Archive for the ‘Uganda Safari’ Category

Mountain Gorillas to be “baptized” in Rwanda

KIGALI – Twenty-two baby mountain gorillas will be “baptized” in a name-giving ceremony this month in Rwanda’s Volcans National Park.

Rica Rwigamba, the conservation and tourism director said the ceremony that is due to be held on June 18, will give names to twins born in February, a rare occurrence for an endangered species which counts fewer than 800 individuals. Rwanda has recorded only five twin mountain gorilla births over the past 40 years.

“Like every year, renowned personalities will be part of the ceremony,” Rwigamba said.

Mountain gorillas are Rwanda‘s main tourist attraction and accounted for 90 percent of tourism revenue in 2010.

According to a 2010 census, the total number of mountain gorillas has increased by a quarter over the past seven years to reach more than 780 individuals.

Two thirds of them are found in the Virunga massif, which straddles Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda has over 50% of the 780 mountain Gorillas left in the world.

Gorilla Tracking charges lowered

The Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) has slashed fees for Uganda gorilla tracking permits by about 60% to both locals and foreigners.

UWA executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, announced on Tuesday in Kampala that the fee for East Africans – Ugandan trackers inclusive will be Ush.100,000/= from Ush 250,000, US$250 from US$475 for Foreign Residents and US$350 from US$500 for Foreign Non residents.

These promotional rates are applicable only for the low months of March, April, May, October and November. For the peak months rates will remain Ush 250,000, US$475 and US$500 respectively.

This, he explained is meant to attract more tourists to Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other tourism sites in the country. It is now on record that Gorilla trekking provides over 50% of tourism revenue for Uganda.

From a recent census, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park now has a total of about 32 gorilla groups. Of the 32 groups, nine are habituated of which eight are utilized for tourism while one is used for research. The total number of gorillas in Bwindi is about 340 which is almost over half of the estimated 720 Mountain gorillas in the world.

The census found that the percentage proportion of groups with several males (multimale) fell from 45% in the 1997 and 2002 censuses to 23% in the 2006 census.

According to an UWA press statement; this represents a normal fluctuation in the dynamics of gorilla groups. Because of the increase in the gorilla population, UWA has started a habituation process for two more groups in abid to boost Tourism revenue and satisfy the increasing public demand for gorilla tracking.

According to the researchers- “overall, the Uganda gorilla population has been increasing at an approximate annual growth rate of 1%, which is indicative of a healthy and well protected population”.

Reports also indicate that, in 2008, tourism earned Uganda $590m with 84,300 visitors. The tourism sector employs over 70,000 people directly while 300,000 people are employed indirectly in activities like handcraft.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), tourist arrivals continue to increase thus have led to recent increases in forex earnings from $590m in 2008 to about US$650 m in 2010.

Mount Rwenzori: Africa’s highest Mountain Range

TEA & Agencies

Awe-inspiring is perhaps an understatement when describing the beauty of this world-class hiking and mountaineering destination: the Rwenzoris. Described by one enthralled visitor as Heaven’s Garden, it is as though the gods had hidden this profusion of colour up in the clouds so that only those who dare might reach up and share its secrets. No wonder the mountain range is described as the Mountains of the Moon, even by ancient Hindu scriptures.

Mount Rwenzori can be reached from Kampala either by air or road. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara or the north passing through Fort Portal. By air the park is served by Kasese airfield.

These legendary snow-capped mountains were declared a forest reserve in 1941. The reserve is a catchment area giving rise to numerous streams that supply water to the surrounding communities as well as maintaining the flow of water to lakes Edward, George and Albert. Rwenzori Forest Reserve was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a world heritage site in 1995.

The Rwenzori mountains have a range covering an area of 996 square kilometers, lying 4° north of the Equator. The mountain range has six peaks that stretch from Mt. Stanley with Alexandria and Margherita (Africa’s third highest mountain at 5109 metres above sea level), Mt. Speke - Vittorio Emmanuele (4889m), Mt. Baker (4843m), Mt. Gessi (4797m), Mt. Emin (4791m) and Mt. Luigi de Savoia (4626m).

