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5 Amazing spots for Chimpanzee Tracking in Uganda

Of all destinations to visit in East Africa, Uganda is one of a kind. With a diverse range of attractions, Uganda delights visitors with a number of things from favorable climatic conditions, impeccable hospitality services, and accessibility.

For first-timers, a trip to East Africa wouldn’t be complete without this center of natural wonder. That’s why it is easy to understand why even most customized safaris to Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo include a few days to Uganda.

Travelers have different interests, some come for the big game, Mountain hiking, Gorillas and others come for the man’s closest relatives – the chimpanzees.

For all primate enthusiasts, there is a lot to relish if you choose Uganda as your first stop for a once in a lifetime primate experience. Below are the top spots to include in your Uganda safari so that you enjoy spectacular chimps’ encounters in Uganda.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Kalinzu Forest Reserve is one of those untouched destinations that travelers often visit for Chimpanzees while in Uganda. This reserve is home to a range of primate species including chimps, blue monkeys, velvet, baboons, black and white Colobus monkeys. Kalinzu has a community of chimpanzees that are fully habituated and open to tracking excursions. Though Chimpanzee tracking is the main activity that draws adventurers.

Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is termed as the primate capital of Uganda. This forest park is inhabited by thirteen primate species including the chimpanzees. Other primates are grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys. The main attraction for this park is chimps tracking, where a large number of chimps are open to public viewing. One can enjoy a both normal (last for 2 hours) and chimps habituation experiences (lasts up to 6 hours)

Budongo Forest Reserve.

Budongo is situated in the northwestern part of Uganda – part of the Murchison Falls conservation area. It has two major tourist sites that include Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro Ecotourism site. This reserve is known as a chimp’s habitant. Visitors to the forest engage in Chimpanzee tracking and forest walks.

Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura gorge sited in a valley is home to about sixteen habituated chimpanzees which are always available for the primate lover. Although they are rarely seen mostly in the dry season. In addition to chimp tracking, the gorge offers stunning views of vast landscapes and a few streams.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Ngamba Island was mainly established to provide habitat to a number of rescued and orphaned chimpanzee primates. It is currently home to over 49 chimpanzees and can only accessed by a boat. Visitors to this protected area participate in chimpanzee feeding, care giving and volunteering.

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Beach vacations in Africa

Did you know that beach vacations in Africa can prove to be one of the greatest adventures? And specially, if you are in Kenya? Regarded among the top vacation spots in Africa, Kenya is often dubbed as family beach vacation destination, adventurous vacation spot, and kid vacation city. Beach vacations are at their best in Kenya’s Mombasa Island that is nestled in the southwest area breaking the north as well as the south mainlands. The island as the main town is pristinely situated between the south and north Kenyan mainlands and is linked via the nyali bridge (north) as well as the likoni ferry channel (south).

 

Visitors prefer to enjoy the beach vacations at the southern Mombasa beaches, especially the ones at Diani that is a beach holiday Mecca. Set amidst the lush tropical forest and a few excellent beach hotels, Diani beaches are famous for a sole giant coral reef along the Indian Ocean shore. With the warmly calm turquoise waters, reef breaking the strong surf, and powdery white sands, it has become the hub of many relaxing activities too. And yes, a few beaches here are so remote that they offer much sought tranquility unlike the Mediterranean beaches.

In Diani, a majority of the hotels are 4- or 5-star properties that offer a variety of water sports on the beaches besides the luxurious facilities. There are also clubs, resorts, and sea lodges offering a plethora of water adventure sports. The most famous water sports here are beach volleyball, kite surfing in Kenya style, wind surfing, deep sea diving, wreck diving on the coast of Mombasa, snorkeling or goggling in marine national parks as well as coral gardens, kayaking, banana boats, jet skiing, beach parachuting, beach parasailing, and traditional sailing.

The beach hotels in Diani offers a plethora of facilities such as pool ball games, freeform fresh water swimming pools, air-conditioned rooms, room service, en suite bathrooms, children playgrounds and pools, conference facilities, valet services, cyber cafes, shopping arcades, and breathtaking tropical gardens with loungers and palms in manicured lawns. Above all, these beach hotels are the home of many diversely themed restaurants that offer the best African Culinary experience. You are free to choose from the European, African, Indian, Continental, and Chinese; the list is adequate to sample all the vast gourmet dishes while you are on week holiday.

