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Difference Between Gorilla Habituation Experience And Gorilla Trekking

Mountain gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking are two rare primate adventure experiences offered to visitors on Africa safari. They differ from each other in one way or the other despite the fact that they all attract tourists into Africa. For starters, both gorilla habituation experiences and gorilla trekking are done within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda. We can differentiate between gorilla habituation experience from gorilla trekking by considering different factors.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in African Jungles
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in African Jungles

Where to go for mountain gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking

Mountain gorilla habituation experience is conducted only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is situated in Southwestern Uganda, 9-10 hours’ drive from Kampala and 3-4 hours’ drive from Kigali Rwanda. Gorilla trekking, on the other hand, is done in Uganda and other 2 countries namely; Rwanda and DR Congo. In

In Uganda, gorilla trekking activity is conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda.

Rwanda gorilla trekking, on the other hand, takes place in Volcanoes National Park while in D.R Congo, gorilla trekking takes place in the Magnificient Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

  • Number of hours given

Mountain gorilla habituation experience is a process where semi-habituated gorillas are made to get used to human presence and it takes the whole day with 4 hours given to visitors to catch a glimpse, take photos and have an in-depth exploration about mountain gorilla behaviours, body gestures. Unlike the usual gorilla treks, visitors have only an hour of magical encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, photo taking and exploring their behaviours, body gestures among others.

Also, trekking to see mountain gorillas isn’t predictable where your trek can last between 2 and 6 hours depending on your hiking speed, nature of the habitat and where the gorilla family assigned to you is found in the course of the day.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Experience
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Experience
  • Type of gorilla family assigned

Mountain gorilla habituation experience is conducted only on semi-habituated gorilla family while gorilla trekking is done in already habituated gorilla groups. Currently, habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is conducted in Kutu gorilla family and gorilla treks are conducted in the 21 habituated gorilla groups in Uganda and they include Bushaho, Kutu, Bikingi, Bitukura, Mukiza, Oruzongo, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Nyakagezi, Nkuringo, Hirwa (although this migrated from Volcanoes National Park to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Christmas, Katwe, Rwingi, Kyaguriro, Habinyanja, Rushegura. In Rwanda, there are 10 habituated gorilla families set for tourism and they include Umubano, Hirwa, Susa A, Karisimbi, Bwenge, Agashya, Amahoro, Ugenda, Sabyinyo and Kwitonda. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are eight habituated gorilla families and they include

  • Cost of the permits

Mountain gorilla habituation experience permits are issued out by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and Uganda Shillings 750,000 for the East African citizens. Gorilla trekking permit prices differ depending on the gorilla destination you plan to visit. In Uganda, each gorilla permit costs $600 per person for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and shs.250000 for the East African citizens. The current rates will run till the end of June 2020 and starting from 1st July 2020-2022, Uganda Wildlife Authority will be issuing out gorilla trekking permits at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and 250,000UGX for the East African citizens. In Rwanda, gorilla trekking permits cost $1500 per person (applies to all categories of visitors) and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you need to have $450 to book a gorilla permit which lets you visit the mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park or Eastern Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

  • Nature of adventure

Mountain gorilla habituation experience involves following semi-habituated family and it is conducted mostly by researchers, scientists, trackers unlike gorilla trekking which is conducted in habituated gorilla families. Mountain gorilla habituation exercise takes about 2 or more years depending on how fast the mountain gorillas can get used to human presence.

  • Packing List

When planning for mountain gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking, what you pack does matter a lot as each item play a significant role. Nearly, the packing list is the same except on a few as will be noted below.

