Exploring Rwanda, the Land of a Thousand Hills

Rwanda is regarded as the lands of hills due to its mountainous nature of the landscapes. In Rwanda is where you find very many ranges interlocking each on one’s eyes he/she might say that they are rolling.

But most interesting about these hills they are covered by the lush green vegetation and which gives one an insight of how beautiful Rwanda is even before one explores the various tourist attractions in Rwanda.

Rwanda gives the tourist a natural environment experience as Rwanda is one of the few countries in the world with serene and unhampered flora and fauna in their natural settings. With Rwanda naturally being embraced with beautiful natural resources to look at the government of Rwanda in conjunction with the private sector of the tour operator set up promotion tools in order to sustain these natural beauties and this is done through promoting tourism.

Through promoting tourism, tour operators organize Rwanda safari where people/visitors both local and international go to watch the wildlife in their natural setting. You can therefore go a guided tour within this amazing country.

Today there is a growing number of tourists who travel Rwanda on their own. You can go on a self drive tour in Rwanda using a rented car from one of the car rental agencies operating in the country. Please note that self drive is not recommended for first time visitors to Africa given that the road conditions are totally different from the usual ones in your home country.

Where to Go

These are three recognized national parks in Rwanda (Volcanoes national park, Nyungwe national park and Akagera national park) where the tourist can encounter the exotic animals, birds and the fascinating wild plants.

These three national parks have become households where it comes to the top interesting and exciting tourism destinations in Africa and it is only through a Rwanda safari where a tourist encounters these national parks. These national parks have different experiences for example the volcanoes national park is the home to mountain gorillas one of the most endangered species of primates in the world. Thousand people come to Rwanda to take a last glance of these wonderful animals since they will be history in the next generations as they are about to get extinct. It is not all about their extinction that many people come to see them, it is about their unique character as there are so intelligent in that if one observes them one might think their human beings in the jungle. Words cannot explain the moment of meeting mountain gorillas, all one has to do is to take a Rwanda gorilla safari and enjoy the everlasting experience of meeting a gorilla in its natural setting.

While on a Rwanda safari one cannot miss out Nyungwe national park the home of primates in the southwestern part of the country. This national park is a home of 13 different species of primates that is chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, and grey cheeked mangabey among the special ones. Come enjoy the most forested national park in Rwanda and this also has a canopy walk experience where the visitor take a walk on an elevated trail of 50 meters above the ground having an aerial view of different  natural biodiversity in the park.

We cannot forget to mention the big five animals’ national park in Rwanda: Akagera national park. this is the national park where tourists encounter the big five exotic animals that is lion, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and the rhinos. However the rhinos are just in plans to be introduced in the park but the rest of the big five animals are already in existence.

The above explained national parks make up a Rwanda safari experience as other attractions in Rwanda like Lake Kivu, Kigali city tour and Iby’iwacu cultural village supplement them. It is from those national parks that tour operators base on to organize the various itineraries for Rwanda safari tours.

Experience the Traditional Ballet of Rwanda

Rwanda is magical and a destination filled with beauty beyond anyone’s imagination and comprehension. This small country is found in the heart of Africa and is undoubtedly a land of wonders with its wildlife, bird species and now rich cultural diversity. The rich cultural diversity in this country will leave you breathless and loving the country more. The traditional ballet is one of the most beautiful encounters in Rwanda, and actually one of the longest established yet least explored musical traditions in Africa. The use of the term “Ballet” originated from the Belgium Colonial Rule. As a matter of fact, the extraordinary Art from was not wanted over years in the Royal Courts of the Kings of Rwanda (locally known as Mwami).

There are three key elements (components) of the Traditional Ballet of Rwanda and the normal performance by the dance groups has to contain all the three elements. The components include music or songs that are the basic part of the Art form, and are usually referred as the Ballet, the Ingoma (drums) and the Intore (the dance of heroes). The Intore (dance of heroes) is performed by men who wear grass wigs around their heads and carry spears. The background of this Intore is a dance performed by returning triumphant warriors, who celebrate the victory in the battle. The energetic dancers move from side to side joining grace and a system of choreography with a raw aggression. At particular stages, the dancers of the group have to stop with arms stretched and make blood-curdling battle shouts (calls).

