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Arsenal Players Name Gorillas at 2020 Kwita Izina

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Kwita Izina

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and other players from the U.K. soccer team named infant mountain gorillas in an annual ceremony hosted by the Rwandan government. Aubameyang, defender Hector Bellerin and goalkeeper Bernd Leno each named one of 24 of the primates at the Sept. 24 event, known as Kwita Izina. The ceremony took place online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“2020 has been a difficult year, but in spite of Covid-19 we have made kwita izina special in two ways, by holding it virtually due to the pandemic and giving the people that spend a lot of time caring about the endangered species the privilege to name the 24 babies,” Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi said in a statement.

The ceremony coincided with World Gorilla Day, the day American conservationist Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center in northern Rwanda in 1967 to boost awareness of the endangered species.

Rwanda monitors about 400 of the primates from 21 families in its Volcanoes National Park. The reserve is within the Virunga Massif that stretches into neighboring Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo and is one of only two places in the world where the gorillas are found.

Since reopening to tourists in June, Rwanda cut trekking-license fees to $500 per person from $1,500 to attract more visitors. The cost will be revised back to $1,500 in January, the tourism agency said.

Last year, the East African nation reported a 17% increase in revenue from tourism, it’s biggest foreign-exchange earner. Tourist trips to go and see the gorillas, known as trekking, accounted for 14% of the US$498 million the country earned from the industry.

Since reopening to tourists in June, Rwanda cut trekking-license fees to US$500 per person from US$1,500 to attract more visitors. The cost will be revised back to US$1,500 in January, the tourism agency said.

Armored Car Rentals in Africa

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Armored Land Cruiser for Hire

Wondering how you can best explore the hard to reach or the riskiest places in African continent? Well, it is true, traveling to some parts of Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Tunisia have been considered risky because they are characterized by civil wars. But what is interesting is that, there is a solution for everything and the best to get there is possible using Armored car rentals. With availability of armored car rentals in Africa, your safety is guaranteed and you can easily explore most of the continent’s renowned risky places.

Our fleet of armored car rentals in Africa are outstanding, bulletproof and perfect for diplomat/executive travelers. They can be hired with experienced driver who also is familiar with various places in the country you will be visiting. We lease out armored cars both on short-term and long-term rental contracts.

Land Cruiser Lx

The Toyota Land Cruiser 78 series is undeniably the best for military and civilian travelers in need for smaller, low profile and yet armored 4×4 car rental to be used to reach to risky places. This carries 5 people and unlike other armored car rentals, Land Cruiser Lx is relatively cheaper but ensures visitor safety and their cargo. It is a perfect alternative for long term rental services.

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG is listed among the top armored suv car rentals in Africa offering extreme safety. It is among the latest rides and it is popular for its great performances, off-road navigability and maneuverability. It has a front torque distribution of 40:60, equipped with an AMG 4.0L V8 twin turbo engine, Android and Apple connectivity, enhanced 9 speed automatic transmission and others.

Armored Toyota Land Cruiser GXR

If you are interested din an ultimate luxury bulletproof car rental then Toyota Land Cruiser GXR is readily available for you to hire. It is a BR6 series with 4.5L diesel engine. This accommodates up-to 7 visitors with adequate space for you to stretch your legs and pack cargo. It has a 360-degree perimeter protection, reinforced suspension, run-flat devices, executive interior, air conditioners and a lot more.

Armored Land Rover/Range Rover

Range Rover is one of the best and luxurious suv cars in Africa. It is a perfect choice to rent among the armored car rentals in Africa if you are interested in the highest level of luxury, comfort and safety. It is fitted with a 5.0 supercharged V8 engine, 6 speed automatic transmission, self-park function, sunroof, touch screen display, horsepower and 360 perimeter protection.

Volvo XC90 3.2 V6

The Volvo XC90 is by far an outstanding armored car rental in Africa with mileage of 122000km. It is equipped with a 3.2 V6 petrol, Xenon headlights, 7-seater, electric seats, PDC front and rear among other amazing features.

Armored Toyota Fortuner

This is another best bulletproof rental car in Africa. It provides armoring protection against ballistic threats. Its 4 sides and rooftop are all well-protected with high quality steel. Unlike other armored car rentals, the Toyota Fortuner is light weight and credited for its great performance. The interior consists of spacious leather seats, mileage of about 105000kms and several other extra features.

Armored Lexus Lx 570

Toyota Land Cruiser Lexus Lx 570 is arguably one of the leading bulletproof car rentals in Africa. It is mostly preferred by VIPs, top government officials, private security agencies given its capability to navigate through places considered to be dangerous.

Features that make up armored car rentals in Africa

  • Fuel pipe protection
  • Radiator protection
  • Reinforced door hinges
  • Hutchinson run flats on all wheels
  • Heavy duty suspension
  • Fuel tank protection
  • Large frame overlap

Other amazing armored car rentals in Africa include Mercedes Benz ML500 Guard, Mercedes Benz E500 Guard, Infiniti Q50 2.0t Sport, BMW X550i Security Plus, BMW X5 3.0d M Sport, Armored Cadillac escalade and others. Check out Car Rental Africa for more lucrative deals on both vehicle hire and equipment leasing services.

The Kalahari Desert of Botswana

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Kalahari Desert

All About the Kalahari Desert

Africa is like no other travel destination, and if approached with a spirit of reverence and spirituality, can change you and your perceptions of life.The Kalahari Desert is one of these destinations offering the spirituality of the Makgadikgadi Pans or the humbling experience of the peoples of the San – The Kalahari Bushmen.

