Archive for the ‘safari’ Category

The Perfect Wilderness in Uganda, Kidepo National Park

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Kidepo Valley National Park is found in the northeastern corner of Uganda, Kaabong District. It lies in the rugged, semi arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya. The northwestern boundary of the park runs along the international frontier with South Sudan and abuts against its Kidepo Game. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a Savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.

The Perfect Wilderness in Uganda, Kidepo National Park

The park consists of the two major valley systems of the Kidepo and Narus Rivers. The valley floors lie between 3,000 feet (910 m) and 4,000 feet (1,200 m). There are differences in the rainfall received during the year with annual averages of 89 centimeters (35 in) in Narus and 64 centimetres (25 in) in the Kidepo basin and this leads to vegetation and animal population variances between the two valleys. During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, Savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location. In the Narus Valley you will see shorter red oat grass and taller bunchy Guinea grass and fine thatching grass. Its vast savannah landscape which is spectacularly lined with distant mountain ranges on the horizon Most of the park is open tree Savannah.

Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 86 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species some of which can only be found in that park in Uganda. There are Lions in abundance-especially during the dry season of the year, Elephant and Buffalo herds roaming, Rothschild Giraffes, Zebras, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, ostriches, pangolins, the bat eared fox, striped and spotted hyenas, tortoises, ostriches, aardwolf, caracal, and hunting dog, antelopes such as eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, jackson’s hartebeest and oribi.

Kidepo Valley National Park is so quiet and still with abundant wildlife, listen to yourself and the wild sounds only, the savannah landscape is absolutely breathtaking and the view of the horizon is endless. Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda’s most isolated national park with less tourists’ vehicles on the game tracks, mostly because of the distance and the roads leading to the park. But once you make it through this wild frontier region of Karamoja you will agree that it is very magnificent and also learn why it is often called a true African wilderness. No wonder it was ranked third best national park in Africa by CNN and also ranked among Africa’s finest wildernesses. This remote, out of the ordinary park offers the best of the Wild of Africa and worth your time and effort. This park stands out to be one of the best virgin places every wildlife viewer can ever visit in Uganda. This virgin national park is undoubtedly among the best wilderness areas in Africa.

Attractions and activities in Kidepo Valley National Park

1. Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
Through most of the year, shortage of surface water implies that less wildlife is seen within Kidepo Valley, although it is still definitely worth the drive to go to the dried out Kidepo River to walk along its 50 meter wide river bed comprised of white sand in between the banks blanketed with borassus palms. “Kidepo” means “to pick from below” and this valley was frequented by people traveling to collect fallen borassus fruits to use for fermenting when making palm beer. You will be shown around how animals dig down the sand in search for water till they reach it and quench their thirst.
The Kanangorok Hot Springs are located 11 kilometers past the Kidepo River along the Sudan border in the extreme north of the park. It is the most permanent source of water in the park and marvelous place to sit down and observe the mountains far past the frontier.

2. Mount Morungule
Mount Morungole towers to 2,750 meters and it is crossed by River Kidepo and River Narus which nourish the wildlife plus the natural habitat of this park. The Morungole Range defines the southern boundary of this park and soars from these plains a couple of kilometers north-east of Apoka. This area may be visited on foot in the company of a ranger. The slopes of the mountain are habitat to the IK people, who are the tiniest ethnic group found in Uganda, and have their own special culture.

3. Namamukweny Valley
This valley is populated by a huge amount of bird species for example the Eastern Paradise Whydah, Green Wood Hoopoe, White-crested Turaco, Abyssinian Roller and the Common Bulbul, among others. It’s found in the northwest part of the park and may be accessed on foot or using a car.

4. Lomej Hills
The Lomej Hills are found just a brief drive from the park headquarters. These hills are a great viewing point to see wild animals and birds such as the mountain reedbucks.

