland habitats.

The fauna is correspondingly diverse: Uganda kob is the commonest large mammal, but there are also forest elephant, chimpanzees, buffalo, leopard and various monkeys and antelope.

Of the 400 bird species recorded, the shoebill stork is regularly seen at close quarters on Lake Albert.

Size

500 sq km

Location

In the west, near Fort Portal.

Getting there

Follow the road towards Semliki National Park for 30km, then take a right turn which after about 35km leads to the lodge.

What to do

Game drives, guided walks and boat trips on Lake Albert can be arranged from the lodge.

When to visit

Any time of year.

Where to stay

There is an excellent upmarket lodge, but no other accommodation.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 22:16:00 +0000
Katonga Wildlife Reserve http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/331-katonga-wildlife-reserve http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/331-katonga-wildlife-reserve

Katonga Wildlife Reserve

Only recently developed for tourism, the reserve protects a network of forest-fringed wetlands along the Katonga River.

Best explored on foot and by canoe, Katonga supports some 40 mammal and at least 150 bird species, many specific to wetland habitats.

Most visible are elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, colobus monkeys and river otter.

This is one of the best places in Africa to look for the elusive sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope with webbed hooves that forages almost exclusively in swamps.

Size

207 sq km

Location

Central, 200km west of Kampala.

Getting there

Katonga is three hours from Kampala, branching from the Fort Portal or Mbarara Road. Buses connect Kampala to Kabagole, a short canoe ride and walk from the entrance gate.

What to do

Day hikes, overnight hikes and canoe trips can be arranged.

When to visit

Any time of year.

Where to stay

The campsite, or a budget hotel in Kabagole.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 21:11:00 +0000
Kidepo Valley National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/330-kidepo-valley-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/330-kidepo-valley-national-park

Kidepo Valley National Park

In the far northeast, the remote, wild and little-visited Kidepo Valley National Park provides refuge to a long list of dry-country species not found elsewhere in the country, including cheetah and greater kudu, while its perennial waters attract large numbers of elephant and thousand-strong buffalo herds, especially during the dry season.

Size

1,442 sq km

Location

On the Sudanese border in the northeast

Description

The Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Uganda's most spectacular parks. It is 1,442 square kilometres and harbours scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa. 'It could not be any better' is a common comment on the scenery by visitors who often promise and do come back to Kidepo. Tucked into the corner of Uganda's border with Sudan and Kenya, the park offers breathtaking Savannah landscapes, which end in rugged horizon. A huge latitudinal range and correspondingly wide climatic conditions have evolved an extremely diverse flora. As a result the variety of animal species in the park is equally abundant including many which are found no where else in Uganda.

The vegetation can best be described as open tree Savannah which varies much in structure and composition. Mountain forest dominates some of the high places, while areas along the Lorupei River support dense Acacia geradi forest. The flora and fauna of the park are more typical of Kenya than the rest of Uganda. The landscape throughout the park is studded with small hills, rocky outcrops and inselbergs from which one can obtain stunning views in all directions.

Where to stay

At the Park itself, there are 16 self-contained chalets at Apoka Rest Camp. There is also a hostel comprising of 14 bandas each with two beds; these bandas are not self contained. Both Apoka Lodge and the Bandas are managed by the park. Make your reservations through Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala.

For visitors who like camping, the park has two 'Do it yourself' campsites. You must bring your tent and other camping equipment.

Meals

Neither the Rest Camp nor hostel stock food, visitors are therefore advised to carry sufficient food and drinks for the duration of their stay in the park. The Rest Camp staff can arrange for the cooking. However other supplementary diet such as chicken and goat meat can be arranged from the nearby community for visitors who intend to stay longer.

Getting there

Road Transport

Kampala-Lira-Kotido-Kidepo-705 km
Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kidepo-792 km
Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Kotido-Kideop-740 km
Kampala-Soroti -Kotido via Amuria 656 km

Driving is more rewarding as vast parts of Karamoja are scenic and total wilderness. However road conditions are some times difficult and 4-wheel drive vehicles (4WD) are recommended. Visitors should note that the road mainly in use from Kotido to Kaabong passes via Kanawauat.