The Kalahari Desert is surprisingly large, as it occupies central and south-western Botswana, parts of west central South Africa and eastern Namibia, thus covering an area of some 260 000 square kilometres. It is also part of a large sand basin stretching into Angola and Zambia in the north, through Botswana into Zimbabwe in the east, south to the Orange River in South Africa, and west to the highlands of Namibia. The basin encompasses an extraordinary 930 000 square kilometres, and is estimated to have been formed some 60 million years ago, at the time when Africa became a continent.In the millions of years that followed, the area of the Kalahari basin became a super lake, which gradually dried out and filled up with wind blown sand, debris and fossils. Today the Kalahari Desert is perhaps not the classic image of sand dunes, particularly in Botswana – where there is grass, trees and scrub.The Kalahari itself is surprisingly diverse, as is not only includes the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans National Park, but also the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi. These pans are extensive (some 10 000 square kilometres), and are the very real reminder of the extent of the ancient super lake, with clear evidence of a shoreline.

During the summer (November – March) when the seasonal rainfall arrives, the grass bordering the pans turns green and herds of zebra, wildebeest, and other antelope species migrate in large numbers to this food source. The area is also alive with nesting flamingo, pelican, and duck, which also thrive on the algae and minute crustaceans.

Traces of man’s occupation of the Kalahari go back at least 25 000 years. Stone Age tools have been revealed by erosion. The Khoi and the San were the first modern inhabitants of southern Africa, and their numerous rock paintings, tools and pottery can be found in the Tsodilo hills and the Lepokole hills in the east and in other rocky parts of the Kalahari. Today, the population has dwindled, but some San still live and follow their traditional life-style as hunter-gatherers in the Central Kalahari Reserve – where they have only recently regained their right to stay in the Reserve.

The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi, meaning “the great thirst”.

Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks

The Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans Parks were integrated into the Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Park in 1993, making it some 4 000 square kilometres in extent – thus including Nxai Pan itself, and part of the Makgadikgadi Pans system.

The Nxai Pan area is a series of small fossil pans, which are covered in short, nutritious grasses, interspersed with ‘islands’ of mainly umbrella thorn trees. Nxai Pan lies to the north of the Makgadikgadi Pans, and in the dry season the wildlife concentrates on one artificial water hole, just north of the Game Scout Camp. In the February to April wet season, the concentrations of wildebeest, zebra and oryx are spectacular. In addition there bat-eared foxes emerge in good numbers, while lion, hyena and wild dog have followed the antelope to the area.

Nxai Pan and Kudiakam Pan are both a part of the ancient lake bed that formed Sua and Ntwetwe Pans. Kudiakam comprises mini salt pans, but thanks to its higher elevation, Nxai Pan escaped encrustation by leached salts.

The Makgadikgadi pans cover some 10 000 square kilometres in salt. Some of the pan are enormous, others the size of small ponds. Surrounding the pans are vast grasslands fringed with palm trees. The pans flood after the rains (November to March), and this attracts thousands of water birds to the shallow pools. The flamingos and pelicans flock to the salty waters and the animals of the plains to the fresh grasses. The flamingos migrate from as far away as East Africa to filter the newly released nourishment and algae from the waters.

These pans are the remnants of the once great Lake Makgadikgadi that existed some 2 million years ago, and presumed to have dried up around 1 500 years ago. The lake was 80 000 square kilometres in extent, and up to 55 metres deep, making it the largest inland sea in Africa. Over the years a combination of climatic changes and tectonic activity has drained the waters completely.

Although named for the Pans, the Makgadikgadi section of the park is mainly grassland, with only a small area of salt pan. These grasslands also attract wildlife by the thousands, in the rainy season. There is surprising variety in the park – with 4 main vegetation types: riverine woodland, scrubland, grassland and the salt pans, which support Palmtree woodlands, on the edges.

The range of antelope includes impala, oryx, hartebeest and kudu, but they only appear in large numbers during the migrations during May and June. Lion, hyena (brown hyena are prevalent in the area) and cheetah are also present and when there’s water, and the Boteti River supports a healthy hippo population. The Nxai/ Makgadikgadi area has also been made famous by its magnificent baobab trees. There are Baines’ Baobabs, south of Nxai Pan, which form an impressive group. They are named for the painter, who immortalised them in 1862. Baines was travelling with John Chapman at the time, but has also travelled with Livingstone.

At the ephemeral Gutsa Pan, 30 kilometres south of Gweta (the village close to the entrance of Nxai Pan), you will find Green’s Baobab, which was inscribed by the 19th century hunter and trader Joseph Green. Fifteen kilometres to the south-east by rough track is the enormous Chapman’s Baobab, which measures 25 metres around and historically served as a beacon in a country of few landmarks. It’s thought that it was also used as a post office by passing explorers, traders and travellers, many of whom left inscriptions on its trunk.

Near the south-western corner of Sua Pan is Kubu Island – an ancient 20-metre high scrap of rock with its ghostly Baobabs, surrounded by a sea of salt. In cool weather, this unique sight can make visitors feel like castaways on an alien planet. In Zulu-based languages, ‘Kubu’ means Hippopotamus, and as unlikely as it may seem, given the current environment, the site may have been inhabited as recently as 500 to 1 500 years ago. On one shore lies an ancient crescent-shaped stone enclosure of unknown origin that has yielded numerous pot shards, stone tools and ostrich eggshell beads.

Visit our Camps and Lodges Section to review the varied accommodation on offer in the Kalahari Desert

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Larger than Denmark or Switzerland, the 52 800 square kilometre Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which was set up in 1961, is one of the largest game reserve in the world.

The reserve is literally in the centre of Botswana, and is characterised by vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds. Varying from sand dunes with many species of trees and shrubs in the north, to flat bushveld in the central area, the reserve is more heavily wooded in the south, with mopane forests to the south and east.