Some of the best beach hotels in Diani are Alliance Africana Sea Lodge Kenya, Alliance Safari Beach Hotel, Alliance Jadini Beach Hotel, Baobab Beach Resort, Indian Ocean Beach Club, Diani Sea Resort, Leopard Beach Resort, Leisure Lodge Beach & Golf Resort, and Neptune Paradise Village. Diani in Kenya is a vacation resort town that is fully serviced with a shopping centre handily nestled at the beach resort complex’s entrance, many malls as well as super markets offering supplies to the self catering travelers, banks, souvenir arcades, and gift shops for home items. And yes, there is also a tarmac road that leads one to each of the entrances of the hotels here.

Diani is certainly for those travelers who are seeking a relaxation beach holiday in Kenya. Others can think of a beach and bush excursion – combine Masai Mara of Kenya with the Diani beach vacation or the Tsavo (for lions that are man-eaters) with Diani.

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10 Most Exciting Things to Do in Rwanda

Each year comes with its own travel demands and so is 2019 and it is every visitors’ dream to take part in that exceptional safari experience that leaves lasting memories in them. For unique experiences, Rwanda is that one African safari destination you need to consider a must to explore this year. With a lot more that waits for you to explore, a visit to Rwanda gets you the best of African safari experiences. In other words, everyone has something to take part. A visit to this magical landlocked country takes you through its varied ecosystems, abundant wildlife, majestic volcanoes or its pristine national parks and above all, distinct safari activities.

Astonishing things to not to miss out while on Rwanda safari

Gorilla trekking

A Rwanda safari is only considered complete when you include gorilla trekking in your bucket list adventure. With only 3 countries where you can catch a glimpse at mountain gorillas, a visit to Rwanda remarkably gets you that opportunity to trek to see these unique creatures in their natural habitat. Currently, these primate species are fewer than 1004 and they thrive within Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the only option available for you to make your dream come true. This park lies suitably in the northwest about 2 to 3 hours’ drive off Kigali capital and its closeness to city center; even visitors with limited time are covered. Gorilla treks in Volcanoes National Park may last you about 3 to 6 hours although this may also depend on a number of factors including your hiking speed, nature of habitat and location of gorillas.

However, like other adventures, gorilla trekking in Rwanda equally comes at a cost and in order for you to take place in this thrilling primate adventure; you need $1500 to help you secure a permit. Gorilla permits in Rwanda can be obtained through a reliable tour operator or reservation department at Rwanda Development Board (RDB). To be on a safer side, make sure that you secure your permit early enough at least 3 months prior actual trek. Remember that demand for permits is high and only 1 permit gets you a chance to track 1 habituated family in a group of 8 visitors.

Chimpanzee tracking

Besides thrilling gorilla adventures, a visit to Rwanda equally takes you through exciting chimpanzee tracking. This is another bucket list primate adventure if you plan to visit Rwanda soon. Chimpanzee treks in Rwanda are perfectly done within the lust rainforest of Nyungwe Forest National Park. There are 3 reception centers within this park and they include Uwinka, Gisakura or Kitabi. This primate experience takes you through habituated chimpanzee groups in Nyungwe forest national parks. One group is found within the park and the other is within Cyamudongo forest. The other option is Gishwati Mukura National Park. Remarkably, this primate experience also gets you the best sights at other creatures including L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, Den’t monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys and many more. Chimpanzee permits in Nyungwe Forest National Park costs $100 per visitor.

Canopy walk

Within Nyungwe Forest National Park, visitors on Rwanda safari have a chance to take part in canopy walk. This is by far, the rarest experience and in East Africa it is first of its kind. Canopy walk in this park takes you through 200 meters walk and you will spend at least 2 hours. It always starts at Uwinka visitor center and comes with exciting sights at distinct species including primates, birds and magical views at the Ishuno waterfalls. You need $60 to take part in this experience.

Bird watching

Rwanda boasts of its diverse Important Bird Areas each of which reward you with distinct sights at varied bird species. A birding tour in Rwanda takes you through tourist sites such as Nyungwe Forest National Park which hosts over 310 bird species. While on bird tour in this park, you have a chance to spot out birds like pockefellers’s sunbird, Chapin’s flycatchers, the Great Blue Turaco, the Grauer’s rush warbler, red collared mountain babbler, white tailed fly catcher, blue headed and regal sunbird, Congo bay owlet and purple throated.