Visitors intending to travel by road are advised to contact UWA headquarters to seek advice about conditions and safety on the roads.

Air Transport

Chartered aircraft are available from Entebbe International Airport to the Park Headquarters. The Civil Aviation Authority manages an airstrip at Lomej about 3 km south of the Park Headquarters.
For your chartered flights please contact:
United Airlines,
P.O Box 246000
Tel:+256-41-349841/2
Fax: +256-41-349843
E-Mail: united@infocom.co.ug

What to do

Game Viewing

The park harbours a great diversity of animal species than other parks. Of the 80 species of mammals listed in 1971, 28 were not known to occur in any other Ugandan park. Carnivore species unique to Kidepo and Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog. Less common ungulates include the greater and lesser kudu, Chandlers Mountain reedbuck, klipspringer, dikdik and bright gazelle; beisa oryx and roan antelope have been severely depleted by poachers in the recent years. Among other large ungulates are elephant, burchell's zebra, bush pig, warthog, rothschild giraffe, cape buffalo, eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, jackson's hartbeest and oribi. Five species of primate are found in the park of which the Kavirondo bush baby is endemic. Carnivores present include lion, leopard, several small cats, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal. The easiest to see being the jackals.

There are high chances of viewing tree climbing lions that always sits on sauces trees along Narus valley or on rock just as you enter the Apoka Park Headquarter. Other wildlife include elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bush buck, bush pig, kavirondo bush baby, buffalo and much more that are some times seen right from the veranda of Apoka Rest Camp.

The park boasts an extensive avifauna. 465 species have been recorded (three new species were added to the list in 1995). Of particular interest, the ostrich and the Kori bustard are principally associated with arid regions.

The park is outstanding for its birds of prey. Of 58 species recorded 14 are believed to be endemic to Kidepo and the Karamoja region. These include Verreaux's eagle, Egyptian vulture and pygmy falcon. Also of note are four species of hornbills. The redbilled, the yellow-billed and Jackson's hornbill are peculiar to Kidepo, while the giant Abyssinaia ground hornbill is quite common. There is however no comprehensive survey in Kidepo and keen visitors stand a good chance of adding to the current list.

Hiking and Scenery viewing

Hiking can be carried out on Lamoj Mountains just a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters. Visitors can also go to view the splendid Kidepo River Valley dominated by Borassus palm forest; its wide flat bed is dry for most of the year. From Kidepo Valley, you may also visit the Kanangorok Hot Springs, which are located only 11 km from Kidepo river valley.

The mountain and Savannah landscape of the park is spectacular. The Narus valley is situated in the South West of the park; the rugged Napore-Nyagia mountain range forms its western boundary. Separating it from the Kidepo Valley in the northeast, are the Natira and Lokayot Hills. To the north in the Sudan are the Lotukei mountains and the Morungole range marks the southern boundary of the park.

Picnic

To add flavor to your visit to Kidepo River, take time and visit the picnic site located on the sand and you won't also miss the sound of palm leaves in constant motion in the wind.

Cultural Performance

The local community has a group of cultural entertainers who on request are always available to perform. The performers have a large menu for you, traditional dances such as the Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, ethnic groups and Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are waiting for you. The money that this group earns is used for uplifting their welfare.

Nature Walk

If you are interested in increasing your knowledge on African culture, visits to the Karimajong manyattas (homesteads) and probably kraals to see traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows and arrows and jewelry can be arranged. Some of the above mentioned items can be purchased from the park tourist office. It's advisable that you make arrangements for the nature walk two days in advance. This booking can be done from the park headquarters in Apoka or from Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala.

Visitors who choose to follow the Soroti-Moroto road will be enthralled by the view of the steep volcano of Alekilek about midway Moroti and Soroti. And for those who take the Lira-Kotido road will enjoy the scenery of the Labwor hills and in particular the massive and bare Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock about 55 km to Kotido.

