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This river is undeniably the longest in Zambia with a length of over 1600 kilometers. It is of a great significance as its water is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation purposes. It is the largest tributary of the Zambezi and principle river in Zambia.

It is also the most central and urban with over 50 percent of people from Zambia settled around its basin and 65 percent are urban. This waterbody features a mean flow rate of about 320 meters via its lower half with high season variation. It discharges about 10 cubic kilometers each year to River Zambezi.

It stands at altitude of about 1350 meters just along a relatively gentle plateau south of the border area of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, approximately 120 kilometers northwest of Chingola in the Copper belt Province.

Its source is in the northwestern province of Zambia and the area is largely a miombo woodland especially along the Congo Zambezi watershed with several branching dambos that lie from 10-20 meters lower than the highest ground, producing an undulating landscape. It begins as a trickle form the marshy dambos-Munyanshi swamp and with some little slope to speed up its flow rate.

It winds southeastwards and at about 50 kilometers, you will find features of a mature river. This waterbody receives rainfall amount of over 1200 mm during wet season and its channel has a width of 100 meters with a floodplain of fluvial dambos 1 to 2 wide.

Prior reaching a Copper belt, this river loses its wide floodplain and the channel reduces to 30 to 40 meters while it winds in a shallow valley only about 40 meters or lower than the bordering plateau.

It however flows close to the Copper belt towns of Chingola, Mufulira and Chililabombwe as well as via the outskirts of Kitwe and Nchanga. The most picnic site at this waterbody is hippo pool north of Chingola and this area is protected as a national monument. Within the Copper belt, the water is taken from this waterbody to irrigate small farms and market gardens. Around Kitwe, it changes course to the southwest and flows via forests and areas of gentle rock on which it floods in the rainy season, while maintaining a width of approximately 50 meters during the dry spell.

This river develops intricate meanders and channels within a swampy floodplain with oxbow Lakes and Lagoons. It flows about 20 kilometers west of the permanent part of Lukanga swamp that fills a circular depression and that drains via a channel into the Kafue. Between the swamp and river, there is a floodplain and when that and the adjacent parts are inundated during the wet season, the combined wetland goes up to 6000 square kilometers and this make up the first of the 3 major wildlife areas.

And this includes the Kafue National Park which is the second largest protected area in Africa and receives about 2 vast tributaries-River Lunga and Lufupa from the north. Along its outskirts, there are a good number of significant wildlife species especially antelopes, zebras, Cape buffaloes and many more. Itezhi Tezhi Gap channel on other hand is eroded by this river and it flows across a flat plain known as the Kafue flats also previously called Butwa.

However, the blue lagoon and Lochinvar national parks have been formed along these flats while in Mazabuka and as this river gets closer to Kafue town, a sugar plantation and many other farm estates exist especially around the fertile black soil and use water from this river during the dry season.

The Kafue flats stop at Kafue town and from here as the rift valley becomes deeper, the river reduces to 550 meters over 60 kilometers via Kafue gorge. The second dam in this waterbody is Kafue gorge dam and comes with smaller reservoir and generates electricity.

Before any traveler experiences the most authentic gorilla safaris in Uganda, in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a city tour in Kampala Uganda’s capital, a wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth national park or perhaps a self-drive vacation in the pearl of Africa, important preparations should be done.

Having a successful self-drive trip in Uganda involves an important to do list between the traveler and the Uganda safari. This may seem overwhelming but the more planning, the greater the probability of having a memorable self-drive safari in Uganda.

Self Drive and Camping in Africa
Self Drive and Camping in Africa

Self-driving in Uganda, especially to first time trotters, or those who are not so used to Uganda roads can be stressing. However if proper steps are followed, they can engineer a memorable escape to Uganda the land of beauty.

  • Move with your documents

This seems so obvious, but it is very important to get your documents in order while self-driving through Uganda. For nationals having safaris in the country should always endeavor to move with their national identity cards. And the foreign trotters, a valid passport is something you shouldn’t ever forget to move with. This is not because Uganda is not, but rather for an emergency in case of anything. Remember that ever car hiring companies only give out their vehicles to drivers with valid driving licenses, so do’t forget them too.