  • Long-sleeved shirt or t-shirt-to protect your hands from falling tree branches.
  • Gardening gloves, these are important to protect your hands especially when you need to get support and you grab thorns or itching plants.
  • Gorilla permit-very essential tool whether you plan to go for mountain gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Virunga National Park or Kahuzi Biega National Park for Eastern
  • Sunglasses-this is good for you to protect your eyes from the sun rays.
  • Bottled water to keep you hydrated throughout while on mountain gorilla habituation experience or gorilla trekking. For habituation, you may need about 2 or more since it takes the whole day.
  • Waterproof hiking boots-these should be lightweight and comfortable while you are hiking. They are ideal in safeguarding you from the muddy ground.
  • Daypack-get a waterproof day to help protect your documents and other essential travel items.
  • Insect repellents-to protect you from biting insects.
  • Camera with no flashlight-this is for your photography.
  • Trousers-these are the best in safeguarding you from biting insects and scratches. You will be required to tuck into the socks.
  • Hat-a good safari hat to help protect your head from sun heat.
  • Energy giving snacks essential for you to keep strong so that you make a complete trek.
  • Rain jacket or poncho-for protecting you in case of rain while you are on a gorilla trek.

In conclusion, mountain gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking are two unusual primate adventure experiences offered to visitors on a gorilla safari in Africa. Each of them rewards visitors differently and to have the absolute experience, better you embark on both and you won’t be the same.

Every gorilla destination has its own habituated gorilla families which are allocated to tourists for viewing experience in the Jungle. Whereas mountain gorillas live in families, not all the families are open to visitors' viewing experience. For starters, mountain gorilla trekking is conducted only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Hike to see the gorillas
Hike to see the gorillas

Uganda alone is currently comprised of approximately 21 habituated gorilla families; Rwanda 10 groups and DR Congo consists of 8 habituated gorilla families. Each gorilla family is visited once a day by a maximum of 8 persons in a group, and each of the gorilla visitors must posses a gorilla permit booked in advance through tour operators and travel agents.

Before the actual trek, tourists are advised to spend a night near the park headquarters so that they wake up early morning for heavy breakfast and proceed to the park headquarters for a briefing about this activity. Do not forget packed lunch, snacks and bottled mineral water for refreshment! It's from the park headquarters that the visitors are divided into groups of 8 persons and each group of visitors is assigned to one habituated gorilla family in your ability to track. Below are some of the factors on which group allocation is based.

  • Level of physical fitness

Gorilla families in Uganda or Rwanda are allocated based on trekkers’ level of physical fitness. Mountain gorillas thrive mostly in montane areas and most cases in high elevation which requires you to be physically fit to make a complete trek. To find mountain gorillas, you have to hike through the tropical rain-forest and this may take you about 2-6 hours depending on your speed of hiking.

It should be noted that gorilla families are assigned on the overall fitness of trekkers. This varies from one trekker to the other.  Those with low fitness level can be allocated to trek the nearby gorilla families. Note, there is no physical fitness test at the park headquarters to use to decide who deserves the simple group to track. This means you have to communicate early to park official so that they find a way forward.

  • Age

To go gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you have to be above 15 years. This is because persons below 15 years are considered as children and among other reasons is the fact that such persons aren’t fit enough to trek mountain gorillas. Persons above 15 years are considered eligible to obtain a gorilla permit which lets them visit a habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park.

It should be noted that even persons above 60 years can trek mountain gorillas. This adventure doesn’t limit the old from achieving their dreams. Depending on your fitness level, there are sedan chairs for hire and porters to carry you. And to be more precise, un-fit and aged tourists are encouraged to go for Rwanda safaris because gorilla hiking in Volcanoes National Park is less strenuous when compared to the misty Bwindi Impenetrable Jungle!

  • Gorilla trekking permit

Depending on the gorilla permit you booked, the park official assigned you a gorilla family based on it. A gorilla trekking permit is an essential tool which lets you trek one habituated family in a group of eight visitors. In Uganda for instance, your permit determines which group you will be assigned.

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is comprised of 4 trekking regions each with habituated families; Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma and Nkuringo sector. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Nyakagezi is the only habituated family set for gorilla trekking.

  • Interest of trekker

Different tourists have different hiking interest/preferences. Based on your preference, it is important that you let the tour operator you plan to deal with to book for you a gorilla permit based on the specific group you wish to visit.

