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Endangered Species: Green Sea Turtle Facts

Watamu Sea Turtle

Green Sea turtles, classified under the class Reptilian, are the creatures that evolved on land but later migrated to sea. As this species originated millions of years ago, they saw evolution of numerous other species that inhabited earth long time back. There are several interesting green turtle sea facts that are quite interesting to know.

Dont miss observing these awesome creatures in diving trips.

These creatures are cold-blooded which means that they keep their bodies warm by taking the heat from surroundings rather than producing on their own. Being reptiles, their body is covered with scales. In addition to it, they have a hard protecting shell that they use for their protection from predators. Their skin is green in color. Depending upon their location, these turtles are of two types. One of the interesting green turtle sea facts is that they weigh more than 300 kegs, more than any sea turtles of the world.

As these turtles attain adulthood, they turn herbivores feeding on sea grasses and algae. Most of the turtles feed on crabs and jellyfish. Being cold-blooded animals, they warm their bodies by swimming in shallow waters. Many a times they shift to land to have a sunbath. There are also many green turtle sea facts that are related to the mating of these animals. The mating takes place in shallow waters and occurs after about two years.

The front legs are modified to act as flippers that aid in swimming. These flippers help in swimming at high speeds in water. The turtles have the capacity to store large quantities of oxygen in their blood which enables them to survive them without breathing for more than two hours. The salt glands situated near eyes are used for extracting excessive salts in order to maintain water-retention balance. Their necks are short and their bodies can grow up to 5 feet. But some species can grow up to a height of more than 6 feet.

The green turtles have a long life-span, many live up to eighty years. This distinction has made them one of the longest living animals of the world. These creatures are endangered as the indiscriminate hunting has reduced their population to a very great extent. They are hunted for shell and eggs. The shells are often used for ornamental purposes. Their skin is used as meat; the fat of their body is used for producing oil.

Some other green turtle sea facts are related to their extinction. As they lay their eggs on land and the females have to return to sea water immediately after that, the eggs are unprotective. Human interference in their habitats has shrunk their population considerably. Water-pollution is another factor responsible for drastic reduction in their numbers. Sometimes, debris is mistaken as food by these aquatic animals which can cause choking and death.

The nesting and feeding habits of these turtles varies depending upon their location in world. An important characteristic of Hawaiian sea turtle is that they regularly come on land to enjoy basking in sun and protecting themselves from being eaten away by marine predators.

Best Eco Luxury Lodges in Tanzania & Rwanda

Bisate Lodge

Welcome to Tanzania that is so much known for the Kilimanjaro National Park and offering the extraordinary hiking’s from the various routes chosen by the tourists. After this adventure hike visit the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park for the great wildebeest migration every year in these parks eco system tracks like the Grumeti reserve.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a World Heritage Site located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater (caldera), a large volcanic caldera within the area. The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region.

The 2009 Ngorongoro Wildlife Conservation Act placed new restrictions on human settlement and subsistence farming in the Crater, displacing Maasai pastoralists, most of whom had been relocated to Ngorongoro from their ancestral lands to the north when the British colonial government established Serengeti National Park in 1959.

The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region in Africa, spanning northern Tanzania. The protected area within the region includes approximately 30,000 km² of land, including the Serengeti National Park and several game reserves.

Serengeti is best known for its huge herds of plains animals especially wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras, and it is the only place in Africa where vast land-animal migrations still take place every year from Kenya’s Mara reserve.

Therefore, while planning your Luxury Safari Tanzania Rwanda think about the variety of the luxury lodges and exclusive camps in both parks.

Singita Lodges

Singita, has luxury, award-winning lodges and camps in East Africa. Singita is preserving and protecting pristine land and wildlife populations, and helping to create economic independence within local communities surrounding the reserves.

While traveling to Tanzania and Rwanda choose to stay at Singita game lodges because of the expansive space and beauty of the reserves, limited guest and vehicle numbers, extraordinarily consistent game viewing and the exceptional care that is taken of each guest during their stay. Guests leave a Singita safari being transformed for a lifetime and having made a contribution to the legacy of Africa.

&beyond Lodges

The &beyond has 29 luxury lodges and camps that are perfectly set in Eco – friendly African settings and offers unforgettable safari stay in Tanzania’s safari parks.

Each with its own style and character, which harmoniously blend with their respective region’s pristine surrounds, our accommodation options offer an authentic safari and beach experience that is graciously complemented by warm and engaging local staff and expert guides.