  • Have a budget

While self-driving through Uganda, it is very vital to have an established budget before the real safari. This is because from the word go, a traveler is to meet several destinations, with some even cheaper than the planned destinations, but this doesn’t mean that you are to go off road to every destination because you find it attractive, yes it is good to be flexible, but on a specific budget in order to have a memorable and stress free vacation in Uganda.

Besides that, the streets are field with fresh fruits, Muchomo, hand crafts and so many other eye catching things that would force your hands to the pocket and pick some change for them. But if with a budget, it gets easier to control yourself. No traveler would love to end a safari as broke as a church mouse, keep that in mind.

  • Stick to your dream destinations

Regardless of how much a traveler is to spend, specifying dream destinations for the vacation is important even if flexibility is key in a self-driven safari. Now, having known the budget, make your must-see travel list involving even the childhood fantasies to see the king of the jungle, gorillas and so many others. Don’t forget to include excursions, cultural festivals or city tours in Uganda.

  • Book your accommodations

Remember that travelling to any strange country more than one day requires you to plan some places where to sleep. Do a little bit of research to discover different lodges with cheaper rates and exciting like the attractions you plan to visit. Make sure you choose lodges that meet your desires even exceedingly. Nothing spoils a trip as an uncomfortable accommodation setting, travelers should be keen about this.

  • Live like a local

For any trotter on a self-drive safari in Uganda to have the best out of it, it is key to live like a local on a safari in Uganda. Try as much as possible to learn some Kiganda words, simple words like greetings, appreciations and places where to stay. Have a taste of the local cuisines in local restaurants, visit communities and spend time with the local people. This helps travelers to easily catch up in the country and a trip with several stories to tell when finally back home.

  • Don’t drive for too long hours

Have yourself a schedule for driving. Some trotters schedule their time in a way that one day is for long driving hours, the next day short driving hours. This gives the driver a moderate time frame to rest and regain more energy for the next day for long driving hours. It also gives the traveler chances to explore the off beaten destinations without inconveniencing anyone.

Still, even the safety and security in Uganda is not the one that really guarantees safe moving at night, so it is better not to drive when it starts getting dark.

Note that any self-driver on a trip to Uganda shouldn’t forget to follow the road signs. Otherwise with those simple steps, plus some other important things to remember, all travelers would have the best travel experience on a self-drive tour in Uganda.

Every year, many hotels and lodges are built in Rwanda and because of this tremendous development, its hospitality sector has remained more vibrant and sound ever before. A few months ago, Bisate safari lodge; a luxury safari lodge in Volcanoes National Park was ranked among the best new hotels in the world. Of recent, Rwanda’s renowned and most magnificent ‘Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Center’ was also awarded with 3 additional awards adding the list of its accolades.

This was during the 25th World Travel Award Gala event at Durban International Convention Centre-South Africa. The 3 (three) awards included the Rwanda’s leading conference hotel, Rwanda’s leading hotel and Africa’s leading conference hotel. This world’s recognition alone represents the good work done by staff members and remarkably a great testimony to all stakeholders and 3rd parties who are positively impacting on the daily operations of this hotel facility as well as the trust worthiness they have always showed and not to forget the confidence from all visitors.

To the hotel management, this is highly attributed to exceptional staff the hotel has in place who have time and again done their best to see to it that there is efficient service delivery at all levels of service in the hotel. Ideally, the ward matches the effort the staff have always invested to position it as the preferred Meetings and Events destination.

The World Travel Awards Africa and Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony cuts across the continent’s incredible travel and tourism event annually and brings various heads of states, VIPs across Africa. This hotel is remarkably one of a few iconic landmarks in Rwanda and comprises of about 291 modern rooms and suites including a luxurious royal suite at 700 square meter floor area. The rooms and suites feature amenities such as wireless internet, free high speed, sumptuous furnishings a mention but a few. Besides, a number of restaurants about two of them that are situated on site, together with an outdoor pool and the best area for relaxation. A visit to this hotel offers you opportunity to enjoy the continental and Rwandan favorites and super breakfast buffet. There is also a lounge bar where you can have chilly moment in the evenings.

The net floor area covers 32200 square meters and the convention center can accommodate over 5000 delegates at a time and also features business, leisure and event facilities. This hotel features about 18 meeting rooms and this include the a state of the art auditorium that takes about 2000 people and offers a sophisticated backdrop for wedding parties and many social events.