  • Time
Mountain Gorilla in the Jungle
Mountain Gorilla in the Jungle

The peak season usually attracts large numbers of tourists interested in gorilla tracking in Africa and finding your preferred group may not be easy. This is why you are advised to reserve your gorilla permit early before the actual trek. The demand for gorilla permits is very high in peak seasons, that is, from Mid June to October, and then December to February.

  • Number of treks

In case you plan to visit different gorilla families then you will be assigned to various groups. Visiting different gorilla families allows you to explore and experience something unique since each gorilla family has its own story to share with the world. Uganda has over 21 habituated gorilla families set for tracking, Volcanoes National Park is comprised of 10 habituated groups and 8 habituated families exist in the Virunga National Park.

De Hoop Nature Reserve features among the largest natural areas that are run by Cape Nature. This reserve straddles within 34000 hectares (340 square kilometers) and can be reached within 3 hours’ drive from Cape Town in the Overberg. For hikers, cyclists and birders or whale watchers, this is the best spot that you should pay a visit while on safari in South Africa.

This nature reserve is listed as a World Heritage Site and features on the excellent hiking trails in South Africa-the whale trail and this route provides coast and mountain walking with stunning views and numerous opportunities for you to engage in whale watching. The route is a 5-day trial and consists of well-equipped accommodation on every night including the newly constructed noetsie cottages that male the best stopovers between day 2 and day 3.

This reserve offers refuge to the smallest and most endemic plant kingdom in the world ‘the Cape Floral Kingdom.’ It consists of the largest protected area of lowland Fynbos in the Western Cape and out of 9000 species of plants that thrive within the Cape Floral area, the reserve and its surrounding feature over 1500 species.

Besides, there are over 86 mammal species within this reserve (Cape mountain zebra, eland, grey rhebok, baboon, yellow mongoose, caracal and leopards), over 260 species of birds most of which include the aquatic birds which thrive within the De Hoop Vlei and Potberg offers refuge to the only left breeding colony of the unique Cape Vulture in the Western Cape. There are over 250 fish species for you to explore within this reserve.

What to do in De Hoop Nature Reserve

The most exciting safari activities for you to engage at this nature reserve include the whale trail/whale watching which offers you an opportunity to catch a glimpse at the whales, game viewing, swimming, filming, mountain biking, day hikes, birding and others.

Getting to De Hoop Nature Reserve

The Potberg and Whale trail. Take the N2 from Cape Town to Caledon and then turn right at the second turn off where you will get a Venster restaurant on your left. Drive via Caledon and proceed along the R316 to Bredasdorp through Napier. There is 3rd four-way stop street in Bredasdorp where you will turn on your left to All Saints Streets. Drive for about eight kilometres along the R319 to Swellendam, turn on your right on a gravel road signposted Infanta, Malgas and De Hoop.

Continue for 50 kilometres direct to Potberg and then follow the whale trail signs. Travel beyond Ouplaas School and the Potberg gate is just 10 kilometres from the school. The Koppie Alleen and De Hoop collection where you will take N2 to Caledon and from here, you will drive via Napier to Bredasdorp. From Bredasdorp, drive through R319 to Swellendam and at approximately six kilometres; turn on your right, signposted De Hoop or Malgas or Infanta. Drive on murram road for about 35 kilometres till you find a sign to the right ‘De Hoop Nature Reserve.’

Where to stay at De Hoop Nature Reserve

The prime accommodation facilities at De Hoop Nature Reserve include self-catering especially the whale trail cottages at the base of the Potberg Mountains. The other place for you to spend a night at this reserve is De Hoop Opstal, privately owned.

The climate of De Hoop Nature Reserve

This reserve is entirely Mediterranean and characterized by warm summers and mild winters. It experiences about 380 mm of rain each year and August features as the wettest month of the year. During summer, winds blow in from the east, west and southeast and winter features westerly and southwesterly winds.