The people commonly known throughout the world as Bushmen, but more properly referred to as the San (or Basarwa in Botswana), have been resident in and around the area for probably thousands of years. Originally hunters and gathers, the lifestyle of the Basarwa has gradually changed with the times and they now live in settlements, some of which are situated within the southern half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

One the better known areas of the Reserve is Deception Valley, which is all that remains of a sprawling riverbed that has long since dried up. Stretching across 80 kilometres of the Reserve’s north reaches, the valley is now covered with short grass, and dotted with the occasional island of bushy trees. Some of the roots of the larger trees extend as far as 50 metres below the surface to the water table, enabling them to survive the dry winters.The low canopies of these tree grove islands, usually made up of umbrella thorn (Acacia tortilis) and buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) provide shelter for game during the heat of the day and one can often see lion dozing in the shade of these thickets.

After the summer rains arrive, from Deception Valley to Piper Pans, the vast plains produce sweet grasses making the area one of the prime game-viewing areas in Botswana. Not many people seem to be aware of this and visitors are few. The clear blue sky fills with gigantic clouds and the stage is set for an amazing transformation. Here you will find thousands of oryx, springbok and wildebeest, with numerous predators in attendance (lion, cheetah, hyena and jackal). Game viewing in the Kalahari Desert is best between December and April, when the animals congregate in the pans and valleys.

Best 5 Challenging Mountain Hikes in Africa

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Hiking in Africa

Various People climb or hike mountains for fun where one struggles to reach a high point in the mountains area. But due to some difficulties many fear to take on the activity during their tour holidays in Africa though the activity is exciting and adventurous to those who chose to explore the Mountain Region. In Africa mountain climbing adventure is done in Mt Kenya, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru, Mt Rwenzori, Mt Elgon, and volcanoes in Rwanda.

All mountain climbers/hikers should be strong, fit and health with mountain climbing equipment which they bring or hire them from the mountaineering management office of the particular mountain which they intends to climb. The mountain climbing gears include Mountaineering /hiking boots Plastic doubles with inner liner, Ice Axe 60-75cm in size, Helmet Sized to fit over a hat, Gaiters should fit over plastic boots, Warm pants and jacket Windproof & waterproof, Bandanas, Glacier glasses, water bottles,Sleeping bag , Mug, bowl, utensils, Snack/ foods, wipes, knife, large packing bag, toiletries, passport, ticket among others. The pleasure of mountain climbing is not only to reach the peak of the mountain but also for physical and spiritual satisfaction which is only brought by determination and focus. Devoted climbers always choose challenging scenic routes which is just in line with their mountain climbing desires.

Kilimanjaro Mountain

Funny but true for some of us who can’t speak Swhahili. Imagine a great thinker who joined two Swahili words to get a name of the highest mountain in Africa “Kilima and Njaro .The UNESCO world heritage site rich in ecological life zones Savannah,Tropical,Subalpine,Alpine and Desert and Montane protects three distive volcanic cones of Kibo,Shira, Mawenzi.

Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing the mountain with the most standing summit of 15,100 requires no mountaineering experience though the treks are challenging. Lots of trekking trips are available for climbers though the most impressive route is Umbwe to the icy Glaciers.

Mount Kenya

The Mountain full of Rare adventure in Kenya second highest in Africa after Kilimanjaro & sited in the south. Its vegetation and grass cover the basal plateau and trees in the other. Lots of animals can be sported elephants, Bufaloes leopards etc without forgetting the rich culture of the Embu, Meru and kikuyu people who also own farm land lands on the lower mountain slopes.As you climb the mountain, your adventure will be awesome since the great lovely views will entertain your eyes throught the trek. Meet the twin peaks of Batian and Nelion which lies the at trekkers peak of Lenana (4,985m) and a degree of fitness is required for one to be in position to trek the mountain though the effort is worthy it.

Mount Kenya

The best time to climb mountain Kenya is year round though its freezing level go high during Kenya rainy seasons of mid March to mid June and the short rains from September to October due to its location on the equator at an altitude of 4000m. Since the short mountain Kenya trek start from 5 days, you can journey by road from Mount Kenya to Masai Mara via the Rift Valley Lakes & the extension needs 6 days.

The Rwenzori Mountains

Find the most stunning Uganda Mountain Rwenzori in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border covered with bamboo, moorland & one of the highest snow peaks in Africa. Apart from mount climbing and hikes, the mountain areas protect a wide variety of bird species up to 218 species, Mammals making it a world unique hiking and mountaineering target. The 9-12 days trek is available for mountain climbers and hikers reaching to the 5109m Magherita summit just above the Stanley Plateau, the largest glaciated area on the African continent. Though other hikes, walks, can be done around the park on a Uganda safari and with in the nearby villages of the Bakonzo.

Rwenzori Mountains

The drive to the beginning point of the mountain climbing is 5-6 hours that’s from Kampala Uganda’s Capital to Kasese. However you can also get a chance of visiting other places for relaxation after the trek like Queen Elizabeth National park since the park is closely located to the mountain. You can choose to either leave out some circuits or take on all of them Speke, Margherita, Baker, Bujuku, and Mubuku since the trek is hard full of Mud, and vegetation.

If you fit enough don’t miss out the Night Camp fires, sleeping in the open sky in the wild of the pearl of Africa.

Mount Meru

The famed topographic showpiece of Arusha National Park mount Meru is sited 70km away from mountain Kilimanjaro in west Tanzania & visible on a clear day from Mt Kilimanjaro.

Mountain MeruThousands visit the mountain for peak training , Mountaineering, game viewing,& birding in the ascent area savannah. Over 400 bird species can be indentified, primates,and wildlife which is a main reason for many travel in Tanzania. Climbing Mountain Meru is an exciting activity which one shouldn’t miss on their visit to Tanzania. East Africa offers some outstanding climbing in a variety of superb settings in Hills, mountains so it’s your turn to challenge your Fitness.

Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Africa

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Gorilla Trekking Experience

Though there are several globally recognizable conservation initiatives established to protect mountain gorillas like Friend a Gorilla, they continue facing major threats from habitat loss and poaching. Brought to fame by the world class movie of the 1980s known as the “gorillas in the mist” a lot of attention and care is still needed in order to protect them in the wild.

Unlike the lowland gorillas which are in 100,000s, there are only about 880 mountain gorillas surviving in the world in only three countries  in the world; Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Mountain gorillas have longer hair and shorter arms and are larger than other gorillas. They can also climb trees just like others. Roughly, about only 880 mountain gorillas can be found alive on planet Earth and about 420 in Uganda, others can be tracked from the forests of the Virunga Mountains – central Africa, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas often like to establish their habitats on green, volcanic slopes and in areas that have seen much human violence from which the gorillas have not escaped untouched. They often feed on tree roots, fruits, tree barks and pulp and other kind of vegetated diet.

They are socially structured in their way of life where they divide themselves into different groupings(troops) of about 30 members (comprising of young males, some females, and their offspring), each being led by a silver back, a dominant elder (most especially older male) uniquely identified by a lining of silver hair adorning the dark fur.

This silverback is responsible for organizing and supervising routine activities like eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about the group’s 2-to-40-square-kilometer home range. Since they are our close cousins, though gorillas are generally calm and non-aggressive, they also neither want to be challenged nor disturbed by other members from other groups. It is a role of the silverback to intimidate the enemies by frightening with impressive shows of physical power through standing upright, making aggressive charges, and pounding his huge chest with continuous powerful barks, hoots and roaring.

After a gestation period of 8 – 9 months, a female gorilla gives birth to a one two-kilogram-helpless-weak-tiny-infant only able to clutch to its mothers’ fur. It starts riding on its mothers’ back from age of 4 to 5 months till the age of 2 to 3 years where it is now able to walk a shorter distance that increases respectively to its age. Just like humans, gorillas at this stage are so playful, they chase themselves, climb trees not forgetting their funniest moment of swinging from tree branches.

In addition, through time gorillas have displayed significant intelligence recognised through continuous adaptation to simple human languages.

Where to find them

Mgahinga gorilla national park; it is a cultural heritage and part of a larger ecosystem of the Virunga conservation area including two more adjacent parks in both Rwanda and Congo. In Gahinga slopes can be found a swamp filled – crater of about 180m wide and Muhavura the highest peak of mount Mgahinga has a small crater lake about 36m wide at its summit The park can be accessed by road or air transport. Kisoro town at the foot of Mt Muhavura is about 540 km from Kampala and takes about 8 hours via Kabale on an excellent paved road surface. Public transport by bus is available on daily basis. Mgahinga is located 13 km from Kisoro town and can be accessed by public transport. Kisoro town can also be accessed by air by using the runway Airfield at Nyakabande.

Bwindi impenetrable forest; here is unique wildlife experience, biologically, the Bwindi impenetrable is one of Africa’s richest forests, owing to its great age (over 25000 years) and an altitudinal range that spans 1400 metres. Not only the forest’s star attraction the mountain gorilla, but also much more attractions can be seen here including about 350 birds, 310 buttterflies, 200 trees, 51 reptiles, 88 moths, and 120 mammals including several other primateslike chimpanzees, black and white colobus, blue monkeys , grey –cheeked mangabey, and L,Hoest’s monkey.

Bwindi has ten habituated gorilla groups, which are tracked from four trail heads. Eight permits are available for each group, giving a daily maximum of 48 permits. An addition gorilla group can be tracked on the Virunga volcanoes in the nearby Mgahinga gorilla national park. Tracking the mountain gorillas takes two to eight hours depending on the location of the group.

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). Roads meet at Butagota 17 km from the Buhoma entrance gate. A 4x4WD car is recommended if you are to travel through Bwindi most especially during the rain season.

Volcanoes National Park: This park is located in northern Rwanda and it is part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area. It is the best place to visit for gorilla trekking in Africa and a trip to this park ranges from day excursions to longer trips of various weeks. Gazetted in 1925 to protect the mountains together with the larger Virunga National Park, PNV is a safe haven for the mountain gorilla. There are ten habituated gorilla groups available for gorilla tracking to prospective tourists. The park also has eight volcanoes that makeup the Virunga Ranges.

Resources:

Genevieve Nnaji Joins Oscar Academy, Gets Oscars Voting Rights

The 41 years aged Nigerian Actress and Producer, Genevieve Nnaji, has been summoned to be a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the organization which hands out the Oscars.

Genevieve, who starred and directed in Lionheart, which was Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film in 2019 revealed reaching this milestone via her socials and this means she will be able to vote for Oscar winners. This comes just months after her own film was disqualified as a submission.

Meanwhile, the reason as to why this film was disqualified is because it was largely in English yet films in this category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”. However, the dialogue in 1 hour-35-minutes film was in English except for an 11-minute section in the Igbo language.

At the announcement of her membership to the Academy yesterday on Wednesday 1st July 2020, the actress was so excited and she couldn’t hesitate to reveal how it is an honour for her to join the Oscars. Therefore as a new member, Nnaji now has an automatic right to vote for the Oscar winners for 10 years, according to one Hollywood Reporter.

Genevieve’s Journey from Nollywood to Oscars

Nnaji started acting at a very tender age of eight, when she appeared for one popular TV soap Ripples. Her Nollywood career took off when she played one of the ogbonge roles as female armed robber.