5. Apoka Tourism Centre
This is a craft shop having books plus souvenirs, alcoholic beverages, bottled-water plus sodas which you can buy, Apoka Tourism Centre is overlooking the game filled Narus Valley and habitat to a luxurious Apoka lodge and the budget Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Bandas; At the centre you will find Ranger guides who accompany tourists on their game drives plus nature walks and if you don’t have private transport, then you can hire the Uganda Wildlife Authority trucks.

6. Local People
Most of the people bordering the park are Karamajong, traditional pastoralists. Visit the Karamajong Manyatas (cow dung homesteads) to learn about their traditional customs and dances as well crafts like stools, knives, bows, arrows and jewelry. Visitors can also visit the lk, one of the most reclusive tribes in Uganda who still live in a very traditional manner in relative seclusion high atop Morungole Mountain. Away from the manyattas, the crowning moment of a visit to this community is the dance by the Ikarangole Dance Group. Prepare to interface with the natives as they dance, jump to the skies and getting closer to you in entertainment. Community engagement is one of the activities that will leave tourists charmed by Kidepo. You will see young boys with herds of cattle and goats along the village paths and a dry river bed. A tour of the neat manyattas leave one fascinated by the order, right from the way twigs and branches are weaved to form a fence to the setting. One thing that will leave you amused is the narrow low entrance to the courtyards.

Accessibility to Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National park is approximately 12 hours from Kampala by road.
By Air a regular scheduled flights take 2 hours and fly into Kidepo. Charters can easily be arranged as well. This is the easiest way to access the park but more costly option.

Where to stay in Kidepo Valley National Park
The park now boosts of a number of lodges than it was previously. There are two facilities in the middle of the park and these are the luxurious Apoka Safari Lodge, The Uganda Wildlife Apoka Bandas for budget clients. At Apoka Bandas clients have a choice to sleep in the bandas or to camp in the tents.
There is Nga’Moru Wilderness camp situated at the park’s boundaries, and Kidepo Savannah Lodge which is just a 500 mt away from Kalokudo gate.

Things to do and see in Kampala

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Uganda’s national and commercial capital city Kampala was historically known as the hill of the impalas and derives its name from the vast numbers of impalas that once roamed the now biggest city in Uganda. In addition to its historic buildings, and rich cultures, there are so many interesting things to do and see for those people visiting Kampala. These include;

Things to do and see in Kampala

Independence Monument

Following Uganda’s Independence from the British in 1962, the Uganda Independence Monument was set up and it is located in the center of Kampala City, just next to Sheraton Hotel. Visit this monument while in Kampala and take pictures.

Uganda Museum

In 1908, Governor George Wilson called for all articles of interest on Uganda to be procured and that is how the museum was founded. The collections in the Uganda Museum include playable musical instruments, hunting equipment, weaponry among others. The Uganda museum is the oldest museum in East Africa.

Baha’i Temple

The Baha’i temple in Kampala is the only Baha’i temple in Africa and welcomes anyone who would like to visit or even participate in prayers. The temple is located on top of a hill in a very serene environment perfect for relaxing and reflecting.

Kabaka’s Palace

The Kabaka’s palace is the official residence of the King of Buganda Kingdom (Kabaka). It is located at the pinnacle of Bulange Hilland had existed for centuries. The palace provides a rich history of one of Uganda’s oldest kingdoms– Buganda. The road to it is locally known as Kabaka Anjagala (The king loves me).

The guided visit to Bulange will cover the Lukiiko Hall, the gardens and monuments and the Central Broadcasting Station (CBS), Zakariya Kisingiri’s house, one of the oldest and magnificent houses in Buganda located along the Royal Mile, ‘Lukoma Nantawetwa,’ Kabaka’s round about (junction) on Rubaga road, Mengo and the ‘Empukku’; former Idi Amin’s Amin’s torture chambers cave inside the Lubiri.

Owino Market

Visiting downtown Kampala takes you to St. Balikudembe (Bartholomew) market popularly known as Owino. This market is perhaps the busiest in Kampala and is usually filled with a lot people. You will find almost everything in Owino market. From clothes, to food stuffs, electronics, stationery and so much more. Be advised that this place also attracts pickpockets so remember to be on your guard as you traverse this part of Kampala city.