In conclusion, for those of you who are interested in exploring the largest nature reserves with endemic floral kingdoms or if you are interested in the most thrilling hiking experiences, consider De Hoop Nature Reserve a must to visit while on your holiday in South Africa.

History and politically, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is known as a centre of darkness but this doesn’t mean every part of it isn’t safe. Whether DR Congo is safe for gorilla trekking or not remains a major question to discuss. DR Congo has a lot more to offer to her visitors including a magical encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, Bonobos and the striking view over the smoky Nyiragongo Volcano. It is one magical destination to consider visiting for authentic African experiences.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is safe to visit on safari in Africa. There are safest and most iconic touristic sites to explore on Congo safari and they include Goma area, the Virunga National Park and Bukavu in the east and Kinshasa capital city in the west. It should be noted that DR Congo is still recovering from insecurities travelling to this magical destination requires you to use a tour company with wide knowledge and up-to-date information about the safe area. Some areas in the Eastern DR Congo where the Virunga National Park is is still recovering from political unrest.

Low Land Gorilla Trekking
Low Land Gorilla Trekking

Virunga National Park is an iconic tourist destination with over 300 mountain gorillas, scenic Nyiragongo Volcano and several bird species. It was gazetted in 1925 and sits in an area of about 7800sq.kms featuring a vast tropical rain forest, powerful mountain peaks and amazing swamps. The western part of the country lies Kinshasa capital city which also features as the second biggest French-speaking city. It is credited for its authentic African music and the bars in bandal or matonge for excellent local nightlife. After the noise from Kinshasa, as you can make a stopover around the magical Tchegera Island in Lake Kivu as you will have a chance to chill or embark on kayaking along the Lake.

Hiking safari experiences in the DR Congo area best offered in the Virunga volcanic ranges especially in Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Mount Nyiragongo is the most active volcano which overlooks Goma in Eastern DR Congo and comes with the most powerful Lava Lake that can be sighted bubbling and during night hours you will be amazed by its dramatic fiery mist.

Hiking through this volcano lasts for about 6 hours depending on visitors speed. The volcano stretches up to 3470 meters via a humid tropical rain forest featuring Lava rocks and steaming geysers. While at the top, visitors will camp in small huts on the crater rim from where you have a chance to spot the volcano’s boiling waves. Hiking through Mount Nyiragongo is an exceptionally amazing experience not to be missed while on safari in Africa.

If you have any plans to visit Congo for a holiday, make sure you have a valid visa and yellow fever certificate. Self-drive tours are not very safe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, in case you plan your holiday independently make sure you arrange or reserve accommodation, transport and activities in advance. There are flight services offered by many airlines including Kigali International Airport and then connect to Goma border about 3 hours’ drive and you will meet your tour operator around this area. For those who will need to visit Kinshasa, you can fly direct with trustworthy airlines from Johannesburg, Brussels, Paris, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. Internal flights are never recommended in the DR Congo.

Please insure yourself before travelling to DR Congo

There are many insurance companies that can help you carry out this including AMREF which provide air ambulance evacuation services across Africa and battled field that offers comprehensive travel and medical insurance for the region.

Please note, some of the insurance companies may not give cover for places with a travel warning. This means you have to first check out more about the country’s security prior visiting it. For more up to date information, check out visitvirunga.org and you will find a lot more about DRC, its biodiversity or kinshasacongo.com for more up to date information about the city.

Always observe the pre-trekking precaution

Before setting off on actual trek, visitors on Congo gorilla safaris are briefed on the set guidelines which are intended to ensure visitor safety and also ensure mountain gorillas are safeguarded. They include among others only 8 visitors are allowed to trek one habituated family, keep a distance of 7 meters away from mountain gorillas, keep your voices low while on a trek, no flashlight camera is allowed on a gorilla trek, only one hour is given to trekkers to strike their imaginations.