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:42:00 +0000
Mount Elgon National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/329-mount-elgon-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/329-mount-elgon-national-park

Mount Elgon National Park

Set on the Kenya border near Mbale, Mount Elgon National Park encompasses the 4,321 metre mountain for which it is named, which has the largest base of any extinct volcano in the world. A lush mosaic of Afro-montane forest, grassland and moorland habitats makes this park a highly rewarding destination for hikers and other natural history enthusiasts.

Elgon is a 4,321m high extinct volcano which in prehistoric times stood taller than Kilimanjaro does today. Although the mountain straddles the Kenya border, its loftiest peak, Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best ascended from the Uganda side.

Elgon is an important watershed, and its slopes support a rich variety of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the other-worldly giant lobelia and groundsel plants.

Spectacular scenery is the main attraction for hikers on this oft-neglected and relatively undemanding mountain, but there is also a variety of forest monkeys and small antelope, along with elephant and buffalo. A checklist topping 300 birds includes many species not recorded elsewhere in Uganda.

Other attractions include ancient cave paintings close to the trailhead at Budadiri, and spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater.

Size

1,145 sq km

Location

Near Mbale on the east border with Kenya.

Getting there

Mbale lies 3-4 hours from Kampala along a good tar road. The trailhead at Budadiri, 20km from Mbale, is accessible by public transport.

What to do

Day walks from Budadiri or within the Mount Elgon Forest Exploration Centre; hikes of four days or longer traverse the peaks. Well worth visiting is the lovely Sipi Falls.

When to visit

The lower slopes are fine throughout the year. The drier months (June to August, December to March) are best for hiking.

Where to stay

Up-market lodge at Sipi Falls. Midrange hotels in Mbale. Budget lodging at Sipi Falls, Mbale and Budadiri. Within the park, camping only.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:41:00 +0000
Lake Mburo National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/328-lake-mburo-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/328-lake-mburo-national-park

Lake Mburo National Park

The closest savannah reserve to Kampala, Lake Mburo National Park is centred on a series of swamp-fringed lakes known for their rich birdlife, notably the secretive African finfoot. The green acacia woodland surrounding the lake harbours dense populations of zebra, warthog, buffalo, impala and various other grazers, including the last surviving Ugandan population of eland, the largest of African antelope.

Size

260 sq km

Location

In the south, near Mbarara

Lying in the one part of Uganda covered in extensive acacia woodland, Mburo has markedly different fauna to other reserves.

Lake Mburo is the best place in the country to see the gigantic eland antelope, as well as zebra, topi, impala, and several acacia-associated birds.

The five lakes within the park attract hippos, crocodiles and a variety of waterbirds, while fringing swamps hide secretive papyrus specialists such as the sitatunga antelope and red, black and yellow papyrus gonalek.

Where to stay

Lake Mburo National Park has 4 tents at Rwonyo park headquarters.

There are also 3 public campsites, all strategically located to facilitate and enhance scenic viewing and easy access to water. Lake Mburo dining shelter provides meals on order.

For luxurious accommodation contact the following:
Agip Motel Mbarara,
P.O Box 1191, Mbarara,
Tel: +256-483-21615.

Hotel Classic Ltd,
Plot 57 High Street,
P.O Box 1152, Mbarara,
Tel: +256-483-20609,
Fax: +256-483-20609,
E-Mail: hotclassic@swiftuganda.com

Meals

Neither the Rest Camp nor hostel stock food, visitors are therefore advised to carry sufficient food and drinks for the duration of their stay in the park. The Rest Camp staff can arrange for the cooking. However other supplementary diet such as chicken and goat meat can be arranged from the nearby community for visitors who intend to stay longer.