Four Season Lodge

Welcome to Four Seasons Lodge that is perched on a series of elevated platforms and walkways, the lodge sits next to an animal watering hole, where you can watch a family of elephants stop for their morning drink as you sip your own out on your room’s private balcony. Under the constant protection of local Maasai tribes’ people, we’ll take you in the bush for an exhilarating game drive, or you can soar high in the sky on a hot-air balloon safari. However, you spend your day, our Spa is waiting to help you rehydrate, restore and re-energize for your next adventure.

Serena Hotels and Lodges

Welcome to Serena Hotels and safari lodges in the Tanzania parks offering a well-travelled life in style and experience authentic cuisines, indigenous aesthetics and spectacular delights in some of the world’s most extraordinary locations with Serena Hotels. The diverse collection of hotels, resorts, safari lodges, camps within East Africa, offering inspirational experiences.

More so, we do have well experienced safari guides that lead our luxury trips and using the very comfortable customized safari land cruisers. Most of the East African safari operators combine exclusive premium tours and here you can have like 6 nights in Serengeti and staying at Singita lodges and get filled up with the African wildlife species and after fly to Rwanda where you will enjoy the gorilla trekking experiences and staying in Singita Kwitonda Gorilla Lodge.

While on this trip you are purely dealing with the local safari operator and you will have deep information of both countries and here you are hundred percent supporting the concepts of Eco tourism as most of your money goes direct to the local communities.

Exploring Virunga National Park of Congo

Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park is a 7800 square kilometer World Heritage Site that lies on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it borders Uganda as well as Rwanda. It is the oldest national park in Africa and the second oldest in the world (after Yellowstone). It is named after the Virunga Mountain (volcanoes) range that lie in the south of the park. the park however is much larger and stretches all the way north to envelop Lake Edward as well as the Rwenzori Mountains.

The Virunga National Park was founded in 1925 by King Albert I of Belgium and originally known as Albert National Park. Virunga was the first national park on the continent of Africa. The park was founded primarily to protect the mountain gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga Massif that were controlled by the Belgian Congo. Later, Virunga was expanded north to include the Rwindi Plains, Lake Edward, and the Rwenzori Mountains.

The park is located on coordinates 0 degrees 55’0”s 29 degrees 10’0”E and was established in 1925 by the Belgian government and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. In recent years poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged its wildlife population. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Africa Conservation Fund (UK).

Congo longstanding insecurity problem though continues to plague the country and you will always have to check with a local tour operator on whether the packages are available. We constantly keep abreast with the happenings in Congo for the security of our clients.

What to see there

The main wildlife attraction with in the Virunga Massive region is the Nyiragongo active Volcanoes tour followed by gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Other interesting tourism activities with in this region include golden monkey tracking, mountain hikes, and rich cultural tours to mention but a few.

Mountain Gorillas

Democratic Republic of Congo in the Virunga National Park has got only 5 gorilla families with only three groups that are most tracked by travelers. The number of families accessible to travelers changes each year depending on how governments balance the need for tourist income and the need for research. In DRC, six people only allowed to trek each group each day in order to reduce the chance of gorillas catching human diseases.

Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo is an active strato volcano with an elevation of 3470m(11383ft) in the Virunga Mounains associated with the Albertine rift. It is associated with the Albertine Rift. It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congon about 20kms north of the town of Goma and lake Kivu and just just west of the border with Rwanda. The main crater is about two kilometres wide and usually contains a lava lake. The crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls – one at about 3,175 metres (10,417 ft) and a lower one at about 2,975 m (9,760 ft). Nyiragongo’s lava lake has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history. The depth of the lava lake varies considerably. A maximum elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 3,250 m (10,660 ft) prior to the January 1977 eruption – a lake depth of about 600 m (2,000 ft). A recent very low elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 2,700 m (8,900 ft). Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira are together responsible for 40% of Africa’s historical volcanic eruptions.

How to get at Virunga National Park

Most tourists fly into the Kigali international airport and take a 3-hour taxi ride to the border crossing at Gisenyi, Rwanda. International flights often arrive in the evening, so we recommend spending the night in Kigali and leaving for Virunga the next morning. Most Kigali hotels will arrange an airport pick up for a small additional charge. Taxis typically charge $100-$120 from Kigali to the border. Hotels can arrange the taxi for you. Domestic airlines in the DRC fly into Goma, but the airport is not up to international standards.