On actual gorilla trek, visitors are accompanied by a professional and an armed park ranger guide. This is to ensure visitor safety while on the search for mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park or Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park. Kahuzi Biega National Park sits in an area of 6000sq.kms and derives its name from Biega and Kahuzi Volcanoes. The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo also works hand in hand with other security organs to ensure peace and stability is restored in the country.

Before setting off on actual gorilla trek, visitors are advised to cross-check with the embassy website or security website for Congo for current affairs/up-dates.

In conclusion, the DR Congo isn’t a hundred per cent safe just like other countries. However, it is recovering from its political unrest and it is possible for you to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park or the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Gorilla safari guide for pregnant women is essential for pregnant women who would like to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mountain gorilla trekking isn’t only for energetic persons but also for pregnant women. Mountain gorillas are unique species worth exploring on safari in Africa. They exist only in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park in Northern Province of Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Eastern DR Congo.

Pregnant women too stand a chance to go on a gorilla safari in Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. While we do not hinder trekkers dreams, it should be clear that women within 7 months pregnant may not be allowed to trek gorillas. The hike to meet the mountain gorillas in the mountainous jungle can be strenuous and there are various factors to put into consideration.

If you plan to go on a gorilla safari in Uganda, make sure you choose a region which is a bit easy to trek. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda has 4 regions where treks always start from that Nkuringo and Rushaga in the South, Buhoma area in the North and Ruhija area in the East.

Each of these sectors has different habituated gorilla families, for example, Buhoma sector has Mubale, Habinyanja, Katwe and Rishegura gorilla groups. Ruhija sector has Oruzogo, Mukiza, Kyaguriro and Bitukura. Nkuringo has Bushaho, Nkuringo and Christmas. Rushaga has the largest number of habituated gorilla families and these include Nshongi, Bweza, Kahunjye, Mishaya, Bikingi, Rwizi, Businjye and Muchunguzi.

Where to stay

If you are pregnant and you plan to visit the mountain gorillas in the misty jungles of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, make sure you find the best accommodation near the visitor information centre/where gorilla trekking starts from. Each gorilla park has accommodation options in and around them and they range from budget to luxury. In Uganda, they include Buhoma Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Gorilla Mist Camp, Broadbill forest Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Camp and many others. In Rwanda, you can opt for Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Kinigi Guest House, Muhabura Hotel and many others.

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge Terrace
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge Terrace

Let your tour operator know/park official

Before embarking on gorilla trekking when pregnant, make sure your tour operator or tour agency is aware of your condition or the park official in the respective gorilla park you plan to pay a visit. This will help him or her to find which gorilla family to assign you to, means of transportation, the habituated gorilla group, accommodation and many other things that need to be put together to make your gorilla safari memorable.

Make sure on actual trek prior briefing, you communicate early to the park official since this is the day you be allocated a gorilla group to trek. Remember, trekking mountain gorillas involves foot work-you hike through the dense vegetation, steep slopes and slippery jungle grounds to search for mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Visit Uganda, Rwanda and DRC during the dry season

Trekking the mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo is perfect during the dry or peak season. It is simpler hiking through the tropical rain-forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park while in search for mountain gorillas in the wild. This is because the ground remains drier and this makes it easier to wind through these parks. The dry months in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC occur in June, July, August, September and December, January, February.

 Use sedan seat stretchers

Pregnant women between 7-9 months should opt for sedan seat stretchers. You will be carried by 12 or 4 able men will carry you while on a trek to see mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga National Park southwestern Uganda; Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda or the Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo. Sedan seat stretchers and porter fees may cost you between 350 and 500 dollars.

Use flight services up to your respective gorilla national park

Not to get disturbed, please make the best use of flight services from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airfield then connect by road to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. By road, getting to Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park may take you 9-10 hours from Kampala and from Kigali, 3-4 hours’ drive.