It comprises of morethan 650 parking bays and when you are done exploring the hidden treasures within Kigali capital, visit the hotel’s fitness center and perhaps chill around the swimming pool. It comes with a rare design reflecting that of a true Rwandan homestead hence African authenticity is featured here. For any need for accommodation while on safari in Rwanda, consider this hotel a must and you need about $300-a rate charged per night.

This convention center comes in a dome like shape auditorium just like a hut in the King’s palace. It accommodates about 2600 visitors and since its launch, more than 620 events and 223000 delegates have been hosted in this magnificent convention center. It is undoubtedly one of a kind convention centers in Kigali and East Africa at large. Today, it features as the leading destination for events in the Land of a Thousand hills.

What is amazing is that its rare design incorporates all the facilities and functional technologies with a clear representation of African culture and traditions. The Kigali convention center lies just at the center of Kigali capital and while on road trip from Kigali Airport, you can easily get to this stunning place within a shortest time possible. It attracts corporates, high profile government personnel, diplomats and many others who come to Rwanda for various reasons.

Getting to Radisson Blu Kigali

To reach to Radisson Blue Hotel & convention center, it takes you about five kilometers’ drive from Kigali capital city and even when you are traveling from Kigali International Airport. It is the number one event center within Rwanda’s capital and provides the best and ideal environment for regional events and also international conventions, festivals, meetings, exhibitions a mention but a few.

The convention center is the biggest and its outlook is eye catching, serves variety of purposes including conferences, boardroom meetings. Interestingly, this magnificent building is strategically located near most government buildings including the Ministry of justice, British High Commission and Parliament. It is about two kilometers away.

A trek to see the striking golden monkeys in the Rwanda’s jungle is one most fascinating experience you shouldn’t miss to be part. It offers you the opportunity to encounter the stunning golden monkey; a rare primate species in Africa. In Rwanda, they can be found in Volcanoes National Park and these unique creatures feature a prominent golden fur coat making them a few rare creatures to look at. This thrilling adventure is usually done in addition to mountain gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park.

This category of unique species mainly thrives within the Virunga Massif region which covers parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Around the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park, you can find these amazing creatures within the bamboo shoot while feeding.

About 2 (two) troops have been habituated and readily available for golden monkey tracking experience in Rwanda with the largest group thriving within Sabyinyo and comprising of about 80-100 members. Golden Monkey tracking adventure is usually done once in a day and kick starts early in the morning like any primate adventure in Volcanoes National Park.

At about 7:00 am, you gather at the park headquarters for the morning briefing on dos and don’ts for golden monkey tracking and then connect to a point where the treks normally begin from. This point is about 15 minutes off from the edge of Volcanoes National Park, the best gorilla safari destination in World.

Mountain Gorillas in Africa

One can trace these rare creatures using the fresh leftovers from the bamboo shoots that they fed on within the bamboo forest. However, trackers are always sent to the forest to trace where they are found an hour before visitors are sent to the forest to look out for these amazing creatures.

In most cases, golden monkeys spend much of their time on top of the bamboo and they are very jumpy and while taking photos, one has to be very sharp otherwise you can miss to catch clear pictures. But interestingly, due to habituation, most of them have got used to human presence and you can have good time with them, explore their behavior and also take as many photos as you can. However, this category of primates is so playful and leaves travelers delighted with their behaviors.

A trek to see these remarkable primates, isn’t that strenuous as most of the moneksy can be traced around the bamboo forest in an area which is generally gentle hence making it simpler for one to hike through. Interested trekkers need to have just basic fitness and they will be good to go.

What to carry for golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda?

Like mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey adventures equally require one to be well prepared and pack appropriately for this life-changing experience. The most significant items to consider in your packing list include golden monkey trekking permits which cost $100 per person, rain jacket or poncho, bottled water, camera, good hiking boots or shoes which are waterproof and light weight.

Where to stay while on golden monkey tracking?

The available accommodation options for tourists on the golden monkey tracking safari in Rwanda to opt for overnight stay in Volcanoes National Park range from lodges, hotels to camps. Most of which are found adjacent the park and takes you about five minutes to walk their or an hour to the starting point. These accommodation facilities range from luxury to budget. The luxury ones cost about $500-1500 each person, mid-range go for $100-$290, and budget / basic accommodations range between $25 - $100 per person.