Getting there

Road Transport

Lake Mburo National Park is found in Mbarara district, 3.5 hours drive from Kampala on Mbarara Kampala highway. Turn left at 13 km (Akageti) past Lyantonde, which then brings you to Sanga gate. Both junctions have clearly labeled signposts. It is 13 km from Sanga trading center of Sanga gate, 5 km from the main road to Nshara gate and about 20 minutes drive from Rwonyo Park Head Quarters.

What to do

Game Viewing

is the major tourist activity in this Park, it is famous for its richness in biodiversity. It has about 68 different species of mammals. The common ones are Zebra, Impala, Buffalo, Topi, and Eland as herbivores not to leave out the rare slightly of Roan antelope and leopard, Hyenas and jackals as predictors.

Boat Rides

The presence of Lake Mburo within the park is a blessing worth mentioning. The lake is rich with a diversity of animal and plant species which can only be viewed clearly if you take a boat trip. The crocodiles, hippopotamuses and birds like Pelicans, Black crake, Heron, cormorant, fish eagle, you may also sight the rare Shoebill Stork and all these will furnish your visit with pride. The duration of each boat cruise is negotiable.

Guide walks

The nature trail offers the visitor a chance to admire nature insitu. Visitors have the opportunity in walk in the circuit at his / her pace although in company of an armed guide. The trail is interpreted in form of a brochure in both English and Runyankole.

Salt Lick

A walk to the near by salt is a summary of it all. Strategically located wooden hide (Observation point) offers a chance to see at least 4 different species of animals at any one time while they lick the salty soil. Most interesting to note is that this is done without the animal's conscience. Visitors may also walk to area of their own choice.

Note: Walks inside the park must be in company of an armed park official.

Rubanga Forest

You can also explore this forest by making arrangements with the Park Management to have a Ranger accompany you. The Rubanga Forest is very small but a true forest with a closed canopy in places. A common tree is Markhamia platycalyx (grey-brown truck with irregular flaky patches, divided leaves, yellow flowers stripped and spotted with red; brunches of extremely long (up to 1.3 m podlike fruits). Palms, figs, sapium (a tall tree whose leaves turn red before falling) and the flame tree Erythrina abyssinica occur towards the edge of the swamp.

Birding

First-time visitors to Lake Mburo National Park are fascinated by the variety of large mammals and colorful birds. For many people, birds are the most interesting to watch. As common species become familiar, you will begin to notice smaller, less spectacular birds; the real experts seem to get most excited by 'Little Brown jobs' ('LBJs') which are the hardest to identify. Although many birds are wild spread, others are more fussy in their choice of habitat. For example, most of the park's 310 recorded species are 'generalist' and can be seen almost anywhere. However, they are 5 species of bird, which are found only in the forest, and 60 specialist water birds. Others prefer short or tall grasslands, or are found mainly in woodlands.

This Park has Open water birds, Lakeshore and papyrus swamp birds, Seasonal swamp birds, Woodland birds, Grassland birds and Forest birds.

Birds of the Open Water in this Park include; Pink-backed pelican, Darter, White pelican, Yellow-billed duck, Long-tailed cormorant, White winged black tern and Greater cormorant.

Lakeshore and papyrus swamp birds

They are over 26 species of lakeshore and papyrus swamp birds recorded in this Park. Some of them include; Fish eagle, Pied kingfisher, African finfoot, Great white egret, Night heron.

For more information on birds, please contact the Park Management.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:40:00 +0000
Kibale National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/327-kibale-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/327-kibale-national-park

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is a primatologist’s dream. It hosts a population of more than 1,000 chimpanzees, of which one 80-strong community has been habituated to tourist visits, as well as half-a-dozen readily observed monkey species, including the acrobatic red colobus and black-and-white colobus, and the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey.

The most accessible of Uganda's major rainforests, Kibale is home to a remarkable 13 primate species, including the very localised red colobus and L'Hoest's monkey.

Kibale's major attraction, however, is the opportunity to track habituated chimps - these delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees.

A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the endemic Prirogrine's ground thrush.

The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier than its savannah counterpart, moves seasonally into the developed part of the park, while other terrestrial mammals include buffalo, giant forest hog and a half dozen antelope species.