The Parliament of the Republic of Uganda

The Uganda Parliament building is located along Parliament Avenue in Central Kampala. Visiting this can only be done on appointment and prepare to be thoroughly checked by security personnel at the gate.

Art Galleries

For travelers who love art, Kampala is just the kind of city for you. There are plenty of art galleries where you can find exquisite art pieces for your enjoyment.  You can visit Afriart, Makerere Art Gallery, Umoja Gallery among many others.

Kabaka’s Manmade Lake

The Kabaka’s lake was established by Kabaka Mwanga between 1884 and 1888. It is the largest manmade lake in Africa and runs about 200 feet deep. Initially, the Kabaka intended for the lake to link his Lubiri Palace to Lake Victoria and it is said that he even actively took part in the digging process to set an example to his subjects.

Kasubi Tombs

The Kasubi Tombs is a world heritage site which you should visit while you are in Kampala. The cultural leaders (Kabakas) of Buganda Kingdom are buried at this site. Currently, three Kabakas are buried at the site. Kasubi Tombs is undergoing reconstruction and is therefore closed to visitors. It will be reopened to visitors as soon as reconstruction is done.

Explore Kampala by boda boda– Moving around Kampala city by boda boda motorcycles is the fastest way to traverse even the most congested of locations around the city. The experience of riding on a boda boda is quite rewarding and affordable.

Nakasero Market

Nakasero Market located within central Kampala is a one stop source for food stuffs especially the locally grown kind. People flock Nakasero market to but all kinds of vegetables, fruits and so much more. Make it a point to visit this market when you are in Kampala. You will love it.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe

Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe is the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda and the diocesan cathedral for Namirembe Diocese, the first diocese to be founded in the Church of Uganda province, in 1890. Between 1919 and 1967, the Cathedral served as the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda, Anglican Communion.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga

Kabaka Mutesa, the 30th Kabaka of Buganda, who reigned from 1856 until 1884, once maintained a palace on Lubaga Hill. When fire destroyed the palace, he abandoned the hill and relocated to Mengo Hill. In 1889, his son Mwanga II of Buganda, donated that land to the French Catholic missionaries (White Fathers) who were setting up the nascent Catholic church in the country, at that time. In 1914 the missionaries began constructing a modern cathedral at Lubaga (Rubaga). Construction was completed in 1925 and St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga was consecrated on 31 December 1925.

The Uganda National Mosque (Gaddafi Mosque)

The Uganda National Mosque is a mosque located at Kampala Hill in the Old Kampala area of Kampala, Uganda. Completed in 2006, it seats up to 15,000 worshipers and can hold another 1,100 in the gallery, while the terrace will cater for another 3,500. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya commissioned the mosque as a gift to Uganda, and for the benefit of the Muslim population. You can visit this mosque but you have to be dressed decently.

Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine

Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine was built in honor of the Uganda Martyrs killed by Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda between 1885 and 1887 at Namugongo after their refusal to renounce Christianity. People from all over the world congregate at Namugongo every 3rd of June to celebrate the lives of the martyrs. The shrine is located approximately 16 kilometers north east of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

 

 

 

Uganda Visa Requirements. How to obtain Ugandan Visa.

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Here are Uganda Visa requirements and information on how to obtain Ugandan Visa. Know the Uganda Visa Application Requirements as you plan your Uganda safari.

Uganda Visa Requirements

Tourists coming to Uganda require a visa and a passport that is valid for 6 months after your date of entry. However, there are Nationals of some countries who are exempted from visa requirements for travel to Uganda. These countries include Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Sierra Leone, Singapore Solomon Islands, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Tonga, Vanuatu, Italy (Only diplomatic passport holders) and Cyprus. They do, however, need to have a current passport issued by their respective countries.