Other Places to Go for Golden Monkey Tracking in East Africa

Other than Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, the other safari destination where the mountain gorillas co-exist with golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park, located in South Western Uganda. Each golde monkey tracking permit costs US$50, plus US$40 for park entry fees. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has one habituated gorilla family known as Nyakagezi family. Each gorilla permit is currently at US$600 per person, but from July 2020, the price of gorilla permits will increase to US$700 each for Foreign Non-Residents.

Other tourist activities in Mgahinga National Park include mountain hiking (Mt. Muhabura and Sabyinyo), bird watching, caves exploration and Batwa Trail among others.

Much as Idi Amin Dada, former president of Uganda (from 1971 and 1979) left a lot of pains in the hearts of many people, there are some positive achievements attributed to his rule. Whether good or bad, Amin’s rule is one of the moments Ugandans will never rub from history books and it’s for this reason that the Uganda Tourism Board is working on the plan of building a War Museum to display the good, bad and ugly side of his rule. When you visit the Uganda National Museum, you will find Amin’s old vehicle among other things but another site you should not miss to explore is his Presidential lodge.

In addition to the obvious Pakuba Safari Lodge, his presidential Lodge was nestled on top of Lututuru Hill, within Agoro sub-county at approximately 35 kilometers from Lamwo Town Council in Lamwo district. The State Lodge was constructed on the hill in 1975, but this hill also used to be a Rest Camp for the British during the Second World War in 1945.

However, what used to be Presidential Lodge now stands in ruins with only walls (on both sides) of around 5 meters apart and now used by the local residents for drying grains on the open floor. Much as the roots of this Hill are to a great extent set in Uganda’s history and past, the verdant vegetation covering the hill generally threaten to completely hide if from the public and history books.

Even when it has been abandoned, Lututuru Hill hold a significant educational value, hence the reason it needs government intervention in terms of preservation and documentation for tourists to visit as well as future generations.  The Hill is currently occupied by over 500 people scattered across 10 villages, and is now popular for its cool climate and fertile soils that favor agriculture. Majority of the food crops at the site are cultivated by prisoners from Lututuru Prison found on top of the Hill.

Besides the building itself, there are some features that hold historical value and one of them is the three cemented seats (outside the Lodge) where President Amin once sat while presiding over a meeting  with several government officials including Moses Ali (then Finance Minister and now first Deputy Prime Minister) and Ali Fadur (then Governor of the Northern region).

It is also during one of the meetings outside the Presidential Lodge that Amin received reports that Dr. Apollo Milton Obote was planning to attack the country while in exile in the neighboring Tanzania. What used to be a spectacular Lodge now remains as a dilapidated building that was used as a hiding place for LRA Rebels (under Joseph Kony).

Therefore in the bid of promoting dark tourism including the construction of the Idi Amin Museum, there is need to document some of the historical sites used by one of Uganda’s former dictators and one of them is the Presidential Lodge on Lututuru Hill in Lamwo district.

 

Also popular as Urutare rwa Ndaba, the Ndaba rocks form part of Rwanda’s remarkable cultural and historical sites and if you are a cultural enthusiast, they should be a must to explore.

This rock lies within Karongi district along Kigali or Kibuye and Gitarama route about 12 kilometers’ drive and 28 kilometers’ drive to Kibuye city centre. This is about 2 hours’ drive from Kigali Airport.

This mystical historical site is one of the most explored tourist attractions not only for its beautiful outlook but for its legendary stories that are attached to it that are worth sharing while you are on safari in Rwanda.

The stories that surround this amazing historical and cultural site are more exciting and motivating than even its physical outlook. The legend has it that a man known as Ndaba stayed in this place which today is a modern location of the waterfalls. He went to harvest honey and hunt for bush meat in the jungles together with his friends. While in the forest, there existed a specific rock with huge amount of honey that attracted most people from in and around the forest.

As he (Ndaba) was walking with hopes that this was his fortunate day, he spotted a cracked rock which had big honey combs and yet this was something rare for him to see such huge amount of honey combs dripping. Since they were in a group, he called on his colleagues to come and see what this rock had and drew close to it even to investigate it deeply and only to find out that it was honey combs.