These shouts are distinctive and exceptional to each dancer and represents warriors uttering the details of how they had killed in the battle. Traditionally, battles were fought by the Hutu, twa and the Tutsi (as one) fighting alongside each other against a common enemy. Therefore, the invigorating Intore dance has often consisted of warriors of all groups dancing together.  When you visit Rwanda and don’t explore the interesting Intore dances, then you are about to miss what everyone describes as breathtaking.

The Intore dance later took shape within the Royal Courts of the Kings (Mwami) of Rwanda and is generally a storytelling dance in which stories of war, love and challenging times are put together and shared in form of dances. This dance is more like a dramatic work than a Traditional Ballet as the Belgium used to call it because it involves a lot of skills and detail. Interestingly, it cannot be termed as only a battle dance mainly because it is performed in extraordinary and different occasions, although the dance was mainly performed after being victorious from a battle.

Intore is a Kinyarwanda word that means “the chosen ones” hence it was a dance for the chosen ones (only victorious warriors). The Intore dancers have gained popularity across the World and have become an important part of the Rwandan Culture and tradition.  These dancers participated in the World Expo in 1958 that was held in Brussels hence became very popular and sought-after by tourists on a Safari in Rwanda. Intore dancing also known as “Warrior dancing” is therefore one of the ancient and traditional form of dancing in Africa.

Interestingly, the Intore people were once known as part of the Traditional Rwanda army although they were not given military training but taught the skills of dancing and high jumping. It is for this reason that they were known for their exceptional ways of jumping up to 240 meters above the ground. Isn’t it remarkable?  Make sure you ask for this dance when you visit Rwanda for a safari.

Besides the wildlife activities such as gorilla trekking and Chimpanzee tracking that can be enjoyed in Rwanda, tourists who visit this country should not miss the invigorating Intore dance where men and women dance like they don’t carry any weight.

Top 5 Tourist Places to Visit in Uganda

On my holiday in Uganda, I had a lot of fun due to the several activities I performed on my own drive long stay tour. After several weeks of planning a holiday, i f traveled to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. The planning process involved a lot of research for Uganda travel information in order to put together all what i needed to make a trip a success.

On this tour, I observed the best five places to visit in Uganda and these included;

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: This is the ultimate destination for gorilla trekking holidays in Uganda. Located in South Western Uganda, this UNESCO world heritage site is a must visit for tourists looking for the very best of Uganda. Get a full hour in company of the mountain gorillas within this famous national park.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a medley of wonders! Located on the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, this savanna park is home to African tree climbing lions. Enjoy unrivaled game viewing in the savanna plains and the memorable boat cruise along the Kazinga channel, a water channel that connects Lake George and Lake Edward.

Rwenzori Mountain National Park: Go hiking to the ice covered Margerita Peak, the third highest peak in Africa.

Kibale Forest National Park is the ultimate destination for chimpanzee trekking and habituation.

Murchison Fall National Park for the wildlife, boat cruise along River Nile and sightseeing and landscapes.

Jinja

This is the adventure capital of Uganda, home to the Source of the Nile. Jinja is the place to go if you are looking to white water rafting, bungee jumping and kayaking holidays in Uganda.

Planning the Tour

But before coming to Uganda, I had to organize the tour with a local Uganda Car Rental company and I arranged it based on self-drive holiday and the company offered me with suitable 4wd vehicle to take me to all these places without any hassle.

The tour was to last for 14 days and on my arrival, I was taken to Fang Fang Hotel in Kampala where I slept and very early in the morning I was taken to the source of River Nile in Jinja approximately 80km from Kampala city. We used a well tarmac road through Mabira forests and acre after acre of sugar cane fields which are said to be for an Indian known as Mehta.

Basing on the true history I got from the guides was that this is one of the longest rivers in the world, the Nile flows from south to north and is believed to originate in Lake Victoria, Uganda. Since what brought me was to tour. I wasn’t contented, I told Moses to hire a Boat that took me to the middle of the lake where the Nile is said to originate. While the boat was sailing on waters, i indulged in bird watching along the banks of the river. Some of the other activities in and around the place  that I missed but also performed include a white water rafting run, a  visit to the hydro-electric power plant at Bujagali Falls, bungee jumping and visiting around the Jinja town.