Top Things to Do

Mountain gorilla trekking

All treks are led by park rangers and usually depart from Bukima patrol post. Treks usually require 1-2 hours of hiking in each direction, depending where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain.Mountain gorillas are highly intelligent, good natured, and fascinating to observe. The silverback’s powerful presence is awe-inspiring, yet his calm clearly earns him the title, “gentle giant”. People are equally struck by the tenderness and care that mothers show their young. And then, of course, there are the juveniles who spend most of every waking hour at play and never cease to make visitors smile. We believe your time with Virunga’s mountain gorillas will leave you feeling changed for the better.

Chimpanzee tracking

Guests staying at Mikeno Lodge can join this team on their daily visits to the chimpanzees. The day begins when a group of local trackers leave their camp at 4:30 am to locate where the chimpanzees spent the previous night. Lodge guests set out at 6:00 am to find the chimpanzees. Groups are limited to 4 people and time with the chimpanzees is restricted to one hour.

Mount Nyiragongo hike treks

Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bush buck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is sometimes dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava.Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma. The patrol post is less than a one hour drive from the Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time.

All climbs begin promptly at 10:00 am. Late arrivals will not be allowed to climb and permits are non-refundable. For security reasons, there will be no exceptions. The Kibati ranger station, which is the trailhead for Nyiragongo, is approximately 30 minutes from Goma by car. All climbers must check in at the Kibati station by no later than 9:15 am on the day of their climb. Climbers typically descend the volcano at between 6:30 – 7:00 am the next morning and arrive back at Kibati station by 11:30 am. If one intends to fly out of Kigali on the same day, please make sure not to schedule your departure flight before 6 pm.

Planning a Trip to Virunga National Park

Most travelers to eastern Congo visit the country for gorilla safaris.  Most packaged gorilla safaris start from Gisenyi in Rwanda or in Kisoro in Congo.

Getting a Tourist Visa

The Congolese wildlife authority has an agreement with Direction, the Congolese immigration service, to facilitate obtaining 2-week, single entry tourist visas for people visiting Virunga National Park. The cost of the visa is USD $105.

Once you have a booking and have received confirmation of your payment, you will also receive an order number. Please proceed to the online visa application, enter your order number at the top of the form, fill in the remaining fields, and click submit. Finally, please make sure to secure any other visas that you will need as you make your way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Countries such as Rwanda require most nationalities to secure visas in advance of arrival.

Visitor Safety in Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is located in a region that is often troubled by unrest. The management of Virunga National Park is dedicated to ensure the safety and security of all its visitors. Park management does, however, emphasize the importance of all visitors making themselves aware of the current security situation at the time of their visit. Virunga National Park cannot take responsibility for any accidents or incidents. If any signs indicate a security issue, management may decide to temporarily close one or more of its attractions. All bookings for these attractions will be refunded in full.

Virunga National Park strongly advises against the use of self-arranged transport. Please use transport provided by Virunga National Park or by one of our trusted tour operators. Virunga National Park rangers escort all visitors using park transport.

Experience Unique Wildlife Encounters in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla

It’s no a secret that Uganda is a paradise for great wildlife experiences in Africa with gorilla trekking as its number one  best wildlife encounter for all visitors to the country. Uganda is a home to the big five, lakes, rivers, landscape, culture but a visit to the country without gorilla trekking is taken to be incomplete. Uganda gorilla trekking tours are full of treasured memories and moments especially those captured during the one hour duration of photography and observation of the beautiful primates. It’s a year round activity so you can join those looking at experiencing the spectacular jungle forest of Mgahinga a home to five volcanoes and Bwindi forest.

Considerations for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Tourists need a minimum of three days, 2nights to track Uganda gorillas in both gorilla parks-Biwndi and Mgahinga that is if trips kick off from Kampala Uganda’s Capital. But those coming from Rwanda need only 2 days and one night to experience the life time adventure. However, one is free to land either in Entebbe international airport or Kigali international airport since the two countries are close to each other. Besides all tourists must spend a night before the trek close to the park briefing point to avoid early morning drives and inconveniences. The trekking day starts with breakfast at your lodge of residence to give energy during the trek, followed by briefing from park rangers on how to behave with gorillas and how to search for gorillas in the jungle forest without cause harm or danger to the well conserved natural jungle forest. Respect gorilla trekking rules and regulations for issues of safety since gorillas are wild animals that can change or go wild any time if provoked. The silver back look tough and terrific and they move all over providing the necessary safety to its family members.