At the time he reached the bottom part of the rock, he began filling his stomach with honey using all his hands. To his surprise, even the bees never worried him. His colleagues then reached when the greedy Ndaba had already reached the rock’s base area and they also tried lowering their pots such that he could fill them with honey and also with a view that Ndaba and his pot could fall down.

He forgot his colleagues and ate more than what he could put in the pot as it was agreed amongst themselves. Time came when it turned darker and his friend began impatient and started calling for Ndaba to hurry up. But unfortunately, the greedy Ndaba never paid any attention. When he was done filling his stomach, he attempted climbing down but the walls of the rock were wet and very slippery and given that he was satisfied beyond, he failed climbing back.

A fact that he ate alone without his friends, they didn’t also show up to rescue him. At the end of it all, he fell down and passed on at the bottom of the rock which today is called Ndaba rock. This however tells us not to be very greedy. This rock also comprises of a beautiful waterfalls that equally worth exploring while on safari.

This rock can be reached within two hours’ drive off from Kigali capital and can be visited while you are on your way to Karongi district a fact that it is situated along the way.

When it comes to cultural safaris in Uganda, Igongo cultural centre would be the perfect destination to think of first. A private historical place aiming at conserving and showcasing the western cultures of Uganda; including the Bakiga, Batoro, Banyoro and Banyankole.

It's strategic position along the Kampala Mbarara highway makes it one of the must not miss enroute destinations that any trotter heading to the western national parks of Uganda. Whether it’s a gorilla safari to Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, a lunch stopover at Igongo cultural centre would give more meaning to the trip.

Igongo cultural centre being located just four kilometers away from the Sanga gate of Lake Mburo national park, it is the most luxurious hotel one can ever stay around this place on a Uganda safari. It is almost a guarantee that all travelers to Lake Mburo national park and other major parks in western Uganda will visit Igongo cultural centre, and enjoy delicious meals served in this place..

A leading recreational centre in western Uganda, with one of the most captivating museums in Uganda, a simple yet classic restaurant and bar, as well as a luxurious and spacious five star hotel is the famous Igongo cultural centre.

The cultural centre proves that Uganda is a nation expanding in life and lifestyle presented through the diverse cultures. Countless tourists at Igongo cultural centre have acknowledged that we are the pearl of Africa not only because of the scenery and wildlife, but also of the cultural heritage.

Almost all cultures in south western are well exhibited at Igongo cultural centre. A walk in one of the most beautiful museums in Uganda; Erijukiro takes you through the foot prints of the fore fathers, cattle keeping, hunting and cultivating ways. Travelers still see how the Ankole women used to seek and express beauty.

A trip to Igongo cultural centre would be meaningless if one never views traditional milking process and ghee making in Ankole. These processes show that getting a meal in Ankole was a traditional art that was worth passing on from one generation to another.

A guided tour at the site takes you around the different traditional houses constructed with various forms of material; grass, wood and mud. This was the form of architecture that existed long way back before the modern houses and skyscrapers emerged.

About souvenirs, Igongo’s craft shop has the best handicrafts that anyone can ever carry back home to look on in remembrance their safari in Uganda. And for book lovers, Igongo cultural centre has a never failing bookshop. No tourist has ever failed to get a nice book to read while at the site.

More unique and exciting about the cultural site is that after a long walk through the footprints of Ankole kingdom, one finally gets refreshed at an onsite restaurant and a well-stocked bar. A superb selection of beers, spirits and wines, coupled with a package of local food consisting of fresh ingredients grown by the local farmers await all travelers who tour around the cultural centre at a very fair price.

When leaving Igongo cultural centre, a farewell treat of Ekitaguriro and Entogoro traditional performances of south western Uganda dances awaits you.

For real, with all that experience, if it’s not Igongo cultural centre for a cultural safari trip in Uganda, then which better destination can one go to?

Exploring the Shire River

If you have always dreamt of exploring that one unique natural wonder while on safari in Africa then it is a high time you achieved your dream. Malawi never runs out of natural wonders and for those of you who wish to explore something different from the usual African wildlife the Shire River is that one remarkable place you need to pay a visit while on your safari in Malawi.

This amazing water body is Malawi’s largest river and it was popularly called the Shire River. This river features as the only outlet of Lake Malawi and flows into River Zambezi in Mozambique. It extends for about 402 kilometers and its upper area stretches for about 19 kilometers prior entering Lake Malombe.