Mt. Rwenzori is renowned for its non-engineered, steep and slippery trails and frequent rain. High altitude, rain, cold temperatures, mud, bogs and steep terrain make it the most challenging range in Africa. Hiking the mountain commences with the hiring of equipment followed by briefing from the guides. At 1,646m departure from the park headquarters starts with a client walking past Bakonzo homesteads. On reaching the Makoma River, you cross via a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut at 2,652m, which is the arrival point for the day. This walk usually takes five to six hours.

The following day involves heading westwards for half a kilometer then dropping north steeply to Kurf Shafer Bridge. One can choose to overnight at Nyamileju or continue to John Matte Hut. From John Matte you cross the Bujuku River from where you will enter the lower two Bigo Bogs and this is the place where your first real experience of jumping from tussock to tussock in a grassy bog begins.

The trail in this area is usually muddy to the south until the Bigo Hut which is an ideal spot for parties climbing Mt. Speke with overnight usually at Bujuku Hut (3,962m). From Bujuku Hut the circuit is continued on new trails, which rise and fall twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss-draped Groundsel Gully towards Scott Eliot Pass (4,372m). The trek continues to Elena Hut (4,372m) which is the camp prior to climbing Margherita Peak (5,109m).

It is advisable that descent towards Kitandara should never be delayed. Here you will find massive rock walls and craters at the base of Mt. Baker. You then proceed via Upper Kitandara Lake through bad mud to the lower lake and Kitandara Hut where you can spend the night.

It is from this point that treks to Mount Baker or Mount Luigi di Savoia and Vittorio Sella can be arranged.

To avoid overheating on the steep long climb from the lake to Fresh Field Pass (4,282m), it is advisable that the descent starts early. From here one can descend through Kabamba onto the park headquarters at Nyakalengija.

Generally the trek is an excellent destination for keen hikers and climbers. The best time of the year for hiking is during the dry seasons from July/August and December to February. However, it is still possible to trek in other months. The fauna of this park is a checklist of 70 mammal species and 182 birds. The Rwenzori Colobus Monkey, L’Hoesti’s Monkey, Chimpanzee, Blue Monkey, Rock Hyrax, Red Forest, Black-fronted Duiker, Elephant, Leopard and the three-horned Chameleon are some of the wildlife that can be spotted.

A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets while in Kasese town and these include Rwenzori Base Camp in Ibanda, Hotel Margherita and Rwenzori International Hotel.

More Tourists in 2008, though a decline is evident in 2009

TEA Agencies,

Kampala, Uganda

 A total of 844,000 foreigners visited Uganda in 2008, representing a 32% increase over 2007. As a key contributor to Uganda’s GDP tourism accounted for 3.7% of the total. Despite this increase, it is clear that Uganda’s tourism industry is now facing difficult times as a result of the financial melt down.

The tourism industry is especially vulnerable to financial slow downs with consumers spending less on travel products and experiences in the short and medium terms. Expenditure on accommodation and

Gorilla Permits, Uganda’s trump card has decreased drastically as visitors choose more affordable safari options.

There was growing optimism that Uganda would soon achieve the 1 million foreign visitor mark by 2012. However, with the current economic melt down experienced globally and domestically, the effect on Uganda’s tourism industry is likely to be worse.

The unstable fuel costs and fluctuating dollar rate means that long-haul tourism is on the decline, particularly for middle income tourists. This has already had an effect on Uganda’s tourism industry.

As long haul travel becomes increasingly unaffordable, the integration of the East African region is now paramount for the region to achieve its tourism targets. However, reasonable controls such as some degree of protection for the Ugandan tour operators should be taken into consideration as we go into the final stages of the East African re integration.

The drop in visitors from all major source markets including UK and USA is now evident. According to research firm Trip Advisor, 58% of UK consumers are likely to or have already been influenced by the economic down town when it comes to choosing a holiday this year.

Tour operators in Uganda must now guard, at all costs, against pricing itself out of the global market as this destination now competes, on affordability levels, with Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

With the deepening of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown, there is a rise of new challenges ranging from safari cancellations to souring inflation rates now believed to have settled at 14.8%.

These challenges thus call for a cash injection so as to help in facilitating tourism research, marketing and work force issues for the better of Uganda’s Tourism industry.