Visas for Uganda can permit a single or multiple entries. You can be allowed to stay in Uganda for two weeks to three months but this can also depend on the details of your trip. Where visitors seek to stay longer than the period granted on arrival, extension of the period should be sought from the immigration Headquarters in Kampala before expiry of the initial visitor’s pass.

Visitors to Uganda should not overstay their visa validity otherwise they will be subjected to a fine of U$30 per day and other appropriate legal action.

To apply for a Uganda visa, you will need to have the following Uganda Visa Requirements: a valid passport, Passport Photos that Meet the Embassy of Uganda’s Requirements, proof of Yellow Fever Vaccine, a properly completed Uganda Visa Application Form and Money Order of the correct visa fees (Single Entry = $50; Multiple entry = $100; East Africa Tourist Visa = $100), an invitation/introduction letter, if traveling for business, enclose a prepaid, self-addressed UPS, FEDEX, DHL, USPS Priority or Express return envelope.

How to obtain Ugandan Visa.

There are three different ways by which one can obtain a Ugandan Visa;
– Applied for in advance by submitting an online application through the e-visa system by clicking here or download, fill and submit to the Embassy the Visa Application Form.
– Uganda visas may be obtained at Uganda missions abroad.
– Tourists and visitors who are not able to apply for their e visa can get it on arrival at the ports of entry in the country. These are expected to be phased out and replaced with the electronic visas.

East Africa Tourist Visa

If you are traveling between Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya, you may enter all three countries on an East Africa Tourist visa. Obtaining one visa instead of three separate visas for each country saves you time completing paper work, and it saves you money on consular fees. This visa is only available for tourist travel, however, and no work is permitted under this visa class. The East African Tourist visa permits 3 months multiple entries between Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya.

Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes in Western Uganda

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

The Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes in Western Uganda are quite magnificent natural wonders to explore when visiting Uganda.

Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes

Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes

Crater lakes are formed as a result of vulcanicity, with violent eruption causing the top of a volcano to be blown off, which leaves a crater. About 35 km south of Fort Portal between the main Fort portal-Kasese road and Kibale Forest National Park is a collection of several lakes with accommodation establishments. Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes are free from bilharzia, hence recommended for swimming. The major activities around Bunyaruguru Crater Lakes are fishing and avi-tourism. The recorded bird species in the area are over 300.

Among the crater lakes in the region is Lake Nkuruba considered to be safe for swimming, and on the banks are primates; white colobus monkeys and hippos that cross from Nkuruba and Nyabikere. Tourists can cycle around the lakes or walk to nearby crater lakes such as Lake Nyinambuga on the back of the twenty thousand shilling note. Walks are organised by local guides to Mahoma Falls.

Lake Nkuruba has nature reserve, a community Conservation project. There are camping areas in the picturesque setting. It has walks to the neighbouring lakes, Mahoma falls and the explosion crater.

Fort Portal is located 300km to the west of Kampala and 80 Km north of Kasese at 1,600m above sea level. A 30 minutes drive from Fort Portal on the Kamwenge road and just 100 m off the main road at the edge of Kibale Forest National Park is Lake Nyabikere( lake of Frogs). Some of the crater lakes in the area include; Lake Nyamirima, Lake Nyanswiga, Lake Lyantonde, Lake Rukwanzi among others.

Endangered Species of Dwindling Wildlife of Africa

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Africa is at the edge of losing a number of bird and animal species. The increasing human-population in Africa is destroying the natural habitat of several species. Mining, road development, fencing, and ranching have also pushed several species to the brink of extinction.

The diseases affecting the domestic animals and pets often lead to spreading of the same disease to the wildlife population. If a plant or animal species that is alien to an area is introduced there accidentally or deliberately, can lead to devastating consequences for the native species at times. The lack of water due to climatic changes, diversion of rivers, and construction of dams, also affects the existence of several species and might even lead to the extinction of some if timely awareness about it is not created.

Go through this infographic put together by TuskPhoto for a list of 10 endangered African species with details about how vulnerable they are along with specific reasons for it.

endangered species of dwindling wildlife of Africaendangered species of dwindling wildlife of Africa

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