The river drains Lake Malombe and flows south via Liwonde National Park where huge confinement of hippos are found especially on its shore area. In between Matope and Chikwawa towns it drops about 1300 feet via several waterfalls and gorges.

Within this river, there are 2 (two) hydroelectric dams that have been set up on the shire river northwest of Blantyre and they serve as a major source of power in Malawi. Out of Chikwawa, the lower river turns southeast and enters the low lying Mozambique plain.

This river features Ruo River which is also one of a few perennial tributaries and connects to the Shire River around Chiromo town. Its muddy waters flow via a huge stagnant area popular as the Elephant marsh prior coming into a confluence with River Zambezi south of Sena town and historically, David Livingstone is said to have paid a visit to this river around 1859. Interestingly, its valley forms part of the mighty East African rift system.

However, this river is currently facing challenges especially with siltation a fact that there is intense deforestation taking place in Malawi. Due to this, the river has been enlarged and decreased in its flow. The knock on impact of this threatens the livelihoods of local residents who depend on this water-body. While fishing is one of the major activities in Malawi, most of the fish species that live based on specific conditions to breed and hide, get affected due to siltation and they either die or relocate to other areas with favorable conditions for them to live.

Whereas mountain gorilla trekking adventures have become the most sought after experiences in world, there is still need to enhance on this primate adventure if a destination is to remain relevant for a longer period of time. And Bwindi like any destination where this lifetime adventure is conducted in Africa needs to improve on its gorilla trekking experience to make it exceptional from others that offer the same experience especially Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park lies in further southwestern Uganda and it is Uganda’s second destination where gorilla trekking is conducted. The other is Mgahinga National Park and it is also situated in southwestern Uganda. For long Rwanda has featured as the prime gorilla tracking destination in East Africa and Africa at large. And this is attributed to its remarkable primate adventures that are incorporated with cultural encounters, accessibility to Volcanoes National Park where you will spend about 2 to 3 hours drive from Kigali. Besides, Rwandan government has also positioned itself as luxury gorilla tracking destination and in order to meet its set goals, it is vigorously marketing its products through ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign, establishment of up market accommodation facilities like Bisate Safari Lodge. Today, you can obtain permits in Rwanda at $1500.

Significance of enhancing gorilla trekking adventures in Uganda

Uganda a lot more to do so as to benefit from gorilla tracking safaris despite its position as a second best destination and features the largest number of mountain gorillas compared to Rwanda and DRC. Despite all these endowments, Uganda has not done a lot in marketing itself as a leading destination and yet it offers relatively affordable gorilla trekking permits compared to Rwanda. Uganda’s permits are sold at $600 per visitor. Interestingly, you can still reach Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park through Kigali and Uganda has enjoyed peace and stability for long.

However, while on safari safety starts with you and don’t rely on general peace a fact that anything can happen depending on the area that you will be and the time for instance traveling at night is not safe in Uganda just like any country. Enhancing gorilla tracking in Uganda won’t only increase the number of trekkers/boost the country’s tourism sector but it will offer more employment opportunities to locals.

To enhance your gorilla experiences, Uganda has introduced Gorilla Habituation Experience which is only conducted in Bwindi National Park and in only Bushaho and Bikingi gorilla group. Permits for this experience cost $1500 per visitor and allows you to spend 4 (four) hours on face to face encounter with gorillas unlike the usual treks where you will spend only an hour.

Improving gorilla tracking adventures in Uganda will however, attract more visitors and also position the country among the leading gorilla safari destinations in the world. Gorilla safaris should also be incorporated with cultural encounters or a cup of tea/coffee during the morning briefing in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park. The 2 National Parks are surrounded by numerous communities including the Batwa and Bakiga that are renowned for the most thrilling cultural experiences and they can entertain visitors during briefing at the park headquarters before setting off to the field to look out for their habituated gorilla families. For example, today we have the batwa experience in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Batwa Trail in the magnificent Mgahinga National Park and all these attract many tourists from different parts of the world in addition to gorilla tracking. You have a chance to learn more about the history of the Batwa, their ways of life and cultures.