Genevieve was born in Mbaise, Imo state, and grew up in Southwestern Nigeria, Lagos, in a middle-class home where her father was an engineer well as her mother was a teacher. In brief about her studies, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in creative arts at the University of Lagos. While at the university, she began auditioning for acting jobs in Nollywood.

In 1998, at the age of 19, Nnaji was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie Most Wanted. Her subsequent movies include Last Party, Mark of the Beast, and Ijele. In 2010, she starred in the award-winning film Ije; The Journey.

She has starred in over 200 Nollywood movies over the last two decades and her rise to prominence coincided with the exponential growth of Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is called across Africa.

Gorilla Trekking: 5 Countries to Visit in 2021

Bwindi Forest in Uganda

Gorilla tracking is regarded as the most interesting adventurous tourist activity done on earth and many who have got this chance of meeting them in their natural environment testify to this. Its better to plan for your gorilla safari early enough. For many who have gorilla watching on their bucket list of things to do in 2016, here are the best destinations where you can visit these apes, the largest primates on planet earth.

The most popular destinations for tracking mountain gorillas include;

RWANDA

Rwanda which is also known as the land of a’ thousand hills’’ is one of the smallest countries in the world itis about the size of Wales, and its population is one of the densely in the world. This small country is the leading mountain gorilla destination in the world; many visitors live their beautiful homes and houses to come to this small African country to spend at least 1-2 days in the wild watching these endangered mountain gorillas that are inhabited in this country.

Rwanda has good roads making it quick to get around and a relatively well-developed infrastructure all these make it very easy to reach Rwanda’s tourist attractions swiftly. It’s just about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali international airport to the most visited Rwanda national park Volcanoes national park for gorilla tracking. But it’s the work of Dian Fossey who was and still influential in the habituation process of mountain gorillas. She was a prominent primatologists and a researcher who studied and habituated mountain gorillas to human standards for a period of over 18 years and its work was dramatized in the film Gorilla in the Mist, that really makes Rwanda’s volcanoes national park many peoples first choice for a mountain gorilla safari.

Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda

Volcanoes national park is home to over 12 habituated gorilla families ready to visit by trekkers every day. Relaxed gorillas and relatively open habitat montane vegetation, often with stunning views greatly improve the chances of good gorilla watching. Ranger Guides are professional in the field and they help visitors in the process of searching and sighting, and give all necessary information not only to gorillas but also to all forest dwellers that live in the forest. many of whom have spent decades helping visitors cope with steep slopes, stinging nettles and nerves makes every muddy, gasping step that bit easier. Chances of sighting these rare apes in Uganda are 5/5.

  1. UGANDA

This east African country is one of the three countries housing the endangered mountain gorillas in the world. Its second in popularity to Rwanda, however it’s known for housing the highest percentage of these remaining mountain gorillas, out of 900 mountain gorillas Uganda house almost a half of these giant over 480 live in Uganda’s two national park Mgahinga gorilla forest national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park bot located in the south-west of the country and these two parks offers different experience. Mgahinga National Park is part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area, and its habituated gorillas often cross into DRC, the park house only one gorilla family called Nyakagezi gorilla family, however this group likes adventure, they most of time migrate to neighboring countries DRC and Rwanda, climbing to the top of Mt Sabinio, where Rwanda, Uganda and DRC meet, is an outstanding way to see the whole mountain gorilla kingdom in Mgahinga.

Visit Uganda Gorillas

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is more biodiverse and at a lower altitude is a home to 11 gorilla families, the groups are always available for tracking each day and many trackers to Uganda prefer tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park than in Mgahinga. Infrastructures like roads leading to these top visited national parks are well built and chance of seeing gorillas in Uganda is 5/5

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic republic of Congo is one of the largest countries in Africa housing three of the four sub-species of gorillas including the rare mountain gorillas. Gorilla tourism with habituated groups began here in the mid-1970s, in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a stranglehold of eastern lowland gorillas; the park still offers one of the best gorilla-viewing experiences in DRC.

You can enter DRC from Rwanda which is the easiest entry, however recommended to check the security situation with a local tour operator or the Virunga National Park authorities. Bukavu is the nearest town with some beautiful lakeside hotels.

Kahuzi Biega Gorilla

Although is still unsettled, but gorillas tracking is superb in the Virunga national park, people can see the gorillas from Kisoro, Uganda because permits are available and some are sold out in Uganda however this is not a guarantee. Eastern low land gorillas and low land gorillas are present at the park. Infrastructures are not good however Chance of sighting the mountain gorillas 5/5, western low land gorillas is 3/5 and the eastern lowland gorillas is at 4/5

  1. CAMEROON

Those interested in watching the Cross River gorillas Cameroon offers this opportunity, these apes live in the English-speaking part of Cameroon bordering Nigeria, in small compartments of forest that are the center of a preservation project but with no tourism component yet. The only captive Cross River Gorillas can be seen at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, which also cares for about 15 Western Law Gorillas orphans. Cameroon also hosts the western lowland gorillas, these live in the French speaking part of the Cameroon in Campoma’an National park in the south west, however sighting is not a guarantee, chances of sighting the western low land gorillas is about 3/5 and sighting the cross river gorillas is only 1/5 percent.

  1. GABON

Gabon can’t be left out among the African countries popular for gorilla tours, Gabon made a braveoffer to expand its economy by creating 13 national parks in 2002, most of them comprising gorilla habitat. The Western Lowland Gorilla habituation programme at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. Although no specific gorilla trekking spot, visitors can still see them while looking for other wildlife in the wild something which makes the treks more exciting. While in the wild chance of sighting these giant apes is about 3/5 and visitor’sinfrastructures are at 3/5. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of these apes, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization.