Size

776 sq km

Location

In the west, near Fort Portal

Getting there

Fort Portal lies 320km from Kampala along a mostly surfaced direct road, or an hour's drive from Kasese (near QENP). Kanyanchu Visitors Centre, 35km from Fort Portal, is reached via a dirt road and is accessible on public transport..

What to do

Chimp tracking and other guided forest walks, even night walks. Birders shouldn't miss Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a superb community development fringing the park. A field of beautiful crater lakes lies between Fort Portal and Kibale Forest.

When to visit

Any time of year

Where to stay

Affordable bandas and campsites at Kanyanchu, with a luxury tented camp and upmarket lodge nearby. Budget lodges at Bigodi, the crater lakes, and Fort Portal.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:39:00 +0000
Semuliki National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/326-semuliki-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/326-semuliki-national-park

Semuliki National Park

The lower-lying and more remote Semuliki National Park, a Ugandan extension of the Congo’s Ituri Rainforest set at the base of the northern Rwenzori, is of special interest to ornithologists for some 40 Congolese bird species recorded nowhere else in the country. Nearby, the spectacular Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, which abuts Lake Albert, is one of the best localities for sightings of the enigmatic, swamp-dwelling shoebill.

Size

220 sq km

Location

In the west, about 50km from Fort Portal.

Semuliki National Park is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, this is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa (Especially for birds).

Semuliki National Park is situated in the remote corner of extreme west of Uganda, in bundibugyo District. It lies on Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. The geographical coordinates are 0o 44'- 00 53' N - 290 57-30o 11'E. To the southeast are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is DRC and to the north Lake Albert.

Semuliki National Park (220 km2) gazetted in October 1993, is one of Uganda's newest National Parks. The Park occupies a flat to gently undulating landform ranging from 670 -760 metres above level. As all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas are flooded drain into the Park plus the poor drainage and topography, many areas are flooded during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 1250 mm with peaks from March to May and September and December. The temperature varies from 18o C - 30o C with relatively small daily variations.

Where to stay

There is a camp site being developed inside the Park at Bumaga, about 3 km. From Sempaya Gate. You will be able to spend a night in one of the two Executive bandas, hire a tent or come with your own tent for camping.

The canteen at the site is reasonably stocked with both African and European food and beverages but preparation of meals shall be on order. There is also provision for one to bring and prepare his/her own food at the site. Cooking utensils shall also be available for hire.

Another camp site to be run by a private organization is located in Sempaya adjacent to Sempaya Gate. There shall be small thatched shelters for cooking and eating. Cooking utensils will be for hire, but you must bring your own tent and food.

For luxurious accommodation, please contact the following:
Continental Hotel,
Plot 3 Lugard Road,
P.O Box 244 Fort Portal,
Tel: +256-483-22967, 22450
Fax: +256-483-22967.

Rwenzori View Guesthouse,
Plot 15 Lower Kizza Road,
P.O box 709 Fort Portal,
Tel: +256-483-22102
E-Mail: ruwview@africaonline.co.ug

Wooden Hotel,
Plot 4 Kyebambe Road,
P.O Box 560 Fort Portal,
Tel: +256-483-22560.

Getting there

There are two major roads from Kampala to Fort Portal: Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is about 180 Km. (about 4-5 hrs drive) while Kampala -Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara, Kasese is about465 Km (7-8 hrs). In both routes 2-wheel drive vehicles can be useful. While the Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is much shorter, the Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese gives you opportunity to Visit Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

From Fort Portal, A two to three hours drive on the rough road towards Bundibugyo will bring you to Sempaya Gate (52 Km). The Park headquarters at Ntandi is 5 Km further from the gate along the same route. A vehicle with high clearance is recommended.

Using public means you can take a taxi (mini bus) or a bus to Fort Portal. From the Taxi Park, board one of the pick-up trucks for Bundibugyo and stop at Sempaya Gate, which is well sign posted. Return trip will be by the same means but a void being too late (not later than 4.00 p.m.).