Volcano hike

5 of 8 Virunga Volcanoes are confined within Rwanda Volcanoes National Park and they include Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Muhabura and Gahinga and this makes Rwanda among a few most remarkable sites for hiking adventures. Hiking experiences in Rwanda take you through Sabyinyo but Uganda side, Karisimbi Volcano, Bisoke.

Wildlife viewing

For most visitors, a trip to Rwanda is mainly focused on gorilla trekking but in real sense, you have a lot more besides mountain gorillas. Think about the big game and several of savanna grassland dwellers and think of Akagera National Park! Rwanda is an ideal destination for you to view elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, lions, leopards, elands, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, klipspringer, Oribis and others as well as several bird species including terrestrial and water birds. You can catch a glimpse at these varied species while on a game drive or boat cruise mostly hippos and crocodiles as well as water birds

Mountain biking

There are many cycling trails set for mountain biking in Rwanda and they include Congo trail. These trails come with campsites along the way for adventure seekers to relax from and there are many well-trained guides to take you through.

Para motoring

Para motoring is so far the newest adventure and while on Rwanda safari, count it a must to take part. In East Africa, it is a first of its kind and it takes you through Rubavu, Karongi, Nyungwe Forest National Park or Huye town.

Cultural experience with Intore dancers

The word Intore means dance of the heroes and indeed a cultural trip here rewards you with amazingly exciting and unique tradition this country boasts of. The dancers in this troupe are very skilled and professional.

Explore more about the 1994 Rwanda genocide

Rwanda is known for its past and for visitors who are interested in dark tourism, a visit to any of genocide sites is worth. The notable sites to explore include Kigali genocide site, Murambi genocide memorial site, Nyamata genocide memorial center, Nyanza and many others.

You may also take part in golden monkey tracking; pay a visit to King’s palace museum, visiting the red rocks Rwanda and many more.

 

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Meet the Maasai People of Kenya and Tanzania

One of the most popular nomadic people of Africa are the Maasai. These famous warriors live in both Kenya and Tanzania. You will see them during your African safari through different national parks including the Masai Mara National Park of Kenya, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro National Park and Lake Manyara National Park of Tanzania. The Maasai are well known predominant nomadic tribe and they do really embrace their culture. You will find them in major towns putting on their chosen unique suukas that they just wrap around their body.

It is interesting that even in modern times they proudly carry their old customs and you will be surprised by finding them with their sticks in modern hotels, banks, restaurants etc.

The communities that live adjacent to the national parks still live in mud houses plastered with animal dung. They just erect some sticks that act as a fence and many still live inside wild lands such as protected areas. Their lifestyle is unique to witness. and during your safari, you should go for the organized Masai Experience in one of the manyattas that allow tourist visits.

During your visit, you will engage in various traditional activities that they do.

Masai people have peculiar way of singing and dancing that does not comprise any instrument. So lyrical with rhythmic moves.Tales of warriors and tales of love, dominate their songs. Very audible and pleasing to hear. Their dance form comprise of circular moves with intervening slow and fast steps comprising dash of jumps in peculiar body postures.

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Go Gorilla Trekking in Congo

Compared to other gorilla destinations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) features both the mountain gorillas and the eastern lowland gorillas. The country has several protected areas where gorillas can be found. Some of these national parks have been opened to gorilla tourism while others are still remain unexplored.

Today, gorilla safaris have become a few most sought after wildlife experiences by most travelers who go on a safari in Africa. The two different gorilla species are inhabited within different national parks

  • the mountain gorillas in the popular Virunga National Park
  • the Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park

Remarkably, you can incorporate the two national parks into a single Congo Gorilla Safari and as well, you can explore others primate species for instance golden monkeys, chimpanzees and others. Here are the places to visit for gorilla watching safaris in the Democratic Republic of Congo;

Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park is incredibly one of the best national parks in Africa when it comes to gorilla trekking safaris. This UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts for about a third of all the rare mountain gorillas that thrive on earth today. This park lies suitably in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and it is undeniably a host to varied great apes including among others the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys. It was founded in 1925 making it one of the oldest national parks and its establishment was mainly to offer refuge to rare mountain gorillas and other wildlife species. As time went on, this park extended to cover some parts of the north to include the Rwindi plains, Lake Edward and Rwenzori Mountain ranges. Its boundaries took shape within the first 35 years and it was during that time that poaching practices also decreased and sustainable tourism increased. Currently, this park is one of the most significant gorilla destinations and while on gorilla safari, some of the habituated groups for you to track include Mapuwa, Humba, Rugendo, Bageni, Munyaga, Nyakamwe and Kabirizi.

Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park lies suitably in Bukavu town in the eastern DR Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It was established in 1970 by the Belgian photographer and conservationist Andrien Deschryver. It is named after the two volcanoes-Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega. Kahuzi Biega National Park lies about 6000 square kilometers making it one of the most extensive conservation area in the DR Congo. This park lies within the hilly and lowland terrain and provides refuge to the rare eastern lowland gorillas. It attained its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1980 and boasts of its diverse floral and faunal species. While on gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park, you will explore its two habituated gorilla families that include Mpungwe and Mankoto.

What is the cost of gorilla permits in the DR Congo?

In order for you to take part in gorilla adventures in the DRC, you must have a permit at hand as this is what will allow you to trek one of the habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park or Kahuzi Biega National Park. Permits in the DR Congo cost $400 per person and you can reserve one through the conservation reservation offices. You can email info@visitvirunga.org. For those who are interested in exploring Kahuzi Biega National Park, contact@kahuzibieganationalpark.org

In conclusion, depending on what your travel need are, the DRC comprises of two destinations where you can track gorillas each inhabits different category. For any plans to track mountain gorillas, the Virunga National Park should be a must for you to explore and if you are interested in eastern lowland gorillas then Kahuzi Biega National Park should be a must to visit. Besides Kahuzi Biega National Park, Maiko National Park also inhabits the eastern lowland gorillas.

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Africa, a healing safari Part I

As I write these words of my longing for Africa, for safari, I am wondering if I will really have the courage to post them for public view. This is a personal entry, one that explores a lifelong love affair, a yearning, a passion that has gripped my heart for as long as I can remember. Those who know me well would call it an obsession.

We have all experienced loss in our lives; some more than others. I believe, it was because I was in Africa shortly after a time of great loss in my life, and because I experienced the healing and peace that I had been searching for; I imprinted on this exotic land.

My first time in Africa occurred after my family had been torn to shreds. We were like a kill on the plains. The happy, overly optimistic, energetic, curious, little girl had been replaced with a skinny, pale, quiet, ghost. But in the months that followed; so rare and rich with experiences, life began to seep back in to my body.

I was allowed to live within Kruger National Park, not as a tourist but as a local. I was free to run through the bush under the African sun; my friend, a Zulu maid, my first date, a French missionary’s son. I collected injured birds, baby warthogs and iguanas. Lions killed outside our doorstep.

I was in the loving care of my uncle and he spent hours teaching me animal behavior, how to walk through the bush, how to track. He regularly flew me in his helicopter over the immense park, and took me camping in the wildest, most remote places. Here I learned how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and identify the sounds in the night. He had me keep a journal of everything I saw and heard each day; every animal, bird, reptile, insect, and tree. The world opened up in ways I never imagined.

When I left Africa, I was tan, strong, and had some fire back in my eyes. My spirit had returned to my body and I had fallen in love. The simple act of running beneath the African sun among the wild things, sharpens the senses, fuels the imagination, heightens curiosity, and strengthens the spirit.

There is something about the raw beauty and brutality of nature that brings one back to life. It teaches one not to feel sorry for ones self. The perfection and impersonal aspect of nature teaches you that, this is not personal, it just isand it is perfect. You won’t find anyplace on earth where these extremes are more pronounced. The predator that must eat to survive does not attack its prey with anger.  One sees beauty and balance in the natural order of things and begins to feel part of the natural world; a little humbler yet stronger, and thus more at peace. Our individual problems don’t seem so large. In fact we are but grains of sand – smaller than grains of sand and yet, we are part of the whole. We are connected to what is real and there is nothing more real than nature. This is the lesson I learned when I was so young and a good lesson it was. To be continued….

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert,

repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of

 your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will

 tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles

of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the

clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and

Exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

Please share your African Adventures with me and let me know if you or your loved ones are interested in a custom safari.

The possibilities are endless and the rewards last a lifetime. Ubuntu!

For any query contact mahree@adventuresinafrica.com

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Safari to Wellness

“Within nature, within the natural world, are all of the materials and tenets for healing human beings.  Nature is the textbook for those who care to study it and the storehouse of remedies for human ills.”

“Safari”, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary states; “the caravan and equipment of a hunting expedition especially in eastern Africa.”