The routes to Bwindi or Mgahinga should be improved to enable visitors to navigate whether during dry season or wet season. Currently, one must have a 4x4 car to access these 2 gorilla parks in Uganda especially in the rain season. The roads are impassable without a 4x4, and with land slides. Besides, airstrips adjacent to the parks in Uganda not only in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga should be improved or upgraded to allow visitors take flights straight from Entebbe International Airport/Kajjansi airfield.

Extending for about 1442 square kilometers, Kidepo Valley National Park is the third largest National Park  and one of the best Uganda safari destinations, standing at an elevation of 900 to 1200 meters above sea level. This secluded National Park boasts of unsurpassed sceneries not seen in any other Park in the East African region and provides outstanding and sweeping savannah and extensive rolling rugged mountain landscapes making the Park an endowed site for flora species. It consists of a shallow valley system with dry mountain terrain while on its south-west is the Narus Valley, north-west by Napore range, north is Mount Lotuke in South Sudan and finally Morungole range on the south of the Park.

This remote site is found in north-eastern Uganda bordering South Sudan and Kenya, and is characterized by different ecosystems such as the dense miombo-like woodland, semi-desert scrub, the riparian woodland such as Kigelia and Borassus woodland, open thorn scrub, long and short grass open-tree savannah, granite outcrops and montane forest offering shelter to more than 480 species of birds including 21 Afro-tropical highland species (especially within Lomej, Morungole, Lonyili and Zulia due to their Mosaic forest, thicket and savannah), 32 Somali-Masai Biome species, 4 Guinea-Congo forest biome species and 16 Sudan and Guinea savannah species of birds.

Just like there are numerous wildlife and birds species such as cheetahs that are not found elsewhere in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is also a haven to a number of extraordinary species of birds that cannot be sighted in other National Parks in Uganda such as Ostriches, Karamoja Apalis and Black-breasted Barbets. Interestingly, it is also the second only to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in terms of diversity of rare and most sought-after species of birds.

Besides the mentioned, other species of birds that can be sighted within Kidepo Valley National Park include Violet-tipped Courser, Jackson's Hornbills, Mouse-colored Penduline Tit, Black-winged Pranticole, Brown-rumped Bunting, purple heron, Black-faded Waxbills, Singing Bush lark, Ethiopian Swallow, Abyssinian roller, Emin’s Shrike, Fox’s Cisticola, African Grey Flycatcher, Straw-tailed Whydahs, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Golden Pipit, Red billed Oxpecker, African-pied Hornbills, Fox’s Weaver, Lesser Kestrel, White-billed Buffalo Weavers, Yellow-billed Shrike, White-bellied Go-Away bird, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow and red spotted Barbet, Jackson’s Hornbills, Grey-capped Social Weavers, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Ring-necked Spurfowl, Black-breasted Barbets, Steel-blue Whydahs, Eastern Yellow Hornbills, White-crested Turaco, Black-headed Plover, Rufous Chatterer, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Standard-winged Nightjars, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Little Green Bee-eater, White-headed Buffalo Weavers, Speckle-fronted Weavers, Red-fronted Barbets, Red-winged Lark, Taita Fiscal, Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Abyssinian Scimitar bill, Clapperton’s francolin, Pallid Harrier, Dusky-turtle Dove and the Hartlaub’s Turaco among others.

There are some places in the Park that are birding hot spots and they include the Park Headquarters as well as Apoka Rest Camp overlooking the southern Narus Valley. Some of the notable species found here include the Silverbird, Little Weavers, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Vinaceous Dove, Yellow-billed Shrike Hoopoe, Superb Starlings, White-faced Scoops Owl, Ruppell's Starlings, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu and Mosque Swallow among others.  There is also a small permanent waterhole at the border of the Safari Camp that attracts several seedeaters like the Yellow-rumped Seedeater in addition to the Broad-tailed Warblers, Yellow-billed Shrikes, Clapperton's Francolin, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Black Coucal, African Moustached warblers and Marsh Tchagra and interestingly, other animals such as Buffaloes, Lions and Elephants are also found within the area.

Best Time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park

Bird watching in Kidepo Valley National Park is an all year activity much as the perfect time to conduct the activity is March to May because during this time, you will encounter all the specials and numerous transit migrant species.

Other attractions within the Park include exceptional mammals such as Bohor reedbucks, Cheetahs, Stripped Hyenas, Bat-eared foxes, Caracals, Zebras and birds such as the Ostriches and many others.