Gorilla Trekking Check List

This is a very common asked question by many tourists planning and heading out on gorilla safaris in Uganda. I believe my gorilla trek check list will help you to have a very fabulous adventure to the gorilla parks in South Western Uganda. Have a small note book to note down interesting and surprising facts about gorillas that you didn’t know, insect repellent that are super effective to help you keep and protect your skin from insect bites, Camera with an extra battery and lens for emergency purposes, Water resisting comfortable walking boots, sandals, swim suit, gloves ,waterproof jacket, a hut for sun protection, 5 light pairs  of trousers, some short sleeved T-shirts, at least two long sleeved T-shirts, gorilla permit, drinking water, lunch boxes,sun cream, cotton socks, skirts for ladies, toilet paper, first aid medicine, flashlight and binoculars, shades and much more.Before you gorilla trekking safari request for a new check list from you trip planner and compare if they do match so that you can carry just right staff for use.

Experience Wildlife Safaris in East Africa

East Africa Safari

One of our best African tours the crossing safari kicks off in Kenya’s Maasai Mara before heading south into Tanzania for the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater and flying into Uganda for mountain gorilla trekking tours in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Focused on wildlife, this is a great opportunity to witness the wildebeest migration so ask us about getting your timing right. Wildlife of East Africa takes us on an exquisite one volume tour through the living splendor of the main national parks and game reserve s of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Kenya and Tanzania are famous for the migration often described as a set circuit that occurs between Tanzania’s Serengeti plains in the south and Kenya’s Maasai Mara in the north between July to September each year but the reality of the migration is much more complex. These animals move in Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pastures and water. While Uganda is famous to home of mountain gorillas that live in Bwindi forest and Mgahinga National Parks and many birds that live in the forest and most visitors seek out one of above.

The safari starts from Maasai Mara National Reserve also known as Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya; contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Mara Region, Tanzania. The Maasai Mara is about 280 Km west from Nairobi City. There are two ways to get to the Maasai Mara. You can choose to drive or to fly to the Mara. Driving will take you about 5-6 hours while flying takes about 40-45 minutes.

Kenya is famous for its wildlife that is why visitors on a safari flock into the country to see Africa’s Big Five. But lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffaloes are just a handful of the treasured species in this nation. Baboons and zebras, giraffes, flamingoes, and more are enjoyed by tourists, thanks to strong national parks system and a network of wildlife reserves. There are also over 1,000 kinds of birds in Kenya. That is why safari tours are very important to Kenya’s tourism industry.

After experiencing the Masai Mara National Reserve the visitors fly from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro Airport meet and greet with the company representative before being transferred to your hotel for overnight.

Visit Lake Manyara National Park is located 126 km south west of Arusha and can be reached by car in an hour and a half. The park can also be reached easily from Babati the capital of Manyara Region.

Take a game drive in search for animals like Leopards, Masai lions, cheetahs, elephants, blue monkeys, dik-dik, gazelles, hippopotami, Masai giraffe, impala, zebras and many more wild animals inhabit this park and many can be seen throughout the year. There is a hippo pond at one end of the park where visitors can get out of their cars and observe from a safe distance. The leopards and lions are both known to lounge in the trees while not hunting for prey.

After experiencing Lake Manyara National Park, the following day you can explore Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park Serengeti, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder. The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions. It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile.

Take a game drive in the best known predator of the Serengeti plains, African lions hunt animals such as zebras, antelope and wildebeest. Wildebeest typically inhabit the Serengeti plains of southeastern Africa. For most of their lives, wildebeest graze in the grassy savannas and open woodlands of the plains, which straddle the nations of Tanzania and Kenya. More than 1.5 million wildebeest migrate in an enormous loop every year.

Rise up early in the morning and take a second game drive in Serengeti National Park, after lunch depart for Ngorongoro Crater Rim with a stopover for a game en-route. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania.

After breakfast you descend to the carter floor for full day game drive in search for wildlife like elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, white rhino and black rhino among others. After the game drive you return to your hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

The next day you depart Arusha for Entebbe international Airport, upon arrival meet and greet by the company representative before you transfer to Kampala at Serena Hotel.

Leave Kampala for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park a bio- diverse, mountainous area in southwest Uganda. Bwindi is home to the world’s remaining mountain gorillas,   who feed on roots, leaves and a fruit from the park’s many tree and fern species. Restricted numbers of viewing permits help protect the endangered gorilla families. In the park, rough paths weave amid dense forests, which are home to many butterflies and birds.