7 Things to Do in Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda

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Virunga Volcanoes

Volcanoes National park also known Parc National des Volcans (PNV) in French or Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in Kinyarwanda is the most popular tourist destination in Rwanda. It is located in the northwestern region of Ruanda in the district of Musanze formerly known as Ruhengeri bordering Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda.

Volcanoes National park is situated on the Virunga Mountain ranges and is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), covered in rainforest and bamboo. The major activity in the volcanoes national park is mountain gorilla trekking where visitor from all over the world have travelled for this unique experience. Gorilla tracking in the volcanoes is all possible to date thanks to the great works of Dian Fossey who worked with the community tirelessly for the conservation efforts in these mountains. Her remains still lie in the Volcanoes National park and tourist hike to the grave to witness and have a brief background about her works.

Apart from Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), elephants, black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Ruwenzori Mountains and the Virungas.

Due to the tourism potential of the park, there has been fundamental development in Musanze with many tourist centers and accommodation facilities that range from upmarket (about $1,500 a night) to budget facilities for as low as $80 a night.

Volcanoes national park in Rwanda boasts of the activities as below;

1. Mountain Gorilla Tracking

Perhaps the most sought after activity in the park, gorilla tracking in the volcanoes has been operational and with growing number of visitors per year post genocide in Rwanda. The gorilla tracking permit in the Volcanoes are sold by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Rwanda tourism authority or by booking a packaged Rwanda gorilla safari that is all-inclusive through a reputable tour operator.

There is a total of 13 gorilla families in volcanoes national park as of 2017 where by a total of 8 tourists 15 years and above are allowed to visit each gorilla family per day. The gorilla permits are sold at $750 per permit (this according to the 2016 tariff) by RDB.

The gorilla tracking activity starts very early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters at around 7:30am. Given the proximity of the park from the capital Kigali tourists are able to do a 1 day gorilla trekking safari commonly known as the 4:30, tourists can also do multiple gorilla tracking at the volcanoes or a combination of gorilla tracking and other activities at the park or other destinations in Rwanda. Tourists are allowed to spend 1 hour with the gorillas and within acceptable distance.

2. Golden Monkey tracking

Golden monkey trekking is another highlight of Volcanoes National Park. The Golden Monkey is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey” and is endemic to the high altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park area. The monkeys are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping from bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor. The bamboo is their major food basket of the Golden Monkeys.

There are two habituated groups of Golden Monkeys, one group comprises around 80 – 100 members and has its home at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo. As with treks to see the Mountain Gorillas, treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. Departure for the Golden Monkey trek is from the Park’s Kinigi Headquarters at 07:00am. The number of visitors is not limited and the fee for a Golden Monkey permit is currently USD$100 per person per trek. Permits can either be arranged in advance or booked at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek. Porters can be hired at the entry point of the park.

3. Mountain Climbing

There are apparently hiking visits to two of the 5 mountains in volcanoes National park and that is trek to the Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes.

Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a strenuous yet very rewarding 2 days hike. The climb starts early in the morning taking 6 hours and involves navigating through the Bisoke side before reaching the first stopping place at an altitude of 3,700 meters for overnight camping before finishing off the journey the next day. You can book the Karisimbi volcano hike with East African Expeditions

Hiking to the summit of Mt. Bisoke is a day’s activity. It takes about 6 hours to hike to the top and about 2hrs to descend.

4. Hike to the Dian Fossey Grave

Dian Fossey was a great zoologist who worked relentlessly for conservation of the Volcanoes habitat with much emphasis on the mountain gorillas. Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered in 1985 and her remains laid to rest near her “home” in the volcanoes alongside remains of gorillas that could have been killed by poachers or died from natural death.

A hike to the Dian Fossey grave starts early morning and takes about 1 & half hours up to the forest with a view of the forest species like birds, butterflies, a variety of primate and bird species.

The Dian Fossey tomb’s headstone reads, “No one loved gorillas more, Rest in peace, dear friend, Eternally protected, In this sacred ground, For you are home, Where you belong”. The Dian Fossey hike costs $75 per person per hike.

5. Iby’Iwacu cultural village Tour

Located just outside the national park, this living museum highlights aspects of traditional Rwanda society. Visitors can expect to be greeted by thunderous drumming, joyful dancing, and the kind of hospitality that has permeated Rwandan society for centuries. The village features hands-on activities related to the rituals and ways of life in the ancient Rwandan kingdom. Some of Iby’Iwacu’s presenters and performers were previous poachers who’ve now been able to make a new livelihood through this memorable, interactive stop designed for visitors of all ages. The village also offers extended trips into the countryside as well as overnight lodging that can be arranged in advance. Unlike other activities in the park, this village tour can be organized at any time of the day.

6. Tour of the Lakes and Caves in Volcanoes National Park

There are tours organized to Musanze caves. These caves were formed by centuries of geologic activity centered around the Virunga volcanoes next door, the 1.25-mile long Musanze caves are located just outside of the town they share a name with, and are only a 90-minute drive from Kigali. With an enormous opening (and an equally huge number of bats resident inside), the greenery outside spilling over into the twilight within makes for a fantastic photo op. Though today they’re a tourist attraction, the caves were used as a shelter during wartime for many centuries leading right up into the modern era, and as such, it’s an important site to local people. Thus, out of respect for the area’s residents, access is limited to guided visits. Expert guides lead every tour, and they can explain the history of the caves from their formation to present day. The tours make an excellent add-on activity for the afternoon after you’ve seen the gorillas, take about 2.5 hours, and can be done at any time throughout the year.

7. Visit to the Twin Lakes of Burera & Ruhondo

These twin lakes are located in Musanze and short excursions are organized on these lakes and tourists normally cool off from their hectic hiking activities in Volcanoes National park. Tourists can enjoy canoe rides on these deep blue waters.

Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s tourism hub which is very accessible by public transport from Gisenyi or Kigali or from the airport. The drive to Volcanoes national park is 2hrs and hence one can do gorilla tracking on the same day and drive back to Kigali after the trek. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00am, therefore, if you hope to trek gorillas for one day, you have to wake up very early for your journey so that you are on time. However, there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to the headquarters of the park at Kinigi- it is highly advisable to buy a full gorilla tracking package for your memorable gorilla safari adventure in Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park is also famous for the Famous “Kwita Izina” the gorilla naming ceremony that is an annual event that was inaugurated in 2005 with the aim of boosting tourism in Rwanda. This event is special on the Rwanda calendar and happens in the month of September every year.

Best 10 Movies to Inspire You to Visit Africa

Long Walk to Freedom

If you have not yet made it to the African continent and you need to reminisce, or if you’re there right now, here are some great movies to stir up those feelings. True, it might be a bit cliché to watch a movie about a country when you’re in the country, but never will you be more taken by its story, its backgrounds, its language and its message. So make the time and engross yourselves in these crackers:

Mandela, Long walk to freedom (2013)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a South African film based on Long Walk to Freedom, the 1994 autobiography by Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician. It is a chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village as he comes of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. . Idris Elba stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris stars as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Zulu (2013)

Based on the program for biological and chemicals weapons of the South African apartheid regime (Project coast) and the book “Zulu” by author Caryl Férey. The film was chosen as the 2013 Cannes film festival closing film.

Constant Gardener (2005)

The Constant Gardner based on a novel by John le Carre tells the story of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a British diplomat whose activist wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is murdered. Set in Kenya’s large slum, Kibera, just outside of Nairobi is a murder mystery involving corrupt pharmaceutical companies trying to use poor Africans as guinea pigs for their latest drugs, and British diplomats turning a blind eye in order to save face.

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

The Last King of Scotland is a movie about the memoir of a fictional Scottish doctor named Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), who worked in Uganda and finds himself unwittingly picked as the personal physician to one of the world’s most brutal dictators, Idi Amin. Forest Whitaker plays Idi Amin and he won a best acting Oscar for his incredible performance.

The Last King of Scotland

This award-winning 1998 novel by Giles Foden was filmed in Uganda and is worth watching just to get a feel of the countryside and places. Of course Uganda is now at peace and Idi Amin and his equally brutal successor, Milton Obote, are distant memories.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Based on real life events in Rwanda during the spring of 1994, when tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples lead to a war in Rwanda, where corruption and bribes between politicians are routine.

Hotel Rwanda

This film star Don Cheadle as hotelier Paul Rusesabagina, who attempts to rescue his fellow citizens from the ravages of the Rwandan Genocide. Anyone travelling to Rwanda should read up on the genocide and try and get a better understanding of what exactly happened and visit the genocide museum in Kigali.

Cry for Freedom (1987)

The film is set in the late 1970’s during South Africa’s apartheid era, bases on the books by Donald Woods.  The film centres on the real-life events involving black activist Steve Biko and his friend Donald Woods.The films is set around discrimination, political corruption and the repercussions of violence. Nominated for various awards, including the Academy awards (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song) and winning various ones including the Berlin International Film Festival and the British Academy Film Awards

Out of Africa (1985)

If you are planning an East African safari and you want to get in the mood, this is a good movie to watch. The scenery is spectacular, the acting is great (Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) and it’s very romantic. This movie has proved to be one of Kenya’s most effective marketing tools.

The Lion King:

If you haven’t seen Simba singing and dancing along with Rafiki, Pumba and Timone then, my friend, your childhood has a huge Disney shaped hole in it and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The Lion King

As you backpack around East Africa you’ll see the strong Swahili references throughout the movie, a great reference point for a charming region and an equally charming movie. Simba means lion, Poomba means warthog and more endearingly (as you’ll hear yelled across the street countless times) Rafiki means friend.

This Is Africa.

The movie which gave birth to the mainstream usage of this age-old maxim – When your bus leave 3 hours late, TIA. When your food arrives and is nothing like what you ordered, TIA. All fun and games of course, but this movie paints a slightly grimmer picture of TIA-  namely conflict or blood diamonds. Set in Zimbabwe (or Rhodesia as Leo Di Caprio, politically charged, insists on calling it throughout the movie) it tells the story of a local man who comes across a valuable diamond. The lengths at which people are prepared to go to is a shocking reminder to how cheap life can be on this continent sometimes. The movie points a stern finger at a European diamond company (I’m sure you see the parallels with reality here!) who horde the diamonds, keeping the prices high and thereby maintaining the violent acts dished out by the people in charge of the diamond mines across Africa. It may not be a true story per se, however I bet you’ll think twice about those diamond earrings next time you reach for your jewellery drawer.

District 9:

Set in South Africa, the story-line goes that an extraterrestrial race come to earth and are forced to live in horrible conditions. They are rejected by the mainstream population of both South Africa and the world and are relocated to District 9. A farfetched story I hear you say?

Not quite… the movie is based on historical event which transpired during the apartheid era, specifically when 60, 000 blacks were ‘relocated’ to District 6 in Cape Town. Don’t let the xenophobic themes get you down though, when you are sipping your ice-cold beer on Long Street in Cape Town you’ll feel a whole different vibe now, I assure you of that.

Why is Uganda Called the Pearl of Africa

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Nile River in Uganda

In 1908, Winston Churchill published a book entitled “My African Journey” this was about his trip to Uganda in 1907 and made famous term “Uganda – The Pearl of Africa”. He was quite enthused about what he found in Uganda when he wrote, “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life – birds, insects, reptiles, beast – for vast scale – Uganda is truly “the pearl of Africa”.