In the evening I was taken back to Fung Fung Hotel again in Kampala to prepare for our journey to Bwindi impenetrable national park. We did this very early in the morning, we used Kampala-Masaka road to south western Uganda. This took us 7hours on the way. We couldn’t tour the park on that day and here I slept Trekkers Tavern cottages but on the next day, I tracked the endangered mountain gorillas along the Ruhija sector and here we tracked the Ruhija gorilla group, gorilla permits costs $600.

In the evening I was taken back to Trekkers Tavern cottages, breakfast, lunch and supper were all included on my budget here for three days. On another day I was taken back to the forest to do cultural encounters with the Batwa community who are the permanent residents in this forest. These performed to us some of their traditional songs, we visited their handcraft shops, I also learned how bananas can be used to make juice and local beers. Other activities that I missed included but can be done in the park included, Nature walks, Birding and mountain biking.

On that day evening, I was taken to Ishasha Jungle Lodge near Queen Elizabeth national park where I slept. Early in the morning on the next day, I was taken to the park where I did launch trips which gave me a chance to see herds of hippos, buffaloes and the elephants plus birds along the Kazinga channel. This activity lasted for 2hours and in the evening, I was taken to Ishasha sector within the park, this is where I observed tree climbing lions up on the fig trees within the park.

Other areas of interests that are within the park include the Kyambura gorge, Maramagambo forest, Mweya peninsula and Lake Katwe where local mining of salt is done by the local community among others. On my seventh day while experiencing these better places, I was taken to Rwenzori mountain national park and due to the fact that we reached in the evening, I slept at Geo Lodge Equator Snow with full board. In the morning of the visited most of the interesting areas within the park and these included, Lakes such as Bukuju and Mahoma, Bulemba houses where the remains of the earlier Rwenzururu king was laid, Equatorial snow peaks such as Mount Stanley and Speke.

I did not perform any activity here but some of the colleagues I found there were doing Birding in the montane forest, culture encounters with the Bakonzo. Others were doing mountain climbing on the Rwenzori Mountains up to the snow peak of Margherita, hiking and nature walks. We went to Murchison falls national park that   evening and we slept at Paraa Safari Lodge. Murchison Falls National Park gets its name from the magnificent Murchison’s fall.

The truth is that this is one of the best places to head for a game drive. The Nile explodes out of a narrow gorge and falls down in a thundering cascade to form the waterfall. I observed crocodiles and hippos which fill the river lines of the Nile and a wide variety of water bucks, buffaloes and birds. One of the highlights of this area is taking a launch boat through some beautiful papyrus swamps.

This took us 3hours on the boat in afternoon since it’s the excellent time for game sightings as the animals tend to head from the bush to the shores of the River as the day gets hotter. Other wildlife found in these areas includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribi, and Uganda Kobs.

On the last day with en-route visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for Rhino tracking I was taken back to Kampala via Gulu-Bombo-Kampala road to prepare for my departure and very early in the morning, I was taken to the airport but as I was going back while in the plane, I was wondering the beauty that is possessed by Uganda in terms of tourism.

Enjoy Wildlife Safari in East Africa

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 600.00 (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.

Why Go Backpacking in Uganda

Uganda, the land gifted by nature is located in the Eastern Region of Africa. Cris-crossed by the Equator, this relatively small but beautiful country is immersed in perfect good climate. It is supplemented with many exciting things such as undulating mountains, unique wildlife species, rivers and lakes.

Destinations:

There are lots of exciting tourist destinations in Uganda that are worthy visiting. From the popular national parks to less known ecotourism sites, there are a lot of exciting places to visit. Would you like to try out something different on your trip? Why not explore Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of the only four national parks that host the mountain gorillas in the world. Other exciting places include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park etc.

Welcoming People:

The people in Uganda are friendly and welcoming to each and every one. Despite the fact that there are many different tribes of people, all the Ugandan people are welcoming and hospitable to visitors. The Ugandan people are willing to take you around the country and today Uganda is one of the most interesting destinations to backpackers who enjoy the safari in Uganda.