Alternatively while in Fort Portal contact Kabarole Tours on Plot 1 Molidina Street to organize for you an excursion to Semuliki Valley.

What to do

Fantastic scenery, Hotsprings, forest jungle walk, birding, primate viewing and river Semuliki meanders are some of the ideal attractions. Surely, you don't have to miss but get off the regular tourists' circuit and spend three to five days camping and hiking in the only real jungle in East Africa.

Did you know that a trip to Semuliki has the most marvel and breathtaking views? Come and experience the most thrilling meandering Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpments. At 'Mungu Ni Mukubwa' while in the mountains, the road offers scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, fuming Hotsprings and the tropical rain forest extending up to Ituri forest in DRC. A stepping stone to Central Africa, unforgettable views.

Two Hotsprings situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swampland, rich in visible bird, insect and mammal life accessed by modern trail network. Come and see a two meters jet of hot water (130oC) and a pool (12 m diameter) of oozing boiling water (106oC). You can boil food especially eggs in the natural boiler within ten minutes and enjoy it.

Jungle life in Semuliki is breathtaking especially for birders, primate, butterfly and plant lovers. The jungle walk usually takes you up to River Semuliki meanders, the only one in East Africa with luck, you may see forest buffaloes and elephants, statungas, leopards, pigmy hippopotamus, crocodile primates and a wide range of forest and water birds. You can also come with fishing facilities for sport fishing along the river.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:38:00 +0000
Mgahinga National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/325-mgahinga-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/325-mgahinga-national-park

Mgahinga National Park

Mountain gorillas also form the main attraction at Mgahinga National Park, which protects the Ugandan portion of the Virungas, an imposing string of nine freestanding extinct and active volcanoes that runs along the border with Rwanda and the Congo.

Size

33 sq km

Location

Far southwest, bordering Rwanda and Congo, 14km from Kisoro town. (Uganda map) Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. 'Virunga Conservation Area' or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Where to stay

If you are the 'go camping tourist', then there is ample space at the park gate and Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp for 'Do it Yourself Camping', besides that, there is also excellent traditional Bandas managed by the local community.

Kisoro Town which is 14 kms to the gate of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from the basic Camp-site to the luxurious full board hotels, these include Traveler's Rest, Sky Blue, Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp, Virunga Hotel, Mgahinga Safari Lodge, Rugigana Campsite and Mubano Hotel among others. Be rest assured that you have big choice here.

Getting there

Road

Kisoro is about 540 km from Kampala (Uganda's capital city), it takes about 8 hours via Kabale by car. For public transport, there are daily buses/minibuses, which set off at 7.00pm from Kampala. Once in Kisoro Town, you can hike to the park if you are strong enough or hire a cab to the park gate.

What to do

Gorilla Tracking

This is the most thrilling tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The habituated gorilla in this park is called the Nyakagezi, which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.

Gorilla tracking is an intensive experience that can take the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla's world, explaining aspects of their ecology and behavior along the way.

We must stress that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success is NOT guaranteed. They are wild creatures with no fixed routine, and finding them requires the skill and experience of your trackers and guides, as well as luck.

The trackers and guides have helped to habituate the gorilla groups and know them intimately. They will take you to the area where they left the gorillas the day before. Before leaving they may be able to suggest how long the hike might be. While walking, please feel free to ask guides to slow down if they are going too fast and if you need a rest. Feel free to stop and look at birds or flowers, the guide will ensure that you don't get left behind.

Gorilla Tracking can be strenuous walk, so go prepared. It is advisable that you:

  • Wear shoes with good traction, suitable for steep muddy slopes
  • Carry rain gear, sunscreen and a hut, as the weather is unpredictable.
  • Carry water and food
  • Carry binoculars, you will see much more, you can hire from the park office
  • When taking photos, remember your subjects are black animals in dim light, and flash is not allowed.
Good Manners for Gorilla Watchers
  • Keep your voice down or be quiet. You will see and hear if you do.
  • Don't point or waive your arms- this can be seen as a threat. Move slowly.
  • If approached by a gorilla, back away slowly to keep 5m separation.
  • Don't use flash, this could threaten the gorillas and bother other visitors.
Hiking

Volcano Climbing
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m)
'Old man's teeth'
Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo's crown. This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to peak. If you are to continue, the climb to the peak 11 involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda, a dual experience you will achieve here.