While most Ugandans attribute the name “Pearl of Africa to Winston Churchill, however other European explorers felt similar, they spoke volumes about Uganda and referred to it as the Pearl of Africa. John Hanning Speke and Richard Burton in 1858 traversed through Buganda Kingdom and were amazed by what they saw. John speke discovered Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile. He got impressed and surprised by the local culture and people’s way of living.

Speke’s western Uganda circuit was popularized through a movie “Mountains of the Moon” his discoveries were later proven by Samuel and Florence Baker.

The most credible source of Uganda the pearl of Africa was Henry Morton Stanley, he twice ventured throughout Uganda long before Winston Churchill. In fact, Fredrick John D. Lugard well known for saving Uganda for the British from the French wrote, “Stanley was even louder in his praises of Uganda than Speke had been, and described Uganda in 1983 as the “the Pearl of Africa”.

Most sources point Henry Morton Stanley first and probably most credible source of the Pearl of Africa. As it’s also in most of American writings, this was way before Winston Churchill’s visit in 1907 and published his book “My African Journey” in 1908.

Describing “the Pearl of Africa” in 21st Century

Being the one of its kind country, Uganda a country with rich biodiversity above any country in the world making it a country gifted by nature and the following are reasons why this East African nation is truly “the Pearl if Africa”.

 Warm friendly people

Ugandans are known to be the most hospitable people in the world; the friendly welcome follows a concept of traditional African culture where the host assumes responsibility for well-being of the visitor(s). The friendliness and worm welcome is also reflected in a way how very first Europeans to Africa were welcomed by different kingdoms in Uganda, like explorers, missionaries among many and Winston Churchill found that in 1907. Much as there was a language barrier but at the moment Uganda is Africa’s Best English speaking Country even Winston Churchill noted that in his book.

The Weather is the best in the world

For those who have traveled to Uganda can witness this; the country has the best weather in the world. In fact Winston Churchill wrote; “the climate is different…from all of Africa”.

Because of attributes such as the Equator, Lake Victoria, sitting on a high Elevation, the Rwenzori  and Elgon Mountains, the Virunga Volcanoes are the reasons behind its beauty and excellent all year long hence the Pearl of Africa and favorite holiday destination.

There are two major rainy seasons that’s April – May and then October, November and part of December, but even during this rain seasons, it can still shine since much of the rain showers in the night or morning hours as a result Uganda believed to be the greenest nation in the world and yes, the pearl of Africa.

Uganda a tropical paradise

In Winston Churchill’s book “My African Journey” writes; Uganda is from end to end one beautiful garden, where the staple food of the people grows almost without labor. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? Concentrate on Uganda…it is the pearl of Africa.

Being Africa’s Tropical fruit basket, get the taste of Uganda while on a safari visit then you will bear me witness why the pearl of Africa is a tropical paradise. The best and fresh Pineapples in the world, Large Papayas, different kind of bananas, tasty passion fruits truly Africa’s tropical fruit basket.

Magnificent scenery

Uganda’s stunning scenery amazes every visitor, a case in point Winston Churchill wrote, “The kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale, the scenery is different…from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa…what message I bring back…Uganda the Pearl of Africa”.

The country’s scenery from elsewhere in Africa, those who have visited the country will agree with me. In fact lonely planet calls Uganda “Africa Condensed” meaning what you can find elsewhere in Africa is in one country Uganda. In 2012 Lonely Planet chose Uganda as “Best Country to Visit”, CNN Travel chose Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park as “Most Beautiful Place in the World”.

Rwenzori Mountains, Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Lake Bunyonyi appeared in the blockbuster Movie, “Black Panther” the country is the source to the longest river in the world, the Nile River running through it. The Virunga volcanoes that has Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and in 2019 was declared 3rd “Must photograph location in the world.” That’s why Winston Churchill was right when he wrote, the scenery is different…hence the Pearl of Africa.

The country with rich biodiversity

One of the world’s most diverse country, this was recognized by Winston Churchill in his 1908 published book,” for magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life – bird, insect, reptile, beast – for vast scale – Uganda truly the Pearl of Africa”

From the high mountains in the north to the beautiful savannah grasslands and the rush thick rain forests in the south is what describes Uganda. Gifted by nature as some people call it, Uganda makes the world’s top ten countries when it comes to biodiversity though it’s landlocked and  just the size of Oregon state in the USA.

With variety of climate zones, Uganda in home to the Big Five and the special Two. On a safari in Uganda, you will see the Big Seven that include Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Leopard Lion, then Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees. Others include; Hippos, Nile crocodile, Antelope and over 1,160 bird species elusive shoe bill stork inclusive, butterflies and then the endangered Rothschild Giraffe as if that is not enough, you will be amazed with the rush green, Rivers and big Lakes looking like an Ocean.

The slogan “The Pearl of Africa” is Uganda’s brand label and no other African country brands the same way. In a broad view this slogan was not created by Uganda government, or ministry of tourism, not even hired marketing agency. Gifted by nature is the only effort but it never equated to Pearl of Africa brand. You can never separate the “Pearl of Africa” and “Uganda.”

Winston Churchill’s visit to Uganda was to see how British can economically benefit from Uganda as their protectorate but not to promote tourism by popularizing Uganda as “the Pearl of Africa” his book “My African Journey” sparked interest from among big game hunters who as a result frequently visited the country.

Much as the term ‘the Pearl of Africa’ was used describe the country’s wealth and riches for exploitation. Today “the Pearl of Africa” is used as a country’s tourism slogan that describes the uniqueness and one of its kind as an African safari destination. Today may tourism related businesses what associate with the slogan as they see term that describes excellence such as – The Pearl of Africa hotel among many.

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