Low cost of Living:

Experience the fullest with the possible minimum budget while in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.  Kampala, the capital city of Uganda is one of the most affordable cities in the world. You can easily enjoy a meal at USD1 while in Uganda.

Cheap Accommodation:

Uganda attracts people of all kinds of lifestyle. There are lots of backpacker hostels and accommodation that offer good customer services to the clients. Usually there is also an arrangement of the sort to tour within and around Kampala’s nightlife. It’s a good idea to stay in the city to enjoy the nightlife, before embarking on another tour expedition.

Safety:

Most backpacker travelers are high risk takers who go extra mile to explore the hidden treasures. One of the reason that make it a safe backpacker destination is the safety all around the country. Security is tight for both traveler and the locals that make it easier to visit and explore the country.

Cheap means of transport:

Less than 1$ you will be able to travel about 40kms in a public means, transport is cheap in Uganda and can easily connect well to the desired destinations, challenge is up country where most of the hidden treasure is. Available means of transport in the city include, special hire taxis, bodabodas the quickest means of transport especially during the rush hour when everyone is stuck in traffic jam.

Affordable Touristic Activities

The country has a blessing of abundant adventure activities that can be done on a Uganda Safari, name it from game drives among its four savanna national parks, and launch cruises, meeting the indigenous local people. This all can take place from a single tourist destination. Not   forgetting meeting one of the endangered world specie mountain gorillas in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park at a cheaper affordable price compared to the neighboring country Rwanda.

While backing in Uganda, there is no need to worry about food from the big malls street food is the way to go. In Uganda, you’ll find grilled chicken, kebabs on every street cornerThe most popular street snack is a Rolex which is made of a rolled fried egg in a chapatti with a tomato-onion-paprika. It’s cheap and affordable and you find it cost saving.

Exploring Uganda, the Pearl of Africa

Uganda is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Eastern Africa. This less known destination is endowed with incredible attractions some of which can’t be seen elsewhere in the world. Recently it was in the news when an American tourist was kidnapped in the country doing a safari in Western Uganda and this is what prompted to do a research about this little Eden.

Location

This relatively small country is located in the East African Region. It lies just astride the Equator. It is bordered by Kenya in the East, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, South Sudan in the north, Rwanda and Tanzania in the South.

Must See Things

There are lots of things to do in this country. According to the Uganda Guide, an online portal with resourceful information to help you plan a perfect safari, the must do things include

  • gorilla trekking in the impenetrable jungles of Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks
  • chimpanzee tracking in the tropical rain forests of Kibale, Kalinzu, Budongo and the Kyambura Gorge
  • Rafting the River Nile in Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda
  • Hiking the famed Rwenzori Mountains
  • Game Viewing in the savanna plains of various national parks that include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park,. Kidepo Wilderness Area and Lake Mburo National Park.

What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip

Uganda is gifted with a tropical climate and its temperatures always change all through the year and Uganda does not experience winter or summer and it can be visited any time of the year, although many tourists prefer visiting Uganda during the dry season.

The hottest months are January and February when the average daytime range is 24-33°C (52-91°F) June –October is also known as dry season and the wet season run from March to May and November, although even during the dry seasons, it can still run. Uganda neighbors countries like Sudan, Kenya, Lake Victoria, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Experience a Traditional Safari

Uganda is gifted with 10 national parks and over 12 game reserves, mountains, museum, lakes and rivers good for relaxation that’s this reasons that Sir Winston Churchill named Uganda the ‘’pearl of Africa’’. Each of Uganda’s attraction is gifted with unique attractions and many attractions are still virgin just waiting for you to explore. You can Plan in advance and visit at least one or all of the Uganda’s attractions depending on your budget, interest and the number of days you have in Uganda.

Guided Vs Self Drive Tours

You can explore Uganda on self-drive or on a tailored made tour and visit Uganda’s national parks, game reserves and mountains as well as lakes and stand a chance to catch up with incredible attractions including endangered gorillas, the man’s closest relatives the chimps, different species of animals and birds, enjoy cultural experience relax on beautiful lakes and Rivers just to mention but a few. Exploring the park on your own gives you the chance to discover a lot of attractions, you have the chance to drive at your own pace and you can choose to visit one park after another on the same safari. Below are the ten Uganda national parks let us examine one by one.