Pack enough drinking water and energy-giving snacks

You need plenty of bottled drinking water and energy-giving snacks to help you gain energy. Gorilla trekking is energy demanding and in order for you to keep fit, you need to take adequate water and have some energy giving snacks.  You can grab some in nearby supermarkets in Kampala or Kigali before setting off for your gorilla safari.

Do some training prior to the actual trek

Fittness Training for Pregnant Woman before gorilla trekking
Fitness Training for Pregnant Woman before gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Virunga National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park requires some physical wellness in you. To make a complete hike/trek, you need to do some exercise to familiarize yourself with the altitude.

Pack Appropriately

Gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo requires you to pack appropriately starting with hat, long-sleeved shirt/t-shirt, long pants, sunglasses, insect repellents, first aid/medical kit,  hat, waterproof hiking boots, snacks, water, gardening gloves, camera with no flashlight, sweater, rain jacket or poncho, socks, trousers, walking stick which you find in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park headquarters, Mgahinga Park offices or Kinigi park headquarters.

Key Things To Look At While Renting A Car For Self Drive In Uganda

Are you planning to rent a 4x4 car in Uganda for self-drive? and you do not know which things to look? Whereas self-drive tours in Uganda have become one of the lifetime experiences, renting a car for this exceptional adventure entirely requires you to adequately plan so as to make the best choice. For travellers who are planning to take self-drive trips in the Pearl of Africa, you will need that excellent car with amazing features that allow you to achieve your dreams.

Uganda is entirely safe and the roads are in better conditions based on East African standards and even first-time self-drive visitors can still realize their dreams in this spectacular destination. With our trustworthy, reputable and reliable Car Hire Company in Uganda, there is no need for you to worry as all travellers interests are covered when it comes to which car to rent for a vacation. If you intend to rent 4x4 self-drive vehicles in Uganda for vacation, we advise you to look at the following features;

  • Insurance cover

It is always to cross-check with the Car Rental Company that you intend to deal with whether their vehicles are insured to save you from paying additional costs especially when comes to damages. Our fleets of safari cars are all comprehensively insured and this offers visitors the opportunity to freely enjoy what Uganda has in offer for the world.

  • Car tool kit

This is one of the items that you should check. Travelling in a new destination at times is very challenging especially when the car gets mechanical conditions and fixing it even becomes impossible and yet if you had car tool kit along with you can rectify it yourself. Interestingly, our 4x4 safari cars come with emergency tool kits which can assist you to fix some of the small things while on your road trip. However, our visitors rarely get these kinds of mechanical issues as our cars are constantly checked and serviced prior visitors’ taking them on a road-trip. You can still carry a personal check to ascertain if the vehicle has some mechanical condition that needs to be solved before you take off.

  • Fuel policy

Each Car Hire Company has its own fuel policy and travellers are advised to inquire from respective Car Rental Company that he or she intends to deal with about their fuel policy prior booking a car for a trip in Uganda. Most of the Car Rental Companies rent out cars with no fuel and it is a visitor’s task to provide for it.

  • Unlimited mileage

This helps visitors to transverse through Uganda’s remotest destinations with no fear of going beyond the set travel distances. African Jungle Adventures and 4x4 Uganda Ltd offer car rental services on unlimited mileage to make realize your dreams in Uganda at your own pace.

  • Boot space

This is very important when it comes to trips in any destination. Make sure that the car you intend to hire has adequate space and can accommodate all that you intend to carry and can make you comfortable while on safari. We offer car hire services based on all the traveler’s interests.

  • Pop up roof

If you are interested in wildlife viewing in Uganda a safari car that you intend to rent should have a pop up roof to offer you clear views of the wildlife species and also take photographs at your convenience.

  • Air conditioner

The climate in Uganda is relatively good and air conditioning can vital for dirty roads in the remotest areas of the country that may require you to close the windows while on dusty routes.

  • Spare car tyres

Before renting a car, make sure that you have checked it well and it has a spare tyre to help you during times of puncture on the road. As most of the safaris in Uganda are conducted in the remotest areas, a spare tyre is a must to have and it should be in better status.