Finally, the hike up to the peak 111 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to peak111! Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, what a triple experience this is!!! The journey takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.

Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
On your way to the park, look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such a pile a 'Gahinga'.

Mount Gahinga is quite bigger than the average 'gahinga' but sitting next to Mount Muhavura does make it look small. A hike, which takes you about, six hours round trip, goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush swamp. Distance to the swamp is 8km.

Mt. Muhavura (4127m)
'The Guide'
Seen from all over Kisoro, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12km.You are advised to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before the site has no facilities so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear.

Cave Exploration

Garama cave
This is one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were warriors) lived and fought their neighbors, the Bantu. The distance to the cave entrance from the park headquaters is 3 km long and it takes about 4 hours. Your guide will show you how the Batwa lived and fought out of the cave. The cave is 342m in length and 14m deep, and is now inhabited only by bats.

Viewing Platform

This is about 800 metres from the Park gate. Once on top, you will have a good view of the Park and the surrounding areas. A guide is not necessary and the activity is free. Displaying panels at the hill point will give some information about what you can see.

Border Trail - Visa Not Required

This hike takes you first toward Sabinyo. The trail climbs up the base of Sabinyo for a while through fine montane forest before turning toward the Congo. Along the way you will get a great view of Sabinyo's gorge and peaks. Upon reaching the Congo you cut back along the international border. The return leg to the Park Head Quarters is a great section for birding. The two rest huts along the way are good places for a break. Look closely for the golden monkeys and signs of elephants. Hiking time is 5 hours and distance 10 km.

Birding

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is blessed with a unique bird fauna; 79 bird species have thus far been recorded within the park, including several species endemic to the East Congo Montane region.

For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total of known endemic species.

Remember to contact the Park Management for a guide who will take around for a good viewing of birds, do not forget your binoculars!!

Free Birding

Free birding along the edge of the park is now available on request. The guides are happy to take you out from 5-6 p.m. if you book by 10 a.m. that morning. You can choose where the walk will take you, or simply relax in the campground. A stroll a long the buffalo wall toward the Congo takes you through a wetland area where Ibis, Whydah, Speckled Mousebird, and Fire Finch are found. Stonechat, Grey Capped Warbler, Waxbills, and Yellow-Vented Bulbul are often seen around the campground. Ask your guide where the best spots are. Feel free to take your time and go at your own pace, there is no hurry when birding.

 

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:37:00 +0000
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/324-bwindi-impenetrable-national-park http://bushdrums.com/index.php/tanzania/tanzania-national-parks/item/324-bwindi-impenetrable-national-park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Of Uganda’s forested reserves, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its superb gorilla tracking, but it also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope, as well as 23 bird species restricted to the Albertine Rift.

A magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley, this ancient rainforest - one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age - is home to roughly half of the world's mountain gorillas.

Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer - but we should not let it distract from Bwindi's broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m.

The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.

The forest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localised Albertine Rift endemics present.

Size

331 sq km

Location

Southwest. The closes large town is Kabale.

Getting There

Bwindi can be reached from QENP in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. 4x4 recommended during the rains.

What to do

Gorilla tracking is the main attraction; permits must pre-booked at the UWA office in Kampala. Other guided forest walks are available: one popular trail leads to a pretty waterfall, others focus on birding and monkey-viewing.

When to visit

Any time, though conditions are more challenging during the rainy season.

Where to stay

Two up-market tented camps, a lodge, community-run budget rooms and camping are available near the Buhoma entrance gate.

 

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National Parks Fri, 28 Jul 2006 19:36:00 +0000