An African safari is a journey, an expedition – yet many of us prefer to hunt with our cameras. Lately I have been thinking about other kinds of journeys; the journey within, the safari of our lives, the expedition that leads us to search for the meaning of all this.

There are the safaris, (or journeys) we take outward, and the ones that lead us inward, and then…there are also those that do both.  I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve traveled, I’ve found that there has been an inward journey. I’ve learned something of myself, of others, of life – I am different. Here’s something else, I don’t think you can mention safari without discussing nature.

The healing properties of nature and travel are something that I have also been thinking about – a lot. I do believe that nature, wherever found, can be one of the most effective treatments for the wounded, the weary, or the brokenhearted. In my own moments of need, I turn to her. And, because of this busy, techno-crazed, existence I’ve gotten myself into, I often need to take a hike (literally); travel to the wildest place I can find, and bring myself back to center.

Therefore, it was not surprising when I learned that my friend, Shannon Paige; a renowned author, activist, motivational speaker, and dedicated teacher of yoga and…so much more (I’ll go into later), expressed the desire to lead a Wellness Retreat in Africa. Yoga in Africa?

Well, here’s the thing about Shannon; she’s a woman who thinks outside of the box, she’s a groundbreaker. She is the founder of Anjali Restorative Yoga and Bala Therapeutic Yoga, (and a myriad of other accomplishments), while continuing to help literally thousands of people throughout world.

Shannon had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish. She felt drawn to explore the mysteries, wisdom and wonder of Africa; including ancient therapies, traditional dance and movement. And in doing so, find the restorative, healing essence which is unique to Africa. Perhaps, best understood in Shannon’s own words,

“I dream of Africa, often and in great color. I have yet to go and it holds a mystery to me that has only built with the deepening of my years. This coming year, a dream commences. We will step from a plane onto the ancient earth of a mystical and radically real continent. This wellness excursion to East Africa involves safari, tribal connection, yoga, cooling lessons, incredible connections with like minded seekers and more visual beauty than one can imagine.”

When I sat with the planning team and was asked, “Shannon, what is your dream trip?” I let it rip. I told them I wish to meet the Maasai and see searingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and engage gentle and supportive yoga to support our excursions. I talked about the animals I wish us to meet and the food I cannot wait to eat! I am confident that this will be the trip of our lifetime. Join us…Let’s dream of Africa together.”  – Shannon Paige

This safari, now the Tanzania Wellness Safari is extraordinary – a once in a lifetime experience.

Just a few activities:

  • Organic cooking classes and meals
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Time for meditation, reflection, and relaxation
  • Traditional African dance and music
  • Stargazing
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Game drives
  • Walking Safaris

– And yes, gentle, restorative yoga, suitable for beginners, side by side with Shannon, overlooking the plains of the Serengeti and the beaches of Zanzibar.

As many times as I have been on safari, I have never seen an itinerary or anything quite like this one.  If I know Shannon and I know Africa, this will be a “life-changer”, a journey inward and outward –a restorative journey to wellness.

The Tanzania Wellness Safari occurs in both June and December of 2014. To ensure the best experience for all participants, space is limited. Please contact: Mahree@adventureinafrica or call 720-612-0802 for more information.

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National Geographic’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime for 2014

Africa Adventure Consultants has been awarded for its African safari Namibia: Secrets Revealed. This is the third time Africa Adventure Consultants has been awarded by National Geographic for one of National Geographic’s prestigious annual 50 Tours of a Lifetime!

See a country that few Westerners ever visit with our expert naturalist guides. Discover the mysteries in Namibia’s harsh deserts, and visit its ghosts along the Skeleton coast. Home to the largest sand dunes in the world, the last free-roaming population of black rhinos on Earth and an incredible UNESCO rock art site at Twyfelfontein, a visit to Namibia should leave no stone unturned for fear of missing some of its magic.

The ‘Secrets Revealed’ safari also has an amazing cultural component, where travelers will have the chance to visit with the remote and nomadic Himba, as well as meeting the world’s ‘first people’, the San.

‘Secrets Revealed’ ends with a visit to the world renowned AfriCat Foundation, where adventurers will have close encounters with some of Africa’s large cats, including the chance to track cheetah on foot.

Namibia has captivated our hearts here at AAC. Travel with us to learn why National Geographic chose ‘Namibia: Secrets Revealed’ as one of its Tours of a Lifetime.