Never forget to check the validity of car registration forms and license

The check-up should be on the registration certificate, valid insurance, all Uganda permit, motor third party and the driver’s license. Self-driving in a new destination requires travellers to have an international or Uganda valid driving license.

Other critical things that you shouldn’t take for granted include the costs of hiring the car. Different companies offer different costs when it comes to accidents. Others may make you pay the full damages and others post insurance claim. You need to choose a car hire company to deal with very keenly and make sure that you make comparisons before dealing with one.

In conclusion, with the above checklist, we believe that you will make the best choice while hiring a car for a self-drive safari.

Travellers keep flocking in Africa day out, and day in for different experiences; some travel in groups and others as individuals. However, all these need a reliable means of mobility for transfer from one destination to another. The first spot is landing at the airport and immediately a transfer to either the hotel or to another destination by road especially in Africa.

Most travelers visit the destination and hire a car from a local car rental company either from the airport or from a tour operator. These cars are normally hired either with a professional driver or as self-drive. It is interesting to hire a car for self drive as it’s always exciting to drive in a new foreign road that you haven’t used before.

However, it’s important to note that most of the sub-Saharan roads are not paved to fit many cars and because of its toughness, it becomes hard to navigate. It is best managed by 4x4 vehicles as it is capable of penetrating through the muddy inaccessible roads.

Preparation for 4x4 self-drive is vital because it enables you to carry all the necessary requirements for the safari, including mechanical tools needed. It’s a must before they hand the car to you to request for the mechanical tools because it’s for safety and the nature of some roads may break down the car during the safari. Some of the basic tools that you can carry include;

  • Set of wrenches

A wrench is an essential tool that should be available in every tool box. These can help in tightening some of the loose nuts that might easily result into a default. It doesn’t matter any type can work, whether the metric or the standard wrenches are all good. However, it is good to have both through the standard set is rarely used. The metric normally starts with a size of 6mm up to 24mm.

  • Set of Ratchet and sockets

The ratchet is in sets with all three, with sockets of all kinds or with the basic ones. Some of the sets come with ratchets and wrenches. Request for at least a big and a small ratchet set with its basic sockets. These retches can allow you to work with freedom; speed and accuracy as it can reduce time spend on the road fixing the car.

  • Screwdrivers

A perfect toolbox should be escorted with screwdrivers which are so basic. There are different shapes galore although the most common are flat, Phillips, Allen and Torx. In case of any fault that comes along the safari just check-out the box to see what screwdriver that is needed. Most of the ratchet comes with a few different screwdriver heads with the most common and sizes.

  •   Hammer

One too shouldn’t miss also in the tool-box is the hammer. This is used to remove dirt, grease and even rust which have stuck in some parts of the car. Most of the vehicle's parts are hard to use physical hands but rather to a hammer can handle it. Always note to move with the appropriate size of the hammer because big trucks like overlanders have to move it a club hammer.

  • Jack

This is a vital mechanic tool that should not miss in the toolbox. Though not all car job will require lifting the car up, sometimes it’s important to do that because it can ease repairing in case of a default under the car. Hydraulic jacks are lifting tools only but not to secure the car up. Use the jack stand in supporting the jack. The jack can help when replacing a fleet tyre. Note to drive with extra tyre because one may get a bounce and you replace it immediately.

  • Jack stand

This is a tower-shaped tool designed to support the car's weight when it’s on suspense. It is usually positioned under the vehicle frame to provide additional support for elevating the car. This tool is important during a self-drive safari in Uganda because any fault in the axle of the car can easily be rectified as you enter under the base of the vehicle.

  • Mechanic Gloves

People are very fond of disposable nitrile gloves for quick in and out operations or when working on car interiors where old mechanic gloves can leave some grease traces. Don’t use the latex as they are not resistant to most chemicals.

Get the best and serious gloves that can save you from indirect conduct with grease. Note that the moment your hands get messed up, you can’t work very well on the car.

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.