Currently Rwanda gorilla permit costs USD1500.00 for all tourists. Uganda gorilla permits to visit mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga cost USD 700.00 (Non residents) USD 500.00 for Foreign Residents and in Virunga National Park in Congo costs USD 400.00 per person.

Begin the day with heavy breakfast and after head to UWA headquarters for gorilla trekking. Ensure to carry along with hiking boots, skin repellent, sun glasses, rain gears, a hut, a camera, snacks and drinking water. The guides will lead you inside the jungle to search for the shy primates for the group you have been booked for. Don’t forget to take your lunch boxes and all the necessary gears to track the gorillas. The trekking may take 2 to 8 hours depending on the movements of these gentle apes but it is well worth the effort. One you spot them, you are allowed only hour to watch and observe them as you take pictures and videos of them interacting with each other. This is one of the lifetime experiences in Bwindi forest National Park.

The afternoon is spent on a village community walk which gives a great opportunity to see how the people surrounding Bwindi forest spend their way of life. It is also a great way to support the local community; the walk begins with a local guide from Buhoma Community Rest Camp.

5 Exciting Things to Experience ‘The True Essence of Asia

Asia Festivals

Asia is the largest continent on earth with huge cultural diversities. Not all the Asians speak the same language nor do they pray to the same God. But Asia is one continent that binds different cultures together. The Asian cities show similarities in architecture, culture, cuisines and festivals. It’s made rather clear and understandable while touring the Asian cities.

Participate in Asian Festivals

There are dozens of religious and national festivals conducted in every nook and corner of the continent. Participate in these Asian festivals to experience the true spirit of celebration. As like every other nation, the Asian countries celebrate these kind of festivals for enjoyment and integrity. You can also see similarities in many festivals celebrated across the continent. The world-famous Songkran festival celebrated in Thailand is similar to the Holi festival in India. In both the festivals, people pour water on each other and express their ecstasy.

Tour the Asian Markets

Cities like Bangkok, Phuket, Ko Samui, Singapore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi are some of the popular shopping destinations in Asia. There are giant, sky-scraping malls to wide-stretched markets, to drench in shopping rain. Touring the Asian markets shall not only quench your shopping thirst, but also help you know more about the local lifestyle. Buy everything under the sun, starting from clothing and accessories to souvenirs and electronic goods at cheaper price. Pickled food, art, stationery, tailored pottery and custom-made jewellery are also available under the roof.

Besides shopping, eating is also equally enjoyable in the markets. A variety of freshly prepared seafood and veggie meals are available for a dollar or two. You can buy and enjoy the platter without worrying about the hygiene and the cost.

Visit Religious Places

The religious sites depict the ancient culture and the tradition of a locality! As Asia is a cultured continent, there are enormous sacred sites to explore the ethnicity and the custom of the continent. There are many temples, wats, mosques, shrines and pagodas in Asia, which are proudly known for their ancient architecture. A number of religions like Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Daoism, Sikhism, Christianity, Kalasha exist in Asia, but Buddhism is the wide-spread Asian religion. So never miss visiting a Buddha temple while you are in Asia.

Accommodate in an Asian House

Choose the Asian guesthouses instead of hotels and resorts, to make the accommodation exciting. The elevation as well as the interior of these guesthouses is purely Asian. You can stay in these traditional houses to experience the local habitat and make the vacation more memorable.

Taste the Asian Meal

Asia has a huge menu for the feast! These menus are derived from different cuisines of the continent, such as Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, Cantonese, Punjabi, Indian and Malay. Every cuisine is said to have its own importance as the cooking methods are promisingly unique. Indians use grains as their main ingredient, whereas Chinese use noodles and Burmese use white rice. Though there are diversities in the basic ingredient, Asians are fond to use a lot of spices and herbs in their dishes to make the food flavorful and rich, which is a notable similarity in all Asian cooking.

Exploring Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda

The 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;

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.

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.

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.

Hike to the Dian Fossey GraveDian 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.

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.

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.

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.

Tracking Gorillas in Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga Gorillas

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern Uganda on the border with Congo and Rwanda. Covering an area of about 33.7 sq. kilometers, the park is a habitat for man’s closest, the mountain gorillas which roam about the whole forest in search for food. This park is one of the few places in the world where the endangered mountain gorillas live.

Mgahinga National ParkThe secret behind it is that this park has a thick rain forest with a wide variety of tree species and gorillas are known to be vegetarians. There is enough food for them in the park. Though not in large numbers, gorillas of Mgahinga are easily seen in their natural habitats and this makes tracking more easy compared to other parks.

The moment you visit the park, the welcoming atmosphere is an evidence of adventure filled of natural beauty. A day ‘trek through the forests of Mgahinga with a well-trained guide who explains the gorillas’ behavior along the way is a lifetime experience.

Normally, gorilla trekking safaris starts from Ntebeko Entrance gate at around 8:00amin the morning daily taking 2-4 hours depending on their movements.  A visitor is expected to budget for his/her time well while with a gorilla family since the maximum time allowed to spend with them is one hour.

Don’t Miss the Batwa

The Batwa experience in Mgahinga national park

The revamped trail leading to the famed Garama cave an over 200 meter long lava tube which served as council chambers, residence, stores and armory for the last king of Batwa was made possible with the support given to train Batwa people to serve as guides and improve lighting, walkways an shelters along the trail.

Batwa demonstrates old methods of making fire by rubbing two dry sticks against each other, harvesting of honey using smoke, fetching water using bamboo tubes among others.

The  Batwa  were  mostly  forest  hunter-gatherers,  though  some  may  also have lived in savannah forest or forest lake environments.

While thinking about what to Visit in Uganda, do not forget to include the Batwa experience, you will learn many things the Batwa used to do in the forest. On gorilla tracking and Batwa experience, you can add activities like Volcano climbing, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo, Golden monkey tracking and Village walk. All those activities can be done in Mgahinga National park.

When is the Best Time to Visit Gorillas

The best time to visit the place for tracking is during the two dry seasons when the park is easily accessed. It is during this time that the thick forests can be penetrated easily and when the paths are not as muddy as it is in the rainy season. However, gorilla tracking tourism is possible throughout the year.

Getting There

By road, one can access the park by use of a car from Kampala via Kabale to Kisoro. This journey takes approx. 10hours

By air, one can board a plane from Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip which is near the park. This is the quickest mode of access and it takes about 1 hour. There are daily scheduled flights which must be booked long in advance.

Where to Stay

While at Mgahinga Gorilla national park, one should not worry about accommodation because there are various lodges suitable for relaxation and overnight. These are found in Ntebeko, Kisoro and Lake Mutanda. In Ntebeko, the accommodations are; Volcanoes mount Gahinga Safari lodge and Amajambere Iwacu camp. The lodges in Mutanda include; Lake Mutanda Chameleon Hill Lodge. In Kisoro, the lodges where a visitor can stay are; Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel and River Mucha Hotel.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge


Lapa Rios Nature conservation and community development at its best! Lapa Rios has been termed one of the most earth-friendly addresses on the planet. It is located in Costa Rico, in a private nature reserve at the tip of the Osa Peninsula where the rushing waters of the Golfo Dulce and the Pacific Ocean meet.

Enjoy walking or birding in the rainforest with a staff naturalist; boating, kayaking, and surfing, are among the activities offered through local guides. Lapa Rios is known as a model Ecotourism project, local educational tour visits are also available.

For information and booking, visit: http://laparios.com/

EcoCamp at Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia.

Ecocamp is an environmentally friendly place to stay when visiting southern Chile’s rugged Torres del Paine National Park. This camp provides a comfortable home base made of several geodesic dome tents in which to explore the surrounding wilderness park which offers world-class mountain vistas and where it’s possible to view wildlife such as the llama-like guanacos, puma, condors and rare birds like the ostrich-like Lessor Rhea.

The domes tents are big enough to comfortably walk around in, has its own bathroom, heated with low-emission wood stove, and electricity is generated by solar panels and micro-hydro turbines. These tents, echo the early dome-like dwellings of the nomadic Kawesqar tribe, an ancient native people who lived in the area. The dome shape helps maintain stability in high winds, which are common in Patagonia. The tents are linked together by boardwalks and have wooden floors, beds, round windows for amazing views. There is a common-area tent for meals, chilling out, and socializing.

The camp is deep inside the often windy park along dirt roads and in a valley surrounded by awe-inspiring granite mountain peaks, glaciers, and azure lakes. In the summer months (end of September through the end of March) you can get up to 17 hours of daylight, so you will have lots of time to explore the park. This camp in Chile’s Patagonia is as about as far south as you want to get, but if you want to get even closer to the end of the world then you will need to make complicated travel plans that will eventually get you about 300-400 miles further south in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego.Details on the various options to book a trip are on the EcoCamp’s website

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